Happy New Year, everyone! I hope that 2017 is off to a good start for you. In the next few posts, I’m going to review my goals and numbers from 2016 and give you some updates and thoughts on my progress. We’re going to start on a high note today with my wardrobe “all-stars.” In upcoming articles, I’ll share an update on my wardrobe “benchwarmers,” a review of my purchases, and a recent closet inventory. I will also report on how I did with my 2016 balance goal and reveal my theme for this year.
The “All-Stars” – Some Statistics
Let’s dive in… If you’re new to the blog, you may be wondering what I mean by a wardrobe “all-star.” This term can mean different things to different people, but here’s how I have defined it for myself. Since I have long desired to wear the bulk of my closet items at least 8 times per year, a wardrobe “all-star” refers to anything that gets worn at least that often. Of course, some pieces will be worn a lot more than that and others may see little wear on a regular basis (formal wear, for example), but I find it helpful to have an overall benchmark to reach for.
In my 2015 wardrobe all-star review, I set the following goals for myself for 2016:
- Wear 2/3 of my clothes and shoes 5 or more times.
- Wear 1/3 of my clothes and shoes (a sub-section of the group above) 8 or more times.
- Aim for at least 30 “ultra all-stars” (items worn 12+ times).
Basically, I was looking to double my statistics from 2015, which was a pretty ambitious goal. I will base my statistics for this all-star review on the closet inventory I did in early 2016 (clothes | shoes), as I have yet to do another one (but plan to do so soon). The numbers may not be perfect this way, but I don’t think my wardrobe size has changed all that much even though there has been some “churn.”
I have some good news and some bad news in terms of my all-stars numbers. The good news is that I improved dramatically over my 2015 statistics, but the bad news is that I didn’t meet the goals above. I actually came the closest with my “ultra all-stars” figure, which was a pleasant surprise. Here’s how the numbers ended up:
- Items worn 5 or more times: 88 (72% of my goal of 123)
- Items worn 8 or more times: 47 (77% of my goal of 61)
- Items worn 12 or more times: 27 (just 3 shy of my goal of 30!)
Let’s look at the breakdown by category for the 47 items that were worn at least 8 times, as that is the key target for which I was striving:
- Tops: 20 (12 short-sleeved, 8 long-sleeved)
- Toppers: 10 (1 coat, 5 casual jackets, 1 moto jacket, 3 cardigans)
- Bottoms: 10 (4 pants, 4 jeans, 1 shorts, 1 skirt)
- Shoes: 7 (3 boots, 4 sandals)
I had no wardrobe all-stars in the following categories last year:
- Sleeveless tops
- Cropped pants
That doesn’t really surprise me, as the summer season is shorter here and I have more items for that season than I truly need, as I shared in my recent “Normal-Sized Wardrobe Revisited” post. I enjoy wearing these types of items and a number of them received 5 or more wears, but they didn’t reach the 8 wear threshold. This tells me that I need to hold off on purchasing more pieces in any of these categories and should instead focus on wearing and enjoying what I already have (a good rule of thumb in general, actually!).
Looking at the All-Stars
Here’s a look at my 2016 “all-star” items (one pair of shorts is not shown):
Interestingly, 18 of my 2016 all-stars also achieved that status in 2015. These repeat all-stars are shown below:
The “Ultra All-Stars”
As previously mentioned, my goal was to wear at least 30 of my wardrobe pieces 12 or more times in 2016. I came close with 27 items, which was 90% of my goal. Here’s a quick look at what I’m calling my “ultra all-stars” (one pair of shorts is not shown):
As you can see above, most of these ultra all-star items fall into the lounge wear or very casual classifications. Here’s how they break down by category:
- 9 tops (4 short-sleeved, 5 long-sleeved)
- 6 toppers (5 casual jackets, 1 cardigan)
- 9 bottoms (3 pairs of pants, 4 pairs of jeans, 1 skirt, 1 pair of shorts)
- 3 pairs of shoes (1 boots, 2 sandals)
There are also some other items for which I don’t track wears that would also fall into the ultra all-star category, including some workout tees and lounge pants, as well as my walking shoes. Here’s how often I wore the items that I did track last year:
- Black Eddie Bauer parka with grey lining: 95 times
- Black Ecco wedge ankle boots: 63 times
- Black Eddie Bauer Lily pants: 40 times (mostly worn at home and on walks)
- Burgundy Eddie Bauer fleece jacket: 37 times
- Lucky Sofia Straight jeans: 36 times
- Cobalt Vince Camuto anorak: 30 times
- Blue print short-sleeved Henley: 30 times (mostly worn at home and on walks)
- Green Patagonia sweater jacket: 28 times
- Purple print short-sleeved Henley: 28 times (mostly worn at home and on walks)
- Black Ecco flat sandals: 27 times
- Grey Live Happy tee: 22 times
- Purple GapFit striped long-sleeved top: 21 times
- Eddie Bauer boyfriend jeans: 20 times
- Black Taos wedge sandals: 20 times
- Blue/purple ombre GapFit long-sleeved top: 17 times
- Purple GapFit long-sleeved top: 16 times
