How a 37-Item Closet Can Take Your Style to the Next Level

organized closet

Caroline Joy Rector says editing your closet to just 37 items will not only make life easier, but will help you find your true personal style. Yes, even though shopping, fashion, and style are, like, your thing. Even though minimizing your closet makes you break out in a cold sweat.

Rector's blog, UnFancy, is dedicated to helping you create a “capsule wardrobe” of only the things you love and will wear on repeat. And while it might not be easy to transform your closet into an organized haven, she promises that once you get there, your life will be easier and better.

To me, a capsule wardrobe represents more time and energy for what really matters (less time spent deciding what to wear / less time spent shopping / less time doing laundry or caring for clothes) more money for our dreams + helping others (less money spent on clothes that never get worn) and more contentment and happiness.

She had me at less time doing laundry.

She also promises that a capsule closet does not mean giving up style as a hobby—or, as fashion bloggers, our raisons d'être. The exercise might actually make running your blog a whole lot easier.

When I started this capsule wardrobe challenge, I was afraid it was going to deny me one of my favorite hobbies (style). But I found it didn’t. In fact, I actually found my style–the real me style that makes me feel comfortable, cool, and, well, happy to be me.

In March, Rector marked year two of her experiment, and she admitted she was getting frustrated with her original approach to a minimal closet. So she rethought it, and came up with a new way that excludes workout clothes, accessories, PJs, undies and cocktail attire.

Suddenly this seems WAY more doable, right? Recently,we welcomed a new member of the family into our home, and the entire room that had acted as my closet and office became his room. My goal was to sell most of my clothes and keep only the stuff I loved—I really had no choice, spece-wise. But of course I found a way. The two empty closets in my toddler's room beckoned, and that's where my excess clothing now resides. I figure I have about five years of so until she starts giving me a hard time about that.

But I don't want to wait. Because even the clothes on my current small (ish) clothing rack aren't in heavy rotation. And I want this in my life:

So I tried out this capsule wardrobe idea I’d been hearing about. I NEVER. LOOKED. BACK. Now I always feel like I have something awesome to throw on, be it Sunday brunch or a client meeting, because every single item hanging in my closet is something I would love to wear right this moment.

How about you? Will you try the capsule closet challenge?

[Photo via Shutterstock]

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About The Author

In addition to being editor at IFB, Kristen writes for Forbes, Eat, Sleep, Denim, and her own blog, Stylenik. Previously, she served as the San Francisco editor for Racked, covering the intersection of retail, fashion, and technology. She has written about everything from human cloning to luxury shopping for publications including Wired, Gizmodo, Refinery 29, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in a '70s house in '70s clothes on the Northern California coast. 

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15 Responses

  1. Jeanine Marie

    I feel adopting this wardrobe strategy would make life easier by taking away the pressure of figuring out what to wear everyday. I had a friend who planned her outfits a week in advance and laid everything out the night before. I was very impressed.

    Jeanine Marie
    avalonandkelly.com

    Reply
  2. Brittany Ann

    Capsule wardrobes are very trendy on blogs right now but I’m not sold. For example, on the Un-Fancy blog, she narrows it down to 37 pieces -per season- (and that’s not including accessories). Then, when the season is coming to a close, goes shopping for the next season.

    I have a versatile and creative wardrobe and go thrifting a LOT, but 37 pieces is wayyy more than I buy in a year, let alone a season! This might be okay for people who’ve really refined their style and have no desire to change, but it doesn’t seem realistic for most fashionistas.

    I prefer slow evolution of style – donate a few pieces each year, pick up a few, and play around with items already owned. Buying 100+ items in one year seems foolish. How many of us REALLY know our style that well that we won’t regret any of those in the years to come? And if they’re advocating doing that each year, yeesh. That is a lot!

