It’s been almost a year since I’ve started the capsule wardrobe experiment. I think for a good part of these last eight months, I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t for me, that it didn’t work for my lifestyle, and that it was unnecessary and too rigid. But as I’ve dived deeper into the world of ethical fashion and sustainable living, the more I realize that on the other side of my discomfort, of my bad habits, and of my fear is all that I’ve ever wanted: a curated, cohesive, purposeful wardrobe.
Now that it finally feels like Spring here in LA (welcome back Mr. Sun!), yesterday, I embarked on the seasonal ritual of switching out my Fall/Winter wardrobe for Spring/Summer. In the midst of this switch-a-roo, I decided to also declutter my closet to get rid of things that I didn’t need, want, fit, or use anymore. I learned some things in the process.
1. I NEED TO TRY EVERY SINGLE THING ON. AND I MEAN: EVERY. SINGLE. THING. I realized that I wasn’t nearly as cut-throat as I could’ve been the last time around because there were SO many clothes that just fit funky or didn’t make any sense in my wardrobe. There were some clothes that I had held onto for years. Trying on all my clothes again really put some things into perspective. There were some clothes that I really loved and I thought looked good on me that I ended up putting in my sell or donate piles. Which brings me to…body confidence.
Body confidence is something I’m still very much working on. I’ve struggled with my weight for my whole life, and for the majority of my life, I’ve let clothes bully me into thinking that I needed my body to be something it might never, ever be no matter how much I worked out or how healthy I ate. It was hard letting some clothes go, especially the ones that used to fit. But as I’m treating my body better with healthier foods and with yoga, I’ve noticed that I’m growing to accept my body and love it as it is. Yes, it would be great if I ever got to my goal weight, but I think the first step to achieving that is acceptance. Letting go of those clothes (and the guilt that came along with not being able to fit into those clothes anymore) brought me closer to accepting my body as it is–stretch marks, chub, rolls, scars, and all.
2. I NEED TO ASK MYSELF: DOES THIS WORK FOR MY LIFESTYLE? When I asked myself this, I had to be really honest with myself. I had so many items that I held onto just in case. Just in case I went out for drinks with friends. Just in case I actually go out for New Years Eve. Just in case someone else gets engaged and we have another wedding to go to. Basically for all those just-in-case-I-had-a-social-life scenarios we all use to justify purchasing something. And also all the just-in-case-I-lose-weight scenarios.
The truth is: If I do get invited to another wedding, I do have dresses I could wear (but I might use that opportunity as an excuse to buy a pretty new dress). The only times I go out for drinks with friends now is right after work (typically spontaneous brought on by a really hard day). I will probably never, ever go out for New Years Eve again. I don’t really have a social life, because I’m a true introvert who also happens to really enjoy casual, simple style, and going to places that allow me to wear jeans (I’m also only friends with people who share my love for non-fussy, comfortable clothes and non-fussy places). My closet needs to work for my everyday life. So all of those just-in-case clothes had to go too.
3. I NEED TO BE MORE RUTHLESS, LESS SENTIMENTAL. I tried to outwit the capsule wardrobe experiment system by having separate capsules: my everyday capsule, a work capsule, and an occasional wear capsule. This was so that I didn’t have to part with certain clothes and could still be within the 40-item number I had in my mind. But what ended up happening was: I only wore clothes that were a part of my everyday capsule. I not once dipped into my work capsule for work, and I haven’t really had anywhere nice to go. So I consolidated those 3 capsules into 1 (ruthlessly might I add).
My capsule wardrobe now allows me to go to work; hang out with friends on the weekend; get drinks or dinner at a fancy-ish place if I choose; and even go to Coachella. The only separate capsule I have is my loungewear capsule that includes my work out clothes, and sweatshirts that I wear when I don’t feel like wearing real clothes (which since I’m being honest, is most of the time).
4. I AM SUCH A MOOD DRESSER. A lot of clothes I ended up not keeping were ones that I rarely wore because I wasn’t ever in the mood for them. Taking inspiration from the KonMari method: I only allowed things back into my closet that brought me joy, and that would continue to bring me joy most of the time. These were things that fit correctly, that made me feel good about myself, and that I actually wear. I need to keep this in mind when I’m shopping and not buy things that I could only wear if I felt amazing and confident that day.
5. I NEED TO REALIZE THAT I AM GROWING. In my last post I shared that I was learning to be gentle with myself on this journey towards ethical fashion and sustainable living. Part of that is recognizing the progress that I have made. The majority of clothes that I didn’t end up keeping were not clothes that I recently purchased, which means I have been more intentional, and less impulsive when it comes to shopping.
I also need to keep in mind that the number of items in my capsule shouldn’t matter more than the clothes itself. I shouldn’t constrain myself to either purge until I hit that magic number, or hold onto clothes so that I stay at that magic number, or buy clothes to add so that I hit that magic number. This number can be fluid as the seasons change and as I change. I think the total number of items in my wardrobe for Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer is somewhere around 90 items, including shoes but not including my loungewear capsule. Never did I ever think that I would have less than 100 articles of clothing, let alone be happy (and even proud) with working so little. I want to continue to whittle this number down, but in the mean time, I’m so grateful for all that I do have.
This journey towards ethical fashion and sustainable living has been so unexpectedly fun and enjoyable. It has been so eye-opening to learn more about who makes my clothes, the difference between fair-wages and living-wages, the difference even between ethical fashion and sustainable fashion. I’m so happy that through the process of elimination, I’ve been finding my personal style. I can’t wait to see what’s next for me and my closet.