Its spring of 2017 and I am currently living in capsule number 8 and getting ready to close up year 2 of dressing with a capsule. I am 3 capsule wardrobes behind. Here is capsule number 5.
I am planning to keep these updates short and simple. This isn’t a fashion blog so I don’t want to have 3 capsule posts in 3 weeks. I am rolling out 1 a month and in June we should be all up to date.
My goal in year 2 ( capsule 5-8) was to get all my clothes to fit into 1 bin and 1 back pack.
When I just started out, my goal for year one of my capsule was to test out the majority of my wardrobe. I had lots of clothes I wasn’t wearing, but I couldn’t tell you why. So I decided that instead of just dumping everything into the donate box I would give each item a chance. To figure out why I wasn’t wearing it. Did it not fit right? Was it nice to look at but itchy to wear? or did it just not suit my mom life style? The experiment went really well and I discovered some hidden gems and said goodbye to a lot of unnecessary items. Cutting my wardrobe from 269 down to 142 items.
It’s not a new story to open up your closet and find nothing to wear. I hate to admit it, but I was just like that. I was so frustrated once I even posted it on Facebook. I received a flood of comments, full of sympathy, so many of my female friends could relate. Had they been standing next to me I’m sure I would have seen their heads nodding up and down. Woe is us.
Last year after connecting with the minimalist movement I learned about something else. Capsule wardrobes. When I first started my journey into capsule wardrobes all I knew was that it promised I wouldn’t open up my closet and feel like I had nothing to wear. It was going to solve that problem.
So I dug deeper and found some guidelines. Suggestions and inspiration. *
We’ve been living in our new apartment for 3 months now and moving can have many benefits. For us it was a great excuse to purge mercilessly any items we could so that we wouldn’t have to move them. As I spoke about during the great moving purge.
As I work towards minimalism, I am also trying to do it without waste. As I removed the excess I want to do so with this quote in mind.
Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or do without.
While I don’t think I had ever heard the term minimalism growing up the word hoarding I was familiar with. There were shows about it after all, and while our home never looked like that. There was enough clutter to make me feel anxious.
Its November and I am in the last month of my 2nd capsule wardrobe. But before we can talk about the 2nd go I want to share a recap. In September I completed my first capsule wardrobe challenge. This year I’ve really enjoyed taking on these monthly challenges. It’s an organized way to try something new, and usually it’s really fun too.
So what’s the benefit of a capsule wardrobe? How many items do you get? Is it going to benefit you financially? and most importantly what did you wear these past 3 months?
1st capsule outfits, Summer 2015
I’m so glad you asked. Well start with the easy one. Below you’ll find a collage of my outfits. At work I wear a uniform (self imposed) which falls outside of my main pieces. This mean that I had a more unique situation going on where I wasn’t really relying on my capsule for 7 days a week. So I really only needed to rely on my capsule during the weekends.
My first capsule was for summer and it ran from June until the end of August. We spent lots of time, off at the beach on the weekends but also attended a wedding. I needed very casual clothes but some other items I could dress up for a wedding.
63 items total including work clothes and lounge ware.
$0 spent on 1st capsule
Purged over 24 items at the start.
Trying out a capsule wardrobe was a fun experiment, but I also learned a few valuable lessons.
Money money money
I know I had moments in my past where I had a closet full of clothes but still felt like I had nothing to wear. ( I even posted a comment to that affect on facebook and had many female friends echo the same feeling).
Its that feeling that probably pushes you out the door in search of a new outfit. Even when you feel like ” I know I own something that is great” The difficulty of finding it in the plethora of items in your closet still pushes you out the door with money or credit card in hand.
In the beginning of this challenge you do lots of work sorting through your items. But its worth it because you take time to clear out all the crud and leave only things that fit or that you like. You purge the bad, keep the good and hide the maybes. Clearing up your closet. The clothes you leave out for the season fit you so you shouldn’t ever be shopping because you feel like you need to. Feelings of chaos and dread, that you have nothing to wear will be replaced by creativity and exploration.
