Can you imagine the horror of opening your closet and only seeing three dresses to play with? Three. No, you’re not living on the run out of a suitcase à la Gone Girl — there are three hanging there by choice. How about four knit sweaters tidily stacked on top of each other on the shelf? Wait, does someone really think you could build a whole wardrobe around four pairs of pants? I know, take a moment to put your hand on the wall and process the madness. Should I... do you want me to bring you a glass of water? That could help.
Okay, now that the initial shock wore off, are you kind of seeing the appeal? Can you imagine opening your closet door and not having sleeves and pant legs come out and try to wrestle you into their depths? Wouldn’t it be fun to go into the far left of your wardrobe and not be taunted by all the regretted purchases; not be mocked by all their uncut price tags?
Enter the capsule wardrobe, my friend. You might have heard about it through blogs like Un-fancy and Project 333, where the bloggers challenge their readers to try a life that isn’t weighed down by things. Their idea is that all those things you own require your time and attention, so imagine what you could do with your time when it isn’t tethered down by the weight of seven striped sweaters that all look the same...
The rules of the capsule wardrobe are to only have 37 or less pieces in your closet per season, including shoes, outerwear, bags, and all. You buy what you need during the beginning of the season, and then don’t touch your wallet until the next one begins. While it might sound scary in the beginning, it aims to help you figure out what you should put the most amount of your energy into: What you own, or what you want to experience?
Do you want a new cardigan or do you want to go all-out at the Argentine restaurant tonight, cocktails and all? Do you want that new designer bag, or do you want to pack your friends into the car and go on a day trip to that winery a state over? Which sounds more appealing to you?
Our number one excuse for staying in our life rut is that we don’t have enough money to do things, when in reality we do. It’s just hanging in our closets.
Because of that, here’s why you should give this challenge a go:
1. It’ll Help You Figure Out What Your Style Really Is
With a limited amount of dresses and patterns to play in, you’re going to only choose the pieces that really pull at your heart. There won’t be any hangers available for those "…maybe tomorrow" pieces, so you’ll get a clear idea just how your style looks every time you open the closet door. With limited spots available, you’ll become a little more cut-throat when shopping. No longer will you buy pants that you might be able to pull off, maybe. Or sweaters that are just kinda-cute. You're made to realize that you have a choice: You can own a lot of things that you feel mediocre in, or you can own a few things that make you feel beautiful. Your wardrobe will only be full of items that you truly, really love.
2. It’ll Force You To Use Everything In Your Closet
Have you ever noticed that, even though you have to wrestle to fit just one more thing into your closet, you still reach for the same five pieces? There are tops in there that get worn about three times a year, sweaters that aren’t your style anymore but you keep anyway, and dresses that you didn’t even realize you owned. Why keep them? The capsule wardrobe forces you to pare it all down, and — more importantly — use it all. When you only have four skirts to choose from, you better believe each one will be in heavy rotation. Which means there will be no more lonely tees throwing you shade from the back of the closet! That alone is a win.
3. It’ll Make You Realize That Less Really Is More
Once you have only a handful of pieces to work with, you’ll begin to realize just how creative you can get with your wardrobe. There are hundreds of combinations that you can create by mixing and matching your 37 pieces, and each one will be as on-point as the last one. After you see that, you’ll realize that you don’t need a lot of options in order to be happy with your look.
4. It’ll Guide You To See That You Don’t Need A Lot To Still Grow In Your Style
Have you ever gotten that, “God, I’m good,” rush when you’ve put together an especially clever outfit? That’s what you’ll have almost every day here. You’ll be forced into whipping up something memorable with modest means, pushing you to branch out towards new styling ideas and tactics. It’ll help you get creative with how you pair things and, most importantly, it'll get you to play. After all, style isn't supposed to be about which cardigan goes with which dress. It's supposed to be about sharing how you look on the inside, outside.
5. The Capsule Wardrobe Doesn’t Judge
There are no hard and fast rules for this challenge. Really don’t think you can survive a season with only 37 pieces? That’s okay! Go ahead and choose a number you feel most comfortable with — just remember the goal is minimalism. This new lifestyle can be an intimidating change to wrap your mind around, so if you feel tempted but nervous, just remember you don’t have to go all-in right away. Baby steps are welcome. Maybe first try to get rid of all the items in your closet that you haven’t worn in at least two months. Then, cut out all the pieces that don’t really fit your style any longer. Next, try tossing a few of those regrettable purchases that sit mocking you in the back. However you begin, just begin.
But the great takeaway from this challenge? Now that you’re not tethered to a mass of material things, you can spend the money that you would normally pour into booties and knits into experiences and memories. Since you didn't buy that leather jacket, go splurge on dinner and cocktails with your best friend. Preferably somewhere with dim lighting and handsome men in black ties that make you Manhattans. Or put the savings in a jar for your European trip in 2016. Because mooning over pretty men with kind eyes in Greece is so much better than buying that sweater dress, don't you think?
Images: Fotolia; Courtesy Zara, H&M, Mango; Giphy