How much clothing do well-dressed working women have?
February 13, 2014 1:17 PM   Subscribe

How much clothing do well-dressed working women have?

And what do you have?

I'm close to 30 and have a job where I usually wear "upscale casual", sometimes business casual, and in other jobs in the past have needed to wear suits. My clothing fills, approximately, 1/2 of a walk-in closet, two entire regular-sized closets, two dressers, and several storage bins. This is just clothes, not accessories or shoes.

I like to feel put-together and well dressed. I feel like I have the basics that I need for a variety of situations (work, home, going out, playing sports, warm weather, cold weather, etc.) But I often feel like I have nothing to wear, that I end up wearing a very small percentage of my stuff over and over most of the time, that too much of what I have is out of style or shabby, etc.

At the same time, I feel like I have a ridiculous amount of clothing! I'm trying to get a sense of whether I have a ton of clothes and this is all in my mind, or I have a normal/average amount of clothing for my lifestyle, or whether people who feel well-dressed actually have a lot more.

Most of my female friends are grad students, scientists, or work in very very progressive environments where your clothing is not important, so it's hard for me to get a read in real life.

So, are you a woman who feels well-dressed, whatever that means to you? How much clothing do you have? And what exactly do you have?
posted by the second sock to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (40 answers total) 84 users marked this as a favorite
Your amount of clothing is pretty typical for women who have to dress "professionally" for an office job, in my experience. Discipline about culling rarely-worn items varies, but lots of women like to hang onto pieces they like even if they're only worn a couple times a year.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 1:25 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'm in a super-relaxed place now, but when I was temping or otherwise working in more formal places on a budget, I'd have a very minimal selection of skirts and pants (maybe two of each), one very nice but otherwise unassuming black jacket, a couple of more noticeable jackets, and LOTS of different shirts/blouses. No one notices one pair of black pants over another imo. Keep your bulk in the items that people notice, and be minimal where it matters less - a couple of pairs of the perfect black pant will go a really long way.

Also, if you're comfortable with this style, differently colored/patterned tights make the same old black skirt invisible for repeated wearing.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 1:31 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

A snow day resulted in some casual closet cleaning, and I just discovered that I have over 40 sweaters. Probably more like 50, to be honest. I work in a semi-casual office, but favor bright colors and slightly interesting clothes, so maybe that's resulted in a larger closet than someone wearing more black/gray/khaki. Either way, I'm pretty sure I have too many clothes.
posted by redsparkler at 1:31 PM on February 13, 2014

That does sound like quite a bit of clothing, not because it's more clothes than I have (which it is - I take up one dresser and half a walk-in closet, plus a few boxes for winter clothes, and I dress business casual at work) but because you feel like you aren't wearing the clothes you have. Have you tried one of the methods for evaluating what items you are actually wearing and what items you should either wear more or get rid of, like marking hangers?

Personally, I could easily get by with a "capsule," remixable wardrobe, containing:

* 3 work bottoms
* 5-6 work tops
* 3 sweaters or blazers
* 2 pairs of jeans
* 2 pairs of shorts or skirts
* 4 casual tops
* 1-2 dresses that can be accessorized up or down
* work-out gear

The majority of items I don't wear at least once every two weeks are fancy-dress outfits for weddings and date nights.
posted by muddgirl at 1:31 PM on February 13, 2014 [7 favorites]

So, are you a woman who feels well-dressed, whatever that means to you?

I do feel well-dressed; not always particularly "trendy" but definitely put-together and classic. I dress business casual at work most days but do usually suit up a couple of times each month. I'm generally among the dressiest of the people in my cohort at the office, and pretty average among my social group.

How much clothing do you have?

I have WAY less clothing than you do: my clothing fits comfortably in a single small closet. I donate clothes pretty frequently which keeps the overall volume pretty low.

And what exactly do you have?

Right now: 2 pairs of jeans (which need to be replaced!), 4 pairs of other pants, several pencil skirts, several a-line/flowy/otherwise more casual skirts, 6 cardigans in neutral colors, 4 sweaters in neutral colors, 3 suits, 2-3 more "fun" blazers, a boatload of oxford shirts, and about 8 silk shells that I like to wear under cardigans and blazers. Also about 10 dresses of varying levels of formality and plenty of casual wear that I use for PJs and working out.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 1:31 PM on February 13, 2014 [13 favorites]

There is no one set number of items; some people feel comfortable with a large number of items, others with less. It really depends on personal taste.

Since you mentioned that you struggle with finding enough "outfits", though, what might interest you is the concept of a capsule wardobe. What it is, essentially, is a cohesive set of clothes that all match with each other; this allows a large number of different outfits to be made from them. Most capsule wardrobes are fairly small (20-30 items), but their cohesion makes them versatile.
posted by krakus at 1:32 PM on February 13, 2014 [7 favorites]

I think you suffer from what we all suffer from: We actually only have about 5 great pieces, that we love. They fit perfectly, they are comfortable, they look great on us. The rest is just near misses. Things we thought we'd like, but don't quite. The sleeves are a touch too tight, the pants get saggy after the first hour of wearing them, those shoes pinch.

I have a few things that I can only wear to VERY specific functions. A dress to wear to a spring wedding, and shoes to match that don't go with anything else. My Interview suit, my Second Interview suit.

On the spur of the moment, our VP decided that we should have a "formal gala" at our Sales Kick Off. The fuck? So I went out and bought a dress. It's very nice, but I doubt very much I'll get much use out of it.

I often suspect that I'd be happier and look nicer, more frequently, with LESS clothing. Some great jeans, a fantastic pair of black slacks, a few great turtlenecks and I'd be in business.

I need to fix on a style TYPE and be true to that. Someone here recommended "French Librarian" and I think that if you find an archetype like that, and if it suits you, you won't make any false steps in your wardrobe.

I get confused, some days, I'm a beach bunny, other day's I'm a captain of industry.

Once I find my archetype, I'll do a MUCH better job!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:35 PM on February 13, 2014 [24 favorites]

That is a ton of clothes!

My clothes fit into 1/2 a walk in closet and 1/2 of a large dresser. Outerwear is in the coat closet and I have two large Tupperware bins for out of season items. The trouble with too many clothes is that you can't quickly find anything so you feel like you have nothing to wear. Paradoxically having nothing to wear is a symptom of a large wardrobe that isn't well edited.

