A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was pondering what it would mean if you used four “Whatever’s Clean 13” wardrobes for your year-round wardrobe. I’m still in the “thinking about the possibilities” stages, but I wanted to share with you what I’ve been thinking, so far…
At the beginning, I’m starting with the original 13-piece “Whatever’s Clean” wardrobe. The idea behind these 13 pieces was that they would be chosen in such a way that you literally could NOT put together an outfit that would clash; all of the colors and styles would harmonize to the point that you could, literally, wear “Whatever’s Clean.” (I was thinking of travel, or vacationing at a cabin, beach house etc…)
Just in order to make sure that I could fit lots of “parts” onto a page, I rearranged the components. Note that the border around the “Second Layers = SCARLET,” the borders for the “Bottoms = BLUE,” and that the borders around the “Tops = TURQUOISE.” Yes, these kinds of mnemonics really help me keep myself organized!
The simplest possible iteration of this for a year-round wardrobe would be to create four separate (but theoretically related) 13-piece wardrobes, and keep them together. That could look like this, more or less…
But then I was thinking two things that are separate, but related:
- What season gets my blue jeans? They’re really good for all but the dead of summer, and
- What about arranging and planning so that I wasn’t really limited to just 13 pieces for each season?
Of course, I don’t think that any of us were envisioning that on March 20th, I would pack up the 13 pieces of my winter wardrobe and hang up the 13 pieces of my spring wardrobe. (in Chicago, I would have to stay indoors until late April if I did that!)
At a minimum, though, I thought that the individual garments for this wardrobe should be put “on paper” in such a way that they visually ranged from extremes of heat to extremes of cold. That way, the majority of garments would fall into that middle range of “autumn and spring,” and would include all of those garments that are used throughout most of the year.
(I hope this is making sense…)
So I charted out a dozen pieces in the middle of the diagram for the truly seasonless, transitional items:
I thought I would start with the hot-weather wear at the top of the page:
And the bottom of the diagram would include all of the gear necessary for the dead of winter:
It would be possible to just write-in your pieces, so that you could see what you have and what you need. I’m not sure what to do about “multi-function” items, like a long-sleeved linen shirt that works as a 2nd layer in the warm weather, but also can be worn under a sweater when autumn comes. Maybe give it TWO colored borders? Or just give up the idea of colored borders, and simply be intelligently mindful about balancing tops, bottoms and 2nd layers?
Because I’m all about the pictures, I pulled a handful of images from L.L.Bean (the best source of classic clothing, and classic clothing photographs, that I can find!). I’m liking this already…
This might not work for everyone – some people who get dressed up a lot might need more than 52 pieces of clothing. But I’m already starting to think that, for me, this might be a useful tool.
Did anybody else notice that this also gives us 1 garment for each week of the year? Would that mean that each Sunday afternoon you laundered and stored one piece, while pulling something more seasonal into your rotation? That you would check on the need to replace 1 piece each week? (and usually finding that you were just fine…) What else could you do with 52 pieces in a 52-week year?
I want to make this easy to use and helpful; if anybody has observations, ideas, suggestions, criticisms, or praise, chime in!
Wow! I admit I got a bit lost but will have another read. I have lots of clothes. I have categorised each item into type ie long sleeved shirts, short sleeved shirts, long sleeved T-shirts etc. Then to get the all year round thingy going I have thought about what temperature range I would wear each type. Long sleeved T-shirts I would wear when less than 18C. Short sleeve shirts would wear between 20C and perhaps 27C. I wouldn't wear my polar fleeces in the summer but in the winter over my long sleeved T-shirts. Singlet tops when the temperature is over 28C. So I don't yet have ideal numbers of what should be in the wardrobe but know when to wear stuff. Love the numbers… Carol S
I've thought about this a lot, myself. I taught a 1hour "class" on capsule wardrobes a few weeks ago and discussed the need for 3 "parts" and essentially 2 wardrobes. A cold weather one and a warm weather one. The third "part" is a basic grouping of clothes that you wear most if not all year long. Many women wear jeans all year long- tucked into boots for the winter, or rainy cooler days, evenings, cool snaps, etc. in the summer. Same with a short sleeved T. Alone in the summer, but layered the colder times (as a 3rd layer in some cases). So similar to your concept, but a little simplified. (I am such a capsule nerd- I love analyzing them!)
