A capsule wardrobe isn’t anything new. Search on YouTube or any fashion blog and there will be something about wardrobe basics/capsule essentials. Despite this, I want to share my journey with developing a capsule wardrobe and how it can positively impact your emotional wellbeing.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved clothes. Shopping is one of my favourite past times, no shame. However, with my circumstances changing in my early twenties (moving house, getting engaged, and saving for a wedding), I was living with an overdraft for the first time ever and struggling to save even the smallest amount of cash. It was a complete U-Turn to my usual sensible spending self.
In amongst the stress of wedding planning, as well as other things that were going on at the time, those good-feeling-vibes from purchasing new clothes was the easy way to temporary happiness. An unhealthy cycle began – when I was feeling low, I’d buy myself something new to cheer myself up, and then stress about bank balance, feel low again. So, it was back to H&M for some more retail therapy!
It had to stop. I started looking up ‘Capsule Wardrobe’ tips on social media outlets and, before long, I was ready to dive into the depths of my wardrobe and reach for the black bags. What I didn’t anticipate was the emotional benefit of doing this and how it has impacted me in such a positive way.
Back to Basics
After clearing out my wardrobe, which took the good part of a day, I had fifteen black bags full to give to charity shops, to give away to friends, or to recycle. The things I kept – the pieces I felt confident in, I reached for on a regular basis, and were staples that had stood the test of time – surprised me. It was now all about basic pieces such as the plain white tee, the Breton-style top, a long-sleeved polo, the chunky knit, etc. There was barely a hint of colour anywhere and it was largely earthy tones and monochromatic; a far cry from the things I was purchasing on a whim to keep myself happy! My wardrobe was no longer a chaotic mess of florals, leopard, and brightly coloured prints. The key theme was obviously comfort and simplicity…
Well, of course it was!
I don’t like complicated, I’m not a fan of busy, and I’d rather avoid things that are loud. For me, life is about the simple pleasures and seeking comfort. My wardrobe now started to resemble a reflection of who I am, which is what your clothes ought to do. There is a certain type of confidence that comes from this and, once I’d whittled everything down to my most loved items, I always felt confident in what I was wearing.
This had a profound effect on my emotional wellbeing and overall confidence. I didn’t have to keep checking on my clothes throughout the day to make sure they ‘sat right’, I felt comfortable in what I was wearing, and I felt like I knew my style a bit better. As a result, I knew myself better. There is a certain sense of liberation that comes from this which, undoubtedly, amounts to a greater deal of happiness in one’s self.
Spend, Splurge, Save…
In discovering the basics of my style, it was a lot easier to know what was missing in my wardrobe and what I could buy that would fit in with my vibe. Questions I ask myself now are:
“Do I need this?”
“Will I wear this a lot?”
“Have I wanted this for a long time?”
If the answer is ‘no’ then I place it back on the hanger and walk away. Very rarely nowadays do I regret doing so and, actually, knowing that I now have more control over my spending makes me feel better than a whim purchase ever could.
Considering that I’m now not buying so many items sporadically, it gives me the opportunity to save money and splurge on good quality items. Where there’s nothing I want to purchase, the money saved can go on other things – an evening out with my husband, going to the cinema with a friend, dinner with my family, or experiences that’ll create memories to stay with me for a lifetime. In the long run, these are the things that matter in life and no temporary high from a new item of clothing will ever replace these kinds of moments.
Shopping Your Way to Self Love
As I’ve said, the toxic cycle I got myself into before was all about finding happiness. In some bizarre way, my wardrobe was a catalogue of emotions and a visible demonstration of my own inner bullshit that I was not ready to deal with and would rather bury under false, temporary high that material possessions bring.
I’m not bashing this, by the way. Sometimes we need to treat ourselves and buy the shoes because we deserve a reward at the end of a shitty day. However, when this happens continuously, we need to ask ourselves some questions. As a result, when I shop now I ask “How am I feeling?”
Taking that moment to check in with myself allows me to mindfully drop back into my body, recognise what’s going on within my heart, and engage with my emotions. I accept where I’m at now instead of avoiding it entirely which, in the long run, is far healthier for me emotionally, mentally, and financially. It gets me back in touch with me at the helm of chaotic moments in life. Who knew retail therapy could literally become that therapeutic?! (Having said that, there’s always space in my wardrobe for a Galliano dress or Chanel bag no matter what mood I’m in.)
Thinking of Purging Your Clothes? Read On…
My advice for anyone who wants to start their own capsule wardrobe but may be struggling to approach it is to start small. You don’t have to go head first like I did. Maybe start with shoes, then work your way to bags, then tops, bottoms, etc. Before you know it, you’ll have done your entire wardrobe!
Always split your belongings into three piles – Yes, No, and Maybe.
Yes – This pile is the clothes that you reach for most often, your best loved, your timeless classics, and your bread-and-butter basics.
No – This will be the clothes you’ve left the tags on, things you’ve not worn, the pieces you’ve hung onto ‘just in case’, the clothing that doesn’t quite fit but looks nice anyway, the stuff you avoid because its way too uncomfortable, the broken/too long/too short/too tight/too loose. This pile will have things that you like in it but…let it go, girl. Let. That. Shit. Go.
Maybe – It is what it is! It’ll consist of things that you’ve bought recently that you’ve not yet worn, the pieces that you used to love but haven’t seen daylight in the last few weeks, or the clothing that you simply can’t make your mind up on. As you sort your wardrobe through, things from this pile will be upgraded to the Yes category or downgraded to the No category. The items that remain in the Maybe? My advice would be to put it away into storage for three months. If you forget about anything, get rid! If you feel you need it back in your wardrobe, then put it back in. Simple.
Be brave and be strict with yourself! You’ll learn a lot about your personal style, yourself, and you’ll have the opportunity to give to charity shops, local homeless shelters, grateful friends and family, etc. It’s such a good feeling to know that your old clothes will make someone elses day.
My biggest and best piece of advice is rotate your wardrobe according to season. Pack away your chunky knits in Summer and store the dresses in Winter. Having them around all year just gets you too used to them and taints the joy of wearing new seasonal clothes. When you pull out those knits and dresses in their season, it’s honestly like having a whole new wardrobe again and going shopping for free! Some of the things you’d have forgotten about and, when you place them back on your shelves, you’ll remember how much you loved wearing them.
As we’re nearing the end of the year, maybe it’s time to set yourself a new resolution for 2019. I would never dissaude anyone from doing this as it’s such a brilliant process which boasts so many emotionally healthy benefits. Your bank balance will thank you, as will all your friends, family, and charity shops you donate your items to.
Oh, and if any of you do purge your wardrobe, you’re looking at a girl who would appreciate your old Galliano, if you have it. Just throwing it out there…