Applying the Wardrobe “First Impression Test”

I seem to go through phases in terms of the types of posts I do.  Recently, I’ve been very focused on wardrobe management topics, which was also the case last year at this time.  Perhaps it has something to do with the seasons changing and the end of the year approaching.  I don’t think I’m alone in this focus.   We hear lots of talk about “spring cleaning,” but I really think fall (or autumn, as you may call it) is more the time when many of us want to get our closets in order.

Fall Closet Cleanout

Do you get the urge to clean out your closet this time of year?

Of course, I’ve been working on my closet for quite a while now.  This blog is coming up on its two-year anniversary in January, but I started tracking what I do and don’t wear way back in early 2011.  I may have made a bit of headway in those first two years, but there’s nothing like sharing your goals and progress with the world to knock a project into high gear!   Writing this blog has done more for my recovery than anything else I’ve tried, and I’m happy I’ve been able to positively impact others in the process.

Wardrobe Benchwarmers and the “First Impression Test”

Last week, I gave an update on my wardrobe “benchwarmers,” those mostly unworn items in my closet.  In response to that post, longtime reader (and two-time guest poster – see HERE and HERE) Deby suggested that I take some time to go through all 45 of my potential 2014 benchwarmers and subject them to what she terms the “first impression test”:

If I were you, I would separate all 45 of those benchwarmers out of the closet and put them on the bed or in a place with mirrors where you can try them all on at one time – one right after the other, like an assembly line, with this technique:

Try the garment on (without first looking in the mirror), then go to the mirror and look at yourself as though you are meeting Debbie for the first time. What is your impression in that first second? Do you like how Debbie looks in the garment or not? Turn around, look at your profile. Do you like it or not? If it doesn’t look good from the front, don’t keep it. If it looks good from the front, but not in profile, then don’t keep it either. You don’t need to overly analyze it –remember, it only takes a few seconds to make a good impression!”

Taking on the Challenge – and Then Some!

Not only did I decide to follow Deby’s advice for analyzing my “benchwarmers,” I used it with every single item in my closet!  In today’s post, I share my feedback – and the results – of my weekend “closet audit.”  I fill you in on which items I chose to purge and why.  I also include photos of all of the pieces I’ve opted to let go.

For some of you, the thought of trying on all of the pieces in your closet may set off a major anxiety attack.  Believe me, I can relate.  At one time, I had probably 4-5 times as many items as I have today, and my closet was more than twice as full when I started this blog in January 2013.   If you have a very large wardrobe, it may be less overwhelming to go through just one area at a time.  Perhaps you could address your clothing for just the upcoming season or pick one type of garment to look at (e.g. pants or dresses) during your first go-around.  There is definitely value in doing a closet audit, but it doesn’t need to be done all at once!   Proceed at your own pace – you will make progress even if you just take one “baby step” at a time.

How I Spent My Sunday Morning

While my husband was off doing a century bike ride last Sunday (that’s 100 miles, folks!), I decided to take on a much less athletic challenge of my own, my closet audit.  The weather had temporarily cooled down enough for me to contemplate trying on all of my clothes, so I dove in.   I followed Deby’s suggestions above and applied them to all of the items in my closet.

I added one small addendum to the instructions.  I made sure that I was wearing potential accompanying pieces when I tried on an item in question.  For example, if I was trying on tops, I wore pants and shoes that I might wear with them.   I didn’t get too fussy with it, but it was helpful to be able to view an item as part of a viable outfit instead of on its own.   I didn’t have to swap out the supporting items all that often.  Most of the tops were tried on with black pants and most of the skirts were paired with a basic fitted top.

When all was said and done, I had designated 23 items to purge from my wardrobe.  I was able to return four of these pieces for refunds earlier this week, while the other 19 will either be consigned or donated shortly.  This may not seem like a very large purge – and it wasn’t.   Since I’ve been working so hard on curating my wardrobe (with lots of ups and downs) and have been consistently paring things down on a regular basis, it’s unlikely I’ll ever do a major closet overhaul again.  However, I feel very good to have expelled some of the “dead weight” from my wardrobe, those unloved pieces that were merely taking up space.

Here’s a photo of the 23 items that left my closet during my weekend audit:

Purged Items - September 2014

I purged these 23 items from my closet this past weekend.

There are some additional pieces that are “on the bubble” for various reasons.  I have a few pairs of worn-out shoes that need to be replaced soon but are still being worn in the interim.   There are also some items I need to take out for a “test drive” to see if they’ll work well in real-life.    I’m sure some of these “maybes” will be passed on before the end of the year.   I also took two tops to my tailor for minor (read, non-risky) alterations that will make them more wearable in the coming months.

The Nitty Gritty

Now let’s look at the pieces I purged and why I opted to remove them from my closet.  I think it’s always a good idea to examine our reasons both for buying new items and letting things go, as we can learn a lot from the patterns that emerge.  I usually explore these issues in my monthly accountability posts.   I will be sharing my September accountability update next week, but the “What Left My Closet” section appears in today’s post instead.   Next week’s post will look at what I bought last month, what I wore, and how I’m doing with my budget and item limit for the year.

As you read through my explanations for letting some of my closet pieces go, it may be helpful to consider whether or not those issues apply to you and your wardrobe.   We often don’t really understand why we don’t wear some of the items we own, but you may find that you resonate with some of the struggles I’ve experienced with my closet benchwarmers.

What I Returned

I decided to return four items that were bought during July and August:

Returned Items - September 2014

I returned these 4 items following my Sunday closet audit.

These items were all bought at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, but the grey jacket was on back-order and didn’t arrive until mid-August.

Here are my reasons for returning the above items:

  • Black sweater coat: This coat didn’t look good unbuttoned and would have needed to be worn closed all the time.  Also, I have a lot of warm coats and jackets and don’t really need another one.  I thought I would wear this coat on my evening walks, but I already have another jacket that serves the same purpose.
  • Grey tone leopard print flats: I loved these shoes, but they were a bit too tight in the toe-box.  I had tried the next size up, but my heels slipped out of the larger version.   I walked in them a bit around my house on Sunday and decided they just weren’t comfortable enough to keep.
  • Grey moto-style jacket: This jacket also didn’t look good open, but that wasn’t its main issue.  I loved the way it looked on me, but the fabric was itchy!   Most of my tops and toppers are made of cotton and other natural fibers and I need to stick to those fabrications.  This jacket had a high acrylic content, which I’ve learned doesn’t work for my sensitive skin.
  • White ¾ sleeve tee: I also bought this tee in cobalt blue and I’m keeping that one.   While this white tee is more opaque than many on offer today, it still was a bit too see-through for my tastes.   I also don’t love the way I look in bright swathes of white.  I think I’ll mostly stick to white as part of a print instead of on its own.

The Toppers I Purged

Six toppers – cardigans and jackets – were included in my weekend closet purge:

Purged Toppers - September 2014

I purged these 6 toppers from my closet on Sunday.

