My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

In my last post, I shared an update on “the state of my wardrobe,” specifically my at-home pieces and crossover items (things that I can wear both at home and out and about). I also introduced a new guideline that I’ve put in place called “the rule of ten.” When I published that post, I thought I had been fairly comprehensive in recapping how I’m doing with my wardrobe, but I soon realized that I had left out some key areas.

Since my wardrobe posts are typically popular with readers – and because we all need some distraction right about now, I decided to do a part two.  Today’s post will cover what I’ve purged from my closet this year and why, and the state of my “holding zone,” and the out-and-about item purchases I’ve made thus far in 2020. If you like wardrobe analysis and number crunching, you’re in luck!

tidy and organized closet

This isn’t my closet, but mine is getting a lot more minimal and is better suiting my needs. 

What I’ve Removed from my Closet in 2020 – and Why

Let’s start by examining the pieces that I’ve removed from my closet so far in 2020. I’m going to primarily look at out-and-about and crossover items here, as I’ve found that most of my at-home and workout items tend to stick around until they are worn out. The exception to this is when there are issues with items that weren’t readily apparent upon purchase, but this phenomenon happens to even the best shoppers from time to time, especially in light of declining quality and workmanship.

I have traditionally accumulated far too many out-and-about pieces and made far more purchasing mistakes with that segment of my wardrobe than with my at-home and workout items. Additionally, out-and-about pieces have been the largest proportion of what I own, although that is gradually shifting over the past year, as I focus on having my wardrobe better match the way I actually live my life.

Here’s a bird’s eye view of the 28 out-and-about items that I’ve passed on so far this year:

items purged in 2020

I have purged these 28 out-and-about items so far this year. 

I feel that it’s helpful to examine why we let go of closet pieces, as it can assist us in avoiding future buying mistakes. I found that there were seven key reasons for my 2020 purged items. Included below are photos and explanations for why I decided to pass on the items in question.

Fabric Issues

I liked the look of both of the tops below, but not the feel. They were both somewhat scratchy and the top on the left was also a bit too stiff. I allowed my love of how the tops looked, as well as the fact that both tops were on sale, to influence my decision to keep them (they were both purchased online, so I wasn’t able to feel the fabric before buying). We often allow one aspect of a garment to sway our point of view, but that’s a mistake. If something isn’t a “hell yeah,” then it really should be a “no”!

fabric issues

I let go of these two tops due to fabric issues. 

Style Issues

I no longer resonate with the styles of the skirt and dress shown below. I will be writing an entire post about personal style soon that will shed more light on this topic, but for now I’ll just say that these items skew too “boho” for my current style aesthetic. I had the skirt since 2008 and likely wore it hundreds of times, but it just wasn’t “me” anymore. The dress was only a few years old, but I just wasn’t feeling it anymore this year. Additionally, it was never quite maxi length on me and I’m just not willing to settle for “almost” fits any longer (more on that later in this post).

style issues

This skirt and dress are too “boho” for my current style aesthetic.

“Fussiness” Issues

Don’t you just hate clothes that won’t stay in place and you have to fuss around with them all day? Well, that was the case with the three tops below. I think the problem was that they were all just a bit too big on me and didn’t have any stretchiness in them to keep them in place. It’s too bad because I liked the style of all of these tops, but I’m just not willing to wear clothes that I have to adjust multiple times throughout the day. I guess I need to do better at testing things out before I commit to keeping them. This includes moving around in the fitting room and simulating the type of movements I’ll likely be doing while going about my day-to-day life.

fussy items

These three tops were too fussy for me to enjoy wearing. 

Fit Issues

Unfortunately, the bulk of the items that I purged had some sort of fit issue. Here’s a look at the garments that I passed along for that reason:

fit issues

There were various fit issues with all of these garments. 

Because I can be hard to fit, I have a tendency to “settle,” particularly when it comes to things being too short (pant lengths, sleeves, etc.), but there were other fit issues with the items above. I decided to classify the fit issues to better understand what was going on.  Here are the tallies that I came up with (NOTE: some items were included in more than one fit issue category):

  • Too Short: 6 items
  • Too Small: 6 items (all except one were many years old and used to fit me well)
  • Too Large: 6 items
  • Too Long: 2 items (“hand me down” skirt and top)
  • Just Poor Fit Overall: 3 items

I don’t regret purchasing three of the items (black knit coat, black metro slouch capris, and burgundy tank), as I got a lot of wear out of all of these items, even though the capris were always just a bit too short. Because the coat and the tank were purchased a long time ago and my body has changed in recent years with menopause, they are no longer flattering on me. If these two pieces looked good on me now, I would still want to wear them, as they’re still in line with my style preferences.

As for everything else, I would classify them as purchasing mistakes, even though many of the items were worn multiple times. I need to hold out for pieces that either fit me close to perfectly off the rack or can be easily transformed via a straightforward alteration (i.e. not the type that I outlined in this post!). I’m doing a lot better in this regard, as I’ve passed up many more items in recent months because the fit was “off.” I need to continue on this trajectory, as well as only buying items that are in line with my current lifestyle and style aesthetic.

