5 Reasons Capsule Wardrobes Are Silly And Expensive

You might have noticed a trend at Hip Diggs. I buck trends! I keep a small wardrobe. But I don’t buy into the capsule wardrobe fad. In the long run, capsule wardrobes can be silly and expensive.

You’ve probably seen the pages and posts about capsule wardrobes. The idea is simple: You only keep 33 items of clothing, including shoes and jewelry, in your wardrobe. Socks, underwear, and exercise clothing don’t count. Isn’t that convenient? More on the exercise clothes later.

Capsule Wardrobes Are Trendy

It’s another minimalist trend. Really, I get it! People need rules and instructions in order to follow through with intended changes. So you create a way of keeping less clothes in your closet and call it a capsule wardrobe. The idea comes with a special number (33) so that people can easily remember and start counting. It activates us to take action. Genius, right? Not so fast…

Do capsule wardrobes really make sense? Will they actually save you money? Do they really teach you how to simplify? Or is it just a minimalist fashion trend? Let’s take a closer look…

Why Capsule Wardrobes Are Not The Answer

  1. Fashion trends: The capsule wardrobe is a fashion trend. Trends come and go. One year it’s 33 items, the next year it’s a new designer label. If you Google minimalist fashion, you’ll find a crapload of expensive trendy clothing to add to your 33 items, too. 
  2. Seasons: 33 is only the magic number of things to keep in your wardrobe at any given time (3 months). What about seasons? We have four where I live. So you have two choices: Pack stuff away during off seasons. Or just give it away and buy more when winter comes back around. 33 items?
  3. Cheating: I told you I’d get back to exercise clothes. Yoga pants, sweats, tee-shirts, tank-tops, jackets, and a variety of athletic shoes can all be grouped into this category. So you really have 65, 72, or 108 items in your wardrobe. You’re just lying to yourself about it. And you’ll find other accessories that you’ll decide don’t count. What about hats, ties, and scarves?
  4. Promotes buying: I know the idea is to thin out your wardrobe. But what happens when you tire of the few items that you keep? What happens when the clothes start to fall apart from wear? You buy more. And if you gave away those seasonal items, you’ll be getting cold next winter unless you get a new coat. Heck, you could just by 33 new items every three months.  
  5. Focuses on stuff: People have a hard time giving things up when they put the focus on those things themselves. That’s why we hold onto bad habits. We try so hard that we focus too much on what we want to stop. Then we repeat the unwanted behavior. Focus on clothes and you’ll likely wind up with more clothes in the long run.

There’s A Better Solution

I don’t count my clothes. I can tell you that I only own five pairs of pants and a handful of button-down shirts. There are a few polo shirts and more tee-shirts than I really need in my wardrobe. But my closet and dresser are sparsely filled. I only hang about a dozen items on hangers. I’ve discovered a few things that have helped me to keep a simple wardrobe:

  1. Only buy what you really need: I shop for clothes about once or twice a year, if that. I actually went for two years without buying a single clothing item but a couple tee-shirts when traveling. I buy new clothes when I really need them. If two of my five pairs of pants start ripping in the knees, I’ll replace them.
  2. Stick with similar colors and styles: I stick to grays and blacks for the majority of my wardrobe. I do have some alternate colors for an occasional change. But less color makes it easier to match clothing. The same goes for style. I wear shorts and tee-shirts in the summer. I wear jeans and button-downs in the winter.
  3. Think multifunctional: My commuter jeans are great for work. But they’ll also function for biking, walking, casual time, and travel. A good pair of casual walking shoes can work in multiple environments. Limit clothes for holidays and special occasions. They usually aren’t very multifunctional.
  4. Consider quality: I’d rather spend $100 on a pair of quality jeans (not fashion) than get a $40 bargain pair. My Levis last me 3-5 years. That last pair of discount jeans lasted me a year. See my post about the Filson coat that I’ve owned for years.

Common Sense Or Capsule Wardrobes?

I know that some people need the structure of a system like the capsule wardrobe. But from my view, counting clothes, but not all clothes, is silly. It’s too easy to discount items. You ignore the need for seasonal wear. And it puts the focus on clothing rather than your needs. 

Instead, just use common sense and don’t buy more than you need. If I were going to use a counting system, I’d set a single number for all clothes. But I won’t. Because we each have a variety of needs. There is no one-size-fits-all wardrobe.

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James Ewen
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