We are getting near the end of the year and this is my second to last (penultimate, if you will – great word) “Love It, Wear It” Challenge (LIWI) update. At the end of the year or early next year, I will do a full wrap-up of the challenge and what I have learned from it. But today, I am going to do my usual numbers updates, as well as share some thoughts about my summer wardrobe since that season pretty much just wrapped up for me. I will also highlight a few other things I have learned from the challenge and what I plan to do to finish out the year.
An Overview of LIWI
But before I dive into my update, here’s a quick reminder of what LIWI is about (read more here). The objectives for the “Love It, Wear It” 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 imagined, wished for, or previous lifestyles.
The process for doing LIWI is as follows… The idea is to create a “working closet” by moving everything you wear into a specific area of your closet space (or a separate closet altogether). As much as possible (uniforms and dress codes aside…), you should only wear what you really want to wear. Anything that is uncomfortable, fussy, or no longer in line with your personal style should be passed on for donation or consignment.
Although I started LIWI at the beginning of the year, it’s really something that you can dive into at any time if you feel inspired to do so. A lot of readers have decided to take on the challenge after reading about how it’s helped me with my wardrobe, shopping, and style. Some of those readers share their updates in the comments section of my LIWI posts, and anyone who wishes is welcome to play along and report in on how the challenge is going for them. This update will be all about my experience, but if you want to see how others are navigating the challenge, I invite you to read the comments. Questions are also welcomed!
What I Wore During October
Prior to recapping how my closet has shaped up after more than ten months of the LIWI challenge, I want to give you a quick look at what I wore during October:
Here’s a simple breakdown of my October numbers:
- Clothing Items Worn: 42
- Shoes Worn: 9
- Scarves Worn: 0
- Necklaces Worn: 2
- Purses Carried: 2
My October numbers mirror the ones from September pretty closely except I wore six necklaces in September and only two last month. I am still not interested in wearing scarves, but I really think that’s due to the very hot summer we experienced where I live. I used to wear scarves on mild summer days, but the summers have been hotter the past few years and I’ve scarcely needed a topper for my outfits. I think I will be interested in wearing scarves again in the cooler weather, but time will tell.
I’m not sure why I wore fewer necklaces in October than in September, but I think my September number was more of an anomaly. I was challenging myself to wear all of my necklaces to see which ones I liked and if I wanted to keep them all. I actually liked virtually all of them and enjoyed wearing necklaces, but I didn’t keep that up in October for some reason. I think I’m still not used to wearing necklaces regularly and I’ll need to push myself to at least try a necklace with my outfits to see if I like how it looks. It’s just not a habit I currently have, but when I wear them, I do like the look.
Ten Plus Months In – The “Out and About” Clothes
After almost ten and a half months of the “Love It, Wear It” Challenge, I have 107 items in my working closet (non-workout/lounge clothes), which is a decrease of four items since my last update. The number may go down a bit more, as I still plan to do another round of the “KonMari Process” before the end of the year. I’m sure I will find at least a handful of items that no longer “spark joy” for me – or maybe never did. Also, as I’m now starting to wear my cool weather wardrobe, there will likely be some pieces in there that I just don’t love or feel compelled to wear anymore.
The Clothes by Category
Here’s a summary by category of the clothing items I’ve worn so far this year – and have opted to keep in my “working closet” (we’ll get to shoes and accessories later), as well as how the numbers have shifted since my last LIWI update:
- 4 pairs of pants (same)
- 4 pairs of jeans (same)
- 11 skirts (+2)
- 14 dresses (same)
- 6 coats (same)
- 4 short jackets (-1)
- 12 cardigans (same)
- 20 long-sleeved tops (same)
- 16 short-sleeved tops (+1)
- 21 sleeveless tops (-1)
The Dedicated Workout/Lounge Clothes
My dedicated workout/lounge clothes were not included in my working closet number above, but the numbers haven’t changed much since my last update:
- 16 short-sleeved tops (+3, I’m going to pare down this category soon)
- 4 long-sleeved tops (same)
- 9 pairs of workout/lounge pants (-1)
- 5 casual jackets – worn for workouts, walks, and at home (same)
I wear many of these items regularly, but I think I could probably pass on at least a few tops and pants that either don’t fit well or are worn out. I will include my workout/lounge clothes in my next “KonMari” round.
