Kicking off the mission of creating your first ever capsule wardrobe can be very overwhelming! Knowing how and where to start is a challenge itself and it can take a few goes and a lot of time to get to the end result. It is exciting though, and as you get closer and closer to deciding your final capsule, it is invigorating and such a sense of achievement… and that’s only the beginning!
So where to start? Assuming you’ve already got the “why” down pat, (I mean the reason you’re on the minimalism mission), next comes the decluttering action! Cleaning, sorting, donating, trashing and selling is a very personal process. We all have different levels of anxieties about letting go of things we own so you need to consider what will work for you and how much time you’ll need. The following process may take a day, a weekend or it may span over a month.
Here is my wardrobe de-cluttering process that will help you devise a plan:
Step 1: Know you’re style you gorgeous thing!
Take some time to identify what looks reflect your personality and make you feel amazing. Define this by writing down a list of words that describe your current style. Not when you were younger or thinner or the time you really thought you needed to adopt more on-trend items, but your personal style now. It’s likely your wardrobe is a mish-mash of styles and looks so try not to consider what style is practical to adopt, just what style is you.
Think about the outfits that truly make you feel alive. It’s a good idea to write down your top two clothing stores and think about what words you would use to describe their style. Think of one or two celebrities of who’s style you admire and the words you would use to describe their look. Our style changes depending on our job, desires, climate, as we mature and change as a person, so you may need to revisit this every time you rotate your capsule. Having a clear vision of your personal style will help you visualise how you want your final capsule to look and will help you make some good purging decisions along the way.
My current style is: Bold, Fitted, Sexy, Basic, and Sophisticated
You can see my first ever capsule here.
Step 2: The three pile purge
It’s time to get our hands dirty! Take all of your clothing out of your closet. Starting with an empty closet is key. Round up all stored clothing or items hanging in spare wardrobes. Every last item! If we’re going to do this, lets do it properly! You will feel so clean and fresh once you know every hidey hole and nook and cranny is free from junk you don’t need.
It’s time to go through each item and pop them into one of 3 piles
- Definitely keep!
- Be gone!
Here’s a few guidelines to stick to when deciding which pile …
- You wear it often
- It fits well
- It’s flattering
- It fits in your definition of your current style
- It’s in good condition
- You feel good wearing it
- It’s a 10/10 item
- You just love it and it makes you smile
Be gone with you!
- You haven’t worn it in over 18 months (go for 12 months if you can bear it). That means the item has had two full seasons to be loved but you’ve clearly chosen to wear other more flattering items instead
- It doesn’t fit into your current style description. It might seem like a practical item to hold onto but if that’s just not your style anymore it’s time to let go
- It’s less than a 7/10
- Whenever you wear it you realise it fits poorly or it’s uncomfortable
- Those “one day I’ll fit into them” items. When & if you fit into it one day, you’ll want a new one anyway!
- You’re holding onto it because it was expensive. If you hold onto it for another 3 years it will lose value and go completely out of style anyway. It’s time to go!
- Those items that were you’re absolute favourites… about 4 years ago (or more).They’ve given you value; they’ve had their glory days. You have a new and improved style now, move on.
- Those items you sort of enjoy wearing but have challenging care instructions such as dry clean, delicate wash, flat dry or fancy ironing techniques. You never get around to washing or ironing them so you’ll never wear them anyway.
The maybe pile:
- Anything in between!
Step 3: The out of sight out of mind rule!
The reason a capsule wardrobe is so wonderful, is because every item fits you perfectly, you love it, you value it and it truly defines your style. It suits the season you’re sure to get value out of it. It makes getting ready every day such a breeze because you know you’re going to put on clothing that feels good. It saves time trying on three different outfits every morning when you get ready. Your washing is easier to keep on top of and you feel amazing because everything is only the best and only your favourite.
Don’t rip yourself off by being tempted to add anything less back into to your Definitely keep! pile. Anything that didn’t make the Definitely keep! pile needs to be out of sight, out of mind.