Other Issues

Three of the items that I passed on were for reasons other than what was detailed above:

other issues

There were other issues that led me to purge these three items. 

The cobalt cardigan still makes me sad today. I purchased it last summer and wore it probably ten times before it became a “pilly” mess. I loved the look and feel, but clearly the quality was just poor. It only cost $18, but the cost-per-wear was probably still around $2 (I would prefer a cost-per-wear of $1 or less) and I also miss having a vibrant blue cardigan to wear.

I purchased the purple capris at a consignment store. I liked the black zipper details and buttons down the sides, but the pants smelled like laundry detergent. I’m very sensitive to chemical smells, but I thought I would be able to remove the smell. Sadly, I just wasn’t able to do so. I thought that I could tolerate the smell because the pants weren’t close to my face, but my eyes, nose, and throat still burned horribly the one time I tried to wear them. The pants are now in my donation bag, but if you’re aware of any good tips for removing stubborn odors, please let me know.

I bought the red cardigan on Poshmark because I liked the blue one so much (this was before I knew about the pill issue). It was supposed to be “new without tags” and the same size and silhouette as the blue one, but the sleeves were both tight and short. Additionally, the color ended up being more of an orange red than the blue red that I desired. Even if the fit and color were right, though, the cardigan probably still would have pilled like the other one.

I didn’t have good luck with shopping on Poshmark during my short stint of doing so last year. I have a friend who does very well with Poshmark purchases, but she’s shorter and easier to fit than I am (and also less sensitive to fabrics and smells). I think I’ll stick to buying items that I can see and touch – and can also return if necessary – from now on.

The Holding Zone

As you can see, I’ve gotten rid of a lot this year (I also purged many more items during the second half of 2019 as part of my “half project,” but I didn’t want to overwhelm you with too much data in this post). But I still have some pieces in my “holding zone” that I’m pondering on whether to keep or purge. As you may recall if you were following along with my “wardrobe half project” last year, two of my rules for that challenge related to garments that I was holding on to:

  • At the end of the challenge (4/30/20), all holding zone items should either make their way back into my active wardrobe or get passed on for consignment or donation. I can hold on to a maximum of 10 holding zone items after the challenge.
  • I may keep a maximum of 10 items that don’t currently fit me after the end of the challenge.

When I first launched the “half project,” my holding zone consisted of the closet in my home office (which was almost completely full!), but I gradually pared it down to one plastic storage bin. I also had another storage bin that I called my “skinny box,” which was where items that didn’t fit me (but that I still liked) were stored. I’m now down to a single bin for both categories of items. This bin is stored in my garage, and the remainder of my wardrobe is housed in my main closet, with the exception of coats and outdoor jackets that are stored in our hall closet.

Let’s look at the holding zone first… I now have just seven items stored away that currently fit me but I’m unsure about:

holding zone items

These items all fit me, but there are issues with them…

Below are the reasons for why these seven items are “on the bubble” in terms of whether or not I plan to keep them:

  1. Black Athleta Trekkie hike pants: I don’t love the fabric of these pants. I would never wear them for hiking or walking because I prefer stretchier pants for that purpose. I bought these pants for out-and-about wear, but I have typically reached for an alternate pair of black pants instead of this pair. My hesitation in letting them go is that they fit well and weren’t cheap.
  2. Black Cabi “clipart” blouse: I loved this blouse on another woman I know, but I don’t feel the same way about it on me. I’ve put it on a few times in recent months and taken it off, but since it’s never been worn, I put it into my holding zone rather than the donation bag. I’ll revisit it in a month or two and decide upon its fate.
  3. Black/fuchsia print skirt: This skirt isn’t quite maxi length on me and the waistband isn’t all that comfortable, but I like the print. I also don’t have many good tops to wear with skirts at present, and the ones I do like are all printed and won’t work with a printed skirt (I’m not really into pattern mixing). Additionally, I now prefer wearing dresses over skirts, so I may not hold on to many skirts if I continue to feel this way.
  4. Black cropped Lululemon pants: The issue with both this pair and the dark red pair is that they’re too big for me. I sized up to get additional length (the hem on the smaller size hit me too high on my calf) when I should have instead realized that this style wasn’t right for me (it wasn’t offered in a longer length). So I’m now trying to decide whether I should pay to get the pants taken in or pass them on.  I’ll see what my tailor thinks and how much it might cost before making my decision.
  5. Black velvet detailed skirt: This was a semi-recent thrift store buy that I’ve never worn. In theory, I like the style, but again I haven’t been as into skirts as dresses lately. I also don’t think I own any tops that would work with this skirt. I’ll try it on again in a month or two and decide whether or not I want to keep it and try to find tops to wear with it.
  6. Black and white print A-line skirt: This skirt was my mother-in-law’s and it fits me well, but there are two divots at the waistline that I think were from a bad hanger. So if I opt to keep it, I’ll have to see if that flaw can be fixed. I like the design, but it skews dressy, just like the previous one does. There are no dressy occasions in my life at present and few even when there isn’t a pandemic going on.
  7. Dark red Lululemon cropped pants: Same comment as for the black pair.

