Thursday, August 28, 2014

Closet strategy

So you've all been hearing about capsule wardrobes forever, right? Only using 30ish pieces of clothing or something like that? This is really appealing to me because I'm a terrible shopper and I'm finally realizing that the issue is that I don't like shopping very much most of the time*. You'd think this would mean I have less clothing, but no. It just means I have oddly assorted clothing and then wear the same things over and over again. Back in January I decided I needed to come up with a better system that would be more uniform-y and efficient. So now it's August ...


I was initially planning a pretty drastic overhaul. I wanted to cut my wardrobe down to 35 pieces (including shoes and clothes, everything except underwear and workout gear). I read through the guide at Unfancy and it seemed fairly doable (note - I've linked to the wardrobe planner but you'll need to poke around a little to get more information from her site about how she pieces out her wardrobe). I liked that it at least gave me a solid outline of how I'd want my closet allocated and what pieces I might need. I strategized quite a bit. 

But strategizing is not the same as executing. When I actually went to tackle my closet it became clear that getting down to 35 pieces all at once was going to be a huge mental effort and I was probably going to burn out my decision making power before I was done. This has happened in the past and it gets ugly. Sometimes I give up and put everything back in the closet. Sometimes I give up and toss out all my long sleeved shirts because I haven't worn them in months (ignoring the fact that it's summer) and then in October I have nothing to wear. I took a modified approach instead. 

I worked methodically, pulling out everything from one section at a time. I spread it all out and sorted into categories (tops, bottoms, special occasion, etc) to get an idea of what I had. Some pieces I knew needed to go - I didn't care about them and I hadn't worn them in forever. Some pieces were clear keepers (I'd worn them multiple times in the last few weeks). Then there were all the in-between things. Stuff I loved but hadn't worn in a long time. Pieces that could potentially be really useful (or used to be useful) but I didn't love that much. 

I started to feel overwhelmed with the decision making process so I decided to set up a clothing purgatory. Anything I wasn't sure about I marked with a piece of yellow ribbon, either knotted on the hanger or pinned on the tag. If I wear something and feel good about it, I'll take off the yellow ribbon. In a few months I'll revisit my closet and anything that still has a yellow ribbon will go. 

I also have a few purple tags, which are for pieces of clothing I do wear a lot but would like to replace with a better version soon. This way I'll know to keep my eye out for those staples. 


I think the marking system is what made it possible for me to get through everything without feeling overly stressed out. It's worth noting that I did not try anything on. I felt like that would just get distracting (and possibly depressing) and I was pretty sure I wouldn't finish. I'm just spreading it out a bit, since I'll eventually try these things on when I'm deciding what to wear. I think I can handle it better in small doses. 

in progress
{in progress}

In addition I set aside a couple of boxes and stashed them on my top shelf. One has my winter/holiday clothing and one has clothing I'm not quite fitting into right now. It's been a rough year, guys. I'm not going to beat myself up about it, but there's a good 5 - 10 pounds standing between me and my usual jeans. I figure if I'm still here in another six months, I can just give the whole box away in one go. 

This isn't quite everything - my dresses are hanging in the coat closet but I sorted through them with the same system. 

So I didn't exactly achieve my goal (I have no idea how many pieces of clothing I still own) but I think I'm heading in the right direction. I'm going to see how it goes and hopefully I can make this an ongoing process over the next several months. I want to be in a place where getting dressed is easy and I'm happy with all my clothes. 

* Once I realized this it was nice because I mostly stopped shopping. But it's lead to the secondary situation I'm in now, where I've worn through every pair of everyday shoes and now I need to buy sandals, flats and sneakers and it's a nightmare, because I hate shoe shopping more than anything else. 


  1. I did something similar, expect every time I wore something I turned the hanger it was hanging on around. And then I got overwhelmed and gave up halfway through. I wish you more luck in your endeavor than I had with mine.

    1. I tried that once! Sadly, the direction in which my hangers are facing is not one of my compulsions, and I tend to put them in any which way, so I failed. I'm hoping (fingers crossed) that this will be eye catching enough that it'll work for me.

  2. Hmm... I just bought another clothes rack from Target when I ran out of space in my closet. :) But then, I wear pretty much every single thing I own. It just takes me 4-6 weeks to get through it all.

  3. I recently did a closet overhaul too (after having it on my to do list for over a YEAR. I'm a terrible person) and it was such a relief once it was done! There's something freeing about dumping five trash bags at Salvation Army :D

  4. Ah, yes! Defintely been with you on the getting rid of summer gear in the middle of winter (or vice versa). I have such grand visions of a closet where I actually love every single item. For now, I'm just proud that I didn't toss every single pair of my pants in the week after I gave birth. Baby steps. (So impressed with the color coding!)

  5. I have a similar problem. Because I don't like shopping for clothes, I worn everything until I can't stand anymore and *need* to buy something new. Then I have trouble finding something I really like and it gets me even more stressed.. it's like a cycle.
    This year I've been trying a system similar to yours and trying to replace the pieces I need before they get too worn out. It's still an exercise for me, but I'm getting better :) Hope it works for you!

  6. I LOVE your housekeeping posts. So inspiring. I really need to do this. I'm in a weird sizing situation too, because ever since I gave birth 2 years ago I still don't fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes. I will admit that it royally sucks. And I have so many things from pre-preg that I adore and I'm not willing to give up yet, so I'm in this clothing purgatory-- not willing to invest in new nice pieces and not yet willing to let go of I wear the cheap ugly stuff I have accumulated since I gave birth all the time, hoping things will change soon. UGH. But anyway, thanks for this. I really like the tag system-- genius!

  7. I really like this idea! Seems doable and practical. I'm in the same boat. I have a lot of clothes where there's nothing wrong with them, they fit, etc, but I just never find myself reaching for them. They're fine, but I don't LOVE them...and I don't really need to keep anything that I don't love (I wear scrubs to work everyday, so no need for tons of clothes). Yet I find it difficult to get rid of certain things. I really like your idea and definitely might give it a try. Another thing I've tried is just taking those in-between clothes out of the closet and putting them away in a certain drawer or corner, then seeing if I miss them within a few week long period. Later when I come back to them it's usually clear to see whether I thought about them in the interim, or am happy to just see them go.

  8. This made me think of all the clothes in my closet.....and drawers..and under the bed in boxes....Might as well go on with it and start sorting out before winter comes. I've also stopped shopping for a while so that should help in some way... :) Thanks for the reminder and love your ribbon idea!

  9. Interesting which colors you yellow tag, and which you don't. How they fall on the color spectrum from cool to warm, from clear to muted, etc.

  10. A tip regarding shoes, if you like the top of your shoes and they are in good shape, check with your shoes repair person to see if he/she can replace the soles. It's cheaper and you don't have to shop for new shoes :)

    1. Yes, this is a great point! I've done this for my favorite boots and it's great.

  11. This is a great method! I also have been considering a capsule wardrobe (I'm feeling the need to simplify my life because it has been horribly complicated for the last year) and the ribbon is a great way to start. Sectioning them like that may also help you figure out which pieces you don't really wear, and , subsequently, don't really want. I'd love to hear what you end up with!

  12. I'm like you -- I love shoes, hate shoe shopping. The way most women hate trying on bikinis, I despise trying on shoes! Of all the things I impulse purchase, my most unused items definitely include shoes.

    Thanks for doing this! I'm also trying to pin down to a capsule wardrobe -- I need to figure out my capacity number, but even that seems daunting.

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Trying captchas this time - better or worse than having to log in to comment? Let me know! Sorry for all the hoops but the spam has been terrible lately!