Have you heard about the Edmonton woman who wore the same dress for a year? How about the B.C. Mayor who wore the same suit for 15 months? She did it as an exercise in simplification. He did it to prove a point about “the sexist scrutiny women face in the workplace.” Both of these stories captivated me, but why? I think as I embarked on my own year long challenge, I came to realize the year challenge idea is a thing. People are challenging themselves to do all kinds of things, like this Alberta family who are eating like pioneers for a year.
As part of our buy nothing year, clothing has repeatedly come up. We have lots of clothes, but holey socks and having no pants that fit can be very real problems and so we have had to evaluate needs, wants, and what constitutes too much.
Battling my closet
Don’t we all want a closet that contains only the items we really love to wear? If your closet is anything like mine than you have things you are waiting to fit into again, things you feel bad to get rid of because you know you spent good money on them, and clothes you need to keep just in case. But in reality, I bet you are wearing the same five shirts, 3 pairs of pants and 2 dresses all the time. I see my kids do the same.
I did a big closet purge back in January when I did the clothing swap with friends. I had done another purge back in October when I gave a lot of too small office wear to my sister. And yet I still have a closet that is just a little too full and I feel burdened by items I don’t love or I just don’t wear. What is the lifehack for winning over your wardrobe? This is something that has vexed me for a while.
Does it spark joy?
Marie Kondo the famed Japanese decluttering guru says “Does it spark joy?” is the best question you can ask when deciding to purge or to keep items. I haven’t quite been able to purge to this level because I need my dirty painting shorts, my dress I only wear to weddings, and the pants I wore to the hospital when all three of my kids were born. I do think that Kondo is on to something though. I think to get really minimalist we need to focus on the really good stuff. The things that make up our favourites are likely favourites for more reasons than just aesthetic appeal. My favourites are good quality, fit me right, and earn me complements.
Are Capsule Wardrobes the answer?
Wikepedia page for Capsule Wardrobe says:
Capsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a Londonboutique called “Wardrobe” in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces. This idea was popularised by American designerDonna Karan, who, in 1985, released an influential capsule collection of seven interchangeable work-wear pieces.
The term is widely used in the British and American fashion media, and has been the subject of several popular television series. The term has come to refer to a collection of clothing that is composed of interchangeable items only, to maximise the number of outfits that can be created. The aim is to have an outfit suitable for any occasion without owning excessive items of clothing. This is usually achieved by buying what are considered to be “key” or “staple” items in coordinating colours.
If you do a google image search for capsule wardrobe you will get lots of images where the wardrobe is laid out like this:
I am honestly not fashionable enough to have seasonal capsule wardrobes, but I can totally fathom doing them annually or every two years. I took a little time today to lay out my current favourites in my wardrobe. These are the things I would be happiest with if I had to throw everything else out. It’s definitely a statement in function over fashion, as I pretty much always like to be dressed for a run, whether I am running or not.
My final word on this and another important reason to consider building your wardrobe with intention is to combat the current trend towards fast fashion. When we chose fewer items of quality that we really love, we are doing good for our closets, our wallets and the planet.