Why I’m Quitting the Capsule Wardrobe!

April 9, 2018

Why I'm Quitting the Capsule Wardrobe, quit the capsule wardrobe

This post might come as a bit of a shock to regular readers. I’m often talking about the benefits of capsule wardrobes so why on earth would I want to quit.

I’ve been using capsule wardrobes for a couple of years now and I feel I’ve taken them as far as I can. Back in 2015 when I created my first capsule wardrobe I adored the concept. I was practically obsessed telling everyone about this thing which had completely changed my wardrobe. Back then my shopping habit was out of control and I needed to do something to sort it out. The capsule wardrobe gave me a focus and allowed me to take back control of my wardrobe. Instead of making a new ASOS order every week my capsule wardrobe encouraged me to enjoy the clothes I already had in. This not only helped me to save money it changed the way I purchased clothes. Shopping had become a thoughtful and conscious process.

My capsule wardrobe journey has enabled me to develop my style and an understanding of what kind of clothes I enjoy wearing. I’ve ended my negative relationship with fast fashion and fully embraced slow and sustainable style. I’ve loved the process and would fully recommend trying a capsule wardrobe to anyone interested in changing their spending habits. But as much as I’ve enjoyed and learned a lot from the process it’s time to move on from the capsule wardrobe system.

Capsule wardrobes are a tool

Creating a capsule wardrobe is a bit like going on diet. It’s just that instead of losing weight you’re streamlining your wardrobe. If you think of capsule wardrobe as a tool to help control spending then it makes sense to move on once this has been accomplished. Afterall tools are used to accomplish a goal or task and once that’s done you put the tools down. I started my capsule wardrobe to curb my out of control spending habits. And I’ve managed to achieve that through my capsule wardrobe. I no longer impulse shop or waste hundreds of pounds a month buying clothes I hardly ever wear. My capsule wardrobe has been a useful tool, helping me to achieve this goal. But now I’ve achieved this it’s time to move on from that tool. I wouldn’t stay on a strict diet forever so why should I use a capsule wardrobe forever.

Not seeing my wardrobe as a whole

Capsule wardrobes encourage you to think in 4 separate seasons rather than consider all your clothes at once. My spring/summer clothes have become very separate from my autumn/winter clothes. I have essentially created two separate wardrobes with their own distinct styles. And whilst that has worked well up until now. I want to develop my style so that it is cohesive through every season. In a way, my capsule wardrobe has limited my style development by forcing me to think seasonally. I want to develop a more holistic approach to my style so that it flows throughout the year. I’m not sure if my wardrobe flows together or not as I never see all my clothes together at the same time. It’s either my autumn/winter pieces or my spring/summer pieces hanging up. You can easily forget which clothes you own. And whilst that can be a good thing when you pull a few surprises at the start of the season. I’m not convinced forgetting what own is a good thing.

There is also the issue that the seasons are fluid and capsule wardrobes are not. Here in Scotland, the weather is temperamental. We can get all 4 seasons in just one day. In fact this past week we’ve had torrential rain, snow, fog and sunshine. How can you plan for that kind of weather in advance? My wardrobe needs to be flexible to account for the weather. I don’t want to feel guilty or like I’m breaking rules if I have to pull out a wool jumper in the middle of summer. Having access to the majority of my wardrobe is the best option to deal with the Scottish weather.

I want to play with my style more

One of my goals for my wardrobe this year is to develop a cohesive signature style. And whilst a capsule wardrobe can be a great tool for developing your style it isn’t working for me. I’ve found myself stuck with a simple style based on basics. I want to play more, adding colour, pattern and statement pieces. My capsule wardrobe has helped me to develop a great base to enable me to do this. By stripping my style back to basics I can now experiment and add in some bolder pieces I truly love. I didn’t experiment with my style with my capsule wardrobe. I tended to just stick with what I knew and the basics which worked. But the thing is sticking to basics can become boring after a while. I want to have some fun with my style and mix it up a little. Removing the rules that come with a capsule wardrobe will give me the freedom to do this.

