A major part of this move involves simplifying our lifestyle. While getting rid of everything (yes really everything) is intimidating, it is also strangely liberating. It's easy to get burdened down with stuff: all this flotsam and jetsam that we accumulate over the course of a life. But do we really need all of it? Not at all. After all, the old adage is true: you can't take it with you when you go! I can't tell you how many crates of stuff we have in our little cellar-- and we've only been married 3 1/2 years! Going through it all and deciding what to donate, what to sell, and what to keep has been a refreshing task that has gotten me into the mindset of simplifying.
One main area that required simplifying is our wardrobe. Last year, I attempted a capsule wardrobe with some limited success. While I haven't really created a strict, mix-and-match capsule wardrobe this year, I have considerably simplified my closet down to the main items that I love and wear the most. Today I thought I might share some tips that have worked for me as I've purged and simplified my wardrobe over the past two years.
1) Stop and think about what you really need from your closet.
One thing I learned last year when planning a capsule wardrobe was that everyone has different wardrobe requirements. For example. someone who works from home doesn't need the wardrobe of a person who works in a busy formal office. Someone who lives in a hot climate doesn't need the wardrobe of someone in a cooler climate. Last year, I needed more office attire for my job as assistant director in a college financial aid office. This year, I work from home writing and running my Etsy shop, so I don't need all those business-casual pieces. Just take a moment to consider your daily and weekly needs. Do you need more business-casual clothes? Work-to-weekend pieces? Do you need church clothes? Or do you need primarily casual pieces? Ask yourself these questions and consider what you wear the most every week. Try making a list of what you think you will really need.
2) Take everything out of the closet.
And I mean all of it. Every single hanger. I usually do my wardrobe purges during transitional seasons when I'm going to be changing out my wardrobe anyway. Lay it all out on your bed to make it easier to sort. Side note: it's weird how dusty closets get. You can take this opportunity to clean it out really well if you want.
3) Sort items into three piles: keep, goodbye, and unsure.
I ask myself this question every time:"Did I wear it at all this season?" If the answer is no, then it immediately goes into the goodbye pile. If you're never wearing a piece, there's really no point in keeping it. If the item has some serious sentimental value (like your wedding shoes or the last sweater your grandmother knitted for you) just put it in the unsure pile for now. Another important question to ask: "Do I feel good in this when I wear it?" I've started asking myself that even when I shop for clothes. If I don't feel 100% about something, I don't buy it. Same when I'm purging my closet. If there's something about the item that makes me say "Hmmmm" then it goes into my goodbye pile. And then finally the obvious question: "Does it fit?"Make a conscious effort to keep only what you need and truly love, getting rid of those excess items you rarely or never wear.
4) Return "keep" items to closet and reassess "unsure" items.
You might be surprised at what's left over! I was! Return "keep" items to your closet. Then, reassess those items in the unsure pile. If you need to, let it rest for a day or two--even a week or two-- then come back to them. Try them on again, ask yourselves the same questions, and then make your final decision whether to keep or say goodbye. Remember you don't have to get rid of sentimental items. Put them in a hope chest or just keep them in your closet because they make you happy. My example: the shoes I wore on my wedding day. I'm not getting rid of those, no way!
5) Donate or sell what you don't need.
I usually donate my items unless I have some really nice pieces that I feel like I could still sell. Here's a tip for donating to Goodwill or other similar charities: make a list of what you're donating, Trust me, when you try to write that off later at tax time, you'll thank me.
6) Rebuild and supplement with any needed items, focusing on quality.
If you're like me, after you go through all your items, you may find that you're missing one or two essential pieces. This year was a little different for me because I've lost 15 pounds since last summer. So many items did not fit in a good way. I found myself without any jean shorts and no basic tees that fit. I plan to supplement my wardrobe with a few new quality pieces. But again, be super mindful when buying new pieces. Focus on quality over quantity. Ask yourself the same questions again.