Truth in Numbers: Confessions

Inspired by Lisa with her DH closet challenge and by Shannon more recently, and enabled by cleaning out my basement over the past few weeks, I have finally tackled my closet.

And wow, am I embarrassed.  

First, the progress.  I moved everything to the thrift store - as I'm calling my basement, since thrift stores are my favorite places to shop.

Then I took inventory, and wrote it all down - purging as I went. 

Finally, I brought up to my closet about a week worth of clothes.  What I brought up are my favorites, and I'll wear them until I get bored, then go "shopping".

The pic is my closet now.  There's also a couple of tops and three pairs of shorts in my dresser drawers. 

Now the confessions:
I thought I purged a lot.  Three trash bags full.  When I counted:

  • 9 pairs shoes 
  • 3 winter coats
  • 12 tops
  • 1 pair jeans

For a measly 25 items.  And I still have lots that I have complaints about.  My next purge round will start there.
Here's what's left:

  • 11 dresses (why do I have 11 dresses?  I so rarely wear them).  The Old Navy one is still returnable....
  • 5 winter coats.  3 white, one brown, one cobalt. I think I have too many white.
  • 16 jackets - some outerwear, some indoor, some gear
  • 37 pants - about half and half jeans vs. trousers
  • 74 tops - across all seasons, not including sweaters though
  • 42 sweaters - across all seasons, including cardigans
  • 20 skirts (also way more than I wear)
  • 46 pairs of shoes (including boots and sandals, etc)
  • 1 suit
  • 3 professional-wear tops (with company logo)

For a total of 262 items.   Not counted are underwear, pajamas, bags, belts, hats, scarves or jewelry.  I'm sure that includes another 262 pieces, gaa.  

No wonder it didn't fit in my 12 square foot closet (a single 6 foot closet rod). Clearly, I have WAY more than I need or want.

That also means that I purged less than 10% of my wardrobe.  I don't know how big my ideal wardrobe is, but I hope that it's about half that size.
Of these, I recorded complaints on 59 of them as I cataloged them. I think I'd best root them out and purge them while I'm wallowing in the guilt of how many items I own by count!

So what do I do?  Buy four more items from Susie, of course.  Aak!  I'm going to need some serious Shop Your Closet support.  Maybe I can muster up the energy to make it 4 in, 59 out.....

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • deb replied 8 years ago

    Well, at least you know where you stand. The list of issues by item is a really good idea.

  • Mo replied 8 years ago

    Wow.  First, there is nothing wrong with 200 items, if that's what you want and you wear it.  But if you want to pare down, I would go ahead and look at those 59 items with 'issues'.  Realistically, 74 tops with only 365 days in a year is a lot. 

  • amiable replied 8 years ago

    Funny thing is that I wear almost all of the 59 things with issues - probably the others have issues too, I just don't know what they are because I don't wear them often enough.

    Hoping more purging can fit in the day - I'm trying not to neglect sick kids in this process :)

  • Caro in Oz replied 8 years ago

    I think it's fantastic that you know where you stand - no guilt needed imo :)

  • Ingunn replied 8 years ago

    No guilt needed! If you have room for it and like the pieces you have, I see no issues with your numbers. If you want to pair them down further, you could look into how many in each category you think you realistically need and go from there. 

  • carter replied 8 years ago

    You are waaaay more brave than I am! The count terrifies me. I have 204 pieces that I have photographed and logged in the database Pam created. I probably have another 25 new items to add. Yet....there are still many items that just felt like too much effort to photograph and log. Clearly those items need to go if I don't care enough about them to put them in the db.

    I think this is going to be a great project for you. Plus, think of all the steps you'll get in up and down to the basement. Please chronicle your progress. I could use all the inspiration I can get!

  • rabbit replied 8 years ago

    I think taking the time to move and inventory everything is great, now you know where you stand, good job!   You can start to keep track scientifically if you want, or simply 'shop your basement' and then see what doesn't get 'bought'.  

    I also think like Ingunn says starting with the greatest number dilation (tops) and maybe culling a small percentage of these that are the least loved or most repetitive of the group might be a way to go.  

    I have a pretty big number of clothes right now too, and am fitting them in the same space as you, and feeling like the hangers need some more breathing room to be happy.  Once I can hang everything I'd like to and still shuffle through them easily, then I think I'm good with the number of clothes from the purely practical perspective, any other purging would have to do with refining style, or wearing only the fabbest outfits for example.

