Normal-Sized Wardrobe Revisited…

The most popular post on “Recovering Shopaholic” – by far – is one that I wrote way back in February 2013, just one month into the blog.  Which post was it?  The title is, “What is a Normal-Sized Wardrobe?” and you can access it HERE.  In that essay, I wrote about a closet decluttering session my husband and I did and how it got me thinking about the concept of a “normal-sized” wardrobe.  My pondering led to a basic formula that used frequency of wear as a guideline in figuring out how many clothes and shoes we need.

normal-sized wardrobe

That single post has been viewed over 100,000 times!  Clearly, a lot of people are interested in the concept of wardrobe size and whether or not the number of clothing pieces they have is “normal.” I furthered the discussion of what’s a normal or ideal wardrobe size a year later with “What is Your Ideal Wardrobe Size?”  In that article, I delved a bit deeper and looked at how climate and lifestyle issues affect how many clothes a person might need or want to have.

While I like both of the above posts and feel that I offered helpful advice in them, I’ve learned some new things over the past few years. Thus, I thought it would be fun to revisit the wardrobe size topic today and offer some new perspectives. If you haven’t read the earlier articles, it’s really not necessary, as I will repeat the most salient points here and expand upon them as needed.  As with many of my posts, I will use my own wardrobe as an example to discuss the concepts I introduce and calculate a number of statistics.   But if you’re not a numbers geek, don’t worry!  There will be lots of explanation herein, as well as some images for my more visually-oriented readers.

Start with Frequency of Wear

I maintain my original viewpoint that there really is no such thing as a “normal-sized” wardrobe.  What we want to look at instead is what an optimal wardrobe size is for each of us individually.  After all, we all live unique lives and have differing needs in terms of our lifestyles, climates, and desire for variety.  In addition, these needs will shift over time and thus, our optimal wardrobe size will also evolve.

A useful concept to start with in figuring out your current optimal wardrobe size is frequency of wear:

How often do you want to wear the items in your closet?

In answering the above question, you can state your ultimate desired frequency of wear or you can select an intermediate number to begin with if the eventual goal feels too daunting.  An intermediate goal can be a good idea for those who have very large wardrobes.  Although you may want to pare down considerably over time, it may be too overwhelming – not to mention impractical – to even contemplate wearing everything you currently own ten or more times per year, for example.  Starting off with a smaller number (i.e. 5 times or even 3) can be helpful and you can always move the target later as you let go of the closet pieces that aren’t serving you.

Even though I have downsized my closet significantly (I will share an updated inventory, but here’s the last one), I still have a relatively large wardrobe, so I have selected eight wears per year for most wardrobe categories.  I would be quite happy if most of what I own gets worn at least that many times over the course of a twelve month period.  There are a few categories for which I have chosen higher or lower wear frequencies, but I will delve into those discrepancies below.

Next, Look at Climate

After you’ve selected your desired frequency of wear (you can always change it later), the next thing to consider is the climate where you live:

Do you live in a four-season climate or a more temperate place?

This consideration helps you to see how much crossover there is with your wardrobe pieces.  While some people can wear many of their wardrobe items year-round, others wear the bulk of their clothes for a few months at a time and then pack them away until the following year.  If you live in a four-season climate, you’ll likely need more clothes and shoes, but you’ll also need to be careful not to have too much in any given category, as the window in which you’ll wear them may only be two or three months long.

As many of you know, I live in San Diego, California.  Some of you may think it’s sunny and warm all year round here, but that’s definitely not the case, particularly in the coastal region where I reside.  However, we do experience more warm weather here than in much of the rest of the United States and throughout the world.  My optimistic estimate is that we have five months of warm weather here, which I will refer to as “summer.”  The summer season duration varies year to year, but five months is a good guess.  The rest of the year I have jokingly termed “not summer” because the temperature range is akin to what most people would consider spring or fall (autumn) weather.  We don’t have winters here per se, although December through February tend to be somewhat cooler than the other “not summer” months.

Therefore, I feel that I can divide the year as follows:

  • Summer: 5 months = 152 days
  • “Not Summer” (Spring/Fall): 7 months = 213 days

These numbers are useful, but there are other factors which need to be discussed before more calculations are made.

