When it comes to clothing, capsule wardrobes are all the rage. I never felt compelled to jump on the bandwagon, due in large part, I think, to my desire to lose some weight. I didn't want to buy + commit to a finite number of pieces I hoped not to fit into in the near future. And if I'm honest, the fact that it was the popular thing to do probably deterred me a bit as well.
But a funny thing happened: I inadvertently adopted a capsule wardrobe anyway.
Recently, after washing, drying and folding a t-shirt I loathed for the umpteenth time, I grabbed a garbage bag and purged my closet. Those underwear I cursed every time I wore them because they rode up? Trash. All those shirts that were too small/big/short/stretched/unflattering went in the bag for donation. Those cute shorts I bought ages ago, tags still intact, but could never quite button up? Goodbye.
After all this time, it finally occurred to me that I had only been wearing a few pieces all along: the items that fit my style and body just right. The rest remained ignored in my closet. Those uncomfortable clothes created noise, and I was regularly annoyed when I put them on in the morning only to realize why they were relegated to the back of the drawer. Inspired by this revelation, I eliminated any and all unloved clothing while vowing not to replace them with anything new unless I actually needed it, I'd tried it on, it fit perfectly, and it coordinated with the rest of my frequently worn pieces.
This issue extended beyond just pants and shirts. This spring, I noticed my bras were worn out after several years of wear and were no longer fitting as well as they once had. I decided to replace them with some discount store versions which were 1/3 of the price of my old ones and seemed just fine. Until they weren't. There was gapping and adjustments throughout the day, I became keenly aware they weren't quite right, and more often than not they made me miserable by day's end. As a result, I was rewashing my one remaining higher end bra every couple days (which would have led to its rapid demise) while avoiding the new ones. I wised up and bought two of the expensive ones a couple weeks ago. It was an investment, but I'm comfortable and realize three good bras can easily replace five cheap ones. But I suppose I got caught up in the money and convenience and ended up doing myself a great disservice. (One should never sacrifice on underwear. Ill-fitting undergarments can turn blue skies gray.)
With this new found appreciation for a wardrobe that allows me to grab anything off the hanger with the assurance it will fit + flatter, I've become keenly aware of the way I treat my treasured duds. Those (inexpensive but awesome) MicroModal tees I love get washed more gently and less often these days. I respect them for their ability to make me feel good, and it's reflected in how I care for the them. Cold water is just fine, and the shorter express wash cycle does the job quite well. We made the switch to a kinder detergent + softener a few months back; a couple tablespoons will adequately clean a whole load, which actually gets clothes cleaner and contributes to a shorter wash time on HE machines (which detect the presence of suds and keep trying to rinse).
Gone are the days of buying clothes that come with the If I lose ten pounds this will fit perfectly! caveat. Or owning twenty shirts with a mediocre fit. Earlier this month I had to buy scrubs in preparation for my new job. Instead of buying lots of cheap sets, I bought just eight really nice pieces: four tops and four bottoms, one pair for each shift I work per week. I'll admit, it was a chore. I must have tried on a dozen different sets, stretching and squatting down in each to make sure I could move without restraint or bunching. I ended up going with the higher end brands, at a higher cost, but it ensured I would always be comfortable. I don't have a single scrub top that will be relegated to the bottom of the pile, to be avoided until laundry day because it makes me feel insecure or awkward. It is yet another example of the joy a less is more wardrobe can bring.
As with most things, simplifying my wardrobe is a work in progress. I still pick up things that are pretty yet impractical (or potentially unflattering for my body type), but more often than not I put it down and walk away (or promptly return it). And on days like today, when I'm not working, I can throw on a shirt and shorts and walk out the door without futzing with my apparel. Because everything fits.
Which is kind of the best thing I can imagine.