If you do find a hole in your wardrobe you can write the item down and use your competitive spirit to accept the challenge in its fullest. See if you can stick to the rule that says no shopping for the entire capsule wardrobe season. Save any purchases until the end of the challenge. In that way you save money.
You save money when you know what you have. You save money when what you have fits you and makes you feel good. But most importantly you save money when you can retrieve and don those items without having to go hunting.
Something I found myself doing through out this experience multiple times was growing.
No, no .no …. not physically but creatively.
As I would get dressed I would look at my clothes and new ideas about how to wear an item with another would constantly be popping into my head.
Clothes might seem like a trivial thing to look at, but if you get down to the root of what was really happening it would look like this.
I was breaking down rules, and thinking outside the boxes I had created, where I would assume this only goes with that.
It was fun saying hey I can make this dress a skirt by paring it with this top. Or any other such thoughts and ideas. The point is my mind was working and popping out ideas. An improvement to the previous routine of trying to subdue frustrations.
Get more comfortable in your skin
When you capsule you are by design limited in choices, you have to work with what you have.
When you capsule you keep what you really like so its a big confidence boost to put any item on and have all of them fit you well and make you feel good. There isn’t a single item in there that makes you feel uncomfortable in your skin. That’s a great thing! to feel comfortable in your skin.
This challenge really pushed me to get comfortable not just with my skin but with my beliefs too.
You see I hate shaving my legs. Its the most annoying thing we are taught to do as women….why? Because its never ending and it serves no purpose… I mean think about it. If you want to be silky smooth all the time, it just never stops. But I have out grown the ritual & commitment it requires. This meant that I use to confine myself to wearing long dresses or pants. Or some how I would muster up the motivation to either wax or shave.
But that motivation has dwindled and dwindled. It’s hard to waste time doing something you don’t believe in.
So I decided I needed to at least try to remove this barrier. The one that limited my choices just because of how I looked.
I wore my shorts first, with a tiny bit of apprehension. “These are actual boy shorts” I thought to myself “and I am kind of a Tomboy. So in a way leg hair makes sense.” It was a safety blanket I felt I could use to explain away any quizzical looks or questions.
The real test came when it was time to wear a shorter skirt or dress… Dresses are the epitome of femininity. Leg hair, mmm, not so much… But slowly I challenge myself to wear it if I wanted. But I told myself I could always just wear nylons if I really felt uncomfortable and wanted to hide it.
But with sweltering heat here in California nylons didn’t make sense. Long story short I pushed through.
I got more comfortable in my skin and didn’t limit what I wore due to my bodies current state. And you know what?
The more I did it the more it felt fine, the more it felt normal. I wondered why I cared or was so worried to begin with.
I was worried about what people would say. I was worried about what people would think. But no one said anything. In the end I realized I really didn’t care what anyone though specially if they kept it to themselves. I realized in my core I don’t believe or approve of this message we give females. Women or young girls, and that while some might be judging me, I was also hopefully inadvertently giving others courage.
This is me. And I’m ok with that.
Capsule wardrobe for a healthy body image. Now that’s meaningful change.
Will everyone feel better in their skin after a capsule? I hope so.
Finally here are my individual items. I was super nervous about my choices at first but I think it turned out. 🙂
The capsule challenge really surprised me. I learned a lot. I pushed through lots of barriers that I had myself put up. My world doesn’t revolve around fashion but I’m glad I took the challenge to simplify my wardrobe.
Have you taken a capsule wardrobe challenge? What did you learn from it?
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Maybe you’re new here. Maybe I just haven’t talked much about work. ( why would I? after all I am here to try and escape it) yet with my avid distaste for corporate schedules and time restrictions even I have to admit I’ve learned quite a bit. Welcome to Lean.
My trade for most of my working career was in Lean Manufacturing, also known as Industrial Engineering, or Continuous Improvement. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t. In a nutshell my job was to analyze processes and remove waste. Removing waste is very important in a business. Its what keeps you profitable. Yet what really amazed me as I learned more was how these philosophies and their application were so widely applicable. Even at home.
