Ending Closet Chaos: My New Book and Next Wardrobe Challenge

At the end of my “worst purchases of 2014” post last week, I mentioned that my second book is available.   In today’s post, I share more information about the book, as well as the next wardrobe challenge I’ve opted to take on for 2015.

About the Book

My second book is titled End Closet Chaos:  Wardrobe Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic.”  It contains the best of my wardrobe management tips and strategies from the blog, categorized into logical sections related to various closet conundrums.   The solutions in the book have all been revised and enhanced from the original versions that appeared on the blog, and some new material has also been created specifically for the book.

End Closet Chaos book cover

You do not need to be a shopaholic to benefit from “End Closet Chaos”!   The tips and suggestions I provide are intended to be helpful for anyone who struggles with “closet chaos” of any kind.  You can read the book from cover to cover or use it as a reference to tackle your individual wardrobe challenges.

“End Closet Chaos” begins by addressing wardrobe size, which is a subject that is on a lot of people’s minds.  My “What is a Normal-Sized Wardrobe? ” post is my most accessed article for a reason!  After exploring frequency of wear and closet “set point,” I delve into some general wardrobe management tips, closet organization, wardrobe tracking, and how to pare down your wardrobe. I also include suggestions for taking care of your clothes, tailoring, packing for travel, and defining and enhancing your personal style.

The book closes with a bonus section of tips for smarter shopping. These solutions are a curated selection from my first book, “UnShopping: Recovery Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic,” and are included because smarter shopping will assist you in keeping your closet chaos at bay.

Table of Contents

Section One – Wardrobe Size

  • How Many Clothes are Enough?
  • Optimal Frequency of Wear and Wardrobe Size
  • You Don’t Need a Large Wardrobe to Be Stylish
  • Do You Have a Closet “Set Point”?

Section Two – General Wardrobe Management Tips

  • How to Organize Your Closet
  • Spend Some Time “Shopping Your Closet”
  • Wear Everything in Your Closet
  • Don’t Save Your Clothes “For Good”
  • Your Clothes Should Make You Smile

Section Three – Wardrobe Tracking

  • Why Track Your Wardrobe?
  • The Nuts and Bolts of Wardrobe Tracking
  • Reasons for Wardrobe Benchwarmers
  • Addressing Your Wardrobe Benchwarmers
  • Why You Should Do a Closet Inventory
  • A Different Type of Closet Inventory

Section Four – Paring Down Your Wardrobe

  • Why Do a Closet Audit?
  • How to Do Your Own Closet Audit
  • Answering the “Keep or Purge” Question
  • How to Pare Down a Very Large Wardrobe
  • Make a Game Out of Paring Down Your Wardrobe
  • Take on a “Dress with Less” Challenge
  • Paring Down a Large Jewelry Collection
  • What To Do With Your Closet Castoffs

Section Five – Taking Care of Your Clothes

  • How to Make Your Clothes Last Longer
  • The Power of Alterations
  • The Bright and Dark Sides of Alterations
  • “Make it Work” Transformations

Section Six – Personal Style

  • How to Determine Your Style
  • Style Discovery Questions to Answer
  • Outfit Photos and Identifying Common Themes
  • How Journaling Can Improve Your Style
  • The Pros and Cons of Uniform Dressing

Section Seven – Additional Solutions

  • Get Dressed Easier with Closet “Cheat Sheets”
  • Tips for Packing Prowess

Bonus Section – Tips for Smarter Shopping

  • Set a Clothing Budget
  • Create and Use a Shopping Priorities List
  • Sometimes “Cheap” is Really More Expensive
  • Questions to Ask Before Buying Anything New
  • How to Successfully Shop a Sale
  • How to Shop Smarter Online

Questions You May Have

Q. Where can I buy the book?

A. The book is available via the Amazon Kindle Store.

Q. What if I don’t have a Kindle or other e-reader?

A. My book can also be read using the Free Kindle Reader App for your PC, Mac, iPad (or other tablet), iPhone, or Android phone or device.

Q. Why are you only selling the book via Amazon?

A. I originally had my first book for sale via several other channels, but almost all copies sold were through Amazon. So I decided to keep things simple this time and sell End Closet Chaos exclusively via Amazon.com.

Q. Is this book available in print format?

A. No, it’s a digital book.

Q. How long is the book?

A. The original MS Word version of the book is 163 pages long with a total of 50,674 words (the number of pages in e-readers varies based upon font size and other settings).  The best part about the book is that you can start anywhere by selecting the particular section or solution that’s most relevant to your individual needs.

Q. What’s the difference between this book and your first book, “UnShopping”?

A.UnShopping: Recovery Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic focuses on smart shopping strategies, including accountability, tips for before you shop and while you’re in the store, resale shopping, shopping with friends, shopping during times of transition, and dealing with holiday shopping challenges. Conversely, End Closet Chaos:  Wardrobe Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic centers on the topic of wardrobe management, as shown in the Table of Contents above.

