Before I delve into my April update on the “Love It, Wear It” Wardrobe Challenge (LIWI), I would like to say a few things in reference to my last post. I actually considered dedicating an entire post to this topic, but I decided to just write about it it here instead. Judging from some of the comments I received, it seems that perhaps I wasn’t clear in the way I wrote about my April overshopping, so I’d like to clarify the situation now.
Explaining Isn’t the Same as Excusing
While I wrote about the reasons why I ended up shopping too much last month, it was not my intention to excuse it in any way. I take full responsibility for buying too many items and spending too much time, energy, and money on clothes during April. I acknowledge that my behavior was not in line with my goals for having a smaller, more cohesive, and more functional wardrobe, as well as my desire to trade my full closet for a full life. I know that using shopping to try to deal with my emotional issues is a dead end and will never make me happy or lead to long-term fulfillment. I have definitely learned that much in the almost two and a half years of writing this blog.
The truth is that I had a setback, which is a normal and expected occurrence on the path toward recovery. I know that many who are reading this now have also experienced peaks and valleys along the way, and may even feel tempted to give up in the face of those down times. Such discouragement is also normal. Part of what I want to show with this blog is that while recovery is possible, it’s not always neat, perfect, and linear. It can be messy sometimes and there can be a lot of shame associated with the setbacks we encounter. It’s my hope that by being open and honest about my path – while using my real name and photos, I can help to banish some of the shame associated with compulsive shopping.
Criticism, Judgment, and Getting Back on Track
I know some of the readers of this blog (perhaps many) are not actually shopaholics. While I’m very pleased to have a wider audience than I initially expected, I also know that there will be those who won’t understand my behavior and will be critical and judgmental towards me. Those who have never struggled with compulsive shopping often think, “Well, just buy less.” Although in some respects it is that simple, it’s also not. We often know the right things to do but find ourselves unable to do them when faced with temptation, stress, and all sorts of other feeling and situations. When we falter, we have to pick ourselves up, forgive our failings, and recommit to our recovery.
That is exactly what I have done. I am now back on track and have taken some positive steps toward moving closer to my goals. I will share more about that in future posts, but now it’s time to talk about my LIWI project and where I am with it.
An Overview of LIWI
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 April
Before we look at how my working closet has shaped up after four months of the LIWI challenge, I want to show you a quick look at what I wore during April:
In all, I wore 52 items of clothing last month (a few pairs of workout/lounge pants are not pictured) and 10 pairs of shoes. I also wore two necklaces and one scarf. Accessories will be discussed in the sections below.
Four Months In – The Clothes
After four months of the “Love It, Wear It” Challenge, here’s what my working closet looks like now:
The size of my working closet increased by 16 items during April, from 84 garments to 100. The reason for the increase was that there were quite a few warm days and I started to wear more of my summer clothing items. Here’s a summary of the clothing items 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 (same)
- 7 pairs of jeans (+2)
- 6 skirts (+3)
- 5 casual jackets – worn for workouts, walks, and at home (same)
- 6 coats (same)
- 3 short jackets – motos, blazers (+1)
- 8 cardigans (+1)
- 27 long-sleeved tops (+1)
- 17 short-sleeved tops (+3)
- 11 sleeveless tops (+4)
- 13 workout tops (+1)
- 6 pairs of workout/lounge pants (same)
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 – you can see the coats in my last update):
I have recently done another closet purge and will be sharing that process soon (hint – I used the “KonMari Method”). However, the numbers above reflect what was in my closet at the end of April.
The Other Side of the Story – Items Not Yet Worn
While I have worn most of my cool season wardrobe during the past four months (and many pieces multiple times), the following items have yet to make it out of my closet:
- 1 pair of pants
- 1 pair of jeans
- 2 long-sleeved tops
- 1 short-sleeved top
- 1 sleeveless top
- 2 longer jackets (one is a formal blazer)
- 2 casual jackets
- 1 coat
- 1 pair of shoes (not including open-toed shoes / sandals here)
Here’s a photo of my winter/spring items that have not been worn yet this year:
Many of my unworn items did not make it through the closet audit I did this past Sunday, but since this post is about what I wore through the end of April, those pieces are still pictured above. I won’t comment here on what made it through the cut and what did not, as that will be part of my next post. Stay tuned…
Four 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:
- 17 pairs of shoes (+4)
- 34 pairs of earrings (+4)
- 13 bracelets (+1)
- 7 necklaces (+1)
- 4 watches (same – as pictured in my January update)
- 5 scarves (+1)
- 4 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:
April LIWI Wardrobe Observations
That’s it for the numbers and photos, but there are still a few things I’d like to share before I close this post. Most of the issues I noticed with my wardrobe were the same as what I mentioned last month:
- Too many long-sleeved tops – Note to self – don’t buy any more long-sleeved tops! Now that I am wearing more of my “regular clothes” at home, I find that I wear my short-sleeved tops far more often. The temperature is often higher indoors, plus we’ve just had warmer weather overall this year. When I do buy more tops in the future, I should place emphasis on acquiring short-sleeved tops that are suitable for wearing at home (e.g. comfortable, casual knits).
