2014 By the Numbers: The Wardrobe “All-Stars”

These year-end wrap-up posts are quite enlightening for me to write and I hope you also enjoy reading them.   If any of you were wondering what prompted me to start my 2015 wardrobe challenge (now called “Love It, Wear It” or LIWI – a big thanks to Kim for the suggestion!), you’ll better understand after reading this post and my next one.

2014 Wardrobe All-Stars

I have now been tracking my wardrobe for four years.   Ever since the beginning of 2011, I’ve recorded how often I’ve worn all of the clothing and shoes in my closet (I haven’t tracked jewelry and other accessories, but it might be time to start!).   Each year, I’ve aimed to improve upon my stats from the previous year.   Seeing that 2012’s numbers were just as abysmal as those from 2011 was what prompted me to start this blog!  And the blog has been helpful in that I did start wearing more of what I own and have pared down my wardrobe to half its previous size.

In what has become my most-viewed post, I shared that my ideal frequency of wear is 12 or more times per year (at least once per month on average).  Some simple calculations revealed that in order to make that happen, I need to have 30 or fewer items in any given wardrobe category.  That, of course, assumes that I wear “regular clothes” every day, which isn’t always the case with my current lifestyle.   So in actuality, I need even fewer items than I previously calculated.

Why am I sharing all of this?  It’s a prelude to what I’m about to reveal today and in my next post, my wardrobe all-star and “benchwarmer” statistics for 2014.   The numbers lead to quite a few powerful conclusions, the most striking of which is that my wardrobe is still far too large, despite the fact that I’ve downsized considerably since starting this blog.

My hope is that my “LIWI Challenge” will help me to determine what I really love and actually wear (hence the appropriate name of “Love It, Wear It” that Kim came up with!) so I can release everything else.   I know I’ll be writing a lot about this subject in future posts, so let’s move on to my 2014 recap.

The “All-Stars”

I always like to start on a high note, so let’s begin with my wardrobe “all-stars,” the focus of today’s post. Since I have a lot of numbers, thoughts, and photos to share, I’ve opted to split this 2014 wardrobe review into two parts.  I know that whenever if I get tired from writing a post, it may be too long for some of you to read!  One of my “resolutions” for the blog this year is to cut down on the length of my posts (at least some of them), hence this two-part series.

So what is a wardrobe “all-star”?  Although I eventually want to be wearing my closet pieces more often, I started out by defining an “all-star” as any item that gets worn 8 or more times within a given year.   Two of my goals for 2014 were as follows:

  • Wear one-third of my wardrobe pieces at least 8 times during the year.
  • Wear half of my clothing and shoes at least 5 or more times throughout 2014.

So how did I do?   Not exactly stellar, to be honest.   I ended up wearing 28 items eight or more times, which is only about one-sixth of my wardrobe, not one-third.   These items are broken down into the following categories:

  • Shirts:  5
  • Casual Jackets:  4
  • Coats:  2
  • Cardigans:  1
  • Blazers:  1
  • Pants:  2
  • Jeans:  3
  • Skirts:  2
  • Shoes:  8

Here’s a snapshot of all of my 2014 wardrobe all-stars:

Items Worn 8+ Times in 2014

I wore these 28 items eight or more times in 2014.

A Closer Look – The Clothes

Let’s take a closer look at my 2014 all-stars.   Here are the 20 garments that were worn at least eight times last year:

Clothes worn 8 or more times in 2014

I wore these 20 clothing pieces at least 8 times last year.

What do these items have in common?  I think it’s always helpful to look for patterns, as they can help to inform our future behavior in terms of shopping and wardrobe management.   Here are the characteristics that I identified:

  • 7 of the items (more than a third) are black. While maybe not a “blackcident,” I do like to wear black a lot!
  • 8 items are worn solely for walks, working out, and when I’m at home.
  • All of these pieces are in my defined color palette, which is a good thing. That means I’m on the right track with something!
  • Almost all of the items (with only 3 exceptions) are knit or denim, which works well for my casual lifestyle and desire for comfort.
  • Speaking of casual, virtually all of the pieces above fit into that category. The only dressier items are the black trousers and cobalt coat. Even the two skirts are very casual in nature, although they can be dressed up depending upon what they are paired with.

A Closer Look – The Shoes

Now let’s look at the shoes that I wore eight or more times last year:

Shoes worn 8+ times in 2014

I wore these 8 pairs of shoes at least eight times in 2014.

I can see some common ground among my all-star shoes, too:

  • 4 of them are black.
  • 3 are metallic.
  • 4 are flat or low-heeled sandals.
  • There are two pairs of black boots. As I mentioned in my last post, I have three pairs of quite similar black boots. The third pair wasn’t worn much last year (but I’ve been wearing them this year), but the others were worn 31 and 15 times, respectively.  Clearly black boots are staple shoes for me (but I still don’t really need three pairs!).
  • There are two pairs of ballet flats. The black AGL flats were very expensive, but I’ve been both loving and wearing them.  I may even opt to buy a second pair in another color this year.   The leopard print flats have been all-stars for three years running and are showing serious signs of wear.  I may end up replacing them this year, or I may decide to buy an alternate print (perhaps black and white).

The “Ultra All-Stars”

I mentioned that I’d eventually like to be wearing all (or at least most) of my wardrobe pieces 12 or more times per year, so I thought it would be interesting to see which items actually got worn that often last year.  There were 13 items that met this criterion:

Items worn 12 or more times in 2014

These 13 items were worn most often during 2014 – at least 12 times each.

