Clothing Imbalance

Spring/Fall Work Outfit

Spring/Fall Work Outfit

Last winter I posted that I was bored with my winter wardrobe and it needed a big boost. The best time to buy would have been last year’s end-of-winter sales, but I couldn’t bear to think about chunky sweaters when Spring had finally arrived! Woe is me: now I still need the clothes, and I am faced with full prices.

Last month I got a head start by shopping consignment stores. I bought 2 cashmere pullovers for $35 each. The price at The Bay for similar sweaters is $130-$180 so I was most pleased. I also bought a super-thick cotton rib-knit tunic-length hoodie for the same price. So I am well on my way to building up my collection of better-quality winter-weight sweaters in natural fabrics.

It is just as well. You may remember that my cat Luna has the regrettable habit of chewing on fabric. My sweaters were all stacked neatly on a shelving unit. Luna snuck in and chewed the sleeves off three of my sweaters while I slept! I thought I would wake up if such a thing happened, but no such luck. I had stacked my least-valuable synthetic sweaters on the bottom shelf of the unit, so those are the ones she got. Not the ideal way to downsize your wardrobe! I have 6 other winter sweaters that escaped the Kitty Attack, and none of them are synthetic, so that was a strange way to meet my “natural fibre” goal all at once.

Summer Work Outfit

Summer Work Outfit

I wear the same pants (trousers) and shoes year-round for work, so there’s no winter rush on those.

Last winter I noticed how few winter items I had, so I recently decided to take a look at my whole wardrobe and divide it both by season and by use. With great difficulty (cats notwithstanding), I have kept my wardrobe to 150 items this year and not let it creep up. But here is my analysis of what I have available for given occasions:

Work Clothes

Note: I don’t wear pastel colours or prints much, so my spring and fall clothes can be the same!

I have counted items multiple times. For example, I have 8 pullover sweaters (total), 3 of which are good for Spring/Fall and 5 of which are good for winter only (heavy weight). I have one pair of work-worthy jeans which I wear all year. I have 10 T-shirts I wear only in the summer. I have skirts but I don’t wear them to work. I have 9 button-up shirts I could wear in the winter if I had appropriate jackets and sweaters to layer them with. But as is, my work wardrobe for each season is small and capsule-like!

Typical Weekend Wear

Typical Weekend Wear

Meanwhile, I have a whole other group of clothes that is not work-worthy, and is my home/casual/errands type wardrobe:

Home Clothes

This group includes hoodies, jeans not suitable for work, cargo pants and sneakers. As you can see, it is very skewed by my stack of cartoon- and rock-band printed T-shirts (which I have reduced by more than half in the past two years!)

Dress Up Outfit

Dress Up Outfit

Finally I have a small assortment of “dress-up” clothes which I wear for holidays, vacations and nice meals out:

Dress Up Clothes

Here I have a couple of semi-sheer shirts and a couple of sparkly sweaters. I have 4 skirts: I only wear close-fitting short ones with tights, I think because then they function like jeans – I don’t like flow-y, drape-y clothes!

Some readers may remember I had two dresses tucked away, despite not having worn them for over 5 years. They were bought for weddings. I thought a decision on them was due. So I took a deep breath and tried them on. First of all, my hair colour has changed – to grey! Second, I have lost 20 pounds since then. It never even occurred to me that the dresses wouldn’t fit or look right any more. So I have happily moved them out. If I were invited to a wedding now, I would want to wear something like a long tuxedo shirt with black dress pants.

This exercise was helpful to me because I often think, “I have 150 items of clothes and I shouldn’t need any more,” but now I can see “I only have 5 winter sweaters and 2 dressy shirts.” The next step should be keeping this info on my iPad so I can refer to it when I’m out shopping, and not get distracted by more cartoon-print T-shirts and button-up Fall shirts! So, StyleBook, here I come.

Does your wardrobe lean toward too dressy or too casual?
Do your clothes meet with mishaps and damage very often?


  1. I love the outfit photos! You look great 🙂 Glad you were able to look on the bright side of Luna snacking on your sweaters. Dottie will sometimes play with long ties in the closet so we usually keep that door shut.

    I think my wardrobe is unbalanced in the opposite way. I have tons of winter clothing (because I receive 2-3 sweaters, vests, or hoodies every year for Christmas) and a more limited summer wardrobe. My wardrobe is mostly casual – if I didn’t have to dress professionally for work, my whole wardrobe would be casual!