Ten Plus Months In – Shoes and Accessories
I’m also tracking all of the shoes and accessories I’m wearing during my 2015 LIWI Challenge. I keep a running list of shoes worn and I track my jewelry by moving the pieces that I wear to separate areas of my jewelry box. With my scarves, I move them from one shelf in my closet to another. Here are my accessory numbers as of today:
- 21 pairs of shoes (+4, I think my number last month was off somehow)
- 42 pairs of earrings (same)
- 15 bracelets (+1)
- 18 necklaces (same)
- 4 watches (same – as pictured in my January update)
- 6 scarves (same)
- 8 purses (+1)
What Hasn’t Been Worn – Clothes and Shoes
In my LIWI updates, I also like to highlight what has yet to be worn in my closet. Here’s a look at the items that I have yet to wear this year (acquisitions since July are not included in this photo):
This category is exactly the same as it was in my last update. Let’s take a closer look at these items by category:
- 1 pair of jeans (new black jeans bought in May – I haven’t worn jeans much since then)
- 2 cardigans
- 5 blazers / short jackets
- 1 long-sleeved top (pictured here – I really like it, but it’s fancy and my life is not…)
- 3 pairs of shoes
I’m definitely going to pass some of these items on, but I haven’t taken the time to do a closet audit in the past month. I plan to do one before the end of the year, though.
Next, let’s check out the jewelry that I haven’t worn this year. It’s really not that much at this point – just five items (down from six at my last update):
- 3 pairs of earrings (same)
- 1 bracelet (-1)
- 1 necklace (same, doesn’t include new necklace bought in August/September)
Here’s a look at the jewelry I haven’t worn yet this year (not including the few new pieces bought since August, shown in my last accountability update):
I’m going to give these items until the end of the year to see if I wear them. I may feel inspired to wear them now that the seasons have changed, but if I don’t, I will send them on their way. I’ll also use the “KonMari Process” with all of my jewelry, as I only want to keep those pieces around that spark joy. I didn’t include jewelry when I did KonMari back in May, but I definitely will the next time around.
My Summer Wardrobe
In my last update, someone asked how much overlap I have in terms of what I wear each month. I generally wear around 40 items of clothing each month and 7-10 pairs of shoes, but this person was wondering how many of these garments and shoes carried over from month to month. While I didn’t take the time to do exact calculations, I did notice that as the months of the summer season (generally July through October here) went on, there were fewer and fewer new pieces being brought into my working wardrobe. I ended up wearing the same items over and over again, which is really what we want to be doing.
Now that the summer season has virtually ended, I took a look at what my summer wardrobe consists of. These are the items I decided that I still love and believe I will wear next summer:
Here’s a breakdown of my summer wardrobe by category:
- 13 dresses (6 maxi, 7 midi, one additional dress is part of my special occasion capsule)
- 11 skirts (6 maxi, 5 midi)
- 15 tops (14 tanks, 1 short-sleeved)
- 6 cardigans
- 4 jackets
- 1 vest
- 11 pairs of shoes (sandals)
Here’s a closer look at the pieces in my summer wardrobe:
To sum it up, my summer wardrobe includes 50 garments and 11 pairs of shoes, for 61 items total. Yes, I sometimes wore jeans and other items in the summer months, but that was only on rare unseasonably cool days and during my Tahoe trip. For the most part, I wear dresses, skirts, tank tops, and sandals during the summer, with toppers on occasion.
Too Many Summer Items
I think I probably have too many summer items, as the warm weather really only lasts for about a third of the year. I do sometimes wear my summer pieces during other months when we experience warm fronts, but we’re talking about a few days per month max. For the months of November (sometimes just the second half of the month – it varies) through June, I typically wear my cool weather wardrobe, which consists primarily of jeans, knit tops, long cardigans, and mid-weight coats.
