We’ve come to the end of the ‘how to build a capsule wardrobe series’ and it’s taken us nicely through January – didn’t that go quickly?! So today I want to wrap everything up by making sure that you have your plan in one place and are ready to build a wardrobe that works for you. I’ve created one last download and added it to the full collection so that you can summarise all of the work you’ve done on one sheet. I suggest that you keep this in sight – on the back of your wardrobe door or the wall of your dressing room maybe. There’s one exercise that you won’t recognise but we’ll come to that further on in this post.
Before I go on though, I know a few of you struggled with last week’s wardrobe icons post because you have different body shapes to the women you admire. I just want to say that that’s fine – I don’t have legs like Inès de la Fressange either (sadly!) Besides outfit inspiration, the other thing that wardrobe icons are useful for is telling you more about your own style. I haven’t gone into style personality typification but if you want to read more about it, Donna from ‘I Won’t Wear Sludge Brown’ did a good post a few years ago and you may spot your category. If you then look carefully at your style icons, even if they are nothing like you in terms of shape, they will give you an idea of the kind of look you favour, the level of polish and the image that you want to portray. So it’s an exercise worth doing as part of the mix. Let’s move on.
How to approach a wardrobe detox
Well of course there are lots of ways and this must be one of the most discussed topics in decluttering forums. You don’t need me to mention Marie Kondo. She now has a series on Netflix which you’ll either love or hate (there was a lot of squealing in the episode I watched). I preferred seeing her method explained in her book – but then I would. However, although I know that lots of people love the Konmari method, I don’t have the time or inclination to dedicate a whole weekend to tidying so I’ll tell you what works for me. You see I almost have a bigger challenge on my hands when I’m decluttering because I’ve done it so many times over the last few years that I’ve reached a stage where I like almost everything I have, I just have too much of it.
So instead of using the Konmari method of putting absolutely everything onto the bed and then deciding what to put back in my dressing room, I work the other way round. I have a clothes rail that I can put up in the bedroom and I imagine that I’m downsizing and moving to a house with less storage (this is the one I have although you’ll have to ask for a notification on when new stock arrives, alternatively there are lots of other rails here.)
I use the rail to create my perfect wardrobe – when it’s full, it’s full and anything else either has to go or be swapped with a piece that is on the rail. Once that’s done, I go to my dressing room knowing that whatever is left really has to find a new home. (There are and here if you’re looking for one).
This is where I struggle and so now I’ve developed what I call my ‘wardrobe retention criteria.’ To earn a place in my wardrobe a piece must tick the following boxes:
- comfortable (this includes consideration of the fabric)
- the right colour
- low maintenance
- the perfect fit for my shape
- wearable 30 times OR make a statement (I can only have 10 statement outfits)
You see I’ve come to realise that most of the items that I love but never wear are simply too high maintenance. I don’t wear them because I don’t want to have to wash them by hand / dry clean them / iron them carefully. And if I find something creases while I’m wearing it I never want to put it on again. I feel a bit annoyed with myself but when I look at the amount of laundry we do every week (sock management alone can drive me round the bend), there’s just no time in my life for difficult pieces.
So this is the last of the exercises in this series. You need to develop your own ‘wardrobe retention criteria’ and add them to the bottom of today’s sheet. You can go a bit Marie Kondo here and talk to your clothes – “to earn a place in my wardrobe you must…”
As I’ve been working on this over the last few days, I’ve been finding it helps me to say goodbye to the ‘good enough’ clothes: the black trousers that are almost there but not quite… the blazers that aren’t quite long enough for current trends… the grey cashmere that isn’t quite the right shade of grey. If something can be altered to perfection then that’s great, but if not, it must go and I will have to live with a gap in my wardrobe until I can justify a replacement that is perfect. It requires a lot of self-discipline and I keep having to take sanity breaks!
Do some good with your unwanted clothes
So, clearing out. Anything very worn goes to textile recycling, anything from lower to mid-high street (eg Next / M&S) goes to the local hospice shop. Everything else goes to my blogger charity sale. Incidentally, Bloodwise recently announced that some of the research they co-funded has led to a new blood cancer treatment will now be available on the NHS for the first time. As a result, some children with leukaemia who would have died will now get a second chance. I like to think that some of the money we’ve donated from the blogger sales has gone towards this research. As you know my niece died from childhood leukaemia aged one and my best friend at primary school aged seven. So, Jessica Sowerby-Parkinson and Glynn Evans – in this and many other ways, your light shines on.
I’ll be holding another blogger sale to raise money for Bloodwise in February and this time, I’ll donate anything that doesn’t sell to Smart Works. So many of you have been in touch to ask me to raise awareness of Smart Works so here we go.
Smart Works is a UK charity that provides high quality interview clothes and interview training to unemployed women in need. We harness the power of clothes and confidence to allow a woman to be her best at a crucial moment in her life, giving her the confidence, the self-belief and the practical tools required to succeed at interview and transform her life.
Women are referred to us from organisations such as job centres, work programmes, prisons, care homes, homeless shelters and mental health charities. Half have been unsuccessful in over 20 applications. A third have been turned down from over 50 jobs. All are suffering from a lack of confidence in their own abilities.
The tangible impact that our service has on a woman’s confidence is something we have the privilege to witness every day. The magic begins when she enters the dressing room and is styled into her interview outfit, hers to keep, by trained volunteers. She looks in the mirror and sees a new and impressive version of herself. This is followed by one-to-one interview coaching, after which 60% of our clients go on to get the job.
