Creating a Capsule Wardrobe

It’s that time of year again: the minimalist in me is screaming and kicking to be let out. I recently came across Project 333, which introduced me to the concept of the Capsule Wardrobe. Basically, this challenge holds its foundation on creating a completely functional wardrobe with 33 items, including shoes, accessories and outerwear, which you’ll be wearing for 3 months. However, being the extremist that I am, I just decided to empty out my closet, pick 33 items and throw everything else out, permanently. So no box somewhere stuffed back in a garage holding items from my non-33 items wardrobe for me to take out again after the 3 months are over. I do have to add a disclaimer to this: My 33 items list will consist, for now, only of clothing. Even though I’m taking a bit of an extremist approach to this challenge, I do take the advice I read somewhere on the website of making this challenge work for YOU seriously. So to make this challenge work for me, I’m not taking my jewellery into account as far as the list goes. 1. Because I want to. 2. Because my jewellery takes home in a very pretty inherited wooden case, so it makes no difference in counter or closet space whether there’s one pair of earrings or ten. 3. Because I want to LIKE doing challenges like these, I don’t want it to become an unbearable suffering. Same goes for purses and bags. I already threw out about eight or nine purses and bags during my last cleaning spree, but I still have more than necessary. Not sure if I’ll be cutting down on those yet 1. Because I don’t want to. 2. Because I store a purse in a purse in a purse, so it takes up little extra space. 3. Because see above. I do however want to keep track of which purses and bags I do and don’t use for six months and throw out the ones I haven’t been using after that period of time. Same concept for shoes, coats and jackets. I might be downsizing even more in the future, but for now, I’m just sticking with the clothes.

Because I had to start somewhere, I took the list form one of the articles on the website and started tweaking it for my needs. For instance, on the list you can read that there’s only one pair of jeans and some other forms of pants, such as dress pants and chinos. The only kind of pants I wear are jeans and shorts… Same with blazers. I own one, a black one I’m not even sure I can close anymore, and that’s all I need, because I rarely have to dress formal. Dresses; I dislike those things with a passion. I love how they look on others, but I just feel incredibly uncomfortable when wearing them. So I basically keep about three of them just in case of a funeral or wedding, that kind of stuff. Same goes for heels, I hate walking in heels, but keep one pair just in case. I do own a ton of jackets and coats though, along with a huge stack of t-shirts, long sleeved shirts and tank tops.

The way I usually clean out my closet, is by just throwing everything on the bed and put things into four piles:

  • Love
  • Like
  • Want
  • Broken

However, because I gained some weight recently, something which never happened to me before, I now also have to take an extra point into consideration:

  • Fits

The system is really simple: if I love it and it fits, I get to keep it. If I like it, it has to fit and somehow has to go well with the clothes I love and there needs to be space for it. If I want it, it’s usually something I don’t fit anymore or that doesn’t pairs well with my other clothes. I do keep two items in my closet that I don’t fit anymore, but are so pretty I can’t let go of them yet (one pair of flared legged jeans and a beautiful black polka dotted dress). Also in the ‘want’ category, I have one floral printed dress, completely out of my colour chart, but which I like so much, I keep it (luckily, it still fits!). The ‘broken’ pile is easy: trash bin. All the other clothing that’s still fine, but which I don’t want to keep, I’ll donate or give to friends.

As I was trying things on, I came to the conclusion that none of the three shorts I had still fitted. One I could still put on, but it was so tight, it almost amputated my legs. So a new pair of shorts is something I need to buy. UPDATE: I went out the next day and bought a new pair of jeans shorts and a pair of bootcut dark washed jeans. So when I got home I switched out the too tight pair of shorts for the new pair and added the extra pair of jeans to my clothing collection. A good rule to live by is “One in, One out”. If you buy something new, get rid of something old. In this case I only followed this rule partially, as I only took out one item, while I bought two new ones. However, I felt the need to add an extra pair of jeans to my wardrobe and that extra pair brings me to the amount of three pairs of jeans, which makes me more comfortable than owning two pairs. Again, make things work for YOU.

