I finally tried the Capsule Closet…

img_1408Every season I dutifully edit my closet. To understand this process, you first need to understand something about my closet: it’s not very big, so only the current season’s clothes earn a spot on the rack. The rest rotate into labeled bins in my storage area. That way I don’t have to rifle past sweaters and wool jackets to find that perfect summer top or dress, and vice versa in the other three seasons. To be honest, even if I had a bigger closet, I’d stick with this plan, but that’s another blog post :).

Here’s how my editing works: I keep a bag in my closet so I can easily add things to the donation pile as soon as I realize they aren’t making the cut. Then when it comes time for my seasonal edit, I spend thoughtful time looking at each piece of my wardrobe that made it into the bag, and choose to get rid of anything I no longer wear, doesn’t fit well, or is damaged. I like to ask, “Would I buy this if I went shopping today?” to help me decide what to keep. The pieces that do, stay in the closet; those that don’t, go to Goodwill. This process has always worked well for me.

It wasn’t until the last couple of years when my career and professional wardrobe changed that I started going to my closet and feeling frustrated. I would buy new clothes thinking I’d finally found the answer, and would continue staring at my closet full of beautiful clothes that used to “work,” feeling sorry for myself and complaining to my husband when I couldn’t find anything to wear.

Out of this frustration, and of course, my love for less stuff, I decided to try the “capsule closet.” I’d read a little bit about capsule closets in the past but never thought it was for me. I’ve always really loved clothes and collected vintage and unique pieces, so this idea didn’t seem to be interesting to me. I couldn’t imagine parting ways with a one-of-a-kind vintage sweater or a handmade dress I found in a little boutique on a special vacation. So many pieces of my wardrobe just seemed too personal and precious to just get rid of.

Plus, I thought I had a system that worked. The thought of editing my closet and shoes down to around 37-ish items per season, and not shopping for three months, felt a bit too minimalist for me. However, like many great moments in my life driven by a desperation for change, I decided to give it a shot.

I’m sure you’ve guessed already that I loved it. I talk about it so much, I’m thinking my husband would rather I go back to talking about hating all of my clothes. Here’s how it went down for me, the things I’ve learned since I did it, and where I broke some of the “rules” to get my closet down to 37 or so items for the season.

  • First, I edited my closet for the season (summer in this case) like normal. I got rid of any items I didn’t like anymore, didn’t fit any longer, or which had tears or holes.
  • Next, I pulled out any “special occasion” clothes. I didn’t count dresses I only wear to weddings and formal events. I also didn’t count workout clothes or pjs, with the new rule I made that I can’t wear workout clothes as everyday clothes (I still break this rule sometimes). I also did not count accessories.
  • I chipped away until I got down to what felt right for me. With shoes included, I ended up with around 47 items. I did end up keeping a “maybe” bag in my closet of pieces I wasn’t quite ready to let go of, you know…just in case.
  • I also swapped all my hangers out for non-slip ”huggable hangers.” If you haven’t treated yourself yet, please do. You no longer have to search for the one hanger with the slits on top! And an added bonus, they all say “joy” on them. How great is that?
  • Lastly, I put a little notepad in my closet so I can keep track of items I know I will want (and need) to purchase for the fall.

Here’s why I love it: When I stepped back from my now very curated closet, I saw a consistent style. A style that represents who I am today, and not who I was 15 years ago. A style that fits the life and the job I have now. When I go to my closet to pick out something toimg_1415 wear, I actually like everything in there! I may wear things a few more times than before…maybe? Don’t you end up wearing what you love and feel good about most of the time anyway? Plus, I saved money by shopping less frequently and created lots of space to really appreciate what I have in my closet.

Lessons learned that I applied to my fall closet and shopping:

  • I learned that even with fewer items, I still left several things hanging and never touched them. Even with less stuff, it still all needs to be the right stuff.
  • I will not keep a “maybe” bag again. If I don’t want it in my closet, then I don’t want it, period.
  • I will invest in jeans I love because that’s what I wear the most. So instead of buying more than I need of clothes I feel “pretty good” about, I will make focused purchases, of fewer items that I really love.

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