A Cottage Capsule

I‘m in the midst of trying out a new concept for my wardrobe and so far I think it‘s making a lot of sense for me. I‘m not done sorting through, but since I‘ve mentioned it on Instagram quite a few people have asked me what my concept is so I would like to elaborate. And have something to look back to in the future to see what the concept was should I ever stray from it again.

What did I try before, what did my wardrobe use to look like?

My wardrobe has been open for many years. I used to use clothing racks but at some point I decided to buy a system from Ikea that‘s called IVAR. It‘s basically a shelf system suitable for many things, like storage or normal, decorative shelves at home. I bought 3 elements of IVAR to hang my clothes up and I also have 3 drawers for folded clothes plus 2 bamboo boxes specifically for socks and tights

I‘ve been trying out the KonMari method some time ago and found it very helpful. It does take a bit of practice to find out what sparks joy and what doesn‘t and then determining which practical things to keep even though they might not really spark joy. The KonMari method helped me significally decreasing the size of my wardrobe and at one point I removed one element from my IVAR system as I only needed 2.

What does my wardrobe look like now?

More related to the contents as the looks haven‘t changed much.
At the moment I own quite a number of clothes that kind of all survived the KonMari purge. They are all colors I love and shapes I like and I wear many of them on a regular basis. I still feel cluttered, though. So I came to the conclusion that the KonMari method wasn‘t the only thing that would be able to help me with this.

What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a minimalist concept for a wardrobe. It was created in 1970 by the owner of a boutique in London and was gained more popularity through designer Donna Karan. The idea behind a capsule wardrobe is to have a small number of clothes that are extremely versatile, are of great quality and also fit well as opposed to the wardrobes so many of us keep: Clothes we don‘t wear, clothes that are of low quality, clothes that don‘t fit well.

The concept concludes that you should own 37 pieces of clothing per season that match the desired characteristics and that‘s your capsule wardrobe.

I initially thought that I couldn‘t imagine this for myself. I always had a ton of clothes and even when decluttering I couldn‘t see myself optimizing my wardrobe using this concept. I think what confused me was seeing the combination proposals that capsule wardrobe bloggers made. 5 pairs of pants, 4 t-shirts, whatever. I don‘t really wear pants and tshirts, I wear dresses. I struggled to see myself with a capsule wardrobe.

But a couple of days ago I thought…what if I came up with a simple variation of a capsule wardrobe that fit my own style and habits? I could always choose to make exceptions and keep a couple extra pieces but if I had something like a set of „rules“ and was able to visualize what I „need“ my wardrobe to look like I could determine the things that were too much in it at the moment.

Cottage Capsule?

I came up with the term when opening the page to compose a new blog post haha! I thought it fits because it‘s a bit different than a classic capsule wardrobe and my own style is cottagecore in many ways so…

I thought about what parts of the capsule concept I could imagine for myself or what inspired me:
The „limited“ and counted amount of clothes with little exceptions if any. The very versatile combinations. The splitting of clothes into seasonal wardrobes.

Then I thought…what do I have to do differently in order to make it work? I would work with two seasons: Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter. I would work with a list of clothing kinds/categories as well as a color palette.

The original capsule concept says 37 pieces of clothing including jackets, scarves and shoes. If you do it „wrong“ and really have entirely different sets of clothing for every of the four seasons you would end up with 148 pieces of clothing in a capsule. Of course, ideally you‘d keep versatile clothes that are suitable for several seasons and almost always end up with way less clothes than 148 but I thought to myself.. 148 is a good start, isn‘t it? Let‘s see how it works with my concept.

How does it work?

Before, I used to buy and keep clothes with a „feeling“, like „yeah it‘s suitable for several situations, I can wear it at home and also at work, yada yada. That way every piece of clothing in my cluttered wardrobe had a specific use and made sense to keep.

This method is a bit more theoretical, at least the way I do it. I plan it in the notes app on my phone in order to keep a good overview.

1. Color Palette

I wrote down the colors that I love to wear and also wear often. I don‘t have to wear specific colors for work so that made it a bit easier. I included all colors that were most important to me and made sure to include colors that work during autumn and colors that would work in spring. I also decided to leave a few colors out of my list, colors that I don‘t really want anymore even though I might still like them. After all, minimalism is always a little journey that in many cases require kind of a sacrifice, especially when you specifically want to reduce belongings.

