Ask anyone who's taken the plunge and they will tell you: getting rid of things and simplifying is life-changing stuff. The first time I took every item of clothing I owned and piled it all on the bed and made the decision to get rid of the vast majority of my wardrobe, I was exhilarated by the experience. I was also completely freaked out, so I went shopping the very same day. Making the commitment is a work in progress for sure.
If you've been living in a cave and haven't heard about capsule wardrobes (or you've been buried alive in your clothes), I highly recommend you check out Un-Fancy. Unfortunately the author of Un-Fancy is on hiatus, but her old posts are there and she does a terrific job of guiding you through the process.
Here's the basic idea:
1. Put everything you own on your bed. Every single item in your closet. Empty that beast and see what you own. Didn't realize you had four pairs of white jeans? I know! I was the same way!
2. Grab some garbage bags and start purging. Haven't worn it in a year? Out. Has a stain you can't conquer? Buh-bye. Think you're going to squeeze into it for the company holiday party? How about you donate that dress to someone who can wear it now, and if by Christmas, you've lost enough weight to wear that size, go treat yourself to something new. Problem solved.
3. Keep what you love, what fits, and what flatters you most. For me, I tried to get rid of crazy prints, because when I see people that I admire from a fashion perspective, they rarely wear crazy prints. For my capsule, I did my best to pair down to simple things in neutral colors. But I always keep a few colorful items because I can't commit to neutrals every single day.
4. Select the number of items you want in your capsule. I selected 42, the amount of years I'd been on the earth at the time I started my first capsule. Now, I'm sticking with that number. Do what works for you! Un-Fancy will help you with a wardrobe planner if you need some help.
I've been at this for several seasons now, and I get a lot of questions about the experience. Here are the most common questions:
Did you really stop shopping? The first season, I really did a great job about avoiding shopping almost altogether. Last season I wasn't as disciplined. I didn't plan the transition from summer 2015 to fall 2015 very well, and with Texas weather, I added boots and sweaters to the mix way too early.
The goal is to shop only during the first part of each new season, but I didn't do a very good job of that for the fall. Here's a list of stuff I purchased in December that I am rolling into my winter 2016 mix:
- A navy v-necked sweater
- A bright cherry red sweater (I've been missing a pop of color)
- A cream cable knit sweater
- A new oatmeal-colored cardigan (my favorite one finally died)
- A black and white sweater jacket
- A new black winter coat
- New brown flat tall boots
- New bright yellow suede heels (again, I needed color)
- Nixon tortoise shell watch (I don't count accessories, but it was a coveted item and I'm so glad I bought it)
Don't you feel bored wearing the same thing over and over? Not at all. What I love about going to my closet is that I'm not throwing 25 items over the chair because I hate the way they fit or they don't work with anything else. Now, I have just enough to mix and match, and when I want to spice something up, I have a drawer full of scarves and another drawer full of accessories. I don't restrict myself on scarves or jewelry or handbags - some people do. That said, I do stick to one main handbag per season and a small cross body for nights out.
What happens if you lose weight? We'll cross that bridge when it actually happens. Oprah and I are planning on making 2016 the year of our best bodies, but I'm also a realistic lady and I'm not expecting that I'll be a size 8 any time this year. For now, I'm not keeping a stockpile of clothes that are too small for me. Everything in my closet fits the body I have now.
Are you saving money? My husband continues to snicker every time I order something online because I know he thinks I'm shopping more than I ever did before, but I'm actually saving all kinds of money. I am embarrassed to admit it, but I was shopping almost every weekend before I started doing a capsule. The big difference is that I'm no longer sneaking in bags and shoe boxes in the house when my husband's in the back yard. I shop so much less than I did before!
