Yesterday I shared a post about how to create a capsule wardrobe, and today I’m going to tell you how it went when I tried putting my winter capsule wardrobe together.
Side note: You’re invited to join me on this capsule wardrobe challenge!! I’m officially going to start on January 15th, but I’m taking some time to live with my new minimalist wardrobe so I can tweak my capsule before we get started.
Let me first say, I am a very impulsive person. I’m sure you’re shocked!! I was planning to start building my capsule wardrobe after the holidays, but I started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last week, and I was only about one chapter in when I went upstairs and emptied out my closet and started sorting. I couldn’t wait another second to get started.
You have to understand, I actually prefer to keep a minimalist wardrobe, and my recent foray into fashion blogging has taken its toll on my closet. I was so ready to do this. I just needed permission.
Marie’s advice dovetails nicely with a capsule wardrobe. Both are basically suggesting you go through your closet ruthlessly and only keep the things you absolutely love. Marie actually has you hold each piece of clothing and ask yourself, “Does it spark joy?” If not, it goes.
The only major divergence in the two philosophies is that the capsule wardrobe insists you only have one season of clothes in your closet, and Marie advises you to keep your entire wardrobe in your closet year-round. She makes two good points: 1) when things are packed away, you forget what you have and are more likely to buy things you don’t need, and 2) weather is unpredictable, and a lot of clothing can be worn year-round. (This was certainly true for us this year!!)
Now that I’ve purged so thoroughly, I have the room to keep my entire wardrobe in my closet, but I am choosing not to. I’m already in the habit of putting things away twice a year, so doing it four times a year isn’t a huge stretch. Plus, I really enjoyed putting away some of the jackets, sweaters, and shoes I only wear in the fall, and I think I will enjoy them more next fall if I haven’t been staring at them all year long. Maybe I’ll change my mind, but for now, I only have my winter wardrobe in my closet.
If you recall, there are four steps to the process: Empty your closet, sort your clothes into four piles, assess your remaining wardrobe, and shop to fill in and complete your capsule. Then you live with your capsule wardrobe for three months. No new purchases until two weeks before the next capsule starts. Here’s how it went down.
Steps 1 & 2: Purging and Sorting
I started by emptying out my closet, and I sorted by category of clothing as Marie suggests in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Because my summer clothes are all packed away, I didn’t tackle those clothes. I’ll do that when I switch my closet over for spring.
9 Pants and Skirts
I started with 16 jeans, 2 pants, 3 leggings, and 5 skirts. I hung 11 back in my closet — 1 legging, 1 black pant, and 9 jeans. I stored 11 as “maybes” and I put 2 in my “out of season” bin. I donated 2 skirts and a pair of jeans.
My finished piles are pictured below. The bottom two piles went back in my closet. The top left is “maybe” and the top middle went to “seasonal” and the top right went to “donate”.
Because I purged not too long ago, I already got rid of a lot of things I didn’t really want. I knew I was keeping too many maybes, but I didn’t save anything that I haven’t worn this season.
I saved 11 bottoms, not 9, and none are skirts, but I really do wear all these, so I decided to live with them for a while. I can reduce more before I officially start living with my capsule wardrobe.
4 Dresses and Jackets (cocktail attire not included)
For some reason, I have no pictures of this. I kept a total of 6 — 2 sweater dresses, 2 printed shift dresses, my black moto jacket, and a black dressy jacket. I also have 2 special occasion dresses, but they don’t count towards the capsule because they’re not part of my daily outfits. And I’m not counting winter coats and raincoats — just jackets I consider part of my outfits.
I put several dresses away in the seasonal bin and gave away a few that I was keeping “just in case.” I also put my denim jacket in the “seasonal” bin. It will definitely go back into my closet for spring.
This is where I got really stumped. You’re supposed to have 15 tops, according to Caroline’s method. No matter what I did, I could not pare down to 15 tops. Take a look at the pile of tops I started with. I am truly embarrassed to admit that I had this much stuff, but anyway, here goes. (I included my vests in here, rather than putting them with the jackets/dresses.)