Funny thing that happened while cleaning out my closet: I came across an adorable black jacket that I forgot I owned. For most of the time when that happens, I just throw the item out. However, I tried this jacket on and it looked really nice! Jackets and coats are not part of my 33 items, but they will all be on my watch list to check if I’ve actually worn them by December 31st.

There are still some items on the ‘maybe’ pile, despite me kicking and screaming that I wouldn’t be keeping a box with clothing I’m not sure about yet. On the ‘maybe’ pile right now are one light blue t-shirt, one jeans button up, one purple fleece sweater and one beige cardigan. These items are allowed to stay in my closet until September 30th (so, till the end of summer basically). If I haven’t worn them by then, they need to go. I put them in with the rest of the stuff to see if I will grab them when getting dressed.

UPDATE 01/05/2014: Two items on the ‘maybe’ pile went straight to the trash today: the jeans button up and the purple fleece sweater. I was folding all my clothing neatly today and came across those two items and thought to myself: “Why do I keep these items? I don’t feel all that comfortable wearing them and I haven’t worn them last year, so it’s highly unlikely that I will this year…”. So I got rid of them.

UPDATE 04/05/2014: On the list, nr. 24, you can see that I had a white t-shirt in my wardrobe. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? It was the only white shirt that was left after the big purge (to be honest, I only had two white t-shirts to begin with and threw out one of them during the purge). But every time I opened the drawer with my shirts in it, I saw that shirt and it made me feel uncomfortable. I liked the butterfly print on it, but the fabric and the cut of the shirt was just not working for me. So why did I keep it, I asked myself? Because I think a white shirt should be a staple in every person’s wardrobe. So I went on a quest today to find a replacement for that white t-shirt. It had to be figure flattering, reasonably prices, comfortable and no need to iron. And I found one! As soon as I got home, I threw the other white shirt in the trash to make room for the new one.

I initially intended to keep a dark blue dress as well, for more formal occasions. But the thing with that dress is that it wrinkles like crazy and I NEVER iron anything. So that dress needed to go.

So now it’s time to present to you *drumroll*: My final list!

  1. Black dress
  2. Flower dress
  3. Grey skirt
  4. Jeans (skinny, light)
  5. Jeans (skinny, dark)
  6. Jeans (bootcut, dark)
  7. Shorts (jeans, distressed)
  8. White sweater
  9. Black knitted sweater
  10. Blue sweater
  11. Green sweater
  12. Grey vest
  13. White vest
  14. Black vest
  15. Blue cardigan
  16. Grey cardigan
  17. Black cardigan
  18. Beige cardigan (short)
  19. Black blazer
  20. Blue tank top
  21. White tank top
  22. Blue t-shirt
  23. Blue t-shirt
  24. White t-shirt
  25. Black t-shirt
  26. Grey long sleeved shirt
  27. Purple long sleeved shirt
  28. Brown long sleeved shirt
  29. Blue long sleeved shirt
Just a few of the items that are left in my wardrobe which I really love

Just a few of the items that are left in my wardrobe which I really love

I’m actually really proud of myself that I’ve managed to keep my list even below 33 items! To be honest, when I started cleaning out my closet, I wasn’t even sure I would be able to get the list down to 33… Sure, I might still add some items to the list in the future, such as a new dress or skirt that makes me feel comfortable and maybe a grey t-shirt. But I’m also pretty sure that I’ll take some things off this list as well. Maybe shirts that I turn out not to like as much as I do now and vests and sweaters that get worn down by the end of next winter.

But for now I’m down to 29 items and 4 items still on the ‘maybe’ pile. Keep in mind that this list of items consists of a year-round wardrobe, so there are no separate lists for each season. Partially because the seasons in the Netherlands are not all that extreme and some years even non-existing, and partially because I didn’t really even think about that when cleaning out my closet.

