Single mom hack: Change to a capsule wardrobe

Single mom hack: Change to a capsule wardrobe, Alifeleadsimply parenting advice
Single mom hack:  Change to a capsule wardrobe, Alifeleadsimply parenting advice

About three years ago I started playing with the idea of starting a capsule wardrobe.  Just never got around to it. Until one day when I realised that simplifying my wardrobe would help a lot towards decreasing my anxiety, my planning time, and ultimately my brain function.

When I say I just didn’t get around to it it is only half the truth. The other half is I was scared. Back then, I owned A LOT of clothes, but from the huge pile, I only bought maybe 10% myself. I love inheriting clothes and have no issue with second-hand threads. So I have jackets and dresses and more that I took from my deceased grandmother, friends and family who outgrew (literally, they picked up weight, as well as figuratively) pieces and a few that other people bought for me. A true mixture of styles, textures and textiles. As I myself have had body issues, and have fluctuated in size over the past few years (3 pregnancies have a lot to do with it) I had not really thrown anything out. What then happened EVERY SINGLE MORNING was I would stand in front of my closet with literally nothing to wear. My clothes were old, stained, ill-fitting and just plain out of style. Then I decided enough is enough! I assumed I was pretty much the shape and size that I will be, so I didn’t really worry about throwing out my “fat clothes”. And I faced that I will most likely never again fit into my pre-pregnancy size 32. So they could also go. After throwing out the old, useless and ugly I was left with what I will now refer to as my core. At this stage the only core that is strong – hahaha.

Before I explain to you what was in my core capsule, let me first touch on why having a capsule is a great idea:

  1. It saves you money. Since everything kind of goes with everything else, you don’t have to worry about individual outfits. Very economical. Great idea if you have to get by on a single income.
  2. It saves you time. Having a kind of uniform means you can (if you wish and if you are inclined that way) grab a top and bottom from the top of your piles and the outfit will not only fit you but also be coordinated. Again, a great idea if getting yourself ready is at the bottom of the morning priority list – the kids must first be ready, then it is your turn.
  3. It saves mind space. Simplifying your daily routines and responsibilities means freeing up headspace that can be used for more important thoughts and decisions.
  4. It saves space. No need for extra storing, or using Husband’s closer because you don’t have enough space. With a capsule, you can make a month’s worth of outfits from a mere 30 to 40 pieces. And they fit in a normal closet.

You see, just benefits all around! Now the next question is, how did I decide on my core capsule? In my case, it was out of necessity and composed out of pieces I already owned. I have not gone out to buy anything. But when that need arises I will follow the following guidelines:

Decide on your basic capsule. That is what I call those items that you own and replace only when they are falling apart. The items that are generally seasonal and kind of usage-dependent. I jotted down my categories and decided each category may have 10 items in it. For me, my categories are:

  • Exercise (tops, bottoms, bras, trainers)
  • Seasonal (swimwear, coats, etc.)
  • Formal (dresses, shoes, tops and bottoms)
  • Sleep
  • Around the house
  1. Identify your style. I like wearing clothes that are comfortable, functional and a bit grown-up. My go-to outfit is jeans or leggings with a top or a plain dress. I wear sneakers and pumps a lot and try to stay clear of sandals. So my style is casual. Here I am not talking about formalwear, just your day-to-day.
  2. Identify the lifestyle categories that you get dressed for, then single out your top 3. My top 3 categories would be active, work, and daily.
  3. Decide on the colour scheme of your core. Mine is natural and neutral (brown, beige, grey and black) with accents of blue and berry. Here and there I have something that breaks the mould, but when I have to replace it most probably it will be in a neutral colour.
  4. Now tackle your cupboard. Throw out anything that is ugly, stained, ripped, too big, too small, or that you hate wearing. Look at what you have left. Do the items complement each other? Remove the items that fit into your identified basic capsule categories. Also remove the items that definitely fall into a season, e.g. a floral skirt or woollen pants.
  5. Whatever is left will then form the basis of your core capsule. For it to work, you will roughly need the following:
  • 10 tops
  • 10 bottoms
  • 5 dresses that can be worn all year round
  • 5 pairs of shoes (shoes that you can wear year-round e.g. pumps or sneakers. Your sandals and boots will form part of your seasonal additions so don’t count them in here)
Single mom hack: Change to a capsule wardrobe, Alifeleadsimply parenting advice

These should be items that you can wear the whole year. Good pieces to have include jeans, tank tops (in the winter wear them under your long-sleeved shirts for added warmth), and dresses that you can wear over long sleeved t-shirts and leggings in winter or as is in summer.

My core cupboard is composed of the following:

  • 4 pairs of jeans (1 black, 1 jegging, 2 comfortable blue pairs)
  • 4 leggings (2 black, brown, coloured)
  • 2 skirts (pencil, long)
  • 4 tank tops (beige, black, white, grey)
  • 3 pairs of sneakers (white, black, navy)
  • 2 pairs of pumps (grey, pinkish)
  • 5 dresses (grey and black long, denim short, blue short, black short, brown long)

The items that are seasonal are packed away, to be taken out when that season rolls around. 

Single mom hack: Change to a capsule wardrobe, Alifeleadsimply parenting advice

We are now going into spring (in Pretoria, South Africa, spring lasts about 4 days then it starts getting warm!) So I will add a few pieces to help with the transition (like light pashminas or light jackets for the cooler mornings and evenings) and again a few different pieces for summer.  Think floral dresses and off-the-shoulder tops.

If you are keen to start your own capsule, download my easy printable to help you get started! Also, keep coming back to get the articles on my seasonal capsules, as well as the kids!



Enjoy the planning, but even more enjoy the simplicity that you achieve with a capsule.

Single mom hack: Change to a capsule wardrobe, Alifeleadsimply parenting advice
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