Six weeks after emptying out her closet to create a capsule wardrobe, Jennifer checks in to let us know whether she’s made it work
Sometimes gains can only be made through loss. I lost 75% of my wardrobe by choice, and I almost wish I’d done it sooner. I say almost, because I don’t think it would have been as meaningful if it wasn’t the right time for me to minimise. I have long read about the stress caused by clutter in general, and I had closet clutter in spades. Cutting down my closet to the barest minimum felt like losing an arm, but the aftermath has been surprising in a number of ways.
I don’t miss the clothes I gave up.
Many of the pieces I gave up felt as inextricably connected to me as the woven fibres in the garments themselves, but I had to face the facts: they did not belong in my wardrobe if they were ill-fitting or unmatchable. When I see them in old photos, I feel a pang of sadness. This is quickly washed away by the peaceful feeling of my minimised closet. I used to feel guilty about not wearing so many of the items in there! That stress is now gone.
I’m not bored.
I haven’t once had the urge to bring in rotation items; I actually forgot they were in storage. I even found that one of my fun outfits was truly not bringing me much joy anymore, nor did it look all that great on me, so I am retiring it. I am very excited to carefully shop for its replacement, and I am surprised that it is quite easy now to let it go.
I don’t worry so much about what I should wear.
I was nervous about this—I figured if I had less in my wardrobe I would definitely not have the “right” thing to wear for a particular occasion. And therein lies the beauty: not having the “right” thing to wear releases you from the need. I won’t have the perfect thing, so I am not concerned. I will wear whatever is clean and most appropriate. I suppose I must now use my personality to charm people as opposed to my clothing!
There have also been some expected effects.
- I ran out of clothes. This happened the first week post purge. I am doing better about staying on top of my laundry now, ha!
- Malls are painful. I was so used to buying anything that looked cute, fit well, and was priced nicely. I have since committed to buying clothes only from shops that pay workers a decent wage (i.e.: not H&M or other fast fashion brands). I have not yet vetted most of the brands I see in the malls, so it just hurts to see so many fab clothes and not be able to partake in retail therapy. I now have to find some other vices to fill the void (or maybe I can just take up a new hobby). On a related note: my husband is thrilled about the current shopping hiatus.
- I am taking better care of the clothes I have. I am mending small holes, shortening hem lines, and hanging even my boring t-shirt on a nice wooden hanger, and it feels lovely. It sounds silly to say, but I feel like I am respecting my clothes more and in turn, respecting myself.
So what is the current status of my wardrobe after five weeks of this experiment? I couldn’t trash my grungy fit flops that I planned on tossing. They are just too comfortable, and they are the only shoes I’m willing to wear outside when it is pouring rain. I also added a tote to use just for work. I can’t transfer stuff in and out of bags all the time; I find it too annoying. I’ve managed to pare down my jewellery as well, grouping it into sets that look great together. I’m now wearing more of my existing jewellery since I don’t have to think about it—just put on a set.
In the future I will shop more critically, and only replace items in my wardrobe when needed. I will either buy second-hand or from retailers who make a commitment to sustainable and fair trade items, and who pay their workers a living wage. I will buy the most durable items I can, fix clothing when I am able, and repurpose garments when done with them. I feel great about making this change that will benefit my emotional well-being and the world around me to boot. Looking at the final total below, I truly can’t believe I managed this closet feat—but I am so glad I did!
Final Total: 33 Items
- 3 blazers/cardigans
- 4 pairs of trousers/jeans
- 1 skirt
- 3 dresses
- 9 tops/blouses
- 8 pairs of shoes
- 5 bags