  2. Holly

    Kudos on adding to the sweater collection, and for taking the demise of the synthetics in stride. 🙂

    We have very similar seasonal divisions in our wardrobes. I am March 25 – May 20 for spring, May 21 – October 3 for summer, October 4 – November 25 for fall and November 26 to March 24 for winter, with spring/fall being one category. Truth be told, I could use your dates and they’d be as realistic as mine.I just wanted to maximize the summer season, even if it’s only in my mind. 🙂

    What I’ve done differently is make hard segments between the three seasonal wardrobes. So even though I could wear something in both winter and spring, I don’t overlap much at all. For example, I have a great pair of deep fuschia cords which I have designated fall/spring. I could wear them all winter but I don’t. By segmenting like this I hope the pieces continue to feel fresh to me upon a new season.

    I have more clothes than you do, but also a dressier vibe at work so my pants especially do not cross categories (work and casual) as a rule.When I first organized my wardrobe I was surprised at how few winter appropriate clothes I really had. Casual clothes were especially lacking, and sweaters both dress and casual. No wonder I feel so downtrodden in winter! Well that, and the ice, and the frigid temps too of course. For this year I have added a few sweaters, and have designated some pieces as winter only, in the hope of having something fun to look forward to in the winter uniform.

    • I know exactly what you mean, Holly! I think I unconsciously do the same thing. I have a pair of velour pants and a velour skirt (I know that sounds awful but they are nice and look like suede) and I only wear them in winter. I could wear them in Fall but I like the feeling of having something warm and cuddly for the deepest winter. I don’t wear my work clothes outside of work mainly because I want to keep them in good condition with no cat hair on them 🙂 I have tried wearing some more casual items like cargo pants and jeggings to work but didn’t feel quite right!

      We do get early Spring in April – the snow melts at least – but we can count on wearing sweaters for the whole month.

      • Holly

        I really had to laugh at your disclaimer about the velour! I have a fabulous velour hoodie in fuschia with a purple paisley print and spots of orange and I LOVE it, but it sounds so awful if I try to describe it. I wear it in fall/spring with those deep fuschia cords I mentioned in my earlier comment. It gives me something to look forward to during the bleak winter. We too can wear sweaters through April, I just switch to my “spring/fall” sweaters at that point. And yes, I agree on keeping the work clothes in good condition by not wearing them otherwise.

      • Ha, that is two votes for velour, then!

  3. Fiona

    I love the outfit photos, too! As inconvenient as it was to have Luna assist in decluttering, I hope you’re very happy with the cashmere ones. I bought an expensive pure Merino wool jumper (sweater) last year. The natural fibres do need more care (mine now needs ‘pilling’ treatment) but they feel so wonderful to wear.

    The seasonal breakdown is excellent but it shows you really do have a ‘capsule’ wardrobe on a seasonal basis. My wardrobe is in chaos at the moment as I have put on just enough weight to throw a few pieces ‘out of rotation’…in my stream-lined wardrobe this is a real case of ‘aargh!’ With the weather improving, I have no excuses left to avoid exercise!

    • Thanks! I have yet to wear my new sweaters. I won’t wish to bring on the cold weather early!

      I know how you feel – my weight is always jumping around by 5-7 lbs and that is just enough to get in or out of a size. There are months on end when I can’t wear something I like, such as those cargo pants I bought for the summer!

  4. I like your approach and you look cute in those outfits! I am rethinking my wardrobe as I tend to hang on to things way too long and wear them because they are there not because they fit well or look great. I also need to up my “dressy” outfits and add some sparkle! Thanks for the ideas.

  5. I am uber jealous that you’re so organized here… it’s one thing on my never-ending “to do” list. My clothing is ia mess. I have everything from dress clothes to my fave ROOTS wear, which I wear most days in the fall/winter. Even though I just got rid of 2 bags FULL of clothes, I still have too much I think… *blush* A chunk I don’t even wear! 😦

  6. interesting wardrobe analysis, I think I need to take a leaf out of your book and have a throughough stock take, I have a lot of clothes but little to wear!

  7. Great photos. Love your style, though I don’t see much difference between your spring/autumn and your summer clothes in the photos. Actually, looks the same. Is the jacket thicker?

    I use to always spill tea down the front of every white top I owned. Why it only happened to white tops, I don’t know. Meant the tops never lasted long.

    I have a lot of formalish work gear – jackets, skirts and trousers. But I also have a lot of casual gear of many different sorts – schlopping around the house gear, work out and walking gear (for winter and summer), by the pool and beach clothes, shopping or going out casually clothes. The whole in my wardrobe is probably casual and work in between season clothes. But as that only last a couple of weeks, it doesn’t really matter.

    • Yeah, I see what you mean. The Spring/Fall tops are a long-sleeve shirt with a long-sleeve jacket, both cotton. The summer one is a short-sleeve T-shirt with an open-weave, very light-weight cardigan. I keep getting curry etc. on my white tops! I do have at-home gear, workout gear, shopping/errands gear, and old stuff for gardening and painting, but definitely no beach and poolside gear!

