2015 By the Numbers: The Wardrobe “All-Stars”

I am devoting a large proportion of my January posts to wrapping up last year.   It’s now time to take a look at some more statistics, this time my wardrobe “all-stars” for 2015.  I have now been tracking my wardrobe for five years!   Ever since the beginning of 2011, I’ve recorded how often I’ve worn the clothing and shoes in my closet.   I mostly only track “out and about” clothing, but I’ve started tracking at least some of my at-home wardrobe as well.  There is now more crossover between the two areas, as I’ve started wearing more of my “regular” clothes at home, especially the tops.

2015 wardrobe all-stars

Each year, I’ve aimed to improve upon my stats from the previous year.   Seeing that 2012’s numbers were just as abysmal as those from 2011 was what prompted me to start this blog in January 2013.  In my initial goals for the blog, I set 8 times per year as my desired frequency of wear for most wardrobe items (with formal and special occasion wear as exceptions). I knew I wouldn’t reach that target overnight, so I aimed for 25% in the first year of the blog and 33% the second year.  I ended up wearing 20% of my wardrobe at least 8 times during 2013 and slightly less than that (17%) in 2014.

Although I didn’t set a target percentage for wardrobe “all-stars” (those items that are worn 8+ times in a year) in 2015, I was hoping to improve upon my 2013 and 2014 numbers. In today’s post, we’ll see how I did with that endeavor.  We’ll take a look at the clothes and shoes that I wore most often last year and what those items had in common.   Later this week, we’ll look at the other side of the equation, my wardrobe “benchwarmers,” those pieces that I either didn’t wear at all or only wore once over the course of the entire year.

The “All-Stars”

So how did I do?   Not that great, actually.   Although I made some excellent strides in improving my personal style and being more satisfied with the outfits I wore, I didn’t increase my percentage of wardrobe “all-stars.”  I ended 2015 with the same percentage of all-stars as I had for 2014, 17%.

In total, I had 30 wardrobe “all-stars” in 2015.  These items are broken down into the following categories (the 2014 numbers are included in parentheses as a point of comparison):

  • Shirts:(5)
  • Casual Jackets:(4)
  • Cardigans:(1)
  • Pants:(2)
  • Jeans:(3)
  • Shoes:(8)

The following categories included no wardrobe all-stars in 2015 (again, the 2014 numbers are in parentheses):

  • Coats: (2)
  • Blazers:(1)
  • Skirts:(2)
  • Dresses:(0)

Here’s a snapshot of all of my 2015 wardrobe all-stars:

2015 wardrobe all-stars

I wore these 30 items at least 8 times (and often much more) last year. 

Why Are My Numbers So Low?

You may be surprised to see that I had so few wardrobe all-stars last year and you may wonder why this is the case. I have to admit that I expected to see better numbers myself and felt a bit “deflated” as I was doing my calculations.   But as I took some time to ponder the situation, I gained a better understanding as to why my all-star percentage did not improve last year.  The three main reasons for my relatively low number of frequently worn clothes are:

  1. Illness – As I have mentioned in some of my previous posts, I continue to struggle with a number of health issues. This results in my having a large number of days when I don’t leave the house.  While I’ve been trying to wear more of my standard wardrobe at home, I still like to dress fairly casual and comfortably in that setting, especially when I’m not feeling well.  Consequently, my dressier and less relaxed clothes just don’t get worn all that often.  And when it’s hot, I pretty much stick to lounge wear since I don’t have air conditioning and don’t want to have to wash my clothes every time I wear them.
  2. My Wardrobe is Still Fairly Large – Although I have pared my closet contents down by about half since starting the blog, I still have a relatively large wardrobe, especially for my lifestyle needs. I like having variety in what I wear, so I don’t think I will ever be a wardrobe minimalist a la Courtney Carver of Project 333. But if I want to achieve a yearly frequency of wear of 8 or more for most of my clothes, I will need to pare down quite a bit more.
  3. Buying Too Much – I have continued to do wardrobe culling over the past year, including in May via the “KonMari Process,” but I have also persisted in bringing a lot of new clothes into my closet. As I shared in last week’s 2015 accountability wrap-up, I added 70 new garments to my wardrobe last year. While 18 of those have already either been returned or purged (mostly because they were purchasing mistakes), the high in-flow of new pieces makes it a lot harder to achieve my goal of wearing things 8 times per year or more.

I will get to some conclusions and future goals at the end of this post. However, I wanted to explain my low all-star percentage off the bat because I knew it would be something many of you would be curious about.

A Closer Look – The Clothes

Let’s take a closer look at my 2015 all-stars.   Here are the 23 garments that were worn at least eight times last year:

2015 Clothes Worn 8+ Times

I wore these 23 garments at least 8 times last year.  

