I was inspired to reorganize my closet yesterday after reading an article by Jill Chivers titled “You Don’t Wear What You Can’t See.” In this article, Jill offers her top tips for creating an organized wardrobe you can shop in. Since I’m working to “shop my closet” rather than the mall these days, I’m all for learning more about how I can successfully do this.
A New Suggestion
Many of Jill’s tips were things I’ve read and used before. In fact, some of them I’ve even offered myself in previous blog posts. However, there was one suggestion that was new to me which may make a big difference in terms of how I approach my wardrobe:
With prints, I advocate putting them together in a ‘print’ grouping and not interspersing them with your colours…”
I had never thought to separate my printed pieces from my solid pieces. For as long as I can remember, I have divided my closet into sections by garment type and then organized each section by color. In terms of my tops, for example, I hung all of the sleeveless tops together from white to black, and I did the same with my short-sleeved and long-sleeved tops. The printed items were all organized according to their dominant color in the white to black color scheme. I thought this means of organization worked well for me, but since I’m still struggling with my closet, I decided to try Jill’s method for a while.
So I Reorganized My Closet…
So yesterday, I took an hour or so to rearrange my closet as per Jill’s recommendations. I put all of my tops together and organized them into color and pattern groupings. Within each color or pattern grouping, I organized the tops by sleeve length (sleeveless first, then short-sleeved, then long- sleeved). I did the same thing for my toppers, hanging blazers and cardigans together instead of separating them like I’d done previously.
I still kept the tops and toppers I wear with skirts separated from the ones I wear with pants, as these garments are shorter in proportion. I know many of you probably wear the same tops with both pants and skirts, but that never seems to work for my proportions and I haven’t been one to tuck things in, either. The fact that I have different tops for skirts and pants means that my wardrobe is both larger and less versatile. I’ve been okay with that up to now, but I may try to find a way to change that moving forward (a topic for another post perhaps…).
Followed by a Different Type of Closet Inventory…
After I had completed my closet shift, I was immediately struck by how many printed garments I have in my wardrobe. My next inclination was to count my numbers of printed and solid garments. I also took the time to do an inventory of my closet by colors and patterns.
I find it quite interesting that I’ve never done such an inventory before (you can see my last standard inventory here). After all, aren’t I the “Queen of Closet Data”? Those who’ve been reading “Recovering Shopaholic” for a while are well aware of my penchant for compiling data and crunching numbers, but I had never tabulated stats on the colors and prints in my wardrobe. Well, now I have!
It’s amazing how much I continue to learn about my wardrobe through my various closet exploration exercises! I share today’s experiment in the hope that what I’ve learned will shed some light on some of your closet issues and dilemmas. Perhaps some of you will be inspired to either reorganize your closets or do an inventory of the colors and patterns in your wardrobes (if you do, I hope you’ll share what you learn!).
First, I’ll present the numbers and then I’ll share the conclusions I’ve drawn from that information. Here goes!
By the Numbers – Solids vs. Prints
- Number of Solid Garments: 92 (62%)
- Number of Printed Garments: 56 (38%)
- Number of Solids, Including Shoes & Bags: 130 (68%)
- Number of Prints, Including Shoes & Bags: 62 (32%)
I don’t think there’s an ideal proportion of solid versus printed garments in a wardrobe. While it’s true that solid pieces can often be more versatile and easier to mix and match, the current trend for pattern mixing is leveling the playing field a bit. The most important consideration is how often your wardrobe pieces get worn. If you love prints and wear them all the time, then it makes sense to have lots of them in your closet.
As for me, I do wear my printed pieces quite a bit, especially since all of my pants are solids (and all denim, black, or grey at this point). I like to wear printed tops with my pants to “jazz” things up a bit. Interestingly, when it comes to my warm weather wardrobe, I tend to wear prints on my bottom half quite a bit more often. Eleven of my eighteen skirts and dresses are printed (61%) and I have far more solid tops (11 vs. 7) and toppers (11 vs. 5) than prints to wear with them. In contrast, I have almost the same number of solid (29) versus printed (30) tops to wear with pants. But when it comes to toppers for pants, my solids (10, or 22 if you include coats) far outweigh my prints (only 3 at this point).
Later in this post, I’ll share what all of the data presented means in terms of my shopping priority list. I’ve definitely made a few shifts based upon what I’ve learned about the colors and prints in my wardrobe.
By the Numbers – Colors
After my garments had all been separated into sections for solids and prints, I took a few minutes to count my solid garments by colors. Here are the color numbers for the 92 solid pieces in my closet:
- White: 2
- Red: 4
- Orange/Coral/Light Pink: 5
- Yellow: 1
- Green/Teal: 11
- Blue/Navy: 24
- Purple/Burgundy/Wine: 12
- Grey: 7
- Black: 26
The biggest surprise here was how few white pieces I own, especially since I consider white to be one of my key neutrals (see this post for more on that topic). I actually do have a lot of white in my wardrobe, but it’s mostly in the form of prints, as you will see below. However, I didn’t realize how few solid white garments I have until I reorganized my closet to hang all of the colors together!