I've been doing something like this! I have put together two Whatever's Clean wardrobes–one for cold weather and one for warm weather. They are entirely neutral, which for me is black/grey/white. (You've already put together examples of these that I relied on heavily during my planning.) Then I rotate out accent colors with the seasons as a French Five,which typically consists of at least one 2nd layer. I haven't completed the wardrobe, but it's given me a nice plan from which to work. I've added a few "house rules" to make it easier–weekend wear isn't included in the list because my style is different, and accessories follow a similar plan but aren't counted as one of the French five. It's been fun to "get tired" of one season's accents and then switch them out. This is especially true for jewelry, which stays hidden while out of season; it's like opening presents every three months!
Janice Riggs says
GET OUT OF MY HEAD! This is pretty much exactly what I'm working on for the next few blog posts – a "standard" summer outfit, changed up by a switch in accessory colors. I'm happy to know that at least one person in the world will understand what I do!
I have approached the wardrobe plan by breaking it into 4 sections: the common core (~15 pieces of black, denim and khaki), whatever's clean (~15 pieces of teal, blue-green, and navy), summer clothes (2-3 clusters (~15 pieces) in linen fabrics, and winter clothes (~15 pieces). Using Janice's advice (Thank you!), I have reduced the size of my wardrobe and made the colors more cohesive. I have accents in the previously mentioned colors as well as olive, coral-pink and magenta. All colors are soft and muted. I live in the Washington, D.C. area so I don't need heavy winter-wear and I spend summers mostly inside, so the bulk of my clothing needs falls into that intermediate area.
Great ideas! That seems to give you plenty of items to reflect the different moods and seasons that encompass a year. Lots of variety!
I can not wait for the next stage.. only thinking about small misunderstanding in using colors and then involving black squares .. please do not stop on this. I am curious about the space needed for the wardrobe of a common woman in four seasons climate. It will be helpful to see everything (all clothes and accessories in one place).
Linda J says
I like this. I like the idea of warm weather and cold weather instead of 4 seasons. I want a minimal wardrobe that I can keep in my closet and I am using a simple color palette (the idea of storing away clothes bothers me) I thought maybe I would make sure I have a whatever's clean for warm and cold weather (even if pieces overlap) and then plug them into your new chart and add the other pieces I plan on keeping.
That would help me to see gaps or where I have too much of something. I have seen other charts for small wardrobes, but they haven't helped. I like your whatever's clean 13 and really want to base my Wardrobe using it and 52 pieces, not counting shoes and accessories, seem reasonable to me. I don't like using the term capsule wardrobe for my wardrobe because it seems too temporary or that is just a smaller part of a much larger wardrobe.
I have thought about these things as I have selected my project 333 wardrobe. Our weather is very unpredictable and my life has lots of different activities. I also love my very non-minimalist accessory collection and want slowly add new fabulous pieces to it, not downsize it. On one hand I want clarity, simplicity and ease of a minimalist wardrobe, but on the other hand strict minimalism just doesn't seem doable OR fun (fun is important!).
So I've started to view my 33 items as the core of my wardrobe. Items that capture the vibe of the season and that would serve me well most of the time. But if need or serious want be, I can supplement this core from the rest of my wardrobe (that is in good shape these days). I just make a little note of it, and at the end of the season I'm going to review my notes and see if there is something I can learn from the occassions where 33 has not been enough. I feel that this flexibility helps me relax and takes a lot of anxiety out of wardrobe planning. It also makes P333 feel more like the learning experience it really is and not just another way to see if I can measure up to some ultimately arbitrary standard.