I fully recommend this challenge, whether it being in it’s original form or adapted like I did, to everyone. I went with the 33 items of clothing as a maximum, but you can also opt for 50 items in total or whatever feels right to you. I just feel so much calmer now I don’t have to open my closet every single day with all those items just laying there, making me feel stressed and guilty that I’ve spent money on those things and am never wearing them. Because of this challenge, there are now only things in my closet that I either definitely will be wearing (about 75% I guess) or items that I’ll either will start loving again or that I’ll be throwing out by the end of the year.

I feel as if the more items you own, the more energy it takes from you, the more it will clutter not only your home, but also your mind. By giving minimalism a try in a way that makes you feel inspired, motivated and happy, you’re giving yourself the chance to make more out of life.

213 Items less to weigh me down

213, seems like a bit of an odd number, doesn’t it? Well, let me explain. A few days ago I suddenly felt the urge to clean out my house, to get rid of all the stuff I don’t use. So, I grabbed a few trash bags, boxes and other bags and started with my closet. I took everything out, threw it on the bed and just started dividing the clothes into three piles: 1 pile for clothes I wanted to keep, 1 for clothes that I wanted to donate and 1 for clothes that needed to be thrown away (because they had holes in them and stuff). After that came the shoes, and then the belts, and then the books, DVD’s, CD’s… And after all was done, there were 213 items that I’m either donating or selling. And here’s what that looks like.

Untitled-1Look at all that stuff. I really have no idea how I’ve ever managed to fit all that, AND all the clothing that’s still left, in my Ikea MALM 6-drawer chest (especially because I only use 4 out of those 6 drawers for clothing). I must say, in this case, I’m a bit amazed by my own packing skills…

Untitled-2I’ll be selling all these items to a second-hand bookstore. Whatever they don’t want, I’ll give away.

Just a quick observation which came to mind while typing this blog and having the TV on at the same time: Commercials (whether they are on TV, in magazines, out on the streets or whatever) are all about separating you from your money. It’s never about making your life better.

Anyway, I’m glad I’m going to get rid of all this stuff. I feel so light and free!

Getting Rapunzel-like hair

Every time I go to the hairdresser, the boyfriend is saying the same thing: “Don’t cut it off, OK?” He loves loves loves long hair, and so do I! But when I’m at the hairdresser, looking at all those cute short hairstyles, I have the tendency to cave in and think: “ Who cares?! My hair will grow back on again.” And so I let it get cut off … and regret it when I come home … I guess that because my hair isn’t that long (just above my shoulders) it’s easier to cut it off. If I would have really long hair it would be a lot harder, I’m pretty sure about that. But I really want long hair, I just never had the patient to let it grow. So boyfriend, this must be your lucky day: I’m finally ready to let my hair grow.

My hair is 31 centimeters long (that’s 12,2 inches). So, how I’m going to get it to grow long(er)?

Step 1: I’ve visited my hairdresser. Yes, I started growing my hair by cutting it off. Not that much, just the split ends, so I have a fresh start to start growing my hair.

Step 2: Resist the temptation of coloring my hair! I’ve colored my hair for years, and stopped doing it a while ago. There is no hair dye in my hair anymore right now, but when I see a picture of a girl with beautiful red hair, I have to hold myself back not to run to the drugstore and get some hair dye.

Step 3: Pick up on the No ‘Poo method again. I was no ‘poo for a long time, but when I went on a long holiday I got lazy and started using regular shampoo again. I also started using regular conditioner again because I wasn’t satisfied with the apple cider vinegar as a conditioner. I will stop using regular conditioner, but instead I’ll be putting some serum in my hair after washing it. Not because my hair is unable to get through with a brush when there isn’t something like a conditioner or serum in it, but just because I like my hair better when there is. Yes, I’m sooo vain …

Step 4: Eat healthy. I know, easier said than done. I’m a huge sugar addict. While writing this, I already ate seven little chocolates. So it’s another lucky day for the boyfriend, because he’s been nagging me for months now to start eating more healthy (and I know, he’s saying it because he cares … and he’s right, I should eat healthier). But what foods while help you grow healthier hair (better hair seems like a good motivation to me for eating healthier :P)? Think about nuts (especially walnuts and almonds) and milk, stuff with vitamin B in it (like bananas, spinach and potatoes) and food with folic acids in them (tomatoes, citrus fruits, beans, lentils and whole grain products). I know fish, meat and poultry are also major sources of B-12, but that’s one step to far for a vegetarian like me. Don’t forget to eat some protein. You can find protein in products like lean meat, eggs and soy products. And if you want to be really sure that you get everything you need: take a multivitamin. Basically it just comes down to: eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables and don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Cliché? Yes. True? Most likely.

