In my last post, I began debriefing my “Love it, Wear It” Challenge (LIWI), which I took on throughout all of last year. Part one covered my clothes and today’s post will look at my shoes and accessories in terms of how the challenge impacted those categories of my wardrobe, as well as my style. I will also share an inventory of my shoes and accessories.
A Reminder of What LIWI Is…
But before I dive into part two of this debrief, 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… the lives that we are actually living in the here and now – not imagined, wished for, or previous lifestyles.
The objective of LIWI is to create a “working closet” by moving all worn items into a specific area of your closet space (or jewelry box). 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.
LIWI Debrief – The Shoes
By the end of 2015, I had 20 pairs of shoes in my “working closet.” There were some other shoes that I had worn earlier in the year but decided to pass on for one reason or another. Here are the shoes that I decided to hold on to, at least for the time being.
Most Worn Shoes
Truth be told, however, only seven pairs of shoes were worn on a regular basis. The remaining 13 pairs were all worn four times or less! The following were my most worn shoes last year:
One thing you’ll probably notice right away is that almost all of these shoes are black! In fact, only one pair – the metallic sandals – is not black. Even if you look at the photo above of the 20 pairs of shoes in my working closet, you’ll notice that half of them are black, while most of the rest are either grey or metallic. Although I have two pairs of leopard print shoes and two bright pairs of sandals (one blue and one red), it’s the black shoes that I wear most often, both because they are versatile and because I really like those particular shoes.
“On the Fence” Shoes
Some of my shoes are more of a match for my previous style than my current aesthetic, others are too dressy to be worn very often in my life, and still others have comfort issues. Here are the shoes in my current working closet that I see myself potentially letting go of this year:
Briefly, these are the reasons why I might purge the shoes above from my closet:
- Black peep-toe wedges: These shoes are not very comfortable, but I still like the style. I would like to find a more comfortable replacement option.
- Grey boots: I like the style of these boots, but the heel is too high for me to walk in comfortably and my jeans are too short with them. I’m going to try to find a lower-heeled boot in either grey or pewter.
- Leopard print ballet flats: These shoes are worn out, plus the warm tone isn’t a good match for my current wardrobe. I can see the value of a printed closed-toe shoe, however, so I’m going to try to find a suitable replacement, perhaps in black and white.
- Leopard print sandals: These sandals have never been very comfortable and I have been moving away from leopard print for a while. I hope to find an alternate printed or bright wedge sandal this year.
- Metallic/snakeskin sandal: I feel that these sandals look too conservative for my current style. They are comfortable, but I didn’t feel called to wear them much last year (I only wore them three times). I would probably choose my grey zipper sandals (purchased in August) over these sandals almost every time.
- Red patent sandals: The heel on these sandals is a bit high and the patent finish makes them too dressy for most of my clothes. I would like to find an alternate bright colored sandal (maybe burgundy or cobalt) this year.
Three pairs of shoes didn’t even make it into my working closet, as I didn’t wear them at all last year! These shoes were covered in my “benchwarmer” update, but I wanted to mention them here, too, for the purpose of being complete.
At this point, I believe that I will retain the two pairs of black shoes in my “dressy” wardrobe capsule (to be revisited shortly) and pass on the metallic pair for consignment or donation. The metallic shoes aren’t all that comfortable, plus they only really go with one of my dresses (a basic black one), so they’re just not versatile enough to keep. The two black shoes are more “wearable.” Even though the cross-strap heels are on the high side, the slight platform in the front offers some good shock absorption for my toes. And the black sling-backs, although quite dressy in appearance, are very comfortable due to the padding throughout the footbed.
Shoe Plans for 2016
Shoes are going to be a major part of my buying focus for this year, as I feel a number of my shoes need to be purged or replaced. I mentioned some of my shoe plans above in terms of replacements, but I would also like to add some non-black shoes to my closet. Here are the shoes I see myself buying over the course of 2016:
- Non-black ankle boots – 2 pairs (grey/pewter and either burgundy or cobalt)
- Black peep-toe wedges – to replace my existing pair (low heel, comfortable)
- Printed flats or low heels – closed toes, perhaps in black/white print or grey-toned leopard print
- Printed sandals – similar style to the leopard print ones I have, perhaps in a black/white print
- Bright colored sandals – casual style (wedge?) in a jewel tone.
- Metallic sandals – heels (around 2”), replacement for existing pair in a more modern style
Yes, that is 7 pairs of shoes, but I plan to get rid of at least that many and I haven’t placed much attention on my shoe wardrobe for several years. Through writing in my outfit journal and looking at my outfit photos, I have seen that my shoes are often the weak link in my ensembles. It is difficult for me to find stylish shoes that work for my “fussy” feet, but my efforts will pay off in my being a lot happier with my outfits.
LIWI Debrief – The Purses
Over the course of 2015, I used 8 different purses, but one of them fell apart on me and had to be thrown away. Thus, I was left with the following 7 purses in my “working closet”:
All the purses are either black or metallic (and one is a mix of the two), three of them include some sort of a print, and two include silver embellishments. They are all medium-sized except the second one in the top row, which is relatively small. Only one of these purses (the smaller one) was purchased during 2015. In fact, all of the other bags were from 2013 or earlier.
In contrast, here are the three purses that I did not use last year but have decided to hold on to, at least for now:
The bag on the left is smaller than I like to carry at the moment, but I still like the style. The bag in the center is an evening bag that I had no occasion to use during 2015, and the purse at the right I didn’t feel called to use last year but I still like it enough to keep it.
As I shared in my December accountability update, I was given a black purse by my mom for Christmas. I have been using that bag for most of the past month and really love it. I see myself purchasing one additional purse this year, in a bright color of some sort. My preference would be for either cobalt or burgundy, but I am also open to other jewel tones such as purple or emerald. I would like to inject some more color into my accessory wardrobe, as I mentioned above with the shoes.
