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.
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!
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.
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!