Step 5: Don’t go to the hairdresser anymore. Years ago, my hair was the longest and healthiest it had ever been. Back then, I never went to see a hairdresser. Every once in a while, I would just cut off the ends of my hair myself and my hair was looking great. I hate going to the hairdresser: it’s expensive and my hair rarely turns out the way I wanted it to be. So bye bye hairdresser, I’ll just be cutting my hair myself when I think I have to. Really, there’s no use in seeing a hairdresser every six weeks when you want to grow your hair longer. Hair only grows approximately half an inch per month. By cutting your hair every six weeks it will take for ever to grow your hair longer. So, just judge for yourself when you think it’s time to cut your hair. If you notice your hair is getting dry at the ends or the ends are splitting, it might be time to cut them off.

And last but not least: some quick 101’s for getting healthier hair:

  • Don’t use hot water to wash and rinse your hair. Instead, go for cooler water (it doesn’t has to be ice-cold, just don’t use steaming hot water).
  • When you dry your hair, don’t rub it with a towel. It will damage your hair.
  • Never brush wet hair! Because wet hair is stretchier it has a tendency to snap. Use a wide toothed comb instead.
  • Don’t use too much hair products, they will dry out your hair.
  • Let your hair dry naturally when you can. If you do need to use a blow dryer or straightening iron, don’t forget to use a heat protector on your hair.
  • Don’t brush your hair too much. Two times a day is enough.
  • Don’t wash your hair every single day.
  • Sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase–cotton pillowcases make hair look dry; they suck out the moisture and can cause frizz.
  • If you notice your hair is becoming dry, wash it less frequently, so the natural oil balance can be restored.

Don’t get upset when your hair just doesn’t seems to get any longer. Be patient, it takes a while.

Minimalistic wardrobe

My closet. A nice, simple closet I really like. There’s just one thing about it I dislike: it doesn’t close anymore. Not because it’s broken, but because there are so many clothes in it, my poor closet is about to collapse under the weight.

I used to buy a lot of clothing, and when I say a lot, I mean A LOT! At a certain point I really couldn’t fit another top or pair of jeans into my closet, so I had to put it somewhere else. That’s how I filled up another closet … Most of the clothing I almost never wear and a lot of the clothing still has the tags on. So it’s time to clean up! But where to start … ? Ask yourself these questions:

What are your favorite colors? Mine are neutrals, pastels and natural colors. I have a very light skin color, blonde hair and grey/blue eyes and I think those kind of colors look the best on me. So start with making a color palette: which colors do you like and which of those look good on you?

Here’s my color palette:

  • Purple
  • Light blue
  • Ivory
  • Light pink
  • Brown
  • Black

Where do you feel comfortable in? I like jeans, skinny or flared. I get cold real easy, so I like warm fabrics. I like plain shirts or shirts with small details that fit my body type and I’m not a big fan of short, tight skirts.

So the things I would like to be in my closet are:

  • Jeans
  • Sweaters
  • Cardigans
  • T-shirt
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Comfortable dresses

Which clothes do you need? I work from home, so I don’t really need any kind of work clothes like a suit. I do, however, own a pencil skirt and a nice blazer when I need to dress more formal. I also have some occasion appropriate clothing for funerals, parties and holidays. Maybe you own a few items you don’t really like but need to have for work. A tip might be to purchase a suit you feel as comfortable in as possible.

So what are the basics you might need?

