Get Dressed Easier with Closet “Cheat Sheets”

Sometimes we need to get dressed quickly and get out the door.  We often don’t have much time to put together new ensembles, so we tend to stick with the same “tried and true” outfits we’ve worn countless times.  The fact that many of us are perpetually short of time goes a long way toward explaining why most women wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time.

Creative Solutions to Closet Conundrums

Wardrobe Management Tips

Do you reach for the same combinations over and over?

I have more time than a lot of people, but I still find myself reaching for the same combinations time and again.  However, since I’m working toward cultivating a smaller and more workable wardrobe, I really want to make sure all of my closet items are earning their keep.  If things aren’t getting worn, I either need to find ways to make it easier to wear them or pass the neglected pieces on for donation or consignment.

Whenever I have a problem to solve, I always try to come up with a creative solution that will work for my unique situation.  When the problem in question relates to my wardrobe, there’s often some sort of tracking or calculations involved.  In today’s post, I share one of my wardrobe “problems” and what I did to solve it.  Since many of you may not share my particular dilemma, I also explore how similar methods can be employed to solve other types of closet conundrums you might encounter.

My Pants and Shoes Dilemma

When I shared photos of my Project 333 capsule items back in January, I received comments that some of my shoes looked quite similar, in particular the two pairs of black boots I had selected.  In response, I shared that I included both pairs of boots because the heel heights were about an inch apart and I wore them with different lengths of pants. I’m very particular about what Angie of “You Look Fab” terms “PPL,” which stands for perfect pant lengths.  As a result, I not only have some virtual duplicate shoes in my closet, but it’s also difficult for me to remember which shoes to wear with which pants.

Shoe selection process

Do you struggle with pairing shoes with pants?

Now I know that some of you get around such dilemmas by either exclusively wearing skinny jeans or by hemming all of your pants to the same length and wearing identically heeled shoes.  Those of you who are nodding your heads right now are far cleverer than I.  Moving forward, my plan is to center on two main shoe heights and hem all of my pants accordingly.  However, in the meantime, I need to do my best to work with the variety of pant lengths and shoe heights I currently have in my closet, especially as it relates to items that I love and enjoy wearing.

The Closet “Cheat Sheet”

Enter the closet “cheat sheet.”  I took some time over the past week to try on all of my pants with my various shoes and jot down notes regarding which shoes look best with each pair of pants.  Yes, this took a chunk of time, but I was tired of either wearing the wrong shoes when I’m in a hurry or spending too much time switching out my shoes as I prepare to head out the door.   I also have a trip coming up and I want to streamline my selection process and only pack two or three pairs of shoes to take with me.

After I finished my try-on and note-taking process, I created two “cheat sheets” to help me with my “which shoes with which pants?” dilemma.  The first cheat sheet lists each of my pants (yes, I only have 12 pairs) and itemizes the shoes which coordinate well with them.  The second cheat sheet lists my various shoes followed by the pants that are good matches for each.  See the photos below for a quick look at my new “cheat sheets” (click on the photos for a larger view).

Pants "Cheat Sheet"
Shoes "Cheat Sheet"

What About Shoes for Skirts and Alternate Pant Silhouettes?

I plan to keep these cheat sheets in my closet to streamline my getting dressed process each day.  As we enter into the warmer weather season, I may opt to create additional references for my skirts and dresses and the shoes I wear with them (I have other shoes besides those listed above).  However, those pairings are generally much simpler, as I don’t have to worry about how the height of the shoe impacts the length of my skirts and dresses (except in the case of maxi-length garments).

There is some overlap in terms of the shoes I wear with pants versus those I wear with skirts/dresses, but my pants are really the main problem when it comes to shoe pairings.  I can definitely understand why skinny silhouettes and cropped pants have become so popular in recent years, as the shoe conundrum is far less of an issue with such garments.

I’ve mentioned that I added one pair of skinny jeans to my wardrobe in recent months, but I don’t see myself boarding the cropped pants train anytime soon.  I’ll never say never, but after years of struggling to find pants that are long enough for me, the currently trendy ankle length (which is generally a few inches above the ankle) just looks “off” to my eye.  I’ll leave this trend to those who love it and wait until full-length trousers come back into vogue.   Yes, wearing full-length pants makes the shoe issue more difficult, but I now have a plan in place for dealing with it.

Other Types of “Cheat Sheets”

Now, some of you may have read what I wrote above and either thought I was far too anal-retentive or just couldn’t relate to my particular challenge.  Well, if you like the idea of using a closet cheat sheet but see no need for the type I mentioned, let me assure you that there are many alternate applications which can be employed.  Below are some other ways you can use “cheat sheets” to help you manage your wardrobe.

Garment Pairings

Do you always wear the same pieces together?  Do you want to mix it up a bit but struggle to do so when pressed for time each day?  Here’s where a closet cheat sheet can really come in handy.  When you have some free time, perhaps on a weekend, play in your closet and create new outfits using some favorite pieces or those tricky items you aren’t sure how to coordinate.  Take photos if desired to capture your best combinations or create a spreadsheet to track your results.  You can also use one of the new smart phone apps such as StyleBook or Closet+ to assist you in creating new looks.

