Capsule Wardrobe Malfunction

The Most Effective Productivity Tool

It’s been a decent amount of time now and I wanted to give you an update on The Capsule Wardrobe experiment.

It’s a simple observation actually: it didn’t work for me.

But it did help me find something that does.

Here’s what I learned:

  • It didn’t curb my consumerist impulses. It actually made me want to get rid of everything I have and start from scratch. So essentially, it made me want to shop more, but with the justification of supporting ethical brands.
  • It also didn’t make getting dressed easier because it didn’t eliminate the need to make decisions.

The upside of the experiment though, is that it lead me to further simplify my wardrobe. I realized I wear the same thing every day and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I want to wear the same thing every day. But I’ll get to that later.

So here’s the thing, we tried out the capsule wardrobe because it seemed like a really great way to solve the problems we have with style.

So striving to have fewer, better things in a carefully curated wardrobe seemed like a great way to do that. And it is, if it works for you.

That way, you’re only buying what you really need and you’re investing in well made pieces from ethical companies. Or at the very least, you’re just buying fewer things in general. We fully support that, or anything that leads us to consume more considerately.

But let’s break down the problems I ran into when actually executing it.

Capsule Wardrobe

It didn’t make me want to buy less. It made me want to get rid of everything I have and start over.

This is a problem because really, our compulsive consumerism is the issue at hand here.

We’re simply buying more than we need and it’s unsustainable for the world. It also doesn’t help us look cuter anyway. It just stresses us out. It’s one reason so many of us are are living paycheck to paycheck. It’s why the demand for the cheap clothing made in sweatshops is so high. It’s why our landfills are filling up with the excess clothing nobody needs or wants.

We buy too much, that’s the real problem.

So if we started buying from only ethical brands, that would be better for sure. But we’d still be buying too much to begin with. We have to address our consumption habits first.

After adopting the capsule though, I found myself on Pinterest more. Shopping for the perfect, versatile piece or handmade Italian shoes, everything I thought I needed to create the perfect capsule wardrobe, which was defeating the purpose entirely.

Capsule Wardrobe 4

It didn’t make getting dressed easier because it didn’t eliminate the need to make decisions.

Standing in front of our closet deciding what to wear is the true pain point. Whether we have a large closet to choose from (which makes it harder) or a smaller closet (which makes it a bit easier) we still have to figure out what to wear. The frustration of having to pick out a cute new outfit every day, is what we’re trying to eliminate.

And once I realized that that was the core annoyance, it helped me understand what does work for me.

What if we didn’t have to choose? What if we eliminated that decision almost entirely?

What if we pulled a Steve Jobs?

What would that be like?

I don’t mean a black turtle neck and dad jeans but, I do mean a uniform, just your own pre-selected uniform of choice.

You see with the capsule, I found myself staring at the adorable clothing rack Joel made me, day after day, trying to pick the cutest outfit I hadn’t worn yet. This was even when I might not leave the house, and if I did, only the college kids at the coffee shop would  actually see me. I found myself wanting to get the most out of my closet, like Caroline at Un-fancy. But I was just annoying myself.

Once I gave that up, eliminated all those choices, and just started wearing the same thing ever day, it all clicked. I was free from making those decisions.

So I scrapped the capsule idea, sat down and reviewed the past couple of months of my life. I looked at each of the situations I’d found myself in and the clothing I needed.

Here’s what that looked like:

  • Work from home or the coffee shop
  • Meet Joel and friends out for dinner or drinks
  • Hang out at friends’ houses
  • Engagement party
  • Bridal shower
  • Funeral service

For the first three situations, my day to day life, I was most comfortable in jeans, flats and a sweater or button down shirt  – add heels for going out. All of which I have plenty.

For the last four, the semi-formal events, I actually did find myself in a pickle. Everything I own was either too casual, too formal or off-season.

For the engagement party, I wound up borrowing a dress from Bridget.

For the bridal shower, I wound up quickly buying an outfit I hated as a panicked last resort the day before.

And for the funeral, I wound up keeping my coat on the whole day because I was cold and I hated my outfit.

After those incidents, I decided I did need to buy a versatile, semi-formal dress. I found one on ThredUp, pre-owned from J. Crew. It felt great buying it secondhand – keeping it out of a landfill – and it should be here later this week. I’ll let you know how it goes.

As the weather changes, my uniforms will shift. But I would assume that I already have what I need for all seasons. Perhaps I’ll need to buy a couple of things but this time around, I’ll be thinking uniform instead of capsule.

It’s a similar idea but a different execution. And it’s been working great for me for the past month.


The experiment taught me that I already had everything I needed for my day to day life. And the one thing I was lacking, I found affordably and secondhand online. And while I’m still a fan of the capsule wardrobe idea (or anything that has us consuming more consciously in general), I’m going one step further in my own closet, and just wearing a uniform from now on. It’s just so much easier.

What do you think? Have you tried the capsule wardrobe? Thought about wearing a uniform? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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And if you’re interested in a style guide to help you make the most out of the clothes you already own – check it out here. Our favorite stylist helped us with it! And it’s free!

Also published on Medium.


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