I started this blog in January 2013 with several clear goals. I wanted to stop shopping too much and to stop using shopping as my default activity for dealing with difficult situations and emotions. I also wanted to pare down what had become an overly large and extremely overwhelming wardrobe. A year ago, looking into my closet provoked a sense of deep anxiety within me. I set a goal of cultivating a more manageable and minimalist wardrobe filled only with items I love and wear.
One of my first posts presented the cold, hard facts of what I had in my closet. I did a full closet inventory and laid out the numbers clearly and plainly for all to see. At that time, I had a total of 272 garments, 55 pairs of shoes, 15 purses, and 44 scarves! My grand total of all of these items combined was 386! My goal for the first year of my recovering shopaholic project was to bring this total down to fewer than 250 pieces.
In today’s post, I share my January 2014 closet inventory, along with the progress I’ve made in minimizing my wardrobe over the past year (check out my mid-year closet inventory post to see how I was doing at the halfway point of 2013). I also highlight how I feel about the size of my wardrobe today, as well as how I’d like things to shift during 2014.
My Core Wardrobe Numbers – January 2014
Listed below are all of the item numbers for my core wardrobe categories, followed in parentheses by the change since my January 2013 closet inventory:
- Coats: 11 (same)
- Blazers: 11 (-13)
- Cardigans: 17 (-13)
- Sleeveless Tops & Tanks: 25 (-18)
- Short-Sleeved Tops: 24 (-22)
- Long-Sleeved Tops: 25 (-15)
- Jeans: 7 (-2)
- Pants: 6 (-6)
- Skirts: 12 (-18)
- Dresses: 8 (-9)
- Purses: 15 (same)
- Scarves: 36 (-8)
- Shoes: 36 (-19)
For the two categories that remained the same, some item shifting still took place. In fact, for virtually all of the categories above, some new pieces came in while many old pieces were passed on via charity donations or consignment.
Looking at the Totals
Now let’s look at some totals…
- Tops: 74 (-55)
- Bottoms (skirts, pants): 25 (-26)
- Toppers (coats, jackets, cardigans): 39 (-36)
- Total Number of Garments: 146 (-126!)
- Grand Total with Shoes: 182 (-145!)
- Grand Total with Shoes, Purses, and Scarves: 233 (-153!)
Some great news here! Not only did I pare my wardrobe down by 126 garments and 153 overall items last year, I also met my goal of having fewer than 250 items by the end of 2013!
I am very proud of myself for the positive changes I’ve made over the past year. While I still feel that my wardrobe is too large, it’s definitely far more manageable than it was at the beginning of 2013. I’m moving in the right direction and feeling a lot less wardrobe-related stress and anxiety as a result. It’s now much easier for me to get dressed every day, as I have a much better grasp of what I have and how everything works together. I’m also feeling much better about my sense of style now that the pieces that didn’t work for me have moved out of my closet.
Some Thoughts and Next Steps
Looking at the numbers above, here are some of my thoughts on the current status of my wardrobe:
- The number of bottoms I have (25) is a good number. Assuming I wore each bottom piece equally, each piece would get worn approximately 14 times within a given year.
- I’m in reasonably good shape in regards to toppers as well. If I wear a coat, blazer, or cardigan on a daily basis, by the end of the year I will have worn these items around 9 times each. Of course, there are days when a topper piece is not needed, but the temperate climate where I live combined with my low internal thermostat lead me to wear a jacket or sweater on most days.
- Tops remain the “bloated” area of my wardrobe. Assuming an equal wear ratio, my 74 tops will only be worn about 5 times each by the end of the year. Since I set a goal of 8 yearly wears per garment, clearly I need to pare down my tops further in order to realize this goal.
Not only do I still own too many tops, this area of my wardrobe is the “weakest link” for another reason. Most of my tops are knits that were bought on sale and are not of very high quality. Many are also quite plain and devoid of the type of special details and characteristics that would have them be wardrobe favorites. Although I love the colors and patterns of most of my tops, this simply isn’t enough to make them wardrobe “all-stars.” Consequently, I have set the bar higher for future purchases within this closet category. I plan to purchase very few tops this year, but the ones I do buy will be of higher quality and include more “wow” details that make me smile.
I plan to buy less overall this year and to be more mindful and deliberate in what I buy. My next post will focus on my 2013 purchases – what I did right and where I went wrong – and I’ll be setting some targets and goals to help me shop better in 2014. I really do want to aim for quality over quantity in my wardrobe additions (using many of Dottie’s great tips as a guide) and that will mean buying far fewer pieces overall.
What about Workout and Lounge Wear?
