Last week, I gave an update on how I’m doing with my “20 for 2020” goals. I also shared the ways in which I’m modifying these goals to meet my changing life circumstances. Some of my 2020 goals relate to my wardrobe and style, as I outlined in this February post. Although I highlighted my progress with all of my 2020 objectives in my last essay, there’s more that I want to say about my wardrobe today. I also want to debrief the year-long wardrobe challenge that I took on last May, my “wardrobe half project,” and introduce a new rule/guideline that I’ve put in place for my wardrobe.
“Out and About” Outfits – Some Cold, Hard Facts
For all of us, this year isn’t going the way we originally thought it would. This is true for many aspects of our lives, including our wardrobes. At the beginning of the year, I decided to track how often I got dressed in “out-and-about” outfits each month. I had estimated that I wore such clothes maybe half of the time, but I wanted to compile some cold, hard facts rather than just guess at what was going on.
Here’s how the numbers have turned out thus far:
- January: 9 “out-and-about” outfits
- February: 12
- March: 7 (all before March 15th)
- April: 3
- May: 5 (through May 12th)
My January number was low because I was sick for a long time in the second half of the month (with at least the “regular flu” and potentially even the coronavirus if it started earlier like some people believe). My February number was probably pretty consistent with “normal,” as was the first half of March, so I’d say that my guess of wearing “out-and-about” outfits roughly half the time is spot on. I think 40-50% of the time is how often I typically get dressed in my “out-and-about” clothes.
At Home “Uniforms”
Of course, that all went down the tubes in mid-March with the shelter-in-place order that remains in effect where I live. With nowhere to go besides my daily walks and weekly anxiety-ridden grocery store trips, I’ve been living in my at-home clothing pretty much all of the time. Before the pandemic set in, I had already made an effort to create a cool weather at-home “uniform” for myself that was both physically comfortable and in line with my style aesthetic. This uniform mostly consisted of long-sleeved waffle tops, loose-fitting black athletic pants, and bootie style slippers.
Here are some of the pieces I wore at home for the first few months of the year:
Most of the tops had previously been worn out and about, and some of them continue to be used for that purpose on occasion. They’re all casual, comfortable, and reasonably warm. The pants are for wearing at home only, as most of my out-and-about pants aren’t sufficiently comfortable for sitting in front of my computer all day long. Because I suffer from several chronic pain issues, including nerve pain, I make a point of wearing pieces that maximize my physical comfort whenever possible. It continues to be challenging for me to marry comfort and style, but my patience and diligence have paid off, such that I feel relatively happy with my cool weather at-home uniform.
But, in addition to life looking and feeling very different this spring, the weather has also varied from what we usually see this time of year. Although I typically wear my cool weather clothes well into June, higher temperatures this year resulted in my starting to wear my warm weather items over a month ago. Now I’m working on coming up with a warm weather uniform that will serve me well in the coming months. During this process, I’ve come to some important realizations.
The Beauty of “Crossover” Pieces
For years, I’ve had very distinct at-home and “out-and-about” wardrobes, with little to no crossover between the two. Although I’ve spent the bulk of my time at home for years, I mostly gave little thought and attention to what I wore for that large sector of my life. I had a small capsule of lounge wear that was “serviceable” but didn’t spark joy or make me feel particularly pretty or stylish. I took the attitude that it didn’t particularly matter what I wore when I was at home, as hardly anyone ever saw me there. I didn’t look sloppy or unkempt at home, and my husband didn’t complain about what I was wearing, but sometimes I felt frumpy (the real F-word, in my book!) and unattractive.
A few years ago, I decided to start cultivating a better at-home wardrobe and allocated more of my clothing budget and shopping efforts toward that goal. That increased attention definitely resulted in nicer and more flattering lounge wear, but there continued to be a distinct separation between my at-home and out-and-about wardrobes, and the latter continued to be my top priority.
Enter the pandemic and the complete obliteration of any and all occasions for wearing my large out-and-about wardrobe. As the weeks went on – and especially once the warmer weather set in, I found myself growing increasingly bored with my relatively small at-home specific wardrobe. So I decided to challenge myself to see which warm weather items would work well for wearing at home. As I expected, most of my cropped pants weren’t up to the task because they lack sufficient stretch and comfort to wear all day long, but I did designate a few pairs that work perfectly well for wearing at home. As for my tops, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the majority of them are comfortable and casual enough to work as part of my at-home wardrobe.
