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.

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Modern society: What I don’t have and don’t want

Modern society has many benefits which I enjoy, but also many things that stress me out and make me feel uncomfortable. And although I’m really thankful for some things that modern society has brought me, light, heaters, clean water, hot showers, washing machine and a wonderful house, there are also things that I don’t want to be a part of.

Smart phone

  • I used to have a smart phone, but it drove me insane! I don’t like to be “connected” to the world 24/7. I don’t want people to see whether I’m online or not. I don’t want to get meaningless messages that are getting send out of boredom. I could go on, but that would make this a really negative post.

Post-paid mobile service

  • I have a pre-paid mobile phone and never had a post-paid one in my life. I don’t want to pay for something I don’t even use and I like the freedom of pre-paid. When money is a bit tight, I can just choose not to pay for using my mobile phone.

Games (on- and offline)

  • I’m not a big gamer. Darling Boyfriend tried to explain World of Warcraft to me a few times, but it’s just not for me. I do like board games though, but I don’t play them that often.

Creditcard

  • Never had one, and never want one. I don’t need one and I don’t like the concept of it.

Car

  • Cars cost a lot of money and that’s money I rather save or spend on something more useful to me. I use public transportation, my bike and my scooter to get anywhere.

IMG_6929

Our modern society is engaged in polishing and decorating the cage in which man is kept imprisoned.  -Swami Nirmalananda

Of course, there are also modern things I do have and don’t want to get rid of

Laptop

  • I love my laptop! I use it pretty much every day. I use it for fun, but also for administration stuff. I wouldn’t want to go without it.

Internet

  • From my point of view, one of the greatest inventions in years is the Internet. I use it pretty much every day. I really like how I can use it to look up pretty much every thing I want to.

E-reader

  • I love reading, but carrying around books all the time can be a bit hard. I use my E-reader a lot and I consider it to be the best buy I had in many years. For more about my experience with the E-reader, see my blog post: It’s a kind of magic!

Mobile phone

  • I have a very simple mobile phone which I got for free from a friend. I like to have it with me in case of an emergency and to seek out for contact when I’m on the road. I don’t have a landline, so I use my mobile phone to keep in touch with family and friends.

TV

  • I have a small and cheap TV which works great. I rarely watch TV, but I do like to have one in the house to watch the few shows I really like.

Small cable package

  • I have the cheapest cable package available in the Netherlands (besides not having a cable package at all, which, of course, is free). It’s € 12,50 a month (that’s 16,29 USD/10,78 GBP) and it has the 26 most popular channels in it. I love it! I rarely watch TV, so this cable package suits me.

Twitter

  • Well, I don’t have Twitter, but my weblog does. I use it to share new posts with the people who would like to read them.

There are also some other things I don’t have and don’t want, like a big house (I would love to be part of the tiny house movement) and debts (although I don’t think anyone really wants debts), but I wouldn’t call those thing modern (after all, even in the Middle Ages people had big houses and/or debts).

I don’t judge anyone who does have or wants these things. They are just not for me.

Making money the minimalistic way

As I told you guys in my last post I had quite a big amount of books, DVD’s and CD’s I wanted to get rid of. So, today I packed it all in some bags and little brother and I went to a second-hand bookstore. The guy there took a look at it all and chose whatever he wanted.

He wanted 27 books, 9 DVD’s and I gave him all the CD’s for free. He paid me € 50,00 (around 64,07 USD/43,01 GBP) for the whole lot!

So today I actually made some money by cleaning out some stuff I don’t even use and/or need!

IMG_7381Look at that crispy new bill!

The rest of the books I’ll be giving away to a local thrift store and to my in-laws, who also really like books!

I even managed to redecorate my living room a bit by ducking up some old cushion covers and vases and replace the current ones with them. Didn’t cost a thing!

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!

Hopes, dreams and thanks

My birthday is coming up, it’s on saturday to be exact. I’ll be turning 23 and the last 10 or so years have been challenging. There have been good times, but also many bad times. I won’t be going into it too much, but I’m just glad I somehow found the strength to carry on. So, 23. Not really a magical number and I never feel any older when my birthday comes and goes, but still, it has been another year on this wonderful planet, which gives some food for thought.

First, I have many thanks. I have a great family who stick with me no matter what, a wonderful boyfriend whom I dearly love, great in-laws who are always there to help, I have amazing friends, I have a roof above my head, I never need to worry about food or water, I have clothes to keep me warm, books to widen my imaginary horizon and I’m going to college to study to become something, out of many other things, I’ve always wanted to become (when it comes to my career that is). I also have the great pleasure to have two feline friends in my life. They thought me one of the most valuable lessons in life: The best things in life are free. For that, I’m enternily grateful.

So, what about my hopes and dreams… Because a girl has got to dream, right? My first and foremost dream is to have as little stuff as possible. Over the past few years I’ve gone from being a over consumer to a semi-minimalist and I’ve never been feeling better. I no longer define my self-worth by the amount of stuff I own. Owning less makes me happy, peaceful and humble. My second dream is to keep up the good spirit I’ve been having for the past year. Of course, there have been ups and downs, but so far, when it comes to my mood and view on things, this year was one of the best years I can remember. My third and last wish is to forgive myself when things do not go the way I planned it. I’m my own worst enemy and I would really like to be my best friend. I have some goals I really want to work on, like staying vegan at least most of the time and focusing on college, without forgetting to have fun. And because I’m a true believer in making your own dreams come true, I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine!