After downsizing both my clothes and accessories last week using the “KonMari Method,” I thought this would be a good time to do a closet inventory. The last time I did a closet inventory was about four months ago, on January 23rd, after I had also undertaken a considerable wardrobe purge. In today’s post, I will share my new wardrobe and accessory numbers. But first, here’s what my closet looks like today:
As of my last closet inventory, I decided to start including my entire wardrobe in these updates (with the exception of undergarments and sleepwear). The reason for the change is that I wanted to place more emphasis on my at-home wardrobe. Those clothes count and I want to feel just as good in my at-home clothes as I do in what I wear when I’m out and about.
With the January update, I also started including jewelry in my closet inventories. I had previously written about jewelry separately, back when I was focused on meeting my 2014 pare-down goal (which I met – and then some!). But now that my jewelry collection is down to a more manageable level, I can look at it in tandem with the rest of my closet pieces.
My Core Wardrobe Numbers – May 2015
Let’s take a look at my new numbers, starting with my “out and about” clothes. Listed below are all of today’s item numbers for my various wardrobe categories, followed in parentheses by the change since my January 2015 closet inventory:
- Coats: 6 (-4)
- Blazers/Jackets: 11 (-2)
- Cardigans: 12 (-1)
- Sleeveless Tops & Tanks: 19 (same)
- Short-Sleeved Tops: 13 (+1)
- Long-Sleeved Tops: 20 (-5)
- Jeans: 7 (-2)
- Pants: 3 (-2)
- Skirts: 10 (+1)
- Dresses: 10 (+1)
Now let’s look at some totals:
- Tops: 52 (-4)
- Toppers (coats, jackets, cardigans): 29 (-7)
- Bottoms (skirts, pants, jeans): 20 (-3)
- Total Number of “Out and About” Garments (above plus dresses): 111 (-13)
I think this number is still probably at least a little too high. I’m guessing that 100 items or maybe a little less will end up being my wardrobe “sweet spot.” But we’ll see how things go as I continue with my LIWI challenge and endeavor to buy fewer items (which is still my goal, April lapse notwithstanding!). Since I only get dressed in “regular clothes” three or four days per week, I really don’t need to have a lot of clothes. However, as I also wrote in my January inventory update, I don’t want to purge things just for the sake of reaching some arbitrary number. I’m willing to take my time with “right-sizing” my wardrobe for my lifestyle as I let LIWI work its magic.
Workout and Lounge Wear
Here’s what I have today in my workout/lounge wear wardrobe:
- Casual Jackets (worn on walks and to the gym): 6 (same)
- Lounge Jackets (worn only at home): 1 (same)
- Long-Sleeved Tops: 4 (-1)
- Short-Sleeved Tops: 11 (-5)
- Long Pants: 9 (+1)
- Capri Pants: 3 (same)
Here are my workout and lounge wear totals and how they compare to my January numbers:
- Tops: 15 (-6)
- Bottoms: 12 (+1)
- Toppers: 7 (same)
- Grand Total: 34 (-5)
I think the size of my lounge wear wardrobe is pretty right on. I’ve been wearing more of my “regular” tops at home, so there’s a lot more cross-over going on between my two wardrobes. This area of my closet may increase a bit in the coming months, but I don’t see it changing all that much. My main focus will be on downsizing my “out and about” wardrobe and making sure that all of my clothes better suit my lifestyle.
Total Number of Clothes
So my total number of clothes at this point is 145, which is down 18 items from my last closet inventory. That doesn’t represent a very large decrease, but I’m moving in the right direction. Also, I feel that my wardrobe is now better meeting my needs. Most of the new items I’ve brought in are more in line with my personal style, which I’ve been working to re-define over the past year.
I still think that 145 items of clothing is too high for my life. However, I am okay with letting the number decrease gradually over time through LIWI, general attrition, and periodic closet culling sessions. I will likely revisit the “KonMari” process again before the year is over, so that will help as well.
Now it’s time to look at how many accessories I have in my wardrobe, including shoes, scarves, purses, belts, and hats (I’ll cover jewelry in the next section). Here are my current numbers:
- Standard Shoes: 26 (-2)
- Other Shoes: 3 (-1) – includes athletic shoes and shoes I wear only at home
- Scarves: 18 (-7)
- Purses: 10 (-1)
- Hats: 10 (+1) – I actually found some hats I had forgotten about and purged a few earlier this year
- Belts: 2
- Total Number of Accessories: 69 (-10)
I’m glad this number has come down since my last closet inventory, but it’s probably still a little too high for my needs. I will likely pare down some of the shoes, scarves, and hats before the year is over. I may also elect to let go of a purse or two that I don’t really love anymore.
There are 9 pairs of shoes in my closet that I have yet to wear this year (see this post for a photo, scroll down toward the bottom). Many of those shoes could be classified as “dressy” and I just don’t need that many formal options. I see myself letting go of at least a few of those shoes very soon. I also plan to replace a few worn out pairs of shoes, but that will result in my shoe total remaining constant, unless I’m able to replace two worn out pairs with one stellar new pair. Quality over quantity whenever possible is a new motto of mine that I hope to live by!
Last But Not Least, the Jewelry
I let go of quite a few jewelry pieces by way of Marie Kondo’s method last week (see the numbers and a photo here). Here is a look at my current numbers and how they compare with my January jewelry inventory:
- Watches: 5 (-1) – includes 1 sentimental watch that I don’t wear
- Rings: 10 (-4) – includes 3 sentimental rings that are never worn
- Brooches: 5 (-2)
- Pendants: 5 (same)
- Necklaces: 22 (-4)
- Bracelets: 17 (-6)
- Single Stud Earrings (for second piercing): 4 (-2)
- Standard Earrings: 45 (-9)
- Grand Total: 113 (-29)
In February 2014, I had 282 items in my jewelry collection, so I now only own 40% as much jewelry as I owned 15 months ago. I’m very pleased with the progress I’ve made and am happy to be wearing a higher proportion of my jewelry pieces these days. I know that I still have more paring down to do, but I trust that it will happen relatively effortlessly by means of my LIWI challenge. If I don’t love and wear the items in my jewelry box (and my closet), they will be out the door!
