Quite a few months ago, I posted about my goal to work on finding my style. Wow what a journey it has been. I know I’m not alone in struggling to get out of a style rut and figure out what looks best on me. It was hard!
Besides allowing myself to discard items I had paid good money for (eek!), one of the hardest things about decluttering my closet was simply deciding what looked best on me. What colours? What styles? Wouldn’t I need that long black skirt one day? How about my cute white wedding shoes – they still fit! Surely I needed to keep that expensive turquoise bag that I received as a gift, right?!
You see where I’m going. Basically I didn’t know what to give away because I simply couldn’t decide. I either loved the memory associated with the piece (i.e. the shirt I bought at the music festival before we had kids) or I really thought I’d love to wear the piece one day (i.e. the colourful skirt I got on sale)… but so many items would sit there unworn – taking up space not only in my closet but in my mind.
I admit it: I had shopped for years without really being mindful about what I was buying or why. I bought what I liked, not being very careful about how it fit into my wardrobe or if it was really the right piece for me. It was a big wakeup call to become so selective about what was in my wardrobe… so selective, in fact, that my whole wardrobe now fits into a suitcase. It’s essentially a capsule wardrobe.
First I’ll show you what’s in my new simplified wardrobe and last I’ll tell you how I got to this point. It definitely didn’t happen overnight!
Wardrobe That Can Fit Into A Suitcase
First, let’s start with tops! Keep in mind that I’m still breastfeeding, so I didn’t have a huge choice with tops. I may have chosen slightly different colours and styles if this weren’t the case… so finding tops was even more tricky than it would have been!
My summer tops are mostly sleeveless, as it gets very hot and sweaty in the summertime here! I have one camisole which can be worn beneath any of the other shirts for extra warmth in winter, and most of these tops also go under either the jacket, sweater, or cardigan pictured below (so they can be worn in cooler weather as well).
Now on to tops for cooler weather. I only have three long sleeved shirts at the moment, so might possibly purchase one or two more when the next winter comes around. When it was winter a few months ago, I was still sorting through my wardrobe and figuring out the colours I liked etc, have not yet found replacements for items I discarded. In any case, a couple extra would easily fit into my suitcase!
It’s a bit hard to see the details of the clothes in the top row but there’s a brown button up jacket, a navy sweater (which has an off centre zip and folds over for interest), and a simple dark blue waterfall cardigan.
All of those tops go with at least two, but often more, of the bottoms you see here. I have three pairs of jeans (one navy pair of skinny jeans which can be dressed up with heels), two shorts, and two skirts. Two of the jeans can also be rolled up a bit, to wear with sandals in cool weather.
The pencil skirt can be partnered with a sleeveless, short sleeved, or long sleeved skirt (with stockings) so can be styled for any season. Finding tops to make that skirt so versatile took time and patience, but was so worth it! I rarely need to dress up, but having a few options makes it nice.
Shoes were probably the trickiest part about creating my simplified wardrobe. When I told my husband, proudly, that I made it down to 7 he was like, “What? Seven?! I have three!” But ladies, you’ll understand how hard it is to find shoes that go with everything… and are still comfortable! Plus, having different shoes really adds variety to the outfits and makes them more seasonally appropriate.
Several of these pairs of shoes can cross between seasons but basically there are at least two shoes that will go with each bottom I have (skirt, shorts or pants) and of course I had to have shoes for dressy as well as casual wear. Those closed toe nude shoes in the centre there took three shopping trips to find… but I was absolutely set on the idea of having a pair of dressy shoes that could cross between seasons. It was worth the wait!
Lastly for accessories. I don’t want to tell you how many bags and hats I owned… such a waste! I rarely used them because I would buy based on the hat or bag itself and not what it went with. Now I’ve cut it down to two hats (one for summer, one for winter) and five bags. The two largest bags are used most of the time… and go with any outfit because they match my range of shoes. The smaller bags are for more dressy occasions, and the colourful one is for traveling or the market (I admit this is also a sentimental piece as I got it in Papua New Guinea where my husband grew up). Then two pairs of hose – one for winter to go with my pencil skirt, and one nude pair for my dresses (pictured soon).
You can see four scarves here (which I will show you again below) plus jewellery. Instead of choosing a specific number of necklaces or earrings, I limited myself to one case of jewellery – so whatever fits into this roll up bag I can keep! I got rid of a bunch of pieces that I never wore, and chose specific items that went with the outfits that are now in my wardrobe.
What about dressy outfits? I have two main dresses (but the skirts you saw above could also be used for dressing up in some instances). These can be changed up by wearing different scarves, jewellery and shoes. Each has three ways that I like wearing them (one without a scarf, two with scarves or cardigans), although I’m sure I could also find more! Realistically however that is plenty for my current lifestyle!
And how about exercise or camping? Now this is where I have a separate “capsule” for a few reasons. I don’t want to resort to casual wear on a regular basis, but I do have to keep some active wear for the occasional times I need it. So I have purchased a packing unit (pictured on the left behind the text on the photo) which contains all of these items. This way I can take it out when I need it… and not be tempted to wear these things on a regular basis!
Because everything can mix and match (which is the whole point of a capsule wardrobe) there are tons of outfits even though there are not more than a couple dozen articles of clothing.
Here are some examples of outfits for the summer. If you look at the pictures above, you can see basically everything goes together. These are just four I threw together by getting any shirt with any bottom, then chose shoes plus a necklace or earrings to finish the outfit.
Here again, just some more examples of outfits – this time for cooler weather. The one on the left is the pencil skirt with stockings… so you can see how this skirt crosses seasons (it’s also featured in the previous summer outfit picture).