I'm just getting started with this, but at least in theory this P333 core approach sounds good.
I totally agree on not having to comply with external arbitrary standards when it comes to my closet ! Just the rebel in me I guess. Only I know what is truly in my best interests and comfort level when it comes to my choice of wardrobe contents !
Love this idea. I'll be looking forward to seeing what all you do with it.
I like the idea of the color borders so I wouldn't give up on the idea of using them. You could either use two colors or give it just one (knowing you could always use it the other way too) and choose either the one for the way you wear it most or the one you least need for another piece of clothing. In my case I would count it as a top because I would have a hard time paring down to just 8 2nd layers and that way I could sneak an extra one in.
I love this idea, but where do dresses fit? I can wear mine year-round, except for 6-8 weeks in the summer (Yay for the Summer Reading Program", when I wear themed tee-shirts and casual bottoms.)
I am loving the plan concepts by both you and your other readers, although I have never been bothered to think in number limitations. If it fit into my closet without being crowded, and I made good use of all of the pieces, that was good enough for me , but there lies the fallacy ! Not all of the pieces get enough rotation , so I plan to take a much closer look at the seasonal structure of my closet contents, as well as the transitional weather pieces . That is what I did not like about the 333 idea – what do you do for days of 50 in the morning, and 80's by the afternoon? There are some really great suggestions here ! I am bookmarking this one !
I have always wondered why you only include 6 tops in the "Whatever's Clean" template ? Are you basing this on a work week, as opposed to a retired, casual lifestyle, or even travel ? Or is it because of the consideration that you'll be wearing the 7 th top, outside of the template ?
I think it started as a travel capsule, which assumed that you would re-wear and launder as needed instead of wearing everything only once and doing laundry once a week (my habit at home.)
Nicola Main says
Great post Janice, I love this and I think it would be a very handy way to organise my own wardrobe. I'm in Ireland so it is never roasting hot or freezing cold so that "middle ground" category is definitely the biggest one for me.
Oh this is going to be good! I've been trying to think about this for some time – a solid core that can float between fall, winter and spring. I live in a warm climate and the summers are hot. I rely on dresses to beat the summer heat and find that my transitional wardrobe is lacking versatility. Thanks!
I like the idea in general, but the way it's arranged right now doesn't seem like a great top to bottom ratio: 7 tops to 6 bottoms. Might be workable if dresses always count as bottoms, but I would typically want a higher proportion of tops. YMMV
Janice Riggs says
I think dresses have to count as bottoms, because (1) they cover the bottom of your body and (2) they can be worn with other pieces layered over them. I'm hopeful that this assumption is going to make the ratio work better, but we shall see!
Tricia T says
I can't wait to see you expand on this!!
We just downsized, so this post is coming at a perfect time for me. I am looking forward to being part of this experiment!
I think this template is definitely headed in the right direction. I agree with others that dresses should be considered bottoms, that the main function of the top (whether top or topper) is where it should be placed, shoes and accessories aren't included in the template count, and that using colored borders is very helpful. My additional thought is in selecting the neutral colors. I've been trying to come up with a plan for a year round wardrobe using your templates and have found that using two neutral colors per season with one of them overlapping for the next season works for me. For instance, my summer neutrals are white and navy. Fall is then navy and olive, winter is olive and black, and spring is black and white. Then it's back to white and navy for summer. And since the wardrobe is 50-ish pieces, it fits in my closet and gives me lots of variety and return on investment. Eager to see the evolution of your template concept.
Janice Riggs says
Oh, this idea about rotating the neutrals is brilliant! I hope that I can figure out how to make it work on the template…
There are so many intelligent ways to get organized, if we just address ourselves to it and do the work, eh?
hugs all around,
Great tip on overlapping your two neutrals colors to flow from one season into the next. I'm navy/tan now in the summer but I want to work in my olive for late summer/fall. I'll maybe ditch either the tan or the navy. Hmm. Thanks for the idea, Lena
Fantastic concept !
