I just completed the third month of my “Love It, Wear It” Wardrobe Challenge (LIWI), so it’s time for another update. Here’s a quick reminder of how the challenge works (read more here)… The idea is to create a “working closet” by moving everything I actually wear into a specific area of my closet. I will only wear what I really want to wear and anything that is uncomfortable, fussy, or no longer my style will be passed on for donation or consignment.
The objectives for the challenge are to wear what I love and to have the right types of clothing, shoes, and accessories for my life. By “my life,” I mean the life that I am actually living in the here and now, not an imagined, wished for, or previous lifestyle.
What I Wore During March
Before we look at how my working closet has shaped up after three months of the LIWI challenge, I want to show you a quick look at what I wore during March:
Not all of my workout and lounge wear items are included, as I do not have photos of all of those pieces. In addition to the 54 items pictures above, I also wore 9 tops exclusively for working out (4 fewer than last month) and 5 pairs of pants to the gym, on walks, and while I’m at home. My walking shoes (shown here) were worn for all of my exercise activities. As I mentioned in my last update, I no longer wear my workout tops at home and have been wearing my “regular” tops instead. This has helped me get more wear out of my standard tops and allows me to feel more polished and put together when I’m at home.
Three Months In – The Clothes
Here’s a bird’s eye view of the garments I have worn during 2015 thus far (most of the workout items are not pictured):
The size of my working closet increased by 19 items during March, from 65 garments to 84. There were quite a few unseasonably warm days last month, so I wore more of my summer/fall (the warm season where I live) items than I thought I would. Here’s a summary of the clothing items that I’ve worn so far this year by category (we’ll get to shoes and accessories later), as well as how the numbers have shifted since my last update:
- 4 pairs of pants (+1)
- 5 pairs of jeans (+1)
- 3 skirts (+2)
- 5 casual jackets – worn for workouts, walks, and at home (same)
- 6 coats (same)
- 2 short jackets – motos, blazers (+1)
- 7 cardigans (+2)
- 26 long-sleeved tops (+5)
- 14 short-sleeved tops (+5)
- 7 sleeveless tops (+4)
- 12 workout tops (-9, some were purged and some are now counted above)
- 6 pairs of workout/lounge pants (same)
After three months of the “Love It, Wear It” Challenge, here’s what my working closet looks like now:
The Other Side of the Story – Items Not Yet Worn
While I have worn most of my cool season wardrobe in the past three months (and many pieces multiple times), the following items have yet to make it out of my closet:
- 1 pair of pants
- 3 pairs of jeans
- 3 long-sleeved tops (two are dressy)
- 1 short-sleeved top (also dressy)
- 2 sleeveless tops – usually worn under jackets or cardigans (one is dressy)
- 2 longer jackets (one is a formal blazer)
- 2 casual jackets
- 1 coat (will likely sell – wool and too itchy)
- 3 pairs of shoes (only including closed-toe shoes here)
Here’s a photo of my winter/spring items that have not been worn yet this year:
I still like many of the items above, but time will tell whether or not I will wear them. As you can see, my reason for not wearing roughly half of these pieces is because they are dressy and my lifestyle is very casual. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m okay with keeping a small “dressy” capsule in my closet for those rare occasions when I need those types of clothes (and shoes).
However, if I don’t wear – and love – the less dressy items soon, it may be time for me to pass them on. I will write more about this in my next LIWI update, if not sooner. For now, I’ll just say that there is no room for “benchwarmers” in the LIWI challenge, as the main objective is for us to only hold on to things that suit our needs and that we enjoy wearing.
Two Months In – Shoes and Accessories
I’m also tracking of all of the shoes and accessories I’m wearing during my 2015 LIWI Challenge. I’m keeping a running list of shoes worn and I’m tracking my jewelry by moving the pieces that get worn to separate areas of my jewelry box. With my scarves, I’m moving them from being folded up on a shelf to being hung on a hanger in my working closet. Here are my accessory numbers thus far:
- 13 pairs of shoes (+6)
- 30 pairs of earrings (+7)
- 12 bracelets (same number but a few pieces are different)
- 6 necklaces (+4)
- 4 watches (same – as pictured in my January update)
- 4 scarves (+1)
- 3 purses (I have been switching my purse at the beginning of each month)
Here’s a look at the shoes and accessories I’ve worn so far this year:
March LIWI Wardrobe Observations
That’s it for the numbers and photos, but there’s still a lot more to share! The most important part of the LIWI challenge is the learning and growth that takes place along the way. The patterns that I noted in my first two LIWI updates (here and here) have persisted, including the fact that I crave variety the most with my tops, earrings, and bracelets. I have continued to expand my shoe repertoire, but many of my shoes remain unworn (mostly the sandals, of which I have too many), as is also true for my large scarf and necklace collections. More on some of these issues below…
As the time has progressed with this challenge, I have begun to learn more and more about my style preferences and the ways in which my wardrobe is or isn’t suiting my lifestyle needs. Let’s start by looking at my wardrobe composition. Here are some conclusions I’ve reached about what I have too many of or too few of in my closet:
- Too many long-sleeved tops – I have worn most of my long-sleeved tops, but many of them have only been worn once or twice thus far. I see two main reasons for this. First of all, I’m wearing my “regular” tops at home more often and don’t need to be as warm indoors. Also, it has been warmer than usual here and I’ve been wearing short-sleeved tops far more often.
