My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

As I’ve mentioned several times on the blog, I turned fifty-five last August. Shortly after my birthday, I decided to commemorate the occasion with a fun and lighthearted post about my top fifty-five summer closet pieces. I shared photos of all of my chosen items, as well as information about why I selected them for my hypothetical warm weather collection. I followed up that post with a second one in which I analyzed patterns among my capsule pieces and highlighted closet gaps that I discovered through the exercise. I closed out the series with a short list of warm weather shopping priorities to address before summer 2022 (which will be here before we know it!).

I plan to revisit some of the topics from the aforementioned posts in a few months, but I thought it would be interesting to select a cool weather “top fifty-five” collection now since there are still a few more months remaining of lower temperatures where I live (and for many of us). I actually designated items for a “not summer” capsule back in August and intended to share them sometime last fall, but I got sidetracked with other topics. When I revisited those choices a few days ago, I opted to make quite a few swaps. I will explain those changes in part two of this series, which will also address closet gaps and cool weather wardrobe issues identified through doing this exercise.

top 55 winter wardrobe pieces

As with my summer “top fifty-five” essay, I’ll show you the items in my capsule by category and also share a bit of information as to why I made those particular selections. Although I own more cool weather items than what is depicted here (but not nearly as many as I used to have!), the pieces shown represent my favorites, so the capsule should ostensibly work well for me. While my cool weather wardrobe is serving me well for the most part, there’s still room for improvement, which is a big part of what this blog is all about!

When we better understand our wardrobe, our personal style, and our lifestyle and comfort preferences (both physical and emotional), we’re better able to dress in a way that suits our individual needs. The “navel-gazing” and numbers-crunching that I do here is geared toward increasing my own personal awareness, as well as helping you to consider important aspects of your wardrobe and personal style. It’s always my hope that sharing my wardrobe journey will help others to learn and grow – and maybe avoid a few of the pitfalls I’ve experienced along the way. With all that said, let’s check out the capsule!

My Fifty-Five Items

Below are the items – clothing, shoes, and purses – that I’ve selected for my “cool weather fifty-five” collection:

top fifty-five cool weather wardrobe items

These are the 55 items I selected for my hypothetical cool weather wardrobe capsule.

The above capsule is comprised of the following pieces, broken down by wardrobe categories:

  • 3 pairs of pants (all black)
  • 4 pairs of jeans (2 medium wash, 2 dark wash)
  • 5 short-sleeved tops
  • 15 long-sleeved tops
  • 14 cardigans (all either mid-length or long)
  • 1 blazer
  • 3 vests
  • 6 pairs of shoes
  • 2 purses

Seven Pairs of Pants/Jeans

cool weather capsule pants and jeans

I chose these three pairs of pants and four pairs of jeans for my “not summer” capsule.

During the cooler months, I mostly wear black pants and jeans as my bottom pieces. While I’ve long struggled to find pants and jeans that are both comfortable and flattering, I’ve finally been able to locate garments in this category that work for me. All of the above pant and jean options have long inseams, which I need for my tall height and long legs. With the exception of the jeans on the bottom right, all of these pants were purchased from 2020 through early this year. I wear the “weekender jeans” (bottom left) unrolled and full-length, even though they’re shown rolled in a boyfriend style.

The Starfish jeans from Lands’ End were my most recent finds that I purchased in both medium and dark indigo shades. They’re offered in regular, petite, and tall lengths, and are extremely comfortable to wear. If you decide to order these pants to try, you might want to size up, as even though a small tall should have worked for me based on the size chart, I found the medium tall to be a better fit. They’re not a super fashionable jean, but they’re a nice basic and can be worn comfortably all day long without the pinching and binding that I experience with most other jeans. The same can be said for the two pairs of Wearever knit pants from J. Jill (only the slim-leg version is available at present), which are as cozy as pajamas but look polished.

I’d like to have more variety in terms of the bottoms that I wear, but it’s not easy for me to find pants that fit me well that are also long enough and comfortable for all-day wear. Consequently, virtually all of the visual interest in my cool weather outfits is currently confined to my tops, toppers, shoes, and accessories. Since I tend to carry any extra weight in my lower half, it’s probably better to draw the eye more to my upper half anyway. The pants and jeans shown above pair well with the shoes and other pieces in my collection, so I’m happy with that.

