Do you think you could write down everything in your closet without looking? I recently challenged myself to do just that after reading and article titled “Deep End: Clothing Analytics” on the new “Reasonably Presentable” blog. Here are the basic instructions that I followed this past weekend:
- First, write down everything you remember owning, including what color it is.
- Put the letter “A” by everything that you feel awesome in every time you wear it.
- Put a “W” next to the ones you wear all the time (of course, the definition of “all the time” can be very relative…).
- Then go wherever your clothes live and write down everything you forgot to write down.
In today’s post, I share my experience of doing the exercise outlined above, as well as what I learned from taking on that challenge. I highly recommend that you read the entire article and try the exercise for yourself. In addition to the instructions above, the author also shares what sorting through your nail polish collection can tell you about your wardrobe, which could be especially useful for some of you.
So How Did I Do?
I actually remembered 91% of my wardrobe without looking in my closet! I remembered all of my dresses, short cardigans, pants, jeans, coats, and casual jackets. I forgot a few of my skirts, tanks, short-sleeved tops, long-sleeved tops, dressier jackets, and long cardigans. In terms of shoes, I remembered all but one pair. Here are the garments and shoes that I forgot:
When it came to my jewelry, however, I didn’t fare as well. I remembered 77% of my jewelry pieces, or a little more than three-quarters. I forgot about three of my necklaces, two of my bracelets, and fifteen of my earrings! Here are the jewelry pieces that I forgot:
What Does It Mean?
I’m not sure I agree with what the author of the article said about those things that we can and can’t remember:
Clothing you can remember easily you likely either love or have worn recently. If you couldn’t remember owning it offhand, think twice about whether it’s worth owning.”
I was actually surprised that some of the items I couldn’t remember were pieces that I would consider favorites, including my burgundy duster, cobalt tunic, and tulip skirt. But it’s true that I hadn’t worn any of those items particularly recently (within the past month or so), which may be why I had trouble recalling them. In my case, not being able to remember things may have more to do with still owning too much in general than needing to let go of specific items I couldn’t recall. This is especially true in regards to my earrings and long-sleeved tops, as I currently own 47 pairs of earrings and 32 long-sleeved tops, numbers which seem to be too high for my lifestyle.
Analyzing the “A-List”
Here’s what the author had to say about “A-list” clothes, those items that we feel awesome in every time we wear them:
Your A-list clothes probably fit some kind of pattern. Think analytically about the comfort, fit, color, durability, maintenance, versatility, and individual quirks of each of your favorites.”
In looking at the clothes in which I feel great every time I wear them, I would say they have these things in common:
- They are in my core color palette of black and jewel tones.
- They are comfortable knit pieces that suit my casual lifestyle.
- They fit me impeccably and are flattering to my body shape.
- They are mostly easy to maintain in that I can machine wash them and they don’t require ironing.
- The patterned pieces tend to either be striped or some sort of black and white print.
- The shoes are mostly comfortable and casual and are predominantly black or metallic toned.
I marked an “A” next to almost all of my dresses, skirts, long-sleeved tops, cardigans, coats, and casual jackets. My track record was not as good in terms of my sleeveless and short-sleeved tops, pants, and dressier jackets. The author didn’t mention shoes and jewelry, but I analyzed those, too. I marked an “A” next to about half of my shoes and roughly two-thirds of my jewelry pieces.
The tops that I don’t feel awesome in either have fit issues or have become too worn out. Many of my tank tops now feel too snug in the chest, as hormonal changes have increased my bust size. If this ends up being permanent, I may end up purging some of these tops when summer rolls around. Some of my short-sleeved tops either need to be downgraded (to be used either for workouts or sleep wear) or removed from my closet, as they are no longer in good enough shape to be used for “out and about” or even at-home wear. In recent years, I’ve been disappointed with the longevity of many of my t-shirts. They just don’t wash and wear as well as they used to, even though I am purchasing them from the same brands as I did previously. I continue to search for better options, but a lot of it is trial and error.
What About Rarely Worn “A List” Items?
If we’re lucky and are managing our wardrobes well, we wear our “A-list” items all the time. However, that’s not always the case for me and likely not for many of you, either. The article’s author suggested that we ask the following questions about those pieces we love but don’t wear very often:
If you have A-list clothes that you rarely wear, why? Do they represent a lifestyle you don’t live? Is that likely to change? Are you saving your favorite clothing for special occasions? If so, why?”