Full Outfits

This application is very similar to the previous one but more comprehensive.  In addition to determining which tops look best with a particular skirt, for example, you can also track the shoe, topper, and accessory options that work best with a garment in question.  Having a list of go-to outfits that you know look fabulous can make it much easier for you to get dressed quickly while still varying things up a bit.  Again, you can use a spreadsheet, outfit photos, smart phone apps, or a simple pen and paper to record your findings.

Packing Checklists

I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles to pack for travel.  I always seem to take too many things with me and sometimes neglect to pack the right types of items.  A friend of mine created a packing checklist to ensure that none of her wardrobe or beauty essentials gets left behind. While her list is generic in nature, you can create alternate lists for different types of travel.  After all, what you’ll need for a beach vacation varies widely from your essentials for a ski trip, as one example.

Packing checklists can be created in reverse as well.  After you return from a trip, take a few moments to jot down what you actually used during your travels.  Also make note of what you didn’t take along but wish you would have, as well as those “dead weight” items which should have been left at home.  This way, you’ll have an accurate list ready for the next time you travel.  This is likely what I will do following my upcoming trip (and I’ll share my insights in a future blog post!).

Wardrobe Capsules

Many closet minimalists and image consultants swear by the concept of wardrobe capsules.  The minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 (read about my experiences with this challenge HERE) specifies that participants use a capsule of 33 items for a period of three months.  Those who follow the challenge to the “letter of the law” remove all other items from their closets and focus solely on the 33 pieces they’ve selected for the current term.  Project 333 is a lot of fun and an amazing learning experience (check out the rules for getting started or the “Dress with Less” microcourse to learn more), but it’s only one application of the wardrobe capsule concept.

Project 333 Capsule

My first Project 333 wardrobe capsule – April 2013.

Wardrobe capsules can also be created for the various roles and activities in your life.  You may have separate capsules for your work attire and your weekend wear, for example.  You may also have a formal wear capsule that you have on hand for parties, holidays, and other such events.  You can either separate these capsules physically within your closet or use “cheat sheets” to easily identify them when needed (or you can do both!).   Either way, it’s helpful to understand and capture in writing the different clothes you wear for the various events of your life.

You can also use these cheat sheets to track how often you wear particular items.  I did this for Project 333 and was surprised to learn that I didn’t wear my capsule items nearly as much as I thought.  The tracking was extremely simple to do.  I just listed my capsule items one per line and added a checkmark for each time I wore a particular garment.

Tracking how often you wear your wardrobe pieces can help to guide your future buying decisions.  Knowing what you wear a lot versus what rarely leaves your closet can assist you in determining what types of items you should buy more of, as well as where you should put the brakes on your shopping.

What Did I Leave Out?

I’ve provided a few examples for how you might use closet “cheat sheets.”  I hope my suggestions have helped you to see how you might implement similar solutions for your wardrobe. However, I’m sure there are many other options which I’ve left out.  Perhaps you are currently using a cheat sheet or checklist for your wardrobe or have done so in the past.

I’d love to “hear” your ideas for streamlining your wardrobe and the getting dressed process.  What have you done to make it easier for you to get out the door, pack for travel, or best utilize your closet pieces?  I know we have a very creative and resourceful group here, so I look forward to reading about your closet solutions.

“Throwback Thursday”

I’ve been posting “Throwback Thursday” updates on Facebook and Twitter, but I thought it would be fun to add them to the blog as well…

This time a year ago, I responded to a question from a reader about why I continued to shop even though I had a packed closet and hadn’t made decisions about many pieces I owner.  This post gets into using shopping as a coping mechanism and my some of my personal reasons for overshopping.

If you’re newer to the blog or enjoy revisiting earlier posts, check out “Why Continue to Shop?”  Feel free to leave a comment on that post, too, if you wish.

59 thoughts on “Get Dressed Easier with Closet “Cheat Sheets”

  1. I love spreadsheets and databases too, but when I’m in a hurry, nothing beats a picture. I take “what I wore” pictures most days. Every couple of weeks or so, I’ll pick out the new favorites and add them to a powerpoint presentation that I print as a pdf and save to dropbox (so it’s available on my phone, tablet, computer). I keep separate sheets for casual, work, dressy work, evening, etc. In a pinch, I pull it up, pick one, get dressed, and I’m off! I’ve found these pics to be a great help in packing as well.