Have you considered a capsule wardrobe? I found this inspirational

And get rid of anything you don't actually like wearing! For too long I held onto ill fitting or low quality clothes in case they would come in handy, and they don't.
posted by rainydayfilms at 1:42 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Hm, well, I think I'm a relatively well-dressed professional, and I think you have a lot of clothes! My clothes fill 1/2 of a small walk-in closet, one dresser and one of those underbed storage containers (the long, narrow one) for seasonal stuff. Oh, and I have four coats that are in the downstairs hall closet. Details:

My work clothes: 13 or 14 skirts (mostly pencil, I like skirts a LOT), 6 pairs of pants, 7-8 tops, 5-6 cardigans, 10 or so dresses, 5 suit jackets in various weights but all neutral shades. Oh, and two formal dresses - one black strapless chiffon ballgown-y thing, and one lovely brown dress that is two sizes too small and I really should just donate it because hello, I am not seeing that size again. Both formal dresses are classic BCBG.

My home clothes: 3-4 pairs of jeans, 5-6 long-sleeved shirts, 2-3 pairs of shorts, random t-shirts and tanks. Hm, I'm pretty boring this way.

Workout clothes: 5 pairs of workout shorts, 2 pairs of running tights, 4-5 workout tanks, 2 winter running shirts, 4 workout t-shirts.

My dresser has four drawers across the top and four big drawers in two rows. The top drawers hold socks, underwear, bras, jewelry.

The key for me is that my work clothes are on a colour palette (jewel tones and neutrals) and easily mix and match, and I make a conscious effort to rotate through them. I add variety and pops of colour with jewelry. As others have said above, it is a capsule wardrobe.

I live in a temperate climate and I commute via car, so I don't worry too much about what is seasonally appropriate. I cull my wardrobe ruthlessly twice a year.

I admit to a 10-pair shoe rack that sits in my office at work, and is always full.
posted by sillymama at 1:45 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

Haha some of the comments in this thread have been surprising to me!

I work from home, but I have to dress professionally for meetings and events. I also prefer to dress nicely when I'm out and about in the city, even if it's my personal time.

I have about six super-casual dresses and four skirts that I wear around the house regularly, plus a few others I put on less frequently. I have more tee shirts than I need but I love them all and am terrible at getting rid of them.

I have a dozen-ish dresses both for winter and for summer, plus about as many skirts and plain tops. I have a handful of jackets I wear regularly and about twice that number that I wear for special occasions. I have six or so pairs of leggings for the winter.

I cull things from my closet pretty aggressively, so all of these things are worn regularly enough to be worth keeping around.

I also have perhaps a few too many pairs of boots, but I wear them ALL THE TIME so I try to cut myself some slack.

I live in a city and work in the arts, if it matters.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 1:47 PM on February 13, 2014

But yeah, n-thing the utility of getting rid of anything that doesn't fit you correctly or that you don't actually wear. Makes it way easier to get dressed.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 1:50 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I forgot the second part of your question:
4 pairs of jeans (3 blue and one black, 1 is just for home)
2 Black pants (one full length, one cropped)
Grey pants
Beige pants
4 Pencil skirts (black, grey, blue, red)
4 -6 cardigans (black, grey, green, purple, navy)
1 black v-neck sweater
2-3 casual fleecy jackets
4 blazers
1 suit (though black pants and blazer can be a suit)
~10 dresses (3 really nice work dresses, a few casual, a few formal)
~15 tops (mostly silk tanks, some t-shirts, a few blouses- mostly solid colors)
3 coats (uber warm, wool, trench)
posted by rainydayfilms at 1:51 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

I feel overwhelmed just by my one small (non-walk-in) closet and 5-drawer dresser. They are packed to the brim, though. WITH THINGS I HATE. Ruthless Bunny nails it entirely: finding actually great clothes you want to wear is really hard! Most things are just meh.

I'm an awkward size/shape and it's just really hard to find something that fits me properly in a style I don't hate wearing, so I just keep on trying.

The key is probably:
1) to be ruthless about discarding things that don't work. Just ditch 'em, I guarantee you'll never think about them again.
2) to impose an ironclad rule: if you don't LOVE it--and I mean SQUEAL HAPPY DANCE LOVE IT? don't buy it.

I'm getting way better at 2 but making no progress on 1.

When I worked in a regular semi-formal office, I had (as in, actually wore):
- 4 dresses of similar cut but differing colors and fabrics.
- 2 pairs of dress slacks that in retrospect were criminally frumpy.
- a constantly rotating series of tank tops and cardigans
- 2 pairs of neutral boots
-1 pair of colorful heels
- a billion pairs of ballet flats.
posted by like_a_friend at 1:51 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

I agree that it sounds like a lot of clothes.

I have about 50 pieces in my work and casual wardrobe. That breaks down to 10 pants, 3 skirts, 4 dresses, 2 blazers, about 7 woven tops (button-downs and silk tanks), about 10 knit tops, 3 cardigans, 5 pullover sweaters, and 3 coats.

You can try an experiment with your current wardrobe. Try putting together a much smaller subset of your wardrobe that you could get by on for the rest of the season. (Think something like Project 333.) Pick items that can be layered and mixed and matched to wear different ways, but don't stress too much about wearing the same items over and over (seriously, no one notices, and if they do notice? It's no great sin to rewear your clothes!). If you find this difficult, it may reveal that while you have a lot of clothes, what you do have isn't super versatile. You might want to keep this in mind to gradually shop for clothes that you can get more mileage out of.
posted by payoto at 1:58 PM on February 13, 2014

You have a lot, but I can understand why. My clothes fit in one regular size old-fashioned closet, plus one 5-drawer dresser and one sweater shelf. The closet does have a top bar and bottom bar and long area for dress hanging.

Looking at one season at a time, in the closet I probably have 8 dresses, 8 jackets, 4 button down tops, 6-8 shells to wear under jackets, 3-4 dressy-ish cardigans, and 6 pair of different trousers. In the dresser I have 3 pair jeans (one dressier, one relaxed and one crappy pair for weekend dirty work), a bunch of t-shirts, workout clothes, underwear, socks and tights, 5-6 long-sleeved jersey shirts to wear under jackets, and 8-10 tank tops to wear under jackets and cardigans.

My basic work uniform is either a dress, or a jacket over slacks with a shell or tank or long-sleeve or button-down under it. Dresses are highly underrated because there's nothing easier - it's one piece. Add boots or shoes and you're done.

I once read that the way to not get a big, unrelated, complicated wardrobe is to buy things as separates, not as outfits. Too many things that don't go together means more clothes all the time, since you feel like you don't have options and there's nothing to wear. I've gotten better at establishing and staying within a color palette, which makes things work together better. Also at spending more on accessories. You can wear the same skirt and jacket for ages but vary it up with season/trend by changing the shoes, scarves, etc. Somehow that feels less disposable to me than buying "trend pieces" that are not going to wear well.

