Lightening up my wardrobe turned out to be easier than I thought. Once I had a clear picture of what colors and styles best fit me, I just eliminated everything else!
I’ve been dreaming of a capsule wardrobe since I heard about the concept several years ago. For my minimalist soul, it seemed like a perfect match for me. I’ve been doing a little here and a little there and while I’m not at a “capsule wardrobe” per se, I’ve definitely lightened up my closet.
I’m going to start with my favorite question: Why?
Aside from the fact that the idea speaks to my minimalist soul, there are several other reasons why the concept of minimizing my wardrobe makes sense to me.
- Reduce decision fatigue! My brain is like a computer with 100 tabs open at the same time. And in the course of a day, I’m making a million decisions. There is a lot my brain has to do! And if I can make choosing what to wear in the morning a super quick decision instead of a stand-at-the-closet-and-stare-into-its-depths decision… so much the better for my overworked brain!
- Save time! As I just mentioned, if I can grab my clothes and put them on in 2 minutes instead of 20… that’s 18 more minutes that I can use doing something else more productive and/or fun.
- Save money! How many times have I bought something only to regret it? And then donate it 6 months later when I wore it only once? Too many. Or what about when I buy something I already have! Or something that’s really not my color? Or something that doesn’t fit quite right, but it was on clearance!? Sigh. When I have clear guidelines on what I want in my wardrobe, I stop buying things that end up being a waste of money.
- More space! I recently had so many pairs of jeans hanging in my closet, I didn’t know which ones actually fit me anymore. And I completely forgot about a pair of cute capris that I purchased in the spring because they were sandwiched between too many other pairs of pants. When I did a delightful pants purge a few weeks ago and took out all the pairs that no longer work, I was amazed at how much space was on my pants rack. And that I could see all of my pants! Very helpful.
Once I’m clear on my “whys” it makes it so much easier to just move forward on lightening up my wardrobe. Of course I want more time, more money, more space, and more brainpower for other things!
As I said, I’m not at a textbook “capsule wardrobe” yet, (and quite frankly, I think a wardrobe is a very individual thing) but here are the steps I’ve taken so far to lighten things up:
I’ve noticed over the years that there are certain colors that I gravitate toward. And based on the compliments that I get when I wear them, I’m going to guess that they’re the colors that actually look the best on me. So rather than sifting through the enormous amount of colors, I’ve chosen a handful of my favorites and I only buy clothes in those colors.
This is NOT my closet. I can NOT wear orange!
In case you were curious… my colors are: Deep Red, Forest Green, Navy Blue, Amethyst Purple, Black, and White.
Ok, occasionally I’ll throw in a pale pink or a gray.
How did I come up with these colors? First, like I said, I’ve always been drawn to jewel-tones. They are my favorite! Second, I have pale, pink-toned skin, which means that I look good in cool colors and I look violently ill in warm colors. Plus, because I’ve got brown hair, I look good in darker colors rather than lighter colors. So I picked a handful of my favorite jewel-tones, added the neutrals that matched, and voila! You can choose your colors based on your skin color, hair color, and what you are drawn to.
Choose a Fashion Style
Much like my favorite colors, I’ve noticed that I tend to gravitate to a certain fashion style. Actually, for me, it’s two fashion styles. Which isn’t surprising since I have a sort-of split personality!
Also not my closet. But so many styles to choose from!
My organized side really goes for a classic look. Simple, clean lines. Timeless style. But my artsy side really goes for a romantic look. Ruffles, full skirts. Very soft and floaty. Which style I wear on any given day depends on my mood and what I’ve got on my calendar!
Once I chose my fashion style, I didn’t bother looking at anything that didn’t fit into those two categories. I knew that if a piece of clothing matched my style, it would have staying power. And if it didn’t… well, it just wouldn’t last long in my rotation.
So choose your style! (Or styles!) Some of the fashion styles that you may gravitate toward are: Casual, Preppy, Bohemian, Punk, Artsy, Sophisticated, Tomboy, Hippie, Sporty, or Vintage. If you’re not sure yet, wander online or in the shops and see which styles catch your eye and that you would want to wear when you’re being your true self!
Review Your Lifestyle
I’m in a phase of life right now that involves active, messy time with a couple of twin boys. While my inclination would be to put on a dark green chiffon skirt one morning… knowing that we’re going to the park that day makes me opt for a dark green t-shirt and some yoga pants.
Being aware of your current lifestyle helps you choose items for your wardrobe that make sense for what you will do in those clothes everyday. I’m not currently working in an office, so I don’t own a single pair of slacks or a blazer. Because I’m working at home, dancing often, and chasing boys, I own a lot of stretch knit!
