To kick off #CSCMiniCapsule Month, I’m here to explore the most important question before you dive into the deliciously Marie Kondo world of capsule wardobes: Is this the most wonderful idea since sliced bread, or a catastrophic notion that will drive you insane?
Let’s discuss. But first…
Why on earth would you dramatically limit the number of things in your closet?
People’s motivations vary, by common themes are:
- To avoid that awful feeling when you have a “full to bursting” closet but can’t find anything to wear.
- To ensure that all of your clothes mix-and-match — no sad outcasts that stay hidden because they have no friends.
- To be more environmentally sustainable, intentional, and thoughtful about your material consumption.
- To really nail your personal style.
- To focus on higher value, higher quality items rather than a bunch of cheap “fast fashion.”
How does a capsule wardrobe work for sewists?
While most of the guides and articles are for people who buy their clothes, it is easy to apply the same logic to clothes that you will sew (and patterns that you will buy). The goal is to end up with a streamlined wardrobe that:
- Works with your lifestyle
- Mixes and matches (often a lot of separates and layers)
- Gets worn regularly and will hold up over time
- Uses a cohesive color palette with complementary fabrics
We’ll be exploring these topics in more detail as the month progresses. And now to the main point of the post:
When is a capsule wardrobe a great idea for sewists?
There are a variety of sewists for whom a capsule wardrobe can be a game-changer.
The Impulse Buyer
You make random purchases of patterns and fabrics without a lot of forethought and planning. Those materials then stay in an ever-growing hoard that threatens to take over your living space. You want to be more thoughtful and intentional about your buying habits, and you want to make sure that you will actually sew/wear the items you DO purchase.
The Fad Chaser With Nothing To Wear on Monday Morning
You have a closet full of handmade cold-shoulder tops, but hate them on your body. (And who wouldn’t? I want my shoulders to be warm, thank you very much!) It seems like whenever there is a fad you are the first to make a purchase, but you don’t really feel comfortable in any of them. You haven’t successfully identified your personal style, so instead you fill your closets with the latest fashions — but still end up wearing the same 2-3 outfits each week.
The Frequent Traveler
You are regularly living out of a suitcase, and need to maximize your “looks” while avoiding overweight luggage fees. You dream of packing a single carry-on suitcase for 10 days in France. (Or, if you’re me, a whirlwind trip of business stops in the Midwest USA.) You’d like a mini-collection of clothes that work together, can be dressed up or down, in colors and fabrics that travel well.
The “New Season of Life” Sewist
You are in transition. Maybe you’ve just graduated from college and own nothing but joggers, while you face a business casual work environment. Or you’ve just become a new mother. Or retirement is looming on the horizon. Your current wardrobe doesn’t meet the needs of your new life, but starting over from scratch is overwhelming. You need a capsule to get your started — something that you’ll love now, but can add to over time.
When is a capsule idea a nightmare for sewists?
But wait! Give capsule wardrobe’s a pass (or at least, more serious pause) if you fall into these categories:
The Free Spirit
You sew for pleasure and delight, choosing projects on a whim. The idea of restricting yourself to a limited wardrobe of pre-determined pieces makes you antsy and rebellious. Who cares if your closets are bursting? The act of sewing up something beautiful is what gives you a thrill — not the wearing of it in a perfectly choreographed ensemble. You will make a cold-shoulder top with a bust flounce if you want to, dammit! (Even if you only wear it twice and then move on to something new next week.)
The Pattern Lover
Most of the capsule wardrobe frameworks you see focus on a lot of basics in solid colors, with an occasional stripes (and more rarely, a floral pattern thrown in for good measure). But you are a pattern lover — you want bold colors, silhouettes, and styles to wrap around you every day. Basics bore you — you are a hothouse flower that needs to shine with dramatically different looks every day of the week!
You are vintage one day, and ultra-mod the next. You are a chameleon who truly loves experimenting with style — trying different looks together, or alternating between style eras depending on the day or occasion. You need a closet full of options, because the idea of wearing the same looks every day makes you want to cry.
So, is a curvy capsule wardrobe right for you?
I guess it depends with the persona you most identify with in the above scenarios. Regardless, I think that almost every sewist can agree that some kind of mini-capsule is a good middle ground. It’s a great way to focus on the basics that so often elude us (see the famous sewing cake vs. frosting post from 2012), or experiment with a new style, or refine a color palette. If nothing else, it will help you get the biggest bang-for-your-buck the next time you need to pack for a trip!
Next up on the CSC blog, I’ll be talking about different capsule wardrobe frameworks, including some photos from my mini-capsule process. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below — what have you learned about yourself as you think about developing a capsule wardrobe?