2016 By the Numbers: Wardrobe “All-Stars”

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.

2016 wardrobe all-stars

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
  • Vests
  • Cropped pants
  • Dresses

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):

2016 wardrobe all-star thumbnails

I wore each of these items at least 8 times during 2016. 

Interestingly, 18 of my 2016 all-stars also achieved that status in 2015.  These repeat all-stars are shown below:

2016 repeat all-stars

These 2016 wardrobe all-stars were also all-stars in 2014. 

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):

2016 wardrobe ultra all-stars

These items were all worn at least 12 times last year. 

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:

2016 ultra all-star repeats

These 12 items were worn at least a dozen times in both 2015 and 2016. 

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Your Thoughts?

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.

11 thoughts on “2016 By the Numbers: Wardrobe “All-Stars”

  1. You sound calm and positive,Debbie, and I see nothing amiss in your numbers. You know, I am one who usually says/thinks “Just give away more and you will wear a greater percentage of your things and your closet will be simpler. Just do it.” However, I am changing to “If you are happy and have the space, keep it as it is. Just stop replacing.” I hate that I am rather judgmental and find overly simple solutions for people who just aren’t like me. It doesn’t fit them!
    I am pleased that I wore my fancy stuff this year–weddings and such–and almost justified having them. No one card about my clunky, comfy shoes, including me this time. That is a change.
    I am still down to about 30-something all in items and need just to replace. I wear everything, this year even the formalish clothes. But I am trying to live and let live, and encourage different ways.
    Debbie–curious: which Meyers Briggs type are you? (I am INFJ). Happy New Year. Please keep blogging. I love my mornings with you. I aspire to your level of open-mindedness and acceptance of others.

    • Happy New Year to you, too, Helen, and thank you for your comment. I have tested as both INFJ and INFP, as I seem to be right on the cusp of J and P. My recent tests (not the actual Myers-Briggs but the online version – I took the “real test” years ago) have come out as INFJ. Interesting that we are the same type! I think that blogging has helped me to be more open and accepting of others, as I have seen the other side of it when people have been critical of me. I have also gotten to meet a lot of people from all around the world through this blog and I have been exposed to more viewpoints and lifestyles than I could have otherwise.

      I continue to be in awe of your small wardrobe! I’m glad that it works so well for you and that you are only needing to replace pieces as they wear out. I don’t know if I will ever be as minimalist as you are, but I have gotten more comfortable with having a lot less than I used to. You’re right that my main challenge at this point is to not buy so much anymore, which is why I have taken on the new approach I have written about. I wish that quality would be what it used to be, as I find that I have to sometimes replace things that haven’t even been worn all that much and that makes me sad. Hopefully things will turn around in that respect…

  2. Hi Debbie, Your tracking is so useful for working out what you really wear, what you need and what you like, and as a reminder that if we have too many items there aren’t enough days and occasions to wear them enough. I’m not setting wearing goals, but have identified a few items I would like to wear more so am putting together outfit formulas for them and adding them to my lists of suitable outfits for various activities. For home and errands I tend to wear jeans or denim skirt with bretton Ts or polo tops, for the office I wear dresses or skirts and tops, for travel and cities I have a smart casual capsule of items which will coordinate, mix and match, layer and dress up or down. I have a capsule of dressier items which only get occasional wear.
    My most worn items are those that don’t stand out too much, classic casual and smart casual. Whilst I like dramatic patterns and colors and need to wear brighter lighter colors I don’t want to draw attention to myself by wearing them so anything brighter gets limited wear.
    I thought I went off track yesterday after purchasing 4 items, but on checking my purchasing plan I realised that 3 of the items were listed on it for spring/summer and the thin sweater was a better choice than the winter T shirt listed. I purchased more than I intended last year, so aim to plan better and keep to the plan better in 2017.

    • Sounds like you have a good system for yourself, Lynn. I like your idea of putting together outfit formulas for your various life activities. I need to do that in more depth than I have. I am set for most of my activities, but there have been a few instances in which I found myself not having the right clothes and shoes for what I was doing. Like you, I tend not to wear my stand-out pieces as often (except for stripes, of course). Sounds like your shopping the other day was very good. You’re in a good place if you bought without referring to your purchasing plan but still bought what you needed. Best of luck to you with your shopping this year!