Summing It All Up
If I add up all of the totals above, here’s what I get:
- “Out and About” Clothes: 111
- Workout and Lounge Wear: 34
- Accessories: 69
- Jewelry: 113
- TOTAL WARDROBE NUMBER: 327 (-57)
Basically, I have decreased my total wardrobe number by 17% since January. I’m proud of that progress and the fact that LIWI has made it much easier to downsize. Once I’ve seen what I have and haven’t been wearing, I’ve had far less resistance to letting go of the excess stuff. Then the “KonMari Method” enabled me to remove a lot of my wardrobe dead weight in just a few hours with very little stress and anxiety surrounding the process. I see my total wardrobe number dipping below 300 by the end of the year.
Just for Fun – My Husband’s Wardrobe Inventory
I will share some final thoughts shortly, but first I thought it would be fun to include my husband Mike’s wardrobe inventory in this post, especially since he also did the “KonMari Method” last week. I’ve only shared his wardrobe numbers once, in a post titled “What is a Normal-Sized Wardrobe?” That post, which was published on February 12, 2013, is the most popular post on this blog by far, probably because a lot of people search for that phrase.
I’m going to include my husband’s new numbers in an addendum to that post, but I will share them first here:
- Mike’s Shirts: 60 (-52!)
- Mike’s Pants/Shorts: 15 (-5)
- Mike’s Jackets: 8 (-2)
- Mike’s Shoes: 11 (-1)
- MIKE’S GRAND TOTAL: 94 (-48!)
So Mike has reduced the size of his wardrobe by 34% in a little over two years. He probably still has too many shirts, but his other numbers are very good and the shirts are far more manageable than they were back in 2013. He wears more of what he has and everything (with the exception of jackets) now fits into the armoire shown in the February 2013 post. He no longer needs to store out of season clothing in another closet in our home. He can see all of his clothes at a glance (so can I these days), which makes it much easier to get dressed in our temperate Southern California climate.
Some Final Thoughts & Your Input
I also included my numbers in parentheses after Mike’s in the post from two years ago. At that time, I owned 124 tops, 48 bottoms, and 73 toppers! My new numbers are 52 tops, 20 bottoms, and 29 toppers, so I have downsized by at least 58% in all three areas. My progress has been slow but steady rather than quick and dramatic, but I’m now pleased to have a much smaller – and more functional – wardrobe. I believe my wardrobe will only continue to become even more functional as time goes by.
Now it’s time for you to chime in. The topic of wardrobe size is very individual and there is no right number for everyone, but it’s usually something that most people have thoughts about. If you’d like to share your wardrobe numbers in the comments section of this post, I know that I and others will find that data interesting. If you have any questions for me or feedback on what I shared in today’s post – or on wardrobe size in general, I welcome that type of input as well.
Debbie, congratulations on your progress with downsizing your wardrobe! Sometimes I think it’s hard to see progress until you have the cold hard numbers laid out in front of you. 58% is huge!
I did KonMari earlier this year for my entire apartment, and it was super helpful. I’m planning to do it again this summer with at least my wardrobe, to prep for transitioning to fall/winter wardrobe. Possibly earlier if I end up moving to a different apartment like I’m hoping. I like that her method is simple and eliminates complicated formulas, and generally takes a small period of time. And so far, I’ve only found myself regretting purging 1 item, which was easy enough to go out and replace.
Thanks for your kind words, Melissa, and thanks for sharing a bit about your KonMari process. I think that if you only regretted purging one item, that’s pretty good. We often keep things around “just in case,” but if we let those items go, we rarely miss them. Best wishes with your second round of KonMari and with your potential move.
I love this post. Sometimes we spend so much time looking at how far we have not come, that we forget just how far we HAVE! 🙂 You’ve done amazingly well and should be proud- and your husband as well.
I have some curiosity about how many of your current wardrobe items were in your wardrobe when you first did the inventory. For myself, I think 95% of it is new compared to the wardrobe I had back then, which really shows me that my original wardrobe really was not workable for me.
You are always very encouraging of me, Meli, and I really appreciate it! As for your question, I think I will do a post to address it very soon, as it got me thinking… If I had to venture a guess, I would say that about 75% of what’s in my closet is new since I started the blog. But I’m going to actually figure it out and write about it. Thanks for the blog post idea 🙂
Well, it looks like you did very good at culling and downsizing in the last 2 years, the stats speak the truth! It makes me laugh thinking about the comments some users left on the April post, saying that there was ‘an elephant in the room’… Looks like the ‘elephant’ flew right out of the door along with all the culled clothes a long, long time ago… 😀
Joking aside, I’m all for a slow and well thought purging: for some people a big closet purge in one sitting may be ideal, but for others like me the best course of action is a slow, steady work of downsizing, in order to achieve a workable wardrobe with all the clothes we really need, without ‘holes’ or missing pieces.
I had to chuckle at your comments about “the elephant in the room,” Maria. I think that some of those who made those types of comments are probably newer readers who haven’t watched my long-term journey. I am with you on the slow and well-thought out purging. That is what has worked best for me. If I let go of too much at once, I usually rush out to buy more, but the slow and steady downsizing has gradually led to a smaller and more cohesive wardrobe. I’m not “there” yet, but I’m in a much better place and I’m grateful for that!
Those are some seriously impressive numbers! You really have come quite a long way. Month to month I think it can be easy for readers to forget that, which may help to put the comments on your monthly purchase recaps in a better light. But those posts really only show a moment in time. It is posts like these that really showcase how well you’re progressing.
I keep lots of wardrobe numbers (probably not as many as you :)) so for those interested:
Tees, tanks: 9
Of the 7 items that I purchased and been wearing this year (a few purchases have been put away for fall), the average cost per wear is currently at $2.22.
