How do you guys feel about another wardrobe statistics – are you with me? Good. Be forewarned, this one is going to be heavy on numbers. I was inspired to write it after reading about Emma Watson’s Met Gala outfit, which led me to discover the #30Wears movement; it’s been around for a while, but this would not be the first time I’m behind the times, so please bear with me. The premise is solid – making purposeful clothes purchases guided by ethical and sustainability principles – but what really intrigued me was the question that it poses and from which the hashtag is derived: would you wear a particular piece at least 30 times before disposing of it? That sort of thing is practically catnip for this numbers nerd. I was really curious to see what answers the question, applied to my existing wardrobe, might yield.
The short answer is: no, for the most part. The slightly longer answer is: no, with the exception of bags, coats, shoes, and black cardigans/blazers. For the really long answer, read on.
Let’s start with a quick inventory of the things currently in my closet. These numbers are ever-shifting targets, because I acquire new (to me) things all the time. Bad Adina! But also: good job, Fun Closet Adina. (I’m sure Emma W. would disapprove of Fun Closet Adina. I guess I’m Team Slytherin, or something. Moving on.) Here’s what I’ve got, along with the most worn item in each category:
Category Total items No. of items worn at least 30 times Item most worn
Tops 34 0 striped top (26 times)
Jackets 21 0 black blazer (28 times)
Outerwear 14 4 camel coat (223 times)
Pants 23 2 skinny jeans (81 times)
Skirts 33 1 black skirt (44 times)
Sweaters 26 3 black cardi (71 times)
Dresses 52 0 black dress (27 times)
Bags 25 8 black (commuting) tote
Shoes 56 10 black pumps (87 times)
This looks pretty pathetic, doesn’t it? I always knew that my closet sees a lot of turnover, but these numbers are quite stark. Let’s delve a bit deeper, though. How long, exactly, do clothes hang around (har har!) in my closet?
Vintage No. of Items
2010 or older 10
Put another way, about a third of my clothes are more than 2 years old, and about a third are less than 1 year old, with the remaining third falling in the middle. I’ve been, um, busy this year. As far as trends go, it looks like coats and sweaters tend to keep the longest, with the remaining categories turning over almost completely about once every two years. It could be argued that the last 3-4 years may not represent the best data set, because of life changes and fluctuating weight (two pregnancies, two mat leaves, etc.), but I have a suspicion that the results would be the same regardless.
I think it all comes down to this: I like variety and I like bright, colourful things. I also get bored, periodically, of those bright colourful things, and want to exchange them for new ones. The basics tend to stick around much longer, usually until they fall apart. But “basics” in this context mean all the black things: black sweater, black cardigan, black pants, black blazer, black skirt, etc. And skinny jeans. The exception is coats/outerwear. Because I hate to buy coats, and because I also actually need to wear coats for a large part of the year, coats tend to get a lot of wear and stick around for a long time, regardless of style, colour, etc.
(Please note that the stats above do not include shoes and bags, which would probably skew the numbers a bit towards the older side. Also, “vintage” means years spent in my closet, rather than since production. I buy a lot of things secondhand, as will become apparent in a moment.)
I also decided to look at the composition of my closet, because there has got to be some good news in there, somewhere. Right?! So, I decided to look at the provenance of my clothes; due to time constraints, I looked at this only at a very high level. Ideally, I would like to tally the actual country of manufacture for each piece in my closet, but because I don’t currently track this in my closet worksheet, it would take a long time to tabulate at the moment. It’s definitely something I’m considering tracking on a going forward basis. For now, here goes:
Provenance No. of Items
This, I feel good about. Over 70% of my clothes are pre-loved, which means that, although my environmental footprint is by no means small, it’s not quite as large as it would appear at first blush. I’d like to be able to say that the majority of my clothes have, in fact, been worn 30 or more times – if not by me, then by their previous owners – but I actually don’t think that’s true. Most of the clothes I thrift or buy from consignment (or eBay) come to me either brand new (some with tags) or very nearly new. A lot of clothes leave my closet (their second home, at the very least) only barely worn. It is entirely possible – and I hope it’s true – that they get their third lease on life in another closet. In my experience, however, the biggest driver of the rapid cycle of clothes production is not poor quality. Most clothes that end up in thrift stores are perfectly fine (fit excluded, which is a separate issue perhaps). Other factors are in play here, including the thrill (and relatively low personal cost) of novelty. I know that’s my weakness, for sure. And it’s a big reason why I’ve become an increasingly dedicated thrifter.
I want to hear your thoughts! Tell me if you’ve ever considered the #30Wears challenge (and question), and whether you think your closet would pass it.