Mid-Year Closet Inventory: What I Have Now

I’ve spent a big chunk of time over the past few days trying on every single item in my wardrobe.  Although I’ve pared things down considerably since the beginning of the year, this was still no easy task!  Why did I do it?  After completing my Project 333 term and dressing with less for three months, I was ready to make a powerful dent in the girth of my wardrobe.  I’ve really learned “in my bones” that I don’t need tons and tons of clothes in order to dress well and have sufficient variety.

My January 2013 Closet

I will never have a closet this jam-packed again!

The “First Impression” Test

As I tried each item on, I used the “30-second first impression” test recommended by reader and frequent commenter, Deby.  She reasoned that if people have such a short period of time in order to create a powerful first impression, clothing should be held to the same exacting standard.  So I tried each piece on, stood in front of my mirror, and gave it a rating on a scale of one to ten.  If something was not an “8” or above, I placed it in the donate/consign pile.

There were a few exceptions to the “8” or above rule.  As longtime readers know, I have a love/hate relationship with pants.  Due to my height, shape (smaller waist and larger hips), and tendency to retain a lot of water for unexplained reasons, I rarely find a pair of pants or jeans that I love.  I haven’t given up hope and will continue to search, but a few sub-“8” pants have to remain in my wardrobe until suitable replacements are found.

I also left eleven “on the bubble” garments in my closet for a one-month probation of sorts.  The majority of these pieces need some sort of alteration, but I’m unsure if I should pursue that avenue or let the item go.  A few more I’d like to “test-drive” for a day, as they may prove too “fussy” to hold on to.

A Very Successful Closet Audit!

At the end of my lengthy closet audit process, I had designated 39 items to either consign or donate.  Included in this closet purge were:

  • 16 Tops
  • 3 Jackets
  • 5 Cardigans
  • 2 Dresses
  • 4 Skirts
  • 3 Pants/Jeans
  • 5 Pairs of Shoes (2 of which I only recently rediscovered in boxes in another closet!)
  • 1 Purse

Below is a photo of the items I’m passing along.  Everything listed above is shown except for the two rediscovered pairs of shoes, which harken back to the 90’s, believe it or not. They are both formal shoes that were only worn once or twice to company holiday parties.  I kept them because they were “still good” and because I might wear them again one day.  I think that after close to twenty years, it’s safe to say that’s probably not going to happen!

July Closet Purge

All of these items left my closet over the past few days!

My Husband’s Surprising Reaction

Whew!  That was hard work, but I’m proud of myself for being able to let go of many more less than stellar pieces.  Interestingly, my husband did not seem to mind that I was eliminating so many items from my wardrobe.  In fact, he seemed to be in favor of the idea!  Perhaps Project 333 worked some magic on him without him having to dress with only 33 items over the past three months.  A few times, I asked his opinion on something I’d tried on.  More times than not, he said something to the effect of, “You have better,” and encouraged me to pass the item in question on.

It was definitely nice to have a “green light” from the hubby to minimize my wardrobe, but I felt sufficiently motivated to do it with or without his approval.  It’s amazing how much more selective I’ve gotten since I slowed down the “buying machine” and have taken the time to really consider what I already own.  I’m looking more at the quality, fit, and suitability of everything in my closet instead of focusing primarily on bringing new things in.  Although I’ve still shopped this year and even during Project 333, I’ve bought much less overall and have made far fewer buying mistakes.  Good things are happening on my “recovering shopaholic” journey!

What I Now Have as of July 2, 2013

After I finished my closet audit, I conducted a mid-year closet inventory.  Back in January, I took a preliminary count of my clothes, shoes, and some accessories, and I was not happy with the numbers!  Since that time, I’ve made a concerted effort to pare things down to a more manageable level.  Although I’m not yet where I want to be in terms of my closet count, I am able to report what I consider to be amazing progress!

