Since moving into a small urban condo about a year and a half ago with my partner, one of the biggest adjustments I’ve had to make is the size of my wardrobe.
As a shopping editor, it’s easy to get carried away with the latest and greatest trends, but now that I have to consider sharing my space, I’ve had to learn to work with what I already have and how to shop more strategically.
I usually go through my wardrobe every season to get rid of what’s no longer serving me, but I’ve recently started taking a critical look at what I own, and how much of it I actually need. Concepts like capsule wardrobes and minimalist living have started to look more appealing, but I thought I’d give them a try before committing a full-on lifestyle change.
Gaining popularity in recent years, capsule wardrobes are composed of several staple pieces that mix and match to create a vast array of outfit options. Depending on the rigidity of who you talk to, they generally range in size from 25 up to 50 items.
“We’re only wearing about 20% of our closet 80% of the time”, shared Kristi Soomer, the founder of Encircled, a sustainable clothing company best-known for their take on capsule dressing.
“Most of us tend to stick to uniforms, which is really the essential foundation of a capsule wardrobe,” she elaborated. “We’re wearing the same stuff all the time, so it’s better for us to focus on quality over quantity.”
To get started on creating my own capsule wardrobe, I sat down with Jannah Cadogan of Your Shop Girl, Toronto’s leading style and image consulting team. She walked me through the ins and outs of curating your closet, and put together a selection of items that form the basis of a capsule wardrobe.
Given what would work best for my body type and my personal style, Jannah shared a framework of just ten items to mix and match for my week-long experiment, which included the following items: two pairs of jeans, a camisole, a blazer, a t-shirt, a silk blouse, one pair of heels, one pair of sneakers, one purse, and one accessory.
Since it’s starting to get colder, I chose a black turtleneck instead of a T-shirt, and a simple grey scarf as my accessory. I decided to exclude outerwear from this experiment since the weather here in Toronto can be pretty unpredictable, but using what I already owned in my closet, I put together the week’s worth of clothing below.
I started out with a pretty standard fall outfit for me: a turtleneck with wide-leg jeans. Instead of opting for a pair of sneakers like I usually would, I chose my Everlane boots for a dressier feel. Day two was another classic look, an oversized button-up with skinny jeans and sneakers.
Day three was a little dressier than I would normally choose for a day at the office, but I layered my leopard-print cami over my turtleneck, and stuck with skinnies and boots for a polished vibe. This was also the coldest day of the week, so I added my scarf for a little extra warmth.
Day four was my business casual look, as I paired my blazer and button-up with my wide leg jeans and sneakers for a more relaxed feel. To end my week, I finished with the most professional outfit of all, wearing my turtleneck and skinny jeans with my buttoned-up blazer and heeled boots.
Now that I’ve come to the end of my wardrobe challenge, I’ve come to realize some of the major pros and cons of a capsule wardrobe.
Similar to my high school days wearing a uniform, the thing I liked most about this challenge was the ease of not having to worry about what to wear every day. I felt like it was one less thing I had to think about in the morning, which was definitely a more relaxing start to my day.
The thing I liked the least about this challenge was the lack of variety, which for me is the most fun aspect of getting dressed. One day I might feel super casual, while the next I might want to a more feminine look. Getting to choose whether to show off my edgy style or a polished vibe is what makes getting dressed every day exciting, and although not everyone will agree with me, it’s one of my favourite ways of showing off my personality.
Having completed a week using just 10 items, I can definitely appreciate the fact that it’s absolutely possible to live with less stuff in my closet, but the fact that it makes me happy means that I’ll probably choose to stick with variety over uniformity. I wouldn’t say this the end of my capsule wardrobe journey though, as I may have just found the perfect packing strategy for my next vacation.