Upon examination, I think it’s likely that many of these pieces will be passed on. The pants have the greatest utility for my life, but they all have issues. If it makes sense to take in the cropped pants, I’ll do so, but one pair at a time to see if I actually end up wearing them. I’ll likely hold off on a decision for the full length pants until the weather cools off again.

The “Skinny Box”

As I mentioned above, I no longer have separate boxes for my “holding zone” and “skinny box,” but I do still separate them out for tracking purposes. The rules of my “half project” dictated that I should only keep a maximum of ten items that didn’t fit me by the end of the challenge term. At present, I have only four such items, so I reached that benchmark. These items are shown below:

skinny box items

These four items are all just a bit too snug at the moment. 

I could technically wear all of the above items now, but they’re too snug for both my personal preferences and physical comfort. I like my clothes to skim my body but not to fit tightly or show lumps and bulges. Here are some notes about the four items that don’t currently fit me but that I’m still holding on to (for now):

  1. Black Cabi coat with ruffle collar: I had this coat taken in last year, but the tailor (someone working for my usual seamstress) took it in too much, such that it’s now snug in the hip area. The coat really only looks good if it’s fully buttoned up and that doesn’t work on me now. I’ll try it on again in the fall and see what I think, as there will be no occasion to wear it for months now with the warmer weather.
  2. Black tailored vest: This vest used to be a favorite of mine back in 2015/2016, but it doesn’t have the same sort of streamlined fit on my post-menopausal figure. I’ve worn it a few times in recent years, but I don’t really like how it looks now. I’d love to find something similar in a size up, as I liked how it was a nice completer piece for long-sleeved tops and jeans outfits.
  3. Burgundy knit pants: I have this same style in black, but for some reason this pair fits more snugly. I’ve been hesitant to let go of any non-basic pants (i.e. black or denim), as they’re so hard for me to come by, but if I don’t like how these look and feel come fall, they will be gone.
  4. Mid-wash straight-leg jeans: I have this same style in a size up, but the denim on this pair is softer. Therefore, these jeans would be more to my liking if they weren’t so snug. Again, it’s hard for me to let go of pants because they’re so difficult for me to find, especially in long enough lengths, but I’ll revisit them when temperatures cool down and make a decision on their fate.

I’m proud of myself that I’ve managed to significantly pare down my stash of garments that are “on the fence.” They all comfortably fit into one storage box with room to spare. I plan to continue confining my holding zone items to a single box, which will include both items that don’t currently fit and things I’m unsure about. I intend to go through my holding zone at least twice a year and preferably every quarter to make sure I keep this area of my wardrobe to a minimum.

Out-and-About Purchases

Now that you’ve seen what I’ve passed on this year and the small number of items that I’m on the fence about, I want to share the out-and-about clothing purchases that I’ve made thus far in 2020. As a reminder, one of my wardrobe goals for this year is to purchase a maximum of 36 out-and-about items. My main reason for instituting this item limit is to cut down on the closet churn that has been a common occurrence for me for quite some time. I often do a great job of cleaning out my closet, but if I keep buying far too many new items, I’ll continue to have a wardrobe that’s larger than what I need or want.

How did I come up with the number 36? Well, I believe that most of my closet pieces should last three or four years and I set a benchmark of 118-137 items for my out-and-about wardrobe (see the second half of this post to see how I came up with those numbers). Consequently, if I buy 36 items per year, I’d be replacing roughly a quarter to a third of my items, which sounds about right. However, now that I’m leaning more into “crossover” items that I can wear both at home and when I’m out (I wrote a lot about that in my last post), I’ll likely lower my benchmarks for the number of items in my out-and-about only wardrobe and how many new such pieces I should purchase each year.

A New Target Number?

Using “the rule of ten” that I wrote about in my last post, I currently have 89 out-and-about only garments. This number actually feels a bit high and I could see bringing it down to 75.  But even considering my current number and the likelihood of my replacing a quarter to a third of those pieces each year, my new yearly purchase target would be 19-30 items. I would likely “split the difference” and settle upon 25 new out-and-about only items per year, which rounds out to roughly two per month.

But can I meet this revised target this year? Well, that partly depends upon whether or not I want to include shoes in the number.  I did include shoes in my 36-item limit, but I didn’t consider shoes in my “rule of ten” or my current out-and-about only item number of 89. I do think it would be practical for me to own ten warm weather shoes and ten cool weather shoes, however, and that wouldn’t be too far off of my current shoe total of twenty-five pairs. I could probably let go of five pairs of shoes that I rarely or never wear.

