Capsule Wardrobe Tips: Be Discerning

Let's start with a backstory about one of our editors. In her first year of college she splurged on a brand new Louis Vuitton Musette Salsa shoulder bag. With the exception of slight darkening of the tan handles, it still looks like new to this day. That's because she's worn it about 10 times in the 10 years since she's owned it.

It has a nice rectangular shape but she never could get into the gaudy monogram and finds the narrow interior impractical for everyday carry. It was one of few times she purchased something off of status alone, and the only of those me-too items that has managed to avoid being given or thrown away.

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Now let’s fast forward to the time she made an impromptu 36-hour trip to France to spend time with a dear friend she hasn't seen in years. Strolling through the streets of Paris, weaving in and out of cafes and shops, she happened upon a lovely leather shoe and accessory shop called La Botte Gardiene.

Her eye caught a fairly nondescript buttery calf leather tote in a rich gray hue. She kept gravitating back to it after glancing at the other goods on display. Her friend must have sensed the attraction because the next thing she knew he swooped it up and purchased it for her before I could even protest. He said he did it just because.

Her new La Botte Gardiene tote is about a third of the price of her now vintage Louis Vuitton, but it's gotten 30x the use despite being in her possession for only a fraction of the time.

She's carried it almost everyday since it was gifted to her. It's simple color and silhouette fits with her understated wardrobe and it's spaciousness is perfect for day to night and weekday to weekend carry. More importantly, she was so touched by her friend's gesture, that she feels loved every time she picks it up.

How to know if a purchase is right for your capsule wardrobe?

The difference between her connection (or lack thereof) with these two bags reveals a lot about why we consume.There are many rationale reasons we use to justify our want or "need" of something, but it really comes down to our emotions.

The emotion behind the Louis Vuitton bag was fear of missing out – she desired it solely because all the so-called it girls had it (even though at the time she would never admit that to her self-proclaimed independent self).

When the feelings of insecurity wore off, she was left with something she did not love, want, or need.The emotion behind the La Botte Gardiene tote was, at first, admiration for its design. That positive emotion was reinforced when it was unexpectedly gifted to her by someone she holds dear.

As a result, she's quite sure she will keep this beloved bag even when it's no longer wearable. With a clearer understanding of our emotional (not just logical) drivers we can make wiser decisions. By ignoring our emotions we often fall down that slippery slope of allowing subpar things into our lives.

If you want to determine whether a pending purchase is right for your capsule wardrobe, assess the feelings driving you to buy it.