Capsule Wardrobe Challenge: Step One – The Wardrobe Edit

I’ve been obsessed with the blog Unfancy since I discovered it two years ago, and have often thought about starting a capsule wardrobe – the concept of having a minimal closet to save time on outfit selection (as well as having a more organised wardrobe space) really appealed to the slightly OCD side of myself.

Then I got pregnant, and while I actually did have kind of a capsule wardrobe throughout my pregnancy, I shelved the idea at the time. What with the craziness of the early months post-partum plus raising a spirited toddler, along with fluctuations in my body, my sartorial choices would be the last thing on my mind.

Now that the dust has settled somewhat (sleep issues notwithstanding), I’m embracing the capsule wardrobe again as one of my goals for 2016. It seems that the more toys the kids get (and the more cluttered the house becomes), the less chaotic I want my wardrobe to be. (Perhaps this is an example of what they call sublimation?) Ever since my little capsule wardrobe experiment back in November I’ve been revved to finally try this for myself, and I wanted to share the process with you all!

Each week I’ll blog about the process I’ll take in initiating, planning then choosing my capsule wardrobe, which I’ll start wearing and sharing with you at the beginning of March for fall/autumn (and also coinciding when I go back to work after a leisurely 12+ months of maternity leave!). I’d love for you to join me in my capsule wardrobe project!

What exactly is a capsule wardrobe? There are a few definitions of this, and I won’t go through all of them now – click here and here for some examples. I choose to follow Unfancy’s concept of a capsule wardrobe, which is having a set number of items that you wear for a three-month period – and no new purchases throughout that period. This number includes clothes, shoes and outerwear; accessories, gymwear, sleepwear and underwear are not included. (This does not mean, however, that you should have 50 pairs of leggings!)

The first step in creating a capsule wardrobe is having a clear idea of what is actually in your wardrobe and carefully assessing what you have by doing a wardrobe edit. I recently wrote a post for sugarmamma.tv on what clothes to keep, purge and donate; rather than being a trend-based article which those with similar titles tend to be, this post basically goes through the questions to ask when you do your own wardrobe cleanout and edit it based on what you actually wear and what makes you happy. I’ll go through the questions here and the decisions I made at each point.

After you’ve dumped the contents of your wardrobe onto a clear space (include shoes, bag, underwear, even those schleppy clothes you wear around the house!), take each item of clothing and ask the following questions.

Question One: Does this still fit me?
This question was pretty easy for me. Anything I thought wasn’t the right size or didn’t fit me correctly went straight to the donate pile – this included maternity clothes (because this bakery is closed) and clothes that didn’t fit me since giving birth (who knew that one’s body doesn’t spring back to what it once was? ;-)).

Question Two: Does this need mending?
I’m a bit of a hoarder with things that can be refashioned because I like a good sewing project – but these days it’s an impossibility because I simply don’t have the time. I had a bag of clothes that I had kept with ideas on how to refashion them, but in this wardrobe edit I just had to be strict with myself and really question whether I would have the time for these projects. So this bag of clothes went to the donate bin.

I also got rid of any socks and undies where the elastic was looking sad and droopy, and bras that have gotten misshapen – guys, when your undergarments don’t keep you supported, you don’t feel supported. Throw those saggy, daggy things away.

Question Three: Have I worn this in the last 6 months?
This was the question which threw me a little. Of course I hadn’t worn some of the clothes in the last 6 months – I had just given birth after all, and a lot of my clothes weren’t practical for a stay-at-home mum. And there was my wedding dress, which I hadn’t worn in the last 5 years. So here I was a little bit lenient with myself – for example, I kept a beautiful vintage shirt I bought when I was last in Melbourne but hadn’t worn yet because lace + toddler = not good. I also kept a few other pieces of clothing which I knew I would wear again once I went back to work, and when husby and I have those (increasingly rare) date nights we used to have.

In the process though, I discovered other clothes which I had forgotten about because I was pregnant/couldn’t care less about my outfit/too sleep deprived, which was a nice bonus.

Question Four: Do I have duplicates of the same item?
Oh man, am I guilty of this. I’m obsessed with the following: stripes, jeans, grey t-shirts, chambray shirts. And even though I have a number of these already, I’m still drawn to these items when I’m out shopping. I got rid of two black jeans (because I really didn’t need three), an old grey tee I hadn’t worn in a long time, five pairs of jeans, and relegated a couple of striped shirts to my schleppy clothes pile (which I had decimated already in Step 1). I still have three chambray shirts, God knows why. I may eventually donate one of them.

Question Five: Does this make me happy?
Have you guys read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? I’ve only read snippets of it, but I love the premise of the book – only keep those things that spark joy. Kondo wants you to apply this question to every item in your home and life, and while I personally am on board with this, it’s going to take my hoarder of a husband to agree. In the meantime, I’ve used this question to pare down the items in my wardrobe even more – so got rid of things like an old red blazer that I feel nothing for; a pair of black pants that really did nothing for me; shoes that I was hanging on to for no particular reason. This question can be difficult to answer – for example, I had a skirt I would most likely wear when I went back to work, but I didn’t necessarily feel any connection to it. I made the decision to donate it based on the fact I had other skirts I could also wear to work but I felt good whenever I wore them.

Once I was happy I had gotten rid of all the clothes I wanted to, I immediately put my “purge” pile in the bin, and marched myself down to the nearest charity bin to hand over my “donate” bag – if I’d kept them, I’d probably have the urge to go through them again and reverse some of my decisions. All up I think I binned or gave away about three rubbish bags worth of clothes, shoes and bags – amazing what we hold on to.

Now I was ready for a wardrobe re-organisation – and I trekked off to Kmart and treated myself to some new flocked hangers for my shirts, pants and jackets, and hangers with clips for my skirts and pants that can’t be folded. Why not make your wardrobe look like a retail store if you’re going to shop your own wardrobe during the capsule wardrobe period?

 

Before
Before
After
After

I had to do several trips to Kmart because I kept running out of hangers. I’m not keen to go back again so I can’t increase the number of clothes I have because I won’t have any hangers left and I’m not overly excited about going into that behemoth of a store again.

(Other clothes not shown are t-shirts in drawers which I’ve folded in the Konmari method from the aforementioned book; jackets that I’ve hung in another section; sweaters I’ve stored in a box to be taken out for autumn/winter; undergarments in a drawer which are also folded in the Konmari method; schleppy clothes in a drawer which I’ve tried to fold Konmari-style but are rapidly becoming a jumble.)

While I was doing the wardrobe re-organisation I thought I may as well give hubby’s side the hanger treatment too, and changed all his to be the same. He has been living with a capsule wardrobe since he graduated from university (completely unintentional; he just doesn’t like clothes shopping as much as I do) so no need for him to do the challenge.

It feels rather cathartic getting rid of a whole lot of clothes from my wardrobe. Firstly, it’s simply such a cleansing process both physically (with less clothes) and mentally (less stress whenever I look in my wardrobe and find it jammed). I also love looking at how neat it is now and how the hangers just make it more appealing to shop my own clothes rather than think that I don’t have anything to wear because I can’t see everything.

For my next capsule wardrobe challenge post I’ll be talking about defining my style and how this will determine what items I’ll ultimately choose for my first capsule wardrobe. Make sure you subscribe to receive email updates and check back on the blog so you can read about this next step!

 

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