My color palette ended up including:
Two shades of green (Mossy/yellowish green + forest/almost teal-ish // because green is my favourite and I have a lot of green), brown (mainly for the A/W season but not only), black, natural (natural linen instead of white because I prefer it for myself. I do include a couple of white items here), purple (mainly worn during the S/S season) and I also included patterned like it was a color.

What I used to own but ended up sorting out color-wise is yellow and pink.

2. Categories

The next list is composed of the kinds of clothes I like to wear and that I need to make it through all seasons.
I included dresses (sleeveless + short sleeved + long sleeved), skirts, shirt/blouse, pullover, cardigan, vests, outerwear.

I decided to not include things like scarves and shoes in this list – yet. I wanted to see how it works out like this and add the shoes etc to my list at a later point.

3. Let the sorting begin…

Basically, then I started writing down which pieces I had for each individual color.

Moss Green:
Pinafore: brand xy
Dress Short Sleeve: brand yz

And so on for the whole list and then for the next color. I included several emojis in front of each position to be able to let the app count what I had and what I‘d need for me:
1. White square with small black square inside: I own this
2. Purple Square: Buy a new item for this category this A/W
3. Blue Square: Buy a new item for this category next S/S
4. Small red triangle beside one of the above: This item is an „extra“
5. Red Square: I don‘t own a piece for this category + don‘t need one
6. A sun and/or snowflake behind the item to indicate during which season I would be able to wear this item

So, I had 8 colors and 9 clothing categories which, ideally, end up being 72 pieces of clothing. No shoes included yet and also some other things not included. My goal was that everything should fit comfortable into my IVAR and the 3 drawers I have without being cluttered. So there were some things I ended up consciously NOT counting into my list – is it cheating? – Maybe, yes. But I would go through every piece and determine („does it spark joy or can I actually finally let it go?“) And I was able to sort a ton of clothes out.

When going through the list in my notes while also sorting my actual clothes and writing into my notes which kind of piece I‘m going to keep there were a couple of things that happened:

1. I saw that I didn‘t own e.g. a purple pullover and decided I didn‘t actually crave to own one. So I put a red square emoji in front of it, labelling it as a „Don‘t want, don‘t need“ Item.

2. I saw that I had two or more of some item categories in one color category. Having just a few of options in front of myself instead of a huge pile of clothes it made it easier to think about why I want to keep the pieces or which piece I actually didn‘t want/need to keep. Remember, I consciously wanted to reduce a bit so I had to decide. An example: I found that I had three long sleeved dresses for the Moss Green category. I ended up sorting one out and keeping two. One fit into my list and the other was an „extra“ so I wrote it down with a little red triangle emoji in front of it.

By the way, all the clothing pieces I entered that I actually already own got the black/white square emoji.

3. I saw that for some categories I already did own a piece but… not quite the right one. An example would be a brown skirt. I have one that‘s a great piece of clothing but I‘m not quite content with it within this concept of a capsule wardrobe. It‘s a bit too vintage reproduction, a bit too autumnal, a bit too outlander style. I wished for a slightly simpler piece that would fit an outfit inspired by outlander, or a vintage style outfit etc. So I decided to sort that piece out and searched for another piece (ideally linen, slow/fair fashion from etsy) and quickly found a piece that matched my idea much better. So I wrote the new piece into my list but added a blue or purple square in front of it, depending what season the piece fit into better.

4. The red triangles and red squares cancel each other out. The b/w squares + blue + purple squares make up the final list of clothes I want to/should/can own.

This is what the „patterned“ category of my list looked like. I included keywords that would help me identify which pieces I have. You can see the red triangle indicating the second skirt in this color category. The red squares to show what I neither own nor need. And the B/W squares just to count the pieces I actually have and keep.

The advantage of having the little emojis is that, since many notes apps have the „search in this note“ function you can type in the emoji and let the phone count the individual positions.

I am not quite done yet but at this moment the numbers in my list are:

Owning: 71
Buy new: 8
Don‘t need: 18
Too much: 20
Spring/Summer: 51
Autumn/Winter: 63

Some conclusions:
– at the moment my „Don‘t need“ and „Too Much“ are almost cancelling each other out which is amazing
– Most clothes are pretty versatile and fit for summer, as well as winter
– When I‘ve bought the 8 pieces I „need“ to have everything covered I will have a total of 81 pieces in my wardrobe (still not including stuff like scarves and shoes but hey..!) which, at this point, still conforms very well with the concept of a capsule wardrobe.
– A classic capsule divided into two seasons would include 74 pieces per season. I think I have 4 pairs of shoes per season. Summer clothes + shoes would be a total of 55 pieces, winter clothes + shoes would be a total of 68 pieces. Capsule wardrobe!!!

