6 months and 60 Fewer Pieces of Clothing….

What if you looked into your closet and every piece of clothing you owned fit beautifully, expressed your personality, and made you feel good about yourself? And you had just enough for every likely occasion, but not a bewildering amount of choice? And you remembered and enjoyed wearing every single thing in there? And it was all useful, and not kept just for the memories? That is my goal.

Last January I did an inventory of my clothes and discovered I had 480 items of clothing, as reported here. That was rather literal: I actually had 263 items of “substantial clothing” – tops, pants (trousers), dresses and skirts, coats and jackets, and footwear. The rest was nightwear, underwear and accessories. And the number was greatly inflated by my drawer full of socks!

I claimed that everything I owned fit me, but I changed my mind. I had recently lost weight and was used to wearing shapeless clothes. Six months later, I feel more confident that I won’t regain the weight, so I got rid of the baggy things. Now I have a wardrobe in all one size. Scary!

You would think that given my utilitarian wardrobe, I don’t care how I look. That is untrue – it is very important to me how I DON’T look.  I like wearing clothes that fit so I don’t appear larger than I am.  I like wearing simple, functional clothes to work because I hope it makes me look like a person of action, rather than someone who sits in an office wearing a silk blouse and pencil skirt! I like wearing T-shirts, hoodies and jeans because I like to think they make me look more youthful. I avoid prints and details because I think they look fussy and girly, and I prefer a more androgynous look. But I wear cute screen-print Tshirts and rock band Tshirts on the weekends because I like it when people chat with me about them when I go out! So, most of my wardrobe is all about what I am not.

One of my goals has been to reduce impulse buys and stick to a list. I am not much of a clothes shopper, which makes me even more annoyed with myself when I succumb to buying something I only wear once. I wanted to put highest priority on high-use, everyday clothes, especially good-quality replacements. However, I still made some mistakes.

  • When I was in Toronto, it was blazing hot, so I bought a sun dress. But I couldn’t wear it because I couldn’t find cheap sandals to go with it. I have some nice sandals here at home, but we rarely get weather hot enough for a sun dress. So I am hoping for a scorching day or two this summer. Today it is only 19C!
  • I had a short white cardigan that didn’t fit nicely, so I found a replacement. The new one is much longer. Unfortunately, whenever I’ve worn it, I’ve been convinced it looks like a lab coat! I am going to have to retire it prematurely. So that was $21 ill-spent.
  • Back in April, I bought a pair of black twill skinnies, but I haven’t hemmed them yet, so they have been sitting unworn for 3 months!
  • On the flip side, I bought a second pair of yoga pants on a whim, and I have so few workout clothes that they were really needed, so no regrets there.
  • I have bought 12 items which were direct replacements for things that had worn out, and were on my essentials list, such as black and brown shoes, and single-colour Tshirts.

If a more ruthless person were to inventory my wardrobe, they would ask/say:

  • Why do you have 29 cartoon and rock band Tshirts to wear only on the weekends?
  • Do you really need 3 pairs of black, medium-heeled shoes for work? They all look alike.
  • You have two dressers. I see that you had to buy a whole separate organizer just for sweaters.
  • You have hundreds of sweaters, Tshirts and shirts, but only 5 of them are “tops” (girly pull-overs that are not a Tshirt, button-up shirt, blouse or sweater).

After cutting further, my current tally of “substantial clothing” is down from 263 items to 203, a reduction of over 20%. By December, I will know which summer and fall clothes I actually wore this year, and I should be able to pare down further. I will have gone through a whole year of being more conscientious about what I buy and keep. And maybe one day I’ll look into my closet and it will reflect who I really am 🙂

Not me, but nice shirt


  1. SarahN

    Great post! Now I want to go count all my clothes!

  2. Pingback: Zero-Based Wardrobe « An Exacting Life

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