I haven’t evaluated all of my warm weather items as of yet. For one, it hasn’t really been hot enough to pull out my sleeveless tops, so I’ve been primarily wearing short-sleeved tops. If necessary, I wear one of my open knit cardigans if I find myself needing a topper. For shoes, I’ve been wearing the black plastic slides that I bought for wearing around the house last summer. They’re sufficiently comfortable for walking on our ceramic tile floors and they pair well with most of my at-home clothes. I may want to add another pair of nicer-looking slides to the mix this summer just to give myself some variety and a more upscale option.
Here’s a look at my warm weather at-home capsule thus far:
Some of the tops were part of what I originally wore at home last summer, but many of them were pulled from what I previously considered my out-and-about wardrobe. They’re all tops that are casual in nature but can be dressed up if desired by means of what I pair them with and how I accessorize them. I will likely add a few of my sleeveless tops to the capsule as the weather warms up, and I’d like to potentially add in some more pants as well, but I’m mostly happy with what I have and feel that it’s sufficient. I’m pleased that I have many more “crossover” items than I thought and I’m happy to be wearing more of my wardrobe during these times of sheltering in place.
So, What about the “Half Project”?
This all brings me to giving an update on the wardrobe “half project” that I launched last May. Although it may seem like I’m taking a 180 degree turn with this shift in topic, I promise you that it will all come back together!
When I decided to launch the half project, here are the reasons I gave for my decision:
- I had too many clothes and felt overwhelmed by my wardrobe.
- I felt a lot of guilt for having purchased too many items.
- I wanted my closet to consist only of items that I feel good in and look forward to wearing.
- My theme for 2019 was “freedom” and I didn’t feel that my wardrobe was in line with that objective (interestingly, my 2020 theme of “enough” dovetails well with the challenge, too).
Basically, what I did with the “half project” was select just half of the items within each wardrobe category (outlined in the introduction post) to use for creating my out-and-about outfits. I moved the remaining items that didn’t make the cut to another closet in my house. I allowed myself to swap items in and out of my “working closet” as needed in order to determine what was and wasn’t working for me, with the goal of culling out the lesser pieces to end up with only my favorites at the end of the challenge. It got a bit unwieldy to keep track of all of the swaps, so things got to be a lot more “organic” as the year progressed.
Taking on the “half project” helped me to pare down my wardrobe and learn a lot more about what I need for my current body and lifestyle, as well as what I most enjoy wearing. I didn’t quite reduce the contents of my closet to half of the original numbers, but I’m a lot happier with my wardrobe now and find it much more manageable. I’ve also organized my closet in a way that makes it easier for me to get dressed every day.
Additionally, through navigating being at home all the time over the past two months, I’ve had a shift in perspective with my wardrobe that I’ve found extremely helpful. I’m now wearing more of my clothes on a regular basis when I’m at home, rather than waiting to put them on only when I have special plans outside of the house. This has resulted in a much smaller out-and-about only wardrobe and a much larger crossover wardrobe that can be worn both at home and when I’m out. This means that my wardrobe is much more workable overall, which was a big part of what I was hoping to achieve with the challenge.
A Few Numbers and Statistics…
I don’t keep track of numbers and statistics as much as I used to, but I will share some numbers here. I went through and sorted my entire wardrobe into three categories:
- Items that I only wear at home or for walks/workouts – These items are very casual in nature and are mostly stretchy knit pieces.
- Crossover items that can be worn at home and when I’m out and about – These items are also quite casual and are primarily knits, but they are a bit more upscale than the at-home only pieces. They tend to be more fitted and polished and often have special details to them.
- Items that I can or will only wear out and about – These items may be dressier, more fitted, or too fragile to wear at home around cats who like to be on my lap. In terms of bottom pieces, they tend to be less stretchy and less comfortable, such that I don’t want to wear them all day long.
Here are the numbers I came up with:
- Category 1 (home only): 45 items
- Category 2 (crossover): 80 items
- Category 3 (out only): 89 items
When I tally it all up, here’s what we’re looking at:
- 125 items that I can wear at home.
- 169 items that I can wear out and about.
- 214 total items (since there are 80 crossover items).
