FROM SEPTEMBER THROUGH December 2016, I lived in a short-term rental with the majority of my clothes in storage. During those four months, I wore one-quarter of my wardrobe. No, make that one-eighth—for at least eight weeks. When the weather changed, my available choices dwindled.
Now that I’m reunited with my full complement of clothing, I’ve arranged it into the three compartments of my bedroom closet. The most used section contains the same one-eighth I wore during the period when most of my wardrobe and I were separated.
Throughout late October, November and December, two pairs of Joseph gabardine leggings—one navy with an elasticized waist and one black—and a pair of Seven for All Mankind jeans with frayed hem were my go-to bottoms. On my feet: Rag & Bone boots, Massimo Dutti blue suede tassel loafers that I bought in Milan five years ago and a pair of black suede chunky pumps from Stuart Weitzman. A navy cashmere crewneck sweater, a 15-year-old taupe cardigan from Banana Republic and an almost equally old taupe turtleneck were the most frequently worn tops. A Theory silk shirt and a Theory jacket in navy and with faux black leather got me through occasions when I needed to dress up a little, like my high-school reunion, some dinners out and a Christmas party or two. My soigné Epice scarf in pink, navy, charcoal and white coordinated with everything and kept my neck warm. Under jackets, I rotated a couple of white Brooks Brothers shirts and an indigo one from Ann Mashburn. Admittedly, there were days when I never changed out of my workout wear. And, on a trip to NYC in late November, feeling a little (shamefully so) deprived, I splurged on an IRO sweater jacket.
So, what did I miss those four months? A saddle-colored tote bag that I’d worn to death but looks a helluva lot chic-er than a navy quilted backpack that I decided would have more practical applications. I longed for two scarves I left behind—one blue and caramel floral pattern and one from Banana Republic that had a glittery metallic edge. I have a thing for stripes and loose-fitting tops so I wished I had brought my charcoal and yellow stripe boatneck wool sweater. And when it got really cold, my oversize fisherman sweater would have been cozy.
The fact that I got by pretty well with less is not so surprising—I didn’t have a calendar filled with lunches, meetings or cocktail parties. Most days, I sat at dining room table/desk typing. Still, it’s instructive going forward. I don’t intend to bequeath my closet to Goodwill, but I own several sweaters I haven’t worn in years that could go in the out box (I’m looking at you, boxy, white cable-knit cashmere, and you, clunky moss cardigan with shawl collar) as well as many skirts and jackets that belong to a past work life.
This temporary cleansing also showed me where my wardrobe falls short. My white shirt stash is in dire need of restocking, and when it comes to essentials, a few long-sleeve jersey T-shirts and lightweight knit sweaters for layering and/or wearing alone would be an improvement. Another thing I realized while shopping with my artsy New York pal, who bought herself a red neoprene print sweatshirt at Pinko on Madison Avenue. Every closet needs some whimsy. I’m adding that to my to-do list for 2017.
— Janet Kelly
Janet Kelly is the editor of MyLittleBird. She most recently posted about what she’s looking forward to in 2017.