Twenty-Two Tops

I included twenty-two tops within my cool weather “top fifty-five” capsule. Because there are some unseasonably warm days throughout the year where I live, I opted to include five short-sleeved tops in addition to the seventeen long-sleeved tops that I selected.

cool weather long-sleeved tops

I chose these seventeen long-sleeved tops for my cool weather capsule. 

cool weather capsule short-sleeved tops

I included these five short-sleeved tops for warmer days and to layer under cardigans. 

As you can see, there are a lot of black and black-printed tops in the mix, but I also chose a small number of bright tops to liven things up. You’ll see more color when we get to my toppers, but I’m usually content to wear mostly neutral pieces with maybe one or two pops of color in an outfit (which are sometimes done through accessories). I’ve branched out a bit with some new colors recently, including the olive color-block top and two navy-printed tops. One thing that works well for me is when tops feature both black and another color, as they coordinate nicely with my black pants, toppers, and shoes.

I rarely wear fully monochromatic ensembles, but that’s something I want to experiment with more, as it can be a sophisticated look and isn’t boring when different textures are incorporated. Because black is my key neutral, I included three solid black tops in my capsule, as well as another top that’s mostly black with a bit of “heathering” to add visual interest. It may seem like overkill, but I wear a lot of black tops and I like to have the variety of different neckline and sleeve lengths.

As I looked back at my summer “top fifty-five” capsule, I noticed that I had even more black tops there, but it helped that I also had two pairs of black printed pants and one colored pair of pants in the collection to coordinate with them. I could possibly wear the full-length black and white printed pants from that capsule in cooler weather, too, especially since I had them narrowed and they no longer scream “summer” with the palazzo silhouette. I may give that pairing a try, and I also plan to keep an eye out for one to two pairs of printed or colored pants for cooler weather.

Eighteen Toppers

The majority of the toppers in my “not summer” hypothetical collection are cardigans, but this part of my capsule is where the most color variation exists. I also included one Ponte-knit blazer and three vests among my topper selections. I didn’t include outdoor-only outerwear such as coats and puffer jackets in this “top fifty-five” collection, but I do have a handful of such pieces that I wear when necessary.

cool weather capsule - cardigans

I love my cardigans! – Here are the fourteen I chose for my cool weather capsule. 

cool weather capsule - blazer and vests

The blazer and vests offer some nice alternatives to the cardigans. 

My vests are not as versatile as I thought they would be, as I can only really wear them on warmer days because only one layer of fabric (my top) is covering my arms. I love the way they look, but the longer vests (the two on the right) especially don’t pair well with a coat due to their length. I haven’t been wearing coats all that much this season anyway, instead favoring the mid-length and duster-length cardigans pictured above. On warmer days, I enjoy wearing the vests, as they represent a fun and different silhouette, and I feel that the longer vests look dramatic, which is one of my “style guideposts.”

The black knit blazer is a recent acquisition from Athleta, and I like it so much that I may also purchase it in the other color in which it’s offered (but I’m not sure that color will suit me). I appreciate that it’s a more relaxed blazer style that doesn’t read “corporate,” plus it’s stretchy and very comfortable. One of my style goals is to incorporate new silhouettes, as I tend to wear too much of a “uniform” much of the time. While there’s nothing wrong with dressing in a uniform per se, it can start to feel too “same-y” after a while, even if the colors, patterns, and textures are varied. I’ll always be a big fan of cardigans, but adding some more jackets to my topper collection will help me to broaden my style horizons.

Six Pairs of Shoes

I’m fortunate in that I’m able to wear somewhat open-toed shoes (like peep-toes) most of the year in my temperate climate, but there are definitely some days when it’s just too cold for such footwear. Therefore, my shoe selections are divided between closed-toe and peep-toe options.

cool weather collection - shoes

These six pairs of shoes pair well with the pants in my cool weather capsule. 

The newest addition to my footwear collection are the silver snakeskin booties, which I bought on Poshmark recently. I’m still figuring out how to best wear them, as they’re a bit of a new look for me, but I love that they add color, pattern, texture, and shine to my wardrobe. I wear black shoes more often than not, but I like having the metallic and burgundy options available for when I want something different. I’m not sure about wearing the metallic or burgundy shoes with my black pants, though. I pretty much only wear the non-black footwear with my jeans.

