The Waste-Not Wardrobe: Winners and Losers

Maybe as my kids get older I’ll come around to a different way of thinking, but, as of this writing, I JUST CAN’T STAND IT when everybody gets a trophy!  Call me old-fashioned, but I love a world where I can define things!  I want my winners and my losers.  I want good guys and bad guys!  It gives me a secure feeling when things can be measured and defined based on performance.  While that might be a bit crass when it comes to say, Little League Baseball, I don’t have to feel guilty at all when I look my possessions and discriminate!  Oh yes, in my closet there are winners and losers, and I know you have them in your closet, too!  Time to break out the hangers and get delightfully judgmental!

I’m going to make some suggestions here for picking your wardrobe “winners”.  You can actually open up your closet and start making physical stacks of your clothes, or just take mental notes as we work through this exercise.

So much has been written about creating a mix and match wardrobe, dressing for success, and what “essentials” every woman needs in her closet.  I’m going to cut through that crap right now with two questions:

What do you wear?  and Why do you wear it?  

What do you wear?  Just pull out everything you wear frequently.  (Define “frequently”?  Well, to me, that means I wear it nearly every week, but for others, frequently could be closer to monthly use.)  I’m not talking about your sweat pants.  I’m talking about the things you wear in public… to a play date, to church, to the mall.  For some of us, that’ll be 20 outfits, for a SAHM that spends most days at home, it could just be 2 or 3.  (By the end of this course, we’ll bring that number up or down to about 5-7 “no repeat” outfits, that can be mixed to make thousands of combinations.)

Now, look at your stack and put back the things you wear just because there’s nothing else clean!  You know who you are!  These items aren’t winners, and you need to do your laundry more often!  LOL

Now look one more time at your stack.  Make a pile of the things you’ve had for more than one year.  These have stood the test of time!  They are probably your favorite, most comfortable, most practical, best looking items.  Congratulations, you’ve found your “winners”!  Lay them all out on your bed, nice and pretty, and ask yourself the next question:

Why do you wear it?  Because it’s comfortable and practical for the kind of life you lead.  Because it fits well.  Because you feel good in it.  Because it empowers you.  Because it reflects your personality…

But let’s be pragmatic and look for trends.   When I looked at my winners, I found that I adore the gracefulness of a deep v-neckline, the forgiving drape of loose cotton shirting, and it seems I’ve never met a cardigan I didn’t like!

But there’s lots of garments I adore that didn’t make the list!  For example, I love the way I look in a sundress, and they’re so trendy right now!  I’ve been collecting more and more of them every chance I get, but I rarely wear them!  You know why?  I’m constantly wresting an infant and a 3 year old!  Combine that with the challenges of breastfeeding and the dresses I adore are just wardrobe malfunctions waiting to happen!  I love them, but because I can’t feel truly comfortable wearing them with kids in tow, they’re just not winners!

Now that you’ve identified your winners and figured out how they’ve earned the title, we can use our clothing purchases for items that carry the same winning qualities!

Our goal here is to get the lowest cost per wear.  Let me give you two examples:  I have a casual pink sundress in my closet that I picked up at Walmart on impulse.  I paid about $10 for that dress.  I’ve only worn it about 4 times, since I purchased it three years ago, and now it’s not fitting so great and it’s kind of boring, so I’ll probably donate it.  Yeah.  No big deal though, right?  After all, it was a steal!

We’ll compare that dress to the $60 pair of Gap’s Long and Lean jeans I purchased SIX years ago, and wore at least twice a week, every week, until the fabric literally disintegrated a couple months ago. That’s AT LEAST 624 wears. Yes, what I’m presenting to you here is an old fashioned word problem!  Which garment cost less per wear?

My pink sundress cost $2.50 per wear.

My Gap jeans cost less than $0.10 per wear.

Which garment seems like a steal now?

We know our winners, we know why they’re winners.   These items are almost certainly the best values in our closets, and we’re one step closer to creating a wardrobe FULL of these!


In our next session we’re going to talk about wardrobe “essentials”.  Do you have all the elements you really need?  I know you think you’ve read these sort of lists before, but I invite you to tune in Wednesday when I’ll tell you why we DON’T need a “Little Black Dress”!


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