On Wardrobe Turnover – How Old Are the Items in Your Closet?

I received a lot of great comments on my last two posts, my experience with using the “KonMari Method” in my closet and my follow-on closet inventory.  A few of those comments have sparked topics for new posts, including today’s entry.

Meli asked me how many of the current items in my closet were there when I did my first closet inventory back in January 2013.   Not only did I want to be able to respond to Meli’s question, I also was quite curious myself…   So I took the time to make note of the years in which I purchased all of my current “out and about” clothing and shoes.   My findings are included in this very numbers-laden post.   I will first share my numbers by wardrobe category and then will round it all up into some grand totals.

Wardrobe turnover

Do you know how long your clothes have been in your closet? 

By the Numbers… The Tops

Let’s look at my tops first.  I currently have 52 tops in my closet (excluding workout wear).   Here’s how they break out by year of purchase:

  • 2015:  6  (12%)
  • 2014:  8  (15%)
  • 2013:(15%)
  • 2012:(15%)
  • 2011:(8%)
  • 2010:(17%)
  • 2009: 6  (12%)
  • 2008:(4%)
  • 2007:(2%)

I have more tops from long ago than I thought.   While 42% of my tops are from 2013 forward (I started this blog in January 2013, so I’m using 2013 as a benchmark in this post), the remaining 58% were purchased in 2012 or earlier.  Later in this post, I will look at the items I have purged from my wardrobe thus far in 2015.  That will help to fill in the gaps a bit with the rest of the information I’m sharing here.

The Toppers

Now let’s see when my 36 toppers (coats, jackets, cardigans – includes workout/walking jackets) were purchased:

  • 2015:(11%)
  • 2014:  8  (22%)
  • 2013: (17%)
  • 2012:(11%)
  • 2011:(14%)
  • 2010:(8%)
  • 2009:(6%)
  • 2008:(6%)
  • 2007:(3%)
  • 2006:(3%)

I’d bet a lot of you wouldn’t have expected that I would still have items in my closet since 2007 or 2006.  I was actually kind of surprised myself.  Clearly, I have made some successful purchases through the years, but we know I’ve had a lot of mistakes, too, especially when I purchased resale items (see this post for more on that topic).

The Bottoms (Skirts and Pants)

I was going to write about skirts and pants separately, but decided to combine them because my total number there is only 20.  This includes jeans, other types of pants, and all skirts.  I will write about my dresses below.   Here’s how my bottom pieces shake out in terms of year of purchase:

  • 2015:(20% – 3 skirts, 1 pair of jeans)
  • 2014:(25% – 2 skirts, 1 pair of pants, 2 pairs of jeans)
  • 2013:(25% – 3 skirts, 1 pair of pants, 1 pair of jeans)
  • 2012:(5% – skirt)
  • 2011: 0
  • 2010: 2  (10% – 1 pair of pants, 1 pair of jeans)
  • 2009: 0
  • 2008:(10% – 1 skirt, 1 pair of pants)
  • 2007:(5% – 1 pair of jeans)

You can see that most of my bottom pieces are more recent.   Fully 70% of them were purchased in 2013 or later.  I have really been making an effort to modernize this section of my wardrobe and I think it has made a difference in my style.  I expect that I will soon replace the other older items as well.  For years, I didn’t focus enough attention on buying bottoms, especially pants, because it is difficult for me.   But I’m glad I have made more of an effort in recent years, as I have seen the benefits.   I still have some work to do here, but I’m in a much better place.

The Dresses

I currently own 10 dresses. Here’s when they were purchased:

  • 2015: 2  (20%)
  • 2014:  1  (10%)
  • 2013: 3  (30%)
  • 2012: 0
  • 2011:  2  (20%)
  • 2010:  0
  • 2009: (10%)
  • 2008: 0
  • 2007: (10%)

So 60% of my dresses have been bought in the past 2.5 years.   Of those 6 dresses, 5 are maxi length and one is knee-length.   I feel I have enough maxi dresses and skirts now, so I don’t plan to purchase any more.  However, I am open to adding one or two additional dresses to my closet that are knee-length if I find styles that work well for my body, lifestyle, and personal style.  No rush, though…

The Shoes

Finally, let’s see when I purchased the 25 pairs of shoes that remain in my closet (athletic / at-home shoes not included):

  • 2015:(8%)
  • 2014:(20%)
  • 2013:  3  (12%)
  • 2012:(8%)
  • 2011:(20%)
  • 2010:(15%)
  • 2009:(8%)
  • 2008:(4%)
  • 2007:(4%)

You can see that there is a pretty even distribution there.  While 40% of my shoes were bought in 2013 or later, the other 60% came into my closet in 2012 or earlier.  But as you will see below, I have gotten rid of a number of shoes thus far in 2015.  In addition, I have at least a few pairs of shoes that need to be replaced and that will be an area of focus for me during the coming months.