Lena, your plan intrigues me. Can you expound on how you arrived at 50 ish pieces? How do you incorporate accent colors? I can’t seem to come up with a physical count of clothing items to create the wardrobe you are describing. Perhaps it’s early and I need another cup of coffee.
Margie from Toronto says
I love the idea of "Warm Weather – Cold Weather and then the middle group that works for both". I live in Toronto so very similar weather to your's Janice so I find this template would work better than trying to put things into 4 different seasons.
I think I instinctively do this sort of thing already but my challenge is to have a cohesive wardrobe over the whole year without too many "lost souls" that only work with one or two pieces and that were probably impulse buys.
My jeans, white shirts & t-shirts are neutrals that work almost all year round and just stay put in my dresser and closet – the other items move in and out according to the temperature rather than the date.
I might also suggest an additional small wardrobe of outer wear, especially for those of us who live in an area where we have extremes in temps. I look forward to this.
I love the "whatever's clean" and I've used It with the 4×4 template then added in more tops for each season. I have a totally separate category for special event and dressy needs- which do not fall into Whatever's clean- this includes items I wear to church each Sunday. This gives me needed variety in colors- otherwise ALL clothes all year round conform to my three neutrals and three accents. I thought I would get bored but I love this way of dressing and I can't think of colors I like better. this seems to be the way you dress, Janice, with your black and grey with white,denim and red accents all year round? So isn't your wardrobe more or less totally whatever's clean? I'm really looking forward to this series and like the idea of planning an entire all-year wardrobe. Janice Collins, Washington DC
Great idea to separate the dressier/church clothes from the rest. That will make things work better for me!
Ivy Bromius says
Very excited about this and hoping it creates lots of posts. The 52 pieces theme would also lend itself to growing the wardrobe over the course of a year. So every week, you identify something you already own that works, swap out something that doesn't, buy something new to add, or deal with a wardrobe challenge (like an expensive accessory that you want to use but that currently doesn't fit).
Without knowing it, I've been waiting for this. I've been working on how to make all of my clothes fit together so that getting dressed is a joy and not a scavenger hunt. The 4 x 13 concept could really work for me, and I'm excited to see where you take it!
I love this idea! Can't wait to see what you come up with, so I am headed for my closet to play with it a bit! I am excited to see your ideas!
Sandra James-Talbot says
Janice I love your mathematical approach to wardrobe planning. Can't wait for the next steps – I'm on board. I also like the suggestion above of swapping in a French Five every month/season to ring the changes in a co-ordinated way, and the other idea of rotating a pair of neutrals through the season, removing one and adding another each quarter. Looking forward to trying your ideas out.
Janice Riggs says
We are always so careful about planning other purchases, like our food, or buying a car, or furniture, but it seems to me that buying clothing has always been sort of a random, impulsive, and ultimately not madly efficient activity. I'm on a one-woman crusade to change that!
Janice, what a great idea!! Thanks for all of the work you put into this, your creativity is impressive!
What about this variation….a warm weather Whatever’s Clean 13, a cold weather Whatever’s Clean 13, and a basic core Whatever’s Clean 13. The basic core would be available year round and would be classic clothes such blue jeans, black slacks, gray or navy slacks, black skirt, black dress, white t shirt, white long sleeved button up blouse, white light-weight sweater, etc.(of course change the neutral colors to what each person actually wears) Even in the hot weather I end up wearing some three quarter length sleeves because the air-conditioning in stores or restaurants is so cold.
This would be 39 pieces, a good starting point for all seasons, and then additional pieces could be added as needed. Deb
I love this idea, especially since I have been heading in this direction myself. Can't wait to see what you come up with as you work through the project. The only concern I have with "Whatever's Clean" is silhouette-type issues. For example, I love linen in warm weather and have both tops and bottoms, but don't like to wear two "wrinkly" items at the same time. The same goes with fit issues: loose on top, lean on the bottom, and vice-versa (think looser fitting linen pants with tighter fitting T shirts, and loose tunic tops with leggings). I mainly struggle with my summer wardrobe, since temperatures can often exceed 100. Thanks for all your inspiration.
