In this episode of The Feel Good Effect, we’re diving into how to create a capsule wardrobe! Ashlee Gadd is here to help us simplify getting dressed in the morning.

Listen in to the episode or read the article for all her practical tips on creating a capsule wardrobe that works for your real life!

the 3 habits you need to create a simple capsule wardrobe with ashlee gadd

How does your closet make you feel? Honestly, trying to get dressed in the morning these days is not my favorite thing. It can feel like a decision fatigue landmine. That’s why I was so excited to talk to our guest, Ashlee Gadd – wife, mom, writer, and the founder of “Coffee & Crumbs”.

meet guest: ashlee gadd

Ashlee describes herself as a ‘super regular mom’ who one day just got really tired of the mess in her closet. Despite being passionate about capsule wardrobes, she doesn’t describe herself someone who has a ton of experience in fashion. 

Ashlee got really into the concept of a capsule wardrobe about 6 months post-partum from her second baby. She felt like she was too small for her maternity clothes but too big for her pre-baby clothes. Feeling like nothing fit her body well.

Every morning, Ashlee found herself standing in front of the closet trying to figure out with to wear. Feeling exhausted by the process. One day, she threw everything out of her closet in a fit of rage and found herself searching for a way out of this daily routine. That’s when she went down the capsule wardrobe rabbit hole and found a way to use it to simplify her life.

“I want to free myself from the burden of hating my closet”

Ashlee Gadd
are you worth getting dressed for (even if you’re not going anywhere at all)?

This past year has forced many of us to consider what’s worth getting dressed for? Especially when many of us aren’t leaving the house much (if at all) these days. But another question we can ask ourselves in response is, “are you worth getting dressed? even if you’re not going anywhere at all?”. Here’s what Ashlee found in her community.

She offers a capsule wardrobe workshop and as part of it, participants can join a Slack group community to chat through the material, ask questions, share resources, and share worksheets with one another. When she offered this workshop the first time, a couple weeks in she decided to add an ‘outfit of the day’ channel to Slack. The outfit of the day channel was intended to help members find some inspiration from one another as they’re trying to figure out their personal style. Ashlee was surprised when that channel became the busiest thread. 

Six months into the pandemic, Ashlee found herself not really getting dressed every day (like many us), but this thread inspired her to get dressed to participate in the outfit of the day activity. There is a confidence boost that accompanies putting yourself together, but it’s hard to have that motivation on a regular basis. Even if you work from home, you can have a structure to your loungewear and have a collection of clothing that is really comfortable and that you feel good in.

where do we start if we are feeling overwhelmed?

Sometimes the idea of a capsule wardrobe can feel overwhelming to those of us who aren’t fashion bloggers or personal stylists. Other times it can just feel overwhelming to have too many decisions in our closet or when we just don’t like what’s in there.

Ashlee suggests we start just by assessing what’s in your closet.

If you were to open your closet right now, chances are you could quickly identify which clothes you always wear and which clothes you never wear. There might be a slim percentage of clothes that you occasionally wear – but most will fall into the “always” or “never” buckets.

It’s important to look at those two categories and figure out the why behind them. For the “always” clothes that you are wearing all the time consider these questions – why are you wearing them all the time? What is it about those clothes that you love so much? Is it the color, cut, fit, fabric, style, or trend? What is it about those clothes that make you wear them all the time?

The same goes for the things you “never” wear – why do you never wear them? Do they not fit your lifestyle anymore?

Looking at what you always or never wear can give you an idea of your personal style. If you’ve never thought through your personal style, you might try starting a Pinterest board or even just thinking about what you’re drawn toward with the ultimate goal of filling your wardrobe with all things you love to wear.

It’s also important to note that this type of capsule wardrobe is not a suggestion that we just need to get rid of half of our clothes. The way Ashlee does her capsule wardrobe is by rotating clothes out of her closet depending on the season and life-stage she is in. For example, if you are pregnant right now, it might be a good idea to only fill your closet with maternity clothes, putting all your pre-baby clothes somewhere else that’s not right in front of you as a choice every day. It doesn’t mean that you need or have to get rid of clothes that don’t match your life right now, but maybe you just don’t want to look at them every day (where they add the time of thumbing through choices that don’t fit).