LIWI Debrief – The Scarves
I didn’t wear scarves all that often last year and I actually got rid of quite a few when I did my various closet audits (including the “KonMari Process” in May). I go through phases of either being drawn to wearing scarves or not, and last year was in the latter category for the most part. I wore just 8 scarves during 2015:
As you can see, with the exception of the solid green scarf, all of the scarves I wore last year were prints of some sort. In fact, most of the scarves I own are prints. Here’s a look at the 11 scarves I did not wear in 2015 but have opted to hold on to for now (the two at the top are for outdoor wear in cold weather):
The fact that so many of my scarves are prints may have something to do with why I didn’t wear scarves very often last year. A large proportion of my tops are also prints and even though pattern mixing has been a recent trend, I think it might be challenging to mix the prints in many of my scarves. The black and white polka dot scarf and the black scarf with the cream cats are easier to match, especially with the stripes I like to wear. I think I will end up wearing scarves more often this year, as I’m starting to feel more drawn to them again, but time will tell… I purchased one bright blue scarf during January, but I don’t see myself buying many (if any) additional scarves this year.
LIWI Debrief – The Jewelry
Now let’s move on to the jewelry. Here’s a bird’s eye view of the bracelets, earrings, and necklaces that I wore this year.
I know I still have quite a large jewelry collection, but I have culled many pieces over the two years since I first inventoried my jewelry. In fact, looking back, I can’t believe how much jewelry I used to own! Although I may pare down a bit more in the coming year, I think I’m basically at a good “set point” now in terms of the amount of jewelry I own.
There were only a few jewelry items that I didn’t wear at all last year:
The necklace is pretty dressy, which is why I didn’t wear it, but I still like it and am going to try to wear it this year. The multi-color bracelet is relatively new, but I think I will wear it this year. I believe I will pass on the black earrings and black beaded bracelet shortly. The long earrings with the pearls used to be a favorite, so I am keeping them for now. The moon and star post earrings could work well with some of my larger necklaces that call for a smaller earring. I’m going to see if they might be a good option for me in 2016.
Jewelry Thoughts and Plans
Here are some thoughts on my current jewelry collection and my plans for potential future purchases:
- I have a lot of pairs of light blue and green earrings and shouldn’t buy any more.
- If I purchase any additional colored earrings, they should be dark blue, purple, red, or burgundy.
- I have more than enough black, silver, and grey earrings.
- I have plenty of long silver necklaces and don’t need any more.
- If I purchase any additional long necklaces, they should either be in another metal (I like gunmetal) or include some stones or beads in the colors within my palette (cobalt, burgundy, turquoise, purple, or green).
- I have more than enough short necklaces and shouldn’t buy more unless they are different in style from what I currently have and include color (cobalt, burgundy, or purple).
- I wear my two black bracelets all the time (they are by far my greatest “all-stars” in that category) and can see buying one additional black bracelet in an alternate style.
- If I buy any other bracelets, they should be modern in style (not too “delicate”) and include color.
I don’t see myself buying much jewelry at all this year. Any purchases that I do make should be very strategic and well thought out, not impulse buys! I really need to make sure that if I do buy any jewelry pieces, they are different from what I already have.
My Shoe and Accessory Inventory
Now that I have discussed my shoes and accessories, let’s look at my inventory as of the end of 2015 and compare it to the last time I counted back in May:
- Shoes: 23 (-3)
- Scarves: 19 (+1)
- Purses: 10 (same)
- Watches: 5 (same) – includes 1 sentimental watch that I don’t wear
- Rings: 9 (-1) – includes 2 sentimental rings that are never worn
- Brooches: 5 (same)
- Pendants: 6 (+1, found another one I had forgotten about)
- Necklaces: 21 (-1)
- Bracelets: 17 (same)
- Single Stud Earrings (for second piercing): 4 (same)
- Standard Earrings: 47 (+2)
- TOTAL JEWELRY PIECES: 114 (+1)
I see these numbers going down a bit, but I think they will basically stay pretty stable through this year. I don’t intend to bring too much jewelry in and I think whatever new pieces are added will be offset by some culling over time. My shoe number will likely stay around the same, although I see more “churn” happening there in line with what I wrote about earlier in this post in terms of replacement purchases to improve that area of my wardrobe.
I think 20-25 pairs of shoes is a reasonable number and somewhere in the ballpark of 100-125 jewelry pieces is workable for me as well. The important thing, however, is that I love and wear what I have. I do go through some phases for what I like to wear, but as long as I still like the items in question, I will keep them around for a while until I see how my preferences shift. If I find that I cease to like a particular style of shoe or accessory, I will pass it along for donation or consignment so that someone else can enjoy it.
As with my clothes, I feel that LIWI helped me to refine my shoe and accessory wardrobe. By focusing on wearing what I like instead of pushing myself to try to wear everything, I got a better handle on my style aesthetics and preferences. I especially noticed my shoe predilections shifting over the course of the year. I don’t think I would have been able to hone things as closely as I have had I not taken on LIWI. It really was a powerful challenge, although it was quite simple to execute. I highly recommend it for anyone who is looking to pare down their wardrobe and get a better handle on their personal style.
I’m going to continue to focus on wearing the clothes, shoes, and accessories I love most this year. While I may challenge myself to try to wear my “benchwarmers,” if I find that I’m not happy with them once I put them on, I will get them out of my closet (unless they are part of my “dressy” capsule, which I may designate to a certain area of the closet). I would rather have fewer pieces that I love and feel fabulous in than a packed closet that includes a lot of sub-standard items. I believe that I will continue to improve both my wardrobe and my style this year and that my purchases and my outfits will have a greater success rate.