I don’t have to figure all of this out now and I expect that I will revisit and refine my wardrobe benchmarks in the coming months. However, I wanted to let you know where my thoughts are now, after shifting my wardrobe and shopping perspective considerably as a result of the pandemic and staying home all the time for the past ten weeks. I can definitely see buying far fewer items that I will only wear when I’m out and about. I should have shifted my behavior a long time ago, but better late than never, right?

What I’ve Bought So Far This Year

So now let’s take a look at the out-and-about only items that I’ve purchased this year:

2020 out-and-about only purchases

These are the out-and-about only items that I’ve bought so far this year. 

There are 17 items there, broken down into the following categories:

  • 1 sleeveless top
  • 1 short-sleeved top
  • 1 long-sleeved top
new 2020 tops

These are my three new out-and-about only tops. 

  • 5 toppers (4 cardigans, 1 kimono)
new 2020 toppers

Here are the five toppers I bought this year to wear out and about. 

  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 2 pairs of pants
new 2020 pants and jeans

I purchased these four pants and jeans this year. 

  • 5 pairs of shoes (3 open-toe, 2 closed-toe)
new 2020 shoes

These five pairs of shoes are new this year. 

All of these items were purchased prior to the coronavirus shutdown, in the following ways:

  • January end-of-season sample sale: 6 items (3 tops, 2 cardigans, 1 pair of jeans)
  • Consignment store: 3 items (2 pairs of shoes, kimono)
  • Retail online: 4 items (2 pairs of pants, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of shoes)
  • Brick-and-mortar stores: 4 items (2 cardigans, 2 pairs of shoes)

Updated Shopping Priorities

A lot of these items haven’t been worn yet due to the shutdown and my not going out, so I can’t say how many of them were good purchases. I did, however, buy the following items from the shopping priorities list I made earlier in the year:

  • Blouses in lighter/brighter colors (2)
  • Black straight-leg pants/trousers
  • Dark-wash straight-leg jeans (2)
  • Printed pants
  • Printed topper
  • Gray booties
  • Silver/pewter peep-toe booties

Since I don’t want to buy too many more out-and-about only pieces, I have amended my shopping priorities list and will focus on the following items when shopping during the remainder of the year:

  1. Turquoise short-sleeved top
  2. Burgundy short-sleeved top
  3. Black straight-leg jeans
  4. Red or red print dress
  5. Tanks or short-sleeved tops to pair with skirts – black, solid colors (2-3)
  6. Red topper
  7. Replacement black flat sandals

When I shop for out-and-about only items, I want to be highly targeted in what I will buy, as I’d like to keep those numbers low – definitely within the 36 item target and preferably more like 25 items. I’m not limiting how many at-home and crossover items I can purchase, but I have my clothing budget to keep me in check with my overall purchases. I’ve already spent more than half of my budget, so I’ll need to continue to be mindful and careful with my expenditures.

Conclusion / Your Thoughts?

I feel good about how I’m doing with my wardrobe this year. While I bought too much at the beginning of 2020, my shopping has leveled off considerably since then. Yes, a large part of that slow-down was due to the pandemic, but I’m still happy to be buying less and placing my focus on what I actually wear on a day-to-day basis. I’ve revamped my undergarment collection, bought some more comfortable pants to wear both at home and when I’m out, and added some great shoes and scarves (not pictured in this post, but I bought two red print scarves and a pink print scarf) to my wardrobe. I’m also doing a lot better at dressing for my real day-to-day life and I feel happier in my at-home outfits now that I’ve embraced wearing crossover items.

I know that many of you commented on the state of your wardrobe in response to my last post, but perhaps this additional recap has sparked further thoughts and considerations. As always, you’re welcome to share your insights, either about your own wardrobe or on what I shared here regarding mine.

I hope you’re all continuing to stay safe and will be able to get back to at least some semblance of “normal” in your lives soon. Although I’ve adjusted to the shelter-in-place life, I do hope to be able to resume some of my pre-pandemic activities this summer, including seeing friends and walking on the boardwalks by the water. Shopping, movies, and eating in restaurants can wait a while longer, but I definitely need a haircut and hope that will be possible before too long! Wishing you all the very best and I’ll be back soon with another post.

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24 thoughts on “May 2020 Wardrobe Update – Part Two

  1. Jayne says:

    I bought several more tops that I don’t need but wanted, from my favourite store, because they are a certain lovely kind of printed knitted material I’ve never found anywhere else and I am now worried in case they go out of business. (not that there is any sign they would but….) Lots and lots of restructuring and job losses here in NZ.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, lots of restructuring and job losses here in the US, too, Jayne. If you love the tops and think this could be your last chance to potentially shop at the store, it seems like a good purchase. It’s hard to know when a retailer might go under. I bought something on one site not long ago and needed to return it. When I went to their site again, they were having a going out of business sale 😦 Strange times we’re in for sure…

  2. Sally says:

    Hi Debbie

    I prefer reading articles on more light hearted topics during this stressful time, so look forward to your wardrobe posts.

