11 February 2014

Level Up Mini-Challenge: Turnover

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Introducing a new post concept: the Level Up mini-challenges. As I experiment in various growth categories, I have decided to share some of these with you, have they been useful to me. Please let me know if you like this series and if it's of any use to you. Below, a short presentation of the post concept, and the first mini-challenge: a simple way to test wardrobe turnover.


  • Level Up Mini-Challenges

This article presents the theory that we humans can have one of two basic mindsets: either a static, or a growth based view of the world. Basically, we either see ourselves with a fixed set of skills & weaknesses, or as evolving "material" that can correct flaws and improve skills over time. I believe in the second, "growth-based" mindset, but I also think it takes active efforts to evolve in the direction we'd like - experimenting, learning from mistakes, trying new things.

In these mini-challenge posts, I'll present some of my own experimentations and learnings, hoping you will find it interesting. As I mentioned before, I have decided to divide things in 4 major level up areas, and each mini-challenge will correspond to one of these:


  • Physical growth: Everything related to our body - image and self esteem, health & fitness, style & looks, self confidence & harmony between body and mind...
  • Mental/spiritual growth: Everything related to growing our mental skills and spiritual awareness - cultural discoveries, learning skills and acquiring knowledge of the world in general or specific areas, developing mindfulness, gratitude...
  • Social growth: Everything related to connecting with other human beings - developing and nurturing friendships and family ties, joining clubs, associations, activities, developing a relationship with a significant other and creating our own family...
  • Creative growth: Everything related to creating new things - learning creative skills, come up with ideas, develop personal projects, whatever the area (arts, science, sports...) It can be a part of mental/spiritual growth but I think creating something is a key element of a balanced individual and deserves its own level up area.

Each mini-challenge I will present should concern one of these 4 areas, some may be quite general, others may be very specific. I already have a list of experiments/challenges I'd like to share with you, here is the first one, style-based. 


  • Today's Mini-Challenge - Physical Growth: The Turnover of Wardrobes

Even though I mentioned I didn't feel like writing style posts anymore now that I balanced mine, I'd still like to share a few wardrobe based mini-challenges with you. First, because there is always room for improvement, and second, because I may have new ideas now that the "style searching" part is over.

I have to confess, this particular mini-challenge hasn't been premeditated at all. It just results from a certain home maintenance related laziness on my part these past few weeks, for which Bioware and their fantastic Mass Effect  trilogy of video games is to blame. Some good old "I'm an airship commander and I explore the galaxy" fantasy I guess. 

Point is, these past three weeks, I haven't ironed my clean clothes, and have kept living on clean, not-yet-worn items instead. That's wardrobe turnover for you. Without further ado, here is the mini-challenge if you'd like to improve your own wardrobe turn-over and take a little ironing break in the process.

  • 1. After laundry day, instead of ironing and putting away the clean clothes back to your closet, put them aside. You can iron them if you want (not everybody prefers to play video games rather than attending their home obligations) - but the point is to store them away from sight instead of within the rest of your seasonal clothes.

  • 2. The week after, pick outfits from what's left in your closet, until the next laundry. If there are certain items you own too few of to keep them away, make a note of it and reintegrate them. 

  • 3. Repeat: put the clean clothes away from sight, and only use whatever's left in your closet, until you can't put together outfits anymore without using what you recently washed (or until you get tired of that shit)


Challenge conclusions - Using this turnover challenge to improve your wardrobe:



On the global wardrobe size

How many laundries did it last before you had to reintegrate your recently cleaned stuff in? It can give you an idea about your own ideal wardrobe number, and whether you currently have too many or too few.

For example, I had to reintroduce underwear, socks and sportswear items right from the first laundry, but after 3 weeks, I still have enough pants, tops, dresses and knits to make a few more weeks of outfits without using my cleaned pile - which surprised me as I thought my wardrobe was smaller than that. I have put off clothing purchases altogether for now as a result.


On personal style

Removing the recently cleaned items from your closet means you remove the ones you wear most, at some point. It removes neutrals, basics and favourites, the cornerstones of your wardrobe. Take a look at that pile of "most recently worn" items - they seem to have been the ones you turned to first. What do they have in common in terms of colour, fit, style? It can help figuring out some personal details.

For example, the first things to make the pile for me were neutral skinnies (black, dark blue) and warm coloured tops (brown, terracotta, khaki green...). I already know I'm more of a warm colours person, but I may have found it out that way if I hadn't noticed it yet.