Below are my item counts as of today, followed in parentheses by the change since my January 2013 closet inventory:

  • Casual Jackets:  7  (-3)
  • Coats:  13  (+2)
  • Blazers:  12  (-12)
  • Cardigans:  19   (-11) 
  • Sleeveless Tops & Tanks:  31   (-12)
  • Short-Sleeved Tops:   34  (-12)
  • Long-Sleeved Tops:  21   (-19)
  • Jeans:  6  (-3)
  • Pants:   6  (-3)
  • Capri Pants:  1  (-2)
  • Skirts:  15  (-15)
  • Dresses:  9   (-8)
  • Purses:  15  (same)
  • Scarves:   40  (-4)
  • Shoes:  46  (-9)

My Much Better Totals

Back in January, I shared what I termed “surprising – and depressing – totals.”  Today I am able to report new totals that also surprised me, but in a much more pleasant way:

  • Tops:   86  (-43)
  • Bottoms (skirts, pants):  28   (-23)
  • Toppers (coats, jackets, cardigans):  51  (-24)
  • Total Number of Garments:  174  (-98!)
  • Grand Total with Shoes:  220  (-107)
  • Grand Total with Shoes, Purses, and Scarves:  275   (-111)

Yes, these totals are still too high, but I’ve purged almost 100 garments from my closet in less than six months, and I feel that’s something to celebrate!  In addition to letting go of so many total pieces, I’ve cut the number of blazers, skirts, dresses, and long-sleeved tops I own in half.  I’m also proud to report that instead of nine black skirts, I now only own three.  Much better!

I’m now going to continue the plan I outlined in my Project 333 Week 12 Update.  I will wear what I feel compelled to wear and only bring items back into my closet after they’ve been worn.  If I wear something and find it fussy, uncomfortable, or unflattering, it will go into my consign/donate bag instead of my closet.  No need to keep anything I don’t love!

Workout and Lounge Wear

I did not include workout clothes and lounge wear in my January closet inventory, but I’ve been making a focused effort to overhaul this area of my wardrobe, too.   Since I wear these types of items so often, I’ve started to replace lower quality and worn out garments with newer, well-made pieces.  I’ve also started to track how often I wear the items in this segment of my wardrobe.  I will do a follow-up post to “Neglected Wardrobe Areas” soon, but for now, here’s what I have in the way of workout and lounge wear:

  • Tops:   22   (19 new in 2013)
  • Long Pants:   5
  • Capri Pants:   4

I am set for tops at this point, but would like to find a few replacement pants for this wardrobe category within the next few months.

What’s Next?

Within the next couple of weeks, I will post an update on how I’m doing with my “Wardrobe Benchwarmer Project.”  I suspect I won’t need until the end of the year to evaluate all of my benchwarmers.  However, I do plan to purge any item that has not been worn at least twice by the end of the year!   I will also do another closet inventory later in the year to check in on how I’m doing.

I suspect that after I have a chance to wear more of my warm weather clothing, I’ll find some garments that won’t make the cut.  In addition, I have some shoes that may not pass the comfort test.  Although I used to buy quite a few “taxi shoes” in years gone by, I am committed to only keeping shoes that don’t hurt my feet.  I plan to test out all of my shoes by wearing them for a full day.  If they pinch, bind, or produce blisters, out they go!  Life’s too short to wear painful shoes!

Have You Done a Closet Inventory?

If you’ve never done a closet inventory, I highly recommend it!  If nothing else, you’ll have a much better sense of what you have and you can work from there.  If you have the time and the inclination, I also suggest that you take the time to try everything on.  I know I had a number of pieces I thought were good or fine that I hated after seeing myself in them.

Unless you’ve worn something recently, why simply guess if it works or not?  As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Try things on and subject them to the “first impression test.”  If you have to keep something until a replacement is purchased, at least you’ll be informed as to your shopping priorities.  If your jeans aren’t up to par, look for new ones before picking up those trendy items that won’t last more than a few months.  Do yourself a favor and put first things first!

34 thoughts on “Mid-Year Closet Inventory: What I Have Now

  1. Hi Debbie! UK reader here. I have been lurking on your website for a few months now, but this is my first comment. I think you’re a strong, brave woman with an awful lot going for you. I salute your courage – you’ve faced yourself and are definitely winning! Three cheers for you!
    I have also been struggling with my wardrobe for about ten years, but this year I swore I was going to get it sorted. Unlike you, I’m not a shopaholic. I’m the opposite – a clothesorexic. I buy my summer wardrobe, for example, then by the end of the summer, I give it all to the charity shop because I don’t think I look right in any of it. How weird is that? But this year, I have been steadily buying the styles which I love and not taking any notice of fashions or what’s trendy. I am so getting there! My wardrobe is filling out nicely, and I am certain I will not be shifting any of these clothes for a long time! Well done for your great progress, I am proud of you. You’re an inspiration not just to shopaholics but also to people like me who struggle with other clothing issues. Bravo!

