capsule wardrobe-ing: the loungewear edition

I like to think that my wardrobe is relatively successful, all things considered. I don’t keep clothes I don’t wear regularly unless they’re special occasion pieces, or they have enough sentimental value that I’ve made a very conscious, “This is on purpose and not because I’m overgenerous with my nostalgia!” decision to keep them. I’ve managed to get impulse buying largely under control despite working in retail (a Herculean task, if there ever was one). And I do, truly, enjoy getting dressed in the morning – an incredible change from the days of screeching, “I have nothing to wear!” at my closet every few days or so.

But where my wardrobe begins to fail me is where my ‘official’ wardrobe ends. Is it any surprise that when I wear my give-up-on-life-sweatpants, the ones with the enormous holes in the crotch from sitting cross-legged all the time, I feel like an actual slug? “Not really!” chirped my mind in a smug and self-satisfied sort of way when it did, in fact, finally realize that my loungewear is woefully lacking in any kind of structure or intention.

My loungewear collection, pre-capsule-ing, included a few pairs of sweatpants (all with caused-by-sitting-cross-legged holes in them!), some leggings, t-shirts of varying sizes, colours, and stains, and an impressive collection of knits and sweaters. Almost all of them are pieces that have been retired from my actual wardrobe because they started looking a bit tired, they don’t quite fit right, or they have a slight itchiness that meant I never reached for them.

There is, of course, a fairly obvious flaw here: that nearly everything in my ‘loungewear pile’ landed there not intentionally, but rather because that pile has acted for years as a landing pad for my slightly-flawed-but-still-in-wearable-condition retirees from my wardrobe – which means that most (if not all) of my loungewear was made up of pieces I don’t actually enjoy wearing.

And I could feel it. I could feel it whenever I reached for the one pair of comfy leggings that doesn’t have any holes but has a leopard-print pattern on it that I grew out of when I was twenty. I could feel it when I wanted to have a cozy day at home without feeling like a slug, but my cozy clothes felt not-so-cozy and distinctly sluggish. These feelings carried through into my mood, my work, and my efforts to relax – and I was not about it.

enter: the loungewear capsule wardrobe

I was determined, particularly during this time when I am spending inordinate amounts of time at home, to curate my loungewear into something more enjoyably wearable. I followed the same process that I used when creating my spring capsule wardrobe – guiding phrases, colour palette, fabrics, and pieces – to create my loungewear capsule.

I did, however, set a few ground rules before starting:

  1. To purchase only necessary items, which means I will not go out and buy a bunch of new loungewear if I have pieces that suit my needs already;
  2. the capsule should hold a maximum of 15 items, in the form of 5 tops, 5 bottoms, and 5 sweaters (having an item limit on a capsule is very useful for when your closet – or loungewear collection, in this case – is feeling overwhelming or unmanageable);
  3. and anything I have that is in good condition that doesn’t get included will be tucked away for future use. The best way to be sustainable is to use what you’ve already got.

loungewear capsule: the guiding phrases

A loungewear capsule, much like a capsule wardrobe, requires guiding phrases. My loungewear was a very large, very unguided mess, and it was begging for a little bit of structure (kind of like me, actually, during this quarantine time!). I landed on phrases similar to the ones I chose for my capsule wardrobe, with a few tweaks:

  1. Comfortable
  2. Feminine
  3. Casual
  4. Matchy-matchy
  5. Easy

Above all else, I want my loungewear to feel like current “me” rather than the me that existed ten years ago and thought leopard-print leggings were the way to go. I want it to be easy to match up and wear, and I want, by keeping my guiding phrases consistent across capsules, to be able to have a bit of crossover between my loungewear and my capsule-wardrobe-wear (probably not a real word – but we’re running with it).

loungewear capsule: the seasonless colour palette

My colour palettes for my capsule wardrobes remain mostly neutral year-round, but I do tend to swap in accent colours with the seasons for a bit of added fun and seasonal enthusiasm (I am, always, all about enthusiasm).

For my loungewear, since it’s a capsule that will change only minimally throughout the year, I picked colours that:

  1. I already have in my wardrobe;
  2. feel seasonless;
  3. and that are neutral enough that they will (hopefully!) allow my loungewear to mesh seamlessly with future capsule wardrobe palettes.

loungewear capsule: the fabrics

My loungewear fabrics are trying to serve one very specific purpose: comfort. I’m not the type to lounge around in jeans – when I get home, or when my work day ends, I’m into sweats/leggings/an oversized hoodie faster than you can say “there’s absolutely no way I’m keeping my jeans on.”

So my fabric choices were simple:

  • cotton
  • spandex
  • fleece

That’s it! That is all I need in life to be lounge-y.

loungewear capsule: the pieces

After paring down what was, quite frankly, an absurd collection of stained, hole-y, or otherwise largely unwearable items (why did I keep these, again?), I was able to create a capsule made almost entirely from pieces I already own that tick every box. Incredible. A wonderful little reminder that we often already have what we need.

loungewear capsule: tops

  1. cropped black tank
  2. cropped white tank
  3. graphic tee
  4. oversized white tee
  5. fitted gray tee
  6. ribbed long-sleeve tee

I landed on six tops, going one over my expected five in order to include two tank tops. Flexibility is key, people! I’m very pleased with this: each piece is extremely comfortable, appropriate for answering the door (bonus!), and works well with every other piece in my wardrobe. As my forest green accent landed largely in the knits and bottoms categories, the white, gray, and black focus in my tops makes them wearable across the board.

loungewear capsule: sweaters & hoodies

  1. oversized crewneck sweatshirt
  2. hooded sweatshirt dress
  3. oversized knit turtleneck
  4. oversized cropped gray hoodie

Loungewear is, to me, synonymous with “oversized sweatshirts.” Room to move, breathe, and let it all hang very cheerfully loose is key to effective lounging.

loungewear capsule: overpieces

  1. long knit cardigan number one (cotton)
  2. long knit cardigan number two (wool)

I love a good long cardigan. I use them instead of bathrobes, really, because I’ve never been much of a bathrobe person (unless you include using a bathrobe tie to create heatless curls, like this. They turn out wonderfully. Thank you, bathrobes!). I will be adding a homemade crocheted cardigan to this collection once I finish it, and it’s a gorgeous golden brown that is a more saturated version of my warm neutrals.

loungewear capsule: bottoms

  1. cotton joggers
  2. oversized sweatpants
  3. black leggings
  4. slouchy marled sweatpants

I was able to do patch jobs on two pairs of my current sweatpants (I support mending over buying, any day) which are in great condition other than the holes. While my current pieces are a solid base, I have two items I’d like to eventually add to my bottoms: a pair of grey sweatpants to replace a pair that has officially died on me, and a pair of spandex bike shorts (I’m eyeing up these ones!) to make my bottoms a little more warm-weather friendly.

And that is my loungewear capsule! (How many times have I said ‘loungewear’ in this post? On second thought, I’m not going to count. I don’t want to know.) I stuck to my rules pretty closely: while my numbers fleshed out a little differently than expected, they’re within a healthy range of my targets. I also feel really good about the two pieces I’ve added to my shopping list – and I’m thinking I might also add a pair of slippers to that list for an extra li’l piece of cozy.

Wishing you soft sweatshirts, warm toes, cool spring breezes, and the kind of comfort that swells from the inside out.


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