    • What great ideas, Carter! I take photos, too, but haven’t taken it the extra mile like you have. I can see how that would be very helpful. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Great idea, but alas I cannot get down to brass tacks like this lol. The situation I often run into is tops for skirts. I can grab just about any top and put it with my shorts or pants, but when it’s time to wear skirt, I often find myself fiddling to get the right top. I’m not a big tucker especially in the heat. Most tops that are great with pants and shorts are a bit too long with many skirts and a faux tuck or semi tuck doesn’t work with all tops styles or all skirts for that matter.
    I sometimes mock up outfits on my door valet hook for review. I have a second hanger that’s approximately at waist height for the bottoms, so proportions are usually pretty right on. I know it’s not much better than the ‘lay it out on the bed’ idea but it’s a start. I take pics and keep them in a folder called outfit ideas.
    I also take outfit pics most of the time (YLF influence for sure) and keep them in a folder by date. It’s helpful to look back over them. I edit eventually, tossing out the bad or just mundane. , or outfits wearing items I’ve purged. Usually after a year. So I can see my ‘hits’ of 2012 right now for inspiration if my first few weeks of hot weather dressing befuddle me. I guess maybe these are my visual cheat sheets of a sort?

    • I used to struggle with tops for skirts, too, Mo. But then I just separated the tops into two sections in my closet, those for skirts and those for pants. I know a lot of people wear the same tops with both skirts and pants, but that doesn’t seem to work for me. But then again, I am not a “tucker.” I would like to become less rigid about my wardrobe, though, so I can get more mileage out of my clothes. The way I’m doing it necessitates my maintaining a fairly large wardrobe and I’m hoping to downside some more.

      Outfit photos definitely help. I keep the best ones around and even have a “style evolution” folder to remind myself of how I’ve grown in terms of my style (may write about that soon…). I do enjoy looking back over the photos, but sometimes I cringe, too!

      • Debbie, I just wanted to say I would love to see a “style evolution” post on this blog. I know Sally at Already Pretty has done a few of those and I always really enjoy them. I like Sally’s attitude which is not to make fun of your past clothing choices but just to observe how your look has changed over time.

        Having said that, I doubt I would be brave enough to do this myself… let’s just say I wore a LOT of tie-dye in the 90s!

      • I loved Sally’s style evolution posts, too! She’s very brave… Did you see her post where she listed out her measurements? I was SO impressed by that one and I think it helped a lot of people do a “reality check” about their body image. If I do a style evolution post (which I probably will!), I will try my best to adopt Sally’s healthy attitude. We may not be thrilled with our choices of yesteryear (I did the tie-dye, too, but so did MANY people in the 90’s), but they all combine to shape who we are today and wh0 we are becoming 🙂

  3. LOL. I love your analytical nature! I am the same way about a lot of things, although at this point my wardrobe is very simple so I don’t need to worry about what goes with what. But I do keep running lists for vacation packing. We go to the same places regularly to visit family, so I keep a list on my phone and/or computer and update it before each trip, and then note what I didn’t wear or what I wished I’d brought. I can see the choices I made previously when I’m planning for the next trip, so it’s a learning process. (I can also try to take different clothes so that my fashionable SIL doesn’t think I’m still wearing the same dress all the time! lol)

    I also like the idea of creating a cheat sheet for what to wear for certain less-frequent events. I think it would be good to have a list of what options I have for weddings, or job interviews, or nice dinners out, or even for dirty/physical work like gardening or helping a friend move. I think that would help me make sure I have enough options for those events without having to panic and search for something at the last minute, but also to guard against gathering/holding on to too many options for things I don’t actually do very often.

    • How wonderful that you have a simple wardrobe, Joanna! I wonder if the Project 333 purists struggle at all with packing for travel. I like the idea of the lists you mention and I think I’ll take that on. The cheat sheet for less frequent events also sounds helpful. I know I would feel a bit lost at this point to go to a formal event or a job interview (been a long time since I did both, longer for the job interview!). I think it’s helpful to keep a small capsule for those types of events, but not a huge assortment of “just in case” attire. Thanks for the wonderful ideas!

    • I really love the idea of cheat sheets for less frequent events. I always get stressed about dressing for such things, partly because I am less practiced at it (by definition, right?) and partly because those tend to be the sorts of events that are more formal and where I want to make a good impression so it seems especially important to feel confident in what I’m wearing. I am definitely going to do this! It would be so freeing to just know that I was covered for almost any eventuality.

      • Very good point, Sarah. I get stressed about dressing for formal events, too, as it just isn’t commonplace for me. I definitely think I will take on Joanna’s great idea to use cheat sheets for formal and irregular types of events. I may write a blog post on this, too, as it’s an idea worth exploring in greater detail. I think many of us feel a bit befuddled or overwhelmed when we receive an invite for certain events. When my husband and I go on walks, we often pass by hotels by the water where lots of weddings and other formal events are held. Since I’m pretty old (almost 48 – eek!), I haven’t been invited to a wedding in a long time, but I often wonder what I would wear to one or to other similar events. Perhaps it’s time to figure that out and write about it…

      • I hope this doesn’t sound too morbid, but I keep a cheat sheet for funeral attire. Lucily, funerals are “less frequent events” in my life. When I do have to attend one, I find it very useful to have a cheat sheet and aproperiate clothing (including shoes and coat/ gloves/ scarf if the weather requires it) on hand, as I am usually too emotional to want to plan something, and even less motivated for shopping. This way, I do not have to worry about clothes in a time of crises. This may not be useful for everyone, as what is regarded as “correct” funeral attire varies between countries, social/ ethnic groups and personal preferences, but in my social circles rather formal black clothing is the norm. I most certainly do not judge people choosing differently when dressing for attending a funeral (usually I do not even notice what others are wearing on such occations), but for myself I prefer following the norm here, and a cheat sheet and a tiny capsule help me do so. And this capsule works pretty well for job interviews as well 😉

      • That doesn’t sound morbid at all, Hilda. I think it’s a good idea to be prepared for those types of events because, as you said, we shouldn’t have to worry about clothes during times of crises. It’s true that funeral attire varies based upon location and other variables, but one usually won’t go wrong if she wears black or dark-colored more formal clothing. And you’re right, many such pieces can also be worn for job interviews and other business events.

