The longing for newness, the root of the problem & my first steps to creating a capsule wardrobe

8. February 2021

“I love the feeling when all my senses are stimulated. Feeling soft fabric on my skin…” 

This is an excerpt from my website and as you can see for me, fabrics and emotions are deeply connected. Soft cashmere or velvet, cool and smooth silk, as a highly sensitive and kinesthetic person, feeling fabric on my skin can improve my well-being.

I remember when I was little, I loved to lie on our carpet and just feel the soft and warm fabric while reading or listening to music – it was pure heaven to me.

Naturally, I was very picky with what I wanted to wear, the fabrics had to be soft and simply feel good on my skin. Until today, I prefer silk or linen to sleep in, as it keeps my body cool and my home wear has to be soft – preferably cashmere or fluffy fabrics. 

It might sound to you like the perfect prerequisites to create a capsule wardrobe with only a few, but high-quality pieces – but there was also the deeply inscribed longing for newness. I loved new things – clothes, jewelry, shoes, decoration. It was the thrill of the moment, the hope of buying happiness – a hope that never came true. All that was left, were too many clothes of low quality, me giving “old” clothes away every two months and never being content with my wardrobe – but the truly horrifying thing was, that I did not realize in what kind of vicious cycle I was stuck.

A new event, a new bar or restaurant to visit – I needed something new to wear. It was like an inner force controlling me. I had to go to a store and buy something I’d feel attractive in. Were there enough pieces in my wardrobe already – of course; did the thought of wearing something I already owned come up – no.

I was a girl who tried to fill a gaping wound with the constant search for newness and happiness – eventually. And eventually happiness came, but not with a newly bought item; instead by unlearning certain beliefs.

Neuro-linguistic programming and the root of the problem 

The longing for newness, surprise, could not only be found when it came to clothes or material things in general. I craved change when it came to my living arrangement – I switched flats and cities quite often – and also when it came to my relationships. A new lover, all the excitement, pink glasses, fluffy clouds and endless passion and fun – but at some point, the daily life sneaked in and all the newness was gone. 

Since I learned about NLP (and becoming a practitioner) I worked on my own belief system and also dug deeper to find the root of my longing for newness and why I have this internal fear of a routine, an organized daily life.

The first thing that came up during an NLP session with another coach was a memory of a vacation in Turkey when I was just six years old – the excitement of being abroad, exploring a new culture and everything seemed unfamiliar, but at the same time it felt like I was in the right place for the first time in my life. Traveling and exploring became my passions – and settling down does not fit into it.

A few sessions later, I had an insight – traveling was only an option during the holidays, and according to everything I was taught, my adult life would not look much differently: work, vacation, work. My wildest dream of being a traveling writer, exploring cultures and maybe with a hint of Indiana Jones adventure, slowly died and all that was left was a woman looking for newness to find the feeling of happiness – an equivalent to how she felt on the souk in Turkey.

Unlearning the beliefs & creating a new life, plus capsule wardrobe

Fast forward, I moved to Spain, I created my own work that allows me to travel and I unlearned everything I knew to be true about what life should look like – you can always redefine life your way. 

What I learned was, during times with a lower income, not having the option to travel much, I started falling back into old behaviors, trying to fill the wound again. I reflected, I knew what I was doing, but still, I did it. Unlearning behaviors and creating new patterns is a process – a long one sometimes.

One day, I looked through my clothes and saw too many with the labels still on and a few I had only worn two or three times and they already looked worn out. Since I bought often, I bought cheap fast fashion mostly – except for a few high-quality pieces. 

It occurred to me, that there were close to no cashmere, or silk fabrics and mostly cotton or polyester – most of these clothes did not even give me the comforting feeling on my skin anymore. So, I finally decided it was time to change something and I started last year…

How to start a capsule wardrobe?

That was actually a big question! Do I throw everything out of the window and simply build a new wardrobe with w few pieces from scratch? Yes, my inner longing for newness loved the idea, but I did not. I would have just fed the beast I am trying to defeat. 

And that’s how I started (I am still working on the capsule wardrobe):

1. Get inspiration, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself

I read a lot about the capsule wardrobe journey of others. It inspired me and gave me a feeling of “it is possible, you can do it, too.” Now, experienced capsule wardrobe owners only have a few things they can combine endlessly – and while this is the goal, I would’ve never started if I had planned to go down to 50 pieces in one session.

2. Start with clothes you’ve never worn

First, I took every piece of fabric out that still had its label on. And then I checked other pieces, I have worn only once or twice.

3. Face the truth and take out every item that doesn’t fit anymore

Whenever I lose weight, I cannot wait to throw out pieces that are too big. That doesn’t count for clothes that are currently too small – I always tell myself I will fit into these one day again, and maybe I will, but you only want to keep clothes you actually wear right now in a capsule wardrobe. 

4. Follow the same steps with your shoes and jewelry

I’ve never been a shoe lover, and so that was easy. But when it comes to jewelry, I like to keep everything! But when being absolutely honest, it comes down to my vintage Gucci watch, two pairs of earrings, one ring, three bracelets and four necklaces I regularly wear. The rest was allowed to leave.

5. Be proud of yourself and wait for the next season

I started with my winter wardrobe and the perfectionist in me wanted to move on to the summer clothes right away – I wanted to have the perfect capsule wardrobe right away. But I remembered that it is also a journey, a process. And I decided to wait until I take out my summer clothes, which is soon anyway, and do it all again. 

6. The goal a few seasons later

My personal goal is to have a wardrobe for all seasons of maximum 60 pieces – clothes, shoes, jewelry included. Everything following a color scheme, probably earthy tones, and also easily combinable. I want to reach a state of ease when it comes to the question: “What shall I wear?” 

And if you ask yourself: “But what do I do if I need a new item?” My idea is, to buy a high-quality piece whenever something is worn out or doesn’t fit anymore. Only buying when desperately needed, gives you the option to invest a bit more – and then have a new piece that lasts much longer.

Also, when investing more, you will be more selective and only choose pieces you really adore – no more headless shopping.

Love you, N.

Photo by the wonderful and talented Emma Fenton.