I know that metallic shoes “bookend” my gray(ish) hair, but I feel more comfortable wearing those shoes when I’m showing some of my legs in either cropped pants or dresses/skirts. Perhaps my eye just needs to adjust to a different color shoe compared with my pants. I kind of like the idea of a printed pair of shoes that incorporates black with another color (maybe metallic or white?), but I have yet to find anything that fits that description and suits my fancy.

I used to have a large shoe collection (55 pairs when I started Recovering Shopaholic!), but I now feel that I could probably get by with just ten to fifteen pairs. I did a series of posts last year about applying “the rule of ten” to my footwear selections (starting with this essay). I plan to do an update on my shoes soon, as well as some more posts on the rule of ten, but for now I’ll just say that there’s still a fair amount of “dead weight” in my closet when it comes to my shoes.

I tend to wear the same handful of shoe options over and over again, while others simply gather dust. The same thing can be said for some of my clothing categories, but I’m often more hesitant to let go of shoes because of fit issues and expense. But if I could easily get by with just six pairs of shoes in both my summer and “not summer” capsules, that tells me that I don’t need as many footwear options as I previously thought.

Two Purses

I selected the same two purses for the cool weather season as in my summer capsule:

cool weather capsule - purses

These same two purses are in my summer “top fifty-five” capsule. 

Both of these purses have been in my closet for almost ten years and are still in great condition, despite being carried for hundreds and hundreds of days each. That’s a testament to the high quality of Brighton bags. These two purses work with pretty much any outfit I wear and they also hold a lot of stuff, which is something I look for in a bag. I like that they both have interesting detailing with either silver studs (the black bag) or patterned embroidery (the metallic bag). The fact that the metallic bag also features black is a big win for me in terms of its versatility in pairing with virtually everything I own.

I’ve gradually pared down my handbag collection over the past few years, such that I now only have a handful of options in this category. I own a few other purses that I use on occasion, but I don’t like those bags as much as the two shown above. My main issues with the other purses relate to either lack of structure (too “floppy”) or size (too small), but I’ve kept them because I like their overall style and they were either gifts or pricier purchases.

I’d be interested in having more variety in my purse collection, yet I haven’t purchased a new one for a long time, other than the failed Cirque du Soleil resale buy that I wrote about in my worst purchases of 2021 post. My main reason for not buying a new purse is that the ones I like tend to be relatively expensive and I often get ahead of myself in terms of my clothing budget. I need to “slow my roll” with the clothes (a familiar refrain…) so that I can do a small refresh in the handbag category of my wardrobe.

I want to make it a priority to buy two new purses this year, a smaller crossbody one and a larger black or metallic option. The small purse will come in handy when I’m doing a lot of walking and don’t want to carry a heavy bag, while the larger purse will offer some variation from the two bags that I’ve been carrying most days over the past couple of years. Once I purchase the two new purses, I may opt to let go of some of my lesser-used bags later this year.

Repeat Items from Summer “Top Fifty-Five”

Interestingly, there are ten items in my cool weather capsule that were also featured in my summer “top fifty-five” collection. I didn’t intentionally try to have any crossover between the collections, but I also didn’t set out to avoid overlap, either. The repeat items can be broken down into the following categories:

  • 1 pair of pants
  • 3 short-sleeved tops
  • 3 cardigans
  • 1 pair of shoes
  • 2 purses

Here’s a look at the ten repeat items:

items that are in both my summer and "not summer" capsules

These ten items are in both my summer and “not summer” hypothetical capsules.

Ideally, I would have even more overlap between my two collections, as I live in a temperate climate without the large temperature variation that many other areas experience. But I’m happy that there’s any crossover at all, as I used to dress in completely different pieces in summer versus the rest of the year. But what this means is that I could easily get by with only 100 items in my out-and-about wardrobe for the entire year, including shoes and purses. Add in a medium-sized jewelry and accessory capsule (maybe I’ll write about that soon, but I probably won’t need a full fifty-five pieces!) and I’d be good to go!


Of course, I have more items in my wardrobe than what I’ve shown in my two “top fifty-five” collections, but it would be a worthy goal for me to reduce the size of my out-and-about wardrobe to around a hundred pieces. I wear my at-home items far more often anyway – every day versus maybe three or four times per week. I’ve finally curated a workable at-home wardrobe, so maybe I should do a “top fifty-five” post about that section of my closet as well. Those clothes usually aren’t as interesting and exciting as what I wear out and about, but I’ve been able to incorporate more of my personal style into what I wear at home, while still placing a priority on physical comfort.

