• capsule-wardrobe-erin-loechner-winter-2015

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    Wardrobe 25

    01.13.2015 / PLAY

    Well, I didn’t expect to talk about this today, but here it is and here I am. For the past few months, I’ve been wearing the same clothes – 25 of them – over and over and over. It’s not earth-shattering, the idea of minimalism, and I’d even argue that it’s trendy to be a minimalist, which makes me like the concept eight thousand times less, but sometimes trends are here because they’re good, and easy, and smart. (How’s that for a run-on sentence? Apologies to my fifth grade teacher.)

    Reducing the options in my closet has been all of those things for me, mostly because decisions have always been an anxiety trigger in my life. I remember when I was pregnant with Bee and had to choose a car seat, and how does one go about choosing a car seat exactly? Form vs. function vs. safety vs. price, it was enough to make me throw in the towel, which is code for ask Ken to do it, which is code for precisely what he’d prefer anyway. The man is a born researcher and decision maker, and I knew when I said yes to his proposal that it would be the last decision I’d really have to make if I wanted to, forever and ever, Amen.

    The past few years have been a whirlwind of simplification – of fewer and deeper with fewer and deeper – and the great closet clean-out of 2014 was the final nail in the coffin of Minimalist Me. When we visited Singapore for nearly a month last May, I packed just 25 items and knew instinctively that this was my number, my cut-off. I didn’t need any more there, so why would I need any more here? And when we returned in June, I rid my closet of everything not in my suitcase.

    This winter, I did the same – whittling down to a Wardrobe 25 – and it wasn’t until I started receiving questions about the process that I felt compelled to write about it. And so, here it is. Everything you wanted to know, and probably more than you wanted to know, but you’ll get that from me six days of the week.

    Q: What did you decide to keep?
    A: Here’s the list! Please note: I had to source similar items rather than exact replicas because the bulk of my wardrobe isn’t current, but this is the idea: 001 / 002 / 003 / 004 / 005 / 006 / 007 / 008 / 009 / 010 / 011 / 012 / 013 / 014 / 015 / 016 / 017 / 018 / 019 / 020 / 021 / 022 / 023 / 024 / 025

    Q: How did you decide what to keep?
    A: You know those favorite pieces you have that you wear over and over and over? Keep those. That’s it. Easy enough, right?

    Q: Is this really all you wear?
    A: For the most part, yes. I didn’t include my snow boots, or my coat, or accessories (hats, scarves, jewelry), the latter of which I heavily rely on to keep my favorite outfits interesting. I also have a sweatshirt, a robe and a few yoga tanks/tees that I sometimes wear underneath my sweaters and tops when I head to my local studio for a good workout. Other than that, what you see is what you get.

    Q: Don’t you feel wasteful?
    A: Oh, the opposite! It felt wasteful for my clothing to sit unused in my closet for most of the month, so I donated the pieces to a few womens’ shelters in the U.S., and offered a few to some gals here in town.

    Q: What about special occasions?
    A: I included one black pencil skirt for conferences and rare work travel, and I have a few classic pieces (blazer, shift dress, pumps, etc) in storage. I’ll pull them out when I need them, but for my lifestyle, I can get away with pretty little.

    Q: Don’t you get bored?
    A: Not even a bit. When I’m bored with my pieces, I’ll pair together something I generally don’t rely on, or add in an accessory I love. I’ve also relied a bit on my husband’s closet when laundry day is looming, a nice bonus for sure.

    Q: Do people notice you’re wearing the same thing all the time?
    A: I don’t know, I’ve never asked. But I’ve come to realize people generally aren’t really paying that much attention to the things you think they’re paying attention to, you know? They’re thinking of the same things you are – thawing out the chicken for dinner, sending that email, reminding themselves to get gas on the way home – and are likely too distracted to notice you have on the same pants you wore yesterday.

    We say we dress for ourselves, but I think what we’re really doing is dressing for the way we want ourselves to be perceived. There’s a difference, and learning the difference (and letting go of that expectation) is a freeing concept.

    Q: What about laundry?
    A: You know, I’ve found that it’s just as easy to throw your clothing in the laundry machine as it is the hamper. And I spend far less time doing laundry because I don’t let it pile up for days, and everything I wear is machine washable. I don’t wash my sweaters and shirts daily, so between washes I often use this.

    Q: What about the rest of your family?
    A: Bee and Ken have a naturally slim wardrobe, so we’re all pretty much in the same boat over here. (And for those of you with kids interested in this challenge, I will say this: in high school, I wore the same five tops and five bottoms weekly and am convinced it was the key to teaching me how to dress creatively while experimenting with accessories. Restrictions and boundaries always offer creativity, so it was a beautiful lesson for me!)

    Q: Will you be sharing your outfits on the blog?
    A: I don’t know; it’s a bit of work to photograph it all. But if you’d like, I will. Just let me know!