You’re right that it’s the growth over time that matters most, Sara. Some months, I struggle, but over time I have improved and I’m proud of that. Thanks for sharing your wardrobe numbers. You are doing very well, including with your purchases this year. Your average cost per wear is very good and your wardrobe numbers are excellent. Good for you!
Look how far you’ve come! As Melissa said above, I think having the numbers laid out in front of you helps greatly in seeing the bad (like in your very first posts “The cold hard facts”) but especially the good. I’m really proud of you, because you’ve met so much difficulties along the road and yet here you are! Congratulation!
I just have one question : why 6 casual jackets? It seems a lot to me, maybe because I was raised with my mother motto aka “only two jackets : 1 warm 1 light, because you grow up way too fast to buy more” and it kind of stayed after that.
Anyway, I’m probably going to do a similar post in July, for my 6 months into the paring down/LIWI process, as long as a post with a graphic representing the reason why I discarded clothes and where they came from. I don’t know if you can do it since you discarded so much but I think it’d be interesting to know what percentage of your clothes were discarded because they were too big, too small, too dressy, etc, and what percentage came from consignment, that particular shop, this online store, etc.
Also, like Meli, I’m curious about how much of your current wardrobe was already in your previous wardrobe.
I appreciate your kind words, Cedrique. Yes, having the numbers laid out helped me to see how far I’ve come, even since earlier this year. So despite my over-buying in April, I’m still on track. Regarding the jackets, I know it’s probably too many and there is some redundancy there. I may pare down a bit, but I still love and wear 5 of the 6 casual jackets frequently. The sixth one is the wild card and that may go soon if I don’t start wearing it regularly. Your idea about where my discarded clothes came from and why I let them go (by percentages) sounds like a good idea for a future post, so I will add it to the list and write about that soon. Thanks!
Bravo, you’ve done a great job. Despite ups and downs (and we all have our owns) I’m sure you’re going to reach your goal.
I’ve also made a drastic (probably too drastic) “purge” of my wardrobe : I now have 96 items (1/3 : spring/ summer clothes ; 1/3 : fall/winter clothes and 1/3 : shoes, scarves, bags). I need a few more items but my aim is to remain close to 100.
Thanks for sharing your numbers, Isabelle, and thanks for your kind words. Congrats on your drastic wardrobe purge! I hope it’s not too drastic. It seems you have a good balance of items in your wardrobe. Sticking close to 100 items sounds like a good plan. I wish I never would have accumulated so much in the first place, but hindsight is always 20/20.
Hi Debbie, I had a sort of epiphany about your blog last night. This thought applies to your blog in general, not today’s post. Your entire blog is about shopping less and instead, having what you consider a “full life”, which I totally get. But then I began thinking about your “clothing” as a separate entity from your shopping habit. It is obviously not the clothing that is the enemy but your need/desire to shop to fill a hole in your life I think? So, for instance, if somehow you inherited a closetful of gorgeous, perfect clothing from someone (just theoretically) I have a feeling you would still be discussing, organizing, thinking about , etc. etc. your clothing. Not sure what is the culprit, the shopping, the clothing, or what. I guess what I am saying is, if somehow, you knew you had the perfect wardrobe for you, would you still be talking about clothes and shopping so much? I am guessing yes. It is not the clothing per se that is the problem but the act of thinking about the clothing, organizing and reorganizing, etc. that is the problem, I am guessing. I love reading your blog, but just wanted to share my thought. Thanks.
Sherri–I have a small wardrobe: 7 pants, 1 skirt, 12 shirts, 7 polos, 8 camis, 6 tees, 4 shoes, 1 bag, 3 coats, 4 cardis, 2 sweatshirt jkts. and am happy with it. I love rearranging, planning, reading about wardrobes. I don’t consider it a problem, just an interest. The blog Debbie has created is so interesting and enlightening–the clothes part and the psychology part.
I had a similar epiphany, but not about this blog. It was about me and I was wondering, considering. Yet like Helen, it’s an interest, not an obsession, just a passion. Also, although my wardrobe is now down-sized, my closet still needs tending because there is no such thing as hitting the mark and being done. For me it’s more like diet and exercise, I need to stay the course. Otherwise I might fall asleep, forget to continue down-sizing, and never reach my goal.
Debbie, what great progress you are making. And it’s not taking you near as long as it took me. In fact I’m still chipping away at it because my goal for myself is to have everything fit into a closet about the size of Mikes armoire. Or like Mette’s closet. I agree, having everything in one place and being able to grab “cool” or “warm” weather clothes at a moments notice makes it so much easier to get dressed in our temperate California coastal climate.
I can identify with that, Terra, for me part of the reason I want a well-functioning wardrobe is that I don’t want to spend very much time thinking about clothes. (Not that I want getting dressed to be brainless, exactly; I think it can be a creative activity and I relish that — but I do want dressing and especially shopping to be more frictionless.) But in order to figure out what makes a well-functioning wardrobe and how to get there, you have to spend a lot of time thinking about clothes! This is probably especially a temptation for those of us who have an analytical mindset.
Kali at The Nife en l’Air has written several times, and very eloquently, about the paradox of how the effort to consume less can just wind up focusing more of one’s mental energy on material things.
But, addressing Sherri’s comment that started this thread, I think it’s easy for blog readers to fall into the fallacy of assuming that a blogger is unhealthily obsessed with the topic that they write about. Would we say of a municipal reporter, “Man she is obSESSed with city council procedure!” No, we understand that city council procedure is that reporter’s beat, in the same way that wardrobe management and similar topics constitute Debbie’s beat. Just because it’s most of what she writes about doesn’t mean it’s the only thing she thinks about. That said, I think that Debbie has acknowledged that clothes/shopping do tend to take up more mental energy than she would prefer, and that is what drives her “full life” posts, which I think are great.
Debbie, it is clear from this post how very far you have come! It’s amazing to read not just about the size of your wardrobe but how at peace with it you are. So much for a high closet set point!
Well said Sara, beautifully worded. Thank you.
I’m really impressed with the numbers. And I really enjoy Debbie’s thoughtful analysis of her wardrobe, and appreciate her frankness in sharing. I agree with Sara about wardrobe management is Debbie’s beat – she’s also advised other people in the past on it and written two excellent books. So I think it’s expertise and interest at play here.
