I’ve had a capsule wardrobe for over 2 years now, and it’s definitely the best decision I’ve ever made regarding my closet and the clothing I wear. Marie Kondo wasn’t going viral when I first cleaned out my closet, so the whole process was trial-and-error for me. Nonetheless, when Matt and I got married, it was my goal for us to be able to share a regular size closet (for us, a “regular size” closet is a 5’10” wide space with 1 clothing bar and a shelf on top), even though my clothes at the time were taking up 2 full closets and a dresser, and were overflowing into other areas of our house. I probably had over 300 pieces – including shoes, accessories, and loungewear – at that point in time, even though I only wore the same 15 pieces over and over again.
When we knew for sure that we were moving to Tennessee, I decided to really buckle down and clean out my closet. The process I’m sharing with you guys in this blog post is the process I used to take my closet from 300+ pieces to 100 pieces, from 100 pieces to 75, and now from 75 to less than 50 pieces. That’s right; I currently have 48 pieces in my wardrobe, including shoes, accessories (scarves, hats, handbags, backpacks, jewelry), and workout wear/loungewear/pajamas. I made a YouTube video showing you everything in my capsule wardrobe a couple months ago, and my wardrobe is already different from that video. In fact, this week’s video is me cleaning out my capsule wardrobe and almost nothing is the same. (When it goes up on Friday, you can watch that video HERE.) If I could wear a grey t-shirt, black cardigan, jeans, and Blundstones or my Birkenstock Yaras every single day for the rest of my life, I would without question. That’s the feel I went for with my capsule wardrobe. Yours might be completely different.
Let’s get decluttering, shall we?
Take every single item of clothing, pair of shoes, bag, piece of jewelry, hat, scarf, etc. out of whatever space you’re keeping it in – this includes seasonal items you may have stored in totes elsewhere – and lay everything out in front of you. When you can see everything you have, you’re more likely to say ‘no’ to a lot of pieces, just because you can see how many of certain similar things you have. Example: When I was first cleaning out my closet, I had no idea that I had over 10 striped shirts hiding in different spaces until I brought everything out onto my bed and went through everything. I don’t need 10 striped shirts. I donated 3/4 of them the first round of cleaning out my closet, and I now only have 1 striped shirt that I wear often.
When you’re looking at your clothing, what do the pieces you own have in common, if anything? Do you have a lot of activewear? A lot of business casual? Is there an obvious color palette? What climate do you live in? What lifestyle do you live unrelated to your clothing? What kind of job do you have and what’s the dress code for it? These questions are questions you need to ask yourself before you get started to make a good mental note of what is truly practical to have in your closet. For example: I live in a state where it rarely snows and winters are fairly mild, so I don’t need a ton of heavy clothing. I have a couple sweaters that do just fine. However, if you lived in Alaska, there’s no way you could live comfortably with my wardrobe.
I also have chosen a very neutral color palette for my capsule wardrobe. Black, grey, white/cream, blue, and warm yellows and oranges are the main colors in my wardrobe. The point in having a color palette with a lot of neutrals is so everything goes with everything. I could step into my closet with a blindfold on, grab a couple things, and they would for sure go well together. Having a capsule wardrobe like that makes it much, much easier to get ready.
After you’ve thought about your lifestyle, your climate, your color palette, etc., write down what your dream capsule wardrobe looks like – the things you would love to have in your wardrobe that you would wear until you couldn’t wear them anymore (Be realistic. No one needs 18 pairs of Louboutin pumps.) – whether you currently own those things or not. Now, make a list from 1 to 60, or however many items is your goal to have in your wardrobe, and head over to Step 3. Remember, capsule wardrobes are not a one-size-fits-all. Make note of that and keep that in mind when you’re making these lists!
