the papercraft lab

Capsule Wardrobe Mistakes

About the LabAnandiRCComment

I haven't written much about my Capsule Wardrobe because I kept the same capsule from last October through the end of March, for "Fwinter" in Seattle.  But now that I am about to start my Spring capsule on April 1, I'd like to analyze my first experiment with this system. (Because I'm a nerd like that.)

A Few Bad Items

Despite all my careful planning, there were a few items I bought new that just didn't work.

These faux-leather moto boots were adorable, but the studs and grommets began falling off after just a few times out. I learned that it's important to buy quality items especially for staples like black boots. I returned them. 

Solution: I really lucked out on this one, because the $500 L.A.M.B. moto boots I had been drooling over went on *super* sale on Amazon, and with some gift card credit, I managed to buy them for less than $200 which was reasonable to me. And those boots are simply amazing - probably the highest-quality pair of shoes I have EVER owned.

The purple ombre tunic was a classic case of me forcing something to work that just didn't, because it was so pretty. I knew the first time I tried it on that the fabric was all wrong (too slinky, sheer and clingy) and the length too long. But the purple! And ombre! I kept it anyway, wore it twice, and didn't feel my best in it.

Solution: I'm now ready to give it away and stop feeling guilty about not wearing it. I am much more aware of "that little voice" while I'm trying on clothes, and trying to make rational decisions about fit and quality.

This is Not Your Season

I chose two items that fit well and looked good, but were not appropriate for the season. I struggle with shopping ahead sometimes - I just can't fully imagine what future weather will be like when it is so different from the current weather. This is a problem I've had with my kids' clothes as well - I never could plan ahead to buy bigger sizes of things that were seasonally appropriate.

Polka-dot cardigan - super cute, but WAY too light for the fall. The weather got cold fast in October and stayed fairly chilly for the rest of the season. The few times I wore it, I was cold and unhappy.

Solution:  In December, I traded that piece for a lovely warm ivory cardigan, perfect for winter and great with leggings.

Silver Cole-Haan wedges - adorable, but I can't wear flats with no socks in our rainy weather. Too cold and wet. I did not wear these a *single* time all season.

Solution: They are going to be *perfect* for my Spring and Summer capsules! No loss there.

Focusing on the Number

I spent a lot of time in the planning phase for the season *counting*. Making sure I had 40 items exactly. Figuring what "counted" in that 40 and what didn't. (Camis and rainboots, no. Fleece jacket and trench, yes.) 

What I realized as I wore these same pieces for 6 months, was that it wasn't about the number. It was about removing everything extraneous from my closet. It was also about separating my "home" clothes from the things I wear out of the house.

It was about not buying cheap, ill-fitting random pieces from stores like Target and Old Navy just because they were inexpensive. It was about planning my wardrobe in terms of outfits, not just items that might or might not work with my existing clothes.

It was also about caring for my clothes - repairing seams and buttons, washing things and hanging them back up quickly, folding them with care so they wouldn't be all wrinkly.

And lastly, it was about taking pride in my appearance.  I'm still not skinny and I mostly work from home, but that doesn't *require* me to schlump around in sweats. I felt better when I wear cute, nicely-fitting things that match. When I feel better, I *do* better.

I am not neutral

So the thing about a capsule wardrobe is that when you have a very limited number of items, they all have to coordinate. Which means you end up with a LOT of neutral colors. My neutrals are white, grey and black. 

I had the sense to accessorize boldly with two brightly colored scarves, my bright aqua handbag,  my yellow sneakers, and my flamingo pink raincoat. But my actual clothes were nearly all neutral. And I missed color. A LOT.

Solution: Instead of more shopping, which is what I would have done previously, I went back to my "storage" box. I pulled out a couple of bright T-shirts from the summer, and wore them under sweaters and over my long sleeve T's. This was enough to get me a color fix, and I thought that was worth the trade-off of now having (oh no!) 44 items in my closet instead of 40.

The big takeaway

In the grand scheme of things, these mistakes were minor, but they taught me some important lessons about improvising, self-control, and the need for quality.

Why am I spending so much time on this? Because I think the payoff is worth it. I love having fewer, nicer clothes that actually fit. I can now get dressed for Girls' Night Out or a date with my husband or a work function in minimal time and without angst.

Given that, I'm all in for a Spring capsule, and am in the midst of planning for it now. I'm excited about the prospect of new choices, but even after 6 months I'm not yet tired of the current ones. I'd say that's pretty successful, right?

What were your capsule wardrobe mistakes and solutions?

See related posts at The Papercraft Lab