2014 By the Numbers: The Wardrobe “Benchwarmers”

On Friday, I shared the good news portion of my 2014 wardrobe review, my closet “all-stars.”  I appreciate all of the excellent feedback I received on that post.  I especially liked learning about the way others track their wardrobes and work to make sure what they have gets worn on a regular basis.   I realize that wearing something five, eight, or even twelve times per year isn’t exactly stellar or earthshattering and that many of you wear your clothes far more often. But, as the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day (or even two years), so we have to start somewhere and build from there.

2014 Wardrobe Benchwarmers

I definitely have a lot of room for improvement in terms of frequency of wear for my clothing.  Seeing my 2014 numbers is really what pushed me to start my new “Love It, Wear It” challenge.  The stats in black and white also propelled me to do another closet purge, which I will share in a future post, along with an updated inventory.

A Few Words about the Term “Benchwarmers”

But now it’s time to look at the downside of my 2014 wardrobe recap, my “benchwarmers.”  As a reminder, I have defined a wardrobe benchwarmer as something that is only worn once or isn’t worn at all over the course of an entire year.   Again, this is another fairly extreme characterization and you may wish to classify your benchwarmers in a very different way (if you even want to do it at all).   But for those of us who have histories of shopping too much and amassing overly large wardrobes, it’s a good place to start.

No matter how we define a benchwarmer, it’s probably normal for most people to have at least a few.  After all, a lot of us hold on to formal garments that are rarely worn but come in handy when they’re needed. We may also have clothing for events like job interviews, funerals, and tropical vacations that just don’t get used much in our day-to-day lives.   I think this is perfectly okay, as long as our benchwarmer count doesn’t go too far into the double digit territory.

Before I started this blog, over half of my very large wardrobe fell into the benchwarmer zone, which is what propelled me to begin “Recovering Shopaholic” in the first place!   I realized how ridiculous it was to have so many clothes that weren’t even making it outside my closet.   Fortunately, I improved my numbers quite a bit during my first year of the blog and ended 2013 with only 28 benchwarmers (13 of which were purchased in the second half of 2013 and hadn’t been in my closet for a full year).  I hoped to reduce that number during 2014, but did I?

How I Did With My Benchwarmer Goal for 2014

When 2014 began, I set a number of goals regarding my wardrobe and shopping.   One of those goals was to end the year having worn everything in my closet at least two of more times, meaning no benchwarmers at all.   Well, I didn’t achieve that goal, but I now realize that it was probably unrealistic in the first place, given what I wrote in the section above.  However, I know I could have done better than I did with properly utilizing my wardrobe pieces.

I ended the year with 17 wardrobe benchwarmers that had been in my closet for all of 2014.   There were also 16 additional items that I purchased during the year that were either not worn or worn only once.   Those latter items were discussed in my recent purchase analysis (in the “on the fence” section), so I’m going to focus this post primarily on things that I owned prior to January 1, 2014.

So I actually had 5 more benchwarmers last year than during the previous year!   The main reason for this is that I wasn’t pushing myself to wear everything I owned in the latter months of 2014.  Since I started keeping my outfit journal, I decided to only wear what I truly wanted to wear.   Thus, I concerned myself less with wardrobe benchwarmers as a result.   Although I feel I still had too many benchwarmers last year and would like to do better in 2015, my main goals are to be happy in what I’m wearing and have the right clothes for my lifestyle.   If I succeed in those areas, I believe that my benchwarmer number will naturally decrease as well.

2014 Benchwarmers – An Overview

My 17 benchwarmers that were in my closet for all of 2014 can be broken down into the following categories:

  • 2 shirts (both sleeveless)
  • 2 casual jackets
  • 1 coat
  • 1 cardigan
  • 3 blazers
  • 8 pairs of shoes

Here’s a snapshot of my 2014 wardrobe benchwarmers:

2014 Wardrobe Benchwarmers

These 17 items were only worn once or not at all during the entire year of 2014!

A Closer Look – The Clothes

Let’s take a closer look at the benchwarmers.  Here are the 9 garments that I only wore once or not at all last year:

2014 Benchwarmer Clothes

I like some of these items, yet I didn’t wear them more than once last year. 

I think it’s useful for me to analyze why I feel these items ended up being benchwarmers, as that will help me to decide their fate.   From left to right, top to bottom, here are my thoughts:

  • Black knit blazer: I often wear my knit blazers with skirts and dresses on cooler summer days or evenings when I need a topper.  This past summer was the hottest one I can recall and I rarely needed to wear a jacket or sweater to keep warm. This is the reason why many of my toppers had low wear numbers.  However, I also purchased a black moto jacket last year and found myself choosing that over this one and the next, as the moto silhouette is more casual and more in line with my evolving style
  • Black knit blazer with grey trim: This jacket was a benchwarmer for the same reason as the previous one.   I would have probably worn both jackets at least a few times had the weather been cooler.  Bridgette Raes suggested that I wear my blazers with jeans, but I worry that the blazers might look too short/shrunken with jeans and give me an all legs, no torso look.  I probably won’t keep both of these blazers and may let go of both, but I’ll try the jeans ensembles first and see what I think.
  • Grey/black printed sleeveless blouse: I love the colors and print of this top, but I don’t like that there are a bunch of ruffles down the front.   I used to like ruffles but am no longer a fan, as they are too “girly” for my current style.   This top has already been slated for consignment or donation.
  • Black blazer with ruched sleeves: This is a longer blazer that looks best with pants, but I haven’t had much occasion to wear it in my casual lifestyle.  I do still like the way it looks on me, though, so I think I will try dressing it down with jeans to see if I like that look.  It’s kind of a “just in case” item that I hold on to in the event of a job interview, funeral, or other formal type of event.   I’m okay with having a small number of these types of pieces in my closet.
  • Grey/black casual jacket: I love the way this jacket looks from the front but not so much from the back.  It’s a bit too short and I worry that the accordion-style pleats in the back make my butt look bigger than it is.  I like that the jacket is more stylish and interesting than my other casual jackets, but it just might not be the right jacket for me.
  • Green coat: I should have never gotten this coat.  I saw it on sale in December 2013 and asked my husband to buy it for me as a Christmas present.  I now wonder what the heck I was thinking!  The color is too warm-toned for my complexion and the wool itches my skin, even with a long-sleeved shirt under it (I’m very sensitive to wool).  The only reason I’ve kept it is because I feel guilty about the money spent and because my husband gave it to me as a present.  But I only wore it once during the entire year!  Maybe if I sell it on eBay and recoup some of the money spent, I will feel better about letting it go.  Consignment is also an option, but sometimes the pay-out is very low, and I never know in advance how much it will be.
  • Orange anorak: I love this jacket except for the color, which is why I don’t wear it.  I used to like the color but don’t anymore (too bright, not in my color palette).  I believe I would wear the jacket if it were black, burgundy, or another dark color.  I am considering dyeing it or having it dyed, but worry that it won’t work due to the fabric content (nylon).  I’m going to look into the dyeing option to see if it makes sense.  If not, I will likely pass the jacket on.
  • Polka-dot cardigan: I didn’t wear this for the same reason as the two knit blazers, weather.  It was also a bit took big at the sides, which I noticed when I finally went to wear it in November.  I ended up having it taken in, which I’m not sure was the right thing to do.  I’m going to see if I reach for it during my “Love It, Wear It” challenge to see if I should keep it or let it go.
  • Striped tank with lace overlay: I think I don’t wear this top because it reads “dressy” to me.   I like the way it looks, but I don’t have much occasion to wear it given my lifestyle.  I’m also unsure if the ruffle down the front is too much for me.   Like the black long blazer, I’ll probably try wearing it once to see how I feel.   I don’t want to force myself to keep anything, but since I haven’t worn this top in a while, it might be worth at least giving it a try.