  4. Lot’s of great ideas here! Wonderful! I love hearing about all of them. The only thing I do is my GoRandom routine which works so well for me and then if that doesn’t cover everything, I wear the least worn items on my tracking list. I like this idea about cheat sheets, I could see that they would come in very handy when packing.

    • I think your GoRandom routine works great for helping you to wear more of your clothes and to create more inspired ensembles. For those who don’t know about GoRandom, here’s a link to the explanation Mette recently wrote in response to my questions about how specifically the program works:

      I’m going to create a packing cheat sheet for my upcoming trip (well, I will likely do it AFTER my trip like I mentioned in the post) and then I will write about it in a later post. I get VERY anxious about packing, so it’s a perfect application for a cheat sheet. I actually forgot to pack underwear TWICE on previous trips! I was so wrapped up in what tops, bottoms, and shoes to pack that I forgot a very important essential. Never again!

  5. I’ve come to the point with my everyday wardrobe that almost everything matches everything (a limited color scheme of my favorite neutrals, focus on everyday clothes). I have a chair next to my wardrobe and I keep my ‘capsule’ neatly piled on it (jeans, tees, sweatshirts, sweaters, about 15 items altogether.) In addition, I have a few items hanging from hangers next to them. I’ve learned that I don’t really like to open my cupboard and search for items on busy mornings. I do the same for everyday shoes in the hall (about five pairs per each season is what I will actually wear most of the time). This works so well that I’m not sure why I have stuffed cupboards – anything inside is rarely worn, although I take out a few items every now and them in an attempt to wear them more regularly.

    It has taken me several years to reconfigure my style. I started with the fancier and dressier clothes and overdid them a lot, but now that the neutrals are in place and feel ‘me’, I feel very little need for other items. And for festive occasions, although I have dozens of shoes, I have three or four pairs (black and nude) that I always wear.

    Last year, I decided that I will stop expanding my wardrobe and while it’s been a mixed success in clothes (my personal style was in a flux and I was still figuring out my day-to-day clothes,) I decided that I’m going to stop accumulating more shoes. Last spring, I picked some never-worn pairs of loafers from the back of the closet and started wearing them on a daily basis. This has been a great success and I’ve actually worn out a few pairs and the rest of them have become daily favorites. In total, I’ve bought only a three pairs of shoes in a full year (a pair of skate shoes, a pair of chunky boots in my perfect taupe, a pair of St Tropez sandals) and I think all of them will be worn a lot. I think the key here was to stop looking for a ‘perfect pair’ and settle for something that I already own. All the new pairs were styles and shapes that I have not owned before and meant for daily wear. Stopping buying multiples and variations of the same item is really important, I wish I could do the same with clothes!

    • Sounds like you have really hit your stride when it comes to your everyday wardrobe, FrugalFashionista! I love that you have a small capsule that works well for you and that you love wearing. I hope to get to the point myself, but you mentioned that it’s taken you several years to reconfigure your style. I only just started my journey around the time when I began writing the blog. Before that, I was far too focused on shopping and buying more things for my already burgeoning wardrobe…

      It sounds like even though you haven’t tackled downsizing your closet that much yet, you’re dipping into it from time to time to replenish your everyday wardrobe. It’s great that you’ve been able to wear some shoes that had been gathering dust in the back of your closet. I’ve been doing that with some previously little worn items, too. It’s great to rediscover “diamonds in the rough,” isn’t it? I think that what you’ve been doing with the shoes will filter over into the clothes in time. That’s what’s happening with me in terms of buying higher quality items. It started with watches, handbags, and shoes. I’m just now starting to trust myself to buy higher-end clothes, but I STILL get nervous. I know it’s a process. I think you’re doing great and I’ve enjoyed reading about your journey toward recovery! I would love for you to write a post for my “Stories of Recovery” series. Think about it and let me know if you’re interested. No pressure and no rush, either…

  6. This is a nifty idea and I hope that it works in the long run. It seems a bit complicated for me but then I have, by design, so few pairs of pants — all the same length — and shoes all the same height so I don’t have to make all these choices. However, I do have a travel checklist, originally created on graph paper in 1985 and now an Excel spreadsheet, that I use all the time. In fact I have three versions — short business trip, casual vacation, and big city vacation — to guide me as I envision, plan, and pack my travel wardrobe. This too has stayed the same for almost 30 years, with a few variations. I prefer to simplify my life, not complicate if with different heel heights and other dictates of “fashion.” That doesn’t mean I’m a frump but it does mean I pass on stuff that requires a complicated system of storage, ensemblage, and maintenance.

