Minimalism for Better Mental Health: My Journey to Creating a Capsule Wardrobe

assorted-color apparels
photo by Sarah Brown on unsplash

Hello, friends! Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo for Japanese listening practice and decluttering ideas. I highly recommend her method if you want to maximize space and learn how to properly fold your clothes—apparently, I’ve been storing my undies wrong for years. The show, which is quite relaxing and therapeutic to watch, inspired me to do some cleaning of my own. As a result, I began to research minimalism and found myself drawn to its simplicity and supposed mental health benefits.

My family is anything but minimalist, and I grew up thinking I needed tons of clothes and decorative stuff to fill every empty space. My late mom had several closets full of evening gowns, colorful sweaters, and costumes for every occasion as well as a vast array of knickknacks and collectables: my personal favorite of these being a Princess Diana doll draped in a blue velvet dress encased in glass. For the past several months, I’ve been cleaning out her belongings and deciding which items of hers hold enough sentimental value to keep. This process prompted me to start looking at my own junk. I managed to survive with a lot less in my small Japanese apartment, so what did I really need? How many pairs of ill-fitting jeans were necessary to have? Should I really head over to the Sephora app to buy another holy-grail cleanser when I hadn’t finished the three others on my bathroom sink? In my search for answers, I stumbled across a few YouTubers who make videos about minimalism, and they inspired me to try out a capsule wardrobe. Use Less is one of my favorite stylists who helps her viewers find a fun and minimal approach to their wardrobes.

For those of you who don’t know, a capsule wardrobe is a smaller collection of clothing that can be mixed and matched to create a wide variety of everyday outfits across the four seasons. There are lots of different ways to achieve this, and some people are more strict than others. If you want to know more, a quick google search can give you lots of information and ideas. For me, the biggest appeal of a capsule wardrobe is having more options with less clothing. Every piece serves a purpose and is something you feel great in. There’s no room for that shirt you bought on sale but still has the tags attached or the pants from college you swore you’d squeeze into again someday.

A capsule wardrobe can help boost your confidence because you aren’t surrounded by clothing that discourages you and takes up space. I sometimes spend an hour or more getting dressed because it seems as if nothing in my closet fits quite right. And while some clothes technically do button or zip, they just no longer represent my personal style. If you don’t absolutely love something or have a practical need for it, why let it take up space? About a week ago, I purged around 40% of my wardrobe and even made some money selling clothes that were still in good condition; the rest, I donated to a local thrift shop. (Although, there’s still a lot more I need to give away or repurpose.) Additionally, I took some denim that had become a bit too big in the waist to an alterations shop. While I thought parting with so many of my clothes would be difficult, it was honestly quite therapeutic, and I’m beginning to think there’s something beneficial about having fewer items in my wardrobe.

For me, the state of my bedroom is often a direct result of my mental health. If the laundry is piling up, the bed isn’t made, and my dresser is cluttered with stuff, then I need to check in with myself and figure out what’s going on. When I’m stressed or depressed, the last thing I want to do is clean, and organization has never come naturally to me. But, when things get too messy I feel even worse, and sometimes the clutter overwhelms me so much I shut down until I can bring myself to complete one massive super cleaning session. The cycle is exhausting. I’ve always wondered how I could beat it, and minimalism seems like it could be the answer. While I have plans to reduce my total belongings over all, looking at what’s in my dresser and closet seemed like the best place to start. For you, the kitchen or bathroom may be better. It’s all up to your personal preference.

All my life, I’ve prioritized having things for their cool factor and sentimental value. Stuffed animals, figurines, skin care products, video games, movies, bags, and lots and lots of clothes: you name it, and I probably have too much of it. Getting something new always gave me a satisfying rush. But, of course, the feeling never lasted long. As I move forward in my journey of adulthood, I’d really like to par down what I own so that I can truly appreciate what I’ve been blessed with. I want my future purchases to be out of positive intent rather than angsty impulse. I also no longer want to contribute to fast-fashion trends, which is detrimental to the environment and often exploits factory workers.

I know it’s a long journey, but I’m done stressing over clutter, getting dressed in the morning, and feeling insecure. I want to focus on experiences and moments rather than things. This is a lesson many of us learn as kids but slowly forget as we grow up in a world full of consumerism. Even online, there’s no escape from the constant barrage of advertisements telling us we need more stuff to be happy. Weight loss products, skin treatments, hair serums, booty-lifting jeans, the list goes on. I’m not saying these things are inherently bad, but we shouldn’t feel guilted into buying them because we see a perfect looking, photoshopped instagram model promising fantastic results if we just try this meal-replacement shake or those fat-burning pills. Reducing my social media use has stopped me from comparing myself negatively to others and impulse buying products to temporarily quiet my feelings of inadequacy. Check out my last post to read more about my social media detox journey.

In life, I think it’s important that we focus on our own growth and not compare ourselves to everyone else. Of course, we can look to others for inspiration, but be mindful of how you feel when you see certain things. If an Instagram account makes you feel worse about yourself, unfollow and it replace it with a more positive channel. And, if you see something you want, put it in your shopping cart and leave it for a few days or weeks. If it’s something you truly want and know you’ll use, then purchase it. This will save you a lot of money over time.

If you have any tips, ideas, or recommendations about minimalism and capsule wardrobes, please drop me a message! And what’s something you absolutely can’t live without? I’d love to hear from your experiences.

Once my capsule wardrobe is complete, I’ll be sure to share photos and updates.

Have a great day, and thanks for reading!

Published by magdelion1996

Hi, I'm just trying to adult while living abroad.

2 thoughts on “Minimalism for Better Mental Health: My Journey to Creating a Capsule Wardrobe

  1. This is fantastic! I’ve been an active minimalist for decades, after my own time living abroad in Japan. Can’t wait to hear more about your strategies. Marie Kondo is a great resource. The more you practice knowing what “I love this thing” feels like, the easier it is to recognize which things just don’t deserve you anymore.


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