August Dare Update: The Closet (part one)

It's already almost the end of August, can you believe it? I wanted to pop in with an update on my Big Closet Overhaul. It's part of my August Dare to embrace minimalism, starting with my closet.

Turns out, it was a huge project, and it's going to take me 3 blog posts to cover everything. This week is Closet Week on the blog. Yep.

Today, I'm talking about the overall approach I took with my clothes. On Thursday, I'll be posting about what I did to upgrade the closet itself and make it more functional (and prettier). Finally, I'll wrap up the series on Friday with a report out on my experience with the Capsule Wardrobe concept.

So, here's how I approached the clothes themselves:

ONE | I picked out my favorite pieces; the ones I find myself gravitating to the most right now. I created two capsule wardrobes.

I created a 20 piece seasonal capsule for everyday dressing. My lifestyle is pretty casual these days. I picked out 20 items that work together in various combinations to get me through my typical days. After a couple of days of debate and switching things out, I ended up with 9 tops, 7 bottoms (2 skirts, 1 shorts, 4 pants), 4 pairs of shoes.  I put these items all together on the rod front and center in my closet. I did this very early in the month, and in Friday's post I'll go into more detail about how I made my decisions and what I learned from it as I dressed out of the capsule all month long. Here’s a sneak peek at the clothes in my capsule:

Next, I created a 20 piece workout capsule. I decided to keep my workout clothing separate from the main capsule, but sent it through the same sorting and purging process. When I started, my workout clothes were jumbled in an overstuffed basket under the bed, and at least 50% of the items in there were not getting worn for one reason or another. So, I narrowed it down to 5 bottoms, 5 yoga tops, 5 long sleeved running shirts, 5 jogging bras. All interchangeable. Ready to go for the two main activities in my fitness routine. Yoga and running. They’re still stored under the bed, but now it’s easy to pull out the basket and find what I need without pawing through stuff I don’t wear anymore. 

TWO | I boxed up and stored or gave away most of the rest of my wardrobe. I used the following system to get clothes out of my main closet space: 
Seasonal Boxes: I created a box for Spring/Summer clothes that aren’t part of my current capsule (but that I still like and may wear again), and one for Fall/Winter. Assuming I stick with the capsule system, these are the boxes I’ll go to when it’s time to select the next season’s capsule. I tried to only fill these boxes with clothing that I really liked. They are in  two clear plastic storage boxes and tucked out of sight under the bed. 
“Maybe” Box: This is full of items I should probably be donating, but I’m not quite ready to get rid of them yet. I’ll plan to check in with this box each season and eventually move these things out into a donation pile, or back into my seasonal boxes.  This box is in the garage.
"Almost fits" Box: If it was way wrong in terms of size, I released it. But if it was just a little off (read: too tight), and I still loved it, I decided to keep it in this box. If my new training regimen hasn’t gotten me back in those clothes in six months, I’ll release them. But I fully plan to be back in these clothes ASAP. This box is in the garage.

Formalwear: I own a couple of fancy dresses that still fit well. The kind of things one might wear to a fancy Christmas party or a wedding. I don’t need easy access to them, so I moved them to a wardrobe cabinet in the garage. 
Donation Box: I ended up with an alarmingly large pile of clothes that didn’t make the cut. Many items are quite old and I’ve been holding onto them “just in case” or out of guilt. (Common sentiments: “I spent money on this stuff so I should wear it.” And, “Maybe it will fit someday.”) I dropped off these clothes at Goodwill and didn't look back.

THREE | I organized the remaining items. Even after all that, I still had a few things left over which I decided to keep in the closet. They include:
2 Dresses, one professional gray, one basic black that can be dressed up or down. They’re hanging in the back of the closet. 
A handful of my favorite neutral cardigans and throw-overs. The kind of thing I can put on over anything. I find these to be indispensable in the fickle climate I live in. These are hanging in the closet, separated from my capsule clothes. (Perhaps this is cheating? I don't care.)
Pajamas, loungewear and underthings. I did a light purge through these items, and put them back in my drawers. 
Specific use items: I have a number of things I don’t wear on a regular day, but which I need for certain types of activities. For example, the pair of pants I wear only when I’m backpacking or taking a long hike, and the pair of jeans that I wear when I’m painting. This kind of item, which I need to have handy but aren’t part of my daily wardrobe, are still in my closet, but tucked in an out of the way corner where I can still grab them when I need them. (Note: This was a new category I’d never really thought of before, and it was helpful to identify these items for what they are, corral them all together and separate them from my day to day dressing wardrobe.) 
Accessories/Shoes/Misc: I purchased a set of clear plastic lidded bins to store accessories and miscellaneous items like swimwear, scarves, clutch purses, cold weather wear (ex: gloves, warm hats, etc.), and off season shoes. These are stored on closet shelves, with labels so I can find them easily when I need them.
Whew! A ton of work! But it feels really really good. Stay tuned for a post on Thursday about some upgrades I made to the closet itself, and on Friday for more about the capsule wardrobe concept.

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