When an Item from Your Capsule Wardrobe Dies an Untimely Death

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Capsule Wardrobe Advice: What to do when a piece from your capsule wardrobe no longer is wearableThis morning I went to put on my black sweater from my real-life capsule wardrobe and as I slipped my hand into the sleeve my finger caught on a thread. Next thing I knew, the whole side seam of the sweater unraveled and I had a gaping hole armpit to hem.

When I wrote about the Lent Closet Purge, a couple of you mentioned in the comments how a small wardrobe can be a detriment when an item dies an untimely death. An accidental trip in the dryer and it shrinks, a splash of bleach, it gets caught on something and snags, an item gets lost, damaged, or just starts looking old and worn. What do you do when you’re living your life in a capsule and a valuable part of that capsule no longer exists?

While I plan to get out a needle and thread and stitch my sweater back together, not all capsule wardrobe items can be repaired so easily. And when you’re shopping slow and carefully, you rarely can drive to the mall and pick up a perfect replacement. While one can dress every single day within a capsule, I don’t believe that one should toss every other item in their closet.

Have a Backup Plan

Running late for work, I threw the sweater on a chair in my bedroom and went to my bureau and pulled out a grey and black striped heavyweight knit tunic from J. Crew. The same length as my sweater, this piece would also work with the leather-front pants and ankle booties I had already put on. While not part of my current capsule wardrobe, this is a piece that can easily incorporate into the current capsule – to add variety if I’m feeling OVER this collection in a month, to be an alternative when a piece is in the wash or the dry cleaner’s, and a more casual piece I feel comfortable wearing if I am cooking, doing a craft, or something that may require more hearty of a laundry process.

In that drawer are several striped shirts. I love stripes, they have become my signature. While my capsule has only one striped shirt, that doesn’t mean I donated every other striped shirt in my possession. I did pare down – out were the ones that were slightly sheer, that were ivory instead of white, that had a weird size of stripes, too wide of a boatneck, too tight, too lose, too long, too short. Not even a stripes-obsessed personal style blogger like myself needs a dozen different striped shirts.

Also in that drawer are a couple other sweaters that aren’t in my capsule wardrobe but could easily slip in if I desired variety or needed to replace something. A black cashmere crewneck with a banded hem, an orange cotton cableknit, a slouchy black tissue-weight merino v-neck. While I don’t wear these pieces very regularly, they fit, flatter, could easily pop into my winter wardrobe, and therefore remained in my collection.

Beyond the Capsule Wardrobe

I believe in having some pieces outside your capsule wardrobe, and I believe there’s no need to purchase these things as they already are in your possession. No need for 15 Old Navy tee shirts, a dozen pairs of jeans, or three of the same trousers in the same color, but also no need to restrict your wardrobe so much that if you spill lasagna on your white silk blouse you literally can’t get dressed for a month. As you pare down, be honest with your wardrobe. So maybe this piece doesn’t work with your current capsule, but it does still work with your figure, your lifestyle, and your personal style. If it could easily and honestly incorporate into your capsule, maybe it’s worth holding on to for a bit. Work with what you've got, I bet you already have what you need.

We fail at diets when they are too restrictive. Often people let their fitness regime lapse when they start too hard and intense. When we put ourselves in tight little boxes, we set ourselves up for failure. Don’t make a capsule wardrobe punishment, and don’t feel you have to restrict yourself into the tiniest of closets. Moderation is the key to success, happiness, and style.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I am a long time reader, but rarely comment. I just want to say it is so good to hear you say you are going to mend the wounded sweater and keep wearing it. That is relatable. Most of us cannot afford to discard and repurchase. Thanks for being real. That’s a big reason I love your blog. SandyB

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