How to simplify your wardrobe

This is my first monthly review of my goal for 2016 – to create space in my life for creativity and calm. Each month I will update my progress in detail on one of the habits I am trying to build and a brief summary on the other four. This month is is all about simplifying my wardrobe!

The idea for simplifying my wardrobe came from reading this post 8 Reasons Successful People Are Choosing to Wear the Same Thing Every Day. I loved it and it made complete sense to me, especially the following points:

1. Fewer decisions. Decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making. For people who make significant decisions every day, the removal of even one—choosing clothes in the morning—leaves them with more mental space and better productivity throughout the day.

2. Less time wasted. We have no idea how much of a burden our possessions have become until we begin to remove them. But when we do, we immediately discover a new life of freedom and opportunity. It was almost five years ago that I first experimented with Project 333—a personal challenge of wearing only 33 articles of clothing for a period of 3 months. The project is simple, life-changing, and wildly beneficial. I quickly discovered one of the greatest benefits of limiting my wardrobe: the gift of time. Getting ready in the morning became easier, quicker, and more efficient.

From this article I followed a link to a gorgeous blog called Unfancy. The author Caroline is famous for her wardrobe capsules and limiting her wardrobe to 37 items each season. I was inspired by how good her outfits looked and and the simplicity this seemed to encourage.

Why 37 items per season?

My goal for 2016 is about creating space for creativity and calm. Walking into my wardrobe gave me neither a feeling of creativity nor calm. Finding room to squish in a pair of shoes at the end of the day, so I could put them away, hunting for a particular top I wanted to wear and feeling overwhelmed by choice where the main feelings my current wardrobe situation was evoking in me.

I needed to foster a habit of keeping a simplified wardrobe to change the way my wardrobe made me feel and decided to take the 37 items approach per season. I could have come up with another number of items to have each season or even another method entirely, but I needed something to get me started and felt comfortable with this approach.

If you head to the Unfancy blog, Caroline has a great infographic on how she approaches creating her wardrobe capsule here and you can download her detailed capsule wardrobe planner here.

I have stuck with the same exclusions that Caroline uses in her wardrobe capsule. It doesn’t include:

  • active wear and sports shoes
  • pyjamas
  • underwear
  • jewellery
  • accessories
  • cocktail dresses

I was relieved about the active wear exclusion. Exercising daily means you need quite a few outfits. The last three types of items I have very little of so don’t contribute much to the over crowding of my wardrobe.

How to go about simplifying your wardrobe?

I actually didn’t use the planner and just used the infographic as a rough guide me and made a start! Here are the steps I took:

  1. STORAGE CONTAINERS AND BAGS – The idea is not to reduce your wardrobe to 37 items for the whole year. Change of seasons etc would make that pretty tough (I am sure some can easily do it though!). I made sure I had one storage container for clothes, one for shoes and garbage bags for the items I felt I could let go of completely and donate.
  2. ALL OF THE CLOTHES – I did made sure I had all of my clothes I have in the one spot. It helps if you do this on a day when the washing is up to date, so you don’t have to try and squeeze a favourite item back into your number.
  3. EASY ITEMS FIRST – Getting on a roll helps with these types of activities I find, so I took away items I knew I definitely wouldn’t need this season, for example winter boots, winter jumpers and the like.
  4. WHAT HAVEN”T I WORN THIS SEASON – There were so many items I haven’t worn this season. As most of us do, I naturally tend to wear my favourites over and over again. I put aside things I hadn’t worn and decided whether I would keep it in storage or donate it. I did choose to let go of many items, but I know I have really kept too many items in storage, but this will be something I work on each season to reduce the overall total of clothes and shoes I have.
  5. MAYBE ITEMS– I then made a pile of maybe items. I had worn them this season, but they weren’t my go to favourites.
  6. FINAL ADJUSTMENT– I then counted up the items I had in wardrobe – it came to 29! I was blown away by this. I probably should have then stuck with only 29 items, but being my first attempt at this, I went back to my maybe pile and put a handful of items back in my wardrobe. Key items I was very happy to add back were another pair of jeans, a dress, a cardigan and a pair of shorts, I was a little worried about whether I had enough, so adding them back in gave me a level of comfort.

Simplifying your wardrobe – the before and after photos

Our small walk in wardrobe is hard to photograph, but these photos can still give you an idea of just how much space and lightness I have created now, by simplifying my wardrobe to the 37 items.