The Overall Numbers

Before I get into what I got rid of this year, I want to round up the totals for everything that was discussed above.   Here are my total wardrobe numbers by year, encompassing “out and about” wear (and casual jackets) and shoes:

  • 2015: 18  (13%)
  • 2014: 27  (19%)
  • 2013: 25  (17%)
  • 2012: 15  (10%)
  • 2011: 16  (11%)
  • 2010: 18  (13%)
  • 2009: 11  (8%)
  • 2008:(5%)
  • 2007:(3%)
  • 2006:(<1%)

Roughly half (49%) of my wardrobe pieces were purchased in 2013 or later, 34% were bought during 2010 through 2012, and the remaining 17% were from 2009 or earlier.  Now that I see my numbers in black and white, I don’t think my wardrobe turnover is all that high percentage wise. However, because I still have a relatively large wardrobe, I do think I continue to buy too many things (some of you may be saying “Duh” to that comment). I also have gotten rid of quite a few relatively new items because they didn’t work out for me, as you will see below.

2015 Purged Items by Item Type

Now let’s take a look at the pieces that I have removed from my closet this year.  First, let’s see how many items of each type have been culled.  The figure in parentheses after each number is the percentage of the total culled items:

  • Tops: 24  (45%)
  • Toppers: 10  (19%)
  • Skirts:(11%)
  • Pants/Jeans:(8%)
  • Dresses:(4%)
  • Shoes:(13%)
  • TOTAL:  53

It’s no big surprise to me that I got rid of more tops and toppers than anything else, as I have the most pieces in those wardrobe categories.  I still probably have too many of those types of items (especially tops), but I’m in a much better place now than I was when I started the blog – or even earlier this year (see this post for the specifics).

2015 Purged Items by Year

But one thing that makes me sad is how many recent items have been culled from my closet this year.   Here are the numbers of purged pieces by year:

  • 2015:   4   (8%)
  • 2014: 15  (28%)
  • 2013: 13  (25%)
  • 2012:  3  (6%)
  • 2011:  4  (8%)
  • 2010:  6  (11%)
  • 2009:  3  (6%)
  • 2008:   6  (11%)

So 61% of the items I culled this year were purchased in 2013 or later.   One of the commenters on my last post was curious as to where my purged pieces came from.   I won’t break that all down here, but I will highlight a few points.  I have tended to make mistakes when buying things at resale stores or on sale, so I took a few minutes to see how many of my culled items from this year fit into those categories:

  • Sale Items:  18  (34%)
  • Resale Items:  8  (15%)

Luckily, resale is becoming less of a problem for me, as I haven’t been shopping in second-hand stores as of late.  However, clearly I still need to be very careful about buying things on sale. Most of the items I’ve purchased this year have not been on sale, but that’s still a problem area for me, as I’m sure it is for many of you as well.

Sales can be wonderful when they facilitate our buying pieces that are a good fit for our wardrobes and that we might not be able to afford otherwise.  But they can also be hazardous, as they can lead us to purchase things that are sub-standard or lacking because we may become bedazzled by low prices.   It’s always a good idea to shop with a list and only buy what’s on that list, even when we’re shopping at sales or second-hand stores.  That can really save us a lot of trouble, as can limiting our number of purchases. If we only allow ourselves to purchase a certain number of items, we’re much less likely to use one of those slots to buy something that is only almost good enough.

In Conclusion

I hope I didn’t lose some of you with all of the numbers and statistics!   I know it was a lot, but I derived some useful information through gathering the data and I hope you found this post interesting and helpful, too. I encourage you to take the time to look at when you purchased the items in your closet.  If you haven’t been tracking things as meticulously as I have, you may have to do a bit of guesswork, but that’s okay. These things don’t have to be exact in order to be helpful.

If you find that your wardrobe is going through a lot of turnover, you may want to take a few moments to ask yourself why.

  • Do you tend to buy things on sale a lot?
  • Do buy things that are not quite right just because the price is low?
  • Do you go for quantity over quality?

These are good things to consider when looking at your closet.   You may also want to consider if there are particular wardrobe categories, such as for me with tops, which go through a lot of turnover.   If so, what is it about this type of item that has you bring so many into and out of your closet?   For me with tops, it’s because they are easy for me to find and I have tended to purchase a lot of “multiples” when I really should have stuck with just one (or on rare occasions, two).   I also thought I needed so much variety in that wardrobe area that I didn’t hold my purchases to a very high standard.

