The things they don’t tell you about the capsule wardrobe

I recently stumbled upon Leslie Price‘s (author at Manrepeller), article about the things people don’t talk about much, when they talk about the holy capsule wardrobe. I recommend reading this piece even if you’re not a minimalist, trying to decide the absolute minimum number of clothes you can own and still feel comfortable and put together (I like this expression, it is as if our normal state would be a jumble of limbs, hair accessories and extra-long scarves).

“I hate my sweater.” writes Price. “It’s a perfectly fine sweater upon first glance: a classic navy wool-blend crew. But I’ve been relying on it a lot recently, and it’s showing the wear. Pills line the front and litter the undersides of the sleeves. I had high expectations for this sweater, an expensive designer purchase that, at the time, I believed was an ‘investment.'”

Lounge pants I thrifted (they were new), wore to death, then mended

In the last two years (with a couple need-or-love exceptions) I have managed to stop buying new clothes. Next week, I will have changed countries and climates three times and with each move there was a purge and the question of “do I REALLY need to carry this with me over mountains and seas and oceans”?(Of course, with modern air travel one does not really carry these things on their back, but they do tend to linger on your mind). I did buy some pre-loved clothes (I like the idea of buying second-hand because you return those items to the consumption cycle and contribute to reducing waste) and I have donated most of them them back to the store I got them from.

(Of course I did buy new fabric and made myself new garments, many which I wore to (their) death, others which I sadly donated to the above mentioned thrift-stores. So I did produce waste, but arguably I did not waste the work of those who make our garments. )

A woven t-shirt top I made last year and didn’t end of keeping

This leaves me with a reduced number of garments I own and most of them are wonderful and special. However, there is a downside of owning a small number of clothes and Price expresses this wonderfully: “I’m like Marie Kondo, but everything sparks meh instead of joy because I’ve been exposed to it all so often for so long.”

What about you? Are you a minimalist or a maximalist? A pro-capsule or an anti-capsule?

  • Great thought provoking post. I am completely with you on this and I don’t quite get this whole capsule wardrobe thing. I don’t like the idea that a lot of people will dispose of clothing and rush out to buy a new capsule wardrobe and then be minimal. Also like you express we do get fed up with things but you can rotate by using charity shop finds then put it back in that cycle after. I also like to refashion and make my clothes, they last me a long time and I sometimes put them away for a while, I understand that is not really an option while travelling. x

    • Thank you for your comment, Dianne! I’d love to find the best solution for rotating and making beautiful things that last for years, without feeling that there’s no excitement and freshness in dressing up in the morning.

  • Great post! I also read that MR article with interest. I moved countries and changed climates quite often in recent years and it’s been a great incentive to try to maintain a streamlined closet!
    I’m getting sick of the capsules but I still find them appealing. I blame it on the marketing ad nauseam every time there is something interesting out there… So basically now I’m just confused!

    • I know, I am in the same boat. So far, what I am thinking is that if I create a capsule per season, or even half-season and hide away the rest of my clothes, I would be excited about the garments I haven’t seen in a while when the season changes. But that somehow sounds silly…

  • I am so very crazy for capsules that i don’t even get bored
    if i wear it everyday 😉