About 20 tops went in my “maybe” bin, several went into “seasonal,” and I gave 2 paper grocery bags away, but no matter how many times I went through the rest, I couldn’t get my “LOVE IT” pile under 25.
Some are basic foundation layering pieces that I don’t ever wear alone, and I can’t say I’m excited about them, but I do need them to go under the ponchos and sweaters I kept. (I made sure to keep ONLY the foundation pieces that I need to go under the clothes in my capsule.)
I started to get really frustrated, and that’s when I decided I was getting bogged down trying to obey the letter of the law rather than living in the spirit of the law.
I came to the conclusion that it defeats the purpose of the challenge to get rid of things I truly love just for the sake of getting down to an arbitrary number. A capsule wardrobe is defined as “a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you completely LOVE to wear.” The number is just a guide.
I decided to put all 25 tops back in my closet and live with them for a while. I can pare down further when I finalize my capsule.
Here’s what went back in my closet: 2 ponchos, 5 turtleneck sweaters, 2 quilted vests, 4 crew-neck/v-neck sweaters, 3 cardigans, 2 dressy tops, 1 chambray tunic, and 6 layering tees. Oh, and then there are those 4 tank tops I didn’t even count. I started with 20 (yes, really!) so I consider the fact that I only have 4 now a real feat.
9 Pairs of Shoes
I went through my shoes, and I ended up keeping 20. So sue me!! I still feel like I downsized a lot.
I know I could reduce more and still have plenty to wear, but I am not getting rid of brand new shoes I love just to get the number down to 9. Again, the reason I have so many newish shoes is due to my job. I work with quite a few shoe companies who have sent me gorgeous shoes I wouldn’t otherwise buy myself. I don’t NEED them, but I do wear them and enjoy them.
Most importantly, I have empty spaces on my shoe shelves. It feels minimal to me because of the space I have, so for now, they stay.
Step 3: Assessing What’s Left
Here’s the interesting part. Now that I’m living with my new closet, I don’t think I’m going to worry about paring down much more. When I finalize my capsule, I’m sure I’ll tweak it a bit, but I LOVE my closet the way it is now. It feels so spacious, and when I look in there, I love everything I see. I have to say, it might even spark a bit of joy.
A capsule wardrobe doesn’t have to be 37 pieces. Amy follows the Project 333 project. Her capsule has 33 pieces, not including pajamas, workout gear, undergarments, or shoes. That makes me feel a little better about the amount of shoes I saved. If I don’t count my shoes, my total number of pieces right now is around 40 — so that’s not much more than her 33.
If you’re joining me in this challenge, it is fine to figure out the number that works for you. Don’t feel obligated to get down to 37 pieces. Considering what I started with, I think paring my closet down to 40 pieces of clothing and 20 pairs of shoes is pretty good.
Step 4: Shop and Fill In
Most people will probably need to add a few versatile pieces to round out their wardrobes, but I think it’s clear by my inability to reduce my closet to the recommended size that I probably don’t need to shop for anything. I’ve made notes about a few pieces I’d like to add, but I’m not in any rush to get them. I’m waiting to see if I feel I need them after living with my current wardrobe for a while.
I will finalize my capsule and post it on January 15th. After that, I’m committed to not buying any new clothes, shoes, accessories, or handbags for at least 30 days. I’m going to create as many outfits as possible from what’s in my closet, and I’ll share them here on the blog.
The reason I’m not doing this for 3 months is because I will need to start showing the spring trends in March, and I know I’ll need to shop for that. I’m hoping by then, I’ll have more clarity about what I actually need and what works best for my personal style. I’ve learned a lot already just by what I got rid of. I know inherently what looks best on me, but I’ve been trying out a lot of the oversized looks that are trending right now, and they were the first things to go.
Who knows, I may like living with a capsule wardrobe so much that I’ll do another one for spring! But this is just an experiment at this point.
My Closet Reveal
Side note: after I did mine, I convinced my husband to go through his clothing as well. We share a closet, and when his side is a mess, it makes my side feel less organized. He likes to keep things tidy, but he just doesn’t have the tidy gene, so we went through his stuff together.
