As I mentioned last week, we have a small linen closet in our bathroom, and we also have a small hallway linen closet which is adjacent to the two upstairs bedrooms. It is the ideal place for our dirty clothes hamper and medicines. It is also the ideal spot for a number of items that don’t fit in the closet, so maximizing this space has more to do with being judicious about what goes in there than it does actually organizing the few things that do fit.
We keep our extra bath towels in this closet, and I would like to keep our beach towels in there as well – at least in the summer when we use them often – and this set up didn’t allow that space. The shelving is fixed, so the space between them is something that I cannot adjust and have to work with what I have. We store our medicines in the plastic 3-drawer organizer, but we were maxing it out for space, and it wasn’t ideal for larger bottles or liquids that had to lay on their sides and sometimes leaked.
My goals were simple:
Tidy it up
Store liquid and large meds upright in a different container
Find a spot for beach towels
I started with goal #1 by facing the reality that I don’t need over 20 rags. On my children’s messiest of days, I use 3. Once a year, when I deep-clean, I may use 4. So, change number one was relegating 3/4 of the rags from this closet to the garage. Once I did that, I was able to get extra bath towels and the beach towels all on one shelf.
We moved into our house almost nine months ago, which is just enough time to figure out what’s working and what isn’t.
Our bathroom linen closet is the pinnacle of what isn’t working for us. I didn’t give it a lot of thought when we moved in and haven’t since then. Until last week when I reached the point where it bothered me.
We have another small closet outside of the bathroom in the hallway where we keep medicines, extra towels and extra linens, which means I don’t have to fit any of those things in our bathroom closet. It is a narrow closet with fixed shelving (which means that the shelves can’t be moved) and has an area tucked behind the wall that doesn’t work great for getting things in and out.
I use my curlers a couple times a week, so having to get them off the top shelf and store them away up there wasn’t ideal. We reuse our towels, so to keep them straight, I use the white and my husband uses the brown. For that reason, I kept them in separate piles for easy accessibility, but that took up the entire shelf and didn’t maximize vertical space. I put my blower dryer, curling iron and hair straightener in a small bin that we had lying around, but doesn’t fit them very well. The plastic drawers hold my jewelry (which I’m considering moving to my room at some point. Thoughts?) and my daughter’s headbands sit haphazardly on top because they don’t fit in the vanity drawer with her other hair accessories. On the floor of the closet is our ‘Extra Supplies’ bin and a cleaning caddy.
Mostly, I wanted to make the items that I use often (towels, curlers, blower dryer) more easily accessible and do a better job of containing random items that were taking up more space than they needed by not having a home. I also decided that I didn’t need the cleaning supplies caddy in the bathroom because the only cleaners that I use upstairs (where this bathroom is located) is toilet bowl cleaner, a spray bottle and Norwex window cloth, and my dust mitt; and I no longer wanted to keep these items on the floor.
I sorted through everything, threw out items that I no longer use (my own headbands, broken hair ties, old shampoo and conditioner and shaving cream that hasn’t come out of the spout for years). Then I grouped like items together and went with my favorite containers to keep the items together in the closet. I also moved the extraneous cleaning supplies to my other cleaning caddy (why have 2?!) in our downstairs bathroom.
Someday, I would love it if my husband could install another shelf between the floor and the current bottom shelf, but until then, I think that this will work well. And, it only took me 25 minutes. Not bad for an afternoon’s work.
Time to pull the trigger. Let’s get the capsule party started.
Like I said before, there are no hard and fast rules for creating a capsule wardrobe. It’s more of a spirit of the law kind of thing – which might be why I’m loving it so much. The point is to simplify and minimize, and that’s going to look different for each person. The generally accepted standards are that your capsule should be 30-40 items (spoiler alert: Mine is 45), and include tops, bottoms & shoes. It does not include undergarments (underwear, bras, camisoles, etc.), socks, pajamas, work out wear or swimwear. Some people include accessories (hats, scarves, etc.), jewelry and outerwear.
I decided before I started that I wanted my capsule to contain all of the clothes that I would wear if I got dressed for the day, which I do almost every day. The exceptions being if I’m working on a project (mowing the lawn, cleaning something really dirty, painting or house projects). On the days that I workout after my kids are awake, then I put my workout clothes on in the morning (which are not included in my capsule), and pack clothes from capsule to wear after I’ve finished my workout and showered.
