My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

When I introduced my “Half Project” last week, I was going to share information about what I did and didn’t include in the active half of my wardrobe. However, since the post was already on the longer side, I decided to do a “part two” this week on that topic. I will fill you in on why some items didn’t make the cut. I’ll also let you know what my active wardrobe selections, holding zone pieces, and purged items have in common and what I’ve learned from analyzing these categories. If you’re a fan of analysis and “navel gazing,” you’ll enjoy this post. I also hope you’ll be able to apply my lessons to your own wardrobes, especially if you’re joining me for the challenge or are working on downsizing your closet.

My closet may never look this amazing, but I hope to pare my wardrobe down by half this year. 

What I Passed On and Why

A lot of thought went into my active wardrobe selections and during the process of making my choices, I opted to pass a number of items on. Consequently, my total wardrobe is already considerably smaller, which means that the challenge is off to a good start! While I didn’t try every single item on, if I was unsure about the fit of a particular garment or how much I liked it, I put it on my body so that I could make an educated determination about its fate.

Let’s look first at some of the items I opted to purge from my closet.  Although I didn’t include shoes and purses in my “half project,” I still reviewed those categories when I was going through my wardrobe, as I want to get rid of as much excess as possible. After all, the less clutter and overwhelm, the more freedom I will experience when looking in my closet and getting dressed each day!

In total, I elected to pass on 40 items:

  • 29 clothing pieces (including 8 sleep wear / workout garments)
  • 5 pairs of shoes
  • 5 handbags
  • 1 scarf

I took most of these items for consignment or donation earlier this week, but I plan to list twelve of them for sale on eBay shortly, as they are in excellent condition and I hope to recoup some of what I originally paid for them.

I always think it’s helpful to look at why we have opted to get rid of an item, as we’ll often be able to identify patterns that can assist us in avoiding future mistakes. Below I outline the patterns I noticed among my recent castoffs. You may notice that some items are included in more than one category, which means they were problematic on multiple levels and should definitely be avoided moving forward.

Color Issues

The following five items were passed on due to color issues:

I decided to pass these items on because the colors aren’t right for me. 

I thought that with my gray hair transition, I would enjoy embracing gray as part of my clothing color palette. However, I still feel that it washes me out, so I’m going to stick with black and navy as my primary neutrals. The two handbags shown have been in my closet for a long time, but I haven’t carried them in years. I’m not a fan of brown or warm-toned prints (for me), although I used to wear them in the past. I still like a good animal print, but I know to look out for cooler-toned versions like snow leopard and zebra prints. The sandals were a big disappointment for me, as I like the style. Unfortunately, the color is more of a bronze than the pewter I originally thought they were, so the sandals don’t coordinate well with my wardrobe. I considered dyeing them black, but I already have a similar pair of black sandals, so instead I’m going to list them for sale (I only wore them once!).

Fit or Fabric Issues

I decided to purge the six items below due to problems with fabrication and/or fit:

fit and fabric problems

There were fit or fabric problems with these six items, so they left my closet. 

Sometimes garments can look great, but they don’t work for us because the fabric is too stiff, flimsy, or scratchy. This was true for both pairs of black cropped pants shown above. One pair was made from a stiff and slick fabric that made noise when I walked and didn’t feel good on my body. The other pair was comprised of stiff linen and the elastic waistband was too thick. I definitely should have returned both pairs, but since it’s difficult for me to find pants that are the right length, I tend to try too hard to make things work. I don’t want to do that anymore and hopefully my challenge rule number eight (new purchases must be worn or returned within two weeks) will assist me in this effort.

The other four items all had fit issues, but could not be returned because they were either bought at a resale store or on final sale online. The black trousers are too high-waisted and are constructed such that they overly accentuate my hips. I love the style of the black jacket, but the sleeves are somewhat too short. The cobalt coat, which I bought on Poshmark, just doesn’t fit me right at all, although other coats in that brand flatter my figure well. The waistband is too high and it flares out underneath, creating a very bottom heavy look. The striped tee has a curved hemline, which I have decided I don’t like the look of on my body. The fabric is also too thin and flimsy, so it doesn’t merit altering it to have a straight hem. I plan on avoiding curved hems in my future purchases as a result of the lesson learned from this item.

Not My Style

Sometimes we appreciate a particular style on other people, but when we try to make it work on ourselves, it just feels “off.” That was the case for me with the following six items:

style-related castoffs

I like these styles on other people, but they didn’t work on me. 

