Retirement: Building a Dynamic Wardrobe

Retirement: Building a Dynamic Wardrobe

I began retirement in January. I really thought I’d wear pretty much the same thing I wore to work, mostly dresses and jackets. After a few weeks I realized I needed to rethink my wardrobe. Making soup stock while wearing a silk dress sounds so sophisticated. It isn’t funny when, even while wearing an apron, you find grease spots on the dress. What I really needed was my weekend wardrobe expanded.

I don’t know about you, winter dressing seems a lot harder than summer dressing. I wrote a piece on my summer capsule in August (Tiny Wardrobe Magic: 40 outfits from 10 pieces) and thought I had this figured out. Then I found myself doing a lot of buying this fall. Granted, some of that shopping had to do wanting to make some bigger purchases while the money held. Some (maybe a lot) of it had to do with turning 60 in November and contemplating retirement. Most of it was feeling uncomfortable in my clothes.

Retirement Wardrobe sporty and funI have an idea that with our short winters, I could theoretically have (at least) a three-season wardrobe. The office I worked in was always warm so I wore short sleeve tops or dresses under a jacket or cardigan year around.

The first full week at home I thought I was going to freeze. That set off my search in earnest for a new look. I confess I also convinced myself some new long sleeve purchases were really winter ‘underwear’ pieces that didn’t count. Also, that I’d wear them on their own in spring and summer. We’ll see about that. It explains another part of my shopping spree.

My next goal was more about dynamic moving. I don’t want to live in movement restricting jeans.  Now I need to make more of an effort for activity. Curling up with a book is pretty tempting when it is pouring outside. But I’m not a t-shirt and leggings woman. I could have gone with skirts over the leggings but I got rid most I owned. I decided dresses were more versatile than skirts. I’ve settled on a compromise – tunic tops. They look good with skinny jeans, or with a dress or skirt underneath. They are acceptable enough (for me) to wear with leggings so that I don’t feel under dressed for a quick errand or an afternoon walk.

Retirement CapsuleA dynamic wardrobe can also being about acknowledging change. I want to keep pace with who I am now. Recently I read about changing your name, or your clothes, to mark majour life passages. Retirement certainly qualifies. It invites a certain sense of authenticity and keeping pace.

To put these ideas firmly into practice I decided to do a winter capsule retirement challenge. I also wanted to stop myself from more searching and buying. In short, my goal is to to decide on a style and feel more comfortable in my skin.

Retirement WardrobeDoing a 10 x 10 challenge (where you only wear 10 items for 10 days) is a chore but also an effective visual tool. It helps me focus on what I feel good in. I always come out seeing just how much leverage I can get with a small selection that is carefully curated. I didn’t take any great pains on the photographs, which should be evident. Until you try this you don’t realize how much works goes into those gorgeous shots on some blogs. ‘In focus and not too obviously posed’ was my main goal. Publishing the posts on Facebook was mostly to keep me honest and attentive.

I’ve done a few 10×10 ‘challenges’, but I got too caught up with rules on this one. I actually ended up with eight garments and two pairs of boots, but my goal is to have 2 capsules of (roughly) 20 items. Outerwear (shoes, boots, coats, bags, etc., is another 10-15 items. I’ve been following Project 333 for a few years (read about it here and here). The items I chose themselves were not ideal either, but what you learn from doing this is valuable. Here is what I chose and how I wore them. (2 jackets, 4 tops, 2 pants, 2 boots).

building a retirement capsule


retirement capsule wardrobe

Even with two of the items being boots, there are more than 10 outfits here. I won’t claim it is as versatile as my summer wardrobe (of 40 outfits with 10 items) but it is something to work on. There are some pieces here that I love the look and feel of.

1. I love the white jean jacket. It is like a denim jacket but very soft twill, wonderful for layering. It is not too bulky under my outwear, often a trench coat, and makes a change from a blazer.

2. The chambray shirt is similarly very soft and fluid. I felt like it needed to be tailored a bit but I think the jeans I choose were just too low to allow graceful tucking in. I can confirm that after washing it no longer needs to be tailored.