- Too many necklaces and scarves – I don’t wear these items often enough to justify owning as many as I do. I definitely should not buy more necklaces or scarves and I’d like to also pare down to only my favorite pieces in these categories.
- Too many blazers/short jackets – Many of these pieces were what made my skirt outfits look “churchy,” especially when coupled with the lengths and shapes of some of my skirts. I definitely do not need to buy more such jackets, especially the blazer style, and I would benefit from doing some culling in this category soon.
- Need more focus and attention on at-home and outdoor activity wardrobes – A very large percentage of my time is spent at home and doing things like going on walks, taking photos, and other outdoor activities. For these areas of my life, I prefer casual, comfortable clothes and easily walkable shoes. Many of my clothes and shoes are too dressy and/or uncomfortable for my activities. I am definitely drawn to dressier clothes, but I really don’t need any additional items in that wardrobe category. When I do shop (which I’m planning to do much less of), I need to focus on buying pieces that I can wear for the activities I do most often.
I’m now at the point where I’ve worn far more pieces in my closet than I haven’t worn. Most of the unworn items are part of my summer/fall (warm season) wardrobe, so I haven’t had much of an opportunity to wear them so far this year. Here’s a peak at the “not yet worn” section of my closet:
In addition, let’s take look at the shoes that I have not worn thus far in 2015, many of which are either sandals of dressy shoes:
In the next couple of months, my plan is to either wear or cull everything shown in the photos above. The only possible exceptions are dressy items, but there will likely only be a few unworn pieces within that category.
I’m really seeing my closet shape up nicely as a result of LIWI. I’ve gotten to much better understand what I actually wear and what I like wearing, which is really the main point of the challenge. As I mentioned earlier in this update, I just did another closet culling session this past weekend. In contrast to previous such sessions, this one didn’t take me very long and I didn’t agonize much over “to keep or not” decisions. It was much easier for me to let go of items because LIWI has helped me to become more keenly aware of what I like and what best suits my lifestyle.
LIWI is working its magic with my wardrobe. It feels tighter and more cohesive and I’m happier with a greater percentage of my outfits. I feel confident that my wardrobe and style satisfaction will continue to increase as I proceed with the challenge. I don’t know what my eventual wardrobe size will be or should be at this point. Time will tell… I’m not attached to any particular outcome other than learning and growth, and those things are definitely happening.
Now that the winter/spring season is drawing to a close, I plan to share some of the favorite pieces in my cool weather wardrobe. I mentioned this last month, but I think now is really a better time for such an update, as I can feel the seasons changing. I know I’ll still be wearing my cool season pieces in the weeks to come, but I also see myself drawing more and more from my summer/fall wardrobe moving forward.
I know some of you have opted to take on the LIWI challenge. I’d love to learn how it’s going for you, as well as 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 a report on my latest closet culling adventure. I will also post another closet inventory soon, as well as more lessons from my outfit journal. And stay tuned for my reports on Imogen Lamport’s “Evolve Your Style” course – coming soon…
Debbie–I am not a shopaholic, but I have some bad habits. Is there anyone who does not?! Your methods are universally applicable to human behaviors. Also, there are some things about both your openness, your writing style, your empathy, the topic of wardrobe, and fascination with shopaholism that keep me going to your blog first. You are so not superior-acting or preachy and are so kind to your posters. I love how you always try to see every side of an issue. Being vulnerable is human; being kind is rare. You are certainly both. You have some non-shopaholic fans.
Thanks for summing it up so nicely, Helen. Hear, hear.
I really appreciate your kind words, Helen. I am very happy to have both shopaholic and non-shopaholic readers. I’m happy that my words resonate with people in all sorts of situations in terms of shopping and their wardrobes. I always do my best to be kind and to consider what people take the time to write here. I actually learn a great deal from readers and that has helped with my recovery. I’m very glad you like my blog and benefit from it.
Debbie- I am really looking forward to hearing about your KonMari process, I bet it was great! My recent purge of 13 items was KonMari inspired as well. I wouldn’t mind giving it another go-through, since I only edited a particular section of my closet.