A Closer Look – The Shoes

Now let’s look at the shoes that were worn only once or not at all last year:

2014 Benchwarmer Shoes

These 8 shoes – almost a third of what I have – fell into benchwarmer territory last year! 

It was helpful for me to formulate my thoughts on my benchwarmer clothes, so I’ll do the same with the shoes:

  • Black sling-back peep-toes: I’ve written about these shoes before.  My mom bought them for me back in early 2013.  I wore them quite a few times that year, but then I started to become more aware of the “church vibe” in my outfits and wanted to tone that down.  These shoes just look too dressy and conservative!   Someone mentioned trying shoe clips to dress them down and I may look into that.   I don’t really want to let them go because they were expensive and my mom doesn’t have a lot of money (hence a large serving of guilt for moi).  At this point, they’re mostly a “just in case” item for dressy events.  I’m okay with having a few such items, as I mentioned above, as long as the number stays in the single digits.
  • Black cross-strap sandals: I’ve had these sandals since 2009 and wore them often back in 2012 (and a few times during 2013).   I didn’t wear them last year because I was really focused on dressing more casually and in line with where I live (very likely the casual capital of the world!).  However, they are fairly comfortable for heels and would probably work well with the two pairs of slimmer jeans I’ve started to wear recently (both 2014 purchases that were in benchwarmer territory).   I’m going to give that pairing a try to see what I think, as I still like the shoes and can see myself wearing them.
  • Black Coach pumps: I bought these back in 2011 because they were on sale and I thought it would be good to have a pair of pumps in my closet.  Not so much… The patent leather makes them look even dressier and they aren’t very easy to walk in for any length of time.  I’ve already decided to pass them on for consignment.
  • Black Coach sneakers: I wore these shoes 23 times in 2013 but not at all last year.  I used to change into them after working out if I needed to run an errand, as my athletic shoes were white and not at all stylish.  But then I purchased black athletic shoes and never changed into the Coach sneakers anymore.   I still like them and sometimes I cycle in and out of wearing my shoes, so I’m going to keep them around for at least a while longer.
  • Black Ecco boots: I didn’t wear these much after I dyed my Paul Green boots from brown to black.  But now that the Paul Green boots have gotten worn out (I wore them a lot in 2013 and 2014), I’ve started to wear these boots again.  I likely will keep these and pass the dyed boots on.
  • Leopard print peep-toes: I only wore these once last year, on Thanksgiving.  I liked the way they looked but they weren’t very comfortable.  I have leopard print sandals that I like better and are more casual, so I’ve decided to pass these shoes on. Very easy decision to make…
  • Metallic sling-back sandals: I bought these shoes to wear to a formal event back in 2010.  I’ve worn them only a few times, as I have very few formal occasions in my life.  They are reasonably comfortable (for heels), but at present, I have very few other pieces in my wardrobe with which I would wear them. So I’m not sure whether to keep them as part of my dressy capsule or pass them on.
  • Black wedge Maryjane’s:  I’ve had these shoes since 2011 and wore them a lot during the first two years (and a reasonable amount during 2013 as well).   They are very comfortable, but due to the higher heel, I can only wear them with a few pairs of pants.  Since I still like them, I’m going to keep them around and see how it goes during the “Love It, Wear It” challenge.  Perhaps they will work with my slimmer (skinny-ish)  We’ll see…

Lessons from the Analysis

It was very interesting to write about my 17 wardrobe benchwarmers from 2014.   I noticed a few themes that came up more than once in my analysis:

  1. Items that are too dressy/formal for my lifestyle. Ten of my benchwarmers fit into this category and it really doesn’t make sense for me to keep them all.
  2. Items that are “close but no cigar.” The charcoal and orange jackets are great with the exception of one feature (length or color) that prevents me from loving and wearing them.  While I may be able to fix the orange jacket through dyeing it, the charcoal jacket is probably just a “miss” that should be passed on.
  3. Gifted items that don’t work for me which I’m holding on to out of guilt. The black sling-back sandals and the green coat match this description and I’m not sure what to do about them.   I may be able to rescue the shoes by means of shoe clips or I can retain them for dressier occasions, but the coat is likely a dud due to the itchy wool issue.   I need to think about how to avoid this type of problem in the future, as I feel terrible about both of these items!
  4. Things I used to like but may not anymore. I used to love the cross-strap sandals, Coach sneakers, and black Maryjanes, but may not anymore.  I feel like I still like all of these shoes, yet I didn’t reach for them last year.   While I do sometimes cycle through closet items, I may have simply moved on from some styles.

While it’s clear that I should let some of my benchwarmers go, I’m less certain about other items.  I actually like some of my benchwarmers more than other closet items that were worn more often last year.  Many style experts say that if we haven’t worn something in a year, we should get rid of it, but I’m not sure if such a hard and fast rule is the best way to go.   I think we need to delve a bit deeper and consider why certain things aren’t being worn.   Sometimes it makes sense to let items go and other times it’s more prudent to hang on to them.   Maybe one doesn’t wear a suit or little black dress very often, but it sure comes in handy on rare occasions.

