I was totally going to cut my head off for this, but decided not to…real-life isn’t so perfect/pretty all the time. And who wants it to be?? I haven’t washed my hair in I don’t know how long, and I can’t smile from all the hardware in my mouth LOL, but I have the most beautiful life.
Elizabeth Suzann clyde pants (cotton twill, size 6R, old sizing/fabric) |
gift from Elizabeth Suzann
James Perse tee
Everlane cashmere sweater
While Leo and I were on our road trip a couple weeks ago (seems like so long ago!) I thought a lot about life, work, the coming year, and how I might do better to design a more intentional life. Ha. Apparently I forgot that you can make all the plans you want and POOF! life gets in the way.
Mostly, as I was doing my wardrobe audit (see it here – as a google doc), and looking at the list of items in my wardrobe, I wondered why I had so many things – I kept thinking: I have too many clothes in my wardrobe I’m not wearing. Again. I have too much, and I don’t want so much anymore.
To recap, when I last left my wardrobe audit in February 2017, I had 198 total items in my wardrobe. When I edited it a couple weeks ago, I ended up with 204 total items; I added and subtracted a lot this year (I got rid of almost all of my Everlane items, and I’ll talk more about that later). But since I returned home, I have removed quite a few more items (most of my “home” t-shirts), so now I’m down to 191. This is EVERYTHING in my wardrobe, including shoes, bags, items I wear only for Pure Barre, “home” items, and quite a few pairs of shoes that are on their way out.
I’m not trying to get to a specific number, or be below a certain number, numbers are arbitrary to me and mean nothing. But like I said, I reached the point again where I feel like I just have too many things I don’t wear as often as I’d like. In my head, I can justify keeping them, and maybe I’ll wear them one or two times, but I also wouldn’t miss them if they were gone.
Why have I reached this point again? Of having more than I want?
Most of the “extra” things are pieces I bought to try. They are by designers I wanted to try, the silhouettes were intriguing, I thought the item would be more useful than it is…etc., etc. More or less the same things that all of us deal with when we are trying to decide whether or not to buy something new.
But for me it’s a little different, since trying things and talking about them is my “job.”
I have created this little corner of the internet to talk about clothes, style, and all the surrounding issues, and I’m constantly shocked and pleased that I’ve been able to do this work for nearly fourteen years. It does mean that I try things maybe I wouldn’t otherwise, given that I have such a casual lifestyle (I work from home), so it’s easy to amass quite a few more items of clothing than I can realistically wear in my “everyday” life.
BUT. This, Grechen’s Closet, IS my everyday life. It has been my life for thirteen years – full time for eleven of those years.
My “life” is talking about clothes, selling clothes, and wearing clothes. I don’t have kids, or a “job” I go to everyday outside the house I have to dress for. I can dress however I want, and part of the fun of this life I’ve created for myself is that I have opportunities to try new things and designers that I wouldn’t have under other “normal” (whatever that is) circumstances.
Thanks to working with designers like Elizabeth Suzann, Tradlands, Eileen Fisher, etc., and to the credits I earn from Garmentory ($20 whenever a new customer signs up and buys something via my referral link), Everlane ($25 referral for new customers) and Shopbop ($300 a month for hosting their widget on my sites) I can review for you items I might not be able to purchase on my own. Some of those items turn out to be workhorses in my wardrobe (these ES Clyde pants for example), and others turn out not to be so.
I don’t mind adding and subtracting items as often as I do; I’ve let go of the notion that I should buy things “forever” and that I should know my style, buying accordingly. That’s all bullshit (nothing lasts forever, especially not “personal style”). And it’s boring.
I am interested in clothing, what we wear, how we wear/use the things we buy, how those things fit into our lives, and the work of small, independent designers. I want to try all of the things.
At the same time, I also want to do better at cycling things out of my wardrobe faster. I want to really love all the things I have and know they work for me, fit me well, and represent my style at the moment.
I thought about implementing a one in/one out rule, but I hate rules.
I thought about trying a no-buy, but that’s also a rule, and who am I kidding?
So I’m going to aim to do a wardrobe audit every month, at the beginning of the month. And I don’t mind being brutal about what I get rid of – I know there will always be something else, and that a thing is just a thing.
I guess I just want my wardrobe to be more efficient for me, I don’t want to put an outfit on and take it off again, because it doesn’t feel like “me,” or reflect who I am at the moment. I know what those outfits are, and I know the things I need to get rid of, I’ve just put it off longer than I should have.
