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20%, 80% of the time (or: how many clothes do I actually need?)

I thought that I didn't have many clothes (3/4 of a wardrobe and two small drawers), and so when one of my friends started this blog earlier this year about her wardrobe and clothes buying habits, I smugly thought to myself 'I'll count my clothes, I bet I have about fifty items.' I was SO wrong. I had 118 clothes/bags/pairs of shoes etc, 80 of which were clothing, 11 bags and 27 pairs of shoes. I may have forgotten to count dressing gown and coats. I've got rid of some stuff and added some stuff since then, but it's probably a pretty good estimate. Anyway, lest this descends into a weird counting game (which, as this this blog post points out, is a somewhat pointless obsession in some parts of the internet), I'm going to move on from the, err, percentages.

Apparently, 80% of effects come from 20% of causes (the Pareto principle). This has been applied to many things, not least clothes- you will wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time. You can test this by putting clothes to one end of the wardrobe once they have been worn and washed, and after a month, six months, a year, see what you have actually worn. I've never actually bothered, because it is pretty obvious that I wear about ten items of (outer) clothing. Jodhpurs, t-shirt, leggings, dresses. Pyjamas.

So, I've been thinking about the idea of a uniform. Not quite like my old school uniform (thankfully I quite like purple) but expanding on the fact that I already wear one dress to work most of the time (a hand-me-across from my friend at work- too big, but that can be sorted with a belt). It strikes me as being much more simple*, and would eliminate any remaining 'what shall I wear' staring at the wardrobe time. Plus, I just hate having excess stuff and a wardrobe that involves fighting with hangers. Bleurgh.

So- aside from what I shall loosely term 'sports clothing' (yoga, horse riding, 'running', swimming), I can't think of a situation where I would need anything other than leggings and a dress. (And underwear, of course).

I'm not planning on being quite as extreme as this, although the idea is tempting.

So, after the removal of one big ol' sack of clothes, the wardrobe looks like this:
Big ol' sack of clothes, with Tinkerbell for scale

Everything from left (other than naval uniform which snuck in) to the gap is 'sports clothing' and pyjamas, i.e. where my nice clothes go to die. The stuff from the right to the gap is everything else, which consists of:

The 'work' collection. Hand-me-across dress on left, summer dress in middle (this may prove unnecessary, as we no longer have summer) and black dress for work or smart ish black dress occasions.

'Party' dresses. Blue on left is pretty multipurpose. Don't totally love the others...

Stuff that does not entirely fit into the 'dress and leggings uniform' thing. But would fit into 'trousers and jumper uniform'.

More jumpers. The brown and cream one is invaluable as I work in a very cold house
Err...collection of *totally necessary* formal dresses. Unfortunately the black one and the blue/green one are too short for military functions as I might show my knees (gasp!) so the ballgown must stay.
And finally...clothes which will be hibernating before being rehomed. Jeggings. Yuck. But I am not totally confident that my leggings (which I didn't bother to photograph) won't all get holes in them within about a month.

I feel some sort of challenge coming on...I think I might be inspired by Cat's idea for her blog (ok, I will just steal it) of not buying anything clothes related until my birthday (April) and getting rid of anything that I don't wear between now and then. (Other than the 'just in case' ball gown and 'going to weddings' blue and green dress). Because my wardrobe still looks full to me...

I'm not promising to post an outfit every day though, as she did, as a) that might get boring to read and b) I'm pretty good at procrastinating as it is...(which is definitely not obvious from the fact I have spent an evening photographing most of my clothes...)

My mum once made a New Years Resolution not to buy any clothes- and succeeded. Have you ever made clothes-based resolutions/taken clothes-based challenges?

*Any of you who know anyone in the military will know that uniform can also be made HORRENDOUSLY complicated. OK, you have little/no choice about what you wear, but I am fairly sure a week or two of basic training must be devoted to knowing the subtle differences between Number Ones, Number Twos (which can also come in Alpha, Brava, Delta, Gamma Ray flavour), Number Threes.. numbers 1-3 Tropical..camouflage in case you are in the jungle..oh, and civvies. Which is not technically a uniform, but appears to be chinos and NO JEANS.


  1. Yay first comment. Althought with the Military Uniform, you've only got the Navy stuff, which is No 1s for formal stuff in the day, No 2s for formal evening stuff, No 3s for daily work in harbour, No 4s for daily work at sea, then there are various Action Working Dresses which are for specific things. Be thankful I'm not in the Army though, they've got lots more uniforms.


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