Ilhaam’s Closet: Building your capsule wardrobe to fit your lifestyle

So if you are following my latest series, I have asked my sister, Ilhaam, to give us some insight into her capsule wardrobe and her take on sustainability.

Read more below on how you can build you capsule wardrobe to fit your needs and lifestyle- and if you have not had a look at the first post, here you go


​Hey!

This is a little bit daunting, that I’ve been given free reign on this post, but if at least one reader finds it useful then I’ll be happy! So here it goes.

If you’ve ever felt like you’ve had nothing to wear but you have a wardrobe full of clothing, then it’s possible your wardrobe does not fit your lifestyle. There are many blog posts on this very topic, but this post covers my approach and what I found worked well for me.

Making sure my summer capsule wardrobe fit my lifestyle was one of the most important requirements for me. In about a month I made two really big life changes, firstly moving from sunny South Africa to being knee deep in snow in Pittsburgh (something I’ve never really experienced before, and snow in Ceres doesn’t really count guys, sorry😏). Secondly, and probably more importantly, I was no longer working in an office but instead a stay at home mom to a rather, and I quote, “rambunctious” toddler.

In the final days leading up to the move I was so focused on wrapping up at work and home, the furthest thing on my mind was whether my wardrobe would be suitable for my lifestyle, with the only concerns being that we’d be prepared for the snow and that we wouldn’t exceed the weight limits for our suitcases. So goodbye heels, summer clothes and bronzer (I really wish I’d packed that bronzer!). Unsurprisingly, I found myself wearing the same few items over and over on a day-to-day basis, while many of my winter office favourites were either not worn or saved for the very infrequent moms and baby-less outings I had. Thankfully our apartment is fitted with a washer and dryer so I always had fresh clothes, unfortunately this is not so great for the environment!

How to determine whether your wardrobe fits your lifestyle

The first step is to compare the type of clothing you spend most of your time in versus what makes up your actual wardrobe. Here are the categories I used:

  • Work – for corporate or 9 to 5 jobs, meetings etc.
  • Casual – for running errands, daytime activities that are not too active etc.
  • Dressy – for special occasions, dinner dates, going out with friends etc.
  • Lounge – for hanging out at home, possibly working at home, etc.
  • Active – for working out (e.g. gym, walking the dog, hiking, swimming etc.)

I just estimated the breakdowns for each as there were very clear trends for me, but if you’re not entirely sure there are more calculated methods you could use. In the case of your wardrobe, write down the 5 categories above and, working through your wardrobe, tick off the category (or categories) that each piece falls under. Finally, tally these up and calculate the percentage breakdown.

For your lifestyle, write down the activities that you do in a set period of time (2 weeks or more) and estimate how often you do them within that period. Then group these activities by the category of clothing it falls under. As with your wardrobe, tally these up and calculate the percentage breakdown. I find that it helps to draw up pie charts and compare side by side.


       

It’s pretty clear that my wardrobe no longer fits my lifestyle. I don’t have nearly enough active and casual wear for my day-to-day activities with a 2 year old and I have way too many work and dressy items.

So, what now?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What items do I already own that are appropriate for my lifestyle needs? Remember that, in addition to creating a wardrobe better suited to my lifestyle, I am also trying to do so in the most sustainable manner possible, i.e. first step is to use what you have!
  2. What additional items would be both functional and work with my existing pieces?

I found this part quite difficult, so I turned to Pinterest for ideas! Once I identified which items would be suitable for my lifestyle and the climate, I pinned outfits that included all or some of these items. I started to notice trends in terms of the “looks” I was pinning and was able to identify key items that would compliment my existing pieces and make my life a lot easier. These then informed my final purchases.

I wasn’t always able to find exactly what I was looking for, but if you shop with your lifestyle in mind you will get more out of your wardrobe!

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