I am identifying with what both Melissa and Terra are saying about its not the number of garments one has, as it is the interest (not obsession) in thinking about them as a form of self expression which is an outer manifestation of the inner process of constant personal evolvement. And I do consider this activity to be separate from shopaholic behavior.
At the start of every season is when I find myself paying more attention to analyzing my wardrobe. Once the season is in full swing, I just wear the clothes. Some days I may like a garment, other days not so much. (We are now moving into late spring and the temps are yo-yoing unpredictably as is typical. So for me its a lot about the temp and humidity level here on a given day.) At the end of this season, I will know what worked and what didn’t–and I will separate those pieces off to be prepped for consignment in the next spring/summer season.
Also at the start of this season, I look at what I wore a year ago and ask myself, “do I still like this?” If not, it goes to consignment or St. Vincent De Paul.
Once I’m done with this process, there are gaps to fill–and that’s the fun part, figuring out what’s new in color/style that will fill a need and play well with the rest of the garments. While I appreciate the tried and true workhorse pieces, I get bored easily and want to dip my toe into trying new things.
What’s funny is, through all the shifting around of garments, I always end up with the same (within 2-3 garments) total number at the end of the day! So I guess I’ve hit my sweet spot.
Deby, I am the same way. Usually in April /May and again in September/October, I spend time with my wardrobe, thinking and analyzing and doing what you said, and the planning is fun, and then once the warm or cool weather season is in full swing, I just wear the clothes. Also certain times of the year my workload is crazy busy and I don’t have time to think. I want to have my wardrobe ready so that I can get dressed quickly and know the outfit works well for me.
And yes to what Sara said. “In order to figure out what makes a well-functioning wardrobe and how to get there, you have to spend a lot of time thinking about clothes.”
I’ve often thought Debbie’s life would be more fulfilling if only she’d stop counting and analysing her clothes but it’s clearly not that simple! If it were I guess she would have realised it by now.
I obsess about clothes less when I have more to do. It’s one of those things like housework where it takes up the time you allow it to. I used to obsess over cleaning. I went full-on Flylady mode until I realised there was more to life than cleaning the skirting. Now I aim for balance.
I agree with you Saltbox, to an extent. As someone who does have a lot to do in daily life that does not involve thinking about clothes most of the time, I can see where Debbie’s counting and analyzing can seem to take away from other things she might find more fulfilling.
But on the flip side, maybe all this counting and analysis is precisely what Debbie finds fulfilling! There is an element of wanting to establish a sort of orderly matrix that Debbie enjoys. I never fail to be awed by the sheer detail of her wardrobe updates, with photos, commentary, and numbers.
Debbie, could it be that you don’t want to admit that you really enjoy this activity as part of your definition of a fulfilling life because perhaps you think it is too solitary? Perhaps you think that the definition of fulfillment is you are “supposed” to go out into the community and interacting with people–in other words, perhaps this plays into the concept of FOMO.
As someone who has always had a clear idea of what I found fulfilling in life (and it has shifted with changing life circumstances), I’ve been waiting for months with anticipation to learn what activities were going to define fulfillment for you! I was happy when you admitted you found photography. It wasn’t until today when I read Saltbox’s comment that it suddenly occurred to me that THIS, what you do HERE, is an important element of what defines a fulfilling life for you. If you weren’t fulfilled by this blog and your analysis, you wouldn’t do it. You would have found something else to fulfill you.
This thread has made me think; all very interesting points. I don’t think Debbie thinks about clothes as much as she knows she wants to make room in her life and closet so yes, she needs to devote a certain amount of time to that project. I for one feel my clothes are one of my creative outlets to say something to the world about myself. I actually think about my wardrobe more now than in the past but I have ended up shopping much less because instead of grabbing new items that don’t fit “me” I think very carefully and sort of study what I have already to get a clear idea of what I need and/or desire to add. I’m having a hard time wording it correctly but the more I practice the better skilled I am at picking out clothes/accessories. And it doesn’t take that much time to develop these skills, I would say I think about it in the mornings when I am getting dressed for less than 15 min and then if I identify something I want to get then I would check online for that item to see what’s out there, and if not online then make a plan to go to one of a few stores that I like to look around. Actually sometimes I get a little frustrated because I am picky now and come home empty handed a lot. Obsession is a lot different from caring about something, and a wardrobe like others have said is never complete and then you don’t have to think about it. It is much like food, a daily necessity and you can get as much variety as you want to or just get by with the basics its up to you.
Exactly Deby! I totally agree. I feel bad sometimes about the amount of time I soend ruminating on clothes and skincare, blogs about clothes and skincare and shopping for clothes and skincare until one day my husband said ‘well, it’s your hobby!’ Since he put it like that I don’t feel so bad and nor should Debbie!
There was a thread here a few weeks ago where we identified clothing as a hobby, and for the first time ever I claimed it. Thank you for reminding me Saltbox! I’m the granddaughter of a seamstress who was an outstanding designer, and I have her passion and high interest.
Terra, my grandmother was a seamstress too! I never had a piece of “store bought” clothing, except for underwear and socks, until I was 12. I was so envious of the kids who had clothing from the department stores! My childhood was filled with days playing with colorful scraps of fabric and being taught to sew by hand, including embroidery.
There is a lot of interesting and thought-provoking discussion going on in this thread. I will try to address the main points here. First of all, I think some people think I spend more time on clothing tracking activities than I actually do. It’s really just a few minutes a day, as my system is in place and is easy to do. When I write the blog posts, that is time-consuming, but that is part of having this blog, which is fulfilling to me, especially because I know it helps other people.
I do enjoy clothing as a hobby, but I don’t spend nearly as much time on it as I used to even a year ago. I now prefer spending more time on other things, such as my new photography hobby. And the time I spend now, for the most part, is more productive time than I used to spend on it. I agree with those who wrote that it can take MORE time when one is buying less and working to cultivate a workable wardrobe. I used to buy, buy, buy, and I didn’t put much thought at all into what I bought. Now I consider my purchases much more and spend more time making sure that what I buy will fit into my wardrobe at large.
