Thanks for the encouragement, all!
So, in the effort to pare down my thrift store wardrobe, I spent about a week trying to come up with a template that would work for me.
It had to be specific, because my wardrobe is no ordinary set of clothing. No indeed, it is specially tailored to the tastes of one person in particular: my husband Andrew.
Andrew likes two kinds of clothing on me: polished, simple, Audrey-Hephburn style clothing in strong colors and soft textures, and totally casual farm clothing like checked shirts and jeans. No prints, no muted or muddy colors, nothing too dramatic or too flouncy. Just simple, cute clothes. At least that's what his taste has currently evolved to this season.
Of course, Andrew's never actually come out and told me this. Are you kidding?
No, this is based on thirteen years of careful research, note-taking, and stealth inquiry. Because as most women can tell you, men are rarely forthcoming about what they like in clothing, and the question, "What do you think of this shirt?" posed to a man while dangling it in front of him on a hanger is generally met with a blank stare.
Research generally takes the form of careful observation of body language and raised eyebrows, along with meticulously recording any spontaneous and generous compliment, both of which are rare. I've found that compliments that were solicited: ie: "How do you like this outfit?" are generally unhelpful or insincere.
*SO* the wardrobe is an evolving, highly personal project designed for the tastes of one man.
Years ago, I tried basing my wardrobe on seven outfits, which didn't quite work out. But for some Catholic-based reason, I find it hard to abandon the number seven. After all, there are seven days in a week. So, this year, I tried to base this around the five sorts of clothing I own, used for five basic activities.
1. Going out for formal evenings or for fun, when I tend to dress up in something glamorous.
2. Going to church on Sunday, which requires nice clothing, but nothing really glitzy.
3. Working around the house, writing and doing homeschooling.
4. Working in the yard or doing messier housework.
5. Going to daily Mass or out shopping or visiting
I made each activity a "circle" as you can see above, and allocated myself seven pieces of clothing for each circle. Of course, there's some overlap between circles, so as you can see, I have five pieces of clothing that count in two circles.
Now, I find I tend to dress up more than other moms: maybe it's my Italian background that dictates that real women are never caught dead in public without jewelry and makeup (I follow the first, not the second rule). Maybe it's that I still prefer skirts to jeans, though I currently own no jean skirts. And I wear sneakers only for going to the gym or doing construction work. Yes, I tend to homeschool and go grocery shopping while wearing flats, a skirt, and earrings. Maybe it's the "home executive" mentality that's rubbed off on me. I just feel better about myself when I dress up, and my husband has no toleration for denim jumpers and country calicos.
A few years ago when I had my fashion style evaluated by the very fun and very useful Catholic apostolate Elegance in Style, I found I'm the owner of a rather plump hour-glass shaped figure who looks best in a Winter palette with some browns, and my general style is romantic-dramatic (as opposed to classic or casual, both of which I find boring).
After I drew up my circles, I now had the job of justify the continued ownership of each piece of clothing by allocating it to one of the circles. Next post I'll try to show how I did this.