- Not enough short-sleeved tops – These are the tops I’ve been wearing most regularly and I’ve been craving more variety than what I have. Many of my short-sleeved tops have been worn quite a few times so far this year. The frequency of wear probably wouldn’t bother many of you, but I am used to wearing things less often (but getting accustomed to a smaller wardrobe with more rotation). I would like to add a few new casual short-sleeved tops to my wardrobe soon, preferably in prints.
- Too many necklaces, especially short ones – I have only worn 6 necklaces thus far and only one has been a short necklace. I would have never realized this without LIWI, as I think most of us underestimate how often we wear things. I may wear more of the shorter necklaces in the summer, but I still think I have too many necklaces overall. Thankfully, I have dramatically cut back on my jewelry purchases, but I will likely still pare things down further.
- Too many scarves – I haven’t felt compelled to wear my scarves very often. I have only worn 4 scarves so far this year. Luckily, I haven’t been adding new items to this area of my wardrobe and the scarves I have don’t take up much space. But I will likely pare down later in the year if the trend of not reaching for my scarves continues.
- Too many blazers / short jackets – I wear these most often in the warm weather with my skirts and dresses, but I can already see that I have too many. In addition, I have too many knit blazers and I’m moving away from that style (in favor of motos and other more casual styles) because it skews too dressy or “churchy.” I tried to pair these blazers with jeans, but most of them don’t look right because the proportions are off due to my height. I know that I will be paring this area of my wardrobe down in the coming months. I bought too many similar pieces at once a few years back, which was a bad habit of mine for a long time.
- No clothes for certain activities – My husband wanted to go hiking the other day and I realized that I don’t really have the right clothes for that activity. I don’t usually feel physically well enough to do that type of thing anyway, but I’d like to be prepared in case the opportunity arises and I’m up to it. I don’t need to buy much to turn this around. Even just one pair of shorts or capri pants would be good. I have tops that I could wear for hiking or similar activities, but bottoms are a bit of a problem.
On a Positive Note…
Other than the issues mentioned above, I think my working wardrobe is shaping up quite nicely. I’m finding it easier and easier to get dressed each day and I’m happy with my outfits most of the time. I’m getting more and more in touch with what I like to wear and what works best for my lifestyle. I am enjoying wearing nicer clothes at home and having less of a transition between at-home wear and “out and about” clothing (read more of my thoughts about at-home clothing here).
My cool weather wardrobe is in pretty good shape overall. I really can’t think of much that I need at this point. Any new items that I purchase will either be for my warm weather needs or for transitional items for between the two seasons. As an example, I would like a few short-sleeved tops to wear with skirts (I usually just wear tank tops with skirts, but then I can only wear them when it’s really warm), as well as an additional tunic or two to wear with my slimmer jeans (since I like my new black, white, and yellow tunic so much).
I need to think more in terms of outfits when I buy new things. In the past, I mostly just bought new pieces because I liked them and didn’t give much thought to how they would pair with my existing items. That left me with quite a few closet orphans, as well as too many similar pieces that didn’t add any real variety to my ensembles. While having a few “uniforms” can be useful in terms of streamlining getting dressed, it’s also nice to shake things up a bit from time to time to avoid wardrobe ennui.
That’s about all I have to say for this LIWI update. I’m sure I will reach some new conclusions and experience more “aha moments” as I dip more into my warm weather wardrobe and see what does and doesn’t excite me there. I see myself moving away from some of the styles I embraced in the past, including the knit blazers I mentioned above, as well as the A-line skirts that were my mainstay for years. I now prefer more casual styles, such as maxi-length skirts and dresses and moto style jackets. But the proof will be in the pudding, as the saying goes. We’ll see what I actually wear and love.
In a future post, I will share some of the favorite pieces in my cool weather wardrobe. This idea was suggested by a reader and I think it could be an interesting post to do, especially at a time of seasonal transition. Looking at our favorites can help to inform our future shopping and stop us from making mistakes. It can also help us to hone our personal style.
I know that some of you have opted to take on the challenge as well and I’d love to learn how it’s going for you and what you’re discovering about your wardrobe and yourself in the process. Please share your thoughts in the comments section of this post. For those who haven’t yet adopted the challenge but are interested in doing so, it’s not too late! If you have questions or concerns before you get started, I would be happy to address them.
For everyone else, I hope you’ve found this post interesting and I welcome your insights, too. I’ll be back later this week with some more lessons from my outfit journal (you can check out the first two installments here and here).
