How does your Wardrobe grow…?
For me, the transition from ‘regular’ wardrobe to ‘capsule’ wardrobe, has not been a difficult one; I have already ‘Konmaried‘ my clothes and discarded all of the things I don’t want, wear or love.
However – a capsule wardrobe is not for everyone. While you may be at the stage where you are aware that your closet and its contents are out of control, you may not quite be in a place where you want to limit your clothing choices. Have a read of the pros and cons of capsule wardrobes below to see what would best suit your needs.
Before we start:
Seems a bit presumptuous of me to assume you know what I mean when I create verbs like ‘Konmaring‘ and ‘333ing‘, so here is a quick “definition of terms” – feel free to skip if you don’t need it.
Konmari = ( from Marie Kondo, the Japanese tidying guru)
You gather EVERY PIECE OF CLOTHING YOU OWN.
You go through it, decide whether it makes you happy – “Sparks Joy” – or whether you don’t want it.
You discard the stuff that doesn’t make the final cut.
You put what is left back in your closet, tidily – there is a way to do it.
Capsule (in this case Project333) =
You pick 33 pieces, including tops, bottoms, jackets, shoes, and accessories that will all coordinate in some way.
You put everything else in a box/suitcase/trunk and put it away somewhere.
You wear your pieces for 3 months.
Get everything back out, and rethink what you want, don’t want or potentially need and go out and buy as necessary.
The “Cons” of the capsule wardrobe:
- The Capsule wardrobe can be seen by some as setting limitations on your personal choice, (do you mind if I call it CW from now on? Save me typing it out? Thanks!). It may be an area in your life that you do not feel is an issue; it may be how you express yourself, or your clothes may be your main pleasure. As long as you go through your wardrobe occasionally and remove items that are tatty or faded, or that you know you will never wear again, or no longer fit, then you will be able to keep on top of what you own.
- One of the problems with the CW is that if you type the phrase in Google you inevitably get pictures of wardrobes that include lots of trousers. Now this is probably a problem that is particular to me, I am not a trouser fan, but my point is that many of the CW’s appear to be for cool casual people, or are office based formal smart wear, or are for ‘busy Mom’s’. They don’t take into account that you can potentially be ALL of those people at once and you need a wardrobe that reflects all of these aspects of your life. Sometimes a limitation set as a number just means you don’t have enough of the clothes you need to fit the different parts that make up your day to day life.
- Lack of choice is not just personal – it goes noticed by others. Nadia Sawalha performed a social experiment on national television; she wore the same top for a number of days, pointing out – once the complaints came pouring in- that men wear the same suit over and over without it being mentioned. You only need to read any dodgy online paper (I’m not encouraging them by linking to them, but YOU know who I mean!) to see stories of stars, or particularly the Duchess of Cambridge ‘recycling’ clothes. This is the term the paper uses when the celebrity in question is seen wearing a coat more than once in a 6 month period. Wearing a variation of the same outfit everyday for a few months may not be an option if you are in an environment that will judge you harshly for it… or, indeed, if you’re a woman with particularly catty friends!
- By putting away the majority of your wardrobe you are not actually dealing with your clutter – you are hiding it. The beauty of Kon Mari is that it makes you face your belongings head on. You decide what clothes you are keeping based on what you love, not an arbitrary number. Her book also suggests you do not divide your clothes into seasons – hang and store it all together, you never know if you might need that jumper in July, or wear that shorter skirt in November.
By making actual decisions about your clothing you can judge what you have and begin to make your wardrobe work for you, straight away. Hiding it away is just delaying the inevitable.
- Below is an example from Pinterest of a CW. Apart from the black items, the over abundance of footwear, the undies (3 pairs of pants? really!), tracksuit, and the leather jacket, this would actually be similar to what I would pick. Well, the peach, grey, and stripes feature heavily in my wardrobe, along with the skinny jeans, and that’s probably about it, but this is the closest I could get until I get around to photos of all of my clothes. The problem with turning to the internet for sartorial advice is that your CW could become a buying exercise “I just need a jacket and more shoes…”;rather than using what you already have it becomes an excuse to go out and get all new things. The idea behind the CW is to have LESS, not for you to buy all this seasons key pieces!
The “pros” of the Capsule wardrobe:
- If you are someone who travels a great deal, or even if you get away rarely, knowing how to get looks that work for you with minimal pieces is always a bonus. It means less packing to do, less to carry and less to think about once you get to where you are going. I took a CW with me to Japan and managed to pack everything in a backpack, which I was then able to store as hand luggage, so no waiting at the luggage carousel for me! Providing you are not going to be visiting somewhere with massive extremes of temperature that could potentially require a wider choice in clothing, CW are perfect for travellers.
- Narrowing down your options, can make you focus on what you really want and need; I am curious to see if I get bored after a month and feel tempted to buy new clothes, or dig out some old ones. With the help of my nerd-sheet (I am a scientist after all) I am also going to be able to work out if I over rely on certain pieces; if I wear casual clothes more often than smart ones, then my wardrobe should probably reflect that going forward…or maybe I should just smarten myself up! The point being having less choice will help me decide what I like, and will help me shape my future wardrobe, no matter how many pieces that ultimately contains.
- In a similar vein, this experiment will teach me my limits – how little can I live with, clothes wise? If I hope to eventually go travelling I am going to have to learn to cope with less… plus I want to be a minimalist! Clothes are the easiest thing to control – it is why Marie Kondo starts with them in her method. While there are other parts of the house that need decluttering, my clothes – or lack thereof – are not going to have an impact on the rest of the family, unless you count the time I will gain from having less washing.
I seem to fall in the cons side (there certainly seems to be more of them!). This is not a method for everyone, particularly as some people seem to want a one size fits all, suitable for work/school run/casual/odd party/formal occasion etc. and it will never be possible to create a generic CW that is suitable for all. If you know what you like, and are confident in making choices, then it is an option, and certainly a good choice for packing the minimum for a holiday. But starting out in a minimalist lifestyle is not about deprivation, and if you are not enjoying the clothes you wear then something is wrong. This is why I would fall into the Konmari camp – love each piece of clothing you own, wear it as often or as little as you like, store it in a suitable and accessible way (not ‘packed away for next season, or ‘for best’ ) and gain confidence in feeling good in what you have chosen to wear. Having said ALL of that, I did try out Project 333 for the 3 months, it’s the scientist in me, so feel free to pop back and see how that is going, as I am working on my updated – and Konmari styled folded- wardrobe now.