One Year of the Capsule Wardrobe Experiment

Photo credit: Ronda Wylie of Say Hello Blog

Photo credit: Ronda Wylie of Say Hello Blog

One year ago, I started my little experiment with dressing with less. I was nervous to tell anyone about it because I doubted I could stick to it. I was wrong. Yay! 

I’ve built four capsule wardrobes, one for every season of the last year and I’m hooked. I never want a closet stuffed with “options” ever again! Here are my thoughts on wearing a tiny wardrobe for one year. I know this post is long but it covers A YEAR! Bear with me, friends.

In the beginning, I stuck to Un-fancy’s rules strictly. That’s my personality. I’m a rule follower when it comes to games and challenges but not always in every day life (if I think I know better than the rule).

For your viewing pleasure, I have included pictures of me wearing the exact same shirt a million times. Notice how I don’t look bored and no one looks like they want to punch me in the face (except for Anabelle in this picture)!

For your viewing pleasure, I have included pictures of me wearing the exact same shirt a million times. Notice how I don’t look bored and no one looks like they want to punch me in the face (except for Anabelle in this picture)!

40 pieces including shoes. No clothes shopping until it’s time to build the next capsule. When planning a capsule, think ahead to big events (i.e. weddings) and include appropriate attire. Oh, and no going out in “leisure clothes,” ahem... yoga pants. Them's the rules.

Getting down to 40 was hard, hard, hard the first couple times. I had 32 tshirts hanging in my closet before I started. But, in the beginning it was important to stick to the rules and count everything because because it was the only way to get a sense of how much I owned. It was staggering. But now I never think about the number. I have no idea how many pieces are in my winter capsule. It’s probably less than 40. It’s definitely more than enough.

So I break the rules a little. There have been a couple times I’ve purchased clothes when I wasn’t “supposed to.” Like, I didn’t plan ahead for Mitch’s cousin’s wedding this past February. I escaped to Nordstrom one night and had a lovely time looking for a dress. Shopping time is a luxury now! I used to walk around stores (and buy stuff) just to de-stress. The ultimate consumerist thing to do! I’m still tempted to do that but I mostly just walk around outside and play with Belle when I feel that pull. There’s really nothing down any aisle that brings true contentment.  

I'd like to thank walking, breastfeeding, chasing a toddler, these jeans, these shoes, this light, and this picture for making me feel skinny again. Thank you.

I'd like to thank walking, breastfeeding, chasing a toddler, these jeans, these shoes, this light, and this picture for making me feel skinny again. Thank you.

Anyway…I am a better shopper now. So much better. I know what I like to wear and I’m able to see past super trendy items to things that are a bit more timeless (although there's nothing truly timeless in fashion, is there?). When I go into a store now I don’t see hundreds (or thousands) of debilitating options. I see a bunch of things that would be a waste of time and money. The stuff that sings my name is pretty easy to spot. And it either looks good on me or it doesn’t. Ca-ching! See you in three months, el store-o!  

After a full year of doing this, I can only think of two hiccups. One, I planned ahead for a wedding last year and bought a dress online. It was a special nursing-friendly dress with boob zippers. Yes, hidden zippers by the boobs so I could feed Anabelle in a snap. Awesome idea. Unfortunately, the fabric was pretty crappy and it was way too casual for the CATHEDRAL wedding. I felt pretty underdressed the whole night. Cue anxiety. But hey, I lived.

The second hiccup was really only a minor annoyance. Almost every shirt in my summer capsule was silky. That got old. I just wanted a good cottony shirt instead of polyester or silk. I wore one silk shirt so much that it literally tore in half. 

I would like to NOT THANK for my mom for being super fit and now she is the small one in all our photos. 

That raises an issue that some people might have with capsule wardrobes. Do my clothes wear out faster? Some pieces do, but hey—why do you want them to last forever? It’s not going to be in style ten years from now. And when I go out and buy something new, I look for better materials which last longer. 

Another question that I’ve gotten several times is if I get bored wearing the same things over and over. The answer is…absolutely not. I love my clothes. There are some pieces that I love so much I want to wear them every day. I’ve thought a lot about switching to a personal uniform for that reason. I don’t care that people see me wearing the same outfits on rotation. The simple life is what I’m all about and talking about clothes is a great jumping off point into that conversation. 

That one time Anabelle wore a pony tail for five minutes. Good times, man. Good times.

That one time Anabelle wore a pony tail for five minutes. Good times, man. Good times.

I don’t miss the feeling that I need to buy more clothes. I don’t miss walking into my closet and despairing that I have “nothing to wear!” I don’t miss scoring a five-dollar shirt off the Target clearance rack. I don’t miss retail therapy. Wearing my favorite things over and over is awesome not boring.

I went to my first blogging conference this last weekend. After being in a room 90% filled with fashion bloggers…in cocktail party attire…while I was wearing a jean jacket…and chipped nail polish…I learned one thing: there is always going to be someone dressed cuter than you. It’s okay. That doesn’t mean stop trying, but just realize it doesn’t matter. It’s all relative. Cute clothes is not end game. I want to live a meaningful life, serve Jesus, love others. If you want to truly connect with other people, you will connect. Your eyes will meet. You will find something in common. Even if they are wearing couture and you are wearing old American Eagle. Or maybe you're both under-dressed. People who want to connect will connect, come rain or high collars. 

What’s next? In the next year, I’d like to be a more socially conscious shopper. Because I only need (want) to buy 1-3 things every season, I’d like to buy from brands that don’t take advantage of the hands that make the clothes. I don’t want my dollars to condone oppression. That’s a high standard because it’s easy to ignore how things are made and it’s hard to find compassionate brands.

I am physically incapable of taking a serious picture. WHY LORD?!

I am physically incapable of taking a serious picture. WHY LORD?!

The point of simplifying is to learn everyday that I have all I need. All I need is Jesus and my family. We have full bellies, full hearts, and a warm place to sleep at night. He has blessed us beyond measure. I need nothing. If I get to take joy in my appearance and have the pleasure of adding new clothes to my closet, then I would like to bless others when I do so. If you want to recommend any socially conscious clothing companies to me, I’m all ears! I’m getting ready to put away my winter clothes. It’s time to make a spring capsule! Yippee!

Thanks for reading! We are off to New Orleans tonight for some spontaneous fun! 

Sara Mitchell