In the spirit of simplicity, creating your capsule isn’t a lot of work. Depending on how many clothes you currently have, it may take a while, but if you have the right attitude (and corresponding favorite beverage!), it can be quite fun. The simple steps are:
Decide on a theme that fits your lifestyle, such as casual, trendy, sophisticated, classic or business casual. This is not an exhaustive list. If this is something that is hard for you to pinpoint, think about what you want out of your wardrobe. Is your priority to look polished? Do you want to be a trend-setter? Do you just want clothes that are comfortable and don’t restrict you from being active? Whatever your answer is, you want the majority of the few clothing items that you choose to fit in this category. Have this theme in mind as you move on to the next steps.
Empty your closet & dresser. Yup. I said empty it. If that makes you want to bail before starting, I’d suggest that that’s all the more reason you should dig in and do this. It will be worth it.
Try on every piece of clothing.Every.single.one. This is integral to the success of your capsule wardrobe because it’s the only way to know what pieces will be the best choices for capsule.
Sort your clothes into four piles: LOVE, MAYBE, SEASONAL & DONATE LOVE pile: You love the way you look and feel when you wear it, It fits your body perfectly and it fits the season MAYBE pile: You like the way you look and feel when you wear it, It fits your body perfectly and it fits the season SEASONAL pile: You love the way you look and feel when you wear it, It fits your body perfectly but should be worn in a different season DONATE pile: You don’t love the way you look or feel when you wear it, It doesn’t fit your body perfectly or you haven’t worn it in over a year
Sort items in your LOVE pile into categories (jeans, pants, shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, long-sleeves, dresses, tunics, jackets, shoes, etc.). There are all kinds of resources out there (checklists, books, worksheets, etc.) that tell you how many of what to include in your capsule. I’d argue that that piece is highly individualized, and that you should make that decision based on what you do and what you feel most comfortable in. I found this graphic on Pinterest, and it seemed to be the most similar to what I would want, so I used her numbers as a guide. This was solely a starting off point, and when my capsule was finished, it didn’t look anything like hers. However, her numbers were a great framework in which for me to get started. Be realistic about the things that you wear most and have more of those. For instance, most capsules suggest skirts. I don’t wear skirts. I had one and I wanted to include it in my capsule because it’s white and summery and cute, but the reality is that I look like a marshmallow in it. I could have kept it in there, but I didn’t love the way I looked or felt with it on, so I have zero skirts in my capsule. And I don’t miss them. I also included three dresses in my capsule, which is high for me. I don’t wear dresses often, but I was intentional about putting them in there in hopes that I would wear them more. Part of me is regretting that. I wish I would have gone with just two dresses and given myself another shirt option.
Count the total number of items you have. If your total number is 25-35, you can add items from your MAYBE pile. If you total number is over 40, weed out some of your pieces. Unless you’re a rebel like me who decides that 45 is the magic number that you need in order to achieve the purpose of the capsule wardrobe without getting frustrated by limited options.
Count the number of items in each category and adjust accordingly. If you only have 4 bottoms, but you have 15 shoes, it would be wise to trade some shoes for some bottoms. It might be painful to tuck those shoes away for three months, but you will be thankful when you’re not doing laundry every three days to have your few pair of pants clean.
Pack away any items that didn’t make the capsule cut. As a result of slimming down my wardrobe, I had two empty drawers, so the items that I kept, but weren’t capsule-worthy are in there. I had a few summer items, mostly shorts and tank tops, that didn’t make it into my capsule that I didn’t put in the donate pile. At the end of the summer, I will store those items with my other summer capsule items, and if they don’t make the cut next year either, they’ll go to the donate pile then. There’s no need to keep clothes that I haven’t worn in two years.
So, that’s a lot of words. What’s in my capsule? I ended up with:
1 jean jacket
1 long sleeve blouse
1 chambray shirt
1 3/4 sleeve shirt
7 tank tops
3 short-sleeve shirts
1 long-sleeve t-shirt
1 athleisure top
2 graphic tees
1 athleisure capri
1 capri legging
1 running shorts
1 ballet flats
That breaks down to 18 tops (40%), 15 bottoms (33%), 2 layering pieces (4%), 3 dresses (7%) and 7 pairs of shoes (16%).
