Embracing the Involuntary Capsule Wardrobe

I've got 99 problems and my closet is at least 51 of those right now.
I’ve got 99 problems and my closet is at least 51 of those right now.

Moving SUCKS. This is a true fact. It sucks, it’s hard, you lose stuff, you spend a lot of money, and there’s always the interesting challenge of trying to arrange your old stuff in your new space.

You all know by now that my husband and I just moved from Missouri to Minnesota, and we’re staying with my parents for now. Before we moved, I took stock of my closet inventory. Here were my counts back in August (not including winter gear, gym gear, jewelry, and lounge clothes):

Normal closet inventory:

Bottoms: 23

Tops: 48

Dresses: 8

Completer pieces: 12

Accessories: 32

Shoes: 33

Total: 156

I don’t think that’s a huge number, so I thought I was in good shape to move. And then I got a really good look at the clothes storage space I would have in my parent’s house.

Here. I’ll show it to you.

But be warned.

It’s scary.

…are you ready?

Here we go.

20150915_230759 - Copy



This was a huge shock to my system, because while I may not have had THAT many clothes, what I DID have was everything luxuriously spread out over 2.5 closets, an entire 6 drawer dresser, a 5 tier shoe rack, and a delightful set of hooks.

I know. I was spoiled.

And now all I got was this 2’x16″ closet space and two dresser drawers to work with. There was no way everything I had was going to fit. I was going to have to significantly cut back on my wardrobe…. essentially forcing this closet maximalist to become a closet minimalist.

In order to cull the herd, I focused on three questions:

  1. Do I LOVE wearing this? I knew I would need to wear these pieces over. and over. and over. and over again, so I had to make sure they were pieces I would be ok living in.
  2. Can I wear this AT LEAST 3 different ways? If I couldn’t use a piece in a casual look and at least two work looks, then I couldn’t justify the space it would take up.
  3. Can I take this piece from early fall into winter? I don’t have a lot of extra space right now to store off season clothes, so what I have is what I’ve got. The absolute earliest we can see ourselves closing on a new house is December, so that’s a good 3 months (minimum) of fall and winter weather I need to be prepared for.

A lot of hard choices and tearfully packed long term storage containers later, here’s what I get to wear for the next 3+ months. I’ve added images of similar items and linked to posts featuring stuff so that you can get a sense of what I’m working with.


Bottoms: 8 

2 pairs of skinny jeans (blue, black)

2 pairs of casual pants (mint cords, olive)

2 pairs of dress pants (black, eggplant)

2 skirts (burgundy pencil, grey pleated)

Tops: 15

5 blouses (chambray button down, windowpane button down, grey plaid popover, pink button down, white bow blouse)

3 sweaters (oatmeal open weave, fair isle, violet)

3 short sleeve shirts (white linen blend tee, oatmeal yoga top, textured sweatshirt top)

4 sleeveless shirts (ivory lace shell, black lace shell, patterned shell, white shell)

Dresses: 3

1 dressy (green fit and flare)

2 casual (grey swing, white striped fit and flare)

Completer pieces (in the parlance of What Not To Wear): 10

4 blazers (tweed, camel, plaid, black)

4 cardigans (black, tan, navy, cream)

1 navy puffer vest

1 ridiculous black and white plaid poncho

Accessories: 8 

3 purses (black leather Kate Spade tote, yellow cross body, cognac envelope clutch),

3 scarves (ivory lace infinity scarf, burgundy knit infinity scarf, plaid blanket scarf),

2 belts (black, cognac)

Shoes: 7

2 pumps (black, nude),

3 flats (gold, cognac, black loafers),

2 boots (cordovan quilted riding boots, black booties)


Grand Total: 51

So far I’ve been living with this collection for a week and a half, and… I’m surviving. I can definitely tell that I’m going to have to get creative with the pieces I have, which I’m sorta looking forward to. Luckily, I have almost unlimited jewelry storage, so I haven’t had to cut back there at all, and that’s really helping me feel like I have a lot of creativity.

I can also fit a few more things in there, which is GREAT news, because I can’t really see myself cutting out shopping for an indefinite period of time. Like I said in my last budget post, I’m hoping to get another skirt in a more neutral, versatile color, maybe something like this pretty one here.  Or maybe I pull the trigger and spring for this beauty, which is hands down my biggest fall line crush. Plus, my new job involves a lot of meetings and events, so I’d like to get a go-to business professional dress. Hopefully something like this dress (neutral but not TOO plain). But I will try to be very intentional about my clothing purchases, and try to adopt a 1 in 1 out policy when possible.

I’m also hoping to give you all an update on how this experiment is going once I’ve been at it for a few months. Who knows, maybe I will decide that the minimalist lifestyle is for me (….unlikely).

Have you ever had to live off a limited wardrobe for reasons outside your control? What would your absolute must-haves be?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *