Here was me a few years ago. Getting dressed took forever. I would pull on a pair of pants and a top and look in the mirror and think “yuck”. I threw the top on the bed and grabbed a blouse. “Better”, I would think, “but it doesn’t go with these pants”. So with different pants on, I felt I needed different shoes. Change socks and shoes. But now my cardigan doesn’t go with this blouse. Maybe I could do a blazer. Now, these pants aren’t right. And so on. Thirty minutes to an hour each morning with a pile of clothes left on the bed and me out there shopping every weekend thinking if I just add another piece to the closet I won’t have this problem anymore. Yet no matter how many pieces I added I ended up wasting time each morning and wearing the same pieces over and over. It was making me crazy.
In 2014 I was scrolling through YouTube and I came across a video where a woman was describing how she reduced the number of pieces of clothing she owned from something like 400 to just 100 items. I was intrigued. I had been downsizing my houses for the last decade but my wardrobe didn’t seem to be getting any smaller. I went online to learn more.
There I found Project 333. Project 333 was created by blogger, Courtney Carver. This is the concept of limiting yourself to just 33 pieces of clothing that you wear for three months. Eventually, this came be called a Capsule Wardrobe. The 33 pieces do not include underwear, sleepwear, workout clothes and special occasion clothes. You wear 33 pieces and the rest of your wardrobe gets stored until the next season. Now my interest was really peaked.
I continued exploring and in February 2015 I came upon Jennifer L. Scott who did a TEDx talk about her ten-item wardrobe. Ten items! That’s where I drew the line. I decide 30 pieces sounded good to me. But to further reduce my wardrobe I decided that instead of four seasons – because I’m in Orange County and we don’t have seasons, we only have climate – I would do two seasons, spring/summer and fall/winter. Today I have about 60 pieces of clothing (again not including underwear, sleepwear, my t-shirts and yoga pants, a few formal pieces for weddings and funerals and a big wool coat that I keep in case a stray asteroid knocks the earth out of its orbit and creates another ice age).
By the way, if you’re feeling really sartorially extreme check out Matilda Kahl who wore the same outfit every day to work for three years.
I started cleaning out the closet. In my research, I found a suggestion of turning all the hangers backward. When I wore a piece I would rehang it the usual way. At the end of a couple of months, I could see what I was wearing and what I wasn’t. I got rid of what I wasn’t wearing. This whittled down my wardrobe for the current season. The out of season stuff was in boxes in the garage.
After a few months of reducing my clothing choices, I decided to use the “ribbon method”. I tied a ribbon on the clothes rod in the center. I put all my clothes to the right. After wearing an item I put it to the left of the ribbon. This way I know I am wearing each piece of clothing. After a few months, I noticed that a couple of pieces were always the last ones I wore. Turns out I really didn’t like those pieces so I got rid of those too.
October arrived and I pulled out the box of clothes I had put away the February before (that’s when spring comes in OC, February). It was like Christmas had come early. I consider myself fairly bright but I didn’t remember owning any of these clothes. I suddenly had a whole new wardrobe.
I cleaned and put away the spring/summer clothes and loaded the closet with all the fall/winter clothes. Then I repeated the process first turning the hangers backward and seeing what I really did wear. After a few months, when my wardrobe was paired down, I used to ribbon method to make sure I was wearing every piece.
At first, I thought people would notice that I seemed to be wearing the same things over and over. But all I heard from people was how nice I looked. I received more compliments on my clothes and my style than I ever had in my life.
There have been more amazing benefits. Now I have clothes I love and because there are so few items in my closet I choose items that mix and match. I decided to only wear a few colors, my favorite colors. I may look good in pink but I don’t like the color. So now I don’t buy pink clothes. I stick to black, white, blue and brown. I choose dark slacks, patterned tops and flowing cardigans and vests. In addition, I have a small collection of statement necklaces and simple earrings. Now I get dressed in under three minutes every day and feel great.
Another perk is I don’t shop as much. I have my 30 pieces. Unless I specifically need to replace a piece I don’t have any reason to buy more clothes. I might admire something but then I think of what I have in my closet and most of the time I already have something like it. I also don’t buy things that don’t go with at least five or six other things I already own.
And still another thing is I wear everything in my closet. Before I probably only wore about 20% of the pieces I owned. Which means the variety of what I wear now is about the same as it was before. It just takes me a lot less time to decide.
The final step was I got rid of all the extra hangers. There was no reason to have the 200+ extra hangers so those all got donated. Now when I want to bring a new piece of clothing into the house I first decide what I’m going to get rid of so I can free up a hanger.
This entire process has saved me so much time and money. More importantly, I feel in control of my closet. Anything that can help us feel a little more in control of our lives is wonderful. I don’t worry about what I’m going to wear tomorrow. I know when I go into my closet anything I grab will look and feel great.
This has left more creative energy for my writing, classes, and videos. I have truly Feng Shui-ed my closet. Now what’s in my closet really supports my goals of saving time and money as well as my aspiration of having things in my life that bring me joy.
By the way, I did a video on this back in January 2015. My video production skills have improved a lot since then but here’s the link in case you want to see it.
And let me know if you have a capsule wardrobe or if you plan to start one.