My Next Wardrobe Challenge

Back when I started this blog, I was definitely struggling with what could be considered “closet chaos.”   I had twice as many clothes as I have today and much of what I had was rarely or never worn.   Although my wardrobe is in far better shape than it used to be, I still feel that I have too many clothes, shoes, and accessories for my lifestyle.   I work from home, my activities are very casual, and some days I don’t even leave the house, other than to go for a walk or to the gym.

I still have too many clothes!

I still have too many clothes, shoes, and accessories for my lifestyle!

I don’t believe there is a wardrobe size number that is right for all people, but I do believe that I have too much for me at this point in time.   Ideally, I’d like to be wearing what I have far more often and I also want to absolutely love everything in my closet.

Sure, I could opt to do another round of Project 333, and I believe it would help me to pare down and better use what I have.  But I have decided to do something different – and to my mind, simpler – this year.   Instead of selecting a capsule wardrobe for the next three months and switching things out each season, I’m going to gradually build my optimal closet based upon what I actually wear.

How My New Challenge Works

There are very few rules for my new challenge, and I like that it will be easy to do and won’t require too much of my time and energy.  While it’s important for me to keep honing my wardrobe and style, I ultimately want to spend far more time on other pursuits (you know, that “full life” I’ve written about) this year.

So here’s how it works:

  • I will designate a “working area” of my closet by means of colored hangers (alternately, you can tie ribbons or scarves on your closet rod to separate things out).
  • Everything else will either be moved to another closet or will be pushed to the far left or right sides of my main closet (I don’t have enough room in other closets to move everything out and don’t want to pack everything up like I did for my first round of Project 333).
  • After I wear a given item, it will be hung up in the working area of my closet (between the two colored hangers).
  • If I wear something and find it uncomfortable, fussy, or no longer my style, it will be put aside for donation or consignment.
  • I will wear only what I really want to wear, even if that means wearing the same things over and over again.
  • I will only buy new things as replacements for worn out favorites or if I find myself continually wishing I had a particular item to include in my outfits (I make these types of notes in my outfit journal).
  • In each of my monthly accountability updates (yes, I will be continuing these through 2015, but there will be some changes), I will share the number of items in my “working closet,” as well as a photo.

The Goal of the Project

The goal of this project, which will continue through the entire year of 2015, is to curate the optimal (or as close to it as possible) wardrobe for my current lifestyle.   I’m not sure how many items I will end up with by year’s end.   The number may be a lot lower than my present closet inventory (to be shared shortly) or very close to the same.   I don’t have a particular target number in mind.

My only real objectives are:

  1. To wear what I love (those “8”s or higher on a scale or 1-10).
  2. To have the right types of clothing, shoes, and accessories for my life.

I’m sure I will write more about this in the future, but I’m keeping things pretty simple as I get started.  I’m going to do my initial closet set-up over the weekend, but I’ve already been using “the hanger trick” to keep track of what I’ve been wearing so far in January.

I’m including shoes and accessories in this project, but I still need to figure out how I’m going to keep track of my jewelry.  I’ve already been moving my jewelry pieces to distinct areas of my jewelry armoire as I wear them, as I laid out in this post.   Perhaps I will start that process over again as of January 1st and opt to let some pieces go that haven’t been worn since September (when I started tracking my jewelry wears).   I will figure this part out and will share it in my first update on the new challenge (I’m open to suggestions if you have any).

Your Thoughts & Does Anyone Want to Join Me?

It would be great if some of you decide to join me in my new wardrobe challenge!   If you have an extra closet in your home to house your wardrobe as you get started, that’s the ideal.  However, you can also improvise as I’m doing and the process will still be effective.   You don’t need to overthink things.  Just wear what you feel called to wear and move those pieces into your “working closet.”  Over time, you’ll see your optimal wardrobe take shape.  You’ll gain a clearer sense of what you love and wear, and any shopping you do will be better informed.

If my challenge isn’t your cup of tea or if you don’t feel the need to take something like this on, I’d still love to hear from you.

  • What has helped you to manage your closet and curate a wardrobe that works for you?
  • What types of wardrobe challenges are you taking on this year, if any?
  • If my plan intrigues you but you’re scared to jump in, please share your trepidations and I’ll do my best to address them.

My goal is for all of us to shop smarter, have workable wardrobes that we love, and fuller overall lives.  More on that last part in future posts…   I’m still figuring it all out as I go along, but I’m always happy to share my process and what I learn along the way.  I’m very happy when you let me know that my posts have positively impacted your lives, and I hope that will continue to be true through 2015!

