My Wardrobe Challenge

Clothes hanging in a closet

If you use Pinterest or read women’s magazines or websites, you may have come across this concept:  Turn around all the hangers in your closet.  After you wear something, hang it up with the hanger facing the other direction.  You will easily be able to see which clothes you’ve worn and which you haven’t.  After six months or a year, donate or sell any items you haven’t worn.

It’s not a bad idea, but because I fully Marie Kondo-ed my closet last year (more about that later) and am generally pretty good about regularly purging clothes that are in poor condition or don’t fit well, this concept didn’t seem all that useful to me.  But it sparked a slightly different idea.

I can sometimes be an online impulse shopper.  I’m one of those people who succumbs to email coupons and marketing campaigns, particularly when it comes to clothes (or, I should say, I used to be one of those people).  When I made the switch to purchasing only ethically produced clothing, the average price of each apparel purchase increased.  I expected this, of course, but my plan was to accommodate the change by buying fewer things.  Unfortunately, old habits die hard, and the frequency of my online shopping didn’t decrease as quickly as it should have.  As a result, I spent way too much money on clothes last year.  I like the clothes I bought, but I didn’t really need most of them, and I knew that was money that I could have put toward other financial goals that are more important to me.

So I decided to place some restrictions on my online shopping.  Rule number 1: Stick to a predetermined budget for clothing by using a separate account to pay for apparel purchases.  Rule number 2: don’t buy anything online until you’ve assessed what you already have and you’ve decided the new item will fill a specific need or gap in your wardrobe.  And rule number 3:  don’t buy any new clothes until you have worn everything currently hanging in your closet at least once.

To accomplish the last goal, I followed the turn-your-hangers-around advice, but I did it in reverse to save myself some work.  I started with all of my hangers facing the normal direction.  When I wear something, I put it back with the hanger facing backward.  Since late January, I’ve required myself to incorporate at least one as-yet-unworn item from the rotation into every day’s outfit.  Nearly four months have passed since I started this challenge, and I STILL haven’t worn everything (though I’m very close to being through the full rotation now).  Clearly, I own far more clothing than I need.

More clothes hanging in a closet

This experiment has caused me to be more creative with my outfits, finding ways to work my most-loved and already-worn items into outfits with things I haven’t worn yet so I don’t have to wait till the end to wear my favorites again.  It’s also helped me to appreciate just how much I have, which has largely relieved me of the desire to buy more.  And I’m excited that I’ll soon be able to wear some items that I haven’t worn for a couple of months now — they feel new again because I haven’t been able to wear them for a while now.

Now, to be practical, I’ve exempted certain items from this challenge.  For instance, I haven’t forced myself to wear cocktail dresses or formal wear to every day occasions, for obvious reasons.  I’ve also worn my workout clothes many times over the past couple of months because I just don’t have enough of them to wear something new every time I go to the gym.  But I have managed to incorporate some items into my everyday wardrobe that I previously would only have worn for special occasions.  I’ve incorporated some of what I consider to be workwear items into my weekend wardrobe and vice versa.  The system has worked pretty well.

If this post inspires you to try a similar challenge, I’d love to hear about your experience.  Have you tried other tricks to cut back on your shopping and appreciate what you have?  Please share your advice in the comments.

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2 thoughts on “My Wardrobe Challenge

  1. My biggest “trick” in reducing my wardrobe was sharing my closet space with another person. Closets are small in old homes so it requires creativity but also a lot of purging. It’s funny how difficult it can be to let an old faded tattered shirt go but I’m getting better… after several times down the catwalk (hallway)
    I don’t color coordinate my closet (as I learned others do) but clothing I wear goes to the far right of the rack when returned so anything on the left side hasn’t been worn in a while.

    1. Oh, I like that right side/left side system! I’ll have to try that. I agree that getting rid of things that still have some useful life in them is a challenge!

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