What do these items have in common?  I think it’s always useful to look for patterns, as they can help to inform our future behavior in terms of shopping and wardrobe management.   Here are the characteristics that I identified:

  • Dark Colors: 5 of the items (22%) are black.  While I don’t consider myself a “blackcident,” I do like to wear black a lot! Another two all-stars are navy, which is also a very dark color.
  • Jewel Tones: 10 of my all-star garments (44%) are jewel tones such as cobalt, burgundy, green, purple, and turquoise.  I have really honed my color palette and my favorite colors feature heavily among my most frequently worn items.
  • Denim: There are 5 pairs of jeans among my all-stars.  My lifestyle is very casual and when I’m wearing pants, more often than not they are jeans (unless it’s lounge or workout wear).
  • Casual: Every single article of clothing in the photo above could be considered casual and most of these pieces can be worn at home as well.
  • Knits: With the exception of the black parka and the jeans, all of my all-star items are knits, which is appropriate for my casual lifestyle and desire for comfort.

A Closer Look – The Shoes

Now let’s look at the shoes that I wore eight or more times last year:

2015 all-star shoes

These are the seven pairs of shoes I wore most often in 2015.  

I can see some common ground among my all-star shoes, too:

  • Black: 6 of the 7 shoes are black (the 7th shoe is metallic).
  • Flats or Low Heels: All of the shoes have a 2-inch or lower heel.
  • Comfortable: I have very “fussy” feet, so all of my all-star shoes are very comfortable to wear and I can walk in them for fairly long periods of time.  My walking shoes, shown at the bottom right in the picture above, were my most worn pair of shoes. I don’t track how often I wear them, but it’s almost every day!
  • Black boots: I have three pairs of black boots that are quite similar (the third pair is new as of December and was bought as a replacement for the first pair of boots shown above).   The two pairs shown above were worn 61 and 11 times respectively last year.  Clearly, black boots are staple shoes for me.

While I know I will continue to love and wear black shoes this year, I would like to broaden my horizons a bit.   I don’t plan to purchase too many new pairs of shoes, but it would be nice to add a little color and pattern to the mix.   I’m not sure if I am up for the colorful shoes that Bridgette Raes frequently recommends, but I could see adding a burgundy pair and a black and white print.

The “Ultra All-Stars”

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at my most worn items from last year, those pieces that I wore 12 or more times.   Just for grins, let’s call these the “ultra all-stars.”  There were 15 items that fit that description in 2015:

2015 items worn 12+ times

These 15 times were worn at least 12 times last year.  

As you can see, it’s all pretty dark – lots of black, with a few bright colors thrown in.   Mind you, I haven’t been tracking my workout tees and pants.  However, I’m sure virtually all of them would fall into this “ultra all-star” category (and many of the tops are quite colorful).

Here’s how often I wore the items pictured above, from most to least worn:

  • Black Vionics walking shoes: Worn 100+ times (didn’t track, but I have worn the shoes almost every day since I bought them in June)
  • Black Eddie Bauer parka with grey lining: 75 times
  • Navy Eddie Bauer cotton tie-back jacket: 68 times  (I’ve had this jacket since 2009)
  • Navy Eddie Bauer long fleece jacket: 64 times  (I often wear this jacket at home)
  • Short black Clark’s boots: 61 times  (I recently got a replacement pair, as these are wearing out)
  • Green Patagonia sweater jacket: 53 times
  • Burgundy Eddie Bauer fleece jacket: 41 times
  • Eddie Bauer boyfriend jeans: 33 times
  • Black Eddie Bauer Lily pants: 24 times  (mostly worn at home and on walks)
  • Purple print short-sleeved Henley: 23 times  (mostly worn at home and on walks)
  • Blue print short-sleeved Henley: 21 times  (mostly worn at home and on walks)
  • Black Taos wedge sandals: 21 times
  • Silver Ecco flat sandals: 18 times
  • Black Ecco flat sandals: 16 times
  • Lucky Sofia Straight jeans: 14 times

Six of the items on the list above were also “ultra all-stars” last year:

2015 ultra all-star repeats

I also wore these six items 12 or more times in 2014. 

I’m happy that I’m wearing at least some of my closet pieces on a regular basis, but I hope to expand upon this “ultra all-star” group this year!   I had 13 items in this category for 2014 (see the last all-star wrap-up post), so I improved a bit, but it would be great if I could double my number this year.

What Got Worn 5 Times or More?

When I first started identifying wardrobe all-stars back in 2011, I defined them as items that were worn just four times or more during that year.   At the time, I had a very large wardrobe and there weren’t many pieces in my closet being worn even that often.   In 2013, I decided to raise the bar a notch higher to five times per year.

