I Need to Trim the Wardrobe Back Again

Between my own and my fiancé’s, I’m mid-calf deep in laundry at the moment. We both have a habit of not doing laundry until it’s absolutely necessary and, well, that point has come.

He still has clean clothes (due to a larger wardrobe), but I’m trying to get it all washed up now so that we can gather a realistic view of how our now mutual closet and drawer space needs to be divvied up. My wardrobe has been pared down over the years so that it fit nicely in my walk in closet. Last year we went through his wardrobe and took 4 ½ big garbage bags full of old clothes to the Goodwill so that his wardrobe fit in his closet as well. Now we get to try to fit two walk in closet sized wardrobes into one closet.

Fun times.

I’m a big list maker and I love reading them as well, especially when it comes to clothes. Capsule wardrobes. 10 item seasonal wardrobes. Must have lists. Wardrobe classic lists. Shoe wardrobes. Classic jewellery wardrobes. You name it, I’ll soak it in!

Just don’t get me started on fashion magazines trying to convince me that purple leopard print peplum tops are a classic that I MUST buy because I’ll wear it for years to come – because I call bullshit.

In the non-PF spectrum of things, there’s a couple people I follow when it comes to fashion and lifestyle. One is the Shannon Ables through the lifestyle blog The Simply Luxurious Life, and the other is Jennifer L. Scott through the YouTube channel The Daily Connoisseur. They lean towards a more French lifestyle due to them both having spent time as exchange students in France, but I find a lot of the information to be fairly location neutral.

One of the things I wanted to do this winter was go through my clothes and inventory them. That way I could figure out where the gaps were so that I could take a more targeted approach in my shopping. Nothing is worse than looking at a closet full of clothes going “I have nothing to wear!” If there’s a key piece that would make my clothes more wearable, I want to know what it is so that I can go get it and make better use of my wardrobe.

I did a little mental exercise back in November and asked myself “what do I actually wear?”

Not “what do the lists say I should wear?”

Not “what should I be wearing for this season?”

Not “what’s in fashion that I should add to my wardrobe?”

No, the question is what do I reach for over and over regardless of what is clean and hanging in my closet? Ignoring all the pretty distractions at the mall, what do I feel comfortable in? What do I actually wear? I thought about the clothes I’ve gravitated towards over the last few years, and wrote down the top 10 items per season (because it does change).


  1. Dark blue bootcut jeans
  2. Medium blue skinny jeans
  3. Plain T-shirts
  4. Plain tank tops
  5. Button front tops
  6. Zippered, long sleeved athletic tops
  7. Dresses
  8. Ballet flats
  9. Boots
  10. Leather jacket

Screen shot 2014-01-17 at 2.11.01 PM


  1. Dark blue bootcut jeans
  2. Medium blue skinny jeans
  3. Plain T-shirts
  4. Plain tank tops
  5. Button front shirts
  6. Shorts
  7. Dresses
  8. Zippered, long sleeved athletic tops
  9. Ballet flats
  10. Heels

Screen shot 2014-01-16 at 2.14.06 PM


  1. Dark blue bootcut jeans
  2. Medium blue skinny jeans
  3. Plain T-shirts
  4. Plain tank tops
  5. Sweaters
  6. Cardigans
  7. Zippered, long sleeved athletic tops
  8. Boots
  9. Puffy vest
  10. Leather jacket

Screen shot 2014-01-17 at 2.24.31 PM


  1. Dark blue bootcut jeans
  2. Medium blue skinny jeans
  3. Plain T-shirts
  4. Plain tank tops
  5. Sweaters
  6. Cardigans
  7. Zippered, long sleeved athletic tops
  8. Boots
  9. Parka
  10. Mitts

Screen shot 2014-01-17 at 2.28.46 PM

One thing I noticed immediately after finishing the 4 lists was this:

  1. Dark blue bootcut jeans
  2. Medium blue skinny jeans
  3. Plain T-shirts
  4. Plain tank tops
  5. Zippered, long sleeved athletic tops

Screen shot 2014-01-17 at 2.31.32 PM

These items show up year round. This is the core of my wardrobe. As much as I love the idea of wearing pretty heels and crisp white button downs tucked into pencil skirts… it’s not me. I’m a t-shirt and blue jean kind of girl, so why fight it? The clothes I admire aren’t necessarily the clothes I wear, and that’s fine. I just need to make sure that I’m buying clothes for the person I am, not for the person I imagine myself to be.

