A Life Less Throwaway (my journey to a 20 item capsule wardrobe)
“I am out with lanterns, looking for myself.” Emily Dickinson
This past year I did something I am not proud to admit- I bought numerous items from fast fashion brands like Target, TJ Maxx, and Old Navy only to turn around and donate them a few weeks later.
I was feeling unsure about body changes after becoming a mama, a bold new hairstyle, unearthing child hood traumas, and leaving an unfulfilling job for a new, more challenging one. Often when we don’t feel quite ourselves, when we’re feeling low or unsure, that’s when we’re most susceptible to marketing, trends, and consumerism. There is an entire collective of brands and companies hoping you won’t feel good enough so they can convince you that what you’re missing is the thing they are selling.
When we’re at our best, confident and fulfilled, we don’t seek external happiness- we’ve already got it.
During 2018 I took a journey of self discovery and healing- I came out stronger, wiser and happier as a result. At the tail end of this year and this journey, a good friend recommended the book A Life Less Throwawayby Tara Button. I downloaded the audio book (because I’m a working mama and this is my current preferred way to digest new information) and I devoured it.
The book explores how our culture has lost the art of buying items for life. The world is trying to convince us to spend our way to happiness- instead we’re more cluttered, unfulfilled and stressed than ever and so is our planet. Tara Button founded a company called BuyMeOnce and through her book teaches how we can champion long lasting, sustainable products while simultaneously healing our hearts and lives.
A Life Less Throwaway is the most life changing book I’ve read since The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (the book that jump started my minimalism and helped me heal after losing my dad in 2015). If you read one book this year, let it be A Life Less Throwaway.
In one portion of this book the author explores wardrobes and finding your true style. If you have a defined style, totally authentic to who you are, it will be impossible for brands to sell you something you don’t want. When you know yourself and your lifestyle well you know what belongs in your life, and what doesn’t.
I’ve had some version of a capsule wardrobe for nearly four years now but I’d never taken the time to define my authentic, timeless style. I’ll admit that I’ve spent 2018 getting to know myself so this was very much the right time to rediscover who I am at my core and how I want my clothing to reflect this. The universe sent this message of buying for life at just the right time.
I started with a Pinterest board. I deleted all of my previous “style” posts and boards and began fresh, blank, and new. I have always gravitated toward Audrey Hepburn and Parisian style. I was the first person in my high school to ever wear skinny jeans (humble brag) and I’ve wanted a short, Parisian pixie cut for as long as I can remember. As a little girl I loved Madeline, Matilda and Emily Dickinson (who was thought to only wear white)- I aspired to be classic and natural.
Throughout my youth the world told me to be different from who I truly wanted to be. It told me to have long hair and to look sexy. To wear Hollister and makeup and to be “desirable”. The world was wrong, is wrong. I know that now. It took me 27 years to come back to who I have always been. To rediscover the little girl that loved Audrey and Matilda and Emily.
Here you will see the style that I felt in my bones. An outward representation of who I am on the inside. After defining this for myself, I followed the KonMari method and took all of my clothing items out and put them in a pile. I touched each one and asked if it sparked joy, if it fit my true, authentic self I felt joy- if not I thanked it for teaching me something and let it go.
There were a few items over the next few weeks that I found didn’t quite fit so I let them go too. When all was said and done I was left with a less than twenty item winter capsule with about ten items in storage- and I’ve never felt more alive or more sure. Gone is the decision fatigue or the uncomfortable nature of wearing clothes that felt like a costume. In my current wardrobe, I have left what suits me, no one else- just me and my life.
My current winter wardrobe consists of: 4 long sleeve shirts, 2 sweaters, 1 t-shirt, 1 jean jacket, 1 winter coat, 2 pairs of blue jeans, 1 high waisted black pant, 1 cropped black jean with rips, 1 pair of “BuyMeOnce” boots, 1 pair of loafers, 1 pair of sneakers, 1 purse, 1 pair of Pixel eyewear, 1 necklace and 3 pairs of earrings.
Outside this capsule I have ten warmer weather items stored, a five item “professional” wardrobe for conferences, hiking boots, a ten item lounge capsule for relaxing and sleeping, one rain coat, and one warm coat for hiking and camping. That’s it, the only wearable items I own in this world- and I’ve never been happier.
In the future, as some of my current items wear out, I hope to replace them with similar style items that will last a lifetime- using the BuyMeOnce website as a guide.
If you’ve always wanted to start a capsule, find your style, or if you’re simply tired of consumerism and what it is doing to our world (and if you’re reading this blog I imagine you are) consider sitting down and rediscovering you.
“The world doesn’t have to like what you do. You have to like what you do.” Tara Button