The Cold, Hard Facts: What I Have

I did something yesterday that I probably should have done a long time ago… I took an inventory of my closet.  I decided that if I am really going to confront my compulsive shopping issues head on, I need to have all of the facts at my disposal.  I already looked at the cold, hard facts of my finances (how much I’ve spent on shopping over the past 10 years) and what I did and didn’t wear over the past two years.  Next, it was time to turn to my closet and really look at what’s in there.


Doing my closet inventory – Sprite wants to help!

Goal – A Manageable and Minimalist Wardrobe

One of my goals for 2013 (and beyond) is to create a more manageable and minimalist wardrobe filled only with items I love and wear.  My decision to buy less (only one item of clothing and one accessory per month) will help with that goal because it will keep me focused on quality over quantity.   As I wrote about in my post on shopping with limits, the constraints on my shopping will push me to be more selective about what I buy.  For something to be worthy of one of my two purchases per month, it needs to be at least an 8 on a scale of 1-10, and preferably a 10 if at all possible.

I will aim to wear everything in my closet this year and will focus on one wardrobe category per month (for January, it’s been long-sleeved tops – I will write about that process soon).  As I wear what I have, I will make decisions on what to keep, what to alter, and what to donate or consign.  By the end of 2013, I hope to be wearing – and loving – more of what I have and to have pared my wardrobe down to a more manageable size.

Drum Roll… Here are the Numbers

Okay, enough introduction… Now it’s time to present the numbers from my closet inventory.  If I were speaking instead of writing, I would probably say, “Drum roll please…” at this point!

As of today, here is what I have (these numbers don’t include workout/lounge wear, pajamas, or jewelry):

  • Casual jackets:  10 (for walks, etc.)
  • Coats:  11 (including one on the way)
  • Blazers:  24
  • Cardigans: 30  (18 long and 12 short)
  • Sleeveless tops & tanks:  43
  • Short-sleeved tops:  46
  • Long-sleeved tops:  40
  • Jeans:  9
  • Long Pants:  9
  • Capri pants:  3
  • Skirts:  30
  • Dresses:  17
  • Purses:  15
  • Scarves:  44 (yes, I really like scarves!)
  • Shoes:  55

Surprising – and Depressing – Totals

Those are the specifics.  Here are some totals that I found surprising and a bit depressing…

  • Tops:  129
  • Bottoms:  51  (skirts, pants)
  • Toppers:  75  (coats, jackets, cardigans)
  • Total number of garments:  272
  • Grand total with shoes:  327
  • Grand total with shoes, purses, and scarves:  386

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s just too much, especially for a woman who lives in a city (San Diego) without four distinct seasons and who works from home much of the time. I don’t know what an optimal number would be, and I think that what’s ideal will vary from person to person.  I’m guessing, though, that I have probably three times as many clothes and accessories as I need.

100 Carefully Curated Pieces – Doable?

I could probably be quite happy and satisfied with 100 carefully curated wardrobe pieces.  If that’s the case, then I need to pare things down by 75%.  A tall order, but I don’t need to do it overnight.

I will take this year to really evaluate my wardrobe and work on having it meet my lifestyle needs.  I know there are a lot of wonderful pieces in there. After all, most of what I have was purchased in the past couple of years.  It’s not like many of my clients’ closets, in which I find garments from the Clinton administration (or even – gasp – from the Bush 41 or Reagan years!).

Look Forward instead of Backwards

I’m not going to beat myself up for having so many clothes.  What’s done is done and I choose to look forward instead of backwards. I’m sure that many of you are in a similar boat and I have the utmost of empathy and compassion for you.  Together we will work to overcome our compulsive shopping demons. Awareness is an important first step of the process.  The cold, hard truth is out on the table and now it’s time to move forward and fulfill upon our goals for recovery.

Recovery Tip

Take some time to do an inventory of your closet.  It doesn’t take much time (mine took 30 minutes) and it can be an informative and enlightening experience.  Knowing what and how much is in your closet is an important first step toward learning to manage and appreciate what you have.

After you do an inventory of your closet, you may choose to join me in setting some limits on your shopping behavior.  If so, we can help to keep each other accountable and stay strong as we reach our goals.

Please feel free to comment or reach out to me anytime. I’d love to hear from you!

8 thoughts on “The Cold, Hard Facts: What I Have

  1. Hi Debbie: This is just awesome! I can identify in several ways. Although I don’ t feel I buy too many clothes, I do have too many now, accumulated over many years. Some I have not worn in ages. I am inspired to pare down too! Thanks for your words and your encouragement! I am happy to be part of the Goodblog project with you too!

    • Paula Jo, Thank you so much for your comment! I’m glad you like my new blog and this post.

      Many of my clients are in situations just like yours! Check out the “Recovery Tips” page for some helpful tips on doing your own closet audit.

      I am happy to be in the Goodblog Project with you, too! It’s a wonderful program and I’ve gotten a lot out of it (both the first time and now that I am reviewing the course). I look forward to checking out your blog, too.

  2. Wow…I just started doing inventory,counted that I have 55 bottoms and felt the need to google whether or not this is a normal amount. I feel like I dont have THAT much so the total kind of shocked me, especially since I just purged my wardrobe a few weeks ago and got rid of a lot of stuff!

    Now Im trying to tell myself that a third of it is work clothes and not clothes I would wear personally outside an office environment, but maybe I’m just making excuses for myself…

    Time to use your tips! I have made my inventory and will add a column for counting the number of wears to see what is really redundant.

    Thanks for a cool blog!

    • Welcome and thanks for your comment. I’m glad my blog is helpful for you! In regards to what’s a “normal” amount, I don’t think there is one hard and fast number. I wrote a post about this awhile back. Here’s the link in case you haven’t seen it: Perhaps my thoughts on the topic will offer a bit of perspective. Only you can decide how much is normal for you. Good luck! Please check back in and let me know how you’re doing.

  3. I remember the first time I did an inventory of what was in my closet and I was shocked. I had well over 300 items, and I knew I did not wear nearly enough of them regularly. Since then I’ve tried a number of strategies to pare down my closet. One of the first things I tried, was to wear everything in a season. I flipped hangers and everything that went unworn after a season was purged. This helped me purge my closet down to almost half it’s size within a year. Since then, I’ve been trying to further purge my closet, it’s been a much slower process now though.

    • The “hanger trick” is the first method I used, too, Lisa. It’s SO helpful and I still use it today! It’s a simple and very visual representation of what we are and aren’t wearing. Congrats on your excellent progress thus far and best wishes on your continued effort to pare down your wardrobe!

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