Capsule wardrobe: Why you should try it

I’ll admit, I’m a huge fan of shopping — and when I like something, I’ll buy it in every colour. I’ve never been concerned about where my clothes came from or what impact they had on the environment — that’s why I was so intrigued by the idea of a minimalist lifestyle and the capsule wardrobe.

Be Green is a Modo Yoga pillar.
Live Green is a Modo Yoga pillar.

What’s a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe means having a limited number of items in your closet — usually between 30-50 items in total (not a lot, I know — I have double that in shirts alone). This includes shoes and accessories. The goal is to live with less, and therefore feel more free because you’re not constantly adding to your collection. Pro: choosing your outfit in the morning is a five-minute process. Con: learning to resist the urge to shop every. damn. day. What keeps me inspired is remembering that the less waste I contribute on our planet, the better things will be for everyone.

A lot of people curate their capsule wardrobe per season. I find that difficult to do because I actually wear all my clothes year-round. Yes, I’ll wear a summer dress in Montreal’s -40°C weather, but I’ll pair it with a warm sweater and wool scarf. I tried instead to sort things out into my different life categories.

There are different “rules,” depending on who you ask, but I decided not to put too much pressure on myself to cut my wardrobe down to an exact, strict number of pieces. Through the process, I realized making a capsule wardrobe isn’t something you can do in one afternoon — it’s a constant reorganization of the items you love and like.

Where do I start?

The first step is the best part: purge. Get rid of anything that:

  1. Doesn’t fit;
  2. You never wear;
  3. Doesn’t flatter your body.

Take every piece out of your wardrobe and sort it into different piles: love, like, donate and recycle. The key is to look at each individual piece and be honest (are you really going to wear that 1920s-inspired dress that you bought six years ago, but still has the tag?)

Coordinate the colours and styles so everything matches — I had a florescent orange dress that I quickly threw into the donation bin. Outerwear and swimwear count in your capsule, but undergarments, loungewear and workout gear do not — as long as you only wear them for these specific functions. The minute you wear your couch-sweater out, it becomes part of your capsule.

The second step is to look at your love and like piles and establish your base wardrobe (often neutral colours that can be easily mix-and-matched). I sorted my life into these categories:

  1. Everyday casual
  2. Work/office
  3. Date night/dressy
  4. Formal

In each of these categories, I considered these items:

  1. Pants
  2. Jeans
  3. Skirts
  4. Dresses
  5. Casual shirts
  6. Nice tops
  7. Sweaters/layers
  8. Blazers
  9. Swimwear
  10. Outerwear
  11. Shoes
  12. Jewelry
  13. Accessories (hats, bags, scarves etc.)

The best pieces are ones you can do double-duty with — a nice top that you can wear to lunch with a friend or to work the next day. When you do have to buy new items, invest in high-quality pieces that will last.

Then, you can add in any fun, trendy or statement pieces (luxury fabrics, rich colours, fun print, unique detail) to fill out your capsule. Make sure you consider how well they fit into each of your categories and how easily they match other pieces in your capsule.

Since it’s winter now in Montreal, I took out all the clothes I know I definitely won’t wear (like shorts or rompers) and I put them in the back of my closet. I also put my formal wear there — since I definitely won’t be wearing a floor-length dress to lunch with my mum any time soon. I still have more than the capsule’s recommended 30-50 items, but I think I’m going to work with this closet for a few months, take note of the foundational pieces I’m missing (definitely a white T-shirt) and then curate out some of the clothes I don’t wear.

Are you considering a capsule wardrobe or minimalist lifestyle? Let me know how it goes and if you have any tips or tricks you found useful.

Next step: clean up the rest of my apartment!

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