Don’t get me wrong, I’m hanging on to summer with everything I’ve got, but the calendar says it is coming to an end and thus, we must face the harsh reality…it is time to layer on the sweaters, break out the jeans and dare I say don socks and boots?  With the change in the seasons often comes a closet cleanout.  Its just the perfect time to purge the clothing you no longer want or need and to make room for some new purchases!  Last year, after the holidays were over, I was so disgusted by the condition of my “walk-in closet”.  For one, I could not walk into it without risking life and limb, but most importantly, I was wearing the same few outfits over and over again because I couldn’t even see the shirts, dresses and pants crammed into the shelves and hanging racks.  Over three days, I purged more than 50% of my closet with the intention of creating a more refined Fall/Winter capsule wardrobe that would work not only for the office, but also for casual Fridays and weekend activities.  In doing so I applied some very simple guidelines to determine what needed to go and what I wanted to stay:

  1. Have I worn it in the last year?
  2. Is it in good condition (i.e. no stains, tears, pilling or signs of wear)?
  3. Does it fit perfectly or can I (and is it worth the money to) have it tailored to fit perfectly?
  4. Does it bring me joy to wear it?
  5. If I saw it in the store today would I buy it again?

In asking myself these questions with each article in my closet right down to shoes, handbags and other accessories, I ended up with an entirely empty closet and a bedroom overrun by three piles (correction: mounds) of clothing items – the definitive yes pile, the definitive no pile, and a manageable pile of the “do I really have to get rid of it?” items.   The definitive yes items were placed back into the closet in an organized manner.  The definitive no pile was either donated or sold depending on the value of the items and their condition.  The questionable pile was subject to a second level of review.  This was the hardest part of the purge because it is the part when you say things like, “but if I loose a few pounds,” “but it was my first interview suit” or  the dreaded, “I can wear it loungewear.”  Honestly, do I need to be sleeping in my old softball t-shirt from when I was 12 years old?  Yea, the kids think it is cool that it still fits, but some nice pajamas would be just as comfortable and slightly less of an embarrassment should I ever (please no) find myself standing on my neighbor’s lawn in the middle of the night wearing nothing but the clothes on my back.

At the end of the day, I kept a few things from the questionable pile, that I really loved and that were of exceptional quality and timeless silhouettes, to help keep me on track with my fitness goals.  I sorted the rest into the no piles for sale and donation.  By the way, the nice thing about selling items you no longer use is that you start to build up a clothing fund for items you want to add in to your wardrobe.

Once I had completed the purge I took one more look at the clothing that populated the closet and made a list of a few items I wanted to buy like a classic trench coat, black pencil skirt, neutral cardigan and black moto boots.  I then hit the post holiday sales keeping in mind the principle purpose of a capsule wardrobe is to have pieces that can be mixed and matched to create several outfits with just a few essential pieces.  If I was shopping for an anchor piece of the capsule, like the black pencil skirt, I looked for high quality and spent more of my budget to get it.  If I was looking for a trendy piece like “leather” leggings, which I probably will wear only a handful of times at best, I went with a more moderate price point.  I looked for classic pieces in camel, navy, grey and black so they would work well with a variety of  patterned blouses I had in my collection and looked to add additional interest with scarves and statement jewelry items.

It worked rather well for a first pass review, but Rome was not built in a day.  An annual review is in order.  Judging by the photo above, I guess I know what I’m doing this weekend!