“Building” A Capsule Wardrobe: Reclaiming the Closet

2017 is starting off quite well for me but I know I am being an awful writer in many respects. I write sporadically. I vent (too much) rather than educate. I stifle my own creativity by engaging in distractions like Facebook, letting my true work fall to the wayside. My writing, when I do engage, is taking on a new form. I am blending my stories more strategically into larger stories instead of providing a story fully about me or fully about said larger topics. This work reminds me I must constantly decide what is more important to me.

Too often, I don’t have the time to balance two blogs, a 40 hour work week, an almost 10 hour weekly commute, keeping my house clean, my kid fed, my family happy, receive sufficient sleep, and fit in my workout routines. For this reason, I write to say my home blog will become more sporadic than it is currently. There are so many other bloggers who can devote more of their lives to this process, and mine will be a personal security blanket to remind myself I’m making progress in areas of my life which impact this house.

My other blog is taking on a higher importance in my life. This space is helping me build the foundation to a memoir I hope to complete this year. This website, by comparison, will be my reprieve from that work, a place to bemoan the cost of painting supplies and paint. This website will be a place to discuss “gaining” closet space by using that empty space above the basic shelf and closet rod left by builders only seeking to gain a buck, not to build a truly personal space only homeowners can appreciate.

In not wanting to leave you empty-handed today, I completed a recent “project” worth discussing. The husband and I—both being lured in by the concept of a capsule wardrobe—took steps to clear out the master bedroom closet. We are clothes hoarders. There I said it. Yes, like many Americans we make the conscious and unconscious choice to hold onto things no longer useful in our lives. Ill-fitting clothes. Outdated fashions. Clothes, once worn, which prove they are not well designed for our messy lives.

My husband parted with much more than I did and donated all usable articles of clothing. He had a whole large black trash bag chock full of clothes we dropped off at Goodwill. I cannot begin to tell you how amazed I was by how much more organized his side of the closet looked once the excess clothes and cheap wire hangers from the dry cleaners went away.

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The black bag is full of donations and that tiny bag is full of clothing too worn and tattered to sell or donate.

Unlike my husband, I did not choose to donate clothes this time. A few weeks ago I signed up for another Stitch Fix and back in January I requested a Clean Out bag from ThredUp. My Stitch Fix order will arrive in April and should only be full of bottoms. I never request a box of only one particular item with the exception of this upcoming shipment. I parted ways with a number of pants so the logical thing to do was order strictly pants.   Opting for ThredUp, versus Goodwill donation, also made sense financially. An identifiable gap I found was my array of shoes. My current pair of flats will shortly be on its way out and I find the color choices/style of certain shoes only works with particular outfits. Footwear is not an easy category to replace and I want to purchase a couple pairs of higher quality shoes, like a pair of Tieks flats and most likely a beautiful pair of flat boots. I might look into a good neutral color and one bright pop to add interest to my personal clothing collection.  (As you can see I also took the time to purge my daughter’s wardrobe over of too small clothing.  She had a good number of Gymboree pieces.)IMG_1909

Here’s what I provided to ThredUp, cleaning up our home and hopefully generating money for some replacements.

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This bag should be processed in late April. Fingers crossed I have enough money to buy a pair of Tieks.

I made the choice 10 weeks ago to invest in the Fighter Diet and my wardrobe—happily—is bearing the brunt of this investment. Not too long ago, I redid my measurements and with 5lbs. and 6 3/8” lost, I cannot fit into older pieces. Pants are my biggest challenge currently. Thankfully, my skirts and dresses, the newer pieces in my wardrobe, fit well and as the weather warms up won’t leave me with as many gaps in my wardrobe as I expected when I started cleaning yesterday.

The funny thing though is my clothing moods (as my clothing choices convey, in my opinion) are grounded in comfort.  I love a good pair of jeans any day, but can’t wear them to work but on Fridays.  Therefore, I only take things up a notch to business casual.  If a piece is too high maintenance of a fabric, like silk, it does not belong in my closet.  I will forget fabric care instructions.