I’ve read finance blogs and I’ve heard that J.D. Roth said you should run your finances like a business. And I completely agree. But you can apply so much more then just how businesses balance their books. Lean is one of those things. When I learned different tools in lean I couldn’t stop them from permeating into my home life.
If I sound a little starstruck its because I am. The ideals and job title had so much potential. It was the lack of commitment from the company to the tools that was dragging me down. But I digress.
5S A foundational tool in lean
So today I want to introduce you to 5S one of lean’s foundational tools.
The purpose of 5S is multiple fold. Strip away waste, asses the area. Improve. Implement controls, and plan for sustainability.
How will this help you at home? Well minimalism is picking up steam and this is a great technique to use. But even if you have no desire to be a minimalist lots of us still suffer from random stuff accumulation.
There is a whole thriving industry dedicated to our feeling of being overwhelmed with stuff. But instead of removing it from our lives we just remove it from our homes. Keeping everything and paying a premium for the privilege. Ahh how the mighty have fallen and how the storage unit reigns supreme.
Now in a community of financially minded people most of us would rather drown in our stuff then pay someone else to keep it. We know we have too much, we know its clutter. We know its a nuisance. But going through it is extremely overwhelming. So we pick stuff out here and there and really don’t feel like we are making much progress. Sporadic, unorganized, unplanned events though great in an adventure situation rarely yield amazing results in the home improvement front.
So here they are the 5S’s
There you see 5S.
Now let’s dig in a little deeper
Sort is the first step and here you are taking inventory of everything in the area. If you pick your closet like I just did, then what you want to do is pull everything out. I mean everything.
Its too confusing to try and organize stuff around other stuff. Unless your putting go, no go sticker on everything you touch there is high chance that you are going to miss something. Only when your closet is bare-boned will you know that you are addressing every item that is going back in.
Here you identify if something is needed and kept, or not needed and thrown out (donated?). Well that’s easier said then done right?
You’re right, deciding on stuff can be very difficult when we don’t know what we are measuring for. Here ( and in most things actually) we are measuring usage. So ask yourself these questions.
Why am I keeping this here?
When was the last time I used it?
How often do I use it?
Is it working? Functional right now?
Lots of times we have things were they don’t belong. Then we have things we never use. Then we have things mixed between stuff we use everyday and stuff we use once a year. Finally we keep things that are broken, or just not functional in some other way. Like a deck of cards with just one card missing… Wanna play solitaire… Good luck with that deck.
Now you’ll have stuff in piles. To make sure you don’t get side tracked make sure you have an empty box handy to place all the items that don’t belong. Don’t take walks to return stuff to their proper place as you find them. Just place them in the box, and return after you finish the sort phase.
A place for everything and everything in its place. The focus here is the actual organization process. This is when you decide where you are going to keep what you decided is needed.
You really want to address the frequency question up above as it will guide you in your straightening effort. You see you want to organize by usage. With the most used items easiest to access and your least use items organized a little further away. In other words the prime real estate in any area is for the highest used items. For example in our kitchen the easiest cabinets to access should contain our dishes. We use those everyday. But our cake pan is stored somewhere more out of reach because we use it less frequently. Doesn’t it make you smile to realize you do practice 5S already :)… The thing is we don’t practice that in all parts of our home. So that is what we are going to do. Apply it everywhere we can.
At this point I’d like to point out that these are not just 5 steps. They are 5 consecutive steps. Where you must do the previous one to really benefit and move on tho the next.
This is where most of us go wrong. We feel our home is a mess. So what do we do. We fix it. Pick up, fold, rearrange. And if we are tight on space we buy organizational kits. Bins, shelving, and cute little boxes.
In 5S you never, and I mean NEVER organize ( straighten) before you sort. Never….
Can any of you tell me why?
Shine this is where we make everything look and work as good as new.