Two of these were recent (bad!) consignment purchases, while the other four were bought at retail stores.  Only one of these items received sufficient wear (the green knit jacket, believe it or not) to be termed a worthwhile buy.   The others should never have been bought in the first place!

My reasons for purging the toppers above are as follows:

  • Black cropped cardigan: This is another fabric issue.  I’ve learned that I cannot wear wool next to my skin at all.   This cardigan is made of merino wool and is from a good brand (Eileen Fisher).   I liked the way it looked on me, but I started to feel itchy after just a few minutes of wearing it around the house (as a sort of mini “test drive”).  I just bought this in August and it will be re-consigned, unworn.
  • Blue short jacket: I mentioned this jacket in my recent purchase analysis post.   At the time, I touted the color and said I liked how it looked on me.  But at second glance, I realized the sleeves were too short and the jacket just looked too “shrunken” on my frame.   I was seduced by the color and the label (Nic and Zoe, a brand I like), but it just didn’t work on me.   Another resale failure that is being re-consigned without ever having been worn.
  • Light green knit blazer: I bought this jacket back in 2012 and have worn it at least 10 times.  However, I found myself not reaching for it at all this year.   I think that since I’ve refined my color palette, I realized that neon colors are not really the best for my skin tone.   I also think the jacket hasn’t washed well and looks a bit worn out at this point (sad, shouldn’t things last for more than 10 wears?).
  • Grey polka-dot cardigan: I wore this cardigan the other night for a movie outing with my husband. I found myself fussing with it fairly continuously.  I never know which buttons to close on these types of cardigans.  I tried buttoning the top two, then a few in the middle.  I liked the latter way better, but the cardigan still wouldn’t stay in place.  I no longer want to wear clothes I have to mess with all the time, so I’m passing this one on.  I only wore it that one time, so it was definitely a buying failure.  It cost $12.99 at Costco last year, but I’d definitely like to get a lower cost-per-wear out of my clothes!
  • Long purple cardigan: I wrote about this item in my purchase analysis as well.  I had high hopes for it and I love the color, but it just looked too shapeless on me and made me look bigger than I am.  It looked pretty good in the photo I posted, but my arms covered up all of the extra fabric at the sides.  My narrow torso and waist are two of my favorite parts of my figure, so I like to show those areas off as much as possible.  This cardigan made me feel less than fab, so out it goes.
  • White cardigan: My only wearing of this cardigan was as part of what Bridgette Raes termed a “chicken outfit” (see my post on my session with Bridgette and her YouTube video).   Sadly, however, I didn’t like it any better with the more interesting accompaniments I tried on.   It washed me out and ended at the widest part of my hips.   This cardigan is what convinced me that white isn’t one of my best colors.   I love it in my striped ensembles or as part of another print, but a stark patch of white just doesn’t do me any favors!

The Tops I Let Go

I added six tops to my consign/donate pile on Sunday:

Purged Tops - September 2014

I’ve opted to consign or donate these 6 tops as a result of the “first impression test.”

All of the tops above were bought at resale stores, with the exception of the leopard print tank, which was added to an online order so I could receive free shipping (so not a lot of thought was put into it).  I’m being reminded over and over again that I just don’t do that well with secondhand clothing purchases!

Here’s why I opted to pass these six tops along:

  • Black tank with ruffled neckline: I bought this tank at a secondhand store in Maui back in the summer of 2011.  I never loved it because it was a bit too worn out and a touch too snug in the hips.  I opted to shorten it this year, as I thought I’d wear it more often with skirts.   Sadly, however, that was not the case and I have another similar top (also black with ruffles but short-sleeved) that I like much more.   I still haven’t completely broken my habit of trying to rescue garments through alterations instead of letting them go.
  • Black short-sleeved cardigan with attached striped tank: When I tried on this top on Sunday, my first impression was that it looked flimsy and cheap.  The fabric is too thin and the top looks worn out.  The sleeves also looked uneven.  I think it was just poorly made in the first place and was already past its prime when I bought it a resale store last year.  I think I wore it only four times total, so it wasn’t a good buy.
  • Turquoise print blouse:  When I bought this top, I still had my consulting business and was attending networking meetings regularly.  I had more of an opportunity to dress up back then, but I still wasn’t that much of a ruffles and frills kind of gal.   This top not only has a ruffled front, but there are ruffles around the neckline as well.  It’s pretty much ruffle overkill!  Every time I tried it on in recent months, I changed into something else, so it was time for it to go.
  • Burgundy print cowl-top tank: This top was good in theory, but the color is somewhat “off” on me.  I love burgundy, but this shade is too warm in tone for my complexion.  The lighting in the store must have been very different from what I saw at home.  I looked pale and washed out in it upon my first impression, so I’m letting it go.
  • Blue leopard print tank: I used to really love leopard print, but I’m moving away from it now.  I still have a few pieces that I like (two dresses, a cardigan, and some shoes), but this one was never really a favorite of mine.  The material is too thin and I don’t like that it has a V-neck.  Although I like V-necks with sleeves, for some reason I’m not a fan of tanks with that neckline.  I turned my nose up when I looked at myself in the mirror, so no need to keep this top around!
  • Orange print blouse: The problem with this top was fit.  It was a bit too large on me, so it would often ride up when I moved around, causing me to need to fuss with it regularly.   I liked the print, but that couldn’t override the fit issue, so the top is moving on to a new home.

Shoes That Are Moving On

I decided to pass on five pairs of shoes during my Sunday closet session:

Shoes Purged in September 2014

These 5 pairs of shoes were purged following my Sunday closet audit.

All of these shoes were mentioned in my recent wardrobe benchwarmer update, but here are the specifics for why I’ve opted to consign or donate them:

  • Tall black boots: These boots are the pull-on variety and don’t stay up!   This leads to a “wrinkly” appearance that is unflattering.   I’m not sure if I really want/need a pair of tall black boots in my closet at this point, but these are not it.
  • Black flats with bow detail: I used to wear these shoes often, but have only worn them once since I brought a new pair of black flats into my closet.  Simply put, I strongly preferred the new shoes over this older pair.   I finally realized why on Sunday.  These shoes have a higher vamp which makes them look less streamlined.   There’s something about them that says “old lady” to me for some reason and that’s not the image I want to evoke!
  • Black slingback sandals: These shoes have always been somewhat uncomfortable and I could never wear them for long stretches of time.  I have another pair of black sandals with a similar heel height that I like better for both comfort and style reasons.  I have too many pairs of black shoes and these ones didn’t make the cut.
  • Grey peep-toe pumps: I bought these shoes at a clearance sale back in 2012.   I like them in theory but not in practice.  I’ve only worn them a few times and they always pinched my toes.  I tried to stretch them, but it didn’t help all that much.  They’re also too fancy for my lifestyle and serve pretty much the same purpose as a pair of metallic slingback heels that I have.  No need to keep both pairs, so I opted to hold on to the shoes I like more.
  • Black polka-dot peep-toe wedges: These shoes were loved and worn often but have passed their prime.  I held on to them because I liked the polka dots and red heels, but they don’t look very good anymore.  It was definitely time for them to go.