Overall, I’m glad I decided to put together my “top fifty-five” out-and-about capsules, even if they’re hypothetical in nature and I’m still “allowed” to wear other things, too. It was helpful to take the time to select my top pieces and evaluate why other items didn’t make the cut. In my next post – part two, I’ll delve more into that topic, as I share what I learned about my cool weather wardrobe through engaging in this exercise. I’ll also write about how I hope to evolve my “not summer” wardrobe over the next few months and leading up to the next time the cooler temperatures roll around. In a future post, I’ll revisit my 2021 “top fifty-five” summer selections and share how I’ll likely vary them for summer 2022.

Your Thoughts?

Now I’d like to hear from you… Below are a few questions that you can choose to answer if you wish, but I also welcome your chiming in with any other feedback you have regarding this post.

  • How many items would you include in a wardrobe capsule for the cooler months of the year?
  • What types of pieces would be represented there?
  • What are your favorite clothes, shoes, and accessories to wear when the temperatures are cooler?
  • What gaps do you have in your cool weather out-and-about wardrobe that you’d like to fill?
  • What are your biggest challenges with getting dressed during the winter months?
  • How does your style differ in the winter versus the summer?

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29 thoughts on “My Top 55 Cool Weather Items

  1. NATALIE K says:

    Have you ever thought of dressing for the day like your going out but NOT putting on your jewelry and wearing house shoes instead?! I can see this might solve your problem. Since our son is grown it would make since for me as well!! Just a thought to consider!! You ask how many clothes we need for a season. I haven’t a clue at this point in my life.!! I’m also 55!! I have a very small closet with one rod and two helves thanks to my wonderful husband!! I have to rotate and store my Spring/Summer Wardrobe while I have my Fall/Winter Wardrobe avaliable and vice-versa!! Not easy but we do what we must!!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’ve gotten better about dressing for my day and then just swapping out shoes and putting on jewelry, Natalie, but that’s mostly just for my more casual outings. I like to dress up a bit when I go out, but I don’t wear those clothes at home, mostly because I have cats and don’t want to worry about garments getting snagged or covered with fur. I don’t have more crossover items than I used to, but there’s still room for improvement there. Having a small closet like you do definitely limits how many items you can have, but swapping things out by season expands your options. I have less closet space than I used to since we moved about 3.5 years ago. Prior to that, we had separate closets, but now we have to share. Granted, the closet is fairly large, but it’s good that I’ve pared things down because I like to keep everything in there since we have a lot of either unseasonably warm or cool days where I live.

      1. NATALIE K says:

        Debbie, I truly understand where your coming from when you say you have cats and you like to dress up a bit more when you go out. I have two cats and I’ve always been more dressy when I go out. It’s just me!! Since my husband retired and we live in Arizona I try to dress a little more casual which doesn’t come naturally to me. I have found my style though to be what I call casual elegance!! I would describe my style and Feminine and European classics with Glamour details!! I’m so glad you have this site!! I’m doing better lately and I think my post are showing that!!

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          I like your style statement, Natalie, and I can relate. If I do casual, it is usually “casual elegance,” too. I’m so glad to hear that you’re doing better with your clothes and your style, and I’m delighted that my blog has played a role in that.

        2. NATALIE K says:

          Debbie, Your blog is very helpful. The comments are always interesting anf helful. I’m not alone in this struggle with clothing!! I don’t have problems with anything else collecting in my home!! Clothing is my weakness!! I’m working with my bestfriend to size down my clothing at this time! It’s a slow process for me!!

  2. Mary says:

    I live near Chicago. For our 90+ days of winter, I thought in multiples of five, nine, 10, and 18. All of those are factors of 90. For example, 18 short and long sleeved tops (first layers), and 10 second layers (cardigans and zip hoodies). Nine pairs of shoes and booties. Nine pairs of jeans and other long pants. Five pairs of pajamas!
    I always love your insights in these essays. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I love the systematic way you’ve going about pulling together your winter wardrobe, Mary! It sounds like it’s working very well for you. I’m wondering if you do something similar with the other three seasons. I’ve only been to Chicago once and it was in the winter (very cold and windy!). I know it’s a four-season climate, so I’m curious how much overlap there is among your seasonal items. I would imagine it’s much harder to dress for four seasons. I lived in the Denver area for a year and the Tahoe area for a year and a half, but I don’t remember all that well what my wardrobe was like in those places (it was over 20 years ago!). I’m glad you like my essays and are gaining insights from them.