There’s no time like recovering from a fractured jaw to do a wardrobe purge, right ?? 🙂
I hate rules too! It’s why I can’t do capsule or a no buy or the arbitrary number thing. I think your plan to do a monthly audit feels very reasonable, especially for your lifestyle. I look forward to seeing how it goes for you.
Thanks for sharing! I have been actively monitoring my own audit over the last year or so, and for much of that time, my spreadsheet is an open tab on my computer at all times – something I click on and scroll through when I am surfing or procrastinating. Fixating in this way has helped me get down to about 138 items (I do not include bags – of which I have very few – or loungewear – which I try not to wear most of the time even though I do work from home 80-90% of the time).
While the number is obviously arbitrary, I can’t help but make it some kind of contest with myself. I enjoy adding new things to my wardrobe each season, so I am constantly thinking of what I can sell or donate to make up for any gains. I have also tried to tally what I’ve spent in 2017 (scary!), but have only been able to do so for the items still in my possession, because I can’t possibly remember what I may have bought and then re-sold – hopefully not too much.
At the end of the day, what stands out most to me is not my number of items or even the cost of my wardrobe but the fact that the vast majority of what I now possess is relatively new – within the last few years. That sort of alarms me. Aside from shoes and dresses, I tend to not keep things around for very long – I sell old things and buy new things. Not sure why that is, but at least I know that I am now buying more brands that are very re-sellable (i.e. not fast fashion).
I feel like my biggest issue isn’t how much I have, but how little I have that is really interesting to wear. I have a tendency to “stock up” on like items without paying attention to how many I already have of that item. All this minimalism has also made me feel like I NEED to have my wardrobe perfectly figured out, but of course it’s going to be a process. Life is a process.
My resolution for next year is to be more selective in what I take in, and really get back to thrifting and more secondhand purchases over new “ethical” items. It’s more sustainable and way more fun.
Grechen Reiter says
yes, i had a problem with that too…stocking up on the same sorts of things without being aware of it!
one of the best things i ever learned was that i’m never going to get anything figured out…least of all my wardrobe 😉
life has been so much more beautiful since then!
Grechen Reiter says
oh, i should keep my open as well! good idea 🙂 and i love your contest with yourself.
i don’t necessarily think that cycling things out is a “bad” thing, it all depends on why i guess. maybe you’re going through a big style shift lately? i know i go through phases where i have a lot of new and then phases where i don’t have so much…right now, i have A LOT of new shoes. i added a lot of shoes this past year!!
Amy WindyCity says
This op-ed from Ann Patchett had a big impact on me, am thinking about it for 2018. I am hard on my work clothes, I am crawling around after kids all day, squatting and wearing out the knees of trusty work pants. However, I have been able to replace most of the very worst-looking pairs and probably have a decent inventory, even if I don’t buy anything else in 2018. It would require a shift in my internet, especially Instagram, use, but I am considering it very heavily.
Here’s the op-ed: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/15/opinion/sunday/shopping-consumerism.html
Thanks so much for sharing your audit! I love getting to peek behind the curtain and see someone else’s process.
I culled a bunch of stuff this week that I’m feeling frustrated with, but probably won’t get a chance to consign any of it until after the holidays, so maybe some of it will end up back in rotation. :-/
Grechen Reiter says
oh, i can’t stand capsule wardrobes 😉
Gah, I love love love Ann Patchett! As if I wasn’t already dying to be her friend…
Amy WindyCity says
I know– she presents such a warm mix of thoughtfulness and humor about herself and everything else! I think that anyone else writing about “no shopping” might sound sanctimonious, but I did not read her piece that way.
Thanks for having a place for this conversation, Grechen.
Grechen Reiter says
oh, thanks for sharing that! loved it…
i actually think all the time about doing a period of no-shopping, and think i could do it (I obviously have more than enough to get me by for a very long time), but then i also wonder, what would be the point? and I wouldn’t have a “job” anymore LOL
seriously – i could not buy anything and still do grechen’s closet, it would just be different. but what concerns me more is that it’s not a long-term solution to the problem of over-consumption. i know myself, and i know that when i go on “diets” like no carbs or no fat or whatever, when i’m off the diet, i binge on whatever i wasn’t allowed to have before, and end up gaining more weight than i lost. OVER shopping is a symptom of a problem, shopping is not a problem in an of itself.
i do think in general i’ve “cured” my over-shopping problem by being more aware of what i’m buying (i was doing a lot of mindless, sale shopping before), and i couldn’t have done that by banning myself from shopping, if that makes sense. it would have backfired on me.
than again, i REALLY SUCK at all or nothing and tend to rebel against it so i know no-shopping wouldn’t work for me, but it might work really well for you, and for others. i know capsule wardrobes work wonderfully for some people, and i just can’t get behind those LOL
Yes this is a great little article! Thank you for sharing.