Other Items I Purged

I purged two other items that didn’t fit into the two categories mentioned above, a skirt and a purse:

Other Purged Items - September 2014

This skirt and purse were removed from my closet during September.

You probably recognize the skirt from previous posts, including my 2014 purchase analysis.   I need to out myself about this one…   I tried to alter this skirt twice to make it work!   I shortened it a few months ago to knee-length and recently tried to narrow it as well.  I say tried because that second alteration didn’t work!  The skirt hung in a funny way and made my hips look even larger than they are.  No thanks!   Sometimes I think I’m not all that smart.  I mean, how many times do I have to make the same stupid mistake before I learn not to try to remake garments through alterations?!

I shudder to think about how much money I’ve wasted by trying to save bad purchases through ill-advised tailoring.  I would have thought I learned my lesson after writing about this at length in December, but I still did it a few times this year.   Narrowing an A-line skirt is not an easy and straight-forward alteration by any means.  It’s much simpler to narrow a pencil or straight-style skirt, but slimming down a flared skirt is risky at best.  No need to flog me for my alterations faux-pas; I’ve metaphorically whacked myself upside the head more than enough since I got the skirt back last week.   At least once it’s gone from my home, I won’t have to feel guilty and stupid every time I see it!

The last item pictured – the grey purse – wasn’t actually part of my weekend closet audit. I let that purse go earlier in September while my mom was visiting.  She had been carrying a purse that wasn’t really working for her, so I offered her my unused bag as a replacement.  She loved it and is happily carrying it now.   This purse was special in that the look could be changed by means of shells that attached to the bag with magnets.  It’s actually four purses in one, as I had four different shells to use with it.  I used it a lot for a time, but my style preferences have changed.  Fortunately, the purse has a new home with my mom.   I was happy to be able to pay it forward like Mette wrote about in her guest post last month.

Closet “Set Points” and Wardrobe Size

I’m grateful to Deby for giving me the nudge I needed to address the dead weight in my closet.   I’m very happy to have let go of the items detailed above.   My closet set point is gradually edging downward as I bring some pieces in and let others go.   My current garment count (not including workout and lounge wear) sits at 132, which is a pretty comfortable number for me at this point.

I’d eventually like to downsize a bit more, but I’m okay with where I am for now.   This number equates to four seasons of Project 333 if I were only counting clothing pieces and switching everything out completely each time.   I know that most people carry some items over from season to season, but I’m proud of the fact that I’ve pared down to where I am now.   My hunch is that my ideal wardrobe size is closer to 100 garments, but I believe I’ll get to where I want to be over time.

My objective now is to slow down my rate of incoming items and continue to release at least one existing item for every new one I bring in.    I haven’t computed the exact numbers for this year as of yet, but I know I’ve released more than I‘ve brought in and I’m happy with that.

Coming Attractions – Wardrobe and Life

My focus for new acquisitions will be on shoes (upgrading my shoe wardrobe and replacing worn out pairs), accessories (more colored pieces as per Bridgette Raes), and pants (my most difficult items to buy).   I may pick up a top or topper here and there, but I’m pretty well set in those categories and don’t want to increase my numbers.  I’ll share another closet inventory with a breakdown by category sometime soon, but I don’t think it will be that different from the last one I did.

I’m doing well with the closet portion of my recovering shopaholic project but faltering on the full life part of the equation.   Although it’s not easy to get one’s wardrobe into shape, I’ve been finding it a lot easier than overhauling my life.   I’ve experienced lots of ups and downs and twists and turns on my journey to cultivate a workable wardrobe, but those pale in comparison to the struggles I’ve encountered in building a fuller and more meaningful life.   I need to really face that veritable Mount Everest before too long and I will definitely share my thoughts and my journey here!

Your Thoughts?

As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback on this post.   Have you recently done a closet audit of your own?  If so, I invite you to share how it was for you – your challenges, successes, and insights.   If you’re still struggling with an overly large wardrobe, I encourage you to ask for support here.   You’ll likely receive a lot of helpful input from your fellow readers – and me.   If you have questions but don’t feel comfortable posting comments, you’re welcome to write to me individually.  I may opt to address your questions in a future post.

87 thoughts on “Applying the Wardrobe “First Impression Test”

  1. Yay! You purged some things that I “felt” (having only little tiny photos of the items and some photos of you wearing some of these items) were not right for your body, coloring, and style. I’ve mentioned before that I think those long open-front cardigans are too voluminous for your frame (actually, I think they don’t work for 90% of the female population), and I and several other readers have dissected the blue jacket ad naseum. Ditto the green jacket. This is a big purge, especially coming on top of other recent reductions, so you are to be congratulated for tackling such a big project. I love the idea of the “first impression” test for clothes. If you don’t love your clothing in the first 5 minutes you wear them, when will you fall in love with them??

    • Thanks, Dottie! Deby’s suggestion helped me a lot, but I think I just feel more and more ready to get rid of things I don’t love. I actually feel better once such pieces are gone from my closet. I no longer feel the guilt for making shopping mistakes, plus I hope that someone else will love and wear what I didn’t.

  2. This was fun to read. I did this a few months ago and I was laughing at some items I had been holding onto despite not wearing them. When I tried them on, they were so clearly wrong and something I would never wear again (unflattering, worn out, or poor fit) that it was funny that I had been keeping them! It made it easy to clear them out. I like trying everything on because I also find some things I haven’t been wearing which I really like.

    • I’m glad you liked this post, Heather. I think that a lot of people hold on to things they haven’t even tried on in years. Taking the time to actually put the clothes on our bodies and look at ourselves in the mirror is often all it takes to pass things on. Some people hold on to things that don’t currently fit them. I understand that, but if they stop to ask themselves if they’d actually WANT to wear those items if they did fit, I’d guess that the answer would be NO in many cases!

  3. Great work! Down to 132 items is awesome. I hover there myself and find it feels right, although maybe a dozen or two less items would truly streamline my closet into a leaner meaner wardrobe lol. I’m sure I have still some comfort items cushioning my psyche that I really don’t need or wear much.
    I am not in purge mode at the moment, but I bet I’ll find some items tucked away from last year are not as I remember them when I open up my CA closet again next week after being away. I want to go slowly though, as I am not buying more than maybe a sweater and a hat for the rest of the year, and don’t want to purge myself out of a winter wardrobe. I’m happy with what I am taking back home with me from FL. I feel I did a good job of whittling the summer wear down to what really gets utilized and I kept what I hope can cross over for cooler temps, too. Tanks can go under jackets with jeans instead of shorts and sandals, dresses can be worn as tunics, etc.
    I might take some of the week alone, while I wait for BF to drive the car over, and do the try-on test with my stuff!

    • I can see why you wouldn’t be in purge mode now, Mo, since you’re able to go through a major transition. You must be excited to be going back home. Safe travels and enjoy revisiting your CA wardrobe! If you do the try-on test, please let us know how it goes for you.

