The Fundamentals of a Capsule Wardrobe
Sometimes I just stare at the bookshelf and clothing rack that store all 50 pieces of my capsule wardrobe collection and marvel at how far I've come.
I adore my wardrobe. It's a joy getting ready each day and I revel in the fact that I am so satisfied with the things I own. But it wasn't always like this.
I used to stare at my closet for over 30 minutes stressing out about what to wear. I'd put on an outfit, immediately take it off, then try on something else and feel underwhelmed.
Before I even made it out the door I'd be frustrated and frazzled, then spend the rest of the day self-conscious about my look.
Every few months I'd get so annoyed that I'd throw half of what I owned into a trash bag and give it away to charity without a second thought.
That would set off an over-reactive shopping spree resulting in me impulsively buying "needy objects" and filling my closet, yet again, with a bunch of stuff that was ill-suited for me.
It was a vicious cycle.
What about you? There's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't be in love with every item in your closet. But if that's not the case I'm pretty sure I know why (from personal experience).
The stuff you buy is not the best reflection of you and doesn't fit well with the realities of your day-to-day. When your style is not mapped to your lifestyle you will never feel confident in your personal appearance.
If you have a lot of things in your space – including your closet – that seem completely off it is likely due to the fact that you are purchasing without first considering who you are, what you what to convey to the world, and how that manifests in your daily routine.
Before you can create your capsule wardrobe, you need to be thoughtful about the things that should go in it. It's impossible to do that without the following three lifestyle considerations.
1. Self Reflection
Minimalism is an ubiquitous term and having a "minimalist style" means nothing when you have no context by which this concept can be applied to your personal situation.
In order to effectively apply principles of minimalism you have to go through a self reflection exercise which should encompass:
- Awareness – Who are you and who do you want to be?
- Clarity – What do you (and do not) care about?
- Focus – How can you prioritize and efficiently allocate resources?
Practicing this trifecta of awareness, clarity, and focus helps you to make good decisions in life and good decision-making is an important attribute to have when editing your style.
2. Personal Brand
Personal branding is not just about marketing yourself for career purposes. It's the practice of crafting a manifesto for your life and an image for yourself then clearly expressing that to everyone around you. There are four steps to this process:
- Vision – What do you stand for and how does that drive the specific goals you want to achieve in the future?
- Value – What special traits make you unique, important, and relevant to others?
- Voice – How does your manner of communication engage, inspire, motivate, influence, and build trust in others?
- Vision – What is your aesthetic and what visual elements do you tend to gravitate to?
You don't have to be a business to be strategic about the way you convey yourself. These insights are invaluable to self expression (including expression through style).
3. Daily Routine
I bet you're wondering how your routine has anything to do with your closet. Well, it has everything to do with it! What you do and where you go during the day are two of the most important determinants in dressing well.
Does it make sense to have a closet full of heels and dresses if, like me, you work from home or out of coffee shops all day? Do you really need 25 pairs of jeans when you are a corporate lawyer who has to be in a suit each day.
The biggest mistake made with wardrobing is introducing impractical things into your closet. A way to avoid this is understanding and then perfecting your daily routine. You can do this in five ways:
Monitor Your Schedule
Be cognizant of where you time goes and whether it is spent on the things that matter most.
Find the Friction
Identify the people, activities, or habits that derail your ability to stay on track with your agenda.
Make Your Modules
Use natural transitions in the day to create blocks of time and group like activities together for more efficiency and better focus.
Guard the Gaps
Resist the urge to fill breaks or downtime. Protect your free time and use it to recharge.
Streamline the Superficial
Simplify minor tasks and don't give more energy to inconsequential things than your priorities.
Once you are intentional with what you want out of each day you'll create a more ideal routine which will enable you to make more thoughtful decisions about how you need to dress yourself.
So clarifying your perception of self and manifesting that in your day-to-day is a prerequisite for perfecting and simplifying your style?
Think about it for a moment. If you don't understand and develop confidence in yourself then how can you make clear and confident decisions about what to wear?
If you go through the day haphazardly, how can you dress comfortably and assertively to meet its demands?
So yes, the fundamentals of a capsule wardrobe are using insights and cues from your lifestyle to inform and develop a clearer sense of your personal style.