Could You Wear Everything?

Superfabulous BlogHer blogger Susan Wagner has set herself a daunting task for 2009. She divulged the details just after Christmas:

Over the next few days, I’m going to clean out my closet. And then, starting January 1, I’m swearing off shopping until I have worn every single thing I currently own.

Want to join me?

The rules are simple: there’s NO shopping until you have worn EVERY seasonally appropriate piece you own. Move your summer clothes to the back, or to the guest room; put any black tie attire in storage (unless you’re planning to go to a black tie function in the forseeable future). Make sure everything that is left — work clothes and weekend clothes and after-five clothes — fits you properly and is in good condition. Give yourself a week to take care of anything that needs to be mended or cleaned; if you can’t manage to get it to the cleaners or the tailor in that window, really think about how functional that piece is.

When you’re done going through your closet, put everything away. To help you keep track of what you’ve worn, turn all the hangers around, so that the open part of the hook is facing out; fold sweaters and put them on the shelf with the neck facing out. After you wear something, turn it around and put it back the normal way.

Alternatively, work your way from the front of your closet to the back; as you wear things, move them to the back of the closet and go on to the next piece. Or, if you prefer, keep a list. The system doesn’t matter, as long as you’re wearing EVERYTHING.

Now, y’all know I’m mid-shopping-ban myself … but I will admit to being deeply daunted by the concept driving this alternate challenge. First off – although I do my utmost to utilize what I already own every single day, and do so as creatively as possible – I have favorites. And I just KNOW that a ban structured in this way would make me feel guilty and anxious any time I put a repeat back into rotation. I would also find it hard to endure a ban whose end depended solely on my own choices and actions; It’s SO much easier for me to set my own concrete, discrete goals that have time- and dollar-amount limits attached. Letting it go all free-form and remain contingent on outfit-related creativity and efficiency would be difficult for me because of how I’m wired.

But I really do think it’s a fantastic idea. I mean, what better way to appreciate the abundance of your own wardrobe? Learn to pair items creatively? Discover new favorites and weed out useless duds? It’s methodical, environmentally sound, challenging and creative. It’s downright brilliant. I just don’t think I’m up to it.

Could YOU undertake the Wear Everything Challenge?

Image courtesy Samuraijohnny.

  • Couture Allure Vintage Fashion

    If nothing else, this challenge would serve to show us how loaded our closets are with unworn garments that take up space – both physically and emotionally.

  • Barry Wright, III

    A wonderful idea, this type of exercise is so useful for developing creativity and versatility. There are innumerable combinations of outfits you can develop, even with a small wardrobe. I bet you’ll find some that you’d never considered before. Very creative.

  • dapper kid

    I always try to wear all my clothes and shoes in rotation, if you realise there are things you never wear, I guess there is no point in keeping those clothes any longer, you may as well donate or sell them. I think the task sounds more daunting than it probably is.

  • K.Line

    This freaks me out in the same way that counting my clothing items does. (Talk about the skeletons in your closet!) Like you, it would probably stress me out. But it is a very worthy undertaking.

  • pretty face

    That would be pretty easy for me, because the only stuff I really haven’t got enough usage out of is the posh stuff.

    But wait, does that exclude accessories? Because if not… I’d be screwed.

    Also, out of interest, when you’re exercising, do you also set a concrete unchangable time limit? I find it more enjoyable to set a distance or ‘calorie loss’ so that I can do things like increasing speed or gradient to make myself feel like I have more control.

  • La Belette Rouge

    I couldn’t do that task,if only because I have six bridesmaids dresses(why??) and my wedding dress that live in my closet.

  • Christina Lee

    I always find that the things in the back of my closet are things I just plain don’t like and don’t make me feel good, for various reason-and even when I have tried to move them to the front and wear them, I can’t wait to take them off!So if anything this excercise would make me realize what to part with. ;)

  • Shana

    I’m not doing the absolutely no shopping rule but I am cutting back on shopping and trying to only add in things that fill holes or replace other items over things that are just wants. But I am trying to wear everything in my closet right now. I’m doing the “turn your hangers backwards” method to see what has been worn already. It helps in that I’m rediscovering pieces that I don’t wear as often instead of just opting for the same few things over and over. I also cleaned out my closet in December, so the only clothes I have left are ones that fit and that I like.

  • ambika

    I think given that I’m constantly weeding things out of my closet that I don’t wear (because I hate the guilt of owning things I don’t use) would make this a task I could do. It’d be fun, I think, especially when I think about some rarely worn items that would get some use.

  • Stephanie

    I’ve been doing this for about six months now. I think it’s really helped me to decide what kind of fashion I like, and to pare down my closet a little bit. And I love the day I get to start over and wear my favorite pieces for a couple of weeks!

