The Great Closet Audit of 2014

As I mentioned in Tuesday’s post,  I spent some time 6 to 7 hours this past weekend doing an in depth inventory of all my clothes.  It got Ugly. With a capital U.


When I owned my condo in the ‘burbs of DC, I owned enough clothes to fill up the 2 walking closets I had in my condo, plus a very large suitcase filled with stuff I “wasn’t wearing.”  When I was preparing to move downtown last July into an apartment less than half the size of my condo, the first thing that went was all of the clothes I didn’t “need.”  I thought I had done really well, because all my clothes now fit in my very large suitcase and my minuscule closet in my 500sqft studio.  Fast forward to the new year and I break my ankle and spend my recovery time at my parents’ house in Delaware.  After living with 3 pairs of pants, 6 tee shirts, a hoody, a pullover fleece, a few pairs of socks and underwear, 3 bras, and one shoe for two and a half months, coming home to my full wardrobe was overwhelming. I had all of these fun clothes I should be excited to wear, and instead I seriously contemplated becoming that girl who wears leggings as pants 5 days a week. On top of that, I had to buy NEW clothes, because I had lost enough weight that I was swimming in my pants and work tops.  As I was in the process of sorting, washing, drying, ironing, and hanging all my new purchases, I began to wonder why my minuscule closet was so full after getting rid of at least half of my wardrobe last year. I am a big fan of Debbie Roes’ blog, Recovering Shopaholic, as I too am a (probably relapsed) shopaholic, and last week I was reading through some of her archived posts while eating lunch at my desk.  As I was reading the post The Cold, Hard Facts: What I Have, I realized I have no idea what I have. And so I cleared on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and completed a full, in-depth inventory of my wardrobe.

The Audit

While I’m sure there are many ways to do a closet audit, I chose to make my inventory very thorough and detailed.  In doing this, I touched every item of clothing/bags/accessories (not including jewelry)/shoes I own and became aware I owned it.  I set up an Excel Spreadsheet with the following categories/worksheets:

Total Numbers
Blazers & Cardigans
Sports Paraphernalia
Outerwear & Bathing Suits
Bags & Purses
Wants & “Needs”

After that, I set up columns for number of an item (I have multiples of some things, both intentionally and not…), Item Description, and a column for May through June. I intend on tracking what I wear for the next 7 months as a means to help determine what I’m really wearing and what I’m needlessly holding on to.  Once I had my columns set up, I further broke down each worksheet into categories. For example, the Tops worksheet has sub-categories of Tank Tops, T-shirts, Blouses, and Sweaters.  I told you.  I was really thorough.

Once I had everything set up, I started going through my wardrobe and entering each item and its description, one by one.  This helped get an immediate idea of the sheer volume, but also if I had multiples of items that could be tossed into the purge pile immediately.  I did, and so there are now two shopping bags full of stuff sitting by the door to take to Goodwill.  I also entered items that I had ordered prior to starting the audit, but haven’t arrived yet, so the final number from the audit could be reduced by a few items.  While I was entering items, I also made notes when necessary, such as whether items needed to be altered or mended before being worn again or to reassess a certain item at a later date (ex. my Steve Madden cognac studded ankle booties, which I will need to reassess in the fall when it is a) in season and b) my ankle isn’t swollen all the time).  Many of my shoe entries have notes next to them to evaluate whether to keep once I can wear them for a prolonged period of time to make an “educated” assessment.

The upside of this intense project? I FINALLY found my favorite long sleeve Liverpool jersey from a few seasons ago.  Down side? I realized how many clothes I have that I never wear despite being in perfect condition, and didn’t even know I had.  And in relation to that, how much money I’ve wasted buying this crap.

Totals: The Ugly Truth

Let’s start with what’s not included in this inventory:

Pajamas: I have 3 pairs of boxers, a pair of flannel pants, two tees, and two tank tops.  Nothing out of control, and all of it gets worn on a regular basis.

Jewelry: I did a massive jewelry purge when I moved, and also at the end of 2013.  Now everything I own fits into a hanging jewelry organizer where I can see it every day, and all the items get pretty decent rotation, the past 4 months excluded.  When I no longer like something, I have zero issues tossing it into a donation bag and letting it go.

Workout Clothes: These are the clothes I wear exclusively to the gym and back, or occasionally around the apartment when I don’t plan on leaving it for the day.  3 pairs of shorts, 3 t-shirts.

Underwear: I don’t have an issue buying bras/camis/underwear/socks.  I buy what fits/what is comfortable, and then wear it into the ground.

Other than those items, everything is included in these final numbers.  And boy is it ugly. ***drumroll noise**

Closet Audit

The “crosslisted” items are the items in Sports Paraphernalia that are also listed under a different category. Ex.) LFC gloves are also listed under Accessories: Mittens & Gloves.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH TWO HUNDRED AND NINETY ITEMS!?!?!?!?!?!? Yes, 290 items.  It was terrible, and jaw dropping, and eye opening. Some initial thoughts:

1.  I could have sworn I had more Liverpool stuff, and that’s including THREE jerseys I forgot I have.  This brings the total to 6 jerseys, which I is a number I am comfortable with.  I’d be comfortable with more, actually, and plan to acquire next season’s home and away jersey because they are fllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.  But I thought I had more t-shirts.  I guess it’s good that I don’t.

