Empty Hangers, Full Life

One of my first blog posts here on His Girl Friday was all about my attempt to look at my existing wardrobe with new eyes and to get more creative — instead of getting more clothes — when I was feeling like I had “nothing to wear.” The Sermon and the Tweet was a fun experiment, but truthfully, it didn’t take long for me to fall back into the same pattern of feeling out of date and frumpy with my current closet.

As my discontentment grew with my clothes, I was also hearing a lot about “capsule wardrobes” on several of the blogs I follow. Essentially, capsule wardrobes are wardrobes made up of a limited number of pieces (around 35) that you use exclusively for three months.

It has been interesting to watch other women sort through their clothes, pick out their favorites, and create their “capsules.” But, that has been all the further my interest has carried me.

Then, yesterday, I came across the blog, Project 333 and a list of “33 Things to Eliminate from Your Closet.” At Project 333, this blogger chooses 33 items, including shoes, accessories and outerwear for three months and boxed up the rest of her clothing for her next capsule (or to get rid of). Woa. When I read that, I thought, “No way, no how. I’m not doing that. But, I could try and downsize a little bit!”

So, armed with the list of things to eliminate, I started going through my dresser, closet and shelves. I edited my wardrobe like never before. I really took to heart the advice from this blog and got rid of things that were in disrepair, out of date, didn’t fit right, or items I was holding on to because I used to love them and wear them.IMG_5975

I felt pretty good about myself after clearing out two large piles of clothes, shoes and accessories. But then, wouldn’t you know, I saw another blogger talking about her wardrobe capsule and thought that maybe I didn’t do as good of a job as I wanted to think.This blogger mentioned the “Paradox of Choice.” Ever hear of it?

Basically, the Paradox of Choice is this: choice is good, but having too many choices turns the freedom you initially felt by having a choice, into a trap. Case in point. Have you ever stood in front of your overflowing closet and despaired at what to wear? I have! Have you debated which pair of skinnies to choose, which pair of shoes to wear, which dress to put on, only to second guess your choice and resort to a last minute wardrobe change and still doubt your final decision? I have!

I did a quick Google search about the Paradox of Choice and found a Ted Talk by Barry Schwartz on the topic (don’t you just love Ted Talks? They make me feel so smart 🙂 ). In his talk, Schwartz said a couple of key things about having too many choices that really resonated with me:

  • When we make a choice, we end up less satisfied with the choice because with so many options, it is easy to imagine that you could have made a different, better choice. This leads to regret, which detracts from your satisfaction.
  • The attractive features of the other options detract from the attractive features of your current choice. You feel like you’ve missed out.
  • With all of the options, expectations go up.

Pretty interesting, huh?

And then, the piece de resistance, I came across the blog, Unfancy, and I just knew — I had to do this. I came to this realization at 12 AM. By 1 AM, I had eliminated all but 32 items of clothing from my wardrobe and had successfully created my first capsule wardrobe.

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I used Unfancy’s guide on how to build a capsule wardrobe, but ultimately, here are the rules I played by:

  • I didn’t include shoes in this round of cuts. I did get rid of about 15 (!) pairs on my first round of decluttering, but for now, I’m keeping the rest. However, I will take note on the shoes I’m wearing and not wearing with this capsule and next time I plan on including shoes in my edit.
  • I’m allowing myself free exchanges as my body continues to change post-baby and post-breastfeeding (whenever that is). What this means is, anytime I find something not fitting right in my current capsule, I can exchange it for something I know I have boxed up.
  • I didn’t include accessories in my capsule. I. love. accessories. I will continue to keep all of them out as options. Sorry. (Not sorry)
  • I’m also allowing myself to browse my boxed up ‘special occasion’ dresses should the need arise, because I didn’t factor them in to my capsule.
  • I am not allowed to shop for anything during the three months that my capsule covers. When the three months are up and it’s time to create a new one, I am allowed to purchase an item for the next round.
  • Like with other’s capsules, I didn’t include underwear, bras, pj’s or workout clothes.
About half my closet, ready to be boxed up.
About half my closet, ready to be boxed up.

I don’t think I have ever been so excited by a project in my whole life! I woke up this morning so excited to start my day with my “new” wardrobe. Not having to worry about clothes (even though I love them!) has already given me a freedom that I’ve honestly never experienced before. It’s exhilarating.

Also, as I was going through my clothes, something became glaringly obvious: I was holding onto clothes that no longer fit, were no longer in style, or were just plain in disrepair just to have the option to wear them again, and I never did.  I am excited to wear the clothes in my capsule wardrobe because they are some of my favorites. And, when it comes time to build my next wardrobe, I will allow myself to purchase a few items that the last capsule showed me I needed (and will truly wear). They will be staples. They will be items I need. They will be items that fit and look nice.

I thought I would be sad when I looked at my closet full of empty hangers, but instead, I was invigorated. It felt good to have space in my closet to see the things that I own and love. It was relieving to know that I had everything I needed right there in front of me, with those 32 items. And, it excited me to spend a little less time worrying about what was in my closet, and more time focusing on the full and wonderful life I have…beyond the closet.

Take a look at my Fall 2014 Capsule!

 

6 thoughts on “Empty Hangers, Full Life

  1. Followed your link from Unfancy. I’m planning out my Fall capsule to start in October (or the end of this month if the weather in Seattle takes a turn for the worse).

    What I liked about the idea was not so much the number, but the idea that you plan ahead and then don’t do any mid-season random shopping. It’s those one-off random purchases that are never what I really wanted or love – it was cheap, or just there, or …

    I think I’ve got my stuff down to about 40 pieces, including shoes so I can’t wait to try it out! (I’m kind of forcing myself to wait on wearing the new fall stuff just yet since it’s still 75 degrees here mid-day.)

    1. Anandi, I totally agree with you! My impulse purchases never add up to one whole outfit, so I’m stuck with random odds and ends that I never wear. Plus, because I was holding on to so many things, I wouldn’t purchase new staples because technically I still had a black skirt, or a pair of boyfriend jeans, etc, even though they didn’t fit or were worn out. This meant that I had staples in my closet that were unwearable. I’m excited to create my capsules each season, wear the clothes I own, and when I need something, buy it and get good use out of it!

  2. Interesting concept. Right now pretty much nothing fits me since I just had a baby a couple weeks ago, but perhaps I’ll try it later. Ps: I’d like to call dibs on the 2 pair of black shoes in your throw away pile. So cute!

    1. I totally understand! That’s why I allowed myself to “cheat” and swap out any items as my body continues to change. But, with that said, I’m 10 months out! I wouldn’t have attempted it any sooner ;-).

  3. Sorry for the second comment, but I have a question for you. You mentioned some other blogs that you follow. I also have a few that I read regularly; however, my favorite daily blog just announced a break which will last for at least a month but perhaps forever. 😦 This has left my naptime snuggles bare of reading material, so I could use some suggestions. Either that or you could start blogging daily! 😉

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