I am not a minimalist. As much as I admire people who live in crazy-clean houses with a curated selection of all-white clothing, that’s just not me. But I’m perfectly happy to hone in on the idea of minimalism if it leads me to a thoughtfully prepared collection of great looking clothes.
As discussed in last week’s post, a full-on capsule wardrobe, while fabulously trendy, isn’t for everyone. But there are areas in our lives where paring down choices and increasing the quality of what we wear can make getting dressed more simple and satisfying.
What follows are a series of micro-capsules. These are little pockets of clothing for specific areas of your life. I began to build these capsules for activities I engage in regularly, but I never felt I had the right thing to wear. Your tricky spots may be different from mine, but hopefully these will serve as an inspiration to get you started on your own micro-capsules.
My family and I are not exactly glampers. We’re more grunge camper than glam camper.* That said, I still want my clothes to fit well and look good, even if I will be sleeping in them.
How much do you need? Two tops, two bottoms, one base layer of silk or wool, one outer layer (cozy top and pants you can wear over other garments) and depending on the situation, one coat and/or rain gear and/or something you can swim in.
What should you look for? Quality and color. Outdoor gear is one area of your life where the quality of your clothing cannot be overlooked. A poorly made rain jacket is not a rain jacket; it’s just something that will collect rain and keep it sealed into your clothing for the duration of your trip. Buy a few good pieces in coordinating colors and wear them forever.
After the sixth straight track meet of not knowing what to wear I finally accepted that I had a problem. With two athleticly-minded children and a coach for a husband, I spend a good deal of my free time clapping and encouraging people to run fast, hold a block, or get that dyno. Creating a uniform that I could slip on easily for these events has been a huge relief. No more shivering,** limping around a muddy field in the wrong shoes, or inadvertently showing up in the colors of the opposing team.
How much do you need? Two or three tops, one ball cap or beanie, neutral pants and appropriate shoes. For outdoor sports make sure you have at least one sweatshirt/sweater, and appropriate outerwear.
What should you look for? Color. You don’t have to wear official fan gear or a pin with your child’s face on it, just the color of the team is enough.
Special note: Outerwear. If you attend a lot of outdoor sports, a good coat in the appropriate color makes getting dressed for these events ridiculously simple. My friend Lynnette had a deep purple jacket she wore to watch her son’s soccer games for years. Another option is to do a black coat with a team-appropriate scarf or hat. Since our family cheers on two rival teams (we get a lot of funny looks at cross country meets) we bought grandma a good black coat and made her scarves in both purple and green.
This would be the appropriate place to show you a picture of the perfect micro-capsule I’ve created for myself, but the truth is I don’t have one yet. I’m exploring workout options and trying to pare down the mess of workout clothing I’ve amassed. Look for a post on workout wear coming soon.
How much do you need? Two complete ensembles for every type of work out you do regularly, and then one more for each day of the week you do it. (So if you go to spin class once a week, two ensembles. If you go twice a week, three ensembles.)
What should you look for? Feel and function. Slipping into comfortable, good looking workout clothes is so much more motivating than stuffing yourself into the ratty old spandex shorts you never liked to begin with. The clothes also need to function properly. Running tights that slip down, workout tops that ride up should be banished from your closet, stat.
Special note: Wear and tear. Sadly, some workout clothes wear out pretty quickly. Keep an eye on your workout capsule and make sure you replace smelly, pilled and frayed pieces regularly.
This was the first micro-capsule I created, and it has been such a luxury. You can read more about it here. (Perfect 10-Item Loungewear Capsule )The basic concept is that creating a simple, flexible loungewear capsule makes self-care reflexive and easy.
How much do you need: I have of two pairs of leggings, three sweatshirts, one pair of joggers, one stretchy black skirt, t-shirts in varying sleeve length, slippers and boots.
What should you look for: Quality and comfort. My loungewear capsule includes the most expensive pieces I own. These quality pieces feel amazing, wash up well, and look fantastic season after season.
A final word: All of these micro-capsule wardrobes are living entities. Over time your needs will change, pieces will wear out, and new items will filter in. If you find you are not utilizing a capsule, reevaluate its contents and purpose. If you find you want more options for a certain area of your life, abandon the capsule completely. Try to keep your capsules fluid, you can and should use pieces from one capsule in another. My fantastic plum colored lounging sweatshirt looks great at a track meet and enjoys going camping with me.
These little interlocking mini-wardrobes have helped cut decision-making and ensure that I feel comfortable and stylish in all aspects of my life. Sometimes I had to get rid of wardrobe debris and other times I had to lay down cash to buy what I needed. To create your own micro-capsule think about the following questions:
Which activities in your life that have you stymied as you stand in front of your closet?
What is the bare minimum you would need to have a decent selection each time you dress for this activity?
What is the highest quality you can afford?
Which colors would work well for the activity, and go together so you can mix and match all the pieces?
Investing a little time to create a few mix-and-match, go-to outfits allows you to forget about your clothes as you get on with the fantastic business of being you. I’d love to hear about the micro-capsules you create. Comment below and let me know how it goes!
*What would you call a grunge camper? A Gramper?
** There are things I love and hate about Title Nine. Love: the ethic, the thoughtful coordinating of fun colors, most of the quality, the swimwear. Hate: the price, the percentage of women riding bikes and skateboards with no helmets in their advertising, a lot of the fit of their clothing.
*** OK, I was shivering at the Kelly meet in early April, but no one expected that wind.