One Woman's Attempt At A Simpler Life

Tag Archives: Labor Day

The last area I attacked in my closet purge was my hanging space.  It’s the stuff I knew I’d have the most trouble with, because it’s the stuff I’ve spent the most money on.  Prior to the purge, I had two hanging spaces – one that held skirts/dresses:

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Yeah that’s a tangle of hangers on the closet floor. Shut up. I’m getting to it.

And one that held tops/jackets/long sweaters:

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Yes, that is stuff draped over the closet door. Because there is no room for it inside.

Both were jammed full of stuff.   Not to mention, I still had a large suitcase full of all the dresses I’d moved out of the guest room closet, but never had the space to integrate into my upstairs closet:

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I was DREADING figuring out how to fit it all in.

So to inspire myself, I did a little reading about something called a capsule wardrobe.  In a nutshell, a capsule wardrobe is a carefully selected number of items that are all meant to mix and match with each other.  Depending on which article you read, a capsule wardrobe can include anywhere from only ten to thirty three items.

Yes, you heard that right – a MAXIMUM of 33 items.

To soften the blow (and again, depending on the article)  that number may or may not count the following:

  1. shoes
  2. underwear/lingerie
  3. sleepwear
  4. base layer/tank tops to wear under sweaters/sheer blouses
  5. Outerwear, like coats/hats/gloves
  6. workout clothes
  7. accessories, like scarves, jewelry, sunglasses, etc.
  8. Occasion wear, like cocktail dresses, etc.

So basically, you can fudge the numbers a bit, and make it work for you.  There is another important element to a capsule wardrobe, which is that you only keep seasonal items in your closet at any time.  That means come winter, you pack away all your shorts and sundresses and capris and hang just your sweaters and wool skirts and long pants.

The idea of a capsule wardrobe is something I really aspire to.  The goal is to own fewer high quality items that you love wearing, instead of buying tons and tons of cheaper items that you just kind of like.  Financially, you would end up spending the same amount of budget on clothing in a year, but on nicer stuff, which will hopefully last for several years, and you’ll always feel like you have the perfect thing to wear.  I cannot tell you how much I love the idea of that.

But I knew I was not ready to commit to only ten items.  Thirty three  items (as suggested in Project 333) seemed more attainable, but I still wasn’t fully ready for it.  A few reasons for this:

  1. I LOVE clothes
  2. As an actor, the need for different types of clothes does come up, especially for on-camera auditions.  Having too sparse of a wardrobe would actually pose a bit of a problem in this area.
  3. I live in a climate that can change dramatically during the day, which means to be comfortable, my clothing needs change a lot with the weather.

Okay, it’s entirely possible reasons #2 and #3 are just bullshit rationalizations on my part, and the only real truth lies in reason #1.  I can admit that.  But I’m not ready to go small yet.  I was, however, willing to take some strides towards that idea.

First, I had to make a lot of decisions about what to keep and what to part with.  I took everything out of the closets and the suitcase, and put it on the bed:

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Quelle MESS

Then I went through and pulled out the stuff I knew I loved without having to think about it -the “if I had to evacuate my house and I could only save one suitcase worth of stuff” items.  Once those were separated, I pulled out anything that I didn’t necessarily love, but was still useful, like a couple shirts that look good for on camera auditions.  Everything else landed in the “on the fence category”, and so I tried those items on, stood in front of the mirror, and tried to be brutally honest with myself about whether or not I should keep it.

When I finished, I had a pretty big pile of stuff to get rid of:

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Bye clothes – thanks for the debt!

I filled the suitcase with my off season “keep”  items, and stashed it in the basement.  And by basement, I mean the corner of our bedroom where it is ready to be put in the basement, just as soon as the thought of lugging it down two flights of stairs stops making me tired before I even do it, or Ron does it for me.

Then it was time to put all the current season keepers back in the closet.  I decided it made sense to change the categories of stuff I kept in each closet space.  The smaller hanging space that usually held dresses and skirts is now devoted to occasion wear.  The bigger closet space has my everyday clothing, and instead of just holding tops and jackets, it has everything – skirts, jackets, tops, pants, sweaters, etc. (since most of my pants and sweaters are kept folded on shelves, this really was’t too big of a challenge).

I have WAAAY more than the ideal capsule10 item limit, but it still looks better than it did:

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Please note, there is SPACE between the hangers. SPACE. This has never happened before.

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More like 35 items – and that of course is not counting the jeans and sweaters I keep on shelves. Sigh.  Maybe someday…

And again, as with all the other spaces I cleaned, I do plan to pay attention to what is getting worn the most, and hopefully will pare it down again at the end of each season. It’s entirely possible that someday I will have a true ten item capsule wardrobe.

Until then, I am glad to be DONE with this project.  I did not slay my closet monster – just maybe wounded it a little.  I wish I’d been able to get rid of more stuff, but I don’t think this will be an overnight process for me.  My love of clothes is mostly what got me into my financial mess AND my too much stuff mess.  I will just have to continue to aspire to be lagom in this area.

It’s good to have goals though, right?

Right.

Oh, and I do have to give myself some kudos for not buying a single thing during all the Labor Day weekend sales – that is probably a first for me, and in a couple cases it was very hard to resist.  But resist I did, and I’m glad.  Being able to put clothes away without forcibly cramming them into the closet is a lovely change, and I’d like to keep it that way for a while.

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