This is probably still too many items and I’d likely be better served if the top two numbers were reversed, since I spend the bulk of my time at home (even when it’s not a time of shelter in place). I’d like to see Category 3 (out-and-about only items) decrease over time, as I don’t go out enough to justify having that many items that are only for that purpose. Given my actual lifestyle, at-home and crossover items should make up the bulk of my wardrobe, so that will be my focus moving forward.
Introducing “The Rule of Ten”
As I went through my wardrobe in preparation for this post, I came up with a new guideline for my wardrobe, which I’m calling “the rule of ten.” In order to ensure that my out-and-about only wardrobe size stays manageable, I’m going to limit the number of items in each category to ten or fewer. Ten is a starting point and I can see myself lowering that number to maybe five or seven, depending on the category.
Below are the categories that I’ve designated for the rule of ten, followed by the current number of items I have within each category (in parentheses). Remember, this only applies to my out-and-about only items, not the crossover pieces that can also be worn at home.
- Sleeveless tops (5)
- Short-sleeved tops (8)
- Long-sleeved tops (12)
- Cropped pants (6)
- Long pants / jeans (16)
- Dresses and skirts (10)
- Tops and toppers for skirts/dresses (9)
- Toppers for pants – mostly cardigans (13)
- Coats and vests (10)
- TOTAL = 89 items
The way I’ve designated these categories probably needs a bit of explanation. Since I’m very short-waisted and don’t like to tuck my tops in, I have different tops for pants versus skirts. However, I don’t wear skirts all that often anymore, as I prefer dresses, so I combined the two into one category that will probably mostly consist of dresses as time goes on. Additionally, since I’m not as interested in skirts anymore, I won’t need that many tops to wear with them, and I can wear the same toppers with both skirts and dresses. I included long pants and jeans in the same category, as I feel that it would be reasonable for me to have just ten of both types of items combined. I don’t love all of the jeans and pants that I have, so I can see paring things down in the near term. I may also decide to combine long pants and cropped pants into one category.
I may shift these categories over time, but the bottom line is that I want to contain the size of my out-and-about only wardrobe. For the categories that are already well within the limit of ten pieces, I don’t see the need to add any new items. I’m using the number ten as my benchmark now, but I definitely see myself edging that target downward in the future. I think that the rule of ten will help me to get a better handle on the size of my wardrobe, and I like that it provides a useful framework from which to consider future purchases. Hopefully, having this guideline in place will help me to pause and reconsider buying items that can only be worn out and about, as I already have plenty such pieces.
So that’s basically the state of my wardrobe as it stands in mid-May 2020. I originally planned to discuss my personal style in today’s post as well, but in the interest of not publishing book-length posts, I decided to table that discussion for another day. I hope that reading about my wardrobe revelations helped to produce some consideration and “aha moments” for you.
I’d love to hear how things are going with your wardrobe and how you’re doing with your goals.
- What has changed in terms of your wardrobe in light of being at home a lot more in recent months?
- What would you like your wardrobe to look like as the year progresses?
Feel free to chime in on these topics or anything else you want to share regarding your wardrobe. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
34 thoughts on “May 2020 “State of the Wardrobe” Update”
It seems like the world has changed dramatically, but my life has hardly changed at all. Since we’re already into summer here (over 100 most days), I’m wearing my standard work at home uniform of tee shirts and long skirts. I did start merging some out-and-about tops with only-at-home tops last year, so I have quite a good selection (and can go weeks before I have to do laundry). I’m glad I have some crossover clothes because it really does expand the options and makes getting dressed more fun. My shoe situation is funny – I’m either wearing slippers, crosstrainers, or flip flops, depending on the time of day. So I really only need three pairs of shoes! The one thing that has changed significantly in the last two months is my out of the house clothes. I used to at least make some effort when I went out to do errands – clean jeans and a nice shirt. Now I actually wear my oldest and least attractive clothes if I have to go to, say, the grocery store, because I throw everything immediately in the washing machine with hot water when I get home. I’m sure I look quite frumpy and/or grungy, but I’m wearing a mask so who cares!
I am also going against the conventional minimalist wisdom and keeping a just-in-case wardrobe for office work. Who knows if any of us will ever work in an office again, but I don’t want to get caught like I did last year and have to buy a bunch of things at the last minute.
