Hi! I’m Anastasia, and I’m super lazy. I hate picking out outfits each day, I hate shopping for new clothes, and I only ever buy new stuff when the stuff I already have falls apart. Not exactly a clotheshorse, here!
But I AM picky with my clothes. I like comfortable outfits, in mostly neutral colors and natural fibers. Layers are GREAT! However, a lot of my clothes don’t coordinate with each other, despite being all basically the same four colors. Because I don’t go shopping a lot, I tend to just buy something when I like it, without considering how it matches the rest of my wardrobe.
Now that I’m moving into an RV in the nearby future, I’ve decided to get a handle on this mess. I’m going to make a capsule wardrobe, one suitable for my (future) lifestyle, that’s easy to maintain and wear and store in an RV.
I need a capsule wardrobe, and so do you!
Yeah, but what’s a capsule wardrobe?
The “capsule wardrobe” craze has really picked up in the last few years. You might’ve seen lots of Youtube videos about people downsizing into a capsule wardrobe, or seen a magazine article with tips on building one. It’s intersects with the current interest in minimalism, KonMari’s organizational method, and moving into tiny spaces to live.
Basically, a capsule wardrobe narrows down your closet to ONLY the essentials. It focuses on classic, timeless pieces that never go out of style and are interchangeable.
You don’t have to hate shopping as much as I do in order to reap the benefits of having a capsule wardrobe. Capsule wardrobes make is super easy to get dressed each day, as everything goes together! You don’t have to dig through a whole closet of clothes you hate, because everything should be something you enjoy wearing. And you end up saving money because you don’t buy items you don’t need.
A capsule wardrobe isn’t for everyone– if your fashion style doesn’t already edge towards classic pieces, you may have a harder time adjusting to the processes. But everyone can benefit from giving their closet a good look-through, particularly if your closet is a tiny RV one.
Building a capsule wardrobe
This is NOT as hard as it may seem at first! But it does require some time and effort, and you’ll need to be willing to do some changes to how you shop and accumulate clothing.
1. Look at what you wear and love already.
What do you wear the most? Look at the colors, styles, and fabric content of your favorite pieces. What stands out the most?
For me, I found out that I love knee-length to maxi-length skirts and dresses, 3/4 sleeve shirts, and cardigans/long vests. I wear a lot of black, blue, purple and green. My fabric fabrics are cotton, linen blends, modal, and that really soft polyester that feels like cotton blend but isn’t.
What do you hate wearing? Personally, I can’t stand cheap rayon or polyester, as it feels too scratchy. I also can’t wear wool blends or anything with angora– I’m allergic! But I also hate clothes that immediately get wrinkly, cling too much, or rid up when I’m walking.
2. Get rid of anything that sucks.
You know what else is a hot trend right now? KonMari-ing your closet.
Marie Kondo is an organizational expert who created a style of tidying up that focuses on only keeping things that are useful, or that bring you joy. If you look at something and you don’t instantly want to put it on and wear it, dump it.
Dump the stuff that doesn’t bring you joy, whether it’s because of fabric content, style, fit, or damage. I tend to keep stuff that doesn’t fit right for way too long in the hopes of making it work, and it usually doesn’t.
So, dump it! Donate the good stuff to a local thrift store or women’s shelter. Toss the damaged, stained, or worn out stuff in the recycling or trash.
3. Look at what you have and identify gaps.
Maybe you only have one sleeve length for shirts left. Or (like me!) no comfortable pants to wear. Perhaps you’ve had to throw out all your cardigans because they got too nubbly and the elbows were stretched out (hello, me!). Or maybe you only have five black skirts and you’d really like a different color option!
Using what you learned about your preferences from earlier steps, make a plan to buy what you need. For instance, I would really like some comfortable t-shirts. I’m also tired of all my clothes being dark colors, so I’d like to incorporate more jewel tones. Maybe a nice green or purple shirt would be something I could add soon.
What’s missing from your wardrobe? What’s an item that you’d really like to have, but don’t?
4. Add new clothes consciously and deliberately.
Once you’ve identified what’s missing from your collection, you can work on filling in the gaps.
