In my last post, I mentioned that I recently did another closet purge. It wasn’t anything too extreme, but after seeing how few wardrobe “all-stars” I had last year, as well as how many closet “benchwarmers,” I felt compelled to do some downsizing. So I took a few hours this past weekend to give everything I own a second look (using the “first impression test” that I wrote about here). Today’s post reveals what I’ve opted to pass on, as well as my new closet inventory.
Rethinking My Closet Inventory
In previous closet inventories, I’ve focused primarily on my “regular clothes,” those pieces I wear when I’m out and about. However, since so much of my life involves being at home, walking, and going to the gym, I decided to start including my entire wardrobe in these updates (with the exception of undergarments and sleepwear). I need to start considering what I wear for my day-to-day life, which involves a lot of sitting in front of my home computer wearing lounge wear. Those clothes count and I need to start treating them more as if they matter. I need to feel just as good in my at home clothes as I do in what I wear when I’m out and about.
I’m also going to start including my jewelry in my closet inventories. I’ve previously written about jewelry separately (see here for my most recent jewelry update), which wasn’t a bad thing back when I was focused on meeting my 2014 pare-down goal (which I met – and then some!). I had a lot to say about jewelry culling, which merited individual posts. But now that my jewelry collection is down to a more manageable level (still too much, yes, but more manageable), I can look at it in tandem with the rest of my closet pieces.
Letting Go of Some “Dead Weight”
Before I delve into my January 2015 closet inventory, let’s look at what I managed to let go of last weekend. Here’s a bird’s eye view of all of the clothes and shoes that I designated for consignment or donation:
What I Returned and Why
I decided to return two items that I’d had for months but had never worn:
In brief, here’s why I opted to return these items:
- Burgundy ballet flats: I like the look of these shoes, but they just weren’t comfortable enough for me. I think I need a thicker sole and more arch support for my fussy feet.
- Cobalt v-neck tee: The ¾ sleeves were a bit too short for my long arms. Also, I’ve learned that I prefer full-length sleeves for warmth and ease of putting coats/jackets on over my tops.
Clothes I Consigned/Donated and Why
I purged the following 13 items of clothing from my closet:
Here’s why I opted to get rid of these garments:
- Black and grey striped skirt: I like the slimmer silhouette, but the skirt was just too “fussy.” I also didn’t feel that the horizontal stripes on my bottom half was the most flattering choice.
- Black and grey print sleeveless blouse: I didn’t like the ruffles in front. I prefer a more minimalist and clean design these days.
- Blue print tee: I loved this tee and wore it a lot, but it had become pilled and no longer looked good anymore.
- Burgundy twist-front top: This was a bad impulse buy! The fabric was too thin and the length was too long. I got “dazzled” by the color and style, a common mistake that I hope not to repeat again!
- Black and white striped maxi-dress: There was a design flaw in the top half that wasn’t fixed by alterations. I should have returned this dress instead of trying to fix it (I need to practice what I preach – see this post).
- Black and white striped tank: I have another similar tank that I like better and I didn’t like the lace details at the top.
- Charcoal maxi-skirt: I hated the fold-over waist. It didn’t stay in place and was uncomfortable. Note to self – never buy fold-over waist garments again!
- Green v-neck tee: The color was not good on my skin tone. I love green, but will look for a tee in a cooler shade that’s more flattering on me.
- Grey long jacket: I wore this jacket a lot a few years ago, but I no longer liked the style and the jacket had started to look “tired” (a testament to poor quality, as it hadn’t been worn that much).
- Grey print skirt: Yes, another bad consignment buy! I guess I hadn’t been scared straight enough after writing this post. I only bought this skirt in November, but when I put it on last weekend, I didn’t like how it looked. It was too pale in color and too conservative and feminine in style.
- Blue and white striped tee: The material was too thin and the top looked worn out (again, it hadn’t been worn very much, so the quality wasn’t good).
- Polka-dot skirt: I had this skirt for a long time, but no longer liked how it looked on me. Like the grey skirt above, it was just too feminine and conservative for my current style aesthetic.
- Purple ruffled tank: The ruffles were problematic, as Bridgette Raes pointed out to me (see this post). I plan to look out for a plain purple tank to replace this one.
Shoes I Consigned/Donated and Why
In addition to the burgundy ballet flats that I returned last weekend, I also slated four pairs of shoes for consignment or donation:
Here’s why the shoes above are no longer in my closet:
- Tan Clark’s sandals: I used to wear these sandals a lot, but I no longer liked the color and have better options.
- Black Coach pumps: These shoes were too formal for my lifestyle and the high heel wasn’t comfortable to walk in.
- Metallic embellished pumps: I never really loved how these shoes looked. I think that maybe they were a bit dated, and they weren’t all that comfortable to walk in, either.
- Leopard print peep-toe pumps: I didn’t like the square toe and the shoes weren’t very comfortable. I have a pair of leopard print sandals that I like better and serve much the same purpose.
Jewelry Pieces I Purged
I also purged quite a few pieces of jewelry. I won’t go through these pieces one by one, as I don’t want to make this post the length of the Encyclopedia Britannica (yes, I bely my age with that reference!). But here are photos of the two necklaces, seven bracelets, and five pair of earrings that I removed from my jewelry box last weekend:
Most of the jewelry items above were more than a few years old, but several were purchased last year. The distinguishing feature of the recent acquisitions that I purged was that they were impulse buys purchased on sale or via consignment. None were very expensive, but it was all wasted money! I either let myself get swept up in getting a “deal” or was talked into buying something by an assertive salesperson. In either event, I accept full responsibility for my mistakes and I truly hope that I won’t repeat them.
I wish I could feel more confident that I won’t re-visit my foibles, but I’ve come to understand that I can be emotionally driven when it comes to shopping. Whenever I shop without a list, I get into trouble. If I plan my purchases in advance and only focus on my shopping priorities list when I’m in the stores (or online), I fare far better. So that’s what I intend to do all the time during 2015!