That’s where the Maybe pile comes back into play.Take all the hangers off, and pop your Maybe selection it in a roller box, vacuum seal bag or suitcase, close it up and pack it away. It’s tough I know, but trust me, letting go of the in-between items is so invigorating, because it’s this decision to adorn yourself with only the best of the best that makes a capsule so wonderful! After three months, reevaluate the Maybe box and if you still don’t give it a 7/10 or more, Be gone! Or if you’re like me, at this point I realised the Maybe pile just wasn’t worth the hassle and add it to your Be Gone! pile.
Now you should have a Definitely Keep! pile that incorporates a few different seasons. Separate it into seasons ie; Summer, Spring, Winter, Autumn or whatever suits your climate. I’m a transeasonal girl and work in air conditioning so I really only need three seasons; Winter, Spring and Summer holiday/resort wear. Anything that’s not current season needs to be put out of sight, out of mind! These items will be wonderful and loved again when it’s time to rotate your wardrobe.
PS: at this point, your room will be covered in a frenzy of empty hangers like a vicious wardrobe massacre has just gone down (oh wait… it has!!) Hence the name; onehundredhangers.
Step 4: The fun part- Creating your Capsule
It’s time to look at your wonderful, current season, Definitely Keep! selection that should fit well, define your style and make you smile!
Your closet should be empty and it’s a good idea to vacuum and wipe it down. One by one, put back in your closet the items that are undoubtedly a 10 out of 10. Weigh up what’s in there, gaps that you may have and which garments you need to add more of.
Finalising your capsule might take a little while and you may want to try and live with your current season Definitely keep! selection for a week before trying to narrow it down to a number that suits you (I recommend 40 items for your first capsule)
If you need a bit more help finalising your capsule checkout this post which helps with the big decisions about the final pare down.
Step 5: The gaps
You are likely to find you have a few gaps in your wardrobe. I know I didn’t have enough basic long sleeve tops, or a plain casual tee. Before you go rushing out to compulsively buy new things for your capsule wardrobe – which is very much against the point of living with less- live with your selection for a week or two.
If you really feel that you purged so much stuff that you truly need some things, then mindfully plan what you need to purchase and take your time. You will definitely have enough in your capsule to get by for a week or two so there’s no hurry. Don’t impulse buy, consider what you need, write a list and after a few weeks consideration head out and buy what you really need. When purchasing ensure to stick to the rules you used for deciding the Definitely Keep! pile.
Some would say that buying items for your capsule goes against the concept of minimalism, but at this point you should be inspired by the true reason why and what you’re trying to achieve. It will be good practice in shopping with mindfulness, if you think you are ready for it.
A capsule wardrobe is not meant to be experienced in suffering. You want to love and adore your capsule and as soon as it’s complete it’s time for the challenge- commit to living with it, loving it and not adding to it for a whole season. As much as it feels like you’ve just done all the hard work, the real enlightenment begins as you live with it!
Step 6: Trash, Donate or Sell?
When you have time, go back to your Be Gone! pile and item by item, separate this into another three piles (I know, I know!)
Again, this one is a very personal decision. I ended up trashing about 10%, Selling 30% and Donating 60%. I then donated some of my proceeds from the sale of my items to charity and paid the rest off some debts. Your decision will be different from the next person. With this one I recommend to just do whatever suits your financial needs, time abilities and charitable values. You can read about what to do with your wardrobe unwanteds here.
You will get so much value out of your new capsule. You will appreciate what you own so much more because the mess and clutter is gone. The confusion of getting ready every morning will be taken away and those annoying items that don’t fit properly will stop interrupting your joy of getting ready and looking beautiful each day . You’ll stop settling for less. You’ll have more time for hair and make-up if you love that too. You will look more polished. You will stare back at your beautiful wardrobe in admiration of how clean and organised it looks and in amazement with how much you just love it! There will be no room left for guilt, frustration or just feeling no good! And believe it or not, with less items you’ll never say “I have nothing to wear”.
Enjoy the big purge and if you have any questions feel free to post them below!