Where I made exceptions

Mainly with clothes that I wear at home. I told myself that as long as the drawers aren‘t cluttered it‘s fine to keep some stuff. You can sort them out another day after you‘d had some time watching which ones you actually wear etc, that‘s what I told myself.
I made a separate category for linen dresses I mainly wear at home. These did count into my total number of clothing pieces but I kept two pieces in colors I‘d sorted out: A yellow and a pink dress. And actually one yellow pullover I‘m counting as loungewear.

My other loungewear like comfy pants and tshirts I kept as well, the condition was that they have to fit me well, I have to enjoy wearing them and (especially tshirts) I have to be able to imagine wearing them during summer and in combination with several of the „main“ clothing pieces, not just loungewear. I ended up keeping quite a number of shirts but a huge lot less than before.
My sports/hiking clothes I just kept because I know they do a great job when I need them and I was certain I would need them again. So this type of loungewear and the sports clothes did not count into my list.

Conclusion

The „actual“ total number of clothing pieces I keep will probably be around that max. number of clothes we calculated earlier, 148. That‘s because I do keep a couple extra pieces like the loungewear and the tshirts and also I do have quite a couple of scarves because sometimes I prefer layering scarves over cardigans instead of wearing coats.

But this is fine!! In my opinion I don‘t have to be too strict with myself or else I might not be able to stick to the concept too well.

About buying new clothes:
I am going to keep and update the list on my phone. Whenever I set my eyes onto a new piece of clothing I will compare it to the other items to determine: Do I already have something similar? How many clothes in that color and how many of that kind do I own? Is this piece better than one of the other ones? Could I buy it and be happy sorting another out of my collection in order to avoid new build up of clutter?

Right now I am extremely happy with how this concept is making sense to me and my wardrobe. Other people have other wardrobes, though, how would something similar work for them?
Let‘s say one prefers to wear 4 colors instead of the 8 that I have in my palette. How about that person allows 2 of each item category per color? Maybe the person has less item categories or more than I do. It‘s a matter of trying it out, going through it theoretically and seeing which numbers make sense.
This method works out without specifically watching numbers, as well. Just to see a comparison of what one owns and maybe come to the realization that one has a little too much of everything. So without watching the capsule wardrobe numbers this could be a concept that makes sense.

This brings a little more minimalism into my life. It makes me end up with a very versatile collection of beautiful clothes that are a joy to organize and combine into new looks. I see some people on Instagram with an incredible amount of clothes and I was not far from that. I thought great outfits can only be combined if I had more of everything cuz more = more right? Not necessarily.

I recently started deliberately combining several outfits for every new clothing item I got just to realize and also share how versatile a single piece can be. People have written to me saying they find this inspiring! That some combinations they haven‘t really thought of before and the truth is… neither have I. I just took the time to try out things and explore the versatility of a single piece and I think this is part of what inspired me to try the capsule concept.

The End

Ok just a couple more sentences.
I‘m not excited to see whether this works because I can tell that it does. I‘m almost done sorting the remaining things into my wardrobe and it doesn‘t look too different from before. A bit emptier, sure, but in the best way. I love every piece a bit more now that I know it‘s actually making sense for me to own it. I see the potential for many lovely looks.
What I‘m excited about is whether in the future I‘ll be tempted to buy new pieces an whether I‘ll be able to compare and evaluate on the go.
Because I can‘t always stick to new routines and concepts, as good as they might be. But that‘s my fault and not the concept‘s lol. We‘ll see, though. I can totally see it working out for me.

Thanks for reading, I‘m interested in your thoughts on this!! Feel free to write comments or dm me via Instagram if you wanna talk or have more questions!!! ♡

All the best, Natashia

Published by natashia le fay

I'm a witch & folklore lover from the Eifel in Germany, constantly on the look for the hidden magic in this world. I love linen clothes, green academia, books & the colour green. I share my home with a man, two bunnies, two cats & the fae.

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