Additional Purged Items
In addition to everything that was pictured above, I also let go of the following wardrobe items:
- 1 nightgown
- 1 pair of pajama pants
- 7 pajama tops (I had more tops than pants, just like in the rest of my wardrobe!)
- 4 workout tops
- 4 bras
- 17 pairs of socks
- 3 pairs of nylons (I can’t remember the last time I wore nylons!)
- 1 bikini top (too small and don’t have a matching bottom!)
- 1 swimsuit cover-up
- 1 pair of gloves
- 2 scarves
- 6 hats
- 1 purse (a gift that I forgot about until I found it recently in another closet!)
It felt good to pay some attention to other areas of my wardrobe in which there was excess. My dresser drawers are now much tidier and everything that’s in there is in good shape and ready to be worn. After doing my full closet audit, I realize that I need more pajama tops, socks, and workout shirts. These items will be the focus of my future shopping, as they are true wardrobe needs, not just wants like many of the things I buy.
The Bottom Line
In addition to the “first impression test,” another tip for purging your closet is to use one of Bridgette Raes’ tried and true powerful questions:
Under what circumstance am I going to choose this piece over something else that I always go to or always prefer?”
In the case of almost all of the items above, my answer was “never.” There was almost always something else in my closet – or jewelry box – that I would much rather wear. In a few cases, such as the green tee and purple tank, I didn’t have a similar item that I’d prefer to put on, but I didn’t feel the need to hang on to those garments until I found something better. I have lots of other tops to wear. Yes, green and purple are key colors within my palette, but I can let go of my sense of scarcity and trust that better options will eventually come along. I wasn’t wearing the green tee and I had tired of the purple tank (because of the ruffles), so there was no harm at all in passing these two pieces on.
About the Closet Inventory
Now that I cleared out some excess items, I thought it would be a good time to do another closet inventory. If you’ve been following along for a while, you may remember that I set a goal in January 2014 (number 6 on this list) to reduce the size of my core wardrobe (clothing, shoes, purses, and scarves) to 200 total items. When I last did a closet inventory back in June 2014, I had almost met that goal, as my total came to 204 items at that time.
In the comments section of my last inventory post, a few readers mentioned that I should include my workout / lounge wear in my core wardrobe since I wear those items so much. I totally agree so all future inventories – including this one – will include both at home and out and about wear (for which there is at least some crossover) in one count and accessories (shoes, jewelry, scarves, purses, etc.) in another.
It’s worth noting that my wardrobe remained at approximately the same size during the second half of 2014. Some pieces came in and other pieces left, but the overall number wasn’t really decreasing. I did do a moderate purge back in October, but that mostly just off-set the large number of items I brought in during July and August. In general, I had reached a certain closet “set point” and remained there for a while before I was ready to go down to the next level. After seeing my frequency of wear numbers for 2014 and starting my “Love It, Wear It” (LIWI) challenge, I felt ready to downsize once again.
In all honesty, I don’t think I achieved my 2014 wardrobe size goal. However, I definitely reached it a few weeks later after this last purge. I’m not sure what my goal for this year will be, but I’ll come to some conclusion and share it in a future post.
My Core Wardrobe Numbers – January 2015
Let’s take a look at my new numbers, starting with what I’ll term my “out and about” clothes (the ones I’ve mostly focused on in this blog thus far). Listed below are all of today’s item numbers for my various wardrobe categories, followed in parentheses by the change since my June 2014 closet inventory:
- Coats: 10 (-1)
- Blazers/Jackets: 13 (same)
- Cardigans: 13 (same)
- Sleeveless Tops & Tanks: 19 (-6)
- Short-Sleeved Tops: 12 (-5)
- Long-Sleeved Tops: 25 (+3)
- Jeans: 9 (+2)
- Pants: 5 (same)
- Skirts: 9 (-3)
- Dresses: 9 (-1)
Now let’s look at some totals:
- Tops: 56 (-8)
- Toppers (coats, jackets, cardigans): 36 (-1)
- Bottoms (skirts, pants, jeans): 23 (-1)
- Total Number of “Out and About” Garments: 124 (-9)
I think this number is still too high, but I believe it will come down this year as I do my LIWI challenge and buy far fewer items (which I fully intend to do!). I only get dressed in “regular clothes” three or four days per week, so I really don’t need to have so many clothes. However, I don’t want to purge things just for the sake of reaching some arbitrary number, so I’m willing to take my time with “right-sizing” my wardrobe for my lifestyle.
Workout and Lounge Wear
Here’s what I have today in my workout/lounge wear wardrobe:
- Casual Jackets (worn on walks and to the gym): 6 (+1)
- Lounge Jackets (worn only at home): 1 (-1)
- Long-Sleeved Tops: 5 (+1) – includes one new top purchased this month
- Short-Sleeved Tops: 16 (-3) – includes two new tops purchased this month
- Long Pants: 8 (+2)
- Capri Pants: 3 (same)
Here are my workout and lounge wear totals and how they compare to my June 2014 numbers:
- Tops: 21 (-2)
- Bottoms: 11 (+2)
- Toppers: 7 (same)
- Grand Total: 39 (same)
What I see happening is these numbers going up (a bit) and the “out and about” numbers going down (to a larger degree), to match how I actually spend my time. At best, it’s half and half, so the numbers should be more equivalent, if not necessarily the same.
So my total number of clothes at this point is 163, which is quite a bit lower than my 200 items goal, assuming I had updated the parameters to include both “regular clothes” and workout/lounge wear. I don’t think this number is too obnoxious, but it is too high for my life. I expect that I will do another purge before too long as I see what I am and am not wearing (and loving).
