May “Love It, Wear It” Challenge (LIWI) Update – Part One

I have now completed five months of my “Love It, Wear It” Wardrobe Challenge (LIWI).  I’m so glad I decided to take this challenge on, as I have learned a great deal about my wardrobe and myself through the process.  I’m now in a much better place with both my closet and my attitude toward my clothes and shopping than I was at the beginning of this year.

I have a lot to share, so I’m going to split this update into two parts.   In today’s post, I will cover what’s in my working closet as of the end of May and how I feel about my wardrobe and what I’ve been wearing. Later this week, I will address those items that have not yet been worn and my feelings and plans for that section of my closet.   There will be a lot of photos and quite a few numbers in both posts.   I hope you will be able to apply my insights and my lessons to your own wardrobe situation.

Love It, Wear It Challenge

An Overview of LIWI

Before I dive into my update, here’s a quick reminder of how the challenge works (read more here)…  The idea is to create a “working closet” by moving everything you actually wear into a specific area of your closet.   You should only wear what you really want to wear and anything that is uncomfortable, fussy, or no longer in line with your personal style should be passed on for donation or consignment.

The objectives for the LIWI challenge are to wear what we love and to have the right types of clothing, shoes, and accessories for our lives… our real lives.  By this, I mean the lives that we are actually living in the here and now, not our imagined, wished for, or previous lifestyles.

What I Wore During May

Before we look at how my working closet has shaped up after five months of the LIWI challenge, I want to show you a quick look at what I wore during May:

Items Worn - May 2015

Here are the clothes and shoes I wore during May 2015. 

I know the images are pretty tiny, but you can see a pretty consistent color story there…   My main wardrobe colors are black, cobalt, turquoise, purple, green, and burgundy, with a bit of pink and grey thrown in.   I am very happy with my color palette and I’m glad that I passed on some pieces in colors that didn’t work for me as a result of my recent “KonMari Process.”  I don’t miss those other items and no longer have to feel guilty when I see them and pass them over. It’s nice to only have colors that I love – and which look good with my complexion – in my closet.

In all, I wore 44 items of clothing last month (this doesn’t include dedicated workout/lounge wear – I generally wear “regular” shirts with lounge pants at home) and 5 pairs of shoes.  This is 8 fewer items of clothing and 5 fewer pairs of shoes than I wore during April.   The main reason for these differences was that there were fewer weather variations during May.  It was mostly cool and overcast, as May usually is where I live (and June is generally much the same – we call it “May Gray” and “June Gloom”).  I only wore one necklace during May and I didn’t wear any scarves at all. Accessories will be discussed in the sections below.

Five Months In – The Clothes

After five months of the “Love It, Wear It” Challenge, here’s what my working closet looks like now:

Working Closet - May 2015

Here’s what my “working closet” looked like at the end of May 2015.

The size of my working closet (for non-workout clothes) as of the end of May was 93 items.  My April number was 100, so the number has gone down.  However, I’m not really sure how I calculated my working closet number previously, as the numbers in my April update didn’t add up to 100.  I think I included some tops that I wear for both working out and at home but didn’t include the dedicated workout clothes. For the sake of clarity, though, I’m going to separate workout/lounge only clothes into a separate category from this update forward.

Here’s a summary of the clothing items I’ve worn so far this year by category (we’ll get to shoes and accessories later), as well as how the numbers have shifted since my last update:

  • 3 pairs of pants (-1)
  • 6 pairs of jeans (-1)
  • 8 skirts (+2)
  • 3 dresses (+3)
  • 5 casual jackets – worn for workouts, walks, and at home (same)
  • 6 coats (same)
  • 3 short jackets – motos, blazers (same)
  • 8 cardigans (same)
  • 23 long-sleeved tops (-4)
  • 14 short-sleeved tops (-3)
  • 14 sleeveless tops (+3)

My dedicated workout clothes were not included in my working closet number above, but here are those numbers just to be complete with this update:

  • 14 workout tops (+1)
  • 8 pairs of workout/lounge pants (+2)

Here’s a bird’s eye view of the garments I have worn during 2015 thus far (most of the workout items are not pictured – you can see the coats in an earlier update):

May 2015 Working Closet - Clothes

These are the clothes in my “working closet” after five months of the LIWI challenge. 

A Closer Look…

And because it’s almost impossible to see the clothes in the tiny images above, here’s a closer look at the clothes broken down into tops, toppers, and bottoms/dresses.

May 2015 Working Closet - Tops

These are the 51 tops in my current “working closet.”

May 2015 Working Closet - Bottoms and Dresses

These are the 15 bottoms and 3 dresses in my current “working closet.” 