  • Hanne

    Ill try! then you need to come up with a check-up mail in a month or so to hear how it worked out:-)

  • Sal

    Wow, you guys are putting me to shame. I’m so impressed!

  • lisa

    This is a really cool challenge, but I don’t know how well I’d do…I have a couple of knee-length cocktail dresses I haven’t had an occasion to wear yet, and I have accessories I only touch once in a blue moon.

  • Iheartfashion

    That is a daunting task! I don’t even want to know what’s in my closet right now, much less wear all of it.

  • ohthatgirl

    I started something similar on the 1st. I’m limited to a few items (listed on my blog) that I am allowed to purchase but if it’s not on that list, it’s a no go. I have to make due with what I already have. I’m totally up to the challenge. :O)

  • May


    I’m in.

  • momo

    In the spirit of the New Year’s resolutions! I just dumped four drawers last night: if I couldn’t think of a way to wear it, it went out. Socks with holes, out. Old stockings I’ll never wear again (sworn them off), out. Bras that don’t fit, gone. Scarves that I never wear but are pretty, into the scrap bag for craft projects, or the donation bag.
    I’m going to do the same for my closets, category by category: out with stains, holes, ill-fitting garments and things that match nothing: if I can’t make an outfit out of it NOW, it is going to Savers. I’m tired of rummaging.
    THEN I think I’ll try this idea. If I can’t wear it with pleasure, it should be turned into a craft project or donated to someone who will use it.

  • AsianCajuns

    Oh I think this would be a fantastic thing to do too- but I'm not sure if I could. I think at the end of wearing all my closet clothes I would splurge shop because it had been a while. For instance, I lasted a week "detoxing" (brown rice, veggies, fruit, legumes) and spent the following weekend with chocolate cake and mac&cheese. After the shopping-ban/closet wearing I would buy the equivalent of chocolate cake.

  • Imogen Lamport

    Brilliant idea – it’ll help you work out what you don’t wear – and why – so you can get rid of it if it’s not earning it’s place in your wardrobe – and help you figure out what needs to be on your shopping list to make your wardrobe work more effectively.

    There is no point in keeping stuff you don’t love in your wardrobe.

  • Maggie May

    well i think i would never be permitted to buy anything ever again! so probably a good idea but it could take more than a season for me to wear everything as I live in a moderate climate and everything can be worn any time. Except for how I don’t like certain things and except for how my extra 15 pounds keep certain items out of reach. Maybe I will join in….

  • Skye

    I pretty much wear everything in my wardrobe – even the totally inappropriate stuff. It’s one of the many benefits of staying home with my little boy and not having a job – I can wear whatever I want every day, ergo lots more opportunities to fully utilise my wardrobe!

  • glitterdice
  • Tea Lady

    I think I need to do this! I have so many clothes it is ridiculous. I bought a pair of J Brand jeans yesterday. Totally unnecessary. And I’m so mad at myself. I have a goal this year to save as much as possible (so I can achieve other goals!) I’m totally taking them back!!! (I already have 9 pairs of other jeans!)

  • drwende

    I do wear everything in my wardrobe. The shirts that need ironing get less rotation because I’m lazy, but they do get worn fairly often.

    The key is that stuff has to go with stuff. I have a limited palette and a consistent style, so almost everything goes with everything else.

  • WendyB

    Why do people torment themselves with these schemes? It’s like people who climb Everest. I just can’t relate. I know it’s possible, but I don’t want to do it. As for me, I have many things — especially vintage — that I wear once a year, or even every other year, and that’s fine with me. I do always look to wear something that I haven’t worn lately, but if I feel like wearing the same thing every day for a week, I’ll do that too.

  • clareassiral

    my friend and i had done something similar, we swore not to wear repeats to work and see how long it lasted… a whole month and a half! but we gave up along the way, we have our favourites and it’s darn hard not to shop! might just attempt it once again!

  • Hot Bot

    Oh my gosh, that scares me.
    That says a lot about me doesn’t it? Ha!

  • fleur_delicious

    I … could … but I don’t wanna! Bad, I know. But I have favorites, too, and like some other folks who live in mild climates, if I were being honest, I would pretty much have to wear EVERYTHING I own; seasons mean little in Seattle, esp when we’re forecasted to have a dry week. I plan to break out the sandals! (yes, in January.)

    But I did realize I haven’t worn my silk sweaters in a while (I have seven, if you count the shell/cardi as two separate pieces) and am going to try and wear all seven over the next two or three weeks, shake things up. Otherwise, I actually think I do a pretty good job of rotating clothes; hanging with those remixers makes me want to keep finding new clothing combos. I even wear the knee-length cocktail dresses to school!