My LIWI challenge is going pretty well. I feel like I’m on autopilot most days and don’t struggle, with the exception of feeling really unhappy about my tiny selection of tops. I’d really like another 2 tops to wear! Some of my tops are GREAT for layering under jackets- not so much when it’s too hot to wear jackets though. Only a few are good without a topper. I only had 68 clothing items and 58 accessories and shoes at the end of April all together, and only 14 tops total for all seasons, casual and professional. I’m leaning much more heavily on dresses because they’re easier lately, particularly when faced with the same old top week after week! I plan on doing an update soon, but I have not had the time! Most of my items have been worn by now. These 24 clothing items and 14 accessories are in my ‘unworn’ category (not unworn for the year, just for LIWI, and some are out of season now):
2 leather/faux leather jackets (one needs a repair)
2 shealth dresses (one is too small, I’m working on getting fit)
All 6 special occasion dresses
Both (2) of my skirts
3 pairs of trousers- one is too tight
1 pair of denim trousers
3 tops (two may be purged soon)
1 winter coat
1 new pair of winter boots, 2 pairs of sandals
6 necklaces (mostly statement)
Thanks so much for sharing your LIWI update, Meli. I look forward to reading more about it when you have time to post on your blog. You seem to be learning some important things from the challenge. Yes, 14 tops total isn’t very many and probably wouldn’t be enough for most people, especially if many of them don’t work well without toppers. I have tops like that, too, and it can be frustrating. I hope you will feel more balanced in your wardrobe soon. How great that you also did the KonMari Process with your closet. I anticipate myself doing a re-do later this year, as I’m sure I will be able to let go of even more a second time around.
This is an excellent detailed response to your LIWT challenge. I can see this process is helping you create a working closet that will take you through the next couple of years without needing to add more than a couple of pieces each season. But it must take a great amount of effort to wear all of the pieces you love, to chart each wear and then write the post.
You said the size of your working closet increased by 16 items during April, from 84 garments to 100. And then you said that you have recently done another closet purge (using the “KonMari Method”).
So I enjoy knowing that your numbers reflected what “was” in your closet at the end of April. Past tense, and no longer applies to the state of your “current” working closet. Very good, and I’m looking forward to reading about how things are going for you now, after the purge.
I have also recently done another large closet purge with the KonMari Method. For me it was of great value identifying that I have a “Scarcity Mentality/Fear of the Future” which is why my wardrobe was once very big—I had too many multiples and unnecessary pieces. I loved everything yet it was still too much. But I will wait and comment about it later as a response to your next post on this topic.
Currently I’m doing a version of LIWI I pulled from Tim Gunn and Kate Maloney’s book—A Guide to Quality Taste and Style. After doing the exercise of identifying my favorite items of clothing—this was my wardrobe for the next 7 days, with a goal of keeping my absolute favorites in regular rotation. I’m learning a lot! More later. Stay tuned…
Writing the post does take a lot of effort, Terra, but the tracking is pretty easy to do for me. It just takes a minute or so each day. It’s really worth it to me, as the numbers help me to get real about my closet, what I’m wearing, and what I really need. Like you, I have a scarcity mentality and a fear of the future. Those are big issues for me and part of why it’s taking me a while to really downsize my closet to a level that’s right for me. I feel like I often take two steps forward and one step (or even two steps) back. Congrats on your progress using the KonMari Method. I look forward to sharing what I did later this week. I anticipate I will do it again in a few months, as it can sometimes be hard to answer the “sparks joy” question. I know it will evolve over time. I definitely want to get to a place where I only add a few new pieces each season. Although I have had some setbacks, that is still my ultimate goal.
Love knowing how much this is helping you, and that makes it worth all of the effort. You know since I had already culled my closet greatly a while back and I had reached a place where I loved everything I had in my small(ish) wardrobe. So when I edited it again recently using the KonMari Method just about everything I owned sparked joy. But there were still a few things I’d saved in order to quell my fears. You know.. what if and just in case… and I forced myself to let those pieces go. And you know what, now I’m discovering even more options with my clothes than I could see before, making me better dressed and without buying anything. You are right, it is like peeling an onion. And my onion had tons of layers I had to peel back over that past five years. I think I might be getting closer to the core.
Your post is very inspiring. I have those same fears when editing my closet. Perhaps if I think of your onion analogy, I’ll be motivated to let go of more!
Maddie, we are two peas in a pod. You have a back up pair of black tropical wool Banana Republic trousers (still with tags on). As of last week I had three back-up good black tank tops in a brand that I favor (with tags still on) since I wear them often, as a layering piece. I took the tags off and placed them in my underwear drawer, and it will be fun to see how many years it takes for me to wear them all out. Once upon a time my closet was filled with multiples and back ups. Sigh.. but I’m growing braver now. We will conquer our fear of “what if the stores stop selling what we love best.” Makes me laugh at myself just writing this. I don’t know if I will ever reach a place of having one and being done. But having “two” of everything I wear once or twice a week might do the trick.