I liked the comment about how a reporter working a specific topic doesn’t only spend his or her time on that topics but is known for it. That is true for me at this point, although I used to spend the bulk of my time and energy on shopping and clothes. I still like to write about those topics, but mostly because I have developed an audience who cares what I have to say, many of whom have told me that they benefit from my posts. At some point, I see myself not wanting to write about these issues anymore, but I don’t see that happening for at least a while. I still enjoy writing the posts and interacting with everyone here, plus I feel that I have more work to do on my recovery. So I will continue to document my journey here. Some of those posts will be very wardrobe and numbers centered, but I see more “full life” posts coming into the mix, as that has become a bigger part of my focus as of late. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having clothing and style as a hobby and I’m sure it will always be one of mine. But I hope to have it be just one of a group of 5 or more pastimes that I enjoy . One step at a time…
I think clothing is a fine hobby. My great aunt, the sister of my seamstress grandmother, was an accomplished seamstress as well, who designed and created her own lovely clothes. She worked as a bank teller, and her wardrobe was her hobby. I spent many wonderful hours with her as she analyzed her clothing, taught me her design theories, and educated me on how to dress with taste. She was very particular about color, loathing anything too garish or overly embellished.
My numbers are down slightly from when I did a count at the start of LIWI. My out and about clothing is 66-was 67. Lounge/workout is the same. Accessories/footwear is down to 15 from 20. My jewelry is down to 38 from 42. So my overall numbers are 154 down from 165. I know that I’m using everything so I’d say I’m right about where I want to be. I don’t really have a specific number that I want to be at or a set number of times that I want to wear everything. My main goal is to keep the shopping to a reasonable level, to use what I buy, and to not be wasteful.
You’ve done a good job paring things down from when you started. I think that you’ll know when things feel right to you.
Thank you for sharing your numbers, Tonya. I’m very impressed at how lean your wardrobe is these days, especially because I know you had a very packed closet not too long ago. How great that you feel your wardrobe is now the right size for you! I think you’re right that I will know when I have reached my own wardrobe “sweet spot.” I am not there yet, but I’m going to keep going with LIWI and I trust I will be in a place similar to where you are before too long.
Here are my numbers. My main problem is finding something I like and buying it in a few colours.
Tee shirts long and short sleeved – all plain 13
Camisoles 9 – I never wear! I buy them to go under cardigans but never wear that style.
Cardigans 14 – I have 3 of the same long one and 3 the same v necks.
Shrugs 3 – 2 same style
Pants 12 – 2 same style, 4 jeans
Dresses 6 – 4 ‘going out’ 2 casual
Coats 3 -1 gilet
Jackets 2 – 1 blazer 1 smart
Shoes 14 – none of which spark joy!
My wardrobe is very plain, a few stripes and spots and that’s it. It’s mainly navy, grey, cobalt and a splash of fuchsia and emerald green.
I’m bored with it all 😦
I had a lot less at the beginning of the year and made myself get more things to flesh it out.
Your wardrobe numbers look good, Saltbox, but I was sad to read that you feel bored with it all. Perhaps it’s just a phase, as I feel that way at times, too. Like you, I have had a tendency to buy the same style in different colors, which I think can contribute to those feelings of boredom. Sometimes a few very strategic purchases can break up the monotony, but it can be hard to plan what those should be. It seems you are in a building phase with your wardrobe and it’s good that you are proceeding slowly. Hopefully, your feelings of boredom will dissipate with time as you work to build a wardrobe that you love and that works for your life.
Thanks for your encouragement Debbie, I think a few prints under those plain cardigans might help. After a shopping hiatus of course!
Great job Debbie! Since I have more going on now – I am in school part-time and do projects around the house – I surf Ebay less I but still think about clothes. I have separated my clothes into two categories nice/casual for school and for running errands and rugged/work clothes which includes carpenter pants and flannel shirts for at home to throw on over long underwear. (Of course, it is cool now if not cold where I live – at least in the morning. I tried wearing jeans and cashmere sweaters for just being around the house but I was still cold.)
Last fall, I figured out that everything I had didn’t suit the impression I wanted to make or was worn out, didn’t go together, etc. I decided to try the 5 piece French wardrobe rules approach and I have to say that it is working out pretty well for my leaving the house wardrobe. I bought 3 new pairs of pants/jeans from Nordstrom Rack online, added a new sweater – a blanket style cardigan from Anthropologie and kept one long camel cashmere cardigan – vintage from Etsy from a few years ago, and added several dark gray jersey tops from Old Navy online. For shoes, I bought a pair of used suede Ecco booties from Ebay. With my existing scarves and necklaces, I could vary the look slightly. I already had dark denim skinny jeans to wear, an olive green velvet jacket from Chicos, and a gray heathered wool-blend moto jacket from Ann Taylor Loft. I also had a long gray jersey tunic from Lori Goldstein from QVC that I added to the mix.
Since everything is in the same tones of dark gray/olive/dark brown – except for the camel cardigan – everything is very easy to mix and match. I payed full price for the blanket sweater from Anthropologie but I have worn it at least twice a week since last fall.
Thanks so much for sharing your process with us, Maggie. I love that you’re doing the 5-piece French Wardrobe approach and that it’s working out so well for you. It goes to show that we really don’t need a lot of new things in order to enliven our wardrobes. You seem to have made some great strategic purchases that have served you really well. It all seems very cohesive and workable. Good for you for turning things around in such a positive way!
Thanks Debbie. I forgot to mention that I have a burgundy blouse with a very small print that I bought from LOFT last fall to add to the mix. Two months ago, I bought a watercolor printed tunic in shades of taupe/gray/brown from LOGO by Lori on QVC to add to my wardrobe since it was too hot to wear scarves at school to break up the palette a little.
Last month, I bought a beaded necklace on sale at Chicos to go with my items.