Have a wonderful weekend!  I’ll be back next week with my December accountability update and yearly budget and item wrap-up.  I’ll also be doing another closet inventory and recapping my wardrobe “all-stars” and “benchwarmers” for 2014.   I want to powerfully close out 2014, take in all of the lessons from the year, and then forge ahead with new goals, projects, and challenges for 2015.   Stay tuned!

47 thoughts on “Ending Closet Chaos: My New Book and Next Wardrobe Challenge

  1. I LOVE your new wardrobe challenge. Count me in! I moved everything to the back half of my closet and left the front half open (to the left of the brace). I love that everything will fit in half of my closet. It looks rather like my whole closet used to look. This idea appeals to me more than any other that I’ve seen. It’s so practical and easy. I think that I have about the number of things that I want and this will be a great test.
    I have read and really enjoyed your book. I hope that it’s a great success!

    • I’m so glad you’re going to join me in my new wardrobe challenge, Tonya! I like that it’s practical and easy, too, and I believe it will be very helpful to me. I hope it will be for you, too. Thanks so much for writing the very first review of my new book! It is very much appreciated and I’m especially happy that you enjoyed reading the book.

  2. I really like it, because it is both simple and difficult. It is simple, because there aren’t a whole lot of rules to follow, and that feels life giving, like you’ve reached the point where you don’t need a lot of rules to move in the direction you want to go. It is difficult, because the shopping part of the challenge is going to be stretching- it might be good to think through on the front end what “continually wishing” for looks like for you, although since you are keeping your clothing journal, maybe that’s already set in your mind. It’s a real testament to how far you have come in the past two years. I think living this for the next year is going to help you get the wardrobe set point you want and free you up to live the full life you’ve been wanting.

    • Thank you, Heather, for your kind words and positive outlook for my coming year. I think your observations are right on. I really do feel that I no longer need a lot of rules in order to move forward. The rules were necessary and served me well early on, but I’m ready to at least try having fewer of them to see how it goes for me. I may need to more fully define the shopping parameters as I move forward. The outfit journal really does help me to see what I need, as well as what I really want/wish for, but if I need to outline that part more fully, I definitely will.

  3. Debbie, are you including your lounge/workout/gear wear and shoes in this challenge? Since I have more seasonal weather in NC than you do, would I do this each season or just keep adding to it as needed? Like you I’m at home most days and sometimes stay in my lounge (not sleep) wear. I think this challenge sounds great either way so count me in! I’m about half-way through your new book and really enjoying it.

    • Yes, Kim, I’m including lounge /workout / gear wear in the challenge. That’s actually an area of my wardrobe that I’d like to upgrade, as I haven’t made it as much of a priority as it needs to be given my current lifestyle. I know that many people experience more weather changes than I do in San Diego, so it may make sense to do this challenge by season, especially for those who switch their wardrobes out for cold/warm weather. I plan to just keep adding things as needed and build my overall wardrobe for the whole year. Do what works best for you. I’m so glad you’ve decided to join in on the challenge and that you are enjoying my book!

  4. I have been struggling with right-sizing my wardrobe for three years. I thought losing a massive amount of weight would do it. It did not. I thought participating in Project 333 several times would do it. It did not. I thought following blogs, such as yours and The Vivienne Files would do it. It did not.

    Fast forward to December, any my purchase of a large drying rack with space for both hanging and folded items, accessories, and shoes. I wasn’t sure how I was going to use it until I read your challenge. I.Am.On.Board. No more trying to figure out what capsules I want/need, what colors will give me the most options, etc. I will simply pay attention to what I am wearing. If it’s an 8 or higher, it will go on the rack. If not, it will go in the donate bin.

    Thank you, Debbie!

    • Sorry, should read “and my purchase”, not “any my purchase”. Darn typos! Oh, and I bought your eBook. 🙂

    • Yay, Sandi! I’m glad you are going to join in on my 2015 wardrobe challenge. I’m going to have to come up with a good (catchy) name for it, as I’ll be referring to it often over the course of the year. I’ve been struggling with right-sizing my wardrobe for a long time, too. Many of the things I’ve tried, including Project 333, have been helpful, but I was ready to try something else now. I look forward to learning how the challenge will work for you. Thanks for buying my e-b00k! I hope you will enjoy it and find it helpful.

