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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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