As you can see, it’s all pretty dark – lots of black and dark blue.   The only colors in the mix are my burgundy and green casual jackets.  Mind you, I haven’t been tracking my workout tees and pants.  However, I’m sure virtually all of them would fall into this “ultra all-star” category (and many of the tops are quite colorful).

Here’s how often I wore the items pictured above, from most to least worn:

  • Navy cotton jacket:  74 times  (this is the jacket I bought a replacement for in December)
  • Black parka with grey lining:  70 times
  • Green sweater jacket:  31 times
  • Short black Clark’s boots:  31 times
  • Black flat Ecco sandals:  27 times
  • Burgundy fleece jacket:  27 times
  • Dark-wash Lucky boot-cut jeans:  18 times
  • Black Eddie Bauer knit pants:  16 times
  • Short black Paul Green boots:  15 times
  • Black AGL flats:  14 times
  • Black skirt with piping details:  12 times
  • Black Not Your Daughter’s jeans:  12 times
  • Dark-wash Gap long and lean jeans:  12 times

I’m happy that I’m wearing at least some of my closet pieces on a regular basis, but I hope to expand upon this “ultra all-star” group this year!

What Got Worn 5 Times or More?

When I first started identifying wardrobe all-stars back in 2011, I defined them as items that were worn just four times or more during that year.   At the time, I had a very large wardrobe and there weren’t many pieces in my closet being worn even that often.   In 2013, I decided to raise the bar a notch higher to 5 times per year.

Using my 2013 criterion, my all-star grouping expands considerably, to 56 items.  This is roughly one-third of my wardrobe (I will be posting another closet inventory soon, but it hasn’t changed much from my last one).  My goal for 2014 was to wear at least half of my wardrobe five or more times, so I missed the mark.  I basically stayed fairly consistent with my 2013 numbers, as I also wore about a third of my closet pieces five plus times that year.

Here’s a bird’s eye view of the 56 items that got worn at least five times last year:

Items worn 5+ times in 2014

I wore these 56 items at least five times during 2014. 

It’s definitely a more colorful picture, with blue, green, burgundy, purple, and red sharing the stage with my beloved black.   Metallic and leopard print shoes are also prominent in this modified all-star picture. Hopefully, my items worn 8+ times group will be as large as the group above (if not larger) by the time 2015 draws to a close.

Lessons from the Analysis

I shared a lot of numbers and photos above, but I don’t want to close out this post until I glean some lessons from it all.   Clearly, I’d like my number of wardrobe all-stars to increase this year.  Here’s what needs to happen:

  • I need to pare down my wardrobe further.
  • I need to get out and about more often so I can get more wear out of my clothes.
  • Alternatively (or in tandem with the above), I need to wear more of my “regular clothes” at home.
  • I need to start tracking all of my clothes, including my workout and lounge wear. When I did that for the second half of 2013, I learned that 21 items were worn at least twelve times during the time period (and two of my workout/lounge pants saw 100-plus wears!).
  • I need to stop buying items that don’t really work for my casual lifestyle. That way, a greater percentage of my wardrobe will be suitable for my real life, rather than for occasional events that are more on the periphery of how I live.

Ideally, a combination of the above will occur.  One goal I have for this year (I will formulate all of my goals in a future post) is to spend my clothing dollars more proportionally to how I actually spend my time.  For example, if I spend only 10% of my time going to occasions that call for “smart-casual” outfits, I should only spend 10% of my clothing budget on such items.  This will ultimately lead to my having a large casual wear capsule, which is what I wear most of the time anyway.   After all, if I wear my workout/lounge pants upwards of 100 times per year, shouldn’t I aim for the best quality possible and to unequivocally love these types of items?   I think so!   It sounds so simple, so why have I been getting it wrong all these years?

We all know that we can turn back the hands of time and get a “do-over.”  If we could, I’d change far more aspects about my life than just my wardrobe!   We can only learn from our experiences and make changes in the present and moving forward.  So that’s just what I plan to do, and I think my I think my “Love it, Wear It” Challenge will help in that pursuit, at least on the wardrobe front.  As for everything else, well that’s the focus of another post…

Your Thoughts?

As I mentioned previously, I will share my 2014 wardrobe “benchwarmer” statistics and musings in my next post.  I need to rest up for that one, LOL!   Now it’s time for you to chime in, whether it be about my wardrobe “all-stars” or your own.   I know that most of you don’t track your clothes to the exacting degree that I do (it’s actually much easier than it used to be!), but that doesn’t mean you can’t determine your own closet MVPs.   I’m sure that if you spend a few minutes looking at your clothes, shoes, and accessories, you’ll be able to pinpoint the ones you wear most often.   It may be helpful for you to make a few notes and jot down the common features you notice among these items. You may learn a few things about what you do and don’t wear and why.

If you’d like to share what you learn about your wardrobe – or comment on mine, feel free to do so in the comments section.   I’m open to both praise and constructive criticism, as I really want to grow and I know I don’t have all the answers!  If you notice any patterns that have escaped my notice, or if you have any suggestions for how I might better approach my wardrobe in 2015, let me know.  You may even spark a future post!


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Comments

  1. Honestly, wearing something only once a month–12 times–seems so seldom to me. Some of my things I wear ten times that often or 120 times per year and others at least 5 times that, or 60 times per year. The items I wear least–dress-up clothes–I might wear 10 times per year. It’s just too much otherwise. I couldn’t handle the amount of clothes you have. I admire how you are able to keep track and manage so vast a wardrobe, but it just isn’t in me. I read every post your write and am fascinated in the practical and psychological aspects. Thanks!