  4. Very insightful and interesting post! You are clearly getting a much better sense of what works for you and having the courage to stay true to that vision. Good for you for purging the alteration-victim skirt rather than continuing to see it in your closet and flogging yourself for it! I really want to try this exercise but am not so sure I would be as successful. Years ago I bought a very high quality designer dress and loved it. It was flattering and comfortable but I rarely wore it because I was afraid of spoiling it. I went to wear it a few weeks ago and it no longer suited my aging post-baby body but I put it back rather than letting it go. Better to have great pieces and actually use them! I look at it and kick myself mentally for passing it up when it would have worked for me and really getting my money’s worth. Maybe I will take some comfort from your and Mette’s example of passing things forward.

    • Thanks for sharing your designer dress story, Justine. I know you have a lot of remorse for not wearing it sooner, but keeping it around is probably only making you feel worse! Perhaps you should move it and other such items to another closet or a box as an interim measure. Maybe in a few months you’ll feel okay about letting those things go. If you can do what Mette did with her castoffs, you’d probably get a lot of satisfaction from that. I wish you the best!

      • I second Debbie on not keeping the dress around if all it does is make you feel bad. I had a 4 piece suit like that and every time I saw it I would feel awful, and every time I thought about passing it on I would dread making the decision and feel awful again. And all the time the pieces were aging and potentially going out of style. Once I made the hard choice to pass it on and actually followed through with it, the feeling bad was over. Nothing I did changed the fact that I bought something very expensive and then barely wore it which made me feel stupid. Passing it on meant I no longer had a visual trigger for feeling bad AND someone else is now wearing my beautiful suit.

  5. That is so great, Debbie! I can’t believe how far you have come in just the past six months. Hands up and big cheers from me :-). Love the purse you gave your mother btw – looks like something I could use right now. 132 pieces is a great size wardrobe and when you add more, you’ll probably also purge more eventually – I think you’re starting to enjoy purging. If you’re anything like me (and you are in so many ways), you’ll get a bit frustrated when you run out of things to purge. It’s only temporary. Oh – did you do anything about your big closet? So that it doesn’t look empty now?

    • Thanks for your kind words, Mette. Yes, I do enjoy purging and get a big sense of relief afterwards. Sometimes it’s hard with certain items, but I don’t want to continue to feel guilty about mistakes I can do nothing about now. My closet is actually not all that big. It was just overly packed before and overflowed into other closets, boxes, etc. I could probably let go of another 30 pieces or more and still not feel like my closet is too empty. But I’m going to take it one step at a time…

  6. A great audit post! My wardrobe audits are very random. Sometimes I do it a few times a season, whenever I feel like my wardrobe is looking fuller than I would like. I’m now at a point where I’m having a hard time purging even though I still don’t wear everything. Realistically, I only wear and need 1/3 of what I currently own but the rest I still like despite the fact that I don’t wear them. I guess I just have to get comfortable with what I own without getting antsy about having to wear EVERYTHING.

    • The purges get harder as we pare down further, Wendy. I know you have a smaller wardrobe now and are shopping less often, so I can understand why it’s harder to purge. I think how much we need and how often we wear things is very lifestyle dependent. Life you, I don’t need a whole lot, but I’m being gentle with myself in terms of paring down. If I still like something, I keep it around. If I keep passing something over when I get dressed, perhaps that’s a clue I don’t like it as much as I thought.

  7. Great work Debbie on your closet purge. You have released a considerable amount in one go :-)I’m currently at 264 items (not including undergarments, sportswear, nightwear or any accessories or bags). I am releasing a few items a month as one of your excellent tips to downsize. My aim is to reach 180-200 items (I tend to run on the cold side and need layers as I am living in London). Earlier in the year I culled 80 items. I did an inventory afterwards (not including the item I had culled) and I was shocked to learn I had 292 items! I try to make less buying mistakes. I have a problem with Lambs’ wool but in the past it didn’t stop me buying it! I don’t buy it now. I have also spent far too much on tops that ride up. When I try on a new garment I ask myself, ‘Do I think I will like it in 5-10 years time?’ If I hesitate or seem uncertain I put it back. I also bend down like I am tying up a shoelace in tops to make sure they don’t ride up and sit down on a chair in the changing room to make sure trousers/jeans etc. are comfy and are not too short in the leg. I also find looking at yourself in a mirror from a distance helps rather than one plonked right in front of you in the changing room.

    • I’m glad my downsizing tips have been helpful for you, Sharon. You have been doing a great job in working toward your goal – good for you! I like the 5-10 years question, as well as your fitting room tips. I agree that looking in a mirror at a distance really changes the view. I think that’s part of the problem with my resale buys. The fitting rooms are small, the mirrors are close, and the lighting isn’t very good.

  8. I did a version of that just the other night- you might call it the “perfect occasion test”. I had an evening event that called for a dress so I decided to wear a brown sleeveless dress that I have been on the fence with for a while. I committed to trying to style it and if I couldn’t make it work, would pass it on. Fortunately, it worked out: I wore the dress with a scarf (first time trying a scarf this way) and my new nude heels, and was really happy with the way I looked.
    So I think if you have an ideal wardrobe candidate for a particular scenario, but you are constantly passing on choosing it, that may also be a reason to retire the item from your closet.

    • I love your “perfect occasion test,” Pam! How great that your dress worked out the other night. Your last sentence is very wise and is a good tip to follow. Thanks for the words of wisdom!

  9. Debbie, I’m always happy to see a new post from you in my Feedly, and this one I enjoyed very much. I’ve commented before that I also have tracked my wears for years, but until recently hadn’t paid attention to the inventory. I have right at 100 pieces of clothing for both spring/summer and fall/winter, with quite a bit of overlapping, since I live in Texas. That doesn’t include scarves, shoes, or other accessories. That feels “enough” to me, though I still have my eye on some benchwarmers that aren’t making it into regular rotation, so could probably go a bit lower.

    • I don’t need a very big wardrobe for where I live either, Tricia, as there’s also lots of seasonal overlap. That’s probably why I think I’ll settle around 100 items at some point. I’m okay with taking my time to pare down as long as I continue to pay attention to what I am and am not wearing. The feeling of “enough” can be a moving target and the last thing I want to do is panic and run 0ut and shop too much.

  10. Debbie, I think your wardrobe is smaller than mine at this point — hey, you are a minimalist! 🙂

    Really fascinating to hear the results of this exercise for you. I’m curious how many of those items were “benchwarmers” and how many were things you’ve worn enough for them to escape scrutiny but didn’t pass that “first impression” test?

    I think it’s interesting that some of the items are “basics” that you’re passing along without necessarily intending to replace them. While basics are important and we can’t build a functional wardrobe just by purchasing “fun” things that we find, I think it’s easy to accumulate too many basics, too. In the past I’ve fallen into the trap of trying to build a “perfect” wardrobe based on a list made up front (so easy to do, what with all those lists of must-haves and how to build a capsule wardrobe out there), when in fact some of those items were things I didn’t really need/wear in practice. (I wonder if that white tee and cardi fall into that category for you.) so your post is a helpful reminder that moving forward I should pay more attention to my list of “things I keep wishing I could reach for when putting together outfits” than to that list of perfect wardrobe items in my head.