    • You’re one of those who are cleverer than I about shoes and pant lengths, Dottie! I will get there eventually, but for now I think my list will help me to wear more of what I have and get dressed easier. As some of my shoes wear out, I may hem some of my pants for other shoes and gradually work toward to the two heel heights that is my goal. I think it’s great that you have a travel checklist and that there are different versions for different types of trips. I plan to do that, too, as I take different types of trips. It definitely will help to decrease anxiety and simplify my life, which are two big goals for me!

  7. Not quite as in depth, but I have a small 8×11 calendar that has about 7-8 lines in each day. Each Sunday, I write in my week’s outfits in pencil including shoes/bag. This A) makes sure I have the clothes I need to wash if they are in the laundry washed, and B) let’s me see what outfit combos I’ve worn that month. If I like the outfit on my body, I put a check mark on the day.

    At the same time I sit down to write out my outfits, I also mark what I wore the prior week in my inventory spreadsheet so I can keep tracking of # of wears to help in paring down.

    • I love your process, Melissa! I think it’s great that you plan your outfits in advance and then make notes about what worked and what didn’t work (and also use the information to track numbers of wears). I’m impressed with your level of organization and may start to do something similar. In recent months, I’ve just been keeping a list of what I wear each month and adding checkmarks when I wear anything more than once in a given month. Of course, I also do the overall tracking that I mentioned in this post: But I can see how your method would be helpful for me and for others. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Debbie and Dottie! I just started doing it the past month, so I’m still getting into the habit of doing it. So far the only issue I’ve run into with the tracking is grabbing a jacket as I run out the door, and then forgetting to write it down. Then when plugging in wears today, I was struggling to remember which jackets I wore this week!

      Having my outfits planned out definitely cuts down on my getting ready routine by at least 10 minutes each morning. And if I get inspired on wednesday to wear something else on thursday, that’s why it’s written in pencil!

      • I think it’s a great idea to have outfits planned out while still allowing for some creativity when the time or inspiration allows for it. Good thinking to write your outfits in pencil! I look forward to learning how the outfit planning goes over the long-term. I wouldn’t be surprised if you feel better-dressed and happier with your wardrobe as a result!

  8. Oh wow! I love the idea of not only making a list for packing for trips (something I’ve done for the past few years) but keeping track of the things you actually use/wear – I will be doing this for my next trip.

    In terms of cheat sheets I think what would be most helpful for me is layering cardigans & scarves over tops. I do this almost everyday for work clothes since the office I’m in is perpetually cold. Some of my combinations are great but others have hem or collar lines that don’t line up well, the sweater is too tight over the top and looks bad, if it looks better with or without a belt on top.

    • Hi Avila,

      Are the cardigans cut in such a way that you can wear them without a top underneath? I sometimes wear a very traditional crew neck cotton cardigan in the spring as if it was a button front shirt. A frothy light scarf at the neckline helps it look like a did it on purpose. 😉

    • I definitely plan to create a travel checklist following my upcoming trip (and I will share what I create and what I learn in a future post). I like the idea of a checklist for layering. I know what you mean about cardigans and how they don’t work with all tops. I love Amy’s idea of wearing a cardigan as a top! I’ve seen some style bloggers do this, but I haven’t tried it yet… It’s a great way to get extra mileage out of our wardrobes and looks quite chic, too, especially when paired with a scarf. Very French, I think!

  9. Gosh I don’t even own 12 pairs of trousers. I must be doing well! Oddly enough for somebody as anally organised as I am the idea of a cheat sheet leaves me cold. I enjoy the dressing process so much more now that I have so much less that I put out (or at least plan mentally) the night before what I am going to wear the next day. I layer a lot and frequently wear things in ways I haven’t worn before. But I couldn’t cope with a prescribed list of what went with what.

    • I think a lot of people have more pants/trousers than we do, but I don’t really need MORE than I have, just some better options. A cheat sheet is certainly not for everyone, Gillie! I also like to be creative with my outfits, but I would often forget which shoes worked with which pants (length-wise and overall look-wise). With clothes, I like to create new combinations, too. I think it’s a great idea to plan outfits the night before. Perhaps that’s your version of a cheat sheet!

  10. Because I am a mood dresser, every day is like an adventure in my closet even though I have gotten rid of 2/3 of my clothes since I first started reading this blog over a year ago! I like to play around with different color combinations within a more limited range of colors than in the past.

    I am not so much concerned with how many times I wear something as to how many interesting ways I can put items together–even if I only wear a garment twice per season. In the past, when I had more clothes, my outfits were very formulaic, whereas now with fewer choices I am more interested in pushing the envelope of what goes together well.

    But as for getting dressed each day: first I see if its going to rain and what the temperature is. Rain determines choice of footgear. I work at home and walk outside a lot and don’t like to always having to change my shoes. I like to get dressed once for the day and that’s it, if possible.