3. The white patterned top is fun to wear and it made a somewhat sedate (*boring?) collection more exciting. And I just discovered that the linen blazer living on the ‘maybe’ pile because so few colours went with it is almost an exact match for the paisley pattern.

What didn’t Work as Well

Both of the bottoms:

  1. a) I should have looked at the long term forecast. Part of this capsule experiment was done on a five day trip away from home and the mild weather changed, dramatically. The knickers with short boots (bare legs) happened outdoors only once! The rest of the time whenever I wore the knickers I also had on bicycle shorts, long socks and long boots! I also wore the long boots with my jeans, wading through snow.
    b) These jeans (which as I wrote about in my daily Facebook posts) need a good rest between wearings. They stretch out with body heat and get baggy in the knees and bum. The reason these are in such great shape after almost 8 years is air drying but I didn’t have the time to do that with nothing other than knickers to wear. I will  plan on at least 2 pair of jeans for winter.
    c) A higher waist pants works better for me if I want to tuck something in. These low rise jeans were a limiting factor.

2. I didn’t include a dress. At the last minute I took it out of my case to keep the 10×10 ‘rules’. A dress or skirt gives me more options. A dress can be worn with just leggings and a short boot. Skinny jeans can create another look. Tops can be layered over or under the dress, depending on the sleeve. I find sleeveless ones are the most versatile.

3. I only wore my black cardigan coat with 2 outfits but there are more possibilities there. It would look great with the denim shirt underneath.

What Makes a Dynamic Retirement Capsule?

Retirement Wardrobe urban bohoSo, what does this have to do with dynamic retirement, you ask?  I don’t want to be age-identified by what I wear. I’ve always loved biker jackets but when I was young I needed to wear long tops to hide my bum. (There was absolutely nothing ‘wrong’ with my derriere, mind you. I just felt exquisitely self conscious if it wasn’t covered.) Now I don’t care about that. It is one part of now or never, and another part not really caring about what someone else might think. I want to feel cool.  If it has taken me to age 60 to be brave enough to be cool, bring it on.

Retirement dressing is a matter of self-esteem. No one can tell you how many items of clothing you need, and what they should be. Dressing well, to your standards, is still important in how you feel about yourself. At the same time, retirement also can mean owning fewer things so it is an opportunity to take stock. There is power in letting go of the visible reminders of a life you don’t lead anymore, and it makes room for the life you have now.

Although I don’t miss the work I did, getting dressed and going to the office everyday had an appeal. Dressing as well as I did when I went to an office everyday is important in retirement, especially in a time of transition. What I wore on the weekend is what I’m wearing now — nice jeans or leggings and a nice top. I don’t want to exist in shabby clothes or exercise wear because I’m at home. Nor do I want to fall into the trap of shopping as something to do. So, while putting together capsules takes a bit of time, I consider it a great investment that frees up my energy to enjoy doing other things.

Building a Retirement Capsule


Downsizing your Closet for Big Gains

Downsizing your Closet for Big Gains

For me ‘downsizing’ is a good thing. It can be an opportunity to get more clarity about what fits the time and place you are in life because, “the only thing that Is constant Is change” (Heraclitus). What suits you changes over time, and there is no need to drag the past with you.

In the boomer circle, some of the main reasons women downsize their closet are as follows.

1. Moving House

My experience with a living space downsize has been that the smaller the digs, the higher the incentive to get current with what is needed and used.

Downsizing your Home

I lived in a large house and my possessions ‘crept’ to fill all available space.

Moving to a smaller home or apartment makes it more challenging to find places to store ‘extras’, when there is only one bedroom, no attic, garage or basement as a convenient storage space. (Out of sight = out of mind – can you relate to this?)

2. Changing your Occupation

Personally I don’t like the word ‘retirement’ but it is true that changing what you do everyday will happen at some point. If the ‘downsizing’ is a big enough change, chances are good that you’ll need different clothes.

Mini CapsuleDecades of being self-employed and then going back into a corporate environment was challenging. It took me a while to figure out what to wear and still feel like me. I now have a  more polished and grown up wardrobe that is in keeping with my values – mainly that I can move freely.