I think “Does this say what I want it to say?” and “Will I wear it in 5 years?” I saw a picture by the blogger Helen of Valley of the shoes wearing an unusual sweater and printed skinny jeans and that defined the look I was going for – sort of a artsy look in sporty fabrics. I had created a Pinterest board and I definitely favored darker colors and mixing textures and shapes. (I would wear all black and dark gray but I have a light-colored dog that sheds like crazy.) I love prints but if I buy them in a top, I usually end up covering them up because I am cold.
I will say that once you get your basic capsule down, adding new items takes longer because you want new things to work with all of the old and you get stricter in your requirements.
I might add a burgundy or purple cascade cardigan to the mix this fall. I am trying to keep purchases to one item a month since other things are a greater spending priority.
Sounds like you have a very cohesive wardrobe and a good future plan, Maggie. I like the two questions you ask yourself when shopping. I think a lot of us could avoid purchasing mistakes by answering those very questions.
Wow, Debbie, you have really come a long way!
I have about 100 items for out and about wear – that’s probably about right for me. However, it may go up a bit because I have discovered some wardrobe holes now that we have springlike weather. Some of the things I have are sentimental, but rarely worn. I guess an item can “spark joy” without being worn a lot!
I agree, Murphy, that things can “spark joy” without being worn a lot. There is room for sentimental pieces in our closets so long as we have other pieces that we DO wear a lot and that we love. I think 100 items is probably a good number for me, too, but I’m going to play it by ear and see how things go with LIWI. You seem to be doing well, so congrats to you!
I forgot to add that seeing your husband’s totals is interesting. I always feel like I would like to find the female version of my son’s wardrobe. He always looks nice and has variety, but he manages that with fewer items than me!
I’m glad you liked seeing my husband’s totals as well, Murphy. I thought it would be fun to add them. Actually, seeing how my husband is with his clothes has helped me a lot. As one example, he wears the same 3 pairs of jeans all the time and yet I kept thinking I needed more jeans. I really didn’t… Men are often good examples that we can get dressed well with less. My husband only used to have too many clothes because I bought them for him!
I have not tried this method, but seem to have an easier time getting rid of ‘almosts’ these days for whatever reason. Something in me has a sense of enoughness vs. the scarcity mentality. Perfectly serviceable is no longer a reason to keep an item.
I happened to get in and count my stuff just this week and my most recent post has the numbers. I was surprised to be at exact Project 333 numbers.
Truth be told, there are half a dozen more items I could cull, and I may soon. For now I am comfortable holding on a bit longer, and I have the room.
As for the side discussion on ‘over’ interest in clothing and wardrobe management, I think we know in our hearts if spending time with something adds to our life or detracts from it. Looking from the outside in, we can’t possibly know what is in someone else’s head or heart. I also blog about clothing. Buying it, organizing it, etc. I don’t feel it’s too strong an interest in my life, but someone reading may not know running and wine are just as strong an interest, maybe stronger. I just don’t share that part. That’s all. 😉
Keep at it Debbie, you’re doing great!
Good to see you commenting here, Mo. I haven’t read your most recent post yet (am behind on my blog reading!), but I look forward to it. I think it’s great that you don’t keep things just because they are “perfectly serviceable.” Like you, I probably still have a dozen or so items that I could still cull, which is part of why I said I will likely do the KonMari process again later in the year. Sometimes our downsizing happens in layers… Your second paragraph above was very well-written and echoes my sentiments on the topic. I don’t think my interest in clothing is too strong anymore, although it used to be. I am happy to be spending more time and energy on other things these days, but I will probably never blog about all of them. I share a lot here, but not my entire life…
I acknowledge out loud for the first time that I think scarcity is an issue for me.
It had never occurred to me before but clearly I buy to avoid being without.
Hmm. With that in mind I’m going to stop buying and just sit with how that feels. I’ll keep you updated Debbie. Thanks to your blog and the comments I’m really unravelling some stuff today!
Congrats on making this acknowledgement, Saltbox. Admitting an issue is a powerful first step toward change. I also have an issue with scarcity, which is part of why I’ve been taking my time to downsize. I look forward to reading about how it feels for you not to buy. I’m glad my blog and the comments have helped you to get in touch with issues you have and I wish you the best on making changes and experiencing continued growth.
Well that didn’t work! I just ordered two dresses and three tops! I’ve just discovered dresses and I really like how they feel and look on me so I’ve been buying them when I see them as its so rare that they fit nicely.
The tops are one stripey, one blouse and one navy tee. All great quality.
There’s no hope for me is there? 🙂 I promise to throw out some things that don’t spark joy.
There is ALWAYS hope for you, Saltbox! Some of us have to do our wardrobe purging more gradually because getting rid of too much at once can lead us to feel a sense of scarcity and a desire to shop. Also, when we are refining our personal style, it’s normal to buy more new pieces. You see that I’ve been doing that, too. Just keep taking things one day at a time and refine as needed. You will get to where you want to be, even if it’s two steps forward and one step back sometimes.
Thank you for your wise input! I tend to be an all or nothing type person which isn’t really helping me in this instance so I’ll cut myself some slack. 🙂
“Enoughness vs. the scarcity mentality. Perfectly serviceable is no longer a reason to keep an item. “Thank you Mo! This is what I need to hear. And thank you Debbie for the hard work you put forth to keep us all reading, thinking and gathering.
I echo your thanks to Mo for that insight, Terra. I think I may need to look at some of the items in my closet and let go of those “perfectly serviceable” items that don’t really “spark joy.” Some things are there as “placeholders,” but maybe they can just go… Thank you for acknowledging the hard work I put into this blog!
I am noticing a similar shift for myself. I am coming to a place where I no longer feel like I need to pad my wardrobe with items I like in some way and wear occasionally. The pieces I reach for over and over are enough.
It’s funny how using seasonal capsules that artificially reduce the number of items in my wardrobe at a given time has helped me overcome that scarcity mentality and reduce the number of items even more. But when I only have five shirts hanging in the “active” area of my closet and still find that there’s one I never reach for…well, it just forces me to be honest about that shirt’s role in my wardrobe, I guess.