May 2015 Working Closet - Toppers

There are 22 toppers (jackets, coats, cardigans) in my current “working closet.” 

Five Months In – Shoes and Accessories

I’m also tracking of all of the shoes and accessories I’m wearing during my 2015 LIWI Challenge.  I’m keeping a running list of shoes worn and I’m tracking my jewelry by moving the pieces that get worn to separate areas of my jewelry box.   With my scarves, I’m moving them from being folded up on a shelf to being hung on a hanger in my working closet.   Here are my accessory numbers as of the end of May:

  • 16 pairs of shoes (-1)
  • 35 pairs of earrings (+1)
  • 12 bracelets (-1)
  • 8 necklaces (+1)
  • 4 watches (same – as pictured in my January update)
  • 5 scarves (same)
  • 4 purses (same – I didn’t end up switching my purse out in May as I did in previous months)

Here’s a look at the shoes and accessories I’ve worn so far this year:

May 2015 Working Closet - Shoes

These are the 16 pairs of shoes in my “working closet” as of the end of May.

May 2015 Working Closet - Earrings

Here are the earrings I’ve worn so far this year (one pair is not pictured). 

May 2015 Working Closet - Bracelets

Here are the 12 bracelets that I’ve worn and kept this year (I culled another bracelet). 

May 2015 Working Closet - Necklaces

May 2015 Working Closet – The Necklaces (the one at the bottom was added in May)

May 2015 Working Closet - Scarves

The 5 scarves I’ve worn so far this year – I didn’t add any in May.

May 2015 Working Closet - Purses

The 4 purses I’ve carried so far in 2015 – I didn’t add any in May.

May LIWI Wardrobe Observations

That’s it for the numbers and photos, but there are still a few things I’d like to share before I close this post.   In my last LIWI update, I listed the issues I perceive with my wardrobe and those things haven’t changed.  Although I let go of some of my excess long-sleeved tops, necklaces, and scarves through KonMari, I still have too many of each.

With the long-sleeved tops, I actually like all of them, so my plan is not to buy any more and just wear the ones I have until they either wear out or I decide I no longer like them.  With the necklaces and scarves, I also plan not to buy more and see which ones I end up wearing. I will likely pare down more in those areas as the year goes on.  I plan to do the same with my blazers, as I tend to wear them most often with skirts and dresses in the summer.  I know I still have too many and I plan to only keep my favorites, which will reveal themselves over time.

I also wrote about needing to focus more on clothes for at-home and outdoor activities.  That is still on my radar screen and I am evaluating my needs in those areas.  I think even just a handful of new pieces could make a big difference here, perhaps a few more short-sleeved tees with some visual interest and a pair or two of casual shorts or Capri pants.   I will likely add one or two items at a time and see how they work out for me before I buy anything else.   I want a smaller workable wardrobe, if not necessarily a minimalist wardrobe.

Another thing I wanted to comment on here is that I have really honed in on the types of outfits I like to wear.  My favorite looks as of late have included straight-leg (skinnyish) jeans and boots worn with fluid, semi-fitted tops and sometimes cardigans.   Here are a few examples of my new outfit “formula” (I also commented on similar looks in one of my outfit journal posts):

My New Jeans "Uniform"

Here are some recent jeans outfits that I liked.

The other day, I wore a type of outfit that I used to favor involving wider-legged pants (not jeans) and flat shoes.  It didn’t feel like “me” at all anymore.   I will probably feature that outfit in an upcoming outfit journal post, along with perhaps some other ensembles that I’m just not “feeling” anymore. I much prefer my casual jeans looks over anything that appears even remotely corporate or formal.   I don’t even mind wearing similar outfits most of the time. I’d prefer to just wear what I like rather than go for a lot of variety at this point.  I want to get dressed in something I feel good in and then basically forget my clothes and get on with my life and what I’m up to that day. I’m not there yet, but I’m on my way and this is contributing to my lowered desire to shop.

Of course, we are moving into the summer months now, so I’m sure I will start wearing skirts and dresses more often.  I mostly wore jeans during May because the weather was cooler.   It will be interesting to see if I have much of a desire to wear some of my older skirts and dresses. I already let go of a few of the skirts last month, but some of them are still hanging around.   I know I like the maxi looks I started wearing last year, but I may have moved on beyond the styles of skirts I used to prefer.  Time will tell… I’m willing to pass anything on that doesn’t work for me any longer.

Coming Attractions & Your Thoughts?