    • Of the 125 items of clothing I own, a significant number get worn almost every week, others at least twice a month. There are some seasonal clothes that get less of a workout but that I still wear them a lot during the appropriate season. From my much-smaller-wardrobe point of view, only wearing something 5 times a year means the item is either a dud (unless a special occasion item of clothing or very seasonal) or is too similar to something else I wear a lot.

      Good job on paring down and understanding why some clothes work and why others just don’t.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Even I think I have too many clothes, Helen, and am surprised that I once had three times as many items! I’m amazed that you wear some things 120 times per year. That’s every three days! I don’t know that I will ever be as minimalist with my wardrobe as you are, but I would like to be wearing my clothes more often. I don’t agree with Dottie that items worn only 5 times a year are necessarily “duds.” In my case, many of them are great pieces, but I just have too many clothes for my lifestyle. I don’t get out all that much, so that’s another big reason why my wear frequencies are so low. I still have a long way to go before my wardrobe is where I want it to be, but I am proud of myself for the changes I’ve made.

      • What I wear as often as every three days or more are shoes, purse, coats, sweaters, pants. I like having just enough. I just counted according to the Project 333 rules and found I have 32. This incl. outerwear, shoes, purses, but not gym clothes and sleepwear. The odd thing is I do like clothes and fashion…and your blog!

        • Debbie Roes says:

          That makes sense, Helen. I think we can get away with wearing some items a lot more than others. I wear my purses many, many times per year. Same with my watches, gym clothes, and sleepwear. It’s the other areas of my wardrobe that really need some work! I think it’s very possible to love clothes and fashion and still have a small wardrobe. I hope to have a MUCH smaller wardrobe one day and think I will always, always love clothes and fashion. I used to love shopping a lot, too, but not so much anymore (which I see as a definite improvement!). Glad you like my blog! I’m always happy to learn that non-shopaholics like it and benefit from it, too.

          • Debbie, I also (strongly) believe that it is possible to love clothes and fashion and be extremely well dressed, and still have a small wardrobe. I’m guessing I have around 75 pieces in my current wardrobe. And like you are discovering, I’m far better dressed now that my wardrobe is small, much better than I ever was back in the day when I had 150+ choices of clothing to wear. Yet unlike Dottie, I don’t live in a 4 season climate, and I can wear many of my clothes year-round, and like you, there are days when I don’t leave the house. Back when I had a ton of clothes I did track my wears, but that was only so that I could get a better idea of what to keep and what to release from my closet. Now, however, I have a small capsule for each area of my life (stay-home wear, sporty casual, and smart casual) and this covers all of my basic needs, and I do not worry about how often I wear each piece. Even if my two good dresses are not worn more than once or twice (or not at all) each year, I still need those two great dresses. Same with my bathing suit. A few years back I went swimming often, and now I don’t. But I still keep a good bathing suit on hand for those times when I do need it. I use to worry about spending a ton of money on something I only wear a couple of times a year. Which is crazy because a few years back I had a ton of clothes I didn’t wear very often, and I’m sure I spent (wasted) far more money. Whereas now I do wear most of my clothes multiple times each month, and some things multiple times a week, and I let go of fretting about the things I do need to have on hand, but don’t wear often.

      • Actually, that was the point I was trying to make — having too many similar items — whether style, color, or whatever (1.2., lots of tops, lots of jeans, lots of red tops, etc.). I have a very small wardrobe so most of my clothing is in constant rotation. Unless an item is a special occasion or strictly seasonal item, if it’s not worn a lot, out it goes. This means I don’t love the item of clothing as much as I should to give it house room in my closet. And I only wear what I love.

        • Dottie, I agree with you. And I had to learn the lesson the hard way, because once upon a time a few years back I had way too many similar items, more than I could wear. Even though I loved much of it, is was too much.

  2. I too am fascinated with your posts and look forward to them. I haven’t yet done an inventory, but suspect my wardrobe is at least as large as yours. I work in an office which is business casual with jeans Fridays, but have meetings (average 1/week – can be multiple days within the same week or none at all) which require more professional attire. So I need clothes to function in all three settings just for work. Using your analysis, it seems that I can wear jeans 6/14 days (including the weekend), business casual 6/14 and professional 2/14 on average. I try to find items that can cross-over but are still comfortable and that can be a challenge. Adding to that, I live in an area with 4 seasons. Over the last 2+ years, I’ve been buying much less (but better) and am getting more use out of what I do buy I find it interesting that you count the wears for your coats/jackets. I have several, and wear them daily for a period of time, depending on the weather. I hadn’t even thought about those as part of my “wardrobe” vs necessity (i.e. underwear).

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you enjoy my posts, Lisa. It sounds like your wardrobe requirements are more varied than mine. The amount of clothes we need depends on many factors, so while my wardrobe may be too large for my current needs, yours may not. In regards to my counting coats, I do so because I consider them a fashion item more than a necessity. It doesn’t get all that cold where I live, but I enjoy wearing interesting looking coats and jackets. I consider them part of my outfits and sometimes even plan what I’m going to wear around the coat I’d like to include. If your coats are more utilitarian, maybe counting how often you wear them doesn’t make sense.