I think because I like summer so much, I tend to forget that it doesn’t last as long as I think (or would like it to). Even though I live in Southern California, it’s not warm all the time here like a lot of people believe, at least not in the coastal communities. While it doesn’t exactly get cold here, it’s often too cool for wearing my lightweight skirts, dresses, and tank tops. I wear them pretty much every chance I get, but I think I probably have too many of them, especially if I want to be wearing all of my clothes eight or more times per year like I’ve mentioned I’d like to do.
My wear numbers this year are a lot lower than that, but that also has to do with my being sick a lot and only “getting dressed” about half the time (I do get dressed most days but often in lounge wear). But even if I were putting on “out and about” clothes every day, I don’t think I would reach my goal with my summer clothes given the current size of that wardrobe area. I really need to concentrate on buying less and wearing what I have more. Easier said than done for a recovering shopaholic, but realizing the issues is an important part of the equation.
Neglecting My At-Home Wardrobe
I still feel that I give too much attention to my out and about wardrobe while my at-home wardrobe gets neglected. I would like to change this in 2016, as I don’t see my lifestyle changing much in the near future. I want to up-level my at-home wardrobe so that I feel comfortable wearing those pieces for walks, running errands, and other casual activities. I don’t want to have to completely change my outfit in order to leave the house. I’m definitely doing better with this than I was a year ago when I only wore workout clothes at home, but I still have room for improvement in this area.
My life is very casual. I like to dress up, but I just don’t have many occasions for it. That leaves a lot of my clothes gathering dust in my closet, and I’m not necessarily talking about traditionally dressy clothes, either. I don’t have many of those, fortunately, but a lot of my out and about clothes are just not ideal for some of my activities, like walks, going out to take photos, and running errands. I plan to concentrate the bulk of my 2016 purchases on comfortable casual clothing for these types of events. I’m thinking of clothes like what one might find at Athleta, Eddie Bauer, and the active wear department at Nordstrom. Not necessarily workout clothes, but maybe what has been termed “athleisure” wear as of late. Those are the types of clothes that I believe will better serve my needs, in addition to the jeans and knit tops that I often wear.
About the Shoes…
I feel like my shoe wardrobe could use some attention, especially when it comes to the cool weather season. Here are the shoes I have for the cooler months:
Yes, there are a couple of open-toed shoes in the mix, but it doesn’t get all that cold here and I do sometimes wear peep-toes. The caged sandals are a bit of a wild card, as they may be too summery for the cooler weather, but I’m going to try to see if I can extend their wear. I’m going to try wearing them with jeans to see if I might like that look, as it will help me to mix things up a bit.
What do you see as the common denominator with my shoes above? Yes, it’s a lot of black! I know I love black, but this is too much black even for me. There are eight pairs of black shoes above and three of them are boots that are very similar (in my defense, one pair used to be brown). What I would like to do with the boots is replace all three pairs (which are all wearing out) with one fabulous pair that I really love.
I could also use a bit of color and excitement with my cool weather shoes. The only printed pair is my leopard print flats, which are quite worn out and in need of replacement. I can see replacing those and adding a pair of black and white print flats as well. I can also see adding at least one pair of colored shoes (probably flats or low heels) to my wardrobe. My cool weather shoe wardrobe can get a lot more exciting than it is currently! I don’t need to add much; just a few strategic additions could make a big difference.
As you can see, I am learning a lot from my LIWI challenge, and the year isn’t over yet. Now that we are down to the home stretch of 2015, I’m going to be taking a close look at all areas of my wardrobe. Just because pieces made their way into my working closet, it doesn’t mean they will get to stay there. I only want to have those items in my closet that I really love and feel good in. Anything that is uncomfortable or fussy will have to go.
I have plenty of clothes and shoes, so there’s no need to keep anything around that doesn’t serve me. I have pared down quite a bit and replaced ho-hum pieces with things that make me smile, but now I just need to remove those final “dead weight” garments and shoes. There aren’t many, but they need to go!
LIWI has been working its magic and there is just a month and a half to go. I won’t be doing LIWI again next year, as I will move on to another challenge. I’m not sure yet what it will be, but I will be sure to make it fun and interesting so that maybe some of you will follow along. Yes, wardrobe management can be difficult at times, but if we make a game out of it, it’s easier to do and we tend to resist the process less. I’m all for making things fun whenever I can. Life’s too short for everything to feel like a struggle.