I do find that it’s really not about numbers for me. Much as I enjoy reading about other people’s wardrobe numbers and structure, if I let myself get wrapped up in “I have more items than that, should I have a goal of X number of items, can I challenge myself to get rid of Y items,” and so on, it creates some anxiety. On the other hand if I can say to myself, “I don’t need *that* item,” and release it without reference to how many items in such-and-such category that leaves me, that can be a great feeling!
I appreciate your insights, Sarah. I liked reading about your experience with the seasonal capsules. When I did Project 333, I realized that I didn’t need as much as I thought I did, especially since there were STILL items that I didn’t reach for even with a much smaller selection to choose from. Your perspective on numbers was very useful. I agree that “shoulds” around wardrobe size can create anxiety. I don’t think there is a right wardrobe size for everyone, but I agree with you that taking things item by item can help us create more peace with our closets.
Just got back from a few days away (and incidentally what I packed worked out perfectly, I am getting better at this!)…. so a bit late to the discussion. However I thought Sarah’s remark that ‘how using seasonal capsules that artificially reduce the number of items in my wardrobe at a given time has helped me overcome that scarcity mentality’ really hit the nail on the head for me. For the last year I have focused on one season at a time (of four), this makes managing the wardrobe simpler, but it also means I don’t worry about not having enough – there is 3/4 (actually a lot more in my case) hanging unworn. I think I will always need a group of ‘pending’ possible garments. I am assuming that by the time the season rolls round again last year’s capsule will seem reasonably fresh, and form the basis of the next 5-peice french wardrobe – we shall see!
I’m glad you were able to weigh in, Alice, even if it’s a bit later. I keep these threads open for two weeks so that anyone who wants to respond has a chance (would keep them open indefinitely, but spam is a big problem…). I’m glad the seasonal capsule idea is helping you, too. I hadn’t really thought of the perspective that you and Sarah offered, but it actually makes good sense.
Now I wish I had counted everything a year or two ago so I could compare numbers. I’ve been measuring progress by the growing amount of space. I used to have clothes stuffed into three closets – filled so tightly I could barely push things in or pull them out. Now my clothes hang loosely in one-half of a single (walk-in) closet. Much better for the garments and for me!
Sounds like you’ve made some excellent progress, Katrina! Even without doing the math, you know that you are in a much better wardrobe situation now. Going from 3 stuffed closets to one loosely packed half closet is something to be proud of for sure.
I will say that this whole “scarcity” mentality can really feed the desire to shop and hinder letting things go. I have to tell myself “I have enough” to offset the urge to buy and the urge to hang onto things. I read an article about the scarcity mindset last year and actually read the book “Scarcity.” It was very interesting.
Since I grew up with a very slim body and a small frame in a family of gorgeous women who were either curvier or taller than I was, I definitely had body issues. Lack of money was a whole other issue. So, later in life, dressing well meant I respected myself and my body and you had to really hunt for petite clothes and even then, the pants didn’t come small enough to fit me. I dress the best of all of them – not the most expensive mind you – because I take the time to choose clothes that fit me and that I feel comfortable wearing and that does take some time and effort.
Maggie, thank you for what you shared, and for your insight. I’ve been searching deep, working through my scarcity mentality and how it plays out only in my closet, and does not surface in any other area. As a child my family was not wealthy, yet we never lacked. Like you, I grew up in a slim body and a small frame and petite in a family of gorgeous women who were much taller than I am. And like Deby my grandmother was an outstanding seamstress. As a child all of my mother’s clothes were hand made and like Deby she never had “store bought” clothing and was envious of the kids who did. But since I was so small (and still am) nothing off the rack fit me. As a teenager my grandmother would sit down with me and we’d look through Seventeen Magazine, and my grandma would alter patterns, help me pick fabrics and colors and she custom designed my clothing. It was perfect, and I was happy. But as an adult (even with a good tailor) it’s near impossible to find my size. So in the past if I found something that was a great fit I would buy two or three, when I only needed one. But of course I seldom use all of back ups, it was just a security blanket. By the time the first wears out I am bored with the item. I’m working to break the pattern. In the past it wasted money and caused me to have a wardrobe that was way too big. My closet is now in good place, on the small side, it perfectly suits my needs and I love what I have. Slowly I’m continuing to down-size, asking myself of each back up piece that still remains—do I want to keep it? Slowly I’m letting go, and it is beginning to feel pretty good.
I like this discussion on the scarcity mentality and I’m interested in reading the book that Maggie mentioned. I have had issues with scarcity in my wardrobe, too. I am also hard to fit because I am so tall that I have frequently bought “multiples” too when I found things that fit. That has often led to a wardrobe of things that were too similar to each other. Then I would be bored with my wardrobe and buy MORE things, leading to a packed closet full of things I wasn’t really excited about. Now I’m working to turn that around, but it’s taking a while and I still struggle with worrying that I don’t have enough. I’m trying to sit with the fears of not enough for awhile instead of rushing out to try to fill my closet. It’s not comfortable, but doing what I used to do didn’t work, either.
I wouldn’t describe my feelings about having a small wardrobe as a scarcity mindset. I appreciate and marvel at my friends who can live happily with a very small wardrobe. For me, it’s always been about a desire for variety, especially with color choices. I simply haven’t been able to achieve the variety I crave with a really small wardrobe. The idea of wearing the same garment more than once a week ( except for shoes and bags) sends me into boredom and a touch of depression (oh, you’re wearing THAT again?– you just wore it the other day….) with then becomes dissatisfaction with my appearance. I think I have managed to achieve a happy balance by having about 160 garments for the whole year. I don’t count shoes and accessories as part of this number. This is down from about 600 garments from 2 years ago, so I believe I have made progress!
Deby, I agree with you. For me having a small wardrobe is also not a scarcity mindset. Back when I had a BIG wardrobe, padded with lots of options, multiples and back up pieces resulted from my scarcity mindset rooted in some sort of (silly) fear of running out of clothes. I also marvel at those who can live happily and be well-dressed with a small wardrobe. I have friends in NYC with tiny closets and small wardrobes, and they are extremely well dressed, and this is my goal.
