Full Life Reflections

Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment in a chaotic world

I’m now more than a third of the way through the wardrobe “half project” that I launched in early May. The objective of this year-long challenge is to pare my wardrobe down to half of its original size, to only those items that I feel good in and look forward to wearing. The reason I embarked upon the half project is because my theme for 2019 is “freedom” and having too many clothes feels like a burden and weighs me down. Additionally, since I have become relatively minimalist in terms of all of my other possessions, my overly large wardrobe sticks out as a glaring exception to the way I want to live my life.

In today’s post, I’ll update you on how I have progressed with the challenge since my last update back in July. I’ll let you know what I have swapped out, what has been swapped in, what has been purged, and how I’ve done with the rules I established for the half project when it began. I also compare and contrast how the “ideal wardrobe” numbers I calculated in my last post line up with the initial half project calculations I made for my wardrobe categories.

wardrobe half project before and after

Moving from overabundance and chaos to a streamlined wardrobe through the “half project” challenge. 

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As I mentioned in my last post, it would have been beneficial to determine my ideal wardrobe size before taking on the “half project,” even though that challenge is geared toward increasing awareness and paring things down. Deciding to work with just half of my wardrobe was somewhat of an arbitrary decision, as I may find that I need more – or fewer – than that number of items. My sense when starting the half project was that cutting my wardrobe in half would work well for my lifestyle needs while still offering me ample variety, but let’s put that theory to the test by doing some deeper analysis.

In today’s post, I’m going to revisit the wardrobe size question. I explored this issue multiple times on my Recovering Shopaholic blog, including in a December 2016 post titled “Normal-Sized Wardrobe Revisited.” At that time, I presented an exercise that calculates optimal wardrobe size based upon frequency of wear, climate, lifestyle, and clothing preferences. I consider those factors again today, but I also add some new thoughts and perspectives on the topic.

ideal wardrobe size

Ideal wardrobe size is a very individual thing, but you can find a ballpark estimate by doing a simple exercise. 

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I have now passed the two month mark with my “half project,” so it’s time for another update (see my first update here). I don’t have as much to share this time around, but I will feature the swaps I’ve made and some thoughts about my summer wardrobe and potential purchases I may make during the coming months.

What I Swapped Out in July

I decided to swap out 12 items this month:

  • Pants: 3 (all cropped)
  • Cardigans: 3 (2 cropped, 1 long)
  • Jackets: 1 (long and tailored)
  • Sleeveless Tops: 3 (all short, for skirts)
  • Dresses: 2 (1 midi, 1 maxi)

These items are all shown in the photo below:

items swapped out - july19

I swapped out these 12 items in July, mostly items from my summer wardrobe. 

Most of these pieces are part of my summer wardrobe and I haven’t worn them since last fall. I took some time last week to try on all of my summer items to assess their fit and how I feel about them now. In doing so, I discovered that some things that I originally included in my active wardrobe are not working for me for various reasons. Here are my reasons for swapping out the 12 pieces above:

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I’m currently reading Digital Minimalism, by Cal Newport. Even though I have only read a third of this book thus far, I highly recommend it. I have experienced a number of “aha moments” and powerful insights, some of which I may share here as I process them and apply them to my life. We’ll start with a concept that most of us probably don’t associate with technology, digital devices, or minimalism: the importance of solitude. After reading Newport’s thesis, it makes perfect sense to me how solitude relates to technology and it’s very much in line with my 2019 “freedom” theme and many of the other topics I write about on this blog.

importance of solitude

Solitude is very important for our well-being – and it doesn’t always look like this…

What is Solitude and Why Does It Matter?

As someone who spends at least half of my time alone, I would have thought that I experience more than enough solitude. If I go by the Merriam-Webster definition of solitude as “the state or situation of being alone,” this is true, but Newport presented an alternate definition that has serious implications in today’s digital economy. Newport defined solitude as

A subjective state in which your mind is free from the input of other minds.”

Given that we can easily be connected with others 24/7 with a quick finger swipe or mouse click, many of us are rarely free from the input of other minds. Even if we’re not texting regularly or spending hours on social media (the daily average is now 2 hours and 22 minutes!), easy access to podcasts, television, and radio often result in very little time spent engaging with our own thoughts.

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I have been doing my “half project” for just over a month now and I’m so glad I decided to take on this challenge! It has already helped me to pare down my wardrobe, become happier with my outfits, and better understand what I do and don’t wear and need. In today’s post, I’ll give you an update on how things have gone for me during the first month of the challenge and what I have learned thus far.

half project closet pare-down - June update

I would eventually like my closet to look more like this (except with a lot more black and striped pieces). 

What I’ve Noticed So Far

One of the first things I noticed was how much happier I felt with the size of my “active wardrobe,” which is just half of what I started out with before beginning my “half project.” Previously, my main closet felt overly crowded and it was difficult for me to see what I had and to select what to wear. My favorites were in there, but there were also a lot of less loved pieces occupying much of the space surrounding them. After making my challenge selections and relocating everything else elsewhere (to my “holding zone” and my “skinny box”), there was a lot more breathing room in my closet and I could better see what I have.

I found myself feeling confident that a wardrobe of that size – or even smaller – would be more than sufficient for me, provided that it consisted of the right pieces. Of course, that’s what my “half project” is all about: curating a smaller and more workable wardrobe. I’m glad that I gave myself a whole year to accomplish this goal, as it’s going to take some time to figure out what’s working, what isn’t, and what new pieces might fill in the gaps.

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