Monday, February 16, 2015

Closet Inventory - Part II/Final

I was finally able to complete my closet inventory -- the suspense has been killing you, right? ;)

This second round was incredibly eye-opening. As I mentioned, I decided that a full closet inventory was an important step as I try to build the fabulous wardrobe I'm craving. I need to know what I have, get rid of what doesn't work, and figure out what I need.

Still not my closet (source)

You can see my first closet inventory here (this is the closet I'm currently using). I also have a ridiculous significant number of clothes in storage at my parents' house. It's a bit of a hodgepodge of things that aren't appropriate for hot and sticky Florida, things that I haven't worn in years, and things that were simply forgotten. It was really kind of fun pulling it all out -- I found some incredible gems and quite a few dogs (how? why? was I drunk when I bought this??).

In addition to being a fun trip down memory lane, weeding through this closet was incredibly instructive -- as in life, sometimes you learn more from the mistakes than you do from the successes. I lost count of how many things I discarded, but I'd estimate I cut this chunk of my wardrobe down by at least one-third. Here's what I have left:

And here's what I learned along the way:

Fast Fashion FAIL

A lot of the things I got rid of were the cheap blouses and dresses that I've picked up over the years. I wasn't too surprised that a lot of Forever 21 pieces seemed super dated. I was a little sad at how poorly a lot of my Target clothes have held up -- so much piling, fading, and sagging. I got rid of almost everything, save for a few beloved Isaac Mizrahi pieces (that collection was brilliant -- RIP, Isaac x Target!).

After filling a trash bag of highly flammable garments (some still had the tags on, sigh) I was ready to quit Forever 21 forever. Until my new favorite Instagram account made me fall in love all over again.

My strategy now is to be REALLY selective, and to make sure that I'm thinking about the big picture of a cohesive wardrobe (and not be swayed by sparkly beading and low prices, two of my favorite things). And also to recognize that these pieces aren't meant to live in my wardrobe forever, so I need to assume that after a year or two, they need to make their way to eBay or the donation bin.

I Like To Buy the Same Things Over and Over Again

Scrutinizing your wardrobe helps you identify areas of weakness, and it also helps you see what you overbuy. There are a couple of categories of item that I can't seem to say no to:

-sheer black blouses
-dark wide leg jeans
-intarsia sweaters
-striped shirts

{I want them all}
These are all things that I wear often, so it isn't necessarily a bad thing that I have multiples. But when I think about my shopping habits, I think I have this idea that somewhere out there, there is a PERFECT (fill in the blank) that will completely satisfy my urges. That one pair of dark jeans that I'll love forever and will make my legs looks a mile long, that perfect black top that will be just the right combination of flirty and feminine and sophisticated...and I keep buying and buying, hoping to find The One.

It won't happen, and that's OK. I don't need to be in a monogamous relationship with any items in my closet -- I can be a little slutty. But unless I want a striped shirt under a cute sweater with dark jeans to be my daily uniform, I need to keep my urges in check (and try to practice a one in/one out philosophy so closet isn't bursting at the seams).

I Hold Onto Things For the Wrong Reasons

As I was going through my wardrobe, I found myself looking at things that should have been purged years ago. I tried to use some of the recommended methods for a closet clean-out -- don't hold on to things that you hope to fit into some day, only keep things that bring you joy, toss things you haven't worn in a year, etc.

Some of these things worked, but at some point I got a case of Special Snowflake Syndrome and came up with reasons why these rules didn't apply to me:

My weight has fluctuated in the past (more than the usual 10 or so vanity pounds), and I'm definitely on a downward trend. So my smallest jeans don't work now, but they very well may fit in 6 months (and why should I toss them now only to replace them down the road?).

I haven't read Marie Kondo's much talked about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but I'd like to get my hands on it before my next closet inventory. I do understand the basic principle, which is to keep only the things that bring you joy and let go of all of the other reasons (guilt, emotional attachment, etc) we keep things. I did purge some items that didn't pass the joy test, but I confess that I kept a completely non-joy-producing grey fleece pullover that I haven't worn in a long time -- and I can't explain why.

So some purging happened, and I think there is more to come. Baby steps.

So now I've been through all of my clothes in 2 closets. After a lot of sorting, a lot of debating, and a lot of tossing, here's the final tally for my current wardrobe:

And I'm fairly happy with these numbers. I have no idea what's normal (I have a friend who has over 80 sweaters -- that seems excessive?), but I feel like I have the things I need and want to wear, and I have enough space to accommodate everything (for now). I know that I'll continue to add things over the year, so it is really helpful to have this baseline inventory as I consider purchases. I have PLENTY of blouses, so new ones I add need to be really special...but I have room for another skirt or two.

I've decided that I'll make a no-buy January and closet inventory an annual tradition -- it is a great feeling to start off the year with a nice orderly closet and a game plan for shopping in the year ahead!


  1. Kondo's book is great! It didn't help me that much with editing my wardrobe, but it did help with decluttering every other part of my apartment.

    Like you, I find that closet-decluttering is a long process. I can't quite bring myself to decisively clean items out, even if I know that I'm very unlikely to wear them again. Even after reading Kondo's book, I rationalize keeping a lot of items in the way you describe, and then they hang unworn in my closet for another few months until I get rid of them during the next cleaning frenzy.

    One small comment: I think you might have accidentally posted your original "closet inventory" and your new edited "closet inventory 2" images out of order!

  2. It's a weird phenomenon, right? I found a few pieces that I hadn't thought about for YEARS. Truly, they never crossed my mind...but the minute I saw them, I felt so attached! I will definitely get my hands on the book and give it another try.

    And thank you for mentioning the images -- I was definitely not clear! The last image is the total of my whole wardrobe (1 + 2 combined). It made sense in my head but now hopefully it makes sense to the rest of the world :)