  3. Debbie, I’m so glad you liked the “LIWI” name I suggested! 🙂 Like you I lead a super casual lifestyle, sometimes not even leaving my house for a few days. I really have no need for dressy clothes yet I am drawn to them. I haven’t been tracking my wears because I know I live in certain items. Like warm comfy knit pants and casual warm tops, both of which I don’t care if they get covered in cat hair. Just recently found out my 17 year old cat has liver cancer and not long to live. I’m determined to love and cuddle him as often as possible. I will be doing the LIWI challenge along with you. I think I’ll find I should upgrade some of my loungewear.

    • I am so sorry to read that your cat is sick. I hope he is not in pain. I’m thinking of you!

      • Thank you so much Jessica! He isn’t in any pain that I or the vet can tell or else I’d go ahead and euthanize him. There’s really nothing they can do for him. So I’m keeping him happy by adding a little canned salmon to his regular wet food. He’s loving it! It’s really hard to be losing a pet, especially one I’ve had since he was 8 weeks old.

    • TexasAggieMom says:

      Loved your suggestion for LIWI and look forward to participating! Hoping your kitty’s last days with you are filled with lots of snuggle time and making good memories that will help to fill the cat-shaped hole in your heart when he’s gone.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Kim, my heart breaks for you about your dear cat. I lost my beloved cat to cancer three years ago, so I know how hard it can be to receive that type of devastating news. I’m glad you are able to spend a lot of time with him and make his last days happy and comfortable. Sending you hugs and best wishes during this difficult time. We often spend more time with our pets than any of the people in our lives and the bonds can be extremely strong. This relationship with your kitty has been over 17 years long! I haven’t even been with my husband that long and I have no other relationships that span that long except for my family or origin. He has played a very important role in your life and I know how hard it must be to contemplate losing him. My cat was just shy of 12 and I still miss him every single day three years later. Please do what you need to do to take care of yourself, and please know that I get it and I care…

      In regards to wardrobe, like you, I feel the need to upgrade my lounge wear since I spend so much time in it. Since I’m also a cat lover and have two, I like to wear things that I don’t mind getting lots of cat hair on when I’m at home. I keep lots of sticky rollers around and use them from time to time. We need to ease up on our attraction for dressier clothes, but it can be a hard habit to break. I plan to focus my buying this year on what my life is really like and eliminate what I call “aspirational buying.” I think the LIWI challenge will help me with this pursuit and I hope it will be beneficial for you, too.

  4. I read a book that said you should proportion your activities in a pie chart and spend on clothing in the same percentages. I can wear pretty much the same clothing for work/out and about/leisure, so I haven’t done this, but it sounds like where you are going.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      This is really sound advice and it’s definitely where I’m headed, frugal scholar. I think my current wardrobe proportions are way off when related to my actual activities, but I intend to start fixing that now!

  5. Another way of looking at your “wears” is to look at categories (ie tops, toppers, bottoms, dresses, shoes, accessories) and see, within each category, which items are “all stars” and which are “benchwarmers”. I too have been tracking my wear frequency and I look at median/top 25 %/bottom 25 %- I have 32 tops, where the median # wears is 3, so my all star (top 25 % of wears) tops would be those worn 6 or more times; I have 8 bottoms, where the median # wears is 5, and my all stars are worn 9 or more times. (Like most people I have a lot more tops than bottoms or dresses.) By looking within each category I can see which items are more or less popular (and often for good reason: more suited for a dressy occasion, recently added so have not had much chance to wear, or just tough to style/fussy/whatever.)

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing this, Pam. It’s a great way of looking at things and I’m going to see how my wardrobe sizes up using this measure. I think my median wears for tops is probably also 3 and my median wears for pants is much higher. I’m sure I will learn some new things by looking at my wardrobe this way!

    • Pam, I really like the idea of looking at the median wears! I just looked at my tracking spreadsheet, and I could conceivably get rid of almost everything (save special-occasion pieces) worn fewer than the median number of times. I’m going to give that some more thought, but thanks for the idea!

      • Debbie Roes says:

        It is a good idea, isn’t it, Tricia? It’s scary to contemplate getting rid of that many things, but we probably wouldn’t miss most of them, if anything. I’m going to take a look at that, too (need to figure out how to re-arrange my spreadsheet), and see what items the numbers would tell me to let go of. If nothing else, this type of exercise will help us to learn some new things. I hope you report back on what you learn! Thanks again to Pam for the thought-provoking comment!

  6. This post is so interesting, you do a fantastic job with tracking your wardrobe. I think you shouldn’t be worried about having so many dark colors in the clothes you wear most. I find that those types of clothes are not as memorable so you can wear them more often in different ways without feeling bored. You can easily wear the same dark trousers with colorful tops, change out scarves and jewelry and have different looks. No one will think you are a “blackcident”! I have enjoyed seeing how your style has been evolving this past year. You are so brave to share your journey with us!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Good point about the dark colors, Kirsti. I often wear the same pants over and over again and they are all dark (black, denim, grey). I don’t feel bored only wearing dark pants, as I have colorful tops and accessories to pair with them. Thanks for your kind words about my posts and my style evolution.

  7. What if you start 2015 with nothing in your closet except for the 56 5+wear items (except for workout and lounge wear)? Obviously you like these clothes, and looking at the photo it appears that all the categories are well-represented…

    • Great idea. And if you feel like you have a wardrobe hole, you could “shop” the remaining set to see if you can fix it before hitting the stores.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      That’s a good idea, CR, but I’ve already committed to doing my new “Love It, Wear It” Challenge in which I add items to my working closet after I wear them. Your suggestion would have also been a good way to go, too, but I think at least a handful of those 56 items are on their way out due to either being worn out (black jeans, black sequin tank, blue print tee, navy jacket, etc.) or no longer my style (purple ruffle tank, a few of the skirts). But I probably would have been better off going in that direction than just doing what I’ve done every other year. AK’s suggestion to shop my closet before hitting the stores is good, too. That’s what I’m trying to do this year with my new challenge. I want to stop having “go shopping” as my default choice and try to better use what I have!