  3. Katrina B says:

    As usual, the capsule you’ve put together is beautifully coordinated and fits your personal style nicely. Hypothetically, my winter wardrobe would be around 30 items, as I’d want at least 5 pairs of pants and 5 of shoes (so they can “rest” for a week between wearings), at least 10 tops to prevent boredom, and 3 or 4 cardigans. And that’s pretty much what I have in my closet – although there might be a few extra shoes.😉 This hypothetical life would include working in an office, going out to occasional lunches, and other reasons to actually leave the house. As it is, I’ve noticed that I have only worn 2 pairs of jeans and 2 pairs of shoes, and rotated through 6 tops since November! This is because I go out once a week at most, usually to the grocery or hardware store. Based on this it might seem like I could scale down considerably, but I will be keeping everything for now. As you know I’m not a fan of downsizing/purging good items that fit well, since it’s such a frustration when you find you need those things later.
    Another thing I’ve noticed is that I wear pretty much the same wardrobe in winter and summer. Shocking, when you consider that our summer highs are over 110, and winter lows go below 40. But I’m looking at the out-and-about wardrobe here, and in Phoenix out-and-about usually means driving in an air conditioned car from one air conditioned location to another. If I wore “summer” clothes in the summer in an office I would freeze. Of course if I look at my at-home wardrobe, I do change it out completely between seasons. I’m wearing long underwear, sweats, and two layers of fleece tops now, but in 3 months I’ll be down to a tank top and a gauze skirt.
    I’m interested to hear about your at home wardrobe. I am still unable to balance style and convenience in this category, as the minute I put on some nice yoga pants or an attractive top, I get completely covered with dog hair, dirt, or cooking or cleaning residues. So I end up just wearing the old, stained, and misshapen clothes since I won’t mind if they get even more messed up. Not sure how to reconcile my lifestyle with nice clothes.

    1. NATALIE K says:

      I’m really in aw of you that you had only 30 items for your Capsule. I have around 150 for Fall/Winter Wardrobe and the same for Spring/Summer and I’m figuring lowBut I LOVE clothing and dressing and LOVE lots of choice!! Fashion matters to me!! It’s not just about getting dressed!! It’s about expressing who I am and how I feel!! I don’t know that you feel this way or not!!

      1. Katrina B says:

        Haha! Natalie K, no one is more surprised than I am to have so few items in rotation! It wasn’t that many years ago that I shopped almost every day, wore the latest styles, and had 4 large closets full of colorful clothing. Part of it was loving beautiful clothes but there was also a pathological aspect to it that I’ve mentioned before and won’t bore you with now. It’s been an interesting and sometimes difficult journey to pare down to the essentials, and part of what helped me get here is my interests changed. I now feed my appetite for creativity and color mostly with gardening and home decor. That’s not to say that my wardrobe-building habits won’t come back, and I have to be on my guard against those tendencies.

        1. NATALIE K says:

          Katrina B, How did you stop buying clothing? I never spend over my allotted monthly amount. Praise the Lord!! But I do find myself buying two to four items a month!! I live in a old cottage home. I’m looking at redecorating from top to bottom lately so perhaps that could change how I spend my money. I can see that being the case!! Would you please share the pathalogical aspect with me. I would really appreciate that info. I’m trying to stop!! I’ve taken good steps in the last many years toward good mental help. If there is something else I need to know this would be very helpful information for me!! Thank you!!

