Last week was the first week of the “Moving Home” series because I’m hitting the road and heading back to the U.S. after 3 years on board a hospital ship. I’m sharing all the things I’m learning and doing in the midst of this transition. Keep an eye on my Facebook page where I’m consistently sharing related articles and resources on all things moving home. You can also subscribe to my monthly newsletter for insiders by clicking HERE.
Check out the rest of the series:
Moving Home: Using a Capsule Wardrobe to Simplify (You’re here now!)
Some of you know I’ve been trying to use a capsule wardrobe and slim down my wardrobe.
A friend asked me the other day what I’m most looking forward to about moving home. “Building a new wardrobe!!!” I told her. She burst into laughter and asked, “Weren’t you the one doing that capsule wardrobe? And you wanna go back home and buy more clothes?!”
Her outburst of laughter made total sense to me; a capsule wardrobe entails wearing less, while building a new wardrobe is buying MORE! I am trying to do both at the same time!
If you don’t know what a capsule wardrobe is, or you’re not sure, here’s how I see it:
Capsule wardrobes contain a limited number of garments that are interchangeable and don’t go out of fashion. They can be complemented by trendy or seasonal pieces, depending on the time of year.
Declutter + build a capsule
My motivation to keep a capsule wardrobe is primarily related to clutter. I’ve accumulated so much stuff, especially clothes, over the past 3 years. There is no way I’m bringing it all home with me. Some of the clothes are perfect for ship-life in Africa and that’s it. Like those bleach-stained, stretched out, capri jeggings (that still looked super cute on me!) that were perfect for the dusty season, but were strictly NOT to come home with me.
Related Post: How a Smaller Wardrobe Made Me More Grateful
I’m so bad at making decisions and I want to pare down my closet (the season of weighing suitcases approaches), but how do I know what I really want or need?
I found a tool that is helping me figure this out. It’s an Evernote template by Barbara from Simplify Days. Her blog focuses on gaining clarity, peace of mind, and control by simplifying and digitizing. It’s becoming easy to see what I don’t use and donate it guilt-free!
You can find the template are on the Simplify Days website. She also has a video for all you visual learners (raises hand). She creates Evernote templates that you can download and customize, however since it’s already created, you have a format already to get to work on whatever you need to organize or declutter.
In this post, I’ll explain how I use it. Evernote is FREE and more useful for complex ideas. You could use the concepts independently without the template, so I’ll make it clear how you could do this in a notebook. But seriously… the template is so easy and perfectly laid-out!
How capsule wardrobes help me
need vs want
The process of keeping a capsule wardrobe gives me structure, guidelines, limits and insight. I buy things I don’t need all the time and I don’t want to get legalistic about shopping, but let’s call it what it is. A splurge is when you toss lots of money into purchases freely or extravagantly. It’s problematic when we are splurging, but we think we are stocking up on necessities.
When I limit myself to a set capsule, it’s easier for me to notice that I don’t own specific staples. I can clearly see that I have 6 skirts, but none of them are appropriate for casual, everyday wear, for example.
Lists force you to really look at what you have instead of wading through piles of clothes without really noticing what gets stuffed to the back of the drawer.
The items we find most practical will change from season to season, place to place, or even as we learn more about ourselves. For 3 years I’ve been in a season defined by modesty, function, and whatever I can get my hands on.
I’ve developed a serious hoarding tendency as a result of not having access to shopping centers and department stores. Over the summers, I’ll buy a few staples I need, but that involves planning ahead. During the field service when I serve on the ship, I rely on the Boutique (our free thrift shop) to look for things I might need. As a result, I have accumulated lots of things that I might need one day, but don’t right now.
A capsule wardrobe eliminates the things that might be nice one day if they aren’t useful today.
MAKE ME FEEL GOOD
What items make me feel good when I wear them? I hesitated to include this because it sounds hedonistic and insensitive to include as a priority after the poverty I’ve seen and worked with. But I can explain.
I can’t erase my privilege and the chances of me ever living in poverty are low. I’m probably always going to be in a position to buy new clothes. I admit my position as a consumer for the rest of my life, but I want to be a good consumer.
A good consumer buys what she needs. If I select items to keep (or buy) that are comfortable, fit me well, and make me feel more like myself, I am less tempted to buy more I don’t need. I don’t think it’s selfish to pay attention to what makes me feel most comfortable. Being selective and minimal actually allows me to desire less of what I don’t have because I already have my favorite items.
My Evernote Template
This template can be used for any time frame you desire. I have been reevaluating monthly, but you could reevaluate by season, or whenever you feel like it!
First, it gives you space to list goals and your purpose for going through this process. You can see in the screenshot what my goals were for the month of May.
I copy and paste pictures that inspire me. The key is to search for inspiration based on what I already have. This is not the time to look at glamorous, unrealistic “goals” photos. This is the time to look for inspiration on how to remix items you already have and enjoy. This is a great way to keep Pinterest from being something that causes you to envy others. Rather, you can use it as a tool to take advantage of what you already have.
I take an hour or so to pull all my clothes out and lay them out so I can see. I select a number of items (you can choose any amount) that I’m going to stick with. I list them down in categories and hang it back in the closet. Everything that doesn’t make it goes into a bin under my bed.
As I go through the month, I highlight items that I love wearing. I pick any color to do this. Then when I’m making the next month’s list of included items, I can quickly see what I used the most.
If there is something that I realize I hate, for whatever reason, I strikethrough. At the end of the month, I put it away if I’m not sure or I immediately donate it if I am sure.
The next month, I keep everything highlighted in last month’s color, and as I start wearing things, I choose a new color to highlight. This allows me to see if something doesn’t get worn this month, but did last month. Or I can see items that get ignored several months in a row and feel a little more peace about getting rid of it.
What I noticed
- Items that I didn’t think through when I first purchased, were the ones that sat in my closet unworn.
- If something didn’t fit well, I wasn’t likely to wear it unless I had no clean laundry.
- If something makes me feel self-conscious all day, I will avoid it.
- Some items were perfect for a season; I’d wear it a few times and then give it away. *These items were always from thrift shops.
- Giving away clothes that don’t fit, don’t feel good, or aren’t practical feels so much better than keeping them.
It’s a Tool, Not a rule!
This is not a legal agreement (can you imagine?). This is something personal that can help you live in alignment with your values. That’s why it doesn’t matter how many items you aim to include. It doesn’t matter if you sneak back into your closet to pull out something you hid away. It doesn’t matter! This is a personal exercise, and you are only accountable to yourself. It can actually be fun if you’re the type who likes a challenge.