I like the look of bomber jackets, loose tunics, fringed garments, tie-waist tops, and boyfriend jeans on other women, which led me to purchase the above items for myself. However, when I tried to wear any of these pieces, it just didn’t feel right. I felt like an imposter rather than my true self. I need to accept that I prefer and look best in clean, structured tops and toppers and full-length, dark-wash jeans. I will leave these other styles to those women who shine in them and I’ll stick to what I know works best for my body type and personal aesthetic.

Bad Resale Buys

As you read the sections above, something may have jumped out at you, which is the fact that many of my castoffs were purchased at resale stores or on resale websites. My track record for secondhand shopping remains sketchy at best, and when I can’t even try something on, it’s much worse. I won’t go into my individual reasons for passing on each of the items shown below, but they pretty much all have to do with poor fit, as well as another situation that I’ll highlight below.

I bought all of these items at a resale store or resale site, and they didn’t work for various reasons. 

I’m just too difficult to fit, plus I’m extremely picky about how I want my clothes to look and feel. I’m also highly sensitive to fragrance and it’s hard to remove the laundry detergent odor that frequently permeates used clothing. Even some items that are listed as “new with tags” still have that smell, so it’s clear that people are wearing and laundering items and then re-affixing the tags. This type of dishonesty and misrepresentation may be rare, but I’m not going to take my chances with resale sites anymore unless an item can be returned (so Poshmark is out!).

After my two month shopping pause is over in mid-July, I’m going to stick with buying new items that can be returned if they don’t work out for me. I’ve realized that I will spend less money and make fewer mistakes when I adhere to this shopping strategy. Since I will be limiting myself to a maximum of two “out and about” purchases per month, it’s all the more critical that I don’t make buying mistakes – or at least that I minimize them (no one is perfect, after all). My hope is that the pause and the new limits will lead to increased mindfulness and consideration, which will in turn lead to a better shopping track record.

The “Skinny Box”

As I mentioned last week, I’m allowing myself to keep a limited number of items that don’t currently fit me. These items are included in my overall wardrobe count but are not part of my active wardrobe (obviously). In order to hold on to them, they have to fit into a designated plastic bin, which is approximately two and a half feet by one and a half feet in size, as shown in the photo below:

skinny box

This is my “skinny box,” in which I’m storing items that I like but don’t currently fit me.

I had already stored some garments in this box prior to my “Half Project,” but I reviewed them again, weeded some items out, and added other pieces in as I prepared for the challenge. There are currently about thirty items in my “skinny box,” and I will only allow myself to hold on to ten items maximum at the end of the challenge. Pants are the most represented category in the box, but there are also a few dresses, tops, and toppers in the mix. They’re all a half-size to a full size too snug as a result of my stubborn menopausal weight gain, but they’re all items that I would want to wear if they currently fit me. If I manage to drop some weight in the coming months, I will review these pieces again and potentially swap them into my active wardrobe at one of my monthly swap times. In the meantime, the box is being stored in my garage, out of sight and (mostly) out of mind.

My Active Wardrobe

So now that we’ve covered what’s not part of my “Half Project” as it gets under way, let’s look at what is included in my active wardrobe. I have selected garments for the next full year’s wear, so there are both warm weather and cool weather items in the mix. I thought it would be helpful to look at patterns among the garments I’ve opted to include in my closet.

If you’re joining in on the challenge, you may also want to look at the types of items you’ve decided to include, as well as the common characteristics among those pieces you didn’t opt to include. Even if you’re not going to do the “Half Project” or a personal variation on it, it would still be beneficial for you to look at what you’re keeping and what you’re letting go of to see if you can identify patterns that can help you to shop better and avoid mistakes.


Although I like to wear a variety of colors, black and black prints make up close to half of my active wardrobe. Blue and blue printed items, which include denim, are also highly represented and comprise about a third of my “half project” pieces. The remainder of my current closet consists of purple, burgundy, red, pink, green, and gray pieces. I don’t like to wear stark white and other lighter colors, but I do enjoy wearing bright items. I don’t shift my color choices much based upon the seasons, although I do wear more non-black items during the summer months.

I mentioned earlier that I’m not sure how flattering gray is on me, but I’ve still opted to include a few cooler-toned gray items in the mix. I’m also less excited about green since my hair color shift, although I do still like teal and some brighter green hues. When it comes to future purchases, I’m going to stick with saturated jewel tones and black, as I feel happiest when I wear those colors.


I don’t wear a whole lot of prints. In fact, two-thirds of my active wardrobe consists of solid garments. When I do wear a printed piece, chances are that it’s a stripe of some sort. I thought that almost all of my printed items were striped, but I was surprised to learn that a third are alternate types of prints, including polka dots, subtle florals, plaid, and paisley. I don’t like “busy” prints, but I do enjoy breaking up my solids with a bit of pattern much of the time. I also include patterns in my outfits through the use of scarves, especially during the cooler months.


