Last week on the journal, I walked you through step one of our Minimalist Wardrobe Workbook which is all about defining (and truly owning) your personal style.
The transformations are so inspiring, so keep the notes and updates coming. We love seeing them!
The next step in the Minimalist Wardrobe workbook is to take a peek inside your closet and get real specific about what you have, and what you no longer need.
This process is a LONG one, so I recommend setting aside a full day on a weekend to do it. You're going to essentially empty all of your drawers, and closets, and do a full inventory of what you have. After which, you'll sort out your belongings into keep, hold and toss (or donate) piles.
The next step is to create your dream uniforms, and start really filtering through the clothing you have using that lens.
Ready? Let's dig in.
This is the step in the Minimalist Wardrobe workbook that really separates those who are serious about changing their wardrobe from those who are not.
It takes work. A lot of work. You've got to be committed and ready because once you start, it's hard to stop!
Depending on how long it's been since you've Marie-Kondo'd your closet, this might be a full day commitment.
Start by cleaning off your bed, or if needed, laying some clean towels on your floor (if you need the added space). Empty out your entire closet(s) and drawers.
Using our "Count what you've got" template in the Minimalist wardrobe workbook, do a quick tally of how many items you have in each category. Feel free to add your own categories as needed.
While you're doing this, you may or may not want to sort them into piles by category - up to you. I decided to do this while counting my clothing and it helped me truly see what I had and what categories of clothing I tend to have an oversupply of (hello, t-shirts!) and also, I get a lot of joy out of sorting things (so if you're like me, have at it!).
The Initial Keep-Hold-Toss Sweep
• You love it
• It fits, and you look great in it
• It's in good condition
• You've worn it at least once in the past few weeks
• You like it, but it may not be your go to piece
• It fits, and it's in good condition
• You've worn it at least in the last few months
• It's got a positive vibe or memory associated with it
• It's worn or stained
• It doesn't fit (and probably never will ever again!)
• It's out of style and not a vintage gem
• It carries a bad memory or negativity
I recommend starting with an initial, gut-feel, keep-toss-hold exercise. Go through each and every item in your closet and sort into 3 piles. Don't even think about your dream wardrobe or "uniforms" YET.
What to do with the Toss Pile
Although, we named it the "Toss" pile, if you're going for bonus points for up-cycling and environmental impact, I recommend taking a closer look at this pile and further sorting it into three piles.
1. Toss - things that are truly awful. Ripped, stained, not to be worn by anyone. If your municipality has a textile recycling program send it there. If not, you may consider looking to donate it to a crafting or fashion school for scraps or using the items for rags around your house. Last choice - garbage.
2. Donate - things that could have a second life for someone in need. Local organizations like women's shelters, goodwill, value village, will all take on this pile with open arms!
3. Sell / Trade / Gift - things that you spent a ton of cashola on, and still have value, just not for you. For example, your grandmother's pucci purse. Consignment stores, or a platform like Ebay are great for this. Or, if you have a friend you know would love it, why not trade or gift it to them. Good karma rules. (Warning this pile tends to have a lot of emotion attached to it, so tread with caution!)
Creating the 3 Activity Driven "Uniforms"
As I wrote about in last week's post, we have a tendency to wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. This is because our brains work best by putting together 'uniforms'.
If you've ever read about the brilliant Steve Jobs (among others), you'll know that he wore virtually the same thing every day. A black mock neck top, jeans and new balance sneakers.
Well, every day our brain is faced with dozens, sometimes hundreds (if you're an entrepreneur) of decisions. At some point, we hit decision fatigue.
Removing the decision of what to wear today, was for Steve Jobs, a way to funnel his creative thought elsewhere (like, say, into the iPhone design?).
I'm not suggesting that you go to this extreme, but leveraging the concept of 'uniforms' is a great way to ensure you've got go-to outfits for all of your top three activities for how you spend your time, and don't overindulged in clothing you'll likely never wear.
Start with the three activities that you identified as core to spend your time, and consider your colour palette that you outlined. Refer back to your pinterest board, and your sorted piles of KEEP-HOLD, and start to create three outfits for each activity that you spend the most time on.
Bonus point if you re-use items within each activity or across the activities!
These should be your FAVOURITE outfits that you're creating. Actual outfits that you would wear during these activities. Get super specific.
For example: One of my go to "going out" outfits is this 100% silk, hand sequinned top that I bought at Bloomingdales in NYC about 5 years ago. I love pairing it with a ripped black jean for going out, a pair of heels, clutch, and gold accessories.
Write down each component in detail.
This step is so important.
Identify the Leftovers
By now, you've created your 9 'uniform' outfits, and sorted your piles. It's time to take a closer look at what's left over. Set aside your TOSS pile (ideally already sorted as per above instructions!).
Start going through your HOLD and KEEP piles.
- Given your new 'uniforms', can anything be moved to the toss pile?
- Do you have duplicates of things that you don't need two of?
- Are there any colours that you will never ever wear that can be tossed?
- Has your styled changed enough through this exercise to toss something else?
A few exceptions to note:
Time Spent Doing Other Activities (than your top 3). Maybe you're not at the gym enough for it to be a top 3 activity but that doesn't mean you need to throw away all of your gym clothes. Keep a few key items, but use a more critical lens for sorting through the quantity that you may have accumulated over the years. Haven't gone skiing in 15 years? Maybe it's time to donate that ski helmet and gloves. Still have your formal gown from prom? Bye! Use your best judgement.
Major Investment Pieces that are classic. If you've invested thousands of dollars in a suit, or bag or shoes, you may want to hang onto them (at least for a bit). For example, I rarely (okay, almost never) wear a suit, but I did hang onto one wool suit, in case I ever have to present to the Prime Minister (hopefully I'll still be a size 6 at that time?). That was a big investment piece that I may donate or sell at some time, but not yet. It's a timeless silhouette that will likely work in a few years if my situation ever changes.
Seasonal considerations. If you live in a country where the weather seems to have a mind of it's own, or multiple seasons (Spring-Winter-Summer-Fall), you may require a little bit of grace with how many items you own. I still recommend taking a look over how many jackets, hats, scarves, mitts, winter boots etc. that you have but many may be best served in storage in the off season (versus donating them, just to free up space!)
Memories you just can't let go of or family heirlooms. If you have a few (let me emphasize that) pieces that are family heirlooms, or memorable pieces that you cannot bear to part with, then don't. Hang onto them, but find a respectful way to store them so that the memory is properly honoured. I'm talking about the Louis Vuitton from your great-grandmother and not the sorority t-shirt from uni FYI :)
What to do if you're not sure it's time to let go
If you still have leftovers which don't fit into the exceptions, but you're feeling wishy-washy about keeping, just keep them.
You have invested money, resources, and so has the planet into creating these. Make these items though the exception, not the rule.
I recommend hanging them backwards so the hanger hook faces out, and check back in 3-6 months to see if you've worn them. If not, into the TOSS pile they go. Deal?
Now it's your turn to get started on this oh-so-critical step of the Minimalist Wardrobe Workbook.
If you haven't already grabbed your copy, get it now when you sign up.
All photos are copyright Encircled. Contact us for permissions/rights to re-use or repost images.
Questions? Comments? I'd love to connect. Leave them in the comments below. I'd love to see how you're progressing with step two of the minimalist wardrobe workbook.
Founder + CEO, Encircled