Using girl math to expand your closet

Today it rained for the first time in months. (Seriously). So I stayed inside and did wardrobe maintenance. Yippee! 

I cleaned out and edited the Fall/ winter and spring/ summer closet. I set out boots for repair, jackets for cleaning, and pants for hemming. I went through the undies drawer, the sock basket, the scarf drawer, even the jewellery box!! It was impressive. 

And then I did a count. This time, I focussed only on counting F/W items. The fact is, like most people who live in an extreme four season climate and who don't live and work in an air conditioned environment, my wardrobe needs are almost completely different summer and winter. Meanwhile, apart from colours, spring and fall could be a single capsule of mid-weight items that are rarely worn in summer or winter!  

There is very little overlap, and what overlap there is, overlaps only partially. So, for instance, I do wear spring-weight cotton sweaters in early fall -- but by November retire them and bring out the cashmere on an almost one-for-one basis. The same is true for sleeveless tops vs. sleeved tops. I wear the former in summer and the latter in winter, and while the numbers are not exact, if you add in knit tops or tees (in both seasons) it's quite close. 

Which means that I have roughly the same amount to wear all year round, if that makes sense. And for F/W my total, including footwear, coats, dresses, skirts, trousers, toppers, denim, leggings and similar, culottes, shirts, blouses, and light knit tops, and pullovers but not including bags, scarves, undies, gear is...86 items?!?!?!??!?! ! 

Granted, I just edited out a few rarely worn pieces. But this list also includes some overlaps that aren't realistic, e.g. I am including all my coats, rain and puffer and wool, even though I would not wear my trench in the same months I wear the puffer, etc. 

How can this be??? I thought my wardrobe was so much bigger. 
Or is this just a bizarre species of girl math meant to help me add to my closet?  :)

In other news, I have a problem with tops. I have a lot of them but don't love a lot of them.Also, I lack colour!! I want to add more reds, plums, berries, and purples to my life.

1). My side of the closet. This is the spring/ summer stuff plus a few F/W items from NAS just added to the mix. Scarves and tights are in the boxes on the shelf. 

2). The footwear. Ditto above -- you can see new additions with the sandals. 

3). The gear/ sock/ undie section and denim. 

4)  The knit tops/ sweaters shelves, still a bit messy from my moving and counting. 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Traci replied 4 years ago

    I think this makes perfect sense.  This is also exactly why we can get into trouble comparing ourselves to others.  We all have so many individual factors going on.  It's so interesting that once you break it down you swap out the sweaters almost 1 to 1...just instinctively!

  • Roxanna replied 4 years ago

    Wow. Sorry Suz, no time for deep analysis - I am at the cottage and kids are gong crazy - but what I am realizing is that I need to take a vacation day and spend it wardrobe planning /organizing /counting /maintaining! I have no idea about my budget or my numbers. I will do a deep drive and come to the forum fire analysis.

  • deb replied 4 years ago

    Good job, Suz. It sounds like a lot of us have top issues. I wonder why that is.

  • Peri replied 4 years ago

    I'm the opposite...I feel like tops are the thing I do well.

    I always thought you had a well edited wardrobe, so I'm not surprised the numbers aren't huge. But I thought when people did this they didn't usually include coats and shoes in the clothes count. So maybe you are surprising low. Go shopping!

    Interesting about spring and fall that you say except for color. My spring and fall wardrobes really are the same items. I don't change colors seasonally.

    I'm not sure of the real value of counting numbers. For instance, if a person feels like they don't have enough tops, but the number says they do, does that change the feeling? Maybe it's just a tool for examining why you might have a lot of something but feel like you don't? Really, I think I'm just too lazy to count!

  • Alexandra replied 4 years ago

    Good job, Suz! What a great way to spend a rainy day. Interesting that your wardrobe turned out to be smaller than you thought. That's a good thing, right? It means you're doing a lot with relatively little.

    I was struck by how your wardrobe looks so full of neutrals. Your future red and purple additions will have plenty of supporting cast to help them integrate.

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Peri, I like your philosophy! Forget a count, go shopping!  :)

    I never really "got" the value of counting, either, or of tracking wears...until I did it. On one level, I learned nothing. I already knew what I was wearing a lot and what I wasn't! But what I learned was which items bored me and (to some extent) why. 

    I don't completely change colours seasonally, either,  -- I always go with my most flattering colours. But I do change the depth/ tone/ shade depending on the season. I wear lighter/ brighter blues in summer, for example, and darker blues in winter; more reds/ berries in winter and more bright pink in summer. 