On Lifestyle and Clothing Preferences

We also need to look at lifestyle considerations and clothing preferences, for which the following questions may come in handy:

  • Do you work outside of the home? If so, what types of clothing do you wear for work?
  • Do you go out much in the evenings or attend formal functions?
  • Do you have hobbies and pursuits that require specific types of clothing and footwear?
  • What do you like to wear on the weekends (or your days off) and/or at home?
  • What types of clothes do you like to wear (e.g. dresses and skirts vs. pants, cardigans vs. jackets and coats)?
  • How often do you get dressed in “regular clothes” vs. lounge wear?

Now this is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.  When I did my “ideal wardrobe size” calculations back in 2014, I determined my wardrobe numbers based upon getting dressed in “out and about” clothes every day, but that’s simply not the case for my lifestyle.  Sure, it could be, as many people wear “regular clothes” every single day even if they aren’t leaving the house.  But that’s not what I personally do for a variety of reasons (comfort, health issues, personal preference) and that’s fine.  There aren’t really any rights or wrongs here, but it’s important to know ourselves, our lives, and our clothing preferences so we can plan accordingly.

A useful exercise you can do to help you process the questions above is to create a pie chart of how you spend your time.  You don’t need to be exact with the numbers; rough estimates will be good enough for this purpose.  Look at how many days per week or month you’re engaged in certain activities, such as:

  • Work (if you sometimes work in an office and sometimes at home, separate those out if you wear different clothes for each)
  • Going out (especially if you wear different clothes than you wear to work; you may want to separate this into casual, semiformal, and formal subcategories if all such activities are included in your life)
  • Home (if you wear different clothes at home vs. the above activities)
  • Workouts (this can be broken down further for various types of workouts if you have varying clothing/shoe needs for each)

Your pie chart will give you a good idea of your clothing and footwear needs.  You can then compare your wardrobe needs with what’s actually in your closet to see what is either over or under-represented there.

My Optimal Size Wardrobe

My lifestyle is fairly simple.  Although this isn’t a hard and fast rule, I basically wear “out and about” clothes roughly half the time.  The rest of my time is spent in lounge wear at home, but many of my tops are worn for both purposes, as well as for walks.  As mentioned above, the summer season where I live lasts for about five months of the year and the rest of the time we have spring/fall weather (“not summer”).

My Summer Wardrobe

Since the summer is around 152 days long and I wear “out and about” clothes an estimated half of those days, that’s 76 days.  During the summer, I dress exclusively in dresses and skirts and the proportion is about half and half, which amounts to 38 days each.  On most days, I also wear a topper of some sort, either a cardigan or a jacket.  Here’s what I would need in my summer wardrobe based upon eight wears per year:

  • 5 Dresses
  • 5 Skirts
  • 5 Tops for Skirts (I wear different tops with my skirts and pants because I don’t tuck things in and am very particular with proportions)
  • 10 Toppers (I generally wear different toppers with skirts and dresses as well, but I’m trying to become less rigid in this area)
  • 10 Pairs of Shoes

However, since I prefer to have more variety in terms of tops, I’ve decided that I’m okay with wearing those pieces less often, so I selected five times per year for this exercise, which would give me eight summer tops.  Additionally, I probably don’t need ten pairs of summer shoes, but I have included that number for now.  Here’s what I would select for my summer wardrobe based upon what’s currently in my closet:

ideal size wardrobe - summer

These are the 38 pieces I would include in my ideal-sized summer wardrobe. 

In total, there are 38 items in my summer out and about wardrobe.  Here’s a closer look at the items in each category:

ideal-sized wardrobe: dresses

These are the five dresses I would want to wear 8-plus times each summer. 

ideal-sized wardrobe: skirts

The five skirts in my optimal size summer wardrobe – 3 maxis and 2 midis. 

ideal-sized wardrobe: summer tops

These are the 8 summer tops I would be happy wearing frequently.

ideal-sized wardrobe: summer toppers

These 10 summer toppers would give me a lot of variety. 

ideal-sized wardrobe: summer shoes

Black, metallic, and blue:  the sandals I would include in my summer capsule.

