At three months postpartum and just on the cusp of returning to work after my maternity leave, I am finding that my wardrobe needs some real attention. I have been pregnant or nursing for the past two and a half years (!!) and needless to say, my body has changed a lot. I have a closet stuffed with clothing that no longer fits, trendy pieces I purchased and never wore, and OLD favorites that need to be replaced. Most of the clothing I have been wearing was purchased when I was in graduate school – read: on a grad student’s budget with a heavy representation of Target brands.

I feel like I have been ignoring my appearance for years – #momlife – and now I am ready to refocus my style. During the million hours I spent nursing my daughter these past few months, I spent a lot of time browsing style blogs for inspiration. I have been hearing a lot about capsule wardrobes for years so when I came across UNFANCY’S CAPSULE EXPERIMENT , I finally decided to give it a try.

The gist of a capsule wardrobe is to pare down your clothes to around 40 items that you will wear for a season, and everything else is either donated or put into storage. This appeals to me because my closet has always been stuffed full of things that I almost never wear, while the same four t-shirts are in heavy rotation. The way I see it, I can separate the wheat from the chaff and hopefully be inspired to wear more creative combinations of what I keep – things will no longer get lost in the overstuffed closet vacuum and I will not end up repeating the same t-shirt/jeans combo every three days.

I will not be strictly following the UNFANCY  capsule rules – 37 items per season, no shopping once the season starts – but will be doing my own version. For one, there are barely any true seasons in San Diego, so I will not need to switch out clothes every season. And since a ton of my clothes no longer fit, I will definitely need to buy some things to fill in some gaps sooner rather than later.

The general strategy for creating a capsule is to:

1. Get rid of anything that you do not love and wear all the time.
If you have not worn it in the past year, you probably will not miss it. This does not include special occasion outfits – for example, no need to get rid of that fancy dress you only wear once a year to weddings. It is serving its purpose in your closet and is not wasting space. But that red sequined tube top that you wore to a rave in high school and kept for 17 years in case you want to wear it again – nope! (Yes, I actually had one of those and ask me sometime to show you a picture of me wearing it.)

2. Wear what you keep and be inspired to try styling items in new combinations.
See what works and what you enjoy wearing and use that knowledge moving forward to tweak your closet. If you find yourself not wearing a capsule item, get rid of it the next time you reassess your closet and ask yourself why you never wear it. Is the fit off or is the material uncomfortable? Not your color? Make sure you do not buy anything similar in the future.

3. Selectively add in missing pieces that will work with what you already have.
Make a list of things you think are missing from your closet. Do you need a long sleeved neutral shirt for layering? Or maybe you need to replace the black t-shirt that you have worn every week since high school? Use the lessons learned from your ongoing capsule to make buying decisions. Make sure you stick to your list when shopping – no more impulse buys!

THE CLEAN OUT

hangers | curatedcassi.com

During the throes of a postpartum hormone-induced mood swing a few months ago, I tore apart my closet and donated about half of my clothes. Now that my hormones have stabilized and I am closer to my pre-pregnancy weight, I am ready to give my closet a more thoughtful purge.

Goodbye sweatshirts that have been around since college.

So long mini dress that looked good in my twenties that I was saving in case I wanted to wear it again. It is a tough pill to swallow when you realize you are too old to wear a third of your closet, amiright?

And sadly, goodbye to the boots that I loved and wore every single day of fall/spring for four years until I moved to San Diego where it never really gets cold enough to wear knee high boots. At least that is true for an East Coast transplant – I will never understand how native San Diegans bundle up in Northface parkas and scarfs and snow boots as soon as it drops into the 50s at night.

In general, if I have not worn it in the past year I got rid of it. It felt so good to get rid of my old clothes. Cleansing, like a fresh start!

WHAT IS LEFT?

capsule wardrobe | curatedcassi.com

Classic tops that can be worn with anything: plain tees, tanks and sweaters

A few pairs of jeans – one blue denim skinny, one grey denim skinny, one blue denim straight leg. Two pairs of shorts because it is still in the 90s even though it is late October!

A pair of black pants and a few patterned silk shirts for when I need to dress up at work.

My Birkenstock sandals that I have been wearing almost daily. Please ignore how disgustingly dirty they are. Seriously, I have been wearing them daily.

I kept several dresses/tunics that I have not worn lately but I cannot get myself to part with yet. One is a tunic I grabbed from my mom’s closet about 10 years ago that she wore in the 80s. I really only wore it once or twice but I cannot give it away. It is practically a family heirloom, right? And yes, that is Egyptian detailing on the hem!

old dresses | curatedcassi.com

WHAT’S NEXT?

I can sit back and admire my minimal and organized closet!

There are several items I want to add to my closet over the next few months and I will be shopping very selectively for them. I do not want to fall back into the trap of impulse buying a load of inexpensive clothes that are low quality and that I do not love (Hello, Target, I’m looking at you!). More on this in Part 2 of my capsule experiment!

In the meantime, I will be going back to work this week and enjoying wearing something other than sweatpants and puke covered t-shirts.

What you do you think? Have you tried a capsule wardrobe? Or is your closet packed to the gills?