  8. You know, I tried to institute a system like this in 2013 but i got discouraged and gave up. Reading your post, I realize it was because I tried to have the goal of wearing every item at least 12 times – but my life does not call for 12 wears of each of my dressier items each year, and I did not want to give away things I love to wear just because of a number. But your system is much more rational – you’ve set a goal of having a specific percentage of your clothes worn a certain number of times. I think I can do that! If I can’t wear half my clothes at least 8-12 times, in my case it would mean I’ve bought too many things for a lifestyle I don’t have. OR it could mean that I’m saving too many things for “good” when they might be perfectly appropriate and fun to wear in my usual life.
    I’m curious, though – do you count things that you are keeping for sentimental reasons? I have some items that my Mom gave me – I might wear them rarely, but really I’m keeping them because they’re pretty, she gave them to me, and now that she’s older she doesn’t shop for me anymore. However, they don’t really suit my life activities or my style.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I don’t know if I will ever be able to wear EVERYTHING at least 12 times per year, Murphy, for the reasons you mentioned. I would be happy with the 80/20 rule, basically – that I wear 80% of my clothes at least 12 times per year. The other 20% would be the dressier items that I need to have around but have fewer occasions to wear. My problem is that is too large a percentage of my wardrobe at present.

      In answer to your question, I don’t have many sentimental clothing pieces, but I do have jewelry items that fit into that category. My advice for those who do have a lot of sentimental pieces is to move them somewhere else (another closet, a sort of “hope chest”) if they aren’t being worn (sometimes they don’t even fit anymore but you can’t bear to part with them). Some people can take photos of the items and then let them go. One reader made a quilt using her deceased husband’s old t-shirts. There are various options, but things we aren’t wearing get in the way of the rest of our clothes. I would recommend setting a limit for how many such items you’ll keep. Otherwise, it can get out of hand. When I had my wardrobe consulting business (yes, I did that – I’m MUCH better at helping others with their closets!), I had one client who had closets full of items her deceased parents had given to her. I recommended having a special case for these sentimental pieces and paring down to just her absolute favorites. That may be a good option for you, too.

    • So, I think this might go more with your next post, but I would love to know how you did compared to last year. I think you’ll see growth, and that’s always good to celebrate. Oh, and I really don’t know what to expect from your benchwarmers, I could see you either coming under last year or over, but because you have been wearing what you love, instead of trying to wear all your benchwarmers like last year, I think either way could express growth.

      • Debbie Roes says:

        I just posted my benchwarmer update, Heather (sometimes email subscribers don’t get it until much later, as I don’t have any control over Feedburner, the free email service). I did reveal how I did on benchwarmers in 2014 vs. 2014 and I DID end up with a few more benchwarmers. I really thought I would have had fewer, but I was ultra-focused on having as few as possible toward the end of 2013 (and wore many, many items only twice) and didn’t pay much attention to it at all as 2014 was drawing to a close. I do feel like I’ve grown, but of course I still have a long way to go. I agree that it’s important for us to celebrate our growth, though, as change can take a long time. It’s much easier to backslide and go back into old habits than it is to develop new and more productive ones.

  9. Very interesting! Important to make categories : I might need something really dressy twice a year but then I really need the dressy dress! So even if it doesn’t get more than 2 wears, it should stay.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      True, Eva. The problem is that many of us have quite a lot of these types of pieces we only wear once or twice per year. If we don’ t have many dressy occasions in our lives, those types of clothes should make up a relatively small proportion of our wardrobes.

  10. I also think the Love it Wear it! is a great name for your challenge. I think although we rationally know spending our dollars on what we actually will wear is smart, emotionally we keep getting sucked into buying into the’ idea’ of a wardrobe. This is certainly an issue for me (see my recent blog post about metallic leather skirt! lol). Meanwhile, the fleece lined hoodie I wasn’t sure I should buy has been worn more than anything in my closet since its purchase.
    I agree the solution is two-fold: to wear what you have more often at home if you are staying in, and/or get out more to wear what you have! We can’t forget the all important step of not buying more that will just hang there unworn, either.
    I realized a long time ago when I was crunching the numbers that I didn’t “need” any more than a dozen items in any one category. I like more, and have more, but I know I don’t need it. Maybe a day will come when I just go ‘to heck with it’ and purge the 25% or 30% I own that mainly sits there staring back at me. For now, I have the room, and I like the variety, so I’m okay with the extra. It’s not encumbering me. For now 😉
    Keep up the good work!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Very good points, Mo. Yes, we definitely need to stop buy so many new things if we’re not wearing what we already have often enough! I probably don’t need more than 12 items per category, either, especially if sleeveless, short-sleeved, and long-sleeved tops are counted separately. But clearly I still have more than that in some categories. I am gradually getting rid of those items that mostly just stare back at me, but it’s not always easy to do. We have lots of “what ifs” and “just in cases” swirling through our heads. The changes don’t need to happen overnight. We’re both changing, though, which is what’s most important!