Whether you are leaving a job, changing a job or stepping down from going to a work place everyday, you may find that what you’ve worn for many years no longer suits you.

3. Having a Smaller Footprint

This is more about a desire to live deliberately with less (perhaps less of everything and not just clothing.) People of all ages can express a desire to life with less, and, rather than label it, I believe it comes from a desire to closely examine your values and find a way of expressing them.

The Gains of Downsizing

What I have gained from downsizing my closet is time, peace of mind, freedom and  clarity.


With fewer clothing choices, I don’t have to think more than a few seconds about what to wear. With carefully chosen items, things go together with also reduces decision fatigue.

Peace of Mind and Freedom

There is peace of mind and freedom from rejecting the overt and subliminal messages about who we could, and should, be. I want to get off the advertising  treadmill and do something else with my time than obsess over being fashionable.

Potentially there is financial freedom in downsizing your closet. It is only a potential though, because you could spend the same amount of money on fewer high quality items. A small, carefully selected collection of clothing can give you excellent value for your money.

Dowsizing Your Wardrobe

A lot of women I talk to have done ‘shopping therapy’ for most of their adult lives and  are questioning

the idea of shopping as recreation. The pleasure is short lived and the results have to be lived with for, potentially, a long time. It is often an outing with friends, about the thrill of the hunt and finding that great bargain, and about treating ourselves because we are ‘worth it’.  There is freedom in saying no to shopping as a fun activity.


Although my closet is small, what I have gives me a lot of options. It makes me extremely aware of how little I really need. Every three months I pull together a Project 333. This is where you create seasonal capsule wardrobes. The number of combinations that can be created with a small number of clothing is impressive. To see how many combinations I created with summer with 10 items of clothing read my article Tiny Wardrobe Magic: 40 Outfits from 10 Pieces.

At the end of the season, seeing what was worn frequently and what got little wear is apparent. Sometimes there is a good reason (that sweater for spring and a few cooler summer days didn’t see much wear.)  Sometimes though, the reason I didn’t wear something s because I only thought I needed it.

And you know, that’s okay. There isn’t a test at the end and the person who stuck to their capsule wardrobe the best doesn’t win. It is about living living more consciously.  We can reject the marketing messages were are surrounded with. Did you know that fashion marketing began in the Flapper era of the1920s?

Project 333 Helps you get a Minimalist Wardrobe

(c) Be More With Less

Tiny Wardrobe Magic: 40 Outfits From 10 Pieces

Tiny Wardrobe Magic: 40 Outfits From 10 Pieces

Making a tiny wardrobe is one of the healthiest things I’ve ever done for myself. I’ve been doing Project 333 for a couple of years now (read about my experience when I still had 50 items in my capsule, here).

Project 333 is the minimalist fashion challenge by Be More With Less that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.

What is a Tiny Wardrobe?

Many people would say that 33 items is a tiny wardrobe. It takes some time to get past the feeling of ‘not enough’ when limiting your clothing choices, but for me it was worth the growing pains. There was a time in the not too distant past when I needed to try on a dozen outfits before getting out the door (and still not feel satisfied with my choice), and I wouldn’t say it was because my wardrobe choices were huge. (The ‘why’ is a deeper question, perhaps for another time).

Project 333 has been hugely freeing, and the amazing thing is, I have discovered that paring down further is becoming even more powerful. As I pull together my clothing for the upcoming season, it helps when I focus on an even tinier wardrobe, with ‘mini capsules’ of 10-12 articles of clothing. Here’s why I like it:

  • When I see how many combinations I can create with 10 items of clothing it becomes very clear see how little I really need.
  • At the end of the season, I can see what was hardly worn, and yes, people with a minimalist closet sometimes (often?) wear 20% of their garments, 80% of the time. I still have one or two things that see light wear (but that’s okay).
  • Decision fatigue is eliminated because everything ‘goes’ together.
  • I really like every single piece so it gives me more value for my money.
  • It saves time and energy since I don’t have to think more than a few seconds about what to wear (and, really, I’d much prefer to do something else with my time than obsess over how I look).

