What I Learned from My Capsule Wardrobe

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Capsule Wardrobe.  

Project 333.  

A uniform.  

These were all buzzwords in 2016 and being as I suffer from a healthy dose of FOMO, I thought I would try one and see what all the fuss is about.  

The basic premise is that rather than buying the skinniest hangers possible so you can cram more clothes in your closet, you clear the damn thing out and only put back a few items.  It could be 33 items every 3 months in the case of Project 333, or just 5 shirts and 5 pants, all the same, for The Uniform.  The mellow choice was a generic Capsule Wardrobe in which you just choose a "limited" amount of clothing. 

After attempting Project 333, and landing closer to Project 666, I decided to just call my attempt by the generic name: Capsule Wardrobe. I pulled out all the clothes from my closet, put back the ones I loved and put the rest in two bins in the garage. 

Here's what I learned:

1.  Having 1 pair of pants a la The Minimalists would only work for me were I willing to do laundry every day.  I get dirty working in peoples homes and, do to health issues, need to wear a new pair almost every day so that I'm not marinating in allergens.  That would add up to a lot of washing and I just don't have the bandwidth right now for that. 

2. Ditto for shirts.  On top of the allergens, I'm just a rather sweaty, smelly person.  For the sake of those around me, I stick to a single use of a shirt, and even then, my hippy-dippy non-aluminum deodorant leaves a bit to be desired.  If a weekend with my horse is involved, that also necessitates a change of shirts (and pants).  I think he smells wonderful, but I get looks when I go to the store after visiting him. I could feasibly stick to just 2 or 3 shirts, but that too would lean towards a ridiculous amount of washing each week.  That leads us to the next point...  

About 25 shirts and 5 pairs of pants make up my fall/winter wardrobe.  Half the shirts are for really cold days and half are for just slightly chilly days.  

About 25 shirts and 5 pairs of pants make up my fall/winter wardrobe.  Half the shirts are for really cold days and half are for just slightly chilly days.  

 

3.  Although I default to wearing black tank tops while at home, I realized I actually enjoy having a bit of a choice in my work shirts.  This was a surprise as I really didn't think I cared that much, but some days I feel like a blue shirt, others a purple one.  The key was keeping the choice to a minimum.   

4.  Getting dressed is SO much easier with a smaller collection. I haven't had a single "OMG I have NOTHING to wear" day since the big clean out. 

5. Moving is easier.  If you have to move to a new home, only needing one little wardrobe box is a huge perk.  We found that out in November. 

My fall/winter shoes.  The sandals and 2 pairs of high heels live on an upper shelf until summer.

My fall/winter shoes.  The sandals and 2 pairs of high heels live on an upper shelf until summer.

6. Co-habitating is easier.  If you move and wind up having to share a closet with your partner, you will have fewer fights if your clothing is staying firmly in your half of the closet.  At least, that's how it went down in our house. :)

7.  Sometimes the biggest act of self-love is letting go of too-small clothes or buying a size larger.  Not with the attitude that nothing can be done about your weight, but an attitude of compassion, i.e. "due to XY and Z, this is the weight I am right now".  I let go of some old pants, bought a couple pair of pants I could wear right now, and ironically lost a little weight.  There might be something to this self-love and acceptance.  Another bonus, in letting go of the too-small clothes, and a few that I just wasn't in love with, I was able to whittle down my 2 boxes of clothes in the garage to 1.  

 

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PPS What I Learned from my Capsule Wardrobe and Simple Luxury

Decluttering vs. Organizing

If you're curious as to why this home organizer is always talking about decluttering, not organizing, it's because there are 2 ways to get organized:  Own less stuff or buy more shelving and bins.  

I'll let you decide which is more attractive.

It's just physics. There is only so much storage space in our home and only so much attention we can give to our stuff.  We all flow between numerous roles everyday:  Employee, employer, parent, child, sibling, friend.  All of those roles take energy and at the end of the day, there isn't much bandwidth left to deal with stuff. 

Stuff is organized if it has a specific home.  A place on the shelf, a spot in your drawer.  A place that it returns to after each and every use.  Everything else is clutter. The thing is, as new stuff come into the home, new homes for those items have to be created.  If an old item doesn't leave when a new item comes in, at a certain point, shelves, closets and garages became overstuffed.  

I've only worked with 2 people who really, truly did not know how to organize.  They had tons of empty storage space and not much stuff.  The other 300+ people I've worked with knew how to organize.  They were just overwhelmed by the volume of stuff in their homes and needed a helping hand to dig through it, find the treasures and let go of the rest.

To be clear, there isn't anything inherently wrong with "stuff".  It's a problem when it's causing you problems.  When you're frustrated, embarrassed and angry.  When you can't find something even though you "know it's here somewhere".  This is why I harp on decluttering before organizing.  No number of shiny bins from the container store will fix your physics problem.  If there's too much stuff, there's just too much.  Once we have the space to give everything you love a home, THEN we can get a few shiny, pretty bins to house the stuff.  

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Baseball Cards, Collectibles, and the "F"-its

In the face of the rental market from hell, going tiny is looking more and more appealing.  We received a 26% increase last year and are facing a similar increase this November. 

To wit, I've been going through boxes of old "stuff" from my childhood in preparation for downsizing.  Nothing is safe.  Nothing is sacred. 

Most of it is stuff that's been in boxes for 25+ years.  Collectible holiday Barbies (Save them! They'll be worth something! Not!), baseball cards from the years fondly referred to as the "Junk Wax" era, horse figurines from a time before I had a real horse, plaques and awards. 

I preach not having stuff.  But still it persists, 10 66qt boxes of it. So I'm right there with you.  When there are things in your possession that aren't bringing you joy, it's overwhelming. Weekends spent carting bins from my "garage" in my family's shed to my living room. Evenings sorting the "stuff". Mornings before work running bags to Goodwill. 

Sorting through a past of consumption sucks, but the piles do go down.  The "F-its" kick in and the desire to keep the stuff fades.  F-it.  Out it goes. One drawer, one bin, one collection at a time. 

Don't think of it as one big project, break it down into little mini-projects.  Sort through one drawer or container of utensils at a time, not the whole kitchen.  Sort one shelf on your bookcase, not all of your books. 

Remember why you're doing this.  For me, it's about not allowing the amount of stuff I have dictate the amount of living space I need.  I'd rather be nimble and able to move to a smaller apartment when our rent goes up.  What's you're reason?

Less stuff...

...more life

...more time 

...more money

...more sanity?

&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; Why? Why do I still have this stuff?

          Why? Why do I still have this stuff?