L.A. Capsule Wardrobe Experiment: What I Learned So Far

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On Monday night, I decided that enough was enough.

After what seemed like the millionth I-hate-everything-in-my-closet  / I-have-nothing-to-wear moment, I took to my usual medicine for this sort of rut: social media, online shopping, and retail stores. Typically a new sweater or a new t-shirt would keep my rut at bay. And for a while, I’d be super into that new thing I bought. I’d want to wear it everyday (and admittedly, sometimes I did!) but then after a while, that new thing was no longer shiny or interesting. And so it’d go on to hang on one of many hangers until I would decided to wear it again or give it away when I’d have a “closet purge”. I’d then feel that itch to find something new to get out of my rut. And so this cycle has repeated for years. With each purge, I’d vow to be smarter with my money after being disgusted with the amount of clothes I no longer wanted and was giving away. But to no avail. I was stuck in a vicious cycle of buying and purging. It was like bulimia but for shopping.

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This time around though, my symptoms were different. Nothing in the stores or online seemed appealing. I didn’t have heart-eyes (or green-eyes rather) for others’ things after scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest, or after watching lookbooks and hauls on Youtube. I was disgusted at how bursting our closet was. I then stumbled upon the rabbit hole of The Capsule Wardrobe, starting with The Anna Edit, and leading to finding Unfancy again. This idea of a capsule wardrobe was nothing new to me. It was something that I thought would be nice and something that I’d do someday. But the idea of a small, intentional wardrobe seemed so liberating and fitting for this time in my life right now.

By this time in my life, I mean living in a 400-square feet apartment and sharing a closet with Brandon. We had figured out how to make our small space work–having separate areas for when we needed to work or be alone; but over time, our closet became a dark abyss. We just had too much, and it was time for a change. And so right now became my someday.

Luckily, Brandon couldn’t sleep either that Monday night so we lay talking in bed. We made plans to do this together–to have less things and more joy. We wanted to do this in all aspects of our lives, but figured we’d start with our closets. And so our journey to minimalism began…

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– PHASE ONE: THE (REAL) PURGE –

We followed Caroline’s advice and emptied out our whole closet. This was something I hadn’t done before in purges prior. Taking everything out made me realize the abundance of stuff that I had (and how little in comparison Brandon had). It then gave me the opportunity to question each and every piece that I had. We then started sorting our clothes into four piles: 1) Love It, 2) Store It, 3) Give It, and 4) Lounge / Gym Clothes. Having Brandon there was also something new to this purge. It really helped having him be a part of the process. He wasn’t afraid to give his honest opinion of how he felt about my clothes. We disagreed on some; but for the most part, his opinion was greatly appreciated and helped with the letting go of unnecessary things.

We assessed all aspects of our wardrobe: clothes, shoes, and accessories. Many tangled hangers, piles of clothes, and long, sweaty hours later, we put our piles away: We stored away our seasonal items for Fall and Winter in underbed storage bins. We made a pile of things to donate to GoodWill, after sorting through and making another pile of things to try to sell at Crossroads. We tucked away our formal wear in a safe corner of our closet for special occasions like weddings. We put our “home clothes” away onto the shelves of our closet or into separate baskets. The only things that went on hangers were our formal clothes and what was actually apart of our “capsule wardrobe.”

During this process, I learned…

 

    • THE EXCESS OF LIFE (ESP. BLOGGING): A few weeks ago, I read Lizzie from Shot on the Street’s post on The Excess of Blogging, and I think there was where this seed of minimal was planted. Despite not being consistent with our blog, I still wanted to upkeep our Instagram–which meant that I needed to have new things to stay relevant and interesting to my followers. Or at least so I thought…InstaStories has brought the excess of blogging more to my attention with a lot of bloggers showing off their swag of gifted items. And I’ll admit, for a while, I was jealous (and still am from time to time), but when I really think about it–do I need all of that stuff to be happy? No. I don’t. And I need to remember this as I’m scrolling.

 

  • I HOARD. UNINTENTIONALLY: I didn’t realize my hoarding tendencies until I took everything out of my closet. I think because I grew up not having a lot, I feel the need to fill my space with an abundance of things to compensate for all the things I did not have as a child. Being able to buy things I want makes me feel successful and independent, but I need to kick this habit and really adopt the “less is more” mindset.

 

 

  • I INVEST IN SHOES & HANDBAGS: Funny enough, I have a different mindset when it comes to shoes and handbags. I’m very selective when it comes to buying those. For handbags, I buy one every couple of years after doing research and mulling it over. I need to be more selective when it comes to clothes.

 

 

  • I DON’T KNOW WHAT MY STYLE IS: Looking at the vast array of items in my closet truly showed I didn’t have a defined style. My clothes ranged from basics to boho and everything in between. I am hoping that limiting my wardrobe and my shopping will help me find what I actually like and what works for me (my lifestyle and my body type). Which brings me to…

 

 

  • I LIKE BASICS: As I was sorting, I realized that the things that I was holding onto and the things that I wore the most were my favorite basics. I also realized later that some of my favorite outfits are those that are simple. My typical uniform is a t-shirt (or a sweater if it’s cold), skinny jeans, ankle boots, and if I’m feeling fancy, a fedora. This uniform is when I feel the best. And this uniform is something I need to own. I need to listen to my own voice and not stray too far from it (though I have appreciated trying new things like off-the-shoulder tops which have become a staple in my wardrobe).

 

 

  • MY HOME CLOTHES = MY REAL LIFE CLOTHES. BUT I DON’T WANT THEM TO BE ANYMORE: It was hard to differentiate my home clothes from clothes that I would put into my capsule wardrobe. My lifestyle, especially in the summertime, calls for pretty casual dressing. After seeing Caroline’s closet tour and seeing that her home clothes were old items from her capsule, I decided to make a mini-capsule of loungewear clothes of my favorite lived-in tees, leggings, and my sweatshirts. I’m hoping though that having these off the hangers and not as easily accessible will encourage me to be more creative and intentional with how I dress.My friend and I talked recently about being crippled by too much choice. I think I was suffering from this–having too many options in my closet was too overwhelming and I’d either wear the same things over and over again, or I’d get stuck in a rut. I’m also then hoping that having a separate loungewear capsule will encourage me to wear the “real” clothes in my closet.

 

 

  • BRANDON HAS A PRETTY KICKASS WARDROBE: Brandon’s quest for a capsule wardrobe was way easier to obtain. He’s been very intentional with the things he buys. I’m actually jealous of his wardrobe and will be looking to his for inspiration. He has curated perfect basics–and only buys things that fit him right (which is why he was able to keep a lot of his things). Which made me realize…

 

 

  • MY CLOSET HAS A LOT OF GAPS: I’m missing quality basics–the perfect basics that fit and flatter me. This is also probably why there is such a high turnover rate in my closet. I want to have a good, solid, and strong foundation of basics before I can add in the more fun pieces.I also realized that I have been hiding in my loungewear, which makes it hard to experiment with clothes and which is probably why I haven’t truly found my style yet.

 
I’m so excited to continue this journey of having a capsule wardrobe. It was actually a lot harder to choose 40 items for my closet, and so I’m currently at 26: 3 jackets, 7 pairs of shoes, 3 dresses, and 13 tops. I’m not settled on these 26 yet because I don’t think there’s a whole lot of versatility in my choice. I’m going to mull this over and try them out before deciding on my final Summer wardrobe.

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c/o equal uprise black traditional fedora, zara striped t-shirt (similar), topshop joni jeans, dolce vita booties (similar), apc half moon bag, rayban round sunglasses (similar)

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