9 Simple Truths About Working Wardrobes

Posted by Jill Chivers in Simple Truths

Working Wardrobes


I never thought about my wardrobe as being ‘working’ or otherwise before I started my year without clothes shopping late 2009. Since then, my focus has become very clear that a working wardrobe is what one’s wardrobe should be – it should work.

  1. Many women report wearing 10 – 30% of their wardrobes. The incredible waste of that appals me every time I think about it, and say those statistics out loud (which I’ve verified in every presentation I’ve ever done on this topic, which is a few). This is the very definition of a non-working wardrobe. If only 10, 20 or 30 percent is working, you definitely have a lazy, non-productive wardrobe.
  2. If your wardrobe was a person, and it only worked 30% or less of the time, you’d fire it. Wouldn’t you? There would certainly be some very negative performance reviews!
  3. Our wardrobes aren’t working for a variety of reasons including:
    • We didn’t buy well – our wardrobes simply don’t contain what we need, want or (better yet) love to wear.
    • We were given items that we feel we can’t part with.
    • We have items in our closets from another time, another body, another life – and we’re hanging onto them.
    • We haven’t reviewed what’s in there and done a cleansing clean-out for a while.
    • We don’t know how to make the most of what we already have – we don’t know how to tap into the hidden magic in our own wardrobes.
    • We feel a sense of comfort or security having all that gear, even though we aren’t wearing it.
    • We aren’t sure who’d we’d be if we had less stuff.
    • We don’t know what enough is – what it feels like, what it looks like.
  4. No matter what state your wardrobe is in now, you CAN start to create a working wardrobe. It is never too late to start creating a wonderful working wardrobe (here’s 10 principles for creating one).
  5. Working wardrobes often come from a combination of attitude and practicality. Attitude meaning that you are focused on the items you already have (vs. those in the stores you don’t own that perhaps you are lusting after) and your focus is on making the most out of every single item – combining them in new ways, using your accessories to add interest and pop, being experimental, improvising. Practicality meaning that you have enough of the right kinds of articles you need to do all that playing and experimenting.
  6. Working wardrobes are full of only those clothes you love to wear, that suit your body and your lifestyle, that flatter you, that make you feel terrific every time you wear them, and that contain all the items you need to live the wonderful life of your dreams – no less, no more.
  7. Working wardrobes are usually well organized wardrobes.       They are easy to navigate around, all items have a place, all items fit, and all items are easy to access and see. It looks good, it works smoothly. No matter how large or small the space you have for your wardrobe, if it isn’t well-organised and working like a well-oiled machine, it probably isn’t working on some important level.
  8. Working wardrobes have nothing to do with size and the number of items in your wardrobe. You can have a working wardrobe with only dozens of clothing items, or with hundreds. It’s not how many you have, but how well each piece works for you. How well does each piece suit you, how well do you love each piece, and how well does each piece play and combine with other items in your wardrobe?
  9. Working wardrobes are living, dynamic things. They work especially well if they are on some kind of maintenance routine. And by that I mean they are reviewed regularly (twice a year minimum, if not on some kind of ongoing rolling system, like the painting of the Sydney Harbour Bridge), and they are culled regularly. You may not get rid of much stuff every time you review and cull, but this process keeps your wardrobe clear of items that don’t suit you on any level anymore and could have another life with someone else if given away or sold, and keeps you asking powerful questions.


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