A month ago I declared war on the clutter in my house.
I have tackled the pantry, kitchen, office, and bedroom, including my side of the clothes closet. I had been feeling pretty good about my closet-pruning efforts, until I began running into posts proclaiming the benefits of the capsule wardrobe.
For those of you who don’t know, a capsule wardrobe is a mini-wardrobe, a collection of thirty-five or so versatile pieces that can be combined to cover any occasion (except maybe a formal ball).
I was both intrigued and skeptical. How can a 33-item wardrobe possibly be sufficient? And who would want to try it?
Some of my Facebook friends, as it turns out. And they seem to love it.
Intrigued, I read this article about one mom’s experiences as she embraced the capsule wardrobe. And then this one, with eight reasons why it’s a good idea.
All right, so I can understand the benefits, and I admit it would be nice to get dressed every morning with the confidence that I look good, but …
I still have my doubts.
I am not so sold out to the minimalist ideal enough that I want to do this out of principle. I’m too lazy to think about doing laundry that frequently. And although I readily admit I won’t miss some of the clothes that are currently in my closet, I suspect I will get bored wearing the same things week-after-week. Limiting my wardrobe to under forty pieces seems a bit drastic.
However, I decided it would be worthwhile to take another hard look at my closet.
Closet pruning 101
Be more with less.com suggests a four-pile approach to pruning your wardrobe. Empty your closet and place each item in one of these piles:
- Love it
- I think I want to keep it
- Doesn’t fit or isn’t my style
- No longer in good condition
Once everything is sorted, place Pile 1 back in your closet, toss Pile 4 in the trash, and box up Pile 3 for your charity-of-choice. Finally, box up Pile 2 and put it somewhere out of the way. If, in the next three months you decide you want something from it, fine. But everything you haven’t missed in three months should go.
(For those of you who want a more thoughtful approach to building a capsule wardrobe, you can download this capsule wardrobe planner at Unfancy.com.)
As I sorted, I became aware that I had my own issues regarding many of the pieces—particularly those potentially heading for Piles #2 and #3.
- Clothes I keep for sentimental reasons, but never actually wear. (Like the rugby shirt featuring those college colors I always hated.)
- Clothes I keep because they were a gift. (Guilt, guilt, guilt)
- Clothes I used to wear a lo.t (Can you say 90s?)
- Clothes I would love if they fit better/wrinkled less/were the right color/were better quality. (Like that $3 Wal-Mart special…)
- Clothes I like, but rarely wear (because they are dressy and I am a work-from-home writer who prefers jeans and sweatshirts.)
As was the case with my household clutter, understanding why I was loathe to be rid of certain things helped me face the facts—and say goodbye.
I am still far from the wardrobe capsule ideal, but the four-pile method did help me pare my closet. And I plan to be more intentional about of how well new clothing purchases fit with what I already own.
What about you? What principles guide your clothing decisions?
Does a wardrobe capsule sound like the freedom you’ve been craving, or a ridiculous fad you can do without? I’d love to hear your thoughts.