Let’s Talk Clothes, Part 2: Optimizing

You can check out Part 1: Minimizing of my “Let’s Talk Clothes” series here. In this post I’ll share the process I’ve been through to optimize my wardrobe.

I’ve minimized… now what!?

I wish I made a note of how many pieces of clothing I donated/sold… I think I’d surprise myself! After getting rid of the clothing that was no longer serving its purpose, I didn’t have much left. My body (and life) has changed so much postpartum that many of my clothes didn’t fit well or didn’t suit my new lifestyle. I was left with around 30 pieces of clothing in my closet that fit well and that I love.

I took them all out of my closet and spread them out on my bed in categories (dresses, pants, tops, etc.) I set aside any items that I wouldn’t need for the spring/summer season. I tried everything else on in “oufits” to see which items went well with one another. Throughout this process I made a list of clothing items that I would need to compliment what I already had, or fill in any gaps of particular items I needed.

I was VERY specific. This was the list I came up with:

  • white/brown/beige tank top x2
  • brown button-up cropped sweater
  • long beige/neutral tee x2
  • lounge pants
  • dress with sleeves
  • brown oxford-style shoes

I was intentional in choosing items and colours that would fit with what I already had and be used to make multiple outfits. They’re also items of clothing that can be layered and dressed up/down, so they will work for many occasions and seasons.

The Search

Anytime I need something, I always check for secondhand options first: thrift shops, Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace, etc. Why? Because it’s better to buy something that has already been produced than to buy something newβ€”better for your wallet AND the planet. (Read more about the benefits of buying secondhand here)

I was able to find two items secondhand: a brown button-up cropped sweater and a dress with sleeves. That left me in need of a few staple pieces that I was having a hard time finding secondhand.

This is where my major dilemma came in, and I am going to be 100% honest with you…

I am ALL FOR supporting sustainable, ethical brands. We vote with our dollars, and I want mine to support great companies! However, I am a stay-at-home mom and we are scraping by on one income. We have a very small amount of disposable income. I had been saving up for a few more expensive items: a swimsuit from Jessica Rey, shoes from Adelisa & Co., and a dress from Not Perfect Linen. I searched for all of the items I needed from ethical brands, but because I needed quite a few items to create a functional wardrobe, I simply could not afford to spend double or triple. Do I feel good about it? Absolutely not. I felt so guilty purchasing some items from fast fashion companies, but I also couldn’t justify credit card debt that I wouldn’t be able to pay off in the near future in order to purchase similar items.

Now that I have a basic capsule wardrobe that I can add items to seasonally, my goal is to plan for specific items I’ll need, so I have time to save money to purchase higher quality items from more sustainable and ethical fashion brands, and also more time to search for specific items secondhand.

Summer Capsule Wardrobe

Here is my summer capsule wardrobe:

  1. Linen Mama dress in small checks (sleeves)
  2. White/black patterned cotton dress (sleeveless)
  3. Cream cotton ruffle dress (sleeves)
  4. Grey/pale lavender cotton button-up dress (sleeveless)
  5. Linen sleeveless jumpsuit
  6. Sage cotton maxi skirt
  7. Grey tights
  8. Black leggings
  9. Brown skinny stretch pants
  10. Rust wide-leg linen pants
  11. Beige tapered-leg linen pants
  12. Long taupe hoodie
  13. Beige linen shorts
  14. Brown cropped button-up sweater
  15. White ribbed sweater
  16. Beige/Brown sweater
  17. Long Rust button-up sweater
  18. Oversized beige/taupe tee
  19. Ribbed beige tee
  20. Wine tank top
  21. Rust tank top
  22. Beige knit tank top
  23. White/Taupe tank top with buttons
  24. Brown sol shoes
  25. Brown sandals
  26. Brown flats
  27. Brown boots
  28. Black flip-flops
  29. Grey rain jacket
  30. Dark green cotton jacket
  31. Bracelet/Watch (gifted)
  32. NPL Sydney dress in amber yellow (birthday gift that is still on its way, but I’m counting it)
  33. NPL volume dress in creamy brown (birthday gift that is still on its way, but I’m counting it)

Excluded from the list: pajamas & loungewear, bathing suit, clothes used exclusively for workouts/hikes.

Of my 33 items, 19 were already in my wardrobe before I minimized it.

I’m interested to see how I fare with this wardrobe from June-August. I know there will be SO many occasions where I am tempted to buy new clothes, but I will try to stay strong and keep to my capsule (let’s hope I’ve selected it well…)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic of clothes, so feel free to leave a comment below, or chat with me over on Instagram, where I’ll be sharing my outfits, thoughts, etc.

I’ve also started a group chat for anyone who wants to participate in the Project 333 challenge with us! Anyone is welcome, whether you are planning to try it, are giving it a try, or have already had some experience with it and/or capsule wardrobes.