  5. Great minds think alike. I’m doing this same thing. I also think for those who face a daunting task of a first purge/cull that this would be a non stress way to accomplish a downsize. Anything I try on that just doesn’t work will go in my donate/consign bag. Just put things that you wear and are cleaned in a forward area of your closet and continue to assess each piece as I go. One rule I will use is if I try on a combo and for some reason I love the piece but not the combo I will tag it with ribbon or rubber band and put in in the unworn for another try. If it continues to be an issue after I have been through the unworn garments all the way then I will try to determine if I have a hole in my wardrobe or if it’s a fantasy life piece, or if it’s sentimental. Once I do this I will deal with it appropriately. My hope is that I don’t have to many of these to deal with. Maybe if I add a ribbon
    every time I attempt to use it this will bring reality to with a hanger full of ribbons. Te he

    • Thanks for sharing your challenge, Kathy! I agree that doing something like what you and I are doing is a good way to downsize without having to do it all at once. I believe that one will downsize more organically over time through our type of challenge. I love your idea for using a ribbon or rubber band to identify loved pieces that just don’t work with a particular garment. I may share your suggestion in my first challenge update, as I believe it could be helpful for people. I hope you don’t end up with too many ribbons, but if you do, I’m sure you’ll learn from it.

  6. Debbie, this is a great idea. I am joining in on this one. I have a rolling rack and will place everything I end up wearing on the rack. I tried project 333 (for one afternoon!) and I didn’t like feeling so limited. I have far too many clothes for my lifestyle and have been feeling smothered by my “stuff”. I think this method will give me clarity. I just hope I don’t feel too much guilt/remorse over getting rid of perfectly good and sometimes expensive clothing. But what is the point of having things if you don’t use them, right?

    • I’m glad you’re joining in, Lori! I love your rolling rack idea. Perhaps I will need to get one, although our place is small and my husband might object to having a rolling rack out in our bedroom. The guilt and remorse issue is a big one for many of us and is why we often keep things we don’t really love. Consigning things or selling them on eBay can help to recoup some of the investment, which can help with the guilt. But in the end, your sentence/question at the end of your comment really says it all. I often feel SO much better when I get the items out of my house. I feel bad for a little while, but then I forget about it and a bit of weight has been removed from my shoulders!

  7. I have been using a similar system as you describe for continuing to make my wardrobe smaller. While I’m not as good at documenting numbers of wears, and so forth, as you are–my method is similar in that I separate out things that I haven’t worn, either in a different area of the season’s rack, or I keep track in my head of how often I wear things. Often, it involves a different way of looking at a garment as my taste evolves.

    For example, last winter in replacing tops, I ventured into the world of the elliptical hemline. At first I thought it was cool, so I purchased several tops. I know the trend is still going strong, but I’m over it. Particularly the style called “shark bite” hem. I’ve come to the conclusion that while an inventive notion, these hemlines are not really flattering to my frame. I”m 5’5″ but they make me look short. So, I am now replacing my elliptical hem tops, and since they are in good condition, the consignment store will love them!

    One thing I do as a purge game is go into my closet and scan the rack like I’m in a store. If I see something that looks like I wouldn’t buy it again, I pull it out and ask myself “why”. I make myself remember how I felt when I wore it last time, and if there was anything about it that annoyed me. Once I have identified what I didn’t like about it when I last wore it, that same condition usually still exists if I try it on to evaluate it.

    My style continues to evolve, as I suspect it always will. An avid reader of fashion magazines, I like to adopt new trends in moderation. This year’s Pantone color Marsala is my match made in heaven. I will be able to fill in some gaps, because I have worn this color for years. (My office has been painted Marsala since 1998 because I find it energizing.) My friends say “what do you call that unusual color you always wear?” Now they know–its Marsala! But, although a garment has to be really stellar to stay in my closet for more than a year or two,I do have some favorites that are 25+ years old–some things are just classics forever.

    • I absolutely love your “purge game,” Deby, and I plan to use it! You have lots of wonderful ideas. Your “first impression test” has really helped me a lot, too (if anyone new is reading this comment, check out this post: https://recoveringshopaholic.com/applying-the-wardrobe-first-impression-test/). I plan to try the “purge test” soon and will probably end up writing a blog post about it 🙂

      I’m glad you’re happy with the new color of the year, Marsala. It’s too warm-toned for me, but I expect there will be some cooler-toned options in the stores as well. Sometimes we see LOTS of the colors of the year in stores and sometimes not so much. I was hoping to buy up lots of Emerald when it was big (2 years ago? 3?), but I really didn’t see much of it around.

  8. Congratulations on the book!
    The challenge is a great idea. I’ve been doing something similar, but virtually (a spreadsheet recording outfits that work). It would be even better to actually arrange the wardrobe this way, as it would be easier to see what’s working and what’s not at a glance. I’ll need to prune a bit more first, as its still jam packed! I’ll follow yours with great interest, and stick to my spreadsheet for now.

    • Your spreadsheet sounds like a good idea, too, Alice. I keep a spreadsheet of all of my clothes, but don’t track the wears there until the end of the year (I use hanging tags to track wears, as detailed in this post: https://recoveringshopaholic.com/how-to-track-your-wardrobe/). I think there are many methods that can work and it just depends upon the person. I think my new challenge will work well for me now and I hope it will help others, too.