You see we naturally respond to our surroundings. It causes us to behave differently. Have you ever gone into a bathroom that is a disaster. You shoot your paper towel to the trash can and miss. What do you do if there is a pile of paper towels on the floor already. Sometimes you might go pick it up but your also likely to just walk away, and sometimes I do too. But if I’m at the Hilton with cloth towels and I happen to miss the basket well… that towel is screaming in my face. Its clearly out of place and has broken the harmony of the space, the wrongness prompts me into action.
That is exactly what you want to create. We become desensitized to things we see everyday. If there is always one article on clothing on the floor all day everyday you are less likely to notice when there are 2 or 3. It won’t be until its ground zero of some laundry explosion that you act. If we really do get accustomed to our surroundings get accustomed to pristine. Then you’ll be catapulted into action when something breaks the harmony of the space.
In shine you want to deep clean the area, get it to the ideal state.
Here you need to be honest with yourself. Why? because its on the 4th and 5th S where you make it or break it. Doing these next steps correctly will help you maintain your improvement or see it slip back into the chasm of chaos. I’ve seen it all too often at work. Its not pretty, and its frustrating as hell.
In standardize you are trying to create a system to control the area. We are trying to cut out perceptions and deal with facts. For example I just finished round 2 on the minimalist games. I like checklists they help me know what is going on. If I was a naturally optimistic person and had no checklist I would have assumed I got rid of close to 800 items. If I was a pessimist I would think I only got rid of 100… Maybe. We see things as we are, not as they are. So standardize is here to help you know what is going on, so you can control the outcome better.
The reason we make change is because we want something that is different then what normally happens. But we have to acknowledge that just because we clean off the counter doesn’t mean that we now have the habit to maintain it that way.
Standardize is to help you build the habit, checklists are usually a great way to do so.
Make a check sheet that has you audit the area every day. You need to do it frequently at first. Then as you start to get use to the new norm you can do it less often until it becomes a habit. The honesty part I was talking about was admitting that our improvements wont last unless we are proactive about maintaining them.
Sustain is at the end but really its something you should be considering through out.
When I think about sustain I am thinking. “How can I make doing it the right way easier then doing it the wrong way.”
We all suffer from laziness when we are talking about something our world doesn’t revolve around. Unless you are a clean freak you aren’t thinking about the state of your home 24/7. Unless you are in love with saving you aren’t always thinking about ways to save. The creation of automatic withdrawals is a practice in sustainability. It might be a pain to set it up but then it just happens and you have to put more effort to stop the savings then to just let them happen.
That is a perfect example of making the right thing easier then the wrong thing.
I’ll be honest I can’t prescribe anything specific but what you are trying to do is give yourself a chance for it to become natural, habitual. We are trying to remove barriers to maintain improvement.
So let’s say you have a junk drawer. But all you want to do is keep the scissors in that drawer, that’s it. Well to make it easy to sustain you could put in a space filler block. Something that will block all the excess space. Now the drawer wont be able to get full with junk.
Get started on a 5S event
Now before you jump in, there is a little pre-work that needs to be done. Like a project at work you need to set parameters. What area are you going to focus on? Pick one area and make it manageable. Pick how much time you’ll dedicate. You need to decide what your goal is. Your broad goal is to keep only what is needed in that specific area.
Let’s talk more about that. In lean there is a general understanding that if something is important you need to make it a priority. Which means you need to set aside the time to make it successful. 15 min here 15 min there just isn’t going to cut it. You’ll lose steam because you’ll be going too slow to see results. And the lack of results will shake your already weak commitment ( 15 min is a weak commitment). At work we schedule 3-5 days, attempt to pull everyone off their day job ( this is were I got frustrated at my companies lack of commitment) and focus solely on the task at hand.
3 to 5 days might be a bit much depending on the space but remember you need to go through all the 5S steps. So the bigger the space the more time you’ll need. You should be planning in hours or days not minutes.
I love lean, I really do. I love it so much I think it should be taught to high schoolers right along side of personal finance.
Don’t forget. Tell me why you never straighten before you sort?
At the beginning of May Mr. Roamer and I decided to give the #minsgame another try. I am more and more drawn to minimalism and the idea of simplified living.
