If you have a wardrobe of 27 pieces, how often do you wear each piece?

The Self-Made Wardrobe is a project where I only wear garments I’ve made for a year.
It was a year about making things and seeing what happens.


As agonizing as it initially was, one of the best things about photographing every day of the self-made wardrobe is that, now the project is over, I can go back and look at things like how many times did I wear each piece of clothing?

I ended the project with a wardrobe of 27 pieces of clothing. Plus a made-by-me winter coat, and a handful of tank tops.

So how many times did I end up wearing each piece of clothing?

self made wardrobe # of wears graph
(click to embiggen)

It turns out a lot, or a little.

This graph shows straight up the number of times I wore each piece of clothing, I just went through the photos I took each day and counted.

I’m not all that astonished that I wore my black maxi skirt and my graphic silk circle skirt the most. I’m also not surprised that the second cluster from a scale of most worn to least worn included my 1st Archer, my cascading flowers skirt, my boring black sweater, or my jeans.

I’m a little bit amazed that my black maxi skirt and my graphic silk circle skirt stood up to 92 wears and 85 wears respectively, and while the circle skirt is showing a little bit of wear and tear, the maxi skirt looks like it could go for another 92 wears.

The fact that I wore my handknit sweater dress 22 times amazes me. I could have sworn I had worn it, at most, once or twice. Though thinking back on it, that was the piece of clothing I turned to when I just wanted to stay in my pjs all day.

I’m a tiny bit surprised that I only wore my handspun handknit sweater 7 times, and my 2nd purple pullover 4 times – but these few number of wears has more to do with how late in the year I finished them, not how much I love them.

self made wardrobe day garment introduced
(click to embiggen)

You see I first wore my handspun handknit sweater on day 206, and my 2nd purple pullover on day 270, towards the end of winter, so neither sweater had much of a chance to get worn before the weather turned warmer.

While I was counting how many times I wore each piece of clothing (tally marks for days…), I made a note of when each piece of clothing first appeared.

This creates a pretty accurate (though not perfect) timeline of the order I made my clothes in. With the exception of a handful of pieces I made before the self-made wardrobe, I usually wore a new piece of clothing no more than a day or two after I finished it.

Since this is a makes a decently accurate timeline, I found it really interesting that from Day 1 through Day 98 there was a pretty steady introduction of new clothing. Then from Day 98 to 206 there were only two new pieces, my 1st Archer, and my 1st purple pullover. And at the end of the project there were a handful of pieces all of which I really adore.

This actually makes a lot of sense.

I started the project with a scary small number of made-by-me clothes, so the beginning of the project involved a lot of making clothes in order to have something to wear, which led straight into fall & winter sweater knitting. And then when I got a comfortable number of clothes I got a little bit of burn out, so I didn’t make as many clothes. Then when I started making clothes again, I had a much better sense of what I would love wearing, so some of my absolute favorite pieces came more towards the end of the project.

wears as percentage of days owned
(click to embiggen)

Since I already had the number of times I wore each piece, and the number of days it had been part of the project, I thought it would be interesting to look at the number of times I wore each piece of clothing in relation to how long it was part of the project.

So this chart shows the number of times I wore a piece divided by the number of days I “owned” it (for the handful of pieces I made before the self-made wardrobe project “owned” = was part of the project).

For example, even though I wore my jeans for the first time on Day 230 of the project, I managed to wear them 45 times, which is about once every third day, or 33.09% I owned the jeans. Make sense?

Along with my jeans, I’ve managed to wear my grey maxi skirt about 1/3 of the time I’ve owned it as well, even though it was the last garment I made for the project (the final piece of the project is actually a toss up between the grey maxi skirt and my 2nd archer button up, the archer was worn before they grey maxi, but got it’s buttons added after the skirt).

I’m not all that surprised that my black maxi, 1st archer, and graphic circle skirt are all hovering around 25% of their lifetime so far.

Though I find it interesting that there are some interesting clusters: my boring black sweater & 1st purple pullover are both at 15%; while my deconstructed sweater & vine print skirt are at 11% (even though they were finished over 150 days apart); and there’s a nice little cluster in the 6.5%-8% range of various garments that I thought I wore more often than I did.

Damn that was long!

I didn’t mean to go on for quite that long, but I hope you found something interesting in there. I found it really interesting to go though and notice patterns that I had no concept of while I was in the middle of them.