    • Welcome, Magic Rabbit, and thanks for all of your wonderful praise! What you wrote about buying what you love instead of the current fashion trends is a key part of the equation, I’ve learned. For a long time, I was listening to too many others – sales people, fashion bloggers, friends, etc. I also donated a lot of items after wearing them once or twice – or even not at all. I just shopped a lot more than you did – LOL! Congrats on the changes you’ve made this year! I’m glad my blog has been inspiring and I wish you continued success!

  2. What terrific progress! I find it amazing that you have cut such a big percentage of your wardrobe and hope you are truly enjoying the results.

    • Thanks, Juhli! I am very happy to be getting closer to my wardrobe goals. I still have too much, but I’m moving in the right direction. Project 333 helped a lot!

    • Thanks so much! You’re right that less is definitely more! From here on out, I’m aiming for quality over quantity. That’s my new mantra!

  3. Woah Debbie, this is amazing! You should be proud of yourself for doing so well in 6 months. Now the challenge is to not buy it all back. 🙂

    I’m inspired by your detailed tracking efforts, and am planning on doing a full inventory of my own clothing and posting that to my blog- before I select the 33 for the summer. There are about 60 items I have not worn once in 9 months (because they didn’t make it into any P333 season (this will be my fourth from July 1st), and if they don’t make it into the 4th season, I won’t have worn them for a year by the time October rolls around. I will be asking myself the hard questions on whether I can let them all go.

    You’ve made huge progress with your wardrobe, and I hope that you continue to refine your own personal style, independent of the latest fashion trends.

    Here’s to smaller wardrobes/closets! 🙂

    • Thanks, Linda! You’re right about the challenge to not buy it all back! I’ve certainly done that a lot in the past, but am feeling stronger these days. I agree that refining my personal style independent of fashion trends will be beneficial to me. I think that I either bought things I didn’t love or got discouraged when trends didn’t work for my body. I want to look nice, but I need to start trusting myself more… I look forward to reading your wardrobe inventory post and am happy to have inspired you to take what I believe will be a helpful step.

  4. This is so interesting, and such an inspiration, but from the opposite direction. At the end of 2012 I had about 20 pieces of clothing–I lost about 40 pounds in 2011 and was waiting to make sure I was at a sustainable weight before buying new clothes. I was never much of a shopper. Then over the last six months, I unexpectedly lost 15 more pounds and pretty much nothing fit anymore. I have an office job and dressing for work was such a struggle, and going to conferences wearing a giant over-sized suit was beyond embarrassing. It took a long time for me to believe that I really fit in the tiny sizes now.

    I started reading your blog when I began thinking seriously about the wardrobe that I want to have. I am really cheap and I needed everything, but after a lot of eBay and thrift store shopping I am up to about 70 pieces of clothing, which feels close to right, although I need to have a few alterations done. Most exciting: after over a year with only two baggy pairs of pants, I now have three pairs that fit perfectly and one more that only needs hemming!

    I have made a fair number of mistakes but I’m beginning to feel like this is inevitable, and although I have to donate the mistakes right back at least these clothes are inexpensive enough that that’s not a complete disaster. Anyway, your wardrobe posts inspired me to make an Excel spreadsheet where I’ve been entering all my clothing and accessories. I think it will help a lot in deciding what should stay and go in the future. I suspect that without some kind of system it would be easy to go crazy in the opposite direction and overbuy.

    I have no interest in doing Project 333 any time soon; I feel like I’ve spent long enough with a tiny wardrobe and for now I’m really enjoying having more choices (I’ve also noticed that not many people doing the challenge have jobs like mine where professional dress is required). However I’m definitely interested in figuring out an optimal wardrobe size that gives me interesting choices–including pieces that I can wear to dressy evening events, which have historically been a total nightmare for me as I quite literally had NOTHING TO WEAR except my over-sized suit, which raised eyebrows when everyone else was in long gowns–without driving me crazy. Any thoughts about how many items people really need in their closet in order to feel prepared for life without feeling overwhelmed?