Reading about your path always inspires me, Terra, as you are at least a few steps (or maybe more like a mile – LOL) ahead of me. You mentioned you’ve been at this for five years and it’s less than two and a half for me… I have faith that I can get to where you are down the line. I still keep some things for “just in case,” but I’m getting better at letting them go. I don’t agonize over such decisions as much anymore. Still peeling that onion, but I’m happy to be removing more and more layers as time goes by.
I am a slow learner. But I can see the core of the onion now and perhaps soon I will let that go as well.
A tiny bit of venting, because I know y’all understand: I love Debbie’s ideas of planning home wear, comfort and not fussing. I thought leggings and some nice tunics would make a good “at home” uniform, so I bought a selection of high quality leggings. Although they’re comfortable when I first put them on, they pull down in the rise area, get uncomfortably tight around the hips, and have to be pulled up repeatedly. I followed the size charts when ordering, and if the leggings were larger they would sag and bag. Frustrating!
I look forward to your comments – the combination of Debbie’s skillful and honest posts and your insightful comments make for good therapy indeed! I note your discovering of tunics and leggings and had to comment. This is my favourite combination and currently I am wearing combinations of this “uniform” (my preferred dressing method) for work and home – to varying degrees of smartness . I love it but I agree that unless the leggings fit right the outfit can feel very non-put-together. My suggestion is to look for leggings made of viscose which is a natural and breathable fabric. Buy them a size or two larger. I find that this reduces the cling factor but also due to viscose being a natural, breathable fabric, they adapt to the body’s contours so there is no sag. Viscose washes well too and whilst it appears thin is actually quite robust – mine seem to get better and softer with washing. Give it a go, hope this helps!
Hi Andrea. Thank you for your kind words. I think your comment is meant for Terry. Yet since I might be the only person who has never bought or worn leggings (I shy away from trying them fearing for the reasons Terry mentioned) yet since I’m always searching for comfortable, warm, presentable, options for home-wear I will give your suggestion a go and get viscose in a size or two larger than my usual size.
Terra, you could check out Eileen Fisher’s skirt leggings, which are made of a viscose jersey. I know you like that brand and I absolutely live in them on the weekends — they are super comfortable and the built-in skirt means that you can wear them with any top rather than worrying about finding something that covers your butt. (I think I am about your size and I take a P XS so they do not have an oversized cut the way many of her styles do.) The only thing I dislike about them is that I think the viscose jersey is not as durable as cotton — these pill more than my cotton leggings — which wouldn’t bother me so much, except for the EF price tag. I think they are well worth it if you can get them on sale though!
Sarah, it is interesting that you mention it because for the last 2-3 years I’ve admired the EF leggings with a skirt, and I’ve always said that if I were younger, lots younger (I’m 62) I would want to try them. Yes, I’m your size, a P XS. But even if not for the age issue, like Debbie I kind of have a body issue and the idea of anything that clings to my (thin) legs and my (not all that thin) stomach, yikes. Still, those skirted leggings call to me, and if I had money enough to spare (and I don’t) but I will keep my eye out for a sale, and if I do find them at a great discount, I would be open to the idea of wearing them at home on a regular basis, and just have fun. Who does not need more fun? 🙂
Interesting thread about leggings. I’m so glad that Andrea was able to chime in with some leggings recommendations, as I know very little on the subject. As a tall woman with body image issues around my hips and thighs, I never embraced that trend, but I know that leggings work very well for many people. We all need to figure out the “uniforms” or formulas that work best for us. Terry, I hope you find some leggings that will fit the bill for you soon. Hopefully, Andrea’s suggestions will be helpful for you.
Shoe laces used as drawstrings. Work fabulous for me.
And Garnet Hill cotton blend leggings. Very comfy.
Try Hue wide waistband leggings (or similar). This type has a longer rise.
I have occasionally found myself in the same situation – where someone has mistaken my well-thought-out reason for an excuse. It’s odd that someone would mistake your intent, since this blog is all about accountability. I really admire your ability to remain calm and nondefensive when misunderstood. 🙂
Your closet presents such a clear sense of style now. The patterns and colors are so YOU, you could probably post that first photo anywhere and people would know whose closet it was. I am just drooling over all those deep rich colors, but I’m a pale warm-toned blonde and jewel tones are not a good direction for me.
I’m still working on my own closet. I keep thinking I’ve got it down to the essence of me, but then after a month or two I realize I’ve been lying to myself about some wool coats or fancy dresses I didn’t want to get rid of. It’s a process.