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re still feeling stuck on the “full life” side of your project. I imagine that is much less amenable to analysis with numbers etc. so it’s harder to feel like or know when you’re making progress. I hope you find more peace in that area soon.

    • Yes, white is a colour I don’t get on with, and yet the number of times I have seen ‘capsule wardrobe’ advisers say everybody absolutely must have a white shirt and some basic white tees…..! I bet there are loads of women with a clutch of these hanging unworn in their closets. Not me, anymore, and it was such a relief when I got rid of the last one!

      • Yes, Alice, SO many “must have” lists include white button-down shirts, black pencil skirts, and the like. But not everyone likes such pieces or looks good in them. Good for you for letting go of “essential” pieces that weren’t necessary for your life!

      • If these “must-have” lists are taken as a guide and not literally (hear that, Tim Gunn?) then they can be useful as building blocks for a wardrobe: a basic “go with everything blouse or top” (AKA, the white blouse), a basic skirt (or pants) (AKA the pencil skirt), outerwear that is not too trendy so it will last a few seasons (AKA, the classic trench), etc.

        Fashion is mass produced; style is what works for you.

      • Very good point, Dottie. It’s best not to take the “must-have” lists too literally! If we interpret them the way you suggest, we’ll fare a lot better.

    • I’m not sure I’m quite in minimalist territory yet, Sarah, but I’m moving in the right direction! Good question about how many of the pieces I got rid of were benchwarmers. I just did a count and here’s how it breaks down: 15 of my purged pieces were benchwarmers, 2 were worn two or more times this year, and 6 were never worn (4 were returned and 2 will have to be re-consigned). So benchwarmers made the bulk of the group, which isn’t too surprising!

      Good point about “basics.” I thought I’d learned me lesson about buying too many such items, but maybe not. The white cardi and tee were part of my effort to “lighten up” my wardrobe. I still want to move away from everything being so dark, but I’ll go more for brights instead of white.

      Thanks for your kind words about the full life issues. You’re right that it’s harder to do analysis in that area. Also, I set some goals that are hard to definitively make happen, such as improved health and new friends. I need to focus more there, though. I can’t guarantee outcomes, but if I don’t work on other areas of my life like friendship, it’s not going to happen.

  11. Love the first impression test! I will use this technique as I continue my purging. I have a friend who once told me, “If the answer isn’t yes, it must be no”. I think these two ideas work together nicely! And BTW, I agree with the comments about the items you purged…. They weren’t right for you. And last, I think you look terrific in the slimmer leg jeans! Paula

    • Your friend is very wise, Paula! If we think about it, we all have lots of absolute yesses hanging in our closets. It’s a lot harder to separate out the nos, but it’s easier if we look at it the way your friend recommended. I’m going to keep that saying in mind!

  12. Some thoughts on how to avoid refilling the “empty” closet. I painted my closets a dark-red orange ( a fave color but alas not one I can wear) to “shrink” the space visually. I also added shoe cubbies to fill up the space. In a former home, I moved a large antique dresser into a large walk-in closet because I didn’t have the available floor space in my bedroom but had scads of under utilized space in my closet. I also use wooden hangers because they seem to need more space. And I leave a lot of air space around my clothes allowing them to “air out” when not in almost daily use. You could add a chair or stool or a floor-length mirror. Pretty wallpaper! Painted pegboard and hooks for your accessories! Anything to make your closet a “wardrobe” — and part of the delightful experience of dressing well.

    • Great ideas there dottie!
      I have a small room 8′ x 6′ with closetmaid hanging and shelf space down one length and that’s all. I resisted the urge to go round the whole room and a nice chair and full length mirror would work well in there. I also have a portable rack for those things worn once but not dirty enough to launder and not clean enough to put back.

    • Excellent tips, Dottie and Saltbox! My closet isn’t huge and I could still pare down quite a bit without it looking empty, but I’m sure lots of other readers could benefit from your excellent suggestions. I’m happy to have more “air space” around my clothes now. In the past, they used to get really wrinkled because they were so jammed together!

  13. My project now has a name: Project 60! (goal: to have a stylish, workable wardrobe by the age of 60, ie july 2018)
    I may publish some stats and rules next week but for now I just wanted to comment on how much I enjoyed your post, and how I completely agree that Autumn is very much a time of renewal. I am an academic and suddenly there are numerous work events crowding my diary.
    Setting a long term goal has helped a lot. I’m not fretting so much as I would normally have done about what I wear right now or next week, but focussing on the bigger picture. What do I really like – do I even know? What should this fabulous project 60 collection be like?
    Thanks once again for your inspiring posts!

    • I love your “Project 60,” Alice. Perhaps I should do “Project 50,” as that’s less than 2 years away. I’d love to read your stats and rules if you end up posting them. I’m sure it would inspire others, too. Setting a longer term goal gives more space to the project and cuts down on stress and anxiety. Best of luck to you!

      • Great! I look forward to reading how it goes for you. I will consider taking on “Project 50” and may start writing about that soon…

  14. Great post. Really good reasons for getting rid of these items. It’s a shame about the skirt, I loved the look of it, but if an item is cut badly for you it just doesn’t work no matter how nice on the hanger. I don’t think the actual number of items in your wardrobe really matters. What matters is having a wardrobe of items which suits you and makes you look and feel good. By getting rid of these you are nearer to achieving this.

    • A lot of things look good on a hanger or even in photos but don’t work in real life, Lynn. That skirt was one such item, but I have lots of other skirts that work better for me. I agree that the actual number isn’t what matters most, and there is no number that will be right for everyone. Your second to last sentence states the crux of what we’re trying to do. I’m happy to be getting closer to that goal!

    • Thanks, Mette! I love the inspiration from all around the world, too. I learn a lot from my readers and I’m very grateful for that! Deby’s suggestion helped me a great deal.

  15. So happy to hear that this worked out for you and you’ve been able to get rid of so many things! I’m going to try the same “first impressions test” when I switch over to my Fall/Winter wardobe next week.

    A small suggestion about wool – If merino wool is still too itchy try to find garments made with alpaca fiber. They tend to be less expensive than cashmere but softer than wool. It worked for my husband when he needed a new scarf.

    • Thanks for the suggestion for alpaca fiber, Avila. I will try that out, as I do occasionally need warmer clothing. I think even cashmere is itchy on me, but it may depend on the type of cashmere. Let me know how it goes for you with the “first impression test.” I found it very helpful and I hope you will, too!

  16. Wonderful progress! It sounds like you are starting to internalize some of the perspectives you have used to get to this point. I think reducing the inflow of clothing and not altering beyond the basics or shopping secondhand will go a long way towards reducing the constant churn of your wardrobe.

    The full life challenge is difficult. Can you identify just one thing you would like to do and do it next? Then keep going with that question rather than creating a big plan.