Yes! I agree that silhouette considerations would keep my wardrobe from being a true "Whatever's Clean" grouping. In addition to the loose/lean fit issues that you mention, I find that I don't wear the same 2nd layer silhouette over dresses and skirts as I do over pants. – nancyo
La Belle Demimondaine says
I am following this topic with great interest, and I can't wait to see what you come up with!
Right now, I have about 110 pieces of clothing in my closet, excluding swimwear, workout gear, and special occasion stuff. I'm still working on culling, but I find for shopping and future planning, it has been extremely useful to analyze my climate: I live in Atlanta, and for about 8 months of the year, my wardrobe needs to be seasonless, adaptable to lots of rain, and easily layered. For about 2 months, my wardrobe needs to be skewed towards colder temperatures (20s-50s Fahrenheit) and for about 2 months, it needs to be specifically hot-weather (85-101F). We take periodic trips to Toronto, so my current project is assembling a 10-day snow capsule of refined and elegant boots, coats, and winter-silk undergarments, for walking around in the city.
I'm in Raleigh and my weather is basically just like this too. Looking forward to what Janice comes up with.
D. Elizabeth O'Hanlon says
52 garments in 52 weeks suggests, to me, a 'featured garment' each week – wearing one piece two or three times to stretch your styling muscles.
Janice Riggs says
Oh yeah – this would be a great way to make certain that everything in your wardrobe was getting used sufficiently, and also ensuring that each piece was something that you really liked. It would be difficult to wear something 3 times in a week if you didn't truly enjoy wearing it!
I really like this idea and will work on it. I live in a place with more cold weather than warm but travel to warm sunny places so this will be interesting to play with. The warmer weather clothing will be worn less often and so need replacement less often. Hmm, very interesting. I see lots of variations on this. Thank you,
Claire C says
I've been working hard on and in my wardrobe for sometime now and trying different ways to select the right mix for me.
I have three cold months, three quite warm months and six cool with some warm days months. A little bit of everything.
I've found the 4 x 4 grid style works best for me.
For winter it is a 6 x 4, so 24 pieces. I've started thinking about summer and I'm using a 5 x 4 grid to get things started.
I like your plan ! Yes, the 4×4's seem to work best for me too, although at times, they become 4×3's, if I can't find a 4th piece in
a given color, so by that I mean the 3 pieces would be a top, a topper, and a bottom that all match each other. 2-3 neutral colors and 1-2 accent colors . This is more of my travel outfits plan, rather than a whole wardrobe concept.
Mindy Dykman says
I did exactly this! I started with your 4×4 templates, one for each season, but found that was not quite enough. I now have a 50-piece wardrobe that flows from the coldest days of winter to the warmest of summer. I love my closet; it's so easy to get dressed! I rotate clothing out every few weeks in spring and fall as the weather shifts, and always have a group of 20 pieces that are 'current.'
Thank you for inspiring my minimalist wardrobe.
Alison Gunn says
I'm working from a mostly Whatever's Clean template now, on a 3 month trip. I wish I lived like this at home. I find it hard to get stressed about clothes when I have a limited amount with me. I want to make a change to my physical wardrobe when I get home, just move everything out that doesn't go with everything else. I will say that I packed two not-matching prints on this trip with no real expectation of wearing them together, but that hardly matters when everything else goes. And I have had to span 3 climates, cold in the North to boiling hot in the South, from 44F to 100F, so that's basically 3 seasons.
Oh, this could be brilliant! My problem is always the "other" stuff… lounge wear, underwear, swimsuits, gloves, snow boots, etc… But at least if one could constrain the number of garments to 52, it would all easily fit in a modest size closet, no need to bother putting anything away :)
Please share your stay at home mom uniform!