As for my wardrobe, I believe that I will downsize quite a bit this year.  I’ve already opted to purge quite a few things this past weekend and I feel more items will be on their way out as I see that I don’t reach for them as the months go by.   Also, if I wear something and feel that it’s ho-hum, fussy, uncomfortable, or no longer my style, it will go into my consign/donate bag instead of back into my closet.   Life really is too short to wear things we don’t love!

Your Thoughts?

So there you have it, my wardrobe benchwarmer analysis for 2014.   Sure, it’s not what I hoped it would be, but I’m okay with it.   As I’ve mentioned before, I’m aiming for progress, not perfection, and I believe that I continue to make progress with my wardrobe as the months go by.    That’s good enough for me, especially since the true end goal is a happy and fulfilling life.   That goal deserves more of my focus this year, so I’m going to tone down the wardrobe navel gazing.   Of course, I will continue to write about wardrobe management and share what I’m learning along the way, but I’m going to refrain from flogging myself today for my 2014 foibles.  I’m taking my lessons and moving forward and I hope you will do the same.

Now it’s time for you to chime in, either about my wardrobe benchwarmers or your own.

  • What did you learn about your wardrobe – and yourself – last year?
  • How many wardrobe benchwarmers do you think it’s okay to have?
  • Do you ever hold on to items that you haven’t worn in an entire year? Why or why not?
  • What criteria do you use to determine if something should stay or go?

I invite you to share your thoughts on this often troubling issue.  I learned so much from what everyone shared on my last post, and I’m sure others did as well.  I’m sure your comments on this post will be equally illuminating.

Before You Go… A Few Things to Share

  • Compulsive Buying Research Study:  I was recently contacted by a graduate student who is doing her dissertation research on compulsive shopping and is looking for research participants. The participants need to live in the United States and will be asked to keep journals about their shopping behavior and be interviewed periodically via Skype or similar technology.  If you’re interested in learning more about this opportunity to advance knowledge about compulsive buying, click here for further details. The researcher has agreed to share her findings via a guest post on “Recovering Shopaholic” at the conclusion of the study.
  • Interviews with Shopaholic Authors:  April Benson, the author of “To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop,” interviewed three former shopaholics who have written memoirs about their compulsive shopping problems and recovery.  These interviews are available via her downloadable “Stop the Shopping Insanity” program.   I recently listened to the interviews and really enjoyed hearing three very different perspectives and lots of helpful tips and advice for recovery.   You can learn more about this program and listen to an audio sample via April’s website.

Thank you for reading! If you liked this post, please share it with your friends and subscribe for free updates by email.

I also invite you to join the End Closet Chaos private Facebook group, where you can interact with others about the topics discussed here.

Comments

  1. I have maybe half a dozen benchwarmers. Some of those I still like a lot, but are too casual for my work now at a law firm or to wear to church, so they are saved for the rare Saturday when I need to run some errands. I also have a handful of scarves that I rarely or ever wear, and those should simply be given away. But they don’t take up much space…. Back in the day when I had a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear those piles of benchwarmers were quite depressing. I learned that to avoid benchwarmers, I had to stay away from sales especially, since those tempted me to buy something I did not really want or need. Not much of a deal when something hangs in your closet unworn.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Sounds like you have a really manageable number of benchwarmers, Cornelia, which doesn’t surprise me given your smaller and more carefully curated wardrobe. Your advice about avoiding sales is right on, and I would add resale stores as well. While there are those who can navigate low-priced shopping well, it can really be a minefield in terms of impulse buys that end up in benchwarmer territory!

  2. Since I’ve been doing P333 for about a year I’ve gotten rid of most of my benchwarmers. I still have a few though – some coats, a formal dress (I got rid of the one that was less versatile but kept one that will fit through many body sizes and won’t date much), and a few other pieces that are more sentimental than wardrobe. When I got through my wardrobe in the spring I might pass a few more things along, and maybe remove some items from that storage that I’m not really keeping to wear, just to save (although I have space in the tote, so I’m not sure that it really matters).

    I was going to say that I don’t have ANY benchwarmer shoes but then I remembered the 3 pairs in boxes in the top of my closet – all much more formal than I would normally wear, but necessary for those times when Converse just won’t cut it. I have one pair of classic black pumps, one pair of silver sandals, and a pair of not dressy but not casual sandals. Not too bad… but I do wish I could have shoes that work for both everyday and fancy. (Instead I just wear Converse unless it would be offensive or totally inappropriate!)

    A suggestion about your gift-guilt-benchwarmers – It seems you get quite a lot of clothing gifts and it sounds like you usually choose those with the person who is gifting them, but maybe if it creates an extra layer of guilt when you change your mind later it might be better not to get clothing as gifts…? I have a lot of trouble choosing clothes and often change my mind so I find it easier to buy things myself and let people gift me other types of things. Another thought I had was that if you sold the gifted items you could use the money you get to do something nice with the person who gave it to you to lessen the guilty feeling. Of course it really is the thought that counts – they gave you something you loved to tell you that they love you and you received it with love. Passing on the item later doesn’t change that transaction of love.

    • I keep some dress-up shoes around even though I hate heels and don’t wear them much. If I get rid of them I end up buying them all over again when the next infrequent dress-up event comes around. My thinking is that even if they take up closet space they’re saving me the time of repurchasing them and money because once I start shopping I usually buy something else!

      • I do the same thing with dressier shoes. I have very fussy feet and sometimes can only wear some of the more expensive, known for comfort, brands. I’m ok with having these shoes as benchwarmers because I won’t have to search for a perfect fit nor will I have to repeat the expense.

    • Stephanie D says:

      Good advice Joanna about the gift guilt benchwarmers. I have a few clothing items that I do not love but were gifts from loved ones. I think this advice is exactly what I needed to hear 🙂 These items have been insistently on my mind for the last month!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I can see how doing Project 333 for a full year would help one to release all or at least most of their wardrobe benchwarmers, Joanna. It sounds like you’re doing pretty well overall. Thanks for your advice about the gifts that have become benchwarmers. It’s probably a good idea for me to get other types of gifts (perhaps shared experiences?) instead of clothing items, as I do tend to change my mind quite a bit. I think I WOULD feel better if I used any money I got from selling the benchwarmers to do something nice for my mom or husband (who gave me the items). I don’t know if I would tell my mom if I sold the shoes, though. I don’t see her all that often and she would probably never know that I didn’t have the shoes anymore.