Another tip I got a lot out of was to mercilessly edit your wardrobe. Give away anything that doesn't work, for whatever reason. Examples from me: a pair of grey trousers that were a thick jersey knit, comfortable and work appropriate, but had this weird hang that make my legs look funny. Things that don't sit right on your body - too high/low waisted, sleeves too short. Things that don't flatter. Things that don't stay buttoned. And once you've gotten rid of stuff that is a pain in the butt to wear, look at your other stuff that you still like, and ask "What would it take to make me wear this more often?" For instance, if it's a midi skirt that will only look good with a hip-length bright sweater, so you never wear it,
then write down "hip length bright sweater" and go buy it. In other words, stat building outfits, just just random collections that don't relate to each other.
posted by Miko at 1:58 PM on February 13, 2014 [6 favorites]

I think a lot depends on climate and the nature of your work. I am a total clotheshorse, so I have a lot of clothes anyway - but I have probably 1/3 more than I would in a less extreme climate - I have to have a small but complete wardrobe of professional clothes that look all right for the three months of boiling summer heat, and I'm always obsessively stalking summer work-appropriate pants because it's really difficult to find any that fit and aren't fragile or frumpy. I also need pants and jackets for the super-duper cold. And then, of course, everything else for the rest of the year.

I would say that if you feel that you have nothing to wear, though, you should re-evaluate.

In an ideal world, this would be my work wardrobe:

6 pairs of work appropriate pants for super-hot weather
maybe 8 work appropriate shirts for super-hot weather
2-3 jackets for super hot weather

3 pairs of work appropriate pants for the dead of winter
3 dressy sweater jackets for the dead of winter

6 pairs of spring and fall pants
10 spring-fall-winter shirts
3 spring-fall jackets

2 mediumweight suits (
2 lightweight suits (so that if I do have to interview, I can wear different ones for first and second)

Some dressy clothes:
A couple of loose silk shirts
A couple of pairs of loose silk or wool pants
A couple of interesting jackets

3-4 pairs of spring/winter/fall casual pants/leggings/etc
2 pairs summer casual pants
some shorts
a couple of tees
a couple of big casual sweaters
a couple of big casual shirts

In the real world, I have too many shirts and big weekend sweaters and not enough of anything else, but lord does it all take up room.
posted by Frowner at 2:01 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

Due mostly to the constraints of a NYC apartment, I have one closet full of clothes about 9' long, 2' deep, and 7' high. No dressers or anything in addition.

Maybe check out the "french wardrobing" threads [1 and 2] on /r/femalefashionadvice.

If you wear everything and have the space, then keep it. Maybe try the hanger-turn-around trick to weed out items you don't wear.

I have roughly:
-10 button downs
-15 skirts (some wintery, some summery, some both)
-8 trousers
-3 capri trousers
-6 jeans
-10 blouses (usually sleeveless)
-5 blazers
-5 cardigans
-7 winter sweaters
-5 summer casual dresses
-10 evening/cocktail/bridesmaid dresses
-15 or so workout/lounging pieces (I don't workout....ever....but if I did, I'd probably want more)

I wear it all regularly, but, like many women, my weight fluctuates throughout the month by as much as 8-10lbs due to water weight and hormonal fluctuations. So, I have, for example, 8 trousers, but in 2 sizes/cuts because what fits on day 1 of the month might not fit on day 14 of the month.

I also made a point of buying really high-quality pieces when I first started working in a "real" job, and tend to toss/donate things as soon as they show signs of wear (pilling, holes, fading, etc). I'm also firmly opposed to "sentimental" clothing. If you want to remember it, take a picture of it. No need to keep Girls Sleepaway Camp 1994 tshirts or your exboyfriend's oversized sweatshirt around if they're never worn.

If you don't wear it, donate it. You can always buy new things.
posted by melissasaurus at 2:06 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

I have a lot less clothes than that - one small closet and a five-drawer dresser, plus a little three-drawer dresser of sweaters and a bin of out-of season clothes. I dress pretty casually for work, and I just moved, so it's probably at low ebb, but even right now I can think of several pieces I haven't worn in ages and could safely get rid of. In the winter I have two pairs of jeans, one pair of cords, two wool skirts and one not-quite denim pencil skirt for bottoms, and I wear pretty much ten tops (sweaters, knit tops, cardigans over knit tops) in rotation. I also have one wool dress for winter and four or five dresses I wear in winter and summer. In summer I wear dresses and skirts almost exclusively, again with maybe five or six bottom pieces and a 5-10 tops. I also have four or five dressy dresses that I don't wear much, and of course "activity clothes" for stuff like hiking and skiing and yoga, and around-the-house clothes, like sweatpants, old sweatshirts, etc.

I feel pretty well put-together. Like, this week I didn't wear anything I don't really like, love even. I feel like when I have more clothes I end up wearing clothes I don't like as much because I feel like they're lonely and neglected.

But whatever! I mean, of course you could be well-dressed with much less clothing. If you had to pack up and move to a foreign country tomorrow with nothing but a suitcase, you could bring your best stuff and still be perfectly well-dressed. But if you like having that much clothing and you have the space for it, why not? (If you do decide you want to pare down, one question I have found very useful is "Will this ever be the best thing in my closet?" where "ever" includes "when I haven't gotten around to doing laundry in a while" and "best" includes "for a moderately specific purpose.")
posted by mskyle at 2:27 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

In my perfect wardrobe world, I could get up and choose a top, skirt or pants, or dress, tights, jacket, shoes, and be out the door. But the black tights are in the laundry, so how about this other outfit. But those pants are too long for those shoes, and too short for the brown boots, and I've worn that black cardigan a lot this week...

Which is to say that I need more clothes than seems necessary. I have a very hard time leaving an adorable skirt behind at Goodwill, or passing up a really nice gray cotton sweater that's really on sale, so the closet's fairly full. When you have an outfit or item you love, take a picture, put it up in the closet for mornings when the coffee hasn't kicked in, to remind you that you have more choices than you think.