  • rachylou replied 8 years ago

    You seriously cleared out your closet. I commiserate on the amounts. I can't bear to count myself. I can't count that high!!

  • E replied 8 years ago

    If I include coats & shoes, I'm probably at or a bit over 200 too. And of those a lot are tops/sweaters: I have way more in that category than anything else. Right now, they all fit in my storage space though, so I don't feel guilty. If I move to a place with smaller closets, I'll have to purge for sure!

    The thing is, as a thrifter, I sometimes end up with several almost-right versions of an item I really need, as kind of place holders until the perfect one comes along. For instance, I just found an excellent skinny grey trouser, so suddenly I was able to purge 4 pairs of subpar grey trousers, as I don't need to compromise anymore. It made me realize that I should be aware of that shopping habit and cut back on it: it's fine to buy one placeholder, but I don't need 4 that are all wrong in different ways. lol

  • amiable replied 8 years ago

    Yes E - That's exactly what most of my wardrobe is - multiples of almost-right items that I thrifted.  And it doesn't fit in my space, hence the need to use more self control :)

  • Beth Ann replied 8 years ago

    Think of all the quilts you could make!

    In all seriousness, the first thing I would say is, "Be kind to yourself."  We live in culture where opportunities to buy are everywhere, and where everyone expects amazing variety and choice.  Secondly, you have tried to moderate your consumerism by buying secondhand -- and your large closet represents a smaller pot of financial resources than for money with your wardrobe size.

    Now you're moving forward, toward a wardrobe that fits your body, your lifestyle AND your closet.

  • Gigi replied 8 years ago

    Congratulations, Amiable, for tackling your closet! This is hard work. And although the news isn't what you wanted, at least you know how things stand.

    If I recall right, you buy a lot of stuff from thrift shops. I know that Ingunn, in her recent post, noted that a lot of her thrift shop purchases were included in her purged items. It's easy to have on our sales goggles at a thrift shop, since everything is so cheap. Do you think cutting down on thrift shop purchases would help you make better purchases overall?

    Just from my own perspective, most of my clothing gets purged because of fit issues. I would offer that maybe if you want to purge more of your wardrobe, really pay attention to fit. If something doesn't fit you right, off it goes unless you are absolutely in love with it and can get it altered by a tailor. (Easy for me to bark orders to someone else, isn't it? Ha ha.)

    ETA: I didn't see the few most recent comments, so I didn't know that the thrift shop purchases were already discussed. Sorry!

  • amiable replied 8 years ago

    You're right Gigi - I get sale goggles at Thrift Stores, and buy less than perfect things.  It's most of my entire wardrobe.  I'm gearing up to purge ruthlessly and probably going to just avoid thrift stores until I feel like I can have better control.

  • Joy replied 8 years ago

    Your closet post as well as Shannon's simplifying and Lisa's boutique are helping me to be more careful shopping NAS. I hope this year to end up with a couple of great items that I need and love rather than a half dozen that get added just because I like them.

  • E replied 8 years ago

    Amy, perhaps when you go thrifting, wear an outfit made up of only perfectly fitting items. That way the comfort of those items will make you fussier about anything you're trying on! This year I'm trying to really get fussy about fit while thrifting (or doing other shopping...but all my clothes except undies, swimwear, and shoes come from thrift stores or Ebay, lol), and I've definitely backslid a few times, so I completely empathize with you. Especially when it's the perfect colour and fabric. *sigh*

  • Thistle replied 8 years ago

    First, no need for guilt or confessions.

    Second, you live in a 4 season climate. Truly 4 season. So, you may need more pieces and need to be willing to switch in and out of you 6 foot closet several times a year. Nebraska gets cold and hot. Some of our Friends here on YLF don't have 100 degree variations in seasons, which is believe you do. (My sister used to live in Lincoln ;) )

    Third, why do you think you need fewer pieces? I understand skirts and dresses as you aren't wearing them. Are you wearing the other pieces!? Perhaps before purging just to shrink the number of time, you should look to see what you wear and how often. You could track how often you wear a piece, for just do the old hanger trick.