In terms of what I would like my wardrobe to look like, I’m actually very happy with what I have. I love the colors, everything’s quite comfortable, and I feel I have the right numbers of things. One thing I really want to do is finish the pile of alterations and repairs. I have been making slow progress, which is good, but it does bother me to have so many things hanging unusable in the sewing room instead of neatly lined up in the closet.
I like your rule of 10 and I think it’s a great starting point. You might need more of one thing and less of another. I often see wardrobe plans with 4 tops, 4 bottoms, and 4 toppers, and they demonstrate how many outfits you can make from the combination. That doesn’t work for me because I can wear pants umpteen times before washing and a shirt maybe twice at the most. I prefer to have the ratio be more like 15 tops, 5 bottoms, and 3 toppers. That gives some enormous number of possible outfits, plus reduces the laundry frequency.
I enjoy reading your wardrobe and style posts and can’t wait to hear more about your personal style discoveries. Style is such an interesting part of ourselves.
regarding the wardrobe plans I also need more tops than bottoms. I really like the idea of a 10 item capsule with 2 toppers, 4 tops, 2 bottoms, and 2 shoes. I could totally do that for mini sub categories (like a workout capsule or for say a 3 day long weekend trip, etc)
Wow, you live in a very hot place, Katrina! I see that you have already caught on to the beauty of crossover clothes long before I did. I really only have crossover top pieces, but my desire for variety is bigger there, anyway. I hear you on not wanting to wear nice clothes to the grocery store! I used to wear my “out and about” clothes for errands, but then I wasn’t wearing them much at all, which is why I’ve started to wear them at home (and I’m enjoying doing so).
That’s great that you’re happy with your wardrobe these days. I think in your situation, it makes sense to hold on to your office work wardrobe. No one likes to have to buy stuff last minute, especially now with stores being closed and having to rely only on online shopping. Like you, I do find that I need a lot more tops than bottoms. I like the ratios that both you and Mo proposed here. Mo, I look forward to when we can do long weekend trips again! I never like packing, but your 10-item capsule sounds like it would work quite well.
After getting really frustrated and angry about the current situation, I went on a cleaning rampage two days ago. Threw out three trash bags of stuff, including more than half of my tea collection, half my cosmetics, and anything else that I wanted out of the house that wasn’t worthy of being donated. When the thrift store donation centers open up again, I have a lot of dishes, books and clothes that will be going out as well. I am so fed up with my over buying and ending up with far too many of the same type of item. Not sure I can keep it to ten, but when you’re starting with 60 tshirts, even 30 would be an improvement. I hope I can maintain my resolve going forward. It felt so good to know all that clutter was gone. I reduced the number of things on my kitchen counters as well and love the clean look. I’m not convinced I could ever really become a minimalist, but I’m definitely moving towards paring down.
As I get older, I’m thinking more about what will happen when I move out of my Montréal condo, eventually the San Diego house as well (since that will be going to my husband’s son), and I want to get down to a more manageable amount of stuff to move.
Congrats on paring down so much stuff, Tara – good for you! I like a clean look at home, too, and have been very happy to get rid of the excess. Now, the only real excess is in my closet. I’m fed up with my overbuying, too, and hope that I won’t do it anymore. Yes, 30 t-shirts would be a huge improvement over 60! I know what you mean about wanting to get down to a more manageable amount of stuff. After my mother-in-law passed away last year, it took my husband and I many weeks to clean out her house. I would hate to saddle his son or anyone else with that, so I’m committed to keeping things more minimal.
Great post and thank you for the detail! I also have an “at-home” wardrobe of tees, stretchy pants and open cardigans. The last two months have shown me that this area of my wardrobe deserves attention just as much as the “going out/work” clothes. I’ve settled on 25 tees, 8 pairs of pants and 6 shorts/skirts/skorts as a rotation that works well for me. That leaves 100+ pieces that I haven’t worn in months. I’m planning an experiment to store half my wardrobe out of my closet and see how I feel and whether I need any of it anytime soon. I like how you set yours up so that you could swap if needed. As soon as I figure out how to do this in my small house I’m going to do it.
Sounds like you have a great at-home work capsule now, Tricia, and a good plan for what to do with the rest of your clothing. It helped me so much to do the half project! I realize that there were some important parts that I left out of this post, so look for a part two soon. It’s challenging to store clothing elsewhere in a small house. Some ideas: under the bed boxes, space bags, and even boxing stuff up in the same closet or dividing the “working closet” from the rest with a colored hanger (that’s what I did in my old apartment). Good luck with your experiment and I hope you report back!