My Cool Weather (“Not Summer”) Wardrobe

The seven months of “not summer” weather in my area constitute approximately 213 days of the year.  If I stick with my rough estimate of getting dressed in “out and about” clothes half of the time, I have 107 days to work with.  I pretty much always wear pants and jeans when it’s colder out, although I would like to purchase some warmer dresses, skirts, and accompanying pieces so I can switch things up a bit.  However, since I have yet to add such items to my wardrobe, we’ll stick with just pants for the sake of these calculations.

Assuming I wear a pair of pants, top, topper, and pair of shoes each of those 107 days, I would need 13 of each in order to wear everything 8 times.  That number feels a bit high for shoes and pants given what I currently own and somewhat low for tops, so I have adjusted the targets for those categories according to what I feel will work best for my needs and preferences.  As with my summer tops, I’m okay with wearing my cool weather tops just five times each per year.  I also opted to include different sleeve lengths in the mix as well as varying types of toppers.  Here’s what I came up with for my “not summer” wardrobe numbers:

  • 11 pairs of pants (5 jeans, 6 non-jeans)
  • 22 tops (13 long-sleeved, 6 short-sleeved, 3 sleeveless)
  • 13 toppers (4 coats, 2 vests, 7 cardigans)
  • 10 pairs of shoes

The total items in my ideal-sized cool weather wardrobe would be 56, and they are all shown below:

normal-sized wardrobe: fall/spring

These are the 56 items in my optimal-sized cool weather wardrobe. 

Here’s a look at the individual wardrobe categories:

optimal-size wardrobe - pants

These are the jeans and pants I would include in my ideal cool weather capsule. 

optimal-size wardrobe: long-sleeved tops

These 13 long-sleeved tops would serve me well and give me good variety. 

optimal-size wardrobe: short-sleeved and sleeveless tops

I would also include a selection of short-sleeved and sleeveless tops.

optimal-size wardrobe - cardigans and coats

Cardigans, coats, and vests to pair with pants and jeans. 

optimal-size wardrobe - shoes

Lots of black here – I would ultimately like to include more color in my cold weather shoes. 

My At-Home Wardrobe

Last but not least is my at-home wardrobe, which should probably be the largest capsule I own but isn’t.  These are the items that I wear almost every single day when I’m at home.  Even on the days when I go out and about and wear pieces from the capsules I covered above, I also typically spend some time at home in lounge-type wear.  As I mentioned previously, there is some crossover among my capsules in that I often wear my “regular” tops at home, but I also have specific items that I only wear at home and for activities like going to the gym and on walks.

I don’t feel the need for as much variety with the clothes I wear at home, especially when it comes to my bottoms.  A few pairs of yoga-style pants are really all I need. In addition, the only footwear I generally wear for lounging and exercise are slippers, flip-flops, and walking shoes. I’m comfortable with wearing my at-home items far more than eight times per year and many of them get worn 25 times or more, especially the pants.  I could actually stand to have more at-home clothes than I currently own and I have been actively working to improve this wardrobe capsule for the past year-plus (but have been somewhat stymied by the poor quality of t-shirts out there, as I wrote about HERE and HERE).

For the sake of argument, let’s say that I wear my at-home items on 90% of the days, as there are some days when I only wear out and about pieces and pajamas (which are in another capsule that I’m not covering here).  That works out to be 328 days when I make use of my at-home capsule.  If my target number of wears for the pieces in this capsule is 15, I would ultimately need 22 tops, 22 bottoms, and 22 toppers.  That number seems on target for tops but quite high for bottoms and toppers.  For 25 wears, the number would go down to 13, which seems closer to the mark.  However, I only have about half that number of toppers and about two-thirds that many pants at present.  I’m okay with my current numbers, but am open to up-leveling some of the existing pieces, particularly the tees and pants.  I will continue to focus on improving my at-home wardrobe in 2017.

Drawing Conclusions from the Numbers

I hope you found my personal wardrobe examples helpful, but of course your calculations will be quite different based upon your lifestyle and needs.  If you opt to go through the exercise above and come up with your “ideal size” wardrobe, there’s a next step that’s important to take.  You then need to compare the target numbers with your existing numbers.  Only then will you be able to determine your over and under-represented categories.  Once you learn that you have too many items in certain wardrobe categories and too few in others, you’ll be better able to plan your future shopping priorities.  Since we’re nearing the end of the year, this is a good time to make such determinations and create a list of the purchases that will best serve you (but you can do this anytime!).