Using my 2013 criterion, my all-star grouping expands considerably, to 51 items.  This is close to one-third of my wardrobe (I will be posting another closet inventory soon, but it hasn’t changed much from my last one).  Here’s a bird’s eye view of the 51 items that got worn at least five times last year:

2015 items worn 5+ times

These 51 items were worn at least five times during 2015. 

It’s definitely a more colorful picture, with cobalt, burgundy, purple, green, and turquoise sharing the stage with my beloved black.  There are also some prints represented in the mix, mostly stripes (no big surprise there…), but also a few other types of patterns.   I tend to prefer more subtle clothing, so there’s nothing too “loud” in this group.  I’m much more likely to wear bright colors than busy prints.

Lessons from the Analysis

I shared a lot of numbers and photos above, but I don’t want to close out this post until I glean some lessons from it all.   I would definitely like my number of wardrobe “all-stars” to go up. I think I’m starting the year off on a good note, as I have been wearing a lot of my “out and about” clothes at home. I’m mostly wearing my standard wardrobe tops with loungewear pants, but I have more tops than anything else anyway.   Here’s what else I need to do if I want to have better frequency of wear numbers for 2016:

  • Buy less overall (of course, this is easier said than done!).
  • When I do buy new clothes, focus on pieces that I can wear at home and for my casual lifestyle activities.
  • Purge any wardrobe items that I don’t feel compelled to wear. Of course, we all have some pieces that we love but don’t have the occasion to wear very often.  But if I find that I could wear an item but virtually never reach for it, it’s probably time to pass it on.
  • Continue with the spirit of my LIWI Challenge (I will post a wrap-up on this challenge next week) by wearing what I love most and not saving clothes “for good.”
  • Get out and about more often so I can get more wear out of my clothes that aren’t really suitable for at-home wear. Of course, this requires that I be healthier, but let’s just put that positive intention out there!

Goals for 2016

I know I will probably never wear all of my clothes 8 times or more per year and that’s okay with me.  I don’t need to be perfect in this regard, but I would like to improve upon the numbers I shared in this post.   If I still have some items that I truly love that only get worn a few times per year, so be it. I just don’t want that category to represent such a large proportion of my wardrobe.

Here’s what I’d like to see happen for 2016:

  • Wear 2/3 of my clothes and shoes 5 or more times this year.
  • Wear 1/3 of my clothes and shoes (a sub-section of the group above)  8 or more times over the course of this year.
  • Aim for at least 30 “ultra all-stars” (items worn 12+ times), double my number from 2015.

Basically, I’m looking to double my statistics from last year, which is a pretty ambitious goal.  I may not make it, but it is something good to reach for and I find it motivating.  Having this goal will also push me to let go of some of the wardrobe “benchwarmers” that are hindering my progress.   But that is a subject for another post… my next one, in fact.  You may be wondering how many “benchwarmers” I had last year, but I’m going to keep the suspense going a bit longer.   Did I do better than I did in 2014?   And what am I going to do with that wardrobe “dead weight”?   Stay tuned for my next post, to go live later this week.

Your Thoughts?

Now it’s time for you to chime in, about my wardrobe “all-stars” or your own.   I know that most of you don’t track your clothes to the exacting degree that I do (read about what I do in this post), but that doesn’t mean you can’t determine your own closet “MVPs.”   I’m sure that if you spend a few minutes looking at your clothes, shoes, and accessories, you’ll be able to pinpoint the ones you wear most often.   It may be helpful for you to make a few notes and jot down the common features you notice among these items. You may learn some things about what you do and don’t wear and why.

If you’d like to share what you learn about your wardrobe – or comment on mine, feel free to do so in the comments section.   If you notice any patterns among my all-stars that have escaped my notice, or if you have any suggestions for how I might better approach my wardrobe in 2016, let me know.  You may even spark a future post, as I get some of my best topics from reader comments.   I wish you all an abundance of wardrobe “all-stars” this year!

35 thoughts on “2015 By the Numbers: The Wardrobe “All-Stars”

  1. I`ll be the first to comment! I have just discovered, through reading this post, that I actually prefer not to wear a piece too often, which would back up my recent discovery that I like to have plenty of choice (of course, this backfires , as well, because I end up with decision confusion sometimes…..grrrrr!) I`m not sure why I am like this, perhaps I need to do a little more self analysis. But at this point in time I appear to prefer wearing a piece only a few times, but over several years.

    • Good realization, Fiona. There really is no right or wrong with any of this, despite what some people might say (unless, of course, your house is overflowing with clothes!). We all need to decide what size wardrobe is best for us and how often we want to be wearing our clothes and other items. I think a little self-analysis is always helpful, but you certainly don’t need to do as much as I do!