  3. I always find it helpful to review why clothes do and don’t work for my closet. It looks like every year you show more and more progress, which is wonderful news! Great job Debbie!

    • Thank you for your kind words and encouragement, Lisa. Yes, tracking and doing reviews like this one helps me a lot. Best wishes to you this year and I will look forward to reading your continued posts!

  4. Hi Debbie and fellow fans.

    I love the numbers game and finally took time to change my excel pivots to give me feedback for 2016 similar to Debbie’s. Out of the total 195 items I am evaluating, I found :

    12 items worn > 12 times, 12% against goal of 15%
    39 items worn > 8 times, 38% against goal of 33%
    154 items work > 5 times, 60% against goal of 75%
    with 41 items used less than 5 times, 40%

    When looking at my unused items, the category follows the two extreme seasons, summer dresses, summer dress sandals and winter sweaters. Oh, and many items from the party capsule. Basically I need no more of either extreme weather or festive wear.

    I have my all stars as shoes that have full toe coverage, outerwear coats and jackets, plus two pairs of jeans and one blazer.

    I like the analysis because it clearly shows what I need to stay away from and that I am still struggling to use what I have. I love my clothes now and after several years of tracking, find I have less and less urge to purchase anything, and do not have enough wear on my clothes to need replacements. So I think I’ll be in limbo this year.

    I have a few, very few, items on my dream list but the analysis here gives me the incentive to wait for the perfect item because I don’t want to dilute more my possible wears.

    One thing I don’t track here is the sport and lounge clothes. Those are way above average on wears. But when wearing them I am not dressing myself for the external world, so much as protecting the body from the elements (even the element of the cold living room). Those items just don’t feel as special to me and I am able to reuse them all the time without wanting variety. I don’t think I can manage to be so little interested in variety for my external world wardrobe. So I am not really upset by the results this year.

    • Great analysis, Jayne, and I enjoyed reading your statistics and thoughts! Congrats on doing well in terms of your goals, especially with the 8 times worn items. Good noticing regarding the lesser worn pieces. I will be doing something similar with my “benchwarmers” report, but I will also look at the items worn fewer than 5 times (although I may not write much about the items with 2-4 wears). I don’t track all or my sport and lounge wear, either, just the hanging pieces. I never have a problem with wearing any of that stuff often enough anyway. You seem to be in a very good position with your clothes and I think it’s great that you have very few items on your dream list. I wish you all the best with your wardrobe and shopping in 2017!

  5. I did that exercise you did a post on where you set a target of how many wears you want to get out of a clothing category, and then compare to how many you’re really getting and adjust buying habits accordingly. That was pretty eye opening. The data helped me get rid of all my collared shirts, which I apparently never use yet keep buying. Also, it reassured me that I do indeed only need one special occasion outfit. And I have a closet that has less than 100 pieces in it, so I was initially skeptical that I could benefit from crunching more numbers, but it had a huge benefit.

    • I’m glad you did that exercise, Jane, and got a lot of it. It was very eye-opening to me, too! It’s interesting how we keep buying certain types of pieces that we just don’t wear, but tracking and other awareness exercises can help to cure us of that! I don’t wear collared shirts, either, even though they are supposed to be “must-have” items per many of the experts. Really, though, the only must-have items are things we love and wear! I have a very low need for special occasion items, too. Many people buy a lot of dressier clothes because they’re fun, but the best purchases are for wardrobe “workhorses.” You’re doing great and I wish you the best this year!

    • Like you Jane, I simply do not wear collared shirts and only need one special occasion outfit. In fact my special occasion item is a dress for the winter and I have one pair of everyday boots that is more than good enough to wear for a dressy occasion. In the summer, I don’t reserve any special occasion clothing as I think my summer dresses are nice enough to wear for weddings or dinners. I would have to buy a pair of nicer sandals since I only own two pairs birkenstocks that I live in 6 months of the year.

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