Below is what I came up with in terms of the categories in which I need to curtail my buying, those that should be focus areas, and those that are at a good level currently and will only need to be replaced as necessary.

Over-represented areas:

  • Sleeveless tops for pants – I prefer to wear short-sleeved or long-sleeved tops with pants, so I will be phasing out this wardrobe area. I may opt to shorten one or two of my existing tops to wear with skirts.
  • Dresses – I have too many summer dresses for how often I wear them. If I buy any new dresses, they should be sleeved and/or heavier weight so that I can wear them during the cool weather season.
  • Skirts – The same thing is true for my summer skirts as for the dresses. They are mostly lightweight, so their wearing season is relatively short.
  • Summer shoes – I have plenty of sandals and should focus my shoe purchases on the “not summer” season.
  • Long-sleeved “out and about” tops – Although I would like to add a few tunics to my wardrobe, I don’t need any additional long-sleeved tops that are similar to what I already have, especially if they’re not appropriate for wearing at home.
  • Long cardigans – I have more than enough open cardigans, particularly those in solid colors.
  • Black shoes – I have too many pairs of black shoes and don’t need any more!

Under-represented areas:

  • Shorter toppers for pants – I mostly wear long cardigans and coats with pants, but it would be nice to have a few hip-length jackets to give me some style variation.
  • Workout/lounge pants – Most of the ones I have are pretty worn out, so it would be nice to get a few more.
  • At-home short-sleeved tops – Many of the ones I have are not standing the test of time after only 15 or fewer wears. They need to be replaced with more durable styles like those mentioned in this post.
  • Cool weather shoes – I could use a few more options here and to replace some of my “tired” pairs of boots and pumps.
  • Non-black / non-denim bottoms – A few more colored pants or skirts would be a nice addition to my wardrobe and give me added versatility.
  • Workout/lounge jackets – I definitely need a warmer jacket for my evening walks and I may want to replace one or two of my existing jackets as well. These pieces receive the most wear out of my entire wardrobe and are always “all-stars.”
  • Pajama tops – I didn’t write about my sleepwear capsule, but I do need a few more tops. If I can find a set or two in a tall option, that would be wonderful, too!

On-target wardrobe categories:

  • Tops for skirts If I stick to my 5 wears per year number
  • Toppers for skirts Specifically cropped and tie cardigans
  • Coats – Although two of my existing coats will need to be replaced relatively soon
  • Jeans – However, I may want to buy one pair in a larger size to have on hand for water retention and weight fluctuations, as jeans are the wardrobe category impacted the most by those changes.
  • Purses I have enough variety here, as I like to switch out my bags every month or so.
  • Jewelry – I didn’t cover accessories in this post, but I’m pretty satisfied with my current numbers there. I didn’t buy many new pieces this year and I plan to stick to that plan for 2017.


It was extremely helpful for me to do this exercise and I highly recommend that you give it a go as well, particularly if you’re curious about how many wardrobe pieces – and what types – you really need.  We often tend to buy the types of items that are easiest for us to find, which is why I have so many tops.  Many of us also have a tendency to purchase more pieces for our favorite season, hence my overabundance of summer dresses and skirts.  Such practices can lead to a lopsided wardrobe and quite a few “benchwarmers.”

I now have my “marching orders” for 2017 and beyond.  As I wrote about in my October wardrobe and shopping goals update, my plan for the New Year is to buy only one “out and about” item every other week, for a total of 27 pieces for the entire year.  I’ve been gradually putting together a revised shopping list to aid in that effort.  The “under-represented” areas above will be my top priority, but I’ll get more specific about the pieces I want to acquire so that my shopping is more targeted.  I will refer to my shopping priorities list often and update it regularly, likely after each purchase.

Your Thoughts?

I believe that as a result of my more targeted and less frequent shopping – and the exercise I did for this post, I will make better choices and continue to hone a workable wardrobe that I will love and wear.  I hope that you will do the same!  I wish you all the best in curating whatever a “normal-sized” wardrobe is for you and I hope that the thoughts I shared today will aid you in that effort.  Feel free to share any questions, feedback, and insights you have with me and your fellow readers.