  11. I can’t say that I have a set number of times that I want to wear each item, I just know that I want to be wearing everything. Just for fun I added up the number of times that I go out durning the colder months and the amount of clothes that I would need if I wore each thing 12 times. It was 5-6 of each type. I am close on the bottoms-I have 7, shoes-7, and coats/jackets-3. However, for tops I have a mixture of cardigans, sweaters, and long sleeve knits that add up to about 20. I think that’s a good number for me because I think I’d get bored with only 6 tops. I shall see if that’s the case with LIWI. My clothing numbers are almost identical for my warm weather items. I usually only wear lounge wear at home and I have about 7 outfits for cold weather about 7 bottoms and twice as many t-shirts for warm weather and working out. I don’t over buy it and I know that it’s all getting worn so I don’t think about it much.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Wow, that was an enlightening exercise, Tonya! I think I probably need the same number of items as you, as our lives are pretty similar. I would get bored with only 6 tops, too, but that works fine for some people. I’m not sure what my optimal top number is, but I know I still have too many. I’m okay if I don’t wear all of my tops 12 times per year, but some only got worn 2 or 3 times and I’m not really okay with that. I think I just need to dial my buying way back, do the LIWI challenge, and things will fall into place. Easier said than done, but that’s the plan.

  12. It’s fascinating to read everyone’s thoughts on how often they would like to wear their clothes. I don’t have specific numbers and percentages, but instead approach it with a “how little can I get away with having?” way of thinking. When I was paring down my wardrobe, it frustrated me to be getting rid of clothes that were out of fashion or no longer my style but had hardly been worn. As a result, I decided to reduce my everyday core wardrobe to the lowest size that would have every item in it in constant rotation but give me enough variety. For me that’s about seven tops and four or five pairs of jeans/trousers/shorts in rotation each season. I realize this probably wouldn’t be enough for most people, but it works for me. Having said that, I do have other everyday clothes that don’t get as much wear. For instance, I rarely wear skirts as they don’t work for my lifestyle, but I like to have a couple for those days when I do feel like wearing one. I’m okay with the fact that they’re not going to get as many wears as I would ideally like.

    • I agree! I generally base my wardrobe size on how often I feel like doing laundry. I think once every 7-10 days is reasonable for me. For example, I find myself reaching for a button-up shirt more days than I expected, but the existing ones are always in the laundry, so I know I need to buy another and I know I will definitely wear it. And I wear jeans to work, but they get dirty quickly so I have to have a few more pairs than I’d really like because there’s no way I’m doing laundry twice a week (sorry, just not happening!) And I always have extra socks and underwear because you really can’t get away with wearing those again!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I love how much I’m learning from everyone’s insights on this post! I think both of your approaches are great, Kayla and Sarah. Like you, Kayla, it makes me sad to get rid of items that I rarely wore. That shows me that I still have too many clothes, as well as the wrong clothes for my life in some situations. I like the idea of considering what’s the least amount I could get away with. My husband and I were talking about this last night (prompted by your comment). His answer sounded a lot like a Project 333 capsule. I’m not sure for me, but maybe I should do a post about that. I’m sure my answer would be MUCH fewer items than I have today!

      • Sarah E, yes, I agree that laundry frequency is a good basis for determining how much you need. Where I live washing machines are very small (because living spaces are small) so it’s common to do laundry daily, which I do. I could conceivably get away with just 3 or 4 outfits, but I’m sure I’d be terribly bored!

        Debbie, I’m flattered you found my comment interesting. Perhaps your husband is on to something! I find I consistently wear about 30-35 items (including shoes, scarfs, belts etc. but not jewelry) each month even though I’m not doing Project 333 or aiming for any other specific number.

        • Just realized I contradicted myself with my comment about laundry. I was just mentioning my own example as an aside…

        • Me too Kayla! Your comment describes me exactly.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          I think it’s great that you’re doing Project 333 without really aiming to do it, Kayla. I think that’s really the objective of the whole thing, to eventually cultivate a small, workable wardrobe that serves one’s needs without having to think about it a whole lot. How wonderful that you have achieved that! You, too, Terra! You both are inspirations to me 🙂

  13. It’s when I think about frequency of wear vs. what’s hanging up in my closet that I realize what a long way I still have to go in paring down my wardrobe. I do laundry approximately every 2 weeks (actually I alternate lights and darks – lights one week and darks the next, with an extra load in there somewhere for sheets and towels). So, some of my clothing items are on a strict 2 week rotation – as soon as they are clean, I grab them and wear them again. Many of the darker colored pants I wear two (occasionally three) times before laundering, so some of those are getting worn easily 50+ times per year. I guess I have perhaps 7 pairs of pants that I wear constantly, and then another 7 or so that are less frequent picks. Some of my tops also don’t even make it back to the closet as I grab them as soon as possible out of the laundry to re-wear. I don’t repeat tops without cleaning them, so lets say those are worn 25 times a year. Probably there are 14-15 tops that people would recognize as my favorites. And then some things (plenty of things, let’s be honest) languish, or only get worn once a month, plus quite a few that get worn less often that that. And yet, when I think in abstract terms of how many tops I need, or which things I should purge next, I have immense trouble getting the numbers down. Currently I’m trying to get down to less than 50 tops, and that’s proving troublesome, even though I know I have not worn some of the tops for a while. Or I’ll wear something out of “duty” so that I am rotating it in just for the sake of it. There is a big disconnect there still between what I actually wear all the time and what I think I need to have available.