  2. Debbie, I’d be interested to see an update on how many items are in your wardrobe now and what percentage of it is new clothing purchased in 2015 – as this will have affected your all-stars information. I know you’ve recently posted numbers of new purchases and items you purged, but those numbers have more meaning when we also know the context of how many items are in your wardrobe to begin with. I like percentages!

    • This would have been a good piece of information to include, Rachel. You raise an excellent point and I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it. I will be doing a closet inventory post soon and I will include numbers and percentages for when things were purchased. But based upon your comment, I did a count of how many of the clothes and shoes in my closet were bought during 2015. The number was 50, which is roughly a third of my wardrobe. If I keep to that type of buying schedule, I would basically replace everything within 3 years. I would rather have it be more like 5 years, so clearly I need to buy less (but I already knew that).

  3. So, I find this analysis most interesting, as my guess (now that I’m doing Project 333) is that my wear-per-item might be similar. I have a core group of things that I wear the heck out of – and others that are still loved and worn, but not as often. Perhaps a message from your statistics is that your style is becoming more fine-tuned (dark neutrals, casual & comfortable basics plus color pops for variety) over the past couple of years. And perhaps expecting to wear something 8 or more times isn’t a benchmark for EVERY item, but more for those items that are indeed basics. Changing lifestyles, weather, and the inevitable churn of garments that disappoint (but only after being worn a couple of times) make consistency more difficult. I frankly think you’ve done incredibly well with all this and have inspired me to take a more analytical approach to my own wearability assessment of items in my wardrobe. Thank you for sharing all this!

    • Interestingly enough, as I started reading this post and how there are about 30 all stars the first thing my mind went to was Project 333. Sounds like tracking all stars would be a good way to pare down and pick out items for a capsule wardrobe! 🙂

    • Very good points, Sybil. I agree that it probably isn’t realistic to expect to wear everything in my closet eight times per year, but I do think that’s a good number for basics, like you said. Thank you for your kind words about my progress. I’ve very happy to have inspired you to be more analytical with your wardrobe. I hope it will help you as much as it has helped me.

      Bethany, very astute of you… I think that if I were going to create a capsule wardrobe, I’d probably want to swap out some of the items in my all-stars list, as they are quite similar (e.g. 5 pairs of blue jeans, 2 similar navy jackets and black knit toppers). But I agree that the all-stars would be a good place to start. Hmm… this could be an interesting blog post. I just may have to write about it.

  4. What I found strange is that even though I pared my wardrobe down by a third to about 60-70 items total, I still have “benchwarmers”!!!! It’s not that many now, but I still seem to reach for certain clothes more than others. I do try to tailor my clothes a bit, to see if that helps. Sometimes it does, sometimes it turns out to be a lost cause.

    Great post! Thank you. All your work on this blog has certainly opened my eyes to my own wardrobe issues and the potential psychological underpinnings of my choices.

    • I think it may be unrealistic to expect to have NO “benchwarmers,” Jane. Back in 2013, I set that as a goal, but I don’t feel as rigid about it now. I would, however, like to have fewer than I’ve been having. I have had a similar experience with tailoring in that it sometimes turns a benchwarmer into a piece I’d like to wear and sometimes is more like throwing good money after bad. I’m glad my blog has been helpful in getting you to see your wardrobe issues. I continue to be surprised that there is so much to learn and explore.

  5. Hi Debbie, I wonder whether the number of times you wear items, reducing the size of your wardrobe and ‘purging’ less worn items should be your focus. They seem to me to be distractions from the key issues of buying less, and buying well. You do such good analysis of your purchasing and wearings that you fundamentally know what you really want and need to wear. I think, like me, buying more stuff has more to do with idealism, perfectionism, dreams, and a strong creative streak that keeps you wanting to try new looks. Recently I have put together a group of outfits for each type activity I do. Looking at them I can see that I have more than enough. However, I get the urge to freshen up the look so I am now spending time looking and planning how to update the next season’s look with a minimum, of inexpensive purchases. I aim to avoid buying extras and variation of the same sort of items in a hunt for a more perfect version (or a version that magically creates a more perfect me!), and I aim to only buy items that I know when and how I will wear it and why it is better than what I have already.