Your Thoughts?

Now it’s time for you to chime in.  If you’ve taken the time to analyze your own wardrobe turnover, I’d love for you to share your findings here.  Even if you don’t have any specific numbers to report, it would be great to get your insights on the topic of wardrobe turnover.  And if you have any questions or comments for me on the information I shared above, I welcome that, too.

I will be back later this week with my “Grab Bag of Useful Links” for May (see previous installments here).   I also plan to share more of my photos (I’ve been taking photos almost every day… – see some examples here) and give you an update on how I’m doing with my theme for the year.   If you have any suggestions for topics for future posts, please include them in the comments section or contact me directly to let me know.  Some of my best posts are inspired by readers, so feel free to let me know what you’d like to see. I won’t promise to use all suggestions, but they will all be given consideration.

50 thoughts on “On Wardrobe Turnover – How Old Are the Items in Your Closet?

  1. This is great! I don’t have good enough records to break it down as well, but I have pretty much the opposite categories and ratios as you. I have a skirt that is easily over 20 years old, and some pants that are over 10. By contrast, most of my tops are under 3 years, with very few at the 5 year mark, and possibly none older than that (at least in my ‘out and about’ capsule). I may have demoted tops for lounge that are in the 10 year range. I think I find the ‘trendy’ in my tops.
    I will have to look into it a bit more deeply. I do know that some items I hold on to longer and that affects turnover – boots, outerwear. Tops seem to have a shorter lifespan in general.

    • I meant to add that I have a rough idea of an average 5 year turnover rate for my wardrobe. This is part of the limit of 30 new purchases if keeping 150 items in rotation. I am now down to about 132 items, so a 26 item per year purchase rate would yield a 5 year turnover if I purge at the same rate. This feels comfortably right to me. 20% of my closet would be new each year, roughly. 20% would be on it’s final year. This is at any given time.

    • I like your idea of having an average 5-year turnover rate for your wardrobe, Mo. That seems like a good way to plan purchases. Even though I have a lot of clothes that have been in my closet for more than 5 years, I still have MANY items that haven’t made it even close to that number of years. After all, I used to buy 150-200 items per year and even last year, I bought 53 items, which is still twice as much as I should buy given the size of my current wardrobe and a 5-year turnover. I think your targets would be good for me to aim for as well, as they sound both sound and moderate. That’s why you’re the Mo of MoDerate Wardrobe 🙂

  2. Dresses, pants, shoes and jackets are forever items for me. I rarely throw them out unless they have been worn out.

    Tops and cardigans come and go, tops get washed and worn often and fade, cardigans get out of shape or more likely get holes from the cat!

    I buy multiples of things and regularly purge the older stuff. Not sure anything in my wardrobe is over 8 years old. I buy classic items and avoid high fashion items like the plague.

    I was going to have a shopping hiatus but that actually induced a sense of panic and I went on a buying spree to avoid the feelings of scarcity. That was just plain silly. I will have to find a better way going forward.

    • I tend to hold on to dresses, pants, shoes, and jackets longer, too, Saltbox. I think it’s good that you tend to buy classic items, as they have more staying power. A few trendy pieces are fine, but if people buy too many high-fashion items, they are likely to have more wardrobe turnover . Of course, wardrobe turnover is a very individual thing and we all have to do what’s right for us. As for your shopping hiatus, I tend to overshop both before and after those things, too, which is why I don’t really do them anymore. I have found that for me, shopping more moderately has worked better than having times of shopping bans. I shopped too much in April, but didn’t say NO shopping for May. But I have done very little shopping this month. I think that if I would have done a ban, I would have either bought too much right before or right after the ban. Everyone’s mileage will vary, though, so you’ll have to determine what’s right for you, and that might entail trying different things.

  3. Now I’m curious: What is it that made you keep some pieces of clothing for so many years? Are your 2006 / 2007 / 2008 pieces of particularly amazing quality, fabric, or color? Is their style or the fit “just right”? Are they basics or statement pieces? Are they particularly easy to combine with the rest of your wardrobe and have been worn lots of times? Or, on the other hand, are they too precious to be worn regularly, and that’s why they’ve stayed nice for so long? Interesting questions for people like me trying to identify possible investment pieces.

    • I was wondering the same thing as sundaykind.

      What is it about your older pieces that you love? If you can identify those qualities, then I would say that these may be the qualities that you would want to prioritize for future purchases.

      I just completed the Konmari process with my wardrobe. I ended up with a VERY spare wardrobe, but one that I love, and I don’t feel an urge to go shopping to fill it back up right away (although I do plan to add some things). Some things that I learned from my own process:

      – Fabrics are very impoortant to me. No more polyester or rayon.
      – Most of my mistakes came from cheap/discount stores like Old Navy and TJ Maxx.
      – That said, I love my basic tees from Target and Uniqlo. However, I should plan on replacing the Target tees every year, because they fade quickly.

