While most people might be planning fun summer vacations right now, I'm getting ready to move to England. There's quite a lot that still needs to get done, but I'm taking my stresses in stride. The worst part (moving out of my apartment in Toronto) is over; I got rid of all of my furniture and over half of my wardrobe, and now all that's left is loads of paperwork and actually packing for the move abroad.
While paring down your wardrobe to fit into two suitcases might seem like a panic-inducing activity, I'm approaching it with gusto. I'm making lists and spreadsheets and shopping for luggage-organizing tools, all keeping in mind the fact that I'll be starting my life in a new country with my own version of a capsule wardrobe.
If you aren't exactly sure what a capsule wardrobe is, a quick search on Pinterest gives a pretty clear idea of the concept: various simple, minimalistic, "classic" garments in a neutral colour family that can be mixed and matched to create a multitude of looks. While this idea certainly works for a lot of people, I personally find it incredibly boring. Yes, I'm a fan of incorporating classics into one's wardrobe. I love my Burberry trench and my black Ferragamo flats as much as the next person, but living within a certain colour scheme and operating with a "uniform" in mind makes me want to revolt. And honestly, I take issue with the idea that paring down your clothes to matchy-matchy pieces will suddenly turn you into a timeless style icon. Limited options does not an elegant person make!
In fact, a friend who had made a similar move a few years ago gave me some advice: "I thought it would be smart to pack a bunch of 'timeless' black and neutral things I could mix and match," she said. "But shortly after, I got so bored with my clothes so fast and I didn't feel like myself. If I could give you some advice when it comes to packing, it'd be this: bring some of your favourite weird pieces. You'll feel a lot better."
And so I'm approaching my capsule wardrobe with other ideas in mind. First, I'm taking a Marie Kondo angle when it comes to my wardrobe. I know the KonMari method has been discussed to death, and I'm not about to spend ages extolling its virtues here. Instead I'll say that the key thing I learned from Kondo's book wasn't that you need to purge your life into oblivion in order to find peace, but rather, you feel a lot better when the only belongings you have are ones you either a) truly, joyfully love or b) need because they serve a purpose.
I think this is the perfect way to approach paring down a wardrobe, too. I've said goodbye to countless collected garments in the last few months: t-shirts worn ragged, jeans that no longer fit, or dresses that no longer made me say "wow" when I tried them on. It wasn't about whether I'd find use for them again, but whether or not I would actually feel happy and confident wearing them.
And so, to London I will bring pieces that make me smile and feel 100% like myself, like a rainbow-striped silk blouse picked up in a thrift store almost ten years ago (see below, I love it so much) that likely wouldn't be found on any Pinterest capsule wardrobe guide, along with the ones that serve a solid purpose, like a convertible nude-toned Calvin Klein bra that can be worn with whatever neckline I throw at it.
For me, it's just about finding balance. A healthy mix of "weird" and fun with time-tested pieces that keep every look grounded. A black leather A-line mini looks just as good out on the town with a deep-V bodysuit as it does at a job interview with a black cotton turtleneck. If I'm going to bother with the classics, they need to be versatile and well-made, otherwise, they don't deserve to take up suitcase real estate.
And of course, after deciding what makes the cut, the hardest part will be actually getting it to fit into my suitcase. That's where MUJI comes in: their garment bags are genius solutions when it comes to both organizing and compressing one's clothing into streamlined total calm. Tightly rolling soft garments, like t-shirts, blouses, thin sweaters and panties and nestling them into these zippered compartments allows for optimal usage of valuable luggage space. You can even fit the smaller ones within the larger ones, making packing turn into the world's dorkiest game of Tetris. I mean, I can't be the only one who gets giddy over this stuff, right?
Utilizing shoes for their storage capacity is another key method: roll up pairs of socks tightly or place larger pieces of jewelry inside, then wrap each individual shoe in a plastic bag to a) keep everything inside in transit and b) keep any possible dirt and grime from rubbing against garments inside the suitcase.
With all of this in mind, I'm confident I'll be able to easily bring along an organized, versatile wardrobe that fully represents my sense of style and how I want to be perceived in the world.