I could never do a capsule because I love shopping too much. Do you miss shopping? I still have a 12 year-old who continues to grow like a weed, so I still get my shopping urges fulfilled pretty often. The difference is that I take some time to browse through the racks, and I look at all of the things I just don't need. It's the most freeing feeling not to have to pick up some random printed top and throw it in the cart at Nordstrom Rack just because I want something new to wear. Because you know what? Most of that stuff isn't well made and isn't even a deal because it won't last anyway. Now that I'm able to edit myself, I find myself wanting to edit other people. It's all I can do not to tap a woman on the shoulder and say, "Excuse me, ma'am. Your simple black sweater and jeans are so nice. Put that cheap yet overpriced Michael Kors printed blouse back. You're welcome!"
What did you get rid of this season? Today, I pulled open all of the suitcases in search of white jeans that I'd stored away when I first started this project because I keep seeing so many cute women wearing white jeans in the winter, but after I created my winter capsule, they didn't make the cut, so they went back into the suitcase again. If I don't wear them in the spring or summer, I'm donating them. This exercise ended up forcing me to look through everything that I had placed in storage and so I started editing again. I got rid of:
- A limey green dress I kept thinking I would wear again and probably only wore once. For one, the color looks terrible on me. Secondly, it was a thick material that resembled wallpaper. I tried it on, and I look like a lumpy bathroom wall in it. Goodbye!
- Navy knit pants that I bought because I thought with boots, they looked like riding pants but they ended up looking like leggings with a zipper. I'm sorry for anyone who saw me wearing them as I walked away. I'm really, really sorry.
- An animal print cardigan that I bought during one of my Nordstrom Rack binges. I kept wanting it to be chic, but it was a misshapen, sad mess. Once, I wore it with those navy riding pants. I'm sure my coworkers wondered if I was moonlighting as a circus trainer.
- A black tank with a hole in it, a navy t-shirt with a stain, and a sleeveless striped top I wore on the 4th of July that made me look like a gray and white barn.
Are you going to keep it up? Absolutely. Everything I worried about when I started wearing a capsule wardrobe isn't anything to worry about at all. I worried that I would lose my sense of self. Didn't happen. I felt that I would tire of the same old stuff. Instead, when I have somewhere to go or need to pack for a trip, everything is so much easier. I worried that I would feel somehow deprived. Now, if I want it bad enough (like the Nixon tortoise shell watch), I wait until the next season and I buy it.
So, here you have it. A quick pic of my Winter 2015 closet, and below, a list of what made the cut this season (the rest is stored in suitcases on the sides of my tiny closet). We have a small house so it's still crowded-looking, but there's just enough room for 42 items, my hot dog purse, my coveted photo of a foot in a high heel, and my 2016 vision board.
Winter 2016 Capsule Wardrobe: 42 Items
1. White button up shirt
2. White dressy t-shirt
3. Black dressy embellished tank
4. Grey long sleeved t-shirt
5. Cherry red sweater
6. Fuchsia long-sleeved tunic top
7. Black short-sleeved dressy top
8. Black short-sleeved t-shirt with high neck (dressy enough for work)
9. Oatmeal cardigan
10. Cream cable sweater
12. Navy v-necked sweater
13. Printed t-shirt "Do What You Love"
14. Olive long-sleeved button up
15 Grey animal print crazy lady cape (It's whacky and I love it)
16. Black tunic-length tank
17. Grey tank
18. Black and white sweater jacket
19. Black dress coat
20. Olive sweater coat
21. Army green military jacket (stolen from my sister, thank you very much!)
22 Furry vest
23. Dark wash skinny jean
24. Casual boyfriend jean for weekends
25. Polished denim skinny jeans
26. Olive jeans
27. Black dress pants
28. Black dressy dress for weddings and funerals
29. Gray knit 3/4 sleeve dress
30. Long black tank dress
31. Grey pencil skirt
32. Tall flat brown boots
33. Tall flat black boots
34. Black tall heeled boots
35. Brown suede heeled boots
36. Yellow suede heels
37. Black suede wedges
38. Animal print heels
39. Navy suede heels
40. Brown flats
41. Grey suede Vans (I'm going to try them again. I keep trying to make them work on the weekends but I'm not cool enough to pull them off)
42 Black pointy flats (what I end up wearing on weekends)
Let me know if you decide to try it yourself!