    You have made great progress in refining and culling your wardrobe and getting rid of a lot of stuff from your holding zone, so that you only keep things inline with your current lifestyle, style and size.

    As we have similar issues with length of pants, both being tall, and I see you have some pants from Lululemon in your holding zone that you have issues with, I thought I would share my insights, as I also wear pants from Lululemon. We tall girls have to help each other:

    As I have mentioned in a comment to a previous article of yours, when I buy clothes I keep details of the store, size, leg length etc so that I can see what works for me and what doesn’t, so that I don’t make the same mistake again.

    I have found that for cropped pants, I need the leg length to be a minimum of 27”, otherwise it ends on the widest point of the calf, which is not flattering and I need full length pants to be a minimum of 33” to wear with trainers/flats. I also need to wear soft, stretchy fabric with a comfortable waist band.

    The 2 pairs of lululemon dance studio crop pants in your holding zone are only 25”, which is why they are too short on you and also the swift fabric is only 2 way stretch. I don’t recommend trying to get them altered.

    Instead, I recommend On The Fly Pant 27” which I wear, which end at a more flattering length and the Full-On™ Luxtreme Fabric is 4 way stretch and is much softer, more comfortable and forgiving.

    I notice on the USA website that they have discontinued this length, which people have complained about in the comments, but they do have some 28” length ones in the We Made Too Much category, but only in blue & grey, not black:

    They also have the On the Fly Pant Tall 33″ in black in Full-On™ Luxtreme Fabric, which are online only, which are long enough to wear with trainers/flats:

    Like you, I like unfussy clothes, that must be comfortable and fit well and suit my lifestyle.

    I have found that when I have put clothes in my holding zone, there is usually a good reason for that. Whenever I have retried them on and if they still fit, decided to move them back into my wardrobe, whenever I wear them again, they are still not right and all the reasons I put them in the holding zone in the first place come back to me and I then end up donating them to charity, as they have hardly been worn, so that someone else can appreciate them. Trust your initial instinct.

    As we are in self isolation and I am not wearing my out and about clothes and shoes, I regularly go through my wardrobe and try them on to check that they still fit and I still like the style on me and if they do, I keep them, thinking they will be fine for when I do go out.

    However, recently I have decided to wear some of these clothes and shoes at home to properly road test them and wearing them for a day I have found that some of them don’t actually fit right, the tops may be cut too low and whilst ok for the stand up try on session, are too revealing when sitting down, the length of the top may be too short and not cover my tummy, the skirt or dress length is too short when sitting down, the pant legs are too short when I’m sitting down, I may keep fiddling with the clothes and adjusting them or find they are scratchy or irritating or don’t have enough stretch, the shoes are too high or too small and hurt my feet. This has enabled me to realise that they are not right for me and donate them to charity.

    Whilst these clothes and shoes are not intended to be worn at home, this road test practice has been really helpful, as a quick try on doesn’t reveal all this and in the past, it was only when I was actually out and about in the clothes and shoes that I would realise these things, and by then it was too late and I was stuck wearing them and feeling uncomfortable, self conscious and it would spoil my enjoyment of the day.

    I hope some of this may be helpful to you and I look forward to hearing about your style in a future post.

    Kind Regards

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you find my wardrobe posts helpful during this stressful time, Sally. I really appreciate your sharing your insights regarding Lululemon pants. What you wrote makes good sense. I definitely don’t like for pants to hit me across the widest part of my calves. Thanks for sending the links. If the cropped On The Fly pants weren’t final sale, I might give them a try, but I think I’ll wait until I have the option of returning them if necessary. Sometimes when I get tall cropped pants, they’re TOO long, but that’s less often the case with full-length pants, I think because I still like my pants to be really long and I like to wear at least something of a heel much of the time. Good point about the holding zone and things being there for a reason. I have “rescued” some pieces from the holding zone, but more often than not, they get passed on. Like you, I’ve been giving items a “test drive” at home to see if they do or don’t work. We really need to do more than just look into a mirror standing up to know how items will truly work for us (or not). I have a lot of the same issues that you mentioned… I’m going to “test drive” all of my holding zone items soon, including the dance studio crop pants. I do like to have stretch in my clothes, especially for things I’m going to be wearing all day at home or for situations when I know I’ll be sitting a lot. I will keep the Luxtreme fabric in mind for future Lululemon shopping. My style post will go live pretty soon, perhaps next 🙂

      1. Sally says:

        Hi Debbie

        The On The Fly Pant Tall 33” Luxtreme are full price, so you could buy them to see if long enough for you in your shoes, which I think they would be, but you can return them for a refund if they are not. I really like the comfortable, stretchy material and I wear mine at home and for walking nearly every day and wash inside out and no pilling.

