hippy how-to: create a capsule wardrobe (part III)

Another recap: I decided to create a capsule wardrobe after thinking about it for about a year. I did the research. I took the time off work for Demolition Day. I came up with some rules. I mentally prepared. The job took 12+ hours. I got rid of at least half of what I had in my closets, tubs, drawers, etc. I made $182.

And I learned a damn good amount.

First of all, I ended up doing a few things that I didn’t necessarily intend to:

  • I organized seasonal capsules with a color palette of sorts.
  • I created an all-seasons basics wardrobe; it’s mainly tanks, tees, and graphic tops that can be used all year long. I did pair the basics down (and probably have some more to do on that front), and I feel good about this decision.
  • Jeans also became their own sort of all-seasons capsule. I cut down jeans from 10+ pairs to 4 different pairs: boyfriend capris, dark wash skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans, and one pair of kickboot jeans.*
  • I made the decision to not shop for a year sans the three replacement items I needed (and potentially a dress for my brother’s wedding next April…in Hawaii…he’s getting MAUI-ed), which I chose to buy right away (with the exception of a new winter coat) in order to A) avoid the future temptation to shop and B) take advantage of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. The two items? I replaced the pair of skinny jeans I loved but had worn holes into with a new pair of identical pants (American Eagle–the previous pair lasted me at least two years). I also threw out my beloved thigh high black boots that I bought after I watched Burlesque in theaters. I loved them, but I wore them for more than three years faithfully, and after being resoled and re-heeled (multiple times), they were done. I snagged a pair of over-the-knee gray suede boots to replace them.
  • I started making a plan to combat the urge to shop (see the resources below for a couple ideas), and it became apparent right away that staying out of stores and unsubscribing to apparel-company emails was absolutely essential. Additionally, and this is contrary to some advice you’ll read about regarding capsule wardrobes, I intend to make use of Pinterest–for inspiration regarding my identified style and ideas for how to wear what I already have.
*This doesn’t include the well-worn, well-loved jeans I have in fact had since middle school and still somehow magically fit into. They are my “dirty jobs pants” and still bring me a hell of a lot of use.

Second, I had some serious takeaways from this experience:

  • When you’re making your LOVE IT pile, it starts to become very clear what you love to wear. Not only the individual pieces but the types of clothes. I found that my style is very, wait for it, Bohemian–could you have guessed? With a bit of a classic twist. The pieces I love the most are flowy, airy, layerable, a little bit funky on the occasion, and many other made up words along those same lines.
  • I’ve read a few pieces about uniform dressing, which essentially involves creating your go-to outfit(s). This summer, my uniform, has been a wine-colored flowy tunic tank from Urban Outfitters, a lace bandeau bra, and cutoff jean shorts. It’s cool (which is essential when DC’s feels-like weather has reached 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the last couple weeks), and I feel sexy in it. I love having an outfit on hand that works for almost any occasion, and I am excited to see what I create for the fall.
  • Spend better. When I replaced the jeans and the boots mentioned above, I didn’t look for the cheap option or the trendy option, both of which I have been known to do. I bought what I loved and wanted something that would last for at least a couple years. Because that’s the thing: when you spend money on something that lasts, it actually costs less. If I buy a cheap pair of boots that lasts a couple of months with the amount of walking I do on salted streets in DC, those boots may end up costing much more per wear than the $200-300 dollar high-quality ones that I use for three years. Serious adulting lesson: quality over quantity matters, especially when it comes to clothing, kitchen appliances, and relationships.
  • Spend out. I have a scarcity mentality. I actually realized this about myself when I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I save (i.e., don’t use) good things. Expensive beauty products. Journals I love. Pieces I only have one of and would be sad to see wear out. And for so many reasons and in so many parts of my life, I absolutely don’t want to live life for the future. If I have pieces I love, I should wear them (and I am going to need to because I got rid of everything else).
  • Creating the perfect capsule wardrobe is going to take revisions and time. I am not the world’s most patient woman. I also tend to love to dive in, head first and clothes on. So when I realized that although I made a serious amount of progress I still have more than I want and my capsules aren’t ideal, I was a bit discouraged. However, I determined that letting perfect be the enemy of the good here was a complete disregard of how far I have come and the work that I did. Like so much of life, this is a process, and you have to trust it.
  • Kindness and generosity from strangers is still a very real thing, even in a place like DC. While I was standing in line at Buffalo Exchange, with ten bags stuffed full of clothes that needed to be inspected, there was a perfectly lovely woman behind me with TWO pairs of shoes in ONE bag she wanted to sell back. She heard the woman at the counter say that the donate bin was full to the brim, so donations (i.e., what they don’t buy) couldn’t be left in the store. I think she saw me panic about how I was going to transport what I expected to be a decent amount anywhere in the 100+ degree weather, so she up and introduced herself, said she had a car, and that she would be glad to wait take whatever they didn’t want to Salvation Army since she was headed there next. This woman, who very easily could have asked to go ahead of me (and I definitely would have let her), waited an hour for them to sort my clothes and look over her two items before she helped me carry the bags to her car and say how nice it was to meet me. Now, she did get a necklace or two out of the deal, as well as some insight on capsule wardrobes, but she was just a very decent human being when she had absolutely no reason to be. Sometimes, humans are pretty great.

Moving forward, I have found another project I want to tackle (see first bullet) and a some great insight on how not to shop based on the kind of shopper you self-identify as (I’m a combination of True Creative and Chill Seeker):


Thanks for tuning in for my three-part series, Hippy How-To: Create a Capsule Wardrobe. I’d love to hear the lessons you’ve learned from your closet, so leave a comment below or make bird noises at @abohembrunette.




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