Part of the excitement of starting my very first capsule wardrobe back in fall/winter 2013 was the idea that this carefully curated wardrobe would be so much better than what I was usually faced with as I got dressed each morning. It seemed like a much easier way to finally reach that goal of the Instagram-worthy closet. And in the beginning it was more about the aesthetics of my capsule than it was the functionality. I chose everything from my wardrobe that was season appropriate and then pared that down according to how well everything matched together. Which seemed like a good start. But I was forgetting to address if these pieces fit my needs. And for a while that worked. It was really easy to just over dress for work every day.
When my day-to-day responsibilities became geared towards taking care of two, tiny human beings, I couldn’t pretend that the pencil skirts, button up blouses, heels, and statement jewelry were going to work anymore. When you become a parent, your priorities change. And as much as I wanted to go out and buy a bunch of new clothing items to build my perfect capsule, it just wasn’t financially responsible. Or even plausible considering the amount of time it takes to go shopping. Have you tried shopping with two toddlers? It’s almost laughable to propose.
I once tried to veer into the swim suit section at SuperTarget before grocery shopping in hopes I could find something quickly. About 10 minutes of me just trying to find my size in anything, while on the phone with our realtor, then on the phone with my husband, then back on the phone with our realtor, all while trying to distract my son who had transformed into a screaming, thrashing banshee, ended with me throwing 4 separates into the cart to try on at home later. And when I did try them on, I wasn’t thrilled. Which in the end was good because Xhilaration brand isn’t quite ethical fashion. So back to the store they went. And thus, ended my efforts to buy anything again for summer.
As we’ve been working to get settled into our new house, it has been extremely difficult to motivate myself to wear some of the nicer items in my current spring capsule. I would put on a nice blouse, but would probably make it an hour or two before switching into a t-shirt from my lounge wear collection. And, boy, do I have a ton of t-shirts. Even after going through this t-shirt drawer over and over again, my collection of over 50 is down to 19. That’s a lot of t-shirts to just keep around without a real purpose. But they’re all wearable memories for me, making it difficult to toss them all.
Take the shirt I’m wearing right now. It’s just a basic royal blue, unisex t-shirt. The graphics across the front say Obama ’08: The Foundation for a Greater Nation. The O for Obama has a gator circling the top of the O and the slogan is a play on the University of Florida’s “The Foundation for the Gator Nation”. I purchased it when I was volunteering with Alachua County’s Barack Obama campaign. It was my first time having worked on any sort of campaign, and it was amazing to see efforts being lead by individuals who were my age or just a little older.
Every one of my shirts has a memory like this. It makes me wonder, “if these shirts are comfortable, they have meaning for me, and I have a bunch of them, why are they not a part of my capsule?” Because they are not part of my idea of the “perfect” capsule. They are super casual, and they don’t fit in with the aesthetic that I have in my head of what my everyday clothing should look like.
The first person to inspire me to really start editing my clothing down was Jennifer L. Scott. She authors the popular Madame Chic book series and runs a blog and corresponding YouTube channel called The Daily Connoisseur. Her drive to par down her wardrobe was so that she always looked presentable and dressed up, much like her inspiration the “Chic” family whom she lived with for 6 months abroad in Paris. I have always closely followed Jennifer’s advice to dress up and try to look better than some of my peers who wear athleisure daily. But as my capsule wardrobe influences have broadened, I am starting to think it’s more important for me to use everything I own instead of running out to buy more, dressy clothing, which will ultimately not see as much wear.
With this summer’s capsule, I have decided to be more focused on getting wear out of what I own and love instead of creating the perfect, blogger-approved, IG-worthy capsule. Obviously that’s not going to stop me from blogging about this capsule or putting photos of it on Instagram. For everyone who is on the capsule wardrobe journey, I want you to know that your capsule does not have to fit everyone else’s idea of a capsule. And sometimes it doesn’t even need to fit your own. If what you’re putting on each day makes the process of getting ready simpler and allows you to be sustainable by using what you already own, that sounds pretty fantastic to me.
To get the most out of what I own, I am hanging up every season-appropriate item that I can see myself reaching for during these hot, busy, summer months. Here’s a quick overview of what’s in my closet:
1 blazer and 1 denim jacket
7 blouses, 5 t-shirts and 4 tanks
2 pairs of jeans, 11 pairs of shorts, 1 skirt and 1 dress
All of these items together were very much not my idea of a perfect capsule when I started planning for summer. But I am extremely excited about the fact that I am wearing items I already own and love that were once just living in a drawer. These t-shirts were the items that I relegated to the days when I just said “f*ck it” to my capsule. And now they are not the indicator of an outfit that didn’t work out, but they are part of an outfit that was carefully selected and will be worn with love.
In your quest for the perfect capsule, have you banished an item (or items) of clothing to the back of the closet, but still find yourself reaching for it? I hope you consider throwing out the idea of the “perfect” capsule and wearing everything you truly love. Thanks for reading.