A problem I noticed in the last year while developing my life as a minimalist has been wasting precious time in my morning routine. In an effort to resolve this issue, I stumbled across the idea of the capsule wardrobe. The best resource I found came with a challenge: Courtney Carver’s Be More with Less blog and her unique idea, Project 333. (More on that shortly.)
I found as I removed miscellaneous clutter from my life, I still found the recurring problem of running out of time in the morning while getting ready for work. What is wrong? Why can’t I seem to have even five minutes to pause? Why is this such a challenge? If I had even two more minutes, I will feel prepared.
As it turns out, I focused so much on chucking random clutter from my home that I forgot about working with habits I maintained everyday, illustrated in my morning routine.
The first step coincided with the ultimate activity I was immersed in (and still work on everyday!): simplifying. So without waiting longer, I gutted my closet of all my clothes and shoes, only returning items that filled the following requirements:
- Clothes I wore all the time.
- Clothes that point to the future.
By the time I hung everything back up, I found an odd assortment of mix-matched items that I loved, but did not fulfill my goal to streamline my morning routine. So then I moved into step two, with the help of Project 333: building my capsule wardrobe.
I took note of the items hanging in my closet, searching for a theme or hint of direction. Following some advice I found while browsing several blogs, I scanned my Pinterest board for inspiration.
I quickly discovered that the majority of my clothing fell under the categories of “neutral,” “no-fuss,” and “classic.” When I identified these themes, I felt confident to pull out everything that did not fit within those categories. My themes all support requirement number two: pointing to the future. I did not want to hang on to items that would influence me to return to the “old me.” I wanted a change that would continue to motivate me to pursue my goals as long as I remained disciplined.
Next, I spent time making a detailed list of those clothes, following Carver’s 33 items strategy, in order to prove to myself that I could indeed construct several outfits out of 33 “capsule”-tailored pieces. Wow! There really are so many things to choose from! (Coming soon: a post on what is in my closet!)
I am currently a few weeks into my revised, minimalist capsule wardrobe, and I already see a difference! Here are my takeaways thus far:
- I have those 5 extra minutes in the morning because I don’t spend time deciding on my outfits. Everything works, no matter what combination I choose!
- Making a capsule wardrobe mean that I wear what I love, thus, I feel confident in my appearance.
- I don’t spend hard-earned money on fast fashion. By sticking with my common core themes, I dress true to myself. I am not tempted to make impulse purchases because I do not fall for the lie wrapped in advertising that convinces consumers that they are not “enough” without a certain shirt or brand of jeans, etc. Fast fashion relies on the emotional draw we experience when we take advertising too far. Not only is it often harmful to the environment and laborers, it is fickle, changing so fast, most items are obsolete within a month, if not, days. Don’t let shiny fliers, flashing lights, and “deal-breaking” prices fool you!
- I do less laundry and save water, money, and energy. With simple clothing that doesn’t have flashy bells and whistles to take into consideration, I have less loads of laundry. Nearly all of my clothing is black or grey, so I can manage to wash everything in a single load, saving the lighter colors for special occasions. Doing so, I save on water by limiting my load, I have less to wash, so I opt for the “quick wash” setting, which works perfectly and conserves energy to utilize appliances, and I save money on the utility bill. I don’t need to spend more on three+ loads (lights, darks, delicates, bold colors, etc.).
- I learned to value white space. My dresser, which houses jeans, pajamas, socks, and underwear, is my pride and joy! The dresser itself is white, giving my small room an airy and open feeling. The surface is smooth and uncluttered. Inside, you can see the wood at the bottom of each drawer. While it may seem bare and a waste of space, it represents to me the elimination of stress. The stress of figuring out how to cram the last tank top in a drawer, the stress of trying to find that shirt tucked in the back corner, the stress of too many choices. Contrary to consumerist belief, having empty white space in your drawers does not mean you are not fashionable or that you failed in achieving some product-based ideal . Having space means that what you do have is a result of thoughtfulness; that you have cleared distractions from the space in order to focus on what brings meaning to your life. It seems that this is a lesson to apply to many categories of life, not just my dresser drawers. But it is a start!
Project 333 and capsule wardrobes are clever ways to reach goals and pursue minimalism. We are all familiar with time capsules? Those shoe boxes we filled and decorated as kids, trying to preserve a period of time in order to control something that is continually progressing. I look back to my elementary-school self fondly, recalling all of the cute little projects I constructed and hid who-knows-where! Capsule wardrobes seem to work in a similar way, though we look forward rather than on the past. My capsule wardrobe captures time – the time I would spend frustrated I couldn’t put an outfit together for whatever reason. This time adds up and becomes quite a waste – even 5 minutes a day becomes over half an hour of your time each week. In a four week period, that’s 2 hours! We formed a cliche due to our business and waste of time: If only I had a few more minutes/ one more hour/ another day!
By simplifying my wardrobe, I capture the waste of time and re-purpose it for something I value or enjoy. I eliminate a cause of stress in my life, leading to the development of a peaceful morning. I have surplus time to slow down, to enjoy the first cup of coffee, to stretch, to read a few pages of a new book, or to have a conversation with a family member before we scoot out the door.
Consider making your own capsule wardrobe! Or be creative and use the framework to pair down something else taking up your time. Indulge in white space and seek out little changes that will transform your life. Reclaim the time you lost. Pass it on!