On Capsule Wardrobes

In the past eight years, capsule wardrobes have accumulated an online buzz. Bloggers in every niche address their approach to pairing down a closet. Hot take: it is a racket. I say that as a Year of Less enthusiast.

what is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a selection of twenty to fifty items that one can put together in several outfit combinations. Though it depends on the individual, it is usually comprised of basics: denim, corduroy, skirts, dresses, long and short sleeve knits, tanks, blazers in either a neutral color palette or common color palette.

In addition to apparel, the capsule wardrobe can include shoes, accessories, and jewelry. It usually does not include workout clothing or undergarments.

my beef

Once the reader cleans out his or her closet as instructed by the blogger, does the blogger recommend items for the capsule wardrobe? Highly likely. Does the reader probably already have sufficient items in his or her wardrobe for the capsule wardrobe? Very probable. Other than on vacation, do bloggers ever attempt capsule wardrobes? No, because many exist only to sell their community on the latest product rollout. This is how they monetize their content. Myself included.

But I am not trying to sell a capsule wardrobe.

I like the idea of a capsule wardrobe. I do not like the attempt of being sold on the capsule wardrobe and the subsequent recommended items to populate it. The sole exception may be the blogger whose niche is sustainability. There are many of them and they offer expertise outside of the latest must-have product launch or brand collaboration. Use a sustainability blogger as a resource in lieu of taking advice from a blogger outside of the niche.

the fix

Bloggers outside the sustainability niche can fix the epidemic of the empty capsule wardrobe advice in one of two ways. One option is not promoting capsule wardrobes and the products “required” for them. If it is not one’s blogging expertise, take a pass. However, if one wants to experiment with programming a season around a capsule wardrobe, dressing within restrictions, writing about the experience and challenges thereby providing value to the reader, that would be genius. Someone please take this idea and run with it.

final thoughts

Currently, I am preparing to pack for a month-long vacation with easy access to laundry only two weeks in. (Who actually wants to spend vacation doing laundry anyway?) To believe I could pull off a capsule wardrobe even for a month would be delusional. I say that as someone who is taking a more conscience approach to my closet with the Year of Less.

About a decade ago, I read a series of style surveys in which the interviewer asked the subjects whether they either “edited” and kept a small closet or “curated” and amassed a thoughtful collection. It clearly made an impression upon me. Consequently, I examined my own closet. With items in my closet dating back to 2003 due to the difficulty in finding clothes that fit my tall frame, I am most definitely a curator. Truly, I am the antithesis to the capsule wardrobe editor.


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