It no longer brings me joy

When I first started my capsule wardrobe I loved it. I felt so free, I could get dressed easily in the morning and I wasn’t thinking about buying new clothes all the time. I saved money and freed up my time. Letting me focus on the things that mattered. I was always excited about creating my new capsule at the start of each season. However, this has now become a chore and has ended up creating stress rather than freeing me of it. I really felt it when I started thinking about my spring wardrobe. As I tried to create my capsule and struggled to edit down my picks I realised that I was starting to resent the system. I was putting unnecessary pressure on myself to create a minimal wardrobe.

But the thing is I’m not a minimalist. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work for me. Whilst I understand and relate to the principles of only having items which add value to your life. I have to admit I like having things. I have more than I need in my home and I don’t want to reduce it to only the essentials. In fact, if you look at my house it’s bigger than what I need (there are 3 spare bedrooms) but that doesn’t mean I’m going to move into a one bedroom flat. I love my home and have worked hard to be able to have it. And to a certain extent, I feel the same about my wardrobe. Whilst I don’t want a wardrobe that’s bursting at the seams. I don’t see anything wrong with having a few options in there.

My attitude to the way I shop has changed completely during my capsule wardrobe experiment and that’s not going to change. But I no longer see the need to place rules and restrictions on my wardrobe. I’ve learnt so much through my capsule wardrobes, and I may return to them one day. But right now I feel like it’s time to move on.

Why I've decided to quit seasonal capsule wardrobes. Recognising that capsule wardrobes no longer work for me and why they might not for you. #capsulewardrobe #minimalistwardrobe
Why I'm quitting the capsule wardrobe. After 2 years of seasonal capsule wardrobes I've decided to quit click through to find out why. #capsulewardrobe

15 responses to “Why I’m Quitting the Capsule Wardrobe!”

  1. Caroline says:

    Thanks so much for writing this, I bet it was a bit daunting to type out but I really appreciate the perspective. I haven’t tried the capsule wardrobe experiment but I can totally see how it would feel limiting rather than freeing after a while. I especially agree about the seasons thing, UK weather is so unpredictable! I’m looking forward to seeing how your style develops now you have access to all your clothes in one go!

  2. Rachel says:

    Yes to all of this!! I did a capsule wardrobe for a year and loved it but then felt exactly all the things you’ve described here. It can be a great reset but I couldn’t sustain it for more than a year. I like to shop, sometimes more sometimes less but I don’t want to beat myself up about it. I also now only buy things that I know I will love and wear over and over again. I too struggled with the seasons.. like now my spring capsule would be in place but honestly most days it’s too wet and cold still to even think about wearing a nice blouse or dress or tshirt. Wrll done you for addressing it head on and deciding what’s best for you xx

  3. Karenza says:

    Thank you for this post. I completely agree with your comments on weather as in Canada we have a similar climate with snow, rain, wind and sun in the same day. My spring capsule wardrobe has barely been touched with the fluctuating weather. I think the major difference is that our summers in Ottawa, Ontario are super hot and humid. So really I have three seasons to dress for – Fall, Winter and Summer. Fluctuating back and forth between between the clothes from seasons are a must.

    I too have struggled with maintaining a capsule wardrobe so I really appreciated your candor. I was a fast clothing addict, buying cheap buys almost daily 😕vut thanks to your posts and other bloggers I got out of the fast fashion cycle and have come to value well made and sustainable clothes. It’s still a work in progress, but I now take pride in my closet, and utilize the smart closet ap to log my outfits and create new looks. The ap helps to remind me of all of the great clothes I have (helps with curving impulse buying)

  4. Chrissie says:

    I have been participating in style challenges for just over a year now but this ‘Spring’ has been so tough, I’m still in jumpers and my winter coat most days. I find that the Spring capsule does give me a bit of hope that things will lighten up and brighten up. I often think that in the North West there are two seasons: cold and wet vs warmer and wet. Summer clothes are to be worn on holidays abroad 🙂 So I am thinking about not packing away my winter closet staples so I can manage if the weather goes topsy turvy. I find uniqlo’s heattech tops are great under lighter layers so I won’t be packing them away either. I agree wholeheartedly that capsule wardrobes are a wonderful tool for reintroducing sanity into one’s spending habits. The other game changer for me was devising a colour palette after working out what my ‘season’ is. I’ve really enjoyed your capsules as they have been the most relevant to the British climate. I look forward to phase 2. Thank you so much for all the past capsules

  5. Capsule wardrobe still rocks for people who want to keep their clothes separately by season. Here in Bucharest, Romania, sometimes we have two seasons in a day… today in the morning, it’s like spring indeed and in the afternoon, it’s like summer…

  6. Elyse says:

    You’re brave to speak up on this, as the blogosphere is aflitter with how you NEED to have a capsule wardrobe NOW. While I think it’s a great concept, and necessary for packing for vacations, it’s hard to execute if some days you wanna be preppy and other days boho. So I totally agree with you. Maybe having multi-capsules for all the different looks you want to execute could be an idea. 🙂 Keep up the good work.

