Sloper, so many good points in your post! I see you agree with what Sarah, Mary Beth and I said upthread about this being just one kind of duplication. I am certainly a duplicator when it comes to colors. The tools/undies analogy works IF you think of underpinnings as things that matter only in how they influence the final look. I don’t see why a useful hammer couldn’t be made of bronze and decorated with cut jewels. Finally, thanks for explaining Jenn’s analogy to me. The square pieces are extreme versions of the edges, and are analogous to the things people duplicate. Most people start a puzzle by getting them in order, because they’re easy and give a literal framework and start you on your way to the goal of a finished puzzle.

Jenn, I saw your comment on the blog after my first reply to you here. Is what I just said about your analogy correct, with your goal/finished puzzle being the ideal wardrobe? I’m surprised you count duplicates as one item, instead of taking the average price and counting each piece separately. If you do count individual “white T shirts” (because that seems to be the most common example of a thing to duplicate), how does it change your wardrobe numbers?

Anne, your statement “I enjoy dressing well every day”explains so much! I just had a great big lightbulb go off in my head. I’ve been reading “I like to make great outfits” when people might have meant “I like to make/have/wear great outfits<“. To borrow from corny old posters, it’s the difference between journey and destination. Unlike those posters/books/motivational speakers though, I don’t mean to tell people what they should value/enjoy; I’m just happy to see the distinction. As I’ve said before, what I like about YLF is it shows me ways to think about putting things together, so instead of just grabbing what my gut says to go with, I can think about it and figure it out. There is a process; and I can enjoy that activity. I mean, sure, it’s nice to wind up with an outfit that looks good, but that’s sort of a byproduct, iykwim.

A couple other analogies: my son had a great time fishing with his uncle & cousin recently. No one brought anything home, but they had a happy afternoon together. I have many happy memories of tending my dad’s rose bushes with him on summer evenings after dinner, but was always a little surprised at the praise visitors heaped on the roses. It hadn’t occurred to me that they were the point.

One counter-example: I recall getting testy at a conference once when a few people joined in with me and some others who were going to lunch, then some more, and more. I was happy to have the group, but instead of moving along towards lunch, they were standing there discussing the various options. I didn’t want to talk about going to lunch; I wanted to EAT.

The journey/process distinction also explains the differing thoughts on underwear. If the point is the final product, the outfit, what looks good in pictures, then it makes no sense to think about basics; they should hold up the load while disappearing quietly. I agree with not having lumps, lines, or colors show through, but putting on a pretty slip can make me smile as much as putting on the dress over it—it’s the process, as well as the end result of not having the dress stick to my tights.

Gaylene, I’m happy to have company on the bench! Thinking about it, I realize that it is just one person who admonishes me that this is a site for people who love fashion. She’s said it numerous times, but is still just one person. But I still don’t see why you’d take 3 of the same thing when you had so little space. I guess it didn’t matter to you if it looked like you were wearing the same thing every day. The point was to be pulled together and appropriate for the current activity; if you needed a certain shirt to do that, it might’ve been in the laundry. I still think I’d prefer 3 different shirts that were all that flexible. But that’s just me.

Gigi, we are all different. When I see a T-shirt that isn’t interesting, I don't think of substitutable parts—I think of lurking quirk, finding a way to make it interesting. Might be a lettuce hem, fabric with an interesting texture, or fancy stitching by the seams, but it makes the item feel special. Do you have those sorts of things, or does the duplication make them difficult?

Sally, a thrift shop is as non-duplicatey as you can get! I want to start thrifting when the pandemic is over, and will certainly have questions. I hope you’ll chime in.

yes I will be keen to have a discussion on thrifting. I have made a list of my small wardrobe (post weight loss) and have colour coded the thrifted items so I can see to what extent my wardrobe and wears are thrifted.

Just realized I skipped some folks:

Phoebe, I agree with both your points—most of my clothing is well-made, I like each item (even if I wouldn’t call each one “beautiful”) and they are comfortable and allow me to be as active as I want to be. That’s probably a big, big part of why I hang onto them so long—they work!

unfrumped. That’s interesting about overduplicating. Even in my big wardrobe, I always try to find things that don’t repeat what something else does.

