Why I Mostly Failed at the First Attempt to Have a Capsule Wardrobe

Fear. I failed because of fear. I got rid of 90% of my clothes and shopped for a brand new wardrobe. I did alright! I stuck to my budget and got a few new shirts and pants to wear. All in neutrals so that they would all go together, thinking I would add in my pieces with bursts of colour when something caught my eye later on. And jewelry! I could add in bright, beautiful scarves and jewelry as colour pops. Great, so I was ready, physically, with my list as a plan. Off I went. Mentally,  a smaller wardrobe made my hoarder self inside my brain panic, and I ended up “rescuing” some clothing from the donation bin, which I have yet to wear and just clutters up my drawer (again! sigh).

Now, you would think that a capsule wardrobe wouldn’t work for Calgary, but it does. She recommends storing out of season clothing in storage, in a closet or under the bed in clothing storage bags or bins. So you could easily do this for Calgary. It is not for a whole year, but for every season. As people in Calgary know, we often get a taste of EVERY season during every season. We are able to get snow in June, plus degrees in February that melts the snow, or rain in December. So we have to be prepared for anything. However, I found if I put my out of season in clear plastic bins in the corner of my closet or under of my bed, that was fine. I was able to get to them if there was a drastic weather shift.

Somehow, however, I have slowly brought things into my wardrobe that aren’t necessary and “forgot” to donate a few pieces. Plus, two jackets a season would be fine, but I seem to have 5-10 per…..they are all hand-me-downs or second-hand finds and I seem emotionally attached to them. No one needs a whole closet of jackets and dress coats (and the like) per season! I need to make some choices!!

A capsule wardrobe can be ALL coats/jackets, right?

A few of “My Precious”. (Like Gollum with the ring, I am unnaturally attached to them! )

See, the idea is to have around (as close to as possible) 37 pieces of clothing that you will wear for one season, which is 3 months. In those 3 months you WILL NOT SHOP for clothing. On the blog I use as my capsule wardrobe bible, Un-fancy, Caroline states: “Your 37 pieces should not include: workout clothes, jewelry, accessories, purses, swimsuits, pajamas/loungewear, underwear, and the jeans you wear when you paint your living room.” For her, those 37 pieces break down to: “9 pairs of shoes, 9 bottoms, and 15 tops. Then the remaining 4 were just enough for 2 dresses and 2 jackets/coats.

I started with an abundance of clothing but it was all clothing from a past life or hand-me-downs that didn’t fit me properly (and wouldn’t be worth it or easy to get a tailor to fix). None of it reflected my current style and it was all a drag to put on. Getting dressed in the morning very nearly made me depressed. The wardrobe I had was all printed t-shirts with weird graphics or sayings, jeans one size too big, skirts in weird shades of flesh, fuchsia, burnt red or mauve that were one size off either way, ratty bunnyhugs (hoodies for you non-Saskatchewanians) and tight fitting plain t-shirts I felt uncomfortable in. What I envisioned was clothing in soft shades of pink, burgundy and blue with the core being gray, and some black and white. There would be skirts in heavy fabrics that would lay properly over my hips, soft shirts layered with roomy sweaters or cardigans, plus jeans that fit me just right and tapered so I could wear them with any shoe or boot. There would be Parisian-chic, modern Bohemian-cool and ultra-casual classy mom looks. I would buy pieces that could easily be worn with scarves and funky necklaces or bright shoes. Hats would be a staple. Hand-made wool yarn ones in winter and big fancy old-school hats in the summer with bows and wide-brims! So, off I went to realize my vision. I did, mostly, but didn’t add as much colour as I intend to…yet. I also still have some clothing that probably should have landed back in donations- and downstairs on my coat hook is FOUR fall/winter jackets, two of which I (probably) hardly wear. I can’t seem to part with them! This is my hoarding instinct whispering in my ear, I know. This may be one of those “just rip off the Band-Aid” moments.

I currently have, for the winter season capsule wardrobe:

  • 11 pairs of shoes (did not count my heavy winter boots as one of these)
  • 9 bottoms
  • 10 sweaters (I counted these separately. I think she counts them as tops. Ugh)
  • 20 tops
  • 3 dresses
  • 10 jackets/coats

See my problem areas?? Me too! I am working hard to rectify this, and once I do I will have to proudly display what I have left. Since Calgary winter is VERY similar to Calgary spring , I am going to work on perfecting this current wardrobe to fit the upcoming spring season without adding anything (give or take a few extremely-cold weather items). I will let you know how it goes and take some outfit pictures as soon as I am successful.

Oh, and for the record, even though she doesn’t count them, I have:

  • 8 workout tops
  • 9 pairs of yoga pants and
  • 1 pair of workout shorts.

Thought it would be fun to add that! What’s your workout clothing count??

“Shopping is thought of as fickle, something mindless, but in fact it is one of the most important activities an individual can do,” Juan Gerscovich says. “Shopping is the equivalent of voting.”

My clothing now is probably not even close to ethically produced. I just read an AMAZING article about the production of clothing and the chemicals used to produce the range of colours for the week or two that the clothing is considered trendy. It’s horrible. It is an article from a reputable source, Washington Post, and it isn’t over dramatic. I wasn’t rolling my eyes the whole time thinking ‘quit preaching your exaggerated “facts” to me’ the whole time I was reading. It was just very matter-of-fact. (You can read the article HERE).

In it, they interview Vijayakumar Varathan, from India. The article says,

But until his early 30s, Varathan mixed chemicals in a conventional clothing factory in the same region of southern India. There he developed a disease that caused layers of his skin to peel off. Even today, it is discolored. “It was pretty bad,” he says, in his fragmented English. “But I didn’t have a choice.”” (Source)

Those sentences shocked me and changed how I look at the clothing industry, forever.

Juan Gerscovich uses a dip and dry method for his clothing and no chemicals. He said one of the most powerful things I have ever read,

“Shopping is thought of as fickle, something mindless, but in fact it is one of the most important activities an individual can do,” he says. “Shopping is the equivalent of voting.” “(Source)

No longer will I buy the cheaper option without first looking into the brand’s ethics and means of production.

There are several good internet sources on who to buy your clothing from.

  1. The Washington Post article I just quoted mentions a few and I bet a lot of those can be bought online and shipped to Canada. 
  2. Or you can check out this article on eco-friendly clothing on MindBodyGreen. 
  3. And the founder of an eco-friendly clothing line has even more suggestions! 
  4. There are even options for your workout gear!! 

I kept telling myself I couldn’t afford these brands, but then I would buy 5 of the same shirt, totalling $40, and they would all be ratty looking or misshapen or faded in a couple months and I would want new ones. I could’ve waited and found one shirt for $40 that would keep its shape and stay beautiful and be a great hand-me-down for Izzy someday, but I like my stuff fast and cheap! Or I thought I did. My mindset is shifting. I can’t wait to save up for wardrobe pieces I can be proud of. And have fewer of them!! Hurray, capsule wardrobes.

I will keep you updated!

How have you been doing with your capsule wardrobe experiment?

Do you have any ethical and eco-friendly brands that you trust that I should try?

What is your favourite online place to shop?

You may also enjoy…..

Capsule Wardrobes

Building a Wardrobe to be Proud Of.

Decluttering and Unexpected Emotions.


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