Now it’s time to look at how many accessories I have in my wardrobe, including shoes, scarves, purses, belts, and hats (I’ll cover jewelry in the next section). Here are my current numbers:
- Standard Shoes: 28 (-4) – includes two pairs of shoes I planned to purge earlier but kept
- Other Shoes: 4 (includes athletic shoes & shoes worn only at home – didn’t track previously)
- Scarves: 25 (-1) – includes one scarf I was given as a Christmas gift
- Purses: 11 (same)
- Hats: 9 (didn’t track previously)
- Belts: 2 (didn’t track previously)
- Total Number of Accessories: 79
I’d like to see this number come down a bit. I have quite a few scarves, hats, and purses that I don’t use very often, if at all. In terms of shoes, there is room to downsize there, too. We’ll see what I end up wearing. As recommended by a few of you in response to my “benchwarmer” update, I plan to put together a dressy/formal capsule to have on hand for the rare occasions when I need to get dressed up. I know that I still have too many dressy shoes, so I will likely let go of a few more pairs before too long.
Last But Not Least, the Jewelry
My jewelry goal for 2014 (number 10 on this list) was to reduce the size of my inventory by at least one-third. I exceeded that goal by June and continued to pare my collection down after that time. Let’s look at what I have today and how it compares to my June 2014 numbers:
- Watches: 6 (+1)
- Rings: 14 (-3)
- Brooches: 7 (+1) – I didn’t get a new one but found one I had lost sight of previously
- Pendants: 5 (-3)
- Necklaces: 26 (-7)
- Bracelets: 23 (-5)
- Single Stud Earrings (for second piercing): 6 (same)
- Standard Earrings: 54 (-15)
- Purse Hooks: 1 (same)
- Grand Total: 142 (-31)
In February 2014, I had 282 items in my jewelry collection, so I have pared down half of what I owned! I’m very proud of my progress, but I feel I still have too much. I could probably let go of at least another third, but I’m not in a huge rush to do so. Jewelry doesn’t take up as much space, plus I have some sentimental pieces in the mix. In contrast, I have virtually no garments to which I’m emotionally connected (but a few scarves and shoes).
I did a rough count and found that 43 of my jewelry pieces have sentimental value to me. Many of those items do get worn, but some do not. I’m going to keep everything together for the time-being, as I go through my LIWI challenge with my jewelry, too. Later in the year, I may opt to move the unworn but treasured jewelry pieces to another area of my jewelry box so they don’t get in the way of what I’m actually wearing on a regular (or as regular as it can be with such a large collection) basis. I often cycle back around to wearing some of those pieces from time to time. In fact, a few of the bracelets I’ve been wearing a lot lately are close to 20 years old! That may be par for the course for some of you, but it’s pretty out of the ordinary for me.
Summing It All Up and Final Thoughts
Before I sign off from this very long post (I promise I’m not going to do so many of these marathon posts this year, but it was tough to keep this one shorter), I want to add everything up and share some final thoughts. If I add up all of the totals above, here’s what I get:
- “Out and About” Clothes: 124
- Workout and Lounge Wear: 39
- Accessories: 79
- Jewelry: 142
- TOTAL WARDROBE NUMBER: 384
Wow, that really seems like a lot, doesn’t it? I don’t think I had the courage to tally it all up before, but I shudder to think of how high that number would have been back in early 2013 when I started the blog, not to mention earlier. I’m sure the number would have had a least a 6 or a 7 in the front, that’s for sure!
Since I changed what I’m counting, I can’t really compare the number above to previous inventories, but I will be able to contrast it with future counts. Perhaps I can get my wardrobe down to under 300 items this year, if not lower. I’m really committed to downsizing, especially after reading the book, “Everything that Remains,” by The Minimalists. I have already substantially pared down my possessions over the past few years, but that wonderful book (I highly recommend it!) inspired me to take it to another level. Our “stuff” can really weigh us down and I’ve become more and more aware of that recently through reading the book and doing my 2014 wrap-up posts.
So I look forward to downsizing my wardrobe – and my other possessions – quite a bit this year. How about you? How do you feel about the size of your wardrobe? What goals do you have for paring down this year? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
Recommended Resource: “21 Steps to a More Stylish You!”
In my monthly link round-ups, I often highlight wonderful articles written by Sylvia of “40+ Style.” In addition to her excellent blog, Sylvia has also created a style course that I’ve referenced on my Resources Page for quite some time. Well, she recently revamped and enhanced that course and is celebrating by offering a live style challenge beginning on February 2nd!
To learn more about the course and the upcoming live session (which includes private forums in which you can interact with other participants), click here. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m an affiliate for Sylvia’s course, but I am a big believer in her work and intend to participate in the live session myself. Hope to see some of you there!
I actually like the size of my wardrobe as it is, even if I’d like to replace some worn pieces like my skinny jeans with new and sturdier ones. I’d also like to pare down my earrings, partly because many of them don’t get worn enough, due to their low quality, in fact some of them are even becoming tarnish, and I don’t like putting them in my pierced ears! Maybe I will invest in fewer but quality pieces to replace them.
How great that you’re happy with the size of your wardrobe, Maria! I plan to invest in fewer but more quality pieces, too, this year. Best wishes to both of us with that pursuit!
Before looking for a ruffle-less top, try cutting off the ruffles on this one. I did that with a white cardigan of mine that had ruffles on the sleeves and along the front. Now, you can’t even tell it had ruffles.
Good idea, Nutrivore, but it won’t work for that particular top because of how it’s sewn. It may work for another one of my benchwarmer tops, though. Thanks for the suggestion!
In honor of LIWI I decided to do a closet inventory to have something to compare at the end of the year.
short sleeve tops 20
3/4 and long sleeve tops 6
capri pants 5
layering tops (camis etc) 5
lounge and workout
8 sweatshirts/hoodies/velour tunics
So clothing is 98 total. I don’t buy much lounge wear but I do need another pair of shorts because I only have 1.
7 sandals/flip flops
20 accessories total
Everything added up is 161. I do have a pair of winter boots and a few scarves and gloves packed away if I ever need to go to New England in the winter. Also a few pieces of jewelry that were my Grandmothers and a few gifts that I feel like I have to keep but never use. I didn’t take that out to count it. I’m pretty happy with the amount I have. I’m sure I’ll replace a few things, but I hope the total is similar at the end of the year.
I forgot jeans! I have 4 pairs. So that brings the regular clothes total to 67. Total clothes to 102 and total of everything is 165.
