Auditing my wardrobe

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
Sweater: 3-4
Casual top: 2-4
Casual trousers or skirts: 1-2
Coats: 1-2

The clothes in my winter wardrobe

The clothes in my winter wardrobe

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.

The clothes in my summer wardrobe...minus two skirts I forgot to photograph!

The clothes in my summer wardrobe…minus two skirts I forgot to photograph!

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!

The clothes in my chest of drawers. From left to right, top to bottom: camping and ski clothes; different activity clothes (like swimming, yoga) and PJs; scarves, belts and pantyhose; bras, socks, jocks and hankies. Super interesting stuff, amirite?

The clothes in my chest of drawers. From left to right, top to bottom: camping and ski clothes; different activity clothes (like swimming, yoga) and PJs; scarves, belts and pantyhose; bras, socks, jocks and hankies. Super interesting stuff, amirite?

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 country of manufacture for all the clothes in my winter and summer wardrobe in 2015

The country of manufacture for all the clothes in my winter and summer wardrobe in 2015

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!

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6 Responses to Auditing my wardrobe

  1. I totally agree that packing away seasonal clothes doesn’t make sense for Melbourne. I often wear a lighter top with a jacket over the top so I’m set for our four seasons in one day 🙂 Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo? She has an approach more similar to yours with bringing out all your clothes, and then she gets rid of things by touching them and asking “does this spark joy?” to cull the joyless items. I like your pie chart 🙂 I’m amazed that they’re not 90% Chinese manufactured as it’s so hard to find anything made locally or elsewhere. Hawks supporter, eh? 🙂

    • cheliamoose says:

      Yes, I tried packing clothes away but lack of storage space and upredictable weather soon put paid to that idea!
      I haven’t read Marie Kondo’s book. My neighbour mentioned it last night too, so I’m starting to feel like I ought to! Definitely ‘Do I love this?’ is the most useful first question to ask when decluttering. I finally managed to declutter some of my ‘no’s this time!
      I wasn’t expecting the Chinese contribution to be so large, because I know a lot of manufacturing has moved to other, cheaper countries. Perhaps the percentage is larger for me because my clothes are several years old.
      Come what may, you’ll find me striving /
      Team work is the thing that talks /
      One for all and all for one /
      Is the way I play 😉

  2. Lex says:

    I really enjoyed reading this, being generally fascinated by minimalist/capsule wardrobes. I’m interested in doing my own wardrobe audit now… wondering what per cent will be made in China… what per cent of my wardrobe would be second hand… how old the average item in my closet is…
    And by the way, nope, I don’t feel like I have too many clothes! I still have that “nothing to wear” feeling but it’s most likely because I need to be more careful to choose clothes that match everything else.

    • cheliamoose says:

      Thank you for reading, Lex 🙂
      Auditing a wardrobe to this extent is certainly interesting (and exhausting!). Thinking about how old the pieces are is a good category, although I’m not sure my memory is accurate any more! Certainly the combination of just enough clothes being available to wear and good colour combinations saves me from ‘nothing to wear’ syndrome most of the time.

  3. I loooove that chart!! My wardrobe is about 90percent me made or vintage these days which is really satisfying, but very hard to cull from.

    • cheliamoose says:

      Thank you! I like thinking about where I sourced the clothes I wear, so perhaps that’s the next chart I should make. Your chart would look very different to mine, I have no home made garments yet!
      I found it easier to cull a few pieces this time that I’ve had for ages because I was looking at the wardrobe as a whole. Having said that, you’ll see I’ve kept more skirts dresses than I say I need because there’s always a few things that are too meaningful to part with…

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