Capsule Wardrobes: The Perfect Fit for RVers

Successful people wear the same thing day after day with slight changes. Why? They don't have the time and energy to spend making new decisions. Simply put, a classic wardrobe will save you a lot of mental anguish. RVers could learn a thing or two. It's hard enough to decide where you are going to park, drive, eat, pull over or get something serviced in a strange part of the country. Why worry about what you will wear? On the flip side, many RVers dress like something that the cat drug home, refusing to wear anything but pajama bottoms or a comfy pair of boxer shorts. Surely, there must be a happy medium.

So how can space-conscious RVers continue to live the life of a fashionista? It takes a lot of planning, and that's where the capsule wardrobe comes in.

Playing to the streamlined packing mentality of the average RVer, the capsule wardrobe is precisely what style conscious RV enthusiasts need. Just because your closet is tiny doesn't mean you shouldn't be ready for any adventure that comes your way, and building a good capsule wardrobe will ensure you're prepared.

So, let's start at the beginning by answering, what is a capsule wardrobe?

The phrase "capsule wardrobe" was first coined in the 1970s by London boutique owner Susie Faux and was popularized in 1985 by designer Donna Karan when she unveiled a "a capsule collection."

A capsule wardrobe is basically a compilation of 20 to 30 (sometimes more, sometimes less) pieces of clothing that can be mixed and matched to create a vast array of different outfits for virtually any situation (Note: this does not include items like underwear, workout clothing, sleepwear, or hats/gloves/scarves. With that said, remember the goal is minimalism.)

The items found in capsule wardrobes are considered as essentials. There is, however, a steadfast rule: all clothes and accessories should be coordinate and be versatile enough to be used for any occasion. Included in the capsule wardrobe are shoes, accessories, tops, bottoms, dresses and outerwear, all of which are seasonal. Due to this seasonal nature of the capsule, they are meant to be used every three to four months before being switched out for the next season's wardrobe. Owning four capsules (each for a season) may or may not be necessary for the avid RVer. If you find yourself following the sun, you may only need a spring or summer capsule since your travels actively avoid winter weather.

Ok, I like the idea, but how do I build a Capsule Wardrobe?
Good question. Building a capsule collection can be accomplished at the beginning of your downsizing phase or after you have been full-timing for many years. The steps are the same whether you live in a stick and brick home or on four wheels. Here's how it works:

1.) Give yourself permission to make a mess. It's easy to feel overwhelmed when a sorting project gets out of hand. Start this process by giving yourself permission to spread out. Odds are you will be amazed at all the stuff you've collected, even in the smallest RV.

2.) Pull Everything Out Of The Closet, Drawers and Out From Under The Bed. Start by laying out your belongings. Analyze your clothes on a very basic level: like and don't like. Toss what you don't like immediately. This will get it out of your way and help you to focus. Once that is done, choose which pieces are essential. This is key; everything in your capsule must be considered an important item.

3.) Choose Your Personal Style and Find A Direction. A capsule wardrobe is a personal thing. Choosing your style and finding a path isn't just sound advice when you're behind the wheel of your camper, but it also works when picking out a wardrobe. Distilling your personal style and finding colors that compliment you are a perfect place to start. Ask yourself:

How do I currently feel when I get dressed each morning?

How do I want to feel when I get dressed in the morning?

What three main things do I hope to accomplish with a capsule wardrobe?

Are their similarities of themes in the types of clothes I currently own?

Your capsule is about choosing items that you feel comfortable wearing. You want to fill it with colors that compliment you and pieces that work for your lifestyle; that means if you are traveling, your pieces should be comfortable, easy to wear and upkeep and require no ironing!

4.) Group Your Favorites Into Seasons. Group everything into seasons – you can focus on one in particular or only group like-colored ones together to make things go faster.

5.) Pick The Most Versatile Pieces And Stick To Them. Versatility is at the heart of any good capsule wardrobe and finding those pieces that can pull double, triple and even quadruple-duty are the ones you'll want to keep around. Ask yourself some questions:

Would I feel comfortable sitting in this for hours?

Could I hike or explore in this?

Could I dress this outfit up in some way?

Could I dress this outfit down in some way?

Do I have both casual AND occasion wear?

6.) It's Time To Get Organized. Once you have the basics of your capsule wardrobe together, start grouping things by color, style, outfits, etc. Also, if you've pulled out some things you forgot you had, don't be afraid to get rid of them. No matter where you travel, there are always worthy organizations willing to take your clothing donation.

7.) Simply Fill in the Blanks. After sorting through your closet and getting together a good base for your wardrobe, go shopping to fill in the rest. If you have trouble getting started or need some ideas on how to fill some holes, below is a list of basic items that should be included in your collection.

  • Sunglasses
  • Purse (try a travel-friendly purse that can be dressed up or down)
  • Laptop/Camera bag
  • Scarf
  • Necklace
  • Shoes (3-4 pair)
  • Tank tops (2)
  • Dresses (2)
  • Skirts (2)
  • Short- and long-sleeve shirts (5-9) (tunics count)
  • Jeans
  • Button-down shirt
  • Blazers (2)
  • Light sweaters (2)
  • Shorts/Capris (2)
  • Coat (1-2)
  • Hats/Gloves (1-2)
  • Miscellaneous items (bathing suit, yoga pants, long underwear, exercise gear, etc.)

Make sure to take weather into account when building your wardrobe. For instance, if you're going into the desert, you won't have to focus much on rain gear. Still, it's important to be prepared for any possibility. Also, make sure that you aren't getting started planning your capsule right before your trip. Give yourself a few days to make some tough decisions and get your wardrobe exactly how you want it.

And the benefits?
While there may be lots of space to relax in, there isn't much space to pack clothes; that is why the capsule wardrobe is perfect for camper travel. Here are a few other reasons why this option is perfect for RV enthusiasts.

  • Ready for Any Weather! Whether it's hot or cold, sunny or raining, a good capsule wardrobe will have you covered no matter what kind of weather you face.

  • The Season Is Right! Because you took the season into account when packing, you'll always be wearing something appropriate.

  • Lighter Packing! Anyone who's traveled in an RV knows that space is at a premium. Organizing a capsule wardrobe will ensure that you're bringing only what you need and that you are actually wearing what you packed.

  • Shop Easier! Because you already have a style and a color scheme picked out, going shopping becomes much easier: simply look for items that match your wardrobe.

  • Free Up Space! Every RVer wishes they had more closet space. A capsule wardrobe reduces your waste, saves you money and gives you much deserved closet space.

  • You're Ready for Anything! If you've prepared a good capsule wardrobe, you should be able to dress for any situation.

  • Mixing and matching becomes a sport. Try to find all the different ways you can create new and unique outfits from the 20 pieces of clothing you already own!

Need more help? There are many great websites devoted to minimizing your wardrobe for maximum results. Here are a few favorites:

  • un-fancy.com- check out her app and free capsule planner!
  • bemorewithless.com - dozens of helpful posts on everything from wardrobe capsules to kitchen, laundry and even makeup capsules!
  • into-mind.com - so many helpful hints, including the 10 Step Wardrobe Revamp!

Gone are the days of frumpy travel. The next leg of your RV adventure will have you looking fabulous on the hiking trail and beyond!

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