Whenever we add something new – or generally when aiming for a well-curated wardrobe – we want to know what we already have. Taking the time to assess every piece of clothing we own is definitely worth the effort – just like Marie Kondo told us. But to really profit from the exercise, we should ask ourselves some questions that go beyond “does it spark joy”. Not only to create a realistic and helpful wardrobe inventory. But also to prevent us from going overboard with decluttering. Something I did in the past and still regret.
When Is the Best Time to Create a Wardrobe Inventory?
I recommend creating a wardrobe inventory in the course of the discovery and planning phase of your wardrobe curation project. Because then, you already have a clear vision of your environment and lifestyle. Once you know what you need, go ahead and cross-check what you already have.
Please refer to my Ultimate Guide to a Well-Curated Wardrobe for a complete overview. I wrote this guide for all of you who want to be more strategic about their choices and build a wardrobe that perfectly suits their life and style. So, if this is you, check it out!
I also created a printable workbook to support your journey. Sign up below to get it instantly delivered to your inbox.
A template for your wardrobe inventory is also included.
The Well-Curated Wardrobe Workbook
Enjoy a well-curated wardrobe that perfectly fits your life and style.
If you, for whatever reason, want to skip the detailed planning steps, ask yourself at least these questions before starting with your wardrobe inventory:
- Has my environment changed? (e.g., because you moved)
- Has my lifestyle changed? (e.g., because you work from home now)
- Has my personal style or other aspects (e.g., my size) significantly changed?
When Is the Best Time to Declutter Your Wardrobe?
For me, the best time to declutter is alongside creating your wardrobe inventory. You can apply Marie Kondo’s recommendations, plus the list of questions and ‘sorting and counting‘ tips below.
Here are some Marie Kondo related posts that may be helpful:
- Wardrobe Decluttering a la Marie Kondo: Pros and Cons
- Wardrobe Decluttering a la Marie Kondo: Lessons Learned
- The KonMari Method: All You Need to Know + Printable Guide
What Questions to Ask Beyond “Does It Spark Joy?”
Addmitently, Marie Kondo’s famous question works well. Especially for items that earn a definite yes or no. But what to do with all those things you aren’t that clear about?
I recommend going through this more detailed list of questions whenever you’re unsure if something sparks joy:
- Is the item damaged or stained beyond repair?
- Does it represent my (current or future) personal style?
- What about the color and silhouette? Does it really suit me?
- Does the garment fit me? If not, can I get it tailored?
- Does it work for my current lifestyle?
- Does it represent my real life or more my ‘dream lifestyle’?
- Can I mix and match it with the other items in my wardrobe?
- Can I create a complete outfit with that item, only with the clothes I have?
- Does it still have the price tag on? Why?
- Is there a memory attached to it? Good or bad?
- Does it make me feel my best wearing it?
Ways to Sort and Count Our Belongings
Choose what works best for you!
Marie Kondo’s Subcategories
Marie Kondo sees clothing as one category and suggests dividing it further into the following subcategories (from Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up):
- Tops (shirts, sweaters, etc.)
- Bottoms (trousers, skirts, etc.)
- Clothes that should be hung (jackets, coats, suits, etc.)
- Handbags, etc.
- Extra items (scarves, belts, hats, etc.)
- Clothes for specific events (swimsuits, uniform, etc.)
Breaking it down to these subcategories can, of course, help us to declutter more efficiently. But if you want to gain deeper insights, consider some of the following methods:
Sorting and Counting By Style
Sorting your closet into style categories, e.g., classic, bohemian, edgy, etc., can help in two situations. The first is when you’re not sure about your personal style. Because it will tell you what you’re drawn to so far. The second is, you know your style or at least the direction you want to go. Then it will show if your current closet does (or doesn’t) reflect this.
By the way, this doesn’t mean that you have to stick to one style category only. Read more about mixing different styles in this post:
‘Casual’, ‘Work Appropriate’, or ‘Fancy’
You probably want to know to what extent your current wardrobe matches your current lifestyle. Thus, it makes sense to sort your belongings into categories like ‘casual’, ‘office appropriate’, ‘fancy’, or similar. Choose categories that best reflect the different aspects of your lifestyle.
Refer to the post below. It also includes a ‘reality check’ of your current lifestyle:
From Lightweight to Heavy
This is to check if your wardrobe works for the climatic region you live in (or recently moved to). And to see if you have what you need for all seasons. It works well for subcategories like sweaters that can be anything from lightweight to heavy-knitted and warming.
This post here helps you reflect on your environment:
How Long You’ve Owned an Item
This gives you an overview of how many new items you’ve purchased in a certain period of time. If you do this regularly, you’ll also get a better idea of the lifespan of your clothes, shoes, and accessories.
How often You’ve Worn an Item
The easiest way is to go through all of your clothes, shoes, and accessories and count
- all items you’ve worn frequently,
- all that you wear occasionally,
- and all that you haven’t worn for the entire season or longer.
Count It All
In my capsule vs. curated wardrobe article, I wrote we shouldn’t be too much fixated on numbers. Still, it’s good to know how many clothes, shoes, and accessories we own in total. Not necessarily to compare this number with others or some sort of benchmark. But for our reference. You can choose what to include. For instance, you may not want to count your underwear and socks, or your workout gear. Personally, I counted everything when I did my first wardrobe inventory. And as I keep track of all my wardrobe additions, I don’t have to repeat this exercise.
My Most Important Learnings
- The reality is often different from what you think. When I created my first wardrobe inventory, I was surprised by what I own. But also by what was missing in my wardrobe.
- ‘Just because …’ isn’t the best reason to hold onto clothes you never wear.
- Be aware of your favs. I seem to be obsessed with white shirts.
- Don’t just focus on your preferred season. Since updating my style, autumn has become my favorite. It used to be summer. But of course, I want my wardrobe to work throughout the year.
- Duplicates make sense, but not always. I have duplicates of pieces that have to see the washing machine quite often. Simple Ts are a good example. But I know I don’t need five pairs of jeans.
Assessing everything I own and compiling a complete inventory of my wardrobe was a real eye-opener. I became a smart and mindful shopper. Today I decide for better quality, and I know how to stay true to my style.
Some Practical Tips
- Reserve sufficient time to go through all your belongings.
- Make notes, e.g., of what is missing, shopping mistakes, learnings.
- Take the opportunity to clean and reorganize your closet.
- If you identify items that need to be taken to the dry cleaner or tailor, do it immediately after your wardrobe inventory session. Otherwise, they will probably sit in a drawer for another year.
- Gift, sell or donate the items you discard. Or at least hand them over to a recycling company.
Still unsure if all this is worth the effort? I certainly think, when a well-planned, curated wardrobe is the goal, adding some facts to our feelings can help. And creating a wardrobe inventory does precisely this.
More Tips and Inspirations
Planning your wardrobe more strategically can also help to transition into slow fashion. I’ve listed for you a range of attainable steps for ‘slowing down’:
Moreover, I’m sure you want your carefully selected clothes to last longer. My series of wardrobe maintenance articles provide helpful tips on how to take good care of your clothes to extend their lifespan.
- All about Wardrobe Maintenance
Like the idea of less, but luxe! …? Follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more tips and inspiration. Plus, join my email list to receive regular updates and content exclusively available to my readers!
Let me know how you get on with your wardrobe inventory! Has it been useful to add some facts to your feelings? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!