Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Downsizing your wardrobe- One year later...

 As promised, (for the past year or so) I've been talking about the ten-item wardrobe concept, and how it's changed my life.  (I've probably had more private email convos with many of you about this topic than any other!)

In this post, I'm including sources where I am able, as well as a couple of not so great images of my closet so you can sort of tangibly see what I've done. At one point in my life, like many women, I had a closet stuffed with clothing I mostly didn't wear, and I've downsized it hugely!  About a year and a half ago, I got rid of about two thirds of what I once owned, re-evaluated my style and remaining items, and strategically filled holes in my wardrobe staples over the course of last year.  But let me back up... I came across Jennifer L. Scott's Daily Connoisseur books (The Madame Chic series) on the recommendation of a friend and they have become some of my very favorite books ever!!  I won't detail reasons for downsizing a wardrobe to only what you love, wear regularly, or feel great in, but DO go and read her book (20 Style secrets).  I highly recommend it.  I loved her viewpoint and it has really impacted me.  In fact, I've watched the overflow of this type of thinking change all areas of my life where purchases are made.  It seemed to take about a year to fully curate my wardrobe into what is now streamlined, which is why I am just now getting to this post.  I focused on quality, polished pieces that fit well.  The reason it took me a full year, is because I really found myself thinking it out, proceeding slowly, season by season, and also -quality clothing can be expensive.

I used to save items that I might want to someday wear if just the right occasion happened, or save certain outfits for special.  Jennifer's words about how we're special enough occasions to wear something polished and nice any time, even if we're home all day, changed my thinking.  When you look presentable (and yoga pants only count if you're working out in them), you feel good and that changes everything!  Just read her books okay? You'll thank me.

Practically speaking, here's how I started. I followed her advice and tried every item on. Yes, EVERY item. It is imperative that you do this, so that you can evaluate stains, fit, cut, color, wear and tear, ask if you're comfortable, is the item your style, is it flattering to your unique body type (whether or not it's a trendy style) and finally, do you find yourself adjusting or pulling at it to make it better? I actually wore a few things half a day to determine this, though most things only took moments to evaluate. Once you answer all of those fit questions, it's much easier to decide if it's a keeper or not. Next, evaluate what you have left.  I even begun a Pinterest board to see what I tended to like and quickly identified a style I was drawn to which helped me.  I then used that to create the bones (or core items) of my wardrobe, using what I had, and made a list of items I'd like to purchase to complete that.  (She speaks in her book about being free to delete items from your wardrobe even if you spent large amounts of money on them.  Why keep it just because it was expensive?  On the front end going forward, it's good to ask yourself all of those fit and style questions before spending money on an item and this has been really helpful to me in the dressing rooms!

I love how Jennifer talks about not getting hung up on the amount of items you have, but on what you actually wear. So, you may not be a ten-item wardrobe girl exactly, but that's okay if you wear fifteen items in regular rotation, in a season. In her books, Jennifer talks about choosing your core items (your ten-ish everyday items) your basics, your extras (things like cardigans and basic tees or tanks) and special occasion items ( like cocktail dresses etc.) Every woman is unique so I imagine every woman's take on this is also unique and I love that. I keep my off season items in labelled baskets on the shelf  in my closet, and the current season hanging and wearable. For example, I currently have all my summer items hanging in the closet, but my winter items are in a bin alongside a fall/spring bin.  (I may share what each of those seasons look like as I switch out my clothing because I've found Jennifer's videos on this to be really helpful in guiding me and I'm happy to share what I came up with if that is something you'd like to see. Let me know in comments!)

I identified my personal style which she encourages you to do in her books, and I'd say that mine is "polished classic with a preppy twist."  I love preppy button downs, and solid cashmere sweaters with blazers in the winter, denim dresses with ballet flats in the spring and fall, simple a-line dresses as well as solid tanks with quality leather sandals and easy, clean-lined shorts in the summer. This idea of streamlining to ten items, translates into outerwear, footwear and accessories as well.  Once you begin really thinking about the way you want to present yourself, you'll find yourself truly considering your purchases and how they work together.  My color palette continues to be neutrals and solids that work together and the occasional pop of fuchsia or cobalt and you can see a few of my favorite summertime go-to outfits below. 

Additionally, once you have identified your personal style, you might find yourself gravitating toward certain shops that broadcast your style well.  (I personally love Ann Taylor.  It has to be a top favorite of mine.  I also really like Talbots, Boden, and though the quality isn't as fine, I do love the deals you can often find at Marshall's.)
Navy scalloped shorts- Talbots, this season
Boyfriend Oxford stripe button down- Gap
Leather wedges- old, Sundance (women come up to me constantly about these sandals)
Large pearl studs- Kohls, a year ago? (I wear them almost daily)
Straw hat- old, not sure source. My daughter hates this hat, but I still like it.  
Navy blouse- Marshall's (I can't tell you how much I adore this top.)
Denim cuff shorts- old, not sure source.
Leather sandals- Eddie Bauer, a year ago.
Necklace- local boutique
Dark wash skinnies- Democracy brand (LOVE.  Wish I had bought a couple pairs!)
Black ruffled tank- Ann Taylor (Seriously a favorite that gets worn once a week.)
Straw hat- Marshall's
Tassel Necklace - made by me (JoAnn's tassels, cut to shorter length, clear nail polish coating the weird chalk-coated rock, and strung on a chain. Boom!)

