Last year, I flew off the handle blogged about capsule wardrobes. Truth be told, I have one. I never intended to have a tiny closet…it just happened that way. We lived in a house once that had a walk in closet. Just for me. My clothes took up less than one wall! I have always felt perfectly content with a minimalist wardrobe. I have a few thoughts on a bulging wardrobe: these women may be fluctuating between various sizes, these women may have had a ‘previous life’ (ie: occupation) that required a particular dress code. These women may have been chasing trends. These women may have ‘found a great deal’. These women may not have cleaned out their closets in 20 (30?) years. These women may have had babies and are hoping that one day they’ll be that pre-pregnancy size again. These women may have sentimental attachment to clothes. Whatever the reason is, it’s not easy to get dressed. You stand in front of your closet for an eternity (or at the very minimum change your outfits 5 times before rushing out the door…only to realize you are late. Again.) It’s easy to get in a funk right off the bat because you don’t have anything to wear. Have you noticed that you only wear a small percentage of your clothes? I think it’s perfectly natural. You have your favorites. Are they your favorites because they are the newest? Do they fit you the best? Are they the easiest to care for? Do they go with everything?
I CRINGE when I hear of another friend/customer/passerby who is doing the capsule wardrobe, and they are purging their closet. “EEK!!! You might need those!!” I scream inside, all the while nodding and smiling. Sometimes I say it out loud. I can’t help it. I suffer from foot in mouth disease. I really try to bite my tongue. You see, I have been there. I have tossed clothes that I now wish I still had. My mom will cringe when she reads this, but I wish I still had a blue, green and white track suit jacket that my Aunt wore in the 70’s. It was polyester, and it’s probably living in someone else’s closet. Ok, so it’s more of a sentimental attachment. But I have a fleece jacket that reminds me of that jacket. It’s ok to have an attachment to clothes. J It just can’t be ALL of your closet.
Where in the world do you start? It’s easiest to hire a wardrobe coach (me!), and I’ll walk you through everything and I won’t judge. 🙂 If you’re not ready for that, or want to risk it, I mean a total DIYer, here are some things I look for when assessing a wardrobe:
- Are the items working for you?
- Are they the right colors for you?
- Are they still in style?
- Is there still life in the piece?
So you want to tackle the DIY wardrobe on your own? Use the above questions and add these:
- Is this beneficial to my life right now?
- Why am I holding on to this? Short of having a Venn diagram, if it doesn’t fit, donate it. If you are actively working on losing weight, then you should hang on to it. But if you’re been this weight for at least a year (Having had a baby in the last year doesn’t count) or longer, get rid of the visual baggage. Either donate it, or store it. If you haven’t gone through that tote in a year, you either need to reevaluate whether you are actually going to lose weight or if you are going to donate. Sometimes it’s HARD to be honest with ourselves. Please give yourself grace, dear one, but if you WANT to make changes to your appearance, having items that are not helping you right now are NOT helping you. They are a hindrance. The other BIG thing I work through with my clients is self-image. We all have things we want to change, but if you don’t love yourself for who you are RIGHT NOW, those changes are less likely to help. Having clothes staring your down (dare I say, taunting you) every morning is like a slap in the face for the woman you are not. It makes you long for that woman that you were.
- Do I love this? Sometimes this can backfire, if you don’t have a stylist working with you. But I trust that you’ll make good decisions.
Start one pile of clothes that don’t fit. Get rid of them.
Next pile, clothes that need mending or have holes. Are you ACTUALLY going to mend them? I didn’t think so. Gone.
Next pile, clothes you hate. You don’t love them. Move on, sister.
(Why am I having you do separate piles? Because you’re going to hang on to most of them for a few weeks. Why? Because I’m not there to reason you out of getting rid of something you actually need.)
Better grab a tub for this next one: Grab the clothes that don’t fit. Ok good. Go store those under the stairs. Put a note in your phone to revisit those in a year. If you haven’t looked at them in a year, DONATE them!!!! Make the changes you need/want, then go get more clothes. It’s not defeating the purpose to re-buy them. This is actually freeing you from STUFF.
Your closet should look really pared down now. What do you have in it? Sit down (grab a cup of coffee!! You deserve it!!), and look at the colors you have. Not the styles, just the colors. If you have a predominance of one color, you need to make a note of that. Remember a single color wardrobe is boring. Variety is the spice of life. You may need to go back and read my post on what to wear in your ___’s. You might be whining that you don’t like prints, or lace, or ruffles, or…. So go read it! You’ll need to digest it for the next step!!!
I want you to look at what you actually wear. Move those to one part of the closet. You should base your capsule wardrobe around these pieces. (A BIG FAT WORD OF CAUTION: if you don’t have variety at this stage, you won’t like the end result).
Rather than tossing the last group of items, read my recommended capsule list, and make decisions from there. Remember, I haven’t talked to you. I don’t know what your needs are. I don’t know what your lifestyle is. I can only imagine that you wish to be free from clutter and ‘stuff’ around you. I can only imagine that you want to get ready quickly in the morning, and don’t want to be staring at your bulging closet. Please use these as a guide. These items are basically what I have in my closet. I’m a busy mom, juggling family and business.
2-3 Pairs of jeans: boyfriend (works as skinny or boyfriend), and boot cut
5-10 Shirts – a good variety of prints and solids, tees and button downs. Must be able to be dressed up or down. ¾ sleeve is a favorite. Tanks are beneficial because they can be layered.
5-10 jackets, sweaters, cardigans, and vests. I did say 10. Jackets are a MUST. They are a completer piece, and pull ANY outfit together. You could even have more than 10 of these. I’d be ok with that.