Thanks for sharing your inventory, Tonya. You’re doing so well! I did wonder where the jeans were when I read your first comment, as I know you like to wear jeans. How great that you only have 4, though. I will likely pare down to a smaller number this year, too. I’m always hesitant to let go of pants because they’re so hard for me to find. They’re often the last items that I feel confident parting with, but LIWI will help me to figure it out. Your numbers look really good, especially since I know where you were a year or two back. Very inspiring!
I love posts with lots of stats because I am a total data geek! No need to shorten them for me.Does your total wardrobe number cover all seasons? 384 doesn’t seem large to me since all accessories are in there!
This makes me wonder what my total number is… I live in a place with 4 quite distinct seasons so I am never looking at it all at once, currently my spring summer stuff is packed away in a tote. I have autumn items that are too light to wear now in January.
I may need to count it all up and see, I am curious.
I counted it as best I could – my spring/summer numbers could be off since that stuff is packed away – and I got:
Clothes and footwear: 91
Lounge/Sleep Wear: 28
Accessories: 27 [includes ugly but needed winter stuff and handbags]
Jewelry: 85 [it cycles but I do wear the majority]
Total Wardrobe Number: 292
[this includes everything: all undergarments, hosiery, evening gowns for dances, winter specific outwear]
A very interesting exercise! I spotted some slush in my closet that I will be moving along soon.
Yes, my numbers cover all seasons, Mary, but we don’t get 4 distinct seasons where I live (San Diego). We have more like two – summer and spring/fall. We get cool weather, but not cold (at least not what other people would consider cold), and we also get unseasonably warm days throughout the year (I won’t tell you what the temperature is today…).
Thanks for checking back in and sharing your inventory! I think you’re doing great. I think if my jewelry count was at 85 – or even 100, I would be wearing everything, too. I have always loved jewelry and like variety there. I just want to keep what I truly love and wear, though, and will learn that through doing my LIWI challenge. Good luck with paring down that “slush”!
Keep burning through that overloaded backlog … it’s amazing how your mind clears when you get rid of stuff!
That’s what I plan to do, Stacey! I have experienced the mind clearing effect, but my mind is still too cluttered. I need to pare everything down more so I can experience the peace that I so deeply desire.
I am surprised, I thought you had more clothing! Your jewellry collection however is larger than average ;-).
When I started the blog, I had more than twice as many clothes as I do now, Jessica (and at one point, I’m sure I had 3-4 times as much, but I wasn’t counting back then!). Yes, my jewelry collection is large, but it was built over a number of years. I didn’t even start trying to pare that down until a year ago. I’m okay with it still being on the large size, but I mostly want to keep what I’m actually wearing, as well as some sentimental pieces (will narrow those down, too). Although it’s still a lot, I can see what I have better now and that feels good.
Debbie, you’ve come so far from when you first started this blog. It’s amazing! I think I’m feeling an urge to pull out all my stuff and start culling again…
Thank you so much for your kind words, Kim! It feels really good to cull and I was ready to do it. I’ve been thinking about you and your dear kitty. Hope you are getting lots of good cuddles in and enjoy your time with him. I’m sure you are. I will keep you in my thoughts…
Great job! I really think the “closet set point” thing is true – I find I go through phases where I am resistant about purging more, and then suddenly I’ll be able to. It’s like I have to stop, work on my attachments to pieces and give them up mentally before I can physically purge them. And even then they usually go to the guest bedroom and there’s a few months before I get around to taking them to Goodwill.
I’m glad you’re bringing in the other clothes and the jewelry into your numbers. I think it’ll help those areas not to be forgotten.
Yes, I’ve definitely seen the wisdom in my closet “set point” theory, Sarah. I do need to rest a bit before going down to the next level. I admire those who can pare down in one feel swoop, but I always felt more tempted to shop when I let go of too much at once. Yes, I’m glad to be including pretty much everything in my inventory now. I need to pay as much attention to what I wear at home and for exercise as I do to my “out and about” clothes. I’d like to feel good in what I’m wearing all the time. We all deserve that!
I am so glad that you’re including workout/loungewear/at-home clothes in your totals. Will you track your wears of these items as you have your other clothes? I think this new approach may help you to see more clearly what you are actually wearing and what you need.
I also wonder if, with less mental division between at-home clothes and “real clothes,” you might find that there is more overlap between these categories. For example a lot of your simple knit tops seem like they could be worn with yoga pants or the like when at home. And then it becomes more about “these are my formulas for getting dressed for a day spent at home” rather than “days spent at home don’t ‘count’ because I’m not wearing ‘real’ clothes.” Am I making any sense here? I don’t mean to scold at all! Sometimes I do find myself puzzled by that division though (you are not the only one who makes it), maybe because I work from home and do put on “real clothes” every day.
For my own wardrobe I suspect that 150-ish items (including everyday clothes and shoes) will be about right. I won’t be surprised if I end up with at least as many accessories as clothing items. I’m working with a “capsule” wardrobe right now (“capsule” in quotes because it’s larger than most, but I am deliberately limiting myself to only a subset of my wardrobe) and I have nearly as many accessories as clothing items. (I’ve written a couple posts about this on my blog this week.)
I’m not sure if I will track the wears of those other items, Sarah. I did it for half the year in 2013 and it was quite enlightening (very high numbers!), but I still didn’t get it. I didn’t see that maybe I should be paying a lot more attention to that area of my wardrobe, but I see it now. That doesn’t mean I will go crazy and buy lots of lounge wear, though. Last year, I started to wear more of my “regular” tops at home and that’s worked out well for me. I do it more when it’s cooler, as I have more long-sleeved tops anyway. I like the idea of having formulas for getting dressed for the various events in my life. I’m going to check out your posts on your wardrobe capsule, as I love that kind of stuff. Good luck to you in figuring it all out. It really is a process, isn’t it?
You are doing great! I agree with including at home clothing… I think you owe it to yourself to make sure these garments are just as up to par as the rest of your wardrobe! You are important and worth dressing well for.
