For 21 days, I wore the same outfit to work *every single day*.
Then for 3 weeks after that, I expanded a bit and added a few other items with a very narrow, minimalist capsule wardrobe theme.
The week of Labor Day in 2018, I decided during the short 4-day work week to wear the same outfit every day.
To be completely honest…it was a joke.
I knew it would be a light week staff-wise, and I genuinely wanted to see whether or not anyone noticed.
The thing was…
So the experiment continued into the next week. I bought another shirt to prevent so much washing and then went a third week.
When I realized I really enjoyed wearing such a simple wardrobe, I found that this “joke” had triggered something in me: a desire for more simplicity.
I’d heard of capsule wardrobes before and how to build them, but in the middle of this experiment, I first heard of a “dress” code. This made a lot of sense to me.
The idea behind a dress code involves focusing on what you consistently love to wear and creating a permanent simple wardrobe.
So…essentially a capsule wardrobe, but in a term that made more sense to me.
This experiment really helped me hone in on what my actual style preferences are, and it made my life much easier.
In the upcoming article below, I give you the full scoop including:
- Why I decided to try this experiment
- How I chose what outfit I would wear every single day for 21 days
- What I included in my minimalist capsule wardrobe when I expanded my selection
- How this experiment changed my mindset about buying clothing
- How this experiment will make it WAY easier to shop for clothes in the future
The Benefits of a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe
Before taking this adventure on, I didn’t realize the vast amount a benefits of a minimalist capsule wardrobe, and how many famous people use one.
I’ve read about people like Steve Jobs who wear the same outfit all the time, and they do it for a few reasons.
Save Time And Energy
One reason is to save mental energy and another is to save time.
If I stop worrying about what I wear every day, I have a lot more energy for other things.
Feeling Cluttered With All Your Stuff
Another reason I decided to try this out is because I’ve suddenly become exhausted by having STUFF.
A few weeks ago, I filled two trash bags with clothes for donations—TWO WHOLE BAGS.
And you know what?
My closet is still seemingly full of clothes, much of which I don’t wear.
I hang on to all of these clothes in all of these styles, and I find myself gravitating towards the same items all the time.
So, I decided to be more intentional about it.
How I Chose An Outfit
The two most important factors were
- comfort and,
I wanted something that was comfortable on a normal day,
on days when I might be bloated or not feeling my best.
So, it couldn’t be too tight and had to have some stretch. I wanted to wear something I felt confident in.
It also needed to look good every day.
I decided NOT to go all black because I didn’t think all black was all that versatile.
So, I chose something that I could wear to work and on the weekends so I could dress it up or keep it casual.
I also wanted something that was flattering and attractive.
Because of this, I had to find a balance between “comfortable” and professional.
I landed on a white collared shirt with skinny jeans, which was the perfect choice for me to fill my minimalist capsule wardrobe.
4 steps for your personal style
Simplify Your Style
What Happens When You Wear The Same Outfit Everyday
I ended up really enjoying wearing the same outfit every day. There were a lot of benefits.
So, what happened when I wore the same outfit every day?
#1: I had more time in the morning.
This is a given, but I loved not choosing a different outfit every morning.
Instead of trying things on and wearing an outfit based on mood, weather, bloating, etc… I just put my outfit on 🙂
It was actually a tremendous relief that I didn’t anticipate and definitely made me more aware of how I stress over my appearance and others’ perceptions of me.
#2: I had less decision fatigue throughout the day
Our minds are programmed to make a specific number of decisions each day
Decision fatigue is the feeling of being overwhelmed by it all.
I no longer had to worry about what I was going to wear each day. I didn’t have to make an effort in what shirt and pants I was going to put on that morning.
Because of no longer having to make the mental decision of doing this day after day, I was able to cut down my decision fatigue as a whole.
I was now able to take more time on more important decisions later on in the day, without feeling overwhelmed with it all.
#3: I had a better sustainable wardrobe
I love the fact that I was wearing everything I owned – or trying to at least. I had a reason to own every piece of clothing in my wardrobe, and I made sure to wear it.
I also was making sure to invest in higher quality clothing, as opposed to high quantity.
I loved it, wore it a lot, and needed it to last with the consistent use of wearing it.
Something else I found was that I was drifting away from fast fashion, the fashion that was here today, and gone the next.
Overall, my wardrobe was becoming more rounded, better, and sustainable.
#4: I had more space for mindfulness.
It wasn’t just time that I gained, it was mindfulness in general.
I don’t know why – maybe just because I was reserving mental energy by not choosing outfits, but I felt more in tune with myself.
