My condo is tiny. As in itty-bitty. 636 square feet split between my two kids, my dog and myself. But as a single mom on a budget, with limited options in my kids’ school district, I make it work. The result of living in such tight quarters is that I have to be pretty ruthless. If we don’t use it, need it or love it, it’s out. The other thing that’s come out of living in a small space is that I’ve inadvertently created a capsule-ish wardrobe. And it’s one of the best things I’ve ever (inadvertently) done.


Boutique owner Susie Faux coined the term “capsule wardrobe” in the 70’s. It broadly refers to a small collection of clothes that can be mixed and matched to create a wider variety of outfits and looks. The theory is that you have a limited number of staples and classic pieces that you augment with seasonal and trendier pieces as required. And that seems to be what I’ve created. More or less.


When I downsized into my condo and found myself with one garment rack and one dresser to store my clothing, I realized that some things would have to go. I also realized that I really didn’t wear most of my clothes. I just kept cycling through my favorites. I’ve heard it said that we typically wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time. So why bother hanging on to one-off’s, unworn, or unloved pieces that take up valuable storage space?


The great thing about having a capsule wardrobe, one that’s pared down or one that’s been carefully curated to mix well together, is that it saves time getting dressed. There are less pieces to go through and the ones that are there (if purchased correctly), are easily combined. The other benefit is that it saves money and makes your dollar go further. There’s no need to constantly shop for clothes that you only wear once or twice, and when you do purchase something that works with your existing pieces, your cost per wear goes down drastically.


If you like the idea of having a capsule wardrobe or would like to slowly work your way towards one, without having to downsize the way I did, here’s what I recommend.


If you’ve got the time and you’re up for it, go for a total closet cleanout. By that I mean empty your closet or sort through your whole wardrobe and assess each piece for wearability. How often do you wear it? How does it combine with the other pieces you own? Does it work for your style, shape and colouring? Does it fit well? Is it a good staple or companion piece or does it need to go?


If the thought of cleaning out your closet terrifies you or the task just seems too daunting, start by pulling out the pieces you haven’t worn in the last year or so. If they’re event specific and you know you’ll wear them again, or if they have sentimental value, put them back. If they’re everyday pieces that you don’t wear for one reason or another and you can’t see yourself wearing them anytime soon, let them go. Find them a better home.


If you go through the process and find yourself with very little clothing left, you might just need to add a few key pieces to make your wardrobe go further. Many of my clients often tell me that they need a whole new wardrobe. Yet when I take a peek inside their closet, I find that not only are they not mixing and matching their existing items to their fullest potential, they just need to add a few extra pieces to bring it all together.


Take note of what you do have left and consider what would be required to fill in the gaps or extend your wardrobe. That way you’ll be good and ready should you ever need to downsize. Or even if you don’t.