#JanuaryJoy – Clear out your wardrobe

I’m not using this prompt to give you a prescriptive list of methods for clearing out your wardrobe. (We’ve done that before and if you would like some pointers read michelle’s detailed post here.) Instead, I’m using it as an opportunity to share with you my experiences of my capsule wardrobe. I started it in September but only blogged about it in October, inspired by Caroline over at Unfancy.com and driven by my post-natal style wilderness.

Before we start, if you want to read about my original choices, here is a link to the AW14 capsule wardrobe reveal post. I’m going to take you through what I chose now and what I actually wore…

Starting with the tops. As you can see there was a lot that went unworn here or I didn’t wear much. As I bought a lot of cheap stuff there was a lot I didn’t wear because of the quality – that top left t-shirt from Forever21 was dire, and the top middle sweat I wore quite a lot and still love, but hasn’t washed well and has gone out of shape. The big sloppy oversized tee’s were a real winner. That happens to be a style I like and was super-forgiving on my changing shape. I must have worn that wine coloured Zara TRF number (all links in the original post,) twice a week for months. The Superdry sparkly logo top (bottom left) was a surprise winner too – it had a bit of sparkle to cheer me up but was a flattering weight of waterfall and longer in the body, also a bit more flattering. And the cream v-neck zip front top was great for feeding and looked a bit smarter if I was going out.

The things I didn’t wear were for 3 main reasons. 1. They were too fancy for the occasions I had to get dressed for ie. there weren’t many occasions I needed to dress up for in this time period. And 2. The weather really scuppered my plans – I didn’t wear the pink cashmere Whistles jumper at all as it was too warm and only wore the other knits a couple of times, but I haven’t marked them ‘worn once’ as it wasn’t a failure on their part or mine in choosing them, just circumstance with the weather. Lastly, reason number 3. was that I didn’t need them including in my capsule in the first place but I panicked and thought I ‘ought to have’ a chambray shirt, for versatility, for example.

Moving onto the bottoms… I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, lest of all me who lives in jeans, but I basically wore the boyfriend jeans everyday, then moved onto the skinny jeans as soon as they were more comfortable and as the weather turned too cold to bare my ankles. The joggers were a surprise favourite again – probably not that stylish, but great for bumming around the house in and just being super comfy. I hardly wore the skirts or dresses – I think they were optimistic in how I would feel about wearing that style given my new shape. And the black skirt was an error. I never wear black and I bought this because I couldn’t find a striped or grey one anywhere. Error. Oh and that khaki jacket? I wore it every day that was dry. A brilliant buy for the transitional weather.

On the shoe front, I LIVED in those trainers. I know they’re not for everyone, but I love them and I’ll definitely be including fun fashion trainers in future capsule’s. The over the knee boots I would have loved to wear (and tried to for a dinner out,) but amongst the extra stone of weight I was still carrying at that time, some of it was mysteriously distributed on my calves and I feared for my circulation so gave up. Sad times. 😉 I didn’t wear the leopard flats as much as I could have because (again, online shopping error,) I settled for a cheaper pair I didn’t fit very well and they feel too big so I always reached for the trainers first instead.

So, what have I learned from the whole experiment? Before you ask, I didn’t cheat. I went all the way through to Dec 1st (probably further,) without dipping into my stored clothes (barring my holiday when I had to wear different summer clothes obviously.)

1. I DO NOT NEED MANY CLOTHES. Really. I knew I could get away with a lot less than I had, but really, out of the 35 pieces, I could probably have lived with about 20-25 pieces. That’s the moral of this exercise for you all to think about… how many of the items in your wardrobe do you actually wear? I suppose that could seem wasteful given the amount I purchased and that bothers me more ethically than financially as they were low cost items on the whole. But a lot will be worn in future, it’s just not right for now. And that may not apply when I have to incorporate work clothes into my wardrobe again.

2. Quality over quantity is a worthwhile investment. I know, I know; Lots of people baulk at spending £100 on a pair of jeans. But if you wear them 5 days a week, why the heck not? Equally, you could spend £20 and save the rest. That’s up to you, I’m just saying that if you remove all the unworn/hardly worn items and the money you spent on them from your clothing budget, think what you could get for the money…

3. Do not settle for quick fix items. A lot of the items I didn’t wear were because they weren’t right in the first place. Often I had something in mind but struggled to find it and settled for something similar that ended up being something I disliked, precisely because it wasn’t what I really wanted.

