At the beginning of this year, I designated two new categories for the items in my closet, “wardrobe all-stars” and “wardrobe benchwarmers.” Since I have been tracking how often I wear everything I own since the start of 2011, I had accumulated a lot of data about my clothing and shoes. I learned that like most people, I wear some items a lot and other pieces rarely, if at all. I decided to categorize all pieces that were worn at least eight times in a given year as “all-stars” and anything that I didn’t wear at all or only wore once as “benchwarmers.”
My Sad Statistics for 2011 and 2012
Sadly, I learned that in 2012, I only had 39 “all-stars” (26 garments and 13 pairs of shoes), which constituted roughly 12% of my wardrobe. In contrast, I had 146 “benchwarmers” (125 garments and 21 pairs of shoes), a full 45% of what was in my closet! That’s right; close to half of what I owned was only worn once at best last year. Clearly, something had to change! So I created what I termed “The Wardrobe Benchwarmer Project” in order to address the large proportion of my wardrobe that wasn’t seeing the light of day.
Best Intentions and Course Correction
My original intention was to divide my “benchwarmers” into categories that I would address one by one, month by month. I committed to providing an update on my benchwarmer status in the accountability updates I post each month. While I did one such update for February, I soon took on the Project 333 challenge and the benchwarmer project got placed on the back burner. However, as I’ve done so well in paring down the bulk of my closet during and following Project 333, I decided it’s time to take a look at how I’m doing with addressing all of those “benchwarmers.”
Yesterday, I took the time to update my wardrobe tracking spreadsheet, which is one of the ways I keep track of what I own and how often things get worn. Like many things in life, this process took a lot longer than I anticipated. I couldn’t help but wish I’d never gotten myself in the predicament of having a behemoth wardrobe in the first place! But I persevered and now have some interesting statistics to share with you.
An Update on the “All-Stars”
Let’s start on a high note with the “all-stars.” In addition to my 39 all-stars from 2012, I also catalogued 35 all-stars (24 garments and 11 pairs of shoes) in 2011. Interestingly, a full two-thirds (24 items) of my 2011 all-stars retained that status in 2012. I still have 30 of my 2011 all-stars and I believe that at least half of them are on track to remain 2013 all-stars as well.
As for the 2012 all-stars, I still have 38 of them in my closet. Only one 2012 all-star, the grey skirt that was in my initial Project 333 capsule, has left my closet (as a sad victim of an alterations casualty). Amazingly, while I have not yet worn many of my 2012 all-stars 8 or times this year, I still consider most of these pieces wardrobe workhorses. I would say that 30 of my 2012 all-stars (79%) will also achieve that status when 2013 draws to a close. I’m happy to see that I’m making wise decisions with at least some of my purchases! Now my aim is to up that percentage considerably for this year and beyond.
The Worst of the “Benchwarmers”
Now let’s take a look at the benchwarmers, the less happy part of the equation. Sadly, a number of items ended up on both my 2011 and 2012 benchwarmers lists. While I hate to report this somber fact, it’s true that 57 items (52 garments and 5 pairs of shoes) earned their place on the dreaded “two-time losers” list!
Fortunately, more than half of those “closet wallflowers” have made their way out the door since the beginning of this year. That’s the good news! The bad news is that I still have 27 of these pieces and I only feel confident that 13 of them won’t be on the 2013 benchwarmers list! It makes me wonder why the other 14 items are still taking up space in my closet!
I commit to making a decision about all of these benchwarmers by the end of August, as most of them are for warmer weather anyway. It should be easy for me to take these pieces out for a “test drive” soon so I can determine their fate. If I don’t feel they are an “8” or higher, they will be passed on, I promise!
The Rest of the Benchwarmer Story
In a nutshell, below are the rest of my benchwarmer statistics, including a look at how consignment and thrift shopping factors into the equation.
- I still have 52 of my 123 benchwarmers from 2011 (42%). While 25 of these items are no longer benchwarmers (I’ll give myself a pat on the back for that!), 27 of them were carried over to the 2012 list (believe me, I’ve already done the self-flagellation…).
- Of these items, at least 18 (35%) will not be 2013 benchwarmers (meaning I’ve already worn them 2+ times or know that I will do so).
- 24 of my 2011 benchwarmers (20%) were purchased in thrift or consignment stores.
- I still have 70 of my 146 benchwarmers from 2012 (48%). As stated above, 27 of these were also on the 2011 list.
- Of these items, at least 25 (36%) will not be 2013 benchwarmers. That means I still have 45 items for which decisions need to be made.
- 49 of my 2012 benchwarmers (34%) were purchased in thrift or consignment stores.
As you can see, I had quite a few more resale shopping mistakes in 2012 over 2011. As my shopping addiction intensified and I overextended my budget, I turned more and more to thrift and consignment stores to get my “fix.” This proved disastrous, as I was unable to return my mistakes and my closet became more stuffed with garments that didn’t serve my needs.
While I wisely took a step back from resale shopping toward the end of last year, the damage had already been done. I now do far less thrift and consignment shopping and do my best to heed my tips for successful resale shopping. As with all discount buys, a resale purchase is only a deal if you love the item and it meets your lifestyle needs!
The Elephant in the Room
Some blog commenters have asked me why I haven’t just gotten rid of all of my wardrobe benchwarmers. They reason that I must not like any of these items since I rarely or never wore them, so why not alleviate some of my closet woes by just sending them out the door? While I can see the merits of that argument, there is another way of looking at the situation.
When a person has an overabundance of clothing, some “diamonds in the rough” can become lost in the shuffle. As I’ve pushed myself to evaluate my “benchwarmers” and give them a fair shot in actual outfits, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to learn that I actually do love some of them. Here’s a photo of some former benchwarmers that I’m glad I held on to and have been enjoying wearing this year:
On the flip side, however, a few of the garments I raved about in my February Benchwarmer Update have recently left my closet. That can be attributed to my ever increasing standards for quality, fit, and appearance. I have Project 333 to thank for that! Not only have my standards for new garments (and shoes and accessories) increased, I’m also looking at my current wardrobe with a more critical eye. With that in mind, I suspect that many of the remaining benchwarmers will be out the door soon as well.
What’s Next? Stop the Insanity!
I feel the need to take a deep breath after writing all of the above. I used to love spending hours buying new clothes, creating new outfits, and tracking and maintaining my wardrobe. In fact, it gave me a sense of purpose in life and something to do with my time.
I will expand upon this concept in a future post, but for now I’ll just say that I no longer find joy and pleasure in such closet excess. I now find it overwhelming and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I am angry at myself for creating a situation that requires such time and effort to contemplate and track.
I truly feel that I’m a changed woman. After spending hours calculating statistics and writing this post, I feel a sense of exasperation. As the old saying goes, the truth shall set you free. I have seen the truth and I am ready to be done with closet excess, waste, and overwhelm. I am ready to have no more “benchwarmers” in my wardrobe. I’m ready to make a decision about my 45 remaining wardrobe benchwarmers and either start embracing them or let them go.
Here’s my commitment. Not only will I decide upon the “two-time losers” by the end of August, I will determine the fate of all of my wardrobe benchwarmers by that time. I will either have worn them and enjoyed wearing them, or they will be out the door to the thrift or consignment store. The level of time and effort this process has taken borders on the insane, and I’m ready to stop the insanity!
How About You?
Who’s with me? Are you ready to release your wardrobe benchwarmers, as well as any associated guilt and remorse they’ve caused you? Are you ready to pare your wardrobe down to a workable size and eliminate closet overwhelm once and for all? We can do it and it starts now!