Also, wear good shoes, maybe wear a scarf sometimes, and look for a cool, versatile jacket or 2 to spiff things up. Focus on 1 outfit at a time, and improve things by watching what other women wear that looks pulled together.
posted by theora55 at 2:37 PM on February 13, 2014

I faintly suspect that we all have very similar actual work wardrobes: sillymama's and melissasaurus' sound exactly like mine.
Where you get into the multiple closet status is actually specific clothes for activities outside of work and for outerwear if you don't commute by car: I have several formals and cocktail dresses for in-town cultural events, yoga clothes, hiking clothes and gear, swimming gear, skiing clothes and gear, and all the shoes/boots for all of these things (rain boots! ski boots! hiking boots! snow boots! flip flops! golf shoes!), and a whole coat closet of jackets and coats from years of el commuting in Chicago that I hesitate to get rid of just in case I don't stay in California permanently.
That all puts me at the following being quite full: a (not large) walk in closet, one small coat closet, and a decent size dresser. And I do clean out pretty ruthlessly every six months or so.
posted by susiswimmer at 2:38 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Interesting to see what people have! I hate shopping but now i feel like hitting the shops. I can wear whatever I want to work but I usually aim for gothy semi-formal. I do not have a seperate "not at work" wardrobe so I am always lounging about in these clothes. I do not have activities that require specialised clothes. I do have four distinct seasons to dress for.

I have five skirts (all long, all black except for one red cashmere one). I have ten tops (surprise! Most of them are black!). I have one long dress that I can layer tops on. I have three light shawls, one swimsuit, and one pair of shoes, one pair of heels and one pair of boots. I need more clothes but I can get by with what I have right now (I haven't had a closet for a couple of years so it is all stored in a chest that is used as a table.

I can't spend more than $20 on one item so I am super careful when buying that the clothes are well made for that price and are not trendy. Now I am off to research that french librarian look mentioned up thread!
posted by saucysault at 2:43 PM on February 13, 2014

Wow. I think you have a lot.

I live in a place where the climate is relatively stable year round, but travel regularly to places that are hot and cold (and have lived in hot and cold places in the last 10 years so still have a varied wardrobe).

I have one medium-size dresser, 3 medium storage boxes, and about 7 feet of hanging closet space (split into two small closets).

And I probably only wear about half of it regularly (rest is out of season or suits that are true "business" wear, or vacation clothes like cocktail ski stuff and swimsuits).

I started to answer the "what exactly do you have" but my type-A brain couldn't help but get ridiculously detailed. So this is silly, but (some #s exact, some approximate):

6 pairs jeans (4 blue, 1 black, 1 white)
2 pairs stretchy ponte pants
6 pairs dress pants (black, navy, gray, pinstripe, tweed, another gray)
8 skirts (roughly 1/2 summery and 1/2 wintery)
4 blazers (decorative or pretty, I also wear the blazers from my suits as separates)
15 sleeveless dressy shells (layered year-round under cardigans)
8 pretty blouses (short, 3/4, or long sleeves)
10 cardigans
5 long sleeve sweaters
3 short sleeve sweaters
3 work dresses
4 button downs

Hanging in my closet but rarely wear:
3 pantsuits
2 skirtsuits
3-4 cocktail dresses, two formal floor-length gowns
2-3 sundresses

2 pairs casual/running pants, 2 pairs athletic shorts
2 pairs pj pants, 2 pairs pj shorts
about 10 casual or athletic shirts (mix of tanks, short sleeves, long sleeves)
3-5 pairs casual summer shorts
1/2 drawer socks and black opaque tights, 1/2 drawer undies/bras/lingerie
posted by amaire at 2:47 PM on February 13, 2014

My gut is that, relative to what you wear, you have way too many clothes. I can say that because I was in the same boat - I had a ton of stuff, and the same smart casual/business casual deal, but I'd stand in a full closet and wish for that ONE black cardigan that was in the wash, and nothing else would do. Over the winter holiday break, here's what I did:

Emptied my entire closet - we have a bed with a metal canopy-type frame, so I can hang hangers on it to sort things.

Sorted things by sleeveless shells, short sleeved tops/blouses, cardigans, pants, skirts, jackets, dresses.

RUTHLESSLY tossed things - if it was pilled, ill-fitting, shabby, I haven't worn it in recent memory, I know I skip it when I'm looking for something else, etc - it hit a pile to be donated.

Restocked the closet, keeping pieces sorted as above (yes, I even sorted in color order because it felt gooooooood).

Did the same exercise with the shelves above the closet rods, handbags, and most (but not all dresser drawers).

Here's what's left hanging:

15-18 or so sleeveless tanks/shells - I wear a lot of black, so there's a lot of color in this mix to liven things up

10 or so short sleeved tops/blouses - see above

12-15 cardigans (long and short sleeved), at least half of these are black, but different styles - drapey, boyfriend, etc.

6-7 pairs of dressy trousers - black and charcoal

3-4 basic blazers - black, houndstooth, etc.

a lot of skirts I haven't weeded out yet, but I wear a bunch of them with boots/tights in the winter

3-4 dresses I hardly wear but I really want to, so I'm not ready to toss them


I only tossed the jeans that were a bad fit - I need to weed out styles, but I have 3-4 pairs of dark skinny jeans, 2-3 pairs of dark bootcut, 2-3 pairs faded bootcut, and some dark straightleg jeans that I need to toss.

SEVERAL pairs of colored denim - these are awesome in a smart-casual or biz casual environment if denim is allowed. I have 3 pairs of black, two pairs of white (different cuts), 1 mint, 1 dark wine color, 1 mustard, 1 red, 1 dark peacock color - LOVE these.

Lots of short sleeve tees - most are black v-neck, some are black or dark color round-neck.

Lots of black long sleeve tees - most are black v-neck, some are black or dark color round-neck.

Too many long, ribbed tank tops from Target to count (but I did toss the dingy white ones and the pill-y other ones)

10 or so "decorative" tanks - they are a little more substantial, and are usually trimmed with lace or some other detail that make them work under a cardigan or a jacket.

Here's the thing - I have a TON of scarves and jewelry, and I do a really good job of rotating through all of them. I f I get dressed and think "ugh, black v-neck and colored denim and boots UGH UGH", in the winter I opt for a scarf and long earrings, in the summer little earrings and a big bracelet (or stack of small bracelets), or an interesting necklace. It's a huge difference between "bored bored BORED" and "looks like you tried".

Now, I'm aware that this is a LOT of clothes, but this is what I kept, and I don't freeze in front of my closet in the mornings these days. I plan to take another cut through before the weather gets warm (which will be NEVER).

I haven't done the shoes yet.
posted by ersatzkat at 2:50 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Oh! A trick I have to keep my closet pared down:

I keep a reusable canvas tote bag sitting on the floor of my closet, right in front of my clothes. It is always there. Whenever I try something on and can't figure out a way to wear it out of the house - it looks bad, it's pilled, it fits poorly, it doesn't go with anything I have - I put it in the bag.

Then when the bag gets full-ish, I go through it one time to make sure I didn't make a mistake, and take it to Goodwill on Saturday morning.

(I'll admit sometimes it takes me trying on an item in the morning and deciding not to wear it two or three times before I give up and put it in the bag instead of back on the hangar.)