JAileen, I can’t imagine wearing the same thing every day, no matter how much the rest changed. I love my boots and tights in the fall, but this time of year, I can’t stand to put them on.

Helena, If one is good, five isn’t better? Lol. I hear what you’re saying. It’s probably my maximalist tendency that leads me to want something different all the time.

Sally, I’m not about to write out a list of everything in my wardrobe, but since you did, I think marking the throttled pieces that way is a great idea.

I'm glad that you are figuring out both why you do what you do and why others do what they do.

I am a duplicator because I am hard to fit. My feet-size 11, toes practically a strait row across, ankles that cause shoes to fall off. I have shoes that I have duplicated or triplicated and have worn through all the pairs and wish I still had them. Colors may or may not be the same. The brand that used to have shoes that fit no longer use the last that worked for me. If I could easily go into a store and easily find shoes that I like and that fit, I wouldn't need to duplicate.

My body is also challenging to fit, and my size is usually not carried. Clothes in my size are often cut for someone with a completely different shape. And I am particular with fabric and style. I can go years and years without finding what I like. So, when I find something that works, I often duplicate it. If I could easily find similar items with different details, I would love that.

So far, I have always used up my duplicates, with one exception. I have what someone in the fashion industry called a really well designed wrap dress. I had been looking for a dress for several years. I was so excited I ended up buying an exact duplicate. It even magically works over multiple sizes. I never wanted to be without it. Well, it was well made, and it is still going strong after many, many years. I haven't needed two. So far.

As far as YLF members go, there is a wide variety here. I never watch a fashion show except maybe when someone here links to it. I don't read fashion magazines. I rarely notice what others are wearing. Occasionally I remind myself to look at others for inspiration. However, I appreciate what I learn here. It helps me acclimate to changing silhouettes and trends. I understand myself better when I see what choices others make. I also feel better about myself. It was healing for me to learn it isn't only people my size who are hard to fit and whose size often aren't carried in stores.

BD, thanks for your comment. Looking at your WIWs, I would not have guessed it is so difficult to find things that fit. You look graceful and pulled together. With the way fashion production has been sped up and globalized to increase profits, it is bizarre that they ignore potential consumers. Using length x width sizing, like jeans, for all clothes would make shopping easier for nearly everyone. And I’m aware of the cliff my size 10 feet are standing on, where the number of styles produced drops dramatically just one size bigger. You are an amazing shopper to be able to buy duplicates so many times and almost never miscalculate—many of us have much worse records only buying single items. Thanks for the reminder about the variety of purposes YLF fills too; I hope Angie sees that. I like learning here too.

Putting together what I’ve learned, duplicating items can help put together looks without a lot of thought, especially if those looks highlight a statement piece against a backdrop. It is also useful for wardrobes that are themselves carefully balanced artworks themselves, because of how difficult it can be to find another piece that can do all the tasks done by one favorite piece. It can also help with laundry backups or for sizes that are hard to find.

It is not for me, because if I’m in the mood to get dressed quickly without thinking about it, I can do that with my large wardrobe already. If I want to feel good and be mindful of what I’m putting on, that starts with the base layer; always layering on the same primer sounds boooooring. I’m not interested in having several identical items to swap out; I’d much rather have small differences, various types of “lurking quirk” that I can choose to highlight if I want, but are insignificant enough that in a pinch, I can substitute one for the other.

I’m reminded of the East German Ampelmännchen (pix added to OP). When East and West Germany joined in the 1990s, many people in the East felt they were being taken over and perfectly functional systems, like returnable yogurt jars, were thrown out for no reason. Many factories were bought and closed by Westerners who didn’t want the competition. It got to feeling like just being from the East was enough to get a thing thrown out. A nadir was when the filters in street crossing signs were changed. The “new” crossing lights had angular green and red figures to show when pedestrians could cross. The East German figures they showed were also red and green, and did the job just as well. People protested the mindless change and the Eastern lights were brought back. In my wardrobe, instead of several standard filters, I’d prefer to have some quirky variations that all work equally well, so I can choose the one I want that day.

