Capsule Wardrobes for Christian Women | By Adelaide Mitchell
Over the past year, I have enjoyed cleaning out my closet and moving closer to the capsule wardrobe lifestyle. I'm not all the way there yet, ;) but leaning into a minimal approach to clothing has been refreshing. One of the voices who inspired me is Adelaide Mitchell of The Stone and the Oak. Today I'm thrilled for her to share her perspective on how sustainable capsule wardrobes can add so much to our lives!
More is Less
Have you ever opened your closet–stuffed with clothing–and thought to yourself I have nothing to wear?
If you answered yes, then you are in good company. And lest you think I am preaching from a high horse, I have in fact stood in front of my own closet with the very same questions: How did I get here? How did I end up with so many clothing items and yet none of them make me feel confident or attractive?
Fortunately, I was introduced to the idea of a capsule wardrobe as a solution for this problem, and I am here to share what I have learned from my experiences with it.
For those who don’t know, a capsule wardrobe (in the strictest sense) is a self-contained collection of a limited number of garments that all work together in a mix-and-match sense.
There are strict capsule wardrobes where the number of each category is limited (5 shirts, 2 sweaters, etc.). But there are the more flexible versions of a capsule wardrobe that don’t limit the number of items too strictly and rather encourage a pared-down closet with colors that work together. Erin Kern has a looser version of a capsule wardrobe in a helpful 5-part series.
I tried Erin’s approach to capsules and I absolutely loved it; I have maintained a version of this capsule wardrobe ever since that day of closet despair. Here are the steps for reinventing your closet in a more minimal way.
STEP 1: CLEAN-OUT TIME
Carve out an afternoon and take all– yes ALL– of your clothes out of your closet and lay them on your bed. The only items I don’t include in this process are pajamas and activewear.
STEP 2: THE “LOVE IT'S
Look at your mountain of clothes and ONLY put back items that you absolutely love and that make you feel like you. Knowing your colors helps a lot with this. I have done a self-evaluation of my own colors, but you can also have a professional help you with your colors (@createdcolorful). As you put a few pieces back into your closet, pause for observation. What do you notice? Do you see certain cuts, colors, or patterns that keep presenting themselves?
When I did this process, I learned something right away— I had a ton of Kelly Green clothing still on the bed. Whenever I would see something in Kelly Green, I would buy it because I love the color. But I never wore any of it! Subconsciously, I must have known that it didn’t look good on me, but I had been amassing so much of it that just took up space in my closet.
I also noticed that I loved navy, saddle tan, burgundy, and teal. This helped inform me as I moved forward as a consumer– I am able to shop much more wisely and intentionally than I used to.
STEP 3: THE “MAYBES” AND THE “HARD PASSES”
Once you’ve put back your “LOVE IT” choices, the question remains: what do you do with the rest of the items on the bed? Well, if you don’t like something, toss it in a donate bag.
If you have been holding on to something expensive simply because of its expense, and not because you feel great in it, it’s time to let it go. The money has been spent, and now it’s just taking up mental and closet space. Add it to the donate bag, give it to a friend, or if you use platforms like Poshmark, list it for sale.
The “maybe” items are a little trickier. If you are holding onto an item by creating a bizarre scenario in your mind but what if there’s an 80’s party? I’ll need it then! That’s a sign that it needs to go because chances are the 80s party is not as impending nor imperative as you might imagine.
If there are true “maybe”s left, try them on to see if they still fit as you imagine. This step will help reduce some of the maybe pile. For the remainder, box them up and put them somewhere you can access them. I put my true “maybe”s in the garage during this process with the following stipulation– any items that I didn't rescue from the box after a year needed to go.
STEP 4: FILLING IN THE HOLES
Now that you have a pared-down closet with just your favorites in it, you may think to yourself now I don’t have quite enough to make a full wardrobe. When the budget allows, head out to the shops and buy some of the essential pieces that will tie your existing pieces together. Yes, you need a couple of good pairs of jeans. No, you do not need 7,8,9,10 pairs of good jeans. Jeans can (and should) be worn multiple times before each wash, and when you find one with the right fit, you won’t need much more than that.
Think Long-Term with Purchases
Be mindful of purchasing trendy items for the sake of trendiness in and of itself. In other words, consider the trend carefully. Is it something that feels like it aligns with your style? Could you see it lasting more than one season? If so, go for it! If the trend feels like it won’t really mesh with the wardrobe you’ve curated, or doesn’t allow you to feel like you, it may not be a purchase that will serve you.
One of my solutions to feeling stylish without getting sucked too deeply into the cycle of trendy fashion: shopping secondhand! As I mentioned before, we Americans tend to overlook the value of shopping secondhand. Because of our global problem of consuming and disposing of garments so quickly, there is a huge surplus of secondhand items in excellent condition. I would say 40% of my current wardrobe is reclaimed/upcycled items from thrift stores and ThredUp.com.
In fact, I started a small line of reclaimed His Wear to promote the notion of embracing pre-loved clothes and not always going for new ones: click here to check out the Reclaimed Collection.
Lastly, for the non-trendy staples that will last for many years in your closet (think– a denim jacket, a little black dress, or a pair of neutral wedges), consider shopping for quality items that will last you for years to come and will hold up to wear.
Finally, is a minimal wardrobe biblical?
I would venture to say yes, and here’s why:
Jesus warned us against “storing up” earthly items: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, or where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). Let us not consider our clothes treasures lest they become idols.
Paul warned us against using apparel and jewelry as a marker of status or wealth: “I desire then [...] that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire” (1 Timothy 2:8-10).
And in 1 Timothy, Paul reminds us that “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (6:6-7). What good does an overstuffed wardrobe do if the garments aren’t being worn? We certainly can’t take our clothes to heaven; these are temporary items serving a temporary purpose.
All in all, a bit of mindfulness in how we purchase clothing will serve our budgets, our homes, and our values in Christ.
Adelaide was first gently nudged and then heftily shoved by God to start a blog in 2020 detailing her commitment to read the Bible thoughtfully in its entirety. She blogs about what God reveals to her in Scripture, her ongoing battle with chronic anxiety, and her love for DIY projects. She is sorely outnumbered in her house between her husband and three sons, so she compensates by snuggling up to her two sweet female pups, Lady and Lucy. She and her family have been transplanted a few times, and they currently reside in central California.