I hesitate to put this out… My total (which I do not know the number) is still north of 1,000 pieces, if accessories and handbags and shoes are included. My journey has been rather like peeling an onion, and clearly still a work in progress. Comparing myself to others would mean I am a dismal failure at this pared down wardrobe endeavor, but that’s not really the point. I am on a much better path and very grateful for all the advice and tips I have gleaned from this blog as well as others. Ok, back to purging
Paula – don’t worry about us judging your totals. That’s why we’re here! I never did a full inventory before I started working on my closet – I started counting, and stopped in disgust when I got to 100 t-shirts. Just t-shirts! And every category of clothing was as out of control as that. We are all on the path of progress (which sometimes involves little detours and rests too!).
No judgement here either Paula! When I first started this process I had over 500 items of just clothes that I wore in public. I hadn’t counted the lounge wear,shoes, and jewelry yet.
I’m glad others have already re-assured you, Paula. No cause for shame here! There is peace and freedom in revealing the truth, as I’ve learned through doing this blog. We all start in different places and the most important thing is that we improve! I get myself into trouble through making comparisons, too, even with some of those who comment here. I often think that my readers are doing better than I am with shopping and wardrobe management, but I also get the opportunity to learn from all of you and continue my own growth. You are doing great! Just take it one day at a time and you’ll get to where you want to be. Your wardrobe didn’t get huge overnight and it will take time to pare it down, too. And we will be here to support you each step of the way!
Thank you ladies
Paula, I have 80 items in my wardrobe right now for all 4 seasons but I am still a compulsive shopper. I have probably purged (sold, given away to friends and donate) over 600+ items the past 5 years. I’ve been consistently shopping and once I deem the item to not be right for me, which sometimes can be within a week, I get rid of the evidence. So just because people talk about how small their wardrobe is never reflects how they got there, nor does it mean that their shopping addiction is completely resolved. I personally have phases, where I am good at keeping my addiction under control for a period of time, then sometimes it spirals out of control and I obsessively purge and binge. I think everyone would agree that this is a continual work in progress therefore you should never compare yourself to anyone else. The fact that you are engaging in the conversation, even silently is saying a lot about the changes you desire to make.
Wendy’s comment gives me a chance to ask a question. I’ve been musing for sometime over use of terms like “bingeing and purging” when it comes to clothes. I don’t like them because of the obvious reference to eating disorders. Yes, over-shopping could be compared to binge eating or drinking; however, I prefer to use the word “culling” when it comes to reducing items. It implies a remedial, thoughtful approach rather than merely vomiting back what’s been consumed. If we are bingeing and purging, then doesn’t one addiction (buying) merely fuel another (selling or donating)? I’m very interested in what other readers here think about this. Ideas?
Amy, I think that getting rid of wardrobe items can sometimes be reactionary. If you are aiming for a certain set-point and overshoot it by compulsive shopping, there can be a panicked urge to get back below it. I would consider this disordered shopping, and therefore can see the parallel to binging and purging. But I agree that the comparison could be distasteful to some.
Oh it’s definitely an ongoing work in progress! And I have made substantial strides… I would say my wardrobe is close to half the size it used to be. Oddly, I have really enjoyed the journey. I feel like I am learning, as well as liberating myself. Glad to have resources to help with the recovery
In response to Amy’s comment, I am merely talking about the degree of compulsive shopping I am personally in, which I have disclosed, is more like a shopping bulimic than someone that has a lot of clothes they want to get rid of. I think we can all agree that no one that comments on this blog makes generalizations about everyone else. We all comment based on our own experiences. I remember a number of Debbie’s posts talking about addictions on and off. First and foremost about shopping addiction but also comparing it to eating disorders. The way I shop IS like someone who has an eating disorder. So to say my cycles are to binge and to purge is actually more accurate to describe how I deal with my wardrobe.
Thanks for sharing your perspective, Wendy. You are so right that the size of one’s wardrobe is only one data point and doesn’t take into consideration how much is coming and going. Even though my wardrobe has been larger than average for a long time, my rate or buying and getting rid of stuff has been very high. In contrast, there are people who almost never get rid of anything and they often have very large wardrobes even if they don’t have a compulsive shopping problem. The key point is that we should only compare ourselves to our own progress, especially since we usually only know part of the story for other people.
In regards to using terms like “binging” and “purging” related to clothing, sometimes those are very appropriate references for the behavior in question. I’ve shared in the past that I struggled with eating disorders for years. For part of that time, I was bulimic and did binge and purge on food. I think I actually transferred that problem from food to clothes after my eating disorders improved, although I had a shopping problem for a number of years as well. I think the emotional impetus behind both behaviors was very similar and didn’t really have much to do with either food or clothes. It was more about the underlying feelings.
For many (maybe even most), the term “culling” is more appropriate when referring to paring one’s wardrobe down, but for some of us, purging fits well. In any event, I don’t think any of us intend to offend anyone. It can be difficult sometimes to find the best words for what we want to express and there are a lot of terms that have similar meanings. I remember being called out a few times for using the word “addiction” to refer to shopping. Some people are offended at the reference because it is not a biochemical dependency like is the case for alcohol and drugs (and some people say food).
In Wendy’s case (and often in mine), binge and purge are accurate terms for how she approaches her wardrobe. For some people, the challenge is to let go of things. For others, the hard thing is to hold on to them. For still others, what’s most difficult is to allow themselves to buy anything new (for those who watched “What Not to Wear,” remember the selfless moms who wanted to use the $5000 to buy things for their kids?). I’m very happy that my blog has attracted people with varying issues related to wardrobe and shopping. I’m also happy that we are able to openly discuss so many things. I’m glad that Amy felt comfortable bringing up an issue she had and I thank everyone who has contributed to this discussion!
I would argue with the point that shopping addiction is not a chemical dependency. It’s been shown that all addictive behaviors have a basis in disordered brain dopamine and serotonin. Just because it’s not something you put in your body like food or drugs, doesn’t mean it can’t be an addiction, and it doesn’t mean it’s any less real.
