How Not to Build A Capsule Wardrobe

I know I’m doing it wrong.

Photo by tu tu on Unsplash

Step 1. Decide that all of your clothes suddenly suck. Spend most of your free time watching YouTube videos that espouse the classic foundational wardrobe and tell you that such-and-such pieces are essential. Since you’re bored and obsessing over clothes is a deep-seated habit you’re still struggling to rid yourself of, you fall down the rabbit-hole of “quality basics” and timeless pieces that have little, if nothing to do with your actual life as a stay-at-home mom with four small children, including one whose drool, urine, or spit-up will inevitably end up on whatever you’re wearing no matter how vigilant you are.

Convince yourself that you “need” an over-sized leather tote bag even though you really like raggedy canvas bags and all you’re going to ever really carry is your wallet and a book, unless you’re with the kids and then you’ll be carrying diapers, wipes and a packing cube filled with starchy snacks. Tell yourself that you must have a good pair of jeans even though you know deep down you don’t even like denim, you hate the way it looks on you even though those high-waisted, wide-legged jeans looked great on some perfectly posed instagrammer. Pretend that the fact that you’re at home, or the playground, or Whole Foods 365 most of the time doesn’t mean you won’t look ridiculous or out of place in a crisp white button-down, tailored pants and loafers.

Step 2. Spend hours browsing online shops that cater to people with more money than you. Impulsively spend hundreds of dollars on stuff that you end up returning or selling because you realize that just because it looks good online doesn’t mean it works in real life. Keep telling yourself you need to “invest” in your wardrobe even though every time you buy something, it dawns on you just how impractical and contrary to your sense of style it actually is. Leather Chelsea boots aren’t really the most comfortable thing to wear especially when you have flat feet and derby shoes just don’t make any sense as far as you are concerned.

Waste money that could have been better spent had you taken the time to just observe your relationship with clothes. Instead of some introspection, shop for your fantasy self, the person who you think you’ll be one day. Emulate the youtubers and instagrammers that have the aesthetic you’re after down perfectly. Ogle the curated closets and pdf layouts of ten pieces that you can make a thousand outfits out of rather than think about where you are in life at this moment and if digging into your savings to buy $250-dollar trousers are really a good idea.

Step 3. Focus on the aesthetics of minimalism. Even though owning lots of things is something you would naturally avoid, keep watching the same youtube videos about the same basic wardrobe essentials that all have the same classic polished vibe which you want to like, but really don’t. Well, some of it. Even though you get inspired every time you watch a video about someone who only owns one pair of shoes and three outfits, or wears a uniform, or the same thing everyday, or seems genuinely happy about not having to think about what they’re going to wear, you still obsess over some obscure Italian-made loafer sandals and try to figure out how to buy them without feeling guilty but you buy them anyway and end up returning them and then you use that money to buy a black leather cross-body tote (even though you got rid of every leather bag you’ve owned).

Avoid tackling what’s really making you so preoccupied with your appearance and how other people perceive you. Avoid being honest with yourself about why you spend so much time worried about having the perfect capsule wardrobe and what your clothes tell people. Pretend that you don’t want people to think you belong to a certain category of society, but that you just have good taste and appreciate well-made clothes. Dismiss certain brands of clothing simply because they’re not expensive enough which obviously speaks for quality. Only pay attention to what the artsy minimalist influencers pay attention to. Follow suit.

Step 4. Forget about what matters most. Or at least, put it in the back of your mind. Ignore the fact this preoccupation with what you wear is taking away from your future because you’re spending money that you should be saving because in less than a year you’ll be raising your kids alone. Avoid practicing better money management so that you can prepare to be responsible for four other people who completely depend on you for survival. Be unaware of how easily history can repeat itself, especially when the memory of your mother hiding from the landlord because she doesn’t have the rent on your 3-bedroom condo on the “nice” side of town and a closet bursting with clothes and shoes that seem ridiculous for one person and you can’t even see the floor of her walk in closet every time you go in there just to be nosy because you’re a bored 11-year old and it smells like leather and perfume and all you want is to be pretty like her. Yes, ignore these scences from your childhood because you know they’re a warning.

Try not to think about how this could affect your children in the long run when they watch you window shop online and almost every ups or fedex or dhl delivery is “something for mommy”. Force yourself not to think about how your kids might look at you one day and realize how materialistic you are even though you claim to tread the path of spirituality. Instead, justify your exorbitant spending by convincing yourself that your kids will have good taste and appreciate beauty.

Step 5. Keep telling yourself that you don’t have a problem. Keep telling yourself that you’re nothing like your mother. Keep telling yourself that this is the last thing you’ll buy and that’s it.

Freelance writer, mother of four, lover of words.