I appreciate your comment, Katrina. I always try to remain calm and take time to formulate my responses here (and in general) instead of being reactive. I’m glad you are seeing a clear sense of style in my current closet. I’ve really been working hard on it for a while. It definitely takes time, but it’s worth the effort, as I’m feeling happier with my wardrobe now. I think that staying away from resale shopping and being more targeted in what I buy has made all the difference. I wish you the best of luck with your wardrobe. Just keep going on and taking it one step at a time. It’s hard to get rid of things sometimes and I still have some of those fancy items that should probably just go.
Very interesting post, Debbie. I can see that the wardrobe you have arrived at through your “LIWI” challenge is very cohesive and suits your style. Well done!
I’m looking forward to your upcoming post about your closet edit because, while I think that your recent strategy of separating your LIWI recap from your accountability posts is a good one, I don’t have much of a sense of how LIWI per se has helped you to edit your closet down. That’s not meant to be a criticism of the posts you have done, just a comment that I am curious about/looking forward to learning more about this other aspect of things!
I’m also curious about the role of scarves and necklaces in your wardrobe and your intention to pare them down. Do you think that you are wearing scarves/necklaces less often than you have done in the past and moving away from them as part of your style, or that the LIWI process has simply enabled you to recognize that you never wore these items much and have just accumulated them maybe out of a sense that you “should” have them? I ask because I’ve been thinking about my desire to have a wardrobe that just contains the things that I love and wear on the one hand, and my desire that can serve me and the development of my style over the long-term on the other hand. (I don’t want a capsule wardrobe for next season, I want a wardrobe for the next 5-10 years.)
In some ways those two goals are at odds, right? If I only have what I am loving and wearing right now, then in order to try something new as my style evolves in the future I have to buy stuff. But if I hoard everything I might want to wear in the next 5-10 years, then my wardrobe doesn’t serve me well in the here and now. I think Angie at You Look Fab does a really good job of finding the middle ground between those extremes. I’ve seen her post things like: “I’m not wearing my pencil skirts right now because I’m more into pants, but I still like them and think that I’ll come back to them in the future, so I’m keeping them.” I’ve been fascinated by the way she sounds so not-stressed-out about it! Yet I don’t get the sense that she has a ginormous wardrobe. Anyway, for myself I can imagine going through a period of wearing scarves a lot, and then not doing so for a while, but then when I got on a scarf jag again in the future, gosh, it would be great not to have to re-accumulate these items. I guess I am just curious about your thoughts on those goals and how that relates to the work you are doing with LIWI!
You made lots of good points and asked some good questions in your comment, Sarah. I will try to address the key points here. LIWI isn’t just about downsizing my wardrobe. It’s about building a wardrobe that truly works for my life. Yes, it needs to be smaller than what I started out with, as I want to wear my pieces more often, but it also needs to include the right components. I definitely think I will end the year with a smaller wardrobe than what I began with, but the most important thing is that it works better for me and my life regardless of its size.
As for scarves and necklaces, I am wearing both less often than I used to but I’ve always had too many (shocker, I know…). They were accumulated over a number of years and I didn’t take the time to cull them all that often because I had the space to store these pieces (as opposed to clothing, which I cull more often). I definitely want to keep scarves and necklaces as part of my style, but I only want to hold on to my favorite pieces. That is still a work in progress, but LIWI has been helpful in that effort.
It’s interesting that you mention Angie of You Look Fab. I know she has a strict one in, one out policy to keep the size of her wardrobe stable. She also has a moderately sized wardrobe (her term) and recently posted a basic inventory of what’s in her closet: http://youlookfab.com/2015/03/10/maintaining-an-optimally-sized-wardrobe/
I thought you might be interested in seeing that if you haven’t already. I was struck by how many pullovers she has! But she seems to be doing very well with her wardrobe, so it is right for her unique situation. That’s exactly the place I’m trying to get to with LIWI.
Yes, I really liked that post! I liked how transparent she was, and also how individual the structure of her wardrobe is. (Maybe it just made me feel better about having so many cardigans! 🙂 )
I found a couple examples of the kinds of posts I was talking about:
Although she doesn’t use this language, I think she is essentially saying to keep items that you’re not wearing right now if they spark joy. So this is actually very compatible with the Kondo method that many folks here are experimenting with. Very interesting! I think it would still be tricky to be honest with oneself about whether an item sparks joy AND is likely to be worn again (vs. something that sparks joy b/c you love it aesthetically but is for an imaginary life).