29 thoughts on “Normal-Sized Wardrobe Revisited…

  1. As always very thought provoking. I live in a 4 season place though not particularly extreme, I also work in an office and am losing weight. It is a bit hard sometimes to know what to wear!

    • Glad you liked the post, Ruthie. I can imagine it’s harder to know what to wear in your situation. Weight changes can be especially challenging to deal with, whether up or down. Hopefully you will be able to alter some of your favorites so you can continue wearing them and since you sew, you can probably do it yourself. Congrats on the weight loss!

  2. Love this post! I am trying out quality vs. Quantity…my sister loves merino wool even in summer brand Icebreaker ..I was lucky enough to find a consignment sleeveless dress by them that I wear as a nitegown,that I wear on all but hottest is not itchy for me …I am getting some leggings also for Christmas and will be looking into a short sleeve tee… I would think this would be a good quality shirt…though expensive…

    • I agree that it’s better to focus on quality over quantity, Claudette. That’s an area that I continue to work on, too. I’m glad you are enjoying your new merino wool dress and have some other similar purchases planned. Often we are a lot better off purchasing the higher quality items because they will last so much longer. That one t-shirt will probably see more wears that 5 of the lesser quality ones I’ve bought (although I thought they were better when I bought them!).

    • Here’s how I do it:

      I do use a spreadsheet, but you could just use the hanging tags. A lot of people use smartphone apps like StyleBook, but there is advance work to get it up and running because you need to upload photos of your closet items (either ones you’ve taken or stock photos).

      As a start, why not just use the “hanger trick,” in which you turn all of your hangers around the “wrong way” (with hook facing outward) and then turn them back around after you wear the item. Another variation is to place worn items on the left side of your closet. Either way, you will get a sense of what you are and aren’t wearing before long. Others may weigh in with other suggestions, but I wanted to get you a few tips now to help you get started. Hope this helps!

  3. Grechen from Grechen’s closet has a few recent posts that fits in very well with what you are discussing here, in case you haven’t read them already.

    I like how you consider climate and lifestyle as main factors of how much to have in each category, as this is how I organize my own wardrobe. It is currently still quite imbalanced in the climate aspect, as I definitely have more clothing and shoes for winter than I do for summer. Like you, I live in a climate where spring/summer/early fall are very warm and cool weather is really only 4 maybe 5 months of the year. I use to live in super cold and long winter climate and it was necessary to have lots of layers, heavy boots for snow and big winter coats. My love for cozy sweaters and wool coats never wained despite living in very mild winters for 8 years now. I constantly need to hold myself back from indulging in heavy knits and coats as I rarely get to wear them. I’ve sold or given away most of them now and but can definitely still have less than what I have.

    This post has a link to her estimated wardrobe inventory in the form of a google spreadsheet to show her readers what she owns – right up your alley!

    • Thanks for your comment and the links, Wendy. I enjoyed those two posts from Grechen and feel we are kindred spirits in many ways related to our wardrobe ponderings and exploration. Her spreadsheet is very similar to mine and in fact I may want to revise mine to be more like hers, as I feel it’s more streamlined. Your experience with moving from a colder climate to a more moderate one shows the challenges inherent in trying to have our wardrobes match our lifestyles and climate. I used to live where it’s colder, too, and a few years ago probably owned more coats than anyone else in San Diego, many of them purchased AFTER I moved here. I have far fewer now based upon culling and attrition and am holding myself back from going overboard there again, much as I’m also trying to do with summer clothes. I think awareness is the first step and then it just comes down to discipline…

