I loved the idea of capsule wardrobe. I wanted to open my closet, pull out clothes that would simply look great on me and I would feel great in them. I longed for each top to match each bottom I had in the capsule wardrobe. I longed to wear any outfit to any occasion, activity and location. I wanted outfits that I could wear to work, to the park with my daughter, to dinner with my husband, to a picnic with friends and to watch TV at home.
Despite dedicating hours to researching, planning and shopping for my capsule wardrobe before each season began, I still found myself a tweaking the capsule throughout the season: checking online shops for the perfect item, creating outfit ideas on my stylebook app, making sure my style was "on point" (my hubby's current pet peeve phrase) by following favourites on Instagram/Pinterest.
To top it all off, I still experienced times when I had nothing to wear. Outfits planned from items that fit me on their own, matched in theory, colour, style or on the stylebook app. But when worn, these outfits looked and felt odd, even uncomfortable. I had nothing to wear when the weather suddenly felt winter-like in the middle of summer. I attempted to have a 2-season wardrobe and an all-season wardrobe, but that gave me even more item choices than I could handle, so I still spent way too much time in the morning creating and discarding outfits.
After a year of trying to build a mix-and-match-able capsule wardrobe with an exact number of pieces, it dawned on me that I didn't mind repeating my outfits as long as I was happy and comfortable with them. In fact, I usually couldn't wait to repeat an outfit that I knew made me happy and comfortable in the past.
I envisioned a capsule wardrobe and uniform dressing hybrid. I decided not to concern myself with the number of items in my closet, but focused on having enough uniforms to last between laundry days and with some variety to keep me excited. I came up with 15 uniforms divided between my 3 key activities each week: being a mum to a toddler, working at an office, and social events with family and friends. For the current warm season in Australia, this worked out to be:
5 office uniforms: 2 dresses, 2 trouser sets, 1 skirt set
4 social uniforms: 1 dress, 3 pants sets
6 mummy uniforms: 2 dresses, 1 trouser set, 3 shorts sets
Planning a uniform wardrobe took less time than planning a standard capsule wardrobe. For one thing, I only had to create 15 outfits for the current season. I didn't have to pick 30 times that could be mixed and matched into an endless array of outfits that I don't hate. I didn't have to drive myself crazy deciding whether to include my favourite top or not because it didn't go with every bottom I had. I built my "uniforms" from items I already owned and enjoyed wearing. It's not perfect, but it's more than good enough.
My uniform excludes shoes and outerwear, because those choices are usually event and weather-driven for me. As for accessories, I wear one pair of sunglasses and one hat on sunny days and wear the same minimal jewellery almost much every day. I included 5 extra tops as laundry buffer (tops usually need to be washed more often than bottoms), and a special occasion dress to wear to fancier events.
I initially planned to keep this wardrobe for the summer season, and change it up in the autumn. But I think rather than have a fixed lifespan for this wardrobe, I will let nature suggest when items need to be switched out or replaced, either when the weather cools down or when items wear out.
Now, I choose my outfit based on my key activity of the day and the weather. This is a breeze compared to creating an outfit from 30+ items of a capsule wardrobe. Two weeks in and I have not thought about changing an item in my capsule wardrobe. I feel happier, more comfortable and more presentable with what I wear than I have in the past.
After a year of experimenting with capsule wardrobes, I think I have finally nailed the capsule wardrobe that works for me.