Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lessons From 4-H: Make a Wardrobe Inventory

The lolita in me wails at the word "practicality." The 4-Her in me thinks it's only natural. I like to think I can reconcile the two.

When I say "practicality," I do not mean it in the way that most people think; "Oh, be practical, you couldn't possibly wear that" is not something I am going to say to you. I mean only this: when you buy something, make sure it is something you are actually going to use and that it versatile enough to work with several different outfits.

One of the things that is required when one participates in Fashion Review for 4-H is an in-depth analysis of where the outfit that you purchased fits into the wardrobe that you have and the life that you have. This very often includes making a wardrobe inventory. As my 1981 edition of the clothing project curriculum puts it:
What you decide to make or buy depends on what you need. Have you taken a good look at your clothing lately? With increasing clothing costs, having a well coordinated wardrobe with fewer items can be better than having many clothes that don't "work" together. So.... update your clothing inventory.
This is true of any fashion, but I'm going to use lolita as an example because that's where I seem to be headed with my wardrobe and with this blog.

Lolita seems to be one of those fashions that runs on impulse buys, on sudden and insurmountable lust for a single item that overtakes the young lady involved. It is a fashion of dream dresses and of dramatic comings and goings in terms of personal style. Sometimes, we jump in headfirst and end up with a single not-so-very versatile outfit that we wear once or twice but can't do much with until we expand our wardrobe.

But that doesn't mean it has to be.

If there is anything I learned from being in fashion review for 4-H, it is this: anything I buy should have at least two different uses in my wardrobe. Whether that is two different lolita outfits or one lolita outfit and one vintage-style outfit does not matter. What matters is that I can wear each piece

I'm all for the tried-and-true 4-H method of actually making a clothing inventory. Yes, going through your closet may seem intimidating at first (see the picture from Confessions of a Shopaholic above), but it's worth it. Whether you do this just with the clothing you wear for lolita or if you do it for everything you own, knowing what you have can be a great help in knowing what you need or want. It also gives you some time to sit down, go through everything, and weed out some of the items you don't want or need anymore.

So what do we put on our clothing inventory?

I, personally, put mine in a spreadsheet with a column for a basic item description, a column for brand, a column for how much it cost (if I know), and a column for whether I bought it new or used. You might decide you don't need that much information. You might just pull out a notebook and write down a basic item description for everything and be done with it. It's your wardrobe; it's your choice.

And, while you're making the list, keep in mind that you might not use some of the items. It's easier to recognize them when you're pulling everything out and looking at it.

While a clothing inventory may seem like a lot of work (and it is, when you start), it can definitely be helpful when it comes to managing a wardrobe.


  1. Wow, thank you very much for making this post! I would never have though to make a "clothing inventory". It might help me create a better wardrobe from now on and cut out anything I don't really like/wear. Thanks for bringing this to my attention! It was very helpful.


    1. Of course! Happy to help.

      I've done this with several things of which I tend to accumulate too many. It even helped me pare down my book collection.