I’ve been experimenting with seasonal capsule wardrobes for over 4 years now, and have learned a few things along the way. Namely, that a lot of my initial impressions about capsule wardrobe were just downright… wrong.
So today, I’ll be breaking down a few myths about minimal closets and what I’ve actually found to be true.
Myth #1: You Should Stick to Neutrals
While a lot of the minimal wardrobe inspiration out there is neutral-centric, I’m living proof that you can incorporate color into a minimal wardrobe and still find plenty of mix-and-matchable options. I have two main tips for those who aren’t sure where to start:
1. Try to stick to a somewhat limited color palette. Start with one, two, or three accent colors in your wardrobe at a time.
2. Try colors that are “secondary neutrals”. I find that shades like denim blue, navy blue, olive green, and blush can function like neutrals and pair well with other colors.
Myth #2: You Need a Core Consisting of Classics
When I first started trying out capsule wardrobes, my goal was copying a lot of “essentials” lists that included a white button-up shirt, a striped tee, a chambray shirt, a sweater, a silk blouse, jeans, black jeans, an LBD, a trench coat, black pumps, etc.
But some of these–particularly the more dressy pieces–would just never get much wear in my real life.
While it can be really helpful to have a template, it’s most helpful to consider this a starting point. Just because something is considered “classic” doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you–and it’s all about customizing your closet according to what works for you.
If you don’t already own an LBD but feel like you should, take a look at why you don’t have one yet. Maybe you don’t need it?
Try to work with what you’ve got before you start identifying gaps that you might want to fill, rather than copying someone else’s perfect list. Your closet should reflect your tastes, your workplace (or wherever you spend most of your time), and your comfort.
Myth #3: You Need Variety
Variety is the spice of life, and can shake up a minimal wardrobe, but it’s not a must-have. Some of the chicest style icons are major outfit formula repeaters.
If you know that you like a few choice pieces, it’s okay to stick to a uniform.
Myth #4: You Need It All Now
While this myth isn’t often explicitly stated, the general culture surrounding capsule wardrobes encourages shopping for each season and bringing home “hauls”. There’s an implicit suggestion that you should identify your gaps and fill them immediately.
But perhaps the greatest skill I’ve honed in my time with capsule wardrobes was learning to shop more thoughtfully by waiting. A waiting period for purchases makes it much more likely that I’ll save my pennies for something that will serve me better in the long run than lightning-trend impulses (although I don’t think everything in your closet has to be expensive–more on that later).
When I want to buy something new, I put it on a (secret) Pinterest board and leave it there; out of sight, out of mind.
Most of the time, I forget about the item within a couple weeks, and am grateful that I didn’t rush to buy a passing impulse. If something stays present in my mind without reminding myself about it, I can be assured it’s probably something I actually need.
I also like to take notes at the end of each season and use that as a guide the following year. Sometimes shopping too far ahead of certain weather can also lead to missteps in buying.
Myth #5: You Need “Investment Pieces”
“Investment piece” is code for expensive, and it’s worth noting that much of the slow fashion world is exclusionary in how cost-prohibitive it can be.
A common line of thought is that you should save up for the best possible version of an item you need, with the promise that it will save you money in the long run because on how many times you wear it. It’s not bad logic, but it’s not uncatergorically true.
One of my most worn shirts was a steal at H&M, and its quality has held up to all that wear. I chose a raincoat at a mid-level price point rather than the high end one I really coveted, because I couldn’t justify paying so much for something I would only wear occasionally in LA.
Because I bought the raincoat I could afford then, I’ve already gotten more wear out of the piece than if I had waited until I could afford the pricier one.
I’ve found a lot of great finds with steep discounts by shopping secondhand. It’s a nice reminder that not everything has to break the bank to be valuable.
The biggest theme here is that “rules” are best interpreted as “suggestions.” A minimal wardrobe has to work for you to be worth it, and therefore you have to make your own rules.
Do you have a capsule wardrobe? Do you follow any set of guidelines?