My [Almost] Minimalist Closet.
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‘Buy less, choose well’ – Vivienne Westwood
A Shopping Lovers Take on the Capsule Wardrobe.
Three outfit changes later and I still hated everything I tried on. In the clothes hampers next to me, at least 3 loads of laundry laid waiting. But my schedule was so busy that I kept putting it off. Doing laundry was a whole day event. It seemed to take yet another full day to get all the clothes shoved inside my full closet. Laundry was overwhelming. I hated doing it.
Time for a fourth outfit change. It STILL did not feel right. I had a closet overflowing with things and did not love anything I tried on. Sound familiar? Yeah, it happens WAY too often for me. Sometimes, I wonder how much time I wasted staring into the abyss…. and by abyss I mean my closet. Yikes. Precious minutes lost from my morning routine. It all seemed so unnecessary.
Then, my sweet husband noted that I may be overwhelming myself. Too much clothes. Too much laundry. At first, to say I was mad was an understatement. Then, I slowly realized he made a good point. My closet was causing unnecessary drama and burden. So what is a girl to do that loves shopping? Simplify.
Time for QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.
First, I read the bible of de-cluttering. This helped a bit, but still not enough. Plus, the folding part sounded terrible. Then, I found several blogs I loved that described a novel idea: the capsule wardrobe. A small collection of only items you truly love. Usually just 37 items. Try here and here oh and here too. There have been great articles on this too, try here or here. These sites will help you to decide if you want to do a single capsule for year round or if you want to do a seasonal capsule wardrobe. Personally, I elected to do the seasonal capsule wardrobe.
WOA. 37 items. Are you crazy?
Good news, not EVERYTHING needs to go into the capsule. So take a deep breath. I am going to keep it easy, and ease you through things step by step.
Things to NOt CAPSULE:
Scrubs or uniforms, workout clothes, jewelry, accessories, purses, swimsuits, pajamas/lounge wear, underwear, and the clothes to wear to paint or to garden.
Things to CAPSULE:
Tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, and shoes.
The “Season” BREAKDOWN
Why a Seasonal Capsule Wardrobe
- Simplify my routine. Laundry should be weekly and it should not take hours to put clothes away. Less items, less laundry, less of my precious time consumed by sorting clothes.
- Spice things up with seasonal pieces. Seasonal allows me to mix things up every 3 months, so I do not get bored with a limited selection. I created a bin for each season, which I will rotate in with my staples and basics.
- Scheduled shopping. When I first started my debt freedom journey, I swore that 2016 would be the year of no shopping. Then I failed. And then failed again. And again. By mid-2016, I had completely thrown in the towel. So, I decided I needed more balance. When I discovered the capsule wardrobe, it all made sense. YOU CAN STILL SHOP, but you just stop once before the start of each season. 4 times per year. You can add some fun, seasonal items or get some new basics staples. Sometimes, shopping can be so mindless. That shirt is pretty, I like that pattern, who doesn’t need more black pants. So haphazard. Now, I can shop with a purpose. And, if I buy an item, I also know I must get rid of something else. I have to absolutely LOVE something if I would be willing to get rid of something else.
- I wanted my time, my energy, and my money back to do things that matter to me. Being more intentional and ditching the mediocre-ness. Goodbye weird, square sweaters and pants that were stylish but rarely worn because it never felt like my style. Hello closet full of joy.
Now, you may be thinking….
This sounds great, but I wouldn’t even know where to start.
Start Your Capsule Wardrobe in One Day
STEP ONE: EMPTY.
Yup, time to get naked. Well, time for your closet to be. Take EVERYTHING OUT. It helps cleanse your mind. And I mean everything. If you cheat the process, you are only cheating yourself. You can do it! It will for sure get ugly before it gets better. My “piles” even spilled into the hallway. My husband was scared. My dog nearly got lost. You may need some time to get through the process. I recommend a weekend when you have 2-6 hours to spare. It is shocking to see it all out on the floor/bed/hallway. My pile was enormous. I recommend starting with one big pile to start. I also strongly recommend you take everything off the hangers and sit the hangers to the side.
STEP TWO: SORT.
If you thought STEP 1 was messy, this step gets a bit crazier. Stick with me, your sanity will thank you later.