Good point, Sarah, and I know you know what you’re talking about with your scientific background. I know that I have low serotonin, which probably explains my addictive personality. The shopping issues that many of us are dealing with or have dealt with are very, very real to us and difficult to overcome. April Benson calls compulsive shopping the “smiled upon addiction” because it often isn’t taken seriously in our society. In fact, when I searched the hashtag “shopaholic” in Twitter, it was mostly people using the term ironically. It may be flippant or funny to some, but it is a challenging problem for a lot of people. I’m glad that my blog has opened up communication and is a safe place for us to talk about our issues.
I think including ‘at home’ wear is smart and I should follow suit. There is some overlap for me, but not a lot. If anything my sleep/lounge has more overlap like tanks and modal lounge pants.
I have not counted but would guess my lounge capsule at about a dozen items (2 pants and maybe 10 tees, most demoted from my regular wear). My exercise capsule is possibly 20 items. I know I have at least a dozen flannel pj sets and another dozen lighter weight sleepwear from FL. If I’ve been known to lounge in my pj sets, do I count them? I don’t know.
If I leave out pajamas, I’m confident I could get my total number to 150 and be completely happy with that amount. I’m around 130 right now of ‘going out’ wear including shoes. I also did a mini purge recently and got rid of about 10 more items. Doesn’t sound like much, but it gets harder the closer to your goal you get. Kind of like losing weight – those last 5 pounds lol!
I’m not sure I’d count jewelry as ‘wardrobe’ but might keep it a separate category. When someone says 384 items, but then over a third of that is in a little box, it’s a bit misleading. Good to count it, though, in whatever way. I have maybe 50 items I’d guess.
You’re doing great. And I can’t get over how in tune we seem to be in our journeys. I kind of woke up a few weeks ago not wanting much of anything. It was weird. Had this urge to whittle down to the core of it all. Yes, I got my winter wear flushed out (jacket, jeans, etc) but I did in no way go big. I believe it ended up being 7 items for the seasonal buy. Leaps and bounds better than years past. 2 more items to come (hat and backpack) and done until May. And it feels wonderful!
What to count is an individual decision, Mo, and it can change over time, as you’ve seen with me. It now makes perfect sense to me to count the lounge and workout wear, since I’m in it so much. I don’t usually lounge in my pajamas, as I usually do cardio in the mornings, shower and then put on lounge wear (sometimes a hybrid with regular clothes in that I wear some of my “out and about” tops at home). If I did lounge in pajamas, I might count them.
I think your losing weight analogy is brilliant! Yes, it’s SO MUCH like that! Paring down was MUCH easier for me a year ago than it is now, as there really isn’t anything horrible in there. But my standards seem to keep going up as I learn that I can live with less, plus what I have now feels overwhelming whereas it didn’t in the past. We are both doing great and it amazes me too how we are on such a similar path. That’s part of why I love that you’re now blogging! Plus, I feel that others can learn a lot from you. Congrats on your successful seasonal shopping! What an inspiration. I can imagine that it feels great to put shopping on the back burner for a while and put your focus elsewhere. Only buying 7 items is very, very good!
Thanks, I’m pretty happy with the seasonal shopping so far. It’s weird sometimes to think I’m blogging lol. All in good fun. Still hoping to see a forum of some type for us like minded gals (hint, hint – tee hee).
I agree that the ‘count’ is a very individual thing. Bottom line is not having so much that we can’t possibly wear it, IMO. That varies as much as the individual and their lifestyle and threshold for repeat wears. Just the fact we are counting and aware is ahead of a lot of people, honestly.
I find I really can’t exclude anything when I do my accountability. If it costs money and takes up I need to track it. I am in the process of minimizing all of my stuff, not just clothing. When I was pregnant, my over shopping shifted to household items. I called it “nesting”. Now my nesting is all about simplifying. My main goals in reducing my stuff have to do with shifting my time and effort to more important things in my life. I was wasting a lot of time wading through stuff I don’t wear/use just to get dressed. Now I find I wear a greater diversity of items and enjoy them more just because I can find them. As a result, I feel the way I dress reflects my personal sense of style better than before. Which guides me to purge even more. It has also inspired me to pare down my makeup and chop my off long hair into a short bob. That has probably saved me more time and effort than anything!
I think a lot of us have struggled with overshopping in other areas, Misty. I should write more about that and intend to soon. I did write a post about this last year and there were some great comments on it: https://fulllifereflections.com/2014/03/31/what-else-do-you-overbuy-besides-clothes/
My goals in paring down are very similar to yours. I am tired of spending so much time on acquiring and managing my stuff! I agree that it’s easier to dress better with less. Congrats on how well you’ve done with paring down and in toning down your make-up and cutting your hair. I shudder to think of how much time and effort I have wasted on my hair. One thing at a time. I’ll get there, too! Keep up the great work!
I think you’re doing great, Debbie! And don’t worry, I used to have a whole set of encyclopedias as well!
Thanks, Sarah! I’m glad I’m not the only one here who is old enough to remember having encyclopedias lying around. My husband just took a set of them from his mother’s house to Goodwill, but I wonder who will buy them when we have the whole internet at our disposal these days? Even my computer challenged mother-in-law uses “the Google” to look up things these days…
Bridgette’s advice — under what circumstances would I wear this item over something else I wear a lot and love — is not only a clever way to purge clothes, it should also work when contemplating a purchase. I have avoided a lot of duplicate purchases by asking myself, “Don’t you already have a ___ almost like this?” This has avoided over-buying one color or one style or one type of something (I sometimes have to fight an urge to buy black skirts — and I seldom wear skirts!). I also ask myself, “Truly, will I ever wear this?” There have been a lot of “no’s” to this question, which have forced me to leave a lot of clothing I don’t need/ won’t wear in the store. I have 125 items of 4-season clothing, including outerwear. I don’t own leisure wear (not sure what this is — hopefully not athletic clothes, yoga pants, velour “sweats,” etc.). I wear my one pair of jeans when I want to dress down and I have a few outfits (athletic leggings and tops, hiking pants) for exercise that I wash after every wearing so these items are in constant rotation. I wear the same jacket outerwear to go to exercise class or for a walk as I do for other endeavors (grocery shopping, gardening, etc.) I find having a smaller wardrobe with items that can do double duty leads to a stream-lined, simpler life, one in which I don’t agonize for my clothing and what I’m going to wear. A tiny purge a few years ago eliminated all but a few essential items of clothing that needed ironing — total liberation!! I also don’t subscribe to fashion mags and websites and the like so I am not seduced to buying (literally and figuratively) into “trends” that the fashion media insists we all can’t live without. My motivation for buying anything is based on a real vs. perceived need — these days, generally to replace some be loved item of clothing that has been worn so much it needs to be retired permanently. I went through my wardrobe “aha!” moment many, many years ago. I found that since I got it right, I have been on auto-pilot when it comes to shopping.