    • Welcome, Dorie, and congratulations on your amazing weight loss, as well as the excellent progress you’ve made with your wardrobe! I think that shopping at thrift/consignment stores and on eBay is a good way to go when you are on a limited budget and are uncertain about what you really like. I think that everyone makes mistakes at times, but they tend to be more common in the beginning. As to how many items a person needs, I’ve written about that in the past. See “What is a Normal-Sized Wardrobe?” for one. I think the number varies from person to person, but I can’t imagine most people needing more than 100-150 pieces and most people could be quite happy with far fewer pieces. I’m still not sure on my optimal number, but I think I’ll become clearer as I go along. I wish you continued success and I hope you comment again! I’m glad my blog has been helpful to you!

  5. You are amazing.

    Like you, I went through several iterations of purging clothes when I enlisted in the 333 Program. The only thing I refused to pare down was my jewelry. I’ve invested a lot of time and money into having a collection that makes me smile (I think of jewelry as Legos for Ladies).

    I ended up keeping several items I believed were important to have. Over time, they went to a donation box. I’d find myself saying, “Self, you do not want to use this today and you haven’t wanted to use it any day since 333 began.”

    Shopping has also become a much easier experience. Here’s what I do:
    1. Make a list – Buy only what I need
    2. Dress up, fix my hair, and have fresh make-up on my face. Let’s face it (pun intended), we have to walk through departments of enticing things to arrive at the one item we want to buy. Little else in the store looks as good as what I already have on. Temptation thwarted!
    3. Purchase items well in advance of when I need to use them. I keep the tags on clothes and receipts in hand. It gives me time to make certain I purchased the EXACT right item.
    4. Pin outfits and items I love on my Pinterest board. I review the board before I shop. It keeps me in touch with what I like to wear so I am not lured by that one-off, albeit cute, dress (skirt, blouse, sweater…) *How many times are we encouraged to buy an article of clothing because the sales rep says, “It looks sooooooooo good on you”?

    333 has been very good for me. I hope you enjoy it, too!

    • Welcome, Beth, and thanks for your praise, insights, and suggestions! I love your characterization of jewelry as “Legos for Ladies.” I resonate with that… Your suggestions for shopping are excellent! I always recommend that people wear clothes they love to shop and shop with a list. Taking too much stock in what salespeople say can be dangerous. I remember a line from Seinfeld: “You know, they DO work on commission…” We have to trust our own inner voices! Project 333 helped me SO much with my wardrobe. I wasn’t going to do it again, but am leaning more in that direction…

    • Thanks, Rochelle! I do plan to celebrate. My husband and I are taking an overnight trip. It’s mostly for our anniversary (tomorrow – 12 years!), but I also see it as a reward for completing the Project 333 challenge and paring down my wardrobe 🙂

  6. I love that you described some shoes as “still good” — I use that excuse all the time! I’m finally at a point where I can donate items that are “still good” and feel great about passing them along to someone who will love them.

    I’ve been anonymously enjoying your blog for about a month, and I’m so much happier now that I’ve created a capsule wardrobe. I’m at about 60 pieces for June-August (including shoes, but excluding bags and accessories). Wanted to share something that worked well for me: at the beginning of June I went to the hardware store and bought 40 metal washers (spent about $1.73) and slipped them over every hanger in my closet. If I wore the item, I removed the washer from the hanger. One month later I can see a few items that still have their washers, and I’m ready to put them on wardrobe probation.

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us all!

    • This is such a great idea! I’m doing the backwards hanger trick, but within the layout/ of my closet it’s super awkward.

      I also created a simple spreadsheet to keep track of what I’m wearing within the P333 challenge.

  7. What a great job Debbie! Hopefully having only items that you really like left in your closet will make the urge to shop less.

    • Thanks, Tonya! So far, so good… I haven’t wanted to shop as much, but the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is just around the corner. That will be a big test of my resolve for sure!

