This spring, I decided to Try—with a capital ‘T’—building a colorful capsule wardrobe I could thrive in. I cleared out my closet and dresser to truly commit. Then I donated my clothes and thought long and hard about the colors and patterns I wanted to keep around.
I wanted my relationship with my clothes to feel more symbiotic: I wanted to feel more confident in what I wore, and in turn, somehow absorb some joy from the fabric. I was going for "clothesmosis", if you will.
But is it really possible to cultivate more joy this way?
Short answer: yes. Let's unpack the lessons to be found in a joyful capsule wardrobe.
First off, what is a capsule wardrobe and how do I start one?
A capsule wardrobe is a small, curated collection of clothing you can rotate through the seasons. It involves a fixed set of tops, bottoms, dresses, etc. that you can rely on more than I rely on boba. To start one, edit down your closet to around thirty pieces you know you can count on, rain or shine.
By maximizing our options through a capsule wardrobe, we minimize our stress.
A capsule wardrobe allows us more time in the day for activities other than haphazardly rummaging through our choices.
With a maximalist capsule wardrobe, we can have a reliable set of clothes to mix-and-match. “Maximalism” and “capsule wardrobe” sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s more of an approach and mindset—an intentional one. The individual pieces can be as bold and daring as your heart desires.
Ultimately, cutting down our wardrobe to pieces that are necessary, yet uplifting, can decrease the stress that comes with choice paralysis.
The colors we choose, for our clothes and our spaces, cultivate mood.
A few years ago, I decided to commit to green, pink, and white in my room with accents of red (mostly because of my Marvel interests). The soft pastels remind me of love letters and spring while the bright red inspires me to be bold (like a superhero).
Color therapy, or chromotherapy, has been practiced for generations across cultures. These days, we can use color in our spaces and wardrobes to cultivate mood.
Sue Kim is a color marketing manager who believes that “in the world of interior paint, color therapy is simply used by selecting a wall color that speaks to you personally, crafting a mood you’re wanting to achieve for the space.”
In the same way, when we pick colors for our outfits, it interacts with the world and people around it, including ourselves. I look really washed out in light blue but I’ve often been told that blues with more saturation or darker blues are “my color.” I stuck to this for years, but I’ve recently found that I look and feel great in green or pink, too. (Admittedly, this is convenient and satisfying because my room is filled with greens, pinks, and blues.)
Having the basics of color theory down might feel daunting, but when we know more about the hues we look and feel best in, we can harness them.
Knowledge is power and you can flaunt it as you charge into the day.
Our capsule wardrobes are an armory, so wield what makes you feel most joyful.
This is a dress I thrifted ages ago. For a year, it sat untouched in my closet until the pandemic hit and I would wear it at home just to feel more confident.
In this way, having a colorful wardrobe is a solid starting point for feeling empowered to be our best selves. Research shows that “clothes have a symbolic meaning. When we wear an article of clothing with a specific meaning, these clothes can influence our psychological state.” This is “enclothed cognition.”
Working from home has many of us dressing more comfortably and if you’re anything like me, maybe you’ve hit a plateau of sweats and loose clothing that isn’t designed as vibrantly.
Dressing in my most comfortable and most colorful has boosted my energy at my day job, which consists primarily of creative problem-solving. When I wear my patterned dresses, I feel more equipped to tackle the day.
I remember feeling particularly crabby one morning before I got dressed. Donning my favorite orange skirt, which I bought on a thrifting trip with my cousin, it triggered a better mood and I suddenly felt a boost of thankfulness for my job, team, and loved ones.
Getting dressed from a colorful capsule wardrobe comes down to starting your day with gratitude.
Blue and yellow evoke calmness and gratitude for me.
Fast fashion brings on a cocktail of negative emotions because “the shopping and spending activity itself are associated with a feeling of happiness and power, which is immediately, but temporarily, gratifying.”
Because our happiness is tied to the trends we can participate in, our shopping cycle repeats much faster. This cycle introduces harm to our environment, global communities, and ourselves (hello, debt and guilt).
It’s a vicious shame cycle but research also shows that: “Being thankful for your current wardrobe may be just the thing to keep you from buying a cheap outfit you’ll throw away after a few uses.”
When we are intentional with our wardrobe and shopping, we can gain an appreciation for the artistry and hard work involved in fashion and we can be thankful for the simpler things.
Humans can craft the garments we wear while we live, love, and find wonder. That’s something worth celebrating!
We can be grateful for the clothes we feel good in and when you start your day off with that, the joy can only seep in like bright dye in our souls.
Our vibrance is a statement: I am here. I am happy to be here, in all that makes me… me.
Are you searching for ways to weave joyful stories into your life?
Join R2R’s advocate community. You’ll receive stories and offers to help you build a capsule wardrobe you’ll love.