  9. Great idea for a challenge, Debbie!
    This month (and maybe for the whole year) I decided to do a challenge based on the number of days in the month. I was always too hesitant to do Project 333 but taking things one month at a time is easier for me to handle. So, for January, since there are 31 days this month, I picked out 31 clothing items to wear. This number doesn’t count shoes, outerwear, jewelry, or clothes I wear for sleep/lounge/exercise. I moved these items to one side of my closet and just covered the other clothes with a large scarf.
    I recently switched to an Android phone, and since I can’t use the Stylebook app anymore, I downloaded My Dressing app. It’s free and doesn’t have a shopping component like other apps. It doesn’t have as many features but I can take pictures of items, crop them, and make notes like my number of wears.
    When I wear an item of my 31, of shoes, or of jewelry I take a picture of it and/or update my number of wears. I think this will help me understand what I’m wearing and how often. I tried to track wears before but I would forget to add them to the corresponding day on the app’s calendar. This method seems much easier for me. I’ve already decided two items weren’t flattering so out they go!

    • What a fun challenge idea, Emmy! I love how creative people are in coming up with challenges that will best suit their needs. When I did Project 333 the second time, I used two months instead of 3 (so it was really more like Project 233) because I got SO bored of my capsule during the third month in my first round. I think I would better be able to do it now, but I think my new challenge will better meet my needs today. It sounds like your modified Project 333 is working very well for you since you already purged two items!

      I keep meaning to try an app like Stylebook. I downloaded it on my iPad, but didn’t start using it because of the extensive set-up required to begin. I have photos of all of my clothes and shoes (not all accessories, though), so it would be easier for me than most, but I didn’t take the time to do it. I still might and would love to hear how My Dressing works for you. I mostly use non-Mac devices/apps, but my sister-in-law gave me her old iPad after she got a new one. I’m open to whatever app or device will be most helpful.

  10. Since discovering your blog in November I have been working my way through my closet. After the initial purge (probably half my closet got donated) I still have too much. So I have started a similar system, minus the marked hangers. My closet is divided into sections (long sleeves, short sleeves, skirts, pants, suits, tanks…). When I wear something, I hang it back up at the far right of the section it came from. I can select from anything in my closet, I just use and return it on the right. Over the past month or so, I have been making observations of what tends to stay near the right, what’s in the middle and what stays at the far left. I keep a big mesh bag hanging from hooks in my closet where I stuff items I want to donate. Left side pieces, my “left” overs, are finding their way in there. Also anything I try on that doesn’t fit does not get put back on a hanger anymore. It goes in the bag. I am hoping as I progress through the seasons of 2015, shopping my closet in this way, I will further streamline my stuff. BTW, I am using a similar system on my shoe rack and in my lingerie drawer.

    • Thanks for sharing your system, Misty. Sounds like it’s working very well for you. My husband is actually doing something very similar with his shirts as of a few weeks ago (it was my idea, go figure…). He’s already starting to notice which shirts he likes and which are less likely to get worn. Hopefully we’ll both be able to pare down further through using our respective systems. I think it’s great that you’re using the same system with your shoes and lingerie. I didn’t think to use my system with lingerie, but that’s a good idea! I’m using it with everything else, so why not?

  11. I bought your book, and I must say it’s very well done. Your first was good and this one is great!

    I’d join in on the challenge, but I’m very aware of what I have and what isn’t getting worn. I just did a closet purge recently as well. I have 74 items of clothing (except pajamas / lounge, which is also small). I’m assembling a post for my ‘capsule’ spring/summer wardrobe right now, and it’s 45 items counting camisoles and formsl wear. 30-32 of these are also used in fall/winter, so by default my fall/winter is pretty large at 59-61 items, which includes a larger number of formal items. In time I hope to slowly get to a bit lower numbers, but I’m pretty happy with where I am. I don’t want to purge for purging’s sake- just to naturally reduce as I wear items out and replace fewer items.

    • Thank you for buying my book, Meli. I’m glad you’re enjoying it! It sounds like you don’t need my new challenge, as you already have a downsized wardrobe and are using what you have. I hope to only need to do my challenge for a year and then maybe I’ll be where you already are! 🙂 I agree that we shouldn’t purge things just for purging’s sake. That’s why I’m hesitant to do a literal “one in, one out” wherein one gets rid of something immediately upon bringing something new in (I’d rather have it happen by season or over time, and it has for me). You should be proud of yourself for the excellent progress you’ve made. Well done!

