Capsule wardrobe + me

My approach to clothing is changing! I started to use the principles of the capsule wardrobe. Many bloggers have gone before me, but now is my time to join in. Simply put, I want pretty, sustainable and ethically made clothes; I want to be happy with my clothes; I want to buy less miss-buys (that make me unhappy); and I want my clothes to go together better so to more easily make stunning outfits. Also, I want to have proper clothes for all occasions and, you know, for me.

My old approach

For some years I’ve been aware of the many ethical problems in the fashion industry. However, I used to simply withdraw from the conversation, because I hardly bought new clothes. I just set out to ‘use up’ the clothes I already owned (mostly gathered in my teen years and early 20s – I’m 25 years-old now) and supplement with new-to-me second-hand items. And okay, I would get some new organic cotton or otherwise okay basics occasionally. And sometimes something else new when I felt that it would help me look okay and deal with my wardrobe situation, but rarely.

All went fine for a while, but now comes the time when I want to dress well. This has to do with me transitioning from girl into woman and from student into working adult. I simply want to dress my age and express myself as I am. Not as my clothes from my teenage years. And of course, second-hand items can be anything and that’s great, but I also just want to allow myself to look good – without feeling guilty about it.

At this point I feel as if something has to change. Many of my old clothes trigger feelings of guilt in me. I can feel guilty or bad about not being able to successfully choose clothes for myself, about making bad decisions. This current closet situation reminds me of all my miss-buys, of the money I spent on it, of the resources used to produce and transport them, of the energy I personally spent and spend on my appearance and on how often I am not satisfied. I have a full closet but most items I don’t like to wear (anymore) yet don’t dare to throw out because of ethical reasons and my personal story. Maybe I can wear them again some time and be happy. Maybe I can learn to be less insecure and vain and just be happy with what I have and how I look.

I now realise that I can do something about this! I think that the capsule wardrobe approach can help me to manage my wardrobe.

Previously I wasn’t interested in the capsule wardrobe approach. It occurred to me as if following it would mean that I’d have to throw out a lot of clothes, because they do not fit the criteria. This does not strike me as sustainable at all. Even if you donate your clothes, chances are that no one will use them again – but you can if you decide to keep them and take ownership. This can be done through combining the non-perfect items smartly, right?

Now I see that the capsule wardrobe approach helps with exactly that! It helps you to gain more clarity on your style, on which items go well together and on which new items would make a great contribution to your current collection of clothes, so to prevent miss-buys. It also helps you to get a better overview of the clothes you own and of outfit possibilities, helping you to pick awesome outfits more easily. This can save quite some hassle and confusion in the morning.

The capsule wardrobe

The capsule wardrobe is explained in books and on loads of weblogs. I got my information from several weblogs (mostly UnFancy), which works fine. This means that I do not have all the deets so I will not tell you all. As always, I will just share my own findings.

clean wardrobe

The general idea of the capsule wardrobe is this: for each season of three months one uses a capsule wardrobe existing of a limited number of clothing items. The number of 37 items appears to be used by many people. These items are chosen before the season starts, meaning that the capsule wardrobe and its outfits are thoroughly planned.

During the season one uses only the clothes of the capsule wardrobe. This allows for: having a clear overview of the clothes one can wear; having a neat, well-organised closet; being aware of which items go well with which items; being creative with your clothes! Using only a small amount of clothing items challenges you to get creative. You are less likely to get overwhelmed from all the options and more likely to actually find new combos that work well! Or so I am imagine.

The clothes that are not in your capsule wardrobe of the current season one keeps in storage. These clothes can be used in other seasons. Also, the capsule wardrobe does not have to include underwear, accessories, pyjamas, lounge wear and sports wear. These items don’t count as one of the # items and you are free to use what you like. This is convenient, since use of accessories works well to get more variation in your outfits.

What is included in your capsule wardrobe? Tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes, jackets and coats. An example of 37 items, as given here by Caroline of UnFancy, is: 9 pairs of shoes, 9 bottoms, and 15 tops, 2 dresses and 2 jackets/coats. She adds: ‘To me it feels generous yet minimal.’