    If you feel compelled to clean out your closet as well, I’ve made a list of non-profits and other organizations by state that I imagine would be incredibly blessed by your donation (please offer your very best!):

    Alabama / King’s Home
    Alaska / Anchorage Rescue Mission
    Arizona / St. Vincent De Paul
    Arkansas / Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter
    California / Love the City Thrift Store
    Colorado / USAgain
    Connecticut / ABC Women’s Center
    Delaware / Friendship House
    Florida / Chapman Partnership Inc.
    Georgia / Covenant House
    Hawaii / IHS
    Idaho / The Haven Shelter
    Illinois / Zealous Good
    Indiana / Wheeler Mission
    Iowa / Shelter House
    Kansas / Hope House
    Kentucky / The Hope Center
    Louisiana / New Orleans Women’s Shelter
    Maine / Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter
    Maryland / Interfaith Works
    Massachusetts /Rosie’s Place
    Michigan / WISE
    Minnesota / Safe Haven
    Mississippi / Gateway Mission
    Missouri / City Union Mission
    Montana / Good Samaritan Thrift Store
    Nebraska / People’s City Mission
    Nevada / Las Vegas Rescue Mission
    New Hampshire / Outfitters
    New Jersey / New Visions Homeless Day Shelter
    New Mexico / Joy Junction
    New York / The Bowery Mission
    North Carolina / InterAct
    North Dakota / New Life Center
    Ohio / Haven of Rest
    Oklahoma / John 3:16 Mission
    Oregon / Portland Rescue Mission
    Pennsylvania / Bethlehem Haven
    Rhode Island / The Clothing Collective
    South Carolina / Zion Home of Restoration
    South Dakota / Western South Dakota Community Action
    Tennessee / Memphis Union Mission
    Texas / Genesis Shelter
    Utah / The Road Home
    Vermont / Upper Valley Haven
    Virginia / HomeAid
    Washington / Tacoma Rescue Mission
    West Virginia / Valley Mission
    Wisconsin / Harbor House
    Wyoming / Comea House

    • i am so glad to hear this can be done and it works well. I am working towards eliminating things I don’t like.

    • Melissa

      Your capsule wardrobe looks pretty similar to mine, as far as palette and style go. I gravitate towards gray and navy, so my basic uniform is jeans (in either dark blue or gray), a sweater (in some shade of gray/blue), and boots.

      I realized once I had my daughter that nobody pays attention to what mom wears, once there’s an adorable kid on the scene :) One Sunday about 6 months after I had her, I was walking through the lobby at church and got several compliments on my outfit. Since it was one of my regular outfits, I was confused why everyone was noticing it, until I realized that it was the first time that my daughter was with my husband, not with me. Since she’s usually glued to my hip, all adoration goes straight to her (as it should). So, needless to say, I don’t feel conspicuous wearing the same clothes often.

      • Ha, that is SO, so insightful, Melissa! How interesting? And good food for thought. ;)

    • I want your closet! I don’t shop much, partially for lack of funds, but I find that even when I have more, I stick with about this many favorite pieces in rotation anyways. It just involves a higher percentage of comfy, ratty t-shirts ;)

      • Ha, I hear ya!!! Comfy, ratty tees are kind of the best anyway. ;)

    • I’d love the see the different outfits you create from these pieces!

    • I love this idea so much. And your examples are so helpful on how to actually do it!

    • I’ve been doing this recently too. For me I found myself constantly shopping (ahhhhh!) and it was just a giant time suck. I didn’t even go crazy buying stuff I was just always thinking about buying stuff and it was awful. Caroline Rector’s blog un-fancy was a big inspiration for me initially. I feel like I have been able to focus on other and more important areas in my life so much better now.
      Also, I like your capsule :)

      • Oh, I LOVE that Caroline Rector – she does suuuch a great job inspiring minimalism! Thank you for sharing; I’ve felt the same way in many months and am happy to have broken free from the cycle, for now. ;)

    • Thanks for sharing this, Erin! I’m loving the trend lately to reduce our wardrobes to only what’s used and loved. I’ve just started doing capsule wardrobes (not sticking to a formula or strict number, just putting out-of-season things away and donating clothes that no longer fit or feel like “me”) and it’s super liberating. I’m excited to go into my closet because I know it’s all AWESOME.

      Have you heard of an app called Stylebook? You input each of your wardrobe items and use it to create and track outfits. It’s a super dorky love of mine.

      • whoa, thanks for the tip! i haven’t heard but will absolutely check it out! :)

    • I would love to see how you put outfits together with accessories! As a new mom with a postpartum body my wardrobe has shrunk dramatically for the time being. I need inspiration!

      • I’m on it – thanks, Katie! And congrats on your new bundle! :)

    • Gail

      Love this!!! Thanks very much for sharing your experience Erin, I’ve been looking forward to this blog since following you recently on instagram. I feel so released to let go of items and encouraged to not be doing ‘other peoples thinking’ for them{as in how i look and am being perceived} I also find decision making an anxious process but I’m definitely growing in that area by recognizing ways now of keeping everyday life way more simple.{ less clutter/fuss around the house. Less clothe, less time with the mobile phone} By doing so i actually feel I’ve gained rather than lost out on anything. Going to tackle the wardrobe again using your 25 staple items idea. Thank you for being such an inspiration and encouragement. its amazing the spiritual growth that comes through these physical acts,God Bless You

      • Gail, you are such an encourager! Thank you for your kind words!

    • Melissa Pedroza

      Do you think this is possible for someone that works outside the home in a business casual setting?

      • Oh, absolutely! It’s switch out the denim for some work trousers and add in a blazer; you’ll be good to go!

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