I’ve got to wear something I can climb trees in!
Think about what you are doing with your time each day. Are you at home? In an office? Outdoors? Whatever it is you’re doing, make your clothes be your uniform to match.
Know Your Preferences
I have a thing about high necklines. I don’t know where it came from, but it’s a very real thing. I can’t stand them!!!
I literally feel claustrophobic if my neckline is too high. And I mean, even basic t-shirts are too high. I feel like I’m choking and I will pull at that crazy neckline all day until it doesn’t feel like I’m choking anymore.
I know. It’s weird. But you already knew that about me.
My point is, I know this about myself. I know that I HATE high necklines. So I know not to buy them! All of my tops have either a BIG circle neck, a V neck, button down, or some other way to keep the neckline off my neck. I’ve saved myself a lot of money by not buying something I knew I wouldn’t wear (or would destroy with my tugging!)
Know your own preferences. What necklines do you like? Sleeve length? Skirt length? Waistline? Pant leg width? Decide on what you really love and don’t buy anything else!
I recently tried an online personal shopping service and I was very clear about my preferences. I probably sounded like a “difficult” client, but really I was doing my stylist a favor! When I specified that necklines could not be high, shoulders had to be covered, skirts had to be to my knees or lower (oh, and I mentioned the colors I would only wear) I figured that it would help her choose things that I would buy rather than things I would send back. Sadly, she didn’t take me seriously and I haven’t tried that service again.
When you know your preferences, you’ll only look for those things that you know you’ll really wear. And save yourself a lot of time and money.
Clear Out What No Longer Works!
Now it gets fun! (Oh, c’mon, it’s been fun all along!)
Now that you know your colors, your fashion style, your lifestyle, and your preferences, go to your closet and take out what doesn’t match!
Pull out those clothes in colors that aren’t your selected few. Pull out those clothes from when you thought you’d try the punk-style and then realized it wasn’t really your thing. Pull out those clothes that you just don’t wear anymore because they no longer fit your season of life. Pull out those tops with the high neckline! (Or whatever it is for you!)
With everything you pulled out, you can use my 3 Box Method for sorting anything. Put the clothes that are trashed in the… trash. Put the clothes that still have some life in them but not in your life in a donation box. And if there is something you just can’t let go of yet (I know. It happens. We’re human.) Put it in a box and store it somewhere else. If you haven’t touched that box in 6 months, donate it. Unless it’s maternity clothes that you know you’ll use later or business suits that you’ll wear when you go back to work (though, let’s be honest, unless you have timeless-style items, you may not want to wear them by the time you get back to them!)
Once all of those clothes are out of your closet… you’ve got a much lighter wardrobe! But you may not be done there…
Fill In Your Wardrobe
With your guidelines in place, you’re ready to take a look at what you have… and what you’d like to have!
- Replace the old! Look at the clothes you have and be sure that they are in good shape. Do you have a black cardigan that definitely fits into your new guidelines, but that is pilling and fading? Take out anything that is too worn and make a note to replace it.
- Look for needs. If you’ve decided that you’re only going to wear pale yellow, mint green, and lavender, and you already have blouses in yellow and green, but you could use a blouse in lavender, make a note to look for a lavender blouse.
- Look for duplicates. Did you somehow manage to end up with four grey long-sleeved t-shirts? Do you really need four? Is there one that’s looking a little ratty? Clear out any unneeded duplications.
Now you’ve cleaned up and filled in your new lighter wardrobe! And did I mention that this makes shopping so much easier? When you have a list (black cardigan, lavender blouse, etc.) you know exactly what you’re looking for when you go online or in the store. No more wandering aimlessly, wasting time, or wasting money on things that you won’t actually wear. When I go into a store these days, I only look for my colors. I pass right over colors that are not in my wardrobe. So. Much. Easier!
Of course, this new wardrobe doesn’t include what I call “base wear.” These are things like, underclothes, sleepwear, and sportswear. I keep all of those items in my dresser (socks, bras, swimsuits, snow hats) and my “wardrobe” lives in my closet.
Also, feel free to sort your wardrobe by season. Keep the summer clothes packed away in winter and vice versa. Or just move them to one side of the closet, if you have the space (which you might now that you’ve simplified it!) When the clothes in your closet are the ones that you would actually put on for that day’s weather, it makes your decision even faster!
And there you have it! My version of a “capsule wardrobe” (at least for now). Just by:
- Choosing colors
- Choosing a fashion style
- Identifying my lifestyle
- Identifying my preferences
- Clearing out what doesn’t work
- And filling in what does work
I’ve got a functional wardrobe that helps me get dressed quickly and that I LOVE!
Got some ideas for making your wardrobe lighter? I’d love to hear!