If you look on Pinterest or do a Google image search for “capsule wardrobes”, almost every one of them that you find will be much more formal than mine. And more fashionable. The point of my capsule wardrobe is not to be super well-dressed or an example of someone who always wears great outfits. Because I don’t. The point of my capsule wardrobe is to have a wardrobe that I love and feel great in and that is minimalistic. I don’t want to waste time or money on choosing what to wear or buying more than what I need. My capsule isn’t perfect, but a few weeks in, I think that I can safely say, that I have achieved my capsule goals.
One lesson I learned in curating my capsule was the concept of excess multiples. What I mean by that is that as I was choosing clothes that I would wear this summer, I was careful to include items for summer days that aren’t as warm or those chilly summer evenings, which is why the jean jacket, cardigan, long-sleeve blouse, long-sleeve t-shirt & chambray shirt made it in. However, I have multiple cardigans and long-sleeve t-shirts, but only one of each were chosen because I don’t need more than one of those items in the summer. Any time that the weather requires a long-sleeve t-shirt, I have one. It might be the same one I wore last week, but that’s okay. This was a huge epiphany for me. I realized what a high value I’d placed on variety, that I now realize wasn’t necessary. For the 8-10 times that I will wear a long-sleeve t-shirt this summer, what does it matter if 5 of those times it was black and the other 5 it was white. I can almost guarantee that I am the only person who knew or noticed. Processing all of this made me realize how much more focused I was on what other people thought than I would have ever guessed.
For some people, curating a capsule wardrobe is about finding the best way to be the most fashionable with the least amount of clothes, and if that’s you, that’s fantastic! Props for doing something that I never could. But for others, it’s about taking one more step toward a more simple and minimalistic life. And it may reveal to you something about yourself that you didn’t know before; something that helps you realize what’s really important and where our priorities should be.
I’ve heard from a few of you that this is something that you are intrigued by or have been inspired to do. If that’s you, let me know! I’d love to see pictures or hear stories of what the process looked like for you and how you’re feeling about it. As with most things that I write about, I’m not an expert, but I am more than willing to help think things through with you as you work to simplify. Keep me posted!
I’ve mentioned in a recent post about my considering implementing a capsule wardrobe. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I made the plunge. Two weeks into living the capsule life, and I am a big fan. I’ve had a few people ask questions about what a capsule wardrobe is and how I did it, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to share my experience here.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
According to Wikipedia, a capsule wardrobe is “a minimal wardrobe composed of 30 to 40 high-quality, versatile items that will meet your needs for a given time amount of time.” I’d say that the 30-40 number is flexible and that the level of quality of pieces isn’t a make or break deal. The jist is a capsule wardrobe is a limited number of clothing items that you choose for a season, and in that season, every outfit that you wear is made up of the items in your capsule.
How many items can you have in a capsule wardrobe?
There’s no hard and fast rule on this. The 30-40 item rule seems to be generally accepted. It’s a good number that allows you to have everything you need, but also keep things minimal, which is the goal of the capsule wardrobe.
What items are and are not included in the capsule?
Again, this is a spirit of the law kind of thing. To achieve your capsule wardrobe goals, you should, at the very least include tops, bottoms & shoes. It does not include undergarments (underwear, bras, camisoles), pajamas, swimwear or work out clothes.
The jury is out on whether it includes accessories such as hats, scarves and jewelry and seasonal gear (i.e. winter coats & boots). Use your discretion on whether or not you need to include yours. I didn’t include accessories, mostly because I don’t wear very many of them and, therefore, don’t own a lot of them. I didn’t have to think about seasonal gear because it’s summer. I’m not sure what I’ll do in the winter.
For how long does this last?
Your capsule is for one season. The idea being that you make your wardrobe work for the weather in which you live. For Minnesota, I broke it up as follows: Winter is December, January & February; Spring is March, April & May; Summer is June; July & August; Autumn is September, October & November.
Does doing a capsule wardrobe mean giving up clothes shopping completely?