Not pictured individually (but they are in my suit case):
- Swim wear and cover-ups
- Pyjamas (summer and winter)
- Robes (summer and winter)… I actually forgot to put these in the photo but they can easily fit into the bottom part of my bag!
And that’s it! What do you think? How does it compare to how many clothes you have?
So I simplified my wardrobe. Are you wondering why?
I don’t know about you, but a year ago I could not have imagined that a year’s worth of clothes could fit into a suitcase. My shoes alone would have filled up an entire bag!
As I explained in my previous post, I had sooooo many clothes – some up to a decade old. Work clothes, cut off shorts from my early 20’s, loads of scarves, and T-shirts from trips abroad (which I never wore). It was all jammed into drawers and overflowing from the closet and yet I still felt like I didn’t have anything to wear.
Why? Because although most of the clothing still “fit” –
(1) I didn’t especially like it but rather I liked the memory associated with it.
(2) I had nothing to wear it with… even after searching through all the stuffed drawers…
(3) I never quite knew why it looked better on the hanger than it did on me.
Now – with my new simplified wardrobe –
(1) I like everything enough to wear it regularly.
(2) I know exactly what I have and so outfits are easy to make because the pieces work together… I don’t waste time trying things on to check.
(3) I don’t have piles of clothing to sort through but yes I have to wash clothes more often. I have less to put away (a little bit more often) and less to take care of or worry about! It’s a great trade off in my opinion.
Like I said, this definitely wasn’t something that happened over night! I had a goal last April to simplify my wardrobe so that we could do a year of travel (that’s why I’m currently living out of a suitcase, because we sold our wardrobe already!). It’s taken me the past five months of steady attention to get everything to this point.
Why so long? Well, first I had to go through everything I had and figure out whether to keep it or not. Then I had to make sure I had enough everyday outfits but also outfits for special occasions… dressy, beach, funeral, etc. There was a lot of back and forth, shopping for a few new pieces and figuring out how things worked together. (For a good while, I had to wear black even though -gasp- I found out it wasn’t my colour! More than half my wardrobe was black!)
But luckily I didn’t do all this on my own!
So how did I do it?
After experiencing a great deal of motivation from joining the Evolve Your Style Challenge, I was pumped to be invited to review the 7 Steps to Style System. In this program, I learned that (1) style is not as simple as it appears – there is lots of great advice that takes time to learn and implement, (2) style is an evolving thing as you change lifestyles and age, (3) style is a way to express yourself, get creative, and show who you really are.
In the handouts and videos of the ecourse, I learned about what specific styles suit my individual personality, dressing for my current lifestyle, creating contrast in my outfits to suit my own unique colouring and features, how to choose fabrics and patterns, and much more. Imogen, the creator of the ecourse and author of the wonderful Inside Out Style blog, assessed me for colour, body shape, facial features, and more. After figuring out my best colours, I was able to get a swatch of tones that I can actually take the store to help me decide on purchases. So, so helpful!
And the guidance didn’t end there because I now have access to the incredible 7 Steps to Style community in a private Facebook group. We all share pictures of our outfits, ask questions, and give feedback about recent purchases… such an awesome support network. I highly recommend checking the 7 Steps to Style System out if you need some direction and inspiration for your wardrobe – whether you want to simplify or simply reorganise! It’s an investment that will pay for itself time and time again. I’ve been recommending it to everyone.
Here are some wonderful posts by Imogen to get started:
10 Rules to Transform Your Personal Style
10 Outfit Ideas for the Stay at Home Mum
3 Steps to Finding Your Ultimate Contrast Levels
How to Choose Necklaces to Work with Your Neckline
10 Most Popular Wardrobe Capsule Posts
Simplifying my wardrobe has been a huge stress reliever for me and I love the idea of having a wardrobe for one or two years, and just replacing items individually as they get old or worn… so that I can avoid doing huge shops for no reason, and keep things simple.
Have you ever decluttered your wardrobe? What tips do you have?
This post is part of my Simple Living series.
You may also enjoy reading…
50 Days to Simplify Your Home (Printable Checklist)
10 Creative Ways to Use Luggage to Save Space
I was gifted membership to the 7 Steps to Style System to review for this post. All opinions are my own. To read more about reviews on my website, visit this page.
Thanks so much for sharing your packing tips for your world trip and your experience with the 7 Steps to Style program. I’m so glad that you found it useful and valuable! Can’t wait to hear about your travels!
Oh my goodness, I am sooooooooo inspired by this! Really impressed!! My wardrobe is bursting at the seams with clothing, many are just hand me downs or stuff that is probably even 15 years old or so?! – eek!!! I hang on to way too much ‘just in case’; and a capsule wardrobe like this sounds heavenly right about now! Need to do a serious cull, thanks for the detailed inspiration, I need to check out that site too! xx
Bek @ just for daisy
Oh Chelsea I love this so much! You’ve set a bit of a challenge for me I thinK! There are definitely some items in my wardrobe that could go – I hang onto them for various reasons. I’m also still breastfeeding (hvae been pregnant or breastfeeding for the last 6 years!) so I’m looking forward to how my wardrobe will change once I wean my little guy (not that I’m in a rush!)
Wow, that is so impressive. I have so much stuff in my wardrobe that I need to let go of!
Loved your post! Very inspiring. I’ve been working to get my wardrobe simplified too. BTW, I really LOVE your Carolina visor – have one just like it! Go Heels!
Chelsea Lee Smith
Oh awesome YES go heels!! 🙂