  8. Fantastic job Debbie! Congratulations! I don’t comment much but I look for new posts from you all the time. I really enjoy your honesty and your writing. It’s so refreshing to read a fashion blog where it’s not buy, buy, buy. I wanted to let you know that you really inspire me. I hope you and your husband enjoy your time away! Happy 12th Anniversary!

    • I’m so glad you like my blog, Kim! I’m happy to be an inspiration to others who struggle with compulsive shopping. You’re right in that there isn’t much about there with a focus on clothes that isn’t about buying more, more, more. That’s part of why I started this blog! My husband and I had a wonderful overnight trip. Thanks for the good wishes!

  9. Congrats Debbie! A great accomplishment and looks like you’ve made amazing progress. The number of pieces you got rid of is the exact number of pieces I have in my wardrobe! I get a bit too obsessive about keeping my wardrobe down to certain number and need to stop counting. My goal is 100 items but I need to relax about the exact number and concentrate on the actual pieces I do use. It’s not like those extra 11 items are bursting open my closet doors. My true goal is to change the 20/80 rule to 90/90: Instead of wearing 20% of my wardrobe 80% of the time, I want to wear 90% of my wardrobe 90% of the time. I really only need two outfits for special occasions that really only accounts for 10% of the year. I think this maybe a more practical numeric system to see your wardrobe instead of the actual number of items you own. In the end, P333 is much more about eliminating items that don’t serve you and keeping items you actually wear.

    • I have similar goals as you do, Wendy. I feel like I’m getting there, but I still have a way to go. Project 333 helped a lot, which is why I’m considering doing it again or a similar challenge. Your wardrobe seems to be a very nice and manageable size. I like the idea of 100 items or thereabouts, but we’ll see where I end up…

  10. Just wanted to let you know how much I love reading your blog, and that I really appreciate all the effort you put into your posts. I am always excited when there’s a new post to read!
    My circumstances are somewhat different from yours, but many of the basic issues are the same. I used to buy a lot of used clothes online, they weren’t a lot of money, but more than half the time they didn’t work for me and I donated them. I have stopped buying used clothes online 🙂
    Working through my shopping issues will be an ongoing journey. I overspend in a variety of area, including cosmetics, music/books, and jewelry. I am working on eliminating overspending, but as you know, it is slow going at times.
    I hope you have a wonderful anniversary, and a lovely vacation.
    Thanks so much for all that you do; it is much appreciated.

    • Welcome, Katt! I’m glad you like my blog and I appreciate your acknowledging the effort I put into my posts. I haven’t done much online buying, but I have bought a lot of thrift, consignment, and retail items that got donated after 1 or 2 wears (or even no wears). I realize the “how many things I bought” part of the equation hasn’t been addressed yet, so I will post about that soon. I need to come clean on that “cold, hard truth,” too, although this year things have improved dramatically.

      You’re right in that working on our shopping issues is an ongoing journey. There is the behavioral aspect of it, but the emotional aspect really needs to be addressed as well. If one doesn’t look at WHY they over-shop, the behavior will likely continue, even after periods of abstinence. That has always been true for me. But there IS hope to recover and if I can play a role in that for others, I am truly honored!

  11. Debbie congratulations on your 12th anniversary and also for the latest reduction in your wardrobe.
    I’ve been using your tracking system with great success and am planning to let go of some items that have only been worn once by the end of winter.
    Looking forward to hearing about your plans for the future – it should definitely include writing 🙂

    • I’m glad my tracking system is helping you, Megan! I hope your winter down under is treating you well 🙂 Thanks for your anniversary wishes and compliments on my writing. Writing will definitely be a part of my future! It’s a passion of mine and I will keep on doing it either as a hobby or as a career!

  12. Well, coincidentally with Independence Day, I am officially finished with organizing and tweaking my spring/summer wardrobe until Oct.1, when I start focusing on the fall/winter. 3 months of freedom to enjoy my newly configured closet! I’m sure some garments will fall by the wayside in the next three months. I feel satisfied with my 92 garments (down from a starting count of 283). It took 3 months to get this far, but its been worth it on many levels.