Thanks to all who commented and helped me think this through!

Late responder but I duplicate quite a lot. I am hard to fit-- when I find something that fits, I duplicate. For example I have 3 or 4 of the same exact Old Navy Rockstar jeans, same wash, everything. And 3 or 4 of the same LOFT ponte knit pants. And yes when I find a bra that fits, I buy 3 nude and one black. My panties are all different colors because I bought a value pack.

But mostly I try to duplicate in a different color to add some variety. I bought a particular tank top from Anthro this past year (black, grey, white and burnt orange). I bought 3 of the same Old Navy hoodies (white, black, pink). I have 4 pairs of the same SOMA leggings (black, grey, and two with different patterns). I am now up to 4 Ann Taylor Newbury blazers-- it is such a flattering fit on me--- but all 4 are totally different colors/patterns/seasonal weights. I have numerous Allbird sneakers but all are in different colors. I just today bought my 6th pair of their Trino socks (Best socks ever!) but all are different colors. I have a certain Jcrew cotton tee in multiple colors. I have 3 pairs (different colors) of the Recliner PJ set and 4 of their Second skin nightie (all different colors). And on and on. I wear it all, although I have gotten into trouble with some orphans and it's usually due to the color being wrong for me.

I'm not *quite* as bad as my mom! Since retirement she settled on a daily uniform: white crew neck sweatshirt, white polo, Lee jeans, and white New balance sneakers. She has many multiples of each. She has other clothes in her closet of course, for dressier occasions, but this is what she pulls on in the morning most days hanging out at home.

Fashiontern, I am another late responder who just wanted to say that I'm, by and large, not a duplicator. I have been on YLF long enough to understand those who do, but for me personally

  • I try to buy between 12-20 items a year - most years closer to 12 (that excludes knickers, socks and hose but includes bras and gear) so I really want each item to count and I want them to look different
  • Because I'm a cautious and reluctant buyer, if I do find after wearing, that something warrants duplication or even replacement, there's a good chance it isn't available anymore. Case in point, I love the platform black fashion sneakers I bought last year and they are wearing out, but they are now out of stock.
  • I do however, have some very similar wardrobe essential items - eg 4 black long sleeved fitted tees. But they were bought over 13 years, and though not intended to be, do have some slight differences that will mean I'll choose one over another at different point - eg the heatech one is warmer, one of them has a better neckline to layer under certain dresses.

I'm also on the side of no fuss, functional underpinnings! No need to match or look good. I also buy those 5 packs at the supermarket. No problem with those who like pretty things, like you, but not a priority for me. It would be an added burden (because I don't like shopping and have many other spending priorities).

ETA: I have, however, duplicated recently with a HEWI. I bought some longer length running shorts something like this (mine were navy and not on sale!) and loved them so much that when I had a voucher to spend I duplicated within a few months.

In answer to your question to me, Fashiontern, I do often try to find interesting essentials and not just boring ones. However, if I find an interesting essential, I will not duplicate it. I duplicate only the boring ones, I think because I tend to wear them more often (they go with more pieces in my wardrobe).

Thanks for the late replies!

Gigi, that fits right in with my theory about duplicated items not being the “special” ones/I don’t duplicate because I like things with those details.

Anne, wow, that sounds so much like me! Until the undies anyway. LaPed and a couple others mentioned that workout gear is something they’re more likely to duplicate. I haven’t done that so far, other than getting my favorite Onzie workout tops in black and white, but I wish I had more of those. I’m having enough of a time getting new leggings that I might duplicate those, when I find “the ones”.

Shiny, sounds like you and your mom both know what you like! The difference between enjoying knowing that you look good every day and enjoying the “oooh” of putting on something different is becoming very clear to me. Thanks for commenting.

