I have had a capsule wardrobe for most of my life and never called it that. In the past few years I strayed from that approach and experimented and didn't think too much about how much was enough or anything at all beyond experimenting and the fun of hunting for things in thrift shops and trying new colours and styles. Except for those few years of play which were fun for awhile but are now over, I have always had a small wardrobe of mix and match pieces with a consistent colour palette and styles suited to both my taste and my needs.
There were definitely limitations imposed by budget and availability and in the past my need for a work wardrobe influenced the types of clothing I spent the most money on. I had never heard the term capsule wardrobe nor was I in pursuit of any sort of minimalism, I simply didn't by outfits but purchased items singly which would work with at least two or three items already in my closet and impulse purchases or purchases that went beyond need were rare. I tended to keep my bottoms neutral and use colour and pattern in the tops. A simple formula.
My time spent experimenting eventually brought me full circle but what is different now is that it seems a way of dressing which I believed was imposed on me due to a limited budget is actually a way of dressing that suits me for a variety of reasons. Here is some of what I figured out about myself and clothing.
* It has turned out that I don't mind a simple wardrobe at all. I prefer it.
* My life is casual and it would not surprise me if I never needed to wear a dress or skirt more than once every couple of years ever again.
* I wear skirts or dresses in summer by choice but in winter I find myself not wanting to wear the tights or leggings and finding the excess fabric involved rather a nuisance.
* For awhile, dressing up was fun but it grew tiresome and complicated and basically clothing began to get in the way of my movement. I don't believe that is a standard, across the board sort of thing. It's personal. What feels good on our bodies, what is comfortable versus what is a nuisance is a very personal thing. We can change over time too. I was once more comfortable in more formal clothing than I am now. For a short time I was in love with jersey, leggings and tunics, but then found these got baggy and slouchy and attracted a lot of cat fur.
* Not every style that I like works out for me and not everything that looks flattering is practical. I tried on some clothes today and they looked great. I loved the colours, they were very hippie-boho-free spirit looking and they suited me but I knew that they were too fussy. I would regret the purchase and I just don't have a lifestyle where I need clothing for sitting around or walking around looking good. I stay home and I read, write or paint. Once or twice a week I go out for a couple of hours for a bit of shopping or meeting my someone at a cafe.
* I love to be comfortable -wait let me rephrase that because who doesn't like to be comfortable? I like my clothing slightly loose because that is what feels comfortable to me. I like body skimming things, I wear my jeans a bit loose.
* I am neither interested in dressing up to display my creativity nor am I someone who loves to live in pyjamas or sweatpants.
So I have what these days is called a capsule wardrobe and it adjusts slightly for the weather, with adaptations for very warm or very cold or wet.
Many capsule wardrobe suggestions include things like a pencil skirt and a blazer and a little black dress. I don't need those things. I also do not own a white button down, chambray button down, trench coat or Breton top. I am definitely not doing the French Chic capsule wardrobe. I have stopped wearing black and am finding myself quit content without grey. Although I still like grey I just am not sure it likes me. My neutrals are denim, cream and brown.
It may not be the most fun way, but if I've got anything figured out it's that I don't look to my clothing for fun. It is absolutely self expression because any form of clothing is. Our clothing says something even if it is saying something we do not wish it to. It might be saying "I have no idea what suits me or what I like or I do not care". We have little control over what our clothing choices say to anyone else. People advise us to make sure our clothing choices say what we want them to be saying. Perhaps that is possible to some degree but no matter what we think our outfit is saying we don't have much control over what other people hear. Better to wear things because you like them than to worry about what anyone else thinks and that goes for being flamboyantly stylish or under the radar casual.
For people who like the details, this is what I wear for Winter
This list doesn't include underwear, pyjamas, socks and the gloves, hats or rain boots I also have on hand for inclement weather.
Some of these items would be part of my Autumn or Spring wardrobe with small changes-additions or swaps.
5 pairs blue jeans-two casual straight leg, two casual boot cut, one dressier boot cut
4 long sleeved tee shirts
3 casual blouses (2 of these I have to admit to not wearing much)
1 fancy blouse (not worn much but it works for 3 seasons)
2 knit tops
1 pull over sweater
3 tank tops to layer for warmth
3 prs lace up boots -hiking or granny style
1 quilted vest
assortment of scarves and jewelry, 1 belt
I am NOT making any claim about or attempting minimalism and I am not aiming for any specific number of items or imposing any rules on myself. I included the numbers only for interest. This is more clothing than I actually need, but I am not immune to the pleasure of something new or the possibility that I might find a cardigan better than one I currently have. The quest for the perfect cardigan seems never ending and I am happy to continue that mission.