I wear almost exclusively knit pieces. Only 14% of the pieces in my active wardrobe are woven, most of which are jeans and coats. I like to be comfortable and I’m always trying to balance style and comfort. I want to look polished and put together, but my lifestyle is very casual, which lends itself well to wearing a lot of knits. Almost all of my tops and toppers are knits, as are a lot of my pants. Most of my jeans include a decent amount of stretch to increase the comfort level. I’m not averse to woven pieces, as long as they don’t feel stiff and constricting, but I’m fine with having a knit-heavy wardrobe. I also like that knits are usually easier to care for and don’t require dry-cleaning.

The “Holding Zone”

When I look into my holding zone, I notice more prints than are in my active wardrobe. I also see some muted colors that are not in line with my overall preferences. There are some pieces in my holding zone that I still like a lot, though, but that didn’t make the cut for my “Half Project.” These items are likely to be swapped into my active wardrobe at some point. Having the monthly swap allowance (up to five swaps per month) will ensure that most pieces that I still like will be worn over the course of the challenge. As I swap things in and out (remember, I can only swap something out once or else I’ll need to pass it on), I will make notes about my reasons for doing so. This will help to increase my awareness further as the challenge progresses.

There are a lot of warm weather items in my holding zone that haven’t been worn in over six months, as we’re still in “May Gray” here in San Diego and I’m still wearing cool weather clothing. Although I tried some of these garments on as I was making my challenge selections, I won’t know how I feel about many of them until they’re actually worn for a full day (or at least a few hours). I suspect that some of my “holding zone” pieces will still make the final cut, while there are others that I’m reasonably certain will not. I didn’t want to get rid of too much from the outset, especially if I wasn’t sure how I felt. There is plenty of time for me to decide the fate of my holding zone garments, particularly since I won’t be bringing in a lot of new pieces over the course of the next year. I will have more time and space to wear what I have and consider what works best for me, which should be a win, win!


I hope you found this analysis interesting and helpful. I learned some useful things from taking the time to notice and document patterns in what’s in my active wardrobe, what didn’t make the cut, and what made its way out of my home.  Now it’s time for me to just focus on wearing what I have! As I do so, I will jot down my thoughts and I may opt to revisit my outfit journal. In any event, I will make a note of what I’m missing, as well as what is especially working – or not working – among the items I’m wearing. By the time I’m ready to shop again in two months, I should have a much better idea of what I might actually need, if anything. If I don’t really need anything, then I don’t need to shop (although I suspect I will still want to, as old habits die hard…).

I will do another update on my “Half Project” sometime in June (I will write about another topic soon…). In the meantime, if you have any questions for me or thoughts to share, you’re welcome to include them in the comments section of this post. I’d also love to read about what you’re noticing about your wardrobe and what is and isn’t working for you. Also, if there are practices or challenges that have helped you to shop smarter and/or build a more workable wardrobe, I invite you to impart your wisdom to me and your fellow readers.

17 thoughts on “What Isn’t Included in My “Half Project” – and What Is…

  1. Tara C says:

    I’ve already discovered a regret in my downsizing that could have been avoided if I had actually worn the items for a day before giving them away. Lesson learned.

    I wear a lot of gray as I can’t really wear black or even navy (dog hair shows too much against dark solid colors). I love to wear lots of colors and prints, but only on top. No printed pants. I don’t mind woven fabrics on the bottom but dislike stiffer, structured clothing on top. This includes jackets, and I am discovering that despite my large collection of jackets, I only have one that is soft, cozy and also windproof with no air leaks at sleeves and waist, and that one is starting to get worn out as it is the one I reach for constantly, so now I know what to look for going forward.

    Looking at the items I wear the most is very helpful in determining what to keep/discard and what to buy going forward. I keep buying different things in an effort to branch out and vary my wardrobe (because I have a tendency to buy multiples of things and end up with too much sameness), but I’m finally starting to learn what actually works with my lifestyle and is worth buying.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’ve definitely found that it helps to wear things for a day or even a few hours if there’s any doubt about keeping or letting go. I mostly only wear prints on top, too, but I did get into printed pants a bit last year. I found a gap in my jacket collection, too, in that I need a lighter weight casual jacket for my walks. That’s high up on my list… It can be hard to strike a balance between too much sameness (been there!) and going too far out on a limb with new styles. I’ve had to course correct in that way, but I think I’m finally starting to get it, too! I’m glad we’re learning what works best for us at this stage in the game.