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. For those who haven’t yet adopted the challenge but are interested in doing so, it’s never too late, even after I move on to next year’s wardrobe experiment. 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.
This article was very thought provoking. I left my professional management career suddenly 2 years ago for health reasons & have struggled to adapt my method of dressing/purchasing. Despite only leaving the house for medical appointments, grocery shopping & lunch out once a week, I continue to shop for corporate clothing. I have lots of LBDs, cashmere cardigans,heels etc but few casual clothes. I’m usually asked if I’m going somewhere nice afterwards as I’m constantly overdressed for the activity! I still avoid spending my clothing budget on clothes to wear at home despite rarely leaving the house. Just yesterday I purchased a nice pair of OTK flats to wear at home which is progress! I have a uniform of black leggings & black knitted dresses that I wear each day but I think I need to inject some colour to lift my spirits.
Your life sounds very much like mine, Sharon, as does your wardrobe and way of dressing. I am also often asked why I’m so dressed up because I live in such a casual place. I think the way we dress at home is very important, but that’s not where most people spend their clothing dollars. It sounds like you dress nicer at home than I do, but maybe you would be happier with more color. Congrats on getting that nice pair of flats. Let’s both plan to inject more life into our home wear in the coming year!
I am looking forward to seeing what kind of more casual clothing you find as I need to improve my wardrobe in that area as well. In addition I’ll pretty much have to start from scratch on my summer wardrobe and want to get it right. Thanks for sharing your thought.
I will definitely share, Juhli. It will require an attitude shift, as well as some research, but I think I will be happier as a result. As it is, I find myself wanting to invent things to do so I can wear my clothes or else I feel overdressed much of the time. Our clothes should support our lives, not the other way around!
I look forward to seeing your casual clothing evolution. I have shifted to needing a very casual wardrobe as well, and the only things I’ve got on my shopping wish list are reflecting that. I will be curious to what you find, since I am in between tall and regular inseams myself. I’m also considering trying some Athlets pieces. There’s not one locally, so I will have to try the order and return routine.
I know that some of your dressier pieces go unworn. One way I work those pieces into my wardrobe is to mix those pieces with less dressy pieces, like ripped jeans, which I know isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I like the juxtaposition. Or a dressier skirt with a t shirt, or sometimes I dress down dresses with wedge sandals. If I wear all dressy I feel overdressed. Too casual and I feel schlumpy. The mix for me lets me dress up just enough to feel put together without feeling like I stick out.
Let me tell ya, overdressed is better than underdressed, if you are comfy in what you’re wearing. Too many slobby dressers around, so more power to you if you regularly wear your dressier pieces.
Imogen has this great article on how to combine dressier pieces with simple ones.
It’s good that your shopping list is reflecting your true needs, Angela. I have been pretty happy with the quality of the Athleta pieces I’ve tried on. They seem to run smaller than a lot of other stores in that they are more true to size rather than vanity sized. I am lucky in that they opened a store near me not long ago, but the selection in the catalog is still a lot better. Ordering online can be frustrating, but it is often worth it if we get things that really work for us. I like your ideas for wearing the dressier pieces. I’m going to experiment with that more. It can be hard to reach that middle ground between overdressed and schlumpy, but it IS possible.
Hi Angela and Debbie. Although I still work, I find that dress codes have relaxed quite a bit, and that a very ‘corporate’ look can often feel OTT. So I’ve been mixing tailored blazers with (not ripped) dark wash jeans, and tailored trousers with simple knitwear, and find this works both for work and for normal everyday activities, such as meeting a friend for coffee. In fact mixing more casual with tailored is easier for me than actually trying to find pieces that hit that middle ground (which reinforces my growing view that its the combination, not individual garments, that matters)
This is the type of thing I need to start doing, Alice, as I still have some tailored pieces that I like but am not wearing. I agree that the combination of garments is very important. We often have pieces we like but are not sure what to do with them. Or we may have other things that we are ho hum about but which can create nice outfits based upon what they are combined with. I need to figure out how to wear my tailored pieces or else I need to let go of them.
