(Not) Adding to my Closet.

Aha, I’ve finally done it! After having this blog for just about two years, I’m finally doing what I meant to do from the start: blog during breakfast, before starting my day! I’m a crossword addict, so the crosswords always win…but today I wanted to get these words out before they disappeared. I have my cup of tea, my laptop, and some slow, quiet time…

It’s been a week since I last bought something for myself, so of course the urge is resurfacing. That last item was a dress that I’ve been waiting to find for almost a year, so the purchase was not a moment of weakness. I had that dress in larger sizes and wore them all the time, and the loss of those dresses was one of the first things I thought about when I started my health journey.  Now that’s done and out of the way, so I can focus on not adding anything else to my closet.

That phrase has become my mantra over the last few days — adding (or not) to my closet. As I read about amazing Burberry and Herve Leger finds for under $100 at Nordstrom Rack, the itch to go hunting started blazing. I did the math and tried to figure out how I could work a complete part-time week, make it to all my appointments, and set aside loads of time to painstakingly peck through the clearance racks at the Rack. I couldn’t figure it out. There was no way to make it work! But what if I could find that $1K Herver Leger that I tried on a few months ago and it cost less than what I spend on a pair of shoes? What if the price was so low it didn’t even register on my “think-long-about-it” scale? What IF???

Really and truly, what IF I could find it. I would add it to my closet… and it would sit there.

In my closet.

I can’t think of a single occasion where I could wear it. Nothing in my immediate future, nothing in my distant future. It would join the ranks of hundreds of other items that have sat in my closet over the years.

I still have new spring/summer clothes that I haven’t yet worn. Out of the 10 bottoms I bought for this season, I still have 4 that are unworn. I really can shop for brand new items in my own closet.

I also keep thinking about the black ankle-strap sandals that I have yet to find. Every morning, when I choose a pair of shoes to wear, I count at least 3 pairs of black sandals. What if I find my elusive ankle-strap pair? They would be added to my closet. Then what?

I’d have another pair of shoes. That’s all. Nothing magical or mystical. It would be One More Pair. And, no one but me would ever notice. I realized the other day that even I don’t notice other people’s shoes. I sometimes do, but more often than not, I just don’t. Who do I think it looking at my feet to see if I paired the exact right shoes to my outfit?

Admission time: I’ve found myself checking the Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack site daily over the past few days. I start looking at new arrivals, and then my mantra comes to me: what if I added this to my closet? And I get the heebie-jeebies and close the browser. My goal right now is to most decidedly NOT add to my closet. I have enough. I’m working toward someday having a very small wardrobe, so the other part of my shopping mantra is: would this item have a home among only 10 pieces?

I’m in the middle of physical therapy for recurring hip/pelvic issues. My “cure” and prevention are the same — I need to keep my body in a certain position as much as possible, doing everything. When I go up the stairs, when I’m in the car, when I’m lifting weights. If I don’t keep that position, I hurt. I might even end up injured if I lift weights in my usual bad position. I’m working on breaking a lifetime of bad posture and these new cues have to be on my mind all the time. I’ve already been pain-free for over a week after being in agony for most of the past seven months. Eventually, possibly quite quickly, this new position will be my default position, and I won’t even have to think about it anymore.

My unshopping therapy has to be the same. Those two thoughts — about an item simply being in my closet to no avail and the 10-piece test — need to be on my mind constantly. I’m convinced I’ll be able to make it through the summer shopping season unscathed, even with my yearly tempting trip coming up.

Hidden Danger of a 10-Piece Wardrobe.

Last week, I was reminded of the concept of a minimal wardrobe consisting of very, very few pieces. I first learned about it several months ago and was inspired by it, and tallied up my closet total at the time (less than 90 items). I was moved to keep my wardrobe small…and then promptly forgot when it came time to shop for spring/summer.

My reminder last week also led me to The Daily Connoisseur, a blogger who promotes a 10-piece wardrobe in particular, which is not something I knew existed as a “thing” that people do. That’s pretty amazing! I watched her videos and, once again, felt inspired to do something similar. I promptly filled five large trash bags with clothing. All my supposed “favorites” that are now too far big for me. The items I was keeping because I thought I’d still want to wear them if I ever went up five sizes again. Well, listen. I went through those items again with fresh eyes and only 10 pieces passed the test! I don’t even know why I had kept so much (I had already donated 70% as soon as I’d lost the weight. I had an enormous wardrobe before.) Really and truly, I will never gain that weight back, so there was just no reason to hold onto so much.

I also filled one bag with current clothing that still fits. Items that I felt too guilty to get rid of because they are new as of last summer, fall, and winter. But they are items that I avoided wearing or guilted myself into wearing. Every time I read anything about purging clothes, I immediately thought of those pieces. They were either fussy to launder, weren’t really my style, or didn’t fit quite right. The style thing was a big issue for me, because I started to experiment a lot with this trimmer body. I finally got to wear trends that I’ve always wanted to try, only to discover that I love them on others, but they are not “me.” The laundry thing is just as big; if it’s fussy, I don’t wear it because I don’t want to launder it. I’ve finally admitted that tissue-weight sweaters are my nemesis.

With six donation bags filling my car, I was on fire! On my way to a 10-item wardrobe. Except for the problem that I just stocked up on spring/summer a couple of weeks ago. Gluttony! I thought that maybe I’d focus on purging a few more items and seeing if I could get the number down, but not necessarily to 10. Excited about this idea, I talked to my husband about it. 10 pieces! Can you imagine? How great would it be if I, a shopaholic, could get down to 10 or even 20?

…And the axe fell.

Readers, my husband is so wise. He doesn’t even like to shop, so I don’t know how he is able to tune in so well to my problem.

He casually asked if my desire to have a small wardrobe would mean a desire for a perfect wardrobe.

Oh. Shoot. He was right — if I’m only going to have one blouse, it needs to be perfect. If I’m only going to have one pair of jeans, they need to be the perfect pair. I know all too well what the search for perfection means for me…


Endless amounts of shopping and research. Hours and hours of adding to my wishlist. Repeated retail excursions. Larger budgets for fewer items. Buy-return-buy cycles.

He knows me so well.

Deflated, I realized that a 10-piece wardrobe is not in my immediate future. I am, however, going to work on an intentional wardrobe. I’m going to note what I wear this season and what I don’t. I’m going to “let” myself repeat outfits and pairings, something I usually avoid because I think it will be noticed by others. If there are things that I’m not wearing, they’ll go into a holding area. I’m going to let my favorites emerge, and favor them.

(Can I just add here that three of my favorite tops are at least 5-10 years old?? I’ve had them a long time and still love them. Thankfully they made it through my heaviest weights and are still fine. Miracle fabric, I tell you.)

I’m just as excited about this idea as I was about a 10-item wardrobe. Now, to start!