  2. Katrina says:

    I enjoyed this additional analysis. I really sympathized when you mentioned the smell of the used clothing. I have that aversion too, and that detergent-y smell gives me migraines. I gave up thrifting at stores like Goodwill and Savers because of it, but then I discovered that even clothes in the “high-end” second-hand shops with designer items are completely permeated with that chemical smell. And no amount of washing can get rid of it. Sometimes a good drycleaner can, but then you’ve doubled the price of the used item.

    So, back to the wardrobe. Did I comment on your Skinny Box yet? I should probably go back to your last post before I go on about it but I’m too lazy. One thing I have consistently regretted about my closet purges over the last however many years has been my ruthless discard of many, many pairs of pants. I have probably mentioned that I gained about 25 pounds before and during menopause and although the weight itself wasn’t particularly upsetting, it was really frustrating that my pants didn’t fit. Instead of putting all the pants (or even just a few) into a box, I donated them all as I outgrew them and bought new ones. BTW, the entire menopause phase was about 9 years for me, so I had no idea really that there was an “end” to it or when that would be. But it did end. And then I gradually lost about 20 of the 25 pounds. And had no pants that fit, again.

    I think what I am trying to say is a combination of things. 1. Give yourself a break on the weight gain since it’s really completely out of your control right now, and 2. Keep those pants! 🙂

    1. Tara C says:

      Yes on keeping pants! I have stopped getting rid of pants that I like that don’t currently fit for this very reason. My weight has fluctuated up and down many times over the years, so I actually have three sets of them: skinny, medium and fat. 🙂

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      I don’t think you commented on my skinny box before, Katrina, but I’m glad you did now. Thank you for sharing your experiences with menopausal weight gain and pants. I think that the 10 items I will keep at the end of my challenge will mostly (or all) be pants, if I’m still not able to fit into them all by that time. Since pants are so hard for me to find, I’m usually not too quick at letting them go, unless I just don’t like the style. I think Tara’s strategy with pants is a good one and maybe one I will follow. Right now, I only have two sizes of pants, which I guess are medium and fat, as I got rid of the skinny ones. But if I ever get that thin again, I will be fine with buying new pants. Since I tend to carry weight in my bottom half, it doesn’t take much fluctuation to go up or down a size or even two…

  3. Miriam says:

    I buy mostly second hand clothing and the smell of detergent bothers me too. Soaking in water and vinegar usually helps!
    Best wishes for your challenge!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for the tip and the good wishes, Miriam. I have tried vinegar, baking soda, and powdered milk (one at a time, not all three at once!). Sometimes it works and sometimes now. I really just wish that more people would use unscented detergent! I guess some people like that smell, but I not only react to it, but I also don’t like the smell of it at all.

  4. Wendy says:

    I’m super fussy about how my clothes fit and feel too but also the level of maintenance involved. I got rid of most of my wool clothing because I can’t deal with hand washing and constant pilling in thick sweaters and knitted pants. I live in climate similar to yours Debbie so I can get away with cotton knit sweaters or layering in the winter. Layering is something I have to learn to do better – I am constantly attracted to ‘one-off’ pieces and don’t have enough clothing (other than short sleeve t-shirts) that I can easily layer. For example, my winter tops are all of thicker materials or bulkier styles – sweatshirts, looser fitting thick sweaters and cardigans that are almost like outwear themselves. Then I can’t wear a jacket on top of the thick sweaters. I’ll be fine until the next cold season but I really have to keep in mind that layering pieces is what I need. I guess I don’t really know what layering pieces are other than long sleeve t-shirts underneath a sweater. Suggestions?

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m not the best with layering, either, Wendy. I tend to only wear two layers most of the time, a top and some sort of topper. I vary the sleeve length of the top depending on the weather and I also vary the thickness of the topper (different weights of cardigans, jackets, and coats). I know that some people wear three or even four layers, but because I’m so picky about fits, I don’t do that, as toppers will need to be roomier to allow for more layers and I like things to be pretty fitted most of the time. Since you said that you like to wear looser-fitting sweaters and cardigans, you might do well to wear a thermal type of top underneath them when it’s colder out. I got one this year from Costco that’s the 32 Degrees brand (I don’t know if it’s a Costco brand or if it’s available elsewhere). I know that Uniqlo has good options, too, and I think there’s a brand called Cuddleduds which also works well for layering purposes. Maybe others who live in climates where layering is more common will chime in with ideas…. I would like to learn to layer better, too, so I can get away with a smaller wardrobe following my half project.

