Building a Simplified Wardrobe You Love to Wear

For the past few weeks I have felt the need to purge as much clutter from my house as possible, including from inside my closet. I was feeling really overwhelmed with all my clothes and still feeling like I had nothing to wear, so I decided to shop my own closet and simplify things. I mean for goodness sake, I turn twenty-six at the end of the month and I still have clothes from high school. It’s time to move on!

Building a Simplified Wardrobe you Love to Wear Header

I was intimidated to start this process because I love clothes. I love love love them. Accessories too. But, I’m at this point in my life where I have neither the means nor the space to be able to support the kind of endless wardrobe that I dream of. I have the feeling that eliminating the bulk of clothes I don’t wear that are just taking up space will be freeing. Maybe I’ll even find that my dream wardrobe isn’t endless after all, but simple and minimal.

You could call this a capsule wardrobe of sorts, but I haven’t gone through yet to see how many pieces I have now that I have paired things down and I don’t think everything goes with absolutely everything. Can I still call it a capsule wardrobe? I don’t know. Regardless of what I’m calling it, I already feel SO much better about my clothes and about my body because I always feel good in what I wear. I’ll go more in depth in a separate post about what specific pieces I have kept and how I plan on mixing and matching them, but for now I wanted to tell you how I started the whole process because let’s face it–sometimes it is hard to get started, and even harder to let things go.

Take everything out of your closet // Seriously, everything. Clothes, shoes, your bath robe, belts, scarves, extra hangers, that purse that you forgot you had because it got stuffed all the way in the back. Everything. Lay it all out on your bed or the floor–where ever you have space. If you use a dresser or drawers, empty those too. You want your entire wardrobe to be out in the open, in plain sight, so that nothing can hide from you.

Stop for a moment // Breathe. Don’t get overwhelmed. You good? Okay. Continue.

Find your favorites // You know what I’m talking about. That shirt that makes you feel like a million bucks, or that dress that you get compliments on all the time. Quickly go through and pick out the things that make you feel great, look great, and that you love. If you have even a moment of doubt about whether or not you love it–YOU DON’T! Put it down, and we will get to it in a minute. You may find that when you are finished with this step you have only a few things hanging in your closet, and that’s okay! This is your foundation, and we are going to build up from here. If you end up with more than half of your stuff back in the closet or on the shelves, that’s okay too–but make sure you really are only choosing pieces you LOVE.

Begin to sort // Now that you have all of your faves hanging back up, it’s time to go through the pile again. For this part, move quickly. Don’t stop to think too much, otherwise you will talk yourself into keeping way more than you need to. Be instinctual. Remember, just because something is pretty, or was purchased on sale, or cost a fortune, or was a gift DOESN’T MEAN that you have to keep it. Some of your clothes have made it through a lot of legs of the race, but sadly, some players must be eliminated and cannot continue on. Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of reruns of the amazing race on Hulu-plus. Anyway…

Go through your clothes and sort them into three piles: to donate, to try on, and needs to be fixed. In your donate pile go the clothes that you know you never wear, or hate wearing, or always try to avoid. Don’t think twice. Just do it. Your try on pile should be for clothes that you are kind of neutral toward. I had quite a few tops that were in fine condition that I liked and looked good on me, but that I wasn’t completely in love with. After trying them on, I decided to keep them for now because they were able to match many other items in my wardrobe, and I can’t exactly afford to get rid of everything I own right now. Remember though, if you have to say, “I like this, but…” or, “This would look nice, if…” you probably need to get rid of it, unless it is a super easy thing to take care of. Lastly, in your needs to be fixed pile should be the clothes that have a small stain you need to try to remove, or those pants that need to be hemmed, etc. If you feel confident that you are actually going to follow through on these fixes, alterations, or DIY attempts, then go for it and keep them; but if you know you are never going to get around to taking care of things, into the donate pile they should go.

Do this sorting step with everything you have. At the end of sorting, hang up everything you are going to keep, and move the pile to be donated to a different room. If you feel so inclined, you can go through your accessories, including shoes, purses, jewelry, and belts at this point too. If you really want to go through everything, take care of your work out clothes or pjs now as well, and any other miscellaneous items. It should be noted that I am not counting accessories or work out gear toward my total item count, nor am I counting my t-shirts or pants I use for working at volunteer projects, moving, painting, etc. I also live in Hawaii and don’t have to worry about seasons, so if you have items you love that aren’t seasonal (including outerwear!) don’t get rid of them! This is where the “capsule” part of the wardrobe can come into play. You can either separate by season and then store those clothes elsewhere, or you can just move them to a separate part of your closet if you are low on storage space.

One more side note: If you are someone who has a really hard time parting with clothes (I know I am…) because you are afraid to get rid of something that you “might need if such-and-such occasion ever happened,” consider putting those clothes into storage for a month or two. If you go to retrieve something out of the box, you can keep it. But at the end of the time period you gave yourself, anything that hasn’t been touched should be donated. Chances are you’ll forget you even had it in the first place.

Find the missing pieces // Now that you have paired down your wardrobe, look at your closet! Doesn’t that feel so much better? If you don’t have too much hanging up still, don’t be alarmed! Based on the pieces you have kept–which should all be pieces that you LOVE and feel good in–you should be able to see your style start to emerge. Now you can begin to make a shopping list of pieces you need. Only left with one pair of pants? Need a new pair of classic black heels? Write down the items you need to fill holes, and then prioritize your needs so you know what you need to buy first. This will allow you to be able to shop sales when possible, and honestly makes shopping way less stressful. I went shopping today, and even though I saw some things I really loved, I kept my wardrobe in mind and knew if a particular item didn’t really fit in. I was able to be way more decisive, and my wallet was grateful too!

As for what ended up in my closet–I was so surprised to see that even though I love color, I naturally gravitate toward neutrals. The few pops of color in my closet were all in the same coral/pink shade range, except for a few dresses that I have which helped mix things up a little bit. When I saw my closet after it was all cleaned out, I decided that I want to primarily build my wardrobe using neutrals and spice things up with pops of color by accessorizing. I think this will allow my clothes to mix and match really easily and will give me way more combination options than if I have tons of colorful tops and bottoms. I still will have a few colorful pieces! But in the future when I am purchasing things I am going to be more aware of the color palette I’m going for.

There you have it! Sorry if that was kind of long winded, but I wanted to be thorough. What do you all think? Are you going to try to simplify things and revamp your wardrobe? Do you have any other tips I should know about? Let me know in the comments!

Don’t forget to be on the lookout next week for my follow up post where I’ll go in detail (with pictures!) about what my wardrobe looks like now that it has been made over.

I hope this was helpful. Have a great rest of your weekend, loves!

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