    • I think that the philosophy behind purging benchwarmers is that it helps us to be able to shop our closets better, making the urge to shop for new items less (at least in theory). I’m in the middle of a purge right now and have rediscovered a few items that I totally forgot I had due to the volume of clothes in my closet, many of which were benchwarmers. I plan to incorporate these items, which I really do love and are my style, back into my working wardrobe. I think the need to purge is less for those people who can just focus on what they do love in their closets and not care so much if some items just sit there. For me, the benchwarmers distract me from the clothes I actually love (not just like), they make me feel guilty, and I think they, indirectly, make me shop more. Of course, I can’t speak for Debbie, though. 🙂

    • I definitely agree that buying less and buying well should be key areas of focus for me, Lynn (and for many of us). I think that a lot of times I am buying more for emotional reasons than for true closet needs, so I believe I need to focus more on dealing with my underlying issues and finding alternate ways of meeting me needs. I will be doing more of that this year with the help of the great book, “To Buy or Not to Buy.” Your aim to buy only items that you know when and how you will wear them is a very good one. When we are thinking of buying something that is similar to what we already have, asking ourselves if it’s better than what we already have can probably save us from some unnecessary purchases.

      Alex, you are right on with what you wrote about benchwarmers. As you will see in my next post, my benchwarmers are not always items that I don’t like. Some of them get lost in the shuffle like what you experienced, but the majority are simply things that need to be moved on. Those are the items that inspire guilt whenever we see them and I agree that they can indirectly make us want to shop more. If we are not ready to get rid of some pieces just yet, placing them into another closet (a “hidden holding zone”) for a month or two will at least get them out of the way so we can better see and wear the things we do love. I have found that doing this helps me to be more emotionally ready to actually remove the items from my house entirely.

  6. I just looked over my numbers from last year and saw that several things I love and wear were purchased half-way through the year, and thus did not make the magic number of 8 simply because there weren’t enough weather-appropriate days left to wear them. Maybe that’s true for you? Because anything purchased after July 1 would only need 4 wears by the end of the year to be worn at the same rate as the year-long all-stars. Just sayin… 🙂
    Also, for myself, I use certain tops (especially patterned tops) for variety, the way some people use scarves – so I don’t feel that there is anything wasteful about wearing them less often than more basic tops.

    • I almost smacked myself in the head after reading your comment, Murphy, wondering why I didn’t think of that myself! Since I responded to another comment above that about a third of my closet pieces were purchased in 2015, it is very true that there may not have been enough opportunity to wear them all 8 times. Plus, some of the wears from earlier in the year were of pieces that have since been purged. It would be interesting for me to figure out how many of the later purchases might actually be all-stars. Mette of “The Yogastic Shopping Planner” did this in recent post and I may do something similar: http://theyogasticshoppingplanner.blogspot.com/2016/01/acquisitions-in-2015-round-up-of-every.html

      I use tops for variety, too, and I don’t know if I will ever get to the point of wearing all of my tops at least 8 times per year. I would like to up my numbers, though, and I believe I have over 2014. I am going to include some more wear statistics in my next post, as I am curious about this and I see that others are, too.

  7. As always, a really interesting post, Debbie. I agree with others that it would be interesting to know whether some of your more recently acquired items are likely to become all-stars after being in your closet for 12 months (Mette recently did this kind of calculation on her blog, you probably already saw this). On the other hand, maybe this goal of upping your number of all-stars could actually function as motivation to reduce buying (since you know that the items most likely to become all-stars have to be in your closet early in the year)!

    I found that my number of all-stars (worn 10+) was roughly the same in 2014 (43) and 2015 (46). However, the number of items “worn regularly” (5-9 times) was much lower this year (42 in 2-15, 61 in 2014). That was kind of a bummer to realize. I don’t have statistics to back me up here, but I think what accounts for this pattern is that I wore my “ultra all-stars” more frequently in 2015 than 2014. I also know that I was less diligent about paying attention to clothing rotation and planning outfits ahead in 2015. So one of the lessons here is that wearing my wardrobe evenly requires consistent effort/attention.

    I also feel that I was less happy with my outfits in 2015 — I just felt less consistently psyched/more frequently meh about what I was wearing. This suggests that just reaching for the same clothes I default to all the time isn’t really a reliable recipe for outfit “10”s, which is kind of counterintuitive! It means that my “all-stars” don’t always play well on the field. I am kind of mulling over how to investigate (and improve) that, so thank you for your post which I feel triggered a real epiphany for me!

    • I found your comment so interesting, Sarah! I am going to figure out those other statistics like what Mette did (I loved her post). I will probably do a separate post on that and “copy” her (I don’t think she will mind – we are friends, plus copying is a form of flattery…). I definitely need to buy LESS if I want to have more all-stars. Buying less needs to be a key area of focus for me this year. I won’t beat myself up too much over last year, as I was refining my style quite a bit, but I don’t really NEED many new items this year. A little (or a least a littler amount) can go a long way.