    Deb, I think we have top issues because we expect them to carry a lot of fashion weight. And then if they do, we tire of them. ;) 

    Roxanna, your wardrobe looks amazing so no number crunching required. But if it will help you move forward, then go for it. 

    Traci, yes -- I'll have to do a more accurate careful count of the summer stuff, but it is pretty much equal. I have a TON of shorts and was feeling a bit embarrassed about that -- until I realized that my shorts and skirt complement in summer is just about equal to my fall/ winter jeans capsule!! 

    Thinking in capsules is really helpful that way!! 

  • replied 4 years ago

    Nice work!
    I feel like I'm getting weirdly intimate peek into people's lives through their closets today.
    I think 86 is smallish for the 8months a year that you wear this capsule.
    Definitely more berry! Berry is on my list too. Hopefully it's not just rust and citron this fall!

    If you're wondering about summer tops, I was shopping fairly heavily this spring and the colours weren't very good for people with summer (my) colouring if I recall correctly. So this might explain some of the ennui.

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Alexandra, you are so right. I notice the neutral so much more now my hair is grey. It's really weird. I need to add colour via my clothes now whereas in the past my hair added some (and also welcomed some items that I have since let go, regretfully, because they did not work with my silver hair.) 

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Smittie, that's exactly right. I had a lot of trouble finding tops in my best colours or even neutrals combined with the higher neckline I prefer. In the end I bought colours and neutrals I like in an overall shape I liked but without the neckline I prefer. It was the best I could do. 

    I'm cool or true summer or maybe true or cool winter now with my silver hair. So it's a similar issue to yours. 

  • Firecracker replied 4 years ago

    It sounds like your wardrobe is working well for you, so I would say Job Well Done! And keep an eye out for tops that you love, because you can use some of those.

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Sharan, how about you run me up a few???  :)  

    Seriously, I could use the inspiration of your creative brain. Someone has to start a tops thread. We're all struggling. 

    I know for sure I want more colour in tops. I also want some unusual shapes (asymmetry, etc.) I did have some asymmetrical tops but gave one to my step-daughter and retired one because it was gold and didn't work with my silver hair too well. 

  • DonnaF replied 4 years ago

    I have trouble getting my tops to play well with my toppers.  Usually it's a neckline thing, but sometimes it is pattern, color, proportion, or level of dressiness/casualness.  I'm not sure if it is a top thing or a topper thing.  How about you?

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Yes, that's part of it, Donna. And actually, you've led me to understand just how complicated it is, and how it relates to my climate. 

    In summer....I can't wear toppers. So tops have to do it all. In other words, they have to be interesting in and of themselves, or else the bottoms do. 

    In fall...I need a topper. And then I get into the issues of pattern, colour, proportion, neckline that you refer to. Ugh. 

    In winter...I get into heavier knits and these sometimes won't take a topper so we are back to problem A as in summer. Also, this requires different coats, because you can't squish thick knits under a snug coat. Luckily, scarves can join and do some of the work (and provide a fair bit of variety.) But.  

    In spring...see problems for fall. Plus, it rains a ton, so everything needs to work with a raincoat and umbrella. 

  • Chris987 replied 4 years ago

    You wardrobe, how things are divided across seasons, counts etc, makes enormous sense to me and "feels" just right.  Well, it would since I live in essentially the same climate :-)  The 3 distinct seasons (summer, fall/spring, and winter), the similar sets of tops for warm vs. cold seasons in different fabrications and slightly different colors, the sets of shorts/skirts for warm months being roughly the same size as  pants/jeans for cooler months....and your comments about tops " I have a lot of them but don't love a lot of them". Yup. 

    Very interesting point about tops, when worn alone, need to have more interest than the ones that are worn with toppers. Very true...I might wear a fairly plain long sleeved T under a knit textured moto jacket that I would never wear by itself because it's kind of boring alone. And a more interesting top with some texture might be too busy under that same jacket.  I was just thinking about editing my voluminous collection of  tops and realizing I need to make sure to keep ones that work under a couple of toppers even if they don't stand well on their own.

    I have a long way to go to be as organized and well put together as you, and this information is going to be very helpful, so thanks!

    I don't think there is anything wrong at all with your total count, what I see from your YLF postings is a wardrobe that always looks totally fab no matter what you wear. :-)

  • Firecracker replied 4 years ago

    Right, Suz! Reading about how you, Viva, and others have trouble finding great tops, I did have the thought: gee, I guess it's good that I like to make them. I try to focus my shopping on things I don't make, like jeans, shoes, jackets, cardigans, anything with too complicated seaming or fit.

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    I've noticed that, Sharan, and it is so, so smart!! That way you get the best of both worlds. You're lucky that jeans are so great on you and relatively easy to buy because it gives you a beginning on a great bottoms capsule that your self-made tops enliven terrifically. 