        I look forward to reading about the results of your road tests.


        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Comfortable enough to wear all day is definitely what I’m looking for 🙂 And no pilling is definitely a bonus!

  3. Jenn says:

    Very impressive, Debbie. Do you think refining your personal style has helped you eliminate the items that don’t work for you and do better at accumulating items that do? I am really enjoying the Your Everyday Style podcast. Great information and delivered in such an engaging and pleasant way!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, Jenn, refining my personal style has helped a lot with both paring things down and buying new items. I have a much better sense now of what’s “it” and what’s NOT “it.” I will share more when I do my style post, which will likely be the next post that I do. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the Your Everyday Style podcast. It’s one of my favorites! Another new style-related podcast just went live called Rise Through Style. The podcaster, Christie Ressel, is also a YouTuber and I like her take on things, too.

  4. Gail says:

    Debbie–Thank you for all the writing. You are right that we need escape reading these days.
    I need a haircut, too! I had a pixie, so it is really out of control. But being in the high risk category, I will let it be and avoid the mirrors.
    Truthfully I cannot imagine buying 36 items in a year; 10 or 12 is more my range. No wonder your closet is packed and mine is mostly empty! This year so far I have bought a swimsuit, two layering tanks and a pair of clogs, all on line. Ido need pajamas, as mine are wearing thin, but no holes, so no need yet.
    In our closet is a big bag are old shirts of my husband that we will give away once we are out again. He switched over to a different type and decided to give away even the okay ones. He is an all or nothing guy! He is not as reluctant to purchase more expensive things as I am, and he never buys used, as I do.
    Do you have great numbers of other categories of things, too, Debbie, or is it just clothes? I may be being nosy here. I am just so interested in this topic, and I do not think any policy on how many possessions one has is right or wrong. Actually, based on people I know, you are more normal than I am!
    You sound happily on your way to what you are aiming at. Good for you, friend, and keep up the good work and your spirits.
    Thanks again for providing the blog posts for us.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad my blog posts provide some sort of escape for you, Gail. I actually don’t have large numbers of other things besides clothes, but of course, what’s considered a “large number” is all relative. While I do still think my wardrobe is too large, I don’t think I would be happy with one the size of yours. It’s a very individual thing… I wrote a post back in 2014 about overbuying and excessive accumulation of other things besides clothes. You may be interested in reading what I wrote, as well as the comments on what other people tend to accumulate: I mentioned other things that I had too much of back then, but now it’s really just clothes. I occasionally will acquire too many toiletries and books, but I pare them down pretty readily. I’m good at paring down clothes, too, but my main problem is buying too many. While you may think buying 36 items in a year is far too many, for me it would represent a great improvement. I’m looking forward to meeting my goal this year and maybe it will be lower next year.

  5. Terra says:

    Looks good Debbie!

    Now that my life has been completely rearranged, and turned upside down,I need to edit my wardrobe too. Thank you for the inspiration.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m always happy to inspire, Terra. So many of us are living vastly different lives now than we thought would be the case when the year began. I can only hope that some good will come out of it all for most of us. I think that on the wardrobe front, that’s happening for me. Too bad it took something this drastic to really shift my perspective, but I’m glad to be in a better place with my wardrobe now regardless of the reason. Best wishes with your editing!

  6. Krissie says:

    Hi All, lucky last here again! Ive read through your post Debbie and all the comments and replies. I wont go on too long as Im sure everyones whos going to read here already has.

    I was wondering Debbie do you alter your clothes in any way? I don’t think I would own any pants at all if I didn’t alter them and that’s all of them after I buy them. I think I am a size thats somewhere in between sizes and whatever pants I buy they are always either too tight or too loose. I am well used to this and have become v deft at altering them, cutting bravely through elastic waistbands and sewing it to my size or even adding more more elastic to sew in there to add some room. This doesn’t faze me one bit now.

    Tops I find easy and they seem to fit well not like pants. I like pants to be stretchy and comfy as I have a large scar on my tummy from an op I had and even many years later if something touches this area I feel v uncomfortable.

    Shops here… I haven’t bought anything at all this yr. By the time I was going to buy something for winter, the shops closed and have remained so till now. The other day I went to the mall to see if my favourite shop was open and its not. So thats that, and in a way I am not missing any clothes as such its the act of shopping I really am missing. The most item sof clothing I have ever bought in a year I think has been about 20. Usually it is much less than that, and I think after we all go back to normal whatever that is I cant see buying much as I don’t go anywhere much these days and I can see that being the case also after we are all allowed out!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for your comment, Krissie. I welcome comments anytime and I know that some people DO continue to read the comments even days or weeks later, so feel free to share! Regarding alterations, I do LOTS of them, but I take them to a tailor rather than doing it myself. Like you, I have to get almost all of my pants tailored. I have a small waist relative to my hips and thighs, so taking the waistband in is a common alteration for my pants. Sometimes when I get tall pants, they’re a bit TOO long, so I have to have them hemmed a bit. I should probably learn how to do basic alterations, as it would save me a lot of money! I often get my tops taken in, too, because I have a narrow torso and broad shoulders. I’m also just quite picky about fit, so I get things tailored that others would probably just wear as is…

      I know what you mean about missing the act of shopping. I fear that it won’t be back to how it used to be for a very long time, but in my case, that’s likely for the best because I have a tendency to buy too much. Buying 20 items in a year sounds very reasonable and like a good target for me in the coming years now that my wardrobe is in better order. I don’t see going out much for a while, either. I think a lot of people will be tentative, but I do look forward to the boardwalks opening up here for evening walks with my husband.

