Each year, between Christmas and New Year’s, I scour websites and blogs and self-help articles in magazines to find new challenges, new ways of simplifying or improving my life. This past December was no different. I found quite a few interesting things, but one idea really resonated with me. It’s a way to pare down and simplify your wardrobe. I ended up calling it 45 for 90, because I modified it from its original form. And today, I’d like to share.
45 for 90 – What Is It?
In my searching last December, I came across this blog where this 20something had created her “apartment-sized” wardrobe by choosing 30 items to wear for the next 90 days. Her driving desire was a need to fit “way too many clothes” into her “way too small” apartment’s closet space. So, she pared down to 30 items, not counting a few, and created every outfit she wore for 90 days from those 30 items. Now, I’m no 20something office worker who only has to dress for either work or play. I basically lead three lives – work at home, stay at home mom; artist and teacher; and 40something who still likes to dress up and go out every once in a while. For me, that meant that I couldn’t simply wear an outfit with a sweater for “work” then change shoes, replace the sweater with a scarf, and head out for the evening. Everyday clothes have to withstand everything from washing dishes and cooking dinner to garden work and grocery shopping. The “nicer” things I wear to demonstrations and classes have to be able to hold up to their own against fabric and paper glue, pokes from the quilling needle, and acrylic spray jewelry sealant. And my “good” clothes for church and going out have to stay “good”. So I knew I was going to need a few more than 30 pieces in my wardrobe. Hence the 45 for 90.
45 for 90 – The Rules of the Game
The premise is simple – choose 45 items from your wardrobe and wear ONLY those 45 items for a 90 day period. There are, however, some details:
- Rule #1: Foundations are not included – bras, panties, socks, slips, tights, hose, etc. don’t have to make up part of your pared down choices.
- Rule #2: Night clothes and work out gear are not included. Neither would your swimsuit nor coverup. I suppose if you are in the kind of profession that requires a uniform, you wouldn’t necessarily have to include those, either, as these types of clothing are considered “special purpose” by the original blogger with 30 for 90.
- Rule #3: Jewelry, purses, shoes, coats, hats, scarves and other “accessory” pieces are to be included.
- Rule #4: You can replace an item in your wardrobe at any time, but once out, it has to stay out.
- Rule #5: If you have an occasion, such as a wedding or funeral or other event that necessitates the purchase of a new item or outfit, whether or not to include it in your final count is completely optional. It is, in a way, a “special purpose” item.
45 for 90 – My Exceptions to the Rules
You know me, I can’t follow along perfectly. I always have to march to my own drummer, or sometimes even my own bloody marching band. So I made some changes to her rules. The first being I added an extra 15 pieces of clothing. But we’ve already covered that. The other alterations were much less drastic.
- Exception #1: I only have one purse, so I didn’t count it. I suppose if you were one of those that has a purse for every outfit, you might see the challenge in choosing only one or two for 90 days. But, my flowered backpack purse is the only one for me.
- Exception #2: I did NOT count my jewelry in my accessories. I make it. I teach others to make it. To limit how much I can actually use would just be nonsense in my case.
- Exception #3: I counted my winter woolen cap, scarf and mittens as one item. I seldom wear one without the others, so I see them as one entity. I DID include all other shoes, boots, coats, and other scarves in her “accessories” category.
- I did NOT, and will NOT take pictures of myself wearing all 45 items in outfits. First of all, she’s a 20 something selfie generation sweetie. I am not. Secondly, I have neither the time nor the desire to do so.
45 to 90 – My Experiences and Thoughts So Far
I’ve been at this experiment for almost two months now, almost 60 of the 90 days. I have learned a few things. Here they are:
- It took a couple of weeks to tweak everything. At first, I hadn’t left myself enough “everyday” clothing and found myself risking the health and safety of nicer clothes just to make it through till laundry was finished.
- Laundry has now become a regular, routine, done on Thursday or Friday thing. I can’t go any longer than that, but that’s alright, as laundry was one of those things that just wasn’t a priority unless someone needed something or the hamper was full. Homeschooling does that to you when you have teens capable of washing their own clothes. Now, I do it all again, but it all gets done when it needs to get done. That’s a good thing.
- It really DOES make getting dressed in the morning, or choosing clothes the night before a simpler, easier, less time consuming task. When you only have X to choose from, the choices aren’t that hard, or take as long, to make.
- I discovered I have too many clothes. While I’m not getting rid of the things I didn’t choose just yet, as I’m working on losing weight and improving my health this year and have NO idea what will still fit when those goals are met, I DID find items I’d forgotten I even owned. There was a beautiful brand new cardigan in the bottom of my sweater chest still wrapped up in tissue paper from the other Christmas. I’d had no need to wear it, as I have so many others. I also found another cardigan in the back of the closet. Again, it hadn’t seen the light of day in years because I always had other choices. I DO see a paring down and simplifying in the future. Probably next winter, as I reach some weight loss goals.
- I’m getting kind of bored. It’s been a horrid February here. The weather has caused cancelled church services, cancelled classes, and barely leaving the house for days. That means no opportunity to wear my clothes for lives 2 and 3. it also means that many of the shirts and things that I was layering in January just aren’t warm enough to keep off the February sub zero temps. So, I’ve basically been wearing the same jeans and tops for three weeks straight with no break. I think part of the reason for the dissatisfaction at this point is a general “funk” – a midwinter discontent with everything from the weather to the wardrobe. It may have nothing to do with my fashion choices and may be a bigger symptom of just-can’t-take-another-snowstorm-itis. I don’t know.
- This experiment would’ve been easier to both plan and execute in a more temperate climate, or a different season. West Virginia winters can have daytime highs in the 50s and even 60s, and nights plummeting in the negatives. January and March can be almost devoid of snow, or you may not see the grass from Christmas to Easter. I had to prepare a wardrobe that would leave me plenty of room for colder conditions, as well as not leave me too warm when things weren’t as frigid. That’s why my list of items has as many thinner tops as it does heavy sweaters. I need to be able to layer on when I need it, and peel a few back when called for, as well.
45 for 90 – My Final Assessment
I’m enjoying this year’s new challenge, for the most part. I plan to continue it throughout the year. And as I said earlier, come next winter, I may just pull out my lists and start cleaning out drawers and closet, and keeping only what I truly want and need. If you’d like to give 45 for 90 a try, let me know in the comments. We can keep track of each other’s progress with it. It’s kind of fun, and freeing, and fresh, even after 2 months in.