Debbie, I feel the same way you do, in fact so much so I found myself nodding my head “yes” as I was reading. Now that my closet if filled with only clothes I love it takes the pressure off of what to wear I just grab what I’m in the mood to wear each day based on the weather or the occasion. What I’m also finding is that I’m not reaching for long sleeve tops, preferring short sleeves, with a sweater if I’m cold. But then again we are having crazy weather on the Pacific southern coast. Lately, my mainstay and what I’m happiest wearing is either jeans or my Patagonia Kamala, or Serenity, skirts and I usually wear both with a tank top and a sweater, but now I only want to wear tanks when it is very hot. I’m moving into the mindset of wanting short sleeve tops instead with skirts, and am having a hard time finding any with a good fit except for (unfortunately) EF fit me perfectly, but the price is a problem. Alas. But also even if I had all the money in the world I’d still want to have a few less expensive short sleeve tops for those days when I don’t want to worry about the cat snagging my shirt. So, my search is on for short sleeve tops in a petite, or ones that can be easily hemmed to fit me. Also, like you I’m happiest wearing nicer clothing that is a tad bit dressy, but I’m moving toward simpler styles. I agree with you—you need to have a pair of great shorts, or crop pants. It’s a must for long walks along the ocean, or for hikes, and for wearing around the house too. Although I rarely go out in shorts (unless to the beach or a hike) I live in shorts around the house in hot weather. Instead of worrying about how my legs look, I remember the statement Anne Lamott’s friend Pammy said shortly before she died of cancer. When Anne asked if an outfit made her butt look big, Pammy said, “I’m afraid you don’t have that kind of time.” So true!
I always love your comments, Terra, and often resonate so much with what you write. We seem to be on the same wavelength in terms of our clothing preferences. I don’t know why I accumulated SO many long-sleeved tops! I really am preferring the short-sleeves more these days, so I hope I will be able to find some good options for wearing with both skirts and pants. I feel similar to you in wanting both the higher quality tops for when I’m out and some less expensive options for when I’m at home with the cats (my Coco is on my lap as I type this…). I hope I will find the shorts or capris for hiking soon. I love what you wrote at the end. I agree that life is too short to worry so much about what our legs look like. I’ve been avoiding wearing shorts because of my varicose veins, but I also know that no one else notices them as much as I do. And sometimes I LIKE to wear shorts, so why not do it?
I’m another varicose veins sufferer, and avoided shorts for years. But last summer bought some great tailored longer (knee length) shorts, and I wore them a lot. My partners loves them, and doesn’t understand why I worry about the veins. You know, he’s right, most people have them, its what we are – so silly to pretend otherwise and compromise what we enjoy wearing because of some unrealistic ideal. Enjoy the shorts!
Love your comment Alice.
Debbie, I have (finally) identified my buying pattern problem, and it has nothing to do with needing variety, or wanting something new– it’s my anxiety about the future. When we had a winter season that was much colder than usual, and I was freezing (December 2013, comes to mind) I over bought and stocked up on long sleeve warm tops. And when we had a year that was warmer than usual (like we are having now) in the past I would over buy and stock up on lightweight short sleeve tops. But then my wardrobe would grow too big and I didn’t need 17 winter tops and 17 summer tops, so I would end up culling and letting go of the ones I didn’t love or enjoy wearing. Now I finally get it. For my lifestyle I only need 7 warm weather tops and 7 cold weather tops of the variety that are nicer, to be worn when I’m out and about, away from home. Which means I need to acquire 3 more warm weather tops, and nothing more. Now that I have identified my problem, I feel confident I can break the crazy cycle of stocking up, just incase.
Thanks, Alice! You are so right and it’s good to have the reminder!
Terra, I struggle with the same issue! I find myself wanting to buy more summer clothes because we had such a long hot summer last year. But I don’t really NEED so many options. I need a few replacement items, but I don’t need as much as I thought I did. You mentioned December 2013 being really cold. Maybe that’s when I stocked up too much on long-sleeved tops! I just know I have too many of them now… “Just in case” often leads to a wardrobe that’s too large. Thanks for sharing your insights here, as I know a lot of us can identify.
Debbie–I am impressed by how cohesive your wardrobe is. I’ve been trying to achieve the same. It’s a slow process!
Terra–I love EF also and flinch at the prices. I’ve found some good on-line sales now and again. If you tell me what size you wear (xs?), I will alert you.
I’m either a petite-petite or a small petite in EF. It depends on the cut. Yes, please alert me when you find a great sale.
If you don’t mind the perhaps used market, Poshmark has some nice PS EF pants (stretch crepe–my fave pants). Here’s a top in PS: https://poshmark.com/listing/Eileen-Fisher-top-551c81d0a722656768000bbf. You can ask the sellers questions and bargain.
Eileen Fisher is having a 40% off on her eco collection. That’s still too high for me…
Thank you! I wear used clothes sometimes. The link might also be good for those who want to try out this brand at a far lower price. I only need perhaps one more EF top in the all-season line, so like you, I will wait for the best price I can find.
Thanks so much, frugalscholar! You’re right that it’s a slow process to develop a cohesive wardrobe, but I’m so happy to be seeing progress now after 2+ years of the blog. I love how you offered to help Terra with the EF tops. I know she really loves those tops and I hope she’ll be able to get some new ones at a good price soon.
EF is way too expensive to my taste, and it’s not because I don’t have the money, it’s that I just can’t put so much money into single items of clothing. Try JJill. They have a lot of that same kind of relaxed silhouette, not the luxury fabrics, and are more reasonably priced.
