Re-introducing the capsule Wardrobe – the wardrobe clear out

Over the past couple of months, I’ve covered the main elements of the capsule wardrobe (apart from accessories which I’ll come back to in the new year).

Owning a well-thought through capsule wardrobe is a liberating experience – not least because it means you won’t feel the need to have a wardrobe full of clothes that you rarely wear in order to have the few that make you feel confident.

Using your capsule wardrobe will be much easier if you remove what you don’t wear – both for space reasons and psychologically 

So here’s how I do it.

Now you’ve got quality, you don’t need quantity
Chances are that if you’ve been buying clothes for years without a scheme in mind, you’ll find lots in your wardrobe that you don’t wear much – if at all.  If you’ve taken on board the capsule approach, you’ll understand that quality, not quantity is what ensures you look and feel great – a woman who dresses with styles does not need to wear something different to work every day of the week, but she will want to wear it differently.

Your capsule wardrobe is designed to make you feel confident – a good clear out will leave you feeling up to the minute and confident about the way you look.

Won’t they come back into style?
There’s a belief that if you hang on to your clothes long enough, they’ll come around again and be fashionable.

In fact they never come back identically; and there is usually quite a significant change, particularly in the length of the garment and the width of the shoulders, which will give away the age of your old clothes

Also, even if the clothes haven’t aged, you have. Wearing clothes that you wore 15-20 years ago actually ages you more.  While a good garment – like a coat, raincoat or evening dress can have an extended life span (and I certainly have items that are more than 10 years old), they tend not to be structured pieces, so it’s really the fabric and the simplicity of cut that give them their longevity.

The editing process
The process is very simple so long as you’re prepared to be ruthless.  Divide your clothes into three sections:

  • The first is the clothes you love; that make you feel good when you wear them
  • The second is the clothes you’ve not worn for a couple of years
  • The third is those that you haven’t worn for ages (or ever), but have kept because they “might come in useful” or because you paid a lot of money for them and feel you should wear them, but deep down know you never will.

Put the first section back in the wardrobe.

Put the third section into a big bag and take them to a charity shop, feeling good in the knowledge that someone else will benefit from them.

Try on each garment in the second section. Ask yourself whether wearing it makes you feel great.  If it does, put it back in the wardrobe.  If not, it joins the charity bag.  Do be ruthless though, otherwise it’ll just end up in the charity bag next time.

I do this every season.

The first time you do this, you may discard lots of clothes; afterwards you’ll be just editing around the edges to keep you feeling up to date.

What next?
Now that your wardrobe has only the pieces that you love, you can use this as the basis for managing your capsule going forward.

Use the predominant neutral colours you now have in your wardrobe to guide what you add over the coming seasons (you might want to take a look back at part 1 of this series for a reminder on the main principles of the capsule).

How long should you keep a piece? It depends on how long can keep the shape you were when you bought the outfit; whether the fashion for accessorising it has changed; and on the quality of fabric and the simplicity of the cut. But the most important thing is: do you still feel good in it.

I think that over a certain age buying  a new outfit every season is integral to keeping your confidence and self-esteem high.  Most successful men buy at least one new suit a season.  So should you.

The trick is to buy clothes that keep you feeling young and attractive – and to regularly edit your wardrobe as I’ve described.

It feels wonderful to be able to look at your wardrobe and be confident that everything in it makes you look and feel great.  Less is most definitely more.


I’m taking a short break over the festive season – ConfidenceTricks will be back in the first week of January. So may I take this opportunity to wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, confident and successful 2010.