Here are some of the pieces that I feel awesome in but rarely wear:
I don’t wear many of the above items frequently because they’re not really pieces I can wear at home and I don’t get out and about as often as I would like. Also, quite a few of them are summer pieces and our warm weather season was quite short last year. I definitely don’t need to purchase any more dresses, as I don’t wear the ones I have often enough.
I don’t really think my lifestyle is going to change, at least not in the near term, which is why I’ve placed a limit on the number of “out and about” pieces I can buy this year (see this post for more about my 2016 wardrobe and shopping goals). If I cannot wear something at home, I really need to think twice before I purchase it, as I don’t want to end up with even more items that I feel great in but rarely wear. I think that if I purge some of the worn out and less loved items in my closet and push myself to think outside of the box a bit in terms of what I consider “dressy” versus casual, I can get more wear out of the pieces shown above.
I only have four pairs of shoes that I truly love but don’t wear all that often:
I believe that I will wear the shoes on the left regularly this year as the weather warms up, as I plan to pair them with pants as well as skirts for more versatility. The second and third pairs of shoes skew dressy, which is why they aren’t worn frequently, and the second and fourth pairs are not all that comfortable to walk in for more than short distances. I had the heels on the second pair shortened recently, so I believe they’ll be more comfortable now, but I will likely pass on the leopard print wedges this year in favor of a more comfortable printed sandal (on my shoe priority list to buy soon).
What if We Wear Them Often But Don’t Love Them?
There’s one more category of items that I haven’t discussed yet, those that we wear a lot but don’t feel all that great in. Here’s what the author of “Reasonably Presentable” has to say about those items:
Clothes you wear frequently but don’t feel awesome in are likely either acceptable enough but not great or necessities you dislike. Consider what would make those pieces of clothing great for you.”
Fortunately, I don’t have many items that fit into this category, which is probably an advantage of having a relatively large wardrobe. However, some of the pants and short-sleeved tops that I wear quite often don’t make me feel awesome, particularly those pieces I wear when I’m at home. Due to a painful nerve condition, I need to wear loose-fitting, very comfortable pants when I’m seated for long periods of time, such as at my computer. Some of my at-home pants really need to be replaced, but I have not yet found suitable options. Similarly, because many of the short-sleeved tops that I wear at home and for walks and workouts have worn out, I don’t feel great in them but am still wearing them until I buy replacements.
What I’m looking for in such pieces are comfort, good fit, and durability. I want items that are comfortable to wear that don’t look frumpy, worn out, stretched out, or boring. I want stylish pieces in colors and prints that will make me smile when I see myself in the mirror but that I’ll forget about while I’m wearing them. I don’t want to have to compromise either comfort or style when it comes to my at-home wardrobe, but that’s something I’m still working on this year. I would say that I feel much better about what I wear at home these days, but more so on the cooler days than when it’s warmer out. I definitely need some better warm weather at-home pieces, as I feel that I’m sometimes “settling” when it comes to that area of my wardrobe.
What I Learned and What’s Next?
So in doing this exercise, I learned the following:
- I have a fairly good recollection of what I have in my closet, especially in terms of my clothes and shoes (less so for jewelry).
- I still have too many clothes and jewelry pieces.
- I don’t love everything in my closet.
- I don’t wear many of the pieces I do love often enough.
- I still have too many “out and about” clothes and not enough at-home clothes.
- I need to cull worn out and unloved items so I can wear the things I love more often.
- I need better at-home clothes for the upcoming warm weather season.
It has been almost a year since I used the “KonMari Method” in my closet, so I think it’s high time that I do it again. Also, I never used Marie Kondo’s process with my shoes, so I will definitely do that this time around. I’m going to tackle my jewelry first, as it’s less overwhelming for some reason. I will likely do that this weekend and may report on my results sometime next week.
I don’t think I’ll end up purging a lot through the KonMari Method, but another blogger I follow had that same thought earlier this year and really surprised herself with how much she culled. The same may be true for me. We shall see…
It took me two hours to do the exercise I outlined in this post and I feel it was well worth the effort. If you’re at all dissatisfied with your wardrobe, I highly recommend that you give it a go. If it seems too overwhelming to try to recall everything in your closet, perhaps start with a particularly challenging area of your wardrobe. Taking the time to look at what you have, what you feel great in, and what you do and don’t wear regularly can help you to pare things down and shop more wisely in the future.
If you decide to take on the exercise, I would love for you to share what you learn from the experience. If you have other suggestions for evaluating and paring down your wardrobe, I invite you to offer your tips here as well. I also welcome your thoughts and questions on anything I have written here. Have a wonderful weekend! I’ll be back next week with another “photography interlude” and perhaps an update on using the “KonMari Method” with my jewelry and wardrobe.