I like J. Jill too. But a petite extra small in that brand is too big for me. 😦
I can’t wear the relaxed styles in any brand, too big and over sized for me and even with EF I can only wear a few pieces of the smaller cut styles. Hard for me to find clothes, but it does make it easy to maintain a small wardrobe. 🙂
So happy to hear you are narrowing down your stuff to what you love.
I feel like I am missing something about the need for certain trousers for hiking that you [and Terra] know. Why can’t you wear jeans while hiking? Is it now too hot for jeans in CA? I would never wear crop pants for hiking and shorts only if it was very, very hot. But perhaps what I think of as hiking is not what you all mean? 🙂
We don’t have a big problem with ticks, and unless you hike in the early morning it gets very hot, way too hot for jeans. I’m a fan of long cotton or linen pants, when I can find them. Patagonia has a good selection, if you can find a fit that is good.
I no longer backpack. Now I only go on 3-5 mile hikes on a tidy trail.
one thing I love about the internet is the fascinating tiny details coming from those who live in different climates. wow, already too hot for jeans! your guess was right, one of the reasons I wear long trousers when hiking is the ticks!.[and poison ivy]. And of course it is colder here, the high today is only 40. When it is hot I wear long cargo trousers in a light weight man-made fabric from an REI type vendor…
I see that Terra already answered your question, Mary (thanks, Terra!), but I will add a bit more. I never thought to hike in jeans, mostly because my jeans aren’t all that terribly comfortable. I would like to get the type of cargo trousers that Terra mentioned, but they never seem to carry them in long/tall lengths and the regular length is just too short for me. I think I would do well with shorts or capri-length pants because it really doesn’t get that cold here. Plus, I wouldn’t do any heavy-duty bushwhacking type of hiking, anyway. It would be more like the type of hiking that Terra referred to.
that’s a bummer that none of the 5 pairs of jeans in your LIWI closet [I think that’s what your numbers say above] would work for a long walk for you [when it’s cool]. but then I remember you saying that trousers are always your hardest category in terms of comfort, fit and style. wishing you insights galore as you walk your path.
Since I am 5’4″ I never worry about getting tall sizes 🙂 I do get sick of hemming though. I also noticed I didn’t wear my teal/bronze blazer all winter because I didn’t ‘want’ to fix a missing button….not sure what I think about that. I love the blazer but I guess I don’t really need it…
Yes, I really struggle to find comfortable pants and jeans, but I have some issues that others don’t have (a painful nerve problem that really bothers me when I wear tight clothing, especially when seated). Since jeans are so fitted recently, I prefer something looser fitting for an activity like hiking. There’s got to be some retailer that carries long cotton or linen pants that would work well for hiking in tall/long lengths. I’m not giving up on that, but will look out for shorts or capris as well.
Hi Debbie! I always enjoy reading these updates I suppose in a slightly voyeuristic way. It’s interesting to see what and how much other people wear, although we don’t have the same lifestyle needs. (How I wish I had time to work out like you do!)
I’m really enjoying getting to put more polished outfits together for my new job, complete with jewelry and nail polish! I’ve found so far that my no-buy for April and May is giving me insight into the items I will need later to round out my work wardrobe. I think going without certain items allows you to be aware of those mental notes like “I really wish I had a jacket in navy to go with this.” or “I’m tired of wearing so many neutrals, I’d like a couple of accessories in bright colors,” or “It seems I’m not wearing these pants because I don’t have the right color shoes!” I am still doing some window shopping but it’s more targeted towards these mental notes, and I’m just bookmarking some items for later to see if I still like them at the end of my no-buy. Also, I think I will feel better about making additional purchases after having really tested out the gaps for 2 whole months.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Sarah. I’m glad you’re enjoying dressing for your new job! I hope everything is going well for you there. I agree that the type of mental notes you mentioned can be extremely valuable. Even though I am not on a shopping hiatus, doing LIWI has helped me to notice wardrobe gaps, as well as wardrobe overages. My shopping list continues to change as I notice what is working for me and what isn’t. I think it can be valuable to push ourselves to work with what we have for a period of time so we can see if what we think is a true need is really more of a “whim.” I know that sometimes I’ve really believed I HAD to have something, but then if I didn’t buy it for a while (because I didn’t have the budget or just couldn’t find it), I later discovered that the need wasn’t pressing at all (or maybe wasn’t even a need). I look forward to learning how you feel about things after your two-month no buy period is over.
I really love the range of your accessories and the direction your working wardrobe is taking. Its good to know we like the majority of our wardrobes 🙂
This was my first month taking LIWI with accessories. I have kept 17 pieces, most of which are from my gothic/rocker side of the wardrobe:
Skeleton woman locket
Skull silver bead bracelet
Black large bead bracelet
Black bead st. Bracelet
Red heart bead necklace
Silver heart necklace
3 strands of black bead necklaces
Black studded collar with o rings
Xray hand cuff
Black lace collar with pendant
Black 3 tier bead bracelet
Pink and pearl bead bracelet
Silver feather bracelet*
I have also passed on 9 pieces, most of which were either necklaces that were too heavy or bracelets that were just off in some way. I’m finding most days I reach for my four small beaded bracelets because I like the way they look together and also they are on the understated side. I think the trend I’m noticing most is that I like simple things- in both clothes and jewelry. I also bought my first piece of jewelry for the year this month-a silver bracelet cut into the shapes of feathers. I bought it for sentimental reasons instead of “oh… That looks cool!!”
