The Simplicity Project – Too many clothes, nothing to wear

The Simplicity Project she laughs at the days

When I was 4 my mom went to the hospital to give birth to my little sister and my grandmother came to take care of us for a few days while she was there. My mom and I had spent quite a lot of time going through my clothes and choosing outfits for me to wear for each day that she was gone.

The second day that my grandmother was there I came upstairs wearing the second outfit that my mom and I had picked out. Her reaction, not knowing of this arrangement, was to tell me to get back to my room right now and change into the clothes I was wearing the day before. They weren’t dirty yet and I shouldn’t make more work for my mother by wearing fresh clothes when the clothes I had already worn could be worn a second time.

What followed was a knock down drag out fight in which my old school grandma forcibly changed me into my other clothes while I screamed in protest the entire time and cried the rest of the day because of it. My mom was mad and I believe came home a day earlier than planned.

Nineteen years later I lived with my grandparents for several months. My grandma really did wear the same clothes every day until they got dirty. She wore an apron to keep that from happening. She changed into “work clothes” if she was doing anything particularly messy, and she always looked good. Her summer work uniform was almost always a light cotton blouse, white, and tan trousers. She had a house dress that she wore in the morning before she readied herself for the day’s work that was a really nicely cut wrap around affair that she probably sewed herself. She exercised in her underwear, which is something I discovered by accident when I came upon her in the basement one morning unawares.

I find myself doing the same thing more and more often as I get older. (Well, I don’t exercise in my underwear. Having an audience of small children discourages that sort of behavior.) I will wear the same clothes 3 days in a row as long as they smell alright and don’t have food splatters. I wear aprons when I cook. So, I rotate the same 5 or 6 outfits all the time and have drawers packed with clothes that I hardly ever wear but think I might some day.

I dislike trying to get dressed up because I only have a few things that I like anymore in a closet full of things, and I don’t seem to have any in between stages of looking nice.

I need a mom wardrobe, and a much smaller but still functional CFO wardrobe for meetings and such, and I need too be able to look dressed up on occasion in a grown up sort of way for events.

Does the mountain of clothes I currently have accomplish this? Not really.

Do I need to keep the 5 target long sleeve tees that I bought a few months after having BamBam when they were on clearance so I could have some shirts that fit and could be worn under things but are now a few sizes too big and I wear for pajamas most of the time? They are very comfortable, nice fabric and colors.

I wear 2 pairs of jeans in rotation, exclusively, for pants, and I have many more pairs in the drawer, not counting summer wardrobe, that I don’t wear. Why am I keeping them?

I am always worried that I will give away all of the extras and then something I have worn exclusively for months will finally wear out and I will wish I had held on to those extra items.

This is silliness. I don’t need that many extra. Do I?

So here’s what I’m aiming toward in the next few weeks.

Mom wardrobe – Winter

7 tops that fit nicely and are comfortable. (I usually layer them over camis.)

Only camis that I have actually worn in the past 5 months. The rest can go. (What about the ones with torn lace? Keep and sew or get rid of them?)

6 casual everyday cardigans, I love sweaters, for variety.

2 pairs of jeans
1 pair of trousers
1 pair of corduroys ( so comfortable I have a pair that are too big and I could maybe alter.)

1 pair of sandals that fits well and supports my feet properly. (I will have to wait for these because I don’t have any money to get them.)
1 pair of cute lace up shoes that are not meant for exercise. (Must also wait to shop.)
1 nice pair of boots (Thrift store?)
1 pair of running shoes

2 dresses that are comfy and flattering and go anywhere.

CFO Wardrobe

2 pairs of trouser type pants, grey and black
1 black skirt – Knee length

4 blouses

2 business cardigans

1 pair of sensible black heels, short so I can stand in them

1 3/4 length black trench coat, lined

(I can use the boots from the other wardrobe too, depending on what style they are.)


2-4 nice dresses that can be dressed up or down easily and are flattering in cut and length.

I already have shoes to wear with them but another pair of pretty sandals would be nice.

What do you think? To much? Too minimalist? Is there anything I’m forgetting about? Please tell me what your wardrobe basics are that you couldn’t live without.

I’m planning to show you pictures of this weeks keepers, rejects and not sures, as soon as I get them taken

Share your simplicity project.

all content © Carrien Blue

5 thoughts on “The Simplicity Project – Too many clothes, nothing to wear

  1. Carrien, I am thinking through the other side of this coin. With a one-year-old, my clothes never make it a full day without smears and stains. My "extreme simplicity" mom wardrobe isn't enough to make it half a week.

    If only what worked one year would work every year! Here's to figuring it out as we go : )

  2. I say get rid of the ones that you "might" fix some day. Only keep what right now fits and looks good! Or that you fix within one week if you are absolutely in love with it.

    I like minimalist wardrobes, too. I need to pare mine again, but will do so over the next year as we are moving from Maine to Florida. Mom said to not get rid of winter clothes since it does get down to 30. But not many days! S I don't think I need 7+ turtlenecks. I'm going to keep my favorite dressy ones, no more than 5, maybe 3. I'd get rid of some of my dressy business outfits, as I haven't work then since my first year on this job, but I heard the Florida office is a bit dressier than the Cicago office so I'm not sure what pieces will fit in.

  3. This is a great plan. I say you should throw out the stuff that needs fixing and replace it with items that will last for a long time. I tried to weed out my closet like this last year, and even with not buying anything and then donating four bags, I still feel like I have too much "forest" and not enough "trees". 

    I love your recollections of your grandmother. When I was a child, I remember my mom wearing the same bell-bottoms and floral shirt every weekend. And she had a few other clothes she rotated through for work. Why is it so hard for us?

  4. Not to be too personal, but how do you decide how much is "enough" underwear? I feel like I can pare down my shirts, pants and etc if I take the time but still end up with large numbers of socks, bras and underwear that I somehow never wear and never get rid of. They don't take up as much space though, so maybe it doesn't interfere with simplicity as much? Love the plan though, and yes both my grandma and my dad rotated through smaller wardrobes and thought people were nuts to have so many.

  5. Since I'm in maternity clothes right now, my wardrobe is fairly small. The only thing I miss is variety, and I can live with that.
    Also, I totally exercise in my underwear – well, and pajama bottoms. 🙂

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