There are a lot of adjustments that come with living with someone for the first time. For Stephen, one of those is trying to grasp how I can justify complaining that I have “nothing to wear” when my wardrobe takes up 2/3 of our closet. It’s a fair point because I do have a lot of clothes. (Later that will be made very clear, to my slight embarrassment.)
I’ll admit I have fallen into the habit of quantity over quality with my wardrobe. Especially living in big cities the last seven years, going shopping can take a lot of effort. Malls aren’t easily accessible so online shopping is much more convenient. But when online shopping, I prefer to not have to make returns. That led to a love/hate relationship with sites like ASOS, where you can get a lot of cute stuff for pretty cheap. There is usually some sale going on and it’s fast fashion, so pieces are very on-trend. The problem was that those pieces tend to wear quickly, because they’re low quality. And while being trendy for cheap is great, that means six months later those same pieces can go out of style. That leaves me with a lot of stuff, but not a lot I’m excited to wear.
Over the last year I’ve been seeing more blogs and articles about the concept of a capsule closet. A capsule closet encompasses having less clothes, but all of them being pieces you truly love. It also includes buying pieces that are of higher quality that you would be willing to repair or mend to keep them in your closet long-term. Most capsule closets are filled with items that can be interchanged in multiple combinations and are timeless rather than trendy.
Reading about them, I saw capsule closets as aspirational and sophisticated, but I was skeptical at first about feasibility. I loved the idea of investing in high quality pieces, but executing that within my budget seemed out of reach. I’m honestly pretty averse to outfit repeating within 1-2 weeks and that seemed unavoidable with so little to work with. The concept also requires a bit of dedication and commitment I wasn’t sure about… and self-control not to engage in retail therapy.
But even with those hesitations, every time I looked at my packed closet feeling overwhelmed or spent thirty minutes trying to decide what to wear for date night, only to pick the same thing I wore last time, my mind wandered to the capsule closet.
Having options is sexy, in theory. We love the idea of getting endless choices. That’s why dating apps are popular – you can swipe and swipe and swipe. There are infinite fish in the sea. It’s why Postmates and UberEats are on everyone’s phone. You can order from anywhere you want and it will be to your front door in minutes. Why do we purchase five different streaming services? Choices. We have access to every movie we could think of.
But I’m sick of endless options, because that means endless decisions. I am tired of having to make choices all day about things that don’t really matter to me. It’s exhausting and stressful. We are faced with more choices than ever before and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we are also more stressed and burnt out as a population.
There’s actually a term for this. Decision fatigue is when we make so many decisions that our ability to make good decisions quickly and wisely deteriorates. There are only so many times in a day our brains can handle making efficient, smart decisions. In fact, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos intentionally limits his daily decisions by simplifying his routines so that he can actually focus on what matters. For him, that’s running one of the biggest companies in the world.
I am in no way pretending that the decisions I make each day are on the same level economically as Jeff Bezos. However, I think my ability to make quality decisions does impact my personal world. Making good decisions and judgements affects my relationships, my mental health and my livelihood. When I’m less worried about which top to wear in the morning, I’m better at deciding what projects to take with work and how to compromise with Stephen on combining our lifestyles. That may sound small or an overstatement, but it’s not. The little things add up.
What I find truly seductive now is simplicity. Not choices. And one clear place to start simplifying is my wardrobe.
Given my inability to drop $10,000 on a new wardrobe a la “What Not to Wear,” I will not be able to conquer the capsule closet project in one fell swoop. But I can begin to make a dent. Lucky for me, the first step has more to do with awareness and giving things away than buying more. I’m going to write about all of that process here. I’m seeing a pattern in my life that less really is more and excess in any area detracts from core parts of my life. Maybe it’s quarantine or officially entering my mid-twenties that has me reevaluating. Or maybe it has to do with being engaged and taking inventory of what we want to keep with us as we dismantle our single lives to build a joint one. Either way, here’s to simplicity and a few less decisions to make before having coffee.
Step One: Take inventory.