        2. Katrina B says:

          Natalie K I think this response is going to be out of sequence, but I’m responding to your question about psychology. If you go way back to the beginning when Debbie had the Recovering Shopaholic blog, and continuing through to the present, one of the recurring themes is insecurity. Many people respond to insecurity (or anxiety, or depression) buy buying things they think will make them a different person. In my case, I have always had anxiety and when I was working in a high pressure corporate job I was barely hanging on. I would see outfits in the stores and think, if only I looked a certain way, I would fit the image of a powerful executive and I would be free from anxiety. This went on for decades, and the pathology I referred to was the momentary thrill of buying each thing that would fade away quickly and then I’d have to buy something else. I had closets full of designer suits and shoes, but guess what? Clothes did not make me into a happy, confident person.
          My shopping habits were forcibly stopped about a decade ago when I had a disability, could not work, had used up my savings, and was deep in debt. I went through shopping withdrawal, as you can imagine, but eventually came to understand that I could separate my appearance from my mental health, and that I could survive (even thrive) with much less clothing. It was not an overnight change from 300 items to 30, more like an ongoing evolution in which I let go of a few items at a time over several years.
          Because I still (will always) have an unconscious desire to improve my life by having more things – and it could be anything, like towels, or plants, or quilting fabric, or books – I have to remain on guard and make sure I’m not slipping into old shopping patterns.
          I hope this very abbreviated explanation is helpful!

        3. NATALIE K says:

          Thank you!!

        4. Debbie Roes says:

          Thank you so much for responding to Natalie’s question, Katrina. Not only will Natalie hopefully find your reply helpful, but I also think it will be beneficial to many others (including me, even though I’ve read your thoughts on this subject previously). I think insecurity plays a role in compulsive buying for many people, and it’s not only related to those of us who purchase too many clothes. No matter what it is that we overbuy, it won’t make us happy, confident people, as it is an INSIDE job rather than an external one, and the work that’s required is a lot more difficult than finding the “right” item of clothing (or the newest gadget).

          Good for you for learning to separate your appearance from your mental health. I know this transformation was hard-won, but I wish you could somehow bottle the “secret sauce” and give it to those of us who still have a lot of our sense of self-worth wrapped up in what we look like. I can imagine that you now experience a sense of peace that many of us can only dream of at this point. It’s good that you remain on guard for potential over-buying, as it’s probably easy for it to creep back in, much like eating issues can arise in my life from time to time even after mostly recovering from eating disorders years ago (although I still have major body image issues, which relate to my shopping problem, too).

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      Like Natalie, I marvel at your ability to dress from such a very small capsule, Katrina, especially with the temperature variation where you live. But you made a good point about the air conditioning. Air conditioning isn’t as prevalent in San Diego, especially closer to the coast where I live, and we also tend to spend more time outdoors here. I didn’t think that I would need more wardrobe variety than those in Arizona, but maybe I do! The hypothetical wardrobe that you mentioned (30 items) would work well for me, as long as all of the pieces were ones that I truly love to wear (8’s or higher on a scale of 1-10). I still struggle to achieve that, for reasons that I should probably explore more here on the blog. For example, would I need as many pairs of black pants and jeans if I had a few that were 9’s or 10’s? When I go on a trip, I tend to pack my absolute favorites, and I usually feel just fine about dressing from a smaller capsule, but it can sometimes take a while before I know what my favorites are.

      I can see how channeling creativity into alternate interests can help one to shop less. I often think about some of the fashion designers who dress in all black or another type of simple “uniform.” Their creativity is in the designing rather than the wearing. I have a friend who is really into both home decor and clothes, and it seems like she goes through phases in which one passion overtakes the other. Lately, she’s been more into buying clothes and accessories, but there have been other times when she was all about buying things for her home. My mother-in-law was into painting and gardening. She like clothes and dressing nicely, but she didn’t buy much (even though she could afford to). I think I need another creative outlet so maybe I will dial back the focus on clothes… Thanks for sharing your journey with us here. I always get a lot out of what you and other readers contribute through your comments!

  4. Gail says:

    You already know that I have about 30 items, outerwear, etc. included, total for the year-round. I live in the Southeast U.S., am elderly (covered up!) and run cold, so I wear the same things fall year. I fear being accused of sounding like I feel this is superior or that I am condescending! However, I am amazed at how you can
    handle all these clothes. I would break down! This is a weakness in me, not in you. I go into overload, and I am useless. I have, luckily, found a way to achieve peace. I think my kryptonite/substitution is kitchen stuff. Although I have but one set of dishes, I am so drawn to the places like Macy’s Cellar and often buy duplicates , presumably for when a group comes over and I make lots of dishes and do not want to wash utensils, etc. as I prepare. It is an excuse: washing a mixing spoon is not so difficult!
    I cannot figure out why you (plural) are the way you are and why I am the way I am, but I cannot be happy with more than a small wardrobe of mostly second hand clothes. It is partly the affordability, but moreso the inability to “handle” a lot things anywhere in the house. Too much furniture in our apt.’s living room upsets me, as do too may clothes in my closet.
    Boy, I sound crazy here, don’t I?

