Jan 8, 2016 · 4 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

I’m finally considering hopping on the capsule wardrobe bandwagon.

What is this capsule wardrobe I speak of? The term was first used about 40 years ago when a London shop owner noted that there were some basics that should form the core of your wardrobe, the capsule, and then you could add accessories and a few non-core pieces to punch them up.

Nowadays, it is taken to mean a tiny wardrobe, usually of 33 or 37 pieces, though the number is not implicit in the definition. You can come up with whatever number works for you, as long as it’s pretty low. The number 37 came from Unfancy, a blogger who embraced the idea and who found 37 pieces worked for her. The number 33 comes from Be More With Less, a blog that started Project 333, which is living with 33 items of clothing for 3 months. At the end of 3 months, basically when the season changes, you switch out your unseasonable items for the ones that are in-season – those that will keep you warm in winter or cool in summer, etc. The 33 doesn’t include lounge or workout wear, pjs or undies, but it does include accessories, jewelry, shoes and cocktail and outerwear.


So why would I do this to myself?

What could this possibly do with making time for what I love?

I’m so glad you asked. I’m finally going to take the plunge because I would like to avoid decision fatigue. Decision fatigue is the notion that people make worse decisions after making lots of decisions. That is, make a lot of decisions – about anything – and you get tired of making decisions, and then the decisions that you make after you get tired tend to be bad ones, or at least worse than you would have made if they were the first decisions of your day.

Got it?

Right. So all the decisions we make all day from what to wear to what to eat to how to respond to a snarky e-mail at work build up. By the time the evening comes along, we’ve been making decisions all day, tiring ourselves out. Haven’t you ever just stared into the refrigerator, unable to decide what to cook for dinner? I know when I get home from work, I’m the human equivalent of breakfast: my brain is fried, and my energy is toast.

So what if I lessen my decision-making, even a little? Well, that’s what I’m going to find out. This is a bit of a science experiment, and my hypothesis is that if I lessen the fairly unimportant decisions, I’ll have more brain energy to spend doing what I love. And by that, I mean I’ll have the actual capacity to decide to sit down at my desk and write, not just walk around the house like a zombie trying very hard to decide what to do next and not succeeding.

Finally ready

What got me thinking of this was encountering two people’s thoughts on it online. I periodically search capsule wardrobes on Pinterest as inspiration for how stylish I will one day be. There I came across a post from Modern Mrs. Darcy who said that while she liked the idea of a capsule wardrobe, she didn’t like the idea of creating one. But when she counted her clothes, she had 37! She wound up with a capsule wardrobe completely accidentally, but was happy with the amount of clothing she owns. I wish that would happen in my closet. I don’t know if she rotates clothes in and out each season.

Then while browsing Project 333 posts on Instagram, also to marvel at how other people’s clothes are way better than mine, I came across Ginny Love Moore, whose vintage style totally mirrors my own. Which means … it’s actually possible for me to do this too!

So I’m gonna.

In fact, over the last year, I have already pared down my wardrobe considerably. Counting my 5 items of workout wear (but not jewelry, because, well, just no. And not handknit hats, scarves or gloves, because both my mom and I are knitters), I’m at 95 articles of clothing, and the photo here is half my closet now.

What you don’t see is the dresser and the shoes on the shoe rack by the front door or under the bookshelf that holds my pajamas, sweaters and jeans. Still, it’s down from 141 articles of clothing just seven months ago. That is 46 items of clothing donated to those who need it. And that is about 60 items of clothing to go.


I really think it’ll be worth the initial effort, but stay tuned as I tackle questions like “What about your work wardrobe?” and “Where do you put off-season clothes?” and “What the heck do I do with that maxi skirt?”

What do you think of the capsule wardrobe?


Colleen Valles
I'm Colleen, a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for the things that are most important in their lives. I'm on a journey to do just that, to be able to spend more time with family and friends, riding my bike and working in the garden. Sign up to get awesome content right in your inbox, or follow me on social media.