Mostly all of this has me more and more interested in comfort. Maybe that’s partly turning 50, maybe it’s the shift in being at home in comfort wear the majority of the time, maybe it’s gaining a couple of pounds. The pants I have bought this year have been leggings, BF jeans, shiny cargo joggers, and GF fit chinos. All looser or stretchier than the skinny jeans that have been my mainstay for the better part of the last decade. By contrast (or maybe because of this) I am seeking closer fit tops. Not tight, but skimming the waist, vs the oversize tees that paired well with the aforementioned skinny jeans. Footwear is also mostly flats and easy, slide on slide off styles. Got not time for fussy shoes lately.
I realized a while ago I don’t need more things and have really been trying to reign in the buying. I’m doing pretty well with about 10 things this year but really wanted to try for only a dozen. Maybe next year.
I have been MUCH better about less fussy, dress up only, clothing and am buying more and more for my real, actual lifestyle, which is the best way to spend my wardrobe dollars. I’ve been selling off some items that were too uncomfortable or dressy for my life or not the best fit, and using the credits towards more realistic items. I could likely get by with 50 out and about items, and 50 at home, with half of those crossing over. But I like variety and I have the room so I’m still around 150 total and that’s okay. The more I curate it down and replace with what I’ll actually wear, the better my closet serves me.
Good to hear from you, Mo! I always like to read your insights. If you’ve already turned 50, happy belated birthday! I remember being super stressed out about that milestone but then it wasn’t nearly as traumatic as I thought. I hope the same is true for you! I think you’re not alone in prioritizing comfort more in these difficult times. There are a lot more pants like what you mentioned for sale nowadays, so I think there’s a shift in silhouettes afoot. I’m happy about it, as I look better in more fitted tops and more relaxed bottoms anyway. That’s great that you’ve only bought about ten things so far this year. It definitely feels good to buy more for our real lives, but I still have too much of the other stuff in my wardrobe. I don’t want to get rid of things I still like and feel good in, though, so I expect that with attrition, buying less, and buying more wisely, my wardrobe will gradually suit my actual lifestyle more as time goes on. I could also get by with a much smaller wardrobe, but I still would be okay with about 150 total and I hope to get there before too long.
My wardrobe is in a bit of a state because temperatures have been up and down and so the woolens are mixed in with short sleeved blouses and tank tops freshly out of storage. Today is cold and I am wearing my PJ pants under my summer weight jeans. Needing gloves again on the moped…
The lockdown meant that I could not buy my usual underwear and socks at the supermarket. The non food shelves were blocked. This is now over and we can also go to the thrift store once again. Looking forward to this and to more order in my bedroom!
I don’t really have lounge wear. Things that can not be lounged in get donated : )
My categories are
Everyday: must stand up to barn chores, dogs, riding, gardening, weather.
Rural Errands: a bit nicer than above, but must withstand cycling, biking and weather.
Urban concerts, day trips, polite visits: elegant, comfortable and weather appropriate, practical for cycling. This category needs the most work.
That’s great that stores are opening up again where you live, Miriam, and you’ll be able to shop in person once more. I expect it will be quite a while longer for that where I am. I like your categories for clothing and how specialized they are for your lifestyle and what you do. Good luck on getting your “urban” capsule more to where you want it to be. I’ve always bought too much for that part of my life and it’s the smallest piece of the pie these days. I’m working more on my other capsules, which are different and less active than yours but in a similar vein. I like your policy of not keeping things that aren’t comfortable enough to lounge in! Given what’s going on these days, life feels too short to wear uncomfortable clothing!
Yes, Debbie! And even for going out I think the clothes should be lounge-able. Imagine if you go out wearing “standing up only” pants and happen to eat the wrong thing. Ouch…
Very good point, Miriam! I know I’ve gotten stuck in that type of situation more than a few times and it wasn’t fun.
