The Verdict: Did living with a capsule wardrobe really help my overshopping habits?

In April this year, I started living with my 40 item (give or take) capsule wardrobe.

I decluttered majorly in all areas of my life, jumped on the minimalism bandwagon and put myself on a 4 month long shopping ban (which I did break twice).

For months, I posted articles about how I loved living with less, I loved having a capsule wardrobe. How spending less time and effort on clothing and shopping gave me time for other things and I adored. I was abstaining from shopping, payed down debts and saved a bunch; it was glorious. Hands down I had not one single negative thing to say about living with only 40 items of clothing and boycotting the shops!

But the time has come, where unfortunately, I have found the dangers of a capsule wardrobe for me and shop-aholics alike!

See come wardrobe rotation time, the idea was that I would allow myself a budget and to purchase a few, just a few items to rotate my wardrobe. The concept is, to pull all of your items out of your wardrobe, as well as everything you have in storage, assess what you want to wear for the coming 3 months and pop the selected items back in your wardrobe aiming for roughly 30-50 items all up. Once done, you identify a few gaps you may have, fill those and off you go for another capsule season.

Now when we say “fill the gaps”, see the problem is, I am a serial gap finder! After over a decade of compulsive shopping, I will dig up any ol’ excuse to justify why I need something in my wardrobe! And after an epic shopping ban, letting me lose to “fill gaps” was like letting a hungry child loose in a candy store… insane! And the sugar crash afterwards likens to my post shopping remorse crash too!

I’m a fashion lover. So gaps in my mind don’t just entail replacing that stretched sweater or worn out pair of pants. My gaps are new season looks, new season colours and the spring style of heel for this year. In my mind I think living with a capsule wardrobe appealed to me because it would assist my shopping issue, happily put me on a shopping ban, assist me in pursuing a lifestyle of living with less, and bonus (danger danger!) I get a whole “new” wardrobe every season.

Somewhere along the way, my well intentioned idea of a small budget and purchasing a few pieces to fill the gaps ended up in a massive overspend, 27 new items (a bunch of them honestly unnecessary), and a cloud hanging over my head.

I still think the idea of living with a capsule wardrobe is wonderful, I still love the Kon Marie concept, the idea of Minimalism still appeals to me, but for shopaholics; be mindful that living with a capsule wardrobe can encourage over shopping at rotation time. I spent about 30% more than what I usually would on a shopping spree at my capsule wardrobe rotation time, hell I spent a fair bit setting up my capsule wardrobe too!

To sum it all up, here’s what I adore about living with a capsule wardrobe, and  what I adore a little less…

What’s great about living with a capsule wardrobe to address over-shopping?

  • Decluttering was a therapeutic process
  • My house is cleaner
  • My washing takes half the time
  • I am less stressed
  • Getting ready for work or my day is a cinch
  • I have better insight into my dressing habits
  • I love my wardrobe
  • I feel good in what I wear every day
  • The 10/10 rule has helped me have better standards when shopping and has ensure my wardrobe is full of well fitting flattering items (if it’s not a 10 out of 10 don’t buy it. and when decluttering, if it’s not a 10/10 donate it)
  • I have refined my style
  • With the shopping ban, I had much more time for more productive things
  • My priorities are better, less shopping, more friends and family time
  • I have saved a decent amount of money and payed down some small debts
  • I found myself in the “savings zone”, a rare place for me!

What’s not so great about living with a capsule wardrobe to tackle over shopping?

  • You can at times focus more on “stuff” and “clothes” than intended, especially at rotation time
  • It can feel wasteful when some perfectly good items are stored away
  • It can encourage a shorter lifespan for your clothing. When bound to a “number”, and when you rotate every season you can be tempted to store items that may otherwise be worn for many more weeks or months.
  • It can encourage the idea that one “needs” new items every season
  • It can be tempting to aim for the “perfect” capsule wardrobe, further driving shopping habits
  • I spent more than I usually would setting it up and rotating
  • It actually drove one of my shopping triggers “fear of missing out” because I felt I only had a short window to shop and organise my capsule wardrobe.

