photo courtesy of the kind, talented people at Death to the Stock Photo
I've been playing around with the capsule wardrobe for about a year now. I didn't stick steadfastly to the rules I set out - I did, in fact, buy some things even when I wasn't supposed to. Occasionally, I'd pull something out of storage to wear even though it wasn't part of the capsule for the season. But last weekend, while Donovan was out of town, I decided to pull all my stuff out of storage. Enough, I thought. I'm pretty sure the experiment has run it's course for me.
I've had some takeaways from this experience, both positive and negative, and I wanted to document them here.
- Although I may not have "style," I think I've figured out what works for me right now. Sneakers, casual tees, and jeans are what I gravitate toward. That's okay. There is no reason to have a closet full of fancy items that I either don't wear or don't feel comfortable in. It feels freeing to wear stuff that makes me happy and saying eff it to the rest.
- I'm more aware of my purchases. I'm thoughtful about them. I think about an item and how much wear it will get. If I have doubts, I put it back on the rack. Sometimes I think about it some more. Usually, I forget all about it within minutes.
I also think about the ethical and environmental consequences of buying fast fashion or items made in countries with deplorable human rights records. I'm not perfect (I just bought a few dishes from Anthro made in China) but I'm making strides. More on this in the future, I hope.
- Limiting my clothing made it simpler to get dressed (less choices), made laundry simpler (less to do - I am much more likely to hang something back up after wearing it instead of tossing it on the floor or in the hamper), and made me take better care of my clothing. I was more apt to sew a button back on right away or treat a stain properly since I really wanted the item in my wardrobe. I couldn't just shove it into the hamper and hope the stain would be taken care of in a regular load of wash. I can't just replace the cardigan missing the button with another from my closet. I needed to fix it.
- Kind of hipster, I know, but I've realized I enjoy clothing that comes with a story. The story itself doesn't have to be particularly fancy or twee - but I like knowing the history of the item, where it's made, the types of fabrics used, the working conditions in the factory, etc. It makes me feel more connected to the piece. In turn, the piece feel special (even a t-shirt!). This means the item is less likely to be forgotten in the depths of my drawer or tossed into a Goodwill bag next year.
- The capsule concept made me spend more time thinking about purchases and clothing. Although it's probably not true to the spirit of the original capsule wardrobe, I felt a compulsion to buy new things for each season. To make my capsule "complete," I needed to fill in gaps, find the "perfect" item, etc. This was true from the very first capsule I attempted until this final one. I bought just as much as I typically would - I just did all my shopping at one time under the guise of "completing my capsule." It made me uneasy and that feeling grew with each new capsule.
- I think it's silly to have a bunch of clothing sitting in storage in another closet long term. Short term? Sure! It taught me some stuff. But long term, there is little purpose for me. If I own it, I want to be able to wear it. If it's something I'm not going to wear, I'm going to find a new home for it.
- I spent more time thinking about clothing than normal. Instead of replacing shopping with something more beneficial (walks, meditation, exercise, cooking), I found myself filling out spreadsheets about my clothes, making Venn diagrams about colors, and watching You Tube videos on capsule wardrobes. Maybe a necessary part of the learning process but something I'm letting go of now.
- As I move forward, my simple goal will be to consume less. To take care of what I own. And to make my purchases as thoughtful as possible.
- I have a strong pull to figure out a way to buy ethically made items. I'm hoping buying less will allow me to spend a responsible amount of money for new items. Obviously, I'm not going to break our bank trying to buy a pair of American made jeans but I also know the ramifications of buying a $20 pair of jeans from a fast fashion outlet. There must be a middle ground. I'm aiming to find it.
- I want to track all of my purchases over the next year. Clothing and otherwise. I want to break down the costs over the year. Plus, after doing a lot of purging this last year, I want to figure what the reasoning behind my purchases. Is it something necessary or essential? Does it make me feel good/happy/fulfilled long term? Or is it a short term hit of happiness that is quickly forgotten (and consequently replaced by another item which has short term effects)? I have a feeling most purchases fall into the last statement.
I must say, that even with all this in the forefront of my mind AND Christmas having just ended, in 2014, I've already purchased: two makeup brushes, a new mascara, lip gloss, a wreath, a coffee kettle and grinder (to go with my new coffee set up I received for Christmas), a candle, four ceramic bowls, and three Christmas books for the girls (to be stored away until next year). That's since January One. My excuse for the wreath/candle/bowls/books was that they were deeply discounted. Joy producing items? I'm not sure. I didn't spend a lot of money but really, that shouldn't matter. It's not really a deal unless it adds value to your life, right?