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!