What I did well during the process:

  • I jumped in wholeheartedly!
  • I decluttered and passed down a lot of clothing without regret
  • I set some great goals
  • I abstained from shopping and shopped less than I had in a long time
  • I payed down debt
  • I saved money
  • I held myself accountable
  • I blocked myself from all online shopping, emails and subscriptions from fashion retailers
  • I shopped less for 4 months

What I didn’t do well in the process:

  • I got used to squandering away large sums of cash that I would usually spend on clothing, and forgot that I will need to buy clothing again sometime. I didn’t save for the rotation shop
  • I didn’t set a budget for the capsule rotation shop
  • Come capsule rotation time, I actually didn’t want to shop, I kind of forced myself to because I’d built up to it. I told myself to just buy something because I “had to”, it was “time” for Spring shopping
  • I adopted a “what the hell” attitude when shopping as I already felt defeated by the process
  • I set some great goals and had some wonderful reflections, but I didn’t look back at them when I should have
  • I didn’t set myself up for the obstacles I would face come shopping time

Now lets face it, in the western world, many of us (not all, but many) don’t need to shop by any means. Aadarsh from Nepal,  and Itzel from Burma, now they are more likely to have some wardrobe gaps that need filling to the true sense of the word. I don’t need to shop for anything for a very long time as a matter of fact, and I am grateful for what I have in my life. Our culture is different. The good, the lucky, the bad and the ugly it’s different and need or desire, it’s not likely that I will never shop again or stop shopping for new clothes at least a few times of year.

I used to shop sometimes out of boredom, sometimes out of emotional shopping, and when I get on a roll I’d often continue to spur along. I don’t anymore which is great. As much as I want to shop less and spend less, I don’t want to lose my eye for fashion, and that may be another whole issue itself but I do enjoy the fun a frivolity of dressing our self in a second skin.

I am back on a shopping ban, I will continue to live with a capsule wardrobe but I will do things differently this time. And I’ll talk about that in my next post.

What are the pro’s and cons for you in living with a capsule wardrobe?




4 thoughts on “The Verdict: Did living with a capsule wardrobe really help my overshopping habits?

  1. I love your pros ! I would have that the time needed to maintain the clothes ( washing hanging ironing etc. ) goes down and there is some energy/water/laundry saved in the process and that makes my life a bit greener ! Yeah ! On the cons I am currently struggling with buying more stuff and the idea of rotation. I don’t want to do it… 😕 your experience with the rotation is really an eye opener for me… I’d rather buy a few items online than go shopping and I am fearing the shops… Like I am going to be disappointed… Weird !

    Liked by 1 person

    • I felt the same about 4 weeks before rotation! I really did not want to shop at all!
      When I hit the shops, I stupidly and regret it now, but sort of forced myself into it as I nearly walked away empty handed. It’s much harder because I live two hours from the city, I often feel I need to make the most of it whilst I’m there which makes it even more dangerous. I recommend to ease into it, set a budget and don’t get too hung up on gaps etc. even wait until you really really need to shop before you do. Let me know if need anything or have any questions before taking the big leap to rotate your wardrobe!


  2. This is such a great article! I am into Day Four of my capsule, and I. LOVE. IT. Period, end of story. Everything just works together so well, and getting dressed happens quickly, with no agonizing or indecision, or changing several times. I just walk up to the rack, grab a top, grab a bottom, grab some shoes, and boom! Fantastic outfit.

    The one con so far, is that, while the decluttering and planning process for my capsule has made me a more careful and considerate shopper, it did not stop me, three days in, (yesterday) into buying another skirt and top that I LOVE, but truly did not need. Okay, so this is probably not actually a ‘con’ for having a capsule wardrobe – just a con in general. And there was a ‘pro’ to this shopping – I really took my time, and thought my purchases through carefully. There was no ‘trigger’ for it – I took some things into one of my favorite consignment shops, with the plan and intent to look around while they decided what to accept. I have intended to do this for about a month now, so… it wasn’t really triggered. I just had time and was in the right section of Atlanta to knock out the errand. While there, I tried on fifteen items, and bought two, and I intend to work them into the current capsule.

    Somebody slap me back to reality if I am making excuses! 😀

    I am happy with recent purchases for this capsule, and with the existing items I pulled in last week for this season. But my closet does not have that “Wolford Boutique” look it had two weeks ago! I want that vibe back in my closet!

    I plan to finish photographing my capsule and bags this weekend, and I am going to re-assess my capsule, see what really and truly belongs, and what I am going to defer to winter or warmer weather. I think there are some light-weight pieces (white skirt, olive linen-blend short-sleeve jacket) that are definitely great spring and summer pieces. So if they aren’t reached for in the next two weeks, I will put them away for next spring.

    I feel like the thing to do, is to plan the next capsule, starting now. I’m not going to invest a lot of time, but if I notice that ‘hey, another knit top would be useful’, then I will put it down on a list. And I intend to set myself a limit of the number of items I can buy for the next capsule. I am thinking five. I am also going to set a dollar limit. And then I am going to stand by that!

    So far, the pros of a capsule wardrobe far outweigh any cons I’ve encountered (and I really haven’t encountered any).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post! I’ve been looking into having a capsule wardrobe and everything I’ve read so far has been all positive positive positive and I find it really hard to believe that it’s all 100% great.
    This is really well balanced and helpful. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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