Go through every single piece you own. Pick it up. Hold it. Look it over. Have you worn it in the last 6 months? Do you still LOVE it? Does it still fit? Etc. Etc. Etc. If you wear it so much you couldn’t imagine parting with it, it’s obviously a yes. (I have a striped shirt that I wear so much that the thought of getting rid of it makes me cringe in horror.) If it’s still in good condition, but you don’t wear it too often, or you’re purely keeping it for sentimental reasons, put it in the maybe pile. If it’s not in good condition, you haven’t worn it in more than 6 months, it doesn’t fit, etc., it’s a no. Split up your “no” pile into recycle and donate/sell piles. Bad condition clothing that can be repurposed goes in the recycle pile. Good condition clothing that someone else can still wear goes in the donate/sell pile.
I am VERY hard on myself in this step. It’s my goal to have pieces in my closet that I love so much that I absolutely cannot wait to wear them.
This is one of the toughest parts of the process. Things that you think you “might” wear at “some point” can be tough to part with, especially if they’re still new. Things like this are great things to sell instead of donate. You can make part of your investment back on them to pay for nice quality clothing that you will wear on a regular basis. I sell a lot of my clothing on Poshmark. I do donate quite a bit, but high quality and high dollar items that are still in great condition go on that app. (You can shop my closet HERE if you want to.)
Things that you’re keeping purely because they’re sentimental are even harder. I personally am not a very sentimental person when it comes to my clothing, so I don’t have a difficult time parting with something I wore to something special. The only piece of “sentimental” clothing I still have is my wedding dress, and I’m still deciding on what I’m going to do with that if we end up moving into a tiny house. If you’re someone that can’t part with sentimental clothing pieces, put them in a memorabilia tote so they’re not taking up space in your closet.
Once you’ve sorted everything in your wardrobe, put your final “yes” items back in your closet and be proud of yourself.
It’s time to break out the lists we made in Step 2. When I did my first big closet clear out, I ended up keeping more items than I allowed room for on my “yes” list. Instead of adding more numbers to the list to compensate for the items over 60, I kept the excess items in a section of their own. After a few months, I cleaned my closet out again to the point where I could erase the section of excess from the list, and freed up quite a few numbered spaces. Once I got down to about 45 items total, I went back through my closet and looked at what I had. I asked myself if I truly loved every single thing in my closet and if there was anything I thought I NEEDED to add.
This is where the wish list comes in to play. Compare the your wish list of your dream capsule wardrobe to your “yes” list of things you currently have in your capsule wardrobe. Do they match? Is there any way you can add things to your wardrobe from your wish list? Wanting to add things to your capsule wardrobe isn’t a bad thing. I personally have made it a goal to only add high quality ethically made items that I know are going to last and never go out of style, that way I don’t need to constantly be switching pieces in and out of my wardrobe. I’ve gone so long without a plain black t-shirt, but I’ve been searching for the perfect one to add to my wardrobe.
This is the count sheet that I used when I first started creating my capsule wardrobe, and I wanted to make it available to you as well! Click the photo, right click on the new tab, save, and print to get started decluttering!
The great thing about having a wardrobe full of great quality items that you love is that you’ll no longer feel the need to go clothes shopping. You’ll have everything you need AND everything you want. That truly is the entire point of having a capsule wardrobe – owning clothing pieces you love and wear and getting your money’s worth out of them. Over-consumption of clothing is a big problem for a lot of people, especially in America. Fast fashion is a large contributor to that and is something that I have decided to no longer partake in. Once I got rid of the mentality that “I have to wear what everyone else is wearing to keep up,” I noticed that I was so much happier and I was saving an outrageous amount of money.
If you’ve decided to embark on the journey of having a capsule wardrobe, YOU GO! It is a process. It won’t happen overnight, unless you’ve decided to just up and get rid of almost all of your clothes cold-turkey. It’s taken me almost 2 years to get to this point, but I’m loving it, and I’m really proud of myself. I hope you’ll enjoy your capsule wardrobe as much as I’ve enjoyed mine!
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