      I love that you also do a lot of calculations and it seems you are learning a lot from it. I agree that it does take some effort and attention if we want to wear our wardrobes more evenly. I have tended to wear some of my “ultra all-stars” more as well. Good analogy about how some “all-stars” don’t always play well on the field. We can certainly benefit from pushing ourselves to wear other things as well. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised when I do so. I’m so happy my post triggered an epiphany for you! A lot of the comments here are having the same effect on me…

      • Copy away, Debbie :-). It is the sincerest form of flattery (we all know our Anne of Green Gables, right?).

        I used excel to calculate the age.

        You need two things. A field with the purchase date (say C12) and a field with the total number of wears (say K12).

        This is the formula to insert to find the age of an item in years: =(TODAY()-C12)/365, let us put that in D12. Then for calculating the wear per year, you simply divide the total number of wears by the age in years: K12/D12.

      • Thank you, Mette, both for being okay with my “copying” you and for sharing your formula. I’m not much of an Excel wizard, but it seems that you are 🙂 I’m going to give this a try. My year-end posts for 2016 should be much more interesting as a result! I really enjoyed reading your posts and I’m happy to know someone else who gets as excited by wardrobe statistics as I do.

  8. This is interesting and makes me think about my own wardrobe most worn items. I am not working right now, and my weight has been fluctuating (up right now, sigh). I did purge several shoes with a heel height I don’t think I’ll wear anymore. In addition, my life is very casual what I purchase in the future needs to reflect that. I think I have too much in my closet, but I’m not quite ready to pare down further. Instead, right now I’m concentrating on only considering things that help my day to day wardrobe right now.

    Although I sometimes break my own rules, I am trying not to buy online much. I am very tired of imagining myself in something and then being disappointed and having to return. It’s too much energy expended for too little gain. The good part is because I’m trying to shop (or rather, not) in person, I’ve really cut down on the time I waste looking at clothing and shoes online. And though I try to not buy cheap products, I’ve been pretty unhappy with a lot of the quality of products that are available. Unfortunately, this is seen at all price points, which makes me reluctant to spend too much for uncertain quality.

    A follow up – at thanksgiving I did purchase several Athleta bottoms online since there is no store in my city. I kept two pants, a pair of capris, and have a pair of shorts back ordered. I am very happy with what I got and have been really wearing them all a lot, although I find them too hot for my body pump class. So far this year I have also purchased one pair of shoes online – my only purchase. They are a replacement pair for my most worn shoes from last year.

    Thinking ahead, I’m listing for myself what I’d like to find to try to hold myself accountable. I live in a warm climate.

    2-3 tank tops for working out (more modest neckline, and somewhat longer for tights)
    Mid thigh casual shorts (denim preferably)
    1-2 pair Workout shorts

    Low heeled black booties
    Black low heeled comfort sandals
    Easy care summer dress with sleeves

    Easy summer short sleeve tops that are flattering I’ll always consider.

    • Angela, I’m glad my post got you thinking a lot about your own wardrobe “all-stars.” It seems that you have come to some very good conclusions and have a sound plan in place for your 2016 purchases. Your list of what you want to buy is quite concise and manageable. I need to revisit my own shopping priorities list, as I’m guessing that some changes will be in order. Your point about online shopping is a good one. My success rate there isn’t very good, either. I feel a lot of retailers misrepresent their items (by pinning pieces back and other tactics) and it’s hard to tell what colors and fabrics will look like in person. Some things are easier than others to buy online, as you have found with the Athleta bottoms and the shoes you bought this year. Good for you for only buying one thing so far this year. Best wishes to you with your 2016 plan!

  9. I just purged 7 bags of clothes, shoes and handbags and am busy selling stuff on ebay. Still haven’t refined my retirement wardrobe style yet but I don’t want it to default to tshirts and jeans every day!

    BTW I am back in San Diego now, I sent you an email but not sure if you received it. I will try again. Hope to see you soon!

    • Good for you for purging so much, Tara! That is quite the accomplishment, but I know that you recently experienced a major lifestyle change. It may take you some time to refine your retirement wardrobe, at least a full year I would think, if not more. T-shirts and jeans are great, but it’s good to have other options, too. Good luck with selling all those things on eBay! I’m glad you’re back in San Diego and I look forward to seeing you again!

  10. Unless you pare your wardrobe back to the bare essentials, there will always be the 20% of clothes you wear 80% of the time … that’s just the Pareto Principle at work. That being said, keep dumping the dead weight … hope 2016 treats you well!

    • Very interesting, Stacey. I didn’t even think about the Pareto Principle in terms of my all-stars! I don’t think I wore those 17% of items 80% of the time, but it’s interesting that it’s close to 20%. Yes, it’s important to keep dumping the dead weight. I will be writing more about that topic in my next post. Best wishes to you in 2016, too!

