Lifestyle

10/28/2022 | By Donna Brody

Do you have too many clothes in your closet – but nothing to wear? Seniors Guide writer Donna Brody shares the concept of a “capsule wardrobe” and explains how you can cull your closet, spend less money, and still be timeless, fashionable, and trendy.

Like many others, I get excited with the coming of autumn. Changing leaves, cooler temperatures, and pumpkins and mums blended with the smell of spicy everything from candles to coffee reminds me why it is my favorite season. But, as with all good things, there is the dreaded downside, too – three or more days of emptying out my closets for the annual seasonal swap of clothing.

My 9-year-old granddaughter calls this “doing your clothes” and it entails taking every stitch of clothing from my closet and drawers and creating a huge pile on the bed and, sometimes, even the floor as well. What follows is the agonizing task of trying and retrying:

  • The items from the outgoing season that need to be packed away and moved to another location in the house or donated to charity; and
  • Last year’s clothing to determine if it still fits and deserves a place in my now-empty closet for the next three to six months.

As I approached the task this season, though, I was intrigued to read about a concept called creating a “capsule wardrobe.” This is an approach to thinning out items in your closet to build a more versatile collection of timeless pieces that reflect your style while reducing the stress of putting together an outfit each day. Plus, it may save you money.

Would a capsule wardrobe work for you?

According to Lois Joy Johnson in AARP.org, a capsule wardrobe “is just a fancy term for a bunch of clothes fashion people call timeless basics … items that deliver fast, smart solutions. They make you feel glam without a lot of fuss or stress.”

Kaz Weida, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, agrees. She spoke to April Grow, founder of Stunning Style, who “encourages her followers to embrace capsule wardrobes not only to save money but to reduce stress and impulse shopping.”

“It may seem like narrowing down the pieces in your closet would make it harder to find something to wear – but it actually has the opposite effect,” says Grow. “When you fill your closet with only pieces you love, that fit you well and go with everything else, getting dressed in the morning is a breeze.”

Senior woman smiling at herself in the mirror after choosing clothing from her closet. Do you have too many clothes in your closet but nothing to wear? A “capsule wardrobe” helps you have a trendy and timeless wardrobe for less.

Some fashion experts trace the capsule wardrobe idea to a London boutique owner in the 1970s. She showed her clients how to start with classic, neutral, basic pieces to mix, match, and reuse; then to add some statement pieces to inject personal style; and finally to leave room for a few seasonal or trendy items. This capsule wardrobe might include 30 to 50 “timeless” pieces that become the foundation of different outfits. And, even if you purchase some new pieces to add to your wardrobe each season, it should still mean spending a lot less than the approximately $1,400 a year most consumers spend on clothing and shoes according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So, what makes an article of clothing a timeless classic?

Many industry stylists agree on the following: a pair of good jeans; a well-fitting jacket or blazer; a tunic or unstructured top; a dressy blouse; a comfortable dress; black or navy dress pants; a pull-on skirt; T-shirts, tank tops, and/or body suits for layering; a textured cardigan; and a good trench or wool coat.

Fortunately, many senior women will find they already have many of these pieces in their closet already.

Lifestyle blogger Meach Zavodny of More by Meach suggests:

  • Start your capsule wardrobe by choosing a neutral color like black, navy, or brown.
  • Then, go to your closet and see which one of the three colors shows up the most.
  • Pull out all those pieces to begin building your capsule.
  • Next, add in some items that are in or match your base color, making sure to include some patterns like polka dots or strips.
  • Pick pieces in two to three accent colors and add them to the collection. These should be in colors that you love to wear and that you know look good on you. “While the pieces you use can vary (tops, bottoms, dresses, rompers, or jumpsuits), they should still be classic in nature (versatile pieces vs. fashion trends) for the sake of longevity,” Zavodny advises.
  • Finally, Zavodny says, pick two to five patterned pieces “to spice things up.” These should be pants, tops, or dresses that you think you would wear the most. If they match your previously chosen accent colors, all the better.
  • Complete your capsule by choosing some accent pieces like scarves, jewelry, hats, belts, shoes, and boots.

At this point in the process, you should have whittled your wardrobe down to pieces that you like or love. “If you haven’t worn something in more than six months or you wouldn’t be willing to wear it in public tomorrow because of how it fits, it’s probably time to let go,” says Grow. But don’t worry about limiting yourself to a set number or pieces. “I don’t believe the number of items in a capsule wardrobe is perfect for every woman,” Grow adds. “For some women it’s more, and for others, it’s fewer.”

As far as the items that you did not designate as “likes” or “loves” in your sorting process, it’s time to bag up and move them to your garage or car trunk. Decide what can be donated and what should be trashed, but don’t leave the bags lying around too long or you might be tempted to return some items to your closet.

Seasonally trimming your closet and storing clothes you are not currently wearing should reduce your wardrobe significantly, the experts say. Eventually, you might find you don’t need the extra options you stored away in bins, says Weida. “There’s no wrong way to do a capsule wardrobe,” she adds. “Those classic pieces you invest in will live on to become the foundation for next year.”

Donna Brody

Donna Brody is a former community college English instructor who retired to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She enjoys freelance writing and has self published three romance novels. Besides writing and traveling with her husband, she keeps busy visiting her seven grandchildren.