Whole Wardrobe Challenge

Today, I embark on the Whole Wardrobe Challenge, or WWC for short. Basically, I plan to wear each item in my wardrobe, deciding daily whether to keep or release each item and not shopping again until I have worn every item I own. You name it, and I’m wearing it: The good. The bad. Even the ugly.

Why I’m Wearing My Whole Wardrobe

Three months ago, I moved into my own house, a place I hope to fill only with beautiful or useful items. (If you have read my blog at all, you know that I am interested in editing the things in life so that only the truly beautiful and necessary remain.)

After years of living out of boxes, I now have plenty of room for all my things. (Woohoo! This is one of the perks of affordable Midwest living.) This is a blessing but also a challenge because I can now see the mound of wearables I actually own.

Instead of being a minimalist, I am actually an unintentional clothes hog. Before, I didn’t have to appreciate the full scope of my wardrobe. However, now that all those boxes of clothes, shoes and accessories are visibly scattered in my new house, I realize five things:

  1. Their unorganized presence is a stressor. They are another To Do on my overflowing list.
  2. They obscure and scatter my personal style. This comes at a time when my lifestyle changes have made me question my style and the help me justify other purchases because I have to buy something new to “fix” something that is not quite right.
  3. They represent postponed decisions.
  4. I don’t have a place for them all. To make room, I have to buy furniture and hangers, and I don’t want to spend money organizing things I don’t even know that I like.
  5. Overall, they cloud my vision. The vision I have of this home is of it being filled only with items that are beautiful and purposeful. I have a fresh start here; I don’t want to bring old baggage into it.

Today, I truly embraced the lean closet concept that I believed I already followed.

Why Not Just Spend an Afternoon Cleaning?

So great. I had embraced the idea that I needed to cull my closet. And I knew a bunch of expert organizers would tell me to set aside a block of time and go through every piece, one by one. But as the single, working mother of an active toddler and active dog, one luxury I don’t have is a block of time to go through my clothes. That time, if I were to get it, could be used in myriad other more pressing ways.

I was stumped. I knew I needed to go through my clothes, but three months after my move, I still had boxes upon boxes of shirts, shoes, scarves. …

Then it hit me: I do get dressed. Every morning without fail. So why not make myself wear everything I own so making a decision on it is informed, forced and not an added task?

Immediately, it felt difficult. Everything? Even the wrinkly things that were sitting in boxes in my spare bedroom? The shoes I MIGHT need? The hoodies and hand-me-down t-shirts I had never worn?

Ugh. Shouldn’t I WANT to wear every item in my wardrobe? The fact that the idea was troublesome means that items I put on my body, closest to my skin and heart, are vexatious in some way. That’s not cool. Instead of avoiding that discomfort, I need instead to feel it. to identify it, to sit with it, and to move through it.

Enter the Whole Wardrobe Challenge

So instead of simply sorting my clothes and deciding their fate, I devised the Whole Wardrobe Challenge in which I will be tasking myself with wearing every piece of clothing I own before making another purchase. The idea will be to feel the clothes on my skin all day and then, at the end of each day, to toss them into one of two boxes:

  1. Keep.
  2. Release.

Once every item in a single category is in a box, I will donate the releases and place the keepers back into the rotation.

The Rules

Want to know the Whole Wardrobe Challenge Rules? Let’s dig in!

  • I will wear every piece of clothing in my closet.
    • I won’t rewear an item until I have worn everything in its category first.
    • This will not include workout, special occasion, seasonally inappropriate, maternity clothes and lingerie. Those are manageable capsule wardrobes in their own right. They don’t get a pass, but I plan to address them after the challenge.)
  • At the end of each day, I will put each wearable into one of two piles: Keep or Release.
    • If I felt amazing in something all day, it’s a keeper. If I didn’t, I need to rid myself of the burden of keeping it around.
    • I will store the Keep and Release boxes in plain view so I can visualize my progress.
  • Until I have successfully completed a category, I will not make any purchases.
    • Even if I really, really want or desperately need it to make something “work”. 😉
  • If I get a gift, I will wear it within one week and decide if it is truly my style.
    • If it is, great! But I will need to release one additional item that week.
    • If it isn’t, I will silently donate it.
  • I will document everything on Instagram daily and do a weekly roundup here.
    • The pics won’t be great. And the outfits might be worse! It should be insightful at the very least.

Whew! That’s it! I have NO idea how this is going to go, but I am pretty sure it will be embarrassing because I have held onto a LOT of things that are no longer in style. (Hey! I am great at rationalizing.) Wish me luck, join me @jecberry on Insta, and feel free to make jokes at my expense. I know I will be!

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