      My oldest pieces are my J Crew merino wool sweaters, purchased in 2009. It’s about time to replace them.

      I have noticed that the cut and fit of garments go through cycles of about 5 years, i.e. the cuts are modernized every 5 years or so. So I like to go shopping for replacements of old favorites every now and then, just to see if I need to update them with more modern versions.

    • These are excellent questions, sundaykind. I think they actually merit a follow-up post, which I will plan to do soon, perhaps next week.

      Bettina, it sounds like the Konmari Process was very helpful with your wardrobe. You have identified some clear patterns which will help to guide your future actions. I agree that garment cuts and fits tend to go through cycles of about 5 years. That’s part of why I think that Mo and Mette have the right idea with their 5-year wardrobe replacement cycles. Even those who tend to keep things longer will probably still want to bring some new things in to their closets periodically so that their wardrobes stay up-to-date.

      • Debbie, an excellent detailed post you have written, and I’m looking forward to your follow-up piece. In past I have also pretty much tended to go through cycles of about 5 years with the majority of my wardrobe, so when I did a count I was amazed to find a few items I’ve had for 8, 9, and 10 years (Bobeau and EF) made back in the day when they were both made in the US. I’ve kept them because the fabric and quality is outstanding, the fit is still great, the style is simple enough so as not to look dated. There rest of my wardrobe is made up of items from within the past 5 years, with the exception of 2013. Everything I bought in 2013 has already worn out, began to look shabby really fast, and I didn’t keep any of it. A question that keeps coming to mind is that since I’m now favoring simple styles with less detail and nothing trendy, and I love all of what I currently have–and much of it is already 3 years old, I’m wondering if I will want to begin keeping key pieces longer than 5 years, as long as they wear well. Who knows, but it will be interesting to find out.

      • I wonder if 2013 was a bad year for clothing, Terra, since a few people have mentioned having issues with items from around that time. I think it’s great that you have some pieces that are 8-10 years old. No reason why not if you still like the items and they are in good shape. I think that quality items can still be found, but it’s getting more difficult, even among some of the better brands. I hope you will be able to achieve your goal of keeping key pieces longer than 5 years. I definitely think it’s possible. I’m surprised that I have so many items from that long ago, but I had so many clothes for so long that most things just didn’t get worn all that often.

  4. Well done for doing this post. It must have taken you a really long time. I’m not put of by the statistics, but you know this :-). I’m with Mo on the 5-year rotation (reflected in my 5-year shopping calendar as well), and currently my closet looks like this:

    pieces/percentage (I have 100 total):
    2015: 13
    2014: 21
    2013: 23
    2012: 19
    2011: 12
    2010: 7
    2009: 2
    Older than 2008: 3
    I’m very happy about these numbers. I’ve purged several items bought during 2010-2013 that were hardly worn, but I haven’t purged any of my recent purchases and the lower number for 2014 is just because I bought less… This is a huge difference compared to three years ago, where I would meticulously go through every sales rack within reach. And yes, buy colours, cuts, materials, occasion wear etc, that just weren’t me. And I had way to much.

    • I knew you would appreciate my statistics, Mette, and I’m not surprised at all that you have chimed in with your numbers. I think you and Mo have the right idea with the 5-year rotation. I think the main reason I have older items in my closet is because I had SO much that things just didn’t get worn all that often. If I had fewer items, even my favorites from more than 5 years ago would likely be ready to move out by now. Your wardrobe size and turnover rate seem spot on. You have made amazing progress in a short period of time and are an inspiration for the rest of us!

  5. Very interesting figures, and I’m pleased to see you have some older pieces. Like Mo, I have some 10 and 20 year old items. I have records to be able to do a similar check back to about 2008, but no time to do it right now – hopefully in the summer I will do a full audit.

    A very quick check since start 2013 shows about 60 garments bought, which is about 25% of my current total. Ultimately I’d like to aim for about 20 max new per year (probably excluding accessories), about 5-10 year turnover. I like to keep things quite a while, some have happy memories!

    • I think it’s great that you, Mo, and others have 10-20 year-old pieces, Alice. I think that’s both a testament to making good choices and garment quality. I wonder, though, how many of the things we buy this year will be around 10 years from now, as garment quality has really plummeted. I like your idea of buying 20 items per year. I think that’s about what I’d like to get to for my out and about wardrobe (and maybe the same number or a bit less for my at-home wear). I still buy more than twice that, but I am moving in the right direction by decreasing my purchase amount each year since starting the blog.

