Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wardrobe: How Much is Too Much

I've been thinking about wardrobe a lot lately, partially because mine needs a some work. And, you know, I watch a lot of What Not to Wear. On the newer episodes of What Not to Wear, they actually show you everything the person gets. And I'm always surprised at how little they have. Usually, it's only about 30 outfits. My brain goes "How can they possibly live on 30 outfits?!?"....oh, wait, that's only one wear per outfit per month.....

Wardrobe explosion!

 Organized, efficient versatile wardrobe.

So that got me thinking about how much is too much? I've commonly heard quoted that most people wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time and while 83% of statistics are made up on the spot ( ;) ), I think that's probably pretty close to the truth. I've been working over the last year or so, to get myself to the point where I can let go some of my 80% that is worn only 20% of the time (although I usually fail on that when it comes to shoes.....) but now I'm lacking in lots of basics.

80% of this probably never gets worn...

Earlier this year, Tasia of Sewaholic posted about sewing cake vs. frosting where cake pieces are the versatile, basic pieces and frosting are the over the top just for fun type projects. My wardrobe is a giant pile of frosting on top of a little tiny piece of cake. Obviously, I need more cake but how many of those frosting type pieces do I really need? They just don't work for every day life. I've come to realize that I have a lot of pieces that I wear once or twice but then they get shoved behind my latest and greatest sewing project and don't see the light of day again. Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch has also recently decided that she needs a more life appropriate sewing plan/wardrobe.

I have a large walk in closet (especially considering that I'm in a small apartment!) but I'd love to be able to have a wardrobe like this:

Maybe if I live in a loft apartment one day!

Since I live in a state where the things you wear during the winter are NOT appropriate to wear during the summer and vice versa, I think I could use two 30 outfit wardrobes-one winter and one summer-and overlap them during spring and fall. And since the week is about 2/3 work days and 1/3 weekend days, that'll give me about 40 work outfits and 20 weekend outfits. Ok, so I'm good on the weekend outfits but sooooo far behind on the work outfits, especially the winter ones.

I see lots of frosting!

So how do am I supposed to get my wardrobe from an explosion of frosting to a reasonable of cake?

1. Separates

Separates are so much more versatile than pretty dresses so separates make a wardrobe go further. And cute tops will be able to work both in my work and nonwork wardrobes. I'm sure I'll get distracted and sew more dresses but I'm really going to try to work sewing up more separates.

2. Layering

I have quite a few cute cardigans and jackets but I don't wear them too much. I've gotten myself down to just two hoodies so hopefully I'll be reaching for sweaters more often this fall/winter. Summer shirt + cardigan or jacket = winter appropriate top!

3. Accessories

Accessories make things go so much further! I have a rather nice collection but it's sadly under used.  I really want to challenge myself with respect to accessories. I want to conquer scarves, bracelets and get back to wearing earrings every day!

Is your wardrobe more frosting or cake? How big of a wardrobe is too big? Do you rotate your wardrobe? Do you like What Not to Wear?


  1. Oh wardrobe is like an 80s wedding cake...loads of cake in different flavors, loads of icing and all kinds of junk like fountains in the middle and bridesmaid figurines to match...all crammed into a tupperware container. Its a delicious, awesome mess. I love what not to wear and I often wonder what they would do to my closet. My problem is, I love separates but I want basics in every color of the rainbow, making them no longer "basic". I shop by the rainbow- one of everything in every hue. Too many accessories, dresses, gorgeous things I hope to wear soon....oh I could write a book about it. My one dream in life is a dressing room to house it all

    1. My dream is to have a room that is half wardrobe and half sewing space!

    2. Oh my goodness, I'm with Brittany in the sense that if I find a basic, I want one in every color (because of course the colors I don't have are usually the ones I need/want). Can we have rainbow cake? ;)

  2. Oh dear... I have a big issue with all of this, but in a good-ish kind of way.

    I struggle with having lounge-around-the-house clothes (and vintage ones at that.) So I guess this could be considered the cake pieces I'm missing. But even then, to make vintage lounge pieces in silk charmeuse, this to some, is considered frosting.

    But for us vintage loving gals, the difference between frosting & cake is a blurry line. While I can agree that a taffeta gown is most decidedly frosting, who's to say that one fab unique, appliqued dress is frosting and not cake?
    I think the vintage wardobe was comprised of frosting pieces. Even some 40's/50's separates are so fun and frosting-y that it's hard to determine what is what.