4. On the post-natal/breastfeeding front, I learned 2 things. Regarding the feeding, I didn’t have to modify my wardrobe much once I discounted my favourite item, the dress… those with buttons are ok, but the styles weren’t really me – I like t-shirt and shift styles that would have been tricky. Other than that, as long as a top is loose enough to lift or won’t pull out of shape if it’s stretchy, you can do the whole pull up thing to feed. The most discreet way is to use a vest underneath as many of you recommended but it was too hot for many of the months, so I just used Bea to cover my tummy and maybe a muslin tucked under her if I felt really exposed or self conscious. When it comes to post-natal style, I think I only really needed  a few really nice tops that were loose and comfortable, decent jeans that fitted and were comfortable, and flat slip on and off shoes that were comfortable – sense a theme there?!

So would I do it again? Yes. Definitely. I am doing right now and I’ll share my current capsule with you as soon as I have time, (it takes a while to compile these posts.) I’ve created a new winter capsule that I anticipate I’ll be wearing until the end of February at least, but whether I’d be so strict about a set number of pieces and a 3 month time frame, I don’t know. I think a one in one out policy is more sensible and infrequent shopping as our seasons are difficult to predict. Just think, if you had to remove an item from your wardrobe every time you bought one, either to store it for a future season or to bin it, would you think about whether the one you replaced could be reworked, whether it was worn out and really needed replacing, or whether the new item was worth losing an old one? I think it will really help me keep my purchases in check. I’ve actually enjoyed having less, spending less and shopping less! I’m having too much fun with Bea!

So what do you think readers? I’d love to hear if you did it, or if you’re inspired to try it – even if it’s just to pare back your own wardrobe.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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5 thoughts on “#JanuaryJoy – Clear out your wardrobe

  1. I’m just about to give birth (literally – 41 weeks today!) and plan to try a capsule wardrobe once I’ve got settled after baby, not least because storage is now at a premium in our house! It’s really helpful to hear what worked for you in postnatal terms. I’ll definitely be using these posts for inspiration. Can’t wait to see your winter wardrobe!

  2. I did this in summer and autumn/winter last year and am a total convert! It has made me really think about the clothes I buy and I find that I enjoy the whole proces of obsessing over individual items on Pinterest as much as I get a buzz from buying them! I actually don’t feel I need to update much for the rest of winter other than to invest in a good pair of jeans. Agree 100% with quality over quantity and it definitely pays to spend a bit more on items you’re gong to wear every day!

  3. I used your original blog post to try and transform my wardrobe into a capsule one around a similar time, although I never intended to be quite as strict on the seasonality like you. I found it IMPOSSIBLE! Since returning to work 3 days a week since having my son, I need far too many styles of clothes to stick to such a small wardrobe: my (office) workwear is so different to my casual day time style which is again different to the smartish clothes i’d wear for weekend evenings out etc.

    However I did find it an excellent opportunity to have a serious wardrobe cull. I had been hanging on to things I never wore, were well past their best or didn’t suit me and it made finding the right outfit to wear such a drag. I got rid of about 5 bin sacks of clothes (charitied/recycled as appropriate) and about 20 pairs of shoes. Now I can really see what’s going on!

    I also learned the same lessons as you, it seems:
    1. I now also operate a one in one out rule
    2. Instead of buying several items a month, I opt for one or two higher quality items. Spending the same amount as before (if not less) but more in keeping with my “style” rather than a particular fashion so that I should get much more longevity out of them.
    3. I now ask myself whether I truly love an item before buying it. I used to get so sucked in to sale “bargains” or quick fixes and them end up being a waste of money by going unworn.. Spending more money also helps me think carefully if I truly need the item in question.

    I think I’ve still kept some items out of sentimentality, and I’m still carrying a little exces, but on the whole it was a great exercise and has made my life that little bit easier (v valuable with a toddler in the house!).

    Thanks so much for inspiring me to do this! Xx

  4. I’m with you on the quality over quantity. Definitely the way to go in my opinion, especially when it’s classic pieces that are timeless. Really interesting to see how you got on. Sarah x

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