That’s it for part one of my May LIWI update.  This part focused on what I have been wearing, whereas part two will be centered on what has yet to be worn this year.   There will be lots of photos and numbers there, too, as well as quite a bit of analysis about the other side of my wardrobe.   In addition to looking at unworn clothing, I will also address the shoes, jewelry, and scarves that have yet to make their way out on the town this year.   I might also include some photos of outfits that I haven’t loved as much and share my feelings as to why that was the case.   I haven’t written that post yet, so it may shape up a bit differently than what I’m saying right now, but I will do my best to make it thought-provoking and helpful, as I hope this one was, too.

I know some of you have opted to take on the LIWI challenge this year. I’d love to learn how it’s going for you, as well as what you’re discovering about your wardrobe and yourself in the process.   Please share your thoughts in the comments section of this post (or the next one).  For those who haven’t yet adopted the challenge but are interested in doing so, it’s not too late!  Although I started LIWI at the beginning of the year, you really can get going with it at any time.  If you have any questions or concerns before you get started, I would be happy to address them. For everyone else, I hope you’ve found this post interesting and I welcome your insights, too.

26 thoughts on “May “Love It, Wear It” Challenge (LIWI) Update – Part One

  1. ‘I don’t even mind wearing similar outfits most of the time. I’d prefer to just wear what I like rather than go for a lot of variety at this point. I want to get dressed in something I feel good in and then basically forget my clothes and get on with my life and what I’m up to that day’ —- I can so understand how you feel Debbie. I’m in the same phase myself.

    Recently I’ve realized that I actually don’t need a varied look. I’ve changed over the course of a year, I think?! I’m happy wearing similar outfits as long as they are comfortable and look smart. And I find leaning towards more casual looks myself, as opposed to the formal, structured style I preferred earlier.

    Today I did something BIG for me and I thought I’d share with you. For days I’ve been trying to wear everything in my closet, simply because I feel so guilty about owning so many clothes and I feel like I MUST wear them to do justice to the money I spent on them. The result – I end up wearing my favourite clothes no more than once a season, coz I’ve so many clothes to wear, and that’s just plain sad. So today, I only took out my favourites and I donated all the others. It was a kind of desperate move….I really don’t want to feel forced to wear something I’m not pulled towards, and I do want to like everything I wear. I hope this will really help me. I still have way too many clothes, but Atleast I know they’re ALL favourites.

    • We are on a similar path with our style, Maneera. I always preferred more formal looks, too, but I am really leaning toward the casual these days and am feeling happier as a result. As long as I look put together and not sloppy – and I feel comfortable – I am quite happy. As for your something big, I am VERY impressed! I could totally relate to what you wrote about feeling like you MUST wear things just because they are in your closet and spent money on them. Like you, I only wore my favorites a few times per year and what’s the good in that? I know you will be MUCH happier with your wardrobe because you only kept your favorites. Please report back after some time has gone by and let us all know. Congratulations on making the leap!

      • Thank you so much for your encouragement Debbie. I would have never done it if I hadn’t read your blog. Never. It’s only after I read your posts, your feelings, your struggles, that I could even admit to my own self that I actually HAD A PROBLEM. For years I have chased after that excitement of something new. And to be honest, buying something new is far easier than doing something new. But in the long run, you are left with a closet bursting with clothes and shoes and bags, and you’re still running after ‘something new’.

        I have you and only you to thank for this change in my life. You have made me a realize that I’m a much simpler person than I thought I was; and I do prefer a ‘comfortably dressy’ look that is in sync with my real life.

        I used to chase things…. now I chase experiences; and there a million things I’d rather see and do than buy. I used to chase things…. now I chase experiences; and there a million things I’d rather see and do than buy.

        I guess all I’m trying to say is this – Thank You Debbie. You truly truly make a difference. You changed my life and I can never thank you enough for giving me the courage to actually change my life.

      • Thank you so much for your kind words, Maneera! Your comment actually made me a little teary-eyed… I’m very glad my blog has made a difference in your life.

  2. You are wearing my look. The one thing I do in the warmer months is add white jeans and white capris. I always feel sharp and white goes with everything

    • Sounds like a good plan, Sherri. I have never been one to wear white bottoms because I’m self-conscious about my bottom half, but I may challenge myself to give it a try. With the right fit, I may actually enjoy wearing white pants. Stranger things have happened…

      • Debbie I also feel uncomfortable in a true winter white but mysteriously, I have a very light grey pair of pants that makes me feel fabulous and gives the same visual effect. So maybe any light neutral that’s in your palette would work for you.

      • Thanks for this suggestion, Sarah. I need to be more open to light-colored pants. I can see how I might prefer light grey over white. I will push myself to try on various colored bottoms to see if I might like something other than dark colors. Of course, I still have the tall issue, but hopefully this time of year there will be more options in that category, too.