I also keep a second canvas bag in a more tucked away spot for "repair or take to the tailor or the dry cleaner." (Skirts that are too long, button fell off, I need to de-pill a spot on this sweater or remove a stain.)
posted by amaire at 2:57 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

My stuff fits in one wardrobe (is that a closet?) and one dresser, but I live in the UK and lots of us don't have room for a lot more than that.

I feel your pain when it comes to having a bunch of stuff that you never wear; I have got (a bit) better about this recently and here are some of the things that helped.

- I learned about my own figure and the kind of clothes that flatter it. So now I have a couple of go-to silhouettes that I know work for me and I only buy stuff that fits in with that. For me it's dress/tights/boots or skirt/top/tights/boots, plus or minus cardigans and accessories and whatnot. I know the exact cuts and hemlines that work and which ones don't.
- I learned about colours, fixed on two kind of colour stories that work for me and I buy stuff that fits with that.
- I had things I wasn't wearing because I didn't have the right X to go with it, so I went and acquired the missing item.
- I started creating a blacklist of things I KNOW I struggle to wear. Like, sweaters with short sleeves (what goes under that??), tops in which armpit is visible, anything where you have to wear a weird bra, button down shirts (I hate you!) and so forth.
- I started buying more "basics" and things to dress them up and down with. So the same grey wool dress goes with flat boots and coloured tights and a funky scarf, or posh boots and black tights and a suit jacket.
- I learned to love dresses. They save half the thinking about what to wear with what!
posted by emilyw at 2:58 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am a professional woman who only intermittently feels well-dressed. I have half (ok Mr. Jeoc says 2/3rds) a largish walk-in closet plus 7 dresser drawers.

Reading this, I think I have a LOT of stuff I should cull. I think I hang on to stuff thinking that I'll get back down to some xx weight, or moving things that don't seem nice enough for work into a "not work" area of my wardrobe (and then never wearing them, for the same reasons I don't wear them to work).

I have:

6 pairs of slacks
3 pantsuits (one that also has a skirt)
5 skirts (which almost never wear)
4 work-appropriate dresses, 5 casual dresses, 4 or so formal dresses (not counting my prom dresses or wedding gown) - I rarely wear these
10 blazers (about a 1/3 of which I never wear)
8-10 blouses, button-downs or shells (about 1/2 of which I never wear)
20ish sweaters and cardigans (about 3/4 of which I never wear)
3 pairs of great jeans (just purchased - one with a soft, fleeced inside for comfort and one that is a pair of trouser jeans)
8ish long sleeve and short sleeve t-shirts
6 tank tops for brutal summer afternoons
4 coats - trench, long wool coat, short wool pea coat, serious waterproof insulated hooded winter coat
3 pairs workout shorts and 2 pairs workout capris which I wear with the tanks above or free shirts from where ever
Knee boots, ankle boots, snow/winter boots, heeled loafers, flats and pumps, all black
Flats or low heeled wedges in nude and gray
Plus a few drawers full of random pjs, tights, old ballet clothes and stuff I haven't looked at in years

I have spent a lot of time thinking about how I dress in the past few years (just check my ask history!), and this question has been extraordinarily helpful in crystallizing my thinking. I don't really like to wear skirts or dresses, but I keep buying them. I buy a lot of tops thinking I'll wear them with a seamless, molded type bra, despite the fact that I don't own any such bras and they don't really make them in my size. I definitely need to go through things and get rid of stuff I don't wear, so I can stop standing in front of all these clothes bewildered every morning.
posted by jeoc at 3:14 PM on February 13, 2014

I think I dress well. My job requires conservative, formal dress. I take a lot of space for my clothes -- two closets (one for off season and travel clothes, one for current season work and casual clothes), not counting the one for coats and outdoor jackets, plus two dressers.

It helps a lot, both to stay on top of your wardrobe and keep it fresh, to regularly cull out what you haven't worn in the past year and donate it.

You can cut down wardrobe size, if you don't have enough space, with classic interchangeable pieces.

And I strongly endorse sorting your closets into type of clothing, e.g. trouser suits, and color.
posted by bearwife at 3:24 PM on February 13, 2014

I dress business formal, three seasons, and business casual during the summer. I ski/hike regularly, all if my clothes and gear fits into one NYC sized old-fashioned closet with space to spare. I ruthlessly purge, since quite frankly, I don't have space for more stuff... I do a similar constant donation thing as a few people above do.... where I have a bucket purgatory at the base of my closet...every time it fills up, I go through, inventory it, write down what I donated, and make sure to get a tax deduction. I donate about 3-4x a year...

What I own:
Business clothes:
4-5 skirts
5 dresses; 3shift dresses, 2summer
3 pairs dress pants
4 button down shirts
6-7 dressy tops
One vest
4 cashmere sweaters/cardigans
2blazers, which go with at least one skirt/pants (I hate suits, and tend to get away with wearing dresses/skirts to be more formal)
Assorted tights, wool for winter, regular for spring/summer.
3-4 heels mostly kept at the office

Underwear, socks, bras for two weeks.
10-15 t-shirts
2 pairs jeans, one nice, one beater pair
1 pair flannel lined pants
3pairs shorts
Running clothes/sneakers
Ski thermals
Technical vest
Fleece jacket
2 pairs oxford shoes, one pair flats, one pair topsiders

I personally tend towards the minimal, but I also really like nicer/better quality clothing that does have a decently high resale value, so when I get sick of it and donate it, I can get a decent tax write off over the course of the year. (I'm talking a few hundred dollars net, nothing absurd, but every bit helps).
posted by larthegreat at 4:55 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have double melissasaurus's inventory above. And I'm not ashamed, LOL. I buy quality, dryclean it all so it lasts, and don't fall for flaky fashions. I keep my looks current with costume jewelry changes, current shoe styles, and I'm a blouse-aholic so I have added plaids and fun prints from JCrew and The Gap. I fell for slim cut ankle pants a couple of years ago, and tossed fuller-leg pants. I do shop every month, and I weed out twice a year. My usual career outfit in the winter is cropped slim pants, fun cotton or silk blouse with collar, buttoned cardi, statement necklace and bracelets. The combinations are endless. I live in the cold Midwest so I keep 10 or so coats and jackets at all times. We have to wear them for 5 months a year and variety keeps it bearable.
I've found that color is the secret to loving your wardrobe. You say you feel like you have nothing to wear. If I could make a suggestion, wander through your closet with a written list in your hand of color combinations new to you. Pull stuff together like navy-red-lavender; cobalt-khaki; try a yellow plaid blouse with a purple cardi with your jeans. Last night my BFF wore a b/w stripe sweater, turquoise jacket, jeans, simple magenta suede flats, loose drape-y scarf of all of those colors plus navy and she was the coolest-looking at an event.
posted by Lornalulu at 6:11 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might be interested in Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline. When she started writing the book she owned 354 pieces of clothing including 61 tops, 60 t-shirts, 34 tank tops, 21 skirts, 24 dresses, 20 pairs of shoes, 20 sweaters, 18 belts, 15 cardigans and hoodies, 14 pairs of shorts, 14 jackets, 13 pairs of jeans, 12 bras, 11 pairs of tights, five blazers, four long-sleeved shirts, three pairs of workout pants, two pairs of dress pants, two pairs of pajama pants and one vest --- which she describes as "almost exactly" an average American wardrobe.