Some of those who did LIWI reported in on their progress in response to my last post, but those who didn’t comment are welcome to do so here, about your clothes or your accessories – or both. I’d love to hear about how LIWI helped you to improve your wardrobe and your style. I also welcome any questions or comments you have for me on what I have reported in these two debrief posts.
It is always interesting reading your report posts. I made a rule with shoes some years ago – if they are uncomfotable they go. I know I won’t wear shoes that are uncomfortable so I may as well get rid of them. I have 10 pairs of shoes in total and wear all but one pair on a regular basis. The pair I don’t wear often belong to my special occasion capsule. At one stage I was concerned that l only had black shoes but then I realised they are what I am happy wearing and that is the aim isn’t it? I think you are getting there.
Your shoe rule is a good one, Maryann! I have been gradually getting rid of any shoes that I can’t wear for at least a few hours. I used to tolerate a lot more discomfort for the sake of style, but now I am trying to find the best compromise I can between a shoe that looks stylish and is comfortable to wear. I used to think that I could never get by with only 10 pairs of shoes, but I mostly did last year, as the other pairs were worn so infrequently. Yes, I am getting there. When I started my blog, I had 56 pairs of shoes! Now I shudder at the thought… It would be overwhelming to me today.
First of all, congratulations on the paring down and refining of your wardrobe and accessories that you have done so far. It’s a great achievement and you’ve done really well. However, there are a couple of questions/comments I’d like to ask:
– Regarding the unworn scarves: you have 11 scarves that you didn’t wear at all last year. Do you really, really need to hang on to all of them? You wore 8 scarves this year. Even if you don’t touch these 8 scarves again in 2016 and wear a completely different 8 scarves, that would leave 3 unworn. Do you really need to hang on to these scarves just in case you feel like wearing them again, or are they acting as a kind of security blanket? Imogen Lampart wrote a really good blog article recently on this sort of this sort of thing – http://www.insideoutstyleblog.com/2016/01/holding-onto-wardrobe.html
– Your jewellery collection: One sentence in particular stood out to me: “somewhere in the ballpark of 100-125 jewelry pieces is workable for me”. Dude!! That’s more than the number of pieces of clothing I have in my wardrobe! Personally, I would find a number that high quite stressful to work with and be unable to decide what to wear. I guess everyone’s different, but if you’re interested, The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwarz is a good read. Speaking more specifically, I think you should get rid of the moon and star earrings. They look kind of dated, like you bought them in the 1990s (did you?) I know you say you need small earrings to wear with some of your larger necklaces, but there are definitely other small earrings in your pictures that would fulfill that function, even if they are dangly and not post earrings. Unless you’re hanging on to them for a sentimental reason, I’d let them go.
That’s all I wanted to say. Congratulations on the work you’ve done in 2015 and I’m sure you’ll take it even further in 2016!
Molly: You read my mind. I’ve mentioned The Paradox of Choice in a reply, oh, probably back 2014, and I believe that having too many choices can paralyze the consumer. I too have about 125 items of clothing (including outerwear, active wear, and special occasion clothing) and very few accessories. I have pared down to a few well-loved items (clothing, shoes, and accessories) and wear those all the time. Currently I’m only shopping to do a little wardrobe updating and replacement of clothing items that have gotten almost shabby. I’ve been wondering if Debbie went on a complete shopping fast for, say, 3 months, if she might find that she wears and loves more of her clothing if there is no option to “replace” the stuff that are “dogs.” I get rid of anything that doesn’t work immediately — I don’t subscribe to the idea of keeping clothing in a holding pattern (bench warmers) to see if a miracle happens and I suddenly find that the clothing fits or works better or whatever. I NEVER keep anything that does fit or make my heart sing. And then I may go without for a while to ensure that what I thought I needed I really need. For example, if I were Debbie, I wouldn’t be in such a hurry to replace any of the shoes that I didn’t wear; I’d keep track to see if I really “missed” having a print heeled sandal. But then I live in the short-sandal-season Midwest, so maybe I would miss them.
Thanks for your praise on my progress thus far, Molly. In regards to the scarves, no I don’t really need to keep all of them, but they don’t take up much space and it isn’t bothering me to keep them. I may do the KonMari Process again soon and I’m sure some of them will go at that point. I was in a phase of not wearing scarves and am thinking I might want to wear more of them again now, so I’m going to see how it goes for a bit longer. I read Imogen’s article and really liked it. Some of my scarves and jewelry fit into those categories, but not most of them.
In regards to my jewelry, I know what I have seems like a lot to you, but it is about a third of what I had two years ago, so I am not really overwhelmed by it at all. And like with the scarves, it doesn’t take up much space and I’m not feeling in a hurry to pare down further. I read “The Paradox of Choice” a few months ago and thought it was a fascinating read. I had seen his Ted Talk a while back, too. The moon and star earrings DO have sentimental value to me, so that’s why I have hung on to them. I have very few sentimental pieces, but I’m fine with having a few.
Dottie, I am not in a rush to replace any of those items. If I do, it will happen slowly and one by one. I’m not planning on going on any big shopping spree to snap them all up at once. I do plan to continue to shop my closet this year and to buy less overall. Some of the things that were benchwarmers one year have become all-stars the next, as my preferences have changed. In my case, it wasn’t a miracle for that to happen. I think there is beauty in the KonMari Method, so I plan to do it with my shoes and accessories, as I only did it with my clothes last May. I may do it with my clothes again, too. Another blogger who thought she was pretty “set” with her wardrobe did it because she was using the process with everything else in her house. She ended up getting rid of a lot, to her surprise. It’s a fascinating read for those who want to check it out: http://fashiondailyinsanity.blogspot.com/2016/01/konmari-my-clothes-edition.html
Thanks for the careful audit, it is really interesting to see other people’s numbers. I have around 230 items of clothing (down from 275), but I’ve realised I wear most of them, so am no longer concerned about culling – so long as it doesn’t start to drift back up! Everybody will have their own optimum point. I have no jewellery at all, but can see why a large collection could be a key part of somebody else’s wardrobe. I have phases with scarves, and have over 30 – but for a whole year hardly wore any. However I’ve been wearing them a lot lately, so am really glad I kept them. They don’t take up much space and are very useful, e.g. in the summer i wore some as belts with jeans, which was fun.
