Summer Capsule Wardrobe Recap

“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.”
—Edith Head

Earlier in the summer, I boxed up most of my clothes in the name of science, goals, and moving. Capsule wardrobes are ubiquitous at this point but it was the first time I’d officially tried to do one myself. The takeaway was something I already knew, but found it helpful to be confronted with afresh: I simply own way too much stuff.

I’m not alone in this realization. In fact, I’ve been fascinated to watch some really quality reporting on consumer habits adjust to environmental awareness in particular, but also what seems to be a genuine weariness with the constant bombardment of STUFF TO BUY. Influencer marketing has played a bit role in this, without a doubt, as has targeted ads on all forms of media. We live in an age of conspicuous consumption, but I’m happy to see a general sense of self-awareness start to put some cracks in this.

And of course, I’m guilty. I like “stuff.” I particularly like clothes which–as I have learned thanks to the first move of my adult life which involved furniture–are much easier to transport than home goods.

I’ve written before about how my relationship with shopping has changed as a result of various books and publications, but the truth is that I’ve gotten a bit off track in the last year or so. I still buy mostly second hand, but I’ve been less stringent about that than I would wish. I still buy stuff I don’t need. I still own too much.

Doing a capsule wardrobe before the move unquestionably made my life easier. It gave me one less thing to think about in the mornings, kept my space tidier, and allowed me to pack well in advance. It gave me a sense of discipline, which is of course the big theme for me this year. It also made more ruthless in considering what items I wanted to keep or donate, which is always a good thing. It was a great experiment and I’m looking forward to doing a “cold weather” version of the project eventually.

But what I’m sitting with right now is the fact that, like so many other people, what I really need to do is continue to reduce the amount of things that I own. Living in a new place, having the opportunity to reset a lot of habits (which I enjoy as a process, a by-product of my military brat upbringing), I’m doing a lot of thinking about how to achieve this in a reasonable and healthy way. I continue to reject the idea of minimalism–it’s too ascetic and in authentic–but I know I need to be more clear-eyed about possessions.

A capsule wardrobe helped me dress for my actual life, not a fantasy version of it. My actual needs are pretty small in compared to my wants. Learning to restrict the latter has been something I’ve gotten much better at as I’ve gotten older, and I’m hopeful

4 thoughts on “Summer Capsule Wardrobe Recap”

  1. Being broke/frugal helps!

    Not kidding. I have had to be very very careful about spending $$$$ on amusements (travel, clothing) since we are so burdened by $20,000 a year for our goddamn health insurance.

    So many very lovely things I could own instead —- and enjoy with that $$$$!!!!!!

    So I am super selective about what I do buy, but that doesn’t always mean cheap.

    I just paid $175 (a lot for me) for a black cashmere long sleeve, knee length sweater dress at Saks Off Fifth (a discount chain) and plan to wear it for the next five years or more, accessorized to death. In Toronto, last week, I scored an amazing pair of short black suede boots at $248 Canadian ($186 U.S.) and, God willing, will also get 5 years or more wear from them…using the old CPW metric of cost-per-wearing. Even 2 or 3 years will be enough to suit me…those quality boots are usually $400-700 here in the States.

    I have a black pleated ankle length dress I bought in 2016 for $100 from Aritizia that I hand wash and go interview Big Name People in and attended a Very fancy wedding reception in…It looks much more expensive than it is and is super-versatile, comfortable,. etc. Wore it a lot all over Toronto last week.

    I stick to a limited palette and blow $$$$$ on great earrings, scarves, boots, shoes, bags. People remember these more than than the simple thing underneath it. Plus great makeup/grooming/haircolor/cut.

    I think style is also something we grow into. I adore fashion and wish I had a LOT more $$$$$ to spend on it. Choices, choices!

    1. My accountability post is coming tomorrow, I definitely spent money this month but like you it’s on things I will use for years to come. We’ve massively switched up our finances in the last couple of months and the results are starting to be felt–plus we are due some refunds and I finally got my bonus. Reasonable purchases made, everything else split between savings and debt payments. Onward!

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