1 Before and after simplify wardrobe - shoes

1 Before and after simplify wardrobe - tops and bottoms

1 Before and after simplify wardrobe - sports jumpers

1 Before and after dresses

The dress section of my wardrobe contains two cocktail dresses outside of the 37 piece limit. The start of the school year has many functions, so these will be worn regularly over the next month or two.

I ended up with two bags to donate to charity.

decluttering wardrobe IMG_7016

These tubs are now in the attic.

decluttering wardrobe IMG_7006

And I need to work out to do with all of the excess clothes hangers!

decluttering wardrobe IMG_7005

My summer wardrobe capsule

This is what makes up my summer wardrobe capsule:

Tops (12)Bottoms (9)Dresses (6)
Black t-shrit
Grey t-shirt
White t-shirt
Grey singlet
White singlet
Smart casual grey decorative singlet
Grey flowing short sleeve top
Black strapless top
Black three quarter sleeve t-shirt
Black smart casual top
White smart casual top
Black and silver speckled roll neck singlet
Khaki pleated shorts
Khaki casual shorts
Black casual shorts
Khaki zipped ankle pants
Grey harem pants
Dark denim jeans
A-line denim skirt
Beige striped pleated skirt
Black maxi dress
Black mid length casual dress
Khaki summer dress
Grey singlet dress
Black aline smart casual dress
Black and white striped smart casual dress
Outer (5)Shoes (5)
Denim jacket
Black leather jacket
Black cardigan
Pink cardigan
Silver cardigan
Black sandals
White Converse
Black Mary Janes
Blue heeled sandal

How did it feel to simplifying your wardrobe?

I actually put this off for a week or two and didn’t undertake the task until the beginning of February. I honestly didn’t think I would be able to do. I thought I would freak out and think “no I have to have this and that and that too!”. But I didn’t feel like that at all. I think it helps to know you are not completely getting rid of the item.

When I reached the point of counting my items and working out I could add more in, I was utterly pleased. I think that it worked out this way, made me feel I hadn’t give up as much. It is funny how small things can trick our mind.

Walking back into the wardrobe I felt an instant feeling of lightness and I beamed with happiness. It actually gave me great joy to work through this process. My wardrobe had been bothering me for sometime and to have a new solution to try gave a feeling of much greater calm and organisation.

It is of course early days, but I am actually really excited to move forward for the rest of the summer with my simplified wardrobe.

Monthly progress review

To help me achieve my goal in 2016 to create space in my life for creativity and calm I decided to focus on five key habits that would contribute positively to this goal. Here is how I tracked for the last month:

HabitConnection to goalMonthly progress
37 pieces of clothing per season
Decision fatigue is a real thing - less clothes to choose from will free up mental energy! I am going to simplify my wardrobe to make choosing what to wear easier and having less items in my wardrobe will give me back needed physical space. As you would have just read, I have made my first wardrobe capsule and am excited to see how this works for me.
33 consecutive complaint free daysComplaining spreads negativity and I have so much to be grateful for. It is hard to be calm or creative when your mind is full of negativity. I have half heartedly worked on complaining less before, but to become a habit I need to track and measure it.I have come to the cold realisation that it is going to take me quite a long time to build a chain of 33 consecutive days without complaining.

Unfortunately complaining must be a very ingrained habit I have developed. The longest I have lasted is 4 consecutive days with a complaint at about 9.30pm on day 5 :(. Tiredness is a big factor with this, so when I am tired, I think I need to stop talking!
33 consecutive days of meditationI have dabbled a little with meditation and it makes a huge difference to the noise in my head. It makes me feel calmer, but I am yet to do this regularly. Doing so will help create an inner calm in my life regardless of the chaos around me.I am currently at 17 consecutive days of meditation and find it is making a huge difference.
33 items decluttered from the house each weekOn the surface our house looks relatively clutter free, but there are over flowing cupboards and drawers. Decluttering will give me a greater feeling of space and calm.Have had a couple of big weeks well over 60 items and then some smaller weeks, so on average would have easily decluttered 33 items per week.
3 hours a week for creativityTime for creativity never made it to the top of my to do list as I didn't give it the value it deserved. If you want something to happen you have to schedule it. Would have averaged only an hour a week in January. With the kids back to school in February I will improve on this.

Have you tried a wardrobe capsule and if so I would love to hear any tips you have on making it work?