Building your capsule wardrobe at the beginning of the season is the first step to simplifying your wardrobe. After building your capsule wardrobe, the next step is maintaining the size and simplicity of it. There are several quick and easy habits and routines to adopt to maintain your capsule wardrobe.
Adding to My Capsule Wardrobe
My husband and I recently went away to Las Vegas. It was the first time we’ve gone away just the two of us since having kids. I was a little nervous about it, but really excited to have a few days to ourselves. In my excitement, I decided to treat myself to a couple of new items of clothing for the trip.
My family and I were all laughing about my mini shopping spree, since I love having a capsule wardrobe. However, I have a couple of habits and routines in place that allow me to maintain a capsule wardrobe. Even when I do buy something new.
A Capsule Wardrobe is About Simplicity, Not Restriction
Remember a capsule wardrobe (and minimalism in general) is not about restricting yourself and never buying anything new. Creating a capsule wardrobe is about being content dressing with less because it simplifies your life. It’s ok to buy a few new items throughout your capsule wardrobe season, as long as you are intentional about what you add.
When I initially make my capsule wardrobes, I try to work with the clothes I already have. Because I store my seasonal clothes out of my closet, my wardrobe feels fresh and new when I pull those clothes out. I make my capsule using my existing clothes. Then, after living with it for a while, make note of any gaps I’d like to fill in my wardrobe or clothes in need of replacement. As a result, I usually end up adding 2 or 3 new items to my capsule wardrobe each season. Often to replace something worn out or that I’ve grown tired of.
You may have noticed in my previous capsule wardrobe posts (winter, spring, summer) that I usually start off with fewer items in my capsule than my flexible 40-item limit. Doing so takes into account the fact that I will most likely add 2 or 3 new items to my wardrobe, without making my capsule larger than I prefer.
How to Maintain Your Capsule Wardrobe
There are 3 routines and habits I use to maintain my capsule wardrobe throughout the season. Here are the 3 ways to maintain your capsule wardrobe:
1. Remove as much as (or more than!) you add
The key to maintain your capsule wardrobe is to be intentional about removing items you no longer wear or love to make room for the new items. If you only add new clothes, without ever removing anything, not only will you not maintain your capsule wardrobe. But you will also likely end up with a closet full of clothes again. Which takes the simplicity out of your wardrobe and defeats the reason for having a capsule wardrobe to begin with.
Remember the “one in, one out” rule. Every time you add something to your wardrobe, find something to take out in it’s place.
Sometimes we need to add a new item to our capsule without taking something out. Maybe to fill a gap in our wardrobe. But first, we should always look for something to remove whenever we add something new.
Here are some suggestions to find something to take out to maintain your capsule wardrobe:
- Anything you aren’t wearing or loving as much as you thought you would
- Items that aren’t working with the other pieces in your capsule
- Anything you’re finding isn’t working with the weather
- Any items that are stained, damaged or worn out
- An item that’s not feeling great or fitting as well as it could
- An item that wasn’t perfect for you, but you were keeping until you found something that works better
- Anything you’re tired of wearing and aren’t reaching for much anymore
You can even remove stored items not in your current capsule that you’ve changed your mind about keeping. This is a great time to get rid of “just in case” or “maybe” items.
By removing at least the same number of items as you add, it is easy to maintain your capsule wardrobe. Additionally, starting with slightly fewer items than your ideal capsule size, gives you a cushion to add a few items and still maintain your capsule wardrobe.
2. Mid-point capsule wardrobe check-in
The second habit to help maintain your capsule wardrobe is to check-in with your capsule mid-way through the season.
For example, I plan to dress from each capsule I make for approximately 3 months according to the seasonal changes. So, about 6 weeks in, I quickly look through my capsule for anything I’m not wearing often or isn’t working as well as expected. See the list in #1 above for reasons why you may not be wearing something as much as you expected.
I use this mid-point check-in as a chance to remove anything from my capsule wardrobe that’s not working for me. Usually I get rid of (i.e. donate, sell or give away) items that aren’t working. Occasionally I might store them away for a different season or just to take a break from the item.
