I’ve had my capsule going for over a year now, and through that time it’s definitely been lot of trial and error. But that’s how all things are in life, right?
I started my capsule in January 2019 when I really started getting into the idea of decluttering.
If you’ve followed along with me for a bit, you’ll know this initial purge of stuff was due to the fact that I did an experiment to see how long I could go without wearing the same shirt. End result? Over 4 MONTHS! Something had to change.
I realized that I typically wore the same things on repeat anyway, I saved my favorite pieces for “special days” and rarely wore them, and then I had a bunch of stuff I never wore but just kept for some reason. “Just in case”.
So, what has gone wrong since I got rid of 70% of my closet? What do I wish I had done differently?
I wanted to share my biggest mistakes from my first year of having a capsule closet because I know there are all kinds of stigmas associated with having a smaller wardrobe.
I don’t want y’all to think how I did because it can be really limiting and you don’t need that negativity in your life. So here are my top 6 mistakes so far (as I’m sure there will be more 😉 ).
Mistake #1: Not figuring out my personal style first
I was so gung-ho about getting rid of everything, I was RUTHLESS. I got rid of things without asking myself anything other than “do I absolutely LOVE this piece?” Anything with the slightest bit of hesitation or indecision went.
While that’s good and the whole point of having a capsule, I do find myself wishing I would have kept a few things. I was so excited to get rid of everything, I had no idea what I was really going to wear going forward or how things would go together.
I was more focused on getting rid of things and not actually curating my closet, I missed a big opportunity to probably get a bit more use out of things I didn’t think I’d ever wear again.
If you take the time to figure out your style before you do your purge, you’ll have a better idea of what fits together with what you have left. Make an inspiration board on Pinterest and add outfits you love and would wear every day.
Mistake #2: Knowing the difference between idealistic and realistic outfits
Along with deciding your style is deciding how your clothes fit into your lifestyle.
When I’m looking around for outfit inspo on Pinterest, there are so many different styles I love! But realistically, only a few fit into my actual lifestyle.
Think about what you spend most of your time doing. For me, that’s going to work, hanging out at home, and running errands.
I work in Real Estate so my daily outfits are on the dressier side of casual. Hanging out at home and running errands are focused on being cute and comfortable. I hate feeling frumpy.
These are the things my main wardrobe needs to be focused around. What I spend most of my time doing.
I don’t go out clubbing on weekends or vacation a lot so I don’t need clothes for that. While there are tons of styles I admire, what I actually wear day-to-day is what should make up my capsule.
My #1 example of this is skirts. When I did my big clean out, I got rid of a ton of skirts/dresses. I just never wore them. I bought them to fit into a look I wanted to wear, but didn’t suit my lifestyle.
Pay attention to the things you get rid of because you never wore so you don’t go out and buy them again! Make sure you’re keeping things in your closet that suit what you spent most of your time doing, not what you WISH you were doing.
Keeping a few pieces for fancy events or vacation is perfectly fine. Just don’t base your closet around those pieces! Make sure they’re “just for when” and not “just in case”.
Mistake #3: Focusing on a number
Initially, I was obsessed with getting my closet down to 150 pieces total. That’s right — 150 items of clothing, including socks, undies, bras, accessories, shoes, PJs, workout clothes…all of it.
I wanted to be as “minimalist” as possible. I wanted to show myself I could live with less.
And while that’s totally true and I absolutely COULD live with that little (as plenty of people in the world do), I don’t HAVE to (by the grace of God), nor do I WANT to.
I also tried out Project 333 where you have 33 pieces you wear for 3 months at a time and rotate. But that also felt too limiting for me. I wanted to have access to all my clothes all the time. Midwest weather is too wild and unpredictable for that.
Sometimes numbers are really helpful for people. They give you a goal to work toward, which is great. But make sure it works for YOU and is realistic.
I realized that my desire to have less was all I really needed. I didn’t need to set a number limit on myself. It’s your closet — it should be how YOU want it!
Mistake #4: Thinking I’d finish in 1 weekend
I was so under the impression I’d clean out my closet and be done. One weekend, a few hours sorting through it all, and my closet would be how I wanted it and I’d feel better.
Your closet is always going to be changing. You’ll likely be adding and taking things away the rest of your life. Our style changes over time just like we do. I doubt you wear the exact same things as you did 10 years ago.
Don’t be surprised if you clean everything out and feel the need to add. That’s totally normal. You WILL need to add to make the most out of what you have left. Just make sure when you do add things in that you truly love them.
Mistake #5: Rushing to get it together
Once I realized I needed to add to my closet, it felt like a mad dash to do it all at once. I wanted to have everything I needed and be done! I thought if I didn’t have all the things I needed, I wouldn’t be able to fully utilize everything in my closet.
Well the point of a good capsule is that most everything in your closet can be mixed and matched, so not having a few things you want shouldn’t make or break you.
Don’t pressure yourself into spending a whole bunch of money right away to “complete” your closet. It will be a gradual process that you do over time.
Rushing can also lead to settling on things because you just want to feel like you have them. Think of your capsule as something you’re carefully curating to reflect your best self every day. That always motivates me to not settle on things.
Getting a few new go-to pieces will definitely feel good and add to your options, but don’t think you have to get EVERYTHING at once. There’s no rush here. I’m still working on it a year later!
Mistake #6: Feeling the need to have specific pieces
You know all those graphics on Pinterest of “capsule wardrobe staples” you see every time you do a search? They prey on people like me. I wrote a whole post on my feelings about this which you can read here.
They offer a “quick fix”. I wanted a quick fix to my clothing problem and I thought that was it. If I had all the pieces shown on those essentials lists (they’re basically ALL the same after all), then my closet would be done and I’d be happy with it.
The issue there is style is not a one-size-fits-all kinda thing. Everyone has their own style. Certain things work better for and look better on some people than they do on others.
My go-to example here is denim jackets. I always felt like I needed one. They’re so cute and versatile. I’ve bought probably 7 of them in my adult life. I NEVER WORE THEM.
But I never liked how they looked on me or with my outfits, even if I styled them exactly how I saw them styled and loved them on other people. They just don’t work for me. They’re not my style, even though they’re a relatively basic piece.
Don’t feel like you need to own everything shown for a typical capsule in order for your closet to be complete.
It’s important to have good basics to build on, but make sure they’re your style and something you feel comfortable and confident in. Basics also don’t have to be “basic”. You can have a little flare to them if you want like subtle patterns or texture like ruffles.
My favorite way to think of a capsule wardrobe is like a curated art exhibit. Curators only display the best pieces and put a lot of work into what’s included in their shows. Your closet is your art show and your body is the canvas.
Show the world your best self every day by only wearing things you absolutely love and feel great in, instead of saving them for those few and far between “special days”. It’s a great feeling, I promise.
And there you have it! All of my biggest mistakes from my first year with a capsule. Hopefully they help you to not put yourself in a box like I did and realize you can literally wear whatever you want!
If you’re interested in more capsule wardrobe posts, check them all out here!
Thank you so much for stopping by, I truly appreciate you being here.