Plus: How to Make and Save Money by Cleaning Out Your Closet

I can't assume that you're not thinking “WTF is a capsule wardrobe?!” so here's my best shot at explaining it:

32 clothing pieces, all high-quality, all interchangeable, less regular shopping sprees.

Now, that's not entirely it. Thirty-two is not a number you absolutely have to stick to in order to have a minimalist closet, and it definitely doesn't mean you can only wear blues and blacks and never go shopping again.

The capsule wardrobe is more of a lifestyle and way of living.

It's the idea of doing more with less, with the goal to reduce the clutter and the pressure to always be buying the latest trends and newest pieces. Because we know what that does to our psyche as well as our wallet.

I'll be writing more about my journey towards a minimalist wardrobe and lifestyle in the future, but if you've ever been interested in putting together a capsule closet for yourself, the first step is the clean it out (like Eminem, but less 2002 and angsty).

How To Pare Down Your Closet to The Essentials

1. Closet Purge

Make some time to go through your closet (you know this has been on your to-do list for far too long anyhow). The best way to do this is to take everything out of your closet. Yes, everything. We're doing a full-blown closet cleanse.

With your pile of clothes, start sorting into bins or more piles labeled, “Over it,” “Love, but can't remember the last time I wore it,” and “I wear this basically every day.” Put the last pile back into your closet for the moment.

2. Your “Over it” Pile

Next, tackle the “Over it” pile by separating into “Trash,” “Goodwill,” or “Sell” piles.

It's time to be very honest with yourself. You may love that white crop top, but that girl perusing the racks of Goodwill may not be so keen on the pitstains you were an expert at hiding by promising yourself to keep your arms down all night. Ick. – TRASH IT!

If the item is great, but you just can't anymore, then take your shot at selling it. No one said you can't profit from a little closet cleanout. But remember, there's a good amount of effort that goes into selling clothes online or elsewhere, so be selective to sell only those really rad pieces that are worth the effort.

Save the Forever 21-esque items for donating, and if you don't want to sell anything you can donate it all.

Did you know you can get a tax deduction for making clothing donations to charity? In fact, you can write off up to 50% of your adjusted gross income if you're extra generous this year. This saves you major dollars that would otherwise go straight to Uncle Sam.

All you have to do is keep a record list of each item you give to the Salvation Army, Goodwill or other qualified charitable organization. Match each item with its fair market value (price you could reasonably resell it for). Consult with an accountant, bookkeeper, or tax prep specialist to ensure you are properly recording your charitable donations.

3. Your “Love, but…” Pile

Now you must be very selective when it comes to your “Love, but…” pile. Decide which of your pieces are absolutely essential and can be worn in multiple ways, both in the literal sense of scarves becoming skirts, and in the way that one shirt can be paired with a variety of shorts, pants, and skirts.

Of these essential pieces, only keep the ones that you really see yourself being able to utilize more often as you dabble with your capsule wardrobe.

The pieces that aren't so versatile are gonna have to go.

Pro tip: Try pawning these pieces off on friends or siblings. That way, if you're ever dying for that hot pink number in the future, you have easier access to borrow it back for a night.

4. Your “Every day” Items

Your “I wear basically every day” items that you put back in your closet are mostly going to stay, but this is a good time to do a round of self-questioning.

My favorite trick is to ask yourself, “Do I feel like a million bucks when I wear this?” if yes, then keep it, but also consider it's ability to be versatile and quality of wear.

If you have pieces that you wear out of habit but don't necessarily feel like you could strut your stuff in a meeting, at a lunch date, or otherwise, you may want to reconsider the value of your once “every day” number.

We all get weirdly emotional and attached with our clothes, so even though you might think, “Why would anyone wear something they don't feel like a million bucks in?” believe me, we all do it, we just don't take the time to recognize it.

You did it! You purged, pared down, and cleansed your closet.

Do you feel naked? Does it feel like you don't have much? Now is time to flex your creativity and adaptability muscles. Don't worry, there will be shopping to be had, but not quite yet.

Give it a month and just love what you have now. Challenge yourself to be happy with your new, skinny capsule wardrobe. Next month, I'll tell you how I shop to fill the gaps in my capsule wardrobe and share the boundaries I set for myself when it comes to those impromptu, unpredictable shopping trips.r

Until then, tell me what you think. Did you try the closet cleanse? Was it easy or hard? How do you keep up your capsule wardrobe if you have one?

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