A Capsule Wardrobe // Ten Step Wardrobe Detox

December 14, 2014


I’m minimizing my closet and building a capsule wardrobe from scratch. I’m starting with a strong foundation of basics, and following the 5-Piece French Wardrobe concept of only buying five new trend or statement pieces each season. Read the full series here.

Once you have a good idea of your personal style concept and you have a good idea of your wardrobe basics for the season, you’re ready to purge your wardrobe of the excess. This process is much more straight forward if you’ve spent some time developing your style concept/shopping list first – you’ll know immediately whether an item fits with the look you’re going for or not. And if it doesn’t, it can go. It’s easy to let go of that red dress you’ve never worn, when you realize you actually don’t want it to be part of your look anyway (true story).

A couple of notes: (1) be sure to allow for seasonal variation and don’t throw out all your t-shirts because you’ve only got long-sleeves in your concept. (2) Bear in mind that your style concept can be a fluid, and if this is the first time you’ve ever tried to define it, know that it might change a little. If you love something that isn’t completely in-keeping, hold onto it for now! Defining your style first is just a great shortcut to helping you eliminate. But anyway, I’m sure you know what you’re doing!

Wardrobe Detox in 10 Steps

1 | designate six separate areas: (1) trash ( grab a bin bag); (2) give away / sell; (3) alter; (4) maybe; (5) storage (6) keep

2 | start big or start small: if you can’t face tackling the whole thing at once, just start with one category – e.g. tops or dresses, but I say go big. PURGE : empty your wardrobe completely.

3 | try on one item at a time, and make a decision:
TRASH : if it has any shiny or worn patches; if it’s irreparably damaged; or if it’s just completely worn out.
GIVE AWAY / SELL : if it’s never or hardly been worn; if it’s in good condition, but you no longer like it; if it doesn’t suit your style; or if it doesn’t fit. Note: be ruthless here – if it’s an item that has sat in your wardrobe for one or two years (that’s all four seasons at least once) are you ever really going to wear it?
MAYBE : if it fits, but you don’t wear it and you’re just not sure whether you want to part with it. Again be critical, and don’t let the pile get too big. More on dealing with the maybe pile later.
ALTER : if you like it but don’t wear because it doesn’t quite fit, or if it requires a simple repair job e.g. missing button
STORAGE : if it’s occasionwear – you’re probably not going to wear a ball gown every week, but this isn’t necessarily something you should get rid of. Ideally you want to store it somewhere separate though (avoiding damage) to keep your wardrobe functional for everyday wear; if it has sentimental value, but you don’t wear it.
KEEP : if you love it; if you wear it regularly ; if it’s a necessity (a smart jacket for work)

Now every item should be sorted into one of six categories.

4 | throw out the trash bag

5 | put the keep pile back in your wardrobe, making a note of anything that you would like to replace when you have the chance.

6 | go store your occassionwear and sentimental items somewhere outside of your wardrobe.

 Sorting is NOT complete yet (but you can take a break – have a kit kat)

 7 | sort your “alter” pile into stuff you will DIY/repair yourself, and stuff that needs to go to the tailor. Put the tailor pile in a box by the door. Add the DIYs/repairs to your to-do list and get to it!

8 | sort your “give away / sell” pile into the clothes you will sell and ones you’ll give away. Put the give away pile in a LIDDED box (you don’t want see things when you walk by and grab them back out) by the door next to your tailor box.
A note on selling clothes on eBay : There are loads of different ways to sell your clothes, but I’ve always used eBay to sell my unwanted clothes, and I have a good idea of what sells well. In general if it’s not a known brand (e.g. Topshop, Zara, Alexander Wang) or vintage piece, it’s unlikely to get picked up, but do a little research into the listing and use your judgment. eBay lets you relist for free a couple of times, so if an item doesn’t sell the first week, give it another go. After that, it can move over to the give away pile.

9 | Finally, tackle the “maybe” pile. Put this in a storage box or bag and store it somewhere out of sight, NOT in your wardrobe. The likelihood is you’ll forget about it and when you do come across it again you’ll hopefully be ready to let go of its contents.

10 | One last thing! Don’t forget your underwear, socks etc. I do this after the “big” items have been cleared.

It can be hard to part with clothes, even if they’ve gone unworn for years. Some tips on letting go of your “maybe” pile :

. clothes are a sunk cost – clothes represent money we’ve spent and if we haven’t worn them (enough) then it can feel like a waste to throw them away. But that money is gone, and keeping the clothes won’t change that. Better to move on, see if you can make some of the money back via eBay and the like, or give them to someone who could actually use them, but ultimately, let go. There’s point having a constant reminder of a bad investment every time you look in the closet.

. clothes represent a person we want to be – I’ve bought items that I liked the idea of wearing, but that I wouldn’t actually wear, items that would often pass the “keep” test, because I liked them, even though they weren’t “me”. Now I’ve decided it’s more important to really define and love what is “me” and roll with that instead.

. clothes represent the past – I have a bunch of clothes that I purely keep because the hold sentimental value (mostly college leavers hoodies). I justify keeping them because they are “loungewear” but have I ever worn them? In an effort to live a little lighter, I will at least revisit this. My memories aren’t in my things.

This post from becomingminimalist.com, which references The Very Small Closet, expands on these ideas and helped me to put those things into perspective.

Since I was talking wardrobe detox today, I thought I’d share some of my favourite open closet inspo. My goal is to achieve a wardrobe something like the ones above – one that I can display with pride!

Images 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

I hope you found this useful if you’re planning a wardrobe revamp of your own.
Let me know if you have any tips for cleansing your wardrobe!

Next week, I’m taking stock of my newly cleansed wardrobe and making a shopping list to complete my perfect foundation of basics.


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