Wear Count 0: Evaluating My Summer Capsule Wardrobe

It’s about mid-way through the warm season here in Washington, DC and during that time I’ve been wearing a loosely defined capsule wardrobe of about 40 pieces. Overall, it’s serving me well. I haven’t been in a situation where I’ve had nothing to wear, but I also haven’t worn everything. In fact, there are a few items in my capsule that I haven’t worn at all this summer.

In today’s post, I want to take you through the least worn items in my warm weather capsule wardrobe, why they aren’t getting worn, and what I plan to do with them. Sound good? Great. Let’s get started.

Item #1: Olive Shorts


Origin & Age: Target. 4 years old.

Why I Included It in My Capsule: First of all, this olive is one of my absolute favorite colors. I always gravitate toward garments in this color, and I think it really works for the ‘Safari Chic’ vibe that I try to cultivate. Additionally, while I’ve always had a hard time finding shorts that I like (I’m petite but most of my body weight is in my hips/butt/thighs), these were always flattering and versatile.

Why I’m Not Wearing It: There’s no mystery to this one. After 4 years of consistent wear, they’re just worn out. The cotton has stretched out such they they sag a bit in the butt and crotch areas, and the fabric is starting to fray on the hem. Every time I put them on, I end up taking them off in favor of something in better condition.

Final Verdict: Sadly, I’m throwing these away. They aren’t in good condition, and as my very wise friend @elishamarie.g once said: Don’t donate your trash. That’s not classy.

I plan to replace these with another olive item, like another pair of shorts or perhaps a skirt or some chinos.

Item #2: Stripe Shirt Dress


Origin & Age: Loft. 3 years old.

Why I Included It in My Capsule: I love this dress! This dress makes me think of love! I was wearing this when I bought my wedding dress. I wore it on my honeymoon in San Diego. I was wearing it when we visited our best friends in Richmond and they announced their engagement. It’s just a great dress, and until this summer, I wore it all the time.

Why I’m Not Wearing It: I think this one just has to do with a lack of occasion. My husband and I have had a grueling summer, to say the least. He’s in school full time, taking back-to-back sessions of intensive Organic Chemistry while also tutoring every day, and I’ve been working hard not just at my day job (which is now a 2-hour commute from my home) but also on this blog (which is what I do during basically all of my free time). This is a dress that requires leaving the house on the weekends to do something fun. We don’t do that anymore.

Final Verdict: Keep. I sill love this dress, and I am hopeful that I’ll actually have an opportunity to wear it at some point this summer. We’re headed to Rhode Island (my homeland!) in August for our annual beach vacation, and I plan to wear this dress to many a lazy brunch and brewery tour.

Item #3: Black Maxi Dress


Origin & Age: H&M. 2 years old.

Why I Included It in My Capsule: I kind of have a problem with black dresses. Of the 40-ish pieces in my current capsule, at least 6 of them are black dresses, and that’s not counting the cold weather ones that are put away in storage right now. I thought that a black maxi dress would be nice to have in the summer.

Why I’m Not Wearing It: I never liked this dress that much, but I kept trying to make it work. It has really long arm holes that expose my bra, and it also has a high neck and boxy sheath silhouette that don’t flatter my tiny frame. It’s definitely not an appropriate fabric for the office (stretchy cheap jersey), and I don’t reach for it on weekends, either. Sometimes I wear it to sleep, but that’s about all the action it’s seen this summer.

Final Verdict: Donate. This one is actually in good condition, probably because I’ve barely worn it, and I think that someone taller and cooler than me would like it. It’s going in the Goodwill pile – or, if you want it, drop me a line and I’ll mail it to you. For real.

Item #4: Orange Block Heel Sandals


Origin & Age: Loft. 2 years old.

Why I Included It in My Capsule: Orange is one of my summer accent colors, and these low block heels are just as perfect for work as they are for dates. I wore these a lot last summer.

Why I’m Not Wearing It: While orange is a key accent color in my capsule, these are a little too orange. I’ve preferred subdued hues to bright pops of color this year, and so these haven’t been in regular rotation. They’re also really dirty in the toe area and I’m not sure how to clean them. I don’t like wearing items with obvious dirt or other flaws to work because I think it makes me look young and unprofessional.

Final Verdict: Clean & Keep. Now I need your help, wise internet friends. How do I get my gross foot dirt out of this orange suede (or imitation suede, more likely)? I want to start wearing these more, and I might even include them in my upcoming 10×10!

If you haven’t spotted the pattern here, allow me to point it out to you: all of my old fast-fashion items are slowly but surely making their way out of my capsule wardrobe. In the past year, I’ve learned so much about ethical and sustainable fashion, and I’ve completely changed my tune about what I’m willing to pay for a new garment. I want quality over quantity. But I’m also not rich. I can’t make my perfect wardrobe happen overnight. I started capsuling when I had an enormous collection of fast-fashion to work with, and it’s still important to me to get as much wear out of those pieces as possible before replacing them with higher quality items. I’m glad to see some of these things go, as much as I’m disappointed that some of them are fated for the landfill, but I’m proud that I made them last for as long as I did.


9 thoughts on “Wear Count 0: Evaluating My Summer Capsule Wardrobe

  1. I have a really hard time letting go of things that are in bad shape because I know that if I don’t want them, probably no one else will. BUT for items like those shorts, which look like they might be a pretty sturdy cotton, you could always drop them somewhere like a Planet Aid box that accepts items for textile recycling. Another benefit to buying natural fabrics is that when they do eventually wear out, they can usually be refashioned into something else.


  2. I would love if someone had the answer to cleaning sandals, I’ve fallen out of love with a few great pairs just because they got so grubby from wear


  3. I tend to agree with Fiona that you can drop those in a recycling center. I’ve noticed in New England Whole Foods usually has bins for all different things past their registers. I put all our old socks here because you can’t ever do anything with used socks! As for the shoes try some Castile soap diluted with water and a tooth brush or a fels naphtha washing bar, both should be gentle enough on the fabric. Good luck and know I’m so happy I just found your blog!


  4. For cleaning sandals you could try making a baking soda paste, putting it on, waiting for it to dry, and then cleaning off. Another option is to try a tooth brush and dish soap. I’d test a small invisible area for either of these first though. If they are actually leather, I’d probably opt for a leather shoe cleaner. Hope this helps!


  5. Thanks for the shout-out! I’ve been doing SO MUCH research on where to throw my “trashy” clothes that I know thrift stores won’t sell. Some places will take clothes and recycle them to make tires and other things so they won’t go to landfills!!
    I’ll be dropping my thriftstyle blog later this week to showcase what I’ve been learning on clothes waste! Hope you’ll read along when I start this scary journey!Your an inspiration and I love your constant support in my thrifting adventures!💋


  6. If the shoes are suede, you could use a suede brush to get some of the grime out from the insole. And if they are too orange, you could use a dye to change the color. Could even take them to black, which would disguise any leftover toejam and go with everything.


  7. For sandals and shoes that I wear without socks, I always love putting Summer Soles (google them) into the foot bed. They are sticky, suede insoles that lengthen the life of my shoes that tend to get smelly or stained. You pull out the insole when they get pretty worn and stick in a new one. Not a cure all – as I know it is a disposable products, so not the greenest, but it does help my shoes to last a lot longer and prevents the foot bed from getting really gross.


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