This spring was all about the loungewear but as we move back into the world, a capsule wardrobe can help ease some of the stress we may be feeling.
It’s long been my belief that since we can’t control most of what goes on in the world, streamlining what we can, and eliminating stress in certain areas of our lives can help us have more capacity for handling stress that is out of our hands.
Remove Stress From Your Closet with a Capsule Wardrobe
Surprisingly, you can reduce a significant amount of stress in your life simply by removing items from your wardrobe. Sometimes choosing an outfit is fun but usually it’s just one more decision and decision fatigue is real, it’s exhausting and it’s stressful. Decision fatigue depletes us so when we finally make the time for what’s important and interesting to us, we are apathetic and unmotivated.
In addition to the stress from making decisions, closets contain another source of stress built right into the items hanging inside. The stress lies in our emotional connection, especially to the stuff we never wear. Clothes that don’t fit, that we spent too much on or that someone gave us and we never wear don’t exactly lift us up and make us feel great every morning. Just seeing them adds a little bit of heaviness that we usually don’t even recognize until they are gone.
If you are a capsule wardrobe beginner or beginning again, these tips will help you build a decision-free closet so you can get dressed with less stress.
1. Eliminate accessories. Instead of trying to figure out what scarves, handbags, jewelry, or other things you accessorize with, eliminate all or all but one. This may not be a permanent step, but removing the decision-making process for a few months will help you experience the benefits of dressing with less without struggling to choose.
2. Wear your favorite colors. If you love wearing blue but have a few red items in your wardrobe to “mix things up” or because red was the color of the month in your favorite fashion magazine, let yourself off the hook. You don’t have to dress in seasonal colors or colors you think you are supposed to wear. Remove the colors or patterns you don’t feel good in for a while.
3. Keep it all in one place. I used to have clothes and other wardrobe items in different drawers, closets, and storage bins so I never really understood how much I really had. Get all your stuff in one place and then divide it into the stuff you are actually wearing and enjoying and the stuff you aren’t. There is no reason to be sifting through what you don’t wear to find what you want to wear.
4. Identify 5 favorite outfits. Statistics show we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time, but we still show up and ask “what am I going to wear?” every morning. Instead, photograph yourself in your 5 favorite outfits and before you look in your closet, choose from your favorite looks.
5. Get rid of the tags. If there are things in your closet with tags still on them, remove the tags and the items. Give them away, consign them or sell them. The tags may not seem harmful but seeing those bad purchase decisions everyday is a stressful reminder of impulse shopping, overspending and bad purchase decisions.
6. Only keep one size in your closet. Multiple sizes may feel like a safety net, but they may also be a painful reminder of how you feel in your own skin. There’s no proof that smaller sizes encourage you to lose weight and the stress of trying could even contribute to weight gain. Keep one size in your closet and take a walk with the extra time you save in the morning when deciding what to wear.
7. Let go of the guilt. Closets are full of emotion with guilt often at the top of the list. Guilt for spending too much, for not wearing what you have, for clothes fitting poorly and for not enjoying pieces other people have given you. Unfortunately the guilt is completely unproductive. Take a look through your closet and pull out anything that makes you feel guilty. Box it up and revisit in 3 months. If you don’t love it by then or it still makes you feel bad, give it away.
8. Add music. Instead of continually adding new pieces to your wardrobe because they are on sale, or because you need a shopping lift, or whatever excuse you are using to buy something new, add music. Create a playlist of 10 songs that make you smile and when you feel the urge to shop, turn the music on instead. Those 10 songs will lift you up and the time that passes while you are listening will be enough of a delay to ease your mind and distract you from shopping. If you don’t want to make a playlist, try this one.
9. Ask a friend for help. Invite someone over who isn’t emotionally attached to go through your clothes with you. Trust them to help you let go.
10. Call a three-month time out. Give minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 a try. You have nothing to lose except stress, spending, and closet chaos.
As a capsule wardrobe beginner, don’t give everything away, just get it out of sight for a while and see how you feel dressing with less. Remove the stress and emotional attachment by separating yourself from your stuff.
PS If you want to work on your capsule wardrobe, or another big change (with tiny steps), join me in July and August in Summer School for Simplicity. Registration closes Friday and this is the last time you can join. Learn more here.