Capsule Wardrobe Check-In | 1 Year Later!
Just about a year ago, I threw out 99% of my wardrobe and replaced it with a carefully-crafted Capsule Wardrobe. My overall goals with this “experiment” was to look cute and coordinated while making it easier to get dressed and decrease my overall clothing footprint. I’ve checked-in regularly throughout the last year; and today I want to chat about how it’s working, how it’s not, and what I’m planning to do to pivot!
Capsule Wardrobe Series
This capsule wardrobe experiment is all about getting myself out of a workout clothes rut rather than becoming a fashionista. As such, this blog series is short and focused on cultivating and wearing a minimal wardrobe for the sake of simplicity, convenience, and self confidence. If you are here for DIY and organizing content, no fear! Below is the schedule for this series so you can either keep a look out for it each month or skip it as you see fit!
- Part 1: Getting Started with a Capsule Wardrobe
- Part 2: What Items I Bought for My Capsule Wardrobe & How Much I Spent
- Part 3: How My Capsule Wardrobe Fits In My Closet & Drawers
- Part 4: 6 Month Check-In of Wearing a Capsule Wardrobe
- Part 5: 1 Year Check-In of Wearing a Capsule Wardrobe (you are here!)
The Unexpected Reason I’m Not Wearing My Capsule Wardrobe
So in a word, how would I describe my current “adherence” to my Capsule Wardrobe? Barely. But it actually has nothing to do with the Capsule Wardrobe as a whole, the individual clothing choices I made, or even my desire to get dressed every day. Rather, it has everything to do with how I feel and look in the clothes.
For much of the last 15+ years, my weight has held pretty steady (except for having babies, of course). But in the last 4-6 months, I started carrying about 8-10 lbs more than I usually do despite a pretty regular fitness routine and my usual eating habits (I’ve literally eaten the exact same breakfast, snack, and lunch every day for YEARS #creatureofhabit). Although I could certainly stand to eat a bit less chocolate and move more throughout the day, I strongly suspect it’s more related to recently weening off some medication I’ve been on for years.
Whatever the reason though, carrying this extra weight has had a profound impact on not just how my clothes fit but how I how I feel about myself while wearing them. I started this whole experiment to feel better about myself, but I’m fairly certain you will all get it when I say I do not feel good…physically or mentally…in clothes that are too tight.
When Spring transitioned into Summer, I was mentally ready to recommit to the Capsule Wardrobe outfits (you can see how I fell off the wagon a bit at my 6 month recap). But when only one pair of shorts fit comfortably, the already-limited wardrobe became that much smaller. It didn’t take long to find myself back in my pre-Capsule Wardrobe routine of (jean) shorts and a t-shirt. Whomp whomp.
What “Falling Off the Wagon” Taught Me
I’ve been thinking a lot about this Capsule Wardrobe experiment all summer. I’m certainly down about how I look and feel overall right now, but that’s an entirely different blog post for a different day 😉 Rather, I’ve also been thinking a lot about how I’d handle it here on the blog. I know SO many of you have been following along in this journey, and I want to be nothing but a source of inspiration to you guys. But I also know you all value my realness and honesty above all else.
I am going to be as transparent a possible while still providing some (hopefully) helpful ideas and advice for those wanting to give this a try (or maybe even struggling like myself). So while I can’t sit here and say how amazing this whole year has been clothing-wise (which is what I was hoping and planning for!), this unexpected “nothing I want to wear fits” turn has taught me some interesting things nonetheless!
Fit Really Is Everything
This is actually something I have been saying over and over from the beginning of this experiment. When you have such a limited amount of clothes and each item is mixed-and-matched over and over, you have to love every single piece. Not just the style and color, but even more so, how it fits. If every time a certain item comes up on the “outfit schedule” and you just don’t want to wear it (for whatever reason), you’re limiting yourself even more. As a result, you’ll get bored with the entire concept so much faster and…quite possibly…give up entirely (like I did). To make the Capsule Wardrobe work, you have to be able to wear everything.
Getting Dressed (For Real) Does Make a Difference
If I can find a silver lining in most of my clothes not fitting it’s that I can now compare and contrast using the Capsule Wardrobe (most of Fall through Spring) and not (all Summer). I can say…without hesitation…that getting dressed “for real” had a tangible, true, positive impact on me emotionally, physically, and mentally. Since reverting back to my (jean) shorts and ts, I don’t feel as quite on my game as I did all year long. Now…it is certainly tricky to tease apart this shift in body- and self-confidence. A long hot summer at home with my kids, the reversing COVID situation, the extra weight, AND not wearing my Capsule Wardrobe are certainly all tangled together. But after reverting back to my “old ways” all summer, I am yearning to get back on the Capsule Wardrobe wagon…rather than throwing my hands in the air and saying “well…it didn’t work for me.”