I loved those posts, too, Sarah. Sometimes we cycle in and out of wanting to wear certain things, which is why the customary advice of getting rid of anything we haven’t worn in 6 months or a year doesn’t always work. Same with my “benchwarmer” philosophy… I think it’s always a good place to look, but not always the be-all, end-all decision-making tactic. I agree with you, though, that we need to be honest with ourselves if we are going to ever going to realistically wear something again. The imaginary life problem is a big one for many of us and something that should always be considered.
Hi Debbie – I too admire your honesty and the way you always step up and make yourself accountable. That takes a lot of guts. I am not, and maybe never have been a shopaholic, although I definitely shopped too much and used it as a default activity when I had nothing better to do or needed a pick me up. It was never a compulsion, I guess, although still unhealthy to use shopping (and wine) so as not to have to think or feel when I felt down. But I also have been terrible about getting rid of old clothing, so while I could justify the amount of my purchases to myself, they resulted in a ballooning wardrobe that was out of control. I needed help when I found your blog, and you’ve definitely provided it!
Anyway, on to LIWI. First, I just have to say there’s something I love about your scarves that you have worn. So cohesive! I’m realizing that my challenge is “don’t hate it, wear it”. Haha. There is not much that I love in my wardrobe. I think this is mostly because I have been SO focused on reducing the size of my wardrobe for so long that buying new things and refreshing my style has taken a back seat. I mean, I HAVE updated my style – I am definitely buying skinnier pants, and looser plainer tops that I enjoy now. But most of my clothes feel utilitarian somewhat because many are old. However, what LIWI has helped me do is to focus on the clothing that feels good on me, and looks flattering on me. Those garments that I liked the look of but were just too fussy have not generally made it into the “working wardrobe”. This does make me realize that I need to keep shopping, both to replace worn out items and to keep slowly updating my style. I don’t think aiming for “no shopping” is a good thing.
Also, I find I’m actually wearing a wider range of pants than before – now that I know every pair of pants in my working wardrobe fits, I’m wearing them all instead of reaching for the same two pairs of black pants so I didn’t have to try on other things and possibly be disappointed!
I moved 2 dresses, and 1 pair of sandals out of the “unworn” section and into the “working wardrobe” in April/the first weekend of May. That’s a function of warmer weather, and going to a dressier event than normal. All good. More importantly (to me), I finally FINALLY emptied my guest closet of my closet purges, and took 3 big bags to Goodwill. Now my “unworn” closet section in my bedroom will become the “donate” section too. That’s huge – my closet used to overflow to THREE rooms in my house. Now it is all in one.
Thanks for sharing how you’re doing with LIWI, Sarah. How funny that you feel your version is “don’t hate it, wear it.” Your comment reflects that there is a flip side to the shopaholic coin. While it’s not good to shop TOO MUCH like I have for years, it can also be a problem to shop TOO LITTLE like you have. There needs to be a balance in between and that will look different depending upon the person. If someone has their wardrobe in very good order and a firm sense of their style, it can work very well to buy only a little. But sometimes one needs to buy more during the process of redefining personal style. It sounds like you are doing well with both downsizing and getting in touch with what you want to wear. Congrats on your excellent progress! Hopefully, the proportion of your wardrobe that you truly love will be higher sometime very soon.
To me, an excuse is a rationale for continuing the same problem behaviors. An explanation is seeking the reasons such behaviors occur with the goal of either reinforcing positive behaviors or reducing the problematic ones. This is why I go through each month’s accountability post, it is full of explanations. I post a few of what I identfy each month, but I do leave out some of the soul searching I do. I suspect Debbie holds back some the emotional explanations at times. I look at my own recent lapses and while I wrote about my buying multiples of the same thing, I realize there was an emotional trigger that fueled it. It will take some more thought before I can “explain” it, but in the meantime, I have this blog to help me prevent repeating it. Thank you for that Debbie.
I’m glad my explanations each month are helpful for you, Misty. At first, I wondered if people would find such analysis boring. I’m sure some do, but I’m happy that others benefit from the detailed information I post. Yes, I don’t always delve into all of my emotional issues, although I definitely go there in some posts, but I do try to include enough information so that perhaps others will see themselves in what I write. I think it’s great that you look for explanations of your own. Learning WHY we do things is an important step toward changing our behavior and habits.
You’re doing great. Don’t beat yourself up because of negative comments (from yourself or others). I rarely buy new stuff, but I still cull my wardrobe from time to time. I have found that if there’s a good quality, comfy piece in the right colors that I’m not wearing, I need to try it on at least on three separate occasions before I donate it. Maybe I’m not combining it with the right items.
So if something that looks and seems right is not getting worn, I will try to wear it with different combinations of pants/skirts/blazer/shoes. Play with proportions and colors. Despite all that if it doesn’t work, I will donate it.
So don’t be hasty in culling stuff. You will be surprised at how some things that don’t get worn come to life when you experiment a bit.