Shortly after doing up this list I went out and replaced my lone pair of worn out skinny jeans, and they’ve been back in heavy rotation ever since.

I know I’m probably going to have to pare back my wardrobe a little more in the coming months, so I want to make sure the trimming is as painless as possible. As long as I keep these lists in mind and have my core wardrobe on hand when I’m trimming things down, I shouldn’t have any problems finding something to wear.

What do you reach for over and over in your closet?

Recommended Reading: Are You a Mindless Accumulator

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30 thoughts on “I Need to Trim the Wardrobe Back Again

  1. Thanks a ton for the mention! I’ve accumulated a bunch of v-necks that were on sale at the time, so those are always a favorite. I also like basic flannel button up shirts. They are timeless, no?

  2. I’m all about the jeans. Otherwise I like dresses (one piece outfit FTW!) For work I prefer dresses or tops and cute skirts. I have a lot of trouble finding work pants that fit well and I used to get a lot of yeast infections which stopped when I gave up wearing pants (stupid tight crotches).

    • I’ve heard of that being an issue with tight pants, though I’m guessing living in an area with higher humidity would also contribute to it. I haven’t noticed that issue, but I also currently live in a dry prairie region. I wear jeans at work personally, but I also work in an industry where I can get away with that.

  3. If it helps, i’m THIGH deep in laundry.. lol! My weekend goal is about 100 loads of laundry this weekend.. ;) lol!! I really need to pare back my wardrobe as well as I have SO much.. hubby loves to buy clothes for me but a lot of times they just “sit” as I tend to wear my favourites all the time.. lol!

  4. We’re (cough cough, I’m) pretty good at keeping on top of the washing. Two loads a week on average – one light and one dark.

    My wardrobe is pretty pared down – no trouble fitting into a shared wardrobe, though the BF had less. I do regularly cull items, and I recently sat down with my inventory and said ‘what would I cull if I had to’ and identified a number of items (upwards of 20) that I could do without if I was pushed to.

    That being said, I wear at least 95% of my wardrobe, there’s nothing in there with tags still on (unless it’s a basics replacement, like singlet tops, undies or socks that I already have enough in rotation at the moment). In summer, I live in a collection of ‘house’ dresses (skimpy!), and wear shorts and a top out. If it’s formal (ie not daytime shopping) I’ll consider wearing a dress. In winter, I live in the same pair of comfy pants and pullover in the house (just one of each!) and then wear jeans with long sleeved tees, and a bulky knit cardigan or blazer/jacket/coat. And everything is within a pretty slim palette of colours – blues, teals, and black & white. Nothing yellow or orange, and only two- three items in pinks.

    I’m lucky to have a uniform for work. I wish you luck on taming the washing beast, as well as the wardrobe sharing :)

    • I think if I were to wash my clothes in light and dark loads I would probably do it more often, but I tend to separate mine into more categories (blacks, greys, jeans, blue tones, red tones, whites). It takes a while to make a full white, red or blue load doing that. I don’t really have much that’s yellow or orange, because it tends to make me look sallow when I’m wearing it. My fiance looked at me funny and said “you separate colours?” He largely just puts clothes in the washer and turns it on.

      Some days I wish I had a work uniform. I might pare my work wardrobe down until it is basically a uniform and just run with it.

  5. Your laundry sounds like mine. I don’t know how I can take that much out of my wardrobe and still not see a dent in my closet. I need to pare it down to my word stuff and casual stuff. I’m similar to you honestly – but I have WAY too much stuff that I don’t wear, or that is in questionable shape. I’m slowly digging through it.

    • Lol, I know what you mean. My wardrobe used to be like that until I pared back. Now when I do my laundry there is a noticable difference between “clothes washed” and “need to wash clothes”.

      I found getting rid of the questionable stuff first made my wardrobe WAY more wearable, and helped open me up to being okay with getting rid of the stuff I just didn’t wear. Good luck with your digging.

  6. Yes! Why fight it? If it’s what you want to wear, wear it.

    Me, I’m more of a dressier type.. I think I own maybe one zip-up athletic top, but the rest of your wardrobe is the base of what I wear too :) Then I just add a lot of sweaters and layers.

    • I admire your wardrobe and style of dressing, but I know it’s not something I gravitate towards when I’m actually getting dressed. The layers look pretty to start, but I find they get really bunchy on my frame throughout the day. I’ve started adding more accessories into the mix, but it’s a slow addition.

