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The Power of Minimalism: My Capsule Wardrobe Experiment

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Think you can cut your wardrobe down and create a capsule wardrobe, mama? It’s certainly a challenge! Our contributor tried it and boy, is she feeling a sense of relief!

Don’t you hate it when someone gives you a hug, buries their face into you, and wipes their nose on your clothes? My kiddos love this move. It’s time saving, convenient, and they are giving me love to boot. Maybe it is their way of saying I chose the wrong outfit that day.

Despite the fact that my children use me as a tissue, clothes are very important to me. I have always been a follower of fashion, though not so much now post-children due to a lack of time and reduced desire. It also seems that fast fashion has created a situation in which nearly all clothes are simultaneously fashionable; all that remains is to determine your own personal style and wear things that make you feel awesome.


Lately, I have been reading more about the stress-busting power of minimalism. As a mother, I find this quite difficult. I hoard items just in case my child might want to use them one day, or turn them into a craft, etc. I was previously aware of capsule wardrobes, generally in relation to packing for travel. Then I read about Project 333. It sounded completely impossible to pare down my wardrobe to 33 items (including shoes and bags!!!) to change out every four months. Then yesterday morning, I found myself envying the woman who wears the same thing to work every day. How easy it must be to get past the closet in the morning! Motherhood often asks you to make so many infinitesimal decisions of great or minor importance each day that taking something off that plate is incredibly attractive.

So I decided to try it.

I started by making a fab playlist to enjoy while achieving minimised closet greatness! Also known as procrastinating, but my goodness, my heart was beating quite fast at the thought of having to part with so many clothing items that were near and dear to my heart. Then I dumped the entire contents of my closets and drawers on my bed.


I pulled out the most necessary clothing first: work clothes. I pulled five blouses, two trousers, and one skirt, giving me fifteen combinations to wear to work, plus one blazer and two cardigans for chilly workspaces. Kind of incredible, really. I haven’t worn those blouses very much, but really I could be wearing them far more often. I had never considered pairing them in all those fifteen ways, but it would absolutely work. The only problem is that my work clothes are fairly boring (I am a math teacher/tutor; can’t go too crazy). It also helps at this point to decide on a main colour palette so that every piece goes with nearly every other piece.
Total Item Count: 11

Next I pulled out my tops, jeans, and dresses for date night and girls’ night out. Must save the hubs’ favourite top even though it’s not my favourite, ha! At this point, I made a few piles on the floor to deal with the pieces that were not making the cut. One pile to give to charity, one to repurpose (sewing, fabric crafts, etc), one for items pulling at my heart (planning a small funeral to help me let go of them), and one for storage. There were items that are basically duplicates of current favourites, so I will plug them back in after the current ones wear out.
Total Item Count: 14


I followed this with casual dresses. In the muggy, hot weather, I prefer to wear casual dresses—and I have a lot. I think I will choose two for now, and save my three other favourites for rotation. After dresses, I spent some time with my underthings. Clothing capsules rarely mention these items, but I am going for minimalism all around. The only problem is our hot weather; hot and sweaty days require frequent changes and thusly more clothing. Luckily (or not!), I have to do a laundry load daily for school uniforms, so I can get by with less clothing by washing it more. I did keep in mind having enough for a week of traveling, though the excess will go into storage. I also set aside two pairs of shorts and two favourite grungy t-shirts that I wear around the house, along with the t-shirt dress I throw on to take the kids to the bus stop. I am not counting them because they don’t get worn out in public officially; that seems to be the rule with the number. I whittled down my aerobics clothing too, but as I don’t wear them with my “normal” clothes, they are also not included.
Total Item Count: 16

Next up was casual outfits. This was the hardest part for me. I had a few clothing items that were quite unique, and really fun to wear, though I find I don’t wear them often. There was also the skirt I bought from the hill tribe women in Vietnam—I really loved this skirt! But the hubs informed me that if I was going for a grungy hippie look, it was perfect (I am not going for that look). Sigh. The reality is that it doesn’t matter if I keep it or not at this point; I supported the women and that is what matters. I will have to find a different way to support indigenous peoples in the future rather than buying more stuff I don’t really need, at least if I am going to get anywhere with minimalism.

At this point I was quite tired, so I quickly grabbed my absolute favourite fun outfit, tops, and jeans, threw the rest of my clothes in a pile on the floor, and went to bed. I was crushed with the feeling of loss—really, I wasn’t sure I was cut out for this at all.
Total Item Count: 22


When I woke up, I chose my first item from my newly minimal closet, and it felt great! The sleep helped, and as the day went on the feeling of loss was lessened, but still there. Who am I without my interesting and unique outfits? What if I don’t have the right outfit to fit in for a particular occasion? I realised this will take some changing on the inside as well, some growth of my personal confidence. And then I nearly died when I realised I did not include MY SHOES! Oh dear…
Total Item Count: 29

And don’t forget the bags! I love bags, but I realise I tend to wear the same one day after day, neglecting the others. Glad I still have room in the total number of items after making some serious cuts with my shoes, as I would like to hold onto two main bags along with one small one for evenings out. I am including my lovely diaper bag in this count, as I use it as my main bag on the weekends fairly often. I am not including bags used just for travel purposes.
Total Item Count: 33


Wow! I am quite impressed that I managed to hit 33 items. I really did not think I could do it. Oh wait! There is that dress in the laundry room that I love. Ha, 34 items is still great. My clothing for colder weather is in storage—maybe I’ll go through those items and reduce them as well at some point. I am not going to include accessories with this, as I have way too much emotional attachment to many of those items. I’ll work on that another day. I’m excited to try this out, but quite nervous that I will get completely bored with what is left to wear, even though the items are my favourites. I do feel quite a bit of emotional relief as well, with so much space in my closet to actually see the clothes I have, along with the feeling that I will be taking a stand against the harm that fast fashion is doing to Asia at large.

Want to try this with me, mama? Let us know the obstacles you face and with your successes! How low can you go?

Grand Total of 34 items:

  • 3 blazers/cardigans
  • 4 pairs of trousers/jeans
  • 2 skirts
  • 4 dresses (4 others stored for rotation)
  • 10 tops/blouses (4 others stored for rotation)
  • 7 pairs of shoes
  • 4 bags

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