Closet Chronicals

The Capsule-esque Wardrobe Idea (or How I Cleaned My Closet and What I Plan To Do About It): Part II

The Purge:

I must say, part of the reason I cleaned out my closet so throughly was all due to Volunteers of America coming to take donations from my curbside. This was a great motivator to look through my stuff and know that everything I give will make a difference somehow. It also made me quite merciless in deciding to toss items: if I don’t love it, someone who needs it will use it. Isn’t that better?

Bags ready for Volunteers of America pick up.
Bags ready for Volunteers of America pick up.

With that in mind, I sorted through two closets. One closet I use for storing clothes I don’t wear at the moment (winter clothes for example), and for “afternoon” clothes. That’s what I call anything I wear that isn’t work related. My other (smaller) closet is where I store my work clothes, and my everyday items during summer.

RTA jeans I love, next to a black H&M cardigan I got a month ago that already looks worn. In the background you can see a pencil skirt I wore last in 2012. Special occasion skirt, indeed.
RTA jeans I love, next to a black H&M cardigan I got a month ago that already looks worn. In the background you can see a pencil skirt I wore last in 2012. Special occasion skirt, indeed.

I created 8 categories that I wrote down on cards to make it easier for me to consider the purpose of each item and keep my clothing piles separate:

  • Love: work
  • Love: afternoon
  • Meh: work (need to keep, but not excited about)
  • Meh: afternoon (need to keep, but not excited about)
  • Special Occasion
  • Loungewear
  • Donate
  • To be donated as soon as it’s replaced
Clothing piles arranged with category cue cards. This was helpful when typing data into my spreadsheet and keeping the chaos in check.
Clothing piles arranged with category cue cards. This was helpful when typing data into my spreadsheet and keeping the chaos in check.
Mid-purge: work pants and cardigan to keep, along with a dress I've owned for 5 years and have never worn. Below are piles of clothes - fate to be determined.
Mid-purge: work pants and cardigan to keep, along with a dress I’ve owned for 5 years and have never worn. Below are piles of clothes – fate to be determined.

Once I sorted out all my items, I did several things:

  1. I created a spreadsheet. I wrote down everything I kept, why I kept it, and where I got it from (when possible). The reason for this was simple: a. I am crazy and seem to have free time. b. I really can’t tell what I have or need just by looking at my closet. This is how I ended up buying so much during 2014-2015 but tossed out most of it. and c. This will allow me to see if I am really creating a sustainable wardrobe. That is, do I have enough great basics? Do I have enough items I love? Is there a clothing brand I should avoid? Yes – ASOS! & Nordstrom purchases I tossed most of what I bought from these two stores. See? The spreadsheet is already paying off!
  2. I placed my winter gear in a plastic IKEA container, to keep it out of the way and keep my closet decluttered.
  3. I beheld my clothing collection! Leaner and satisfyingly simple. Also, it made me think of Liz Lemon looking for a white dress in her closet only to find she has mostly grey clothes and wondering if she’s depressed (See 30 Rock: Mazel Tov, Dummies! 19:07 minutes into the episode).

So, Now What?

Let me start out by saying that about a month ago I decided to really really look into my finances. Like…Really look into them. I’ve been using Mint for years, but I never really took a close look at my expenses and earnings. I decided to create (what I refer to as a crazy-person’s) Numbers spreadsheet with ALL THE DATA I COULD FIND. Expenses, earnings, debt, planned purchases, long term goals… All of it. If you want to hear about this, please let me know and I’ll write a post about it.

Wow. I sure do love black and white clothes... This is my closet after the purge.
Wow. I sure do love black and white clothes… This is my closet after the purge.

I mention this spreadsheet because this is how I created a shopping budget for me and my husband, and this will determine what I can buy, and how frequently I can buy new accessories and clothing items. This new budget number was really a head-scratcher for me, at first. It seems like a lot, but not enough. It seems limiting and liberating. It was only after I dug into my existing clothing spreadsheet that I realized how to plan my future purchases.

Numbers tracking spreadsheet. More on that in my next post! Totally inspired by Feather Factor.
Numbers tracking spreadsheet. More on that in my next post! Totally inspired by Feather Factor.

It was easy to see what I was missing, and it was easy to see how to create a long-term plan for my wardrobe. I really want to get away from purchasing clothes because I feel like it, have the money, etc. I want to be purposeful in building a collection I love and want to wear. So now, I have a purchase game plan and am looking for specific items that meet my budget and needs. I plan on purchasing no more than 3 items a month with a monthly budget and *one* yearly mega luxury splurge. One is coming up soon, possibly involved Hermès and I’ll write about it soon.

Finally, let me just say that this is what I am trying to do, and by no means is something I think you have to do to be amazing/responsible/eco-friendly/best-person-ever. I hope it works for me, but it might not. My purchase budget is also what suits my finances, and might not suit yours. This is an experiment, nothing more, and I hope you enjoy reading about it, and add share your thoughts and experience.

The next post in the series will talk about my thoughts on creating a capsule wardrobe, how I plan on sorta borrowing from that concept, and how my future purchases spreadsheet looks like.

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