After reading about capsule wardrobes in [Magnolia Homes magazine] I looked more critically at my wardrobe categories to match my lifestyle. My life is mostly about work, fitness, and errands/downtime with my family. My wardrobe somewhat captures this reality and I categorized my remaining pieces as follows:

Exercise/Lazy Day Clothing

-2 pairs workout capris

-5 shirts

-6 pairs leggings

Cold Weather Tops

-2 solid color H & M cardigans (red and blue)

-1 purple cowl REI neck sweater

-16 long sleeve and ¾ sleeve tops (button downs and flannel)

-2 ribbed H & M cardigans (grey and beige)

-1 fleece

-1 dressy White House Black Market sweater

-1 souvenir hoodie (from my home state of Rhode Island)

Warm Weather Tops

-12 t-shirts (my favorites graphic tees are from United By Blue)

-2 dressy tops

-7 casual tank tops

-2 dressy tank tops

Blazers

            -1 jean blazer from White House Black Market

-1 work blazer from H & M

Undershirts

-7 camisoles

 

Dresses

            -14 dresses (business casual)

*Mostly items from Stitchfix and White House Black Market

Bottoms

            -5 skirts (a couple from REI)

-2 Sport Kilts

-4 prs jeans

-6 business casual pants

Cover Ups

            -1 short sleeve shrug (white)

-1 ¾ sleeve shrug(black)

 Footwear

-1 pair Five Fingers

-1 pair running shoes

-1 pair nude stilettoes

-1 pair purple stilettoes

-1 pair black ankle boots (casual)

-1 pair gray closed toed shoe (casual)

-1 pair brown kitten heels

-1 pair green flats

-1 pair blue sandals

-1 pair blue wedges

-1 pair black shoes (casual flats)

-I pair brown cowboy boots

I still have some work cut out for me, as I have not yet tackled my dresser. It’s full mostly of undergarments, tights, socks, exercise pieces, and scarves.

I’m not usually brand specific about certain things but socks and tights are an area of more concern to me as an adult. Over time, I’ve found I am happiest wearing tights with skirts and dresses rather than pantyhose and White House Black Market is my go-to place. I can’t tell you the last time I bought pantyhose since $3-$5 a pair and two wears later I have a rip or two. Instead, a good $15 investment in a pair of WHBM’s tights so far have lasted me two years. During my deployments, several pairs of Smartwool socks gave me great comfort through hot and cold weather. When I’m not being picky about socks and tights, my playful side comes out. I adore holiday socks. My Halloween ones will be replaced later this year but my Christmas socks are holding strong.

From this (quite practical) exercise—and I hope our former clothing finds good homes—I have space to express myself differently. I know I have a penchant for casual and business casual clothes. I’ve been reluctant to dive deep into “true professional” clothing, mostly out of my fear too much of my work wardrobe will require dry cleaning or constant ironing. (Trust me, I try to remember to request machine washable and dryer friendly clothing for my Stitch Fix selections, but I did forget in making my April order.) Additionally, while I don’t need many new shoes, I would like to add a few pairs of Tieks in the next year. I enjoy flats but I need something to replace my current pair and based on my preference for comfort, a longer lasting shoe is necessary. At $175 on the low side, I plan to start with a good neutral for maximum wear potential.

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These outfit suggestions from Stitch Fix are great.  I took a photo so I could clear this paperwork from my home office.

Below is my “organized” closet reveal (sorry for not taking a before photo).  It’s not a beautiful space yet but once I can purchase a wardrobe from IKEA the space will be better organized and appealing to the eye.  If you want ideas to organize your own space, check out their site.

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Lastly, if you need help considering how to purchase new pieces when you see gaps in your wardrobe it helps to consider “cost per wear.”  If you want another perspective–the person’s whose capsule concept is discussed in Magnolia Journal– check out this post from Unfancy.

Thanks again for dealing with my sporadic presence.  Have a great weekend.

~Cheryl

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