I enjoyed this post- thanks for all the detail! I have been working entirely online for the past nine weeks, and this is scheduled to continue for the next three months. So I’m thinking a lot about what clothes I can wear at home for variety, and what I want to reserve for out and about. My silk dresses, dress pants, and dry clean only jackets for work are clearly in the out and about category, but I have been at home enjoying wearing lots of tops that I had previously saved for “good.” So I have 50 out and about items and about 100 items that are crossover or at-home items. Since I live in a four season climate and this includes outerwear, it feels about right- although the longer I’m away from the office the more tempted I am to cull some items. I have to remind myself that I will need those things in a few months!
Good to hear from you, Murphy! I’m sure the online work has had its challenges, but it sounds like you’re figuring out how to meet them. It’s great that you’ve been wearing some tops that you previously saved for good. The size of your wardrobe sounds quite reasonable and it’s wonderful that you have so many crossover items. Definitely hold on to your office wear, at least the items you would still look forward to wearing. Hopefully you WILL be back to wearing those pieces in just a few months! I know many, many of us look forward to putting all of this behind us!
Hi Debbie, I loved reading this update and I found myself with some extra blessed energy today, so here I am leaving a comment. Your wardrobe shift is in a good place and I’m sure you will reach your goals going forward. Looking forward to hearing more about your discoveries as time goes on. Me? As you know from that article I wrote a couple of years ago (The Clothes We Wear At Home) I had already created a home-wear collection for myself a long time ago. But since my house is freezing cold in Winter and sweltering hot is warm weather, and because I’m also often doing dirty work at home,I have very few cross over pieces. Instead I’ve opted for two small wardrobes. And while this was working well before, now that I’m living a lifestyle like yours with only daily walks and weekly trips to the grocery store, I’m finding that I need to rethink everything! Once I get a better idea of what I’m going to do I will let you know. Meanwhile, I have a hunch this is going bring me once and for all into the minimal camp. I think.
Yay for extra blessed energy and an insightful comment from Terra! I remember that article you wrote well… It gave me a lot of food for thought, but it’s taken me a while to really “get it” about truly prioritizing what I wear at home (I guess it took a global pandemic for me to really see the light!). I don’t experience as many temperature variations at home (especially since we got our new heating and air conditioning system) and I don’t do much dirty work, so I’m fortunate to have a lot of crossover items. It’s also good that I can wear a lot of my clothes at home since I still have too many of them overall. I think these times are causing a lot of people to rethink many aspects of their lives, including their wardrobes. I look forward to learning what shifts you decide to make. I know that I will be making more as time goes on, too.
I am inspired by your post. I have been using the “confinement” time to pare down my closet. I retired over a year ago and eliminated numerous items from my wardrobe at that time. But I kept some professional outfits, just in case I decided to rejoin the workplace. I am loving retirement too much to ever go back, so I am now tackling the second phase of the closet clean out to reflect my more casual wardrobe needs. I am too embarrassed to say how many clothes I purchased over the years, but I’ll give one example: 93 scarfs and shawls. Many are quite soft and beautiful, but I rarely use them except for travel or a night out. I’ve got a lot of work to do to get my wardrobe to a manageable size.
I am curious about your process of documenting your closet inventory. All your photos show clothes that are perfectly displayed. I started to take photos of everything in my closet. Because my closet was so full, clothes were jammed together, worn infrequently, and wrinkled. I am too lazy to iron every item before the photograph, so the images of my clothes certainly don’t show the item at its best. What do you do to prep clothes for photos?
Thank you for your comment, Norma. I’m glad that you’re enjoying retirement and are ready to clean out your closet. As our lifestyles change, our wardrobes need to follow suit. As for buying too much, I completely understand and have felt embarrassed, too (especially when I have shared numbers on the internet!). As for my photos, I’ve recently just been downloading stock photos when I make new purchases, but back when I first started blogging about my wardrobe, I took photos of everything! It took me a few weeks to do so with my much larger wardrobe back then, but I’ve found it helpful to have photos of everything I own (for blogging and for my personal use). What I did was hang the items on clear hangers and hang the hanger on the back of a white door. Then I would close-crop the photos to keep them as clean as possible. Sometimes my clothes were wrinkled, too, but since I don’t have as many of them now and my closet is less jammed, that’s less of a problem now. But if the pictures are just for you, I wouldn’t worry too much about that. As the saying goes, “done is better than perfect.” Good luck!