  • Ally

    While I do shop, I do (and have) worn everything I own. My boyfriend er…fiance (heh) does the laundry but he’s SO SLOW and there’s at least a three-four week turnaround on everything so if I didn’t wear everything I owned, I’d not have anything to wear!

  • The Big Piece of Cake

    I think I could actually do this… I’ve done a pretty good job of purging my closets over the past few years and getting rid of anything that doesn’t fit me (I’m about as thin as I am ever likely to be, so if it doesn’t fit me now, I doubt it ever will).

    I always laugh about how people keep “skinny” clothes in their closet for that someday that they will fit into them again. Then when that finally happens, the clothes are so outdated that they get tossed anyway (I’m thinking Laura Ashley dresses from the 80s and crop tops). Even the most “basic” of garments will go out of style eventually. I held onto some silk pants forever because they were “such good quality” and I was sure that I would find an opportunity in the near future. When I finally decided to try them out with a new top several years later, I found that they had huge front pleats and cuffs. They can now last forever on the shelves of the Salvation Army. Good quality or not – they were so far out of style they were ready to make a come back. I’ll take the extra closet space instead, thanks.

  • Sheila

    I know I’ve worn every item in my wardrobe in the last 2 years, because – aside from some vintage pieces and my dad’s old sweaters (sentimental, he died) – everything in my wardrobe is 2 years old or only slightly older. Having lost so much weight, I got rid of every piece as I shrunk out of it. Part of doing that was to make sure I don’t ever go back to my old weight again!

    I feel that, with my current no-new/one in-one out rule, my wardrobe is going to go through some transformation this year. I’m really thinking about which pieces I love and which I can live without…since I bought two new items while on vacation this past weekend, two things have to go!

    I also never, ever wear the same outfit twice (I always try to change something).


    Honestly, I don’t think I could. During the summer and most of fall I banned myself and did a pretty damn good job. I had no urges to shop then and was doing really well. Then came 2009 and I have these urges to just buybuybuybuy and I hate it! While I haven’t spent huge amounts of money, it’s definitely more than I’m used to… and I’m supposed to be saving for my NY summer trip! Eek!

  • Sharon Rose

    Hi there-It’s a good idea to explore ones own wardrobe, I intend to do that, but I don’t think I’ll be giving up clothes shopping, the thrifting is just too much of a temptation and enjoyably cheap!!

  • Miss Karen

    I probably could do this although I’m scared at what the contents of my wardrobe have to offer – while I love most of the things I own, there are some pieces in there that are for padding only – I’d never wear them and the thought of subjecting my outfits (which are a reflection of me as a person) to the mercy of my wardrobe now becomes a little daunting. I might try it though and see how I go!

  • Make Do Style

    I think somethings are occasional items and are worth keeping over teh years but I pretty much use all of my wardrobe as much as possible -even more so now. I love doing it and it isn’t a chore but I do miss the idea of buying pretty new things!

  • The Seeker

    I try to wear everything in my closet, and sometimes I go upstairs to see my boxes to “shop in them”.
    But I’ve always great difficulty in letting go pieces, I always think “Maybe I will have an occasion to wear this”

    Well you know my conditions are a bit different, I have no thrifting stores, no big chains stores here at the island so I must organize my things in a different way. I just do my “shopping seasons”….

    Too crazy, isn’t it????


  • Rollergirl

    Oh I would love to try this out! I read a newspaper article that said due to cheaper throwaway fashion, people have so much more unworn clothing at the back of their wardrobes which is the reason we are getting more moths!

  • enc

    I suppose I could. I just never thought of it.

    I spend half my time in my gym clothes, and I don’t even use all of those. I definitely have favorites in that “wardrobe,” too.

  • lopi

    At the exact words of fleur_delicious before me, I could, but I don’t wanna!
    I have a whole box filled with nice thick roll-neck wool sweaters which I didn’t even bother to bring down from the top cupboard, where they have been waiting since last winter. And it’s mid January, so I doubt they’re coming down this year. It’s not that I don’t like them. It’s just that this year hasn’t been a wool sweater year, but more of a layered t-shirts, cardigans and thick scarves year.
    My style has evolved past them, but I’m not planning to get rid of them any time soon. Next year my style may change again, and who knows? I could be wearing my sweaters again.

    This or my future kids will inherit them.

  • Nina (femme rationale)

    i don’t think i could do this…and it kinda freaks me out to think about doing, it, too. i’m sure guy will argue that i have enough clothes and shoes to do this for the next 5 yrs but i would seriously miss shopping.

  • JuliAM

    i did my ban last year. best of luck :)

  • glitterdice

    Was just reading What I Wore 2day taking on the capsule challenge.

    here’s where she got the challenge from.

    take a look!