  3. This might be a bit off-topic… But, do you find you need to have everything on hangers in front of you when you’re pulling an outfit together? Most of my tops are knits or woollen jumpers that I store folded. In my previous house they were in an armoire and that’s where I would start to think about what to wear. Now my tops are in drawers, so I find I start with the bottoms, most of which are hung up, and then look for a specific top – but this means I tend to forget about some of my tops. Probably this is telling me that I have too many tops and should find time for a clear-out, but it does make me wonder how different people go about deciding what to wear that day, and how a mostly-knit wardrobe would fare if stored on hangers.
    The LIWI seems to really be working for you. It does sound a lot easier to just go with what seems right that day, but I know there has been a LOT of work to get to the stage where that actually results in an outfit that looks good, is comfortable, and reflects who you are.

    • I definitely find it’s easier to get dressed when I can see everything in front of me, Liz. I used to have lots of stuff in drawers or other closets, too, and I found that I forgot about a lot of my clothes that way. I love being able to see all of it in one glance now that it’s all in my one closet (except for my coats and the casual jackets I wear on walks, etc.). Some people switch out their wardrobes by season, which can be a good way to go, but I live in a temperate climate where I can sometimes wear summer clothes in the winter when we have unseasonably warm days. I have mostly knits and use the velvet “huggable” hangers and haven’t have trouble with my tops puckering. There are also some hanging units with shelves that you can use to store knits, but they do take up a lot of closet space. Another option is shelving for the top of the closet (I store my workout clothes and many of my purses that way. It may very well be that you have too many tops. That is still the case for me even though I have pared down.

      Yes, LIWI is helping me a lot, but I don’t know if I would have been ready for it two years ago. I was still into “more is more” back then, but LIWI is a perfect fit for my current mindset and desire for fewer but more meaningful items.

  4. May hasn’t been much different than April for me. I’ve used 35 items and added a few dresses and skirts to my working wardrobe, bringing it to 51 items! During my KonMari process with clothes I got rid of a few things from my working wardrobe and I’m going to put winter clothes in storage. I found my dress/skirt uniform and repeated it along with my pant uniform almost everyday. I found that it really helped me to have a signature jacket (a very basic hooded denim jacket) and a pair of signature boots (my dark green Dr Marten’s triumph) that go with everything. That way I just have to think about the dress/skirt/top/pants I feel like wearing and I know I’ll feel good in my clothes.

    • A working wardrobe of 51 items sounds like a really good size, Cedrique. I think my working wardrobe is still too big, but I suspect it will evolve over the rest of the year. I agree with you that a few signature items can make a really big difference. I find that I’m wearing some pieces over and over again these days, such as a few pairs of jeans and my black boots. I also re-wear my jewelry more than I used to. I’m happy to be feeling less of a draw for variety and I think that in time, that will help me to shop less and be satisfied with a much smaller wardrobe like what you have.

  5. As a compulsive shopper myself, I often have traded off between compulsions throughout my life. It seems to me like you are maybe taking the tracking of your outfits to a whole other level and making it into another new compulsion? The extreme thoroughness in which you track every item in your closet seems a little over the top, no? Perhaps the idea should be to start making clothes/shopping/outfits a part of your life in which you are not constantly focused? I envy people who don’t even give their clothes a thought, they just get dressed in the morning, chicly I hope, but then get on with their day and don’t give it another thought. I think this is what we should all strive for. Perhaps your recovery should focus more on the other life activities you’re trying to pursue. I only offer this opinion as a fellow sufferer, because this would be my ultimate goal.

    • I have also traded off between compulsions, Janice, and sometimes have a few going at any one time. When I started tracking my wardrobe, it was definitely compulsive and I spent FAR too much time on it. Lately, however, it only takes me a few minutes every day, which I don’t think is a problem. I feel I am actually a lot less obsessed with clothes and shopping than I used to be and am giving less thought overall to what I wear. The tracking and the outfit journal have helped me to get to where I am now with all of it, so I had to be MORE obsessed for a while to be able to swing the pendulum the other way and get less obsessed. But I DO need to integrate more new life activities that will provide fulfillment for me. I have my photography now, which is helping a lot, but I need to find more ways of getting out of the house and meeting new people. One day at a time…

  6. There is something to think about, JaniceG, in what you said. I have been the same way with decluttering all around the house: I wanted to simplify and not be burdened by “things,” yet my ridiculous (neurotic?) focus on getting rid of stuff was perhaps more of a burden than just having the things! However, up to a point, it is FUN, as is the wardrobe tracking. I think if we are aware of what we are doing, give it the time and energy of a mere hobby, not letting it eat up our lives, then it is fine. I am in check now, live a decluttered life, and still enjoy the wardrobe redoings. What do you think?