  8. I am envious of the people who manage to have mix and match outfits – a few of the same cut of pants/tops/sweaters in different colors/patterns that go together. Donna has managed to do this – she has fewer clothes than me, but about 5 times as many outfits! She has an artist’s eye for color and cut, and knows when she purchases something exactly what she expects it to go with. I believe that everything goes with blue jeans – but I’ve never really figured out khaki’s.
    I am a great fan of wool sweaters and have a couple of cashmere sweaters that I wear all winter long. I think Luna did you a favor. Gracie goes for individual wool socks so I have a small collection of singles that I should get rid of.

    • I kind of agree about Luna’s help. If I receive more synthetic sweaters as gifts, maybe they will become cat bedding, LOL! I struggle with colour-matching khakis, too, especially the olive ones.

  9. i have toooo much, owing to a great talent (one of my few) for finding things at Goodwill and the like. I finally broke down and bought a few new items last year, plain things in black. I pretty much look like your dress up pic every day. I started wearing scarves a few years ago and now they have become my trademark at work. You can find nice silk ones at consignment stores–they add a lot of variety and don’t take up much space.

    Hope your kitty doesn’t like cashmere.

    • I don’t picture myself dressing up more every day because it isn’t the norm where I work, and dealing with books can be a bit grubby! I don’t have a talent for scarves – I think I need to hire an advisor 🙂 Meanwhile I have decluttered enough clothes that I can fit all my sweaters in closed drawers now – out of necessity!

  10. Gam Kau

    I have many wardrobe mishaps and I’ve given up counting multiples of black tee shirts and black leggings because the number seems to wax and wane so often as a result of said mishaps. In the past I’ve attempted to divide my wardrobe by season, but realised I wear almost the same thing year round with the main variations in outerwear and footwear. Now my clothes are divided by function. The majority of my items are everyday casual wear and the other grouping would be a very small amount of dressy items.
    Khaki/Olive are neutrals – wear anything with them!

    • I think I have the same “look” year round, but I buy heavier and lighter weight versions of the same things. Hmm, I do remember telling Rom that a purple shirt was not the best match for olive khakis…am I wrong?

  11. Gam Kau

    In case you haven’t come across this:

    I think purple and khaki is fine, but it’s all in the eye of the beholder isn’t it? Just recently I’ve decided I’m going to wear any pattern/colour with any pattern/colour just because I feel like it. 🙂

    • Thanks for the link! The author of the article included information a person would only have known if they’d been there. I am glad the Linn book is still in print – I may need that 🙂 I do have one of those tiny copies of Woolgathering, though. The photo exhibit came to Toronto last year but I wasn’t able to attend.

      They always say that in nature, all colours go together, and who are we to argue?

  12. My wardrobe is very imbalanced. Most of my outfits are good for fall and spring. I’m yet to figure out how to dress for summers and winters in Calgary.

    I wonder if the stylebook app will let you import your excel sheet directly. That will be so cool.

    • I have been to Calgary many times. The summer and winter are so extreme! Much more than here. Our temps range from -20 (rarely) to +25; yours are more like -40 to +40! It is hard to dress for because in the winter, you dress warm and you’re too warm indoors; in the summer you dress cool and you’re too cool indoors (due to air conditioning).

      I have tried using StyleBook before – the best way is to take photos of each item you own and “catalogue” it in the app. It won’t take a spreadsheet. On the plus side, it’s completely visual!

  13. As usual, I love all of the detail you put into your wardrobe and keeping track of everything. I have a definite clothing imbalance–it is all super casual. On the bright side (kind of) we don’t really have winter here so there is no need for a separate winter wardrobe!

  14. One–you don’t need a talent for scarves. I am the world’s biggest klutz and don’t do anything special. Let the fabric (silk or wool–consignment and thrift stores!!) do the work. (Also–I don’t dress up–black pants and top in everyday fabrics=a daily uniform)

    And second–olive/khaki with purple is a divine combo in my eyes.

    • Re: the scarves, I think I need pictures 🙂 I think I am too accustomed to just wearing woolly scarves with coats in the winter. Olive and purple, well, they work for irises!

  15. Such a librarian cataloguing clothes! I went through a phase of making up outfits on hangers so that I could just grab a hanger with everything on it in the morning.

  16. I think I need to pick up a few more sweaters. I LOVE sweaters in the fall/winter time. They’re just so easy. No layering required. Just flop it over your head and you’re done. I think my clothes all lean toward business casual except for a few T-shirts & items. It’s sad when my clothes are so interchangeable between work and social life.

  17. Pingback: Wardrobe Analysis | An Exacting Life

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