“There is a confidence boost that accompanies putting yourself together”

Ashlee Gadd
how it’s done

There are lots of ways to do a capsule wardrobe. Some people are really into the number of items in your closet, which is not something Ashlee worries about when putting together hers. She has limited space in her closet and she does aim for it to be about 25% empty so it feels like there is some room to breathe in there and things can move back and forth easily on the rod.

step 1 | take everything out of your closet

You might be tempted to just pull out four items you want to donate, but you’ll benefit most by taking every single thing out. The Joy of Less talks about the psychological difference between taking something out of your closet and intentionally putting something back in your closet; it’s harder to put things in your closet than it is to take things out. We really want to do the full process. 

step 2 | assess each item one by one

Once everything is out, assess each item, asking:

  • Is this something I want to keep in my current capsule? 
  • Is this something I want to store away for a different season capsule? 
  • Is this something I want to sell
  • Is this something I want to donate?

Ashlee uses this system to make four piles around her bed – one each for sell, keep, store, and donate. 

step 3 | keep, store, give, or sell

Once she’s sorted through every pile, she puts all the items she wants to keep in the current capsule back into her closet, everything that she’s going to store in her storage bags, donation stuff in a bag to wherever she’s taking it, and she usually sells a few pieces in a local mom’s group that she’s part of. 

Ashlee gets storage bags from IKEA for less than $10 where she stores all the clothes that are not part of her current capsule. Each bag fits in a drawer under a closet. For selling clothes, Ashlee used to use Poshmark but found it was too time-consuming after having kids and used thredUP for a while but the value isn’t the best. Her best success comes from selling on Facebook in a local mom’s group. 

This is a process Ashlee does every three to four months.

“Release the guilt and know this is a learning process”

Robyn Conley Downs
how do you deal with guilty feelings about the sell or donate pile?

You might feel guilty that you spend money on something and you didn’t use it or you aren’t using it anymore. Guilt is a huge reason people keep things, and it contributes to decision fatigue.

For Ashlee, guilt came up for her a lot around her shopping habits. She wasn’t intentional with her shopping. During an earlier period in her life, she was pregnant several times, her body was constantly changing, and it was hard to feel confident about herself, feeling so often like nothing fit well. There was a jolt of confidence that came from running out and getting something new. The longer she has maintained a capsule wardrobe, the more her shopping has slowed down and the more intentional she has become. 

Another benefit to storing clothes that you aren’t currently wearing is that when you’re hiding half of your clothes from yourself, they feel new and exciting when you bring them back out for the next season. It’s narrowing the choices to get better results, and you have to start somewhere. Everything you put back in your clothes is a decision and every item you have in your house is something you have to take care of.

what if you find that you don’t have much left when you put your “keep” items back in the closet?

Ashlee suggests keeping a running list of gaps that need to be filled. This many years into her own process, she has a good base wardrobe so there isn’t a single season where she is lacking clothes. 

Another suggestion is to start with uniforms. Ashlee likes to go through a daily uniform exercise, thinking through 3-4 uniforms she can wear and have on hand as the base of her capsule. If you’re missing key pieces from your uniform or base, you’re going to struggle to keep it going.

“The longer you actually do and keep a capsule wardrobe, the better you understand yourself and your style”

Ashlee Gadd
decision template: choosing your “uniforms”

Ashlee lives in Sacramento where the weather is starting to shift during this early-spring season. She loves a good pair of jeans and a t-shirt, that’s a uniform for her work from home, mom of three young kids lifestyle.

Another uniform she goes to are joggers and a t-shirt, staying pretty casual right now at this time in her life. A third is a basic t-shirt dress with a chambray shirt tied around the waist. Currently, Ashlee has four pairs of jeans with different cuts and six t-shirts, as well as a few other pieces.

a color palette can make choices simpler

Ashlee’s color palette is very seasonal but specific to the colors that look good on her skin tone. She loves earth tones and neutrals. Figuring out what looks best of you helps simplify what to keep and what to buy to fill in any gaps in your wardrobe.

The things she knows now about her body come from the intentionality that went into a capsule wardrobe. It’s made shopping easier too, because she knows she can go to three stores that she loves and find what she needs. Shopping itself may not be self-care, but knowing what feels good to you to wear and giving yourself permission to wear what you feel beautiful or comfortable in is a form of self-care. 

what does it really mean to be healthy?

“Permission to rest… No matter how much I am eating, or how much I’m exercising (or not), giving myself permission to rest. When I feel my healthiest is when I am doing that”.

Ashlee Gadd
guest bio

Ashlee Gadd is a wife, mom, writer, and the founder of Coffee + Crumbs. In her spare time (what is spare time?), she loves reading, eating cereal for dinner, and making friends on the Internet. 

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