  12. Debbie, congratulations on the release of your second book. Your concept and ideas are outstanding and will greatly benefit those who are beginning the journey you have walked over the past few years. I wish I’d had your books (and this blog) to guide me years ago when I was in the process of simplifying my wardrobe and reaching the happy place where I have finally landed. However, I’m still lucky because your wisdom benefits me now, offering me the opportunity to remind myself that I want to always stay on the path and never return to a full closet jammed with more clothes than I need. And your new wardrobe challenge is a great idea!

    • I’m so happy that my blog and books are helpful to people like you as well as shopaholics, Terra. When I started, I thought my audience would be a lot more narrow than it’s ended up being. But now I can see how reading my posts and the comments can help people stay on the straight and narrow in terms of shopping wisely and avoiding closet overload. Thank you for your kind words and support!

  13. Debbie, I’m still working my way through your new book and enjoying every chapter! This latest post gives me additional food for thought, and I’m going to work toward joining the challenge, but first I have to get through the initial closet purge/re-organization. You know, the one I’ve been saying I was going to finish since last summer? Yeah, that one. Still stalled out on that – was sick through the Christmas break when I had allocated time off to work on it. Now looking toward the long holiday weekend next week to try to get it done. I also read this article today, which you might enjoy, since it’s a similar concept to your new challenge:
    Even though I’m not where I wanted to be at this point with my wardrobe, I’m farther than where I was last year, so trying to focus on what I have accomplished, instead of how far I have to go! Your posts and all the shared comments really help!

    • That’s great that you’re enjoying my book, Texas Aggie Mom! Thanks for sharing the NY Magazine article. I enjoyed reading it! I think that if we really asked ourselves whether or not our closet pieces bring us joy – and answered fully honestly – we would be able to get rid of a lot of pieces. I wonder if you’re making your closet purge/re-org harder than it needs to be. I wonder that because I’ve been there myself! One thing I like about my new challenge is that I think it will allow me to purge things more “organically” over time. In fact, I’ve already decided to let a few things go since I moved things around and saw how few items I’ve worn thus far during January. We all need to be ready to make changes and even a little bit at a time can make a big difference over time. You may have a long way to go, but I’m know from your comments that you’ve made some excellent progress! I hope you’re proud of how far you’ve come.

      • After playing around with the LIWI concept this weekend, I am adding an extra step for myself. One of my worst shopping habits is buying clothes that I don’t wear. Sometimes the outfits I envisioned don’t look as good in real life, and sometimes I am saving those pieces “for good.” So I took everything that still has tags on it and created a small separate section in the front of my closet. First I am choosing pieces I love to make outfits; then step two is to review all unworn items with tags to see if they might be incorporated into these “favorite” looks. I haven’t set a hard and fast deadline on this, but at some point anything with tags that can be returned will go back to the store. I also made a conscious effort this weekend to wear clothes I had formerly been “saving for good” at home. My best friend came over for an informal breakfast/crafting session yesterday and commented favorably on my outfit, since normally I would have still been in yoga pants or pjs for something like that. The cowl neck tunic sweater and ponte leggings I chose were just as comfy, but looked a lot more put together. When another friend stopped by later, I was really glad I had actual clothes on! Today I broke out a cardigan and brand new skinny corduroy pants that I have been saving for the right occasion. Turns out taking some soup to my elderly mother and attending a meeting at church was just the right occasion. Three of these items made it past the LIWI challenge; the one I didn’t love was relegated to the guest bedroom closet for the duration of the challenge. I think this is really going to help clarify what actually works or doesn’t work in real life, rather than my fantasy life for which I seem to buy most of my clothes. The questions “Do I like this in theory or in practice?” and “Then why am I not wearing it?” really help make decisions about what stays or goes. Thank you again for the inspiration found in your posts!

      • What a great addition to LIWI! I will likely share it in a future post. And how great that you are wearing more of your “good” clothes at home. I have vowed to do that, too, because I am at home so often and so many of my clothes are just hanging in my closet and rarely worn. Thank YOU for inspiring me! 🙂

  14. Great post. My aims are to only wear outfits I feel happy in, and only make good purchases. I have been doing something similar for about 9 months now and it has really helped me to understand which outfits are actually worn and what my real clothes needs are. Also what my real style is, as opposed to styles I aspire to but don’t have the physique or lifestyle for. I think the most useful thing has been to identify complete outfits for specific types of activities, rather than trying to put outfits together from a wardrobe of separates- which worked better in theory than practice, and resulted in a lot of closet orphans. I now know I have at least one suitable outfit for most occasions and enough outfits for regular activities. As I am happier with my outfits and understand better what I really need I can see how little I actually need to purchase to make a difference. I’m less likely to buy ‘nearly right’ or ‘just in case’.