Are you going to round up on your plans/targets for 2016 at some point? I think you’ve mentioned some aims in different posts but a summary might be good.
Your comment really shows how people are very different, Alice. You have 230 items of clothing but feel that you wear most of them and aren’t overwhelmed by it. Some people would feel overwhelmed with half that number. It’s all about how we feel and that often changes over time. If I had what I have now back in 2013, I would have been frantic that it wasn’t enough, but now I feel fine with it and can even see paring down some more. Your point about scarves is a good one. Since I also go through phases with them, I have kept all the ones I can see myself wearing. However, if I find I go a lot longer without wearing some of them, I will surely let them go. Yes, I plan to found out my plans/targets for 2016 very soon. I don’t even think I could keep them straight myself otherwise! I like to wait until after I have done all of my wrap-up posts, as my perspective changes. I am already feeling differently about some of what I wrote in these last two posts! I will likely do that wardrobe and shopping goals post next week.
I agree with Molly, Debbie, only not just for jewelry. Keep what you wear; chuck the rest (i.e., donate). Would it not be less stressful and more freeing to simplify by keeping only what you wear regularly since you have so very huge a clothing, shoe, and accessory collection? It’s just too much stuff! To plan on buying more is in my mind not a good idea. Stop buying, at least! You are burdening yourself. You won’t have to keep track, record, over-decide, if you do this. It over-emphasizes the importance of clothes and appearance. It seems stressful, and that is not good for health issues. You are one of the nicest, most empathetic, fair-minded people I have met or read. Use these qualities in the real world of people who need your compassion. Dress clean, attractively, keep enough clothes for real categories in your life to delay laundry if you are sick,and no one will notice repeats. Be yourself.
Thank you for your concern about me, Helen, but I really don’t feel that burdened by my clothes, shoes, and accessories. If you think what I have now is huge, I can’t imagine what you would have said about what I had 5 years ago, which was at least 3 times as much! I don’t actually spend much time on the tracking. What is time-consuming is blogging about it, but I do it because it is helpful for other people. I am gradually working on building more of a life for myself, but it is challenging with my health issues. You are right that others don’t notice our repeats, especially if we wear classic items. My wardrobe and shopping take up a much smaller proportion of my life than they used to and I am happy about that. As for my wardrobe size, I see it decreasing at least somewhat, but it doesn’t bother me as much as it seems to bother some of my readers. My goal of balance this year applies to all aspects of my life, including my wardrobe. That will involve buying less, being more deliberate, and possibly doing KonMari again. Now what IS burdening me is my information overload, so that’s going to be more of a focus for me this year!
Congrats! This and the previous post show a cohesive, deliberate wardrobe.
I’m somewhat disagree with Molly. To me, your accessory numbers do not sound huge because I myself follow “basic clothes-fab accessories” formula. People are so different when it comes to accessories. Some people always wear the same jewelry or no jewelry at all, are happy with one purse and so on while others are into accessorizing. So, the big question is, what role do you want accessories to play in your wardrobe? Do you want to be a minimalist who has a bag because she has things to carry in it and a wedding ring? Or do you find joy in accessorizing?
Also, in my wardrobe, things fall in and out of favor- and then back again. So, I tend to hold onto items that have gone unworn for a while IF I still basically like them, IF they are in good shape, IF they still go with majority of what I have. Accessories, in particular, get a lot of mercy from me because they are typically small, easy to store, date slowly, and still can totally “make” outfits out of basic clothes. Your style looks quite different from mine, but I see that a good portion of your clothes are quite basic. So, in my opinion, a largish amount of accessories is not nearly as bad as a large amount of clothes, though of course one should be mindful of her purchases and make inventory of existing stash every now and then.
This being said, to me it looks like you still have near-duplicates in your accessories (for example: among the long necklaces there are 3 multiple chain-style necklaces that look quite similar, also three of your purses are almost identical in shape). Now, photos never tell the whole truth, and they certainly tell nothing about how you wear what you own. But if you would like to wear certain items more often, it’s good to be aware of this because similar items mean splitting wears. But, again, it all depends on the direction you want to take your wardrobe.
What you wrote in your first two paragraphs, Sara, is basically how I feel about accessories. I definitely find joy in accessorizing and always have. While I don’t switch my purses out daily, I do enjoy swapping them every month or two and I really love jewelry. I am not as much of a shoe hound as I used to be, so I am feeling better about having fewer pairs now. Like you, I find that things fall in and out of my favor, especially in terms of jewelry, but I do like to get rid of things I can’t see myself wearing again. I know that a lot of my jewelry pieces are similar and I could purge more and I probably will over time. I know that I am splitting my wears with some of the items. As I mentioned above, I will likely “KonMari” my jewelry soon, so some of those duplicates will probably go.