  11. Great post! I’d be curious to know what, if any, of your all-stars have multi-year overlap: i.e., are there any pieces in your wardrobe that have made the All-Stars list for more than one year running, or even, in separate years, such as 2013, and again in 2015?

    Another thing that popped into my head: I think you should stop using the term ‘blackident’ when referring to yourself and your goals. At this point in the game, you’re mindfully choosing black clothing and accessories as something that you enjoy, and that color really suits your fair skin and dark hair. To me, ‘blackident’ is more applicable to someone who only reverts to black because they haven’t really pinpointed their preferences and likings, and it’s a safe fall-back color. You really know what colors you like, and clearly, black is one of them, so enjoy it!

    I think that, because you have this term ‘blackident’ in your vocabulary, it might stop you from wearing pieces you enjoy, because you’re getting ensnared in a concept.

    I feel like my closet is at a manageable size at the moment, around 165 pieces, not including shoes, bags, accessories, jewelry, dancewear, costumes, and very formal pieces (my semi-formal and dressy stuff is included, currently). I’m working on assimilating my dance clothing into my loungewear and everyday casual clothing, for the purposes of wearing what I have, and having a full-out spark-joy wardrobe. I want to have more multi-tasking clothing.

    I did a capsule wardrobe this fall, but it was closer to 50-55 pieces, following what Jess from One Hundred Hangers does. I enjoyed it, and it helped me hone in on certain cuts and styles of clothing – and it helped me purge a lot of ‘white noise’ in my closet. In the end though, I like having a little more variety. I don’t track, but I think I’m probably more at a 30/70 or 35/65 than a 20/80 Pareto, and I’m totally good with that.

    • I will be interested in seeing if your benchwarmers have the same elements as your all-stars. You are so specific and deliberate these days, I’m wondering if this will be about overall numbers of a specific type of item, such as ‘too many striped shirts’, or ‘too many black belts’.

      Thus spake the gal with too many black skirts 😀 😀 😀

    • These comments are giving me so much to think and write about – I love it! Based on what you asked, Mary Beth, I went back and counted how many of my 30 “all-stars” from 2015 were also all-stars in previous years and I came up with 19, which is 63%. Many of those were all-stars in quite a few years, especially the jackets and pants. I will share more about this in an upcoming post, as I feel there are some important things to talk about there. Good point about “blackcident.” My wearing of black is very deliberate and I don’t feel at all bad about wearing black so much. I would like to incorporate some other colors of shoes into the mix more, but otherwise I’m good on the black.

      I like your goal of multi-tasking clothing and I’m trying to do the same thing. I used to be too rigid about wardrobe categories when there is really no need to be that way in many instances. It’s good that your wardrobe is at a manageable size and I can see how doing a capsule wardrobe challenge helped you to pare down. I had the same experience when I did Project 333. I hope that Jess starts posting again, as I miss her posts. I know she is busy and pregnant now, though, and blogging probably isn’t a priority, but she had a lot of good things to say.

      I think that some of my benchwarmers have similar elements to some of my “all-stars,” but I mostly think I have too many items in particular wardrobe categories, even if they are different from each other. There are only so many opportunities to wear certain pieces and that can lead to benchwarmers. I will definitely be sharing more about benchwarmers in my next post. I almost feel like I need a third post in this series because everyone is asking such great questions and raising such excellent points. We’ll see what I decide to do…

  12. It’s interesting that so many of your frequently worn items come from Eddie Bauer.
    Do your not frequently worn items come from one or two retailers?

    I quit buying clothing from Target, Kohl’s and The Gap because so many of my give away were coming from those two retailers. It wasn’t that what I bought was defective, I finally decided that Target purchases were really impulses and Kohl’s purchases were after I’d been to the doctor because that’s when I stopped in there. Who knows why I didn’t make good decisions after going to the doctor! With the The Gap I was prone to online purchases in the face of flashy sale promotions.

    It’s not a very precise way to make decisions about what to buy, but if you find that your bench warmers are coming overwhelmingly from one or two retailers I think you might quit making purchases there.

    For the record, I have pretty good luck with things I buy at Eddie Bauer too.

    • I was surprised at how many of my “all-stars” came from Eddie Bauer, too, Ginger, but I guess it’s not really too surprising. They are a good brand for casual clothing and carry tall sizes, so that makes them a go-to retailer for me. I also find that their quality is good, although I have seen some decline in recent years. I just looked at my “benchwarmers” list and I’m not seeing that they came from one or two retailers, but I do see some common ground among them, which I will write about in my next post. I think it’s good that you noticed a pattern with your give-away items and are no longer buying from those brands. I’m actually going to look at my culled pieces and see if I can make a similar conclusion. It’s really good to keep track of such things, as it can save us money. On that note, we often think we are saving money by buying things on sale, but in the case of impulse buys (like you saw with The Gap), those “good buys” are often better left in the store (or online warehouse). You raised some great points and I thank you.