  4. You know this is up my alley! I did a similar thing with dressing 3 times per week for ‘out in the world’. I used 3 seasons. Cold, warm, and temperate (spring and fall for most folks). Here it is either cold or temperate for about 20 weeks (each) of the year and warm for just around 12 weeks. so that makes for 60 days of cold, 60 days of temperate, and only 36 days of warm weather dressing for me. I have too much, no surprise. Using amounts of what I have, I found most things would get around 5 wears, some only 2 ( namely skirts, shorts, and dresses).
    But, I know I do like variety and so I have to balance my desire for different options with the reality of less Cost Per Wear for items. I do wear some things much more often than others – jeans and tees come to mind off the bat whereas dresses I love in theory but don’t wear too often in the reality of my day to day. I also dress at home just as much as for ‘out in the world’, like you. I have a pretty good base there, but could use another pant option and a new long sleeve layer. New slippers would be nice, too, lol.
    One thing I do think is that in reality we repeat bottoms about twice as often as tops. I did my numbers same as you, with as many tops as bottoms per season, ie: 6 shorts and 6 tanks tops for warm season. But I bet if I tracked and really paid attention I wear 8 or 10 tops to 4 or 5 shorts. Just an assumption at this time, but it has me thinking a bit about future number crunching.
    As always, it’s sobering to see just how little we truly NEED. And a good reminder before we embark on a fresh shopping year.

    • I’m glad you weighed in here, Mo. I always learn a lot from your wardrobe musings. I think that like you, I will probably always have too many summer pieces to have them all be worn 8 or more times a year, but the exercise will hopefully help me to keep those purchases more to a minimum. I think you’re right about our wearing bottoms twice as often as tops and I find I don’t need as much variety there. Case in point, I wear the same few pairs of pants at home much of the time, but I like to mix up the tops more (and luckily can wear many of my less dressy “out and about” tops at home). Your comment has me wanting to do more number crunching, too! 🙂

  5. I recently started tracking outfits and I repeat bottoms far more often than tops. I also realized I have items that I’ve had for 5 years so while I have 4 definite seasons to dress for, if I buy classic styles in quality fabrics I can get a lot more wears over time. I’m a big fan of merino wool – I find it helpful in those transitional times, and it’s generally light enough to layer over or under other items during winter. I love color and gravitate towards prints, but they can also be the first thing I tire of. I’m trying to be very careful about my purchases of both in clothing and looking at accessories to provide that interest.

    • Like I mentioned above to Mo, Lisa, I also repeat bottoms a lot more often than tops. I agree that if we buy quality fabrics, they will usually last longer. I wish I could wear merino wool, as I know it has many virtues, but I find it too itchy just like other types of wool. It’s true that more striking items are often the pieces we will tire of easier, as well as trendier items. Bridgette Raes writes a lot about the power of accessories to give our wardrobes versatility. This is my favorite post from her on that topic and you might enjoy it if you haven’t already seen it:

  6. I found some of your questions regarding lifestyle to be a good reminder to have a wardrobe for our real life not the one we fantasize about. I have been tracking wears and identifying items that are worn a lot but will need replacing soon unless there is a less worn alternative already in my closet. Right now I live in a location that gets very hot and humid in the summer and has a short cold winter. We are moving to coastal S. California this spring or summer with frequent forays to the Berkeley area so that will change my clothing needs substantially. I have started monitoring the weather that goes with my outfits to see how well I can match what I will be living in soon. I’ve also embarked on a series of 10 item wardrobe challenges to see how many new outfits I can create with what I have. Just finished the olive and orange one with over 14 out and about outfits appropriate for the season. Next is gray and berry and the third will be ivory, blue & pink. They will get progressively harder LOL but I’m thinking this will also be a boon for packing for upcoming trips to CA! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Congrats on your upcoming move to my area of the country, Juhli! I hope you will enjoy living here. I think it’s great that you’re doing some long-range planning with your wardrobe to prepare for the move. Your 10-item wardrobe challenges sound very helpful and I enjoyed reading about your first one and seeing some of your outfits (here’s the link for others who are reading and want to check out Juhli’s post: It was interesting to read that you basically ended up with a Project 333 capsule once you added in shoes, accessories, and layering pieces. You built in a lot of versatility and were able to create some great looks. Best wishes with the move and your Southern California wardrobe!

  7. I am a huge fan of number crunching and do it all the time on my blog, so this post is right up my alley. I have also noticed that climate and how often you want to wear something are important factors in deciding how large or small a wardrobe will be. I also think that too often, people (including myself) get hung up on the “ideal” number size, but there is no one size fits all number for everyone, for each person it will be different. Have a lovely holiday!

    • I always love your number crunching, Lisa, and have enjoyed reading your posts that contain a lot of stats and numbers (as well as your other ones). I completely agree that there is no one size fits all wardrobe number for everyone and I caution against setting an arbitrary number as well (as that can lead us to over-purge in order to meet that target). How much we need is a moving target and involves many variables, which I hope that I did a good job of presenting in this post. I hope you have a lovely holiday, too! Thanks for your faithful reading and commenting on my blog!

