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!

1 Year Capsule Wardrobe Check-In

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!

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.

Megan Duesterhaus | The Homes I Have Made

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.”

Capsule Wardrobe Check In

Moving Forward

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!

See You Soon!