Capsule Wardrobe: Attempt #3

If you live in Calgary, AB, like I do, you know how crazy erratic the weather can be. I’ve lived in three provinces and Alberta is, by far, the craziest. There are no seasons, there are seasons within seasons. It is possible for it to snow in June or rain in January. It is also possible to have really warm days in December, thanks to the Chinook winds.  When I was looking up Chinook winds, I came across this fun fact:

“An extreme example of a Chinook wind was recorded in South Dakota in January 1943, according to Black Hills Weather. The recorded temperature at 7:30 a.m. was minus 4 F (minus 20 C) and when the Chinook winds began shortly after, the temperature increased 49 degrees F (7 degrees C) in just two minutes and by 9 a.m., when the Chinooks died down, residents were experiencing 54-degree (12 C) weather. When the winds died down, it took 27 minutes for the temperature to drop 58 degrees, back to where it was in the morning.” –Source

We experience similar weather fluctuations in Calgary, year round. So you can imagine why creating a capsule wardrobe “for the season” could be challenging. And I think this is why I failed the first two attempts at creating one.

Now, I think I might have a system that works. I kept trying because I find my crowded closet so overwhelming that I was just living in my pajama pants and sweats to avoid going in there. It was time for a change.

The heroes of the capsule wardrobe, for me, are Caroline of the Un-Fancy Blog and Courtney Carver of Be More with Less. It was Caroline’s blog that I used as my guideline of how many pieces of each type of clothing to keep, but both women recommend around 30 pieces of clothing. Caroline makes a point of saying that you shouldn’t get hung up on the numbers, but do what feels right for you. This is very close to Marie Kondo’s philosophy of getting rid of clothes until you feel like everything clicks and is the right amount for you. But, I like boundaries and numbers to follow (damn, my Type A personality!) and decided to get to as close as I could to the Un-Fancy recommended number.  Courtney’s guide I used more for the general advice, like how to make a day out of cleaning the closet. It was Caroline’s blog that I used for the numbers of clothing. She gives an example of what she wanted in her capsule wardrobe, which was:

  • 9 pairs of shoes
  • 9 bottoms
  • 15 tops
  • 2 dresses
  • 2 jacket/coats

Keeping those recommendations in mind, I also kept in mind that I would have to alter this formula, even though it was only for three months.

I started to organize my wardrobe for November, December and January. I had tried this before, so didn’t need to start from scratch and download the capsule wardrobe planner, but I really found that useful as a newbie, so you might want to check that out if this is your first go-through. For me, I had to decide where my Spring-Summer clothing would go and how to empty out enough to be happy.

The Before. (Not shown, the overstuffed 3 drawer dresser right underneath).

First off, I knew that I needed the warmer weather clothing to be readily accessible for those Chinook days or days when I really felt like layering. Thankfully, Josh and I have under the bed storage drawers because of our fancy IKEA bed, so I just emptied out one of the drawers for my spring-to-fall collection. I decided that it would live there so that I could grab anything I should need during the winter- like a bathing suit for pool trips or vacations. Lingerie and pajama shorts also were put under the bed, as well as summer sandals and shoes. If you don’t have drawers under your bed, you could buy under the bed storage containers, plastic bins to go in your basement or an IKEA clothing rack.

To sort out what was worthy of being kept in the drawer, I made three piles. One was summer clothing, one was warm winter clothing and one was pajamas. If I was on the fence and it was mid-weather clothing, I put it in the winter clothing pile. I took the summer pile off to the side and sorted through it, making a keep and throw pile. Once I had my keepers, I carefully folded them and put them in the drawer, as well as pajamas only suitable for hot weather nights. The pajamas for winter weather were carefully sorted through, as well, and then the ones I chose to keep were folded and put away in the dresser in the closet.

Once I had that out of the way, then came the hard part. Now I had to tackle my warm winter clothing that I would wear for the next 3 months. Although I tried to keep as close to Caroline’s guidelines as possible, I knew some things weren’t going to work for our climate. Caroline kept 2 jackets/coats, but I ended up keeping 3 outdoor jackets for the season. One warm, one warmer and one warmest- Goldilocks and The Three Bears style. I did not fold and put away my two warm weather jackets and my rain jacket. Instead, I hung them on hangers and put them on the wall beside my washer and dryer, so that I would still be able to grab those if the weather became unseasonably warm. In rotation, I then had 3 jackets in use and 3 in storage. I kept dress-up jackets, like blazers, separate and kept 2 of those.

I made another allowance for our climate and kept two of my warmest bunnyhugs (hoodies, to all of you that didn’t grow up in Saskatchewan), without counting it towards the final amount. Since I mostly use them for outdoor sports to keep warm, I counted them as athletic gear and, as you know, athletic gear/workout clothes don’t count towards your total. Other things that don’t count towards the 37 total pieces?  Jewelry, accessories, purses, swimsuits, pajamas/loungewear, underwear, and the jeans you wear when you paint your living room….which means all of my scarves don’t count! YAY.

The After! (Not shown, the 3 drawer dresser with a few pajamas, underwear and a bit of workout gear, neatly organized in its space-to-spare drawers).

On Un-Fancy’s list is NINE pairs of shoes. I am not a shoe girl. At all. So I only had 3 pairs of shoes for the winter season: a pair of boots, a pair of ankle boots with a heel and a pair of DC skater shoes. And I know that purses aren’t on the official list, yet I felt that my collection was growing out of control and tackled them anyway. I went from 10 purses to 5! I kept 2 structured purses, one main mid-size one and 2 fabric purses.

All in all, my final tally was:

  • 3 pairs of shoes
  • 6 bottoms
  • 21 tops (mostly snuggly sweaters and t-shirts for quality layering)
  • 3 dresses
  • 2 dress jackets
  • 3 outdoor coats
  • 2 bunnyhugs (aka hoodies) (which I count as workout gear since I mostly use them to keep warm during hiking or snowshoeing outside or cleaning the house)

If I do count the bunnyhugs, I have 40 pieces. So, even with the extra jackets, I basically hit the mark because I have less bottoms and pairs of shoes. I had fun playing around with the numbers and items in my closet. I ended up having a full laundry basket of things to donate and my closet is organized! It looks beautiful now. Plus, anything lighter that I need to wear on the Chinook weather days is just a few steps away in that drawer under the bed.

The empty hangers I no longer need! I donated all of these clothes to charity.

I was so inspired, I also organized all of my craft stuff and fit it in the closet! Now, all of my stuff is in one tidy little corner. Stepping in the closet to get dressed in the morning makes me smile. It was worth all of the work.

I’ll keep you updated on how well this works out in practice! Hopefully it helps you figure out your closet if you live in a similarly crazy weather city.


Do you have capsule wardrobe tips? Please share!! I’m still learning and would love the help. 

Keep on reading…..

The Konmari Method and Saving Money

Capsule Wardrobes

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


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