Downsizing your wardrobe is a big decision and requires careful consideration and ongoing management. It can be daunting (depending on past consumer behaviour!) and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. But the benefits of having a simple, well curated wardrobe and relying on fewer but quality pieces goes far beyond those instant feelings of a good cleanout.
Our founder Sophie has been curating wardrobes for nearly 20 years. Here are her top tips to help guide you through downsizing and living a more stylish, fashionable life with a curated wardrobe of high quality essentials.
TIP 1: START FRESH
Set aside a half day (or more or less depending on the size of your existing wardrobe) to commit to a full wardrobe clear out. This means removing ALL clothes (including “smalls” like pantihose, socks and lingerie) from ALL wardrobes, cupboards, drawers etc, so you can sort through it all.
We recommend the following "5 point" technique when sorting through your garments and items:
- KEEP – items you love, still wear, fit properly and will form the basis of your future capsule wardrobe;
- DISPOSE– anything that is damaged and cannot be repaired. Use the actual garbage bin as a last resort. Often there are causes that will be happy to take damaged items off you for creative endeavours.
- UNDECIDED – the items you may like but perhaps don’t fit. Or maybe require alterations. Or perhaps you just LOVE and are not yet ready to part with. The things that don’t immediately say “MUST KEEP” but you are not sure whether to part with. Revisit this pile at the end of your sorting to make a final decision.
- SELL/GIVE/SWAP – Anything that is not damaged that you will definitely part with. If clothes are in good condition, consider selling, consigning, giving away to charity or swapping with friends (but make sure you are only swapping for things you need - see tip 2 below!).
Contrary to popular opinion, there is no “baseline” for a capsule wardrobe. For some people a baseline may be 3-5 garments. For others, it may be more than 20. Don’t focus on the volume, focus on the utility of what you have, and what you need based on your lifestyle.
TIP 2: FOCUS ON WHAT YOU NEED
Once the sorting is complete, you can turn your mind to what gaps you have and what you think you’ll need going forward. It is worth thinking through what you NEED to build a wardrobe of reliable staples versus things that you WANT or current trends and fads that will come and go over time. Considering what will suit your lifestyle now and into the future and focussing on key multipurpose pieces that will transcend trends and can be worn across different seasons will help you build a wardrobe of solid go-to pieces regardless of the context of climate.
Consider seeking out pre-loved or vintage items (or swapping with friends as suggested under tip 1). Not everything needs to be brand new and there are some unique one-off pieces to be found if you look hard enough.
TIP 3: DO NOT FORGET YOUR ACCESSORIES!
Do not underestimate the role that accessories can play in your newly curated wardrobe. You only need a few key pieces (think: watch/scarf/bag/shoes) to completely change an otherwise generic look into something truly unique and personal. Accessories allow you to add seasonal colours to classic cut garments and put your personal style on display for maximum impact.
TIP 4: CONTINUOUS CURATION
Wardrobes, like most things in life, require ongoing management and continuous improvement. It need not be regular but we all change over the course of our lifetime (whether in size, shape, taste or anything other category!) – its worthwhile checking in every 6 - 12 months on the performance of your curated wardrobe, to ensure it still meets your lifestyle requirements and reflects the image you want to project to the world.
Classic cuts and garments that are designed and produced to transcend trends and provide go-to wardrobe basics not only help in building your personal image, but also reduces complexity in your day to day life, by minimising the transactional choices that you have to make on a day to day basis by not having to face that agonising “what do I wear?” question each day. If followed properly and maintained, you will have a solid foundation from which to build an outfit for almost any occasion. Not to mention the positive environmental impact we can all have by consuming less “fast fashion”. We can change the way we feel about ourselves simply by making better choices, including what we choose to wear each day.