As the creator of minimalist fashion challenge Project 333, I have lots of capsule wardrobe tips to share. I’ve been dressing with 33 items or less every 3 months (or longer) since 2010! I know that 33 items isn’t the right number for everyone but starting with some tips and ideas can help you create a minimalist wardrobe with less stress.
Susie Faux coined the term “capsule wardrobe” back in the 1970s and many of the principles remain the same. That said, for our purposes this is less of a fashion statement and more of a way to reduce stress and unnecessary spending and free up our resources for what we really care about.
Sometimes we overthink the process and worry about things that don’t usually happen. Some common fears for getting started with Project 333 or a capsule wardrobe include laundry concerns, weather worries and size fluctuation. You may also stress over picking the perfect color palette, the best little black dress or finding the right capsule wardrobe checklists. Give yourself permission to let all of that go for a while (maybe forever).
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.
Instead of stressing about trends, wardrobe essentials or even discovering your personal style, keep it simple when getting started. You’ll learn so much about what works for your body and your lifestyle by simply getting started. The saying, “you don’t know what you don’t know” applies for Project 333 and capsule wardrobes too.
If you are a beginner or beginning again, these capsule wardrobe tips will help you build a decision-free closet so you can get dressed with less stress.
1. Eliminate jewelry and or accessories.
Instead of trying to figure out what scarves, handbags, necklaces, 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 navy but have a few red items in your wardrobe to “mix things up” or because red was the accent 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. You may choose to wear mostly black, beige or another neutral color most of the time. Remove the colors, stripes, polka dots or patterns you don’t feel good in for a while. If you love wearing lots of colors and patterns, that’s fine too but don’t force yourself into wearing what you think you are “supposed” to be wearing.
3. Keep it all in one place.
I used to have clothes for different seasons and other wardrobe items in multiple 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. You don’t have to get rid of the stuff you don’t wear at first. Instead hide it so you don’t have to see it or stress about what to do with it at first. It will be easier to let go when you experience the benefits of dressing with less.
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. Again, pick your favorites. If you don’t like button-up shirts and heels, don’t include them. Your ideal outfit might be a classic blazer, white t-shirts and jeans with sandals or boots, or maybe you prefer skirts, tanks and cardigans or denim jackets with your favorite pair of shoes. You cannot choose wrong because you can make adjustments along the way.
5. Get rid of the tags.
If there are things in your closet with tags still on them, say goodbye. Give them away, consign them or sell them. Maybe you can even return them. The tags may not seem harmful but seeing those bad purchase decisions every day can be a stressful reminder of impulse shopping, overspending and bad purchase decisions.
6. Only keep one size in your closet.
Multiple sizes may feel comfortable but it’s just adding extra clutter to your closet. Instead, focus on what including what fits your body and your lifestyle today. You can always find the other stuff later if you need it but you don’t have sort through it on a daily basis.
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, sad or bad. 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. Lift yourself up with music instead of stuff.
This capsule wardrobe tip might seem silly but sometimes when we think we need something new, we just need a break. 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 your stuff to go through your clothes with you. They can look through your sweaters, blouses, and trousers and make recommendations. As you are sorting through, consider quality clothes instead of quantity of clothes. 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.
More Project 333 Resources To Help You Start A Capsule Wardrobe
Looking for more resources? Here’s a list to help your capsule wardrobe efforts:
- Read Project 333, The Minimalist Fashion Challenge That Proves Less Really Is So Much More
- Listen to Wardrobe Declutter: 10 Things To Remove From Your Closet Today
- Watch: Minimalism, A Documentary About The Important Things
- Read 7 Perks of a Minimalist Wardrobe
- Listen to a 1:1 Project 333 coaching call.
Use these capsule wardrobe tips to ease in and have more fun decluttering your current wardrobe and closet.