  • Thistle replied 8 years ago

    Hehehe, it is no longer non-enabler June for me. :D

  • amiable replied 8 years ago

    Thanks Thistle - you're correct - there is more than 100 degrees different between high summer and deep winter here in Lincoln, so I need a wide variance.  
    I'm purging because my clothes don't fit in my closet, and spend most of the time in giant piles on the floor or in bins, because they don't fit.  And my next house will have even smaller closets if my hubby gets his way.  So I need to take control of how many items I have :)

  • Transcona Shannon replied 8 years ago

    Wow Amy - you've been busy! Those of us who live in true four season locations with huge temperature differences probably do have more pieces than most so definitely let go of the guilt.

    I've cut way back on my thrifting. It's not that I don't find great stuff but I tend to buy just too darned much of it. It's an addictive little past time and something I need to be careful about.

    I think you're making real progress with your project :)

  • amiable replied 8 years ago

    Purged two more tops just now, and moved the clothes that my complaint against them was "too small" to a "skinny" box, where I won't be looking at them regularly feeling bad that I don't fit in to clothes I love and used to fit in :)

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Fantastic, job, Amy! And no need for guilt. As everyone says, in a four season climate you need a lot of "stuff" just to get by. I don't consider my wardrobe huge and it includes over 150 when you count footwear and coats. So...yeah. You're in good company. 

    Now is the time to make those items really, truly work for you. It's going to be a great adventure. Can't wait to find out what you discover and how you go about purging/ replacing/ upgrading. 

  • amiable replied 8 years ago

    Thanks for all the commiseration and kindness!  You all are the best.  I, too, am looking forward to this journey.  It's my goal to buy LESS and better quality, to really wear what I own and love, and to continue to have fun with fashion, but do it within the constraints of my space :)

  • replied 8 years ago

    Good for you!!!  I'll watch your progress going forward.  I am sure I will learn a lot from you.  

  • Jaime replied 8 years ago

    I feel disqualified to comment as I am planning a major tour of Manhattan thrift stores today. :-)

  • amiable replied 8 years ago

    Oh Shevia, I am jealous!  I really fall hard for thrift stores.

  • Karie replied 8 years ago

    Oh I commiserate! I'm probably at about the same numbers you are. I do agree that when you live in a four season climate, you need and will wear more. This summer I plan on going through my closets - the seasonal closet upstairs and the out-of-season closet in the basement - and doing a serious purge. Of course I haven't started this yet, I've been busy sewing and making more clothes ;) 

  • Lisa replied 8 years ago

    This is a great first step!  I was blown away when I first took an inventory of my clothes.  I had so much (over 300 items) it took me weeks and weeks to write it all down.  And I'm still doing The DH Closet Challenge and still have the boutique, although it has shrunk over time.  It can take a long time to purge a wardrobe.  How fun that your 'boutique' is a thrift store, I like it!

  • AJ replied 8 years ago

    Please don't feel guilty. I'm giving you a standing ovation for beginning this process. Knowledge is power, right?

    Does it feel freeing to look at your closet with just the week worth of favorites or do you feel like you need to fill the closet space?

    I am so inspired by that picture of your cleared closet! My closet has been an absolute mess and you have got me excited to tackle it this week!

  • replied 8 years ago

    Every girl's dream is to have a thrift store in her basement--well at least this girl, lol! I'd never come up for air, not even to eat.

    That's a great idea Amy, and I applaud all of your effort. That has to be a lot of work, but when the inspiration hits, that's the time to act. I wish I'd taken a picture of my closet when I started paring down. There were so many hangers on my 8 foot rod, that I couldn't even scoot them aside to pull one out. The sad thing is, there was something wrong with almost every single item I had.

    You and E were talking about multiples of not-quite-right items? I had those in droves. In fact, some items that are my essentials I still have in not-quite-right multiples (striped sweaters, I'm looking at you). It's difficult to nail them just right, even when I shop retail. Anyway, you're doing great and I'm cheering for you down here. :D

  • amiable replied 8 years ago

    Thanks everyone - yes, it is freeing, to have an empty closet, and I love the look of it.  This morning was my first day dressing from it, and that'll be a post on it's own - it was more difficult than I expected :)

  • Gracie replied 8 years ago

    You did a great job deciding how to tackle your closet. Lots of work
    (and with sick kids to boot, sorry!)  No guilt needed (because my
    numbers are not too far from yours I think, but I haven't counted my tops) Please keep us posted of your
    progress, I like how you note complaints on the items and out they will go, specially if they are duplicates. I need a basement. :)

You need to be logged in to comment