My Wardrobe, Part 2: How I Build and Track My Seasonal Capsules

What my current wardrobe spreadsheet looks like, March-May 2017.

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My notion of season is weather-driven. I’ve realized that in Barcelona it makes sense to separate them unequally. So I have 4 months of very mild winter (November-February), 3 spring months (March-May), a whole lot of hot and humid summer (June-September). I pull October in with summer knowing that a light jacket and knee socks will become useful. Yes, there is variation in each season, but I’m OK with lack of conceptual clarity here. The only reason why I do the separation and not Marie Kondo-style “put everything out and wear what makes sense” is my refusal of having things I’m not wearing in the “active” part of my wardrobe. I do not want to see my wool cape when I’m dripping sweat in July. I want to open the wardrobe and see only the weather-appropriate, i. e. realistic options I have.

So, some time before the date I’ve marked for season change, I open a spreadsheet and copy-paste from my total wardrobe sheet the items appropriate for the season and items I want to force myself to wear. This is the answer to the riddle why necklaces and headbands are in my capsules and winter hat is not. I know I will wear winter hat everyday I’m riding my bicycle. I have one – a hand-me-down from C that brings me Team Zissou vibes – and my ears hurt if I don’t wear it. Case closed. Although I might include the hat and my three winter scarves next winter. Yet no surprises are coming from them and none of them is going out anytime soon.

All the impractical stuff neatly together.

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The impractical adornments – earrings (6 pairs), necklaces (4) and headbands (4) – is a whole different story. Conceptually I want to wear them, but it’s not an automatic thing. I’m (unfortunately) not Iris Apfel, after all! So I train myself by including them in the capsule spreadsheet. Indeed, “a spreadsheet made me do this” makes sense in my world. I can confirm that the bird headband is very grateful for all the attention it is getting.

My dearest friend Marina recently decided to up my headband game with a pair of sparkly cat ears.

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The expected weather is my main guide, as it dictates the types of layers and materials. I pick around 20 season-appropriate things from the serious items I have. So I put the things in and look at the sum. These days I want it to be around 30 at the beginning, birds and necklaces included. If it’s over that, I look for an item that could use a “time-out”. If I have two functionally very similar items, I usually keep in the capsule the one I like the least. That way I understand sooner than later if that’s an item I really want to keep on having. I allow myself to retire items to a never-ever-again land after a few wears and give myself permission to replace them with stored items if appropriate.

That’s what happened with my very old and very reliable green Next skirt this winter. In mid-December I clearly knew that I didn’t want to wear them ever again. So I washed them, tucked them away for the January Clothes’ Swap and pulled out my Mom’s hand-me-down wrap skirt. Everybody survived and nobody noticed.

So at the beginning of my “season” I have an prepared spreadsheet where I fill in everything I wear outside home. For me the few minutes of attention needed is worth the end result: full information about how much use I’m giving to my things. I end up knowing perfectly well which ones are my closet heroes and which ones linger at the end of the list because of the wrong fit, material, whathaveyou… Not all of them get donated right away. Frankly, it is not surprising that the comfy and practical stuff, especially if I have one item that fill that function, gets more wears than a bird headband. Yet I am very aware of my more capricious pieces that do not fit my lifestyle that well.

This is what the first four weeks of this winter looked like. The columns go like this:

  1. Items that came in during the season.
  2. Items that went out during the season.
  3. Item marker for the total, in this case 39.
  4. Item name, arranged by categories and in order of tenure in my wardrobe. Those are color-coded if they went out during the season (red) and if they need fixing (blue).
  5. Worn item marker or the “virtual hanger turner”.
  6. The number of times this has been worn.
  7. A column for each day of the season, color-coded according to my activities (work day – weekend – travel/holidays/working from home).

+ Little notes on how the outfit fits the weather.

This is the end graph, tallying up the times each item has been worn. As you can see, almost everything reached 10, many of them barely, though. The exceptions were the green Next skirt, Vivienne Westwood x Melissa rain boots and Veja Taua Black White sneakers. Those are the ones that didn’t make it to the end of the season. You can read all about their destinies and the wardrobe heroes of this winter here.

To sum up, I do a tightly controlled seasonal capsule of around 30 items, footwear and adornments. This is my way to force me either wear the things or part ways. So far it is working great, I have a feeling of living in clothing abundance and my biggest wardrobe headaches are caused by the need to replace basic items that are beyond repair. My supposedly unbreakable Mel Virtue Stud moccasins tore, so I need a new pair of robust, year-round, comfy and ethical slippers. Good luck with that! I would have preferred them to last forever. The same goes for the Veja Taua Black Whites. I really hope they are planning to put out a new batch.

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Help yourself!

If this approach – or a more laid back version of seasonal minimalist wardrobe spreadsheets – seems intriguing, I’ve made three types of Google sheets that you can download or bring to your own Google drive:

  1. The virtual hanger turner if the physical hanger turning does not work for you, like if you have a dresser instead of hangers or just hate the look of turned hangers.
  2. The weekly-virtual hanger turner. Keep those items in check at least weekly! You will soon realize that not all items are created equal.
  3. The daily sheet for the spreadsheet lovers. Gives you all the information.

Luīze

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