    Maybe I do need to try the “love it wear it” challenge. I suspect I’d have a tiny wardrobe of well loved and often repeated clothing, and then a lot of also-rans.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I love how much I’m learning from everyone’s insights on this post! I think both of your approaches are great, Kayla and Sarah. Like you, Kayla, it makes me sad to get rid of items that I rarely wore. That shows me that I still have too many clothes, as well as the wrong clothes for my life in some situations. I like the idea of considering what’s the least amount I could get away with. My husband and I were talking about this last night (prompted by your comment). His answer sounded a lot like a Project 333 capsule. I’m not sure for me, but maybe I should do a post about that. I’m sure my answer would be MUCH fewer items than I have today!

  14. Sandra W. says:

    Debbie, I’ve been doing your challenge since November when I changed over to my winter clothes and am very curious to see what are my favorites 😉

    I have been tracking my wears since September 2013 and want to share my numbers from 09/2013 to 09/2014:

    40 items were worn more than 10 times (2 pairs of shoes have already been purged as they wore out)
    25 items were worn at least 6 times
    97 items were worn 5 times or less

    33 out of the 40 items most worn were purchased in 2013 or before, the other 7 items were bought in 2014. That’s very interesting, as I bought 70 items in 2014 in total! So, just 10 % of my new purchases were worn more than 10 times last year…

    The categories are split as follows:

    6 shirts (5 T-Shirts/1 Longsleeve)
    0 blouses!! (too many available??!!)
    1 pullover
    2 cardigans
    9 jeans (4 blue/2 black/1 grey/1 brown/1 short blue jeans)
    7 jackets/coats
    14 pairs of shoes
    1 skirt (my new denim skirt, which was the first skirt I had the guts to wear out of the house ;-))

    3 out of those 40 items were worn 50+ (1 blue jeans 74 times / 1 blue jeans 62 times / 1 black coat 67 times).

    My wardrobe is bigger than that, a lot hasn’t been worn at all! I’ve been purging a lot since I’m tracking my wears. I guess I still have a lot of tops which are too short/small or fuzzy and I’m sure I will recognize them during my LIWI (great name!!) challenge and be able to purge much more during 2015. I’m so looking forward to my well curated and much smaller wardrobe 🙂

    I also have a question for you, as I am wondering how many of your all stars are coming from retail and how many were from consignment stores? How many did you buy online and how many in brick and mortar?

    • Sandra W. says:

      Oh, I forgot to mention that I’m on a hiatus for clothes shopping (and cosmetics). So far I’m in for 3 months, but I might extend it even further. My wardrobe is currently big enough and I am just allowed to buy anything if I realize a real wardrobe gap. I want to wear out some things which I want to replace from my own wardrobe before I go shopping. If that’s impossible, I want to shop higher quality.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your statistics, Sandra. I enjoy reading other people’s numbers and conclusions. It seems like you’re learning a lot! Your plan for this year will help you to learn even more, I’m sure. I want to buy less and aim for higher quality, too – and buy for my REAL wardrobe needs. In answer to your question, only four of the 56 items that I wore 5 or more times last year came from consignment stores and only 6 were purchased online! Clearly I do better at retail brick-and-mortar stores. Thanks for asking the questions, as the answers were quite enlightening.

  15. I really admire and envy your tracking system. I have been reading a lot about wardrobe size, capsules, etc. online and none of what I find seems to be as well researched as your system. I would like to do a spreadsheet analysis but the numbers are still too unwieldy. Not including undergarments, I count about 400 items after my massive purge of the past 2 months. That embarrassing number includes everything, sleepwear, swimwear, workout clothes, footwear… That would be a lot of data entry. If I can reduce by another half, I will consider it. I am happy that I can fit everything into my closet now, nothing’s in storage. But it is too much to work with efficiently. I donated the first half without any problem, most of it wasn’t even my size anymore and hadn’t been worn in years. That was the result of having several babies and my weight fluctuating by over 50 lbs in the past decade. I let go of sizes 2 through 12 plus maternity wear. My weight has been stable for a couple of years now so I feel I can confidently purge the other sizes. Now I am faced with eliminating things that fit, are in good repair, and I like but just don’t wear. That is more difficult. Your system would probably help. How many items did you log when you first started? How long did it take you? I don’t even know what I would call things. I have six black t shirts, each is a little different. Do you have a naming system?

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Congrats with getting rid of so many things last year, Misty. Tracking my clothing has helped me with my wardrobe in many ways, but I started out just doing “the hanger trick” (turning the hangers around after I wore something. I did that for probably 2 years before I ever created a spreadsheet. I know I had close to 400 items when I started the spreadsheet back in 2011, so it took me many, many hours to create it (I didn’t do it all in one day!). I name things by the brand and any distinguishing characteristics. Sometimes it’s hard, but I do my best. I also have a column for when I bought something, so that helps, too. I would recommend starting simple, with the hanger trick and maybe the hanging tags to mark X’s when you wear something. You can see all of my tips here: http://recoveringshopaholic.com/how-to-track-your-wardrobe/

  16. I don’t have time to track like you do, but I do the lazy version – where I take a category, my sweaters, for example, and make sure I try to rotate through them evenly. I’ll just put the most recently worn one on the bottom of the drawer. If I notice I keep skipping over one, then I get rid of it. I’d love to someday have time to track everything!

    I’m wondering if you took into account that a lot of items were entering and exiting your wardrobe, and I think that makes it more difficult to consistently wear the same things over and over. If you only got something in June, obviously it will be harder to wear it 12 times per year. But maybe you still wore it once a month! So don’t be too hard on yourself- your wardrobe is in flux, but I think it will settle down soon.