  7. I stopped shopping for a year. It has been a fascinating experience-I’ve paired down my wardrobe several times and plan to do it again. I also discovered that I wasn’t dressing the way that sings to my soul-I love, love, love dressing up and in Denver that can be a bit of a challenge. I used to dress up all the time and when I shop again I will be taking special care to find clothes that speak to me and make me feel beautiful. Skinny jeans, cream sweater, gorgeous tops, and good jewelry. And Frye boots.

    • ” Skinny jeans, cream sweater, gorgeous tops, and good jewelry. And Frye boots.”

      I think the fact that I’m wearing skinny jeans and Frye boots right now means we’re on a similar wavelength here, lol. I love cream sweaters too. Cream and oatmeal coloured knits are some of my favourites. I’m also pretty partial to cableknit.

  8. Your last few sentences made me laugh – thanks to my job I am stuck wearing white button downs tucked into pencil skirts, fitted cardigans, shift dresses, and the like. It was fun for, like three weeks and now I just miss my jeans! Did you decide that you’re not really an accessories person? Or did that just not make your list?

    • That’s too funny. I had a job where I had to wear business style clothes as well, and I really had a hard time getting dressed in the morning.

      I’m not a huge accessories person, no, but I’m starting to get into it a little more. A lot of my accessories are smaller in size, and tend to lean towards the classics (diamond studs, white gold hoops, small pendants). Actually, if you include scarves in the accessories category then I do wear a lot of accessories, because I’m frequently seen with scarves.

  9. What I reach for over and over:

    Gym clothes:
    running shorts or crop tights
    sports bra
    hair/sweat band

    I have a week’s worth or more of everything I wear to workout. I only like wearing sweaty clothes once, and then they get washed. I do laundry once a week and these things get worn over and over.

    dark blue skinny jeans
    black skinny jeans
    black leggings
    plain tank tops
    sweater or zip front hoodie
    ballet flats

    sweat pants/yoga pants
    leggings (sometimes same as I wear to the gym or work)
    plain tank top
    running shoes

    Enjoyed this post! Thanks :)

    • Actually, I do wear a lot of yoga gear as well. I’m trying to limit it to when I’m actually being active. I’m guessing you work in an active or creative industry?

  10. My basics are the same as yours (except skinny jeans – I can’t pull them off) but yes to the bootcut jeans, plain tees and tanks, cardigans, and athletic shirts (although I prefer hoodies). I also have a basic set of work pants as we can only wear jeans on Fridays. I don’t like wearing dresses or skirts so it pretty easy for me to pick a pair of pants, a tee or tank and a cardigan/sweater and I’m out the door. I also try to buy matching shirts to sweaters or more neutrals. I also try to keep the colours within the same basic families for easier matching of items.

    I’ve been waiting on our new laundry pair (should be delivered today!) and then there’s lots of laundry to be done! Good luck :)

    • I wear a lot of lululemon hoodies as well, I just lumped them in with the athletic shirts. Good idea buying matching shirts that are easy to grab and go. That’s something I need to work on still.

  11. I always wear the same stuff to work and to meet my friends even though my wardrobe is much bigger. I’m determined to shop my closet this year until next boxing day. My “uniform” includes jeans, tees, a navy hoodie, sweaters in the winter and camisoles.

  12. I loved this! I’m about to move in with my boyfriend too and trying to figure out how downsize my closet without having to buy tons of new stuff. This was great!

  13. I’m in the middle of overhauling my wardrobe, plus majorly paring down. A couple of things I’ve found very useful to the process: 1) make a list of everything I own (not including underwear, pjs, etc). This helps in identifying both things that need to be purged or replaced, as well as closet holes. It also helps with #2, which is tracking what I wear on a daily basis. Some people use the hanger method, but I like having a list and putting a check mark next to each item. I do it on my iPad, and it only takes a second. Ideally, I hope to do it fr a year, to get a good sense of both my actual (not ideal) personal style and of what I actually need and wear regularly. It will also help with further purging of the wardrobe next year, and getting exact cost-per-wear numbers (for future reference). This sort of thing might not be for everyone, but as someone who enjoys making lists, and is an aspiring minimalist (I need a lot of help!!) I am finding it very useful.

    Tl;dr Good luck with your project!

    • I like your idea of keeping a list of what you wear to get a better feel for the cost per wear numbers! I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone doing that before, I’ve only seen estimates floating around.

      You and I both need help on the aspiring minimalist front! Given that I tend to be a list maker as well, I’ll definitely keep the idea in mind. Thanks!

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