    • Thanks for sharing your journey, Lynn. It sounds like you’ve been learning a great deal through the process. I think a lot can be said for having a few good “go-to” outfits. I used to go for “more is more,” but I am better dressed now with a lot fewer clothes. I was so all over the map before and concentrating so much on acquiring more and more that I didn’t pay much attention to what I already had. The result was a haphazard wardrobe and lackluster style. I agree that we often need to purchase very little to make a big difference. Keep up the great work!

  15. This is a great idea, Debbie. I really like the idea of your challenge, although I don’t think I’m totally ready to take it on yet. I am just moving to the stage of putting items aside at the end of the day if I found them “fussy” to wear, without thinking of whether I otherwise like the piece or not. I have a number of items that I do like and I think look good on me, but I find myself tugging at something like the neckline or the lower hem or a sleeve ALL day to make the garment really work. But I tend to launder them, put them back in the closet, and then not wear them for a while until I forget how fussy they were and end up wearing them and regretting it! I have decided that that is no longer acceptable, but I feel steps behind you because I think you have been working on removing the fussy garments for a long time.

    I also just recently decided on a way to do a bit more purging on my tops and toppers that I want to take on before I try your new challenge. I feel like I still need to free up a bit more space in order to have a “working area”. But perhaps by February or March I’ll be ready. Or April, let’s not get carried away.

    • I think the step you’ve taken is a really good one, Sarah. I always used to put the fussy garments back into my closet, too, but why? I still probably have a few fussy items to let go of, but I think my standards are getting higher in terms of what I want to keep around. You can join in on my challenge at any time, as I will be doing it all year long! April would still give you plenty of time to see what you are and aren’t wearing. I don’t know if you’re in a 4-season climate. If so, you might want to do the challenge for a full year to really get an idea of what you love and wear.

  16. Debbie,

    Your book is fabulous. I’ve read so much about wardrobing, I didn’t expect something new (but I always hope!)… Love the tip about wearing all your clothes, eg running errands, just to try them out. If you can’t go to the local shops in them, where will you go? Also the alterations section is fantastic. I have a terrific Chinese tailor and get everything adjusted but it never ocurred to me how much celebs get their clothes individually tailored. I now see I have trouble with dresses because my top is bigger than the lower half, so I can buy a bigger size and get the whole “skirt” section taken in.
    Thank you for a really terrific book. To tell the truth, you always seeemed bit too serious to and almost obsessive but, now I read you were in IT, I get it as I used to work with lots of Silicon Valley people who would put anything at all on a spreadsheet :-)….
    An original, thoughtful book which I recommend without reservation!

    • Thank you so much for all of your kind words about my book, Michaela! I’m so glad you found it helpful and that you learned some new ideas from it. It would be wonderful if you could post this review on Amazon, as it would help other people to learn more about my book and potentially buy it.

      Yes, I can be a bit obsessive about my wardrobe, it’s true. I was in Silicon Valley for years, so perhaps it’s in my blood at this point 🙂

  17. As an afterthought, on reflecting on the messages in your book and Brigette Raes “one and done” rule I thought up a rule for myself.
    The rule of three. This means I only three of the same typee of outfit. Eg I have three bright shirts I wear with shorts and sneakers for walking the dog etc. I have three summer dresses for meeting friends for lunch. Three silk tops to go with one pair of dressy black pants for informal dinners. Oops, more than three tunic tops to go over skinny jeans for shopping and dressy casual events eg bbqs.
    I thought of this because even if you stay with someone, you could rotate the same outfit after three outfits eg for morning walks. Then you’d change to say go sightseeing and again you could rotate after three outfits. So if we have three outfits for each activity, that’s enough variety because we’d only be wearing these for the current season.
    You’ll gather from my examples that it is summer where I am.
    So now I see I have too many tunic tops (see above) and too many patterned pencil skirts.
    Honestly, unless we are in an office where I would rotate outfits every two weeks, most people won’t see you enough at the same sort of event to know your repetoire of outfits is limited to three.

    • What a wonderful rule, Michaela! I love it! Mo (a frequent commenter here) has written about something very similar on her blog: https://moderatewardrobe.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/avoiding-oversaturation/

      I think that if we all followed these types of guidelines, we’d have far more streamlined wardrobes. I wish I would have thought of these tips, but I’m happy to learn from you and Mo! I think I have more than three of a lot of things, but I will keep your ideas in mind as I continue to pare things down this year. Best of luck to you!

