I really have zero idea how I found her, but I came across Caroline Rector's blog Unfancy right when she was starting her capsule experiment and was hooked. I used her steps and her Capsule Wardrobe planner and went through every single item of clothing I owned. I literally took every single thing out of my closet, drawers and storage bins and threw it on my bed. Then, I tried every single item on. If I immediately loved it, it went into the "keep" pile. If I started fussing with it, pulling at it, or otherwise felt "meh" about it, it went into the "don't keep" pile. I separated out things that were too worn to be donated and threw those away, and donated or sold the rest.
One caveat: there were some items, probably one Rubbermaid tote's worth, that I didn't LOVE when I tried them on but just couldn't bear to part with yet, either because they were sentimental pieces, I had spent a lot of money on them or I just felt like "what if I end up wanting this someday?" I put those things into a storage bin and stored them out of sight for six months. If, after six months, I hadn't wanted any of those items, I got rid of them.
Since that very first massive closet overhaul, I have continued to pare down even more. The capsule experiment taught me SO much about my personal style, what "uniforms" and color palettes I"m drawn to, and what things I'll wear again and again.
Although I'm not currently working within a designated "capsule", I highly recommend using that route to begin if you're brand new to the idea of a minimal wardrobe. Having the 37-item framework to work within was SO helpful as I figured out how to live with less in my closet.
If you want to dive in, I recommend pulling every single thing out of your closet and trying it ALL on. Pay really close attention to your immediate thoughts when you look in the mirror. Thoughts like "this would look so good if I lost ten pounds" or "wow, this doesn't fit as well as it did before my baby was born" or "this is SO cute but this fabric is really scratchy" are all indicators that a piece should go. If you don't love it, you aren't going to wear it. Period.
If doing your whole closet at once overwhelms you, start with the upcoming season's clothes. Right now would be a perfect time to pull out all those fall and winter items and pare them down first. Have your own little dress-up party in your bedroom and put together different outfits. When I first started, having an album on my phone of different outfit combinations I'd made was SO helpful to really visualize all the different looks I could pull together with my limited number of items. Snap some photos, file them on your phone and pull it out for reference when you feel like you have "nothing to wear."
As you go through your clothes, pay attention to duplicate items. You probably don't need 3 or 4 very similar black flowy tanks. Likewise, a black maxi dress can double as a black maxi skirt by throwing a top overtop of the dress. Looking at my pieces in new ways and keeping things that could be worn in versatile ways helped me pare down a lot.
Another thing that really helped was to create a Pinterest board of outfit ideas and specific pieces I was looking for for the next season's capsule. The only way to truly minimize your wardrobe is to stop the influx of new items. Pinning things and really intentionally "window" shopping (mostly online) for 2-3 months in advance helped me not make so many rash purchases that I would end up getting rid of.
To summarize, here's my best tips for getting started with a minimalist wardrobe:
- Go visit Unfancy and dig through her old posts (start here!)
- Print out and complete the Unfancy Wardrobe Planner
- Take everything out of your closet, drawers and storage and try every single piece on. Only keep the things you LOVE. Get rid of everything else. And I don't mean put it back on the top shelf of your closet. Actually get it out of your house.
- Pay attention to duplicate items, and pare down to singles.
- Play around with your remaining pieces and create some outfits with them, snap photos of each and store them in a folder on your phone for reference. You can also use Stylebook to do this easily.
- Make a list of gaps in your wardrobe that you'd like to fill.
- Start a Pinterest board for your capsule and start to really research and seek out those pieces.
You really CAN dress well, feel great, feel like yourself and not have eighty billion items in your closet. I promise, it's possible! After all, French women - queens of chic - know this through and though :)
Some more resources if you're curious:
- My friend Hayley's e-course "The No-Brainer Wardrobe" launches again TOMORROW, and it's great for diving into this idea of a minimal wardrobe!
- A capsule wardrobe builder app (genius!)
- This book by Jen Hatmaker touches on a ton of topics besides clothing but REALLY opened my eyes and convicted my heart about how little I truly need.
- And of course, this book now has a cult following and has a whole chapter on how to effectively minimize your clothing. I especially liked her tips on how to store clothes - super helpful!
Let me know how your minimizing goes! I'll be back next week to talk about how exactly I store my clothes in our house with VERY limited closet space! XO!