  7. Katrina B says:

    The good side of all our obsessing about clothes, style, shopping, etc, is it’s really fun and provides endless entertainment (the bad side obviously being when we let it go too far, which we’ve all experienced or we probably wouldn’t be following your blog 😁). It’s amazing to see how much progress you’ve made on your goals, and especially how you juggle all these different ideas: the half project, the rule of ten, the cost per wear… Your new purchases look like perfect additions and I hope they work well for you. I LOVE your new metallic Rockport sandals! All your shoes are really nice.

    My attempts at removing the detergent/fabric softener/deodorizer smells have only been successful on about half the items I’ve treated. It seems to work best on cotton and rayon, with no lycra or a very small percentage. It seems to have NO effect on the smell in polyester or even cotton/poly or rayon/poly blends! This is just a combination of methods I’ve seen other people use and you may have already tried it but I’ll list everything out. I first hang the item outside for at least a day to try to get some airflow through the fibers and possibly release some of the odor on the surface. Then I soak it in a vinegar/water solution for a couple of hours, then rinse out the vinegar and run it through a complete wash with detergent and several rinses. I hang it outside again to dry and give it a smell check. If the odor is still there I soak in a baking soda solution overnight, followed by more rinsing, washing, and rinsing. (You can see that the use of water in this process is enormous and has to be balanced against other environmental considerations like not buying new clothes.) After hanging outside to dry once more, I check the odor situation. At this point, if I can still smell it, I have to just get rid of the item. This happened with one cotton shirt with a heavily interfaced collar and the collar just retained that smell no matter what. The process works better on items that are a single layer such as a lightweight shirt or a plain skirt with no waistband. The more layers there are, the harder it is to remove the odor.

    I have read of people using activated charcoal or kitty litter to remove clothing smells, but I haven’t tried it and don’t know if it works on the chemical smells we are affected by. And I’ve also read that dry cleaning is the best for removing odors, but the one time I took a pair of rayon/poly pants to the dry cleaners they came back with the exact same smell.

    It would really be nice if people would stop using so much of these scented products, and I’ve written to both ThredUp and to suggest that they stop spraying everything like Goodwill does. It’s just dreadfully disappointing to get the beautiful new-without-tags item you’ve been searching for and find that you can’t bear to be in the same room with it.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for your kind words about my progress, Katrina. I feel like it’s taken me a long time to “get it,” but I think it has been kind of like peeling an onion in that the changes have been very gradual. I like to come up with challenges and “rules” to make the whole wardrobe management process more fun (and more interesting for others to read about).

      I really appreciate your sharing your odor removal tips for clothes bought secondhand. I haven’t tried vinegar, so I will give that a shot. I’ve tried multiple washings, hanging out in the sun, baking soda, and powdered milk (yeah, that’s a weird one!), but my results have been mixed. The most stubborn detergent odors tend NOT to come out, sadly. Interesting that people use activated charcoal and kitty litter to remove smells. I have plenty of the latter around here, so I will look that one up. I will check the fabric constitution of the purple Zella pants to see if I want to bother with it, but I think they are probably synthetic. I’ve washed them SO many times, but no luck. My eyes, nose, and throat burn like crazy within moments of putting them on, so they will likely have to move on to someone else.

      I’m very hesitant to buy secondhand items anymore, even if I buy them in person, because I think we can become desensitized to the smell of Febreze or similar sprays when we’re in the store for a while. Of course, I can still smell the worst offenders, but I have often come home with an item that I thought was fine, only to find the detergent/fragrance odor pretty bad in my fragrance-free home. It’s really too bad because I love the “treasure hunt” of resale shopping and the fact that we can find some different types of styles (other than what are the current trends) in those environments.

