One way in which many women try to maintain a manageable wardrobe is to institute a “one in, one out” policy. This means that each time they bring something new into their closets, they need to let go of an existing item. In some cases, this item must come from the same category as the new piece (i.e. a dress for a dress or a long-sleeved top for a long-sleeved top), but it can also just be one for one from any wardrobe area.
I have loosely tried to follow this policy since I started the blog, but I haven’t been very strict about it at all. What usually ended up happening was that I noticed “closet creep” had occurred, so I spent some time going through everything and getting rid of enough items to level things out again. But doing that doesn’t feel very deliberate, which is my theme for the year.
As I have mentioned previously, I did too much shopping during July and August and I am finding my closet too full once again. In trying to figure out what to do about that, I came back to the “one in, one out” concept and have been considering taking it on and being stricter this time around.
Advice from the Facebook Group
Because the “End Closet Chaos” Facebook group is such a wonderful resource, I decided to ask for their feedback on this issue. The following is a sampling of some of the responses I received:
- “I keep aspiring to have this policy, but it’s not very strict. I think it’s because I’m still struggling to redefine my personal style, so there are more fluctuations for the time being. I definitely do it if I buy something that’s similar to what I already have. Then the old one has to go so I’m not ‘splitting my wears.’ Obviously, I must have thought the new one was better anyway….”
- “I have never seriously intended to do that. I think I just do it when finding my ‘Moby Dick’ (highly elusive wardrobe item) and can purge the multiples I bought on the way. If I find THE denim jacket, then it will be ‘one in, three out.’ So I never really think about numbers.”
- “I’ve mentioned this before, but I think a constant cycle of clothing in and clothing out can be just as unhealthy as buying and accumulating. I think this rule can be harmful because it makes us think the purchases are not a problem because the overall number of garments stays the same.”
- “I follow this rule, but I’m not always strict. I think it works very well in cases like mine, where the problem is that I already own a lot of things I like, but keep on shopping. Because I love what I have, it’s not easy to eliminate an item – and this makes justifying another buy more difficult.”
- “I tried this, but it didn’t work for me. I keep a count of all of the items I purge monthly. If I look back and I see where I haven’t done much purging, I will step it up. I keep telling myself, my closet didn’t get full overnight, and it’s not going to be reduced overnight, either. Like life, it is a journey!”
- “Yes, I do that all the time. But it’s usually to stylistically upgrade a version of something that has seen better days, or just to be more current. Then the older garment goes to consignment or donation.”
- “I thought I liked and needed rules. I was very much governed by them and thought up complicated and intractable lists, but recently I’ve discovered that they’re very restrictive and they give me a stick with which to beat myself. Sometimes, just sometimes, I have to accept that I’ll fall below the standards I’ve set for myself and that’s okay. I’m just doing my best.”
- “I tend to get rid of anything that isn’t working, so I don’t think I really follow this rule, either. I actually thought what you said last night about letting your wardrobe just ‘be’ for a little while was a better idea. I think it may be good to just be comfortable with what you have. I don’t know, so I’m just throwing it out there, but do you think that this new rule might have something to do with ‘punishing’ yourself for having bought too much?”
- “I’m curious about the one in, one out strategy. It seems punishing to have to give up something that you might like to accommodate something you’ve just bought. I like everything I have, so for me that would mean to stop shopping. That’s not really going to happen, is it? So, how about if I only buy stuff I love and that will work in my current wardrobe? Think long and hard about everything you want to introduce into your wardrobe.”
- “I think this rule could be a great one or an error, depending on how you use it. If everything is pared down and you love your entire wardrobe, it could be good to stop shopping for a while. At the same time, though, it could also be a rule that allows for too many purchases. I think if the rule works for you, by all means go for it. I know that up until this summer, I would have flopped, but I think at this stage, the rule would be a benefit to my personal shopping.”
- “I don’t do well with self-imposed rules, so I don’t have any specific policies like this, although I do have to keep my limited storage in mind. Personally, I don’t like the idea of having to get rid of something just because I found something else I like. If the item was so great that I had to have it, I would find room for it. Otherwise, I would just not buy it. For me, personally, if I was getting rid of clothes just for the sake of maintaining numbers, that would mean I never really liked them that much in the first place. Having said that, I think there are merits to the one-in-one-out rule and the like if you’re the kind of person who does well with rules.”
- “If you really love most of your clothes, a ‘one in, one out’ rule could help you slow down. But if you don’t love your clothes or aren’t sure of your style yet, you could be setting yourself up to be continually replacing so-so or bad purchases with more so-so or bad purchases.”
What Do You Think?
Lots of food for thought from that group, don’t you think? Now I’d love to get your input and perhaps some good discussion here on the topic of “one in, one out.” Do you have such a policy? If so, how does it work for you? Have you tried it and felt it didn’t work for you? If it’s not something you want to try, why not? What works for you in terms of keeping your closet to a manageable size? Please share your feedback in the comments section.
My “modified break” is almost over and it feels like the time has zipped by without my getting nearly as much done as I had hoped. But I’m going to be back with regular posts soon and keep going with my side projects on the side. Stay tuned for a debrief on the packing for my Tahoe trip (see my May 2014 travel debrief here) and accountability and LIWI updates for the past two months. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!
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.