I’m glad I’m not the only one who is tempted by black skirts, Dottie. I used to have 9 of them but now only have 3 (two are kind of similar and one will likely get replaced by a shorter, slimmer style this year). Your questions are good additions to what Bridgette said. I think it’s key that we really know ourselves and our lives if we’re going to be smart shoppers. A lot of times, I probably would have answered the “Truly, will I ever wear this?” question with a yes when it wasn’t really true! I do feel like I’m learning and improving as of late, though. Staying away from the temptation of magazines and style blogs is helpful, as I used to see outfits I liked and want to buy them, even though they had no application for my life. I still read such things occasionally, but far less than I used to. It helps a lot to just consider my own needs when I shop.
R.I.P. leopard peep toes. Very cute shoes but they look uncomfortable in the photo (I need serious arch support and avoid “board-like” inner soles in shoes. This leaves a lot of cute shoes on the store shelf.) I also find that a lot of peep toes cut across my toes in a painful way. Too bad, cut shoes.
I find that shoes with exposed toes like that often rub my toe raw where the shoe ends.
I pass them by.
Yes, they weren’t very comfortable, but I bought them way back in 2008 or 2o09 when my feet were less fussy than they are now. Still, I never wore them very much because of the high heel. I do okay with peep-toes sometimes, but I agree with Ginger that they can be problematic. I like the look, though, so I have managed to find good ones a few times. I have both a black and a metallic pair that have been worn a lot of times (really a lot, not just by my lower standards of 8+ times per year). I would love to replace both pairs, as they have gotten worn out, but I keep them since I still wear them.
I agree with whomever said that your numbers are less than I expected! I wonder if that’s partly because a fair amount of pieces don’t stay in your wardrobe for more than a few months? Do you track that kind of thing in any way…like the average age of pieces you’re releasing, or every time you let go of an item that’s less than four months old?
Also I don’t think you should apologize for long posts because you make them easy to skim, they’re never just walls of text!
I do keep a spreadsheet of what comes in and what goes, Sara, but I think I’ll start referencing when the items came in when I do my accountability reports. Good idea! Many of the items including in this post were from at least a few years ago, but a few were recent purchasing mistakes that I turned around quickly. I don’t know the average age of my released items, but that could be a good post to do in the future, as I have all of the data to figure it out. Could be interesting…
Like Tonya, in honor of LIWI I also did a closet inventory so that I would be able to compare at the end of the year. I’d planned to do a very limited amount of shopping this year, and only buy replacements for things that wear out, and after I did my inventory and saw how much excess I have, I will be extra diligent.
Sweaters and Cardigans—11
Jeans (2 pair dark wash, black, gray, white—5
Jeans for yard work, home chores—3
Tops and Toppers—30
A few pieces of sentimental jewelry that makes me smile, but I never wear.
Exercise Wear—2 Pants, 2 Shorts, 6 tops
Summer Nightgowns/Sleeps Shirts—5
Flannel Pajamas Pants—5
Lounge Wear—4 Pair Knit Pants, 4 Hoody’s
Caps (For Exercise)—3
Socks and Underwear (didn’t count)
Total—around 200 items.
A GREAT list for anyone thinking about “right-sizing” his/her wardrobe. I have a lot fewer items in several categories (T-shirts, tank tops, jeans, sleepwear, tops and toppers, lounge wear [0 items] etc.) which gets me to my 125 but which doesn’t include jewelry. Something to do during this winter: rethink my jewelry.
Dottie, “lounge-wear” is an interesting category for me since I seldom lounge around. But since I do sit for long hours at my computer I find knit pants to be the most comfortable option. And since sometimes on days when I’m not cooking dinner I like to shower in the early evening, and put on my knit loungewear to sit and read, or watch a movie on television. So for this reason I have two heavyweight warm winter loungewear outfits, and two lightweight outfits to wear when it is not as cold.
I also noted that I have a lot of flannel pajama pants. My house is cold at night all through winter and spring, still, five pair is more than I need. But two pair are nearly worn out and will be tossed at the end of winter. Still, somehow I imagined my number of items owned would be much lower, proving that I’m not as minimal as I previously thought.
But the good news is that over half of my clothing is worn at home where I spend the majority of my time (I work from home) or for exercise, and I love all of the clothing I wear at home and feel perfectly comfortable when someone drops by unexpectedly.
Thanks for sharing your inventory, Terra. You have more clothes than I thought you would, but they seem to be very well distributed across the various categories. I wonder about the jeans you have for chores and gardening. None of my jeans are comfortable enough for that. I like jeans, but I almost never find them as comfortable as other people seem to. Maybe it’s because they always seem to be pretty tight on my hips and thighs (even the supposed “boyfriend” jeans I bought last fall fit me more like straight-legs or even skinnies). If I buy a larger size to get a more relaxed look, the waist is huge and the butt area sags (I don’t have a J.Lo butt by any means!). I know, first world problems…
Getting back to you, I am impressed by your wardrobe size even if you think it’s a bit too large. We have similar numbers in some categories (bottoms, cardigans), but I have far more tops and toppers. Even though I have pared down those areas by over half, it’s still FAR too much. I wonder how I ever handled having as much as I did before. Of course the answer is “not well.”