On wardrobe versatility

When you remove some items from your closet, you can see much more clearly if what's left can mix and match easily or not. Once your neutrals and favourites are out, can the rest of your wardrobe still produce nice outfits? If not, why? It is a problem of colour cohesion, or fit, or a lack of balance between item types (e.g. too many tops and not enough matching bottoms?) It can help refine future to-buy lists.

For example, I noticed that I wear a lot of cardigans in winter - a good way to keep wearing short sleeved draped tops that don't go well under jumpers and are too light without another layer under the coat. But most of my cardigans are very colourful - which becomes problematic once both the neutrals AND matching color tops are in the laundry. I'd need more neutral cardigans to create cohesion within the rest of my closet (black and anthracite grey, probably).


On Wardrobe editing

After a few laundries, when there isn't much left in your closet and you are running out of outfit ideas, what is left? These are the items you wear least, and can't find outfits for easily. Why? This can be a good way to put them aside, understand why they don't work, and assess if you should find new inspirations to mix and match them, or alter them, or set them free.

For example, I realized sports made my shoulders broader and some of my most fitted tops have gone too small - including my beloved Comme des Garçons striped top and the basic white shirt from Hugo Boss. It had to be the most expensive items of my wardrobe, didn't it? I take it as a sign to just stop buying expensive clothes.


On Finding New Ideas from your own closet

Finally, here is one of the main benefits I found in that mini-challenge, as a person with an already well-defined style. It made me wear items, and combinations of items, I've never even thought about before. I mean, even when your style is clear and your wardobe well curated, when in the middle of daily routine you tend to turn to the same items, and the same combinations, no? After 2 laundries put aside, I had to mix and match items that, not only I wear less regularly, but wear even more rarely together.

I was surprised at how many new outfits I have put together during this third week of rebellious killing-aliens-instead-of-ironing-clothes phase. It made me rediscover entire parts of my wardrobe, and diminished drastically any longing for new clothes, for now. I guess I should be thanking Bioware and its galaxy-saving, machine-killing, cross species romancing trilogy.


What do you think about this mini-challenge? Have you ever, for similar or different reasons, discovered new outfits and given a fresh pulse to your wardrobe? Are you going to attempt this challenge too? I'd like to know your take on this...



28 comments:

  1. Absolutely fascinating, and a great read! I would definitely be up to the challenge, but for the moment, I feel the need to rely on my warmest pieces due to the extreme cold weather. Once the temperature rises though, I will definitely be trying this. I am hoping it'll force me to fully utilize my wardrobe. I don't have that many pieces, but some have definitely been sitting in my closet for a long, long time.

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    1. I guess the challenge works best at a more "regular" temperature than during the coldest months of winter, yes. It is also a way to see which seasonal pieces are missing in your wardrobe, too. Hope it will help once it gets wamer :)

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  2. Amazing. I have a pretty small wardrobe, but i would love to try this for my self, to how long i can go. At the time i have 65 things i my wardrobe including loungewear and work-outwear, accessories, shoes and all. Decides the 65 things I have my underwear, basic black tops and socks.
    I'm wondering how far my wardrobe will take me? :)

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    1. Great, i'd love to hear on how long you can go with 65 pieces. I have about 60 pieces too for the season, and I'm quite amazed that it has been three weeks and counting, as I thought my wardrobe was just balanced enough for one laundry and a few extra days, so it's quite a surprise...

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    2. Oh my, 3 weeks, that's a pretty long time. I'm not sure I will go that far. I have two toddlers, so I tend to get all dirty because of their greasy little hands. But I will give you an update when i starts. I'm just about to have everyting ready, and I'm very excited...

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    3. How did it go? Curious. :)

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  3. I probably have one problem with doing this - I am sure I could go months before doing the laundry (apart from the undies department)! And I also have a thing about being comfortable around what I'm doing that day, for instance, if I was cleaning the house that day, I'd hate to be in one of my silk shirts and a skirt when I'm crawling around on the floor and if that was what was left, I probably wouldn't be very happy. I find that my most useful and reached for items are my cheapest and horriblest items and I wear these so I don't spoil the good things.

    It would make for an interesting summary to see how you put some of your lesser worn garments together as outfits and then explain why you don't normally reach for these?

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    1. Aha I see what you mean here. Of course the idea is to still wear clothes that are appropriate with the situation, I mean, I wouldn't go running with my silk dress, still taking my running clothes from the laundry pile.