  • A coat for autumn and winter
  • A coat for spring and summer
  • Pair of jeans that fit perfect
  • Basic t-shirts
  • Basic long sleeve shirts
  • Cardigan
  • Sweater
  • Nice skirt and/or dress
  • Blazer

I’ve left out some stuff you might only wear during a particular season or when you’re at work, like shorts and sandals during summer and tights, hats and gloves to keep you warm during autumn or winter and formal trousers during work.

Also pay attention to some nice shoes. I own 2 pair of boots (and a pair for when it gets really cold) I can combine with everything, 1 pair of grey All Stars and 3 pair of flats in light pink, brown and black to go with everything when the weather gets better. For more formal situations I own 1 pair of black high heels.

So I started to clean out my closet. I’ve created two wardrobes, because of the simple reason that I live in the Netherlands, and there’s no way to predict what kind of seasons we’re going to get (on year the summer is so hot you can’t even sleep, the next year you’re almost drowning because of the amount of rain that’s coming down). So I’ve created a wardrobe for when summer all of a sudden sets in, and a wardrobe for the many cold and rainy days.

I’ve tried to keep only the high(er) quality stuff, because it will last longer. And because when owning less clothes you will wear the clothes you do have more often. I also got rid of clothing that wasn’t combining with at least 3 other items.

A good rule for when you’re buying new stuff: one in, one out. So if you buy a new shirt, get rid of an old one.

After a few hours I was done sorting out all my clothes, shoes and bags. All the stuff I didn’t want to keep I packed in boxes and bags and I put an ad online with a short explanation of why I was getting rid of all that stuff and that, if someone wants it, they’re welcome to pick it all up for free. I got a reaction very fast and the person in question is coming to pick all the stuff up soon.

Think of the stuff you might need to complete your (more) minimalistic wardrobe. If you don’t have  any basic items that go with almost everything, you might want to consider getting those items and letting go of your clothes that are hard to combine.

Some of my stuff needed replacement. My only really warm cardigan got too small, my shorts for summertime were making me feel uncomfortable and the only hoodie I kept I can’t wear to some occasions (it says “I love funky boys” … No need to explain I guess). So, here’s my list of the things I would like to get:

  • Toe socks (to solve the cold feet problem in the Vibram FiveFingers)
  • Long, warm cardigan (I wear one I got from my mother, but I can’t keep wearing that one forever. Even though I wish I could, I love that cardigan!)
  • Fashionable fleece sweater (yes, they do exist. Just because I’m trying to be more minimalistic (it still sounds like an oxymoron …) doesn’t mean I don’t want to look nice
  • Winter coat (yes, I know it’s spring, but my coat is no longer to any use, and because now there’s still sale on all winterproducts I can save a lot of money, but still get a nice coat I really like)
  • Hoodie (because I do love more than just “funky boys”)
  • Shorts (because of the simple reason the shorts I own make me feel uncomfortable)
  • Basic t-shirts (to combine with everything)

So I went into the city today and got 2 pairs of shorts I really like and some basic t-shirts that fit my body perfectly and combine with everything. I couldn’t find some of the other stuff that’s on my list that I really liked. I only bought clothes with the colors that look good on me and fit with everything.

I like to point out that being minimalistic isn’t about not spending money. It’s about not spending money on stuff you DO NOT need. I do start noticing that spending money gets harder now I’m really thinking about what I’m buying.

A tip on buying less: Put the things you would like to buy on a list to think about it for 30 days to avoid buying stuff you end up not using.

All the stuff I’m giving away: 2 bags with clothes, 1 box with shoes, 1 box with bags

The minimalistic shoe

Without knowing, I’ve been using minimalistic shoes! Apparently I was “trendy” way before I even noticed. That’s new to me, because I’m about the most less trendy person alive. I mean, I do pay attention to what I’m wearing, making sure everything is clean, has no holes in it and doesn’t makes me look like a clown. But there’s no way on earth that I’m going to wear something I don’t feel comfortable in. I used to do that though. There was a time I was putting on real tight clothes, high heels, unpractical bags, jackets that made me turn into an ice cube, earrings that made my head so heavy I was about to have a headache … And to be honest, it made me feel even more insecure than I already was.