  6. Thank you Debbie for doing this post! I really like seeing this in detail as you know. I think you’ve got a good thing going right now. I’m happy for you to see the numbers are pretty well distributed through the years and they make sense for a workable closet.

    I took a quick look at my inventory and tried to figure out my numbers quickly. I think the bulk of my stuff is new because I had a baby in 2012 (hello, new figure! I went from a 34C to a 32DDD/34DD and gained about 10 lbs), and because I entered the professional workforce in 2008. I’ll be 28 soon and have not been purchasing wisely for very long. I have some things from 2008, a little more from 2012, but the bulk is from 2013-present. The items that are the ‘newest’ are tops- which makes sense, since these are what I had no choice but to update based on the new bust size. The oldest items are dresses, which are more fluid and fit different shapes easier.

    • Thanks for giving me a post topic, Meli, and thanks for your kind words. I think you are doing great with your wardrobe. I didn’t realize that your bra size had changed so much after having a baby. I don’t have kids, as you know, but my bra size has changed with getting older, even though my weight is actually lower than it was 5 years or so ago. Some of my tops stopped working for me, too. Your wardrobe seems to be working very well for you these days and seems to be quite cohesive. I think the fact that you’ve got things together so well at 27 is wonderful. I’m just now figuring it all out at 48. Keep up the great work!

  7. I just had to chime in as you are all going to laugh at this. I have an astrakhan coat, which I recently had relined in fresh silk, which my great grandmother brought back from a trip to Russia in 1912!!! (My great grandfather was an English diplomat.) It has been worn and enjoyed by each of her direct female descendants since, down to me. Still in marvellous condition, not sure if I can help SundayKind but this ‘investment piece’ was of superlative quality to start with, is worn quite infrequently only in deep winter and for special occasions e.g. going out to the opera, is stored very carefully, it has been relined several times, and has been worn by women of the same genetic dimensions (I have a 23″ waist like my mother and granny and great granny) so it hasn’t had to be remodelled. Does that help with your search for useful investment piece criteria?!

    • I love the story behind this garment! Thanks for sharing! Your example is extreme of course, but the criteria that made it last are a) awesome quality to begin with, b) limited wears and c) great care. Interesting!

    • I love this story, too, Marguerite. Thank you for sharing it! Your coat sounds wonderful and I think it’s great that so many generations have been able to wear it (a 23″ waist is very rare these days!). It definitely sounds like an “investment piece” and I agree with sundaykind’s criteria assessment. How amazing that you are still wearing something from over 100 years ago. That’s the true definition of vintage!

  8. I think I have a dozen pieces from pre-2010. I wear these pieces often (curiously that they’re all winter items) and doubt I could repurchase anything like them without spending much more money. Also, most of this is from back when J.Crew actually had classic styles of clothing.

    Nothing in my closet is from 2010-early 2013. Interestingly I think this is when the recession hit the garment industry the hardest. In addition to these being my grad school years I think that the quality at every price was poorest during this time which can help explain why none of it lasted. So I’d guess 75% of my closet is new in the past two years, but a fair amount of that was replacing those poor quality (and cheap!) purchases.

    • Thanks for weighing in, Sara. Interesting what you wrote about the garments from 2010 through early 2013. I’m wondering if you think the quality of more recent items is back to the pre-2010 level. I’ve really been struggling myself with garment quality in recent years. Even some brands that I relied upon in the past haven’t been as good lately. I hope that this will turn around as customers demand better from retailers. It’s great that you have some pre-2010 garments that are still working well for you. Some of my older items continue to be favorites as well and I plan to hang on to them as long as I still like them and they’re in good condition.

      • That question is a great one for someone other than me. 🙂 I was in college when the recession hit and shop in different stores for the most part. J.Crew really isn’t my taste at the moment but my understanding from bloggers is a resounding “no” on the quality. But I continue to be a Banana Republic fan and I think that you’re once again able to find really great stuff in there.

        Maybe it’s time for an open post where you list a bunch of questions like these and let people give their thoughts in the comments?

      • That’s a good post idea, Sara. If anyone else is reading this and can think of some other questions to ask in a sort of “open post” format, please let me know. If I get a good list of questions (maybe 3-5), I will do this type of post very soon.

