In a number of my posts, I’ve made reference to how often I’ve worn various garments in my closet. I’ve even coined some new terms, such as “wardrobe benchwarmers” and “wardrobe all-stars” to describe rarely worn and frequently worn pieces. Such information has elicited a number of questions from readers, asking how I track my wardrobe.
But before I outline the specific methods I use to track my wardrobe (that will be my next post…), I first want to discuss why I feel it’s important to do it. After all, some of you may not be convinced. You may feel that wardrobe tracking is too difficult or time-consuming to even consider. In truth, it doesn’t have to be either of those things. Although the initial set-up may take a bit of time, I probably spend less than a minute each day in tracking what I wear. In my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the time and effort involved.
Three Big Reasons for Wardrobe Tracking
Why track your wardrobe? As I see it, the main reasons for wardrobe tracking are to:
- Know What You Have
- Know What You Wear
- Learn What You Need
Know What You Have
In my first month of “Recovering Shopaholic,” I did several posts in which I shared the “cold, hard facts” of my shopping expenditures, what’s in my closet, and what I did and didn’t wear. I’m sure most of you are aware of the importance of looking at financial numbers and understanding where your money is being spent. While I’ve tracked my shopping-related spending for over ten years and cataloged what I wore since the beginning of 2011, I did not conduct a closet inventory until January of this year.
Until I actually took the time to count the items in my closet, I had no idea that I had 129 tops, 51 bottoms (skirts, pants), 75 toppers (coats, jackets, cardigans), and 53 pairs of shoes! Sure, I knew I had a lot of clothes, but until the actual numbers were staring me in the face, I was still able to delude myself that perhaps I needed yet another blazer or cardigan. Doing my closet inventory was an important step in my recovery, as it helped me to fully grasp the extent of my wardrobe excess.
Know What You Wear
Do you have any idea how often you wear the garments in your closet? We often believe we’re wearing our clothes much more than we actually are. While we may believe we wear each of our twenty pairs of jeans a few times per month, pure logic will tell us that isn’t really possible (unless we’re wearing several outfits each day!).
Why is it important to know how often we wear our clothes? The main two reasons are to make sure we’re getting our money’s worth from what we buy and to help guide our future purchases. Cost per wear is an important consideration, especially when contemplating buying something expensive. For example, some may scoff at the $200-plus price tag for premium denim jeans. But for someone who virtually lives in jeans, such an item may be practical. If a woman wears her $200 jeans a hundred times, the cost per wear is only $2. In contrast, a $200 formal dress that may only be worn once or twice may not be a wise investment.
What Do You Wear on a Regular Basis?
If we track what we wear and notice that we mostly wear casual pieces and rarely wear our more formal garments, hopefully we’ll realize that it’s not a good idea to buy more items in the latter category. Without tracking, we might continue to buy what we’re most drawn to instead of purchasing the types of clothes we actually wear on a regular basis.
I know that was true for me. For years, I bought an abundance of high heels and “going out clothes” that rarely saw the light of day. I just don’t go out all that much! After tracking what I wore during 2011, I placed a moratorium on buying fancy dresses and “taxi shoes.” Although I can’t say I stuck with my ban 100% of the time, I did save myself some money by mostly refraining from buying the types of clothes I loved but hardly ever wore.
Learn What You Need
Just as you’ll better understand what not to buy through tracking what you wear, tracking will also help you learn what pieces you might need to round out your wardrobe. If you see that you wear certain types of items on a regular basis, you may be able to anticipate closet needs in advance. For example, if your favorite white t-shirt is used in your outfits on a weekly basis, you may want to be on the lookout for a replacement so you won’t need to go without when your “wardrobe workhouse” bites the dust.
One way in which wardrobe tracking has helped me (although I must admit to being a slow learner in this respect) is that it highlighted my tendency to buy too many of a certain type of item while virtually ignoring another important category. Case in point… I have tons of knit tops and almost no blouses. I probably would have noticed this sooner had I divided my tops into categories beyond sleeve length, but the important thing is that I eventually did notice the blouse gap in my closet. I’ve now decided to stop buying knit tops for the foreseeable future and to add a few (read – not twenty!) blouses to the mix.
Need Vs. Want
Of course, need is a relative term. My mother used to always tell me, “There is a big difference between need and want.” While that saying annoyed me back then (and I don’t love it even now), there is some merit to it. There are no absolutes in terms of how many clothes a person should have in his or her wardrobe, as there are many factors involved. Obviously, those who work from home or wear a uniform to work don’t need as many clothes as someone who works in a formal office environment five days per week. But even so, there are minimalists (such as Project 333 adherents) who stretch a small wardrobe to meet all of their lifestyle needs.
Deciding how many clothes one needs is a very individual decision. I used to love having a large wardrobe, as I believed I needed as many options as possible in order to dress well. I’ve since learned the error of my ways and am working on paring my wardrobe down to a more manageable size. Even so, there may be items here and there that I may choose to add to my closet to enhance my outfits and modernize my look.
My wardrobe tracking can help to guide my purchasing decisions by showing me what types of things I most enjoy wearing. For example, I’ve noticed that last year I wore my shorter and narrower skirts more than the longer and fuller ones. So if I decide I need (or even want…) a new skirt, it would be more prudent to search for a shorter, slimmer option.
Have I Convinced You?
I could provide many more examples to illustrate my points, but hopefully I’ve convinced you of the value of tracking what you have in your closet and how often you wear the garments you own. My next post will delve into the specifics of how I do my wardrobe tracking. Some of the methods are very easy and straight-forward and can be implemented immediately. Others will take a bit of set-up work, but you can be off and running with all of it within a few short hours. Stay tuned…