- Black Cut Loose tie-waist cardigan: 15 times
- Medium-wash Lucky boot-cut jeans: 15 times
- Silver Ecco flat sandals: 13 times
- Blue striped GapFit long-sleeved top: 13 times
- Cobalt/blue striped Caslon tee: 13 times
- Black 2-layer crinkle maxi-skirt: 12 times
- Black Eddie Bauer knit Girl on the Go pants: 12 times
- Dark green GapFit long-sleeved top: 12 times
Twelve of my 2016 ultra all-stars – almost half – also fell into that category in 2015 and are pictured below:
Additional Information and Thoughts
Many of the items that I wore five or more times in 2016 were actually purchased last year:
- New 2016 items worn 5 or more times: 23
- New 2016 items worn 8 or more times: 14
- New 2016 items worn 12 or more times: 8
These numbers show that I’m getting better at buying for my real life needs and style preferences, which I’m happy to see. Although I’m still making some mistakes, which will be highlighted in coming posts, my selections have vastly improved when compared to the early days of the blog and prior to that time.
I didn’t meet all of my frequency of wear goals for 2016, but I’m glad I set those targets because it pushed me to do better than I have in the past. As has been the case for as long as I can remember, I continued to make too many new purchases last year (although much less than I used to make!), which generally serves to reduce frequency of wear numbers. After all, when one has a lot of wardrobe items, it’s difficult to wear them all that often. Two factors have helped to raise my numbers, however:
- I have been wearing more of my “regular” clothes at home: In the past, I used to only wear lounge wear at home. But in 2015, I vowed to start wearing more “out and about” pieces instead, especially my tops since I have so many of them. This has helped me to both feel more polished at home and wear many of my clothes more regularly.
- I’m buying more for the life I actually lead: Sure, it’s nice to buy dressy pieces and exciting clothes, but we have to be honest with ourselves. If we live a casual life and rarely dress up, it can be a waste of money to purchase fancy clothing. I strive to buy items that I like but that are also suitable for my real life. I generally select easy-care knit pieces in my favorite colors and patterns (like stripes!) and I feel good wearing them even on those days when I don’t leave the house.
On Item Limits and Other Helpful Tools
I know that I still need to decrease the number of items I purchase, which is why I’ve opted to do the every other week purchase plan that I wrote about back in October. This will help me to slow down my buying and be more deliberate and focused about which new pieces will make the biggest difference in my wardrobe. It will also allow me to integrate new items into my closet one by one rather than bringing in multiple pieces only to have them gather dust for weeks or even months before being worn. I feel that the new plan will be challenging, but I also feel that I’m ready for it now.
I’ve used item limits in the past, including last year, with varying levels of success. But I think that after four years of writing this blog and experiencing both growth and setbacks, I have a much better understanding of what does and doesn’t work for me, as well as what I need. I’ve made a draft list of the pieces I’d like to buy over the course of the year and I will update it after each individual purchase. I’m also going to refer to the conclusions I made in this post about the over-represented and under-represented areas of my wardrobe to ensure that I’m targeting my purchases appropriately for a more workable wardrobe.
I highly encourage you to create and maintain a shopping priorities list and regularly track your purchases. These two actions, in addition to wardrobe tracking, keeping an outfit journal, and the “Love It, Wear It” challenge (LIWI) have made the biggest difference in helping to improve my shopping, wardrobe, and personal style. Of course, you don’t need to do all of these things, but if you do a few of them, I think you’ll see significant improvement over time. This post from last June lists some additional suggestions that may also resonate with you.
I know that most of you don’t track your wardrobes to the level of detail that I do – and I’m probably only going to do it for another year or so (I’ve been doing it for six years now, as I started two years before the blog), but you likely have some idea of what your wardrobe all-stars were for 2016. I’d love to get your thoughts on this topic! Below are a few questions to help spark some insights, but feel free to chime in on any of the topics raised in this post or ask me any questions you have.
- What items did you wear most often in 2016?
- What do these pieces have in common?
- How often do you want to wear the items in your closet each year – or season?
- What variables affect how often you wear your various closet pieces?
- What actions do you want to take to improve your frequency of wear?
I look forward to reading your thoughts! I’ll be back soon with my wardrobe “benchwarmers” report and other 2016 wrap-up posts.