Sort #1. I strongly recommend these 3 categories, or clothing mountains. GIVE AWAY, KEEP, and MAYBE. Now listen up, the next part is important. Sort all your clothes into these 3 piles as fast as possible. Sort of like those word association tests where you are read a series of words and you must say the first thing that comes to mind. It enables you to give your gut reaction to each piece of clothing you pick up. Use your gut instinct and make decisions quickly. Try to check emotional attachments at the door. It will be hard to not go down memory lane. Sort all clothes into one of these 3 categories, regardless of type. For example, pants and shirts will get mixed together. Phew.
Sort #2: Go through the maybes. This may be the hardest part. If a shirt does not fit well or has any signs of wear and tear, I recommend saying your goodbyes. Unless you love the item AND how it fits on YOUR BODY, it is time for farewell. Also, think about if the item makes you happy or not. Do you feel joy or happiness when you look at or hold that item? (A concept made famous by Marie Kondo, and her wonderful book on de-cluttering.) If it does not bring you joy, it must go. No matter how cute or sentimental it may be. Another concept that helped was the personification of my clothes, or thinking about how my clothes “felt.” So much of my clothes are unloved, unappreciated, and underused. They were shoved together and cramped. They for sure did not look happy or cared for. But somewhere out there, someone else may love them. Thus, it may be better to give things up and give them a better home than neglecting them. Find someone else who will love and appreciate that crop top that you never got around to wearing.
For people who have a hard time letting go, I recommend bagging up the clothes that you cannot decide what to do with. Put them into another closet and wait 1-2 months. If you have not missed any items in the bag or cannot ever remember what is in the bag in 1-2 months, just give it away. Life will go on.
The price of an item should not dictate whether you keep it or not. Guilt is not a reason to keep something. So, I have this lovely Kate Spade dress I bought at Nordstrom (on sale, pre Dave Ramsey). To this day, I cannot remember how much I spent, but I’m sure it wasn’t minimal. Truth be told, I hate how it looks with a sweater. Given it is sleeveless, I ALWAYS would wear it with a sweater to work. I put it on and take it off again monthly. I felt SO BAD about never wearing it because I know I overspent. No matter how much guilt, deep down I knew it HAD TO GO. Lesson learned.
SORT #3: Divide up the Give. Personally, I made two GIVE piles. One for my obsession, Thread UP, and another for Salvation Army. I loved thread up because I did not have to go to a store to get paid for my clothes, it was all by mail!
And great news! You can get an extra $10 back today if you use my Thread Up referral code! http://www.thredup.com/r/1EA61O
All name brand things were sent to Thread Up and all the others were bagged for the Salvation Army. Thread Up has lists of all the brands they accept online, so you know which pile to put each item in.
Sort #4: Divide up the Keep. I ended up making my KEEP piles 4 groups. I already knew I wanted a seasonal capsule wardrobe. Thus, I divided my piles into SPRING, SUMMER, FALL, and WINTER. Apparently I LOVE dressing for fall because that pile was huge. I did my best to get rid of some additional pieces (thinking about you 6 very similar cream sweaters!)
If you are having a hard time sorting and cutting back on the number of keep items you have, I recommend choosing a THEME for each season. For spring, I chose an adorable floral shirt with white, soft greens, blues, and pinks. Narrowing things down to just a few shades can make things more fun and simple. Plus, it is easier to come up with new outfit ideas if all your items coordinate well.
STEP THREE: GIVE.
Time to create some more ZEN before step #4. Move all the “GIVE” items to a new location (the mailbox, in your car to take away, etc.) This will help things feel less cluttered. Finally, things are looking up.
STEP FOUR: KEEP.
We are almost to the fun part. But first, you need to commit to a number. This is the number of total items in your capsule. Several bloggers have done 37. I personally started conservative with 50, with the hopes of less in future capsules. So, purge down the keep pile to 37-50 lovely items. Phew, you did it!
Now the happy part. Put all your gems back into the closet. I opted to hang all my pieces on matching hangers to make the closet more astatically pleasing. My goal was to have all of the same type of hanger by age 30. Success. I used matching bins and storage bins for the seasons that were not currently in use. And made labels for each season.
Now, step back in admiration, you did it!
Happy organizing and simplifying!