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The Wear All Your Clothes Challenge

Do you have a closet full of clothes but wear the same pieces over and over?

Enter: The Wear All Your Clothes challenge. A self-made-up idea I share with clients after helping them get organized with their closets.

I wanted to post this idea on Insta pre pandemic but then Covid happened and no one was really getting dressed up to go out (outside of Zoom work clothes and loungewear). I do think now is a good time to write about this as part of an "overall reset" for the new year. :-)

The thought behind this concept stemmed from learning about the “backward hanger trick” where one removes all hung clothes from the closet and then puts them all back with the hanger facing backwards (see main photo).

After a piece of hung item has been worn, that same piece gets hung back in the closet with its hanger re-adjusted to face the correct or normal way (with the open hook facing inwards).

The purpose of this "trick" is to let you know which items have been worn and haven't, and to encourage you to choose and wear pieces that have remained untouched.

This trick also shows you your 80/20 or the 80/20 Rule – this rule states that you only use 20% of what you own 80% of the time. This means you use the same 20% of what you own - the same pieces of clothing, shoes, purses etc., 80% of the time. Think about it - don’t you agree?

Interestingly, while we know this, we still buy new clothes or hold on to pieces that are rarely used. For example, I've worked with a lot of people who chose to keep piles of t-shirts for sleeping ("pwede pa yan pantulog") and still, at the end of the day, with more than a dozen tops to choose from - you guessed it, they still chose to don that same soft, comfy, full of holes tattered t-shirt. You know who you are. :-)

If this challenge piqued your interest (yay!), here are the steps to do it:

  1. Gather and pack away all your clothes including those fresh from the laundry.

  2. Take out all hung clothing and hang them all back with the hanger facing backwards. (see photos below)

  3. For folded garments, make sure it’s arranged by category.

  4. Once you’ve worn a piece from the hung items and it's time to put it away, hang the garment back with the hanger facing the normal position.

  5. For folded clothes, neatly place just-worn pieces on top of a pile. Create a visual reminder of the segregation of the clothes (from ones you've worn to ones you haven't) by sticking a Post-it note to a worn item to serve as a tab or divider. Feel free to come up with a fancier "tab or divider" that works for you or if you have a lot of shelving space, allot a separate space for already used items. (see photo below)

  6. Have a paper bag on stand by for sharing clothes that already feels off. Send those out right away!

The Backward Hanger Trick Set Up

Worn items are put back with the hanger facing inward.

Below the Post-it note tab are items that have not been worn.

I remember setting up the backward hanger trick for a male client. After several months, I asked how much of the hangers were already facing the normal way. Funnily, the same 20% has been used and the rest of the 80% were still untouched! It was a visual reminder for him that he really didn't need to shop for any new clothes anytime soon.

I’ve personally never finished this “self-imposed endeavor” (ha!) having done it twice the past five years - probably only up to 80% success and I'm already a ruthless clothes editor. There were just certain pieces that I never got to wear – the "no right occasion but good to keep just in case pieces”. But now since I’m writing about this, I’m really going to push to complete the challenge - even if it means wearing a formal dress to the grocery. Lol. Who’s with me?!

Some notes:

  • You can do repeats of course, just remind yourself that the challenge is to wear items you haven’t.

  • For clothing you plan to alter, make sure those pieces are really worth all that effort. Some people go through a lot of trouble to try to save clothes by having them altered but end up not wearing the item again. That’s wasted time and money. Better to just pass it on.

  • If you find yourself trying on a piece of clothing but keep taking it off to wear something else, that’s probably a sign that that item can already be shared. Regardless if it was a gift, a designer piece or was expensive, those things won't matter if you don't feel comfortable wearing them. You won’t be at ease and that’s the vibe you’ll be projecting and what people will be noticing.

  • For clothes you want to save because you're currently in a different size, those items should be placed separately and away from the ones that currently fit you .

Other optional things you can do to add to this challenge:

  1. You can count all the clothes you have on-hand (as a whole or per category - just don’t drive yourself crazy). This task may be too daunting for some (or eye opening) and easier for others. It might be fun to see how much clothing you have left as you go through this challenge.

  2. Take a photo and do a 365 days OOTD (outfit of the day) and post /share on your Insta or even just for your own private viewing and tracking. You can even ask friends to vote "keep" or "share". :-) Come to think of it, this challenge may take more than a year for some to complete and that's ok. Have fun with it! :-)

Doing The Wear All Your Clothes Challenge can:

  • help you be more intentional about using each piece you own, encouraging a full rotation usage.

  • allow you to experience and rediscover how you feel about an item now (not 5 years ago) and help you decide if it still deserves to take up real estate in your closet.

  • help you make informed purchases - only buying pieces that complement what you have instead of getting the same types of garments you already have a lot of.

  • ultimately, help you create a culled, curated closet containing only pieces that you truly love and use - one that no matter what you pluck out (even if blindfolded), you know you'll end up with something you'll look and feel good in.

Get in on this challenge this new year! And while you're at it, add in wearing all your shoes and purses too! I hope you discover a ton of new looks that flatter you. Have fun and I'd love to hear how it goes ! :-)


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