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An alternative to the capsule wardrobe: the uniform

About a year ago, I started toying with the idea of a capsule wardrobe. For years, nay, decades, my clothing style was “whatever was on sale,” and if I found something really cheap, it didn’t matter if I liked it or not, I bought six of them. Once I found t-shirts from Walmart for a dollar, and suddenly I had a dozen.

But a capsule wardrobe made a lot of sense to me – a few well-placed pieces that you can mix and match and then BAM! You’re set forever. I looked up several different versions of it, and inevitably, I became overwhelmed. I wanted to say “I’ll get one skirt, two shirts, and a winter coat,” but I forgot about weekend clothes, I couldn’t figure out how to make all the pieces work together unless they were all black, and I always forgot about things like “what happens in winter” and “what about when I want to work out.”

My sister-in-law mentioned the idea of a uniform, and I scoffed at her, because I always scoff at good ideas. It’s one of my quirks.

Also, who wants to be Smurfette? I mean, apart from the fact that she is 100% of the time surrounded by dudes (who does she get to bitch to when her period pops up unexpectedly????), she also wears the same stupid thing every stupid day.

Then I Googled “comfortable work clothes” and found Betabrand. (Here is a referral link because that’s how you do this, right? That’s how this is done? Anyway, if you use my referral you and I both get some money back, I think $15). And it took me a few tries of their clothing (surprising to me, I didn’t really like their “dress pants yoga pants,” which seems to be their signature item. That kind of sucks because these clothes are expensive, but then I found this dress:


And then I found it in another color.

And then another, which I have pre-ordered.

And then I threw everything in my wardrobe away.

These dresses, y’all. They feel like you are wearing pajamas, but they look like you are going to a party (not a pajama party). They are warm enough for winter and cool enough for summer. They don’t need to be ironed, they don’t need to be dry-cleaned. They have pockets.

I have never, ever been complimented on my clothing. Never ever. Because I dress like a garbage person. Except scratch that, I used to dress like a garbage person.

Now I dress like a person who gets complimented on her clothes. Literally ten minutes ago, a woman I know from the gymnastics place told me how pretty I looked (spoiler alert: it’s the dress).

These dresses are vibrant, they are of good quality. They can be turned inside out and worn again. Then they can be turned backward and worn again. I currently have four of them, and will get a fifth as soon as it is made (the third one pictured above, pre-ordered). That gives me a month’s worth of work clothes using five hangers.

I got rid of almost everything else I owned. I kept a pair of jeans and a pair of capris and a pair of jean shorts for the summer. I kept a swim suit. I kept a swim suit cover-up which I am still thinking about getting rid of because that’s a bit too specialized for my taste. I have a couple of cardigans still, for the fall and spring. I got rid of all of my t-shirts except two, and kept three hoodies because fuck, I guess I love hoodies.

I also kept several underthings – a couple of pairs of yoga pants and several pairs of socks, obviously a bunch of underwear and two bras, and 4-5 tank-tops. Because I am…well-endowed, I don’t feel super comfortable with the dress when it is v-cut because it’s a bit low-cut. I typically wear a tank-top, yoga pants, The Dress, underwear, a bra, socks, and boots. And by “typically,” I mean “every day that I go to work or have to leave the house for other things.”

I kept one set of pajamas, and two sets of workout clothes (one summer, one winter) which are actually not really their own clothes, because they are also yoga pants and tank tops, so they could move back into rotation if need be.

Oh! I kept a corset for the Renaissance Festival because I am a fun person.

In the summer, I remove the yoga pants, the socks, and the boots, and I wear flip-flops.

I wasn’t sure how this would go but it’s been 6 months since I started this and I can’t believe I didn’t do it before. I never have to look for clothing – it’s all right there. I never have to think about clothing – I just put the one that I just took off on the hanger and put it at the back of the line, and put on the one at the front of the line. I spend zero energy and zero time on my clothing. Zero energy and zero time.

Laundry for me is completely simplified, which is awesome because my three kids will wear six outfits, each, per day. I never think “I’d like to wear X but can’t find it” because there is nothing to look through. I love every piece of clothing I have, or, if I don’t love it (I had some yoga pants that were shitty), I will slowly replace those over time. Getting dressed makes me happy.

I have never liked dresses but the fact is, these are perfection – perfection. Because you don’t have to mix and match. It’s all set up for you. It’s one stinking hanger!

At present, my wardrobe has been reduced to two long drawers, an underwear/sock drawer, and 6 hangers. I am going to go back through it and really take a hard look at some of the yoga pants that don’t give me joy, because the other side of this is being careful about what I buy – I’m willing to spend a bit more on the very few things I have.

I am writing this in some down time at a gymnastics meet. I didn’t buy the gymnastics meet t-shirt, and I won’t. I’m not tempted. A year ago, I would have thought, why not add another t-shirt to the pile? It’s cute! I could wear it sometimes. Now I think, why would I buy that? I don’t have space for that, in my house, in my brain, in my rotation. It is freeing, financially, emotionally, and otherwise. And I’ve never looked better.

P.S. There are other cuts of the same dress, but I like this particular cut.

P.P.S. Don’t buy it unless it’s on sale, it goes on sale periodically.

5 thoughts on “An alternative to the capsule wardrobe: the uniform”

  1. Do they rotate through patterns really quickly on the betabrand site? I can’t find the first two you have pics of. I love that middle one 😭😭. They look comfortable and such a good idea for a wardrobe. Good article!

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    1. They do rotate fairly quickly. One of the ones that I have disappeared for awhile and came back, so I think it’s possible that they’ll come back. I like the middle one – it’s very vibrant – but the red is a little more orange-y than I expected. I just got the bottom one and it is my absolute favorite. Even the hot pink side, which…I never thought I’d be a person in a hot pink dress. As far as I can tell, there are new patterns every three months or so.

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