Thanks for telling me I’m doing great, Nutrivore, and thanks for sharing your insights about letting things go. I agree that sometimes we need to try different combinations and that the styling of an item can make all the difference. If I still feel that a particular piece “sparks joy,” I will continue to give it a chance. Experimentation is always a good thing and that’s part of what LIWI is all about. It’s all about wearing what we love and loving what we wear. I’m not totally there yet, but I’m a lot closer than I was at the beginning of the year, which means that LIWI is working for me.
Once again I admire your wardrobe colors! They’re vibrants and bright without being tacky or kitsch, and everything goes so well together, I love it.
I’m really curious about your purge and I can’t wait to read about the results!
In April, I’ve worn 41 items (without counting lounge, work out stuff or jewelry) and I purged 5 of those. Two months in, I’ve worn 63 items but I’ve purged 15 so my working wardrobe counts 48 clothes, shoes, bags and accessories, a bit more than half of my total wardrobe. I noticed that I needed more variety in my tops and dresses but not so much in my pants, shoes or toppers, I’m fine wearing always the same jacket, the same pair of jeans and the same boots. It really helps to ask myself “is this pair of pants better than the one I already have?” when I feel like buying something, even if I feel like buying blue jeans and what I have are dark grey jeans. I know I would wear both pairs in similar situations so no need to split my wears (even if the pants are different).
Thanks for your kind words about my colors, Cedrique. I am very happy with how my color palette has been shaping up. I feel happy in the colors I wear and it’s easier to get dressed with a tighter color story. You are doing amazingly well! I love how your wardrobe is small but works well for you. I like the question you ask yourself before buying something new. I need to do the same, as I still tend to buy things that are similar to existing items. I know that I still split my wears quite a bit and your question would help me to get around that. Thank you for sharing.
Although I’ve kept track of what I’ve worn daily for many years, I had never counted the pieces worn in any given month. Out of curiosity, I counted items worn in April. This does not include basic black and white tanks (which I use often as layering pieces), workout clothes, or jewelry.
I wore 39 clothing items, carried 6 purses, and wore 14 pairs of shoes (1 pair has since been purged). My most-worn piece is a pair of black tropical wool Banana Republic trousers. I actually have a back-up pair (still with tags on). I have the same pants in light gray and navy, but I prefer to wear the black ones. I usually wear them to the office once a week, sometimes twice.
Some of the shoes had only one wearing during the month. I am happy to be rotating my handbags, as I enjoy coordinating with with my outfits.
I work in an office with a business casual dress code. I usually dress up the first three days of the week in my trousers, dresses, or skirts. At the end of the week I tend to wear white jeans or cropped pants.
Thanks for sharing your numbers for April, Maddie. I’m glad you found it useful to track how many items you wore last month. I wish I could be disciplined enough to change my purses out regularly like you do. I also sometimes wish that I had bought back-ups for much-loved pieces, but I usually don’t trust myself enough to KNOW what I will continue to love wearing in the future. By the time I realize that, it’s often too late to buy a back-up. Of course, I wouldn’t want to do that very often, though. Interesting that you have the pants in three colors. I think it’s common for us to really only want to wear one color or at least to have a strong favorite. That’s part of why I’m moving away from buying “multiples,” but as you could see from my last post, I’m still doing it sometimes.
The new creative director of Banana Republic has vowed to get rid of all the “stodgy” business wear. That declaration puts me in a panic because the BR pants I mentioned above are the best-fitting I’ve been able to find. That’s one reason I have a back-up pair of black pants! I was able to get the gray and navy versions at very deep discounts, which definitely influenced my decision to buy. When I can get a pair of well-fitting $100 pants for $40, it doesn’t make sense to pass them by. And I do wear them, just not as much as the black pair.
I totally understand about not buying too many multiples. I have been so guilty of this in the past and am trying to be better about not accumulating too many. Some of my multiples are in basic pieces, such as cardigans and tanks. Sometimes I feel smart for having the options, but other times I feel like I often have the same look in my clothes.
I feel the same way about my multiples, Maddie. I think multiples can be good in moderation, but I did it too much and ended up not having as much variety in my wardrobe as I’d like in terms of styles and silhouettes. So now I’m trying to be more careful, but I still feel drawn to multiples because of “deals,” habit, or feeling safe in certain styles. I’m weaning myself away from multiples by only letting myself buy TWO of one thing instead of three, four, or more, but I may want to just do multiples once in a great while instead of on a regular basis. You’ll have to decide what works best for you and it’s okay for you to change your mind down the line!
As of the end of April I have worn everything except one dressy dress and pair of sandals. I’d say I have a good amount of clothing and that I’m wearing everything. I also have a few necklaces that I haven’t worn. I just need to make sure that I don’t add too much to the mix and I think that what I have works well for me.
