September is one of my very favorite months in the mountains. I love taking walks on sunny days with cool breezes, savoring every last drop of the last Palisade peaches, and commencing fall nesting, beginning with a thorough closet sort-out! As an aside, before I comment on my own closet, I was sorting through my daughters’ summer clothes last week and getting emotional over the fact that some things won’t fit next summer, because my girls are growing up so very quickly. I was telling my husband and five-year-old this and she said, “Well, that’s just what happens to kids sometimes. Take it easy, Mom!”

As I eagerly look forward to crisp, autumn days, I’ve been contemplating what’s in my closet, considering what I might need and with what I can make-do, as well as cleaning out summer items that are worn out. As my wardrobe is already quite pared down, I almost feel like there isn’t much to write about here, but I’ll offer a couple of lessons learned from last year’s minimal assemblage, as well as share my short shopping list for fall.

Items on Their Way Out
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A Couple of Summer-Worn T-Shirts: I keep forgetting—don’t buy thin t-shirts with pockets on them. They always get holes at the corners of the pockets!

A Couple of T-Shirts I Kept When I Bought Them for My Husband, but They Were Too Small for Him: I usually just wore these around the house, for cleaning, or when everything else was in the laundry, but wearing them always made me feel like I was dressed like a boy (even though the differences between men’s t-shirts and women’s can be subtle) and like I had given up on life. KonMari farewell.

Ripley T-Shirt: I’ve placed this in the donate bag several times before and then retrieved it every time. I got it with a movie ticket to Alien, one of my husband’s old favorites. We’ve watched the series together a couple of times, so I felt like I should have a sentimental affection for the shirt, but I just don’t.

Items Whose Fates are To Be Determined
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Black Cashmere Crew-Neck Sweater & Black Cashmere Turtle-Neck Sweater: Last fall, I splurged on the crew-neck sweater, having never owned a cashmere sweater before. It seemed so practical, yet luxurious. Then, I was at my local consignment store when I came across the turtle-neck, for a quarter of the price I paid for the crew-neck. It seemed like a good idea. I was even wearing the crew-neck when I bought the turtle-neck. Last winter, I did appreciate the experience of wearing cashmere, which I found to be warm, yet breathable, and luxurious indeed. However, the black color shows every little piece of lint and fuzz, a problem not easily solved with a lint roller. In the future, I plan to purchase grey, as I don’t think it would have that problem.

Also, all last winter, I regularly washed my sweaters in a cold, quick wash in the washing machine, as I can’t bear to spend money on dry-cleaning. I imagine I washed them a minimum of thirty times each. I had purchased my usual size small in both sweaters and, with regular washing, they did shrink to be more fitted—they aren’t tight, but they’re close fitting. Next time I buy a wool sweater, I may size up so far as a large, as I’ve decided I’d like sweaters to have a bit of room and length and be completely comfortable. I think with a large, I wouldn’t need to fear the gradual shrinkage of many washings and I don’t mind the oversized look, either.

While I’ve learned my lessons, I may live with these two sweaters through this fall and winter, to get more mileage out of them.

Cream & Black Collared Button-Up Shirt: I bought this second-hand shirt because it made me feel svelte. It has come to my attention that it would be more modest with a tank-top underneath it. At the moment, I don’t have a tank-top that would work with it, so I’m debating whether to take it back to the consignment store or buy a tank-top. I’m not sure how much I love it.

Shrunken Grey Cowl-Neck Sweater: Shrunken sweaters are kind of a theme in this post. This Land’s End sweater was actually already a bit felted when I bought it at Buffalo Exchange, thirteen years ago, my senior year of high school. It’s not in pristine condition, but I kind of feel like I should keep it, partly because it’s the last piece of clothing I have from high school and partly because I can always use more sweaters in the winter. It’s a bit misshapen, but it’s cozy! And, yeah, it’s heather grey and any lint and fuzz blend right in.

Items One Might Think I Would/Should Get Rid of, but I’m Keeping, because They Spark (at Least a Little) Joy
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Men’s Cognac Wool Sweater: This was my husband’s and I claimed it when it was accidentally washed in warm water. It’s not a color I would be likely to normally choose for myself, but it has a cozy woodsiness about it.

Old, Grey, Stretched Out Jean Leggings, with a Hole in the Knee: These are just so soft and comfortable and, while I’ve had a love-hate relationship with them, as they stretched out at the end of the previous winter, I’ve decided to appreciate them, while they’re still hanging on. My husband told me that when I wear them, I look like a cool college girl, who doesn’t care, and I don’t mind that, so, thanks, Babe! These pair well with the men’s sweater. In spite of my obsessive-compulsive purging tendencies, I like hanging on to a grungy, comfy outfit or two. Update: After a few more wears, I let these go, before finalizing my fall/winter ten-item wardrobe. They just got a little too thin!

Threadbare Chambray: Not pictured in the post, but this is the shirt I’m wearing in my profile picture with the braids (a picture that was taken two and a half years ago, when I was five weeks pregnant with my second daughter and which I’ve wanted to update with a new picture since about two weeks after I started this blog. I really don’t wear braids every day and I’ve actually had and grown out a pixie cut since that picture was taken!). I loved that shirt to death and it has holes in it, but again, it’s so soft and the prettiest blue and I can’t let it go yet. It was actually in a bag with my scrap fabric and wool, but I pulled it out after seeing several examples of pretty mending and patchwork art on Instagram. It’s a trend not everyone will be into, to be sure, but fine stitch work is one of my loves, so I’m planning to patch my shirt to enjoy it a little longer, as wearable textile art.

I’ll reserve notes on the rest of what I’m keeping for a Fall Ten-Item Wardrobe post, in an attempt to keep things organized. However, here is my shopping list of things to consider to fill holes in my fall wardrobe. To anyone considering a minimalist wardrobe, keeping a list is so helpful for staying on track and only spending money on things that will be sure to be useful to you.

Fall 2016 Wish List
  1. A Second Pair of Jeans or Black Pants
  2. Oversized Grey Wool Sweater
  3. Black Tank Top for Under Button-Up Shirts
  4. Sweatpants
  5. A Nice Shirt
  6. Pajamas (I haven’t owned a set of real pajamas in years and I miss having them!)

And that’s it! As ever, I love the simplicity of the ten-item wardrobe and that it keeps me from getting overwhelmed by possibilities. It’s fun to organize and stick to a plan and it makes me appreciate and take better care of what I have, while getting the most use out of it. I’ll share my fall ten-item wardrobe in a few weeks.

What about you? Have you started sifting through things for fall? Are there any tips you’ve learned through dressing with a thoughtful, minimalist mindset? I would love to hear in the comments below!

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susan van wynen
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Inspiring, as always! I have a lot more paring down to do! Just finally got all my clothes unpacked!

Natasha Palmer
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Great post! You always inspire me to keep my clothes to what I really need or love! I definitely need to go through my fall/winter clothes and see what I can get rid of. I also love this time of year..fall nesting. :)

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