Which leads me to my next point…
#5: I was forced to face myself more.
I often shop out of boredom or distraction, and at the end of this challenge, I found myself feeling emotional.
I didn’t understand this at first either.
I truly believe that I use my appearance and belongings as a distraction from my insides. I really enjoyed getting more in touch with myself.
#6: I found other ways to add interest to my appearance.
To spruce things up, I definitely experimented with a few lipstick colors and shoes.
I kept it incredibly simple but found myself enjoying accessories more than I usually do.
So, after realizing how much I enjoyed this simple style, I decided to create a dress code for myself…
The Dress Code Idea
I initially planned to do this for 7 days, which turned into about 3 weeks.
At the end of the 3 weeks, I still wasn’t ready to “return to normal”. I was enjoying the simplicity too much.
But during the process, I stumbled on an article about creating a dress code, and this seemed SUPER exciting to me.
The idea behind a dress code is to continue to keep things simple, and recognize that I tend to gravitate towards the same things all the time.
So, I might have 100 pieces of clothing in my closet, but I’m not joking when I say I probably wear about 15 on a regular basis.
What I Included in My Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Dress Code
I noticed that the clothes I wore repeatedly were very predictable:
- Dark pants: I have light pants and colored pants, but I always gravitate towards dark blue or black pants. I knew I should go with whatever I typically wore the most.
- Basic shorts: I chose a basic pair of super comfy denim shorts. They look good with the white shirts, they’re stretchy and they’re a good length for me (short, because I’m short…but not booty-showing short.) Here are some other great examples of shorts I tried.
- Collared shirts: I have a thing for collared shirts. I just think they flatter me, and they’re professional enough for my office without me having to try too hard. I normally wear primarily dark colors, but because I wore white in my 21-day outfit and because I don’t love all-black, I knew I should include both a white AND dark collared shirt.
- Black, White, Blue, Purple, Orange: The colors in my wardrobe would consist of those 5 colors in that order because 1) that’s basically what I have now and 2) everything I have that is outside that spectrum doesn’t get worn.
So, once I decided on the rules for my dress code, the items I included seemed like a no-brainer.
The images below are all things I wear all the time. And if I’m honest with myself, I’d probably wear them way more often if I thought it was socially acceptable.
I came up with about 7 pieces of clothing for my capsule wardrobe.
I bought many of these ages ago, but found alternatives on Amazon after vetting some user reviews.
How Trying A Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Changed My Mindset
The first thing about creating this dress code that I wasn’t expecting is that I don’t miss the clothes I haven’t been wearing.
The second thing I discovered is that people don’t care or notice if I wear the same thing all the time…
That was a total game-changer.
It was a game-changer because I didn’t realize before this experiment how much I was dressing for other people.
On the weekends, I wear the same thing all the time. I go through phases of what’s comfortable and what I’m in the mood for.
I just didn’t realize I’d be able to do the same thing for work. The fact that I can totally get away with this excited me and makes me feel a lot of contentment around my wardrobe.
I’m not sure I’ll ever get rid of 75% of my wardrobe, but this experiment made it clear that I wear very few things.
I love a lot of different clothing and styles, but I consistently gravitate towards the same pieces over and over again.
Feeling Contentment in the Simplicity of a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe
About a year ago, my identical twin sister decided to get rid of almost everything she owns and travel the country in a car with her partner and toddler.
I felt sadness in the uncertainty of her embarking on a trip I knew nothing about, but I felt something else too…
And I didn’t feel envy because I wanted to travel the country, I felt envy because her life had suddenly become SO SIMPLE.
My twin sister, her partner, and even her child had a simplified wardrobe they took with them!
I think this experiment helped me realize that I’m ready to allow myself to have a more simple life.
It started as an experiment and morphed into an exercise in self-care and personal development.
The Conclusion Of My Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Trial
Overall, this experiment was a total win for me. What started out as a week-long joke, turned into a 3-week experiment…
which turned into an actual life change.
My wardrobe isn’t small – I’m down from 200 to about 100 pieces. It sounds like a lot, but count the number of items in your closet. You’ll be surprised!
Choosing outfits is much more simple now.
Most things match and work well together, and everything fits and flatters me.
Not only that, but buying new clothes is MUCH easier (when I need something updated or new).
Instead of falling victim to fast fashion, I’m able to look at something, identify whether or not it fits in my dress code, decide if I need it…and then decide whether or not to buy it.
It has really simplified my life.
Building a capsule wardrobe has helped me present myself to the world with timeless outfits and a signature style that is uniquely my own.
Below is a complete guide to what a capsule wardrobe is, why you need to start one, and how to do it.