I knew I reached a personal fashion low when I asked if I could wear yoga pants to a neighbor’s birthday barbecue.
I honestly did. Without shame. Without remorse.
Gradually without realizing it, my yoga pants had become my fashion security blanket.
Part of it was because I planned to attend to a yoga class every day, but didn’t usually make it there. (But if I put on my workout clothes in the morning, I would force myself to go, right? Wrong.)
Part of it was that I work from home and one of the joys of working from home is that I can work in pajamas or in my case, yoga pants and free T-shirt that my husband won at a 5k on base. (For the record, I never run. Never ever. Not even for a free MWR T-shirt.)
But mostly I was lazy.
All of this led to me saying “If I can’t wear yoga pants to your party, you need to tell me.”
Gosh. What a cry for fashion help from the frazzled-looking writer.
Then I turned to the best-dressed writer I know for help: Amiyrah Martin from 4hatsandfrugal.
Amiyrah has a fashion capsule. Yup, you read that correctly, a fashion capsule. And Amiyrah explains on her blog that dressing cute isn’t rocket science. It’s all about simplifying your closet down to your favorite items and rocking those clothes day after day.
Another note about Amiyrah: She has a no-nonsense vibe about her and that calls out my bullshit when I start to complain that doing a fashion capsule is hard and I don’t have time to do it.
Then I did it. I downsized my closet and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Downsizing my closet eliminated the moments when I used to look at my overstuffed closet and complain that I have nothing to wear. Downsizing my closet gave me the confidence to wear my yoga pants to yoga (a crazy idea, I know) and to invest in looking like my casual cute self instead of frumpy and frazzled.
This week is the week that you take a long hard look at your closet and purge away to reveal your favorite items as part of NextGen MilSpouse’s You Got This: 52 Challenges to Make 2016 Your Bitch.
Week 17 Challenge: Downsize Your Closet
Challenge Details: Set aside 4 hours to take every piece of clothing out of your closet and drawers. Look at this massive pile of fabric. Sip your favorite alcoholic drink. Divide the clothing into 3 piles (keep, save and purge.) Limit yourself to a certain number of keep items, like 33 or 37. Reassemble your closet and look forward to getting dressed in the morning. Smile knowingly every time you receive a compliment about your new great look.
Your deadline: May 2
Bonus Points if you post a photo of you downsizing your closet on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #2015IsMyBitch.
Here are the 4 steps to shrinking your wardrobe in order to expand your fashion sense.
Step 1: Assemble Your Downsizing Tools
Besides a strong sense of self and the willpower to admit that you don’t wear the floral print dresses that you loved in Guam as much in Texas, you will need the following items:
- A full-length mirror
- A box or bag labeled Donate
- A box or bag labeled Store
- A brutally honest friend
Next, take everything, and I mean everything out of your closet and drawers and arrange it by categories on your bed or bedroom floor. This part isn’t pretty. It isn’t meant to be pretty.
Step 2: Pretend You’re a Guest on “What Not to Wear”
Take a hard look at the items on your bed and make a gut reaction decision to keep it, save it or purge it for every item. This is why we told you to dedicate 4 hours for this week’s challenge.
The keep items are your favorite T-shirts, the little black dress that you love the way your butt looks in it or the pair of jeans that you wear over and over again.
The save items are the ones that you love wearing, but you don’t wear often or you aren’t wearing right now. Your favorite wool sweater will have a home here until next fall. A save item may also be a button-down shirt that you really like, but you don’t need to dress up for work anymore because you’re currently a stay-at-home dad.
Pack these items away and give yourself an expiration date. Then 3 months later, you can re-examined this box of cast-offs to decide if you really want to keep them or if you are ready to let them go to their next life in thrift shop heaven.
Pro tip: If you have an item that you like, but it needs something (maybe it’s a tank to match those print pants or a cardigan to coordinate with a spring dress) make a note of it on your cell phone. Then when you’re shopping, you can focus on finding these must-have items to complete your look.
The purge items are anything that doesn’t fit, needs to be altered or you haven’t worn in the last 6 months. For me, this meant parting with 5 pencil skirts that I really love, but don’t wear anymore because I don’t work in an office anymore.
Anything that is stained, faded, unflattering or out of style needs to go. It’s taking up valuable space in your closet.
Pro tip: Aren’t sure if an item looks unflattering? This is where brutally honest friend can be your Clinton Kelly and tell you what not to wear ever again. Or you can snap a selfie. Selfies never lie.
Step 3: Assign Your Fashion Capsule a Magic Number
For me, there was the toughest part of the challenge. I can purge with the best of them, but to really, really, really narrow down my closet to my absolute favorites was HARD. And at one point in the process, I thought I would have NOTHING to wear when it was time to get dressed in the morning.
But I took a deep breath and trusted Amiyrah when she said that she did Project 333. Project 333 is a challenge created by Salt Lake City blogger Courtney Carver when she downsized her closet to 33 items. She wore only those 33 items for 3 months.
There’s a similar challenge where the magic number is 37 items. I used 37 as my magic number (not including accessories, shoes and jackets). The magic number does NOT include workout clothes, pajamas, underwear or in-home lounge wear.
You choose your magic number for this challenge. It can be any number between 33 and 40.
Pro tip: Use creativity when pairing your “keep” items together so that your 33 items with yield 30 different outfits. Your target is to have every piece of clothing in your wardrobe coordinate with at least 3 other garments in your closet.
Step 4: Wear Your Workout Clothes When You’re Working Out and Wear the Rest of Your Clothes the Rest of the Time
I’m a person who thrives under rules. No rules and I turn to chaos. When Amiyrah said that I couldn’t wear my yoga pants to Target anymore, I took it seriously. I mean, I could wear my yoga pants to run errands under the Project 333 rules, but then I would have to count them as one of my 37 items and that just isn’t cool.
Once you’re done downsizing your closet, start shopping in your closet to save money and feel more comfortable in your fashion style.
Think you can’t downsize your closet?
Anytime you’ve lived out of a suitcase for 16 days for a PCS, you’ve taken the Project 333 challenge. You just didn’t know you were doing it. Now do it for real.