The term "capsule wardrobe" was coined by fashion influencers in the 1970s to refer to a collection of clothing pieces that serve as foundation elements to many outfits, combined with a small selection of seasonal or trendy items. Foundation pieces can be worn with many different combinations, colors, and layers; functional for both casual and dressier affairs. Think white blouses, black pants, neutral jackets, and of course, jeans. Personally, I had never heard this term until a couple of years ago when a friend--and fellow over-exhausted working mom--referred to her desire to declutter her family's home and, "get rid of all that stuff and have a capsule wardrobe," her exact words. When I learned what the term meant, and associated it with complete cleaning of house and home, I was forever inspired.
When you create a capsule wardrobe, you inherently start operating in seasons. That's because an effective capsule wardrobe strategy is to select the clothes you will wear every three months. While many pieces are repeated for multiple seasons, this (very achievable) cycle gives you a chance to refresh your selections. When you first start, you might decide to store a few clothes in a box as options for future cycles. After 3 months, pull the box out, evaluate what you have, and make your selections for the next 3-month cycle.
This 3-month seasonal cycle works well for streamlining other areas of your home. For example, do you really need all your dishes and stemware out all the time? It seems they just collect dust. After you do a thorough clean-out of what you really don't use, try putting some away for awhile. A family of four doesn't need access to twelve place settings of dishes and flatware all the time (plus all the other serving platters and kid-friendly dishes we tend to collect). And what about children's books and toys? Work with your kids to pick the books and toys that will fit in only a limited number of storage spots, packing away the leftovers for a 3-month rest. When you get them out again your kids will have the same excitement as getting something brand new. Athletic clothes and outdoor gear are other areas that can benefit from this cycle. Do you really need the hassle of rummaging through all your running shorts and t-shirt's in the middle of February? Just like you don't need access to gloves, hats, and boots during the summer.
Even if it doesn't seem like much, put the items not in use in a storage box so that you don't have to waste energy keeping them organized in your cabinets and drawers. The sense of feeling overwhelmed by clutter isn't just about messy clothes and toys on the floor. It's really about that feeling of "weight" when you visually take in all the collections of things spread throughout your home. Using a seasonal cycle to organize some of these zones - closets, drawers, the garage - will make a big impact in feeling "lighter" and less overwhelmed in your own home. With any luck, you'll start to let go of some of these things that just don't get enough use to make them worth keeping around at all.