    • Thanks for your kind words and thought-provoking question, Juhli. I will have to give that one some thought. I was just telling my husband last night that I don’t think I need to make BIG changes. Perhaps just a few smaller shifts will make all the difference. I’m sure I’ll be writing about this very soon.

  17. That was a good cleanout Debbie. I always find after I get rid of some things I appreciate the things I have left more. I don’t have a good consignment store around me so I send my things to an online one. I just looked at my history and I’ve sent them 7 bags this year. They accepted 90 items. Usually they take about half and I have bag number 8 almost ready to send. So I’d say I’ve sold or given away about 250 items of apparel/shoes and probably 100 pieces of jewelry. I’ve got about 80 items of clothing and with coats,purses, and footwear I’d say it’s about 110 total. I don’t count my workout/lounge wear but I’d say it’s about 30 items? I don’t think that I need to actively go through my closet at this point, but I still keep a bag at the ready if I go to wear something and I no longer like it.

    • Seven bags to online consignment is a lot, Tonya. Good for you! I could probably easily get by with the number of items you have in your closet. I’ll be interested to see where I am in a year, but I continue to take it slow and do smaller purges from time to time. I probably have the same amount of workout/lounge wear as you do, but I need to go through that soon, too (also using the “first impression test”). I think it’s a good idea to always have a consign/donate bag at the ready. I regularly come across pieces that don’t work anymore and there’s no need to wait for a full closet audit to let things go.

  18. A fabulous post! Yay!!!!!!!!

    Deby’s suggestion is just terrific. 🙂 You got rid of so much that wasn’t working!

    I wanted also to compliment you on trying things on with accompaniments. Seeing how an item looks in an outfit is important in assessing fit as well as function. I’m off to do the same thing with my wardrobe seasonal switch this weekend. Wish me luck!

    • Thanks for the support, Amy! Good luck with your wardrobe switch. Please let us know how it goes for you.

  19. I love the idea of first impression dressing. Often, this will happen for me in the fitting room…and yet I’ll justify and make excuses to bring it home when I should have just left it at the store.

    I need to do this with a chunk of my current wardrobe, but it’s not easy and does feel overwhelming. At this point my closet set point is very high and I don’t want to trigger a “shop” because I’ve purged too much at once.

    As for new acquisitions, I have decided I only need a lightweight quilted coat for “winter” (as much as that happens in FL), a rain jacket and a pair of rain boots. The rain gear has become a realization for me lately as we have had so much i climate weather and I found myself without any suitable shoes to wear when the roadways flood … Other than these items, I’m hoping not to purchase much else.

    Love your posts 🙂

    • An easy way to handle this is to keep a bin/bag at the bottom of your closet and when you do the dress-not happy-change that we all do, instead of rehanging that piece put it in the bin. Once a week you can try these few items on with other accompaniments and see if it was the combo or the item itself. At that point it either goes back or in your donate/consign bin. This way you don’t have that panic with a major purge.

    • Thanks for your comment, Chelsea. I understand about having a high closet set point. It’s working best for me to pare down gradually and that may be the right way to go for you, too. In the past, I’d let go of a lot at once, only to panic and buy a lot more right away. It works for some people to eliminate many things at one time, but we’re all different. Kathy’s suggestion is excellent and I hope you give it a try (if you do, let us know how it went). I think it’s wonderful that you feel you don’t need a lot for the coming season. I wish you could send some of that rain out to California, as things are pretty parched here!

      • I do like that idea. Because you’re right, there are days where I try things on and dislike how I look in them, just to hang them up and forget about it. I will definitely try this!

        In a related question – how do you force yourself to wear everything in your closet? (Or at least try to). Like I said, my closet is very full, but I don’t want to just start purging relentlessly because I’m afraid I’ll set off a shopping response. But I want to try to wear most of my clothes so that I can assess whether they work for me using this first impressions test… I guess what I’m asking is if you have any “rules” for wearing all your garments … Otherwise I think I’ll just keep reaching for the same favorites without ever getting to examine the others…

      • Wear all the items in a given category (casual pants, blouses, pullovers, etc.) before allowing yourself to repeat an item in that category. When you wear an item, physically remove it to another part of the closet/room so that you can’t see it as an option next time you are getting dressed.

        I did this a couple years ago and it was really useful. Towards the end I did relax the rules a bit because it got too hard to create outfits with only not-yet-worn items. But I got through maybe 80% (and a lot of those last-chosen items end up being non-favorites that become easy to part with anyway).

      • I’m not sure I understand this, why would anyone force themselves to wear something unless they loved it or have I missed the point?

      • I love all of my clothes. I generally fall in “serious like” with them in the store. But when I get them home, I try on the new garment with everything I plan to wear it with, including accessories and shoes. All of my clothes have to work with nearly everything in my closet, so this is an important step. In the process of building outfits with the new garment, I am also deciding whether to keep it or not. This is generally the “honeymoon” period during which I either fall in love with my new acquisition and hang it in my closet, or I don’t and I put it back in the bag (or box) and take it out to my car for an immediate return. No “bench warmers” for me. While not every purchase starts out as a coup de foudre, by the end of my trying on I am seriously in love with everything I have in my closet.

      • I aspire to be the same as dottie. I think benchwarmers sound like things bought because they were there rather than with an outfit or occasion in mind. Rather like me buying 6 tee shirts in different colours because I like the fit then realising not all of the colours work with other things?

        I’m ruthless – I return or give away to charity anything I don’t love.

      • Saltbox, I interpreted Chelsea’s query to mean not that she wanted to force herself to wear clothes that she knows she actively doesn’t like, but she wanted a trick to get herself to look beyond the relatively small number of items she reaches for over and over (the “favorites”) and wear/evaluate other items in her wardrobe. I think it’s fairly common that we have “default” items/outfits and other items that we might genuinely like but are not in the habit of wearing. I’m not advocating “wear everything in a category before repeating” as a long-term strategy for getting dressed but as an exercise to evaluate your wardrobe. Although, I do think that doing that exercise developed some habits that mean I wear my wardrobe more evenly now than in the past (perhaps in part because I LIKE my wardrobe more evenly), and I think that’s a good thing. I feel like I’m hijacking Debbie’s blog a bit so if you want more explanation you can read here:

      • Sarah — love your hound’s tooth sweater — just my kind of thing. It’s the essence of personal style to have a wardrobe that can mix in match both in predictable and unpredictable ways. A little experimenting a home can lead to some wonderful outfit that help extend the “shelf life” clothing.

      • You’ve gotten some excellent advice here, Chelsea! The only thing I’ll add is that it can be helpful to just separate out a few things to “test drive” at a time, especially if you have a very large wardrobe and MANY things you aren’t wearing. Perhaps pick 5-10 “benchwarmers” and move them to the front of your closet. Challenge yourself to wear these items within the next 30 days. I often will wear such pieces for “low-impact” activities like going to run a short errand. That way, if I HATE something, I only have to keep it on for a short period of time. Hope this helps – good luck!