    Thanks, Chris. It's reassuring that this makes sense to you since we do have a similar climate. I know things would be quite different for me if I lived in a more temperate place. 

  • shevia replied 4 years ago

    Well done with the count and reorganization, although I laughed a bit at your "messy" shelf. So do you have separate spring and fall wardrobes that are as big as winter and summer? I am sure you said but I am not quite up yet. 
    As for tops, they are more visible than bottoms and are more particular - many or most jeans will go with just about any top somehow it seems. For me tops have always been harder to fit, although these days I seem to be a whole new shape so it's hard to say. And they are next to our faces and have a lot of responsibility to flatter but not compete I suppose.

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    I think your last line nails it, Shevia. Flatter and not compete -- it's a tall order. We sort of want our tops to be our best friends. :) 

    No, I don't have fall and spring wardrobes that are as large. I don't actually have dedicated spring/ fall wardrobes at all -- I use items from the winter and the summer wardrobes and mix them. I don't know if that makes sense, so maybe an example will help. 

    In summer, I am mostly wearing linen tees or sleeveless tops, and shorts or skirts or lightweight dresses. Once in a while, though...on a cool evening, I might pull on a pair of jeans. 

    That same pair of jeans will work in fall and spring. But I'll rarely wear them in deep winter, because by then I will be reaching more often for jeans in a heavier fabrication or a different colour. 

    In fall, I will wear a long sleeved silk shirt with a denim jacket. In winter, I might wear that same shirt but I would definitely need a heavier or cozier topper and the truth is, I'd probably layer it under a sweater. The denim jacket is pretty much useless to me in winter, so it goes in the holding zone. 

    That sweater would be a different one in spring -- a lighter, more cotton rich version. But the rest of the outfit might be similar. 

    The items with the most cross-over are jeans -- the only time I don't wear them at all really is high summer -- typically July and August. (Unless I travel to a different climate where they are suitable). 

    Items with the least crossover are heavy wool sweaters and sleeveless linen or silk tops or linen dresses/ skirts. 

    In theory I could wear other stuff across the seasons but realistically, in the absence of air conditioning in summer, I won't wear long sleeved shirts terribly often. I do have a few linen ones and I roll the sleeves on those. It does depend on the summer of course. This year is particularly hot. 

  • Sal replied 4 years ago

    Good work on the sort out and count.

    I think you have things well sorted - enough variety but the basics covered. I think tops fall into two categories, with surprisingly few that cover both
    - tops that stand alone
    - tops to wear seen but under a jacket/ cardigan etc

    It is the length problem I have, I find mixing patterns and colours relatively simple. If you tuck it is not such an issue, But getting the top and jacket in the right proportions is not easy in my opinion. It was simpler a few years back when tops were all fitted, and you could throw most toppers on and make it work.

    Colour availability is a big part too...

  • Barbara Diane replied 4 years ago

    Wow, you got a lot done in a short time. Thanks for sharing how you wear the same item over several seasons.

  • replied 4 years ago

    I love these posts.  Everything about them fascinates me.  

    Your closet seems perfect for your climate.  And the fact that there is almost no overlap between seasons does not surprise me at all.  I live in a very different climate and I don't have any overlap either.  I have no idea why that is exactly, it just is.  

    I kinda like have two completely different wardrobes .... but that is changing.  I decided this year to shop for garments that could cover a minimum of three seasons from now on. Not as easy as you would hope.  

    Just a note:  I think counting is a really valuable exercise.  A person can learn so much about their buying habits if they do it just once in their lifetime. 

  • celia replied 4 years ago

    I am amazed of all the work you have done.
    I do understand all about seasonal wardrobes. There is very little things that I can wear in all 4 seasons. Besides , even though the weight of fabric can be the same in fall and spring I don't crave the same colors.
    Anyway, it seems that you have your wardrobe under control, you know what you have and what you would like to have. The change in haircut/ color will naturally take you to new fashion hights.
    I think that the problem with tops is that there are many more variables in terms of fit and depending on bottoms and toppers sometimes we spend the day wishing the top was shorter/ longer/ wider/ narrower/ different neckline/ different sleeves...

  • harmonica replied 4 years ago

    Wow, this makes so much sense! Especially with the spring/early fall wardrobe that is overlappig and a separate summer and winter wardrobe. Very insightful and explains a quite a few item in my wardrobe that I don't wear that much. I've been wondering why and now I think the seasonal change causes it. I mean, I live in a four season climate, fairly similar to yours, and sleeveless and cotton tops are way too cold in winter. But I always have a few wool/silk blend tanks and cardis at hand all seasons because they are essential layering pieces, even in summer time (the other day it was 7 Celsius/44Farenheit!)

