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Shopping my wardrobe for shirts

Posted by on Friday 15 April 2011 in frugal, less than 12 clothes challenge | 8 comments

Last night, I decided to go shopping in my wardrobe for shirts.

It’s about five months since I bought (or acquired by any means) any items of clothing or related apparel. The less than 12 in 11 challenge has been easier than I thought in many ways and my tally for the year is still zero – but recently I’ve been getting a bit more tempted towards breaking that embargo. After the long winter, I’m a little bored of my warm woollie options (or rather warm cotton hoodie options) and lately I’ve been getting a bit meh about my selection of my Spring-suitable tops too. A couple of weeks ago, I sorted out my chest-of-drawers drawers, which was great for refreshing my memory about my t-shirts and last night it was the shirts in the wardrobe’s turn.

I had 29 shirts & blouses in my wardrobe and another one in the wash. How many of those 30 shirts have I worn in the last month or, hell, the last three months? One. The one that’s in the wash (I’ve worn that all of twice). Admittedly it’s not really been light-cotton-shirt season of late and I don’t have anywhere that requires me to be smartly dressed but still – that’s a lot of shirts for someone who doesn’t wear shirts much. Ten – one-third – of the shirts were solid black from the days when I wore solid black shirts as a work uniform and standard going out wear. No one needs ten black shirts. Last night, I dragged them all down into the living room and tried them all on in turn (giving John a free boob flashing floor show at each iteration).

Of those 30 shirts, 14 straight up didn’t fit. They were either too short (especially as I wear my jeans low) or didn’t come close to closing around the boobs (I’ve got somewhat large sweater cows), or both. I think I’d kept at least half a dozen out of wishful thinking – because I love the patterns so much and won’t be able to replace them. The one at the back of the picture above with green stars on it hasn’t ever been worn because not only was it a little snug upfront, the arm holes were blood-pressure-band tight on me. (Having said that, it’s a lovely, lovely shirt – if anyone wants it, let me know and I’ll post it out. It’s a size 14 and there is a bigger picture here.) Those shirts will go to charity shops or into my crafty fabric stash depending on re-wearability/pattern.

Out of the remaining 16 shirts, two need repairing (button replacements) and five need to be worn over a vest top or under a jumper. Nine – less than a third of my shirt collection – were fine — they fit and I still like them.

Getting rid of nearly half my shirts might not sound like “shopping” but it was really useful to go through them all and remind myself what I have (I’d straight up forgotten about at least three of the keepers), and what they look like/how they can be worn. I think I’d stopped even thinking about wearing shirts because it was depressing to look in my wardrobe and see so many that didn’t fit or couldn’t be worn as they are for whatever reason. Looking at it one way, I’m losing near half my shirt collection; looking at it another way, I just gained nine new shirts ;)


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  1. Su

    I only own 2 shirts! I don’t think I’ve worn a blouse in my adult life. Having said that, I have been looking for a nice, white, cotton shirt for months and I cannot find what I am looking for anywhere, I am seriously considering having one made to measure.
    Although I did have ‘a few’ coats!!! My actual wardrobe is very small(it has to be, my bedroom is very small) and I know exactly what is in it. I am really enjoying the challenge of ‘keeping things going’and not doing the blind panic thing of ‘what am I going to wear’ ‘cos it will have to already be in my wardrobe,there will be no buying things specially.

    • louisa

      I think I should probably own just two shirts, for all I wear them. I definitely won’t be buying any more for a long time. I’m hoping I’m more inclined to wear the good nine from now on – it’ll increase my options considerably.

      Good luck with your white shirt quest :)

  2. sara

    Well if you had said a 12 then i’d take you up on the offer lol…i have 2 shirts ,1 white ,1 brown..both come in handy..have about 5 t-shirts and 2 pair of jeans..2 pairs of 3/4 length jeans and thats it..some jumpers and 2 cardys..god thats sad..i know what i have down to a t..plus 4 vest tops..have got 2 body warmers,2 spring macs,2 winter coats..that are yrs old but look good..not a lot there but i have what i need,long as i look decnt when i go out who cares what i have …like su i never have the panic of what to wear coz i know whats in there lol..still its nice to have a clearout which i did and found some stuff that i had never worn before so i kept those and got rid of the rest..a nice neat compact unfussy wardrobe,suits me..

    love to you and yours

  3. Taphophile

    Well done on liberating the shirts you will wear. :)

  4. bookstorebabe

    Great job! I’m still slowly going through my own clothes. And it’s true-the more we get rid of, the more we have to wear. So nice not to stare in frustration at a packed full closet and wonder why I have nothing to wear.

  5. Shoestring

    Ooh, good work! I’ve been on a similar mission this week, trying to get my ‘back to work’ wardrobe sorted (though there was no boob flashing display. Shhh. Husband will get jealous). And I feel exactly the way you said – like I’ve been shopping and have new things. Such a perfect way of putting it!
    PS Could you turn the shirt with the lovely fabric into something else?

  6. Medeea

    Such nice shirts you have there!
    I would suggest re-vamping them. Just a few ideas:
    – cut the front upper part with collar to revamp some blouses or sweaters
    – if buttoning them is the problem, then maybe adding a strip of material under-arm or on the side
    – for the too short ones, why not adding a horizontal strip of material in a contrasting colour? would look like a belted area.
    Good luck!

    • louisa

      Thanks for the revamp suggestions Medeea – I’m not sure my sewing skills are good enough for some things but I might as well give it a go with items that are a little too scruffy for sending to the charity shop :)

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