I was so impressed with the progress everyone made with the January challenge! Now that you’ve spent a month thinking about your core style and the silhouettes, it’s time to put that information to good use and clean out your closet!
It might surprise you to learn that I actually have a pretty sparse closet. A few years ago I took no mercy and got rid of everything I wasn’t totally in love with. This left me with a more minimalist closet, but not exactly a “capsule” wardrobe since not many of the pieces coordinated very well, and there were some major gaps that needed to be filled.
It’s been a slow process, but my relentless approach to purging my wardrobe was a huge asset to getting me on my way to building a proper capsule wardrobe, so I want to share my method and tips with you. This could end up being an afternoon project, or a multi-week process for you. I recommend trying to get the majority done in one weekend, and then put the stuff out of your way for a few weeks to make sure you’re okay with your decisions before you toss everything into the donation bin. Remember, until you take it to the charity shop or sell it you can always change your mind; it pays to be discerning from the get-go.
This is the easy part!
Start by establishing a few different areas to toss your rejected garments – I like to have “out”, “mend/alter”, and “sentimental” piles.
Go through your closet and grab anything you actively dislike or never wear and throw it into the “out” pile. Does it make you feel self conscious when you wear it? Do you know red isn’t your color? Get rid of it!
Now go back through and grab everything you love and can’t imagine getting rid of. These are the garments you wear multiple times a month, or they’re your go-to pieces for special occasions. Do not include anything you’re even somewhat unsure about. Now lay those garments out so you can see each piece – this is the beginning of your capsule wardrobe! If you have an item you really love but needs mending you can include it here.
Things start to get a bit more challenging here. It’s likely your closet is more than half full of garments you feel just “meh” about, so it’s important to figure out why you’re unsure about it, and if that’s something that can change.
Print out the the Wardrobe Inventory Worksheets, and then try on each garment and rate it. It can be helpful to have a close friend or family member whose style is somewhat similar to your own to be there for this part of the process to provide some un-emotional feedback.
Finalize Your Choices
Here’s where the hard choices get made. Take the surviving “maybes” and lay them out with the “yes” pieces. Do all of the “maybe” garments mesh with all of the yes pieces? Are there redundancies or do some pieces completely clash with the pieces in your capsule wardrobe? Even though those “maybe” garments have come so far in the process consider moving garments to the “out” pile if they’re not working with your most beloved articles of clothing. Anything that survives this round is your final “yes” pile!
Now hang all your remaining “yes” pieces in your closet, organizing your closet however you think is best. I prefer to sort by garment type, but some people like to sort by color, or even outfit. If you have any clothing that isn’t in season right now I recommend putting them into storage so you don’t have to deal with visual clutter of sorting through tank tops during the middle of January and coats in July.
Donate or sell everything in your “out” pile, and make a plan to mend or alter other garments. I’ll talk more soon about strategies for tackling the mending pile, and how to address the new holes in your closet that may have once been filled by lackluster garments.
What to do with Sentimental Items?
Sentimental garments are a big hang up for a lot of people. You can be attached to a piece of clothing for a variety of reasons – it reminds you of a special event or time in your life, you made it, or it was given to you by someone close to you. Whatever the reason, sometimes you come to the point where you know you don’t want to wear something ever again, but you also don’t want to throw it out
There are a few approaches you can take toward sentimental garments, but the key is to get them out of your closet and away from what you wear on a daily basis. I’m a total sap and have held onto every garment I’ve made in my entire life, no matter how ugly, so my approach is to put everything into storage containers and keep them under my bed.
If you don’t like the idea of actually keeping the items you could take pictures of everything in your sentimental pile before you donate them. You could also consider giving the garments to friends or family members who you know will actually get some use out of them. Sometimes seeing other’s enjoy things we have loved ourselves can be extremely gratifying.
This process can feel very liberating and exciting, or seem extremely daunting and arduous, depending on the current state of your closet. What is one thing you’re looking forward to about cleaning out your closet? What do you think will be your biggest challenge?