Last fall, I tried (and failed) to use a capsule wardrobe. I tried to implement the concepts and ideas I picked up from Into Mind. I also used the wardrobe planner that Caroline shared at Un-Fancy. There’s a section to take notes on lessons I learn and other ideas I pick up during the season. I’ve synthesized my loose thoughts and will share them here.
When I was younger, I wanted to be able to wear every color. In middle school, my clothing was very colorful, but the colors were usually blue, green, pink, or purple. Apparently, I wore so much purple that some of my fellow orchestra members teased me about it, and once, someone accidentally called me “Purple” instead of Pearl. After analyzing my style boards and what I actually wear, I’ve decided that this is my ideal color palette (this is based on Anushka’s system):
main: black, burgundy, olive green
accent: purple, blue
neutral: gray, navy, off-white
It doesn’t seem like the colors represented here are that different from those that I wore in middle school. In reality, I have pink clothing that isn’t burgundy, because I haven’t gotten rid of it from middle school. The main difference is now, black is one of my main “colors,” and I wear a lot more neutrals. Two years ago, I wore an outfit that was all colorful–blue and green clips in my hair, a blue and green tie-dyed shirt, green jeans. My sneakers were gray, but the laces and logo were blue.
When I first started pinning to my style board, I realized how much I liked the look of gray. And stripes. And polka-dots. While I still like the patterns, my obsession with anything polka-dotted or striped has worn off, and I prefer solid colors. Unless black isn’t a color.
When did I start liking black more? I don’t really know. When I started out, I knew that my style would probably change, and I was afraid that I would stock my wardrobe, just to find out that it wouldn’t actually work out. And I did find that my style changed–from my middle school idea of style (colorful and influenced by trends) to a more classic and simple look (it is possible I’ve been looking at Everlane too much).
I used to pin ruffles and lace and chiffon and bows, but I’ve since deleted so many of those pins. Overall, the board has become more simple, and tends to the same classic styles. I realized that there were recurring colors, so I started another board for images with colors I liked. Sure enough, with a few exceptions, it’s pretty much all the same colors throughout. I used this knowledge to inform my ideal color palette.
Weather, Seasons, and Practicality
Back in August, I was planning out my autumn and winter capsule wardrobes. When school started, it was summer, and warm enough for my shorts and t-shirts. Air-conditioning made it cooler in the school, but I had included jackets in my wardrobe. I was excited, because I could mix and match my clothing, and come up with so many different outfits. But I didn’t get the chance to wear them all.
It became cold too soon, and I ushered in my fall/winter wardrobe (which would be different from what I wore when it was actually winter and much colder). This wardrobe had quite a few holes that I hadn’t been able to fill. I had been hoping to find black ankle boots and black jeggings and a black sweatshirt (I didn’t have very much black clothing before, and needed to update what I actually had to match my style concept), but I wasn’t able to get any of those. A lot of the clothing I actually had didn’t match my style anymore, but I had to hold onto those.
The blue and green tie-dye shirt was one of those. I still have it, and wear it rather regularly. Even though it’s not really part of my theoretical style, I don’t mind it that much. I’m hesitant about donating it to somewhere where it’s not guaranteed to be appreciated or cared for. Also, if I don’t keep those clothes, I won’t really have anything to wear.
As autumn turned to winter, I gradually stopped caring. I had tried to fill my capsule wardrobe, and with it only partially finished, it was so hard to use. I depended on those pieces that I didn’t own, and so I couldn’t support those outfits. So I ended up just wearing the same thing, and that’s where I am right now. I had to add in clothing for the colder weather, and what I wore was no longer restricted to a capsule wardrobe.
I’ve been working on that. I’ve been looking for the pieces to add to my wardrobe (and I’ll share the additions next week) and I’ve been focusing colder weather clothes, and what I would actually wear during most of the year.
What I Actually Wear
Two of the pieces that I had been looking for, and succeeded in finding were a black open-knit sweater and a pair of black sneakers. Though I don’t know much about where they came from, and how they were produced, I’m pretty sure that it’s not a good story. I wondered about this–it seemed like there was a dichotomy between shopping ethically and shopping for things that matched my style.
At that time, I was shopping mainly for clothing based on whether or not they would fit into my capsule wardrobe. Afterwards, I thought that it wasn’t worth it to get something that would fit, if it wasn’t made in good conditions and the workers weren’t treated well. Satisfying my desires for things I didn’t really need didn’t justify supporting bad practices. However, if I shopped ethically, I had to get clothing that fit my style, because otherwise I wouldn’t even wear them that much.
It would be nice to start fresh in building my capsule wardrobe, but I kind of have to hold onto a lot of clothing that doesn’t fit my style. I feel the responsibility to wear out the clothes I already have. They’ve already been made and bought–that part is done and I can’t do anything about those particular purchases. What I do have control over is the other part of ethical consumption–the consumption part.
Because of the whole weather thing, I haven’t officially been using a capsule wardrobe (I haven’t been keeping track of which pieces I can wear at that time). But I’ve been shopping with a capsule wardrobe mindset. I’ve been thinking about what I actually wear, what pieces are missing, what pieces fit into my style and would expand the outfit options the most, and have been looking for those.
It seems like most of the year here is cold, but most of the clothes I have are for warm weather, because I was drawn to the short sleeves and lighter layers…I guess I have the opposite of what happened to Jaana. Slowly, I’m adding in the winter pieces. Spring is the season for which I have enough clothing for. Maybe I’ll try the capsule wardrobe again then. And maybe next fall/winter, I’ll be ready to give it another try. This isn’t as easy as I would like it to be, but I was informed at the start that it would be a process of learning and paying attention.
Have you tried using a capsule wardrobe? How did it go? What lessons have you learned? How has your style changed over time? And if you aren’t using a capsule wardrobe, what holds you back?