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Yes, I think your summers are cooler than our typical summers, Harmonica. This is admittedly a very hot summer but our temperatures have been in the high 20s to low 40s  (C) for several months. It does not get cool at night because of the humidity. If anything, it sometimes feels hotter. Even if the temperature reads 25, it feels more like 35. 

    Three summers ago I wore linen sweaters often during the day; this summer I could no more wear a linen sweater than a puffer coat. 

    I sometimes imagine that I "don't wear" certain items if I leave them in my closet during the wrong season. I go past the item for months and months on end and start to feel guilty (or even consider editing it out) only to realize, with a drop in the temperature, that it is actually a very useful item, and yes, in fact, I DO wear it for about 8 weeks a year (fall and spring items are the usual ones this happens with since our temperate periods are so short.) 

  • replied 4 years ago

    Well done on a great analysis Suz. So interesting....and good that you realise you don't have as much as you thought...time to go berry shopping!

    But tops...what is it with tops?? I'm the same. I struggle with getting proportions right if wearing jackets. I think its' possibly a reason why I often default to a trench coat as topper because there's no proportion and other clashes to worry about so much. It's mostly hidden. I also seem to have random tops which perhaps might only work in one outfit combo.

    I think Angie needs to do a master class on tops for us :)

  • Tanya replied 4 years ago

    What an excellent job and analysis you have done Suz! A great way to spend rainy day.  And I have been nodding along reading many of the acts you stated, especially about your mini-capsules based on seasons.  It makes so much sense.

    About tops: I have the opposite problem from you - I have too many!  Tops and sweaters are the easiest items to fit for me, they can be purchased inexpensively, are a great way to to try new trends etc.  I also like variety and get bored easily.  Plus I am very sensitive to proportions and will own a couple of versions of the same item in different lengths or fits, one to go with jeans, the other one with skirts, for example. I have long given up on a finding a perfect "x" to go with everything, it rarely exists.

    So, is there anything I can do/say to help with your top situation?  We do fairly similar coloring, body type and size; and somewhat taste.  Of course, it could be that you are way pickier and thoughtful about your purchases than I am.

    Also, about berry colors, I forgot if you have access to Express in Canada?  Fun inexpensive trendy stuff (especially with frequent promotions), but worth to me for a trendy refresher, if you pick and choose carefully.  They have just come up with a bunch of pretty berry things.   I had an old gift card burning a hole in my wallet so a couple of weeks ago I picked up a fun pair of berry cropped kick trousers and berry cropped sweater (for some reason Finds don't work for their site anymore, will have to email Greg).  They have a nice looking blazer I tried on but was a tad too short for me, and whole bunch of other stuff, such as a fun bomber.

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Diane, it is probably no coincidence that I am considering the purchase of another trench coat!! My current ones are both black and I want a lighter coloured one. 

    I'm also seeing the famous gilet as a potentially wise investment since it papers over the proportion issues with tops!! Who would have thought. 

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Ooh, Tanya -- thank you!! We do have Express but not in my city so I rarely get to try on. I don't know if they deliver here but I'm going to check it out. I know there is one in the Eaton Centre so next time I am in the city I can go there. Love those kick flares. 

    I actually have quite a few tops, but I'm not happy with a lot of them. I think part of the problem was simply this summer. I had to turn over quite a few of my favourites due to their having worn out and a few more due to hair colour change -- and then I needed to shop. Alas, the stores had nothing that met my requirements so I compromised and that led to feelings of top annoyance. :) Plus, it was has been hot this year that I often have to change a couple of times a day and that leads to laundry bottlenecks and running out. 

    Like you, I'm sensitive to proportions so I don't like some tops with some bottoms and would need to buy so many more to deal with that problem that I suspect I need to focus on a few key silhouettes as you are doing for the autumn. 

  • Tanya replied 4 years ago

    It all makes lots of sense Suz, especially having a bad top summer.  Mine was OK since for some reason I do better with lower necklines than you - they are still not my preferred neckline but I can get away some of them, like examples below.   I did get and return that sleeveless magenta/orchid BR top you have because I did not like the feel of the material.

    Good luck with your visit to Express and maybe you'll find something you like there.

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Tanya, part of it is the hair. when I had longer hair I also wore lower necklines especially Vs like this. Another element is my age -- I seemed to have more "padding" in that area in the past. I did wear a few lower necklines this summer -- because I am up a couple of pounds it made it easier to do, and if all the other elements were working I didn't mind it. 

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