How I Simplified My Wardrobe in Three (Mostly Easy) Steps

Photo Credit: Vanessa Beletic

I started this blog last year with the goal of defining my style, simplifying my wardrobe, and living a fuller life.  I’m happy to say that I feel like I have the hang of the first two, and am well on my way to the third (although that’s probably a journey, not a destination!).

Not everyone’s experience is the same, but I wanted to share what worked for me.  It took nearly a year of experimentation and lots of mistakes along the way.  I started with the book, Curated Closet by Anushka Rees (see posts here – Part I, Part II, Part III), and while the first part on defining my style was great, the part on editing my wardrobe was just too complex to be helpful (there was actually a flow chart!).

1. Define a Very Specific Life Goal –

This is one that I missed when I first started out – I went straight to the wardrobe, because that was the obvious thing to do.  What I found was that without something to work towards, it was hard to cut back on my wardrobe.  It felt like something I was sacrificing, and let me tell you, my brain did NOT like it.  BUT, when I able to define what I was working towards, it felt like an accomplishment.  My specific life goal was to be able to take a few months off from working to spend on starting a new business and spending more quality time with my 5-year old – no item of clothing can compare to that.  (Looking at you, Alexander Wang Gabi boots – which I found on sale and reluctantly returned last week).

2. Set the Number of Items of Clothing Per Month You can Buy –

I tracked my clothing for all of 2017, and it turns out I was buying one item per week on average – shocking, I know.   My goal this year was to bring that number down to two items per month, for a total of 24 per year.  I made a chart in my planner, and every item I purchased took up one of 24 slots.  That really made me compare items to each other and only select ones that would take up one of my 24 for the whole year.  It also made me think about what I needed (new suit) vs wanted (fanny pack, don’t judge, I didn’t get one!).  For many of you, this number may be too high, but for me, it was a 50% reduction in my clothing items, which felt achievable.  I didn’t want to set too low of a goal only to fail and feel frustrated.

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Changing you mind is okay!

3. Review each item against The Trifecta Questions –

The Three Trifecta Questions:

  1. Do I Love It?
  2. Will I Wear it 30 Times?
  3. Is It a Good Value?

I found many more complicated evaluations (some that required a flow chart & diagram!), but they didn’t work for me because they were too complex to remember.  These three simple questions were really easy, didn’t require higher order math, and actually filtered out 90% of my possible purchases.  I wrote every item down in my planner and checked off each question.  For the Love It and Good Value question, it’s really up to you – you are the only one that knows.  Don’t overthink it – I think my gut feel on these two questions was always right.

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The surprising one was the third one – I chose 30 times due to the #30wears movement.  Having tracked my wardrobe for all of 2017, let me tell you it is HARD to wear something 30 times in a year.  For me, only 22 items made the cut (see below – mostly bags, shoes, and jeans) but most of my wardrobe (the other 234 items) didn’t.  Think about it, you have to wear an item at least once a week for 30 weeks to hit this number (funny how math works) and that doesn’t take into account seasons.  For those of you with four defined seasons, assuming that clothes are different for each season, you’d have to wear each item 2x per week per season.  How many items of clothing do you have that you wear 2x per week, every single week?

 

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My 22 items that I wore over 30 times last year – I guess I like black bags!

A few questions that came up for me along the way:

  1. What items are included in the 24 limit?  I included all clothing, shoes, and handbags, since those are the items I tracked in 2017 and wanted to reduce.  I excluded accessories such as jewelry and sunglasses.  I also excluded functional clothing, like snow boots for our Iceland trip, undergarments and pajamas.  If you want to have more restrictions, by all means go ahead.
  2. Can you “pre-buy” clothing?  For me, yes, since I do like to buy clothing off season.  (Like swimsuits in September)  Having to write it down in one of my 24 slots makes me accountable, no matter when I buy something.  However, I don’t actually wear the item until the month that it’s slotted for.
  3. Do you need to define your style first? If you feel like you need to better define your style, yes please do that as well.  That can help you answer the “do I love it” question a little more strategically.  I have a post on creating a mood board here.

That’s it!  Hope this is helpful for some of you – it’s really helped me.  I’ll follow up with more posts about which items I got each month and how I felt about them. Also, things are actually going so well that I am considering a total ban on clothing for the rest of the year (gulp!).  Will let you know if that happens!

 

 

 

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