Donna Crawford says
Chabe: I ran across the concept of uniforms somewhere (maybe from Janice) and that help me pull it all together. I have separate drawers for what I call my "uniforms". I help manage a small town swim Team with an outdoor pool. My "uniform" is quick dry shorts and sleeveless shirts, decent enough to be seen in public but are not what I would choose for a day out or traveling. I don't really consider these part of my wardrobe. Same thing for my "stay at home mom" clothes. Each uniform has a drawer or designated space. If the drawer is full I have to get rid of something before I can add anything new. I do the same with underwear, sleepwear, etc.
Donna Crawford says
Pretty simple. Depending on the day's plans and the season either Jeans or yoga pants. Full length or Capri. T shirt or long sleeve t shirt. Flip,flops or trainers. Usually a sweat shirt because my husband likes lots of AC. Clothes I can do some heavy duty cleaning or some gardening in but still decent enough to run a quick errand. But not really clothes I would choose for a day or night out or travel.
And I do love that it fits the number of weeks in the year! Reading the other comments, one could have hot weather, basics, cold weather, dressy? But like I said, accessories and "other" is always my problem, so maybe once the 4×13 is done, you could take on a Spartan list of accessories for the different seasons/occasions?
Janice, I've really enjoyed reading this post, as well as the additional creative ideas from the readers! I can't wait to see how you build upon this idea! Wondered if something that might work, or where you might be going with this, would be to have a "Common Core" wardrobe of mainstay pieces and then adding in items, similar to the French 5-piece wardrobe, or the Build a Wardrobe in 12 months, where just a few additional items are added into the mix each season? I'm guessing this is kind of how it would work? I liked the above comment about changing out the neutrals with the seasons, to add variety. Looking forward to future posts! :)
Susanne Chandler says
If you took one bottom and one 2nd layer, and redesignated them 1st or 2nd layers (cardigan or long sleeve shirt), then you would have a 2:1 top to bottom ratio. Also, the retired person would have 7 days a week with her top half covered! In any event, I am really loving this concept…
This is a little bit like what I am doing – I am going with your idea of "clusters" – all items in one cluster bought at more or less the same time from the same retailer, so that they go together, (also your idea), with several items which reach out to other clusters. I'm not sure how you would draw this, I'm settling for pinning every new item I buy on a Pinterest board. In many ways, it is easier to see possible outfits on my board, than it is in my actual wardrobe. I'm also buying scarves deliberately to combine the colours in my clusters, and settling for a limited palette.
Our weather in the UK is so variable that I can't imagine being able to pack away cold weather clothes at any time, so I plan to keep everything hanging in clusters, maybe with the "reach out" items hung together. Linda M
The Pouting Pensioner says
Such a challenge. All the colours need to go together but dressing isn't just about colour so all would need to work together too. It's possible that you end up with a "safe" selection mainly filled with transitional pieces with just a few extreme summer and winter pieces. It will be interesting to see what transpires, though please don't fret about it on holiday!
I just wanted to add my voice to the field of excited readers who are very keen to see where you go with this. Based on the comments I have read it seems that most of us have our own little 'twig' that we would make to the concept, based on our own lives, commitments etc. But it makes me VERY excited to know that you are creative enough and smart enough to provide a template and a very clear (and entertaining!) explanation of how to use the template so we can then all go on to make it our own!
This post would have to be one of the clearest reasons, to me, of why you are so very, very good at what you do!
Take Care, Penny
Janice is using her brilliant analytical mind to help us get started using our own brain for a wardrobe solving plan.
Like you, Penny, and so many other fans, a template is a great starting point for our various needs, hobbies, life demands, etc. I've been waiting a long time for this nudge, thank you, Janice, will never be enough for what you do and share. I hope you know how much you're loved and appreciated.
a faithful fan,
Janice, wow! What a great idea! Also, using the common wardrobe from a few years ago (either the casual or the work versions or maybe both would work in a casual workplace) as the year around core is really thought-provoking. I already have summer and winter versions of jackets, cardigans, pullover sweaters/tops, etc. in my accent colors which will fill in the top and bottom rows. The only obstacle I see is that my accent colors don't mix together very well, meaning my plan might not be completely a whatever's clean wardrobe. So yes, please, this is definitely worth exploring further.
