The state of my closets (yes, that’s plural) has become something of a joke amongst my friends. There’s always talk of any of them – all different genders, all different body types – being able to waltz into my bedroom and come out with an outfit that they like which will suit the situation at hand. And it’s not because I purposefully stock clothes for my friends – I’m definitely not that altruistic. It’s simply because my wardrobe is an eclectic hodgepodge. For the layperson, it’s a goddamn mess.
My closet was full of mediocre pieces that I never really wore anymore, because I kept reaching for my favorites. There were items that didn’t fit right, colors that I was no longer into, styles that I had fallen out of love with, and I just kept them there in my closet because…well, what? Because it was sayang (“a waste”), as we Filipinos say, if I got rid of them? But those clothes certainly weren’t doing anyone any good moldering in the deepest recesses of my closet, right? Not to mention, I’d started actively not wearing the pieces I actually wanted to wear because my thinking was, I wear that all the time, I should try out my other stuff.
Lastly, I realized, I couldn’t pinpoint what my style was like by looking into my closet, precisely because it was choked up with stuff I’d bought on impulse, or because they were on sale, or on trend. I hated that. I hated the idea that someone wouldn’t be able to think, oh, hey, this is Kate’s closet, just by taking a peek.
When my friend Bae started her journey towards minimalism, I wondered if I should do something similar for my wardrobe. I googled resources on minimalism in fashion and came across the term ‘capsule wardrobe’ – particularly Project 333, as well as the popular mindful fashion blog Unfancy. I figured, hey, why not give it a shot?
Project 333 is simple. Basically, you create a capsule wardrobe by choosing 33 pieces – tops, bottoms, shoes, bags, accessories, and outerwear – from which you compose your entire wardrobe for three months. Underwear, socks, activewear, pajamas, in-home loungewear, formal attire, and other items with specific purposes are not included amongst the 33 pieces. Also not included are jewelry or other accessories that you wear constantly (wedding rings and the like).
Caroline from Unfancy says that, essentially, a capsule wardrobe is a mini-wardrobe, made up of versatile pieces that you can easily mix-and-match for both work and play. The point is to be able to create numerous outfits from just a few carefully selected items that can work well with each other.
To start with, I decided to fill out Caroline’s Capsule Wardrobe Planner, which is a nifty tool she’s designed to help you figure out what you really want in your closet. Honestly, filling out this planner was such an eye-opening exercise. It really made me see what I look for when I go shopping as well as what actually looks good on me, as opposed to stuff that’s either on trend or on sale. It also made me really assess my wardrobe with a critical eye as to what was working for me, rather than a sentimental heart concerned with preserving memories.
You don’t have to fill out the whole planner, so I cut out the shopping list page since my purpose is to cut down, not add to my wardrobe. I also cut out the “what’s not working for me” page since I already know what I don’t like (that is, ill-fitting items, sloppy-looking trends, too youthful items, and bright, attention-grabbing colors)
I scanned my planner and you can check it out here, but I also put in my answers below:
Capsule Wardrobe: January 2018 to March 2018
Pieces I Own + Love to Wear
Go to your closet and pull out about 8 pieces that you’ve been reaching for again and again lately. List them here.
- Navy blue pencil skirt – flattering fit, matches most of my work tops
- Burgundy circle midi skirt – stretchy waistband, can go from work to a night out
- White high-necked lace top – flattering fit, comfortable, can go from work to a night out
- White boat-necked blouse – hem hits my waist just right, matches most of my work bottoms
- White canvas sneakers – comfortable, classic
- Black culottes – comfortable, can go from work to a night out, makes me look stylish and dressed up with minimal effort
- Beige pointy-toed pumps – elongates my legs, matches most of my work attire
- Dusty rose camisole top – can go from work to a night out, can be layered, comfortable, flattering fit
What’s Working for Me
Look for common themes from your notes across the page (like fabrics, brands, colors, and the way pieces fit your body) and make a list of what works for you
- Fabrics: Cotton, jersey, lace, soft or stretchy fabrics, lightweight fabrics
- Brands: Uniqlo, SM Woman, Forever 21, H&M, Parisian, Primadonna, Payless
- Colors: Neutrals (particularly black, white, beige, navy); burgundy; dusty rose
- Fit: Loose or slouchy tops must be tucked in; items that are fitted or skim the body but are still comfortable, pieces that emphasize my waist/hourglass figure
- Others: Versatility (can go from school to work to play); comfortable; pieces that aren’t prone to wrinkles
25% – Work
- Corporate 9-to-5 job with a slightly relaxed dress code
- Pencil skirts, slouchy blouses, culottes, sheath dresses, heels; sleeveless tops are not allowed so layering with blazers/cardigans is a must
25% – School
- UP Diliman has no dress code; comfort is the priority
- Cotton or denim shorts, skinny or boyfriend jeans, slouchy tops or camisoles, sneakers or sandals, occasionally fit-and-flare dresses with a chambray shirt worn over or tied around waist, cardigans, shawls, or hoodies as weather dictates
20% – Social life
- Hanging out with friends, dates with boyfriend
- Usually I wear outfits similar to my work attire but dressed down; i.e. flats instead of heels, trousers or jeans instead of slacks or pencil skirts, skater skirts and midi skirts, ditch the blazer, etc.
