When I was pregnant with my son, I didn't have very many maternity clothes. Two friends who were finished having babies gave me some stuff, and my mom found some pieces on Facebook sales groups, of all places. I bought exactly one shirt, a pair of jeans, and two dresses for church and baby showers.
I was not thrilled about my expanding shape and didn't want to buy clothes to support it. Still, I thought the lack of outfits would drive me crazy.
It couldn't have been further from the truth.
It was so. stinking. easy. I had three dresses, which I rotated for church, work functions and baby showers. I happily wore my one pair of maternity jeans, switching it up with leggings when I worked from home. And I had this navy and white striped shirt that I wore with a vest like it was some kind of uniform. Once I had my son, I actually went out and bought a navy and white striped shirt because I knew I was going to miss that maternity shirt so much.
Occasionally, things got frustrating, such as when I outgrew my beloved Lilly Pulitzer popovers for about three months. But for the most part, I liked all my options. And there were so few options that getting dressed each morning was simple. I accessorized with jewelry, shoes, and scarves (since I was mostly pregnant in the winter).
It's a relief to have the kid out, and it's been so exciting to fit into some of my beloved staples again (popovers, I'm looking at you!). But I've noticed myself standing in front of my closet a lot more, frustrated that I have "nothing to wear." After a few months of this, it occurred to me that maybe I didn't have "nothing to wear" - I had too much to wear.
So just before Labor Day weekend last year, I tried something I'd always been curious about: I turned all the hangers in my closet backwards. After I wore something, I turned it forward. I wanted to see what I was - and wasn't - wearing.
The results blew me away.
I thought I'd done a pretty decent job of wearing the things in my closet.
When I physically removed the items that I had not put on my body even once since Labor Day, the clothing that was left? It was pretty paltry.
I'd done a pretty good job of getting rid of stuff that no longer fit, but I'm not as skilled at removing those things that no longer serve my life stage. For instance, my cardigans, a daily staple when I worked at a wealth management office, did not get worn once.
You might think that this is where I tell you I made a massive donation to Goodwill. But I'm not jumping that far ahead yet. Right now, I'm using this little experiment as a means to gather information: what I like, what I wear, what I'm not wearing - and why.
Here's what I learned about what I actually wear and what I don't:
1 // Neutrals (and blues) are my go-tos. With the exception of my favorite orange dress I bought in France and my beloved Lilly Pulitzer popovers and blouse, almost everything I regularly wore was a neutral or muted shade. Navy, Carolina blue, gray, and white are my favorites. I rarely, if ever, wear red, yellow, or pink. Note to self when shopping: don't buy bright colors.
2 // Stripes are life. When it comes to patterns, I'm all about the stripes. No flowers (again, with the exception of my Lilly Pulitzer). No weird prints. Stripes or solids, that's it.
3 // Cotton is the fabric of my life. Silky blouses, stiff dresses, and anything else that's not soft and comfortable? Forget it. I haul around a 9-month-old all day. I have to be able to move. I also have to be able to live without worrying about spilling on something that has to be dry-cleaned.
4 // Memories are important to me. A very large percentage of the items that I didn't wear (but can't bring myself to get rid of) are items with memories attached. A few were gifts I'd received, most likely from my mom. Most were clothes I'd bought when we lived in France that may not be my style (or lifestyle) now, but they are special to me because they bring back memories of that time.
As I said, I'm not planning on getting rid of anything anytime soon. My son is growing, and fast, and I know there will be a day that I'm not nursing him several times a day, feeding him messy purees, and crawling on the floor with him. My wardrobe might shift back to include some of the things that I'm not wearing right now.
But I'm going to keep an eye on my closet over the next six months as well. I want to make sure that when I go shopping I buy clothes that are actually my style, not what I wish my style was, or what I feel like that particular day. I want to love my closet and everything in it. I want to be able to get dressed easily so that I can play with my son and do the things I love, not tiptoe gingerly about in uncomfortable clothes. I'm taking back my wardrobe.
Have you ever done a version of the "hanger trick"? What did you learn? Did you do a massive closet clean-out? How did it work for you? Tell me all about it in the comments below!