Journey to a Capsule Wardrobe, Part 3

This post is about the things you need to practically think about and do when trying to create a capsule wardrobe.

The past month, I’ve been intensely getting rid of clothes. I now have probably 30-40% of what I used to have in my closet – 80-90 items, excluding shoes, accessories, underthings, coats, and pjs/workout clothes (which means I previously had more than 200 items of clothing). The bittersweet thing is that I don’t miss anything I’ve gotten rid of. Many pieces I decided to part with are things that I bought within the past year, and now I feel foolish for spending money on them. But the monetary loss is worth it to me if I can feel less burdened by possessions. If I can not have a bi-monthly panic attack about what to wear to church. If I can make sure that I won’t feel insecure in my clothes. If I can crush this idol and time-waster and stress-starter to the ground once and for all.

Because when your closet is stuffed with over 200 pieces of clothing for one person, who really owns who?

Here are the steps I took to get where I am now:

  • I read a lot of the blog Unfancy, to get inspired and learn about how she made her minimalist capsule wardrobe(s). I copied a lot of her “rules,” so if you’re wanting to get a start somewhere, I highly suggest taking a look at her blog! This and this were really helpful.
  • I made a list of all my clothes without looking in my closet. This was really helpful, because the items that I forgot about while making the list were the easiest to get rid of.
  • I made a separate but similar list of my absolute favorite pieces of clothing (things I always reach for, as long as they’re clean)
  • I went through every item of clothing I had, and tossed things out left and right. This starts out hard, but gets easier. Easy things to throw out: what doesn’t fit, what’s damaged, what you only seem to wear once a year, what you don’t like anymore, what’s clearly not your style. *This was an ongoing step. It’s taken weeks, letting go of things bit by bit.*
  • I got rid of my unwanted clothes. I gave some to friends, donated some, and sold some at Plato’s Closet and Clothes Mentor. Tip: Bag up what you’ve decided to donate or sell, and say goodbye as soon as possible. You don’t want to be tempted into putting anything back in your closet! If you want, you can wait a week, and if you really miss something you can pull it back out. But chances are you’ll forget what’s in there because there was a reason you put it in the toss pile anyway.
  • I put things that I really loved that weren’t in season in storage. I kept the “maybes” out so I could decide yes or no before putting them away. I don’t want to have to go through this all again in the summer!
  • I started a Pinterest board just for my capsule wardrobe. I pinned only things I absolutely loved, and in the description wrote what I really liked about it. I even pinned pictures that just had colors I liked. I tried to keep the number of pins as minimal as possible.
  • I did the “How to Define Your Style” worksheet on Fox and Bloom (super helpful!)
  • A friend (Daniella) came over to help me go through my “maybes” and discuss what items (if any) I should put on a shopping list. After throwing out most of the maybes and putting seasonal yeses in storage, I had probably 100 pieces. I narrowed it down a little further to end up with the 80-90 pieces I have now.
  • Armed with my shopping list, Daniella and I went shopping for just a few items. (There’s a post or two coming about that later.)

For those of you who are wondering why I would make a shopping list if the goal is to have less clothing, here’s the reasoning: buying one sweater that I love could replace two or three sweaters that I’ve kept, but don’t love to wear. At this point, I’m getting down to the “defining my style” part. I have way fewer clothes, but most of what I still have showed the way I used to shop; much of it doesn’t reflect what I have on my Pinterest boards or what I wrote on my worksheet. It would be so easy if I could get rid of all my clothes, start from scratch, and go buy 30-40 pieces of clothing with an unlimited budget. But that’s just not my reality, and I’m betting it’s not yours either. So doing a little shopping along the way will help me define my style more, and help me get rid of items that don’t really fit cohesively in my wardrobe (wrong style or wrong color).

Your reality may be totally different from mine in other ways. I happen to have a job where I only have to dress business casual every once in a while. Sometimes it’s most appropriate to wear a t-shirt, shorts, and sneakers. But most of the time, I just have to dress “nice” and “appropriate.” No ripped jeans. No spaghetti straps. No miniskirts. You might have a job where you need to dress business casual all the time, and sometimes even nicer than that. And to that I say: don’t let it stop you from simplifying your closet and defining your style. You could create a separate capsule for work clothes, just stick to the “rules” of only buying things you love and are interchangeable with one another.

Right now, I’m working on dividing up my 80+ items into four seasonal capsules (plenty of items will overlap). I actually have more than 80 items, because I didn’t count some summer things that I already put in storage. But I’m not buying anything else until this job is finished.

If you’re working on building a capsule wardrobe too, I’d love to know where you are in the process and if you have any tips!

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