No matter the size of your wardrobe, the “wear quotient” — the frequency at which you wear the items — will vary. For a variety of reasons you’ll wear some wardrobe items more frequently than others.
I find that there are generally three levels of wear quotient across the items in a wardrobe. Items that are packed away in a holding zone are not included.
High Wear Quotient: The Workhorses
These items are worn very frequently and I call them wardrobe workhorses. They can be wardrobe essentials, like jeans, black T-shirts, cardigans, eyewear, stud earrings, or a puffer coat. They often are wardrobe basics, like underwear, sleepwear, loungewear, workout wear or socks.
But it isn’t only essentials or basics in this category. They can also include items that are comfortable, practical, flattering, or in your happy colour. They can be items that add extra pizzazz to an outfit, are of-the-moment trendy, or sentimental in some way. New items can become instant wardrobe workhorses as they refresh your style and breathe life back into old wardrobe items.
They can be subtle pieces or statement pieces. They can also change over time — workhorses one season and orphans the next.
Medium Wear Quotient: The Backbone
These items are worn less frequently than wardrobe workhorses, but are still in quite frequent rotation. They constitute the bulk of your wardrobe. This is the part of your wardrobe that provides maximum variety, and increases in size the larger your wardrobe becomes. Over time, some of these items will graduate to workhorses and others will move into the lowest level of wear quotient as they move out of rotation.
Low Wear Quotient: The Specialists
These wardrobe items are worn the least frequently. They can be special occasion pieces that come out a few times a year, or items that are comfortable or practical for short periods of time (like high heels, white jackets, bathing costumes, or slip dresses for very hot weather). They are sometimes particularly dramatic pieces that are too memorable to be worn more frequently. Items that are very delicate sometimes have a low wear quotient. They can be items that require you to feel perfect about your body. Sometimes they are items that are only suitable for a few weeks of seasonal weather – like blazers, loafers or ponchos.
Sometimes older wardrobe items have a low wear quotient simply because you prefer wearing the newer additions to your wardrobe. Items with a low wear quotient aren’t necessarily on the way out of your wardrobe. Sometimes they will come back into favour and move up a level in the rotation. Specialists can become wardrobe workhorses.
The overall point here is that it’s perfectly acceptable to wear some wardrobe items less frequently than others. It’s unreasonable to expect every item to be a wardrobe workhorse because we have a variety of dressing needs. Throw in the fact that our mood, the way we are currently feeling about our bodies, and our overall state of mind ALSO affect what we choose to wear each day. Our lives aren’t perfectly uniform, so our wardrobes won’t be either.
The important thing is to understand why an item has a low wear quotient. If it’s one of the perfectly legitimate reasons above, then that’s fine. But if the item is an orphan that doesn’t have counterparts in your wardrobe, or there is something about it that you just don’t like, then maybe it’s time to return it or pass it on.