So I’ll probably be an outlier here (vs prior responses) – I don’t think your numbers are too high – OR too low – but exactly where you need them to be for comfort today. If the volume of stuff feels too much for you, then the path you’re on will take care of that. Your diligent analysis is admirable, and I think you can trust yourself and the process to determine what kind of inventory you need of shoes, scarves, jewelry, etc. as your thoughtful dressing evolves. I do think lifestyles change from year-to-year, so what you wore in 2015 is likely different than 2014 and what will happen in 2016. For example, I have kept one ‘evening’ bag in my closet, although I haven’t needed anything like that for a couple of years. But I know I have at least two upcoming weddings to attend, and anticipate needing that bag. The trick for me is NOT to go out & buy a new bag! As for continuing to buy, your plan is to replace items that you know (through your analysis) with things that would better serve. You can check your needs list against the inevitable impulse to buy more than you really need, but that’s a personal threshold dictated by budget, storage, lifestyle, comfort, and the statement you want to make. Your Love It Wear It challenge is a disciplined and sophisticated approach to mindfulness in your wardrobe. Whatever volume you end up possessing, it is indeed YOUR statement of who you are and what you value. Dressing ourselves should be self-expressive, low-stress and fun – you’re clearly getting there! Well done, Debbie!
totally agree with the above post – it’s not about how many items you own (unless the number is causing problems), but whether new purchases (and wardrobe pruning) is controlled and thoughtful.
Thank you, Sybil (and Alice). I feel like you understand me and what I’m trying to do. I really believe that wardrobe size is an individual thing, as I have written about before. It can even change considerably over time for the same person, like it has for me. At this point, I don’t see myself ever becoming a wardrobe minimalist, but you never know. I don’t think I would have seen myself potentially being quite satisfied with only 20 pairs of shoes, either! And I had SO much jewelry before (3 times what I have now) and didn’t even feel bad about it at all. I have changed and I believe I will continue to change. I think it’s okay to hold on to some things we don’t use, like your evening bag. That makes sense. If there are things we have the occasion to wear and don’t, well then is a time to think deeply about whether it’s time to pass them on. I am not going to specifically do LIWI the same way this year, but I am carrying the spirit of the challenge forward. I am also continuing to use “the hanger trick” and track my wears, so I will see what is and isn’t being used. As I have written before, what I really need to focus on is bring LESS in. It doesn’t matter how good I am at culling if I keep buying at the rate I have been. I am not going to do a shopping fast as some have recommended, as that doesn’t work for me. I only end up “binging” later when I do that. I am working on “balanced shopping,” which I believe is MORE challenging than a shopping fast, at least it is for me. I have hope that I can learn to do it and I believe this year will be the year I make a lot of headway with it.
I can appreciate Helen’s perspective as I know and admire people for whom clothing plays primarily a utilitarian role. But, I think there are a significant number of people–especially those who are ‘visually-oriented,’ and Debbie’s photos are evidence of her keen eye–for whom clothing serves additional important functions: as a means of creativity and self-expression, as a way to convey a message about their continuing vitality and engagement in life, and, as a way to enjoy color, which in certain climates or life situations helps to combat depression. While for many of the readers of this blog, clothing also serves to mask fears of inadequacy and lack of control, it does not at all mean that we do not at the same time strive to serve the needs of others. No doubt some people who care about clothes use dress as a yardstick to judge others and feel superior to them, but I have never felt that Debbie is like that. Because you are so analytic about your clothing choices and wardrobe, I think the process of gradual ‘renunciation of/detachment from’ the focus on wardrobe is the more reasonable path. I suspect that with aging and self-acceptance, the process will grow easier. At least, I think that is what has been happening for me. Thanks again, Debbie, for your courage in sharing your struggles.
I really like what you said, Dianne.
Well said Dianne! (and no typos!)
I really like what you had to say, Dianne. I think there is no right or wrong in general in terms of wardrobe size, just for us individually (as long as we aren’t hoarders or in serious debt). I can appreciate Helen’s perspective, too, but I am very visually oriented and do use my clothing and accessories as a means of self-expression. I don’t expect others to be like that, though, and have friends who care very little about clothing and that’s just fine. I agree that detaching from the focus on wardrobe is the reasonable path for me. I can still enjoy clothing and accessories, but have it occupy less of my attention. I’m not sure where that leaves this blog, however, but it was never my intention to do this forever. I really didn’t even think I would do it this long, but I have continued to have things to write about and I found a larger audience than I thought I would. I want to keep blogging long-term, I think, but I don’t see myself writing about these topics indefinitely. I am taking it all day by day… I really do hope to have more self-acceptance as I age. I hit a big milestone this year and it’s kind of scary (but better than the alternative to be sure!).
Hey Debbie, loved this post. I don’t know exactly why, but I find these so relaxing to read! 🙂
I also want to acknowledge the generous level of vulnerability and frank self-awareness that you continue to share. I believe you are a discerning woman who can separate the wheat from the chaff when putting yourself out there, but still, when I catch a whiff of judgey and lecturing vibes, I know that sometimes (especially as empaths) our feelings can be tender and susceptible despite our own sound sensibilities. So if it’s at all helpful I just wanted to broadcast a gentle psa reminder: anything coming from a place that tries to guilt and shame a person about what they should be doing and how they should be doing it will probably not help in cultivating the compassion, love and acceptance of self that is a foundation for lasting internal/external growth and change. None of us are required to play the parts others would like to script for us, but rather we can write and produce our own play by being true to ourselves. I think you do pretty well at that, Debbie – and I like watching your play! 😀
Your comment brought tears to my eyes, Claire. Thank you for seeing me and understanding how hard it can be to put myself out there and expose myself to criticism. I am a major empath, so it is definitely hard for me to read some of what is written here. I believe that most people who comment are trying to be helpful, but what works best for them is not always what will be the right approach for everyone, including me. And we are all on our own path and will do things in our own time. This blog is about my journey, warts and all, and I share it at least in part to give a voice to what is so often a covert and shameful struggle. I like what you said about it being like a play. I am working to be true to myself, but I also don’t want to be so pig-headed that I don’t take in feedback that could be helpful. I don’t need everyone to tell me I am doing great because sometimes I’m not… But there is no one right path and there never has been. I appreciate your looking out for me – thank you!