      How come I don't normally reach for the lesser worn garments and outfits, good question! I still need to figure that one out, but 2 things I've noticed so far is that I tend to always pair colours, or certain items I bought together, without really thinking of alternative options. Once part of these "outfits of habit" is in the laundry, it makes me think about alternatives. For example I always pair khaki green with dark grey or brown, but this week I've discovered it goes really well with pearl grey, navy blue and burgundy as well. Opens tons of new outfit possibilities.

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  4. I'm guilty of only utilizing 1/3 of my current wardrobe right now. It's been all Heattech base, the two black work pants I own, and maybe the same 3-5 sweaters I own (cardigans and turtlenecks.) I've been forcing myself to pick out a button-down or two just to keep from laundering the same 7 pieces week in, and week out, but the sweater + Heattech just does a better job of warming me up than a cotton shirt.

    I would fail this challenge so hard haha! But it is a reminder to maybe try and layer more and use some of the other pieces in my closet, if only to give the sweaters a bit of a break.

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    1. I see exactly what you mean, I also have phases when I just rotate the same capsule for weeks. The problem with that is I have worn out my favourite items in less than a year, so now I'm trying to avoid getting the same ones in the laundry one week after the other to make sure there is enough rotation. But it sure is comfortable to have a few solid pieces to rely on.

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  5. Oh my gosh! I am a total RSS-lurker of this blog (it's awesome and you're awesome!), but I had to comment to give the thumbs up to Mass Effect. Have you reached the end yet and fell into a depressive mope because it's over? Who did you romance? Seriously love those games.

    As for the challenge, I do that more frequently than I would wish due to the exorbitant cost of my apartment buildings laundry.

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    1. Mwahaha a Mass Effect fan :) Thanks for the nice comment!
      I haven't finished ME3 yet so I haven't sunk into that nostalgic melancholia one enters when finishing a quality piece with an addictive story . I have to admit, I've been playing slower and doing more side missions to delay the inevitable this week. But I feel that I'm getting closer to the end, just finished the Geth vs Quarian set of missions. I've romanced Kaidan in ME1 and Garrus in ME2, now they both invited me to a date on the Citadel and I have yet to make a choice. Bioware has a way of making you attached to your teammates don't they? Who did you romance?

      Ah laundry price, yes, I also did much less laundries before I had a washmachine in my appartment. Now I just hate hanging my clothes to dry in the middle of my mini-palace (on top of hating to iron them, which doesn't help with motivation)

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  6. Love this idea, I've been through a similar situation when I had to wear about 20 pieces for a month due to a prolonged moving into a new apartment. Now that my wardrobe is complete again it feels like I have brand new clothes to wear and it's refreshing. Maybe I'll try to refresh my outfit pool every week.

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    1. I remember having the same effect when I moved to Paris with just a suitcase. Getting the rest of my closet a few weeks later felt like having tons of new clothes. Maybe it can be a trick to avoid wanting new things all the time, making a rotation of sorts every few weeks...

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  7. So bizarre. It's like we're reading the same things online and experiencing similar things, haha. I did previously stumble on that article and I agree we are growing, learning creatures. Once you set out to create growth you can only improve! :)

    And... I've come to very similar conclusions regarding your experiment except for me it's a usual occurrence because I absolutely hate folding/hanging my clothes... so I end up tossing them into an empty drawer and keep using from my very big clean clothes stash. I'm super short on cotton tanks/camisoles and sportswear for sure!

    I've lately been engaging in all those types of growth... except the creative type. I'm interested to hear what sorts of challenges you're able to manifest because it's probably the one that comes least naturally to me.

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    1. Creative growth is a tough one for sure, as there is no recipe to inspiration and ideas, and there is no way to know what type of creative activities fulfills you until you've actually tried it. Maybe a challenge could be to register to some trial session classes of some activities - music, painting, pottery... - who knows, maybe one of them will inspire you :)

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  8. I feel as though I've unintentionally done this challenge, as I recently went through a three-week stretch of not being able to do any laundry due to travel, lack of time and quarters (eek!). You bring up some great points here that I completely agree with. As my laundry monster started to pile up, it became even more apparent what sort of items and colors I immediately gravitated to in my closet (darker neutrals, button down shirts and blazers). This helped me analyze what was left over in my closet, why those pieces were being neglected, and ultimately, whether I could do without them. I've been able to cut down the remainder of my wardrobe (and rediscover new options!) through this process, and the 3-step exercise you describe will definitely be helpful for future closet cleanings! - Alma

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    1. Thanks for sharing, I'm happy to hear it works for other people too. It's a really good way to help define personal style, I wish I had thought of it earlier to be honest, may have avoided some purchase mistakes :) I'm thinking to do this regularly, especially at the beginning of a new season since it's usually when I'm tempted to buy new things...

