Professional Practice

Why a Capsule Wardrobe Is the Secret to an Easier Morning Routine

hanging clothes

Art teachers are busy people and time is our greatest resource. We begin the school year with the good intention of pre-made lunches, pre-planned outfits, and even early morning exercise. Soon, reality kicks in, and we fall into our old patterns and same old rushed morning routine.

Nobody knows this better than AOE’s fearless leader, President, and CEO, Jessica Balsley. She’s a trailblazer in art education, a busy mom, and still has time to look great. Jessica used to be one of those people who had a pile of clothes outside her closet each morning after getting ready. Now, her closet is reminiscent of a classic boutique. How the heck does she do it?

The Capsule Wardrobe

Jessica was inspired by writer Jennifer L. Scott’s idea of the 10-item wardrobe. As a busy entrepreneur, the idea that her closet could be simplified was revolutionary for Jessica. The phrase “capsule wardrobe” was coined in the 1970s by London fashionista Susie Faux. It revolves around the idea that the best wardrobe consists of a small number of high-quality, versatile items that make you feel good when you wear them.

The capsule wardrobe is different for everyone. For instance, Jessica has about 10-15 items she rotates for the seasons. To keep her closet simple, she stores the clothing for other seasons in drawers or boxes out of the way. This method cuts down on her need to make too many decisions each morning by having only simple, versatile, great fitting clothes she loves to wear! For example, a black dress can be dressed up or down with a beautiful piece of statement jewelry, a trench coat, a pair of red ballet flats (Jessica’s go to shoes), or a vibrant scarf.

Jessica with red flats

Jessica knows art teacher wardrobes are unique. Our clothing can get messy and, of course, as creative people, we express a lot of identity through what we wear. This can be challenging when choosing simple items you can mix and match.

Here are 3 ways to keep your capsule wardrobe art teacher friendly:

hanging clothes

1. Make your school wardrobe mess friendly.

Jessica recommends getting higher quality fabrics so your clothes can survive multiple washings. In addition, you’ll want to think about having darker colors that resist stains. That beautiful white blouse might need to be for after school hours only!

Also, Jessica has a work wardrobe but also has a few items reserved for nights out and special occasions, like weddings or art shows. Because you’re not buying a million different dressy outfits, you can focus on spending the money on something you love to wear.

2. Express yourself with accessories.

Creating a capsule wardrobe may mean less of those cheap, fun crazy-colored purchases. But, that doesn’t mean your wardrobe will be boring. Jessica’s summer wardrobe is full of colorful pieces, and she relies on accessories to bring her outfits to life. Creating a small capsule of 10-15 statement necklaces, earrings, and scarves can turn “simple” into “artsy” in seconds. Plus, necklaces are less likely to get paint stains!

3. It’s all about your attitude!

Jessica is quick to remind us being artsy isn’t all about crazy outfits. It’s more about being confident and feeling good in our own skin. An easier morning means your greatest accessory will be the smile on your face! Plus, having great looking pieces you can throw on in minutes will help you feel put together on even your drabbest days.

Jessica in her office

So, with the likes of President Obama and Steve Jobs touting the idea of a uniform outfit, why wouldn’t we give the capsule wardrobe a try? Start by taking all your items out of your closet and keeping only 10-15 seasonally appropriate pieces that look and fit great. Then, keep the rest in storage. If you miss something, you can make it a part of your 15! On the flip side, if something stays in the box for three months, you probably don’t need it. Donate or toss it.

As your clothing items wear out, feel free to replace them with newer high-quality picks. Just be careful, says Jessica! Resist the urge to replace items over and over again, or worse; refill your closet beyond your 15-piece limit. If feelings of boredom or the desire to shop pops up, remember the joy of waking up and getting ready in minutes each morning is worth it.

Do you have any hacks for an easier morning?

 Have you ever tried a minimalist wardrobe? How did it work?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Kelly Phillips

Kelly Phillips is an elementary school art educator and a former AOEU Writer. They strive to create an environment where all students can become independent, self-directed risk-takers.

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