  18. While not actually physically moving the clothes as they are worn, I have been doing this basically since I returned home. Just grab what you want to wear and wear it. No worries about wearing all items in a category evenly, or ‘picking’ the right select few for a mini capsule, or repeating an item too often. I’ve just been picking what I want based on my mood, the weather, and the activity at hand. Period. And it’s been so great. Of course, it took some work to get things in order first to be able to do this and not stare at the closet feeling I have nothing to wear.
    I have a pretty good idea of what I don’t need more of and what will need replacing more often due to repeat wearings. About half a dozen items in each category end up being the first worn when given a choice. My all-stars, if you will. But mixing in other things or pairing them in slightly different ways has been enough to keep me entertained and largely off shopping. Also grabbing the occasional statement item to throw on keeps it fresh.
    Tangentially related, I stopped taking outfit pics last month. Again, a certain internalized pressure is off. I feel like many looks have been great – of course that could partly be denial of what I can’t see HA! I am going to get better with using my wardrobe app Stylish Girl on my Kindle to record outfits in place of outfit of the day pics.
    Overall, I just feel like it’s more fun with less rules. I know the rules are what got me to this point. Putting the effort in on the front side is making the results on the back end easier.

    • I agree that it’s more fun with less rules, Mo. I was starting to feel a bit “overloaded” (for lack of a better word) by all of the rules that I created, but I think I did need them for a while. Yes, the rules are what helped us get to where we are now, but we can relax the reins a bit given the progress we have made. It sounds like you’re doing very well. It seems like you are much happier in Tahoe than in Florida and like dressing for the cooler climate a lot more. I know I would feel like a fish out of water in Florida, but I suppose we all get used to things in time. I’m going to have to check out that Stylish Girl app, as I like the idea of recording my outfits that way instead of the photos. I have a hard time getting good outfit photos, as neither my husband nor I are very good at photography. The app sounds a lot simpler after the initial set-up.

  19. We access our attic through my closet and I recently did something similar when I had to clear the closet out to allow workmen to get into the attic.

    After the project finished up I only put things back into my regular closet as I wore them.
    Not everything that I moved out of that closet made it’s way back and the things that didn’t come back are high on my donate list.

    It’s a good idea!

    • Sounds like you had an unexpected benefit of having work done on your house, Ginger. I’m sure it was enlightening for you to see what you were and weren’t wearing. I really look forward to seeing how my closet shapes up in the coming months. I’m sure it will be quite eye-opening!

  20. Happy New Year Debbie.
    I have been doing a version of this for about a year now. It started, as you may remember, by removing all the different neutrals I owned and paring them down to the right ones for me.

    Then I really started to just wear the clothes I liked. One of my shopping problems was that I was buying things but not wearing them much because they were “too good” and I was running around wearing old junk while I had a closet of nice things. It was stupid.

    I tended to keep a lot of old stuff for “wearing around the house” or for exercise which really starts to pile up. I got rid of much of this and kept only a core set that I wouldn’t mind actually being seen in if a friend called in unexpectedly or I had to dash out the door in a hurry.
    I’m wearing a lot more dresses now which I love. I stopped buying tops made of T-shirt Jersey fabric and choose to wear silk and cotton voile which feels nicer and looks nicer.

    I don’t mind wearing the same things over and over – quite frankly it’s a relief !!! I’ve spent far too much time agonising over my wardrobe, trying to make things work and ended up wearing the same old things anyway.

    • You have made such great progress in multiple ways, Carolyn! Thanks for sharing your experience, as it really validates my new challenge. I think I have too many “for around the house” clothes at this point, so I’m going to pare down. Good idea to only wear things you don’t mind being seen in. That’s a goal of mine for this year. I’m getting much more accustomed to wearing the same things over and over again and I don’t mind it at all anymore. I agree that it’s a relief!

  21. Great idea, Debbie! I may try something like that down the road, too. I agree that, while capsule wardrobes are a nice way to enjoy a subset of your wardrobe, to the extent that there’s a large chunk of wardrobe you’re avoiding (and eagerly want to address) it ends up being as frustrating as rewarding at some point.

    • I agree that there are both advantages and disadvantages to capsule wardrobes, Rebecca. I think that for now, my new challenge will be more helpful to me than Project 333 or something similar, but I may go back to the capsule wardrobe idea at some point. Project 333 helped me a great deal when I did it and I think it can be a very useful challenge, but I’m excited to see where my new challenge (now called “Love It, Wear It” or LIWI) takes me.

  22. I love your new challenge! I’ve been doing something similar for about a year and as a result have accumulated far fewer never-worn clothes. I think I am finding clothes that fit my lifestyle. The big thing – I don’t need many formal clothes in my life. Sweatshirts, soft pants, jeans, sweaters and tank tops are my go-to items. I also find I don’t need black and white basics as much as I thought – soft whites and blues are much more appropriate for my day-to-day. Good luck with your goals and congratulations on your new book!

    • I have come to the same conclusion about formal clothes, FrugalFashionista. I don’t know why I didn’t “get it” sooner, but I was continuing to shop for only a small portion of my current life. My life may change down the road, but for now, I want to be dressing appropriately for what I’m actually doing. Thanks for your support and congratulations.

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