Q: It’s a new year and one of my resolutions is to simplify. To that end, I’m interested in creating a capsule wardrobe. I received some money for Christmas — what should I buy from the January sales?
A: Uh — perhaps nothing?
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a capsule wardrobe — more a concept than a thing — is where you pare the clothing in your closet down to a set number of essentials. Blogger Courtney Carver, who popularized the idea, allows just 33 pieces in her capsule wardrobe, including shoes, accessories, and jewelry. (Underwear is exempt.) Everything else gets boxed up, or given to charity. Then every three months — or with the seasons — you rotate your 33 items. For example, come April the winter coat is replaced with a spring jacket. The number of items in your closet always remains the same. Fans of the capsule wardrobe say it cuts down on mindless shopping, saves money, and makes it easier and faster to get dressed in the morning, as your choices are limited. Obviously, if your approach to dressing is more Iris Apfel than minimalist, a capsule wardrobe is not for you as there’s not a lot of room for improvisation. You won’t have twelve scarves to pick from to wear with your jacket, you’ll only have one or two, and it has to go with everything else. Carver has a blog, bemorewithless.com, which explains the idea in-depth and even offers online courses. There’s also a Facebook group.
So before you go shopping the first thing you should do is pare your closet down to 33 things — and remember that includes shoes! You may find you really don’t need to buy anything. If you do go shopping, whatever you do buy has to replace something or fill a void, and it should be something you will wear a lot of for the three months it’s in your closet.
If you do need to go shopping, there are a number of clothing lines that create well-designed pieces perfect for capsule wardrobes. One is Kit and Ace, which is designed in Vancouver and has two stores in Calgary. Basic but not boring, the clothes are machine washable and can be dressed up or down, which is important as the pieces in a capsule wardrobe have to multi-task. At a lower price point is Oak & Fort, which has stores at Chinook Centre and Market Mall.
Q: One of my new year’s resolutions is to head back to the gym. I need a new set of workout clothes but I’m not looking to break the bank. Any suggestions?
A: Nothing beats high quality workout wear, as the fabric is far superior and holds its shape. However since heading back to the gym is said to be one of the most broken of resolutions — by late February the majority of new gym memberships have reportedly been abandoned — why make a huge investment in clothing that might end up in a drawer? I’d start with Old Navy and Joe Fresh, where if you catch a sale a pair of leggings can often be purchased for less than ten dollars.