Repeat after me:
I think about what I’m wearing more than anyone else does.
A big hurdle to overcome with culling your daily wear clothing is the fear that someone will notice you wear the same outfit twice in one week. The truth is they won’t.
Most people are far too concerned with their own appearance to notice that you’ve been wearing the same trusty, fashionable and comfortable heels to work daily for six months.
Yes, beyond dragging those sacks of once worn culottes (they looked so good in the store), cork wedges (so comfortable if I’m sitting all night) and the thrift store LBD that you never wore (the cost of altering it was more than two new dresses), you’ll have to do some heavy lifting with your ideas about fashion norms. You’ll have to forget the totally untrue thoughts that:
- I can’t wear the same outfit in a month/week.
- I have to wear something new to an event/wedding/party.
- I need to keep those things because even though I don’t wear them I spent a lot of money on them. *The MONEY IS GONE. From experience, it will feel better to have those items gone than to have them staring you in the face everyday taunting you about the wasted money.
Let those ideas percolate as you peruse my wardrobe basics list. This is the meat and potatoes of my winter and fall wardrobe. For summer I just remove a few of the heavier pieces and add in lighter replacements. We don’t have hot summers here in the Isle of Man so I don’t need an extensive hot weather wardrobe. Sad but true.
Basics of My Capsule Wardrobe:
For a stay-at-home-work-at-home mother of two children under four.
- Black Blazer
- Black Cardigan
- Gray Cardigan
- Blue Jeans *thinning area in the seat means I will be purchasing a replacement pair this year.
- Black Jeans *After a lot of bad buys – Levis and the GAP I’m looking at you – I have found a pair of black jeans that will stay black. They are Mavi brand if you are curious.
- 2nd Pair of Black Jeans: these are in a post-partum size and should be phased out, I hope, in the next few months.
- 8 assorted tops and t-shirts in neutrals and stripes
A few items of mine are waiting in the wings for me either because I can’t wear them while nursing or they aren’t needed for my current lifestyle.
- Sweater Dress: gift from my mother-in-law a few years ago and I love it but haven’t been able to wear it for two winters now due to pregnancy and nursing.
- Suit: should I need to interview or go to a formal day time function. I’m debating letting this one go – if I get pencil skit that works with my blazer I could use those pieces instead.
My wardrobe works right now but I am still saving my clothing budget dollars for a few items that will add some variety and flexibility to my wardrobe.
- Another pair of jeans. I’ve been considering a pair of colored or patterned jeans but with my small wardrobe they would be a short term investment. How long will hounds tooth printed jeans really be in style? Most likely I will get a pair of straight leg jeans in a blue wash.
- Button down shirt in chambray or white. I will need to get this item tailored. Tough when you have size 16 shoulders and bust, size 12 or 14 mid section and need it all with extra length.
- Pencil Skirt. This will need to compliment my everyday wardrobe but also works for formal wear. When I search for this piece I’ll be staying away from suiting fabrics and look for something that is knitted or a jersey material. I need a skirt that I can sit on the floor in to play with the kids or add some heels to for a night out.
What if you have a formal work environment or another challenge that requires a broader wardrobe? What if you love fashion and would die if you had so few choices for what to wear?
That’s the best part about streamlining: you get to do what works for you and only you.
If you have a formal work environment but love casual and comfy clothes build two separate capsule wardrobes. If you love fashion then accept the challenge to find accessories that dress up those day time dresses into evening wear and invest in t-shirts that you can wear with a suit or jeans. Build a capsule wardrobe system that works for 95% your life.
The Other 5%
What about wedding wear, ballgowns and that once in a blue moon ski trip? What about all of those one off occasions that you know will arise but take up a good chunk of your closet? This is a chance to get a bit radical. This is a chance to lean into the sharing economy.
In 2012 I needed a formal-ish maternity dress for just one night. I bought the normally $250 dress on eBay for $80, had a grand time in it, dry cleaned it, listed it on eBay and sold it for $100.
Will I ever need a formal maternity dress again? Maybe. But I’d rather have fewer things in my closet than keep things just in case. And as I already proved to myself, I can buy something second hand again, and resell it again, if need be.
So before you store it forever consider renting it, selling it, sharing it or borrowing it. This goes for everything from tennis whites to Halloween costumes. If you want to live a bit differently you need to do things a bit differently.
Next up: if that picture of my basics is freaking you out – no color!! – you’ll be excited for the accessories section of my capsule wardrobe.
What are your basics? Do you have the dreaded challenge of transitioning formal work clothes to evening and weekend wear?