How I Created My Wardrobe Staples List

One of my goals when I started my blog was to figure out what I actually wear. I’ve been fortunate enough to have inherited a frankly tremendous amount of beautiful pieces, and of course I’ve purchased pieces of my own along the way. Over the years, I realized that I was just overwhelmed with stuff. This isn’t a unique phenomenon–our culture seems to emphasize more more more at an exponential increase. And while I do think I’m a maximalist in certain ways (decorating being the case in point), there’s maximalism when everything is loved and useful, and there’s maximalism when you’re simply buried. I wasn’t quite buried, but there were a lot of things to sort through, and I knew I needed to get things in hand.

Before I started on this process, I wanted to see what I actually wore, instead of what I thought I wore. This meant that this project wasn’t going to be a quick one as I initially had hoped, when I could just pull everything out of my closet and dresser and go through things in one weekend. A great many of my clothes have deep sentimental meaning to me, and I was reluctant to consign anything to the donation bin when there was that meaning there. So that meant taking my time with things.

As I decided to take my time, I decided to work seasonally. Every time I wore something, I’d make a note of it in the Notes app on my phone. I’d add a tally mark when I wore something a second time, and if a piece was worn more than five times, I kept it. If not, I donated it. I was surprised by some of the pieces I kept, and surprised at some I donated. It was a truly fruitful exercise for each season, and now my closet is more streamlined than it ever has been.

Of course there were exceptions to this five-wear rule–for instance, for formal attire, I kept what I chose to wear and donated what I did not. One of the ways I solved this issue was to try on every piece of formal attire I owned (and it was a fair number!) Over the years, I’ve lost weight, so a number of pieces were passed on to friends or donated, and the few pieces I did keep fit me like a glove, make me feel my best, and can be switched in for a different look for each event.

There are still a few pieces I own that aren’t quite in that “staples” list, but they are all pieces with a lot of sentimental value that I’m not quite willing to give up yet. They are carefully tucked away in storage (you can read my tips on storing off-season clothes here!) and I’m sure that while I’ll be able to give them up one day, right now I know they’re safe.

While I feel happy with my wardrobe staples lists the way they are at the moment, I don’t view them as static objects. I’m sure that more items will be added and some may, perhaps, be removed in time. However, I’m glad to have a solid jumping-off point for future wardrobe purchases and additions!

Please let me know if you have any questions about the process! I’m happy to answer anything I can.

You can find my wardrobe staples lists at the following links: winter wardrobe staples, spring wardrobe staples, summer wardrobe staples, and fall wardrobe staples.

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