This Minimalist Doesn't Have A Capsule Wardrobe
Capsule wardrobes seem to be a strong talking point within the minimalist community, but they are just that for some minimalists, a talking point. Believe it or not, not every minimalist has a capsule wardrobe. Some have more, some less, and some (like myself) play by their own rules.
If you are not aware of a capsule wardrobe, the concept is this; a minimal wardrobe composed of 30 to 40 high-quality, mix and match items that will meet your needs for a given time amount of time. The wardrobe cycles through seasons, but never bumps over the 30-40 piece mark.
One of the original minimalists (check them out here) once said: "If it brings value to your life, keep it." For some of us minimalists, clothing brings a value to our life we may not have any other way.
Growing up I lived on second-hand clothing, and I can remember one day I went to the thrift store and found the jackpot of all jackpots; name brands that the popular girls wore. We are talking Roxy, Independent, Fox, Rusty, etc. So my I pulled out the babysitting money I had and purchased the lot (which was four shirts at $2.00 a piece). I was so excited to feel like I fitted in finally. My dad dropped me off in his patrol car (that didn't win over any popularity) on a spring morning while I wore one of the shirts. As I was walking down the hallway close to lunch, I remember a popular girl walking up to me. I honestly thought this was it. I was going to be noticed and spoken to. Then she said the most horrifying sentence I've ever experienced, "Look, girls this is my shirt I donated to the thrift shop, see that pen stain, it happened during math, and so I got rid of it." As the girls laughed and made comments that I was wearing second-hand clothing, I walked away as fast as possible and was mortified. That moment solidified my "place" at school. Being the second-hand cop's daughter, well let's just say boys and friends never happened.
So back to value and why I, as a minimalist, don't have a capsule wardrobe. Clothing brings value in the form of confidence into my life. I understand why a lot of minimalists have them, but for me, limiting myself brings me back to that one day during high school. The last thing I want to do is be called out wearing the same thing to close together. I know it shouldn't matter, but it does. I also know it's rare that would happen and I would be much more confident these days to tell them to piss off, it was a defining moment that still leaves a little anxiety.
How does this minimalist approach her wardrobe then, because we all know I don't have a closet full of clothes. I keep what I like to call a growing versatile wardrobe. Everything I have or will purchase has to be paired together, and everything must have a complimenting layer. I have a spring color palette and a winter color palette, and that is it, the only rules that apply.
Capsule wardrobes help people make sense of their closets, and I think they are perfect for some people. But, having multiple activities that require different types of outfits, I know it will never work for me. I tried, and I was miserable. I love window shopping and love trying different pieces. With the capsule method, I felt guilty, and that made me feel like crap. That is when I started the versatile color palette rule. Clothes bring me value because I am more confident, happier, and enjoy the challenge of a versatile palette.
Currently, in my spring/summer versatile wardrobe I only have the following pieces:
4 - Dresses
9 - Tops
1 - Pair of Shorts
3 - Pairs of Jeans
2 - Blazers
2 - Skirts
3 - Work Pants
5 - Pairs of Shoes
While it is less than a traditional capsule wardrobe (right now, the season just started), each of these pieces is either white, gray, black, cream, or blush. As the season goes on, if I feel confident in clothing that I try on and it fits into my wardrobe, then I won't feel guilty purchasing it. Because that is what is it about. Being mindful of your purchases and making sure that if you wear nothing but the colors mentioned above, you don't end up with a bright yellow sundress, chances are you won't wear. No matter the type of minimalist you want to be, just know that a capsule wardrobe is not in the rule books. It is helpful, but not a solidified standard.