      1. Maureen says:

        A pretty standard layered outfit for me would be tank top + long-sleeve shirt + thin cardigan + jacket/coat + scarf. I find that a wind-resistant jacket is super helpful for staying warm without adding much thickness. Scarves also add a lot of warmth without affecting sleeve bulk.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks for sharing about how you do layering, Maureen! It sounds like you’ve got it down really well. I usually only do two layers, but I can see how your formula would help you to stay warmer. I will keep this in mind for next winter (not that it gets all that cold where I live, but I do get cold sometimes…). Hopefully, Wendy will see your comment, too.

  5. Susan Loughnane says:

    Do you have recommendations for selling clothing? I saw that you mentioned Poshmark. I have been a shopaholic most of my life and I now have closets full of clothes that I need to sell or get rid of. The past two years, I have gotten rid of a TON of things but I would like to sell some of the new and hardly worn items. Is it hard to get set up on ebay? Is it better to try and sell through local flea market groups? I also am a huge Dressing Your Truth fan (so I have items that are from the other Types that I don’t really wear anymore). I know there is some kind of Four Seasons site but haven’t investigated it too much yet.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I have never sold anything on Poshmark before, Susan. I’ve only purchased items on there and I’ve had limited success because they don’t allow returns. I think it can be a great option for sellers, though. A quick Google search brought up these articles that you might want to check out:

      I have sold a number of items on eBay and have received a decent price for my items. The interface can be a bit tricky to learn and it seems to always be changing, but they also have some good help information to guide you along the way. There have also been a lot of articles written about this topic, too, including these:

      I have a stack of items that I plan to list on eBay soon myself (purses, shoes, clothes), so I will be diving back in and figuring it all out, too. I don’t think it’s all that hard to do, but my husband was the one who set up the account years ago to sell some electronics items he had. I mostly take my castoffs to a local consignment store, but I don’t make much money through that method. I do it because it’s easy and convenient (I take whatever they don’t want for donation to a local charity) and also because I don’t have a lot of expensive items. For designer pieces and “new with tags” items, eBay or Poshmark would enable you to get more money for they things you’re purging.

      I think it would be great to have a swap or sale site for Dressing Your Truth fans, as so many people get rid of a lot when they determine their type. Fortunately for me (or maybe not so fortunately since I have too much stuff!), most of my items are Type 4, but getting into the subtle nuances of my secondary type (still pondering that one) will likely help me to weed more items out. If you learn about that Four Seasons site and think it’s a good resource, please come back and share.

      I hope this is somewhat helpful. Good luck to you and good for you for doing so much downsizing the past two years!

  6. Jenn says:

    This post, like so your others, has been so helpful to me, Debbie.

    I’m still working on sorting my active wardrobe from my holding. From the start of the year, I’ve set aside several items I intend to consign or donate. I’m going to go through them, like you did, and consider my reasons for getting rid of them. Then look at the ones I’ve already decided will go into my active wardrobe and consider what it is I like about them.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m really glad this post was also helpful to you, Jenn. Sometimes when I write these long posts that are so specific to my situation, I worry that others won’t find them interesting or beneficial, but I’m glad it was for you. I think the exercise you’re doing now will give you a lot of useful information. What I did this week is the “plate exercise” for my current wardrobe. I wrote about this exercise in the following two posts last year:

      I haven’t gone deep into analysis about the common elements for what I would and wouldn’t buy today yet like I did in the second post above, but I may do so to see if anything has changed since last September. Many of the “would not buy” items shown in that post are now gone (or at least in my holding zone for the “half project”), so I was onto something. I may write about my most recent “plate exercise” if I think I have anything new and valuable to share. We’ll see… Good luck as you continue to work out your active wardrobe. I look forward to comparing notes as the challenge progresses.

  7. RoseAG says:

    So I see 2-3 ON items in the giveaway. Whenever I find myself getting rid of items from one particular retailer I make note, and think twice before shopping there. Is that an issue for you at ON? Or these are just random misses?

    I pretty much quit buying t-shirts at Target a few years ago because they so consistently got given away. I think when I’m there they look cute, but they just don’t work out.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Astute noticing, Rose. I think that’s a good point to take note of where our castoffs were purchased to see if maybe we shouldn’t shop there anymore. I think that the Old Navy items that you noticed were random misses that didn’t work out because I was veering away from my “tried and true” styles. I have some items from ON that have worked well for me, so I don’t need to avoid that store overall. I just need to be more careful overall about the types of styles I’m choosing. I have found that when I try to wear things because they’re trendy or because they look good on other people, they often fall flat for me. That all said, there have been stores/brands that haven’t worked well for me overall and I have taken notice. Good for you for stopping buying the Target tees after you noticed that they just weren’t working for you!

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