I don’t think a capsule wardrobe needs to be only a certain amount of items. However, it DOES need to be filled only with clothes that you’ll wear regularly, that coordinate with each other, and that can be made into multiple different outfits. You shouldn’t have
This is something I struggle with myself. Because I haven’t bought items deliberately to match with what I already have, I have a lot of one-off outfits. This is bad and I need to stop doing it! Luckily, I’ve figured out a way to do just that.
What I’m doing (and what you should do, too) is put outfits together and then take pictures of them to save and refer back to. Then, when it’s time to go shopping, I can check my collection and see what would work well with what I’ve already got.
Capsule wardrobe packing list
Some people put hard limits on the number of items in their capsule wardrobe (often 30 or 50), but I don’t think that matters as much as having ENOUGH things to wear and being able to FIT those things into your RV.
When you’re traveling you probably won’t need as MUCH or as MANY items of clothing like you would in a house or apartment. If you’ve already purged a lot of the extra stuff, then sticking your wardrobe into your RV (or backpack, if you’re ambitious) should be easier.
Here’s what I’m planning on narrowing down to once I get into my RV. It’s a short list, because I tend to wear the same things over and over again anyway. Also, keep in mind that I’m assuming I’ll do laundry about once a week.
You can use this list to give you an idea of what to have in your own RV!
- 2 t-shirts
- 2 3/4 sleeve shirts
- 1 lightweight long sleeve shirt
- 1 pair cropped pants (or joggers)
- 2 pairs of leggings, 3 pairs of tights
- 3 pairs of socks (I don’t wear socks a lot)
- 7 pairs of underwear
- 2 camisoles/bras
- 1 vest
- 2 light or medium-weight cardigans
- 1 heavier pullover sweater
- 1 mild winter-appropriate jacket
- 4 pairs of shoes (2 casual Toms, 1 nicer ballet flat, 1 hiking/walking shoe)
- 2 pairs of sandals (1 flip-flops for bathrooms/showers at camp, 1 nicer pair)
- 2 lightweight scarves
- (3 sets of pajama items that don’t count towards a capsule wardrobe anyway)
So, my total amount of items is: 36
(If I was planning to go into colder climates more often, I would add more jackets and scarves and gloves. I’m hoping to stick to moderate temperatures, though!)
Color, color, everywhere
Now, I wrote a bit about colors earlier on in this post, and this is a good time to talk more about them.
Because a capsule wardrobe is dependent on so few pieces, it’s important to be able to coordinate them together without worrying too much about colors or patterns. This is why so many capsule wardrobes end up looking very similar– everyone tends to stick to neutral colors because they’re easier to match.
However, you can totally do WHATEVER you want, as long as you’re happy with how it looks. For me, I tend to naturally gravitate towards cool colors (particularly blue), but if you’re more of a bright yellow and red person, then you can make it work just like I’m making mine work.
The key is to pick three or four “main” colors and one “accent” color, while also keeping tones in mind. For instance, three bright jewel tones mixed in with white or black pieces could look AMAZING. All pastels tones? Hell yeah!
Need some color combo ideas? I’ve got you covered:
- Black, white, blue – red accent
- Mustard yellow, brown, white — black accent
- Purple, gray, white – yellow accent
- Red, black, white – orange accent
- Green, tan, white – red accent
- Red, yellow, green – dark blue accent
What about patterns?
Sure, mix those in, too! Some patterns are very easy to put in a capsule wardrobe– like polka dots and stripes, for instance. Animal prints would be harder to mix in, but not impossible.
Think also about different textures in your wardrobe. Mixing in different fabrics, weights, and textures will give your outfits more interest (and make it easier to layer for different weather situations).
Capsule wardrobe, yay or nay?
As a full-time traveler, it’s important to only carry with you the things that are really important. If you’ve got an RV stuffed full of clothing that you hate and don’t wear, then what’s the point of keeping them? If you can’t find anything to wear because nothing matches, then what’s the point of having those things?
Ditch the clutter and clean out your closet. Really consider the amount and type of clothing you have, and figure out what you can tweak to make it something you’re excited to put on. A capsule wardrobe isn’t meant to be limiting– it’s supposed to be freeing. So: free yourself!0