Are You Drowning in Laundry?
Are You Drowning in Laundry?
Transitioning from clothes hoarder to capsule wardrobe
I was drowning in laundry. There were so many dirty clothes. So many clothes were staying in the dirty laundry piles instead of being washed and put away. Often clothes would be washed that weren’t the right season or didn’t fit which made it a waste of time, energy and resources. I knew that I was a clothes hoarder, so it wasn’t just time to admit that; but it was time to actually time to do something about it. This clothes hoarding was the cause of an immense amount of clutter that was taking its toll on our ability to keep up on our home.
Assessing the Problem
I started hoarding clothes at age 18 when I was in college. I had so many clothes that I could go for almost a month without doing my laundry. (I lived at home). I once completed a survey for a classmate who was doing a statistics project. The question: How many bras do you own. My answer: 38.
With two daughters and my husband in addition to my clothes hoarding; I had been drowning in laundry. The laundry was never caught up. But more importantly, I was teaching my kids to hoard clothes as well. Something needed to change.
I had seen articles about capsule wardrobes and had previously thought that it was not for me. However in my quest to remedy this situation and cease my clothes hoarding; I decided that I would give the capsule wardrobe method a try.
Where to begin
The first thing we took care of were shoes; which lived in a Rubbermaid tub in the living room. This actually turned out to be pretty easy. We decided which shoes we were going to keep AND donated that didn’t fit or ones that we no longer wore for various reasons. We ended up getting rid of 24 total pairs of shoes. Personally, I went from 18 pairs of shoes down to 7.
Oftentimes in articles about creating capsule wardrobes, step one is emptying your closet. We decided that our step one was not cleaning out the closet because the closets were empty.
One of my daughters and I made our step one sorting all of the laundry in the house by person (we kept the linens and socks separate). After all the clothes were sorted we started washing clothes by person. When all of one person’s clothes were washed we created the capsule wardrobe for that person. Everything was clean, so discarded items were ready to be donated, as well.
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
The term capsule wardrobe was coined by Susie Faux in the 1970s. Essentially a capsule wardrobe is collection a of items of clothing that are interchangeable so that it is easy to create many different outfits without needed a lot of articles of clothing. Usually one would choose a color scheme so that the clothes would be easy to match. The clothes would be solid styles that would not go out of fashion.
I found that I had gotten to the point that I had a core set of staples in my wardrobe that I would rely on and oftentimes some pieces of clothing would go unworn for long periods of time. I was ready to go for the capsule method. There are a ton of articles and posts about capsule wardrobes. I did most of my exploring on Pinterest.
Making the Move
I counted the pieces of clothing that I owned. Not counting undergarments, pajamas, and bathing suits; I had 249 articles of clothing. I decided I was going to make two capsules, a work capsule and an everyday capsule, because for me, those two categories of clothing were very divergent from each other.
I pulled out each specialty items that I use for school spirit days (I’m a high school teacher) even though they may only be worn once or twice a year. I like having them on hand so I don’t have to go out and buy new items or look for items at a thrift store in order to participate in school spirit days. These were things like a camouflage t-shirt, flannel shirt, Sports Jersey, etc. I put those is a tucked away place in my closet that I created for specialty items. Once completed, my work capsule contained 24 articles of clothing for all seasons. My everyday capsule wardrobe got down to 42 articles of clothing, again for all seasons.
The capsule wardrobe is really working for me. It is really easy to choose what to wear to work and because most things coordinate with everything else; there is a lot less decision making to make when standing in front of the closet choosing an outfit.
This has really cut down on the laundry because a lot of useless clothing or clothing that really isn’t necessary is gone. Now we’re only worrying about laundry that matters. We are still doing laundry, but it is more purposeful.
One of the most important lessons out of this was for my children. We went through the process with my two daughters (ages 9 and 10) and they were part of the decision making process about what would be kept and what would be donated. We really emphasize now that if they don’t love the item, or it doesn’t fit the way that they like; then it doesn’t live in our house anymore. When we shop for clothing for new seasons, as they grow out of clothes, it’s very important we emphasized those points: Does it fit the way you want it to? Do you love it? They have to choose clothing that they are actually going to wear; not just what someone else likes or thinks they should get.
We’re no longer drowning in laundry and even if someone doesn’t put their laundry away it’s condensed down to one hamper or laundry basket per person instead of three or four per person. The general clutter caused by laundry (clean and dirty) isn’t there anymore.
What about you?
Capsule wardrobes are not something that is right for everyone but, if you’re drowning in laundry this could be a big solution for you. By condensing down to a capsule wardrobe, you’re only using mix and match articles of clothing items that are very versatile; it’s really easy to stay on top of the clothing clutter. This could be a solution for you to get rid of this huge source of clutter that could be clogging up your ability to keep up on your house work and to keep your home organized.
Steps to Take
If this is something that you want to do your first step is going to be to assess what clothing you have. You can start this by emptying out your closet and laying everything out by category. If you were like us you needed to sort all of the laundry first (wash all of the dirty laundry, as well) do this by person.
Categorize your clothing as you lay it out so that you can see what you have. Make sure to pull out clothing items that don’t fit, things that are stained, things that are in need of repair that you probably won’t actually repair. Create trash piles and donate piles.
Assess what kind of clothing you need in your life. I needed a work capsule and then an everyday life capsule. Maybe you need just one, because your styles mesh, you have uniforms for work, or you work from home or are a stay-at-home parent. Decide which essentials you’re going to keep based on the capsule decisions you made. Focus on items that will match multiple pieces in your wardrobe; tops that will match a variety of bottoms, bottoms that would match a variety of tops. This will be the key to making sure that you can condense the amount of clothing that you own.
Once you sort of your clothing then you can restock your closet. You should have a lot more room now and it should be a lot easier to organize your items.
Don’t forget to actually donate items that you pulled out and throw away the items that are trash. I caution you against holding them to use for yard/garage sales unless you’re planning on holding it very soon. It’s really easy for piles of items for donating/selling to just clutters up storage areas and for you to forget that you need to get rid of those items. When I bagged up all of my donate clothes and shoes, I immediately put them in my car so they were ready to be dropped off at my local Goodwill. I was able to drop them off after work the next day. Because they were taking up room in the car it made it a more pressing matter to get to the donation center.
Do what is right for you
Make sure whatever you do is right for you. If you research capsule wardrobes you will see that there are some advocates of a more extreme approach and some that are more lenient in their philosophy. Ultimately, you have to do what is comfortable for you. If you’re a clothes hoarder, like I was/am; if you’re drowning in laundry, then your biggest priority is to downsize. Even if you have to downsize little by little; that’s better than not downsizing at all.
Is your closet filled to the brim, just right, or are you going for a minimalist approach? Would you be able to work with one of these extremes? Add to the discussion and let us know.