My plan is to do LIWI through September and only buy something if I really feel I’m missing it. Anything not worn by the end of September will be donated. I will also continue to check back into what pieces I like and continue to wear- what common themes will there be?
Thanks for sharing your progress with your LIWI accessories project, Angel. It seems like it’s really helping you to learn what you like and what you just don’t reach for. I am having the same experience with my accessories and I’m really seeing that I still have too many pieces overall. I think your plan to do LIWI through September and then purge what’s left over is a sound one. I also think it’s good to really scale back on buying. I used to buy SO many accessories, especially before I started reporting them on the blog, and it was more about my wanting to buy things than it had to do with loving things that would be worn often. I look forward to more updates from you.
I completely relate to the buying just to buy notion. There’s a lot of stress associated with my job, even though there shouldn’t be, and I used to buy to celebrate a successful audit or just getting through another week. I’m working on my list of ways to celebrate these things without buying things that I don’t really love or use. I’ve also set one specific event this year where with a limit and a tight budget I can buy things I feel will fit into my wardrobe instead of buying on the go. Except for that one day, I’m planning my purchases strategically and evaluating once every three months what’s been on my list for a while. Hopefully that makes sense and I can stick to it 🙂
I think it’s a really great idea to have a list of other ways to celebrate besides shopping. I will have to make such a list for myself. I like your yearly shopping splurge idea, too, with strategic buying all of the other times. Please report back and let us know how this goes for you.
Really interesting post, as always, Debbie! I love how cohesive your closet looks. Loving all the aqua and teal, those are such great shades on you!
I’m not doing the LIWI challenge but at the end of March I just completed one year of tracking my daily wears so I thought I would report in. Overall, I wore just over 200 items of clothing and shoes. This includes some items that I wore once and got rid of, and others that I rotated in through the course of the year, so at any one time my wardrobe is not quite that big. Still, I can see that it’s bigger than it needs to be if I’m to wear all of my clothes regularly.
My benchmark goal is to wear everything 10 times per year. That will probably seem low to some but I do think that many of us wear our things a lot less often than we imagine! Tracking my wears has been a real eye-opener for me on that count. After 12 months I had worn 43 items 10+ times and 61 more 5-9 times. So, about half of my items worn 5+ times and only about one-quarter worn 10+ — clearly I have a ways to go!
I’ve also just finished my first seasonal “capsule wardrobe” experiment, in what I plan to be a year-long series. Very different from your LIWI challenge but of course with similar goals. I’m hoping that by keeping only some of my clothes in my “active” wardrobe at any one time, this will help me wear them more regularly, and increase the proportion of clothes worn 10+ times. So far there’s not much difference in how my 10+ list is accumulating, but we’ll see. I do think that working with a smaller wardrobe has helped me understand the structure of my wardrobe a bit better, so I’ve been able to get rid of a few things that I like, but that don’t really add much to the function of my wardrobe. For example I got rid of a gray pullover because I realized my gray cardi could pretty much do the same job, and being able to look back at how I’d worn the pullover reassured me that I wouldn’t miss it/didn’t need it.
Along those lines, I have a slightly devil’s-advocate question for you. If I’m interpreting your post correctly it looks like almost all of your “cool-season” clothing items have entered your active LIWI wardrobe. In some ways that’s not surprising because you’ve already done so much work over the past several years to pare down and refine your wardrobe! But I do wonder if your LIWI process has revealed items to potentially get rid of that you wouldn’t have thought of if you had just set out to do a “closet edit.” Is this teaching you something new about what to get rid of, or is it aiding the process of psychologically letting go of the pieces that you don’t really need/use? I guess this isn’t really a devil’s-advocate question, because I don’t mean to attach a value judgement to either of those possibilities — I’m just curious about how you would assess the function of the challenge.
Thanks as always for your thoughtful posts and the great commenting community you have fostered!
I appreciate you weighing in on your wardrobe tracking and seasonal capsule wardrobe experiment, Sarah. As you know, I’ve been tracking what I wear for several years now. I agree that most of us think we wear our clothes far more often than we really do. Wardrobe tracking can be extremely enlightening. Like you, I eventually want to wear everything in my closet 10+ times per year and I also have a long way to go before I accomplish that goal. You’re actually doing much better than I am in that regard, but I’m happy to be making progress. In regards to your devil’s advocate question, I’m actually going to address that issue and a few others in an upcoming post (probably my next one). Thanks for making me think more deeply about LIWI and what it is teaching me. I realize that there were some things I didn’t explore in this March update, so there will be a follow-on post that delves deeper in a few areas. Stay tuned… I’m glad you like my posts and benefit from this community!
Thanks for the detailed post, Sarah. As someone else with a large wardrobe, it’s interesting to see how you are tackling it. I’m 3/4 way through my first year, and will report in July on how I’ve managed so far in my bid to turn mine into a more workable and stylish wardrobe.