Thanks for reading!

Let’s Talk Clothes, Part 1: Minimizing

I’m working my way through a few personal goals related to slow living, minimalism, and more sustainable living.

It has been, and will continue to be, an ongoing process. I’m constantly learning, growing, and changing. Though there are many ways I can do better, I am embracing my imperfect journey and trying my best.

An important aspect of this for me is clothing, which I’m going to chat about today! It also happens to be Fashion Revolution weekβ€”perfect timing to start this series of posts.

Where I started

I had a closet stuffed to the brim with clothes, but only a few pieces that I truly loved, that fit well, and that I wore regularly.

I spent way too long staring at my clothes thinking, hmmm what should I wear….

I usually bought clothing on a whim, or when there were sales on β€” buying whatever I liked the look of with no regard to whether I actually needed that item of clothing.

I gave NO thought to what the clothes I bought were made of, where they were made, who made them, etc.

I had:

  • clothes that I’d never worn with tags still on them
  • clothes that didn’t fit quite right (or at all)
  • clothes that didn’t look flattering on me
  • clothes that I didn’t feel comfortable in but liked the look of
  • clothes that didn’t go with anything else in my closet (no pants to match a top, a dress that needed a different kind of bra, etc.)
  • clothes that I was saving for a specific time or event
  • clothes that I hadn’t worn in ages
  • + just TOO MANY clothes

My process:

First, I took every single item from my closet and made three piles, trying items on as needed:

The “yes” pile: fits well, wear regularly and LOVE β€” would not want to live without it

The “maybe” pile: fits but don’t wear often, not the most flattering, like it but don’t LOVE it, saving for a time when…

The “no” pile: doesn’t fit well/not flattering, haven’t worn in ages.

Next, I went through my “maybe” pile, tried items on, and either put them into the “no” pile or put them back in my closet for a “trial” period.

The majority of my maybe pile ended up in my no pile, OR I kept it for a few weeks, noticed that I really had no desire to wear it, and either donated or sold it. I still have a few pieces “on trial” right now.

My advice: be ruthless! At the beginning it is HARD to let go of things, especially clothes. We often buy clothes that we *wish* would fit us well, look nice on us, or that we hope to have an occasion to wear one day…

If you don’t wear it often, if it doesn’t fit well, and if you don’t LOVE it, toss it in the no pile. You should feel happy to wear the clothes you own.

For me, one of the hardest parts was getting rid of clothes that I hadn’t worn in awhile and was “saving” for the future.

I’m currently a stay-at-home mom, and will be for at least another year and a few months. I had a lot of clothing that I used to wear for work but hadn’t touched since late pregnancy.

Why was I holding on to them?

Because one day I’ll have the need for them again!

But who knows WHEN that will be, whether they’ll fit, or if I’ll even like them whenever that time comes.

Instead of taking up valuable space in my closet, I can either sell them and make money to put towards pieces of clothing that I need right NOW, or donate them so someone else can enjoy them.

Paring Down

Yup… I pared my closet down even further after this!

Again, I took every item out of my closet, but this time I sorted them into piles based on type: sweaters, pants, camisoles, dresses, etc.

I went through each pile and took out any items of clothing that were similar. For example: somehow I had FOUR beige sweater/cardigans. I had absolutely no need for four pieces of clothing so similar, so I chose my favourite one to keep and said farewell to the rest of them.

I also tried everything on again to make sure I absolutely loved it, felt comfortable wearing it, and had corresponding pieces to make complete outfits.

At this point, I realized there were a few key items that I was missing from my wardrobe that would complete certain outfits or compliment other pieces I absolutely loved. So, I made a very specific list of items I needed to add to my wardrobe, with the spring and summer seasons in mind.

The Results

I’ve repeated this process above about 3-4 times since January (it’s now mid-April). I definitely needed to do it several times to become more comfortable in embracing my evolving personal style and understanding the clothes that I love and that serve a purpose in my life right now.

I now have 30 items of clothing in my closet (including activewear, but excluding pajamas and footwear). I’m guessing is about 1/4 of what I had before??? I wish I’d have kept track, because it would be so interesting to know!

What I CAN tell you is that:

  • I don’t feel stressed out or weighed down when I look in my closet for something to wear.
  • It takes a lot less time to get dressed.
  • Everything fits well and goes well together.
  • I love all the clothes I wear.
  • I have soooo much more closet space.
  • I feel more confident.

Stay tuned for my next post, where we move from chatting about minimizing to optimizing. We’ll chat intentional purchasing, capsule wardrobes, and more! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic of clothes, so feel free to leave a comment below, or chat with me over on Instagram.

Maybe the clothes I no longer need will be new favourites for you! You can shop my closet on Poshmark. If you’re outside of Canada and see something you love, feel free to contact me and I can get a shipping quote for you.