Once your capsule is set up, there is no shopping. Some things I read suggested giving yourself the first week to find gaps in that timeframe and shop to fill them. This may or may not be necessary. I had done a little bit of shopping for summer clothes shortly before I did my capsule, so this was an unnecessary step for me.
I will say this. I won’t shop for summer clothes because I know that I don’t need them. After establishing my summer capsule, I know that I have everything that I need for a summer wardrobe, so accumulating more clothes and spending more money are necessary at this time.
Do all of the pieces in your capsule wardrobe have to coordinate?
Mine don’t. The reason that this is suggested by many capsule-ers is that it makes pieces more versatile. You can mix and match a lot more when everything in your closet is of the same color palette. When I went through my closet to decide what would go in my capsule and what wouldn’t, there was a rainbow of colors. However, there were also enough neutral pieces that I had multiple options with each item. It seemed silly to me to try to stick with a palette, which would require buying more clothes when I had enough clothes for the summer.
I can see where two months into a capsule, having coordinating pieces could be beneficial because the mixing and matching that it allows wouldn’t make you feel like you wear the same outfit all of the time. I’ll let you know where I’m at with that in August.
What’s the appeal?
That’s a lot of don’t’s, can’t’s and no’s. Why would anyone want to do this?
This is different for everyone. For me, I was drawn to the idea because of it’s simplicity. I don’t have a ton of clothes. I don’t buy a lot of clothes and I purge my closet frequently, so my closet isn’t busting at the seams with clothes that I don’t like or don’t wear. That being said, I was in a weird wardrobe spot this summer.
Last summer, my son was 8-10 months old and nursing. As a result of nursing him, I had lost a significant amount of weight and had to buy an all-new wardrobe because barely any of my previous summer clothes fit. (If you’re rolling your eyes and annoyed at me, just wait. Keep reading.) I donated most of my old clothes because 1) I don’t keep things I don’t wear and 2) I thought there was no way that I would need those clothes again. After losing 25 pounds, i thought that I would never let myself gain the weight back. …Can you see where this story is going?… I stopped nursing in November of 2016 and some of the weight has come back. Enough of it that the new clothes I bought last summer don’t really fit. The idea of sifting through the drawers of clothes to try to find something that I didn’t feel like failure in was daunting. I found myself showering in the morning and dreading having to go into my room and try to find an outfit.
I also liked the idea that if I limited my options, I would be more prone to wear the clothes that I wished I would wear, but rarely put on. As I perused through capsule wardrobes on Pinterest (there are TONS), I was inspired by how many of them included a few dresses, tailored pants & jackets. I own all of those things, but consider them “special” and don’t wear them often. I knew that if they were part of a much more limited wardrobe, I would wear them more out of necessity.
That being said, I am a stay at home mom. Most of the capsule examples that I found on Pinterest were way too fancy for my day-to-day. I made sure to include athleisure pieces because they are staples of my wardrobe. However, I also included 3 cotton dresses that could easily be worn for my days running around with my kids, but that I don’t normally gravitate toward when given more options. I’d like to start wearing those things that I like more, and my hope is that the capsule wardrobe helps me to do that.
What do you think so far?
I love it. I no longer dread getting dressed in the morning. I’ll go into more detail later about how I created my capsule and what’s included in it, but one of the best parts for me is that I truly love everything in my closet. The only items that I have to choose from each day are the pieces that I love the most. I open my closet doors in the morning and feel like I have so much good stuff from which to choose.
Will you do this forever?
I don’t know. Right now, I’m just focused on sticking to my summer capsule. The way things are going now, I’d imagine that I will do it again in the fall. I think I will just take it season by season and as long it’s beneficial, I will keep doing it.
To see pictures of daily outfits, follow me on Instagram. Stay tuned for details on the items that I included in my capsule and why.
My former boss used to say that “work expands to the time allowed”, meaning that however long you have to complete a task is how long it will take you. As is true with most of his mantras, I have found this concept to be true – and applicable to more than just work. One example being refrigerators. Food will expand to the space available in your fridge. Think about it. Have you ever seen a fridge that had large, empty space? I haven’t. And while I’ve come close, I’ve also never seen a fridge that couldn’t be shut because it was too full. Whatever space we have, gets filled. Bottom line.