Hello Debbie! I really love these posts, very interesting as always. I love looking at your numbers and how other people compare/contrast or match up with my own unique situation!
I posted my Out-the-door LIWI post last week or so (last post I’ve done actually) and I have to say, I’m pretty proud of it. I really love my LIWI wardrobe and I’m learning more from it than I expected. Last month, I wore 29 items of clothing, 8 pairs of shoes, and 22 other accessories over the 31 days. This left me with 50 (typo in my post) items of clothing and 37 accessories (including shoes) unworn for my entire wardrobe. I realize I have ‘enough’, and am particularly happy with my capsule colors and how my wardrobe is cohesive. I also realize I’m going down the path towards simpler outfits, and really would like another scarf and simple necklace.
So far this month I’ve purged 12 additional items, so my total out-the-door wardrobe now stands at a teeny 69 items of clothing and 58 accessories counting shoes. There is still some potential for purging, so we’ll see how it goes. This month, LIWI is teaching me that I have enough (or more than enough) of some things, but I want more variety (in terms of one or two more things) in other areas. I’ll probably have to reevaluate my shopping list pretty soon as well.
You are becoming a minimalist, Meli! I continue to be in awe of your amazing progress. Your wardrobe is becoming very cohesive and seems to be really suiting your needs. Learning that we have enough is such a valuable lesson. For me, it is happening more gradually than it is for you, but I’m happy to see it happening. The bar continues to be lowered in terms of how large I want my wardrobe to be. LIWI seems to be making a big difference for you, and I’m so pleased that is the case. I always read your posts (even though I don’t comment all that often) and I frequently smile at how well you’re doing. Keep up the great work and enjoy your simpler outfits. I am feeling much the same about wanting to dress simply. It can make our lives much easier. I hope your new job is going well and that you’re enjoying it.
Debbie- my favorite thing about you and your blog is how caring you are- your beautiful heart shows in everything you write. 🙂 Thank you. Things are going along well at the new job.
Thank you so much for this kind comment, Meli. I really appreciate it and I’m so glad your new job is going well!
Hi Debbie, I have been following your blog and your decision to stop wearing “work out clothing” at home. It is funny, but I have come to the opposite decision this past year. I used to basically wear jeans, cords, maybe khaki pants all day. I had a few work out pieces, but just wore them for walks or to visit the gym. I began hating the effort it took to constantly change in and out of these clothes, and began loving the comfort of wearing yoga pants. So this past winter I found myself wearing yoga pants with exercise tops or even just regular tops/sweaters almost daily. I did wear jeans once or twice a week, but honestly, the yoga pants were almost more stylish and comfortable. In the past I would have felt “underdressed” wearing such clothing out and about, but I almost feel like it doesn’t matter anymore since our society is so super casual nowadays.
Well,just my 2 cents worth.
Enjoy reading your blog.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Sherri. I really believe there is no right or wrong in terms of how we dress at home. We all need to do what works best for us. I still wear workout-style pants at home, as those are what are most comfortable to me, but I had so many tops that weren’t being worn very often that I’m happy they are now getting more use at home. You’re right in that society is much more casual these days. Even in my most casual outfits, I often feel dressed up when I’m out and about. But that’s okay because I’m dressing in a way that is true to myself. I think that as long as we do that, we really can’t go wrong (with a few exceptions, of course, like work dress codes and public decency 🙂 ).
I love the colors in the picture of everything that you’ve worn this year.
I have 5 short sleeve tops, 4 capri pants, 1 dress, 3 pairs of sandals, 1 purse, 6 necklaces, and 4 bracelets that I haven’t worn yet this year. The clothing end of things is right about what I thought it would be. I have kept paring down my shoes, purses, and coats/jackets to numbers that I would have thought to be way to small, but it’s more than enough. (Footwear-13, coats-4, purses-3) The one that surprised me the most was jewelry. I have 36 pcs. and recently passed along about 10 things and I still have 10 unworn items. This has helped me to know that I shouldn’t buy any jewelry unless I really love it and think I’ll wear it often. I tend to stick to about 10 of my favorites and it’s a waste to keep buying new things.
Your numbers have really gone down, Tonya. I continue to be amazed at your progress. I’m glad that LIWI is helping you to pare down your wardrobe and changing your perspective on what is “enough.” It’s doing that for me, too, and I believe I will let go of more items as the cooler season draws to a close. I have been having the same experience as you in regards to jewelry. I still have a lot of pieces I haven’t worn (I should really count them and will do so in a future post) and that is helping me NOT to buy new items. I used to buy at least a few jewelry pieces every single month, but I’ve only added to new items this year and one of them was a gift. I agree that it’s a waste to buy new things when we pretty much stick to our favorites anyway. I think I just used to buy things because I liked buying things and that’s not a good reason at all.
Just an observation, but even if you aren’t buying the same item in multiple colors do you still think you’re falling prey to buying duplicate items? It struck me when you mentioned wanting more tunics because you like the one you have. Would it be better to just stick with one for a bit longer?
