Monday, June 17, 2013

Capsule Wardrobe by Math: Can You Actually Get Away with It?

Can you get away with it?

I've been fairly obsessed by capsule wardrobes lately. It started with Putting Me Together. Then I started thinking about how to pack lightly. Somewhere along a Pinterest board I came across it. A quick google search led me to this minimalist website.

There's two main arguments about why you should adopt a capsule wardrobe. One is the idea of the signature look. Most likely you already have one, but just don't know it yet--hence all of the clothes that you like, but never wear because it's not you or just doesn't fit your lifestyle. While it's fun to change it up, if you believe in personality, as in a pattern of traits stable through time, then it makes sense that one might have a fashion personality. We usually call it style. After all, isn't the main point of fashion to express our identity? If so, you might want to give a stable impression.

The second reason is minimalism. Minimalism does a lot of things. It makes your closet easier to navigate. It makes your bag easier to pack. It makes you spend less money, but it makes you buy higher quality items (supposedly you save on cost per wear). It forces you to wear those high quality items instead of saving them for a special occasion. It's good for the environment and all those kids in India sewing their hands bloody factory employees working in unsafe conditions in Bangladesh. It also makes you happier because you have restricted choice. Your boundaries make it easier to make decisions, for example, about what to wear.

The downsides of a capsule wardrobe are that you might run out of clothes or get bored with what you have, or people might start looking at you weird.

No, you can't wear the same thing every day. Not even if it looks awesome.

Also, looking at a lot of capsule wardrobes online, I found them to be unrealistic. For one thing, they didn't take into account exercise attire. For another thing, they seemed to be limited to cold weather.

Then it hit me: these capsules are only meant to last one season. Now I understood how any red-blooded woman could stand to only have 10-30 items of clothing. They really had 40-120.

Either this person doesn't have summer where she lives, or this capsule wardrobe is just for winter.

It seems like most capsule wardrobes are 10-30 items including shoes, but not including accessories and essentials such as socks and underwear. There are some nice examples of 9 pieces 14 ways and whatnot, but it's not really that impressive. It's simple permutational math, as my high school calculus teacher pointed out. Except, as my calculus teacher's wife pointed out, most women are picky about what shoes can go with what outfit, so the real trick is to make sure everything can go with everything else. Still, can you get away with wearing the same 30 things for three whole months?

Enter my nerdy spreadsheet:

Okay, so it's 32 items, but notice that it includes a category for exercise. I decided that I had 4 dimensions in my life. Depending on your lifestyle, you may have more or less. For each dimension, I had 8 items of clothing. While there are specific exercise items that I would not want to wear for any semi-formal public place (sweat pants probably are a no-go), it also gives me a chance to cheat (I'm never going to wear a dress while working out--but it's great to have four different types of dresses).

Scarves are an accessory, but I decided to include them because I want to cut down on my scarf collection since I always wear the same ones again and again anyway. It might even encourage me to use the ones I'm too afraid to wear for fear of ruining them. Also, scarves are great wardrobe expanders. 

Wendy's Lookbook

So would this get me through winter?

Disclaimer: I only really care about tops. I don't care if you wear a shirt with jeans one day and with slacks another--to me it's still the same outfit. But if you wear slacks with one shirt one day and then another shirt another day--to me that's a different outfit.

Assuming that your casual shirts, fancy shirts, and at least one of your exercise shirts can be worn to work, then you have 8 different outfits including your work dress. Let's see how many times we can repeat these tops without getting boring.

1. Plain
2. Work cardigan
3. Fancy cardigan
4. Thick belt
5. Thin belt
6. Work scarf
7. Fancy scarf
8. Casual scarf

More tips from Putting Me Together here.

That's 64 combinations right there. Also, though I don't consider wearing a top with a different pair of pants a new look, skirts are a different matter. So if you can wear all of the tops with a skirt, then multiple that times 2. So these 32 pieces will take you through winter and fall easily. Also, to be honest, I'll wear some of the tops from my Summer/Spring capsule as well. Technically I have 64 items, but it's for the year.

With this type of logic, you can do the 33 in 3 challenge in no time.

No comments:

Post a Comment