It was interesting, actually, to help someone else with the process. I can see why people hire people like Marie. He started the process himself, and he got really overwhelmed about a quarter of the way in. I stepped in and walked him through it, holding up every single item of clothing, gauging his reaction, and tossing it in the proper pile. By working through it together, his side is now as beautiful as mine! Take a look.
By the way, our closet organization was done by EasyClosets. I actually WON a closet makeover. I KNOW. It felt too good to be true! You can see my post all about it here: Master Bedroom Closet Makeover with EasyClosets.
When you walk into our closet, this is what you see. The drawers house my unmentionables. The shelves are my sweaters and sweater dresses, and the top shelf has my clothes and crossbody bags. On the very top is my yoga mat and a bin of tablecloths that I use for special occasions. Oh, yeah, and I stuck my iron on a shelf cuz there’s room now.
Looking to the left, the top rack is tops and jackets, and the bottom rack is pants and skirts. In my case, just pants.
On the far left are my dresses, scarves, and handbags. The handbags look messy, but they are all lined up with shelf dividers helping them stand upright. I tried to follow Marie’s advice to store some bags inside of others, but mine are all too close to the same size, and that didn’t work for me. That bin on the floor houses my “maybes” — clothes I wasn’t ready to part with but didn’t make the capsule. If I don’t miss them before the winter season is up, they’ll go to the thrift store.
My shoes and ankle boots are on shelves in my closet. I couldn’t get back far enough to get them all in one shot, so I did a top and a bottom.
I clearly have more running shoes than I need, but they don’t count, so HA!!
My tall boots are on a bookshelf in the corner of my bedroom.
Pay no mind to the ugly floral hatbox and the white bin. Those house some mementos we haven’t gone through yet. Marie says to wait until the end of the organizing process to go through memorabilia because you will get bogged down and lost momentum. I will tackle those once I get through everything else on my list — namely my kitchen, the laundry room, and my linen closet. The attic can wait until spring.
Wanna Join Me!?
If you want to try the capsule wardrobe challenge, be sure to sign up to receive my daily emails for tips and accountability. Then start going through your existing wardrobe, following the four steps listed in my post on how to create a capsule wardrobe. We will get started on January 15th!!
If you’re not already a part of our Fashion Over 40 Facebook Group, it has become a great community of women sharing our style and encouraging one another. I have shared a bit about the process of building my capsule wardrobe in there already. Cyndi and I run the group, and she is not going to be doing a capsule wardrobe, so it definitely is not a requirement in order to be part of it. But if you are planning to try the capsule wardrobe, it is a great place to get ideas and accountability.
If you’d like to join our Fashion Over 40 Facebook Group, send me a friend request here and then please leave a comment on this post or send me a Facebook private message so I know you want me to add you to the group.
After you’re added, you can “unfriend” me if you want. (Or we can stay friends. That’s cool too!) I set everyone I don’t know in real life to Acquaintances on Facebook, so if I do want to post personal information to close friends, that is easy to do.
I will set aside a time each day to go through the requests and add new members to the group, so it might not go through right away, but it shouldn’t take more than 24 hours.
P.S. YOU DO NOT have to be 40 and over to join our group. There are plenty of young’uns in our group. The more the merrier!!!
So far, I am LOVING my “new” closet. I already find myself wearing clothes I forgot I had and things that kept getting pushed to the back as I brought in new stuff. I am looking forward to paring down a bit more and putting together my final capsule. It’s a fun challenge to find new combinations to put together, and I feel like I have plenty to wear.
Getting dressed is something we all have to do every morning, and that decision can affect our mood and general outlook for the entire day. Clearing out the clutter and making your closet a place that is serene and inviting is a great first step towards simplifying your life and living intentionally. I bet you’ll be surprised how this one project will affect the rest of your home.
Once my closet was decluttered and organized, I was eager to move on to the other areas of my home. I’m not done yet, but I’ve made a lot of headway, and I am excited to see it all come together. Marie swears that people who finish her course don’t regress because they love their new simplified home so much they don’t want to go back to the clutter and chaos. Only time will tell if that’s true for us, but I hope she’s right.
Even if you don’t join our capsule wardrobe challenge, consider taking an evening or a Saturday and go through these four steps to put your closet in order. I promise, you will love the results!!