Good point, Sara. I definitely need to watch out for my tendency to buy multiples, as old habits die hard. If I do buy another tunic, I would get a sleeveless or short-sleeved version so it is different from the one I have. But you’re right, I should probably focus more on wearing and loving what I have instead of always thinking about the next thing I want to buy. Still recovering…
That’s one of my worst habits: Thinking about the next thing I want to buy! For whatever reason, I can’t seem to be content with what I have. I always feel like I’m on the hunt for the next thing that will SURELY complete my wardrobe. And then there’s another, and another.
Fortunately, my current wardrobe is in good shape, but that doesn’t stop me from looking online to find pieces to “freshen things up.” Sometimes I feel successful when I do find a great piece or two, but there have been times when I realized later that I was just buying for no really good reason.
Maddie, I think I win the crown for always wanting the next thing. In fact, it happened yesterday. I just bought 5 new items yesterday. 4 were from the same designer and I was in love with all the pieces I bought. Instead of enjoying what I already JUST bought, I came home and immediately looked online to see if I can find MORE of her clothes. I’m crazy! I did find a few additional items I liked online but in the end I didn’t buy anything. In the past, I would of clicked ‘purchase’ without question. I’ve programmed my mind to impulse buy for the past 5 years and this has proven that it takes a LONG time to deprogram myself to have a healthy relationship with shopping again. I was doing very well the beginning of 2015, where I was selling off all of the clothes and shoes I haven’t been wearing and concentrating solely on editing my wardrobe to only things I wear. It was the best I have done in years, where I bought a few things each month and purging at least twice as much as I took in. Before it would of been the other way around. I am at a point where my entire wardrobe (including winter coats, shoes and bags) fits into one large suitcase, even with the hiccup I had yesterday. But the point I’m trying to make is that the most difficult part of transforming your life isn’t the moment where you make that first big physical leap but rather breaking the habits we’ve built and finding ways to re-structure new, healthy habits to the person we want to be. If I had not paused for a moment and checked in on Debbie’s blog, I surely would have already bought those new items online. Thanks Debbie, as always providing a platform for us to vocalize our progress.
I really appreciate both of your comments, Maddie and Wendy, and can clearly identify with what you wrote. I think if we are looking for wardrobe “holes,” we will surely find them. It’s all a matter of perspective… But in my case, I know that my always searching for the next thing in my closet runs deeper. It’s often not about the clothes but rather a deeper longing I have inside, a hole that clothing won’t fill. I need to write more about that here, but it can be painful to address sometimes. It’s something to look at, though, when we find ourselves buying things for “no good reason” like Maddie said.
Wendy, congrats on NOT buying more items online after your shopping trip. It took some good willpower to refrain, especially after you had actually identified items you could buy. You’re right that creating new healthy habits can be more challenging than breaking the old, bad habits. I’m glad you thought to come here for support and encouragement. As always, I’m very pleased that so many women feel safe to comment here (and others get support from reading what we all write even if they don’t comment themselves). This blog has exceeded my initial expectations by far.
May I ask a personal question? How often do you do laundry? I ask this because your “not enough s/s tops” had me counting the number of s/s tops in among the items you wore in March. I counted 15 (I didn’t count the tanks); you say you have 14+ s/s tops. I do laundry at least weekly so 4-5 s/s tops are all I would ever need…. I wonder by what criteria you decided you need more than 14-15 s/s tops. Nor would I buy multiples of the same (or almost the same) color. But hey, that’s frugal me with the tiny, much-loved and much-worn wardrobe.
How often you do laundry does make a difference in sizing your wardrobe. I work full-time, not at home but in an office that’s an hour commute each way, and my laundry turn-around is pretty slow. If I wear something, then put it to be washed (which I will do in the summer when it’s hot), it can be a week getting to the laundry room, as I only take the hamper down once a week, and another week making it back to my closet.
If it has to be ironed it’s even longer, in fact sometimes things that have to be ironed stay in the laundry room until I want to wear them, if I haven’t forgotten about them, and go iron them.
Agreed. I am a stay-at-home mom so I don’t need a wide variety of clothing and I do laundry often because of the children. There’s always room for me to throw in a few things of my own so my clothes get laundered often. Some people just don’t like to do laundry weekly, with kids or no kids and do need more clothes to change. I could actually use multiples but I don’t because I don’t like having the same item twice, but it is practical when you found something that fits the way you want and don’t want to bother searching for more. For someone that works full-time and has lots of activities and needs to iron their clothing, I can imagine more clothing is needed to make life easier.
Some years ago when I had to hump my laundry to a laundromat I had almost a months supply of undies and a large number of towels, tea towels, sheets, and the like — and a larger wardrobe. I couldn’t always make time weekly for the drive to the laundromat, 2-3 hours to do laundry, and the drive home. But now that I have my own first-floor laundry room, I often do laundry before I go to work or when I’m getting dinner. I don’t buy clothes that need lots of ironing in order to eliminate that step from my list of chores. If you don’t have a lot of clothes, you maintain them frequently. If you have a lot of clothes and multiples, you don’t have to maintain them on a set rotation. So which comes first, the smaller wardrobe and the weekly laundry sked or the larger wardrobe and the looser laundry sked? I’m guessing it’s the size of the wardrobe because with a smaller one you HAVE to do laundry fairly frequently or you go naked. I have a high efficiency washer/dryer and air dry a significant part of my clothing in order to extend the life of my clothes.