I saw, felt, and experienced enough change to give it a go again.
How I’m Pivoting
Can I Go Even Smaller?
Assembling the Capsule Wardrobe finally motivated me to get rid of tons of clothes I wasn’t wearing, but it also had me buy a bunch of (staple) items that I wouldn’t have otherwise purchased. So while the entire Capsule Wardrobe had a smaller footprint than what I used to have, the outfit guides prompted me to wear a higher variety of items than I did before. This is all a good thing and mainly why I started this experiment: to have less and wear more of it!
However, this summer of sticking to the same few cute shirts and single pair of shorts (with a few shoe swaps for good measure) also demonstrated to me that I really don’t need a lot of variety. I’m perfectly content wearing a lot of the same things…as long as those same things make me look and feel good! My Capsule Wardrobe is pretty small (you can see it all here), but this recent revelation has me wondering if I need so much changeability and variety after all?
A Perspective Change on Outfit Guides
You may or may not have noticed, but in our homes, I never really change thing up once the room is “set.” This might be because we move so much and I can just try something new in the next home. But honestly, once a room is figured out, I don’t mess with it (it’s part of why I don’t tend to swap decor or colors for holidays ether!)
So I really shouldn’t be surprised that, when it comes to my clothing, I’m just not inclined to experiment. It doesn’t occur to me to put a different shirt with the same shorts, or that swapping shoes makes the outfit feel different (even if I’m wearing mostly the same thing). Without the pre-printed, pre-coordinated outfits that I can see and mindlessly replicate, it’s all too easy for me to fall back into outfits I love. But is that a bad thing?
In my 6-month check-in I shared that I really wanted the outfit guides to function like a “schedule,” but was struggling to make it work. Recently, I’ve been thinking that I may have expected too much from the outfit guides after all? There are certainly suggested outfits I LOVE and wouldn’t have put together on my own (like the one below). I tried to force myself to stick to the guides “for variety sake,” but when I came upon one I didn’t want to wear, I’d pick an outfit I loved instead. So rather than using the outfit guides like a “schedule,” perhaps I should use them more as (I think) they were intended: as a guide, an inspiration, a suggestion, as boredom “busters.”
I am SUCH a rule follower, that I so badly wanted to print out the booklet, buy the outfit pieces, and mindlessly follow the guides to look amazing every single day. While it wasn’t quite that easy, this summer has shown me that I’m not ready to throw my hands in the air and say the Capsule Wardrobe didn’t work for me either. It’s time to pivot and adapt the concept a little more tightly to who I am and what I need from my clothes. I don’t need many clothes or many outfits, but without any structure or guidance, I revert. So here’s my plan:
- From the outfit guides, I’m going to pick out the ones I LOVE. I know now I don’t need 30+ different outfits for each season, so I’m going to be honest with the ones I love and will happily wear over and over.
- I’m going to print these outfits out 1/half page and put them on a flippable book ring in my closet. On the days I find myself not sure what to wear or reaching for my old standbys, I’ll use the booklet to motivate me to pick something else.
- I’m going to get honest with myself with how thing fit. If I need to buy a new pair of white shorts and a better-fitting pink jean, I will so that I can actually wear the outfits I like without being uncomfortable all day long.
- For the month of September, I am going to commit to “getting dressed” in an outfit on my book ring every single day. You guys love this series so much, I’ll check back here in October to see if this new plan gets me back on track!
Phew! Surprise, surprise, I wrote so much more than I was expecting. While this journey has not turned out quite as I expected, I’m still so happy I started it. I feel like I made two steps forward and 1 step back…but that still leaves me farther ahead than where I started last fall. It’s time to keep moving forward since I genuinely believe both my mind and body are deserving of this effort!
18 Comments on “Capsule Wardrobe Check-In | 1 Year Later!”
Thanks for being real with your experience – and not just posting a few Instagram-worthy pics of inspiration outfits and leaving it at that.
