...or "why my 33 item capsule wardrobe actually has 40 items". So this capsule wardrobe thing has already knocked my ego down a few notches. I don't have many clothes,  I like to rewear things, I strive for minimalism, so this should be simple, right? Wrong. If you want to follow along and make a capsule wardrobe of your own, or even just to be entertained by my difficulties, here are seven steps to get you there:

how to create a capsule wardrobe
  1. Get everything in one place. Clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry, all of it. Pull coats from coat closets and shoes from their resting place near the front door. Don’t forget that you have items at the cleaners, like I did. While you’re collecting things, be proactive and toss things that you didn’t wear over the summer, or know you won’t wear this fall. For me, this was a summer top that was past its prime and a pair of postpartum jeans. This is also a great time to set aside anything that needs to be stored for next spring. I started looking at every piece of clothing with a more critical eye. If I wouldn't choose it for this fall capsule and it wasn't something that needed to be saved for winter or summer, then was it worth keeping at all? Knowing for certain that I wouldn't wear something for three months made it a lot harder to hold onto. This simple step isn’t so simple in practice!
     
  2. Choose what you think your must haves will be. Now you have everything in one place. Create a separate area for the winners. If you’ve pulled everything out of your closet, your closet can now be that place. I used my bed and a wardrobe rack. I was pretty curious to see where I ended up just with the “must-haves”. It turned out to be 50 items. I started out with 4 sweaters, 10 tops, 7 pieces of outerwear (coats, jackets and capes...yes, capes), 7 dresses, 4 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of leggings, 2 pairs of pants, 7 pairs of shoes, 2 scarves, and 6 necklaces. 
     
  3. Edit, edit, edit. I was prepared to make some allowances to make the capsule wardrobe concept work for me. Clothing you only wear at home is not included in the Project 333 rules. I have one sweater which I love, but which was too rough to wear out of the house, so that came out of the count, and another sweater and two tees soon joined it, relegated to “loungewear". Many things needed to be tried on and mindfully considered. I love me a cape, but had to be honest and admit that it’s not a daily wear type of item, so it went. Dresses were particularly well-represented, but I know that I don’t wear them daily when the weather changes. I saved a couple of winter-worthy ones for after this fall capsule, and just picked a few for this round.
     
  4. Be realistic. I could have pushed myself to stick with only 33 items but I really wanted to be honest and honor the “this is not an exercise in suffering” mentality. For example, I might not need my heavy down winter coat before January 1st but if it gets cold, I'm damn sure going to wear it, so I counted it. Same for my Danksos. I might not wear them out of the house, but if I happen to run to Target in them, they will need to have been counted. 
     
  5. If you have a different style or dress code for work dressing, consider making a separate capsule. I have a very, very flexible work/home life. I need clothing for client meetings, shopping trips, family time, working from home, and the occasional dressy event. For the most part, one set of clothing can cover all of this. This would be the same for stay-at-home moms and those who work from home. However, this fall, I am playing frequently with the St. Louis Symphony, which is unusual. As you may know, the musicians are required to wear dressy black for performances. Luckily I’m a fan of black, so a few things can do double duty, but I also had to include several pieces I'll only be wearing on stage. You might need even more allowances, like these that Courtney Carver suggests here.
     
  6. Give yourself a week or so to let it settle. Do a little mental experimenting to make sure there aren’t any pieces that don’t play well with others. During this testing week, I also had a strange urge to wear all the rejects and summer clothes as much as possible, which isn’t a bad thing!
     
  7. Move everything non-capsule out of your closet. Of course, this was the most fun step. 
    So much space!
mindful closet: how to choose your capsule wardrobe

It's amazing how you can read so much about something but not actually learn anything until you go through the experience yourself. Hm, life lesson much?  All in all, it took about an hour and a half and I ended up with 40 pieces:

Outerwear
1 blazer
1 trench coat
1 leather jacket
1 wool coat
1 down coat

Tops
1 sweater
1 poncho
2 cardigans
4 long sleeved blouses
3 tees
2 short sleeve blouses

Bottoms/Dresses
2 pairs of black pants (one slim, one flared)
2 pairs of jeans (one dark slim, one boyfriend)
1 pair of leggings
3 dresses

Shoes
1 pair of dressy sandals
1 pair of dressy heels
3 pairs of booties (sorry, I couldn't help it!)
1 pair of low heeled, knee high boots
1 pair of Danskos

Accessories
2 scarves
4 necklaces
1 bag

Disclaimers: I’ll allow myself to replace items in this capsule (there are a few things on their last legs), but otherwise, there should be no purchases. I’m also going to give myself a freebie for New Year’s Eve and wear whatever I want, capsule or not. Next week, I'll show you all the individual items. 

I thought I was pretty minimal already (that ego again!), but this is about half of what I usually have in my closet, in addition to storage, so it really is a lot less than I'm used to. It feels a little scary and restrictive, to be honest. Just thinking about all the things that are going to go down in the three months (traveling, the holidays, weather changes) freaks me out. I'm curious to see whether that feeling persists or whether I adjust to this number.

(Update: go here to see the full capsule)