        Thanks for letting us know that Banana Republic is still a good place in terms of quality. I haven’t shopped there much in a while, but maybe I should give it another look now. After all, they DO carry talls…

  9. What a fun topic! I haven’t been tracking, but I might be able to estimate based on what I purchased when I was working vs. going to school vs. retired. I can tell without even looking at my closet that I have jeans from 1997, a raincoat from 1999, and shoes from 2001. Each is comfortable, fits well, and is perfect for its purpose, and I don’t intend to give any of them up!
    This is where many of the minimalism programs fall short of reality for me. I don’t wear some of my shoes every 6 months or even every year, so most closet cleaning rules would have me purge them. However, when I need them, I need them! My raincoat does not give me joy, as Marie Kondo would ask, but I’m not going to give it away and buy another one. I can’t make sense of that!
    Of course I also have my grandmother’s 1925 wedding dress and my mother’s 1950s swing coat in my closet, so I might have a skewed view of wardrobe aging. 😀

    • I appreciate your input, Katrina. I think your grandmother’s wedding dress and mother’s swing coat fall into a different category altogether, sentimental items. Most of us have at least a few of those things that we keep around. I agree with you that there are limitations to minimalism programs and closet cleaning programs. Sometimes there is a good reason to hold on to things we haven’t worn in 6 months to a year. The “sparks joy” criteria of Marie Kondo can be one of them, but even that has its limitations as you’ve seen with your raincoat. Not everything in my closet sparks joy, either, but those things that don’t serve a useful purpose and often serve as supporting players for those things that do make me happy when I wear them.

  10. I recently started entering my wardrobe into one of those wardrobe phone apps and have been struck by how new (and overgrown) my wardrobe is. I have been able to track down Internet photos of many/most items. The reason for this is the series of closely spaced pregnancies that totally changed my body. Most of what I have purged since December didn’t fit. So I have been going a little overboard in developing a new wardrobe and finding my style. That said, I have a few long term favorites (mostly shoes). These are timeless and I try to think of them when making purchases. My goal, even more than having a small wardrobe, is to reduce turnover and hold onto my clothes longer. I want to hold on to things until they fall apart. I recently let go of a pair of shoes purchased in the early 90’s and replaced them with a contemporary version. I had been searching for a suitable replacement pair for years. That is how I want to shop and own my clothes.

    • Congrats on finding your shoe replacement, Misty. Sometimes it pays off to be patient. It sounds like you have a good plan for your ongoing wardrobe management. I know the wardrobe management phone apps can be helpful. I’d like to try using one myself at some point. Thinking of your timeless pieces when making purchases is a good way to make better choices, so I applaud you for that. I’m not sure if I want to hold on to things until they fall apart, but I do want to have things be more well-used by the time I let them go than has been my pattern for years. I wish you the best of luck with your goals!

  11. Wow! What a fabulous data-driven post! Thank you for all your hard work. I love numbers, myself, so this was a treat! The funny thing though is… I have never tracked my wardrobe purchases, so I can’t get into percentages. I do know that of my special occasion wear, most is 5-10 years old, some much older. Marguerite’s post made me laugh: I have a mink collared Persian Lamb 1950’s vintage jacket I bought in college in the early 1980’s!! Not nearly as storied as hers, but full of great memeories for me! Looking at my closet, I realize that my summer-only clothes are (for the most part) older than my 3 season items. Seeing as I was a full-time teacher, that would make sense, since my casual summer duds only saw the light of day for a very short period. The teaching gig, with 7+ hours standing each day also made for a high shoe turnover rate. No matter how amazing a shoe may seem in the store, or after a day at home, there is no measure that will tell you how it will feel in the classroom at 3:00 PM! Our military moving life with drastic climate changes and cultural norms provided me a great excuse for regular closet turnover, but now most of my everyday/out-and-about clothes are 2 to 8 years old, so quite recent. The only thing I know the exact age of is my P333 birthday exception (Jan2015) my only purchase since November 2014.

    • Wow, I’m impressed that you’ve only purchased one item since last November, Liz! I hope that Project 333 is going well for you and that you’re learning a lot through the process. It definitely helped me a lot with my wardrobe. I hear you about the shoes! Not many shoes are good for all day standing and/or walking. Luckily for me, I don’t stand or walk all day very often, but I can imagine it would have been difficult as a teacher. Seems like you have a good wardrobe turnover rate – 2 to 8 years sounds very reasonable.

      • Well, the birthday buy was a built-in-cheat to my Year W ithout Clothes Shopping (as Jill Chivers calls it) that started Nov 1. That’s the only reason the number is so low…

      • Congratulations with how well you’re doing with Jill Chivers’ program thus far, Liz! Many people may set a goal not to shop for that long, but you’re actually sticking with your goal and that’s something to be proud of.

  12. I think this is great! As a follow-up I’d be curious to see how often you wear the older items vs. how often you wear the newer items. I personally tend to wear newer items more often when they are brand new and then after a few months they move into a rotation and aren’t worn as frequently.