Have you ever considered a “uniform” approach? I realized as a SAHM of two young boys, I preferred to focus on things other than my wardrobe (and since I’m not teaching high school anymore, my audience of critics has shrunk quite a bit 😉).
I read somewhere about a woman who created a “uniform” for herself for daily life, and for me it clicked. I honestly wear the same pair of jean shorts (or jeans in the fall/winter) every day, and simply change the shirt I pair them with. And my shirts are pretty much the exact same shirt in different patterns (a modest slub-knit cotton one from Old Navy – comes in long and short sleeves lol). I’m free to swap out shoes, accessories, and cardigans based on how dressy I want to go, but the base uniform is always the same (I do have a backup pair of shorts and jeans in a different wash). It’s very freeing for me, and makes mornings that much smoother.
Sorry for the long comment! 😛
Your 3rd bullet point under “moving forward” was the key one for me. It wasn’t that outfit formulas didn’t work; they did. I just was unwilling to acknowledge I’d gained weight, and didn’t want to buy more clothes, but wasn’t wearing what I had (or when I did, felt uncomfortable and self conscious) because it was too small/tight.
The key for Outfit Formulas to work for me was to get the basics in place, and each season remove a couple pieces that didn’t fit or were worn out or no longer to my taste, and replace with ones that do fit and I LOVE. It isn’t meant to be a static closet capsule, IMO, but rather once in place it should flex with life–not grow, just change. I’ve been doing it for nearly 3 years, and overall it has been great!
I will say, I bought a work wear capsule, and never got that one done. I should–technically my job calls for that–but I’m just too casual, and tend to dress up my casual to make it fit the minimum qualifications for “work wear” LOL
Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Like you, I found that accessories and shoes did an amazing job of making me feel pulled together and polished, even when wearing the same old jeans and t-shirts I’ve been wearing for years. It’s not just “clothes” but an “outfit”!
I’m strictly in the “uniform” camp. I’m retired now, but when I was working, it was scrubs (a literal uniform), & jeans or jean shorts & tshirt when I was off.
Now it’s just the latter, & I’m fine with that. I have a couple of nicer shirts & sweaters I’ve knitted for showing my dogs, or other slightly dressier occasions, but otherwise I only want clothes that are comfortable & suitable to the life I lead.
And Megan, I think “wean” is the word you were looking for. “Ween” is a word , but that’s not its meaning.
I appreciate your honesty and “try again” attitude. This has been a crazy to year for your attempt so you have done well.
Don’t get out much here and would happily stay in my housecoat (I’m dressed underneath!) all day if I didn’t have to go get my mail every afternoon. But I get much more accomplished if I actually get dressed, Still working on wearing a variety of outfits if only for myself.
Terrific post – your transparency is much appreciated!
I couldn’t get the link to the Capsule Wardrobe to work in this post or the previous ones.
I wanted to thank you for leaving this comment. I had no idea all the Capsule Wardrobe links were broken until you mentioned it!
They are now all fixed so you should be able to find what you’re looking for now!
Thanks again for letting me know!
Oh this post is exactly how I feel. Minus the I didn’t clean out my clothes and start a capsule wardrobe. I have a bunch of nice clothes. I told myself I needed to move more and eat less this summer. And then I didn’t do as well as I wanted to. I am excited for school to return(1 more day) and get back to my routine and work on my personal feel better so I am more motivated to get dressed. Cause the same jeans and crappy t shirts are not going to cut it this fall!
Thank you for taking time to share. And for motivating me to get in gear and try again. Reset and keep going. I needed this post! And good luck!
Thank you for sharing! I’ve enjoying following along on this series! I too have gained a little weight this spring/summer which has made my small wardrobe a challenge. Thank you for your honesty and I wish you best of luck as you make new plans and get back on track. I am encouraged to do so as well! (I have some business events coming up for the first time in 2 years, so I will be forced to!)
Bravo for being so honest and publishing it in your great post.
You have hit a nerve that we all can relate to no matter what
point we are in our lives. (putting on something, a daily must!)
You are a catalyst to keep us working on this clothes cluster.
Finding what makes us feel comfortable and be happy with
the look on any particular day, is no little feat. When you
break the code, publish it where you can make the most $$$.