    -Brittany
    http://www.fineryandmadness.com

    Reply
    • Kristen Philipkoski

      Interesting. I did not understand that she shops for a whole new capsule every three months. I’m with you, that’s way more than I shop now for an entire year. The way I imagined it was actually more rigid: things would get swapped out every season, not replaced. Thank you for pointing that out!

      Reply
  3. Ana

    Her last two capsules were really really boring, I wish she had taken her photos on a daily basis, instead of all in one day, to prove that a capsule wardrove is actually something that a person with a *real job* can adopt for her/his life.
    The worst was the over use of the word *minimalism*, a person who preach about minimalism and throw affiliate links all over your face, to me is a joke.

    If you want some fun read (and real honest opinions) about Unfancy, don’t miss this forum, it really openen my eyes: http://getoffmyinternets.net/forums/fashion-bloggers/un-fancy/page-76/

    Reply
  4. Anastasia Nicole

    My personal wardrobe is very tight–not 37 pieces or a “capsule” but more of a true minimalist wardrobe. It’s only like that for two reasons, I hate spending a bunch of time on getting dressed and I would rather spend my money on experiences and building my life than on clothes.

    I think she has the right idea but shopping every season for a new capsule defeats the entire purpose of learning to live with less and streamlining your look.

    Reply
  5. Celeste

    I agree that it’s pretty misleading once you realize she’s swapping out clothes every couple months.

    I don’t have a capsule wardrobe but I do have a radically smaller wardrobe thanks to the Konmari method (from Marie Kondon’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up). I’m actually posting about it on my blog tomorrow.

    I used to have about 500 pieces and I now have around 225. Everything I own fits in one standard closet and one standard dresser. I keep my shoes in a vintage metal locker. I don’t have to pack away seasonal clothes like sweaters or shorts anymore because everything fits. The only things I pack away are coats, scarves, hats, and gloves.

    I really believe that there’s no perfect number that works for everyone. The important thing is to narrow your wardrobe down to only the things that you love. Ever since reducing my wardrobe by half, I don’t have that feeling anymore like “I have nothing to wear!” I still have what a lot of people would consider a large wardrobe, but it’s the right size for me.

    Reply
  6. Monique

    I could see this being expensive for the first year, but afterwards it could be an organization dream. I think I might give this a try and put my own spin on it. After the first year, I’m not sure I’d buy 37 entirely new pieces each season. I’d hang on to some of those pieces and things that I didn’t want I’d just swap out for new ones. This would especially help me with my shoes. I have shoes I’ve never even worn it’s ridiculous. Looking forward to pairing things down and getting more organized.

    Reply
  7. Shian

    Initially I thought this would never work for fashion blogging. I don’t honestly believe that I could create continuous, compelling content for any length of time with only 37 pieces, especially because I am a fan of statement pieces and you can’t realistically throw the same few in every outfit. After reading the comments it makes tons of sense that she swaps it out every season though. Of course I could create solid combos for just one season buying everything on trend, then doing the same once the next season rolled around. But it just seems silly to me to trash everything from season prior, especially if you invest in quality/timeless pieces. Maybe I’m just a “maximumist” (or not completely informed on how the process work… 😉

    Reply
  8. Dennis Edwards

    The first step of creating a Capsule Wardrobe is taking stock of what you have. I tackled this process by removing every single item from my closet.

    Reply
  9. Shoes and Roses

    As someone who was pretty much forced to clean out my wardrobe when moving from country to country, I was definitely intrigued when I first came across the UnFancy blog. Now, I was a bit put off by all the affiliate links she shills out on her blog and even more so when I found out that she took all the outfit photos in a day (think she lost her credibility a little doing that). It has to be noted that she doesn’t buy 37 new pieces for every capsule, the concept is to reuse “basic staples” from every capsule and swapping season-specific pieces out. She has said that she buys about 4-8 pieces for every capsule, attaching a budget she adheres to on each one, although she does get gifted a fair few (expensive) pieces.
    That said, I’m currently building a capsule wardrobe and I’m having fun discovering what my personal style is.

    Reply