Apr 8, 2016 · 4 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

I did my first capsule wardrobe this winter.

After reading all about it on Project 333 and Unfancy and trolling Pinterest for all the cool 37-or-fewer-piece wardrobes people put together, I jumped in. Visions of getting dressed for work without even opening my eyes in the morning danced through my head as I dutifully made lists and purged and decided on my base neutral.

I didn’t get down to 33 pieces, but I got to 40, and as someone who works in a government office and needs government-style clothes, which are way different from my play clothes, I thought I did pretty well.

Turns out, I didn’t — for work, that is. On non-work days, I love my clothes; getting ready is easy; and it’s all puppies and rainbows in my closet.

Getting ready for work is another story, and this week, after buying myself two not-entirely-necessary pairs of shoes, I think I figured out why.

I don’t love my work clothes.

They’re uncomfortable and ill-fitting and drab. Getting dressed for work when your clothes don’t make you feel good is no fun. And it still takes me forever to get ready because I just don’t want to wear what I have.

I have learned that comfort is one of the most important considerations for me. Some clothes I own require me to suck in my stomach all day long. That’s just not going to happen, and consequently, I’m not going to wear those clothes, because they’re not comfortable. Unfortunately, most of my work clothes are uncomfortable.

I’m hoping that if I take a few steps with my next capsule that I didn’t take with the last one, I’ll have a wardrobe that inspires similar tales of wonder and awe I’ve heard about dressing with less.


As I mentioned previously, I didn’t really do a lot of planning. I listed out all my clothes by type and what I would get rid of now and what I wouldn’t replace when it wore out, and that was good. But I should have taken it farther. I should have planned out a palette and the types and number of each item I would need, how many outfits I could make with each, and whether it fit and looked good. It’s a lot of work, but it’s all up front. I’ve been making up for not doing that work each morning as I stare blankly into my closet trying to figure out that day’s outfit.

Try on clothes in different combinations

Some clothes might look good together when laid out on the bed, but if you put them on, the combination makes you look like a cement block, or it’s just too tight and makes you feel uncomfortable. This is why you have to try something on at the store before you bring it home; and it’s why you have to try stuff on together at home. You just can’t tell until you’re wearing items together.

Make a list of what I need

Lots of versatile pieces, like a cashmere sweater or a pair of oxford shoes can work with pants, skirts and dresses and can change the look of their companion clothes. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of versatile pieces, so my wardrobe is still a collection of one-outfit wonders. So in fact, fewer clothes has meant fewer choices for me. Not what I was going for.

Bite the bullet and go shopping…

For quality pieces. It might take longer, and when you’re like me and you want to get started right away, it’s tough not to just run out and buy the first white t-shirt you see. But quality matters. A few of my clothes have started falling apart already, which has limited my options even more. As someone who really, really doesn’t like to go shopping, I avoided it for this last round, and I have to make up for it now. As part of my efforts to reduce the waste we produce, I love the thought of buying quality second-hand pieces, but don’t have the patience for thrift stores. I’m going to try online slow-fashion retailers like Zady, MM.LaFleur, and Everlane, and see how that works for me. They’re a little more expensive, but I’m hoping the quality will be so good that I won’t have to buy anything more for a long while.

I’m going to revisit the capsule this weekend. Wish me luck!

What tips for dressing for work do you have?


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.