I was inspired by Norma’s great question and your response, Debbie, to finally get started on the photo inventory. I’m trying to get through one group a day (tops, then bottoms, then cardigans & jackets, etc) as it is very time consuming. However, it’s really quite enjoyable to see all my clothes out of the dark closet and into the light. Also I’m taking the opportunity to clean the hangers (we’re very dusty here), check for damage, and do a bit of reorganizing. Plus I keep discovering things – like I have 24 scarves! I had no idea! Anyway it’s kind of a fun weekend project.
Good for you for doing the photo inventory, Katrina! Yes, it can be very time-consuming, but doing one group at a time is a good way to go about it (and how I did it in the beginning). Discovering lost treasures in the process, like your scarves, is a definite bonus 🙂 Good luck with the rest of the project! Perhaps you’ve already finished…
Great update Debbie. I wish I only had 10 of everything. Little did I know that when I amassed my large stylish work wear collection that I would move and become a remote worker (2 and a half yrs now and worked for the same place for 15 yrs now). I also have 2 sizes of clothes. My trouble is that I already had one huge clear out (150 items) and I currently love most of everything I have. It’s just that I have too much. At least I have been buying nothing on lockdown and am getting better at not buying things for a fantasy life. Lol.
Oh, I have more than 10 of most things, too, Jayne. My numbers pertained to items that I would ONLY wear “out and about.” Like you, I feel that I like (maybe not love, but I’m a tough customer in that realm…) most of what I have and I don’t want to get rid of things “just because.” That’s why I didn’t pare everything down to half (and I also bought too much last year but am doing much better this year). I think your last sentence is the key. If we buy for our REAL lives and don’t buy too much, the size of our wardrobe will decrease by means of attrition as things wear out and our style preferences change. I hope you’re keeping the items that don’t currently fit you somewhere other than in your main closet. That helped me a lot. Don’t beat yourself up for the past. We can only live in the moment and vow to do better moving forward – and you’re already doing that!
Thanks for your reply Debbie. Yes I have the non fitting items in suitcases and boxes in my attic. And you’re right about not beating myself up. Time to move forward!
Ps I have my own dressing room with 3 small closets in. Plus an ankle boot closet in the guest room with extra clothes. Plus a coat cupboard in our hall. Plus half of our bedroom wardrobe. Plus more shoe boxes in another hall cupboard. Oh dear.
Yes, it can be MORE challenging when we have the space to hold onto a lot of clothes. When I used to live in a larger home, I had clothes in three closets, plus various other storage containers. I didn’t even know what I had… One step at a time with paring things down. It can take a while, but a little bit here and there really adds up! It’s good that you don’t keep the things that don’t fit in your closet, as that “muddies the waters” even more. I’ve made many of the same mistakes with my wardrobe and shopping over and over again, but we’re never too old to learn and change!
Debbie–We are all so glad to read and escape with your wardrobe musings. Thank you for your writing.
To answer your questions, my little wardrobe–speaking as the blog readers’ mini-wardrobe rep–has gotten just a bit mini-er. Even with few clothes, there were some items I never wore: long dress, itchy socks, tight-neck turtleneck, annoying paisley top. To answer another Q: I would like my wardrobe to look more like one of better quality in future, but I won’t rush to fix that any time soon.I am down to 30 items total, but my clothes are a little worn and not the nicest quality. I like it all, though.I seem to like the rule of either 3 or 1 depending on the category.
I also went through the kitchen stuff, but, alas, I find we need almost all of it. I did get rid of a few cups and glasses.
My kitchen things are not minimal, but I use everything, especially cooking 3 times a day every day. The change in our home has been this constant cooking, cleaning up and joy in the special moment of eating together! The ritual has helped us come together from our separate quiet indoor retired-people activities.
I am worried about the grandkids, their health, their social deprivation, their education, their world that we are handing over to them. It is depressing to look at what is happening to our country in so many ways. Again, thank you for your writing, your sensitivity. I see the huge progress you are making on your clothes in the way you have chosen ( slow and steady vs. the blitz method I employed yers back. You have more patience.). Best of health–all kinds of health–to you and yours.
I’m glad my wardrobe musings are serving as an escape for readers, Gail. I know that I have needed to read about non-pandemic topics, so I figured I was not alone in that. Good for you for getting rid of items that didn’t work for you. Even in a very small wardrobe, such items don’t serve us. It’s also great that you’ve been going through your kitchen stuff. I don’t know if you follow The Minimalists, but their guideline is to only keep things that serve a purpose or bring you joy. It seems like many of those kitchen items are serving a clear purpose in your life. I know I’m grateful to have the kitchen supplies I need now, since it’s all cooking at home these days.