    • This is a good post idea, Bethany. I think I vary in terms of how often I wear newer versus older items. Sometimes I wear newer pieces right away and other times it takes me a while to work them into my regular wardrobe rotation. But I haven’t run these numbers, so I will have to see what comes up when I do.

  13. Really fascinating post! Thank you for putting it together, Debbie. I share others’ curiosity about why you think some of your older items have stood the test of time, as well as how often you wear them (especially in comparison to newer ones).

    Your percentages of new items by year are not all that far off from a 5-year turnover which seems to be a benchmark that resonates with many folks (i.e., roughly 50% new between early 2013 and mid-2015, that’s about 2.5 years). It will be interesting to see whether as time goes on your percentages of purged items by year will also fall in line with that (that is, you would expect to be purging mostly items bought 4-5 years ago).

    In the past I’ve taken a stab at a similar analysis but I don’t think I was very accurate, the years tend to blur together for me! 😛 I know that I own very few items bought before 2007, which is the year that I had a child — lots of body changes since then! Also I never really thought about “wardrobe building” before a couple of years ago, so I’m sure that I own very little bought between 2007 and 2012 or 2013. It’s sobering to realize that, because right now my goal is to build a really long-term wardrobe, I envision keeping lots of things for 10 years or more — but then I think about what my wardrobe turnover has been like in the past and I wonder if I am fooling myself.

    • Looks like I will definitely need to do a follow-up post on my older items and why they have stood the test of time, Sarah. I will probably learn some useful things from writing that post, too. As for your goal of keeping lots of things for 10 years or more, I think it’s possible if you buy high-quality pieces and have a relatively stable sense of style. Buying classic items would help in that effort, too. You can always add a few trendy pieces if you want to modernize your wardrobe a bit each year. I think it’s a good idea to aim for the 10 year longevity and see how it goes. If you’re making a deliberate effort to have your items stand the test of time, you’re more likely to get there.

  14. Great post Debbie! I think it must have been a little reassuring to see that not everything you bought before 2013 was a mistake? Are some of your favorite garments from that time?
    As for me, I don’t have a lot of clothes from before 2010 – when I was 17. I had a lot of weight changes and my personal tastes changed a lot too, which is rather normal for a teenager/young adult. I recently threw away a pair of jeans I had had since 2008 (they were beyond torn out) and my current winter coat is from 2007 (and still in perfect condition).
    I hope my recent weight loss will be the last of those changes, because I’m pretty happy with my wardrobe right now and I don’t want to have to change everything again, especially because I try to buy quality over quantity and I want my clothes to last!

    • You are very young, Cedrique. You were 17 in 2010 and I was 44! I’m impressed that you still have any clothes left over from your teens, especially a coat that’s in perfect condition. Congrats on your recent weight loss, too. Yes, it’s reassuring to see that I have some winners in my wardrobe from before 2013. I definitely have some favorites from those earlier years and I’m going to do a post on that topic soon, so stay tuned. Like you, I am now aiming for quality over quantity and I want my clothes to last.

  15. I have only recently started keeping track of when I purchase items so I can’t give my counts. I do know that I have tended to keep clothing way too long and end up feeling frumpy in what I was wearing. No more. I don’t like to shop but I do like to look good so I am biting the bullet this year and getting rid of anything that is past its prime, doesn’t fit well or doesn’t flatter me even though I then have to go shopping some.

    • It sounds like you’ve reached a turning point this year, Juhli. Good for you for getting rid of items that are past their prime, even if that means you will need to go shopping. It may be surprising to you (and others) that I don’t love shopping anymore, either. It was more fun for me when I did it mindlessly and just bought whatever caught my eye. When one is being focused and shopping from a list, it feels more like work, but it can pay off if you are picky and patient. I wish you the best of luck with your closet overhaul this year!

  16. The shoes I’m wearing today are from 1983. I bought them to go with the skirt I wore to an ex-boyfriend’s wedding. I really wanted to look nice that day so he’d regret leaving me! They are slightly pointy purple flats and I probably wear them at least twice a month. His marriage lasted only ten years while mine is still strong.

    • I love your pointy purple flats back story, TAGgirl. Thanks for sharing it! It’s poetic justice of sorts that your “revenge shoes” have lasted longer than your ex-boyfriend’s wedding 🙂

  17. Fascinating post. I have a lot of “late model” classically styled clothes (v-neck cashmere sweaters, silk blouses, etc.) that have been with me for years and years — a few things for about 20 years. But I have a lot of other clothes, mostly casual stuff like tees and capris, that turn over every 1-2 years do to changing styles and quality issues. I seldom buy in resale shops or at sales (with a few notable exceptions), and I return the clunkers as soon as possible (or otherwise dispose of them — give them away, resell, donate, etc.). My closet is too small to support a lot of deadwood. Having a strong idea of what works for me (lifestyle, personal style preferences, and so forth) helps to steer me away from stuff I might never wear.