I'm late to this thread... My reasons for duplication are very simple. Since I find it hard to find products that would suit me (and there are several reasons for that: from my fussy and wide feet, to poor retail options where I live, specially for my shape and size, etc), I buy the ones I find, in duplicate or in multiple colors of the same item. I duplicate mostly in shoes (my favorite Camper Peu and Right, and Birkenstock Gizeh), jeans (I have a model that fits me fantastically and is very comfortable), regular T-shirts in white and dark blue, and underwear. Allways having a few pieces to rely on gives me a sense of security and the ability to experiment with other pieces such as statement necklaces, handbags and scarves.

I am a duplicator through and through - so it is hard for me to understand why someone would not duplicate!

For so many things, especially underwear, gear, shoes, tops, knitwear, jeans and handbags - I keep going back to the same brands and styles because I know they will work for me - but I have duplicates across all categories in my wardrobe - even dresses and jackets (which tend to be my statements which I have shown in Finds). I really love the ease of duplicated items in different colours because it makes coming up with different combinations easier. My favourite designers seem to repeat styles - so most duplicates are bought in different seasons and with the dresses, I had the black first and then a great colour or print was released.

Thanks Bijou. Maybe my “lessons learned” above, about why I don’t duplicste, as well as comments from Anne and others, can help you understand the other side of the fence.
The dresses & jackets here are great. Still, I think I would see such a purchase as a special thing, and choose just one.

Bijou, this thread was really about multiples of the exact same outfit item. I wouldn't count your lovely dresses and jacket. That's what I was posting about. If I found a perfect for me Cue dress, getting it in a print could be attractive

Good point, Anne.

Bijou, do you also have exact duplicates? I’m thinking that many of the things for which you didn’t post finds might exist in your wardrobe in identical renditions.

A pure duplicate (exact same thing) is four items bought duplicate to keep one pristine when the other was worn out.

1. Cotton shirt that I found at Uniqlo in Japan - I bought two, I am keeping one pristine, so that when shirt #1 wears out, I have backup. I loved the style and the colour is a perfect match for my bag (which I have thought I wish I'd duplicated the bag). I have had the bag and blouse for 3 or 4 years now - the blouse is very hard wearing and I have worn it so many times because I know that I have one in reserve.

2. Favourite t-shirt - bought two because I am a bit of an Inari Fox fan and unique Japan find.

3. Am on my second (first sweater has been worn out) pink Zara sweater.

4. Have a back-up Hello Kitty t-shirt (also Uniqlo)

FI, if one has a consistent style and palette and is fussy about getting the right fit then one filters the available options differently. If you have French Girl style then most offerings in a store won’t fit your style and you will snap up those that do. So Angie’s periodic posts about striped tops are catnip for those with that style, who are likely to snap up a couple of the tops in different colors if they happen to be from a retailer who makes products that consistently fit that shopper. Similarly, if you have a preppy style, you will be looking for sweaters with a couple of classic cuts, from retailers who get that lack of excessive ornamentation is a good thing, and are likely to duplicate. It’s only if you have a maximalist style that you want everything to have individual impact. So instead of being sort of critical of the duplicators, recognize they may have very different style goals.

Cat2, what you said about maximalism sums up one of the main things I’ve learned through this thread. I’ve learned from YLF that my tastes are pretty maximalist. But I do get classic cuts, and avoid excessive ornamentation (although “excessive” is in the eye of the beholder). As Zaoebi (I think, but too lazy to page back through on my phone) commented, adding details is one way to cover for poor quality. All that aside, this thread has shown me that I’d much rather have several similar tops than multiples of the same one. Where some see a plain white top as a reason to duplicate, I see it as a reason to variegate. (The other main thing I’ve learned is how some people define a love of fashion differently from me.) Learning how others see stuff here often shows me something about myself—this is no exception. Sorry you felt criticized—was absolutely not intended.

I am not being critical about having a maximal style or loving ornamentation, just pointing out that it is a perfectly valid style decision actively avoid the variety you seek.

Cat2, good, because I didn’t feel criticized. I’m just exploring differences, and assume others here are helping me out and/or exploring differences themselves. It’s all good

Bijou, I love that you have a backup Hello Kitty T-shirt. Hello Kitty was a favorite of my son’s when he was little; we’ve hung onto his comforter as guest bedding.