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As I’ve shared on Instagram, I do closet clear-outs regularly, but this time I was on fire! Not only did I ruthlessly raid through every single item and being very honest about myself, but also paved the way for a creating a wardrobe I absolutely love.
I think that level of turning inwards and asking myself honest questions sparks my creativity, visualization and helps me get clarity on where I want to go and what I want to for myself in the future. Letting go is one key element here. Decluttering is therefore both an internal as well as external work.
Clearing out my closet not only feels refreshing and cathartic, but it is also my proven way to manifest new things into my life, whether it is new clothes that are more aligned with my style, or anything else I set an intention for.
“Does it bring joy?” for me, is not specific enough to create a capsule closet I love. I might love the individual item but if it doesn’t go with anything else, there is not much joy to be gained from it hanging in my closet.
Ideally, your wardrobe should consist ONLY of pieces you wear, love and are aligned with your personal style. Imagine your closet would consist only of pieces that are wearable, you absolutely love and getting dressed in the morning will be absolutely pleasurable. That was my No. 1 goal.
So I have a list of very specific questions I ask myself when tackling my ‘Wardrobe Reset Project’. I believe that being very direct and specific and confronting every item individually, is going to prevent you from making the same mistakes when making purchasing decisions in the future. It certainly strengthens your awareness and builds your decision-making muscle.
#1 Does it fit?
Might seem obvious, but let’s be honest: How many items do you keep in your closet that don’t fit you properly or you ‘hope’ to fit in one day (again)?
I got rid of so many beautiful pieces that made me uncomfortable wearing them. If I need to suck in my belly in all day, can’t sit comfortably, let alone eat anything while wearing it, I give it a pass.
There is no point of keeping ‘aspirational’ items in your wardrobe because you will never like to wear them. They will just sit there reminding you of your failed attempts of finally fitting into them, making you feel bad about yourself, which is soooo not the point of having a great wardrobe! You should feel absolutely fabulous wearing that piece, so spare yourself the pain and negativity and get rid of anything that is too tight or cannot be tailored to fit your body.
#2 Have I ever worn it?
You won’t believe how many items in my closet still had their tags on! If that’s the case, there clearly was a reason I did not wear it.
The good news is that items with original labels can be resold for a higher price than used pieces.
Same applies to things you only wore 1-2 times max. Consider the cost per wear. You should have clothes that you can get the most wear out of, so they actually have value. Unused clothes have absolutely zero value to you. I love to sell or donate my unworn items and pass them on to someone who will love and wear them. What a beautiful way of breathing new life into your ditched dust-gatherers!
Nowadays, I keep new items on a dedicated pile or rack, so I will actually wear them while having the excitement of their ‘newness’. If I still haven’t worn them within two weeks of their purchase, it is a clear sign to return it while I still can. I don’t even talk myself into believing the right ‘occasion’ just hasn’t come around. If I haven’t worn them now, I will never. Ciao!
#3 Does it match my lifestyle?
I had a collection of pieces (esp. dresses) that were party/summer dresses I had a chance to wear once a year, at best. So I ditched all the tight, sparkly party dresses because they just didn’t fit my current life anymore, as my Friday nights are less wild girls night out and more dinners with friends at home.
I like to keep a few appropriate pieces for family events, weddings, christenings etc. but fabulous party dresses and fancy high heel stilettos don’t make the majority of my closet anymore.
I work from home most of the time now, so obviously I don’t need so many office-appropriate clothes. However, don’t want to be the “yoga pants girl”. Just because I don’t HAVE to, doesn’t mean I don’t want to show up for myself in a certain way. I still want to get ready every day, put on a nice outfit that is both smart and comfortable, so I considered that in my decision making with creating a capsule wardrobe that is effortless and versatile enough to be dressed up and down for different occasions.
Consider whether you live in a city, the countryside, have to commute, walk/stand all day, sit in the office or work from home. Make sure to have a good ratio of leisure, workwear and loungewear clothes according to your lifestyle and where and how you spend most of your time. Does your closet reflect your lifestyle?
#4 Is it aligned with my personal style?
This is key but also tricky, if you don’t know exactly what your style is.
Many of us struggle as they cannot define their own personal style, really. Ask yourself what you’re ‘ideal’ style would look like. What style would you LIKE to have? And, does that item fit into your vision?
Before I started decluttering, I defined a clear vision for myself and what my fashion goals are, making mood boards, Pinterest boards, stalking my style icons, and breaking it down to a few basic rules how to achieve that.
For example, I wanted to create a more feminine, polished yet effortless look, so I kept camisole tops, flowy skirts and blouses and got rid of ripped, super-skinny jeans, very short shorts, crop tops and t-shirts with any sort of print or slogan – anything that is not ‘me’ anymore.
When you have a clear vision, the whole process is so much easier. You will create a wardrobe that will match your goals and standards, and not keep things because they are “still okay”.
Take your time of defining your ‘dream look’ beforehand. Go to Pinterest and create a dedicated board with just outfits you love and see yourself actually(!) wearing. Follow Instagram accounts that match your aspired style or think of a person (real or fictional) whose closet/style you love. Only keep/buy items that are aligned with your fashion goals.
