Just like there is no one way to be stylish, there is no one wardrobe size to rule them all. There are at least seven variables that impact the number of items in your wardrobe.
You will need a larger variety of clothing, footwear and accessories when you live in a four season climate. The harsher your Winter, the greater your need for specialized footwear, knitwear, outerwear and Winter accessory capsules. Living in a milder and less extreme climate makes it easier to wear the same items more frequently throughout the year.
A smaller wardrobe tends to work well with a casual dress code that is more or less the same throughout the week, especially if you spend part of the day in workout clothes. You’ll usually need a larger wardrobe if your work attire is dressier than what you wear over the weekend. And an even larger wardrobe if you require formal attire for the theatre, work events, weddings and the like.
Need for Variety
Some people’s need for variety is greater than others. If you enjoy wearing a large variety of silhouettes across a range of colours, you’ll have a moderate to large wardrobe. If you’re more of a wardrobe minimalist who requires little outfit variety, wearing the same fast fall back outfits most days, you’ll have a smaller wardrobe.
Some thoroughly enjoy wearing a piece that is brand new because it feels more special than wearing the same older items day after day. Maximizing this enjoyment leads to a larger wardrobe because you’re buying new items more frequently.
The size of your wardrobe might also be governed by the size of your storage space. Some use more than one closet area, and convert rooms into walk-in wardrobes. The larger your storage space, the easier it is to fill it with items, which leads to a large wardrobe.
Purging guilt can lead to a larger wardrobe if you have a hard time purging, but continue adding to your wardrobe. I also know people who struggle to purge and shop infrequently for this reason.
Like closet space, budget is a constraint that naturally limits the size of a wardrobe. But this doesn’t mean that someone with a large budget will necessarily have a large wardrobe. They may prefer to spend their budget on fewer, higher-end items. Or they may just prefer a smaller wardrobe and spend less than their budget allows. The converse can also be true, where some people with a more limited budget can buy many items inexpensively on markdown or at thrift stores.
Fashion: Hobby or Chore?
Enjoying fashion, the trends, shopping, and the art of putting together your style is a fun hobby for some people. When this is the case, wardrobes are often moderate or large in size. Those who care less about fashion and style, and don’t enjoy shopping, often have smaller wardrobes. There are also those who enjoy fashion and style immensely, and part of the fun is keeping within a specific manageable quantity of pieces (either a small or moderate wardrobe). This makes the process of finding the piece as fabulous as wearing the piece itself.
So what size should your wardrobe be? Too large, and items will go unworn as you forget about them or struggle to find them. You might end up with an unsightly closet that is bursting at the seams. Too small, and you will have laundry bottlenecks, get bored repeating the same items, and possibly lack the appropriate outfits for some occasions. Items will also wear out more quickly as you wear them frequently.
The ideal size is somewhere in between. There isn’t a universal answer, of course, but if you are thoughtful about editing and making additions to your wardrobe, you will reach the size that makes sense for your budget, needs and lifestyle.