    TAGgirl: I wish I purple “revenge” shoes too but my shoes tend not to last that long (and my feet have changed size in the past 22 years so I’ve had to jettison some beloved shoes along the way). But I have a “revenge” LBD that I still wear for dress-up occasions. Still makes me smile.

    • I was surprised to learn that you have some items that turn over every 1-2 years, Dottie, since I know you maintain a small wardrobe. But I think it makes sense for most people to have such items to participate in trends and due to declining quality. I think it’s great, though, that you and others have things that have been in your closet for 20 years. I know I don’t have anything that’s been around that long, except for jewelry, but I do have a few pieces that will likely make it to 10 years soon. I like that you have a “revenge LBD” that makes you smile. I don’t think I have any revenge items, but I kind of want at least one after reading TAGgirl’s story…

  18. I figured out my numbers and they are:
    The numbers don’t really surprise me because I know that my weight has changed the last couple of years as well as my style and color preferences. A while back I realized that I usually have about 40 items of clothing and shoes for warm and the same for cold weather with some crossover between the two. If I buy 10 new things (less than I’m purchasing now) in a 6 month time period, I would be replacing 1/4 of my wardrobe. That was quite eye opening on how little I really need to be buying. I could add the new and different that I love with so many fewer purchases.

    • Tonya, right now my wardrobe is about the same size as yours, and I’ve come to the same conclusion. Based on my current lifestyle and what is already in my closet that I love and wear regularly, it was eye opening to discover how little I need to be buying, and that I can add a few new, different and fun items each year with far fewer purchases.

    • I’m impressed with your numbers, Tonya, especially since I know you had a very large wardrobe not long ago. I wonder if your items from 2014 and this year will stay around longer now that you have more defined style and color preferences. We’ll have to revisit this next year around this time and see how we do… My favorite part of your comment was about how few things you need to buy each year. It really is eye-opening to realize that we don’t need to buy a lot in order to make a difference in our wardrobes, especially if we aim to find things we really love that are new and different.

  19. I read Liz’s comment about shoes having a high turnover rate when you are teaching and on your feet 7+ hours a day. Two years ago, my only pair of summertime sandals, Mephisto thongs, died and I went into The Walking Company for a replacement. They have a new line where they do a computer scan of your foot which tells them your size and arch. I bought a pair of their sandals (Balboa) from the Abeo line suited for my high arch. What a difference! I went back that fall to buy some shoes for the winter but they only had inserts at the time. I know have 3 pairs of inserts which work for my workout shoes to my winter boots. They have expanded their Abeo line to include shoes now but with the inserts, I can wear just about any brand.
    I did give away the dressy boots I had with a heel. I just couldn’t deal with the discomfort even though I looked 2″ taller!

    • Thanks so much for sharing this tip, Maggie. I have seen those machines in The Walking Company, but I haven’t used them as of yet. How great that the inserts are working out so well for you. I will have to see if perhaps they will work for me with my fussy feet. I always struggle to find shoes that are comfortable but still stylish. I actually can wear low heels better than flats because I have very high arches. But if the heel goes too much over 2 inches, I have problems, especially if I have to do much walking. I don’t really need to look taller since I’m already 5’10”, but I do like the look of heels.

  20. Very interesting Debbie. I have never tracked my wardrobe so precisely, so I have no clue on the turnover aspect. But I know I have some old pieces – I have a coat that I bought in 1997, I think, and some hiking boots from the same time period. I also have a lot from 2002-2007, as I did a lot of shopping then. I have been struggling with this area a bit – I get very disappointed when new pieces don’t last and I have to get rid of them because they are worn out or damaged, and end up hanging on to older pieces that I perhaps don’t love as much or aren’t as currently stylish, just because they’re still in good condition. I wish I had a better way to track so that I was always turning over older and less currently loved pieces in order that more of my wardrobe is really what I do love to wear.

    • I struggle with similar issues, Sarah, especially in recent years. Shoes and pants are particular problem areas for me since it’s hard for me to find good ones and I end up keeping the old ones even if I’m not thrilled with them. The same has been true for skirts, but adopting the maxi style has helped me to be able to let go of old “churchy” skirts that weren’t working for me. Probably the best advice I can give you if you don’t want to get too involved with tracking is to identify a few items that you want to replace in a given season, then work to find those replacements. It will take you a while to run over the old and not so loved pieces, but you will get there eventually. I am doing just that this year with my pants and shoes.

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