Wardrobe 101

Style Myth Busted!

Big Wardrobe = More Outfits? Nope.

Good Logistics = More Outfits!

Happy day, reader dear!

It’s time for another installment of Style Myth Busters.

You remember! The monthly feature in which I take a commonly heard style trope or myth, uncover what’s true about it and what’s not. Why do I feel compelled to do this? Well, because when I work with my personal style clients, I find there are plenty of myths parading around as truth in their minds. Once we dig into those myths and take them apart, they can address wardrobing in a way that works for the life they live now… Free from the myths and attitudes they have often been carrying around since childhood. (Yup. We drag our childhood along in our closets, too.)

I’ve dug into the Big Wardrobe = More Outfits fallacy before, sideways in a my capsule math posts. You can find one of those, here. Since I just started a new capsule this week, it seemed the perfect time to revisit this as a myth!

One comment I hear about capsule wardrobes is that they are boring. Or lacking options. People think that you will have fewer outfits with less clothes. How much less? If all the clothes and accessories you own fit into a backpack, then yes, you will have fewer outfits. (But if your wardrobe fits into a backpack, you likely don’t have a value system that prioritizes options!) For most of us, though, more options and outfits isn’t a matter of number of clothes in the closet… It’s about everything in your wardrobe playing well with others. More outfits is about versatility!

Emotions

I run across four common reasons people need large wardrobes. The first is emotional. Having a lot of clothing can make the owner feel safe. It may be that she (or he) didn’t have what she wanted as a child, and having plenty feels like safety or care. That’s just fine! Unless you want it to be different. Going through a client’s closet and helping him or her clear out uncovers a lot of emotion, some happy and exciting, and others not so comfortable. They don’t jokingly call it Wardrobe Therapy for nothing… I’m no licensed therapist; I’ll recommend a client see one if things get too intense.

Logistics

The other three reasons are logistical. Balance, color and repetition. Building a wardrobe or even an outfit is a little like creating a work of art. You take the elements of art: line, design, color and composition, and apply them to the outfit or to the wardrobe as a whole. Some people do that instinctively, others consciously. What’s there? What’s missing? How do the pieces all fit together? My job is to help my clients do just that!

Museum, Art, Mural, Musée D'Art Modern, Palais De Tokyo

Balance

One of the simplest reasons you might have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear is that your balance is off. (Sorry, yoga won’t help!) Off-balance may mean you own tons of tops and not enough bottoms or vice versa. If you are an “outfit buyer,” you may find the number of tops and bottoms to be almost even. If you hang outfit items together and wear the same top/bottom combo every time, that’s perfect for you. Most people don’t work that way, though, and being top or bottom heavy prevents a wardrobe from functioning optimally. I’ve written more about balance, here. An out of balance wardrobe often is a clue to what you have a harder time fitting. Tops are easier to fit and buy than bottoms? You’re likely to find your wardrobe top heavy.

Color

Another reason for closet-full-and-nothing-to-wear syndrome is color. The coloring may be disconnected from your coloring, resulting in put-it-on-take-it-off-again syndrome. Maybe the color isn’t in harmony with your personal coloring, or the color or pattern may be in conflict with your style personality.

Another color issue is harmony within your wardrobe. A closet full of clothes with different undertones and intensities struggles to play well together. Simply put, they don’t match. Matching is about undertone and intensity. The more items you have that share the same undertone and intensity, the more items will “go together.”

Repetition

AKA: Duplicate Buying

The third non emotional reason? Duplicates! Duplicates don’t mean variety. Twelve pair of black pants (Or Jeans!) hanging in your closet isn’t variety. Keep the few pair you reach for all the time. You know… They’re the ones you can’t wait to get back from the laundry! Bless someone else with the rest. The other 8-10 pair are taking up valuable mental and physical space and provide you no value. (NOTE: If you are a waiter and wear black pants every day for work, please disregard this advice. Those pants are your uniform and keep however many you need to get you from laundry day to laundry day!)

How About You?

Do you like lots of options in your wardrobe? Or does too much choice overwhelm you? Have you checked your wardrobe balance? Are you top heavy? Bottom heavy? Or just right? What’s the color situation in your closet? Do you have pieces that just don’t play well with others? What are they? How do they compare to your other pieces? What do you own multiples of? Is it time to clear some of the chaff? Do let me know what you found… I love to hear from you!

Stylishly yours,

PS: I think I’ll take you into my spring wardrobe on Tuesday to see how balance and color play out. We’ll crunch the numbers to make hundreds of outfits from 32 pieces!

12 Comments

  • Lise

    My wardrobe is definitely Top heavy. My long term goal is to have a smaller wardrobe. Not by purging, because I really like all of my clothes, but by not shopping, except for what I deem an Essential replacement. In the meanwhile I will make seasonal capsules to make it easier to navigate. Thanks for all your inspo in this regard.

    • Liz K

      You’re welcome, Lise! Pruning by attrition is a great strategy. Although… I can justify a LOT of purchases as Essential Replacements! 😉 I find the seasonal capsules great for helping me see what I don’t wear and what it’s just time to release. If the season comes back around and I’m not excited to see a piece, it’s probably time to let it go.

  • NATALIE

    Liz, My wardrobe has more bottoms than tops! How did I manage this?! Strange! Not too many duplicates. So looking forward to your Spring Wardrobe reveal this coming Tuesday! Have a very blessed weekend!

    • Liz K

      Good for you, Natalie for avoiding the duplicates trap! You have no idea how many I see… Interesting that you have more bottoms than tops. Do you find bottoms easier to find and fit?

  • Carol Karl

    This is a great topic and a great post. Over the summer I created a 15 item capsule wardrobe which I wore every day – no repeats. I did not limit my accessories but I was never bored with it. I think choosing a couple of hero pieces can make a capsule wardrobe really interesting.

    • Liz K

      YES! Every wardrobe and every capsule needs some heroes! Otherwise we get bored… No matter how many pieces we have!

  • NATALIE K

    Liz, Growing up my mother limited my clothing and didn’t let me dress how I wanted to dress. I fnd having myself a full wardrobe does give me a feeling of safety!

    • Liz K

      Those childhood experiences are very forming! It’s good to know that about yourself! I wonder though… If that experience is one you “rebel” against by keeping a fuller wardrobe, it would be interesting to explore what other “rules” from Mom are still in play? And why?

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