The Capsule Wardrobe Diaries: Crying, Colors and Spiritual Discipline

Week 1

The experts concur: take everything out of your closet in order to get started.

I did not do this. I mean, I get it. They want you to start with a clean slate and put only the best back in. But the experts do not know that I am a mom of three with very limited windows for such herculean projects as cleaning out a closet. Therefore I edited my closet in shifts and even with that my bedroom has been a wreck for over a week.

If you have the time for one huge purge - do it - if not, tackle it in shifts. I went through mine by clothing type. For example, I started with all of my short sleeved shirts, then long sleeved, then sleeveless, then jeans, then skirts, etc etc.

And let the mental games begin. You’re going to start justifying and what-iffing - trying to keep things that really don’t serve you. But this was a gift! But this was such a good deal! But this still has the tags on it even though it’s been sitting in my closet for three months! What if I need this for ______? (fill in the blank here with a 100 situations)

Marie Kondo, the author of The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, recommends holding each article of clothing in your hand and emotionally assessing whether or not it “sparks joy” as a measure of whether or not to keep it. I really did enjoy that book and appreciate this lovely fairy-land approach but mama ain’t got time for that. What I did do was rapid-fire ask myself the same question I ask my nutrition clients to consider  when it comes to their food choices: is it a Heck Yeah?

If it’s a Heck Yeah, it’s worth it. It’s in good condition, it looks good on you, you like the way you feel in it, you know it’s an article of clothing that you will really wear and enjoy. It makes you say Heck Yeah, I love this and there’s no way I want to get rid of it. You will likely know this in a heartbeat. If that’s the case: keep it.

If it’s not a Heck Yeah, it’s a Heck No. If you have any hesitation whatsoever, get rid of it. If it’s not flattering, get rid of it. (if you don’t know whether or not it’s flattering, ask a trusted friend. Or send me a photo, I’ll tell you!). If you haven’t worn it at least three times over the past year, get rid of it. If it’s not your size, get rid of it. It’s time to be ruthless, friends.

The foods we eat and the clothes we keep should really be worth it. I tell my clients you’ve got be discerning about what you allow into your Holy Temple and, in this case, we’ve got to be discerning about what we allow onto our Holy Temples.

Donating Makes Me Cry

Once I sorted through everything I ended up with:

  1. My Capsule

  2. Clothing to store for a different season

  3. Clothes to trash

  4. Clothes to possibly sell on a site like Thread Up or Poshmark…if I ever get around to that.

  5. Clothes to donate.

The clothes I’m storing go into bins or hang in a storage closet. I will reevaluate those at the turn of the season. The clothes I’m chunking are fit for no-one. Why have I let them take up valuable space in my closet? I have a small pile of designer-ish clothes that are in good condition and I could get some money for. I’ve used Thread Up in the past which is pretty good. My friend, Jen, swears by Poshmark but I’m not sure I want to jack with photographing and shipping and all that mess. So we’ll see. I tend to get lazy with those things.

My last pile is the largest -clothes to donate. I have boxes and boxes. How did I get so much stuff? I’m disgusted with myself and almost embarrassed when a local lady comes to pick up my discards. She will go through and pick what her family can use and then take the rest to her extended family in Mexico (our small town is only 90 miles from the border). She is grateful. Beyond grateful. I could cry while I write this. She thanks me repeatedly and explains how helpful this is for her family. How poor the people in Mexico are. “But God is good,” she says. “He always provides. I believe in miracles. I do.”


She means my donation. My stuff. My spoiled-ass excess. I’m disgusted with myself. Did I already say that? A moment like that pops the bubble you’ve been living in. Somebody in Mexico will think my old sneakers are a miracle. The ones I carelessly threw in the box because the tread was wearing down. They’ll likely be given to a person whose tread is their bare feet.