Now for a quick closet tour. (Please excuse the poor photos- it's dark and difficult to photograph in here, but this will give you a bit of an idea.) We have moved our dresser into our bedroom (see previous posts) and I store all my underthings, socks, camisoles and pajamas in that.  In the dresser, I also keep two pairs of yoga pants, four sweatshirts of varying weights, and a few tees and tanks strictly for working out.)

I have three pairs of summer bottoms stacked in here- Denim shorts, navy shorts, and a black skirt. I have five handbags in all- four are pictured here, plus my camera bag. (A cross body, special black purse that was a gift from my sis in law from Italy, a gray bucket bag and a wonderful leather bag.) I have the two columns in this cubby to the left, and my husband has the two to the right.  I have four pairs of pants- black skinnies, denim skinnies, short bootcut, and long bootcut which I wear year-round.  I also have three light cardigans that I keep as core basics year-round.)
On the left side of my closet, I keep party dresses (I have two- one long and a cocktail dress), outerwear, and two current season career dresses, plus a blazer.  Over to the right a bit you'll see the bulk of my core wardrobe.  I keep several blousy tanks, and light tops, that coordinate with the summer bottoms, along with a few dresses, and that's it. My necklaces hang beside my clothing to the far right.
You can see the out of season bins, which I store on the shelf, each holding about ten to twelve items.  I also used some glass blocks and pre-cut shelves from Home Depot, for my shoe storage. I have three winter pairs in a bin on the shelf, that I will switch out with sandals as the weather cools.  Not pictured here are a pair of black leather flip flops and some tennis shoes. 

I have a couple of winter core basics that I plan to purchase in the fall, such as a black crew neck sweater, career suit and wedges.  Other than that, I am totally set with a year round "ten-item" core wardrobe.  I do laundry once a week, but often hand wash a top in the sink and hang it to dry at night if I want an item before laundry day.  I do still love to shop but I try to only fill holes from items that need replacing. After a year of doing this, I've found the overall approach of only owning what you love, wear and feel great in, is extremely freeing.  (Also, not going crazy amassing dozens of outfits, and caring for all of them, while neglecting over half of them, is freeing too!)

Is this something you could see yourself doing in your own closet?  Do you have any questions or thoughts about this? Please feel free to leave them in comments below and I'll do my best to respond.



  1. I had to pare down my closet a year and a half ago because of where we lived. Small closet forced me to only have and wear what I needed in that closet. Fast forward to us moving and I have a big closet space again, but I am not going to fill it. I need to edit again and let go of some things. I tend to gravitate towards blues and pinks and comfy, but well made clothing. thanks for sharing.

  2. I love those books and feel like I'm in my year of figuring out what works for me and my own personal style. I've had to unfollow some of my style gurus who post what they wear and where it's from because I've spent needlessly in my quest to figure out my own style and what I love. Thanks for sharing this me food for thought and more motivation to finish up and clean it out!!

    1. Oh my word I hear you! It's so easy to get sucked in to what is trendy but doesn't actually work for our bodies.

  3. I love your closet!! Is Adrain's stuff on the right? I've been trying capsule wardrobe for a few years now but kept stumbling around just not loving it. Then I realized this summer that I had been trying to adopt other peoples' style rather than embracing my own (10 neutral pieces every capsule wardrobe needs, etc.) now I'm at it again working on a capsule wardrobe of pieces that make MY heart sing. Its fun to see how others do though!

    1. D'oh, just reread and realized you show both sides. I should not blog comment without adequate coffee! Sorry ;)

    2. Haha Yes his is on the right. I'm working on getting him to do this too.. he has a TON of clothing!

  4. I really love this insight into how you approach your wardrobe. I've been collecting ideas on Pinterest, but it is SO helpful to see how you are doing in in the real world.

    1. I think that's why I've loved seeing Jennifer's videos too- just a real application makes sense to me! Seeing what she chooses each season has been super helpful.

  5. Thank you for sharing. You've motivated me to keep working on my style and weeding out what I don't need.
    I've read all her books and they were great.

  6. Great info I would love to do this to my wardrobe ��

    1. It's super freeing girl... I can't even tell you! Go for it.

  7. Hey Sasha - just had to say how fun this post is! Hitting my mid-40s my style has been in flux and left me a bit frustrated. This was just the inspiration I needed to figure out my style at this stage and refine it. My birthday is coming up so my husband bought me some high quality staples to round out my Labels favorites. (You convinced me on spending the extra for the longevity.) I'm super thankful for you inspiring me to own and enjoy at a new level. Thank you! xo
    PS We'll have to sit together again this fall and laugh through a couple football games. And A can keep score for us. : )

    1. Oh I hear ya on all of that Misha! I think the spending a bit more as we age is so great... we fall away from trends more and more naturally because we know what works for our style and bodies and it makes sense to invest in what works when we find it! Yes we need to enjoy another game... my kids don't seem to much care about them which is crazy! They are so fun.
      Love to you girl!!

  8. This is wonderful! I would love to see as you change seasons. I have also just ordered the books from my library. I feel clothes freedom coming! Thanks!

  9. Oh, look! The c+i studs you got from my boutique! Love those.