    I am most likely missing the point, in that you're looking to beef up your selection of wardrobe basics. :)

    Being in a 4-season climate I do have to rotate my wardobe. But at the close of every winter & summer I donate all of the pieces that were never worn to keep my closet-size in check.

    1. I do agree that vintage wardrobes have mostly frosting which is probably why we fell in love with them in the first place! And I too struggle with wearing around the house things, especially if I'm sewing or knitting because I like to be super comfy.

  3. Oh man... who of us fashion people don't have that problem?
    My everyday wardrobe is actually quite small, comparatively... but my costume and vintage wardrobe is constantly trying to devour the rest of my closet! I guess that's what comes from wanting to sew for ourselves so much!

  4. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I have a lot of my wardrobe that I don't wear regularly (even if it's not all frosting, but some cakes in flavors I only rarely crave), and I'm trying to really assess what I want to wear and what I need to sew, knit or hunt for. I really want to focus on cake since that's the majority of what I like to wear (and I think I get easily frustrated when I don't have enough cake pieces). I need daily pieces that can really get me from home to work or a casual evening with friends.

    I'm glad it seems like a lot of us are thinking about things like this, helps to hear everyone else's perspective!

  5. Superb post! Though I don't feel like too much clothing is a problem I have (part of me really wants to say "I wish" ;D), I think it's one that any of us fashion loving gals could just as easily find ourselves in and I love your practical outlook and tips on addressing the issue (as well as balancing basics with "frosting" pieces).

    ♥ Jessica

  6. This seems to be a topic on a lot of people's minds--mine included. I started sewing this past spring, so I'm just now coming off the high of fruity, floral, full-skirted dresses and thinking that maybe it's okay if I make simple, wearable pieces for every day.

    I think you're right, though, that having around 30 outfits per season is a good goal--especially if you can further mix and match those pieces!

    I do like What Not to Wear--I used to watch it all the time. But the whiny pre-makeover people really started to irritate me! I only like to watch after Clint and Stacey intervene in the shopping--that's the best part!

    1. I adore the shopping part! It's fun to vicariously shop through someone else!

  7. I watch WNTW a lot and often wonder how you could only have 30 outfits. But sometimes they say "I'm going shopping as soon as I get back..." which is what I'd do if I was ever in that situation.

    I love separates even if a dress is easier. I have plans to whip up a bunch of skirt and pants {40s/50s style} enough so I can interweave it into my modern wardrobe.

    I really like the all out vintage look, but it doesn't always like me. I love vintage inspired, I think it's more me.

    1. I too am finding that vintage inspired is so much more practical than vintage. Sometimes I'm in the mood for impractical but it's so draining to be impractical all the time

  8. frosting. big billowy clouds of sugary frosting. but i'm trying to wear more frosting instead of make more cake, because i just can't get into sewing cake! it's actually working... my co workers seem to perk up when they see all the color and texture...

    but MAN does my closet need thinning. i'm unpacking, and actually angry at the amount of stuff i have. it ain't right. by the way... which pic is your closet? the top? please tell me it's not the third...

    1. Actually, none of these are my closet. I was lazy and just pulled some example closets from google. Hmmm.... Maybe I should share some shots of my closet...

    2. There's an idea for a a pic of your!

  9. Hmm...well I think I have mainly cake (although with a few choc chips in the mix) as I'm only just starting out with the frosting. I am trying to make things that I *need* rather than want. Like a winter suit (with matching hat shoes and bag) that I can put with existing tops.
    I do actually have a warm weather and cold weather 'bag' where I store things when not in season. But most of my basics can be layered to fit any weather. I have a small coat and velvet jacket problem....I see one and have to

  10. And I aught to add the choc chips are what I might call 'special occasion' or 'dance' outfits. There are items I only wear to dance lessons/retro dances or for sunday best.

  11. I think my wardrobe leans a little more towards the frosting side, but I do have a decent amount of cake. My problem is more that several of my cake pieces are worn out to the point where they need replacing (i.e. nearly every single pair of "work" pants I own and jeans to wear on weekends), I have no time to sew replacements right now, and I don't want to buy replacements because I already bought fabric/the Thurlow trousers pattern to make new pants before I got engaged! So I'm just going to try to stick it out for one more cold season and hope my pants hold up/try to figure out a way to cake-ify some of my skirts. Which, for me, means find a way to stand to wear them when it's cold. I'm also trying to evaluate what I really wear so I don't have to pack as much stuff to move.

    I do rotate my clothes, both for 4-season and tiny closet reasons. Is it bad that one of the things I'm looking forward to the most about moving into my fiance's house after the wedding is that he has a walk-in closet? ;)