You need to box up (almost) all your clothes

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Seriously, you do.

If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed me mention in my Stories that I ditched the vast majority of my clothing recently. Ditched is actually the wrong word - what I have done is box up every single garment that was too worn to reasonably wear any more (and I mean really worn out, not just a bit faded), too small (or big), that I really really didn’t like any more (there weren’t many of those as my wardrobe was fairly small in the first place) or that was hopelessly out of season (denim shorts and a couple of sleeveless summer dresses). I didn’t actually have that much to box up, only one 40cm square box-worth, but it did give me the space to analyse the ‘wearable’ part of my wardrobe without the stress of actually deciding to throw anything away.

What I was left with turned out to be a mere twenty three garments, excluding sports gear and night clothes, which is ridiculous even by my very capsule standards. To be honest it wasn’t an awful lot higher with sportswear and night clothes included, maybe another 10 items or so. Of that 23, perhaps six were evening wear or very formal workwear which I have no need of for around 263 days of the year, so the total number of actual everyday wearable options was an even more tragic one.

I’m a huge huge believer in having a wardrobe that I love, and erring on the capsule side so I can afford to buy sustainably made clothes, but even I was faced with the reality that I own, to all intents and purposes, no clothes.

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My first thought was ‘woohoo, I can legitimately go shopping now!’ but I know from experience that buying a whole load of mediocre clothes doesn’t improve the way I feel about myself or my wardrobe. I’m also trying very hard to only buy clothes made in a sustainable way and featuring natural materials, and that means a higher price tag and the attendant greater deliberation before splashing out. I’m also at the top end of the weight I feel comfortable at, so hoping a few more items of clothing will begin to fit again soon.

All of that meant that I didn’t particularly want to go out and spend my entire autumn clothing budget on the first thing to catch my eye right now. But I needed something to wear. Despite usually being the first person to complain about the lack of decent stuff in charity shops these days, I went for a thorough browse of the local ones. And for once I came up with not one, but two gems; a 100% cotton checked men’s shirt and a 100% wool Jigsaw dress (both pictured above), which together cost me the princely sum of £19.

The jeans I did actually buy new, as I discovered that the only jeans I owned that actually fit are a pair of very aged and rather worn grey H&M jeans. The ones I went for are a high waisted, slightly cropped with raw hems and extraordinarily comfortable pair of Ichi jeans which I bought from from Colony, a rather fabulous local shop which I fully intend to revisit when I’m ready to invest in something more. One of the best things about living in our slightly hippy town (Totnes, in the South West of the UK) is a wonderful range of independent business owners who are as obsessed with doing things intentionally and sustainably as I am. The people at Colony, and everywhere else I’ve felt the need to have similar conversations, know the provenance of the pieces they stock, the ethics of the manufacturers they choose to buy from, and the importance of helping their customers buy things that don’t just make them look good, but help them continue to feel ok about their impact on the planet. A total win, in my book.

So, a mere three purchases, bringing my wardrobe total up to 26 pieces, but between them they’ve given me perhaps another dozen or so additional outfit combinations. I’m going to give it another couple of weeks before I add anything else, unless I spot a charity shop bargain, but I’m hoping that over the next month or two I’ll add enough pieces to create a fully functional wardrobe again. Once I’ve done that, maybe I’ll take the time for a full wardrobe rundown and you can see how I make a (currently ridiculously) capsule wardrobe work for me.

Meanwhile, I thoroughly recommend you give the process a try. Doing it in your head just isn’t the same - it was only once I’d physically removed the ‘clutter’ clothes from my wardrobe that I could really and truly get my head round what I had, what I had that I actually liked, and what I needed to make my wardrobe really function as well as it possibly could. I thought I knew exactly what I had and that it was all very functional, but actually when I really looked at it (and, crucially, removed it) I could see how few things there were that I loved and what I needed to fill in the gaps.

If you give it a go, do comment here or tag me on Instagram letting me know how you get on!