Through my tiny wardrobe experiments I learned that with 10 pieces (and how I wear them) I can wear something different for 40 days – and that is just including the clothes – not shoes, jewellery or any other accessories – just the basic 10.

Mini Capsule

The Project 333

header_capsulewardrobe_650pxThis course by Be More With Less is a life-changer.

Affiliate Disclosure: I earn a small commission from this course.

Of course I have more than 10 items in my closet because, laundry! Even if I decided to go uniform-style I would need duplicates – or very similar pieces – so creating 2 tiny capsules gives me time to get the laundry done, and to give an item I’ve been wearing frequently a bit of a rest. Having some versatility (not uniform-style dressing, for example) gives me some pieces that are slightly out-of-season, because there are bound to be days that aren’t typical weather, days where you need something warmer, or something lighter.

With 2 tiny capsules and 20 pieces of clothes, that is 80 unique outfits, and (if that is not already interesting enough) here is where it gets really interesting: when those two capsules are blended, or accessories are added, the number of unique combinations explodes. It would give me more combinations than there are in the 90 odd days in a 3 month season.

A Tiny Wardrobe Example

Here is an example of a 10-piece mini-capsule I put together for a summer vacation that gives me enough options for pretty much anything with some accessories added: shoes, purse, hat, sunglasses, jewellery, a shawl or sweater, swimsuit and under garments.

Carry on luggage, here I come!

Summer Resort Capsule

  1. Jacket (dark neutral)
  2. Jeans (light neutral)
  3. Shorts (light neutral)
  4. Dress 1 (tank style for layering, knee Length)
  5. Dress 2 (tank style for layering, knee length)
  6. Skirt (dark, longer than the dresses)
  7. T-Shirt 1 (solid, cap sleeves)
  8. T-Shirt 2 (printed, cap sleeves)
  9. Top 1 (solid, dark, elbow sleeve)
  10. Top 2 (solid, light, long sleeves)

40 Outfits From 10 Pieces

1. Jeans, t-shirt 1
2. Jeans, t-shirt 2
3. Jeans, top 1
4. Jeans, top 2
5. Dress 1
6. Dress 2
7. Skirt, t-shirt 1
8. Skirt, t-shirt 2
9. Skirt, top 1
10. Skirt, top 2
11. Shorts + t-shirt 1
12. Shorts + t-shirt 2
13. Shorts + top 1
14. Shorts + top 2
15-28 Jacket + 1-14
29. Dress 1 + t-shirt (worn underneath)
30. Dress 1 + t-shirt 1 (worn on top)
31. Dress 1 + top 1 (worn underneath)
32. Dress 1 + top 2 (worn on top)
33-36 Switch out to Dress 2 and wear with tops 29-32.
37. Dress 1 + jeans (tunic style – optional belt to shorten the dress
38. Dress 2 + jeans (tunic style – optional belt to shorten the dress
39. Dress 1 + Longer Skirt (worn under, like a slip)
40. Dress 2 + Longer Skirt (worn under, like a slip).

(I could actually continue this…t-shirts plus dress plus skirt underneath (etc.) or worn with the jacket, but I’m sure, Dear Reader, you get the idea).

Those 40 combinations are further extended by adding a few extras: a cardigan and shawl, a swimsuit you could (perhaps) wear as a top, or even a piece of jewellery that transforms a day dress into an evening dress. One begins to quickly see how adding even 1 piece of clothing increases the possibilities!

Have you come across the article, How 33 Articles of Clothing can Equal 25,176 Different Outfits? This is a marvelous example of the power of a small number of clothes, but for me it is an overwhelming number of possibilities to deal with. I know that with the same number of items in my closet, that is the number of possibilities and unique choices I could make, but I’m sticking with my tiny wardrobe and mini capsules, and the numbers that I can get my head around!


Creating a Capsule Wardrobe with Project 333

Creating a Capsule Wardrobe with Project 333

I’m no stranger to doing a capsule wardrobe: it is how I’ve packed for trips for years. I’ve been a fairly light packer all my life and could pull out my 4 or 5 time-tested outfits and put them in my suitcase with no problem. The problem was the rest of my closet because after taking my capsule out, you could barely notice that anything was missing from my closet.