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I think we all have our level of tolerance for “stuff” in different areas, Gail, and it can also shift over time. If I had the amount of clothes (or other types of items) that I had 10 years ago, I would struggle much more with it now. I actually DO struggle with overwhelm with my wardrobe (part of why I’m still writing this blog!), but if I had just this capsule of 55 items and my other one from summer, I would be quite happy and calm about it, I think. There are often “growing pains” (or maybe it’s more like SHRINKING pains) when one is working to downsize. I don’t know why clothes have been so challenging for me, as I’ve been able to pare down to my satisfaction in almost every other area, including jewelry and shoes (although I still want to downsize a bit more there, too).

      I don’t think you sound crazy at all, actually. I think we all have our limits, levels of comfort, and areas of challenge. I’ve struggled with kitchen items sometimes, too, but that’s never been nearly as challenging for me as clothes are. I think it can be a big “spider’s web” full of emotions that is about more than just the items themselves. I keep trying new things and I think I’ll eventually get to a point where clothes aren’t as challenging for me. I wish the same for everyone else here, whether their issue is clothing, kitchen items, or something else altogether.

  5. NATALIE K says:

    Gail, I found your post very interesting!! I own three everyday sets of twelve dish sets, Christmas dishes ( never used but displayed) and a set for twelve of china(and silverware and crystal for twelve!. I LOVE dishes and canisters!! But, I’m very good about not having many specialty items or duplicates of anything. This is how I keep my kitchen so organized!! BUT, clothing is my weakness!! I would be very unhappy with just 30 pieces of clothing!! I express myself through my attire!! It’s a creative outlet for me!!

    1. Gail says:

      Thanks, Natalie. I find this entire discussion–this entire blog of Debbie’s fine writing–SO interesting. I think it’s perhaps the psychology behind it: why are we as we are? The blogger and the responders in this blog are so fascinatingly individual and verbal. I love reading every post/series of responses. Thanks again, Debbie.

      1. NATALIE K says:

        I so agree!! I love the discussion and wonder why we are as we are!! Those of us with lots of clothing…were our moms like this? Mine is!! She just has more closet space!! She’s also taken a closet in the guest room and half my brothers closet space as well!!

      2. Debbie Roes says:

        Thank you for your kind words about my blog, Gail. I agree that I have wonderful commenters here, and I’m grateful this is a supportive community in which we can all gain new insights and understanding.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          To answer your question, Natalie, my mom has also had issues with clothing, but they’re not exactly the same as mine. But every couple of years, I need to help her go through her clothes to get rid of things, as it just becomes too much and unwieldy for her. My mom’s weight fluctuates kind of a lot, so that’s part of it, but she also loves a good bargain and doesn’t really get rid of things until I’m there to help her with it. My mom was a “pack rat” while I was growing up (about all things, not just clothes), so that’s probably where that tendency came from for me. Both of us have gotten a lot better about getting rid of things in recent years, fortunately. For her, it started with my helping her to “KonMari” her entire house about 5 or 6 years ago, but we had to do quite a bit of it again last year!

  6. Catherine Burch Graham says:

    Debbie, thanks so much for this post AND the information last time about The Minimalists. Like Marie Kondo, I gathered some wonderful tips from those guys and, in the past two weeks have gotten rid of a month’s worth of items – that’s over 400! Clothes were my first line of attack…and I have sold or given away 10 purses, two dozen pairs of shoes, and more than 100 pieces of clothing. I feel lighter and have tackled two closets and a dining room buffet. Now, I must remain vigilant to not replace items – although The Minimalists are a bit extreme about this, in my view. For every single purchase, one must shed 10! (I can’t do quite that, although I’m going to try for a 1 to 3 ratio. Wish me luck.) I haven’t been this excited about organizing in a while!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Great job in downsizing, Catherine. You’ve made AMAZING progress in such a short period of time! You’ve done even better than “the minimalism game” in that you’ve done a whole month’s worth of decluttering in half the time. You should feel very proud of yourself! I’m not really on board with the “one in, ten out” rule, either, although I think it can help people who are really experiencing an overload in their whole house or within a given category. I think “one in, three out” is a great compromise and will still help you a lot with downsizing. I did a post about “one in, one out” back in 2015 that you might find interesting, as it includes insights from a number of members of the Facebook group I had back then. Some people shared some of the potential “pitfalls,” including the fact that it can lead to a lot of “churn” in some instances. Here’s the post in case you or others are interested:

      Good luck to you with your continued decluttering efforts, however you decide to do it!