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  9. Good Post! I have my laundry cycle down to a Science = every 2 weeks - LOL!

    Admittedly, during the second week I wear things that I like less. (These are the clothes I can work on gradually replacing.)

    And that was a good point to take a look at the closet while I'm doing laundry and both weeks of clothes have been worn. Maybe some of that 'leftover stuff' can go.
    :-) Chris

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    1. Aha I normally work on 20 days cycles with a laundry every 10 days and, admittedly, after the second laundry, I tend to wear things I'm less familiar with as well. Pushing the experiment past the usual really helped get to the bottom of the unworn items of the closet. To be honest, I already knew I didn't wear these often, but actually confirming it with that experiment helped feeling less guilty about letting them go, if that makes any sense. I'm hoping it will help you deal with the bottom of the pile too :)

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  10. PS just wondering what Captcha app you use - it's a really good one - very legible and all numbers - easy to use...

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    1. That's the one provided by blogger, so I'm guessing Google owns it? I'm not sure it can be integrated in other interfaces than blogger though.

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  11. i like the idea of this experiment, it offers an approach to an idea i had. when culling my wardrobe i would put some clothes in a box and keep it out of sight. those where the items i didn't love but couldn't part with either. after a while i would forget what was in the box and realise that i can live well without them. nothing new, common practice. but somehow it felt a bit unfair towards those items. i mean they didn't get a chance to prove thier worth. so maybe it would make more sense to put the loved pieces in that box and to limit myself to a selection of second choice items for a while. but truth to be told i never had the guts to step out of my comfortzone and to it.
    your experiment seems so be less... brutal^^
    maybe i will try it some time but i will treval soon and i don't have a space to put the clean clothes... ah excuses, excuses...

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    1. I hadn't seen it that way, but it's true that it is a kind of "reverse experiment" of wearing the less loved items of the wardrobes instead of the most loved ones.

      It's the first time I really do that for a long time (I'm still on it - pants have run out and I have started reintegrating them, but I still haven't ironed the rest of my clothes. that's going to be a nightmare when I'll iron it all at once haha) and I'm discovering the potential of clothes I was about to consider donating. As you say, it feels like I have been "unfair" with them, and I really want to cultivate the feeling of enough by making the most of what I have.

      On the other hand, it also helped clearly defining the pieces that just don't work anymore. After one month, no matter how I tried to integrate them, it didn't work so I've culled a few pieces in the end, without regrets. I hope you get the time to do it too, after your travels!

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  12. This is a great practical experiment, I especially like the idea of finding new ideas for outfits from it. With limited options, we get a bit more creative and often find a great way of using something we usually wouldn't reach for.
    Looking forward to your other Mini Challenges!

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    1. It is true that I have felt much more creative with my clothes thanks to this challenge. And, surprisingly, it doesn't take as much time as I feared it would. You know, I tend to gravitate around the same outfits because I grab them in 10 seconds in the morning, and I thought I'd be wasting time trying different combinations. But with these more limited options, I have been able to put together new outfits in 10 seconds too. There will definitely be more mini-challenges coming, as it gave me more ideas :)

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  13. I was lurking around your blog today and found this post. I love the idea, but it has left me baffled about my own unhygeinic(!?) habits, I guess. I wear my clothes several times before I wash them. Some of them I hardly ever wash or have cleaned. I actually was thinking about tracking how often I wash items and apart from underwear, it's definately not on a per-wear basis. Is that just me? It's also an environmental issue for me to save ressources. I do the GoRandom approach which typically means I'll wear an outfit one day and then it may be weeks before I wear one of the items again. I leave them on a chair or hanger for the night at then they go back in the closet. Yuck?

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    1. There are a lot of discussions around the proper frequency to wash clothes around the web, and like other topics, I'm in favour of giving up set "rules" and choose a way that is adapted to our own clothes, lifestyle and constraints.

      I personally don't wash every item after one wear (apart from underwear and sportswear), because too much washing wastes resources and wears out the clothes quicker. I tend to use my judgement/common sense on this one: at the end of the day when I change to my pyjamas, I just look and smell my clothes to see if they need washing or not. But I still need to make a laundry every week or so, so some items tend to have a high rotation (little tops that are in direct contact with the armpits for example).

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