Wow! That certainly is good progress!
That’s interesting – like you I really love colour, and re-mixing new colour combinations. I’m just getting towards the end of my first year working through 4 seasonal capsules. They ended up with about 45 garments in each, but with a few repeats. So although I’m not setting a numbers target, I have a feeling that around 160/180 garments would be fine for me, too (down from around 275, not counting lounge/sportswear). Seems we arrived at about the same figure!
I share your love of color, Deby, and don’t know if I will ever be able to have a really small wardrobe, either. I don’t have a particular number in mind, but I may be there or close to it now. It may just be the particular items that need to be moved in and out more than the number itself. You have done amazingly well in downsizing your wardrobe and you seem to have arrived at your happy place in terms of wardrobe size. 160 garments for the whole year in a 4-season climate seems like a good number. There is no one right number for everyone, only the right number for our individual situations – and that can change over time.
I lead two very distinct lives, one as a caregiver/advocate for my sick husband, and the other one my office persona. There is very little overlap between the two wardrobes. I dress every day and about half of my days require more than one outfit. As I live in an area which is very cold in winter and hot in summer, I have distinct seasonal needs.
So how I’ve approached this is to divide my wardrobe into thirds (1/3 summer, 1/3 spring/fall, 1/3 winter) and sectioned out my two lives. I try to have a very small seasonal capsule for work (15-18 items total) and then focus more on my smart casual wardrobe for the rest of my live. When I started my overhaul/organization project I probably had over 500 articles of clothing, many rarely worn, spanning three sizes and filling three closets. I have sold, trashed and donated a massive amount of stuff over the past year and half (and thanks Debbie for all the great blog posts along the way!)
Somewhere along the way I settled on a goal of 150 articles of clothing for wearing out of the house. This does not include workout attire, pj’s, underwear, etc. Nor does it include shoes or accessories. I’m not overloaded in those areas, but I do plan to count those at some point and figure out what a good number is for me and my life.
But back to what I am counting. 🙂 I did an inventory earlier this week and here’s where I am, for all three seasons and both aspects of my life:
Sleeveless Tops, Tanks & Camis: 20
Short-Sleeved Tee shirts: 15
Long-Sleeved Tee shirts: 15
Sweaters & Tunics 9
Work Tops : 25
Pants and Capris: 31
That’s 151! I almost can’t believe it. But then I can, because it all fits in one closet (though the coats are kept elsewhere) and dresser, with plenty of room to spare. I am sure I will tweak this somewhat in the year ahead, but for my life right now this works. And yes, I do consider the tracking and organization of my wardrobe as a hobby and a diversion from some other aspects of my life.
Thanks for sharing your inventory, Holly, as well as your thoughts about your wardrobe needs. Congrats on meeting your goal! It sounds like you have a workable wardrobe for your unique life and I applaud you for your great progress. I’m glad my blog has been helpful for you with your journey.
Lots of stripes! I have a weakness for polka dots, and just bought a B&W polka dot tie blouse. I only have a few polka dots in my wardrobe because I think having only 1 or two items makes them more special. I like stripes too but only have a suit with a faint red chalk stripe. I can’t decide if I don’t have any other striped clothing because they wouldn’t work as well in my current wardrobe or because I’m cheap. Probably both….
You closet looks very neat and your clothes look very accessible – just about everything in a single view. Good job.
Yes, I love my stripes, Dottie 🙂 I’m happy that everything fits into one closet now and things aren’t packed to the gills any longer. I used to have 3 closets at one time, so I definitely have made some great progress over the years!
Hello there! It feels strange to be weighing in. I feel like I know many of you already from your posts, but I wasn’t comfortable entering the fray until I had read all the (comments closed) posts through which I was wading… The recent comments about scarcity and enoughness really resonate with me; my focus word for 2014 was “enough” to remind me that He is enough for me, and that I am enough–just the way I am. Not that there isn’t room for growth and improvement, but that I am not waiting for something or someone else to complete me. After more than 20 years as a military wife, there was a natural 3 year purge cycle for everything in our household (no Marie Kondo necessary), but since my husband retired from the military (and we have lived in the same house for more than 8 years… gasp!), the regular clean out has been more challenging.
Debbie, I want to thank you so much for your posts. Your honesty, and earnestness keep me reading. I have been blessed by your sharing of your journey. I don’t think I am a shopaholic myself, but I definely have style as a passion, and any passion can easily get out of hand! Especially shoes and accessories!
My life is in a state of transition. Correction: always, but an especially challenging transition currently. That, combined with my ruminations on “enough” last year prompted me to my own closet/fashion/life challenge. November 1st, I took on Jill Chivers’ “Year Without Clothes Shopping”, and combined it with my own variation of Project 333. My goal at the end of my year, is to get rid of anything (save a small special occasion-wear capsule) that has not been included in my wardrobe throughout the year. For support, first I read through all of Jill Chivers’ amazing (gratis) material from her “Year Without,” and when that ran out, I started with your January 2013 posts, Debbie, and just kept going. It is amazing to see how far you have come in your journey! I am so thankful to you for sharing, and to your kind commenters.
My apologies for going on so long; I feel like I have much catching up to do!
Welcome, Liz, and thanks for sharing your story! I’m glad that my posts have been helpful to you. I love that you had the word “enough” as your focus word for last year (I’m wondering what this year’s word is). I’ve found that having a theme for the year has helped me to make progress in my life. My word for this year is “deliberate” and I still have a lot of work to do there. How great that you are doing Jill Chivers’ program! I did it myself before I started this blog. It’s a wonderful program, but I didn’t progress as much as I’d hoped because I didn’t commit to not shopping for a year (or even an alternate shorter goal that would have felt more workable for me). But it was what got me on the road to becoming a recovering shopaholic and starting this blog. I wish you the very best of luck with everything! Please keep us posted on how you’re doing.