      I agree with Ginger and Kim about keeping at least one pair of dressier shoes around even if they don’t get worn much. The same with a few formal items. It can be difficult to find these types of things at the last minute, not to mention expensive. I think that as long as we don’t have a huge section of benchwarmers in our closets, it’s okay to have a few. I didn’t realize this when I first set my goal of having NONE, but I get it now.

      • I agree that it’s wise to keep a few well-chosen pieces in storage for the occasional wear. Perhaps we should come up with a new category–“benchwarmers” sounds too provisional for what is, after all, a small but necessary capsule of clothing, whether it is for dressy or casual wear.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          I agree that these are different categories, Amy. Maybe the formal capsule pieces are “reserve” items rather than benchwarmers. Or perhaps “pinch-hitters” if we want to stick to the baseball analogy. I’m open to other ideas, but I agree that we all have pieces that are necessary but aren’t worn often. Resort wear is another category. A friend of mine has clothes that she only wears when she travels to Hawaii every couple of years. They don’t get worn otherwise, but she doesn’t have to head out to the shops before every single trip. I would recommend that such items are stored outside of one’s main closet or off to the side. That way, they don’t get in the way of us seeing the pieces we wear in our day to day lives.

  3. I always enjoy your introspective posts and I am looking forward to more ‘full life’ posts in the future.

    My benchwarmer from last year was a pair of black pumps. I very rarely reach for black shoes and so it’s time to move these barely worn shoes along.
    Now a moment of curiosity. I was wondering about the motivation behind your style change to casual. You frequently mention how casual your lifestyle is as well as the place where you live.
    So are you moving to a more casual style because that is what you want, it is your “inner” preferred style of dressing or are the external reasons; your lifestyle and where you live motivating your change? or perhaps it’s a third reason I haven’t even guessed! 🙂

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Good for you for only having one benchwarmer last year, Mary, and for deciding to pass those shoes along. In answer to your question, I have lived a casual lifestyle in a casual town for a number of years now, but I continued to buy the wrong types of clothes because I like to dress up. I will still dress up sometimes, when the occasion calls more for it, but I want my wardrobe to fit my life better now. I also don’t want to set myself apart too much from other people around me by dressing too formally. I’m okay with being a notch or two better dressed, but I really stood out like a sore thumb in the past in my “churchy” outfits (when I wasn’t actually going to church – a lot of people don’t even dress up for church around here). I think that I actually intimidated some people by being more dressed up. Since I would like to make more local friends and have more of a sense of community, I think I need to fit in better. I don’t plan to overly compromise who I am, so you won’t see me in shorts and flip-flops (just not me at all!), but I’m wearing jeans and casual tops more these days. I could write a lot more about this, but I hope I sufficiently answered your question.

      • Thanks for sharing some of your background thinking and reasons for refining/adjusting your style. Your reasoning makes sense to me, I bet I would do the same in your circumstances. Congruency is a great thing.
        I was wondering because currently my style thoughts whirl around trying to be more authentically me area [which I guess is more inside motivation?] which then leads me to wondering about the process of others.
        I hope it’s obvious that I enjoy reading about all kinds of processes, I do not expect us to be all the same! 🙂

        • Debbie Roes says:

          I often wonder about others’ processes, too, Mary. I definitely want to be more authentically me in how I dress as well, which is why no one will see me in typical San Diego garb. It’s just not who I am. So I’m trying to reach some type of happy medium, at least some of the time. I’m still figuring it all out, but I feel like I’m on the right track finally.

  4. If I wore something a lot and then haven’t worn it for a year I’ll give it away with no remorse because it served it’s purpose. In fact, from the giveaway perspective I think it’s better to move it out because it’s probably still somewhat in style and will go on to make somebody else happy.

    This series is really good and got me to thinking about the dreaded “cost per wear” metric that fashion editors like to try to use to convince shoppers to pay more than they should for things. It’s very rare that I hold something 5 years or that I wear it frequently for 5 years — your example of nice shoes that you wore a lot (relatively speaking) for a year and then didn’t attests to that. I’m thinking that I will start dividing the cost of things by 12, which according to your metrics is fairly frequent wearing. I have a feeling it will help me put a better value on what I’m considering purchasing.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Good point about giving things away after they’ve served their purpose and while they’re still in style, Ginger. I have often seen really outdated items in thrift stores and wondered who would buy them (like 80s-style blazers and the like). Some resale stores only take things that are really current, although the standard used to be three years or less. I think your idea of dividing the cost of an item by 12 is great and more realistic than the “hundreds of wears” that are often referenced in the cost-per-wear examples. Yes, there are items that get worn that often, but it’s better to be more conservative when deciding whether or not something is a good buy, as most of us don’t end up wearing new items nearly as often as we think we will.

  5. Just out of curiosity, were any of the items that were benchwarmers this year benchwarmers last year? Also, just a thought, creating your dressy capsule may help you determine which dressy shoes to keep. Once you try on the outfits, you’ll know which shoes look best with the capsule and can eliminate any extra “just in case” shoes, because you realize there really is no “just in case.”

    • With the warm most of the year lifestyle my bet is on the metallic dress-up shoes.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Good question, Heather. I was going to cover multi-year benchwarmers in this post, but didn’t want it to get too crazy long. There were 7 repeat benchwarmers from last year: the striped tank with lace overlay, the black/grey printed top, the longer black blazer, the polka-dot cardigan, the black pumps, the metallic heels, and the leopard print wedges. At least a few of these are slated to be consigned/donated and I’m still considering the others. I’m going to take on your suggestion to create a dressy capsule, as I think that will help me to make decisions on the remaining items (and some things that weren’t benchwarmers but aren’t really worn much, either).

  6. I also describe my benchwarmers as clothes that don’t get worn, but primarily because these are the clothes that leave me feeling LUKEWARM when I look at them.

    I also have a green coat from 2013. But I like it and the cut is beautiful so I am keeping it. The problem is that it’s a seasonal fashion color and needs to be put away for a couple of seasons and then brought back out when everyone else has thrown theirs away. The seasonal fashion color problem did stop me from buying an expensive coral pink coat this season – I knew that I would not want to wear it again next year and bought a pale grey coat instead.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I, too, have clothes that leave me feeling lukewarm when I look at them, Carolyn. Not all of my benchwarmers fit that description, as some are good but not really a match for my lifestyle. I think that any clothes that leave us lukewarm are good candidates for purging, as we probably will never love them, even if we force ourselves to wear them. Interesting point about the fashion colors. Good for your for not buying the coral pink coat, especially since you already have the green coat that isn’t being worn very often. Hopefully, you new grey coat will see lot more wear.

