When my husband married me, he didn’t know that I had so much baggage. Literally. Bags and bags and bags of clothes.
Clothes from my high school days. Clothes from my college days. Dresses that didn’t fit but I kept because I paid too much for them to just give them away. Sweaters that were given to me as birthday and holiday gifts that I secretly didn’t like. We moved into our first home, and it was the first time I ever had a walk-in closet. I was so excited! Even though I had more clothes that a woman could ever need, I had so much more space to fill with my new closet and fill it I did. Pretty soon, that closet was stuffed.
It took many years (and many wasted dollars) to realize that a minimalist capsule wardrobe was what I needed in my life.
Most of us have probably heard of this trend. Type “capsule wardrobe” into the Pinterest search bar, and a million pins will appear. Basically, it is a collection of clothing that consists of a small number of garments that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits. The number of garments changes based on personal preferences. I have two favorite bloggers that promote capsule wardrobes. Courtney from Be More With Less has thirty-three items in her capsule wardrobe. Jennifer from The Daily Connoisseur has only ten items! I tend to float somewhere around twenty pieces.
Here’s how paring down my closet has helped me:
- My mental space is free for more important things. A phrase that has entered our vocabulary lately is “emotional labor” – all of the work that moms do behind the scenes that weighs us down and that we hardly ever get credit for. We are the ones in our families that know where the dog’s medicine is kept and how many pills Fido gets. We are the ones that know when to pick up the kids from soccer practice and when the field trip forms are due. We are the ones that one kid likes their apple sliced while the other kid likes their apple diced. We have a million and one tiny but crucially important facts stored in our mom brains, and that can feel overwhelming. For me, having a closet that is simplified is calming and reduces a bit of that emotional labor stress.
- I feel more confident. Before I simplified my wardrobe, I would get halfway through my grocery store run before I realized the pair of leggings i was wearing had a huge hole in the back. I would stand in front of my closet frantically trying on top after top, ripping each one off after looking in the mirror and deciding that I didn’t look good. It never occurred to me to ask myself, “Why do I have a top or dress in my closet that I don’t look good in?” I kept clothes that I didn’t love and that didn’t love me back for all the reasons that you probably do too. I paid a lot for them. They still had tags on them. Once I lose a couple more pounds, they will fit. When I go to get ready every morning with my capsule wardrobe, I feel confident that any items hanging there will look good on me, and that confidence makes me happier.
- I save money. It’s simple math. Buying less items means spending less money. Whether I was shopping online at expensive webstores or browsing the aisles of Target out of boredom, I was purchasing items that I really didn’t need. Limiting the number of garments in my closet means I spend less, and who doesn’t want to save money?
- I get to look forward to shopping for a new season. Because I’m not constantly acquiring clothing, when a season changes and it’s time to change out my wardrobe, I get really excited about going to stores and planning out my next season’s items. It becomes an event instead of a chore. Just like waiting to eat a perfectly rip strawberry in season, doing fun things only at certain times of the year makes those fun things even more fun.
- I’m modeling a lifestyle for my kids that I think is important for them to see. We all know people who are way too comfortable with mountains of credit card debt. I used to be one of them. We lived with a sizable credit card statement every month, and it made us feel nervous. Having that debt hanging over our heads brought along a lot of anxiety and stress, and it wasn’t until after we got that debt under control that we realized how much it had been weighing us down. Now, not only are we less stressed around our kids, but hopefully, they see Mom and Dad living a lifestyle where “wants” and “needs” are properly in check.
- I am more tuned in to myself. Shopping worked as a band aid for me. Anxious? Go online and shop. Sad? Go to Target. Bored? What’s on Zulily today? When I first started my capsule wardrobe, I would feel that anxiety or boredom creep in, and, because I couldn’t use shopping as a distraction, I actually had to deal with those emotions. I was forced to find better, healthier ways to cope with life’s stress.
Are you teetering on the fence about starting your own minimalist wardrobe? Try it for a month. Weed through your closet, and pick out fifteen items that you love. Put everything else in a storage bin. If by the end of the month, you didn’t open that storage bin once, walk that bin to your car and drive it to the charity drop off. You will be glad you did!