2. Of the 35 pairs of shoes I have, ten pairs have been acquired/ordered post-injury as nearly all of the shoes I had previously, a pair of Nikes aside, were not going to work with my new requirements for comfortable footwear.  I gave away 20 pairs of shoes in the past 2 months, and have 15 more pairs flagged to reassess once I’m able to wear non-Nike/non-Sperry boat shoes for a prolonged period of time. The only pair of shoes I plan to replace with another pair of the exact same shoe is my mint green chucks, but one size larger.  I gave those away because they were big enough to fit my foot previously, but would not be able to fit my foot PLUS Dr. Scholl’s old lady feet insoles.

3. With my penchant for pom-pom hats, I would have bet money I had more hats than that.

4. In a horror story of multiples, I have 20 t-shirts. 14 of them are solid colored v-neck or scoop neck short sleeve tees, in 13 different colors (I have 2 white t-shirts).  Silly.  I also, unintentionally had 3 nearly identical black cardigans.  All lightweight, 3/4 sleeve, waist length, black button down cardigans.  I tossed one in the give away pile (the lowest quality one), and made a note on the needs list to get a heavier weight, long sleeve black (or dark grey) cardigan for winter months.  In further stupidity, I also had 3 nearly identical Washington Redskins tunic style t-shirts.  *facepalm*

5. The World According to My Friend Jen says that lists should have at least 5 items.

My Goals & How To Meet Them

I have a few things I wish to accomplish as a result of this audit.

1) Stop impulse buying clothes.  This will obviously be the hardest goal to meet, as it’s breaking a habit more than meeting a goal.  But I am clearly not in need of anything (except new LFC jerseys, obvi, and maybe the USMNT bompop jersey…) so there is no need to be wasting money on more clothes.  Especially since I have a car and medical bills to pay off, and so many places I want to travel to.  In an effort to break this habit, I’ve started keeping a list of big wants/occasional needs on my phone, and in my inventory spreadsheet.  Now, if I think of something I want/need, I add it to the list.  I had a carefully cultivated list when I went to the National Harbor Outlets this past weekend, and while I spent a stupid amount of money, everything save one item was on my shopping list (that one item was a less expensive but still high quality substitute for a significantly more expensive item on my list). I’m pleased to report I have replaced my favorite dark wash skinny jeans from when my favorite pair was cut off of me in the ER in December.

2) Pare down what I do have. I clearly do not need, and do not wear, most of what I already have.  I discovered some really good pieces while inventorying, and cannot wait to work them into rotation.  Other items, however, have got to go.  My problem with this is this: I picked items up while inventorying, went “Oh! I love this shirt!” and put it right back into the suitcase that goes under my bed. So I will need to really look at what I wear, if it fits, how it fits, if I really still like it or have some strange attachment to it, and start making decisions.  I also mentioned that I plan on tracking my clothes.  Anything that hasn’t been worn by 12/31/2014 is gone, as this covers all seasons and should provide an opportunity to wear out of season stuff that is currently packed away (a few obvious items, such as snow boots, classic LBD, aside). I’m also rockin’ the backwards hangers method to see what in-season stuff I’m still not wearing to help expedite the paring down.  Ideally, my goal is to end with 150 items, or less.  That means paring down by 52% !!

3) Define My Personal Style. Luckily, at age 27, I now have a pretty good idea of what this is.  At least for this phase of my life. But a lot of the clothes I have are clothes purchased during a confused phase, or, gasp!, college.  I have a well-paying job, and can afford decent, higher quality clothes. I don’t have qualms about dropping $75 on a pair of well-made work pants that look and feel good, and will be worn time and time again, and so I need to stop settling for pants that aren’t as well made, but were on sale.

4) Have a More Organized Closet. This is probably the most artificial goal, but I think an organized closet removes so much stress from a person’s life.  You get dressed every day 98% of the time, and always take time to find something to wear. Imagine if you knew exactly where everything was and it took 2 minutes to get dressed every morning?  I already started this process since I had to take everything out of my closet to inventory, and then put it back.  My Sports Paraphernalia holder now has everything folded and organized by team.  One of the most common tips I read about paring down your wardrobe and organizing your closet is to get nice hangers of all the same color.  I settled upon the huggable velvet hangers that are supposed to provide more space in your closet (mine is 34 inches wide, so every little thing helps!), and purchased 2 sets at Target today.  While it didn’t come close to being enough hangers for what I currently have hanging, for the 5 minutes where just stuff on those hangers was hung up, my closet seemed so peaceful.  An organized closet just seems to make what you have seem so much more luxurious (I know I sound cray), and nice hangers can make Target t-shirts feel high fashion.

5.  Please See #5 In The Above Section.

Wrapping Up

Thanks for sticking it out, this is a long post.  This closet audit is something I probably should have done a long time ago.  It was eye-opening, and gave me a really good look at my wardrobe as a whole and what needs fixin’. Summary: everything.  But it also gave me a good idea on what I really need, where the holes are in my wardrobe, and it was basically like shopping since I rediscovered clothing items I forgot I had! If y’all are interested, I am happy to provide quarterly updates.  It not, you’ll just have to suffer through an end of the year update!

Have you ever done a closet audit/wardrobe inventory?  What did you learn from the exercise?


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