When I did my closet inventory last January, I did not include workout / lounge wear, sleepwear, or jewelry. Although the latter two categories are still not included (I plan to address my jewelry collection soon…), I did start tracking my workout and lounge wear beginning with my July 2013 inventory. While I originally included my casual jackets in my core wardrobe inventory, those items are now part of my workout / lounge wear inventory, as I generally only wear them on walks or when I go to the gym.
I don’t have a tendency to overbuy workout clothing; in fact, I used to really skimp on this area of my wardrobe. I didn’t realize how important it is for us to feel good about what we wear for all of the occasions of our lives, including when we exercise. I’ve since mended my ways and dramatically improved my workout wear during 2013. Here’s what I have today:
- Casual Jackets (worn on walks and to the gym): 6
- Lounge Jackets (at-home only – downgraded items): 2
- Long-Sleeved Tops: 3
- Short-Sleeved Tops: 17
- Long Pants: 6
- Capri Pants: 4
Here are my workout and lounge wear totals and how they compare to my July 2013 numbers:
- Tops: 20 (-2)
- Bottoms: 10 (+1)
- Toppers: 8 (same)
- Grand Total: 38 (-1)
These numbers will probably come down a bit over the next month or so, as I rarely wear some of my workout garments. As with my core wardrobe pieces, I plan to only keep the workout clothes that I love and wear regularly. No need to have clothing in my closet that isn’t being worn!
A Recent Win to Share…
I’d like to share a little story with you before I close this post… This past Saturday, I was running late for an appointment and got dressed rather quickly and haphazardly as a result. Consequently, the outfit I ended up wearing was not really to my liking. I felt old and frumpy and was struck by the strong impulse to go shopping following my appointment.
In the past, I would have done exactly that as a way of ameliorating my appearance-related anxiety. I probably would have bought a few things that were good but not great and I wouldn’t have really solved anything. I simply would have escaped my negative feelings for a little while, while at the same time spending money unwisely and adding to my still too large wardrobe.
This time, however, I did not point my car in the direction of the mall after my appointment was over. Although it would have been very easy to do (the mall was only a mile or so away…), I thought twice about this course of action and made a different choice. I opted instead to go home and shop my closet. I knew that even though my current outfit was not up to par, I had a closet full of other options available to help me achieve a better outcome. After I went home, I quickly made two easy changes that transformed my ho-hum ensemble into a look that had me feeling far more confident and put together.
This led to the realization that I need to spend more time in my closet and less time in the mall or trolling the online stores. I need to take the same approach with myself that I used to take with my wardrobe consulting clients. I need to consider what I have first and take the time to compile a wide range of outfits using the pieces in my closet. This process will help me construct a well-considered list of shopping priorities for the year (I’ve made such lists before, but they have consisted more of wants than demonstrated closet needs). As was the case with virtually all of my clients, I probably need far less than I think I do to take my wardrobe to the next level. A few carefully planned pieces may be all I need to fill in the gaps and create a wardrobe that really works for me.
I feel silly that I hadn’t reached this conclusion before because it seems so obvious to me now! I don’t plan to do any more shopping until I have compiled my priority list for 2014. I only want to buy pieces that will really make a difference in my overall closet happiness. I no longer want to shop just to shop. I’ve done far too much of that and now I want any shopping I do to truly count!
Before You Go… A Few Useful Links
I hope you’re enjoying the links I share at the end of some of my posts. Here are a few more…
- “An Open Letter to the Fashion Friendly” – This article offers advice on sticking to a clothing budget from three of the author’s favorite bloggers, including yours truly! I’m honored to have my tips in this piece along with those from two popular style bloggers, one of whom I’ve followed for years.
- “6 Budgeting Techniques for Curators” – This link was shared in a recent comment on one of my posts. Although I’m familiar with the fabulous blog “Into Mind” (tagline: a minimalist approach to personal style and wardrobe building), I hadn’t seen this particular post. The suggestions in this article will not only help you get more from your clothing dollars, they’ll also empower you to consciously create a wardrobe that truly meets your needs.
- “Limit of Two” – This wonderful article comes from Jill Chivers of “Shop Your Wardrobe” fame, who offers a simple but powerful suggestion to help limit the “I want it all!” impulse that many of us get while shopping. As a former shopaholic, Jill really knows her stuff, and I plan to use this tip moving forward.
- “The 7 Most Baffling Things about Women’s Clothes” – This article is both funny and depressing at the same time! It’s an “oldie but goodie” from 2012 that was recently shared in the comments section of “How to Tell if a Garment is Well-Made.” The author makes some excellent points, some of which I also touched upon in my fashion industry rant post (my most commented on post to date!).
If you come across an article or resource that you feel will benefit your fellow readers, feel free to contact me. If I feel your link is a good match for the “Recovering Shopaholic” community, I would be happy to share it in a future post.