    Almost all of my shoes are flat, so I don’t have to figure out full length pants, because they all have the same inseam. My trick to dealing with wearing a heel is to simply always wear them with crop pants or a skirt (which looks good proportionwise anyway), and you don’t need to worry about heel heights vs. garment length. I don’t wear heels that much anyway. I’m so used to wearing flats that heels feel precarious and weird.

    • I can be a mood dresser, too, Deby. I agree that it’s easier to be creative with fewer clothes. I definitely found that to be the case when I was doing Project 333. In fact, I will likely revisit that challenge or a variation thereof from time to time to avoid getting lazy and complacent with my wardrobe (which happens sometimes). It seems you have the right idea with shoes and pants. I plan to simplify things a lot in that area moving forward. I didn’t even realize how complicated I have made it until I stopped shopping so darned much!

  11. I am all about packing lists! I make mine in Evernote. Most of my travel these days is to visit family during the year. Weather often dictates what I want to bring along. For instance, is it going to be 95 and humid or will it be below freezing. When I make my checklists I usually list on one line the entire outfit (dress, shrug/cardi, shoes, jewelry, purse) or (jeans, tee, scarf/jewelry, shoes, purse). I label it “Charleston 2014” or “Christmas 2013” and keep it in Evernote until the next year that I make the same trip. When that next trip to the same place comes around, I simply either repeat the same outfits or come up with new ones. In addition to my packing checklist containing clothes, I also list out every. single. thing. that I plan to take with me. Gets tedious but makes my life simpler. This way I don’t forget to bring undies (I list exactly how many pairs of panties or bras to bring) or phone charger. Also, when we travel by car I like to list out what snacks to put in the cooler. Obviously I’m as anal-retentive as you Debbie! Possibly more so! lol

    • I haven’t used Evernote before, Kim, but I keep hearing about it and am curious to try it. Your checklists sound great! I’m going to start doing that beginning with my trip later this week (will write more about it next week after I get back). I actually forgot to bring underwear TWICE on trips! I don’t think I’ll repeat THAT mistake, but I’ve forgotten other important things. You may be more anal-retentive than I am, but I like your ideas and plan to adopt them 🙂

  12. I always use a packing list, and I travel light with a small carryon that can fit under my seat. I can go for two or three days, or for a full week, and still manage to travel light. It has taken me a few years to learn the art of traveling light because I used to always over-pack and it was stressful. Now traveling is a breeze.

    This post contains excellent suggestions for those who want to maintain and manage a large, or a somewhat large, wardrobe of clothing. Some very good ideas! And once up a time I was a person who had lots and lots of clothes. However, the reason I made the decision to change, and I now have a small wardrobe is so that I no longer need to manage my clothes. I wanted the freedom and simple lifestyle that comes with having less. Less to worry about, and less to manage.

    • How great that you travel with a small carry-on bag, Terra! I’ve never been able to manage that, but I’ve gotten better at not being so much of a diva when I travel. I plan to continue improving and hope to call traveling “a breeze” one day… I agree that it’s easier to pack and to get dressed with a smaller wardrobe. Although my wardrobe is still too large, I’m finding both things easier because I’ve pared things down by half over the past year. I shudder to think about having as many clothes as I used to have!

  13. Seems like a lot of work to put the lists together, but if you want to get better use out of your wardrobe, it’s a pretty solid plan imo!

    • Yes, the lists can be time-consuming, Stacey, and they’re not for everyone, that’s for sure. I like the ideas that others have shared and may take some of them on. I definitely want to get better use out of my wardrobe – and to stop making packing mistakes!

  14. I like the list idea, especially having it done from both the pant viewpoint and the shoe viewpoint. I like to plan my outfits for the week (usually I hang them together in the closet) but I also can give in to my mood in the mornings. If my feet still feel tired from yesterday, or it’s raining, I will build my outfit based on the shoes I want to wear. Otherwise, I tend to pick my bottom first, then my top and third layer. For my process, I think these lists would work pretty well and help me break out of the habit of always wearing certain items together.

    • Thanks for sharing your process, Grasshopper. I think it can be helpful to plan outfits in advance and hang the items together. I haven’t usually done this, but I do often select my shoes or bottom piece first like you do. I also sometimes plan my outfits the night before an event of create a bunch of outfits for travel options. Whenever I take the time to do some pre-planning, I find it to be a beneficial effort. I just need to do it more often!

  15. By the way, Microsoft One Note, which many of us already have on our computers, works beautifully for uploading photos of outfits. You can move the photos around on each page to your liking and then print them up. Last year I spent several afternoons making outfits with each of my key pieces and then photographing them and uploading them to One Note. I keep the outfit sheets in my closet where I can grab them for inspiration if I’m short on time. It’s true that many of my pieces go perfectly well with many other pieces in my closet now that I am culling and directing my shopping toward a “plan”. However, it was worth my while to spend an afternoon figuring out how to show off to their best advantage many of my key items, including which accessories, sweaters or jackets and shoes work the best. Rather than just wearing a blue shirt with a bunch of different neutral pants just because they go OK, why not figure out which pants it actually looks the best with and take the time to create a really exciting look? It’s amazing what you can come up if you invest a little time into tweaking your outfits.

