My First Capsule Wardrobe: Lifestyle Needs

This week I'm talking about capsule wardrobe creation. I'm sharing my wardrobe from this summer and the tips and tricks I learned along the way! Be sure to check out the previous posts if you missed them: Introduction & Creating A Palette.

Have you ever seen those "100 Items For Every Wardrobe" lists? For a long time, I used to follow these religiously (mostly because I have an irrepressible fondness for lists of all kinds...) Then a fellow blogger pointed out the ridiculousness of the notion that every person can benefit from the same set of clothing parameters. If you work from home and you have an active kid and also enjoy gardening, you're not going to feel very at home in a closet full of party dresses. Similarly, if you're working in a law office, you'll probably get more mileage out of two versatile blazers than a hoodie and denim jacket.

My point is, I can't tell you exactly what goes into a capsule wardrobe. Everyone's closet needs are different, because everyone's lifestyle is different.

Not only does lifestyle vary from person to person, one person's lifestyle may also vary from season to season! As an actor, my lifestyle is constantly changing. I may be in consistent rehearsals for a two month period, practically living in movement-friendly casuals, then be back at my 9-to-5 the next month and needing slightly snappier work clothes. Then there's the obvious factor of weather. Unless you live somewhere like Hawaii, your outfit choices will largely be at the whim of Mr. Golden Sun.

To ensure my modest wardrobe would still meet my day-to-day needs, I split my weekly activities into categories. (I ended up with four; you may require more or fewer.) Then I calculated how many outfits I'd need over the course of one month per each category.

1) Rehearsal & Casual Work Days
  • comfortable, conservative, easy to move in
  • 10 outfits (2 casual days a week per 3 weeks of work, 1 rehearsal day per week)
2) Professional Work Days
  • tailored, conservative, projecting an air of authority & experience
  • 9 outfits (3 professional days a week per 3 weeks of work)
3) Weekend Outings & Vacations
  • comfortable and walkable, with an air of offbeat fun (more liberal)
  • 10 outfits (4 vacation days, 6 weekend days not spent in loungewear...)
4) Special Occasions
  • a mix of formal and casual statement pieces, sexy/flirty, funky
  • 5 outfits (1 occasion per week, plus one for good measure)

Keep overlaps in mind. I rehearsed more than two times a week, for instance, but some of these rehearsals doubled with weekend outfits. Most special occasion days had to pair with a weekend or work outfit for daytime. I left off work outfits for the week I took a vacation. You get the idea.

Overall, I discovered that my closet demands were fairly casual. About one third of my items needed to be business-casual and the other two thirds could be comfy-casual. Breaking that down further, about half the comfy-casuals would lend themselves to movement and the other half would lend themselves to fun, unique outfit creation (i.e. statement pieces.) Special occasion clothes could be mixed within these divisions (i.e. a quirky silk jacket, a conservative cocktail dress, some hot-date heels...)

Like I said, I've used Caroline's 37-item parameter, but you can fine-tune the actual item count based on how often you do laundry or how many times you feel comfortable repeating outfits. As long as your unique lifestyle ratios are in order, you'll be solid!

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