  7. Derian says:

    Great post! I admire how practical your advice is! So many capsule articles skew toward the “basics you MUST have”, which are either “Ballet flats, skinny jeans, LBD” (snooze) or “basics” that are so current and trendy you know the article was just a plug for sponsored content. This has made me tired of the capsule trope already. As you said, it’s a tool. I also live in a place with weather fluctuations, and it’s refreshing to see advice for those of us who aren’t all fashion editors living in New York City.

  8. Diane says:

    Internet bloggers who have decreed that a capsule wardrobe must have a certain number of items and be broken down in seasons, with the off-season garments put away and out of sight, actually have perverted Susie Faux’s original concept when she coined the term and promoted capsule wardrobing back in the 1970s. Faux said that a capsule wardrobe is meant to be a 4-season-spanning wardrobe of basics that you can have in your closet all year-round, adding to it with seasonal extras. She specifically meant for a capsule wardrobe to be accessible, without the need to go through your closet and pull out the “out-of-season” clothing and store it away. Because one has less ill-fitting and ill-made crap in the closet, they can fit a 4-season basic wardrobe in it and add to it as needed. She also said that 30-40 items is ideal, but a person’s lifetsyle will determine how many they need, and she believed in the power of a high quality jacket as the central piece. Don’t fall for the imposter bloggers who make it seem like you have to follow their rules to do a capsule wardrobe “properly!”

  9. I’ve never done the capsule wardrobe thing, but I can see that it would be a useful tool for someone who either has not yet discovered their own personal style or needs to cut back on their shopping habit. It doesn’t make any sense at all to me to have a separate wardrobe for each season, though that might work for some people. I find my seasonless wool pencil skirts, etc, work well for me all year.

  10. Norma Nelson says:

    Love your blog! I am working on slowing down my life , living with a little less and spending more time
    on the things that matter to me. I have been doing the capsule wardrobe for a year. I have learned a lot about what I really
    love. So far I am enjoying it. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  11. Ketutar says:

    Well… most of your reasons don’t have anything to do with a capsule wardrobe.
    You are supposed to create it ONCE IN A LIFETIME, not for every season.
    You are supposed to have so few clothes they all fit in your closet, even the swimming suit and shorts and winter coat.
    Also, you are supposed to create your capsule wardrobe based on YOU – your needs, preferences, lifestyle, circumstances, weather and occupation. There is no “one capsule wardrobe fits all” or “every woman needs this piece of clothing”.
    Also, style is your air, not your clothes. Just look at Donna Karan and Jackie O.

    But – you don’t want to, and that’s all the reason anyone needs. After all, it’s YOUR wardrobe. YOU decide 😀

  12. Sarah says:

    I’ve been doing the capsule wardrobe thing for years now, just never knew that’s what it was called. The thing I’ve noticed, with all the reading I’m done on this stuff, is there’s a lack of creativity with color. Everything is black gray white and brown, BLAH!

    When I’m trying to do is work other colors into my wardrobe such as purple, red, green and, yes pink. The one thing I worked, creativity wise, is adding accessories. I have a bunch of scarves, a million earrings and several necklaces that I do to change up things. I have also found using a color wheel comes in really handy to try and segue colors that people don’t normally think mixed together. Green is great with purple and red, yellow is tricky. I also adore royal blue witch with works well with black but not much else. Still, I won’t let go of it . As for change of seasons, Blazers are my favorite thing followed by cardigans. Helps with layering for all that mid-season stuff.

  13. Val says:

    Yes. Yes. Yes. Absolutely. I’ve tried capsule. Minimal. Basic wardrobes but like you I felt I was “robbing” myself creativity and inventiveness. Happy medium is good!