As she drove off I felt both convicted and elated. It was weird. On one hand I was, again, disgusted with myself but on the other hand I was so happy that what I gave could bless someone else. This Capsule Wardrobe Experiment has already been mentally and emotionally taxing and I’m just getting started. Lord, help me.

The Signature Color

Apparently my signature color is NOT navy. At least not year round.

Last spring I declared my signature color to be navy. I love navy. I feel like it’s a good color on me as are most jewel tones. (If you don’t know what colors flatter you it’s time to find out!). But as I cleaned out my closet I realized that navy is my SPRING color. My fall and winter signature color is clearly black. Having everything together in my closet made things confusing. Once I started cleaning things out I could see that the navy materials and prints are definitely more springy and so I have stored them away to reconsider later. Now that I can “see” what I’ve got, I’m feeling hopeful about the mixing and matching possibilities. Combinations are starting to pop out at me and it’s helping me decide what to keep in the final capsule.

This is a Sad Underwear Situation

I’m avoiding going through my workout clothes and so I’m tackling underwear. It’s a sad sad situation.

I hate buying underwear. I cannot find the perfect pair. Can someone PLEASE help me find perfect underwear? Not thongs. I’ve got plenty of Hanky Pankys. But sometimes you just want full coverage big girl underwear. Amiright? Anyone? I found some at Target that I really like but they don’t make them anymore. They’re super soft and thin - almost like you’re wearing nothing - and don’t show a panty line AND they stay put. They’re like miracle panties. But again, I can’t find them anymore. I keep wearing the same worn-out ones I have until I find a sufficient replacement. Like, the crotch insert has come unstitched and is hanging out the side of my underwear. Sorry husband. For the sake of my marriage, someone give me some suggestions. I need help!

This IS my Tough Mudder

As I think about myself doing this, I can hear some of my friends saying - Why in the hell would you WANT to do something like that?

That’s exactly what I ask them when they sign up for a marathon or a Tough Mudder. I don’t get it. I abhor running. But I know SO many people that love the thrill of the challenge and discipline it takes to complete such a feat. I guess that’s where I’m coming from here. Even though this experiment doesn’t involve a physical challenge, it does involve a whole lotta mental gumption. Even physical races come down to being a mental game. It’s the mind that pushes the body through those last exhausting miles and terrifying obstacle challenges.

Having attempted a capsule wardrobe and failed, I know that this is ALL mental. The physical need for clothes can be easily met with a few basic things. Your body doesn’t NEED 9 different pairs of jeans or 22 short-sleeved shirts or 16 dresses or 44 pair of shoes. It doesn’t NEED a new outfit for every occasion. It doesn’t care if it’s covered in Target or JCrew or if it wears the same thing every day. But I CARE!

I love to shop. I love having options. I love the creativity of putting outfits together. I love how clothes give me control over the person I want to be or portray. I love the thrill of finding a bargain. I love that every trip to the mall or boutique is bursting with the possibility of a new look.

I. Just. Love. New. Clothes.

Yes, I recognize that so much of this is pathetic. And being the self-reflecting Christian that I am, I can see how I am putting more hope and energy into what I wear than I am into God.

And that ain’t good.

So for me, this capsule wardrobe is a challenge in self-restraint.

It’s an exercise in not caring what people think.

It’s an act of discipline around spending.

It’s a practice in being content with what I have.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content. Philippians 4:11

As I begin this challenge I have the same excitement, energy and motivation as a marathon runner when that starting gun fires. I’ll face my obstacles head-on with the same determination as a Tough Mudder contestant. Yet, I know as the novelty wears off and the time drones on, the true challenges will surface: the desire to buy something, the temptation to stray because I’m bored with my capsule. But I’ve got my eyes on the prize: the finish line of completing something I’ve always wanted to do. And I thank you for helping me stay accountable by allowing me to share my journey here.

Please comment below. I want to know the ups and the downs of your wardrobe experiment. Feel free to share this post if someone in your life can benefit from cutting down on the excesses in our lives.