I have 3 jobs (two involving lengthy commutes in heavy rush-hour traffic) and I still do laundry at least weekly, thanks to a convenient laundry room. I multi-task — I do laundry and other things like make dinner, get dressed, vacuum, work on my consulting projects, work in my garden, pack a lunch, etc., depending on my work schedule. Doing laundry weekly is mandated by a small wardrobe. But having a handy laundry room is a required feature when I look for housing because I have a small wardrobe. At this point I think it’s easier to find a place to live with it’s own laundry (at least here in the Midwest) than creating a well-thought-out wardrobe of quality clothes.
I’m enjoying this discussion on how laundry frequency impacts wardrobe size. It’s a very individual thing, as are most aspects of wardrobe management. There really are no rights or wrongs, just what works best for each of us. I personally do laundry about every other week. I could do it more often, but I’d rather wait to do full loads in order to conserve water (I DO live in California, where we are having the worst drought in many, many years). I know I probably don’t NEED more than 10 of each type of top (tanks, short-sleeved, long-sleeved) in my closet, but I still LIKE variety. Over time, I’m getting accustomed to less variety, but for years I only wore many of my closet pieces two or three times a year. Yes, it was wasteful and I’m glad to be moving away from that, but I’m still getting used to wearing things more frequently. It still feels strange for me to wear something even twice a month and I often feel like, “I just wore this,” even if it was a few weeks earlier.
I really learn a lot from your LIWI updates! I’ve been trying a variation of the challenge, and in the past 3 months have worn all but two of my cool weather items. I’ve also been keeping track of how often I wear different items to get a better idea of what I reach for on a day to day basis. However, now that it’s April and still cold, I realize that I am so sick of all my winter things, even though I like them. Why? I think you hit the nail on the head for me – I crave more variety in tops. I am perfectly happy re-wearing pants and jeans, but tops (including jackets and sweaters) are the key. So now I feel like I have a better idea where to spend my wardrobe dollars for spring and summer. This really has been a useful exercise!
I’m so glad you’re finding my LIWI updates helpful, Murphy! We have the same preferences in terms of frequency of wear. I really don’t get tired of wearing my bottoms over and over again (or even my shoes, for that matter), but I like to change things up more often with my tops. LIWI is really showing me that I don’t care if I only have a handful of pants options. I used to think I NEEDED more pants, but now I know that it doesn’t really matter. LIWI is simple but powerful and I’m glad that my husband and I dreamed it up!
Hi Debbie! I haven’t been following the LIWI challenge exactly, but have been recording outfits worn in a big spreadsheet. For winter (dec/jan/feb) it showed about 50 items. I’d also kept a diary file for each season, noting favourites, problems, references and and bits of information.
I had a small disaster as the winter diary file got corrupted, and I now can’t open it. So before I forgot everything, I sat down and very quickly, without looking at the bigger, more complicated spreadsheet, made a small table from memory of the things that had worked the best. It’s great, as it summarises the whole season one page, and as I was very focused and it was very much my gut feeling (I tend to over analyse), it gives a really neat capsule of around 30 favourite pieces, which I can pull out again next winter. Far more useful than the rambling diary, so it turned out to be a happy accident!
Sorry to hear about your file corruption, Alice, but I’m glad you were able to recapture the most useful information. Your table sounds fabulous and I wish I could see it. I’m always looking for new and easy ways to maximize my wardrobe. I have a long rambling diary myself, which has proven to be very useful, but is not easy to reference. Perhaps I need to create a summary table or page for easy reference, too. Congrats on creating a workable winter wardrobe capsule!
Great job! I have not kept track, although to do so would be easy seeing as how I’m only ‘dressing’ out of uniform twice a week or so. I do realize that some things are not getting worn. Dresses. And not just because of the colder time of year, just, well, because. Skirts, too. I’ve pared down these categories and only have 14 of one, and 7 of the other. I’m just living in pants lately. I do have a handful of bought this year, but not yet worn things. I am keeping my eye on those. Some are too flashy for day to day and more in line with going to a concert or out on the town type of thing. But, who really cares if I want to wear a leather skirt just to have happy hour cocktails? I need to get over that saving the nice stuff, STILL.
I also can relate to the having to make myself think in terms of outfits rather than items. This has actually been a goal of mine for many seasons now, but difficult to get away from the love of an item in isolation.
Overall, I’m happy with my closet and don’t feel it’s expanding or out of control. I’m also not bored with it. Must be that I’m only needing to go in there a handful of times a week, and so anything besides a uniform feels fresh and fun! lol
I can relate to not wearing the nicer stuff for ordinary life activities, too, Mo. I’m trying to get better about that, but it’s been a challenge. People don’t really dress up around here (and I know they don’t where you are, either), but why shouldn’t I wear what I really want to wear when I go out? Why not wear a leather skirt to happy hour if that’s what makes your heart sing? I think that since we both realize we want to work on that as well as thinking in outfits, we will make progress. Congrats on being happy with your closet and not experiencing “wardrobe creep.” You seem to be doing very well overall.