As always, many thanks. Carla.
I am working on clusters of neutrals only. I have settled on specific shapes, shades, fabrics, and textures for these neutrals to maximize flexibility. I focus on black and navy as my dark neutrals. My light neutrals include pure white and a number of off-whites in the cream and ivory families. My "swing" neutrals are gray and dark denim. Many of these items are "tropical-weight wool" and can be used all year around … I live in the Pacific Northwest. The key is to keep control of the shades of the neutrals as well as the fabrics, texture, shapes and fit of the clothes. In order to do that I tend to shop for these essentials using just a few "names" and hope that the quality remains good and the shades do not change. I try to buy the "ultra-suit" capsule of jacket, pants, skirt and dress. If you spot the one that works, it is the Holy Grail and about as common. Or maybe you go to a really good dressmaker or tailor. (Increasingly, this is my choice.)
The next level is finding patterned items using mixtures of these neutrals, but I do not consider those items "clusters".
I do use accent colors like blues, pale pinks and a little red. I buy very few colored pieces, but they are important. However, in my wardrobe colored items do not require as much care as do the neutrals and patterns because I don't usually use more than one color at a time.
Donna Crawford says
I'm loving this! I've been looking at my wardrobe over the long weekend and comparing summer and winter items. I finally bit the bullet and gave up the black clothes I've been hanging on to but not wearing for several months. Listed the lot on eBay. Leaving me with right at 50 warm neutrals with denim/chambray accents! This tells me I'm on the right track. Just need to balance it a bit. Thanks for the validation!
Can you make columns? Like all dresses/bottoms are down the right, tops down the left?
Janice Riggs says
I was JUST thinking about that…
Ha! Great minds and all that…
I'm in the midst of doing this, having started last Autumn. I built a Core French Wardrobe, based on your post about Lars and Eleni wearing, essentially, the same clothes (jeans, turtleneck, white T-shirt, LBD… with awesome accessories) and used that to build a Whatever Clean 13 for each season around these core, seasonless essentials. In cooler weather, my accent coolers go deeper than in warmer weather. So far, it's working brilliantly! In fact, I just got back from a month in China, visiting my Daughter, which included a couple of dressy occasions. My packing list was a 4×4 with a shawl, a silk scarf, and three pairs of shoes (sandals, trainers, and ballet flats). And jewellery (of course). I had more clothes than I needed. And, on my return trip, after off-loading birthday presents and other things, my suitcase weighed only 35 lbs.
All in all, this is a great way to live. I never had a clothing dilemma, regardless of the weather or the occasion. Yes, I was able to do laundry, which helped immensely, but I was never without something to wear and I never LOOKED like I was scraping the bottom of the suitcase. Janice, you're brilliant. And your templates are brilliant. Thank you… Laura.
Carole Hustead says
Janice, this makes perfect sense to me and is what I have been needing. I will work on my on wardrobe using this method as you work through yours. I live in Portland, Oregon, and at this time of year our weather can be hot for 2 or 3 days (middle of summer) and cool and raining the next 2 or 3 days (early spring, fall weather). So I wind up keeping all my clothes available to wear. This would help me pare them down and organize them in a sensible way.
Donna Crawford says
Took the column comment and ran with it. Column 1 has bottoms including dresses ranging from summer weight to winter weight. Column 2 has tops (first layer) ranging from linen tanks to long sleeve tees. Column 3 has tops (second layer) ranging from button up long sleeve linen to Cashmere Turtlenecks. Column 4 has outer layers ranging from linen jackets to Light and heavy cardigans to winter coats and rain jackets. Interestingly 13 seems to be the magic number. The first 3 columns have 13 items after I add a couple of items needed to balance across season and color. I only have 10 outer layers so I think I'm going to allow myself 3 wild card items! I think I can live out of this closet for a long time. Thanks Janice for the insights.