  7. I have a few formal items that I rarely wear (maybe once a year) but I love them and know that if there’s ever a formal occasion in my future I won’t have to rush out and buy anything. I think those types of items deserve a spot in your closet (or in my case, a spare closet, so they aren’t in with my everyday items) because they are essentially still serving a purpose. If it’s something that SHOULD be in your everyday rotation and you literally never reach for it, or reach for it and hate it when it’s on, that’s something I think you should heavily consider getting rid of.

    Some benchwarmers really do serve a specific purpose and should be kept…for example, I have a pair of shoes that only works with one pair of pants I have, and I’ve considered purging them multiple times…BUT…they look AMAZING with that one pair of pants, and everytime I wear that outfit I feel great…so even though I only wear it a handful of times per year, it’s still serving a purpose and therefore gets to stay. 🙂

    I feel like it’s really hard to let go of things you loved once but that maybe don’t fit your style anymore. I feel like that attachment is still there, but you don’t utilize the item anymore because you don’t reach for it. I’m not sure what to do in that situation, because that’s an area I really struggle in. :-/

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Your formal items definitely sound like they should stay, Ry, as well as your shoes for that one pair of pants. I agree that the things we should reach for but don’t are good candidates for passing on. In terms of the things we used to love, I think perhaps we feel we might come around to loving them again. That can happen, as is the case with my black boots that I’ve started wearing again this year, as well as a lot of my jewelry. But it can also be a slippery slope toward keeping virtually everything. My mother-in-law is like that. She keeps everything because she says that it will all come back in style or she may see a photo in a magazine and want to recreate the look in her closet. I’ve seen many of those “recreations” and they don’t usually translate well. But then again, she’s 81 and she’s doing a lot better than most women her age! I think we should try everything on at least once a year. If something makes us cringe to see it, it should be passed on. Beyond that, I still need to figure it out, but I’m clear at least to that point…

  8. I had quite a few benchwarmers in 2014. I wrote down all of my purchases throughout the year, hoping that it would make me spent less money. I did spent less, but there were a lot of benchwarmers. Most of them where bought in 2014.
    This week I also started to write down what I wore and how I felt in it. It has already convinced me to return a black blouse, because one of my first entries was: need colour, this outfit is too dark. It made me realize I love a pop of colour, but I have a lot of grey and black. But the blouse was so pretty and inexpensive and I had a serious FOMO when I purchased it. I am now quite sure it would have become a benchwarmer. I returned it this morning 🙂

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Good for you for returning the black blouse, Jessica! My outfit journal has helped me to avoid a lot of benchwarmers, plus shop smarter as well. I’m getting a much better sense of what does and doesn’t work for me IN PRACTICE. A lot of things are great in theory. They may fit us well and look good on us, but they may not really float our boats, so to speak. I just returned a few things this past weekend, too, for the same sorts of reasons. I used to think I needed a lot of variation in what I wore, so I bought a haphazard wardrobe. Now I’m homing in more on what works for me and okay with not mixing it up as much. Progress…

  9. I don’t think you did too badly with the benchwarmers! You tried things out of your typical old style, and when you did that you inevitably met with some purchases that were not as successful. Experimenting out of your comfort zone takes time and sometimes that means you wear something a few times before realizing it wasn’t for you- that happened to me several times this year as well.

    I have yet to finish calculating my wears as I got lazy and relied on my phone app instead. I need to combine the app info with the spreadsheet I started with, which takes time because I was keeping up both for a few months. Ugh.

    I do have clear benchwarmers though by your standards- By Decmber 31st I only had 74 items of clothing and 60 accessories, and I know exactly which ones were only worn 1x or not at all.

    Items worn once (7): My green blazer (2014), my geometric cardigan (2014), a very formal crystal necklace, an old favorite bronze floral bib necklace, blue drop earrings that were purchased out of season (summer-y 2014), a formal black pencil skirt (2014), and my old favorite teal winter coat (just started wearing).

    Items not worn at all (8): A new black eyelet jacket and floral ruffle camisole purchased out of season (2014), a formal red lace sheath dress, formal emerald tiered bodycon dress, formal sequin mini-dress, formal coral print sundress (2014), a printed top (Dec 2014), and my brown winter boots (just started wearing them!).

    I had defined items that got under 6 wears true benchwarmers, and those calculations will have to wait as I have more than just the above in that category. So even with 134 items, 11.19% were still benchwarmers according to your definition! I think I stick with the tried-and-true too much (some of my items got into the very high double and even triple digits of wears) and the other items that were more tricky to style or just a bit out of my comfort zone were neglected, despite liking them.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your benchwarmers, Meli. Your percentage is high because your wardrobe is so pared down. I’m very impressed by how much you’ve been able to downsize. I wonder if the 2014 benchwarmers will end up becoming 2015 all-stars. Sometimes I don’t start wearing my new items right away because I’m in the habit of wearing the tried-and-true. But once I get into wearing the new things, it can really take off. I think that will the case with the skinnier jeans. I have also lost some weight (not from a good reason but welcomed) and feel better in the jeans now. You have inspired me to count my accessories, too, so that will be a part of the closet audit that will go live later this week. I know my number will be a lot higher than yours! Are shoes part of your accessory number or separate? I feel good to have pared down my accessories, but there is still much too much there!

      • I’ve noticed that also- things can take time to become our favorites. I missed that in the first paragraph- it can take time to warm up to new things! My accessory number includes everything that isn’t clothing- purses, shoes, hats, gloves, scarves, and jewelry.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks for answering my question, Meli. My accessory number is a lot higher. I have a few (understating it here) years on you, but I could still stand to pare down and plan to do some more. Yes, it CAN take time for things to become favorites, especially if they are new styles. My favorites from last year may not end up being my favorites this year, either, as style evolves.