  20. Congratulations Debbie! Your really making great progress. I have occasionally
    used the first impression method like Deby suggested. I’m so glad it worked for you :). It’s wonderful that you are down to 132 items. Last year I hovered around 130 for months ,thats when I made myself get rid of a set number of items every few weeks. I recently tried everything on and purged 12 items plus 6 shoes, so I am down to about 100 items not counting shoes. I still have too many similar items and need to do it again. For some reason, Autumn has always been a time I go through my wardrobe and home “spring cleaning”. I enjoy reading your posts,looking forward to the next one.

    • I appreciate your kind words, Jan. Congrats on getting your wardrobe down to 100 pieces. It seems like you had a good plan to get there. A little at a time is often the way to go. I’m happy to be at 132 items right now, but I’m sure I’ll pare down more. My plan is to only buy higher quality items and let go of the lower quality pieces as they wear out or when I don’t like them anymore.

  21. Thank you for your honesty in your posts! I have a question that is not related to this post in particular, but do you find yourself questioning a lot of the clothes you buy? Since I’ve started this minimalist wardrobe journey I’ve had a hard time deciding on what I should keep or return. It’s like I’m expecting everything I buy to be perfect. I’ve been shopping with a list for a few months now, I’m only allowed to buy things from that list. It has probably 20 items on it, but they are all hard to find so it might take years to complete it. Today I bought a camel coat which I’ve been looking for for a long time. I’ve tried on probably 20 camel coats, but I find a lot of them to be too boxy (I’m tall with broad shoulders and a small waist, that cut does not work for me at all). The one I bought today was fitted, great quality fabric and the perfect color – but a bit expensive at $220. It’s not perfect but very close! I don’t know wether to keep it or return! How much time am I going to devote to finding the perfect camel coat that might not excist? I’m finding this to be a problem with a lot of things I have bought lately, I’m always unsure! A lot of things needs to be worn a few times too to know if it’s the right one (and in my country there is not a great return policy). Hope this makes some sense, sorry for the rambling!

    • Thanks for your comment, Anna. In answer to your question, YES I find myself questioning a lot of the clothes I buy, both at the store and after I get them home. I still return quite a few things, some within a given month, in which case they aren’t generally included in my accountability updates. Striving for perfection is a major issue for me and I suspect many shopaholics. My current struggle is to find a pair of black jeans. I’ve probably bought at least 7 pairs (I have to order online because I need talls) and have tried on many more.

      I sometimes think the continual striving for perfection with our clothes is a way of focusing time and energy on our wardrobes instead of other more difficult areas of our lives. I know that’s true for me. Yes, I want to find a nice pair of black jeans (or whatever), but there is no such thing as a PERFECT garment. Sometimes we need to be happy with the item that’s close and STOP searching for better.

      I could write several posts on the issues you brought up and I just might. There’s the perfection issue, the avoidance issue, and the lack of self-trust issue, among others. There are also concrete clothing-related issues like what you mention about needing to actually “test-drive” an item to make sure it works. You raised some excellent issues to think – and write – about and they all require a lot more time and space than a simple comment response. Did you read the post from Grechen’s Closet on perfection. That’s one good thing I can leave you with here:

      • This idea of finding the perfect item or the perfect outfit has been plaguing me the past few months. While I intellectually know that there is no such thing as a perfect garment, I keep hunting. And I find myself nitpicking everything I do buy.

        I want to return to the time when I enjoyed my clothes rather than analyzed them to death. But I find I can’t “unknow” what I now know – about fabric, fit, clothing construction, etc. Several times lately I have had to say, “Good enough is good enough!”

        I continue to use my clothing journal but I have quit rating the outfit on a 1-10 scale. That seemed to be contributing to my need to find the perfect 10. I just note instead if it felt like me or not. I am hoping that will help. It would ne nice if you could write about how to enjoy clothing without over-analyzing it. It would really help me to know how others cope with this.

      • I struggle with the over analysing too. I recently bought the stylebook app and I’m loving it to be honest! It’s more visual then list making and works well so far.

    • What is the “perfect coat? I think it should be one that keeps you warm and looks good on you. If Anna has found the only non-boxy camel coat that fits her and looks good on her, then I think the price is a secondary consideration. If it’s a stretch to buy the coat, then decide if you might be able to afford it by giving up something else (other planned clothing purchases, bringing lunch to work/school for a few months, etc.). I’d check the retailer’s return policy before buying the coat if you have any doubts, then bring it home and try it on with lots of clothes, hats, scarves, boots, etc. Once you try to work it into your own wardrobe, you’ll “know” if it’s a keeper or not. Also, check out the fiber content and construction to make sure that this investment is worth it.

    • I’m frugal [cheap] but $220 seems like a moderate price to pay for a coat that fits your color and style requirements, when they’re not the boxy norm for that kind of coat. You didn’t mention adequate warmth but if it’s suitable for your needs, then it does seem a fair price all around. However, since it is in return window, is it possible that the same coat would go on sale for the famous Columbus Day coat sales and you could ask for a reduction? Many stores will honor this if the item goes on sale within a few weeks of buying it. Otherwise, someone could simply return their item and rebuy it, so why not give the discount.

    • Hi Anna!

      I want to give a big shout out to encourage you to keep your new coat. According to your comment, you’ve scored a coat that fits you well, is the right color, is well made, and has high quality fabric. It’s a more expensive, but not overpriced garment. That’s a win!! Celebrate your new shopping prowess by letting yourself enjoy the result. It’s true that very skillful shoppers can sometimes find that hidden gem: the “perfect” high quality garment at a low, low price. [I don’t count myself among them. ;( ] But very generally speaking, better quality comes at a price. Stepping outside your usual practice may prompt you to second guess your choice. If any of that guessing comes from a sense that you’ve bought a coat a little “too nice” for yourself–try to set that aside and let yourself experience what it’s like to stick it out for a great basic that fits, meets your needs, and looks smashing. You worked hard finding that coat. Wear it with pride!

      • Thank you so much for all your replies! Very helpful advice, I really appreciate it. I decided to keep the coat, I wore it yesterday and it worked really well. One of the things I love about it is that it’s made of 60 % wool and it keeps me warm, but it’s lightweight and easy to carry on your arm if it gets too hot. I agree with what a lot of you said about my insecurity about the garment being related to the price. I’m all for buying expensive handbags, but I never put much money into clothes as I tend to wear them out really fast. A coat is a bit different though, and I can see myself keeping this one for years. (This is the one I bought, it says $150 on the us website but it’s actually $220 in Norway:

        And Debbie, what you said about “striving for perfection with our clothes is a way of focusing time and energy on our wardrobes instead of more difficult areas of our lives” really hit home! I do this a lot I think. Right now I’m very busy with my studies, but I seem to use more of my mental energy on this whole wardrobe project. You definitely gave me something to think about with that remark. I will try to do better in the future and not be overly obsessed with something as simple as clothes.

      • That is a seriously beautiful coat, Anna! I’m looking for one, and I think this could be it! Unfortunately the site doesn’t have any pictures of it on a person and I was wondering if you would be willing to send one to me of you in it? If not, no problem, I’m just much better at determining this on a person than just from the pictures on the Benetton site. If you’re willing, it’s – if not, I’d love to know if it is this one in the middle? It doesn’t look like it, but the numbers are the same. Are yours the same length as this? Sorry for using your blog for this, Debbie, but it’s important ;-).