  8. I live in a four season climate where it can be very extreme. This past week was -27 degrees and in the summer months it can be 100 degrees. I work in an office 5 days a week and the office can be very cold during the summer due to the A/C not being regulated very well. I go out and dress up for evenings probably 2-3 times per week. All of this being said, I have a huge amount of clothes and shoes. I wish I could keep a minimal wardrobe, but I love variety. I keep it pared down to the things I love the most and fit. I have sold a lot of items on Ebay but it seems I tend to shop and my overall numbers go up again. I struggle with curbing my shopping, but your blog has been a great help! Thanks for the great post Debbie!

    • Thanks for your comment, Bella. It definitely sounds like you are challenged on the climate front – that’s a very wide range of temperatures! I can imagine that you would need more clothes than someone who lives where I do, for example. As I wrote, there is no one right wardrobe size number and there’s nothing wrong with liking variety. Not everyone wants to be a wardrobe minimalist, but I can definitely understand the issue with “closet churn,” as that has been a big problem for me, too. I’m glad my blog has been helpful to you! Good for you for paring things down and best wishes with getting your shopping under better control. Different things will help different people. Some swear by a shopping hiatus or a “one in, one out” policy and there are posts on both on this blog. I have been working to be more moderate with my shopping but have had a lot of ups and downs. My plan for this year is to buy one item every other week, as detailed in one of the links above. That may be too little – or too much – for some, but it feels right for me at this point in time. Try different things, as it may take some trial and error before you find what is a good fit for you – and it will of course shift over time. One day at a time!

  9. Debbie,
    I listened to your podcast at the “I Can’t Stop Spending” website and found it to be very informative. I started rereading “Outlander” to give myself something to do besides surf Ebay at night after I study.

    My husband told me that I had scarves in every color of the rainbow so I put folded them and laid them out on a dresser top in our bedroom. I had close to 30 scarves! Seeing them out lets me feel like I have enough scarves unless I see something special and lets me easily add them to my outfit.

    It gets cold where I live and I wear long underwear and wool socks. I wear the same clothes on the weekend to school and work as I do at home. My spouse said that I need to mix it up a bit but I am content with my look for the moment. I usually am wearing are goretex Ecco boots in black or brown. I have started to wear more color on top just to mix things up since I am in the public eye a little more than I used to be. The students around me seem to respond to it.

    Yesterday, I saw a documentary on Minimalism on Netflix. I have seen the website but the two men are much more interesting onscreen. Perhaps Netflix would consider a documentary on Shopaholics? You have a great voice and what you say rings true with a lot of people.
    Please keep sharing and have a Happy Holiday!


    • Hi Maggie, I’m glad you liked my podcast interview. I finally listened to it myself and was pleased with how she edited it. Good for you for taking your mind off of shopping by reading a good book. I also think it’s great that you took an inventory of your scarves. I have long been a scarf lover, too, and used to have over 50, which was too much. I’m a lot happier with fewer, special scarves now. It sounds like you’re doing well with your wardrobe and have adjusted it well for your current lifestyle.

      I saw the minimalism documentary when it played here in San Diego and I enjoyed it. I think a documentary on compulsive shopping would be great and much needed! Thank you for your kind words about my voice and content! I hope you enjoyed the holidays and I wish you all the best in 2017.

  10. Interesting, thoughtful post – I’m saving it to refer to, as I work towards a more useful wardrobe.

    I also live in fairly warm climate (Central Coast Calif). However, like you said, there are still plenty of “non-summer” days. So, one thing I noticed is that a nice 3-season coat really comes in handy. It makes me look somewhat polished, even if I just wear simple black pants and a simple tee or turtleneck underneath.

    • I’m glad you liked this post, Chris. I agree with you about the value of a 3-season coat and I have a few such items myself. My favorite one is cobalt 🙂 Your climate is probably much like mine. We don’t really get “winter” as others know it, but it definitely gets colder here than a lot of people think. “Sunny California” isn’t always that!

