Why I Ditched My Capsule Wardrobe

Remember that little “experiment” I did last fall? Yeah, so….it really didn’t go too well, let’s just say I didn’t exactly finish my challenge. But in all seriousness, over the last (almost) year since that wild-haired idea, I’ve found a much better way to do things. And thank the LORD because I’m pretty sure everyone is kind of tired of hearing about the whole “capsule wardrobe” thing.

After a few years of trying to figure out this whole “capsule” project, I had a realization that it just really didn’t work for me.

At first, I felt a little defeated…I mean, I’d spent what felt like an eternity trying to weed my closet down to an irrationally small number of pieces. But y’all…..I just love cute shoes and flowy dresses and pretty blouses too much. And in reality, I had to come to grips with the fact that a capsule wardrobe just didn’t really fit with my lifestyle. I mean heck, I’ve lived in four states over the past three years….all with very different climates, I’m now 20 weeks pregnant and literally expanding every single day and I’ve realized, I really like variety….so the whole “one size fits all” approach didn’t really apply to me. Now don’t get me wrong, the capsule wardrobe is an amazing concept and if you’re doing it….you go girl. Seriously. But to put it simply, it just doesn’t work for me.

The trouble was that I was continually getting rid of stuff because it didn’t quite work but then after a few months, I was realizing that ‘oh shoot, I might actually now need those snow boots, because I’m going to be living in North Dakota….woops.’ So ultimately, this lead to me constantly spending wayyyy more money than I needed to, just to simply replace stuff that I had already gotten rid of.

I was buying stuff that I realized really wasn’t my style.

So, over the past year, I’ve been really intentional about honing in on my personal style and picking out things because I absolutely love them, not because they seemed like they would go with everything. I mean sure, there’s something to be said about versatility (I’m all for it) but what I ended up with was a closest full of black skinny jeans and striped black tees. Which was perfect when I lived in Seattle….I mean, that’s basically the uniform out there, but it really wasn’t me. So I dumped about 90% of my black clothing and started the transition to clothes in colors and styles that I knew I would really love to wear and that I wouldn’t get bored with in a few months. (Easier said than done.)

Now, this process is far from over….I still have some items in my closet that I don’t absolutely love but just can’t bring myself to get rid of them until I’ve found the right replacement, but I have confidence that I’ll get there…eventually.

Anyway, don’t take this as a big ‘ol bash session of the capsule wardrobe. I know plenty of gals who have done it and love it. But simply put, it’s just not for everyone. So instead, I’ve adopted the habit to pursue a more intentional approach to my closet. But what does this look like? I’ll lay it out for ya….

  • Set a budget. Any other budget life gals out there? But really, this helps a ton. Sure, some months I might splurge a little bit and go over budget on an item (sorry hubs!) but I’m working on then adjusting for the following month and reigning it in. But simply the act of having a set dollar amount that I know I can spend guilt free each month lets me pick and choose the items I want or need and then it allows me to be intentional with that money.
  • Aim for quality over quantity. I’d much rather have a closet full of of a few things that I absolutely love than a full closet just for the sake of having a full closet. Oftentimes, this means spending a little more of my hard earned cash — but in the long run, it’s so worth it to have pieces that are well made and won’t go out of style in the next few months. Some of my favorite places for these staple pieces are Madewell, J Crew & Anthropologie.
  • Have grace for yourself. Sure, in a perfect world I would never find myself in the Target clearance aisle….but this is real life y’all and those clearance racks look pretty amazing at times.
  • Get rid of the stuff you don’t need! I constantly find myself curating my closet; figuring out what I need to fill the gaps or what needs to be donated because it’s just not being worn. My husband calls it obsessive, I call it order. I mean really, why would I keep the jeans that haven’t fit for two years? Make peace and donate ’em! Someone else will be stoked when the strike gold at the local thrift store.
  • Keep a list of wants & needs. I keep two lists on my phone. One is the essential items or the “needs.” Think, new bra, socks, a white tee…those things that we can only hold off on buying for so long. My second list typically consists of more of the “wants” sure I might need a new pair of skinny jeans, but I’m not going to go naked without them. Hence, it goes on the want list. This list helps me be reminded to save those precious $$ when I’m out and about and spot something I just “have to have” but probably is completely impractical. Going back to my lists helps me remember what it is I’m saving for and why I should just put that white dress (that’s almost identical to the one I have back at home) back on the rack.
  • Dress for the life you actually have. I know that age old saying “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” which….does have some validity to it in a professional setting, but it also leaves us with closets full of items that just don’t fit into our current day to day. It would be really easy for me to channel my inner California girl and buy shorts and tank tops and sundresses 24/7 but in reality, I live in North Dakota. It’s sticky and hot in the summer and straight up frigid in the winter…without a lot of in-between. So I essentially have my two closets for these extreme seasons. Annnd, I work in pretty casual environments, so I don’t need a zillion pairs of heels & blazers.

Well, that’s about it friends. Pretty simple…pretty straightforward, but not too rigid. I think it’s so easy to get sucked into any trend — be it the “buy nothing” concept or the liketoknowit “buy everything I see on Instagram” but really, we should all aim for balance and give ourselves grace when we realize that balance is pretty dang hard to achieve. So tell me, how do you shop?? Are you a minimalist, buying only the absolute necessities?? Or do you crave change and find yourself walking out of a local boutique each week with something new?

Sending love from up North,




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  2. I loved reading your thoughts Lilly! And this is exactly why I steered clear of capsule wardrobes. They never really seemed to quite fit my life, but I adore the sentiment behind them – keep what you use. So happy to find you in the hunt for intentional closets. :)

    xo Kelsey | http://www.abalancingpeach.com

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