I think you have a lovely jewelry collection and I don’t think it seems excessive at all! One good thing about jewelry is that it does not take up a lot of space, so a person can have a lot of variety without feeling overwhelmed by storage issues. I have quite a lot of jewelry (not sue of the exact numbers, but it all fits into my jewelry box so it’s fine), but I love and wear most of it, and most of the pieces were gifts, so I have additional warm feelings because of that. Really, Debbie, I think you’ve done a great job of keeping pieces that fit in with your style.
As for shoes, as a fellow person with fussy feet I have learned the hard way not to let the shoe population get too low, because when something wears out it can’t always be immediately replaced. Also, you are smart to have a list of shoes to keep your eyes out for – At least for me this keeps me from getting distracted by the hundreds of shoes that won’t work.
You’re right about jewelry not taking up a lot of space, Murphy. I now have quite a bit of “breathing room” in my jewelry case. Granted it is a very big case, but it used to house three times as many pieces. I do think I have done a good job in paring down and keeping things that fit my style. Could I pare down more? Sure, and I believe I will, but I don’t feel a sense of urgency around it. Good point about the shoes. Just because I have listed shoes I would like to buy, it will take me a long time to find them and it’s likely I will change my mind along the way about priorities. It’s not like I’m going to go to a shoe store tomorrow and buy all of them. Some of the shoes I listed will invariably be hard to find, especially when it comes down to the comfort aspect. But you’re right that I will at least have something to go on, which can only help.
If the only thing wrong with those grey boots is the height of the heel, it could be worth a trip to a decent cobbler (check yelp!) to get a lower heel put on. I’ve seen blogs of people who did this and I’ve been astounded by how it can really change the look and comfort level of shoes, when done right.
I actually have gotten another year’s worth of wear out of my daily work booties by going to the cobbler to get them resoled. I also use a rub-on polish to keep the uppers looking nice. I also periodically put in new cushiony insoles, since I walk a lot in these shoes. It adds up, but so totally worth it since it means I keep the shoe “churning” down. I benefit by not having to break in shoes so often and also my costs to repair are much lower than costs to buy a new pair.
I like putting in new cushiony insoles in running shoes periodically, since they lose their cushion relatively fast. Has been a lifesaver.
What a great suggestion, Jane. Thank you! I have a good cobbler who has done some other work for me, so I am going to ask him what can be done about the grey boots. Even if the heel were 1/2 inch lower, that would help with both the walking and the pant length issue. Good tips for maintaining shoes as well. I like to keep my shoes for a long time, too. I don’t go through nearly as much “churn” there as with clothes. A lot of that is because shoes are hard for me to find (just like pants). I also tend to buy more expensive shoes, so I like to extend their wear as much as I can.
Great post… I will do my inventory of accessories as well as I finished with my clothes.
You should try taupe color for shoes and purses. It’s between brown and gray and goes well with other colors. 😉
Good suggestion about taupe for shoes and purses, Dory. I could see myself liking that color, as it’s more cool-toned than brown. Best wishes with your accessories inventory. It can be quite eye-opening!
You inspired a big accessories purge a year ago and a follow up in December. Now my accessories reflect what I actually use. I have three belts, all of which are in heavy rotation. I wear the same steel watch and my wedding band every day and not much else so I let go of everything that is not a family heirloom or precious in some important way. I got rid of all my scarves except for the one I wear when it’s cold and the one I wear when it’s freezing. I have two purses, a big one I use everyday and one just for date nights. I purged all the rest. I have a formal clutch on my wish list for dressy occasions but have yet to find the one that gives me joy. I am now a true minimalist when it comes to accessories until you get to shoes. I have 40 pairs. I did purge several pair this year, I am still holding onto nine pairs I never or rarely wore. Like you, a couple are targeted for replacement with more comfortable alternatives, most of the rest are just taking up space. I will forgive two pairs as they are my warm weather dressy shoe and cold weather dressy shoe.
Your previous post discussed combining your seasonal wardrobes. I found I could not separate mine. I love to layer which is important due to the four (or five or six) season climate I live in. I will layer a jacket over a sweater over a summer tank dress. This also means I wear a lot of clothes. I did the math, I wear an average of ten pieces per day including workout wear. So separating my clothes by season doesn’t work very well. I would think the same would be true for you, particularly with a milder climate.
Congrats on how well you did with purging your accessories, Misty! It seems like what you have now is perfect for your life. Shoes can be challenging for a lot of people to get rid of. I know they are for me, probably because they are hard for me to find. Hopefully, we will both be able to purge some of the pairs that are just taking up space this year. I would like to be more like you in terms of wearing more of my clothes year round and mixing things up more. Now that I have everything in my closet all year, I’m going to try not to be so rigid about whether something is a summer or cool weather item. Probably more of them can do double duty than I thought.
Debbie, I’m so impressed that you track your jewelry wears! I’m finally feeling like I can track my clothing wears this year although I generally am aware of which items are in heavy rotation and which are bench-warmers.
Regarding scarves: I saw a way to wear scarves that make them more like a necklace that a floofy thing around your neck. Fold the scarf into a thin rectangle, knot at regular intervals, tie ends at back of neck. This gives you a bit of color as an accessory without being too distracting.
I know exactly what you mean about wearing things in spurts. I either wear scarves a lot, then I’ll switch to necklaces, then no accessories as I’m layering clothes. Keep your accessories until you notice that many years have gone by without wearing them. They don’t take up much space so there is no reason to purge anything you think you may use in the future.
Shoes: I second the advice to take some of your shoes to a cobbler. (Do they still use that word?) They can re-sole, re-heel, stretch and sometimes dye shoes. You can also paint shoes with very good results (purses too). I love shoes and have quite a few pairs but they are necessary as my arthritic feet swell badly and on any given day I have 2-3 pair that fit!
