New Year's resolutions can be tricky things; our goal is to change and be better. Expectations of success or failure are intimidating! If your resolution went down in flames, consider that it simply did not go as you expected.
My resolution certainly did not go as I expected and I adjusted techniques as I went. As my thirty day challenge of Project 333 draws to an end, I want to share what methods worked for me and how I made a minimalist wardrobe work with my lifestyle.
Tips for Creating Your Own Capsule
First off, if you're looking to create your own capsule wardrobe, I highly recommend considering a few things as you pair down, donate unwanted items and shop for new items:
- Focus Pieces: Choose a favorite pair of boots, cardigan or scarf to be your "go-to" article of clothing. You may not wear it every day, but let it be your inspiration for outfit combinations.
- Experiment: Mix and match pieces you normally wouldn't! If I got bored with my 33 items I mixed and layered pieces I normally would not have paired together and created unexpected and fun variety! Some were a complete flop, but some I'll continue to use.
- Pockets: Absolutely essential! With only 33 items in my wardrobe, I don't have space for a preposterous items like pants without pockets! Now that I've done Project 333, I no longer even consider skirts, dresses, or pants without checking for pockets first.
- Multi-functional: Do each of your articles of clothing interact or work with more than one outfit?
- Color Palette and Texture: Defining a color palette will focus your options when you shop. It will also make getting dressed in the morning easier. Consider texture in your repertoire as well! Patterns are hard for me to match to multiple outfits; instead of patterns, texture is a way I can achieve variety and still maintain minimalism.
- Seasonal Trade Out: Can most of your pieces layer and transfer from one season to the next? My goal was to get my storage box as small as possible. However, I will always store a few essentials. (Listed along with my chosen 33 items are the items I store for the season.)
- Bench-Warmers vs. All-Stars: As you’re creating your capsule, focus on the pieces that make you happy wearing instead of struggling to make yourself wear something you're not happy with. If you are not naturally gravitating towards a particular piece of clothing, get rid of it!
Project 333: My Daily 33 Items
All three pairs of my shoes are Keen. When you find a brand that works for you, stick with it!
In the summer I will swap my tall boots for business casual sandals.
A heavy coat, base layer, and rain coat have gotten me through the worst of the Tennessee winter. If the temperature drops any lower, my scarf, gloves and hat are definitely a plus!
My heavy coat (item number 4), my scarf, hat and gloves will be stored for the summer.
My jeans are the only pair of bottoms that I can't wear in the office. One pair is plenty!
I normally don't wear such bright colors as this skirt, however, a nice pop of color is refreshing.
A variation of mid-layer tops makes the winter a little more bearable. Items 15-17 are mid-layer tops that I normally wear outside of the office. Items 18-20 are mid-layers that I normally wear to the office.
All of these items, besides my flannel and hoodie, will be stored once spring comes around.
Items 21-25 are light layers that I wear to the office. Items 26-30 are layers that I wear outside of the office. This is my largest section; it will be the first to be minimized into a T-shirt quilt!
I only have three long sleeves because they will all go into storage for summer.
Sleeveless dresses are lovely in the summer, and in the winter easy to layer with a sweater and leggings.
More than 33: A Wardrobe by Activity
Curating my capsule wardrobe has gotten me to the point where I continuously wear my favorite items! It feels really good to get up and always enjoy what I'm wearing. But, have you ever had an item that you liked so much you didn't want to use it for its intended purpose? Catching and ripping my favorite brown cardigan while I was moving boxes was just that, absolutely heartbreaking.
In order to preserve my favorite items, I began to categorize the rest of my wardrobe by activity. Separating my clothes by activity also made it visually obvious when I had accumulated too much of a particular category. In other words, I can keep each category in check by measuring one against another and thus stay within the minimalist vision of Project 333.
I am only in technical wear when I know I will either be doing home repair, painting or a craft that I know will get messy. Also included are work uniforms, and work related t shirts that I know I won’t keep forever.
I only wear this if I’m going to the gym or going for a run. In the winter, I include jogging pants, jacket, compression shorts, and an "under armour" base layer.
My funeral dress is the only occasion or formal wear I held onto. Although I may be in the minority, I dedicate this one piece of clothing to this life event out of respect.
I'll normally wear one of my business casual dresses if I have a formal dinner engagement.
Warm soft layers are my primary sleep wear in the winter. Three options are just the right amount and this number gives me enough time to do laundry.
Everyone has their vices; I used to be a purse collector. I swapped to jewelry because it’s timeless and it packs very small.
Items that are out of sight tend to multiply! I'm currently building a jewelry organizer to make my collection visible. For now a thrifted monthly pill organizer works well!
Change and Satisfaction
A smaller more focused wardrobe has eliminated the "extra" and made me more aware when I need a change. Instead of getting distracted by the clutter, I am more likely to ask myself the questions that will allow me to change.
Is a particular article of clothing getting worn out? Have I gained or lost weight i.e. does this item no longer fit me or my style?
My wardrobe is a fluid collection that should change with me.
If I include technical, sleep, active wear and jewelry, I am well over 33 items! It is a continuous effort working towards a goal of 50 items or less in my entire wardrobe. I also consider Debbie Roes by swapping pieces out as needed. Our wardrobes are collections we can continuously work on. How fun is that?!
If you're unsatisfied with your wardrobe due to lack of space, physical or style changes, invest your time into a change of your own! Goodwill always has a great selection of name brand (and sometimes one-of-a-kind) options especially if you're on a budget.
About Samantha Pohlot
Sam is an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving at Goodwill Industries-Knoxville in the Marketing Department. Sam is excited to continue sharing her minimalist journey and building relationships with the Knoxville community!