Thursday, January 11, 2018

How Many Pieces of Clothing Do You Need? A New Year's Thought...

Could you fit your entire wardrobe for the current season in this armoire?

DWR Armoire
Armoire - Design Within Reach

I could fit things in terms of physical volume, but I'd struggle with how to hang my dresses - how DO women who only have armoires hang long garments?

A couple of years ago I wrote a lengthy post with an equation to help calculate an actual number of garments that would be in your ideal wardrobe - you had to answer a few questions, and then do a calculation (or you can buy the Excel document I built that does the math for you!). It's a question that doesn't grow old... Unless you have a terribly limited wardrobe, it's something that merits repeated analysis, so that we don't wander into old patterns of over-consumption. Wasting money is almost as bad as wasting natural resources, right?

This is the link to buy the worksheet that helps you calculate your idea wardrobe number. It's cool because you can keep changing the various parameters about how often you change clothes, or how many garments are in your typical outfit, and the results change automatically...

Buy Now

If you're pretty happy with the size of your wardrobe but would like a worksheet to help you figure out your "cost per wear" and the age of your garments, I've got a worksheet for that too!

Buy Now

Yes, I'm in Florida right now with my hands full of family activities, so my response to comments can be limited by my Internet access. But if you have ideas for other worksheets that would be useful to you, I'd be happy to try to create them - I love planning, and structures, and organization...

And efficiency!


PS - for more planning documents and color planners, check out the Planning Documents section of the website.

How Many Pieces of Clothing Do You Need? A New Year's Thought...
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  1. Going back to read the old post has been so helpful. I have a lot of clothes and haven’t really been able to pinpoint why I can’t reduce the number very well. It never occurred to me that: I like to layer, I change clothes fairly often (2 young kids), I often can’t rewear, and I don’t do my own laundry more often than every 2 weeks. That all adds up to a pretty large number. And now I know what to change if I want to make it smaller! Great insight—thank you. It also helps to know I may just have a larger number of clothes than others, and that’s okay too, as long as I know why.

    1. Laura - That's almost exactly my response to first reading the old post. Knowing what works for YOU and why is very helpful when you are dealing with your wardrobe, especially if you are specifically targeting a color scheme or trying to balance types of items to create more flexibility with less.

  2. Yes, working out what's right for oneself is a great step forward, and the spreadsheet helped me get there too. I'm at the other end of life from Laura, so need fewer clothes but must keep vigilant if I'm not to arrive at what feels like too many. My wardrobe, which includes hanging space and drawers, is equivalent to a slightly more generous armoire than the one pictured here. So when I'm shopping, I have a mental picture of an elegant Provençal version to help me stay on track.
    Robyn in Tasmania

  3. The first poster makes a great point -- how often you can do laundry makes a difference! I have three white long-sleeved t-shirts, because in the winter I so rarely wash whites. Two of them are newer and nicer, so I wear them for work only, and one is older and less "white" so I wear it under sweaters at home and on weekends. I could do it all with one, but only if I washed constantly! In Europe, I'm told, people have smaller washing machines and wash much more frequently. Not my house!

  4. Yup, I could fit my entire seasonal wardrobe (+some) in that armoire, excluding coats. My career clothes often crossover into other areas because they are basically casual, and since I teach at different places in the week, they often get repeated.

  5. Hi Janice,
    Love the post.
    I only have a double armoire, and I cope with hanging dresses by being a tomboy and simply not having any, hahahahaha!
    (For my very girly daughters, I use those hangers with the two clips on them and fold the bodice over before clipping, works fine).
    I've heard that Florida is unseasonably cold, but am sure that you packed well as always.
    Please, please, please can you do a worksheet on your shoe and accessory planning? (Not sure if it was 5 x 5 or 6 x 2?) I remember a blog of yours that used a grid and it was so, so helpful...

  6. I think the point here is that the number of clothes you may have is automatically limited by the space you have in which to store them. I must admit that I have not focused so much on a number as on the question of how well each item fits into a grouping, how many ways it can be worn, whether it matches or is an odd shade...

    Your posts have helped me over the past two years to weed out the less functional clothing and build groups of clothes that match and therefore can work in many ways with each other. I even hang my groups together.

    Living in a four season state, I must change out winter and summer. Fall and Spring are shorter seasons, and I usually just use the core clothing with autumn colors in the Fall and pastels in the Spring. I have weeded out all but black, gray and navy core items. Warm colors and beige do not look good on me. So choosing what suits your coloring and your figure help eliminate some clothing.
    I have also weeded out items that are too turtlenecks and heavy sweaters. The temperatures indoors at my house are pretty much the same winter and summer, so heavy clothing indoors is too hot.

    I have kept the numbers down by discarding the things I don't like to dresses,skirts, fancy clothing, trendy clothing that looks too young, bold patterns (I like to keep patterns small) I almost always wear black pants and have gray and navy ones but few colored pants. That keeps the numbers down.Since you can wear pants several days and I wash once a week I don't need a lot of pants.

    The place I have to be careful of overdoing it is in tops, jackets, and light weight sweaters. I know you need more of them than pants, but once you get your colors decided, I am attracted to the many tops that fit the scheme. Luckily I have determined the style that is most comfortable (crew or v neck not boat neck or turtleneck) and the fabrics that are easy to care for. I don't buy things that require me to jump through hoops to care for them.

    In all of this you have been very helpful in deciding what works best and that has cut down my spending, especially of mistakes. But I have to say, you have brought to my attention piece I didn't know existed, and I sometimes buy them because they fit my guidelines so perfectly. Actually, those have proven to be good buys and add style to my wardrobe. Even my daughters comment on them. So, I try to give away something I am tired of to make space in the closet for the new item. That is just common sense.

    Analyzing one's wardrobe is a constant exercise in good judgement. But I think it has to be fun as well, and I enjoy the process of finding the perfect piece and buying it. My closet has gotten progressively more functional and more stylish since I have followed your posts. Thank you for sharing you excellent sense of color and style, in a conservative slant that leaves high fashion for the red carpet not the closet.

  7. Dresses in armoires: 1) Hang dresses folded, from the waist (on those 2-pinch hangers) ; 2) Hang them in the hall closet where you keep coats; 3) buy a taller armoire. Some armoires are only designed for mens' clothes.

    It is far easier to wash more often than it is to maintain lots of clothes. My favourite trick is turning the hanger in the closet to flag what is worn, and at the end of a season if something hasn't been turned, ask why not. Usually it is no longer pleasing, or too much like other items. Then I donate it. Think I first saw this technique in "Simple Isn't Easy", which anyone serious about curbing accumulation will find useful.

  8. LOL that is exactly the size of my armoire! But upper size is high enough to hang dresses and raincoats below the shelf.
    Sania from Zagreb