I also have some numbers, charts, and thoughts about how much each garment garment cost, and also how much each garment cost in relation to how often I wore it – but I’ll save those for another post, since this just crossed the 1,000 word mark.

If you have any questions or noticed anything else interesting, just leave a comment.

8 Responses

  1. zuperserena

    hi holly! I´ve been reading your blog and loving it! I think calculating percentage days worn over days owned, is unfair to the older pieces. Because even though you wore them a lot, when a new garment appears it monopolizes your attention, so garments appearing at the end of the year have an unfair advantage, because they didn´t have to share your attention with other newcomers. For example, I think you did wear the blue kimono a lot at the start of the project. But then all those new sweaters happened, and then the Archers. And there is seasons too. You could compare days worn in a year starting from day one of ownership, .but when you incorporate your clothes from before the experiment that will affect the conditions too. What’s impressive is the black maxi skirt, one of the first garments made, yet the second highest percentage. It’s funny because I would have thought the skirt you had worn most was the flower cascade.
    I guess it´s true that you don´t really notice as much when neutral basics repeat.

    1. Holly

      Thank you so much for reading – I’m glad you enjoy the blog!

      It’s definitely true that when a new piece of clothing entered my wardrobe I tended to favor it for awhile because it was new, (and the thrill of new clothing is even more thrilling when you didn’t just go out and buy something). So as the final graph in the post shows, my jeans and grey maxi skirt have the first and second highest percentage of wears/days owned and are also the newest pieces, but the next three pieces, my black maxi skirt, my 1st archer, and my graphic silk circle skirt, have all been around for awhile. And from there, this graph is a fairly accurate representation of my favorite to less favorite pieces for daily wear throughout the past year – not 100% accurate, but not totally out in the wilderness.

      Either way, I think wears per days owned is a pretty interesting way of looking at 365 days of wearing clothing, and not something that immediately comes to mind. 🙂

      And I think it’s true that we forget exactly how often we wear our basic pieces, they sort of fade into the backgrounds of our memory. Before I counted, I thought I had worn the cascading flowers skirt more often too.

      Thanks so much for your comment! It was great food for thought.

  2. This is really fascinating, and not just because I love shiny graphs. I think it’s amazing you actually have the data on what you’ve been wearing for a year and it’s actually super useful to have these insights. Looking forward to seeing how much you spend ‘per wear’ on each item.

  3. It’s really impressive that you wore pretty much everything you made. I sewed lots of clothes but I’d say I wore only half of them at all, and maybe only a fourth of them regularly. And even the successful ones, at some point I couldn’t wear because they no longer fit me. I made a lot of effort to learn how to perfect the fit of a garment, and although I followed the steps I didn’t get the desired result. In a sewing book I have it says that it would be easier to lose 5 pounds than to tweak the fit to allow for your extra weight! Yes, it really says that! I’m my case at one point in time my bust was a size 36, my waist 38, and my hips 42. The more weight I gain, the farther apart these numbers go. I think I’d sew more today if I had a higher success ratio of garments.

    1. Holly

      I was pretty impressed I wore most of the things I made too, Keren. I think I had a couple things working in my favor when it came to wearing what I made. Firstly, it was kind of trial by fire, I started out with close to no made-by-me-for-me clothes, so if didn’t wear what I made, I didn’t have any clothes. Secondly, once I found a pattern/recipe that worked, I made a lot. For example, I have a bunch of yoked sweaters that are all basically the same pattern, with some tweaking. Same with skirts, they were all some sort of elastic waisted (usually long) skirt. Same with tank tops, and button up shirts. Thirdly, there were a couple pieces I ended up wearing (and loving) that I never, ever, ever, never, ever, would have picked up in a store, or worn if it weren’t for this project.

      And perhaps finally, I came into this project with piles of knowledge about fabric, and fit, and style, and tweaking garments that aren’t working, that I learned practicing on other people, which (I think) is a much easier way to learn how to sew & knit, then learning by making garments for yourself. Simply because I wasn’t having to distinguish between my sewing mishaps, and my body image issues.

      And there are actually about half a dozen made-by-me-for-me garments that I didn’t end up wearing at all, during this project.

      I hope all that makes some sort of sense. Mostly I’m trying to say that making wearable garments, for you, that you love, is a skill that you can only learn by screwing it up a lot – and the successes are totally worth all the failures. Keep going and you’ll get there.

      PS. That book is bull. Clothing should be made for people. And if something doesn’t fit, just change the damn clothing. It’s easier than changing the person. 🙂

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