The good medicine of a closet capsule…

I’ve been streamlining and purging and decluttering and simplifying EVERYTHING. It’s glorious. I didn’t start out with a plan; it all happened quite organically. I think it began in Greece. At home, if I wear an outfit for twenty minutes, I pitch it into the hamper when I take it off. On a beach vacation, you reach for the nearest thing which usually smells of sunscreen and salt and hopefully isn’t TOO wrinkled. And it somehow looks fabulous because you’re tan and tousled and it’s all effortless.

When I came home, I realized how easy it had all been. I’ve been reading about capsule wardrobes for years but always thought they seemed restrictive and punitive. Until I tried it. What I packed for Greece was a travel capsule–all white denim and navy and white stripes with some red and pale blue thrown in. Everything worked together and there was zero to think about. When I unpacked at home, I put all the things I’d taken to Greece on one half of my closet, added a few other pieces, and sorted the rest.

Things I didn’t want got donated or thrown out depending on condition. Everything else–mostly fall/winter items–got shoved to the other side of the closet and draped with a dustsheet. Even winter boots were moved aside. I pulled four workout outfits and have kept those in rotation. Since I do a smallish load of laundry every day, I’m never without something to wear, and I never have a massive pile-up of dirty clothes to navigate. (The unexpected benefit of this is there’s never a weekend laundry day; it’s DONE.)

Another unexpected benefit is the EASE. I never think more than twenty seconds about what to wear because there just aren’t that many choices. What I thought would be restrictive has turned out to be liberating.

So, what have I been living in?

Dresses: Black maxi. Pink maxi. Blue and white strapless maxi. Blue and white striped short caftan dress. Black short caftan dress. Blue and white striped hooded t-shirt dress.

Shorts: Two pair white denim cut-offs, two pair blue denim cut-offs, different lengths and washes.

Skirt: One denim skirt. I’m still on the fence about this. If I don’t wear it more within the next month, it’s going to the thrift store.

Tops: Button-downs in navy, pale blue, white. Red and white striped t-shirt. Blue and white striped caftan-style top. Red peasant blouse. Short-sleeved white shirt with buttons. Off-white silk tab-sleeve shirt. Blue and white striped sleeveless top. Red and navy and white plaid short-sleeve top with waist tie. Red and white striped tunic.

Jeans: One pair each in white and medium-wash blue denim.

Bags: Natural leather crossbody, French straw market bag, small oilcloth patterned tote.

Shoes: Natural espadrilles with navy laces, natural Greek leather sandals with leg wrap ties, pink ballet flats, multi-colored sandals with leg wrap ties. Navy duck boot flats.

It’s SUPER casual; the only jackets I kept out were denim–one white and one blue. And the denim pieces are all distressed, so there’s nothing in here suitable for a formal event. But my summer isn’t about formality. My business travel is done for a few months, and my town is very casual. If I want to glam up a bit, any of the dresses work with sandals that wrap up the leg. We’ve had masses of rain, so the duck boot flats are getting more use than expected, but that’s fine.

As soon as the weather turns and it’s no longer hotter than the hammered-down hinges of hell, I’ll have to steal some pieces from behind the dustsheet. I also have business travel in the fall that will dictate a change from navy to black as my base color. Navy and black both mix with my secondary colors of white and red and both work with denim, so changing out the base color is a good strategy for me. The hot pink that I occasionally like with the navy and white will get changed out for grey with the black and red.

I also want to ditch a few things in this capsule for next year–the black maxi is just too hot with the long sleeves–and replace my blue and red striped tunics with Breton striped tees. (Yes, I may need a stripe intervention.) I’ll also add a canvas tote with red trim for running errands. The beauty of this is that I have a shopping list now and no reason to deviate from it.

All of this has changed my shopping drastically. Without impulse-buying a dozen pieces I don’t really need, I’m free to focus on one more expensive item. I bought $100 handmade espadrilles from Spain in precisely the colorway I wanted after researching them online. (They have an insole like a sneaker so they are HELLA comfortable, not easy to find in an espadrille.) Because I’ve that, I’ve breezed right past all the displays of summer sandals that might have beckoned in the past. It’s also made me FUSSY. I’m becoming exacting about necklines and sleeves and cut, knowing that if I am only going to purchase ONE of something, it needs to be exactly right. I’ll be gradually replacing items as they wear out with pieces of better quality–things I really love instead of makeshift quickies picked up on impulse. I also want to shop more from sustainable clothing labels, so if you have favorites to recommend, hit me up on Twitter!