Thank you for all of your hard work and putting yourself out there so we can learn from you. I have such a better handle on my style, what I should buy when I buy, and a much more objective attitude about what I need to purge.
I don’t actually track my jewelry wears, Diane, but I did move pieces as I wore them to different areas of my jewelry box. Beyond that, I just have a sense of what I wear a lot versus not very often. I love your scarf suggestion! I will give it a try. I tend to agree with you about keeping accessories as long as we still like them, especially if we know that we cycle in and out of wearing certain things. Cobblers (yes, they are still called that) can be very valuable and I have used them to help add new life to my shoes and other leather items. About two years ago, I had boots, a purse, and a leather bracelet dyed black from brown and they all became wardrobe all-stars as a result. I’m going to see what can be done for my grey boots and maybe some other shoes, too. I really appreciate your kind words about me and my blog. I’m glad my writing has been helpful to you!
I would keep high quality scarves -silk, wool- even if they weren’t worn recently. If they weren’t high quality and you don’t love them I would be inclined to let them go. If I liked a scarf enough to buy it I often find it re-enters my wardrobe rotation.
Good luck with peep-toed shoes. My issue with them is that when I get to walking they rub blisters on the side of my toes. It’s very hard to predict that they’re going to do that when I try them on, I think it’s how my feet move around in the shoe when I’m ambling along, as opposed to just trying it on, but I’ve had it happen a couple of times to otherwise high quality shoes. Shoes are one of the more expensive things in my closet and I don’t like not getting wear out of them. If I want to show off my pedicure I wear sandals — but don’t get me started on sandals that rub blisters!
I don’t have many high-quality scarves, Ginger, so I’ve just been keeping the ones I still like in terms of color and style. There are probably a few more that will go this year. I have trouble with blisters with some peep-toe shoes, too, and I agree that it’s hard to predict which ones will hurt our pinky toes. I really like the look of them, though, so I will persevere. The ones I have that I want to replace aren’t really uncomfortable, but they aren’t super comfortable, either. I would like to find some that are more “walkable.” I don’t like not getting wear out of my shoes, either. I need to bring the ones that I still like back into regular rotation. I hear you on the blisters with sandals!
I don’t think your accessories are excessive – like others have said, they don’t take much room to store and our tastes/desires vary from year to year, and I would only get rid of a quality item I have not wanted to wear for several years.
My most recent discovery was SAS sandals. They are incredibly comfortable and I can walk for hours in them. I was afraid they might look too geriatric but after wearing them I don’t think they do.
I love SAS sandals! In addition to being lovely to your feet, they’re made in the US.
Thanks, Tara. It seems that some find my collection excessive and others don’t. I don’t think it is, either, but it is a very individual thing. Thanks for the tip on the SAS sandals. My mom has a pair and she swears by them. Her feet are even fussier than mine are. I didn’t know they were made in the U.S., but that’s an added bonus.
Thank you for putting yourself out there again Debbie. I don’t think your accessories are excessive. I currently have over 500 pieces of jewellery and 50 scarves. Do I feel guilty. No. I love my collection. Do they overwhelm me. Surprisingly no. I can go straight to the pieces I want to use with my capsule wardrobe with ease. To me it is my signature look. I realise other people might find this far too large but I am not concerned. It takes up little space and is a form of expression for me. It is no worse than a DVD or book or ornament collection other people may have. I usually have a memory for each piece. I have to spend 4 days a week in a uniform ( which I do put my stamp on with jewellery) so I enjoy dressing the other days. I have to get dressed anyway so I may as well have fun with it. I love reading your blog and you have helped me so much. Keeping going at a rate you feel comfortable with. It will always be as individual as we are.
Thanks for sharing your numbers, Dianne. I can attest to the loveliness of your accessory collection from all of the great photos you post in the Facebook collection. Your necklaces are especially gorgeous and are definitely your signature pieces, even with the most casual of outfits. It’s great that you have memories for most of your pieces and that you have fun with them. I have fun with my jewelry, too, and I am okay with how much I have. I can see paring down more and I’m sure I will, but I don’t see myself being a jewelry minimalist. Different strokes for different folks, but our individuality is what makes the world go round. I’m very happy that my blog has helped you. I appreciate your letting me know.
Thank you for sharing your inventory and thoughts!
I’ve been a big fan of your blog but this is the first time I post my comment. Sorry for my bad English.
I invest my money in this category. I stopped buying low quality purses and jewelry. I’m in the mid 30s and I have been struggling with my shopaholic problem for a long time. Now I’m fully aware that I really do not need to buy a variety of items but just want to own a few quality pieces. I’m a person wearing the same item again and again. Currently I own very limited number of accessories and happy with my small collection. They are like wearable art pieces for me.
Whenever I consider purchasing a purse or jewelry I ask myself, “Do I want to wear this item 5-10 years later?” (maybe 20 years for jewelry)
So if I spend $2000 on a handbag and could use it for 10 years, it will be $200/year.
I’m not rich so some people probably think it’s a ridiculous I spend so much money on just a piece of purse or jewelry.
However, since I started to buy only high quality accessories, my spending on clothing has decreased drastically (purchasing excessive amount of clothing was my big problem)
My budget on fashion overall is limited, I now carefully select clothing to purchase and make sure I love them. I know now what I want/need to purchase. ( I used to buy everything I found..absolutely no strategy there.. I did waste a huge amount of money.)
I’m ovbiously not saying every woman should invest her money on accessories or must go to desigenr stores. Every person has a different opinion and values of course.
It is just my thoughts and thank you for reading!
I have come to a similar conclusion – I prefer to buy one handbag, belt, piece of jewelry of the best quality and wear and love it for many years. I buy hardly any clothes any more, and what I do buy is usually classic style, which I jazz up with accessories. I am not very good at creating unique outfits, so I go for solid colors in shapes that flatter me and then choose an interesting accessory.