What an interesting idea. I seem to run around 33 or so items per wardrobe capsule and I change my capsules 4 times a year (once per season). But then I also have my "other less used" capsules which do have less items in them (business wear and beach wear are 2 examples) which add to my total wardrobe numbers. So looking at this exercise, are you saying that someone could get away with a 4 season wardrobe with only 52 items? Or maybe I'm just not following you here. I'm always interested in just how low a wardrobe can go, and still fulfill a person's needs throughout a year.
Living on climate with extreme temperature fluctuation, this article makes much more sense to me than the other common wardrobe articles. I have -30C at the winter and +30 at the summer, there is no way that I can set up my wardrobe that all my tops could be worn all year around. I usually make a summer, and a winter wardrobe plan, and I include the transitional pieces in both. But I like the idea to put everything together for better visuals.
I think there is one aspect is missing in this , and generally in all of your plans: you do not really distinguish between work and casual. Most workplaces are not very formal nowadays, and usually people do not need totally separate wardrobe for work and weekend. . However, I can not consider my most formal silk top as part of my weekend wardrobe. As I can not consider my spaghetti strap summer dress as part of my work wardrobe. But there are tons of overlap, because I wear my solid colour wrap knit top for both work and weekend.
I think you could add this aspect horizontally to this plan. Maybe the 2 most left column is weekend only, the 2 most right column is work only and the middle ones are that can be worn for both occasion.
This plan is a home run. I'm a born slob who is happier digging dirt in the garden that shopping at the mall. I NEED to develop the discipline of working on my wardrobe and bringing in a new piece each week is a great way to do it.
I wear simple tanks (or tees in the winter) and bottoms while I work around the house and garden in the morning and try to change to something nicer around lunch for running errands, looking nice when my husband gets home, etc. If I still worked outside our home, I'd just flip them. I'd stay in business wear until I got home and actually needed to dress down to do a cleaning or garden project. Those clothes are just basics and/or demoted nicer things anyway. I can't be the only person who mows the lawn in an older pair of Talbots pants right?
I love the idea of integrating the Common Wardrobe into this plan as wel. It's brilliant Janice – thank you!
A question (or maybe a favor?): would it be possible to have one of the images above be a completely blank grid? They all have (very edifying) text, but I'd like just empty boxes so I can print out "worksheets". :) Thank you. (I follow you avidly!)
I just finished my first year of working with this concept (the only thing that has ever worked for me by the way). I love how it pushed me to add one thing each week. It didn’t always happen but it was always on my mind.
Now that I’ve at least tried to get 4 different seasons of WIC-13 together, here’s how it’s working in real life for me.
I moved summer’s WIC-13 to the left of my closet. I live in the deep south and I still reach for those clothes.
Meanwhile the front right of my closet was emptied and every Saturday in September, I added 1 piece. First I shopped my closet starting with last falls 13 and a few things tucked in the back that were too tight last year. I’m also shopping a bit. I bought a new top so I looked hard at the tops towards the back and got rid of one. I also have my winter 13 in the same closet so if really cold weather moved in, I could reach for something warmer. My closet naturally wants to be in 4 sections (one being a bit longer) so it’s easy to put each season in a section and have some room leftover for workout clothes and a cocktail dress.
I also can see that my clothes aren’t getting as much heavy wear using this system. I want new purchases to be high quality and I hope by next year, I can focus a bit more on shoes and accessories.
I think this concept was brilliant and I can’t tell you how much it has helped me. Thank you!
Oooh! Challenge accepted!
It’s April 2022 and I’m travelling again now that borders are opening up. With some.holiday/vacation time, I’ll enjoy noodling around with this challenge. Thanks for the ideas.