  7. Sue says:

    This post and all these comments are super interesting. It seems that many have an issue with closet overwhelm, but I would like to add that too few clothes can also be a problem. My joy comes from having upsized so that I now have plenty of options in every category. I operate a one-in, one-out system because I now have plenty but want to keep upgrading. My lowest low was when I had just one ugly skirt I could fit into for work. The skirt was so unflattering, a colleague I did not know commented on it (perhaps rather untactfully but helpful nevertheless). Until that point, I’d had the attitude that I did not deserve nice clothes unless I weighed a certain (unsustainably low) amount. I actually believed I was too big for anything nice, that shops had nothing for me. Crazy! I’m not super skinny by any means but still have a decent shape if I dress well. Blogs like this have helped me see that and helped Improve my sense of self worth. I am extremely happy that I have managed to grow a quality wardrobe. Now, I get compliments at work! 🤗

    1. Sue, great point on ensuring that you have options in your closet that make you feel confident and attractive. It’s good to know that you have achieved a healthy balance. For me, I am not one to go without….last week, I realized I didn’t have any jeans that I felt looked good on me right now, so I went out and bought some. That’s how I roll…but I have other goals now that compel me to rethink that kind of impulse purchase. I appreciate your view and will keep it in mind as I continue to ride my minimalist train.

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing the “other side of the coin,” Sue. I agree that it can be just as big of a problem to have TOO FEW items of clothing than to have too many. I’ve actually been in that situation a few times in my life, but it’s been a very long time… I’m glad you’ve changed your perspective on deserving nice clothes and now have a quality wardrobe with clothes you feel good in. It’s great that you’re now receiving compliments at work. That’s always nice to hear 🙂 Clothing can definitely help us to feel better about ourselves, but of course it’s about more than just the clothes. I think so many women feel like they need to look a certain way or weigh a certain amount before they buy nice clothes – or even any new clothes at all. A lot of times, we think we will shop when we get to our “goal weight,” but sometimes that never happens (often because the goal is unrealistic). I’m a big believer in dressing the body we have NOW, but I still have to work on the scarcity mindset that crops up and leads me to buy too many pieces. Perfectionism plays a big role, too…

  8. Sue says:

    I have really come to embrace the need for ‘dressing the body we have NOW’! At my lowest point, I would buy for some future body I had only ever achieved once or twice in my early 20s, or someone else’s body shape I do not have. These clothes were generally super cheap, bought at second hand markets, and I couldn’t resist bringing them home for ‘some day’. How they would taunt me! My turning point was when I finally decided to get rid of all clothes that did not fit me NOW. (I first hid them away in suitcases for many months but eventually dumped them). I started a rule for myself that I have to wear new items a day or two after purchase or return/donate them. Even if it’s a fancy (for me) dress and I don’t have a big (for me) occasion coming up, I’ll wear it to work or dinner at home. (I did make an exception for a 10 euro woollen coat I bought at a summer market, but I made sure it fitted and that I loved it and I wore it the first chance I got.) My mindset now is that clothes have to earn their right to join my wardrobe. This change in thinkin is really working for me!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      That must have been so empowering for you to get rid of all of those “someday” clothes, Sue! I still have a small number of items I’m keeping that don’t currently fit me (but used to), but I’ve gotten rid of all of many items that were just making me feel bad that I’m not as slim as I used to be. I love your strict rule about returning or donating things you purchased recently but didn’t wear. After reading your comment yesterday, I returned a few items that were purchased in recent weeks but weren’t worn yet. It felt good to do that! I agree that clothes should earn their right to join our wardrobes. When my husband buys new clothes (or I buy them for him), he almost always wears them within a few days. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be the same for me. It’s a good way to see if we’re buying aspirational pieces vs. realistic ones.

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