Thanks for taking the time to comment, Koi. Your English is just fine. I think your strategy of buying quality accessories is a good one. I have been gradually moving toward that, too, especially as I saw that the lower quality pieces would fall apart more readily. I like the question you ask before you buy a purse or piece of jewelry. It’s good for all of us to consider longevity, but it’s particular important whey purchasing high-end items. It’s interesting that you started to buy fewer clothes after you upped your accessory game. I can see that happening for me, too. Accessories make a huge difference and I will always love them. You and Tara have a good philosophy and it seems to serve you both well.
I just think about what Bridgette Raes says about “splitting your wears”. Some of your items look almost identical to me. I have 1 long silver necklace, 1 short silver necklace, etc. That way it takes the stress out of choosing…I like the challenge of seeing how many ways and in how many outfits I can wear 1 thing. I am just really bad at choosing, if I have too many choices I am staring at my closet like a deer caught in headlights….I have brought my wardrobe down to maybe 100-125 pieces and that includes all seasons and I work outside the home 5 days a week. I have 15 necklaces, 10 scarves and just a few pairs of earrings. I have a style app in my phone and I have been creating outfits from these things and I have created more outfits than I could ever wear and I am just still on cold weather. I have donated 12 large boxes of clothing to Goodwill and I feel so free, but even more creative and having more fun with my wardrobe than when I had an overstuffed closet. Also, I don’t even feel like shopping. I am just making a list of things I really would like or need to replace and will be patient until the perfect thing comes along. I know everyone is different and I don’t want to seem like I am judging. I love reading everyone’s opinions and stories of how they are managing their wardrobes, doing that has helped me get to the place I am at now. I just wanted to share my story.
Thanks for sharing your story, Linda. It seems that you have made amazing progress and are in a great place with your wardrobe. Those style apps for the phone seem like they are so helpful. I haven’t used one yet, but I can see the beauty in it. I do think about Bridgette Raes “splitting your wears” concept, but most of my similar items were purchased long ago. Over time, I will likely pare down more, but I am okay with having more pieces now (especially since I have a third of the jewelry I had two years ago). For future purchases, I am going to aim for far fewer and more unique items. More bang for my buck, so to speak…
Hi Debbie, congrats on completing your challenge! It sounds like you have learned a lot about your style from your LIWI year. I really enjoyed reading your wrap-up and seeing your plans for moving forward this year. I think focusing on shoes makes a lot of sense.
I agree with some of your other commenters that it can be a good strategy to keep good-quality accessories that may not be in current rotation, since they are generally small and easy to store. I had a thought about your scarves though that I have not seen others mention. I think that since you have a lot of striped tops these should be pretty easy to mix with your patterned scarves (if you like that look…and you might not…I love pattern mixing of this sort but my style is not so minimalist as yours).
But you might be having trouble incorporating scarves into outfits (or feel uninspired to wear them) because a lot of them do not actually mesh that well with the color palette of your clothing. Sometimes a warm and cool mix can work quite nicely — the scarf at top right of the top picture with the sunburst/mosaic like pattern would be great with a cobalt-striped top, even though it has orange in it. But some of the others — the two below the “sunburst” scarf that are dominated by oranges and reds; the one at bottom left of that first picture that is dominated by a warm yellow-green; the fuzzy orange and black one in the second picture; the one with chevrons in shades of acid green at right in the second picture; and the paisley one at bottom right of the second picture — these all seem far too “warm” to me. Of course, computer monitors can be deceiving, and again I think in some cases a warm-cool mix can work well. But it might be worth taking a hard look at some of these scarves in relation to the current color palette of your clothing — if they don’t mesh well, and you’re committed to your cooler, jewel-tone palette, I would bet that those warmer scarves will never come back into rotation.
Thanks for your congrats, Sarah. I’m glad you liked this post. I appreciate your input on my scarves. I actually do like pattern mixing and have done it with some of my scarves in the past (like the polka dot and floral ones with my striped tops). I know that some of my scarves are warmer in tone and those may end up having to go as a result. I see keeping all of the scarves in the first picture, as I have things I like to wear with them (maybe the first one with the orange and red might go). I love the fuzzy one as it is soft and warm and was knitted by a friend, but the one with the acid green and the paisley print one probably are too warm in tone for my clothes. That’s probably why I didn’t reach for them, but I didn’t realize it. I usually give my hand-me-down scarves to my mom, but she has said “no more.” She actually bought me the paisley one and part of why I have kept it is for that reason, plus it is silk. I do wish it was in cool tones, though.
Thank you so much for putting this and all of your other comprehensive posts together, Debbie. I always enjoy reading them as I love analysis too so they very much appeal to that part of me.
I was thinking about your scarves after reading Sarah’s comment (good eye for picking up the warm tones, by the way) and wondered about the black ones that you haven’t worn. I too wear cooler tones, including a lot of black clothing and shoes, and I wonder if you didn’t pick up the black scarves because you prefer to have color near your face. I’m finding this for myself so I may be projecting but it’s an idea!
Also, I’d just like to say that I have been reading your blog since you started it and you have come a long way from the place you didn’t want to be at. This is your journey so you know what feels right.
Thank you for helping all of us work through our journeys too.
I appreciate your acknowledgement of my hard work on these posts, Emmy, and on my progress. I’m glad you enjoy reading all of my nerdy analysis 🙂 Good question about the black scarves. I actually did wear one of the black scarves recently and liked it. I am okay with having black by my face, but I usually like to have at least one bright color in my outfits (I wore a purple coat with that outfit). I am going to experiment more with my scarves this year and I will likely let go of a few of them (maybe those warmer toned scarves). Thanks for what you said about my blog and my journey. I am figuring things out as I go along, just like everyone else is. I’m glad that my openness about my process is helping you and others!