I have always wanted to try a capsule wardrobe but have never found a single source that answers all of my questions in such detail.. I’m literally about to binge this entire blog series! Thanks 🙂
I can relate to this 100%! I had 3 children in 2 1/2 years (hello, size changes), and then postpartum with my 3rd, my health crashed. I dropped a ton of weight very fast. By 3 years later I was doing better, and my body was like, “I’m never letting that ‘starvation’ happen again!” Cue the weight gain… *stubborn* weight that won’t budge no matter how much I workout or eat how little I eat. And then I got prego with a surprise #4 (due in Nov). Whew, talk about clothing size changes! I used to just wear what I could manage to find that would “fit” …regardless of my colors or style or feel-good-in-it-ness. Now I’ve been trying to purchase basics that I love… in each size I’m in, trying to disregard the “this isn’t the size I should be in!” inner voice. At least I’m comfy and cute and feel confident just by taking care of how I look!
I realize you wrote this comment months ago, but I wanted to be sure to respond!
Thanks so much for sharing your experience here; I really enjoyed reading your comment. That inner voice sure can be loud, can’t it?!?!
I haven’t really struggled with my weight for much of the last 10 years (after struggling with it for much of my teens and early twenties), so I’m definitely frustrated by finding myself back in a familiar zone. I really thought “by now” I’d be able to accept myself more and these types of things wouldn’t bother me as much. Some “wounds” are pretty deep, I guess!
Anyway – I too am trying to focus on how I feel and treating my body (and mind!) well, and worry less about what numbers “used to be” and “should be.” Glad to know I’m not in “the fight” alone 🙂
Hope your pregnancy is progressing well, and Happy Monday!
Bless your heart! I totally get what’s happened with your clothes and weight. On a woman’s body (not even going to mention age!), clothes that fit perfectly on a good day can turn on you in a heartbeat! Too much salt one day…now those denim shorts feel tight at the waist. Forget to drink enough water yesterday…now that cute bra pinches and makes my back “fat” pooch out! Ugh!!! Someday, designers for REAL women will catch on that clothes need to be more forgiving in their fit without looking baggy. In the meantime, I guess if we at least buy pieces that feel and look good on us and not what’s “trendy,” we can win the battle!
The part of your journey that I found the most intriguing was the shift towards “classic” pieces that are never out of style. I recently did a total closet purge/declutter/ organize project (turns out there’s carpet in that walk-in, if you get my drift! LOL), so I’m ready for some smart wardrobe building.
Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us so openly and honestly! I’ve battled my weight in this skinny obsessed world for so long that I’ve never felt comfortable shopping or even talking clothes with other people. You have a great way of sharing your experiences in a candid way that let’s the reader feel included. That’s a wonderful talent! 🤗
I know you wrote this comment months ago, but I wanted to be sure I took a moment to respond!
Thank you for taking the time to write such a kind comment. I’m really glad you, like so many other readers, have loved this series. It’s definitely been a challenge to put myself out there in this way, since I don’t like being photographed, and I struggle with my self-confidence and image quite a bit. It’s been such a connecting series for so many of us though, because I think a lot of us struggle with the same things as far as what to wear, comfort, etc!
I’ve reinvested in a few pieces since writing this post and have found myself getting dressed a bit more in recent weeks. Progress! The change of seasons has definitely helped since I like my Fall clothes better than my summer! I hope to have another update up later in the Fall!
I just love your transparency with this entire process. You make this seem so real and relatable. And so very honest!
I did a capsule wardrobe when I was pregnant (I hadn’t heard that term at the time, but it’s what it was). I couldn’t afford a whole lot of clothes, so I bought a few pairs of pants and some shirts and mixed them around to be presentable at work. I ended up with a schedule of sorts, so I knew what order to wear things to maximize laundering! I actually found the concept quite freeing, but haven’t carried that over to regular life. I really think it would be nice to get back to.
What a great idea to do a Capsule Wardrobe for maternity clothes – I wish I had thought of that because I always felt like I was wearing the same things over and over.
A lot of gals have chimed in with the idea of a schedule or uniform, and that’s really clicking for me! Love hearing success stories like yours!
I stumbled upon your blog when I was searching for a method to hem curtains, and now I’m bookmarking it so I can settle in and read more! I really enjoy your openness about your projects and how they work (or don’t work) for you. I feel like I’m reading the thoughts of a good friend. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Thank you SO much for this comment! I absolutely LOVE it when a new reader stumbles across my site and likes what they see enough to stay! I am definitely an “old school” blogger where I share a lot about the story behind the projects in addition to the tutorial. I love hearing when that still resonates with readers, when so much nowadays is on social media instead!
So happy to have you following along and hope you have a great start to your week!