    I’ve been doing better with sticking to my plan on clothing, but since I’ve gotten into makeup in the last few months, I’m afraid my spending on clothes is just being transferred to the latest new interest. I’m finding it a little more difficult to say “no” to myself on cosmetics- and I justify it by telling myself that I don’t spend any money on accessories because I can’t wear them at work! I always become wary when I “need” to buy storage items, because that might mean I’m accumulating too much stuff. I think I’m definitely going to have to come up with some rules before this gets out of hand. I guess I do have the advantage now of knowing how to plan a “workable wardrobe” and can apply it to a makeup collection (hopefully). I have been losing weight recently, finally enough to go down to the next size (!) and I was pretty proud of myself for planning ahead and not buying any new pants in the last 4 months until I reached my new size. And then, I only bought 2 pairs, and they were $25 total at the outlet mall. You can’t even find that kind of deal at consignment shops sometimes, so that was a great victory for me.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I like the system you use, Sarah. My husband is doing something similar now, as he has no desire to get so analytical about it like I am (even though he’s a very analytical person in general). Good point about the frequency of things coming in and out of my wardrobe. There was just too much in and out for a lot of things to get worn as often as I’d like. I need to slow that all down and I think I’m getting there. What you’re going through with make-up sounds like what I did with jewelry since starting the blog. I didn’t “count” jewelry and accessories, so I bought more there to keep getting my “fix” while staying within my item limit (even though I still ended up raising my item limit). I think your workable wardrobe planning system can work well for your make-up, too. I hope you share what you learn along the way. Congrats on your weight loss and on finding good pairs of pants for such a low price!

  17. I don’t have a set number of times I wear an item but I do now ask the question, how often would I wear this, before buying things. I am really working on only owning clothes I love in good quality and that will be workhorses for me.
    Although I am attracted to print and color, I am buying more plain things as they always work and then add accessories. I often get bored with the prints and colors I own and so they become benchwarmers. So now, I also ask the question – would I WANT to wear this every week or would I get bored with it after a while? It has stopped me numerous times buying things just because they jumped out at me in the store at the time.
    One thing I noticed is you still seem to buy quite a lot. For me only getting 5 wears from an item is not enough. It does suggest these are things you don’t love.
    I do have some clothes that I don’t wear a lot but these are special occasion clothes, going out dresses, evening pants and jacket for example. But these are an important part of my working wardrobe as I know I can reach for them if I need. I did deliberately build up a small capsule of special occasion clothes having experienced too many times the dilemma of what to wear to an event at short notice.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I like the question you’re asking yourself when you shop, Carolyn, and will keep that in mind for myself. Very helpful! Yes, I’m still buying too many things. I think that I often do love the items I wear only 5 times, but I have too much and don’t get out often enough to give my wardrobe pieces adequate wears. I was actually surprised at how infrequently a lot of my pieces got worn. That information has shaken me up and caused me to re-think things and is what sparked the “Love it, Wear it” challenge. I need to only buy what I really need, wear what I truly love, and let go of the rest! Now to do it…

  18. In general (and I think I’ve posted this before), when I buy something new I track every time I wear it until I hit 10 wears and I don’t buy another of the same item until I hit 10 or realize the item doesn’t work for me and donate it. I bought new boots in the fall that I haven’t gotten to 10 wears yet, even though we have had plenty of snow. They’re the only short boots I have but I find them too tight with thick socks, which kind of defeats the purpose of boots where I live. I’m not going to buy another pair until I pass them off to my sister (who loves them) because I don’t want doubles taking up extra closet space.

    I wonder if physically re-sorting your closet would help you see where you should downsize. If you organized everything by occasion category – at home clothing, errands, evening wear, days out, corporate, etc and saw how much of each you had maybe that would trigger an “a ha!” moment of where your closet doesn’t match your lifestyle.

    • TexasAggieMom says:

      I love Sara’s idea of sorting clothing by its occasion category, rather than just type and/or color, which seems to be the norm. I am very guilty of buying clothes for my fantasy/leisure life, rather than the 50+ hours per week that I work. Since I have to wear “business formal” during the week, I tend to stick to basic suits that don’t break into separates very well. Maybe I should at least look at accessorizing my suits better or getting better tops to go with them that might do double duty on the weekend. Thanks for this very thought-provoking suggestion – I’m going to try it!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I don’t know if you posted that before, Sara, but it’s brilliant – both your advice about not buying something new in a category until you’ve worn the most recent item 10 times and your advice to organize clothing by occasion category. I think it would be good for me to do both of these things, but the latter is tricky given my current “Love it, Wear it” challenge. Perhaps I can organize both the “working closet” area (once it has more in it) and everything else (what Lisa of “Shopping Brake” called her “boutique”) that way and see what I learn from it. Very thought-provoking, as TexasAggieMom said!

    • Stephanie D says:

      I did this last month and found a huge gap! My closet has my 9 month work wardrobe, a 3 month summer wardrobe and a work out on the farm wardrobe. No wonder I could never find anything to wear out on the weekends while running around or going out with friends! I always felt overdressed (wearing work clothes) or under dressed (farm clothes). I just started a small “normal clothes” capsule. My goal is eight items. Doesn’t sound like much but I already have three items and I am thrilled to leave the house on the weekend!

      • Debbie Roes says:

        It sounds like you learned some powerful things from your closet experiment, Stephanie, and are now taking steps to make your wardrobe work better for you. I think a lot of us have wardrobe holes that we don’t even notice. I realized that I have workout clothes and “smart-casual” clothes but not too much in between. That is a big problem for me, so I’m working to change that, much like you are. Three new items that truly meet your needs can make a big difference when you didn’t have anything in that wardrobe category. Good for you!

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