So at a certain point I just stopped wearing what, I thought, people were expecting me to wear. I got a nice backpack to replace the unpractical handbags, got a pair of comfortable dressing shoes, everyday shoes and walking shoes (which I will talk about later on in this post), some nice and warm sweaters and some plain long sleeved shirts and t-shirts.

I do own some dresses and skirts I really like, and I wear them when I feel like it. My goal of only wearing comfortable clothing is just that: wearing comfortable clothing. But that doesn’t mean I just buy the first comfortable thing I come across. I want to feel good in it, beautiful, confident. So I only get the things that follow those requirements:

  • Comfortable
  • Easy to combine
  • Make me feel good

When I was first starting to read about minimalism and simplifying life, the first thought that was going through my mind was: “Get rid of all those beautiful shoes you’re not wearing.”

I had so many beautiful high heels laying around. Some of them I never even worn or just worn once of twice. They didn’t fit into my 3 requirements:

  • Comfortable: No, not at all. My feet always were hurting after I’d worn high heels.
  • Easy to combine: No, I couldn’t wear them to a casual event. They’re only suitable for a party.
  • Make me feel good: No. They made me insecure, having to think about if I wasn’t looking funny in high heels, having to pay attention to the streets I was walking on, making sure I wasn’t going to walk for too long.

So I’ve sold most of them by now. There are still a few lying around that need to be sold, and I’m going to keep one pair of high heels. If I’m not going to wear that one pair of heels anytime this year, I’m selling those as well.

What kind of shoes do I wear then? Well, I have a grey pair of All Stars I really like. I wear them a lot. But when I was dividing all my shoes into “Keep”, “Maybe” and “Sell”, I came across a pair of shoes I forgot I had. The Vibram FiveFingers® KSO.

  • Comfortable: Yes, most definitely yes! It’s like wearing no shoes at all
  • Easy to combine: Once you get over the funny-looking part, yes.
  • Make me feel good: Yes. It’s like walking barefooted all day long.

What do these shoes look like? Like gloves for your feet. That’s the most easy way to explaining it. Or as Wikipedia would explain it:

Vibram FiveFingers are a type of minimalist shoe manufactured by Vibram, originally marketed as a more “natural” alternative for different outdoors activities (sailing, kayaking, canoeing, and as a camp or after-hike shoe). The footwear is meant to replicate being barefoot and has thin, flexible soles that are contoured to the shape of the human foot, including visible individual sections for the toes.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vibram_FiveFingers

Image

My Vibram FiveFingers® KSO

At first it was a bit hard to get the shoes on, because they have such a precise fitting. But after a while the shoe adapts more to your feet and it gets a lot easier. I haven’t tried anything while wearing them besides walking. But the walking-experience in these shoes was really nice. It was, indeed, like walking barefoot. I had more grip and felt more connected to the ground (does that sound woolly?) Do these shoes make me look like I’ve just escaped from a mental hospital? Umh, yeah, I’m pretty sure they do … My boyfriend, his mother and my parents were laughing out loud when they saw me walking around in my Vibram FiveFingers®. A lady at the supermarket even looked at my shoes rather condescendingly.

There’s just one thing I like a bit less about my Vibram FiveFingers®: it’s around 9 Celsius degrees (48,2 Fahrenheit) and my feet are getting a bit cold when walking outside. There are socks available for the Vibram FiveFingers®, so I might need to try them out.

Do you want to de-clutter your closet but have no idea where to start? Go through your clothes and pick out the items you feel most comfortable, beautiful and relaxed in. Those are the items you most likely really want to keep. Now go through all the other clothes. Make two piles: one of clothes you will be selling/give away/throw away and another pile with clothes you’re not sure about if you want to keep them or not. If you don’t wear the clothes on the maybe-pile in 6 months, get rid of them when the 6 months are over.