That being said, when we were remodeling our kitchen and searching for a fridge, I started with the biggest models and worked my way down. We had the advantage of working with a blank slate, meaning that we didn’t have a pre-determined space in which it had to fit. That was pretty awesome. We have the Kenmore Elite 29.8 cubic foot (!!!!) French Door refrigerator. I fell in love with it when I saw it on the showroom floor. My husband looked at the price tag and then told me to keep walking. We ended up in the clearance section where we spotted the same fridge that had been returned to the store because it had numerous dings on the front. Josh and I talked about it and decided that sacrificing the aesthetics of a non-dinged fridge to get the size and features we were looking for at a fraction of the cost was worth it.
We love it. I see the dings every day and think “I don’t care. I love the inside too much to care about the outside.”
And I fill all 29.8 cubic feet. Looking at it empty on a showroom floor, I never thought I would. But I do. Every week.
A few weeks ago, it got to the point where I was approaching not being able to shut the doors, which meant that it was time to pull everything out and do some re-evaluating of where stuff went.
I found this infographic on Pinterest a few years ago and, generally, try to stick to these principles when deciding where items will go in our fridge.
My problem didn’t originate with throwing stuff in there haphazardly. What got me in trouble was not using the (plentiful) space I had well, which led to haphardly stuffing things in there because I didn’t have a better spot for them.
This was the whole sad state of affairs
Some fridges are made to fit gallons of milk perfectly in the doors, but that is one of the warmest spaces in the fridge, which can cause milk to spoil easily. Also, the shelves on the inside of the refrigerator doors serve as built-in containers and, from an organizing standpoint, are the perfect way to corral small items such as dressings and condiments. Milk isn’t any harder to grab from the inside of the fridge than it is out of the door, but you can’t say that about a bottle of ketchup.
I also didn’t need to do anything with the meat and cheese drawer. You can see how that’s organized here.
I knew that I wasn’t going to dramatically change what was in the crisper drawers or the doors, so I emptied the rest of the fridge and cleaned it out. That is a LOT of space. How was that ever full?!
Then, it was just a matter of figuring out what worked (Milk on the lower shelf, leftovers on the top, yogurt in the middle) and what didn’t (overfull fruit & veggie drawers, not fully utilizing top shelf space & containers).
When it was all said and done – Ta Da!
Here’s what I did that made such a big difference:
I had way more fruits and vegetables than I had space for in the two crisper drawers. I used to cut up fruits and veggies when I got home from the grocery store, but had got out of the habit. Any of those that needed cutting up or were good grab and go snacks got put in containers in the new fruits & veggies section. I cannot say enough about the value of uniform containers in maximizing fridge space. It allows them to stack easily, which utilizes the vertical space you have. For any food that doesn’t get reheated, we use these plastic containers. Now the drawers have fruits that don’t need anything done to them (i.e. blueberries) or are surplus and vegetables that are for supper and will be prepped when I make that meal. We are so much more apt to grab a container from this shelf and snack on these than we are to open a drawer, pull out a veggie, cut or peel it and then eat it. It’s really quite lazy, but it’s true.
Extras that didn’t need to be accessed, such as eggs and yogurt, got put in the very back. This is how you utilize the depth of the fridge. Don’t put stuff back there that you need to get to, but use it as surplus storage.
The miscellaneous dairy products that were only using half of a bin, but an entire shelf got redistributed to spots that fit their containers. I pulled a fridge bin that I had in storage out and it now holds any dairy products that were too wide for the shelves in the door.
Individual yogurts got put in the bin where they are now corralled.
I took care of stuff that needed to be taken care of. The chicken breasts got put in freezer bags and put in our deep freezer. Old leftovers were tossed. Leftovers that were in containers that weren’t ours got taken out and put in our containers so that they stacked nicely to maximize that space. We use these glass containers for our leftovers and cannot say enough about them.
None of these are huge tasks. None of it required an organizing degree (if there were such a thing…..). Nothing needed to be purchased. The entire project took me less than thirty minutes, and the payoff was huge.
What do you find is the hardest part about keeping order in your fridge?