Tackling the Capsule Wardrobe • Leslie Friedman Consulting: Fashion, Personal Branding, and Communication Resources
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Tackling the Capsule Wardrobe

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Maybe you dropped by the other day when we talked about whether a capsule wardrobe is right for you or not. If you didn’t, or if you have no idea what a capsule wardrobe is, then rewind a bit back to here where I hash out the newest trend in wardrobing (yes, that is a word…now).

If you love the idea (or maybe just want to get your feet wet) and have no idea of where or how to start, have no fear! It’s really much easier than it sounds. The hard part is not actually removing items, it’s emotionally detaching with that shirt from 5 years ago that you’ve never actually worn. When I give closet cleanout workshops, I actually have a whole slide for ‘coping with the purge’. If you forgot that you live in a 1st world country– the necessity for that slide is always a nice little reminder.

With that said, here are two methods that will help edit down your wardrobe into a capsule collection.

Starting the Closet Cleanout

Method 1: The Airplane Method

This is the easiest method to attain a capsule wardrobe, but it’s also the most extreme. Here’s what you’re going to do: follow along with me during this scenario. You are going to be visiting another town for about 4 weeks. While you’re in this town, you’ll be working your normal job and doing other daily activities that you usually do. Although the weather is very similar to your home, you have to fly to reach your destination and you are allowed one suitcase (checked) and one carry on. Your carry on is for shoes, accessories, and bags while your suitcase will hold your clothing. What are you going to pack? Now, actually play out that scenario and pack a real suitcase and duffle as if this is really happening. The clothes and accessories that you chose as the ones you ‘can’t live without’ for a month are the only ones really worth keeping (exceptions are made for sentimental items like a wedding dress). Now, take everything that you didn’t pack and put it in a box and close it up. Put the box in a garage or attic or somewhere completely out of sight. Take your new wardrobe for a test run over the next couple weeks. Is there anything you wish you would have kept? Have you completely forgotten what’s in your box after a week or two? Wait a few weeks and then, give the box away. That’s it. You’re done.

If the Airplane Method is too much to handle, your next best option is the Traditional Method.

Method 2: The Traditional Method

With this method you’ll clean out your closet in waves.

Wave 1- Get rid of anything that is damaged. If you haven’t fixed it already you probably never will.

Wave 2- Get ride of everything that doesn’t fit. Spoiler alert: if you lose 10 pounds (like you’ve been meaning to for years…) you are not going to want to put on clothes that are a decade old. You are going to want to walk into a department store and proudly announce that you are looking for size ____ and are ready for a whole new wardrobe. Trust me.

Wave 3- Get rid of anything that you haven’t worn in the past year. If you didn’t wear it last year, you probably won’t wear it next year. A good way to see what you’ve worn and haven’t worn is to put all your hangers on the rack backwards at the beginning of a season. After you’ve worn an item, return it to its hanger facing the correct direction. Yes, it is a pain in the ass to turn all your hangers so they face out from the wall, but it’s worth it.

Wave 4- Get rid of duplicates. You probably don’t need 4 pairs of black pants that all have the same fit. Narrow it down to 1. An example from my own closet: I had two chambray shirts that were pretty similar. One was from J. Crew and the other was from Old Navy and was starting to wear down. I donated the cheaper one and now I have one nice chambray shirt.

Wave 5- Okay. If you’ve been truthful, you’ve probably whittled things down quite a bit. Here’s the last wave: get rid of anything that you don’t absolutely love. I mean it. If you don’t immediately think when you see an item one of the following: “I love that ______!”, “I love the way this looks on me”, “That’s the best _____ ever”, then get rid of it. Have some high standards people. When you love what you wear, it shows! You are happier, you are nicer, you are more confident. For real. You deserve more than a bunch of meh’s.

So, now that you’ve purged…how do you keep your closet that way?? How do you start building the wardrobe you’ve always wanted? Here’s a little picture I made up so you don’t have to look at more black and white writing:

Keeping a Clean Closet

I know what you’re thinking. You have a nice, clean, empty closet. That’s awesome! Except…how is that going to get me to a capsule wardrobe? Hidden somewhere in your mass of clothing you might have had all the perfect pieces to create your own perfect capsule wardrobe. Most likely, however, the harsh editing left your closet looking a little barren. Here’s a couple key pieces of advice to live by as you start buying garments for your capsule wardrobe:
1) Don’t buy it unless you need it (remember the list from above??)
2) Don’t buy it unless it can be paired with multiple, if not almost every other garment, in your closet.
3) Don’t buy it unless it is good quality and will last.
4) Don’t buy it unless you love it.

Here’s the thing; it’s pretty simple. Buy less and buy better. Buy items that you absolutely love and can easily mix and match with everything else in your closet (that you also absolutely love. duh). Fundamentally, that’s what a capsule wardrobe is all about.

Happy Cleaning!!

xoxo- Leslie

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