I'm back into the wardrobe blogs again - although I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or not (body image issues) - because I have little to no confidence about my ability to choose clothing that looks good on me rather than just on the hanger. But, I found a really good list of questions/considerations on Debbie Roes' site that I thought I might work through as I get back to being more serious and deliberate about my wardrobe.
Desired frequency of wear
Reading Debbie Roes "Recovering Shopaholic" blog has been a real eye-opener for me. Last week, in looking at my P333 for February, I cleared out a whole bunch of clothes that no longer fits me. The things that are still in good condition and are headed for my church's Community Shop include items that are more than ten and in some cases more than twenty years old (the blouse I bought for my confirmation in 1994, for example). And the fact that they were in good condition is not because they didn't get worn. I've never had a big wardrobe, and what I own generally gets worn a lot - unless I no longer fit into it, which is a big problem when you think of clothes I bought at age 15 compared to now. But on Debbie's site she and her commenters are talking about things they buy and return; items from consignment shops (do we even have those in Australia?); and items that are OMG so out of date! I am SO not trend conscious (see twenty year old blouse mentioned above.) If I could still fit in some of those ten year old skirts you can bet I would still be wearing them. Sadly they're all size 10 and 12, and I, unfortunately, am not.
But where I was going with this was the frequency of wear question. In the post linked above, Debbie is writing about finding your individual "perfect" wardrobe size, and she talks about thinking in terms of eight wears per year for her items. That number left me flabbergasted. Only eight? Perhaps after a few months of wardrobe tracking (something I'm starting now via the Stylebook app) I'll be less surprised by that number, but even the aforementioned 20 year old blouse probably had at least ten outings per year, and likely more than that, especially while I was working as a lawyer and was a lot dressier than I am now.
One of the items in my P333 wardrobe for February is an off-white top that I bought for my Masters degree graduation and haven't worn since. I refer to it as my "duck tail" blouse, as it has a layered back to it that reminds me of Katniss' statement about her little sister Prim's blouse coming untucked in "The Hunger Games". I feel like the duck tail makes my backside look big, and that means I have avoided wearing it. But it's a good piece, climate wise, for February, and I need to try wearing it before I give up on it as a bad purchase (I love it from the front. It's the back I don't like.)
The good thing is, I don't live in Melbourne, land of five seasons in one day. That doesn't mean we don't have climate variation, though. And as I've said before, I plan on offsetting the standard P333 calendar to group the months together in a way that I think goes better with the changes in climate where I live. I'm actually very jealous as I read through Debbie's blog, with her reminders that San Diego really only has two seasons. We definitely have at least four, with summer temperatures going up to 40 degrees (Celcius, obviously) at times, while in winter the top temperature can be around 10 degrees. Obviously not as extreme as somewhere like Minnesota, but on the other hand, buildings are heated way, way better in Minnesota, and Canada, and even the UK, than here in Australia. Because it's always hot here, don't you know.
It does mean I only really need one dress coat, and one more casual. My casual coat is twenty years old this year - it's my year 12 class jacket, made from pure wool, great for the local climate in winter, and still going strong. (I'm sorry, but I flip at the sheer number of coats and jackets that Debbie has for her "mild San Diego climate". But then, I'm just not a fashionista.
This is, in some ways, the big one for me. I used to be dressier. (I used to be a lawyer!) Now I wear a uniform four days a week at work, and my partner's aesthetic is much more casual, and that has influenced me, too. But I'm also realising that if I ever left my current job and went back to needing to dress for an office of any sort, I'd have to do a sudden and significant shopping trip just to have enough clothes to wear. I also had a period of time about a year ago when I realised I had only two tops and one skirt suitable for church, and was swapping the tops week by week with the same skirt.
I don't want to have a large wardrobe, but I do want to have a functional one.