At this point, you can decide if you want to add anything new in place of what you removed. However, it’s a good idea to try living with your wardrobe as is for a while before adding anything new. That way you will know if you truly “need” something new, or can easily do without it.
Taking a few minutes to check-in on your capsule is a great way to maintain your capsule wardrobe. And ensure it’s organized and working for you to simplify getting dressed.
3. Evaluate your capsule wardrobe at the end of the season
At the end of your capsule wardrobe’s season, re-evaluate your items again. A great time to do this is as you’re switching out your clothes for your next capsule. Assess what worked and what didn’t. Take note of anything you didn’t end up wearing very often and ask yourself why you didn’t wear it much.
Again, I usually donate most items I found I didn’t wear. Occasionally I might store an item for a future capsule. But usually if I haven’t worn it this season, I likely won’t wear it in the future.
Notice anything that is worn out or needs replacing. The end of the season is a great time to find replacement items on sale. Just make sure to remove the worn-out item when you add the replacement in order to maintain your capsule wardrobe.
As you switch over your capsule wardrobe, notice what you liked about your capsule and what you didn’t like. As well as what worked and what could be better. Use those lessons to improve your future capsule wardrobes so each one works better for you and your life.
My Real-Life Example of Capsule Wardrobe Maintenance
This is my real-life example of how to maintain your capsule wardrobe. Including what I purchased and what I removed from my wardrobe to maintain my capsule.
In preparation for our trip, I purchased 4 new tops, 2 pairs of shorts and a dress. When your whole summer wardrobe only consists of 34 items total, adding 7 new items seems pretty extreme. And in all honesty, this is a lot more than I usually add to my wardrobe during a season. But I hadn’t purchased many new summer clothes for the past several years and a few items needed to be replaced. However, here’s how I balanced out the addition of the new items and maintained my capsule wardrobe.
Remove more than you add
I went through my summer capsule wardrobe and the drawer of summer clothes I didn’t include in my current capsule. I found 12 tops, 4 pairs of shorts, 2 dresses, and a few miscellaneous items like pajamas, bras and a couple of bathing suits to remove to make room for the new items. Everything I removed I donated because I wasn’t wearing them now and knew I likely wouldn’t in the future.
For example, I removed a tank that was too low cut for my preference so I rarely wore it. I replaced a pair of shorts that were a bit tight, and another pair that were old and faded. I also removed 2 dresses that were old and not my style anymore. My 6-year-old (brutally honest) daughter was very helpful by letting me know which items weren’t “fashion” anymore! ?
All in all, I added 7 new items to my wardrobe, but donated more than 18 items in their place. I feel good about the fact that I got to update my summer capsule wardrobe, and still maintain my preferred capsule wardrobe size and simplicity. As well a reduce the amount of clothing I have stored for further capsule wardrobes.
Maintain your Capsule Wardrobe with These 3 Habits
Following these 3 habits will make it easy to maintain your capsule wardrobe and simplify deciding what to wear. By shopping with intention, following the one in, one out rule and re-evaluating your capsule on a regular basis, your capsule wardrobe will easily stay small and carefully curated.
Do you follow any of these habits to maintain your capsule wardrobe? What do you do to keep your wardrobe simple and tailored to your life?
Sunday 25th of July 2021
I have a problem!! My friend helped me purge my ardrobe about 2 and 1/2 years ago. So, everything I have is ne and very nice! Because of medical issues and the lockdon I haven't orn anything but my summer clothes this year. I refuse to get rid of ne items that look great on me. I ill have a very difficult time trying everything on because I'm disabled but I ould like to do this. I guess I could try doing this in small blocks of time. I have totes and totes of clothing!! OR I ill try earing my clothing daily through the seasons and deciding on them then. hat do you think?!