Capsule Wardrobes - one outfit

Minimalist Packing

It came to a point where I began to ask myself, what is wrong with the rest of the clothes in my closet, and, more importantly why do I still buy more? The closet de-cluttering sessions I did regularly worked only temporarily and, tired of doing the same thing with the same results, I heard about Project 333 and decided to give it a try.

Project 333: a Capsule Wardrobe with a Difference

A capsule wardrobe is a minimalist approach to getting dressed. Project 333 takes seasonal differences into account. It is a capsule wardrobe for 3 months (usually following the change of seasons) with 33 items.


From doing Project 333 (from Be More With Less) I learned that the outfits I was packing for a trip was my real wardrobe, taking seasonal differences into account. I don’t really need more than the half a dozen tops/t-shirts, 2-3 sweaters/jackets, and a few different pants and dresses plus outerwear and shoes, and having more than than makes my life more difficult.

What goes into your Project 333? Everyday clothes for work or after, outerwear, shoes, jewellery and accessories. Not included is underwear, sleep wear, things you wear around the house (like for gardening and cleaning), and workout clothing. Courtney suggests wearing workout clothing only for exercising and gardening clothes just for gardening. Everything else is put away, out of sight until the next round of Project 333.

Dress with Less and Create a Capsule Wardrobe

Capsule Wardrobe

(c) Be More With Less


I’ve taken other courses on capsule wardrobes and minimal wardrobes, but found that doing Project 333 is much deeper than finding the season’s pivotal pieces in the right colours, or just decluttering. It is about finding what works for YOU. If are feeling overwhelmed by your wardrobe decisions, Project 333 is a great way to learn more about yourself.

My Summer Capsule Wardrobe

  1. Jacket (navy linen)
  2. Jacket (Grey Linen)
  3. Jeans (white)
  4. Jeans (wide leg)
  5. Shorts (white linen)
  6. Shorts (denim Bermuda)
  7. Dress 1 (black tank)
  8. Dress 2 (grey tank)
  9. Dress 3 (black t-Shirt)
  10. Dress 4 (navy slit neck)
  11. Dress 5 (navy/white stripe tank)
  12. Skirt (long navy silk)
  13. T-Shirt 1 (black scoop neck)
  14. T-Shirt 2 (blue/white print)
  15. T-Shirt 3 (grey black linen
  16. T-Shirt 4 (grey-white stripe)
  17. Top 1 (navy elbow sleeve)
  18. Top 2 (off white poncho style)
  19. Top 3 (off white tunic)
  20. Top 4 (blue linen tank)
  21. Grey sandals
  22. Beige loafers
  23. Grey gladiator sandals
  24. Poncho
  25. Hat
  26. Sunglases
  27. Backpack
  28. Wallet/clutch
  29. Jean Jacket
  30. Trench Coat
  31. Scarf
  32. Scarf
  33. Necklace


Minimalism and Emotional Clutter

Minimalism and Emotional Clutter

When it comes to living a more minimal life, it is not about always about the physical ‘stuff’. Often the ‘weight’ of buying and owning is emotional, and that can live entirely unseen. Here is what I mean.

You probably have an inner voice that is all about practicality, need and value. Those are good qualities but they are capable of robbing joy from your life. For example when you see something for sale that you like your inner voice says: “you can make that yourself.” Or, “you’ll never wear that/use that.” And how about this one: “don’t buy the first thing you see. Shop around and find the best deal”. Even, even if the “best deal” is not what your heart really desires.

Shopping used to be really painful for me because of my inner voice. It used to take hours for me to make a decision to buy, which was, in itself, emotionally draining. I remember a particular time I wanted to buy something as a reminder of a special weekend.

turquoise earrings

Turquoise Earrings from Mexico

By the time I found a little shop that sold the type of things I like, it was near closing time and, as usual, my inner voice was in full force so any personal purchase was going to be met with resistance. I often buy a pair of earrings to mark an occasion or trip and on this day my inner voice reminded me that I tend to wear the same two or three pairs of earrings all the time despite having many pairs.