We didn’t make it to the end like last time. Actually comparatively we did a lot worse (as you can see in the picture). However, I am still happy with the results as the changes still yield compound benefits. In the sense of now I have less to clean up and I’m never going to have to organize that item(s) ever again.
When I’m purging sometimes its very difficult. I can easily convince myself to keep stuff. I think someday I’ll use it. But I have a secret weapon….
When I get mad
On the good times when I get really upset I get cleaning whether its dishes or finally scrubbing the toilet when I see something and I’m really mad this pretty much runs through my head ” what the hell, why is this still, ruined, messy, dirty,( insert blank), FINE! I’LL JUST DO IT MYSELF! ROAR!!”
This happened twice this month and the result was a big purge!
You see in the dinning area we have a desk that houses crayons, markers, pens, pencils as well as recycled paper the kids can use for doodling. But it has no drawers so all these items sit in stacks on top of the desk more or less as organized as possible.
But we had so many crayons!
So many pens! pencils and dried out markets! I knew there was more then one still there.
As you can see in the picture that clear bin was full of crayons. not just one compartment. ALL of them. Easily more then 100 crayons.
oh and did I tell you my kids like to accidentally as well as purposefully break the crayons and peel their skin off. Which pretty much means the crayon quantity just keeps multiplying. :). ( well at least the count was)
Anyways one angry day I said I’ve had it and I started recycling papers, testing pens and markers and separating crayons. Trimming stuff down. Seriously they never used all the colors anyways.
In all honesty I probably got rid of enough crayons to satisfy the quantity for the whole challenge but we just counted it for a few days around when the mad purge happened.
In this instance I attacked the clothes in my closet. And the anger fueled me to say stuff like”why are you keeping this? you never wear it. Or when was the last time you wore this. Or sure this is your high school band sweater but you never wear it!!!!” or “this is such a cute blouse I wish it fit me better… but it doesn’t! so why am I keeping it” The underling message I was giving myself was wake up! stop lying to yourself! are these items really worth the extra work if you aren’t going to use them?
The answer was of course ….no.
There were really some things that I separated that were nice or new and I really liked them aesthetically. but they just didn’t fall on me right. Now I’m not scare of a bit of sewing but I was lying to myself saying that I was going to go and fix all these items. I wish, but it just didn’t make sense to make that a priority with all my other goals.
Now I’m not telling you to go on a mad purge or anything but hey its got to be better then yelling at your spouse and loosing your temper at the children and going around breaking stuff instead ( I know people who have done the latter).
Everything else that got cut.
Mr. Roamer doesn’t take pictures but here are some pictures of the other items I purged through this month’s journey.
my 2013 pay stubs
Papers ( lots and lots of papers)
Doing the math 31 days on track equal 496 items purged and with 2 people that is 992 items. Seriously almost 1 thousand items. An amazing feat when you can reach it.
With all the days we missed we got rid of 402 items. Sure crayons are small but I’m still counting. After all its all the little stuff that goes unnoticed and start to accumulate filling empty spaces in drawers and getting in between couch cushions.
We still have some items hanging around because I think they are in nice enough shape that I’d like to sell them on craigslist. How long do you hold on to items in the sell pile? Let me know in the comments.
Now we were clued into this 2nd hand store that gives you store credit when you make a donation. So we dropped stuff off and planned to get Jr. Roamer a sweater. We had a list of other items we thought we might need, but were thinking of postponing. However, we ended up going on a day with a 50% sale so we picked up everything else.
We are not cheap, we are just frugal so making sure the kids have what they need even if we end up bringing more stuff into the house is ok with us.
So I am super motivated to continue stripping out the excess. I have some clothes bins I am going to clean out and I am just going to work in the practice more routinely instead of just the intense bursts for a month.
Have you played the minsgame? Have you regretted getting rid of anything?
Before the new year started I decided that I was going to participate in the minimalists’ game. The challenge was set to start on January 1st, and go until the 31st. The idea? To eliminate 1 item the first day, 2 items the second day and so on. To my surprise but joy, Mr. Roamer decided he would participate too. In essence doubling the amount of items we would have to purge.