Hang in there girl!
This was such a great post Grechen. I was one of the commentors that was interested in whether you had a day job or not. I think it’s time that I do another wardrobe audit as well and perhaps set some sort of schedule for doing one periodically. The last audit that I did (in participation with yours), I was at a turning point career wise. I am much more sensitive to space now with a small reach in closet instead of the huge walk in I once had. It doesn’t take much for me to feel like I have too much. I know I have too much now so my dresses are getting quite wrinkled in the closet. There was a point where I ironed very little because the pieces had more breathing room – I liked that! I wore my clothing much more that way. For me, my huge challenge is my weight. I fluctuate so much. Some of that is counteracted by my current style (I wear less tailored pieces now) but I still have some smaller clothing in storage that must eventually be dealt with. I do know I have quite a few things purchased in the last six months so it is a good time to re-evaluate whether all of those were good buys or not as I clearly now have too many things (again!)
I am so curious to read about your Everlane purge! I am less in love with Everlane than I was in the beginning but largely because my body type + height is not necessarily a good fit for their clothes. I have recently bought a few things from them recently (magazine tote & the go weave shift dress) but it was my first purchase this year.
For the items you have bought to try, you could organize them separately space wise or on a spreadsheet that marks how often you wear them or document the times you thought of wearing but it didn’t work in an outfit. That might make the closet maintenance easier since it is an ongoing thing for you. Perhaps those pieces need to earn being moved into the rest of your wardrobe.
By the way, you look wonderful Grechen and I do hope you are not in too much pain.
Yesssssss to this. The more I limit myself, the more I balk. I set a guideline (not a “rule”) for purchasing one item per paycheck. This means carefully selecting the item I want when payday rolls around, ensuring it’s what I *actually* want and I can justify the cost. I’ve bought more than one item before and I’ve also skipped an opportunity or two, but being flexible helps keep me focused on purchasing what I feel my closet needs.
Ditto: I’m also curious as to why you cleared out much of your Everlane inventory. I have had such variable results with their clothing — which is a huge shame because they are actually within my price range, and the clothing often has the kinds of shape and style I am looking for. However, it just comes down to the quality. Despite all my careful efforts with laundry, several of my items end up unraveling, fading, stretching, etc just as soon as a t-shirt from target would.
That being said, their wide-legged pants are the most affordable (and best looking) version of the Kamm’s I can find. If you have found a better version, (under $200) please do tell.
Grechen Reiter says
i will definitely address that in another post (my everlane purge) – as far as wide-legged pants in that style, i’ve just learned that they don’t work for me at all – I prefer elizabeth suzann’s florence pants, and hopefully the clyde culotte will be a good wide leg pant on me. everlane’s just didn’t fit me right AT ALL. which i agree, is sad, given that the price was so good, and for the limited time i had a pair, the quality seemed good…
Interesting comment on Everlane. I also swore off Everlane in 2017 and removed myself from their lists. I have a four Everlane linen items from their first linen line, and one Everlane cotton sweater that are all doing great and still look like new despite being worn 50+ times each. Everything else – totes, Ts, etc did not hold up. The black canvas tote looks brown at the seams now. The sweatshirt pilled terribly, etc. And the last few orders of things I obsessed over ordering all were returned because the fit/style was off.
I know you must be suffering so thank you for keeping up here and continuing to answer your AMA submissions!
Re: Everlane. I’ve never ordered from the site and likely won’t, for a semi-odd reason. I don’t like the site’s sancti copy and frankly assume at least some claims are…enhanced…when it comes to actual transparency and, in particular, he quality of materials used. That leads to my actual reason: I live by a pretty rad thrift/consignment place that I go to weekly (too often even though I generally buy nothing.). You will never get a better sense of a maker than seeing how their stuff holds up after use, or not modeled by someone with a ballerina’s chest and hipster middle-parted hair. Every single thing I’ve ever picked up from Everlane looks cheapitty cheap cheap, even those items that are NWT. Even the shoes. I sadly did not heed those obvious signals for another brand I’d see often in the store – Emerson Fry. I could never swallow the price point and felt pretty sure the excellent styling made bad things look good, and I ordered a NWT sweater from a consignment site, oneI’d wanted at a massive discount, and the quality after wearing and washing is so, so bad. Shamefully so.