The only time that you truly see how much stuff you own is when it is all packed up in boxes in a pile in front of you. And after moving into a new apartment this year, I realized that my pile has gotten to be far too big. Rather than just throwing out a few boxes filled with stuff from high school and calling it a day, I decided to completely declutter my wardrobe. On top of doing that, after reading multiple articles online, I decided that I would also attempt to narrow down my clothes and create a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe, as defined by Susie Faux is “A collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.”
Now the first step to doing this, is laying out everything in own and asking yourself a few essential questions. Does it still fit? Is it torn or damaged in any way? Have you worn this item in the past two years? And, most importantly, do you still like this piece of clothing? I know that it may seem silly to ask if you like a piece of clothing that is part of your wardrobe, but you would be surprised at the number of items that you bought on a whim with no real intention of wearing more than once. After asking these questions, one should be able to move through your items and pick out that ones that have the wrong answers to these questions. Obviously there will be some items that are sentimental, and others that you are certain you have a use for, but for the most part you are starting to narrow down your wardrobe to the clothing items that you actually like, and most importantly wear. As the pile of clothing that you are getting rid of starts to grow, make sure to divide it up into two or three separate piles. A pile of clothing that you want to throw out, i.e. the items that are quite worn, falling apart, or stained. A pile to donate to the charity shop, I.e. the pieces that are still in quite good condition, but seem a bit dated and don’t match your style. The last pile can be made up of clothing that you might want to give to some of your friends. Whenever any of my friends clean out their closets I get a pile of clothing to sort through. Which is nice as I get some new pieces to add to my wardrobe without having to spend a ton of money.
Depending on the level of decluttering that you want to achieve, I would also suggest trying on everything. I know that this process can take a while and be incredibly tedious, but in my personal opinion, I believe that this is the best way to see if you really do like a certain piece of clothing. While you are trying on these pieces, you can also use this time to find as assortment of outfit combinations to make getting dressed in the mornings that much easier. After this step has been completed, then it is time to move onto colours. St Andrews is a town that tends to wear a lot of black, with bits of forest green, burgundy, and navy blue thrown in the mix. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with that, a good portion of my wardrobe is filled with black clothing, but sometimes having a touch of colour isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Make sure that you have a variety of colours and shades, even if it may only be a blue shirt or a grey skirt. If you are weary of adding items of colour, a good way to gradually ease into it is by starting to add items in relatively neutral tones like light pink or tan. Once you feel comfortable wearing these, don’t be afraid to branch out to bolder colours. Another way to incorporate a bit more colour can be through accessories. A cool pair of earrings or a bright purse can complement your look while allowing for you to feel a bit more put together in an ordinary outfit.
As you sort through colours, this is now the time when a capsule wardrobe can begin to be created. This is when you start asking yourself questions that pertain more to the style and fit of the clothes, rather than the quality of them. Questions that are more along the lines of comparing items to others, or seeing if you really need 6 black v-necks. Find out how many sweaters you actually think you will wear and try and make sure that they are in a variety of colours. This is when you really start asking yourself if this piece fits in with your own personal style, and if it can be part of multiple outfit combinations. You can also start picking out the pieces in your wardrobe that really stand-out, or statement pieces that are meant to be the center of your outfit. These go alongside your capsule wardrobe and can add a bit of flair to your everyday looks. These can also be the pieces that you interchange between outfits to create a whole new look, even if only this piece is different.
A basic capsule wardrobe normally consists of: a few neutral coloured t-shirts, two or three striped long-sleeves, boyfriend jeans, skinny jeans, leggings, a few neutral coloured button-downs, four sweaters of varying colours and thickness, two pairs of boots/booties, a pair of flats, a pair of white sneakers, and three to four coats of varying warmth. On top of this you can add elements that are a bit more dressy such as: two blazers (either black or navy), an array of silk blouses in light neutral tones, a trench coat, a little black dress, two or three pairs of dress pants in dark tones, and a few pairs of pumps in varying colours. Adding two or three purses/tote bags and three to four varying belts, you have around 50 different outfit combinations from such a small amount of clothing.
Now you may or may not enjoy the idea of a capsule wardrobe, but for someone who has a limited amount of space in their suitcases, this is the way to go. Some of you may not be people that like to stand out with their clothing. So rather than using statement pieces that are in bolder colours, rather go for the statement pieces in colours that already correlate with your outfit. Say you’re wearing an outfit that is mostly black and grey with a hint of light blue. Your statement piece could be a purse that was in a light blue colour. This would then tie into your outfit and not stand out too much, while also providing that pop of colour that does elevate your look. Matching your shirt to your shoes is a handy trick to combining colours and patterns in way that doesn’t end up looking too busy. As there is a fine line between looking stylish and looking like you have no idea how to dress yourself.
Another way to create a capsule wardrobe that is slightly larger is by dividing it up by season. Now since we all live in Scotland for most of the year, this might instead be divided up into fall and winter, with a few pieces for spring that can easily blend in with either. This allows for you to have a wider range of clothing, without having to give up more closet space. I suggest putting whatever capsule that you aren’t using in storage, so that your closet door is able to shut and all of your items don’t come spilling out whenever you do manage to open the door. A good storage space for students who don’t necessarily have a whole lot of room, is under your bed in a suitcase that is open. This allows for easy access, as well as ensuring that your clothes aren’t taking up most of your living space. Maybe put a shoe rack on the back of your door and utilize a coat tree for jackets and longer pieces, so that each item in your closet has room and wont become smushed and wrinkled. If many of your clothing items tend to easily wrinkle, I would suggest getting a mini steamer. You can find quite inexpensive ones on Amazon, and your clothing will thank you.
Once you have successfully cleaned out your closet you might have noticed that you are lacking certain items, or you just happen to have some extra room. In this case I purchase some items at places such as Asos, Topshop, or Barber. These places tend to have a lot of classic pieces that are good quality and will stand up to the elements as well as general wear and tear. The goal here is to create a wardrobe that can be used for multiple years, with statement pieces being switched out depending on that season’s trends.
I do realize that this task may seem quite intimidating, but I promise you it’s worth it. Having a clean and tidy closet can make you feel so much better, as well as making it much easier to get ready in the mornings. So go put on some music and get to work decluttering your closet and creating your own capsule wardrobe!