I’ve only scanned, as I’m getting ready for work, but I am exactly on the same page with you on the ‘athleisure’ wear for next year. I realize I have plenty to cover my going out capsule but I’m still reluctant to flesh out the active casual capsule. I’m also thinking places like Athleta, prAna, Zella from Nordie’s will be the streetwear gear that fills this gaping hole.
Off to work but will drop back by!
We are in much the same boat, Mo, in that we both live in very casual communities and have very casual lives. I am reluctant to buy things for my active casual capsule, too, but I really need to do it, as I can see that it will be beneficial. Your suggestions are good. I hope you will share what ends up working for you. It will be a bit tougher for me because I’m tall, but more options are becoming available for alternate sizes. Athleta is a good option for that. Best wishes to you and hope you’re not so crazy busy with work these days!
I wear a lot of black (and white and blue) too, but as Bridgette Raes points out, brown/tan shoes are more versatile than black (they go better with navy blue, for example). They also make a black outfit pop. SO if I’m wearing head to toe black (often in winter), I will wear brown shoes/boots.
So though I wear a lot of black, I try to only wear non-black shoes – all colours, but mainly brown.
Ditto with bags. I have only two leather purses, both black, but from now on, if one of them gets replaced, it will not be black.
I agree that too much black can be overkill, Nutrivore. I had never really thought to wear brown shoes with black outfits, but in Bridgette’s examples, it looks good, especially with cognac brown. When I had my virtual consults with her, she pushed me to buy colored shoes, but I haven’t done it yet. I haven’t bought many shoes since that time, actually, and I realize that I need to do a bit of an overhaul (nothing major) of my shoe wardrobe. Less black would be a step in the right direction for sure.
Black can be over-done, I agree, but it can save you, too! Recently I went to a very fancy “cocktail attire requested” wedding with people who dress really well, and of course wondered what would I, a retired school teacher with bad feet, wear. I decided to wear my lace-up black shoes with orthotics instead of putting up with pain for two weeks after the wedding as in past experiences. So no dress. Black shoes, black pants, black tee, charcoal drapey cardi, and guess what? The blackness gave it formality, and one super dresser even said something positive about my style!! If the outfit were blue or red, I don’t think I could have pulled it off.
this happened to me recently too! Also a wedding, also bad feet, also saved by black pants to make the outfit “formal” enough. I’d held on to those black pants for years knowing they could do in a pinch like that but never having the occasion – until now. worn with sparkly dangly earrings that also included black, a top in one of her colors, and my athletic shoes (with her blessing) as we ladies walked her to the venue – then i was able to change into black flats for the ceremony/dinner.
I love these stories, Helen and Claire! I agree that black can skew dressier and help us to be able to navigate dressy situations more easily. Both of your outfits sound great and perfectly acceptable for the occasions at hand. Accessories can make a big difference, too, to dress things up more. I don’t have much in the way of formal clothes, but I think that if an invitation to a formal event came my way, I would be able to figure out a good outfit for it just like both of you did.
What I have loved about this year’s challenge was the ‘love it’ part. Although I see the wisdom of dressing for lifestyle and climate, if taken to extremes one could end up wearing exactly what everyone else is wearing. But ‘loving it’ gets around the sameness factor I think. One’s own taste can then come through. I love people watching especially when everyone is not wearing the same thing. 🙂
I think about this because although I dress appropriately for weather and place I dress for myself. I don’t own blue jeans or skinny ankle trousers or black items– because I don’t like them. [for me] I am frequently the only person in the room wearing a knee length dress or skirt, because I love them with tights and boots at this time of the year.
Yes, the “love it” part is really key, Mary. It can’t all be about practicality or else things will get boring. I agree that dressing for ourselves is very important. There are a lot of people who simply wear what’s “in” without asking themselves if they even like those things. I think we should wear what makes us happy even if it’s not on the cutting edge of fashion. Of course, we don’t want to look like we should be on “What Not to Wear,” either, but that’s an extreme. I am often the only one wearing a dress or skirt, too, but I am happy in those things. I would like to get into wearing tights and boots, too. All of my dress and skirt outfits are very summery and typically are only worn during a small time window.