    • Yes! Thanks for understanding. I only wrote this because I am also in the process of decluttering years of accumulating “stuff”. And I find I am again making it into more of a compulsion than merely cleaning out my closets. I sometimes find I would rather go through a closet than visit with a friend, and that’s not good! One compulsion for another, how do we break the cycle?

    • Balance is the most difficult thing to achieve in most areas of life. Helen and Janice. Many of us have a tendency to swing from one extreme to another . We shop and buy too much and then obsess over paring things down, only to go out and buy a lot more again. I have been down that path multiple times. In terms of decluttering, I used to keep EVERYTHING, but in recent years, I’ve been very focused on paring down. Sometimes I get rid of too much, but I am finding my way, as I’m sure both of you (and others) are, too.

      I can identify with what you wrote, Janice, about cleaning a closet rather than visiting with a friend. In my case, it’s because the closet is less threatening, makes no demands upon me, and can’t hurt or reject me. I have a lot of social/interpersonal issues I need to deal with and will likely write about these topics from time to time here. I swung from being taken advantage of by multiple people to becoming a virtual hermit. Both extremes are bad and I need to course-correct now.

  7. I am the same way: it takes over, this decluttering obsession. I was even sad to have finished getting rid of everything I didn’t want to possess!
    It seems we–or I, at least–need SOMEthing on the side like a project that is a very personal challenge, be it eating better, exercising, growing hair, cleaning more thoroughly, decluttering, arranging a wardrobe. It’s not for lack of things to do: I was like this even with two kids, a demanding teaching job, and a house, along with reading and going to the gym. I still think if you enjoy it, it is okay. I, like you, do not like the idea of being so concerned with clothes, though.

    • As I wrote above, I think it’s all about balance. A lot of things are great, like everything you mentioned, but can become problematic if done to extremes. I think it can be a very good thing to like clothes and care about how we dress, but we can definitely take it too far. What constitutes “too far” will vary from person to person and we all have to decide what that means for ourselves. Actually, this could be a good topic for a blog post. Hmmm….

  8. I am not trying to monopolize here, but further thinking says that maybe our obsessions are avoidance of other issues that we should be concentrating on/facing??? I will be quiet now.

    • Don’t worry about monopolizing, Helen. I think you’ve left some very interesting and insightful comments. I definitely think that our obsessions can be a way of avoiding other things we don’t want to address. In my case, my shopping compulsion served to occupy my mind and my life so I didn’t have to think about how lonely I was (am). It also served some other roles that I have written about on the blog, too, but that one was a big one. More about that in this post: https://recoveringshopaholic.com/on-loneliness/

  9. Janice G, I think Debbie’s already focussing on other life activities – check out some of her more recent posts. However I am grateful she takes the trouble to keep posting these detailed accounts. It seems to me recovery may have three phases; uncontrolled and random buying, then wardrobe management, then moving on to other things. Of course the ‘management’ may get obsessive too, but at least its better than hitting the shops, and starts to bring some understanding of what we may really need. There are lots of management methods, LIWI is one, project 333 another, also the various systems on the Vivienne files, and I needed to try quite a few before I settled into a system that suits me. I now feel much more in control of my wardrobe, and my shopping, than I was a year ago.

    • Yes, Alice, you’re right. I realize Debbie is focusing on other activities. I guess I was just venting about how I’m also trying to curb my random buying by focusing on organizing my wardrobe and sizing it down but it seems to be more of a trade off compulsion wise. I guess that is the point I was trying to make – be careful of these tricky games our mind plays! If I only put this energy to better use, imagine the things I could accomplish!
      And thanks Debbie for your blog. It really is helpful to hear how you’re going through this process and dealing with it. It’s reassuring to know that there are also others out there with exactly the same issues. I can really relate to everything you’re going through.

    • I think you’re right, Alice, that there are three phases to recovery, but I also think these stages aren’t necessarily distinct but more on a continuum. And yes, I am focusing on other things, but I need more other things to focus on, as I still feel I’m a long way away from the full life I want to have. I’m happy not to be spending as much time on my wardrobe and shopping, but it’s still not quite second nature to me. But I’m getting there… I’m not as obsessed as I used to be, but I need to find more hobbies and interests and find ways to be less lonely. I’m glad you find my detailed posts helpful. I do learn from writing them, but eventually I would like not to have to need that level of scrutinization of my wardrobe. I want it to just work for me, but it takes time and effort to cultivate that type of wardrobe.

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