    • I didn’t even know about Microsoft One Note, Happy Forgiver, and I’ve been using Windows for years! It sounds like a great tool. I think it’s wonderful that you spent the time to create and photograph new outfits. I’ve done that sort of thing too and have found it to be very helpful. Now I just need to make them more accessible and it sound like One Note can help me to do that. Thanks for sharing!

  16. There are some VERY organized people here, LOL!

    Honestly, here’s how I do it. I wake up in the morning, put on some clothes, think at the end of the day wow, I loved what I wore today, I felt so chic, comfortable, and well put together, I’ll be sure to remember this for next week, and … I promptly forget it.

    The only way I can even begin to approximate outfits is to hang all components together at all times — no draping the wrong cardigan over the wrong tunic if I want to repeat a combo another day. I’ve toyed w/ writing down my favorite combos but it seems more trouble than it’s worth. For now, having complementary colors and a limited, high quality wardrobe allows me to be pretty clueless w/ regard to planning outfits.

    • Yes, I thought I was organized but others have got me beat by a longshot! I don’t think there is a right way to manage our wardrobes. We all have to do what works best for us. I like to present different alternatives and I love that other share their ideas, too, but it’s great that we all have many options. It sounds like you have a system that works for you. As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” 🙂

  17. Another terrific idea for wardrobe ideas and management of and I would like to throw another out there( which I mentioned last year in a comment on another topic)- I use my ipad to help create new outifts. It is best to have a nice chunk of time and simply start creating different outfits with accessories and shoes. For example I will take one pair of pants and then try to make at least 3 differing outfits( and in some case I have managed to come up with 6 totally different ones). As I make them , I snap a pic using the ipad and have a permanent record. It is also a useful tool to fine- tune an outfit or by stimulating more ideas of how to wear a particular item.
    The nicest part of all though is, no more rushing or panic about what to wear on those days when you are running late or just can’t engage your brain to figure something out that looks great because you can just pick up your ipad and thumb through your pics. One can fine tune the whole idea as well by making categories(for example- a series of outfits for casual, dressy occasions, vacation,travel and work- pretty much any event that you may encounter). It also is a great tool for helping you to know what you may have as gaps in your wardrobe that allows you to make 6 outfits instead of just 2 from a set of items-maybe a higher heeled shoe or a statement necklace, or a black sleeveless tank etc. I have done this for my roomie and myself for a few years now and it is a system that works really well.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your outfit creation method, Abgurl. One question, though… What program do you use for creating the outfits on your iPad? Or do you create the ACTUAL outfits in your closet and then take the iPad photos? Please clarify… I love the idea having outfits easily available at a glance and I like that you break the outfits down into categories, too. Like you, I enjoy having a variety of options with my clothes. The best way to find those options is to “play” in our closets and get creative!

      • I actually make the outfits physically( why I mentioned having a chunk of time to relax and be creative such as a lazy Sunday:)). The ipad has a built in camera and it is simply point & click.

        My actual method for doing it all is to use a neutral backdrop- like a white bedsheet or the back of of white door.
        With the bedsheet on the floor, I lay out the item I want to use to build the outfit and then start adding the pieces( ie: I start with the pants or a top or a sweater-start adding other pieces including shoes and accessories and snap the pic if I am happy with it. The pic is great too because you can then immediately review it and tweak the outfit/the other method is to put the outfit together on a hanger and snap the pic against the neutral backdrop of the door. The ipad has a photo album feature which you can then label each group( work, travel, special occasion,etc) that allows access to any photo with the touch of the finger.
        As I mention my goal is try and create at least 3 outfits with an article such as pants- one could actually use any item(necklace, shoes,top, scarf etc) to start and any outfit number goal( instead of 3 perhaps 5 or 6)

      • Thanks so much for clarifying! I sometimes take outfit photos this way, too, as well as on me. It’s easier and quicker to do it the way you do, as one doesn’t have to change in between. I just received a hand-me-down iPad, so I will use the built-in camera like you suggest. Sounds like a fun and useful project and may lead to a blog post or two down the line…

  18. I used gochicorgohome for some time, which is a great way to see your wardrobe and create and save outfits. I need to get back into this!!!! I also have fallen into wearing the same outfits over and over, and can see in my monthly overview of wears per item that the truth, even in my small closet, is that I truly DO wear 20% of my closet 80% of the time!

    Sometimes taking a few hours on a weekend for outfit creation can really help, and often I find a new favorite or two. Must do this soon!

