Have you been introduced to the concept of a capsule wardrobe? Once you catch the capsule wardrobe fever, it may forever change the way you view your clothes. The idea of a capsule wardrobe is that you limit your seasonal wardrobe to a limited number of pieces. Experts suggest 37 pieces but for you it may be more or less depending on what works for you. Each piece should be functional, comfortable, fit well, and of course beautiful. The hope is that when you are finished you won't have the dreaded feeling of having nothing to wear because your closet will be full of only pieces you love to wear that fit you and your style.
1. Getting Started
I would suggest working through this wardrobe planner. It is a great resource and can give you an idea of what you need as well as what you like.
Once you have nailed down your lifestyle needs, look for inspiration. Look through your favorite fashion blogs, Pinterest pins, and favorite store lookbooks and catalogs. Notice what styles you are attracted to and take note of what you want to emulate with your wardrobe. You may want to jot these ideas down in the planner to help you remember during the cleaning process.
2. Assess What You Already Have
The next step is to look through what you already own. I recently read the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and I highly suggest that everyone reads it. As a professional cleaning consultant, Marie has great insight on how to tidy up your space through her years of helping clients de-clutter.
In her book, she says, "We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of." This theory is perfect when creating your capsule wardrobe list and cleaning out your closet because it means that the only items going back in your closet are items that you absolutely love. Marie suggests to, "take each item in one's hand and ask, "Does this spark joy? If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it."
I suggest to begin looking for the pieces that are constantly in the laundry bin because those are the pieces you are wearing the most. Decide why you like those most worn pieces. Is it because they are versatile? Is it because you feel great wearing them? Is it because they are your only options? Start putting together a list of your 37 pieces using what you already own. Keep your list of 37 pieces relevant to what you need right now. For example, if it is snowing where you live, do not include a summer piece in your capsule list. Be sure to only include pieces that currently fit you well and look great on you. BE PICKY! Don't allow pieces on your list that will look good once you gain a few pounds, or pieces that look good but only when you wear them with one particular item. Choose items that will help create the look and feel you are trying to achieve. Every piece that makes it on your list should, in essence, "spark joy".
3. Purge, Purge, Purge!
Take the time to go through the clothing that did not make it on your list. Organize each piece into one of these categories:
1. Trash (for old worn clothing beyond repair)
2. Donate (to give to charity, or friends)
3. Fit (For clothing that doesn't fit now but can be fixed if taken to a good tailor. Do not put clothing into this category that you have no intention of actually tailoring.)
4. Seasonal (for clothing that you like to wear but needs to be assessed again in an upcoming season)
Once you have organized the rest of your clothing then follow through with your items. Throw away your old pieces, drop off to Goodwill, visit the tailor, box up your seasonal items. The items left going back into your closet should fit you and your lifestyle well, emulate your style, and make you feel "joy" when wearing them.
4. Add The Items You Need
This is by far the best part and most rewarding of this entire exercise because it is the part where you get to shop for the items you need to complete your wardrobe. While writing out your list you will have noticed areas where you were lacking. Make a list of the things you would like to add to your wardrobe and begin your hunt. Here are a few tips to help you on your hunt:
Tip 1 - Remember to look for pieces that fit you well right now. Be picky on the fit of everything you buy. Don't worry about the size on the tag. What I mean by this is that if you usually wear a small but the large size gives you a much better fit don't be afraid to buy the better fit regardless of what the tag says. Keep in mind what washing might do to the fit and choose accordingly.
Tip 2 - Make sure you can deal with the upkeep of each item. For example, do not buy something you want to wear weekly that can only be dry cleaned unless you are willing to stop by the dry cleaners often.
Tip 3 - Spend more money on staple items and less on items that will only be in your wardrobe for a couple seasons. For example, I can wear out a $100 dollar pair of leather sandals in 3 months because of all the summer walking I do. For me it makes more sense to purchase inexpensive sandals that I can throw away at the end of the summer. On the other hand, I will wear a great pair of boots season after season so investing in an expensive pair will be worth it to me in the long run. Some questions to ask yourself when choosing to invest or not are, "Does the quality match the price?" "Will this item be wanted/needed next year?" "Will I wear this item often?" "Can I live without it?"
Tip 4 - Read the tags! Know what materials your clothing is made out of so that you know how the fabrics will hold up over time and react to washing. Some fabrics might look great when you buy them but terrible after you wash and hang them to dry. Be aware of what you are buying! If you are not sure what fabrics hold up well or wear nicely look at the tags of clothing you have at home that wash and wear well. Notice the material and take note for future purchasing.
5. Reassess When Needed
Each season go through what you have and create a new list for that season. Carry over favorite pieces from your previous list when relevant (for me a dark pair of jeans will be in my wardrobe year round). This process may take a little extra time and energy but you will find that it will simplify your life and your closet. It will also change the whole outlook on clothing and style. Take from this what works for you because if it doesn't work for you in theory, it probably won't work for you in real life.