    In a way I am dreading when it comes time in early October to tackle fall/winter, because I know how challenging the culling and organizing will be, but perhaps I will be able to sail through more smoothly now that I have this experience.

    A few years ago I did a self color analysis with the help of a very unique book by David Zyla entitled “The Color of Style”. I recommend this book to everyone who would like to really hone in on their best colors. Since I lost my original analysis in the process of moving, I’m going to redo the analysis. If any of you want to do this as well, I’ve found the best way to get a huge variety of color swatches is to go to a paint store.

    • Congratulations on your amazing progress, Deby! You have basically cut your spring/summer wardrobe by 2/3 and that’s remarkable. I’m glad you will have 3 months to enjoy your streamlined closet before you have to look at fall/winter. We don’t get true seasons here, but I’m keeping the warmer things I have in a box until I need them.

      Thanks for the book recommendation. I haven’t heard of that one but it sounds interesting. Like you, I love color! I just looked on Amazon and see that David Zyla released a sequel called “Color Your Style” about wearing your best colors. Seem like excellent books for anyone who is confused about what colors to wear and how to combine colors. With the styling clients I’ve had, color combining was one of their biggest issues and one of the ways I was able to help them the most.

  13. Well done! I’ve got rid of a similar amount of clothing over the last few months – my wardrobe is also now around 220 items (including shoes), down from over 300 not so long ago. I’ve also been really strict on the one in/one out rule – as well as keeping strict limits on shopping:-)
    Its feeling good

    • Well done back at you, Ally! We’re both made really good progress! The one in, one out rule is excellent and I plan to use it long-term. This year, it’s been more like one in, three or four out, but I needed that. For most, one in, one out is all they really need to keep their wardrobe at a manageable level.

  14. Hi Debby!

    Just discovered your blog through a link and got to tell you I really love it!!!!
    I’m right now in the middle of a process to find myself, or trying to redefine myself (sorry for my English, I’m Spanish). Like you, I take the 333 project challenge, and it has made me aware of the stuff I have and I don’t use. I began with my closet but try to expand it to the rest of my home and life.
    In my closet inventory I have right now nearly 200 items (bags, shoes, jewellry and belts apart), after donating 3 big suitcases of clothes.
    Like I said before, I’m trying to redefine myself, I’m 33 and still wearing jeans and t-shirts, and think that, being a teacher, I need a more sophisticated look. I’m starting to add blouses to my closet and more colored and different bottoms (hard to believe, but I had no white, black or red jeans or pants).
    Anyway, I made my inventory but haven’t taken any pics (like to, cause I’m planning on using an outfit app to take control of what I wear and what I don’t).
    Really, really inspiring blog!

    • Welcome, Ana! I’m glad you found my blog and that’s it’s helped to inspire you. Congrats on getting rid of 3 big suitcases of clothes – that’s amazing progress! We are on a similar path in terms of wanting to pare down our closets and create more sophisticated wardrobes. I don’t have any white or red pants/jeans, either. I have black, but I wear a lot of black (perhaps too much). It may take a bit of time, but we can both get to a better place with our style. Best of luck to you! Please write again and let me know how you’re doing!

  15. It sounds like you have made great progress cleaning out your closet. For me, at one point a few years ago, I had well over 300 items, and that was just the clothes, shoes, bags and outerwear were not included in that total. Today I have about 150 items, still more than I would like, but better than I used to be. A few months ago, I had number creep and was at 184 items. I forgot to keep one in-one out my new purchases and my count started to grow. I ended up doing a closet purge to get the number back down to 150 items. It’s been a challenge since then, to get past this number. I know I don’t wear all these items, but after so many years of purging, all the ill fitting, out of style, wrong colors, really worn clothes are long gone. It’s not as easy to donate or sell pieces that are recent purchases but I don’t need hence the stall right now.

    • I am in a similar place as you are now, Lisa. It’s harder to purge a lot at one time, so one-in, one-out is a good strategy to use. Last year, it was more like one-in, two-out for me, but I’m feeling much better about the size of my wardrobe now (it’s about 150 items including outerwear but not shoes and bags). I would still like to pare down a bit, but I feel that will happen in time as I buy less and basically adhere to a one-in, one-out rule. Congrats on recognizing your number creep and turning things around!

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