      • No problem, Mette. I know how difficult it can be to find certain items. I would do the same thing as you! Believe me, I would probably order some of the things you’ve bought if you were not overseas! 🙂

      • I think it’s great that so many people chimed in with lots of helpful advice, Anna! I’m glad you decided to keep the coat and that it’s already working well for you. Looks like a beautiful coat that is well worth the price. I know it can be hard to get used to spending more money on our wardrobe pieces. Self-trust factors into it a lot. I’m gradually moving toward buying fewer but higher-quality items myself, but I’ve proceeded slowly.

        I’m glad my input on diverting energy away from difficult areas of life resonated for you. I’m going to write a post on that topic soon, as it’s been a big issue for me and I noticed that it’s been pretty prominent as of late. It’s not that our wardrobe and clothes aren’t important, but when we spend really HUGE amounts of time on those areas, it’s worthwhile to ask if something else is going on.

        I hope you enjoy your new coat. Congrats on finding something you love (even if it’s not absolutely perfect – really, what ever is?) and spending more to get a better option. I hope it works well for your cold Norway winter!

  22. Great job, Debbie! I think this is actually a huge purge — at least conceptually. You really let go of some pieces that didn’t need to be hanging around, but had made it through several purges before, but you were really honest this time and found the strength to let them go. I’m going to bet that your wardrobe will feel even better and more refined after this purge! Keep up the amazing work. Your progress is really inspiring 🙂

    • I really appreciate your kind words, Karen. I DO feel much better about my wardrobe after the purge! I’m sure there will be more to let go of as time goes on and I will continue to use the “first impression test” to help me move things on. I’m very happy to inspire!

  23. I was curious to see which items you had talked about would end up in this post – I wasn’t surprised to see the white items, the blue jacket and the busy geometric print skirt on the list 🙂 Good for you, making the decision to pass on them and pass them on. I have a lot of things like that – I really WANT to love them, but I don’t… and I come up with all kinds of ways to try to make them work… but in the end, they have to go because trying to wear them and love them means I’m neglecting something I genuinely DO love. I have donated a few pieces lately that should have been great, but just weren’t, at least not on me. I already felt like I missed them when I still owned them (I missed what they could have been if they had been just a little bit more x or a little less y) so donating them was sad, but will actually stop me mourning what they could have been “if only.” Luckily most of them were thrifted, so I just consider the cost a donation or small rental fee.

    • “A small rental fee.” Love it! I try to make my decisions quickly, having been burned in the past. But sometimes you might be able to return something past the return window if the garment is unworn and still has its tags attached. And you can always ask the sales person handling the return if you can speak with a manager. If you are a “good” customer you might be given more flexibility. However, I limit my shopping these days to retailers with liberal return policies.

    • Very good point, Joanna, about how wearing the things we don’t love prevents us from really enjoying our favorites. I know that intellectually, but I still try to make things work that are really never going to work. I think it’s that old guilt coming into play again! But I feel that if I understand WHY certain items didn’t work and LEARN from my mistakes, I can let them go without all that guilt. It’s still not easy, but I want to feel happy when I open my closet instead of being faced with a gigantic serving of guilt and remorse every time!

  24. I really enjoyed reading this post debbie!!! I’m very impressed- what a large number of items to let go of at once!!! I think it’s similar to my own large purge in september- 34 items over 4 weeks though, not in one or two days! Your wardrobe must feel so much more manageable now, congratulations 🙂

    I’m excited for your future! Oh- your geo print skirt- I’ve been guilty of many as well. I think the way for me to prevent this is only minor alterations for fit- straps or hems. If I feel the need to tailor something to make it work, I really should think twice because it usually means it’s not the right item for me!

    • Thanks, Meli! My wardrobe definitely feels more manageable now. I agree that we should only do minor alterations on our clothes instead of trying to re-work something completely or attempting to make something work so we can relieve our guilt at having bought it in the first place. What frustrated me the most is that I KNOW better, but I still don’t always DO better! I think that “outing” myself on the blog will help, though, as it kind of wiped the slate clean metaphorically. I hope to not have to out myself about foolish alterations again!

  25. I ignored all the hype about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, and after reading your post I think it was a good decision. From your account of each item, which had been purchased recently and likely was not inexpensive, they all had reasons to be returned that were reasonable. How come you kept them as long as you did?

    • I think that sometimes the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale isn’t as great as they make it out to be, Ginger. In my case, the biggest problem is that the seasons are “off” where I lived compared to the rest of the country. It’s still super hot here and we don’t get fall weather until November most years. That’s why I waited so long to return things. I just didn’t have the occasion to wear them yet, but when I analyzed my entire wardrobe, I realized they just weren’t going to work for me. I’m thankful for Nordstrom’s liberal return policy, but I hope to make my return decisions much faster (I’m aiming for 30 days max) moving forward.

  26. That was a great purge. I am still having problems actually getting rid of quite a lot of clothes I have purged from my closet and was not wearing at all, but are stored in plastic bags in my basement ready for the donation pile. There are a lot of “good” things in those bags. Getting them out of my wardrobe was easy, getting them out of my house is the next step and not so easy for me. Take a deep breath and throw !!!

    • I know that actually getting rid of things can be very difficult, Carolyn. I try to get the items out of my house as soon as possible after I make the decision to let them go. That prevents the second-guessing which often happens. Even if I can’t make it over to the consignment or thrift store right away, at least I bring the bags down to my car. I’m much less likely to rummage through the bags in my trunk than in my closet. Perhaps try that and see if it helps. Good luck!

  27. Hi Debbie, thank you for sharing my first impression technique! I have been so busy with my job this week that while I’ve read many of the posts, I haven’t had time to respond. Stay tuned, I do have some comments, but I need to finish a big project first!

    • Thanks for checking in, Deby, and thanks for passing your words of wisdom on to me and everyone else here. Your wardrobe first impression test really helped me a lot! I look forward to reading what you have to say when you have time to chime in. Good luck with finishing your big project!

  28. I’m coming in late (busy week!) but I really like this technique. I think I’m going to try it with my dresses and coats as a first step, then move on to other categories later.

    • I hope the technique will work as well for you as it did for me, Sarah. Please check back (or comment on a future post) and let us know how it went for you!

  29. My current working wardrobe is at 111 items (58 fall/winter and 53 spring/summer) and I am in a four season area. I think a wardrobe that’s around 100 items is a good number to have. I know some people have wardrobes much smaller in number than this, but I have’t figured out how low I can go for myself yet.

    • You’re doing SO well with paring down your wardrobe, Lisa! If you can easily get by with 111 items in your four-season climate, I’m sure I could pare down a lot more in my more temperate area. I’m thinking 100 is a good number for me, but it may be even less when it’s all said and done. Keep up the great work! I loved reading your most recent post.

Comments are closed.