Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Purge: Clothing Capsules

I am not a fashion queen.  While I don't want to look frumpy and I don't mind shopping, I am not someone who reads fashion magazine or scours the Internet in search of clothing ideas and trends.  In the grand scheme of things, what I wear rates pretty low on my list of concerns.  So I really never thought I'd find myself writing any post on a fashion.  Then, within the span of a couple of weeks, I read a few things that challenged me to think a bit about my own clothing choices and the state of my closet.  The first thing I read said something along the lines of you shouldn't have items in your closet that you wouldn't purchase, for full price, at a store, if you were to go shopping tomorrow.  The second was a blog post shared by several Facebook friends titled, "Why I Got Rid of My Wardrobe."  The writer of the wardrobe posts talks about how she decided to gut her closet because of a friend who always seemed to dress well.  When she asked this friend about her fashion tricks, her friend revealed a very sparse closet, filled with clothes she loves, that she feels look good on her, and that work well together.  The idea is that by being deliberate in what is inside of one's closet, that one can actually own less clothing items while feeling better what one actually ends up wearing.  In her case, she pares down her closet to around 30-40 items.  Another key idea is that when you own less, it's actually easier to get ready because you are not overwhelmed by choices, that it's much easier to figure out what to wear together.

After reading that, I was inspired.  (Or at least as inspired about clothing as I am going to get.)  There was a lot of stuff in my closet that I didn't really even like and things that I rarely wore.  I would guess that 50-75% of my closet was made up of thrift store finds which while awesome and frugal, often meant that I would settle on a piece of clothing just because it was in my size and cheap instead of wearing it because I liked how it looked on me or wearing it because it fit well with what was already in my wardrobe.  Of course, I'd like to blame some of my closet woes on Kai.  I know it's almost two years post baby but I think lots of us hold onto clothing items because we are a bit delusional regarding how we want them to fit and how they really fit or because we are certain that we will be able to make them fit better in a few months.  To be honest, I lived in yoga pants when I was pregnant and while I don't wear yoga pants every day now, I would guess I wear them 3-4 times a week.  Perhaps it's time to move out of the yoga pants.  Or at least save them for moments where I might be exercising.

The purge was on.  My goal wasn't to buy a whole new wardrobe, just to be intentional with what I already had and to keep the super star pieces.  Once I did that, then I thought I could swing buying a few new pieces to round things out.  I basically emptied my closet and started putting back in the things I knew I liked.  I had maybe 4-5 things that I was confident that I really liked.  Then I started evaluating the rest.   Did I even like it?  Was it holey?  (Gosh, that should not have to be a criteria but I had like 4 things in my closet that had holes.)  Did it fit right?  I tried things on as I sorted and paid attention to the way that the things looked on their own and how they looked with other pieces like cardigans or button down shirts.  I made piles then for "yep, keep it", "no way, it's terrible", and "maybe, need to think about it." For those in the maybe pile, I gave myself a couple of days to think about it and to try it on again before deciding.  In the end,  I also made a pile of stuff that I liked but would like better if it fit differently, that didn't seem to coordinate well with what I was keeping, or that I was just too on the fence about to make a decision about.  That pile of stuff I put away with the intention of revisiting it at the end of the summer, to use as a way to "shop my stash".  I am embarrassed to admit how much I got rid of.  (Maybe I shouldn't be embarrassed since I'm hoping I will make a bit of money by consigning those things but it was a bit nuts to know how much stuff I had that I didn't even want to keep.Or how much I owned that was basically the same thing.  I had four black cardigans.  Four.  I also found two shirts that I had forgotten I had that got crammed into the back corner of the closet.  Sheesh!)  I would guess I easily got rid of over 40 pieces of clothing, maybe even more.  I didn't count but it was two huge stacks.

This is my new condensed version of my wardrobe.   I now have about 40-45 pieces of clothing not counting layering tanks, athletic wear, professional jackets (which I basically never wear but they are too expensive to get rid of), and sweatshirts.  The sweatshirts and blazers are all on the right side in this picture so my actual blouse/dress/skirt section is what's on the left.  I ended up keeping 4 dresses, 1 skirt, 1 pair of dress slacks, about 10 sweaters or cardigans and between 15-20 blouses.  Most of what I kept is blue, green, black, grey, or brown.  I really like cardigans so I kind of based my choices around cardigans that I already had.  The blog post that really spurred me on (and the blogs she references in her post) all did seasonal clothing capsules with the 30-40 pieces per season but I didn't do that.  I did separate out the heavy sweaters and most of my pants and put those up on the shelf above my hanging stuff since I won't wear those in summer but pretty much everything else is something I could wear during the summer and it seems silly to pack it away somewhere. (I also have a section of work clothes for painting and other dirty jobs that are on that shelf.)   When added together with the jeans, capris and shorts that I kept, I have 50-55 pieces of clothing for all seasons.  For some of you, that might seem like there is still a lot of clothing left in my closet.  But it is all of my clothing for every season, in a four season state.   I'm also guessing most of us are unaware of how many pieces of clothing we really own.

I haven't completely sorted out my pants and shorts yet so I may have a few more items I'm not keeping but after consigning the two pairs of capris that had to be pulled up under my bra to even fit (come on, you all know you have pants like that that you think "why on earth am I wearing these?), I now have 5 pairs of shorts, 3 pairs of capris or crop pants, and 3 pairs of jeans.  

I bought this top...

And this one...

And this one...except in blue and grey with a lime green stripe.

And this one too!
I also bought a pair of beige linen capris (to replace the awful up-to-my boobs pair), a white button down shirt, a grey cardigan, and a white cardigan.  I think I spent about $100 total and I bought the last three items with fall and winter in mind.  At some point, I'm going to tackle my jewelry.  My shoes could probably use a good sorting too.  (In fact, the blogs I read on creating clothing capsules often include shoes in their set number of pieces and limit themselves to like 3 pairs of shoes.)  I really like shoes so I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to that.

Hopefully if you see me in person, I will not being wearing yoga pants.  And hopefully, I'll look more put together and polished.  And if I don't, just keep your mouth shut and go on.

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