2-3 dresses. I’m not a super dressy type person. If you prefer them, a couple more might be a good idea. I have 1 for formal events (you can read my story in my 5 Must Haves), 1 for weddings (they don’t take up that much space, so I’m good with it), and a few others.
Something absolutely ridiculous that you’ll never wear but makes you happy! I have a jacket/bolero that is so outlandish that I’ll never have an occasion to wear it. But should the opportunity present itself, I’m ready!!! 😀
1-2 leggings. Unless you’re my friend Janice, you don’t need a bajillion leggings. They aren’t that flattering on most people, and 1-2 will suit you just fine.
Accessories: Toss the broken pieces. I wouldn’t even think about making them into a Pinterest project – if it’s costume jewelry, out it goes! Accessories are to clothes as chocolate syrup is to ice cream!! It makes your wardrobe FUN!!! Best of all, accessories don’t take up much space!
- You can get a slim necklace organizer for under $30 – there are several kinds – I have one with clear pockets. I have a small tackle/organizing box for my finer jewelry. If you organize your jewelry nicely (I’m not even a very organized person in general!!), you can collect jewelry to your heart’s content!
- Scarves: If you live in a climate that is cooler in the winter, scarves are a functional accessory! They are chic, and can pull an outfit together. I wouldn’t recommend getting rid of these either! I roll each in a ball, and store them in a few shoe boxes in my closet. They take up very little room.
- Belts: I like to roll these in a small circle, and store them in my undies drawer. Some people like to hang them. If you are limited on hanging space, opt for rolling them.
- Hats: Can you believe I have one hat!? It lives under my bed. Isn’t that funny?! I don’t know why, but that’s its home. I share this funny story to say that you don’t have to put your things in ‘traditional’ places. The rest of my closet is pretty full, so under the bed works. Go ahead and think out of the closet, I won’t judge!
- Purses and handbags: I like to store a bag within a bag – the ones that are not as nice, or made of fabric get folded in half, and placed inside of the larger bags. This is one area that you may need to assess and pare down. I prefer to keep the bags that are genuine leather, or a higher end branded bag – these tend to be more timeless and classic.
- One word: if you have a healthy purse collection, but you carry a small purse – it’s ok to pare down your collection. Keep 1-2 larger purses that can multitask as something else (beach bag….carry on…library bag…??), and donate (or consign if they are still fresh and current)
Word to the wise: Don’t throw the baby out with the dishwater. If you are getting frustrated, STOP!!!!! Don’t toss/donate anything in frustration!! You’re likely to get rid of something you might need. If you find that this process is overwhelming, it is a good idea to assess the idea of a Wardrobe Reinvention. I’ll help you walk through what items to keep and what items to throw.
There is an allure to looking like Coco Chanel. She was a style maven, who set the tone, and revolutionized fashion. In a time where women were wearing corsets and layers upon layers of fabric regardless of the temperature, she used fabrics that were not used for women’s clothing. She was timeless. She had a sophisticated heiress-like quality. She gave us many things like a structured jacket, an obsession with jersey knit, swimming suits, the little black dress, shortened hemlines, and the list goes on. Many women strive to be “classic” – like Coco. I understand her allure. She exuded style, confidence and change (did you know that she was one of the first SINGLE women to change fashion?! Before her, style was always backed by a man. She did it on her own. She was a millionaire – on her own. These things are so commonplace now, but in the early days of the 1900’s this was unheard of!)
She was also a woman who was hurting. She had a rough life, and was always looking for someone to love her. She didn’t let many people into her inner world, and with the people she did, she constantly lied about her history. There are many things about her that we can leave in the past, and not take on as our own identity. Thankfully, we can learn from her story!
She left us with 3 ways to be like Coco. Instead of copying Coco (honestly that was her unrealistic, and unobtainable goal – we have different body shapes from her ‘classic’ style), take these tips as your own and blend them with your body shape.
- Be a maven. Develop a personal style, and set the tone. I find that so many women want to blend in. They don’t want their outfits to attract attention. Coco didn’t care what other people thought about her styles. She was designing for herself – all of her models looked like her! People wanted to be Coco! If you set the tone for style, your friends will want to be like you!
- Be confident. Coco had an incredible amount of self-confidence (though she was also a bully. Let’s leave the last part out of this). I’ll bet that at many times, she had to fake it. It’s ok! To a certain degree, you have to put on self-confidence until it becomes you. If you lack self-confidence, please be gracious, and not be a jerk. We have all met the people who are so insecure that they bully people around them. This isn’t true self-confidence. We’re talking about the kind where you know who you are, and where you’re going.
- Try new things. Coco was an insecure person who was looking for love – way to start this style tip out!! With each man she had a relationship with, he influenced her style. With one she developed a more minimalist style; with another lover she discovered royal heralds and the ‘finer things in life’ (pearls and gold), and she adorned everything with her signature double C’s, dripped her styles in gold chains and pearls. She was never afraid of trying something new, even if it was bold and outlandish!
- While her biography, I was surprised to learn that even though she could afford fine jewels, and she charged an arm and a leg for her styles, she still preferred to use (and wear) faux gems, pearls, and gold chain. She always took something from high society and changed it. She was free to be creative! You should too!
- She mixed simple fabrics with pearls and gems (even if they were fake). When Coco designed one of her first lines, she used a fabric that was only used for undergarments. It was soft on the skin. It was revolutionary. We know it today as tee-shirt material! She created dresses and paired them with pearls! So wear your fancy jewelry with your tee shirt! Coco would have!
Coco had people flocking to her from around the world because she was revolutionary! Dear one, you are a world changer! Be revolutionary! With a little self-confidence, and a little discovery of your personal style, you can dress like Coco!! I encourage you to try new styles! In order to look timeless, sometimes you have to try new things!