(To silence that voice I can remind myself that even if I do not wear the earrings, I enjoy looking at them because they instantly connect me to the occasion. It reminds me of the people, the place and the feeling, and that is a sweet and tender feeling.) But back to my story.

I left the store without buying. I told the clerk I was having trouble making up my mind and would return the next day.  But as it turned out, that was THE shopping opportunity of the trip. The next day was filled and we left early the following morning. I felt a small sense of loss which wasn’t about having the ‘thing’. It was about dampening my child-like delight, joy and enthusiasm.

It happens to me less these days but when it does, It makes me feel sad, and the memory of those times lingers. This is emotional clutter. It is blaming thoughts, continual internal commentary, being judgmental about yourself. It can also be having regrets, not releasing events and holding on to the past. It is the feeling of being emotionally beaten up.

I am sure you will be able to relate to my story: it is very common and I believe we all have similar patterns around our different issues. Personally I learned something I hadn’t quite seen before. Although I have played out this same scenario many times in my life, something clicked this time  and I was able to see it clearly as clutter.

Physical clutter might seem to be easier to handle but I find it is the emotional clutter that drags me down.

My Solution

My solution to this is to decide before setting out on a trip that I will get something for myself and to make time for it. It would not have to be something bought in a store. It could be a photograph I take, a few quiet moments writing in my journal, time spent searching for a special stone or shell. But if shopping is part of the occasion I could plan a budget in advance and have a ‘no questions allowed’ policy.

What will you do to release a pattern of emotional clutter?


How I Became a Minimalist Traveler

How I Became a Minimalist Traveler

Th5034-442_MDB00_view1_44x44e last few times I traveled (both week long trips) I took only a small backpack with me in addition to my purse. The big question my friends asked when I arrived was, “how do you travel so light?”

I have two secrets for packing light but the backpack isn’t one of them. Some people may prefer a weekend bag or a small rolling suitcase. I have tried both and only went with a backpack on my last two trips. This is my backpack by Mountain Equipment Coop (It’s the ‘Cascade’.) I like it because it looks sophisticated and actually holds a lot more than it looks like it will hold.

My two secrets: I use packing cubes and a capsule wardrobe.

Use Packing Cubes

I’m not sure who invented packing cubes but I first heard about them a dozen years ago from a fellow traveler. This is what they look like. I bought my first set in a sale bin at Canadian Tire, and later found some more (again in a sale bin) at an airport. They are so useful and not only for packing!

My Packing Cube

My Packing Cube

For years I was a two-cube packer which means that I could fit two packed cubes on one side of my suitcase with room on the other side for shoes and accessories. The great thing about the cubes is that they keep your clothing contained in your suitcase and when you get to your destination you can just take the whole cube out and put it in your drawer.

I decided to pare down to a ‘one-cube trip’ partly to see if I could do it and partly because I was getting a ride with someone and was being considerate of the trunk space.

What you Need for a Week Long Trip

Travelling Light

This pile of clothes fits into one packing cube.

Well, I can’t tell you exactly what you need because it depends on where you are going and what you’ll be doing.

A really good general rule is to pack for only half of the number of days of your trip. (If you are an adult, do you really need a clean outfit every day?) Plan to wear each item more than once. For your ‘delicates’ also pack for only half your trip and rinse out your socks and underwear in the bathroom sink. You can take a little vial of liquid laundry detergent, but to be honest I use the free shampoo that is almost always available.

For my trip to Maui in December (a yoga retreat) I took 3 pairs of workout pants, 3 workout tops, 3 casual tops, 1 skirt, 1 pair of shorts (the bottom of my swimsuit), my swimsuit top, a dress (also doubled as a swimsuit cover), 2 scarves big enough to cover a swimsuit, a light-weight cardigan, my Sunveil shirt and hat, a dressier straw hat that folds flat, and my Unshoes (flip flop alternatives). And with this, I still over packed.

I wore my yoga pants only once and the 2 pairs of capri leggings almost every day; I didn’t wear one of the tops or the dress at all – not even as a swimsuit coverup. If you are going to a place you’ve never been before it is hard to know exactly what the circumstances will be.

