It's Been One Year Since I Created a Capsule Closet—Here's How I Maintain It - Cupcakes & Cashmere

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It's Been One Year Since I Created a Capsule Closet—Here's How I Maintain It

5 tips for making more with less.
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An Everlane top (which I wrote about here) and my favorite Agolde jeans (written about here) are both rare recent additions.

An Everlane top (which I wrote about here) and my favorite Agolde jeans (written about here) are both rare recent additions.

For most of my adult life, my closet overflowed with impulse purchases motivated by sales, trends, and even boredom. It was packed with options, but I somehow still had trouble finding anything I wanted to wear, so I purchased new items often. When I edited it down a year ago, using primarily the KonMari Method, I permanently changed my purchasing habits. Although I'm in sweatpants 6/7 days lately, getting dressed is no longer a chore—I love all of my clothes—and I get more joy anytime I add something to it, or thoughtfully edit it.

Since creating my capsule closet for my daily clothes (I use this word to refer to a pared-down closet, full of items that mix and match easily, where nothing is wasted) I've made small edits, but I'd estimate that 95% of my closet has remained the same, which is a dramatic difference from where I started. I wrote my tips for getting started here, but wanted to share an update on how I've been maintaining my capsule closet: 

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I sometimes feel like the art of taking care of things is disappearing! I mean, how many of us know how to darn our socks, get pit stains out of a white tee, or fix a button? With two-day shipping, it's often easier to just buy a new shirt than to apply some elbow grease to it, but I'm here to tell you that there's something really satisfying about caring for your things (not to mention good for the planet)! Here are two tenents I follow to make sure my clothes stay in tip-top shape: 

1. Be equitable with closet real estate, regardless of its cost or function: This is a tip I picked up from Marie Kondo, who recommends folding each individual sock. I hang my decades-old pajama pants on the same bar as my jeans, so nothing ends up bunched and forgotten in a bin or corner. 

2. Spend time and money to upkeep your clothes and shoes: If it's in your closet, it's worthy! Regardless of how much you originally spent on them, put taps on your shoes to protect the soles and get your boots polished and fixed at the end of every winter. Find a good leather worker—usually the same person as your cobbler!—who can fix purse straps (I go to Harry at Sunset Shoe Repair). Dry clean or hand-wash fragile blouses, regardless of whether they were hand-me-downs or investments. Have tears and stains repaired (or fix them yourself) within the week they happen, so you can get the piece back into your closet! 

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Whether you have a shoebox for a closet or a walk-in, you want it to be a place that's welcoming, not anxiety-inducing, since you visit it every day. My closet is organized with lounge and daily wear hanging, loosely organized by type then by color, from light to dark to patterns. I keep my athleisure and sleep shirts in an IKEA cart below, with shoes on a multi-level rack so I can see them each clearly. It isn't perfect, but it feels luxurious—and makes the items in it feel more valuable. 

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I used to have an enormous box of sweaters I kept on a hard-to-reach shelf in our last apartment. There were maybe 20 sweaters in there, and Jonah had to help me get it down anytime I wanted to wear one. When I edited my closet, I kept my two favorites, and barely miss the rest. The lesson here is: Less is more. Two easily reachable sweaters has been a million times more useful to me than 20 inaccessible sweaters. I keep seasonal and "special event" clothes tucked in with the rest of my clothes (I put sweaters over the hanger bar, so they don't stretch) so I actually wear them. I found that I can dress down most of the dresses I'd once reserved for events like weddings with sneakers and a denim jacket. 

I only keep a few things outside of my closet: I keep my ski pants, parka, and a pair of hiking pants with the rest of our outdoor gear. Things I truly cannot wear on a daily basis go in a coat closet downstairs. This is where I keep heavy winter coats along with the floor-length dress I keep on hand for black-tie weddings (fun fact: It was also my prom dress!) and my mom's wedding dress, hung in a garment bag—though I'll be bringing it back to her next time I visit home! 

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Editing my closet doesn't mean I never buy clothes anymore, but I'm much more intentional about adding items into my closet. I'll be publishing an entire post on this soon, but these days, I only buy items that truly make me stop in my tracks, can be worn with multiple items (I even applied this to the pieces I bought for my wedding), and are well-made. I'd rather spend $100 on a top I'll wear time and time again, than $20 on something that may be in a donation pile by the next year. 

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One of the biggest challenges I came across in editing my closet the first time around, had to do with the sheer number of things I didn't need. It was incredibly time-consuming to make sure each item was given a second life—either sold, given to a friend, or donated. Now, when I decide that a piece no longer adds to my closet, I'm able to sell (usually on Poshmark) or donate it (to organizations like Dress for Success) immediately, or a few at a time, and be much more intentional about where it ends up.

P.S., I'll be writing more about my capsule closet—I have a lot to say!—and answering your most-asked questions later this week, pulled from DMs on my personal Instagram and @shopcupcakesandcashmere. If you have anything you'd like answered, please add it as a comment below!

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