I was also surprised that red and grey are not as well-represented in my closet as I thought, as those are two of my favorite colors. I have far more black (no surprise…), blue, green, and purple pieces at this point. I’m okay with that, as those are all good tones for my coloring, but I wouldn’t mind adding another piece or two of red and grey to the mix. As for the few orange/coral/pink and yellow pieces, most of them have been in my closet for quite some time. I don’t intend to purchase new garments in those colors since I’m simplifying my color palette, but I’ll keep the pieces I have as long as I like and wear them.
By the Numbers – Pattern Colors
- Black/White: 20
- Black/Grey: 10
- Black/Blue: 4
- Black/Green: 3
- Black/Red: 2
- Blue/White: 3
- Grey/White: 1
- Other: 13
It’s no big surprise that black is so well represented among my prints, as black is the core neutral in my wardrobe. The “other” category includes a few multi-color prints that include black, as well as purple, blue, and pink printed pieces. Almost all of my printed pieces are in the core wardrobe colors that I recently identified.
By the Numbers – Types of Patterns
- Stripes: 30
- Polka Dots: 6
- Leopard Print: 6
- Florals: 4
- Other: 10
Yes, it’s confirmed that I’m a bonafide “stripe-a-holic”! You might think my stripes collection is overkill, but stripes are as much of a signature style for me as animal prints are for Jill Chivers. I love to wear stripes of all different colors and never seem to get tired of them.
I also love polka dots and leopard print (but am veering more toward the grey-toned version than the standard tan/brown tone). Florals are less of a favorite for me, as they can seem too ultra-feminine for my personal style aesthetic. However, I like some of the less “girly” versions of florals, as well as black and white floral prints. The “other” category includes mostly abstract prints in various color schemes.
By the Numbers – Shoes and Bags
In terms of shoes and bags, I have mostly solids and only a few prints. Here are my shoe numbers:
- Silver/Pewter/Grey: 11
- Black: 16
- Tan: 1
- Red: 1
- Leopard Print: 3
- Polka Dot: 1
My handbag numbers aren’t much different:
- Pewter: 5
- Black: 5
- Black/Leopard Print: 1
- Black/Snake Print: 1
I would like to buy another printed pair of shoes (multi-color would be ideal) and a brightly colored bag (probably in cobalt blue). I believe these additions would do a lot to round out my accessories collection in terms of print and color.
The Data and My Shopping Priorities
So what do I make of all of this data? Well I shared some of my conclusions above, in terms of wanting more white pieces in my wardrobe and the shoe and handbag additions I’d like to make. My shopping priorities have changed in other ways based upon what I learned from my closet reorganization. I would like to add the following pieces to my wardrobe this year:
- Grey skirt
- Brightly-colored skirt
- Colored pants (I’ve been trying to find these for a while, but no luck yet!)
- Printed pants (there are lots of these out there, so fingers crossed regarding the length…)
- White special top (by special, I mean some interesting details, not just a solid tee)
- Cobalt special top
- Grey special top
- Red special top
- Brightly-colored dress
- Printed toppers for pants (2-3)
- Multi-color shoes (as mentioned above)
- Brightly-colored handbag (as mentioned above)
That’s all I can think of right now, but if you see any glaring omissions in my wardrobe, please share them with me. Of course, as I bring new pieces into my closet, I will purge some existing items, as I still want to meet my wardrobe goals for 2014.
I’m not sure how long I will keep my closet organized as it is now, but doing the reorganization certainly helped me to increase my awareness of what I own. I may opt to keep my closet as is until the end of June, which is when I generally move things around in order to feature my warm weather garments more prominently (everything is in one closet now!), or I may decide to change it sooner.
At some point, I will likely integrate the prints back in with the solids once again, but I think I’ll definitely keep my tops together in color groups instead of separating them first by sleeve length and then color like I used to. I like being able to better see my color and pattern groupings under the new arrangement. I hope I will wear more of what I have and make better shopping choices now that I more fully understand what I own in terms of colors and prints.
Thanks to Jill Chivers!
A big thanks to Jill Chivers for making me think and for inspiring this post! I will definitely keep you posted about how my recent closet reorganization affects what I wear and my satisfaction with my closet.
By the way, for those of you who are struggling with overshopping, Jill has two amazing programs that were specifically created to help women form healthier relationships with shopping, their wardrobes, and their wallets. I have personally taken both of Jill’s programs and believe they were instrumental in getting me on the path toward overcoming my compulsive shopping problem.
Now I’d love to hear from you… How do you organize your closet? Do you separate your solid and printed garments? Do you use a different organizational structure altogether? I’d love to read about what works best for you. If you make any changes as a result of this post or Jill’s article, please share about why you made the switch, what you learned, and how it’s working for you.