Before the Challenge
Per our pictures you can see some of the stuff that has accumulated in our apartment. I’m kind of bummed. I really wish that I would have gotten some more before pictures. These 2 will have to do.
Before this challenge I had already participated in a few clean out days. My method before was to allocate 2 hrs on the weekend to go through old papers (the biggest offender) and any other random items. Stuff just seems to spawn in our house and I have to constantly keep on top of it.
Now… how best to present our results? I will be straight up and tell you that Mr. Roamer did not photograph any of the items he removed. Still we ended up with quite a few pictures and I thought doing a day by day review would just extend the length of this post excessively so instead I grouped similar items together.
About the hardest thing to get rid of when you are trying to clean house is stuff that has “meaning”. From best friends necklaces, to keys of our old house growing up, to the ticket stubs, of all the movies my dad had taken us to while growing up. I had a habit with collecting things. Like I said, I have gone through purging cycles before and these items have kept getting saved…
NOT THIS TIME
The 31 day challenge really pushed me to be more critical. But it was also a book on Buddhism and impermanence that made me realize how silly it was to keep these thing. With that I had an epiphany and developed a mantra.
Let go now, or let go later, at some point you have to let everything go. (really its just a matter of time)
Pictures, stuffed animals, and even memories.Time has a way of deteriorating everything. It’s not a question of will you let go. Its just a question of when. So I found myself asking , If its going to happen anyway, why not today?
So out they go.
I had been keeping baby items because of the possibility of growing our family. But with how many clothes we’ve been gifted by coworkers and the discovery of craigslist I was able to let items go. With 2 kids, I don’t have the miss conception that babies cost butt loads of money. So now I don’t feel like I am potentially wasting money in the future by gifting, selling or donating still good clothes.
Happily I was able to sell the boy items pictured plus another 9 to earn my first side hustle dollars of the year. Another upside of minimizing is cashing in on any valuable products that sit unused in your house.
Do recognize these items? An old Xbox, and how about these? An old Sega Genesis. These are just a few items that occupied a gray bin. Inside were floppy disks and more items that we wouldn’t be able to access. Due to how old they were.
The initial goal had been to put at least these gaming systems up on craigslist and see if anyone collected antiques. 🙂 But instead these item were removed from the house and put into storage.(Not mine, we don’t own one). Someone in the extended family just didn’t want to get rid of them. At first I was a bit upset but then I realized I should just be happy that they are no longer in the house and that now I have an empty bin to use. As long as the items stay out of the apartment I consider them removed.
From crumbled blush, to an expired pregnancy test sometimes things just get lost in closets or cabinets. More random items that got removed included school paper work from our now 1st grader.
During this challenge I also finally took steps away from my dream of “owning” a library. I have always been fond of libraries but I always wanted to have my own, so books were another of those things I gladly collected. It was a big change in mindset. Bye Bye books.
So are you going to take on the minimalist games in the coming month?
Ask yourself a few questions.
What is this item for?
When was the last time I used it?
Why am I keeping it here?
Do I really want to keep it or do I feel obligated?
Asking myself these questions and just repeating my mantra to myself I was able to remove items I had previously chosen to keep.
Let go now, or let go later, at some point you have to let everything go. (really its just a matter of time)
This motto has help me clear out stuff. Specially when it comes to mementoes.
Before and After
As I mentioned before I wish I had captured some more before pictures. The area by our sink is doing so much better. Though we still have some boxes and storage bins to go through we were able to parse down quite a bit. People always say pictures speak louder than word so here are side by side comparisons.
Finally items that still need to get the boot. These toys all reside in a bin and are just waiting for someone to come rescue them on craigslist. If there are no bites then they will get donated. ( More toys then just items pictured).
So Are you joining in the games this coming month? Leave me a comment and tell me what is that one item you hold on to even though it just sits in storage?
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Funding the Journey through Parenthood, Early Retirement and Travel