In the last one to two weeks of a season you are supposed to plan your capsule wardrobe for the new season, and to add new items (according to Caroline). So the rest of the time: no shopping. And: only buy items that you will wear at least 30 times, which is the #30wears rule. Ha, there’s the most sustainable part! I love it. (Though, I personally feel that this does not have to count for second-hand clothes. Those you can just use and sell again afterwards, without guilt. However, only if you think they make a good contribution!)


The idea is also that you get more conscious of what clothes you love to wear, which makes your life a lot easier. Also, this knowledge prevents you from buying items that you do not like and do not wear. With that, the capsule wardrobe is a form of slow fashion, which is a reaction to fast fashion.

For more information and to get started: here is a guide (same link as before) – and here is a free planner.

Why this works for me

Wow! The reason I did not fell for the capsule wardrobe before, was that I did not think it would be more sustainable than my old clothing approach, which was mostly based on second-hand and already-owned clothes. Also, to me 9 pairs of shoes for one season (meaning: for a certain temperature range) is loads! But, and this is great, choosing to use less different shoes allows for more other clothes! And these clothes can also include second-hand or already-owned clothes. Ain’t that great?!

I am writing that out, because I think that this would work for me. Starting to work with capsule wardrobes does not require you to buy (many) new clothes. The general idea is eventually that you will appreciate all items in your closet, but that does not have to be the starting point.

First, I was afraid that I would have to throw out many clothes, which I find to be unsustainable, but I found this: I simply get to store a part of my clothes away from my closet. Naturally, I already did that partially: summer clothes go out of the closet in winter. However, I would always choose to keep part of these clothes in my closet, with the idea to possibly use them at parties or underneath warmer clothes. This seemed to be the safe side.

However: now I see that this does not work for me! It leads to a closet full of clothes that I do not wear, including all these too thin summer clothes in winter. This makes me feeling confused and guilty! And now, when loosely starting to use the capsule wardrobe approach, I can allow myself to put most of these clothes away for later. Finally!

And I don’t even think this makes me wear these clothes less. I think it allows me to re-value them. When I would include them in my spring or summer capsule I would be happy to be able to wear them again! And if not, that is a clear sign for me to finally throw them out, with the hopes of someone else enjoying them. So this approach gives me clarity! Plus, going through my clothing with the capsule wardrobe in mind already contributed to me wearing more varied outfits in the past weeks than in the months before.

So I love it! I am totally going to do this. I started with putting away the most summery clothes that were still in my closet, which already helped me to gain some peace of mind. Further, we now seem to be in the midst of ‘winter season’. I feel as if I can allow myself to get some new long-sleeved pieces still, because except for two basic shirts I did not do that in a long time, but also because investing in some good pieces will help me be more confident at my internship which will happen soon. Also, I am confident that they will be good investments and that I will wear them 30+ times.

How about you? What is your wardrobe approach? 🙂 Do you follow certain principles?

I still love simple clothes. But preferably they are pretty too!

Pictures through Pixabay.






5 responses to “Capsule wardrobe + me”

  1. […] Last time I wrote about the capsule wardrobe. As far as I know, that system would tell you to keep the clothes you love to wear and to discard everything that does not work for you. […]

  2. Jonathan Caswell Avatar

    Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

    1. Nina de Haan Avatar

      I think so! I think that having seasonal ‘capsules’ is supposed to bring more clarity, so to help you develop your style, learn which items go well with each other and prevent you from buying items you will not wear. 🙂 So the minimalism is totally in there!

  3. […] Earlier I shared with you my enthusiasm for the capsule wardrobe: a simplistic method that, when applied correctly, would free you from all wardrobe misery. I set out to play with it, and I already wrote some thoughts about my experiences. Here are a few more of those thoughts & experiences. […]

  4. […] If you have missed this wonderful opportunity to not buy clothes for (half) a year, not to worry! The good news is that you get to choose your way of becoming a more conscious consumer, your way of building a sustainable wardrobe! At any time you want too. Maybe for your the easiest year to change your clothing consumption starts right now. Or you pick the second half a year of 2021, from July on. Or you may join capsule-wardrobers and use one or two weeks in June to prep your summer capsule wardrobe. […]

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