I feel like I have too many clothes. Does anyone else feel this way? I know that I have less than some of my friends. The limited size of the wardrobes where I’ve lived make me wonder if I ought to have less though. So if I was going to make anything for my Fibershed project, I wanted to make sure I needed it.
My wardrobe influences
I’ve been enjoying all the articles recently on capsule wardrobes. Capsule wardrobes limit your clothes to a select quantity of items for simplicity. There are also more people confessing to wearing the same thing every day. They say it reduces the number of decisions they have to make, so they work better.
I like limiting the pieces I have, but I don’t want a uniform. I like playing with different outfit combinations. My aunt introduced to the Colour me beautiful book over 10 years ago. It’s heavily influenced how I build my wardrobe today. I’ve also recently worked through Colleterie’s Wardrobe architect. This modern take on the subject gave me some new insights.
How I build my wardrobe
I organise my wardrobe by season, type of clothing and colour. Melbourne’s mild climate encourages me to layer clothes together. So packing away clothing in the off season makes sense, but doesn’t work well for me. Weather fluctuations make it hard to draw a seasonal line! It helps me mentally to apply the binary definitions of a ‘winter’ and ‘summer’ wardrobe to my clothes though.
Within each season’s wardrobe, I spell out how many of each kind of item I think I need. I’ve learnt that I prefer to have a fortnight’s worth of clothes available at any time so I’m not washing constantly. I try to put off washing clothes unless they are smelly or dirty, but sometimes that means I need to wash a top after only one or two wears. For example, this is my winter list:
Work blazer: 2
Work skirt: 2
Work trousers: 2
Work dress: 2
Work blouses/knit tops: 6
Dressy blouse: 1
Evening trousers, skirt or dress: 1
Casual Jacket: 1
Casual top: 2-4
Casual trousers or skirts: 1-2
My summer list is pretty much the same. I need an extra casual dress and one less pair of work trousers. You might be able to see in the photo that I use a few jackets and trousers across both seasons.
I also organise my pieces by colour. Colour me beautiful pegs me as a ‘Summer’, so I pick a lot of clear, bright colours. I replace clothes only when they’re worn out or if I really don’t like wearing them. I also aim to only source clothes second hand. Conforming my wardrobe to this colour scheme took me about five years. Luckily I’m fond of op-shops and my friends regularly hold clothing swaps! I’m not 100% there, but I find that all my clothes pretty much go with each other now. I’m always able to pull together an outfit from the pieces I have.
By this stage I was pretty tired; this process had taken a long time! I sped through my underclothes and special activity clothes and only photographed them quickly. On the upside, my impatience meant I was able to cull a few things that were overdue for it! I also haven’t included my shoes or bags in this audit. Too much stuff to audit in one go!
Auditing my wardrobe
I try once a year to go through my clothes to see what I have, get rid of excess and find out where the ‘holes’ are. I have more skirts than I need. The extras are ones that I love and would rather wear out than give away, so they stay for now! I have way too many summer dresses and summer casual tops, so I will work out which ones to cull in summer. I have 61 pieces in my summer and winter wardrobe all together. I’m relatively happy with this number.
This year I was particularly interested in anything I felt I was missing, in case I could make it for my Fibreshed project. My ‘holes’ are pretty small: I’d like a winter dress with long sleeves, and a couple of summer work blouses. I’ve changed shape over the last two years and my trousers don’t fit well any more, so I’d also love a winter and summer pair of pants.
Inspired by Treading my own path’s Who made your (my) clothes post, I also checked out the country of origin of my clothes for the first time.
The significance of China’s contribution to my wardrobe amazed me. The high number of ‘unknowns’ is because a lot of my clothes are so old that their labels are now illegible. I discovered to my surprise that I have four pieces of Australian made clothing. We have a manufacturing industry, but it’s much smaller these days, so I didn’t expect to find I owned any local pieces. I’m intrigued to see the different countries I have one piece of clothing from. Australia seems to source clothes from a smaller market than overseas manufacturers, and most of my wardrobe was bought here. A lot of the ‘random’ countries are pieces of clothing I bought while I was traveling and living in Europe eight years ago.
I considered recording the fibre content of each piece of clothing. I only thought of this half way through, so I couldn’t be bothered this time. It can be a task for the next audit!