We didn't used to own that much stuff, and what we used to own was better-made. That's a lot of what the book describes -- a shift over the last 20+ years towards disposable fashion, enabled by cheaper, lighter, thinner fabrics, simpler cuts with less structure and tailoring, *less* fabric (clothes being shorter, tighter), and looser stitching with embellishments covering up crappy worksmanship.

Near the end of the book she concludes this: If you currently shop cheap, you can shift your spending without paying more than you're used to paying overall by shopping less and with more intention. I don't spend more per year than I used to, and yet I own much nicer stuff that looks better on me.

FWIW although I found the book weak in spots, I agree with her conclusion. I feel like I own too much clothing, but I own about half what you do, and I do consider myself well-dressed. What works for me is buying much less, very carefully. I try never to buy anything unless I think it's a substantial step up from most of what I already have, and unless it will work with, like, practically everything else. If I can't imagine wearing and loving it for five years, I skip it. I have a mental checklist (like, gorgeous natural fabric, easy to care for, perfectly comfortable, unusually durable, shockingly flattering, easy to integrate) and if there're more than one or two checks missing, I skip it. I ignore sales. And every time I buy something new, I get rid of something I already own. Today, I own a lot less than I used to, and I feel a lot happier about how I'm dressed.
posted by Susan PG at 6:29 PM on February 13, 2014 [15 favorites]

I have two closets of clothes (regular, not walk-in), one of them has a couple bins with drawers where I keep workout clothes, socks and underwear, I don't have a dresser at all. Probably own about 20 blazers/jackets because I have a thing about nice suit jackets, 20 pairs of work trousers which is what I typically wear. Of these, three actually make up suits but I generally wear the items as separates. Sometimes I wear a suit (trousers/matching blazer), I don't need to at my office, I just like the look. I also have like 15 skirts, half work-appropriate though rarely worn, the other half for dressy occasions which are even more rare... about 10 dresses mostly cocktail/dressy and rarely worn (but needed for going to weddings), 5 pair casual pants, 8 pair jeans, 25 blouses/tops, 25-30 sweaters, probably 40 t-shirts, all mostly in solid colors, a few subtle patterns in there. I also have about 15 outerwear jackets or coats - nice quality parka, cheap but warm parka, ski jacket, pea coat, couple other wool dress coats, rain jacket, fleece jacket, fitted down jacket, lightweight classic trench coats for spring/fall. And then there's a lot of workout clothes and coverups (say 20 bottoms - yoga pants, run tights or crops, track pants or sweats plus hoodies to wear to/from, couple of run jackets, 20 or so total of tanks and run tops, a bunch of sports bras).

I feel like I have a lot of clothes. Nearly everything fits well and I am careful about sticking to a specific color palette so it all matches easily. I don't spend more than 5 minutes figuring out how to put things together in the morning most of the time (but I have spent rather too much time being super picky about what to buy). Go-to brands are Theory, Vince and A.P.C. (mostly bought on sale) because their stuff is good quality, not flashy, fits me without alterations and I always wear the same size. I don't keep clothes I don't like or wear much. Also I don't own a car at all, I bike when the weather's good, and I walk and take public transportation every day - I'm outdoors a lot, so I have more clothes for different kinds of weather than I would need if I could just drive.
posted by citron at 7:12 PM on February 13, 2014

I have tons of clothing.

I am very particular about what I want to wear each day, what is the "right" thing to wear and the "right" thing to wear with it. I almost get clothing cravings, like I need to wear a navy cardigan, but it has to be a long navy cardigan, dressy enough for work, warm but not too chunky of a knit... you get the idea (don't you? Maybe it's just me).

I have a pretty involved seasonal rotation system. Seersucker comes out, corduroy goes away, etc.

I get lots and lots of comments about how "put together" I always look. But I also have clothing everywhere, lots of dust, high dry cleaning bills...

I have a couple of outfit/wardrobe-tracking/organizing iPhone apps. I just bought a mannequin to try take pictures and try and sell some of my clothing on eBay.

I have lots of things that don't fit but I'm afraid to trust a tailor with them.

I have had recurring dreams about shopping since I was 13.
posted by thebazilist at 7:42 PM on February 13, 2014

I'm probably not well dressed enough.
But, I have a work uniform that is just for work.

So, for the last few months, I was staying with a friend, so had a dresser to my name. My clothes, mostly work, were in less than 4 drawers, excluding two coats.

My personal style has pretty much nothing in common with even friday casual at work, so I have, essentially, a guys work wardrobe (I've been getting better quality shirts, like good mens ones, in female cut - it looks smarter than womens store see-through quality ones, while requiring no thought on my part).

I have one pair of work shoes.
4 work pants (one pair nice nice black trousers, and 3 slightly odd work pants, eg hem too high, on the verge of going holey etc. I should fix this)
5 long sleeve shirts
2 short sleeve shirts
3 tops I occasionally wear instead of shirts
1 slightly too trendy skirt I sometimes wear
Two coats/blazers that I can wear as outer jackets, or just over the shirts.
If its cold, I wear a thermal layer under the shirts/pants.

I used to have two work-sweaters I'd wear with a belt over the middle, but they both died recently, and it is a hole I should fill.

Is this my clothes? Nope. I have two dressers, a full wardrobe, and maybe another large box worth of stuff, but more than half of it is 'dress-ups'. A lot of stuff that's essentially fancy dress, or Burning Man type festival wear, costumes I've been given by drag queens. I wear as much of it as I can, anyway. It's fun.
posted by Elysum at 7:46 PM on February 13, 2014

I will first tell you what I have.

25+ Skirts
  • 3 very casual (both mini, one navy courduroy, one madras print, one white with an aqua embroidered cut out dots pattern that I have never worn.)
  • 2 very business professional
  • 21 somewhere in the neighborhood of business casual. 2 of these require a slip, so I bought one a month or two ago.
  • the plus is whatever is in the floordrobe/laundry
I have 7 office dresses. One navy, one pale blue, one a green patterned Antonio Melani and 4 grey*. Yes. Four grey dresses. I love and wear them all. I had my eye on a lovely blue dress, but is was $30 at Ross and I just can't justify spending $30 on a garment. I didn't even try it on.