  10. I think that you’re right in not feeling too guilty about not liking gifts or not liking items anymore, it happens all the time, style evolves and so do tastes! If you want to give new life to an old garment like you said you can try wearing it in different ways, and if it doesn’t work there are always other options, for me a consigned/gifted/donated item is never wasted (unless it becomes the norm with most of one’s clothes, but that’s not your case).
    In my opinion keeping a small dressier capsule is the best idea; for me to be workable it should be composed of pieces that work well together, are in good shape, that fit and make you feel good, especially the shoes, comfy dressier shoes are the best, I’ve learned this the hard way!
    Last year was The Great Purge era for my wardrobe; this year I’d like to wear what I already have, and maybe fill the little gaps in my closet that will surely appear as time goes by.
    As for bench-warmers, I didn’t really count them, but surely enough my 3-4 ‘dressy-dresses’ fall in this category, but like you said it would be senseless to throw out dresses which took me time and effort to find exactly as I wanted them, just because I have few occasions to wear them.
    To decide if an item does or doesn’t stay with me I don’t use the ‘how many times I’v worn this’ criteria for the final decision, as I said above it wouldn’t work with the dressier pieces in my wardrobe. If an item hasn’t been used in a long while, I try to understand why: did I forget about it? Do I still like it or…? Will I need it in the foreseeable future? Aren’t there in my closet other, most worn options that would (or already do) work as substitutes for the item? The final verdict comes usually from my taste: if I don’t like it, if I understand that this piece doesn’t fit well anymore with my style/current wardrobe, off he goes for donation or other routes.
    I’ve also found that a more relaxed approach to purging and filling holes and honing style is the best, because with a massive clean-out one usually risks to feel the urge to overs-shop in order to fill the gaping holes left in the closet, which could lead to mistakes. In this case slower is better!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your criteria for getting rid of things, Maria. You have some really good questions in there! I agree with you that it works best to pare down slowly. Whenever I get rid of too much at once, it sends me to the stores. If I gradually let go of things, I can adjust and get comfortable with having less. Others may do fine with larger purges, but I’ve come to understand what works best for me. I agree that keeping a small dressy capsule is good for those of us who rarely attend formal events but do on occasion. I need to actually set aside that capsule to make sure it all makes sense. That will probably be a future post!

  11. Love your assessment of the benchwarmers in your wardrobe. If this was my closet I would make a dressy capsule as mentioned above and and let everything else go. Consign or Ebay what you can and donate the rest. Don’t try to dye the orange jacket, if it is “perfect” except the color then if you can sell it use that money to find the same jacket in a better color for you. If you can’t you won’t miss it since you haven’t been wearing it anyway. I think sometimes we think we need something in our arsenal but really don’t.
    You need to pat yourself on the back for the growth and redefining your true style. Once you get these items out of your closet the LIWI will be so much easier to do.
    I moved summer out of mine and have been focusing on what actually gets worn for this season.
    One thing that I do find is that I still have a backup for the staples that I wear. So two white tees, two black pants but I think this is because it is so hard to find good quality “10’s” for some of these items. This causes me to have a bigger wardrobe than I want. Maybe the duplicates should be stored with the summer things and only brought out when the original is trashed. Hmm

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I think it would be a good idea to store your back-up items elsewhere, Kathy. If those are the types of items you wear often, you’ll need the back-ups before you know it. I’m going to set aside the dressy capsule like others have suggested. Right now, those pieces are mixed in with everything else and I’m sure I have too much. And maybe they don’t even go well with each other. I will see and I’m sure I’ll be able to let more go. It feels good to let go of things. Making the decision can be challenging but once it’s been made and I move the items out, relief is generally my predominant feeling.

  12. For the items you feel guilty about letting go because of the cost, like the black shoes from your Mom, I read something recently that is helping me, roughly the quote goes ” you pay for something once when you buy it, and you pay for it again when it is taking up space in your home that you can be using for something else”. Plus if you feel guilty when you look at it why not let go of that negative energy? Just want to throw in that I am currently working on paring down myself, it is a challenge!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Very good point, Laura. We often keep things because we spent a lot of money on them (or someone else did), but we don’t get the money back by giving ourselves a big guilt trip! I did let go of some things this past weekend and I feel “lighter.” I know that I will free up energy by letting go of more. It works best for me to do a bit at a time so I don’t get too overwhelmed, but I’m committed to being in a much better place with my wardrobe this year.

  13. Debbie, I like the sound of your LIWI challenge. What a fab way to pare down and keep the items you love. I am sure it will be fun but also enlightening. I have a few benchwarmers. T-shirts that get left at the bottom of the drawer and those freshly laundered get worn instead as they are nearer the top. I find shirts end up being benchwarmers as I find them less comfortable than tops plus I hate having to iron them so as a result I have very few. I have 3 special occasion dresses but wear regular shoes/boots with them as I dislike heels and fussy shoes. I have set one new rule this year with expected gifts. I am allowed to ask for 5 items only. Last year I acquired a lot of expected gifts where I asked for earrings, coat etc and this is really a way of upping what I acquire unnecessarily and I am starting to feel happier with having and acquiring less.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Good rule about the gifts, Sharon. I think that will help a lot. As for your t-shirts, have you tried storing them standing up instead of stacked (see here for example: http://www.home-storage-solutions-101.com/how-to-fold-t-shirts.html)? We did that with my husband’s t-shirts and he’s wearing more of them these days. He can also fit more in the drawer, although he’s pared down a lot and doesn’t need as much storage space. I don’t tend to wear things that need ironing as often, either. I hate doing it, too? I’ve heard of people who find ironing to be therapeutic. I wish they would come to my house and do my ironing! 🙂

  14. Hmm, benchwarmers. I have benchwarmers in a couple of categories – coats and dressy/party dresses. I have always allowed myself a “pass” in those categories because (for example) while I don’t need any more than one coat where I live, I always reasoned that if I travel I might need a coat. Except I have 6 coats, and I’d still probably pick the one I wear at home anyway. Similarly with party dresses, I have several and I’d probably pick the only two that have been worn recently to wear again. I would like this year to get down to 1 coat, and 2 dressy/party dresses.

    I also have dresses, scarves, jewelry, tops, and sweaters/cardigans that would fall in the benchwarmer category, but I aim to keep purging those things slowly as I pare down the wardrobe as a whole so I am not thinking too hard about them.

    I started the “love it, wear it” challenge but am running into problems already. I guess I have always focused on what to purge, and not what I LOVE. I’m trying to shift focus based on this challenge and on some writing by Marie Kondo. And I find that I don’t actually love most of my wardrobe it seems. I started putting away the clothes I have worn this year in a separate part of my closet, and found myself thinking that I don’t love many of the things I have worn, and wouldn’t buy them now. So I ended up putting some items back in the “meh” section of the closet, which doesn’t really help separate out the “not getting worn, definitely don’t like” clothes which I think is the aim of the challenge. Maybe I need to separate into 3 sections so at least I can see what is being worn but perhaps is not loved vs. the absolute benchwarmers. But this all makes me want to go shopping for new loves, which is not necessarily a good thing. On the bright side, the “love” section is looking very minimalistic and organized!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I have too many coats, too, Sarah, especially for where I live. I plan to pare down some more this year. I have run across similar issues in the “Love it, Wear it” challenge, too. But I’m keeping everything in the “working closet” section for now. Seeing some “meh” items there may push me to let them go. If there are items you’ve worn this year and don’t love but aren’t ready to get rid of just yet, perhaps it’s a good idea to separate those out instead of putting them back in the unworn area. Maybe challenge yourself to wear them again and make a decision on their fate. That’s what I’m going to do. There is one top, for example, that I wear around the house because it’s comfortable. But every time I see it hanging in my working closet, I get that “meh” feeling. I’m going to wear it again this week and see how I feel with it on. It’s very likely that it’s time for it to go because I don’t feel great in it.

