Sunday, September 17, 2017

Less is More

This is my closet.  For those who have seen my closet before it may look a little different.  Maybe a little less full?  A little more coordinated perhaps?

I have decided to embrace the "capsule wardrobe".  The concept has become pretty popular as of late but was actually created in the 1970's.  A capsule wardrobe is defined as a compact wardrobe made up of staple pieces in coordinating colors - usually in the realm of 30 items or fewer, including shoes and sometimes even accessories.  One might update the wardrobe with a couple of trendy or seasonal items for each season, but that was it.  The goal is to have a streamlined wardrobe of high-quality pieces that could be worn often and interchangeably, thereby saving money, closet space and time.

To be fair, this is more than 30 pieces.  I actually have two capsules going - a work one and a casual one - but this is still a huge improvement for me.

I had heard of this concept before but brushed it aside.  At the time I didn't find capsules that fit my style and honestly could not fathom the thought of paring down.

The idea came to me as I was looking for travel wardrobe ideas.  We are going on a 10-day tour of Eastern Europe in a few weeks and are limited to one large suitcase each plus a carry-on bag.  For most people this is one more suitcase than they even need, but not for me.  Oh no. I am a notorious over-packer.  I return home from trips with about of third of my items clean and unworn.  This is not good for several reasons and can even be costly.  We had to pay a HUGE fee coming back from New Zealand a couple of years ago for our overweight bags.  To be fair, we did pick up some souvenirs, but not 10 pounds worth.

My goal was to find some packing ideas so that I had a coordinated wardrobe, with plenty of options, that fit my style and into one suitcase.  Some of the trip packing "capsules" that I found were actually put together by "capsule wardrobe" bloggers.  I was intrigued by this.  I could somehow put a wardrobe together for an entire season that looked great, used items I (for the most part) already owned and saved time and closet space.

I may not have been open to this a few years ago, but I was open now.

After finding your capsule inspiration, the first step is to clean out your closet.  This is not only to make room for your capsule, but also to evaluate your wardrobe in general.  Note that items that are out of season are to be put in storage, but only if they are in good shape, are the right size, and fit within another capsule.  That is a nice way of saying that you probably have some things that need to go.

I admit that I have been in serious need of good closet clean out.  And I do periodically go through my clothes and donate items.  However, I seem to do this fairly often, and despite those clean-outs, the closet keeps getting full.  Hmmmm.

Luckily I found some help.

In this post she asks good questions during the clean-out process:

  • Guilt asked, “Why did you spend so much money on things you don’t wear?”
  • Frustration asked, “Are we going to have to do this again in 6 months?”
  • Fear asked, “If you let go, will you have enough to wear?”
These all resonated with me.  I have spent a ton of money on clothes that I don't wear.  Thankfully not at full retail prices but a ton of money the same.  The closet clean-out is a regular process for me -isn't this supposed to be a big one-time project with some occasional editing?  

Good points, but the one that stuck with me the most was fear.  Ahhhh.  Finally the root cause.  Fear.

We all have things that stand out to others.  One thing for me is my style.  Now I am not saying that I am the coolest kid on the block.  But I do tend to dress well and people comment on it.  It has taken me a while, and there has been plenty of trial and error along the way, but I have found the "classy yet trendy" style that works for me and some other people seem to like it too.

This feels pretty good.  I mean, who doesn't like a compliment.  But the style thing really hits on something deeper.  I can have great style and only have a few great pieces in my closet.  Instead, my closet (and my backup closet) are overflowing.  I can never have ENOUGH style.

I finally know why this is.  (I have been making some great strides in therapy lately).  

I did not have a lot growing up.  In some ways, I did not even have enough.

I love when I share this fact and people who did grow up with enough (and most times really a lot) try to empathize.  "Yeah, we didn't have Nintendo either growing up" In their case, it was because their middle-class parents didn't want them to have one and made up for it with annual vacations and paying for their college (private college even).  Totally the same as being on food stamps and having reduced or free lunches (which were a different color lunch ticket so everyone knew that you were a poor kid by the way).  OK.  Done venting.

Clothes were a symbol of the status that I did not have.  Despite being the oldest child, I still had hand-me-down clothes.  My Mom's co-workers would send her home with clothes for me. Thankfully some of them weren't bad.  But I never, at least that I can remember, in 8 years of Catholic school (which we went to because they offered reduced tuition to the "less fortunate" by the way) had a uniform skirt that actually fit.  They were either way too big, or too small, or too long or too short.  In a way, it was funny (in a sad, sad way).

The minute that I had a job, I spent the money on clothes.  I just started amassing clothes.  I was a huge name brand whore with little to no budget.  So, I bought whatever was on sale.  Half the time it wasn't even that great or really fit well but it did have the right name on it.  That became more expensive as I went back to school and got better-paying jobs and expanded to purses and even vehicles.

As the years went by I did start to realize what I was doing, and why I was doing it and did start to make less and better purchases.  But never completely gave up the bad habit. 

I admit I am still not TOTALLY ready, but I am trying really hard.

I have spent the last few weeks going through the closets.  If an item doesn't fit (keeping a small amount of clothes in a size up because like most women my size does fluctuate and we all (like it or not) need to keep some "fat clothes"), doesn't look good, doesn't match at least two other items in my closet, and has not been worn in at least a year (barring a few special occasion items like cocktail dresses and suits)  (and OK, I gave myself two years - baby steps) it is getting sold, consigned or donated.  Sigh.  There is a LOT of stuff that is not going back in my closet.

I am trying not to think about the wasted money.  At this point there is nothing I can do about that.  I can, however, focus on the positive.  I still have a nice, classy yet trendy wardrobe that is now actually even more coordinated than it has been in the past.  I also take much less time deciding what to wear in the morning.  I will have more free time and more money to put towards other, better efforts.

It is not easy.  Trust me, I am eye-f$cking that new Kate Spade purse of yours (did I mention how much I LOVE Kate Spade purses?  And sunglasses?  And shoes?).  But, I already have the one purse that I need for my capsule.  And it is a cute purse and in good shape.  And really all I need.

And I am working on being happy with what I already have, as I already have all that I need.

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