A few weeks ago, I launched the “End Closet Chaos” closed Facebook group. The discussions in this group are so interesting and thought-provoking that I will periodically share some of them here on the blog. Today’s post includes the very first discussion topic that I posed for the group (since then, group members have started multiple threads of their own and there is always lots of great conversation going on there).
Here’s the question that I asked the group members to comment on:
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how many new items it is reasonable to buy within a given year. I know there isn’t one number that will apply to everyone, but I’d love to get some thoughts on this subject. I know that the 50+ items I’ve been purchasing each year since I started “Recovering Shopaholic” is still too many, although it’s a lot fewer than the 150-200 annual purchases I made in 2012 and previous years. I’m thinking that I could probably reduce my purchases by half and it would still be more than enough, provided that I make wise choices. Thoughts?”
Thoughts From Group Members
Here’s what some of the group members had to say on the subject of yearly purchase numbers:
- “This is something that I’ve been pondering a lot. Last year was the first time I counted my purchases. I bought 60 items. I was (and still am) trying to figure out my style and rebuild my wardrobe, so while I think it was too much, perhaps it was understandable. I think you’re right that bad purchases make us buy so much. Many of my bad purchases last year were made in the first half of the year when I was still fumbling, and many were also relatively cheap items. My first thought was “Well, no big deal. At least it was only cheap stuff.”, but then I realised that it was precisely the fact that they were cheap that was the problem. I make far fewer mistakes with expensive purchases because I put more thought into them.”
- “For my 100-110 item wardrobe, the 60 items I purchased last year represented over half of my wardrobe, and, in my opinion, were way too many! That’s an average of 5 items per month. Three items per month (36 per year) seems more reasonable, and should be more than enough, I think. Even 24 (2 per month) seems like plenty to me on paper, but in reality I think I’d be bored and itching to buy more. I wonder if higher satisfaction with what I already have would help, though.”
- “I always buy more than I plan also. I think my ideal number of things to buy as of right now is about 20. This year I’ve bought 35 things through July and about 14 of them are things that I’m very happy I have. Others have been okay and I’ve worn them, but I could have done without them. I have about 65 items of out and about clothing, so 35 pieces is about half of my wardrobe.”
- “I think that an appropriate number of items per year is directly related to the size of your wardrobe, and that’s a highly individual number. My number of items is relatively low – I wear dresses rather than separates, and almost all of my clothes are casual. If your wardrobe consists of 150 items, then purchasing 50 items a year seems like a lot of churn to me.”
- “I’m tracking differently, with the same goal in mind. I’m looking at the average cost per wear and overall % of my closet lost or gained. My goal this year was to reduce my wardrobe size by 30% and increase cost per wear by 20%. I can’t do this if I bring in lots of stuff because new stuff has never been worn and automatically moves my numbers in the wrong direction.”
- “I usually aim for around 32 items, as I tend to shop seasonally not monthly. It breaks down to about 8 items a season. However, if my basics wear out, I will shop for new ones and exceed 32 sometimes, going to 40. That’s clothes and shoes. I don’t count accessories, but I wear everything I have before making a new purchase. So I guess it’s a checks and balances thing. However, there are so many factors to this question, like: Do you need to rebuild your wardrobe? Do you have two main seasons or four individual ones? Do you shop monthly or quarterly? So the number for each is individual; this is just what I personally do.”
- “Great thought exercise, especially relative to the size of the wardrobe. I have just under 100 items of out-and-about clothes (including shoes, bags, and scarves, but not jewelry or other accessories). I think the idea of cycling through about 1/4 of the wardrobe every year sounds right (tees and sweaters may need replacement more frequently, outerwear, woven items and shoes less often). So for me, that would be 25 items/year or about two per month. That is a lot less than I have been buying, but would still allow for a lot of variety and new things.”
- “I looked into the replacement rate vs. wardrobe size last fall and decided for myself, about 20% or 25% rate was realistic. For my wardrobe right now, that’s about 30 new pieces each year. I include footwear and outerwear. I have 100 clothing items and 30 pairs of shoes right now, give or take. I’ve bought 24 items so far – including a hat, purse, and belt. I think I can get by with just 6 more for fall if I plan well. The past few years I’ve tracked, I bought around 50+ items. Before that, it was likely closer to 70 or more, as I subscribed to a bargain only mentality that gave me a huge wardrobe, but not a lot of cohesion.”
- “I think next year my goal will be under 20. For me, this includes lounge wear, bras, etc., so it’s not always as many as it seems. I think I will focus more on accessories next year, as I now have a lot of good basics and get bored of them. Accessories seem to be a good way to spice things up without buying too many new items.”
- “I’m trying to focus on cost per wear, loving everything I have in my closet and purging the items that are just… meh. Instead of a specific number, I try to only buy something when I feel there is a gap in my wardrobe. If I just “go shopping” without a plan, that is when I’ll go crazy and buy more than I want (or need).”
- “Figure the number of days per week you need to dress in any type of clothing (summer wear, business, etc.) and how many weeks each year. Then you will see you have X opportunities to wear Y and Z. If you find you realistically only can wear 6 skirts half a dozen times for the year, and you own 6 skirts already, you certainly don’t need to shop for more than maybe 1 or 2 refresher ones each year – simply to update your style.”
- “I wonder if it really makes more sense to look at this in absolute terms (or based on frequently of wear) rather than as a percentage of wardrobe size. Imagine you only had 20 items –due to wearing each item frequently, you would probably have to replace them more frequently, and could be looking at a 50%+ annual turnover. Conversely, if you had 500 pieces, a reasonable-sounding 20% turnover would have you buying two pieces every week!”
- “For me, it’s not about numbers nor cost per wear. If you owned only one formal expensive dress and you used it twice a year because there weren’t more occasions, I think it would still be absolutely worthwhile. Instead, I think the key is ‘you will have reached your ideal minimal closet when you feel AT PEACE with the items you have.’ And that changes from one person to another.”
I hope you enjoyed this selection of comments from the “End Closet Chaos” Facebook group on the topic of how many items is reasonable to purchase each year. I’m sure we didn’t completely exhaust the topic, so I’d love to get your input as well. How many clothing, shoes, and accessories do you buy each year? What do you think is a reasonable number of pieces to purchase in those categories? What factors come into play in determining the right number for you? I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section of this post.
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.