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The Monday Style Edit: Creating a capsule wardrobe from the clutter
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Do you spring clean? Nothing in my life escaped the decluttering stick in Spring 2023. The house. The car. My shopping list. The apps on my phone. Marketing emails and texts that saved me $10 on my first order. Everything has been gloriously streamlined, and it’s the best feeling. Even my Toiles to the Wall platforms got decluttered.
Of course, no decluttering marathon would be complete without a trip into the wardrobe. Can you really declutter a tiny wardrobe that needs to expand rather than contract? As it turns out, yes. In this case, decluttering actually meant nailing the streamlined wardrobe approach I’ve been yearning for.
Enter the capsules.
First, what happened to all my clothes? I dropped three dress sizes a few years back. I was so focused on my wellness goals, it didn’t quite compute that I would need to replace most of my clothes with smaller ones. The size change coincided with a few of my earliest post-college ‘grown-up wardrobe’ purchases finally biting the dust or me simply having outgrown the styles. I resold and donated a tremendous amount of clothing, which left me with a Mother Hubbard style closet.
The bare closet led me to purchase a lot of items quickly and without a real plan. A lofty wardrobe ideal is admirable, but a luxury. Sometimes, one just wants to avoid walking around naked or repeating the same three outfits ad nauseam. Of course, if you buy something online, targeted ads and Instagram are happy to step in to sell you more, more, more.
I ended up with a lot of items I didn’t really love and still had ‘nothing to wear.’
One thing I tried to cut through the chaos was to think seasonally. I divided the year into seven mini-seasons - cold spring, warm spring, summer, hot fall, chilly fall, holiday, and winter. This was somewhat helpful, but it also led to buying and eyeing of random pieces. The wardrobe gaps were for specific types of events and activities, not for a particular season’s weather.
My question then was ‘what do I actually want from my wardrobe?’ To look good on Instagram? (No.) To have a wardrobe so functional that I’m not tempted to mindlessly buy? (Getting warmer.) To have an effortless wardrobe that runs in the background on the default ‘elegance mode’? That’s more like it.
What worked for me was to look at what types of places I visit and activities I do most often and create little capsule collections for the most frequent needs. This prevented the wardrobe holes created by the ‘mini seasons’ and ‘random buying’ approaches. For example, no matter how much I bought, I never had anything quite right to wear to a casual weekend event. I’m naturally drawn to more dressy attire. However, sometimes, you just need an outfit to wear to a birthday party at a brewpub.
Something else I did was think harder about what I truly love to wear. What pieces from the scanty wardrobe was I reaching for and what was making me cringe? What types of pieces have I gravitated to throughout my life? A lot of people, me included, have bought items labeled ‘essentials’ by style bloggers and social media. Essential for whom? Maybe these items aren’t essential for you and your lifestyle.
This project is not at all complete, but it’s the plan I have for moving forward. The first step was simply to reorganize my closet and dresser drawers. Of course, I’ve been conditioned to want any new additions immediately. That is not going to happen, but it’s a relief to have a real strategy. It makes it much easier to zero in on what makes sense and tune out everything else.
I’ll go more into depth on how I developed each capsule in forthcoming posts, but here is my list:
Office (anything work related, ‘business attire’ and ‘business casual’ events)
Casual & Weekend (salon visits, children’s parties, low-key meals with friends/family, casual restaurants/pubs/breweries)
Daytime Events (Derby/Masters parties, holiday gatherings, club brunches, showers, golf tournaments)
Evening Events (cocktail hours, black-tie functions, formal dinners)
‘Office’ and ‘Evening Events’ are the most complete capsules right now, but I know exactly what types of pieces belong in the other two buckets. This isn’t really a plan to shop shopping once I have a ‘complete capsule,’ but more of a plan to guide the inevitable shopping that I’ll do into a less wasteful and more manageable activity.
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