I don’t necessarily see that you buying a bit too much last month is a total “bad” thing. If you hadn’t read the remark about your life being empty if shopping is your only hobby, you may not have picked up photography. That’s brought you joy and something else to enjoy. Who knows? Hitting a bump in the road may just steer you in a different (and better) direction.
I thought I have responded to this comment, but apparently I just did it in my head (LOL). I think it’s SO great that you have worn almost everything, Tonya! That is so great and you must feel good to be wearing everything. I think I will get there within the next few months. I think you’re right about my bump in the road helping to steer me in a better direction. I’m really enjoying the photography and am doing that instead of shopping when I want to get out and do something fun.
I agree with those who advise against purging too quickly. This is partly because I am the opposite: I keep a lot of clothes and shoes that I don’t wear frequently, and suddenly something will come in handy, and it makes me so happy. Today, I realized that my so-called need for blue flats is answered by a pair of blue brogues that I bought in 1996. I do also buy a lot of clothes, so it’s not that I am being virtuous about shopping, but I like to be able to find surprises in my wardrobe that go with something new. Also, for me purging can trigger a sense of deprivation that invites more shopping, and I even think I sometimes purge precisely to justify binging. I think that some of the comments you and others found critical were pointing toward the way that wardrobe planning and tending can elicit a hunger for more. This is certainly true for me, so I did not myself find these comments judgmental: to me, they were meant to offer a different perspective that you and readers might find interesting and even illuminating. I mean this comment in the same way.
Perhaps you’d consider a scarf/jewelry capsule? If you get rid of things like that you aren’t wearing frequently it’s almost a given that you’ll have a string of occasions where that’s what you want to put on, and you’ll be out there buying replacements.
I think this comment is directed toward me, Ginger, even though it fell under Kate’s thread. With my jewelry and scarves, I plan to keep anything that I still love, even if I don’t wear it much. The same is true for my shoes, as I have some dressy shoes that don’t get worn much, either. The items I’ve gotten rid of have been things that I didn’t love or weren’t my style anymore, so I couldn’t really see myself wearing them even if I had the occasion to do so.
I appreciate your sharing this perspective, Kate. I have definitely used purging as an excuse for shopping in the past – or it just plain triggered a buying binge because of my fear of scarcity. That’s why I purge much more slowly these days. I’m really in no hurry and I have the space, so why rush? You’re right that wardrobe planning and tending can lead to a desire for more, especially if we are striving for perfection. I have fallen into such a trap many times. I’m trying to spend LESS time on clothes and my wardrobe these days and have felt much happier as a result (and more satisfied with my wardrobe because I’m not ruminating on it so much).
that’s my goal, too!
I don’t think that Debbie is considering getting rid of lots of scarves, or releasing lots of jewelry, or letting go of lots of clothing, because she is not aiming for a minimalist wardrobe, and she has plenty of space to house the things she loves enough to believe that she will one day want to wear. If I understand correctly her goal is to have a “cohesive” wardrobe, smaller than what she had before, but not necessarily minimal(ish) like I am aiming for. Is this correct Debbie? The reason I’m chiming in here is because wardrobe size is an extremely personal decision, and it would be sad if any readers came away with the idea that smaller is better. I don’t have a lot of space, and I’ve reached a point where I need less. But there was a time when I was happy (extremely happy) with lots of clothes, and I think anyone who does not want to cull their wardrobe and scale back should not feel the pressure to do it. Again, wardrobe size is a very personal issue. And it’s also fun that we are all different, and we can enjoy hearing our collective diverse experiences.
You are right on in your comment, Terra. Yes, I’m not necessarily aiming for a minimal wardrobe, although I might end up there one day. I’m aiming for a cohesive wardrobe that works for me and my life. I don’t even know what size I want my wardrobe to be at this point. I know it still feels too large, but I’m not in a huge hurry to downsize, especially just for the sake of paring down. I want to be deliberate about it, which reminds me that I need to do an update soon on my my word for the year is going… I totally agree with you that wardrobe size is a personal issue and I also enjoy reading about different people’s experiences and perspectives on that topic.
I find wardrobe challenges keep things interesting and keeps me focused on not shopping. Having worn more of your closet rather than less, is a a big shift for you isn’t it? At least compared to a few years back it has to be. What a great accomplishment!
Yes, that is a big shift for me, Lisa, and I’m proud to be wearing more of what I own. Most of the things I haven’t worn yet are summer items at this point and I haven’t had much occasion for the warmer weather pieces as of yet. I am definitely in a much better place than I was when I started the blog – or even from a year ago!