I agree that knit pants are far more comfortable for sitting in front of the computer for hours. I have transitioned into wearing more “regular” tops at home, but I still wear them with the knit pants. When I go out, I either change completely or just put on different pants and shoes (I usually wear slippers at home). I also like to wear knit lounge wear when I’m reading or watching TV or a movie. I need to upgrade some of my lounge wear, as I mentioned. I don’t wear it out of the house (unlike my walking/workout clothes), but I want to feel really good in everything I wear. I also want to feel good having others see me in what I wear around the house. People rarely just drop by, but I want to be prepared for such situations. I still remember my friend who said she doesn’t answer the door if the UPS man comes by. She has an amazing out of the house wardrobe, but what she wears at home is so bad that she can’t bear to have even a delivery man see her in it. I wasn’t at that level, but I didn’t exactly feel polished or proud to be seen. That was a wake-up call for me.
Debbie, about those at-home wear jeans – when I am on my knees in the dirt pulling weeds in the yard, or planting rows of vegetables in the garden, or on my hands and knees deep cleaning the bathroom, or doing touch up painting, or waxing the hard wood floors, I want to be in durable pants, and when I’ve worn knit pants for dirty work they wear out way too fast. But in truth all of the jeans I own are fairly comfortable when moving around and walking about. They are even fairly comfortable on long flights because they have a lot of stretch. But the moment I’m off duty I do want to change into knit pants, or flannel pajama pants.
I think you do a lot more deep cleaning kinds of stuff than I do, Terra! But yes, a lot of knit pants wouldn’t stand up to that type of abuse. I think that stretch in jeans is really the key, as you mentioned. I’m still trying to replace my favorite jeans from 2008. I really need to get rid of them, but I just don’t have the heart. I’m pretty happy with some of my recent jeans acquisitions (2013 and 2014), but the old ones are still my favorites in terms of comfort (other than knit pants, of course).
That should read — and a few sentimental pieces of jewelry that make me smile, but I never wear anymore. But I do wear all of the jewelry pieces listed, I wear them often .
I remember seeing your beautiful jewelry pieces when we met up, Terra. I thought that if I had pieces as lovely and unique as those, I wouldn’t need to have as many things as I have. That has helped me to pare down, but clearly I still have more culling to do!
Debbie, the jewelry I wear is silver, hand crafted and some pieces were made by friends, and other than the three bracelets I wear every day and never take off, none of it expensive and each piece speaks to me. I don’t have much, yet I dearly love and wear what I have.
I remember those bracelets and admired them. Very beautiful and I can see how they spoke to you. Those are the only type of jewelry pieces I want to buy from now on!
Your inventory is looking really great Debbie! You didn’t have as much lounge as I expected either, and your numbers look so much more manageable now! I need to count up my lounge and pajamas- I never leave the house in them, but they do take up a drawer and probably should have a count 🙂 I posted my out-of-house clothing and accessory inventory recently, but here it is in comparison to some of the others posted here! 😉 I live in a 4-season climate with harsh winters and hot summers, work in a professional office (27 years old), and am a mom of a 2-year old girl.
Clothing Inventory- 74
Blazers and Jackets- 9
Work Dresses- 8
Special Occasion Dresses- 6
Work Pants- 8
Casual Pants- 4
Camis and Tanks- 6
Accessory Inventory- 61
Necklaces- 16 (1 is sentimental and never worn)
Scarves- 2 (fashion)
Weather Gear- 5 (winter scarf, winter hat, gloves, swimsuit, sunglasses)
Grand total of items- 134 (1 less than my post- I counted my winter boots twice oddly and forgot the swimsuit).
Thanks for sharing your inventory, Meli. Your wardrobe size is really impressive for someone who works in an office and lives in a 4-season climate. There’s really no reason my wardrobe should be the same size or larger than yours! If you can get by with 74 items of clothing, why do I need over 120? You’ve really made excellent progress in paring down over the past year and I find your journey very inspiring!
It’s funny, every time I think I’ve made considerable progress with reducing the size of my wardrobe, I’ll remember another capsule to add to my total wardrobe number. My latest recaps now include loungewear, business and special occasion wear and beach wear, which I never used to include. So of course my total number has been rising instead of shrinking. But the more I purge my wardrobe, the greater my interest in managing ALL of it is, instead of just my day to day clothing.
Me, too, Lisa! I have enjoyed reading your posts about your other wardrobe capsules, as most of us have those types of items, too, and they need to be considered. My experience has been similar to yours. When my wardrobe was really large, it was all I could do to manage my day to day clothing. But now that it’s smaller, I am taking a closer look at everything. In the long run, I think both of us will be better off as a result of our introspection and analysis.
I was looking at my wardrobe numbers and I have about the same amount as you, but spread out a little differently, of course 🙂 I have to pare down. Its funny how what I thought I had was way less than reality. I have 621 items(that includes every stitch that goes on my body and accessories too) I have a hard time getting rid of clothes but in my defense I have only filled my space, not stuffed it to the brim. I am very tidy and organized but I wonder if I have hoarding tendencies when it took me several minutes to get rid of a sweater I love but now has a stain and a small tear plus some fabric warping. I just stood there and held it for like 5 minutes and finally let it go. I don’t shop a lot so I can do the one in one out rule. I am tracking it on a notepad to keep myself accountable. As far as goals I don’t want to get rid of anything that still fits and is in good condition so I wont say I am going to pair down to x number of items. I don’t think I am ready for that. For now I will just focus on being careful what I bring in, one in one out, and getting rid of things as I wear them out or find them uncomfortable or unattractive.
It sounds like you are doing well, Laura. Doing one in, one out is a very helpful strategy, but sometimes if we have too many things, we may need to do one in, two (or three) out. We all have to proceed at our own pace when it comes to paring down. Congratulations on being able to let go of the sweater. Even if it took you a little while, you did it and that’s what’s most important. The fact that you’re tracking what goes in and out of your wardrobe will help you a lot. I wish you the best of luck. Please check in again and let me know how you’re doing.