Tiny Tuesday: Capsule wardrobe

Most of what I do lately is done with my end goal — a tiny, off-grid house in northern New Mexico — in mind. (The longer this election cycle drags on, the more that idea appeals to me. Let me just vanish into the high desert and live in a way that obviates the necessity of interacting with other human beings altogether.)

Anyway. A tiny house, typically defined as 300 square feet or less, requires a certain commitment to minimalism. Items that make sense in 690 square feet won’t make sense in 300, so I’m constantly looking for downsizing opportunities.

One area I’ve downsized considerably is my wardrobe.

I’m not going to tell you how to choose the items that should go into a capsule wardrobe. There are plenty of resources online to help you with that; Project 333 is a good one to get you started. I will, however, point out some considerations that helped me make decisions as I downsized.

1. There are only seven days in a week, and I only work five of them. We do laundry once a week, so I really don’t need more than five outfits that are presentable for work and two that are suitable for whatever rough-and-tumble activities I choose to undertake on weekends. I try to keep a couple of spare work outfits on hand in case I spill something on myself (likely) and a couple of spare weekend outfits on hand in case I get sweaty or muddy or soaked with pond water (also likely). But I don’t have much beyond that.

2. I’m not willing to squander precious storage space on things I can’t wear, so anything stained, smelly, too big, too small, unflattering or damaged went out the door.

3. A couple of cardigans and a couple of hoodies take up less space than a closet full of bulky sweaters. My summer and winter wardrobes are virtually identical: black T-shirt and khakis for work; jeans and a T-shirt for weekends. Add a cardigan, hoodie or flannel on cold days, and I’m comfortable regardless of the season. I also have a couple of broomstick skirts, which store easily and work fine with a black T-shirt and cardigan for those rare instances when I need to dress up.

4. Comfort is king. I wear a pair of 16-year-old tan suede Birkenstock clogs at least 300 days a year. If it’s cold out, I wear them with socks. If I need to dress up, I wear a newer pair of charcoal wool Birkenstock clogs. I also have a pair of black Justin boots for snowy days; two pairs of running shoes (your risk of injury is lower if you rotate between pairs); and a pair of Dansko clogs I bought for a job interview one time and have worn maybe a half-dozen times since. That’s it. I’m not wasting closet space on uncomfortable heels or colorful shoes that only match one outfit.

I still have more clothes than I need, but not by much, and by keeping the inventory small, I can find things easily and don’t have to spend a lot of time figuring out what to wear. If you’re trying to save space, I highly recommend giving a capsule wardrobe a try.

Emily

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2 thoughts on “Tiny Tuesday: Capsule wardrobe”

    1. Those really long, crinkly skirts made out of super-thin cotton or rayon (or a blend) that you find at headshops and international clothing stores. You store them all twisted up to keep the crinkles in them. Much easier to store because you don’t have to worry about wrinkles and can twist them as tight as you want to save space. I like them because they’re comfortable, low-maintenance and look right with Birkenstocks. 🙂

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