Downsizing Your Wardrobe

Globally Americans are viewed as gluttons. We eat too much, are too crude, and have too many things. I’d have to say, I agree with that stereotype. Recognizing this tendency to want more within myself, and honoring my personal value of living with less of an impact on the world around me, I’ve been slowly transforming myself to live minimally in every area of my live possible. Clothing is no exception to this rule.

Some how between the 1930’s and now, it has become socially acceptable in the United States to have an entire space in our homes dedicated to clothing. Sometimes this is an entire room. I used to live this way, having my closet while in High School bursting with clothing. I had drawers in my dresser that wouldn’t shut. Clothing could be found in every corner of my room.

When I was old enough to attend university, I underwent  a silent change. I began to be very selective when buying new clothes and ruthlessly went through my owned clothing in order to eliminate excess.

I still had a closet and dresser full of clothes, but they weren’t bursting at the seams. Much of the clothing I had was for “what if” and  “just in case” situations.

It wasn’t until after I’d graduated from university, in 2012, when I realized I’d had too many clothes. Trevor and I were sharing a closet, and I’d claimed over half the 6-foot closet for myself. It was a wake-up call. Visually seeing I had triple the clothing as Trevor, seeing it all in a line, made me question what I had all of it for.

Capsule Wardrobes

Capsule wardrobes have been collecting a lot of buzz lately, and this is how Trevor and I decided to purge our clothing stash, so I felt the need to address them.

For those unfamiliar, capsule wardrobes aren’t as fancy as they sound. They are small wardrobes, built off mix-and-match pieces. The goal to strive for is that every item in your wardrobe would match every other item in your wardrobe for the most versatile and hardworking collection possible.

Sound daunting? It really isn’t as complicated or scary as you’d think.

What a capsule wardrobe demands is constant consciousness of what you have and what you need. It requires your knowledge of your personal style, the colors that look best on you, the cuts that flatter you most and a realistic idea of what you actually wear every day.

There are two ways to create your own capsule wardrobe: investment and, let’s say, trend-seeker.

The Investment Capsule Wardrobe

I was browsing YouTube for videos on Minimalism and downsizing when I came across Jennifer L. Scott’s TedX Talk, embedded below.

She was so inspiring, we promptly visited her YouTube Channel, “the Daily Connoisseur,” and were hooked by her wisdom and demeanor. The video that inspired our Embracing Minimalism posts is below.

She has many videos covering her capsule wardrobe that are informative, and give examples as to how she will wear the clothing.

Scott’s capsule wardrobe features a lot of investment items, with her paying more up front for higher quality items that last for years.

If you find that you have classic and conservative taste, this method is for you. You’ll still probably need to shop every season (for a few extra items, that may be in the latest style, that exist outside your core pieces), but you won’t be re-vamping you entire selection every season (or even every year).

Admittedly, this would be the ideal way to build a capsule wardrobe. However, not everyone has the cash to be able to dress themselves this way, or the patience and time to be able to wait until they can afford to purchase high-quality clothing.

The Trend-Seeker Capsule Wardrobe

Recommended for me underneath one of Scott’s videos was this video by Coco:

Coco talks about shopping at cheaper clothing stores, spending less on clothing and wearing it until it falls apart. Her clothing lasts her about a season, but she is wearing all the items she owns. At the end of the season, she can afford to purchase new clothes that are the latest styles for the season.

This method of capsule wardrobe forging is suitable for fashion lovers. If you find that you do spend a lot of time shopping for clothing, this method is probably for you.

I feel this method works better for younger people, like teens and early twenty-somethings. It doesn’t require a lot of up-front spending, and allows you to re-fresh your clothing every season.

Start with Project 333

If you’re having trouble visualizing how to go about creating your wardrobe, or this task seems overly intimidating, I suggest checking out Project 333.

I myself haven’t used this method, but have found that the guidelines are very through and allow room for error. This way, you learn as you change your clothing mindset.

Please check out the Project 333 website by clicking this link. The page I’ve linked to provides all their rules, as well as a Q&A section.

Go Through Your Things

Once you’ve decided on a method, it is time to go through your things. Be honest about what you like, what fits you and what is worn out.

Let’s follow along as I do my seasonal go-through, getting ready for spring. Here’s my entire wardrobe before:

In this group I have 30 tops, 17 bottoms and 10 extra pieces.

From here, I am completely ruthless and I try everything on. I ask myself: Do I like it? Does it feel comfortable on? Is it long enough/does it hit me in the right places? Is it worn? Does it send the right message about me?

After getting rid of clothing that needs to be discarded, this is what I am left with.

This is the clothing I’ve got in storage, and below is the clothing to be sold/donated.

Trevor has 22 tops, 8 bottoms and 5 extra pieces. Below is his wardrobe.

These numbers do not include scarves, jewelry, or any other accessories we have. This is because we don’t typically wear accessories. What we do have is mostly sentimental, or for special occasions. Our only everyday jewelry is wedding rings, one watch each, and a necklace for me. Of course, I haven’t included shoes either.

Fill in Gaps

I know this next section doesn’t sound like it is in-line with what I’ve been saying, but you will need to go shopping. After going through you’re things, you definitely should be left with gaps. Don’t keep an item just because it is the only one you have. If you don’t like it and it doesn’t fit you, get rid of it and purchase something else.

After going through my things I’d found a few gaps in my wardrobe.I didn’t have dress pants, or a dress skirt. I picked up a green pair of pants that could also be casual wear and a black pencil skirt from GAP. I also snagged a pair of denim shorts from a yard sale, as I only had one other pair of shorts.

I was getting rid of shirts and needed some to replace them. I picked up a few pocket tees.

I also got three long-sleeve light shirts that would be great for cool nights and beach/camping trips.

In total, I now have 11 tops, 12 bottoms and 4 extra pieces.

Know Your Colors and Style

Before you head out shopping, knowing what colors and cuts flatter you would be the best thing to do. This way, when shopping alone, you can be overly critical of the different colors available, and skip items that don’t come in a flattering shade.

Another good thing to do is take a shopping buddy that is overly critical and honest, like Trevor. He was very up-front about colors that washed me out, versus colors that enhanced my coloring.

I good place to start is this video from LightbyCoco.

From this video I went to The Chic Fashionista and took the color test. I am a deep winter (think Anne Hathaway) and look best in dark colors, or jewel tones.

I hope this is a great start for you, and that you’ve found the resources to get started analyzing your wardrobe to remove the excess.

Please let me know if you’d be interested in seeing how our wardrobes change each season, how we dress while traveling, and what our shoe/accessory collections look like.

For more information about Mrs. Scott, head over to her website and blog.

For more information on Coco, hit up her blog.

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