#5 How does it make me feel?
No item should make you feel bad about yourself. Remember, fashion is for fun. You want to feel confident and fabulous.
When you look good, you will feel good. You are going to show up differently, walk differently and just feel so much more empowered. An outfit can do so much for our self-esteem with so little effort, so leverage that and invest in looking and feeling your absolute best. How cool is it that you can “buy confidence?
I had many jumpers that were technically still fine, but they made me feel “meh”. They gave me this ‘wallflower’ kind of vibe, so those went to the toss pile, too.
If anything makes you feel self-conscious because maybe it accentuates a part of your body you are 100% confident with, don’t keep it.
Also, I like to ask myself what that item says about me, i.e. does it represent who I am and want to be (see #4 ). It plays a huge role in how we feel about ourselves and whether it serves us and the style and ‘identity’ we want to embody.
For example, I love girly, flowy dresses and blouses with ruching etc., but often, they just look to ‘childlike’ on me, making me feel like I’m wearing a costume. So as lovely as it is, I say goodbye.
My rule is to only have items that make me look like a million dollars. If I have a ‘cheap’ vibe about it or any other objection (even if I can’t exactly put my finger on it), I trust my gut feeling and give it a pass.
#6 Is it in good shape?
Something that is broken, ripped, stained, discolored etc. will NEVER look good and you won’t feel good wearing it.
Make two piles:
- Things you want to keep but need repairing, altering or taking to the dry cleaners on one pile.
- Items beyond repair or that you wouldn’t want to keep anyway, just get rid of them. They served you, so say thank you and goodbye, like Marie Kondo would.
There were a few things in my wardrobe that had shrunk in the wash, had tiny holes, stains or discoloration, so they really had to go. It sucks to be puling these things out and be annoyed with them being not wearable. It drains a lot of energy, so be mindful of that, spare yourself the emotional drama and get rid of them.
I ordered a top that had a weird uneven hemline. Although I loved it, I couldn’t stop looking at that odd dent, wondering if others would notice it, too. Sticking to my standards, I returned it because I knew I would never wear it confidently.
#7 Does it go with other items I already own?
Something I’ve paid any attention to for years, always wondering why my closet was full of stuff and I had nothing to wear…
Since I have a fairly minimalistic approach lately and applied this principle while building my capsule wardrobe, i.e. getting the most outfit options from the items I have. Thus, mixing and matching has to be super-easy.
If I have to purchase something else to make it work, I consider that item to be an ‘island’ in my closet. If I don’t find a single matching bottom that is a red flag.
Thinking in outfits not just items has been an absolute game-changer for me. Consequently, I ask myself if I can pair that new item with at least three other pieces I already have in my wardrobe. If not… No.
#8 Does it have any memories attached to it?
I think a huge part of my decluttering process was getting rid of anything that had any negative connotations attached to it. For example, a blazer and blouse and the shoes I wore to the interview from the job I got disgracefully fired months later. Seeing that thing in my closet every single day put me in a negative space every time. I felt a punch in the stomach every time and even didn’t like wearing these items anymore although, technically, they were fine.
I think there is some truth to it that things hold a certain energy. Through my mindset work, I also acknowledge that I have moved on and am in completely different place right now, so there was no reason to hold on to these items.
With the clothes, I cleared my mind from the emotional clutter around them, which I didn’t realize was being a heavy burden on me, reminding my of painful situations and experiences from the past that had left behind.
If I have any negative memory with an item, I am happy to pass it on. Nobody needs that negativity in their life.
On the contrary, you might be holding on to a sentimental item that evokes positive memories. This is the hardest to part with. It is totally up to you to keep or part with it, but just ask yourself whether you can remember that event or person in a different way without having to hold on to that item, e.g. a photo of you wearing it often is sufficient to keep the memory alive.
It is rarely the case that you need to keep ‘the thing’ to keep the memory of what it means to you. But, rather keep it for a while longer than parting with it too soon and have regrets and second thoughts about your decision. Decluttering should be pleasurable, not painful.
Decluttering does not have to be a long and endless process, if you set a few ground rules for yourself.
After the closet clearout, you will feel so much different. I felt totally uninspired to shop for fashion and drained by the overwhelming choice before my huge closet declutter. Once I knew what I had and wanted to keep, ideas and inspiration just kept flying at me, and shopping became so effortless and fun.
Decluttering has been the prep-work to really create a closet I love and that makes it easy to get dressed in the morning and look and feel my best. It makes the world of a difference.
A big part was setting a clear vision and goals for myself, which I will share in upcoming posts. Make sure to follow me on Instagram where I share my daily looks, capsule wardrobe ideas and how combine the items I have.
You can find my style goals and fashion inspiration on Pinterest.
Shop My Style: All my perfect closet staples for a capsule wardrobe + the best designer dupes.
The Classy Capsule Closet Workbook: Coming soon! Get on my email list to get notified as soon as it’s released!