Most women like to shop when they travel and I am no exception. Last summer at my Restorative Exercise Intensive I had to buy an additional long sleeve top because even though it was August it wasn’t warm and the studio had a garage door that was open most of the time. The year before that (also an RE event) it was hot outside but the studio was over-air conditioned. Now when I travel I always include warmer layers even if it is ‘supposed’ to be warm. I shopped in Maui but not because I needed to: I shopped because it was Maui(!) and even though I almost never succumb to souvenir t-shirts and the like, I bought a souvenir Hawaii t-shirt. At least it is subtle enough to wear again and I wore it at least 3 times while I was there!

I did need some specialized clothes for this trip because it was a winter vacation to a hot spot: I wore my heavier clothes on the plane: jeans, a lightweight long sleeve top, a hooded merino wool jacket and a pair of walking sandals (with socks!) and except for the jacket, I wore everything again. It was still cool in the evenings in Hawaii.

Start with a Capsule Wardrobe

Starting out with a capsule wardrobe really helps with packing. A capsule wardrobe is a minimalist approach to getting dressed – so that basically – figuring out what to wear will be a thing of the past. I recently signed up for this micro-course Capsule Wardrobes which is not what you would think it would be (this course is much deeper than finding the season’s pivotal pieces in the right colours.)

It is more about a minimalist approach to dressing. It is a really good course to take if you are feeling overwhelmed by your wardrobe decisions.

I have always thought packing for a trip is very revealing. The old me, before I started paring down, could pull out my 4 or 5 favourite outfits – the ones I always feel good in and have been time tested – and put them in my suitcase. But you could barely notice that I had taken anything out of my closet. I’ve learned that those outfits are my wardrobe staples and that with those 4-5 top, 4-5 sweaters/jackets, and a few different pants/skirts, I have a couple of weeks worth of combinations.

Note: If you find you are over-packing it may mean you have quite a large capsule wardrobe! I have under 50 items (including shoes and accessories) but I have separate capsule wardrobes for summer and winter – with overlap. Depending on where you live you may also need separate spring and fall wardrobes. (I keep my off-season clothes in my spare packing cubes.)

Now when I pack for a trip, my closet is pretty empty. I don’t take everything I own but I choose things that suit the trip and that will give me the maximum mileage. Usually that will mean solid (black, grey or navy) with one or two splashes of colour.


Here are a few additional tips that makes sorting out travel clothing easier:

  • I wear merino wool which doesn’t suffer from being in a suitcase, doesn’t absorb odours and dries quickly. If you sweat a lot this will be an life-saver when you are traveling.
  • Most of my solo trips are for yoga or restorative exercise workshops and my workout tops have built in bras. Although they are bulkier than a tank top, I find they don’t take up much extra room and I feel more comfortable throughout the day.
  • I limit my colour scheme: Usually that will mean a solid colour (black, grey or navy) with one or two splashes of colour.
  • I take things that can be worn more than one way:
    • My swimming suit consists of board shorts and a bikini top. I can wear the bottoms as shorts.
    • I will always take a top and skirt of the same colour that worn together is dressy enough for dinner but can be worn separately for more casual occasions.
    • My scarf will be big enough to keep me warm, give me coverage, protect me from the sun and act as a pillow on the plane.
  • Be very minimalist when it comes to your wash/cosmetic bag. I assume that except for my personal things and what I need for the plane, everything will be at my destination and if they aren’t they are just a front-desk or a drug store away. I take moisturizer and a hair product (sample or travel sizes) but no shampoo, soap, etc. I always keep my lip balm (etc.) in my purse anyway, so there is no need to add extra to my wash bag.

If your trip requires special clothes like formal wear, you will probably find you will need to pack differently. I am going on a two week trip in May where I will have to dress for dinner every night. I will use the same rules for my casual trips, but I will need to bring a few more things that are not in my daily wardrobe like dresses, shoes, evening bags and jewellery.  Actually I think I could probably pull it off with my ‘one-cube’ trip, but there really isn’t a need. This isn’t about depriving yourself but about making life simpler.