08 July 2015

It started with the closet...

Like so many, I was incredibly inspired when my friend, Denaye, emptied her closet and built a wardrobe capsule from 37 pieces of clothing. Until I saw her (viral) post demonstrating how a few pieces can turn into so many outfits, I thought it was a little crazy. After seeing her photographic evidence, however, I thought that this might be just the change I need.

Over the past three or four months, this idea of the freedom of having less has changed several aspects of my life, starting with my closet. Let's start with a look at the before, where my closet held a (large) collection of lingering maternity clothes, cheap clothes purchased between pregnancies, some impulse buys that I thought would cheer me up after having Elliott, and some aspirational pieces kept from before getting pregnant with Madeleine. Oh, and let's not forget the gifts, sentimental, and too-expensive-to-ever-discard items.


I didn't follow the Kondo rules outlined in this article; rather, I started with a slow purge. Each time I walked into my closet, I would take out an item or two that I knew I wouldn't wear. You see, despite having all those clothes hanging in my closet, I wouldn't even consider wearing most of them. Over a few weeks and very little effort, I removed the visual clutter, leaving me with a manageable amount for the actual purge. When evaluating what would go back into my closet, I kept definite spring/summer "keep" clothes, boxed up "keep" clothes that were better suited for fall or winter, and set aside clothes that I felt deserved one more wear to make the final decision...and then I wore those clothes and only kept the winners. I ended up with maybe a dozen pieces of clothing, which were joined by some terrific pieces picked out with the help of a personal shopper (I know it sounds luxurious, but it's free and exceptionally efficient).

Throughout the process, I did not fixate on a particular number of items but rather chose clothes that (1) feel great on me, (2) make me feel great, and (3) are appropriate for me right now - in this season of the year and of my life. Nothing more. Nothing less. I really took Caroline's approach to heart, and sticking with these principles rather than hard and fast rules gave me control over the process and caused me to continually reflect on why I wanted to do this.

I lived with my nearly empty closet for a few weeks before completely reconfiguring it. My closet now has plenty of space for my clothes and shoes, some inspirational art, space for displaying my accessories, storage space, and some blank space. Do you see that empty floor?!



In the end, I chose just shy of 40 pieces of everyday clothes, 10 pairs of shoes (plus business shoes saved for a future return to the office), a small stack of PJs, a stack of workout clothes, a few favorite special occasion little black dresses spanning four sizes, and a small stack of multi-purpose tank tops. I'll share a closer look at my summer capsule in a future post. At the outset, this smaller wardrobe was largely expected; I didn't expect many of its other effects.

I smile every time I walk into my closet. No joke. I love that my days now start and end in this peaceful place rather than the disorganized, overwhelming hole my closet used to be.

While a wardrobe capsule can make getting dressed a no-brainer, I find that I am more deliberate about what I wear. Most evenings, I pick out an outfit, accessories, and shoes for the next day. Because they are all in view and in one spot, it's simple to do and results in a much more put together look than what I was previously sporting. Because all of the clothes in my closet are ones I love, I don't have to wait for any particular occasion to wear something special.

My laundry has plummeted. Do I have your attention? I often give things a second wear before a washing, and I generally have fewer items of clothes. So, less laundry. Less folding. It's beautiful. This is perhaps my biggest motivating factor in planning to do kid wardrobe capsules in the future.

This project spread like wildfire through the rest of my house. I sorted through outerwear, outgrown kids' clothes, linens, toiletries, you name it. Fortunately, George was on board with this purge and even sorted out bags worth of his own clothes. We're also fortunate to have a local reputable charity that will come and pick up large donations.

Beyond our house, I've been inspired to clear out other parts of my life, like my inbox. I'm still not great at responding to email, but now it's easy to see how many unanswered messages I have from among the 50 or 75 in my inbox rather than the 5000 I had just a month or two ago. I finally went through my promotions inbox and unsubscribed to (almost) all of those pesky marketing emails.

While I am a work in progress, this single change has had a bigger and more profound impact on my ability to feel in control of my life than anything I've done in my adult life. Thank you for the inspiration, Denaye


aaron and misha said...

Ah! Amazing and inspiring!

denayeb said...

It looks amazing!!!! Nice work :) So excited for you.