    • I have heard of gochicorgohome, Meli, but I’ve never tried it. I agree that taking a few hours for outfit creation on a weekend can be very beneficial! I used to do it every few months, especially when I was buying clothes like crazy. I need to do it again soon to help ensure that I don’t have any “wardrobe benchwarmers” this year. It’s amazing how the 80/20 rule seems to apply to our wardrobes no matter how many (or few) clothes we have! But it certainly doesn’t HAVE to work out that way…

  19. Over the past year, I’ve challenged myself to wear more of what’s in my wardrobe. So I have worn many combinations that I had never tried before. To me, it’s a creative way to have fun, since my job is not creative. I sew 90 percent of my own clothes and have a mannequin. I will dress up the mannequin in the outfit, often on a Saturday morning and use the IPad’s camera to snap shots, which I upload to Pinterest. I have boards for different seasons, just for my own use. It’s instead of a style blog and I can see which are the workhorses, eg last year it was a Gap striped Ponte blazer, Surprisingly, my LBD was hardly worn.
    From week to week I have a capsule of clothes that I rotate and when they get washed, a different group takes its place on a chair and hooks on the back of the ensuite door. I leave out the outfit for the next day on my wardrobe door.
    With practise, putting together an outfit is much quicker than it used to be, as I now have learnt to accessorise and colour mix, stuff I rarely did a few years ago.
    Take a look at one of my boards, if you are interested.

    • Oh I absolutely love the idea of using a mannequin and always wanted one for the purpose of creating outfits. Question – is the mannequin you use a dressmaker one?

      • Yes, my mother gave it to me when she longer required it. TY’s a Supa-fit, made in England by Adjustaform products. It’s a few decades old, so I don’t know if you can buy it anymore. Maybe on eBay ? I don’t use it often for actual fitting as it’s waist is not as large as mine

    • What an excellent idea! I sew a lot of my clothes too, but haven’t invested in a dressmaker’s form, yet. Do you know what brand your form is? I like the gray color. The ones I have seen at my local fabric shop are offered in either bright blue or bright red, which I felt would be quite garish against my clothing.

    • Welcome, Sew Stylish, and thanks for sharing your process. I love the idea of styling outfits on a mannequin and having Pinterest boards for the various seasons. Your Autumn 2014 board looks fabulous! I will be following you…

      • Thanks for replying Debbie. I am first and foremost a sewist, but last year as I joined Pinterest I began documenting some of my outfits and found it instructive to see patterns in what and how I combined things. To my surprise, it became as much of a creative outlet as my sewing. I find now, it takes much less time to put something together new. I use Pinterest as a way to refine my own style, not just to pin everything pretty. It could be inducement for some to buy more though!

        I am not a minimalist in my wardrobe and have way more clothes in colours and prints because I sew, yet I am quite satisfied with the size and quality of my clothing. I cull seasonally, but tend to keep shoes and bags and a lot of clothing for years.

        I enjoy shopping, but have learned to prepare a list. For example a few years ago in the US on holiday, I experimented with a relatively cheap red cropped leather jacket. Since it got some wear, I had on my wish list last December as returned to the States for a leather jacket, but only if it was neutral and figure flattering, as I found the red one hard to pair with bottoms sometimes. (I’m very short) I found a navy Elie Tahari jacket in Orlando, and while the price was quite high, I thought it would work with dresses, skirts and jeans. A bit nervous, I texted my DH. He and my 11 year old daughter checked up the price online, found it was no longer widely available and encouraged me to buy it. The guy wasn’t surprised when I walked back into the store, 3 hours later. He had even put it aside for me, although I had specifically NOT asked him to do so. I love it and wear it with some of my older pieces. Most of what I bought on that trip was on my list. I encourage my daughter and son to do the same.

        Debbie, what you are doing is very courageous. As you pared down your wardrobe and shop more purposefully you will enjoy your outfits more and I believe the fun will come from creating outfits as you shop your wardrobe, rather than just shopping as recreation. Your blog gives a lot of encouragement for others who are trying to simplify. I continue to stop back and read here, including your excellent links to similarly minded blogs.

      • Thanks for sharing more of your journey and process with us, Sew Stylish! And thanks for your wonderful compliments at the end. I’m glad you like my blog and have gotten encouragement from it. I’m also happy that I’ve been able to lead you to other helpful blogs. I’m always willing to share useful links with readers, as there are lots of talented writers out there sharing wisdom on the topics of shopping, wardrobe management, personal style, and minimalism. I loved the brief perusal of your Pinterest boards – so creative! I look forward to exploring them more when I return from my trip.

  20. Awww- no need to answer the question – I just popped over to your pinterest board- this is a fabulous idea and I think I shall be on the look-out for the mannequin now!!

    • If you want one to display clothes only, sometimes they sell them in second hand shops, what Australians call op shops (for opportunity).

  21. I understand the PPL dilemma with shoes. I used to have trousers in two lengths, one for short heels and one for tall heels. I put a post it note on each hanger so I would know which pair of trousers went with which heel height. Eventually I caved and now all my trousers are for one heel height. When I purchase shoes with heels higher or lower, I keep them with straight legs, skinnies, or dresses, those styles that are not impacted by heel height variations.

    • Very smart, Lisa! I plan to do the same, as I’m really seeing how having different length pants and different height shoes is handicapping me. I may hem some of my existing pants so they will work with more shoes and just wear a couple of pairs with the higher shoes that don’t work for skirts. I’m learning so much as I shop less and pay closer attention to my wardrobe!

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