  11. Hi Debbie, 6-month reader chiming in. It was this post in its original form which led me to your blog, and thanks mostly to you I’ve been tracking my wardrobe by marking off wears on paper since May. I haven’t tried to work out what I should have for our climate and my lifestyle in the way you have here. We have probably 3 seasons in our temperate climate here in Auckland- summer, which starts about Christmas until early March, autumn and spring which are similar in what one needs to wear, and winter which is about June/July/August. I’ve listed all my clothing in those 3 sections. There is some overlap because even summer can have cooler days/evenings where you may need a lighter cardigan or jacket. I am finding getting rid of things the most difficult, I have been managing to do it slowly and now have 25 “benchwarmers” not worn at all in 2015-16, plus a further 11 worn only once in those 2 years. The posts you’ve written about those are really helpful. Even now I feel I still like the 25 items… I’ve tried to do some other reading around that as well, not quite ready to let go of them. For instance, one is my only little black dress with silver sparkles around the neckline, and a small bolero- like black/silver sparkly diamonds jacket that can go with it.I still love this outfit. I have been out to some dinners and parties in the 2 years, but I’ve worn other things which I’ve also liked. I can’t seem to get the wardrobe down below nearly 200 items of clothing/shoes- have I think 142 of clothing and 50 pairs of shoes. I have added 26 items throughout 2016. Without your help it would have been many more. Also found some discussions on the You Look Fab Forum helpful although I don’t comment there. Still figuring it all out! Hope you have had a happy Christmas.

    • Welcome, Jenni, and thanks for chiming in. My husband and I had our honeymoon in New Zealand back in 2002 and enjoyed our time in beautiful Auckland! We hope to get back one day… I remember the climate there being similar to what we experience here in San Diego, California, except a bit cooler and with more rain. I often need a light jacket or cardigan in the summer, too. Good for you for starting to track and for listing your clothing pieces out by season. The more awareness the better!

      I understand about it being difficult to get rid of things, but it sounds like there’s really no reason for you to release some of the pieces you mentioned. Dressy items are often good to keep around even if we don’t wear them very often, as they come in handy for those occasions when we do need them. The outfit you mentioned sounds very nice and since you still love it, I think keeping it is a good idea. It doesn’t seem like you’re adding things at a high rate at all. We’re all different, but the number of pieces you added in 2016 is my target for this year. I would suggest that maybe you try my “Love It, Wear It” Challenge (LIWI – described in this post, scroll down: It has really helped me to better understand what I love and wear and has allowed me to pare down more easily. I have been doing it again since October (I wrote about it recently) and it’s making just as big of a difference the second time around. Best wishes to you!

  12. Great post Debbie !
    I live in a “four seasons ” climate, between 30 and 0 degrees. The summer is short, so I keep my summer clothes in a box mostly for holidays. I also have warmer clothes in a box for cold winter holidays. My family lives in a 4 season climat between +40 -15 degrees so I still need these things.
    As I am not working since I have my son so I mostly wear basic and confortable clothes to go parc, to the market etc.
    I have a box of clothes for work (clothes needs ironing) and special events as well.
    I have two groups of clothes changing place in my wardrobe during the year : one from march to september and an other from september to march.
    I like to have tops for 3 weeks, to avoid loundry. So I need arround 21 tops for 3-4 seasons, as well as 4-5 bottoms, 8-10 toppers and 4-5 pair of shoes per season.
    I also have at home clothes and sportswear.
    I have more clothes that I would need but I am buying less since I read your blog and trying to remove things.
    I did a quite good year 2016 but I am a bit afraid from sales period in january 😂

  13. I could use your advice on my current wardrobe. I live in Florida, but am hoping to get a job out of state in the next 2 years. Previously, I had lived in Finland where I had to purchase substantial winter clothing, boots, and accessories. I have not been able to part with all of those items because I’m not sure where I will eventually end up. My question to you is, am I being unreasonable to keep all these items? My closet is extremely organized, but several friends ask why I have so many clothes and shoes. Should I purge these items and worry about them when/if the time comes that I move to a more seasonal climate? Some things I never even got the chance to wear… Also, I generally hate wearing shirts and dresses, but 8 skirts and 5 dresses just in case. Do you recommend keeping them or purging them. I really appreciate any advice you could provide.

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