OK, I think I need to stop right there. It is obvious that I have more clothes than some of the women commenting here. I feel a little defensive about it. I grew up in poverty. For much of my childhood I had at any given time: one too small skirt (usually too's no surprise that nearly all my skirts now are knee length and the two that aren't are rarely worn), two pairs of thin cotton pants, two or three shirts and one sweater. One year I had a skirt and shirt that matched. They were hideous, but they matched. (Also, they were peach. I look terrible in peach) My parents did not do laundry with any regularity and I owned no pajamas. Once or twice a year we got to share a new package of socks. So, I vowed all the time that I would grow up to be like those other little girls and have an endless supply of great clothes.

Clothes are a total mine field for me. I'm always terrified that I'm doing it wrong. Nobody taught me how to dress or shop. When I was 21 my roommate pulled me aside and told me I needed to start "dressing like a girl" and pointed out that I was wearing cargo shorts, an ill fitting tee shirt without a bra, and Birkenstock sandals. He asked why I was surprised that everyone thought I was a lesbian. This, he said, was not a look for an adult who wanted to be taken seriously. I started visiting Banana Republic and eased my way into nicer stuff that was still...comfortable. Linen pants. One particularly awesome ankle length denim skirt. Slightly better shirts (which still didn't fit well....)

I dress much better now and shop exclusively at Goodwill. Some of these skirts are from years ago when I was an office manager, but mostly they were purchased for somewhere between $3 and $6 each. I struggle to find shirts that fit anywhere, but Goodwill is especially good for me, because I have to really think about wear spots, color, stains, which forces me to slow down and think about the other things that everyone above mentions. Does it really fit? Does it go with my life? Does it go with what I already own? Do I like it? Bad choices hurt more when you're poor. I do not buy shirts that button anymore. They have a tendency to gape and the sleeves are never long enough. The few button shirts I own are saved for particularly "important" occasions, like interviews, because wearing them to threads would be sad.

Someone once said/wrote that when a woman looks in her closet and says "I have nothing to wear" what she's really saying is "I have nothing to wear for who I'm supposed to be today." And that really stuck with me. I am constantly asking myself, "Who do I want to be today?" or "Who do I want to be when I wear this?" This tells me that I need/want to wear my special button shirts more frequently.

My neutral work separates tendency is browns and my casual separates tendency is blacks. This is kind of stressful, because shoes are the biggest struggle for me. I simply cannot buy shoes for $3 a pair. Or even $12. The best I've done is $20 on amazon for my weird size. I have a black pair of terrible Deino pumps from Naturalizer that are perhaps the worst $30 I've spent on shoes in forever. They creased near the big toe the first time I wore them, about an hour into the day. I feel terrible for anyone who bought these shoes for full price. In my dream life, I keep shopping for clothes at Goodwill but get to buy really well made shoes without looking at the price tag. If you can invest in quality shoes, I beg of you, do that. (limited clothing selection means it's HARD to buy a ton of stuff. When everything is a good color/matches/is shown on a mannequin with lots of accessories, it's hard to resist. When the ONLY selling point for a garment is how it looks on YOU, then it has to look really good. On. You.)

Everything I buy has to go with at least three other things I already own. Except that white skirt with the polka dots. And a floral skirt that I thought would go nicely with "a pink tank top." Do you know how many "pink tank tops" I own? It's embarrassing. Of those, precisely none go with the floral skirt. I have a white button shirt that looks smashing with it. But again, button shirts. Special. Interviews. Good quality white shirts are just not to be found at my Goodwill. Perhaps when I am stably employed and stably housed again I will also buy well tailored and sturdy white shirts.

Ok, so back to what I own. I'm not getting back up to count anything.
  • Silk shells
  • Cotton Cardigan like things
  • Knitted Cardigans I made
  • Exactly two pairs of jeans. One boot cut and one straight leg. The boot cut needs to be replaced. I dread this.
  • Blazers: these tend to be my statement pieces. The grey one is my serious one. I have a pink velvet one, and a seersucker one, and a denim one. I might look back in 20 years and cringe at these. Don't care....
  • Long sleeve jersey shirts. Only three or four. Since I have large breasts and long arms these are very hard to fit. I live in a warm place and can get away with unbuttoned blazers a lot of the time.
  • Tee shirts. Same breast problem as with long sleeve jersey shirts.
  • Tank tops. two very casual that I can wear without a bra ("can" is a flexible term) if I wear a blazer and am not going to work. The rest are like the target/old navy/j crew tank top
  • Dresses: casual and fancier. The casual one is a navy cotton maxi dress.
  • Shorts. An acidic green pair bought new from BR for $11. A purple pair. A black pair. An almost knee length grey pair. I don't usually wear shorts. But when I want to, I do.
  • camisols to wear under things with low cut necks..I have a beige one and a black one.
Strong preference for natural fibers, maybe a touch of spandex for stretch. I buy mostly Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, and other very recognizable name brands. I try on a range of sizes, because who knows which season a garment is from. I'm a zero in some brands, and I have skirts that are a size 6 or 8 from the 80s. I'm not very good at choosing accessories. But I have an acorn necklace and a pair of bird earrings that I love. I have 6 or 7 shawls I've knitted for with flecks, cream/natural stipes/teal with stripes/probably another. Also three of those synthetic pashminas. One is an acidic green, another is a purpley color and one is...pale peach and I never wear it. I used to have a black one. It disappeared somewhere.

One last thing. I know that patterned shirts make me very nervous. So I put patterns on my bottom half and lean toward plainer shirts. The exception to this is black/white pattern tops, which I have three of.

