“Benchwarmer Project” Update – February 2013

About a month ago, I introduced my “Wardrobe Benchwarmer Project,” which is a catchy term for my efforts to wear and evaluate everything in my closet this year.  In 2012, I had 146 garments and shoes which were only worn once or not worn at all during the entire year!  I termed these items “wardrobe benchwarmers” (because they sat on the sidelines in my closet) and I was quite dismayed to learn that they constituted close to half of my wardrobe!

I love a good challenge and this year is all about challenge for me in terms of my wardrobe and shopping.  I’ve created compelling goals and strict rules for myself in order to overcome my destructive compulsive shopping habit, and I’ve also decided to address my “wardrobe benchwarmers” head on.  Each month, I will address one or more categories of benchwarmers, wear the items in question, and make definitive decisions as to whether they should remain in my wardrobe or be passed on for someone else to use and enjoy.

Almost 30% of Benchwarmers Addressed So Far!

Although I have given myself the entire year to review and evaluate the benchwarmers in my closet, I find myself wanting to accelerate the process.  I’ve already made excellent progress in not only wearing the items in the designated category for the month, but also delving into future month’s specified benchwarmers.  I started the year with 146 benchwarmers to review and as of today, the count has been reduced to 104.  My hope is that I will finish the process long before the end of the year.

Accelerating the Process – the “Why’s”

My reasons for speeding up the “benchwarmer project” are as follows:

  1. My closet is overly full and I want to eliminate everything that doesn’t work for me so I can create much-needed space and better see what I have.
  2. I want to be wearing everything I have as much as possible.  I would like my closet to be a working closet instead of the “clothing museum” that it has mostly been in recent years.
  3. When I’ve worn some of my benchwarmers, I’ve discovered “diamonds in the rough,” garments and shoes that I truly love and wish I had been wearing and enjoying much sooner.
  4. If I don’t love something, I’d love to pass it on to someone else who will be able to use it.

Donations and “Diamonds in the Rough”

So far this year, I have donated 14 “benchwarmers” from 2012 (as well as 8 other items).  In addition, I have discovered 12 previously unloved garments which I will now enjoy wearing on a regular basis.  Included in this “diamonds in the rough” category are the items shown below.

"Diamonds in the Rough" - February 2013

Some of the “diamonds in the rough” I discovered in February 2013

As I look at these tops, I see some of my favorite themes – stripes, blue, and green.  I wonder why I only wore these items once during the entire year of 2012.  Of course, I know the answer… I just have far too many garments in my closet!

Reflections on the Process

I’ve learned that I have a love/hate relationship with my “Wardrobe Benchwarmer Project.”  In my effort to complete the project well before the end of 2013, I’ve been trying to wear at least one benchwarmer every day.  This has been both challenging and irritating.  Although I’m enjoying the challenge of selecting a benchwarmer (or two!) and creating an outfit around it, I’ve also been annoyed at not being able to just wear what I want each day.  I long to be able to open my closet doors, look for what calls to me, and wear that instead of having to push myself into the unchartered territory of my benchwarmers.

It’s been taking me longer to get dressed because I’m striving to wear everything in my closet.  Sometimes the outfits I try on are fabulous while other times they pretty much fall flat and I have to start over.  For every “diamond in the rough” I’ve discovered, as least one other garment has landed in my donation bag.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

I am making excellent progress, but I can’t help but wish I didn’t put myself in this place to begin with.  My closet remains overwhelming and the light at the end of the tunnel still seems far off in the distance.  But I do see that light and as I buy less and wear more of what I have, the light will grow closer and stronger.  I have faith and I am proud of myself for staying the course and taking action to reach my goal of a curated and minimalist wardrobe.

I have updated my monthly benchwarmer categories.  So far, I have addressed long-sleeved tops, casual jackets, pants, jeans, and coats.  I will give an update on what is leaving my closet in next week’s accountability post.

During March, I will address long cardigans and short-sleeved tops which I wear with pants (I have longer tops for pants and shorter tops to wear with skirts).  As I am able, I will also wear and review garments from other categories, as well as shoes and accessories.

I will give another update on the “benchwarmer project” either in the March Accountability Post or in a separate post in early April.  I have already reviewed close to 30% of my benchwarmers.  It would be wonderful if I can reach 50% by the end of March.  I will strive for that goal and report back!

Recovery Tip

It can be helpful to create a project or game around paring down your wardrobe.  While you may not be aware of exactly how often you wore the items in your closet last year, you probably have some sense of what is getting worn and what is simply taking up space in your closet.

One suggestion is to designate ten or more items to wear and evaluate each month.  Put those pieces in the front of your closet and try to wear one of them each day when you get dressed.  At the end of the day, decide whether you will keep or donate the item in question.  If the garment (or accessory) is in good condition but just isn’t working for you, you may be able to recover some of your losses by consigning it or selling it on Ebay.  The important thing, however, is to get things that you won’t wear out of your closet so you are better able to see and wear your best pieces!

4 thoughts on ““Benchwarmer Project” Update – February 2013

  1. I am so thrilled to find your blog. As I read your “about” page, I thought to myself,this is me exactly. It was as though I had written it about myself. I am excited to join you on this journey and look forward to making reading your blog, a part of my routine.

    • Thanks for your comment! I am happy to have you as a reader (and as a kindred spirit). I knew there were others like me out there and I hope that my journey will be inspirational to other “shopaholics.” Please feel free to comment again anytime.

  2. One of the best bits of advice I have heard was to realize that the cost of a piece of clothing purchased and not worn, was lost when it was originally bought, not when it was eliminated from your closet.

    • Kristina, Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and for your wonderful piece of advice. You are SO right! Why do we flog ourselves for mistakes of the past? Keeping things we don’t love will not make up for the mistake of buying it in the first place, especially if we don’t even wear it! My post today will address that very issue – stay tuned…

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