  13. As I tracked my wears over the past 5 months, I became aware that the tracking itself was affecting my choices. I found I was more aware of what I was wearing and what what warming the bench. I found myself reaching for lesser worn items to give them another chance at becoming a favorite. It often worked out well, but sometimes would just make it apparent that an item needed to go. The downside is that I don’t have many clear favorites. So I am thinking of repeating love it wear it without so much documentation to see what I am drawn to. How do you choose what to wear in the morning?

    • Misty, I don’t personally track my wears in numbers. I instead take pictures of my outfits everyday. It lets me look back on which outfits I like wearing without the pressure of wearing an item so many time. Then when I look through my closet and realize I haven’t been wearing an item, I either try and wear it or decide that it’s time to purge it. Usually my body language in the picture indicates if I actually like an item. Hope this helps!

      • Tracking favorite outfits makes a lot of sense to me. I left a comment on another of Debbie’s posts about how an item does not spark joy outside of the outfit in which I wear it. By the end of the day, I will know if I love it or not. Then I can look back later and see which items get more love. Thanks for the advice!

      • I’m so happy that Bethany chimed in with some advice for you, Misty. It’s really sound advice, too. I take photos of my outfits, too, but haven’t yet used them as Bethany suggests. I will now, though. I agree that actually trying to wear an item for a day (or even a few hours) is the best way to decide about “one the fence” pieces. I agree that we will usually know what to do by the end of the day. That’s what I am doing with my 2015″benchwarmers” now. Another suggestion for deciding what to wear is to take some time on a weekend to style some outfits and photograph them. I try to do this every few months and it’s been very helpful. Of course, some of my ideas end up being “duds,” but it’s fun to play in my closet and try things out. I just read a great post this morning that may be helpful to you as well: http://www.puttingmetogether.com/2016/01/how-to-utilize-your-wardrobe.html

  14. Hi Debbie,
    This is my first comment even though I have been reading your blog for a while. As the English is not my mother tongue, I will make some mistakes, so sorry for it. I found the blog at the end of 2014, when I became a mum and prepared for moving to our own flat (only 51 square meters). I discovered that I had too many clothes. Through reading project333, I discovered your blog.

    During my pragnancy, a had a minimalist wardrobe to not waste money on buying clothes for just a few month and I was happy with it.
    Since I have read you, I started to analyze my shopping habits and I have discovered interesting things. I have bought less clothes since I moved because:

    1. I have fewer shops nearby
    2. I re-discoverd my clothes that I used to wear before the pregnancy and
    3. I have fewer wardrobes and less space for my clothes.

    It’s difficult to pass by a nice shop window without going inside to take a look, and when we are inside, it is not easy to leave without buying something. We have to avoid any kind of temptation like passing before our favorite shop with our wallet, or having publicity e-mails and etc.
    My husband (working in marketing) used to say that if we have a bigger wardrobe, I will fill it anyway. It is like going to the market with a big shopping cart. We will fill it even we just wanted to buy a few things.

    As I have less space, I am not so motivated to fill my wardrobe at home. So I can even take a look in a nice shop without buying anything or just what I was specifically looking for. I am starting to pay more attention to composition, origin and cut (for my shape) as well. Another interesting thing that he told me is that before buying something, I should ask myself if I wanted to buy it even if it was 100 euros (about 108 dollars)? So quite expensive for me.
    I was wondering if we put our “all-stars” away or maximize their wearing frequency per year, can we make wearing more “benchwarmers”? As we would wear them, we could decide to keep or not to keep.

    I still have too many clothes as I am kind of too emotional to purge, but I am trying to buy less. I have started to make photos of my clothes and I would like to make statistics this year. Also I want to reorganize my wardrobe: casual/smart casual/sportswear and seasons (I have 4 seasons but an oceanic weather). The most important for me is not to succeed but to keep trying 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Dory. I’m glad you took the time to tell me about your experiences. Your husband seems to be a very wise man! He’s right that we will usually fill the space we have available for clothing. Having less space after moving helped me a lot to downsize my wardrobe, although I continued to struggle with having too much. His questions about whether you would buy something even if it was 100 Euros is a very good one to ask, as we will often buy things on sale that we wouldn’t buy otherwise. It seems you’re doing very well and have a good plan for the future with your wardrobe. I agree that the most important thing is for us to keep trying and aim for progress not perfection. Best wishes to you!

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