The Closet Challenge : Setting Some Rules

After seeing the daunting number of items to get through in the next year I realized I’ll need a solid plan if I’m going to make any headway. To start with I’ve decided on a standard closet detox, after doing a little soul searching and recognizing my lack of success in the past. My usual closet organization goes something like this : everything for the season gets loaded in, as I wear something it gets rehung in the back, things I haven’t worn stay in the front, hopefully everything rotates through -or- I remove everything I didn’t wear.

The problem here is I consistently pull items from the back to wear again, and I get desensitized to the things in the front. Fail. This time will follow much the same idea but I’m going to clearly separate the worn and not worn sections to make the difference more visible. As I’ve worked to get my wardrobe to be seasonless over the past five years I can see there are quite a few pieces that get worn (a lot) and more than a handful that are too season or occasion specific that need to be weeded out.

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Now that I know what I’m up against, and have a plan, I’m going to lay down a few ground rules for the year :

1. Purchase Limit :  I will buy only one “want” item of clothing and one “want” accessory item per month. If I go over that limit then the additional quantity will come out of upcoming months’ limits. Meaning should I find a super awesome sale/deal/coupon code I may purchase more than one item on my wish list in a single month and will abstain from purchases in future months.

2. Budget :  I will stick to a budget of $250 per month for clothing and accessories. This includes my purchases and all necessary alterations to clothing and accessories items, such as repairing shoes, replacing zippers, have tears mended, etc.

3. Exceptions to Rules 1 + 2 : The following exceptions will be allowed to the previous rules. Basic clothing items, such as short or long sleeve t-shirts, tanks/camis, undergarments, sleepwear, socks, and other foundation pieces are not limited. I will buy these items as needed while keeping within my monthly budget, but they will not be counted toward to my monthly item quantity limit.

4. Exchanges + Returns : These will be eligible for an even trade, meaning I can exchange or return items and purchase an equal quantity of different items in their place.

5. Gifts : Items received from someone else at no cost to me are not included in the monthly limit. Keeping a gifted item will require I remove at least one existing item from my closet.

6. Add, Remove :  For each new item I acquire I will remove at least one existing item from the closet. More than one item may be removed per additional item added.

7. Documentation :  I will document what I wear for the year and will update on progress, struggles, and revelations along the way as a means to hold myself accountable. This may include daily outfits, items removed from the closet, and items added.

8. The Reality : This is intended to be a challenge and as such I might deviate from the rules, struggle, or have weak moment of indulgence. Documentation is intended to hold me accountable and allow openness and honesty about the challenge.

9. Remove : Sell what I can and donate the rest. Sales will go toward existing BHGs.

10. Goal : End with a solid, seasonless capsule wardrobe with a quantity of items that works for my lifestyle and the climate I live in with select seasonal pieces for a sense of variety.

My new motto : Buy less, choose well, quality first.

The Closet Challenge : Taking Stock

This week I’m going to begin tackling my closet, starting with unveiling the numbers. The struggle here is the sheer quantity of items – there are just too many to wear them all in a year. So many of these pieces are hand-me-downs, gifts, swaps, and things that somehow appear unbidden; whether or not they fit, are in style, or suit my tastes all will need to be determined. I’m going to spend this year vetting things out, deciding what’s worth keeping, and letting the rest go. Since the only way to really know what I’m up against is a tally of all items, regardless of season or occasion, I’ve compiled a list of categories and the (embarrassing) grand total.

The Closet Challenge : Tallying + Taking Stock

Outerwear – 12

Cardigans – 5

Poncho – 1

Vests – 6

Blazers & Lightweight Jackets – 20

Lightweight Pullover Sweaters – 17

Heavy Sweaters – 13

Long Sleeve Tees – 27

Short Sleeve Tees – 11

3/4 Sleeve Tees – 4

Sleeveless Blouses – 19

Sleeved Blouses – 21

Button Front – 21

Dresses – 43

Skirts – 17

Shorts – 12

Printed Pants – 10

Jeans (this includes black) – 8

Solid Color Pants – 5

Capris & Crops – 9

Hats – 3

Scarves – 29

Belts – 14

Boots – 14

Flats – 33

Heels – 21

Sandals – 14

Grand total (yikes!) : 409

Knowing these numbers is empowering, but how to know what’s enough is an entirely different story. In an effort to understand how much is enough, I’ve scoured every resource I could find, and…. found myself overwhelmed. The hot thing anymore is this idea of a capsule collection wardrobe, but depending on where you look there different quantities. Do I keep 100 pieces? 25? 33? How do you know when you’re “there” and have the perfect closet for you? What about a change of seasons?

The Closet Challenge : Embarking on a Challenge to Use My Stuff

When I bought my first house in 2011 I had already been working to pare down the amount of stuff I had accumulated. In fact, I had been doing this steadily for years; being the youngest member of the family means receiving unsolicited things that no one else wants, whether or not you want or need it. The hardest thing is parting with something “nice” – those items that are of quality, name brands, or your aspirational-but-not-real-life style. Of course there have been total gems in the mix, but the majority of items are repeats of things I’ve already got, are outdated, ill-fitting, or just not to my taste. In anticipation of moving I had been steadily purging the unnecessary and setting aside those things I thought might come in handy once moved into the new house. The trouble is there’s always more coming in than going out, and five years later I’m still struggling to get to the life I’ve been working toward.

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All of that is about to change. Starting today I’m going to be embarking on a challenge to use what I have, take a real inventory of things, face the facts, and purge the rest. This is going to be difficult, and I’ll probably fall off the wagon in a weak moment here and there, but I’m committing this upcoming full year to cleaning out my life. This is not about simply getting rid of quantities of things, but rather is about reaching a better overall quality – to be mindful and purposeful about the things I own.

Above all else this is not about having to break a shopping addiction. I live on a strict budget with the hopes of reaching a big, hairy goal of putting twenty percent of my income toward retirement. Thanks to this ridiculously high contribution amount I don’t have a ton of cash to throw around willy nilly, and therefore don’t have a terrible spending habit in need of reform. My plan here is to sell what I can, donate the rest, and put the earnings toward my existing saving goals. My only thought is wondering how bad that could really be. After all, is there even such a thing as saver’s remorse?

First up is something I should have been able to wrangle long ago : the closet. I’ll be back next week with a full tally of items and a plan for how to tackle things, once and for all. This is going to be my journey to 30.