I worry about the younger generation, too. I don’t have children, but I communicate regularly with my niece and nephew (ages 11 and 17) and I feel sad about the state of the world for them – and for all of us. I try to stay positive and believe that like many other things, this too shall pass. Wishing you health, safety, and peace.
This is a good topic.
The past 7-8 weeks of WFH have got me thinking about orienting my wardrobe for my expected retirement in 3-4 years. I want to have a nice wardrobe, but not once have I donned tights or stockings. When the weather warms up I expect to bring out short skirts and dresses, but I think my future isn’t going to include a lot of new cold weather skirts.
It’s also got me thinking I own more shoes than I need.
My go-to-work office is cold all year long. My summer wardrobe is long on sleeveless tops with sweaters I wear in the air-conditioned building. My home office is air conditioned, but it’s not anywhere near the 72 degrees at my go-to-work office. So I re-jiggering outfits to not need sweaters to cover up.
Overall I think it’s a good opportunity to transition into a wardrobe for retirement – nice at-home outfits. I’m terrifically lucky to be able to work from home and I’m grateful for that. I hope you are staying safe, and finding joy at home. I’ve seen more children playing in their yards than I have in the entire time we’ve lived here. I think for those who aren’t at risk of losing their homes, or loved ones to the virus that this will not be such a terrible memory, once we’re past it.
Seems like you’ve come to some sound conclusions, Rose, and good for you for making lemonade from lemons, as the saying goes, in getting ready for your retirement wardrobe. I know what you mean about wearing stockings. I haven’t worn them for years and wouldn’t relish doing it again. I’m glad you’re able to work from home and are staying safe. I agree with you that some good will come out of all of this and there have already been glimmers of that, as you so astutely pointed out. I feel so sad for those who have lost loved ones and/or their livelihood. I sometimes get down about how this is affecting me, but I know it’s a drop in the bucket compared to so many, so I try to remember what I do have and what’s going right in my life now.
Like you, Debbie, I have way more out-and-about clothing items than I do at-home wear. And even in normal times, I dress in out-and-about wear an average of about three times a week, for a limited number of hours. My favorite items to (over)buy are jeans—I have 20 pair—and I never wear them around the house. However, when I leave the house, I wear jeans 99% of the time, and I own only a few pairs of dressier pants, two dresses, and three skirts. I’d say my only crossover pieces are my nine pairs of leggings. Besides the jeans, I need to stop buying tops that I can only wear as layers underneath another piece—unless I have a specific need for one. I currently have 24 “underlayers,” and that doesn’t include my camisoles!
I don’t wear jeans around the house either, Jenn, but they are a staple item in my out and about wardrobe, especially during cooler weather. I wish I could be a leggings person, but as someone who gains weight in my lower half, I never feel comfortable in them. I think that if someone has a smaller wardrobe, not as much crossover is needed (see Terra’s comment above, for example). Also, it depends on what someone is doing both at home and when they’re out. I can get by with very casual clothing for almost my entire life, so it makes sense that I should have a lot of crossover pieces. Your mileage may vary, but it seems like you know which items to pay attention to in terms of potential overbuying (tops and cardigans are what I tend to buy too much of…).
Gotta tell you, Debbie, I was thinking about you and this blog recently because the pandemic has been both a blessing and a curse for my family. I realized quickly in that my shopoholism has less to do with the ability to purchase the outfit (meaning I’ve got the resources) and more about impressing people. There are few to impress on a Zoom call and my go-to business casual attire is a polo shirt. I have saved, literally, hundreds of dollars in the past seven weeks. As for the curse, my job was eliminated as of June 30, so no clothes-shopping due to necessity. A window closes…a door opens.
I really identified with what you wrote, Catherine. So much of my overshopping as been due to my feeling insecure and wanting to impress people, especially my friends who I felt were so much more stylish than I was. I’m really trying to not care so much about that now and dress for myself. This time at home almost 24/7 is helping with that. I’m so sorry to hear that your job was eliminated. That’s really rough, but you seem to have a good attitude about it in terms of a new door opening in your life. I wish you all the best with the next chapter in your life!
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