I think this is something that will strike a chord with all of us. If you’re feeling guilty about letting go of something you’ve bought and haven’t worn for whatever reason, just imagine the joy and confidence it could bring to another woman. Pack it up and send it on its way with your love and positive thoughts. Details of how to donate clothes are here – I’ve found it’s most cost-effective to use CollectPlus to send them off.
Before you put everything back…
You’ve done the worst bit so now it’s time to take care of your newly curated collection. In fact decluttering and reorganisation seems to be a national movement at the moment. At a catch-up meeting last week, the John Lewis & Partners team told me that they’d been blown away by the increase in sales of everything storage and wardrobe related this month. Traditionally the uplift is seen in March when people start spring cleaning. They suspect that it’s partly down to the Marie Kondo programmes but I think it’s also Brexit related. I was talking to some friends about it when we went out for pizza and a film at the weekend. They were saying that they’re feeling the need to be in control of the small things at the moment because everything else is out of our hands. It makes sense.
So on that note, I thought I’d run through the things I do before putting my clothes back. I always replace my drawer liners after a clearout – they’re seen as old fashioned but they keep clothes smelling fresh, especially if you’re storing something away for a season. There’s a selection here but these are my choice:
I then renew anti-moth sachets on the rails of my dressing room – it isn’t cashmere that our moths go for, it’s merino – they clearly have down to earth northern taste! I’ve used these for years and I find they work well as long as you replace them about every three months. They have quite a strong cedar fragrance but I like it and they’re completely natural which is important for anything that’s hanging near your sleeping area.
I use these drawer dividers for lingerie drawers so that I can colour code everything – not the Konmari method but it works better for me. It’s so good that you can order these online now.
Last year I replaced all of my Ikea wooden hangers with these (my friend who runs the hospice shops was really pleased to have a donation of over 100 wooden ones). The new hangers doubled the effect of the decluttering because they took up so much less space. I now have a mix of simple velvet ones like this for most things (great value for a pack of ten).
These bulbous end ones for jackets and coats
And I’m now going to buy these for my cashmere jumpers – and yes I do hang them because I think it’s important for cashmere to breathe.
As far as shoes are concerned, I like to be able to see them so stackable shoe racks like these are a good idea.
The other fantastic little piece of storage that I have on my dressing table is one of these jewellery racks. I have a beautiful Smythson jewellery box that Mr MC bought me for our first Mother’s Day but this is where I keep the pieces that I wear most often and it stops the chains from getting tangled or kinked.
There’s a whole collection of fantastic modular jewellery storage that would be a really lovely gift if someone’s wondering what to buy you for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day (nice gifts for men there too). I like the fact that you can build your collection as you go along and also add matching travel pieces.
One other thing that this post has made me do is find a solution for storing my glasses. I now have bi-focals as well as reading glasses of different strengths that I use for either computer work or close work. At the moment they’re all in their cases in a shoebox which invariably means that I have to rummage through them all before I find the right pair. I’ve finally put my mind to finding a better way to keep them and this is going to be so much easier. Plus it means I can get rid of a lot of the cases that are taking up space.
And one last storage find – if you put clothes away seasonally, here’s a great collection of boxes with different kinds of inserts that you can use to keep everything organised.
I have a steamer in my dressing room – since I bought one I hardly ever iron. The one I have isn’t made any more but this is similar. It has a fabric brush and lint pad too so it’s a good way of keeping your clothes in great condition.
One more thing to make your clothes feel really good – it’s almost always out of stock but it’s in at the moment, the scent of your Hush deliveries in a bottle. I add a few drops to my steamer as well as spraying my clothes with it:
And so there we are, at the end of the wardrobe capsule journey. Hopefully it’s helped and you’ve decided what you’re keeping whilst knowing where your wardrobe gaps are… just in time for the new season which will start to drop soon. This is what I’m wearing today – playing with dimensions while working from home, mopping the brow of the youngest who has a nasty chest infection. We’ve been watching the snow falling through the window but it isn’t really sticking as you can see. The Lakeland hills look pretty though. These mock neck sweaters are brilliant for anyone who’s long bodied. They’re a great price, they come in lots of colours, they look like wool but because they’re a mixed fibre blend they don’t itch. Plus the neckline doesn’t actually touch your neck.
And those velvet boots have now been swapped for sheepskin slippers! I’m behind with the comments again – I’m sorry. Last week’s many meetings completely disrupted my schedule but I will catch up. On Friday I’ll have a round-up of some of the best new pieces that have landed – and I’ll explain how I’m separating my working from home wardrobe and my weekend casual for anyone who’s in the same situation. Until then, have a great week.
Disclosure: ‘How to build a capsule wardrobe over 40’ is not a sponsored post. Affiliate links are sometimes included on Midlifechic which means that if you purchase something I recommend, I may receive a small commission from the retailer. The retailer pays for this not you and it helps me to keep on bringing you Midlifechic twice a week.
Recent posts you may have missed
How to build a capsule wardrobe part 5 – body shape and silhouette
How to build a capsule wardrobe part 4 – defining your style icon
How to build a capsule wardrobe part 3 – colour and texture
How to build a capsule wardrobe part 2 – defining your personal look
How to build a capsule wardrobe part 1 – wardrobe reality check
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