  14. Terrancita says:

    I don’t think you understand what capsule wardrobes are. Capsule wardrobes are a form of organization, by which one creates a coherent set of clothing that can be worn together, in some combination, to suit every occasion.

    That is all it is. They are to therefore be sturdy, classic, serviceable pieces that look wonderful on you and will last decades.

    Owning a capsule wardrobe is not the same thing as fasting. It is not purposeful deprivation to achieve a goal. It is minimalism, owning enough, to achieve a desired balance wherein there is no worry about what to wear and the joy of wearing something that looks good to and on you.

    Since it is not fasting, but, it is minimalism, to relieve stress and save time, there is always room for additions of the moment, such as a nice piece of costume jewelry, a pair of leggings, a cami that will work for now and until it falls part. Or, even, several other items that are also high quality, serviceable, classic pieces and will enhance your look, giving you a broader range of color and texture, for decades to come.

    In other words, having a capsule wardrobe does not mean never playing with fashion.

    And, the way most people do capsule wardrobes, in our modern age, certainly does not. I knew a woman who owned something like three skirts and blouses, two pair of pants and a t-shirt. And, presumably, underthings. She took good care of them. And, when she felt a need for a change, because she only had extremely limited closet space (living in a travel trailer) she would shop carefully and only add that which would fit in her space, which usually meant which could replace (without regret) one of what was already owned.

    So, she played with fashion. She just did it with consideration of the limits of her closet, both in contents and space.

    Then, many women buy themselves a new dress for a special occasion each year and only worry about getting rid of things when they run out of space. It works for them, because, that’s how much change they need and a dress does not require much “fitting in” with what was owned before its arrival, if any.

    There is no reason to quit owning a capsule wardrobe just because you want to make additions. And, unless you are throwing out all your quality pieces and deciding to wear nothing but cheap items that only last through a season, you are not quitting having a capsule wardrobe. You will still have it, plus.

    Absolutely no one in their right mind is going to have a closet that is mildly full of garments that are right for all occasions and look good on them, which will stand the test of time and can be worn together and throw them out, though. They are going to add to their possessions, while retaining the integrity of the capsule.

    Therefore, still doing the capsule wardrobe.

    Which is another way it is like minimalism. Because, of course, some people will tell you if you have more than “this many” things in your life, a particular room, a purse, a closet, it means you are not a minimalist or that you are not owning a capsule wardrobe; but, there are no hard and fast rules that one must adhere to.

    A minimalist minimizes what they own and waste time on, when and how they want to, because, they want to.

    A capsule wardrobe owner encapsulates the wardrobe that they want to, when and how they want to, because, they want to.

    Which means, in both cases, they also do not do it where they do not want to. So, one can have a minimalist kitchen or way of eating, but, a maximalist wardrobe. It might even be prudent to have that maximalist wardrobe, because, maybe that’s how you only have to go do laundry once every three months and that saves you so much time and work, since it takes much less time to fill several washers and dryers in one trip than it would to fill one each, every week. That might be part of the minimalist way of reducing stress, then. And, having artwork that is purely useful.

    And, a person who owns a capsule wardrobe can have the piece of mind of “This is what I will wear when I don’t have the time to think of what to wear.” which they may wear some of even when they do have time and they want to play; but, it in no way means they cannot play. And, maybe, for them, that is part of the minimalist experience of owning a capsule wardrobe, because, they have it in the back of their mind when they are considering, “Is this worth the price? Will it go with anything I own?” They know their pieces, they know what goes. And, they know if they care for this particular piece, and, they know “It may or may not go with the joggers I bought two weeks ago, but, it will look fabulous with my capsule wardrobe pieces, if nothing else, and, give me a new look for a while.” Or, they can say, “I don’t know if it goes with the joggers, but, I am sure it doesn’t go with the capsule wardrobe. So, I should only get it if I can find something else I like that I am sure it will go with and I feel like I’ll want to wear it enough to be worth the money spent.”

    Sorry for going on. Well, sorry in a way. Because, really, I do get tired of people treating capsule wardrobe owning like it is a punishment for fashion crimes or budgetary excesses of the past. It’s not! Not even close! It is freedom and peace of mind of being both appropriate and looking good, for sure, whenever it is worn.

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