curated wardrobe experiment.

My interest has been piqued, as of late, by the concept of the capsule wardrobe. 

Recently, I was packing for a long weekend trip to LA, and I realized that I had a big hole in my wardrobe when it came to stylish and presentable casual clothing. This coincided with purchasing the most perfect yoga leggings of all time and wanting to wear them for athleisure/casual but having nothing to go with them.  I started trying to shop very consciously for some things to pair with the leggings and stumbled upon the concept of a capsule wardrobe.  The more I thought about it, the more intrigued I became.

At the New Year, I had KonMari'ed my closet and got rid of a lot things that weren't "sparking joy".  Here's what was left after the initial culling.

I still had a weird mix of formal wear, sentimental items (like me-made dresses & skirts!) and non-cohesive work separates that made it hard to put together an outfit in the morning. Lots of pieces that I really liked in theory were just not getting worn, even though they brought joy. So I was wondering - how can I get more joy out of the things that bring me joy?!

I'm a sucker for systems and structures of doing things... but they also stress me out. The idea of the capsule wardrobe is, thus, simultaneously appealing and terrifying to me. Which is why I like the idea of Project 333... just trying out a capusle wardrobe of 33 items for 3 months at a time.

But I also noticed that the vast majority the example capsule wardrobes showcased in blogs are primarily denim, black, white, grey, and other neutrals.  It's easy to manage when everything just blends together uniform-style... but that is not my style. I'm more inspired by the likes of Frieda Khalo than Jackson Pollack, if you get my drift. A wardrobe of all solids and neutrals would not suit me in the least.

Another thing I noticed was that the rules sound draconian, but actually a lot things weren't included - activewear, sleepwear, loungewear... some people count shoes and accessories, while others don't.  some people leave out outerwear... some have separate work and weekend capsule, others have mini-capsules for formalwear. There are weird theoretical rules like you can't wear the lounge or active wear blended with the 33 wardrobe items because its cheating... but then again, there's a lot of room for interpretation and adaptation & the proponents of Project 333 emphasize that it's not about suffering.

Still the numbers freaked me out. 

My takeaway was the careful planning that went into constructing the 333 capsule. This careful planning is sometimes referred to as curating your wardrobe.  Being an art history major, this resonated with me.  Museums have big collections of things, but they don't show them all at once - they organize smaller like-collections of things and showcase them for a finite amount of time and then lovingly pack them away and unearth new things to exhibit.  But somethings are just so great that they are part of permanent collections - always on display, year round. I started finding a lot joy and possibility in this idea.  Then I read this article, which mentions art museums too... and it clicked. 

I can create an intentionally-curated wardrobe and use the rotating seasonal capsule collection concept to plan modular groups of clothing that interact with each other in a cohesive way to get more joy out of what I have and have less clutter and confusion. It could also be a fun way to experiment with a few wild card pieces that have been sitting unworn, though potentially joy-sparking, for too long. But I don't have to get too hung up on a rigid numbers game challenge. 

I decided to try it this weekend. First, I did another really serious round of KonMari and set aside a big box of clothes and shoes.  I organized a "naked lady" party to share them with my friends before donating the left-overs. I took an unused shoe-organizer out of the hall closet to make space for some vintage formal dresses that I very rarely wear but am also not going to part with for the forseeable future & packed up some out-of-season items. 

Then, I examined what was left and picked a little collection out, stashing the rest of the items in the empty drawer space I created through all my paring down.  That stuff is out of sight, out of mind till the next season, at least. Meanwhile I am living out of this closet and 1/2 my previous dresser space.

Here is my closet after-picture. 

Including work clothes, weekend clothes, lounge & sleep clothes, formal clothes, and scarves.  I have 76 items.  60 core items comprise intersecting modules of work, weekend, and lounge wear. The remaining 16 items are an 8-piece mini-capsule of special occasion pieces, a nightgown, a caftan, and 6 scarves. 

Side-by-side here is the difference in my closet between KonMari & curated. Rather striking difference, isn't it?

I'll talk about what is in my core collection next time. 


  1. I have a capsule wardrobe for school, and I had one for work when I worked in an office. Now I'm kind of re-figuring out how to wear all my other clothes again! I pare down every few years, but there are some beautiful things I'm just not willing to let go of yet.

  2. I know what you mean - there are just some special garments I hold onto as beautiful objects whether I wear them or not. I put them in the hall closet, though... so it's easier to keep track of what I have. It's fun to "shop your closet" and rediscover old treasures too! :)


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