You could try wearing lighter dresses with leggings/boots/long sleeve top and a jacket. This is what I wear a lot in spring/Autumn weather. It is actually quite cosy because I am warm underneath my dress. It works best with knee length skirts and dresses as opposed to maxi ones. You might find your jackets get worn more this way too. Especially the moto and asymmetrical ones. (example outfit: b/w zigzag skirt with a black long sleeve under the mixed media jacket (love that!) with warm tights and ankle boots.)
I really need to try to do this more, Ruth. The example outfit you mentioned would probably work quite well. I’m not sure if the boots I have would be right, as they gape some around my ankles, but the only way to know is to try. I would definitely like to wear skirts and dresses more in the non-summer months AND I would like to wear my jackets more often, too.
I have too many summer clothes as well, probably for a similar reason as you do — summer is so short here, and tends to arrive later than it does in much of the country, that when it does get here there is a tendency to go a bit overboard with enthusiasm! (Also, probably 95% of my summer wardrobe is secondhand, and it’s easy to find lots of cute summer clothes in good condition at thrift stores around here — precisely because summer is so short, people don’t tend to wear them out before passing them along.)
I calculated that in order to wear my summer clothes 10x each per year, I would need exactly 7 tops, 7 bottoms, 7 toppers. Sure, there’s a mix and match factor, but still that sounded rather boring! So, I’ve accepted that my summer clothes will just get fewer wears per year. The plus side of having some excess in your summer wardrobe is that you don’t have to stress so much about finding an immediate replacement when things wear out — as summer clothes tend to do faster due to sweat, sunscreen, lighter fabrications, etc.
Yes, it seems like we are in a similar boat, Sarah. I got overboard with enthusiasm over summer, too, and I definitely bought too many summer clothes this year. Like you, I have gotten some of my summer clothes at secondhand stores. Sometimes that works out for me and sometimes not, as I’ve written about. I think my numbers would be similar to yours. I am not getting 10 wears out of most of my summer clothes – or most of my clothes in general. Perhaps I will re-evaluate my optimal wear number and it may be different for bottoms than tops. I will have a better idea after this year because I have been wearing things more often than I used to, but still not often enough.
Debbie, I’ve come to the same conclusion, since I work from home, spend a great deal of time at home, live in an ultra casual California beach town, my friends dress casually and our social life is casual, why do I have more dressier outfits than clothing that actually works for my lifestyle? And like you I’ve begun to place more focus on at-home wear and stylish casual clothing and my goal is to reach the point where the bulk of my clothes are casual-nice and work for my lifestyle, with a smaller collection of clothing for when I need to be a bit dressed up. Most of all I’ve discovered I just don’t need a lot of clothes. Lately I am also embracing the athleisure style, shopping my closet and mixing my some of my good quality exercise wear with other to & from pieces pieces in my closet, and with some of my dressier pieces too at times. Glad to see you are finding your style and are discovering what works best for you.
We have similar lifestyles and similar goals, Terra, but you are farther along in the process than I am. But the fact that we are seeing what’s real and what we want is the most important part of the journey. I think I just didn’t want to admit that I am not someone who does out and about things that really need “smart casual” clothing because I like those types of clothes. But I can learn to like the athleisure style, too. I have gotten less formal with my skirt and dress outfits and I have been happier as a result. I can do the same thing overall. The approach you’re taking is a good one. I hope to continue following in your footsteps, my friend. 🙂
I just came across a really interesting article you might be interested in reading. I’d provide the link but I don’t know how! It’s called “The opposite of hoarding” by Leslie Garrett. You might want to google it.
here ya go, JaniceG!
this is fascinating – shouldn’t come as a surprise but i’d never really considered the other side of the hoarding coin -thank you for sharing it.
Thanks for sharing this article, Janice (and thank to Claire for finding and posting the link!). I really liked reading it and learned from it. I know about OCD, as I have some level of that myself. But I didn’t know about obsessive declutter. However, it makes sense that this type of disorder would exist. It seems like it can be just as debilitating as hoarding. I feel for all those who have both issues. I am striving to be in the middle somehow. It’s not easy, either, but I’m grateful not to be at either polar extreme.