15% – Alone time
- Usually spent reading in a coffee shop or watching Netflix in my bedroom
- Cotton shorts, slouchy tees or camisole tops, sandals, baseball caps if I’m outside sitting in the sun, eyeglasses
10% – Travel
- For beaches: cotton shorts, loose breezy tops, baseball caps, sunglasses, sandals or flip-flops
- For hiking: sweat-wicking shorts and tank tops, shades, hoodies as weather warrants, Nike trainers or hiking sandals
- For sightseeing: camisole tops or off-the-shoulder tops, cotton shorts or skater skirts, sneakers or sandals, cardigan or shawl for covering up as needed, baseball caps, sunglasses
5% – Working out
- Muay Thai, yoga, and running
- Sweat-wicking shorts and tank tops, Nike trainers
Special Events + Travel
- Hiking Mt. Manabu – sweat-wicking shorts and tank top, jacket, Nike trainers
- Hiking the Montalban Trilogy – sweat-wicking shorts and tank top, jacket, Nike trainers
- Valentine’s Day date – depends on where we go
- Watching The Lion King at the Solaire Theatre – smart casual / business casual
Let’s be real. It’s only either a) hot like Satan’s armpit or b) raining so much you’re gonna need an ark to get out alive.
Write out a list of words or phrases that you associate with your style and highlight 3-6 of your favorite words.
- Solid colors
- Classic / timeless
- Street style
- For timeless, classic pieces that will last longer: Uniqlo, SM Woman, Parisian, Zara, Mango
- For budget-friendly items: Cotton On, Payless, Primadonna
- For the occasional trendy item, items for lounging, and casual wear: Forever 21, H&M, Bench
Major: Navy blue, black, beige/cream
Minor: Burgundy, cognac
Accents: Dusty rose, lilac, millennial pink
My Go-To Pieces
- The colors burgundy and navy blue
- Neutrals like beige, cognac, cream, black, white
- Pearl earrings
- High-waisted / fitted bottoms
- Camisole tops
- White sneakers
- Cotton or denim shorts
- Slouchy tops
My Go-To Uniforms
- Pencil-cut skirt + tucked-in slouchy blouse + pumps
- Fitted top + culottes + pumps or ballet flats
- Shorts + camisole top + cardigan + white sneakers
- Skater skirt + slouchy blouse + flat sandals/ballet flats
- Fit-and-flare dress + cardigan + flat sandals
You can find my actual filled out version of the Un-Fancy Capsule Wardrobe Planner here.
So, what does all this tell me?
Filling out this wardrobe planner helped me realize what my style is and what it’s grown to be, and more or less the direction its headed in. This was something I could not see staring into a closet filled with items I no longer cared to wear. By actually physically taking note of what in my wardrobe I was still wearing regularly, I can easily tell now what looks good on me and what doesn’t.
Looking through my wardrobe planner, I would now describe my style as a cross between classic, normcore, and girly, as befits someone with very little time to spare and who vacillates between school and work. I also figured out I’m not into colors or patterns, I prefer neutrals and solids, and what little colors I do wear are easy to match to one another. I also figured out that apparently, I have a thing for navy blue and burgundy!
Now that I more or less have a solid idea of what my style is, it’s now easier to get dressed. It’s a struggle I’m sure tons of people – and not just girls! – are familiar with this dilemma: getting up early in the morning, staring into the depths of your closet, not being able to put together an outfit, and ending up late for work/school (or is the ending up late part just me?). Filling in this Wardrobe Planner cut out that process entirely. Instead of wondering what to wear, now that I have a solid idea of what to dress in, I can quickly grab any piece in my closet and know beyond a doubt that I’ll look good in it.
So that’s Part One of my journey to a capsule wardrobe – and hopefully a more minimalist lifestyle. In Part Two, I’ll talk about actually putting this plan into action, which involved a lot of heartbreak and parting ways, I can tell you that much. Stay tuned for the tears!
Trying out a capsule wardrobe, or any kind of minimalist lifestyle change? Let me know how it’s going!