Welcome to part three of the capsule wardrobe series, and my journey towards a smaller, more purposeful closet! We first talked about the benefits and the why of this system, and then the last post was on figuring out your personal style.
Today we’re getting down to the hard part – setting up some boundaries in your wardrobe, and narrowing it down. Which also includes making cuts and ruling out some potential future buys. But don’t close this screen just yet – it’s actually a good thing.
In my own personal experience, I used to reach for whatever caught my eye. (And fit my budget. The cheaper, the better!) I didn’t stick to any certain patterns or colors or styles – if I liked it, I bought it.
Unfortunately, this kind of thinking makes for a lot of pieces left lonely in my closet. Because I purchase on a whim, sometimes I forget what really works for me, and what I’ll actually reach for. Sometimes I end up donating clothing with the price tag still on, completely unworn.
Let’s go ahead and take a serious look at our closets.
Here are my recommendations:
1. Nail down that personal style.
Luckily, there’s a blog post for that! You can check it out for more details. But basically, you want to answer the following questions:
- Whose style do you love? What inspires you?
- What words do you want to define your style?
- Which styles or types of clothes do you find most flattering on you, and which ones do you avoid?
- Which colors and patterns do you naturally reach for?
For me, I am drawn to feminine, classic, neutral, timeless style. French style – with its clean lines and effortless chic – is my favorite. For colors, I mostly prefer neutrals like gray, tan, navy and olive, with some pops of blush and red. Finally, I often stick to stripes, polka dots, and simple florals.
2. Find three (or so) go-to uniform outfits.
History shows that many successful people wear the same thing (or almost) every day. And it makes sense – it’s more time-efficient, it stands out, and it streamlines shopping.
When it comes to capsule wardrobes, a lot of people try to stick to certain pieces. But I find it’s more effective for me to start with my “uniforms”, and opt for pieces that fall in those categories as much as possible.
My uniforms are the following: 1) t-shirt or swing dresses, 2) button downs with pants or shorts, 3) v-neck or pullover with jeans or shorts. Add in cardigans and jackets when cooler. Pretty simple and straightforward, with enough variety possible that it doesn’t get boring.
3. Rule out what doesn’t work.
Ugh, setting limits. I’m not a fan. But truly, it helps to know what works for you and avoid those styles. Definitely experiment first. However, I know from experience that certain styles will sit in my closet because I’m insecure about how they look on me.
Those items include: most skirts, maxi styles, strappy tops or dresses, athleisure, capris, and t-shirts you get for free (because I collect them and rarely wear them).
4. Based on the above, make the cuts.
Your closet is probably always evolving and changing. To keep a more minimal closet, it’s important to go through and get rid of the things that no longer work for you. I encourage you to be ruthless, if you’re anything like me. (I’m sentimental and hang on to stuff way too long.) A great process looks like this:
- Start four piles – clothes to trash, clothes to donate or sell, clothes that get a second try, and clothes you without a doubt want to keep.
- Immediately get rid of things that just don’t fit or are beyond repair.
- Next, look at the clothes you don’t reach for, and match them up to the categories you set above. Does it fit the style you want to have? If not, donate, or sell.
- If it comes down to an individual item of clothing, think about how many ways you can wear that piece. Literally – think about how many pairs of pants and layers a top could go with. If it’s something that limits you to only one pair of pants or one specific jacket, it may be time to re-think it. You want wardrobe workhorses that can be worn multiple ways.
- Some clothes may need a second chance. Make sure you identify them and keep them handy to see how often you reach for them.
- Consider: changing seasons (I.e. don’t get rid of all your sweaters just because it’s summertime.) Also, you may want to exclude categories such as athletic wear, sleepwear, and dress clothes.
Whew. I know that’s a lot, but it’s actually amazing what happens when you set some boundaries. (In your closet, and in life, too.) It’s a blog post for another time, but let’s just say it has completely changed the way I get dressed, and also how I shop.
So, would this be a helpful system for you? And what else helps you divide and conquer in your closet?