I didn’t intend to create a capsule wardrobe. It just happened.

The first month back at work after having my youngest child, I was helping a patient who had been newly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. We were were discussing energy conservation techniques for self-care and household tasks, since a major tenant of managing MS is monitoring activity levels and “not overdoing it.” As we were researching together on one of the therapy laptops, an article popped up on our screen.

It was about a woman named Courtney Carver who also had been recently diagnosed with MS and had decided to simplify her life by minimizing her wardrobe. She called it Project 333 because it focused on wearing just 33 items for three months.

Simplicity in fashion. Minimizing decisions. Conserving energy. Promoting peace and joy. It sounded magical.

As we were reading the article and brainstorming if we could put the idea of simplifying a wardrobe into practice for my patient, she said, “Well, it’s like you. It’s like all of you here. You gals wear the same outfit to work everyday. That must save you a ton of time and effort.”

She had a very good point. Getting dressed for work in the morning required about 10 seconds of decision making for me – what color socks to wear – thanks to the rehab facility’s requirement of black pants, closed toe shoes, and the company-issued blue polo shirts. A minimal daily uniform.

In fact, most of my closet at that time was also quite minimal.

Just before returning to work, I had tried on every single piece of clothing I owned and only kept what truly fit. Even though I had lost a reasonable amount of weight, my ribcage, hips, and feet (!!) were new sizes. It was very difficult to donate all the shoes I had sadly and strangely outgrown, but it did give me a reason to shop for new clothes and Dansko shoes

orange hat, black watch, grey sweater, blue jeans, and yellow tulips arranged all together
via Unsplash by Angela Bailey

Slowly but surely, I added items as needed over the next year or when the seasons changed. I made sure whatever I bought would coordinate with whatever I already owned. Since I started with blue, black, grey, and red, it was fairly easy to mix and match which I really liked. Streamlining my clothes was a bit magical. I loved it.

Seven, almost eight, years later, this is still what I love about my capsule wardrobe:

  1. I have saved money. I don’t go shopping nearly as much as I used to but when I do, I tend to buy more quality items that last for a long time. I still wear those Dansko shoes I bought in 2014! So over the years, I have spent less by having fewer, more versatile items in my closet.
  2. I’m more organized. I don’t have to search for that one certain pair of pants that goes with that one specific top and needs that one special belt. Everything matches with every else, including most shoes. And if we’re going on vacation or to visit family, it takes me about five minutes to pack my stuff. So easy.
  3. Laundry has been simplified (for myself at least). Gone are the outfits that had to be dry cleaned, hand washed, or lay-flat-to-dry. If it isn’t wash and wear, then it doesn’t come home with me.
  4. I have less decision fatigue. As moms, we make a thousand decisions a day. And it can be exhausting. I didn’t realize this was effecting me until all of a sudden, I had less choices for what I wore to work and more energy to put toward taking care of my family each morning. 
  5. I really do save so much time, which is the one real non-renewable and most valuable resource. More time has been the best part of having a minimal, simplified closet.
woman folding piles of clothes
via Unsplash by Sarah Brown

I didn’t create my capsule wardrobe overnight. In fact, I didn’t even call it that for quite awhile.

But now that I have one, I love what I wear every single day, and I love the extra time and energy I have.

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