  15. We are on the same wavelength here! I’m also finally ready to pare down some more.
    I have many items that are not only benchwarmers, but have been for many years. An example: A shirt that only cost me $6 brand new, and is real silk, and silver (a color I adore) but is too short to wear with pants and I don’t really have a skirt to pair it with. I’ve worn it probably 5, maybe 6, times. I’ve owned it for 10 years!! It unfortunately has a lot of similar friends. On the surface, it’s a beautiful shirt in a nice fabric in a color I love. But the reality of when and how it gets worn is a whole different story. It simply does not fit into my wardrobe. I am ready to let it go. Ditto some wonderful True Religion jeans. I did not wear them often enough when they were new and each successive year the low rise feels that much more revealing for me and my middle aged middle HA.
    I also am coming more to grips with my frequency of wear issues. Over half my wardrobe is worn less than 5 times a year, I’m sure. I don’t track wears officially but I have a good idea through pics of daily outfits I was taking the last few years. I simply still have too much. When my reality is dressing for the real world only 3, maybe 4 times a week – half what most people need – my closet needs to reflect this.
    BUT, on the other hand, I am not for tossing perfectly good items that are wearable just to get down to some arbitrary number! That’s wasteful and illogical really. I’m going to methodically and carefully prune down. I know in my heart what won’t get worn in the future, vs what will have infrequent wears maybe, but is still useful and worth keeping.
    Good luck with the culling and here’s to careful shopping this year in hopes of no new benchwarmers next year!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, we are definitely on a similar wavelength, Mo! My reality is similar to yours in that I only really dress for the real world 3 or 4 times per week. That’s why my wear frequency numbers are so low. Those who go to an office every day would probably do well with my size of wardrobe, but it’s too big for me. As you saw in my all-star update, a large proportion of my wardrobe got worn less than 5 times last year. That’s not good because I don’t tend to keep things for many, many years. I get tired of things, I feel they’re out of style, and so on. I want things to be worn more often, but like you, I don’t want to get rid of things just because. I see the real key as buying less and only buying things that suit my current lifestyle and fill wardrobe holes. So buying workout and lounge wear is okay, but buying more going out clothes is not, as I don’t even wear the things I currently have! Best wishes to you, too, with your culling and shopping. I will look forward to reading your future updates!

  16. It seems there are two types of Benchwarmers: things we hardly reach for because we don’t like them or have occasion for, and clothes that warm the benches because we only go to funerals, formal occasions, and fancy places a couple of times per year. I have a small thirty-something item wardrobe, but it does include a few items that mix and match for funerals, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and the like, all seasons. That adds up to one jacket, one skirt, one short-sleeved cardi, one pair of black shoes. The pants, shirt, cami, and tunic I used to use for dressy times I now wear other times as well, but not so often as my other clothes. Eight, that makes. That’s a lot of Benchwarmers and Semi-warmers for a wardrobe of 32! If I were spending, I would try to consolidate the dressy and semi stuff into maybe 3 things.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Very good point, Helen, about the two types of benchwarmers. Thanks for sharing your special occasion capsule. Yes, it IS a large percentage of your small wardrobe, but it’s necessary and sounds like it works well for you. I admire your ability to dress with less, especially since you seem to be quite happy and satisfied with what you have. I don’t know if my wardrobe will ever be as minimal as yours, but I’d like to head more in that direction for sure.

  17. Some of these bench warmers are very similar, e.g., the 3 black blazers. If these were my clothes, I ditch them in favor of the moto jacket that is worn a lot. Actually, I wouldn’t have bought 3 jackets that are so similar to begin with, but I understand that you were still in your trial and error period for the past few years. I like the leopard peep toe shoes and would vote to save those but if they are uncomfortable, they won’t get much wearing. My philosophy if I don’t absolutely love something and thus wear it a lot, out if goes — to charity, a friend, consignment, whatever. I don’t own bench warmers; life is too short to fuss about whether or not to keep unproductive clothing.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I bought a lot of very similar pieces over the years, Dottie, as I wasn’t really put enough thought and consideration to what I bought. I also thought that more was more, but I was wrong and am still paying the price for such beliefs and the associated behavior. I’m sure I won’t end up keeping all three black blazers, but I’m going to let my “Love it, Wear it” challenge work its magic. I’m already learning a lot after only 3 weeks. What I don’t love and wear is going to be gone, unless it’s part of the formal capsule that I’m going to put together (which won’t be very big).

      • I tend to move quickly on stuff that I don’t need/wear. First, I take whatever I can back to the store for a refund; this means that I need to try on my new purchase ASAP with the clothes I already have. (This is where problems generally occur for me — the blouse I loved in the store has a collar that doesn’t work with the jackets that I planned to pair it with; the belted trousers that create a funny “back bulge” when tried on with my sweaters, etc.). I don’t have many disasters like this because I’m a careful shopper but some things still get through rigorous scrutiny in the store. (I don’t buy clothes on-line after getting burned with mis-sized clothes and serious return costs. Shoes are my best on-line purchase even for my fussy feet.) The consignment shops where I live are brutal about accepting only barely worn or never worn “recent” clothes (currently in season or maybe last season) so I tend to move fast on stuff that I can’t return and thus needs to be consigned. Clothes that are outside of the consignment bill of rights go to charity if gently worn. I have a small cache of formal clothes — floor length dress for balls and fancy do’s and so forth — 4 items in all. They are beautiful clothes and I couldn’t replace the quality of material and workmanship for love or money these days. Two items were made by a talented artist cum seamtress — lovely workmanship and great originality. Yep, love it and wear it is the best way to go.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          Good point to always try on new clothes when we get home, Dottie. We can’t always be totally sure how things will coordinate with existing pieces when we’re in the store. But most people just hang up items and they can often sit there for months, in most cases past the return window. I’m getting better at figuring out if something will work early on (if not in the store) so I can get my money back instead of living with a bunch of regret.