Simple Lionheart Life
Wednesday 28th of July 2021
I think planning to work for short blocks of time is a great idea to make steady and consistent progress. I've also found making a point of wearing each item of clothing I'm unsure about is another great way to go. Whenever I've been unsure about an item, I always know for sure whether I love it or not after wearing it for a day. You could use both strategies to work on simplifying your clothes. I hope that helps! Thanks for reading :)
Wednesday 7th of July 2021
Hi, I think this was the first time I’ve read one of your blogs, Melissa, and it was interesting. I am trying out my first seasonal capsule, so lots of good advice I’ll try to use. I did notice the that you don’t include much in the way of photos. Pictures of your new additions would have been nice.
Simple Lionheart Life
Tuesday 13th of July 2021
Hi Gloria and welcome! Thanks for checking out my site. I think it's great you're trying out a capsule wardrobe for yourself, good for you! I don't usually include too many photos of my own clothes or "stuff", because I don't want the focus to be so much on the exact things I own, as I'd like it to be on the ideas behind why I own what I do. If that makes sense! Thanks for reading and I hope you're enjoying your capsule wardrobe!
How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe – I Won Best Dressed
Wednesday 11th of April 2018
[…] a reason. Trust me.) Now, there are some wonderful resources on the interwebs on this very topic, so I will spare you the extended ‘how to’ version, and give you some of my best advice […]
Monday 9th of October 2017
Thank you for your response!
With regards to the jewellery, I keep my current favourites in my jewellery box and anything else stored away out of sight, so it isn't a "problem". Your answer makes me think that my issue is something deeper. I don't feel bad about owning the pieces, I feel guilty for having spent money I didn't really have or need to spend. Having spent the money, there's nothing left to do but enjoy the pieces!
Simple Lionheart Life
Monday 9th of October 2017
You're right, the money is already spent, you might as well let yourself wear and enjoy the jewelry. Try to let go of the guilt and use it as a lesson the next time you're shopping so you won't end up feeling bad about a purchase after the fact. Thanks for following up, I appreciate hearing about your experience.
Sunday 24th of September 2017
Hi! I thought you might also like to hear from someone who has been capsuling for a while, like yourself!
The one-in-one-out thing never worked for me until I read your suggestion to take the "one out" from the pieces NOT in your capsule. I have a spare closet where I keep any clothes that are off-season or not worn much. Many of the unworn clothes are on the chopping block and I usually cull from these. Sometimes I'll challenge myself to get rid one just one more from that bunch. I've made a lot of progress over the years and the number left is very manageable.
As you said, most of what I buy now is carefully planned or replacing another item. I have a mental shopping list and keep that list in mind while I'm out. I believe that an incoming item must be "perfect" - fit, style, comfort, suitability, country of manufacture, material... I get as close as I can. It really slows down the number of new items.
I will confess that I also had a small shopping spree while on vacation this year! I bought a few pieces that I certainly didn't NEED. One of the t-shirts and a necklace haven't yet been worn. They might be mistakes, but we shall see. I try not to be harsh with myself when I get too excited or misjudge.
I also thrifted three shirts and a dress before my trip and they were all amazing. I think my success rate is pretty okay!
My biggest challenge is my jewellery collection: I worked in retail and now own a lot of real Sterling silver jewellery. I go through phases of liking rings or necklaces, etc., so I don't like the idea of getting rid of everything I don't wear. Jewellery doesn't actually have much resale value and I suspect that a good number of pieces may appeal to me again in the future. I must be down to half of what I had and it doesn't take up much room. What would you do?
Thank you for your blog!
Simple Lionheart Life
Sunday 24th of September 2017
Thanks for sharing your experience with a capsule wardrobe. It's so great to hear from someone who uses and loves capsule wardrobes. It sounds like you have some great strategies for maintaining your capsule wardrobe. Thanks for sharing what works for you!
As for the jewelry, I can relate. I think if you have room to keep it and keeping it doesn't bother you at all, I would hang on to it. You're right, it's not worth much to try and sell, and if you know you go through seasons of liking it and other times not wearing it much, you probably will wear it again. If it was stressing you out and making you feel like you had too much, you might want to considering donating, selling or giving some away. But if you feel content with what you have, I think it's fine to keep it. I hope that helps! Thanks for reading and I really enjoyed and appreciated hearing about your experience with capsule wardrobes!