  8. Claire says:

    Hey Debbie, so interesting as always, glad you’re feeling the benefit of your hard-won progress. Crossover clothes are awesome right? When you find good ones they are mvps! But it is such a balance to find, i think we’ll always have some separation, it just doesn’t seem possible to have a complete wardrobe of perfect crossover clothes. Although i am probably a bit looser about what constitutes crossover, ha! i am definitely “approaching the limit” on that in my closet, mathematically speaking (getting incrementally closer and closer without ever reaching the axis/goal). anyway, one issue i’ve run into is that dressing rooms aren’t open yet so that’s put me in a pickle for pant shopping. oh well i guess that will clear itself up eventually. i saw one article that made me think of you/the blog i thought i might share if any are interested –

    oh and ps – i also have a pair of lucky sweet straights, if you decide to get rid of them, you can let me know if you like, i was looking to get another pair, maybe i can buy yours! xo claire

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I agree, Claire, that we will likely always have some separation between our at-home and out-and-about wardrobes, even those of us with very casual lifestyles. But I really want to keep those items that I ONLY wear out and about to a minimum. Of course, that will take a little while because I’m not going to just get rid of things because I have too much. As long as I still like and wear items, I will hang on to them, but if I keep my purchases down, I should be able to get to a better place.

      You always have great articles to share – thank you! I will keep you in mind if I decide to let go of the Lucky jeans. I’m still hoping to lose more of the menopausal weight, as I’ve made some headway on that in recent months, but I may just have to accept that I’m a size larger than I used to be. At least it’s not TWO sizes like it was for a while…

  9. Krissie says:

    I thought I’d also add my comment about the smell of some clothes, so this is a ps as I forgot to say this in my comment. I dont like the smell of our thrift soon as I enter theres this scent (sickly perfumy air freshner tupe scent) and it makes me gag. Id like to explore thrift shopping but if the smell in the shop is like that, then im sure the clothing will also have a scent to them too. I once bought an elastic knee wrap to help with pain it was made of neoprene. The smell made my throat burn and no matter how many times I washed it it still smelt. Maybe elasticated work out type pants also have a small component of that fabric in them hence the smell is so strong,

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for adding this comment, Krissie. Good point about the neoprene smell… There are definitely synthetic materials in workout clothes, but the pants in question had much more of a laundry detergent to them, which didn’t come out despite multiple washings. I know what you mean about the smell of thrift stores. They seem to use a spray like Febreeze on all of the clothes to remove any musty odors (or body odor). The sad thing is that those synthetic fragrance odors often remain, even after clothes are washed multiple times. I would love to be able to do more secondhand shopping, but I think I’m going to have to refrain for this reason.

  10. cbgraham12 says:

    Yet again, Debbie, you resonate with me and MANY other women – and probably a few men. Your posts resonate so much because: 1. You and I are generational peers, and when you share your triumphs and challenges, it allows me to realize that I may falter but can get ride up again on that bike. 2. Our employment woes over the past three years compelled me to decrease my spending (quitting cold turkey, as they say). Interestingly, the first half of this year, we both were fully employed again and, guess what? I began over-buying. Now, that I learned my position will be eliminated on July 1, I’ve begun consigning items again. And let me tell you, today’s post is exceedingly helpful as I just cleared my daily closet to summer items and what I accumulated for fall, winter and spring (it’s Houston so I can keep ONLY things that wear quite cool) is three times what I have storage room for. I was going to Target today to purchase another bin; instead; I’m going to go through everything and purge. THANK YOU!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad my posts resonate with you and others. I’m sorry to read that your job is going to be eliminated soon. That’s a tough situation for anyone to be in… I wish you the best of luck with your purging process. I’ve written lots of posts on that topic to refer to if you need more tips and suggestions (check out the “Start Here” page and the KonMari and wardrobe management categories on Recovering Shopaholic, as well as the wardrobe management category here). It’s true that we often think we need more or better storage, when what we really need is to pare things down. I’ve actually done more purging myself as we move more into the warm weather here (which is nothing like Houston, I know!).

  11. Estie says:

    Hi Debbie, Thank you for your posts. For odor removal–this has worked well for some clothes I bought that were overly Febreezed. All credit to Jolie Kerr (author of the wonderfully titled “My boyfriend barfed in my handbag….” For some of my items, I had to do this process three times–without drying in between. I also did not completely dry the item in the dryer but let it air dry and partly in the sun. There was only a tiny bit of odor left, and that disappeared completely after a few wears and regular washings.

    This is from Jolie’s post at
    “For laundry use, you’ll substitute Dr. Bronner’s [get unscented!] for your regular laundry detergent. The Dr. Bronner’s website helpfully offers a Dilutions Cheat Sheet:

    Laundry: ⅓ — ½ c. of soap for a large load in a normal washer. Add ½ c. vinegar to the rinse cycle. Use half of these amounts for HE.

    The white vinegar, as an aside, serves two purposes when used in the rinse cycle of the wash. The first is as an odor-eliminator and the second is as a natural fabric softener. Isn’t that so grand?!?”

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for this great reference and tip, Estie! I have tried vinegar before, but not with Dr. Bronner’s. Also, the combination of the vinegar, Dr. Bronner’s, and the sun may be just what’s needed to remove stubborn odors (also understanding that it may take more than one go for it to work). A book titled “My boyfriend barfed in my handbag…” sounds both intriguing and horrifying at the same time! I may have to check that one out 😉

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