Wow, writing all this up made me think about the clothes I have and hardly wear. The white skirt with dots has been weighing on my mind for weeks. But now my mind keeps going back to three blue and white/cream patterned tops. I love them. But they don't only go with any of the bottoms I own in theory. They look fine, but they don't feel great when combined. They should probably join the pile of things that were destined for Goodwill before this question was asked:
  • grey slacks that sit too low on my hips (there's also some pilling)
  • black sateen skirt (too fancy for my life...and none of my tops are fancy enough for it. I do own a ballgown that is fabulous.)
  • pink and black mini skirt. (Too short. Too bright. I feel childish when I wear it.)
  • grey shorts (I have another pair that I like wearing. Whenever I see this pair, I am sad it's not the other pair.)
  • adorable but very very worn sailboat skirt (the zipper is in bad shape, the color is faded. I'm sad to see this go.)
  • fabulous wool plaid skirt that matches NOTHING (fits like a dream, quality is great. mint condition. I'm sad to let this go. But I don't have a single shirt that it works with.)
  • silk skirt with a tear near the bottom hem (I know I won't repair the damage. Hopefully someone will.)
  • weird pale purpley top with ruffles in the armpits that is ticklish to wear (I'm anxious every time I wear it.)
  • black and grey low rise ankle length pants with a tiny blue accent stripe (muffin top)
  • blue 3/4 sleeve button shirt that matches the pants perfectly (I can't lift my arms without midriff exposure)
*I also collect shirts in shades of teal. It's a color I look fabulous in. And $3 for a well made shirt that fits and flatters is a hard thing to pass up. And I had 8 pink tank tops when I brought that floral skirt home. Eight. That's counting the pink and white striped one....
posted by bilabial at 9:54 PM on February 13, 2014 [8 favorites]

I have felt much better dressed since I got rid of half my wardrobe in a big purging session.

For work, what I have now (for Spring Summer) is:
Two skirts - one grey pencil, one navy A-line
Five pairs of pants - navy, black, grey, Khaki and charcoal. The Khaki ones have wide legs, the others are slim-legged and cropped on or close to the ankle
Four jackets - black, navy, teal, khaki. The khaki one matches the khaki pants. The black jacket is a "boyfriend" blazer, the others are more cropped.
Four dresses - black, mustard yellow, navy, black+white. The black and mustard dresses are the same sleeveless shift style, the navy dress is a shirt-dress, the black+white dress is striped jersey.
Six cotton button down shirts - white, mid-blue, blue striped, red striped, lime green pattern, navy check.
Three blouses - navy, ivory, charcoal
Two knit tops - one long-sleeved in ivory linen, one short-sleeved in white cotton
Two white tshirts.
Three cardigans - mustard yellow, red, navy
Shoes: three pairs of court shoes (black, red, brown), two pairs of flats (black, brown), two pairs of brogues (tan, navy), one pair of fierce heels (black+white), one pair of tan ankle boots.

All the above fits in one double-doored cupboard along with my casual stuff.

Since I shrunk my wardrobe, I've noticed I have a lot fewer "I can't decide what to wear" moments, because I now have a repertoire of outfits that work - I can just grab them and go and I don't mind that the outfit is a repeat because I know that it looks good. I sometimes think of it as having a uniform - mostly similar colours, mostly similar shapes, almost any top can mix and match with any bottom and any jacket.
posted by Gwendoline Mary at 2:27 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm sure that I'm on the 'crazy' end of the spectrum here, but my professional wardrobe (which overlaps my normal wardrobe heavily) mostly consists of dresses, since they're what I feel I look best in, and they're easy to style and wear and be comfortable in while looking like I gave a damn.

I have 92 of them. And, like, one pair of dress pants that I wear a few times a year.
posted by rachaelfaith at 10:23 AM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

I love this thread. I'm an intermittently-employed professional (business casual) who never really feels well dressed, but has been told that I am. I have a full non-walk-in closet and a full dresser and a couple small baskets on the top closet shelf with random sweaters and workout clothes and such odds. Like bilabial, I grew up poor and feel like it definitely plays into a certain amount of clothes-hoarding and dirt-cheap-shit-buying compulsion. For a while I tried constantly to guilt myself into the minimalist, capsule-wardrobe type mindset; but I finally decided that screw it, I LIKE CLOTHES, and I resolved to just be more picky about what I purchase instead of trying to attain some crazy "20 item" goal or something.

Most of my clothes are casual (from my student days and my stay-at-home mom days) and I kind of hate having to buy professional clothes, so I have the odd problem of having both tons of clothes and not much to wear to work. All my female coworkers have more "variety" in blouses and accessories than I do. Most of my work clothes are black. Most of my non-work clothes are jeans (I have at least 20 pairs, most designer and found at thrift stores)... grungy tanks or hippie blouses or dresses. I was not cut out to work in a cubicle, sigh.
posted by celtalitha at 12:17 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't think capsule wardrobes are for every person, but they can be interesting to play around with for people who have very large wardrobes but feel like they have "nothing to wear." I've been following the journey of blogger Debbie Roes who is recovering from a self-described clothes shopping addition. She calls the items in her closet that she never or rarely wears "wardrobe benchwarmers." She has tried both capsule wardrobe projects and closet-evaluation projects like trying to wear or get rid of every "wardrobe benchwarmer" as part of reshaping how she thinks about and buys clothes.
posted by muddgirl at 2:04 PM on February 14, 2014

I'm a guy.

That said, I'm a guy who used to have 50 or so pairs of shoes, and your original post sounds like something I would have written then.

I had sweaters that I *knew* I wanted to wear, and never quite got around to. In some cases, they didn't fit; in other cases, the occasion "just hadn't come up yet". Overall, I also hate sweaters, as I bake in them. But this sweater, it was *perfect*... except yeah, it wasn't. If it was? I would have worn it.

If it's halfway through the season you should wear it in, and you haven't even got it out of storage yet? Likely done. If you haven't worn it in two years, give it away; the perfect occasion for that item just isn't coming. At the very least, take everything you haven't worn in a year, put it on top, and see if you even *want* to wear it; in most cases, that helps me decide that it's time has come.
posted by talldean at 4:55 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I spent a little time over the last couple of days checking out that Project 333 and the other capsule wardrobe links here. One thing that stands out to me is that I'm fairly sure that if I adopted any of these MOs, I would end up buying a lot more clothing than I do presently. Despite the anti-consumerist mindset, the idea of boxing up and storing or giving away a large part of your clothing, and replacing it with items of newly purchased (if "better quality" and "more wearable" ) clothing would be a net increase in my clothing spending at least four times a year, and a decrease in the value I've already invested in clothing. So, though I endorse a lot of the goals there, I'd be wary about the hidden costs in such a system that revamps a wardrobe every 3 months.

I mean, in the end it could be a good thing if it made my wardrobe more cohesive and improved my appearance, but I don't think it should be positioned as a money-saving or anti-consumerist thing. It's more of a convenience/reducing choices thing. My wardrobe isn't as good or as versatile as any of the ones in the blog, but it's also nowhere near as expensive. I don't shop very often. There's nothing more anti-consumerist than using what you already have and buying secondhand. But if that doesn't end up giving you a workable wardrobe of related pieces you're still stuck going shopping. I suppose if that's what needs to happen, some of these choice-reducing principles work well, but you have to be prepared to invest and keep updating your collection several times a year, donating what gets retired.
posted by Miko at 8:01 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

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