      • Debbie, I like how you acknowledge past practices but focus hard on the present and future. “Let it go” applies to more than clothes.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks, Amy. Yes, it can be hard to let both things and practices go, but when we release what no longer serves us (including outdated belief systems), we’re often much happier as a result. “Let it go” is a good mantra (even if that “Frozen” song can get stuck in our heads!).

  18. I had 7 items that I didn’t wear this past year. I asked myself two questions. First was from Bridgette Raes- Under what circumstances would I choose this over something else in my closet? The other was- If I got rid of this, would I have to go out and buy something else if an appropriate occasion came up? Five items ( a leather jacket, a dressy dress, tan tall boots, cognac tall boots, and a black sweater dress) I had things that I would rather wear than those. Two items ( a camel winter coat and a black wedge heel pair of sandals) I didn’t have anything like them and I would have to go buy something else if I got rid of them. I kept those two things and purged the rest. The boots were tough because they were expensive, but I know that I never wear them. After doing LIWI for a couple of weeks I noticed a few other things that I wouldn’t reach for over what I am wearing and a couple that I did wear and didn’t love. I came up with a pile of 18 things to send to consignment.
    I think that a dressy capsule is a great idea. That way you’d feel prepared for any unexpected situations that came up. It’s probably unlikely that you will love things like the orange jacket and the black and grey jacket as more time goes by if you don’t love them now.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Isn’t Bridgette’s question great, Tonya? Your second question is a good addition, too, and I can see how asking both questions would help you to make decisions on what should stay and what should go. I’m going to ask both questions about some of my items and see what happens. Congrats on getting rid of 5 of the 7 items you didn’t wear last year (plus the addition 18!). It doesn’t sound like you agonized over it, even though a few of the items were expensive. I’m learning a lot for LIWI, too! I look forward to comparing notes when I do my update in early February. I’m definitely going to do the dressy capsule. You’re probably right about those two jackets. Some things just seem like a good idea when we buy them but don’t end up proving to be so in the long run.

  19. My benchwarmers appear to be redundant items, past fads, uncomfortable shoes and entire colors. Remember when brown was the new black? I’m back to black and donated just about everything brown. I look much better in black. I am finally letting go of my high heel fantasy. I have osteoporosis so why risk the fall? And my biggest closet overage: too much of a good thing. I have several black skirts, black t’s, white t’s and a few other basics that are “back ups” I never wear or wear rarely because I have too many. It’s hard, because they are all alike. What was I thinking?

    • nutrivore says:

      Have you tried dark chocolate and black together and dark brown and navy? I love it, Just as I love navy and black together, no matter what the fashion police says.

      Dark brown especially looks good on people with green eyes.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I got rid of all of my brown items, too, Misty. I just didn’t like them (on me) anymore. I agree with Nutrivore that brown can look nice with black or navy, but if we don’t love the color anymore, then that’s the way it goes. I get it about too much of a good thing. Been there, done that, and still there in some respects. Do you not wear some items simply because you have too many, or do you just love some pieces much more than others? Sometimes I lay similar items out next to each other and force myself to select just half to keep. If that’s too hard, perhaps just select one to pass on and do the same thing again a month later. It can be hard to let things go, but it can be so overwhelming to have too much!

  20. nutrivore says:

    Do your wear sleeveless vests Debbie? A denim vest can dress down the fanciest of tops, and is versatile for all kinds of weather. I have plain wool vests and even use some of my hubby’s waistcoats from his 3-piece suits (he doesn’t wear those waistcoats) as oversized sleeveless jackets to change the look of some of my “dressy” silk shirts and tops. It’s gives them a menswear look, which I happen to like. I don’t have any lacy stuff, but I don’t see why the two cannot go together.

    By mixing and combining items, esp with blazers, vest and jackets, you can have a large combination of outfits without buying too many extra clothes. I have a lot of sleeveless tops that are nice to wear on their own in summer and double up a sleeveless jackets over my button-down shirts in cooler weether. Just throwing around a few ideas on how to repurpose your “dressier” clothes.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I haven’t worn a vest in a long time, Nutrivore, but I used to like them a lot. I have a lot of photos of me in a denim vest from years ago. I would be open to wearing vests again and have tried a few on that didn’t work out. I like the idea of toning the dressy items down with a casual piece. I do that often with my denim jacket. You’re right that mixing and matching is the way to go. Thanks for sharing your ideas on repurposing my dressy pieces. I will keep your suggestions in mind as I decide what to keep and what to pass on.

  21. This post inspired me to get rid of more wardrobe benchwarmers! I have too many of those to say the least, as I’m afraid to have a wardrobe of 50 items, which is the most realistic number for my current lifestyle. Now I’m down to 75 including loungewear, shoes and bags (excluding scarves, hats and jewelry but I don’t have many of those anyways) I would say 10 out of the 75 are benchwarmers that can be purged but I’m not ready to do it just yet. Another 7 or 8 are the dressier items that I will keep. The danger of having a low number is the impulse to buy more again. After this purge, I need to make a very strong effort to not buy anything, as this purge and binge cycle of mine is getting a bit ridiculous!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m always happy to inspire, Wendy! I think we are in a similar boat in that we really only need small wardrobes for our lifestyle. For me, 75 still sounds too low, but I’m sure it would likely be plenty. I also struggle with the impulse to buy more when I pare down too much or too quickly, which is why I’m doing it slowly this time. I have done the buy and purge cycle more times than I can count, so I definitely understand your frustration there! Best wishes with paring down a bit more than then not buying things you don’t really need. Easier said than done, I know…

  22. Wardrobe benchwarmers are always a challenge. As time passes I’m trying to keep less and less of these types of pieces in my wardrobe. I do find that sentimental pieces are the majority of my benchwarmers. I think as long as they don’t outweigh the number of items I’m actively wearing, it’s ok to own a few pieces. And I try to use those items at least once a year, just so it’s not sitting 100% of the time, just 99.9%.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I don’t think that most of my benchwarmers are sentimental pieces, but they are things that I either keep “just in case” (like business clothes even though I haven’t worked in an office for years) or out of guilt (like things that were gifts or were expensive). If my benchwarmers were sentimental pieces, I wouldn’t feel so bad about them, as long as there weren’t that many of them. I used to think more absolutely about it, but now I am okay with some grey areas.

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