Avoiding oversaturation

You know that moment when you suddenly don’t love ____ anymore and find you have a dozen versions there in your closet awaiting the inevitable purge?

In the late 90’s I’d somehow managed to amass a very sizable floral print dress collection.  Never mind that florals aren’t really me to start with, but unearthing over a dozen when I went to assess things in late 2010 really hit home that I had gone too far.  Who needs a dozen floral dresses??

I decided that I do not want to repeat that scenario.  It’s fine to play with a new trend or silhouette.  No, it’s better than fine, it’s a wonderful way to refresh your wardrobe.  But these days I tread lightly.  I dip my toe in before jumping in the deep end.  I’ve discovered a rule of three that works in most every clothing category.

One dark neutral – One light neutral – One color or pattern

Around the same time that I found the plethora of floral dresses, and weeded (ha!) through them, I had discovered the newly trending ballet flat.  They were everywhere.  And I wanted to join in on the fun.  So, I went ahead scoping out some for my closet.  This was my first foray into thinking about how I was shopping.  I hadn’t made the concrete rule of 3 yet but was formulating the basis for it.

I started with a pair of black zipper detail flats.  The zippers gave me a bit of rock ‘n roll edge so I didn’t feel so like a suburban mom.  No offense to moms in suburbia, but that’s just not me.  Then I got a cream pair of Dr. Scholl’s on deep discount.  A bit of an impulse purchase because of the sale price, but they were still on my mental list of wants for that season.  Lastly, I got some red patent peep toes with silver heels.  I felt the metallic gave me, again, that bit of edge.  Then I stopped.

That is where things changed from previous years.  I had one dark neutral, light neutral, and bold color.  I was good.  These covered just about any and every outfit I’d want to put together with a ballet flat.  And they all got wear.  One pair came out as the fave, and one became a semi-orphan but still got at least a few wears every year.  For about 3 or 4 years they got pretty good closet rotation.  And then they didn’t.

Late 2013 the fashion sneaker was coming around and the flats started to get pushed aside.  I began to realize they were a little ‘delicate’ for my true style and ended up selling off 2 of the 3 pairs at consignment.  I still have the black zipper detail ones.  I’m a sucker for zippers, what can I say?

Buying just the limited number of this trend allowed me to fully embrace it, but not feel I was overhauling half my shoe wardrobe when the fancy passed.  I was comfortable with ditching the 2 pairs.  They’d allowed me to play; given their service to my wardrobe, if you will.  And then it was time to move on.  No biggie.

Had I continued whole hog and amassed 8, 10, 12 pairs of ballet flats in the myriad textures, patterns and colors that were out at the time, I’d be singing a different tune when I fell out of love in favor of my new attraction, the fashion sneaker.

This rule of 3 can be applied to several trends I’ve tried this year.  Swing tanks (black cutout, white split tail, dalmatian print), loose silky button fronts (black faux Equipment, white drape front, bright blue split tail), and booties just to name a few.

Try it and see if you can’t get a ton of mileage trying out a new trend, without going all in only to regret it a few seasons later when you find yourself purging _____ that was so 2014 lol!

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21 thoughts on “Avoiding oversaturation

  1. I LOVE this Mo!
    Ever since I first heard this concept I have kept it in mind. It is very useful when trying to decrease closet numbers and increase wear of the stuff we love.
    I also once heard that if something is worn on a daily basis it pays to duplicate the item; for me this is workout clothes and footwear.

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    • I agree in some duplication of ‘workhorses’. But when trying something new, sometimes we think it’s going to be our new wardrobe go-to only to find a year later it didn’t work out. I wholeheartedly believe in going deeper into a category once you know it’s a pillar of your personal style. (says the gal with not only white and black skinnies, but red, ikat, blue python, etc, etc LOL)

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  2. I’m so excited that you have a blog now, Mo, and I love all of the posts you’ve done so far! I’d love to share your blog in my October “useful links” post if that’s okay with you. I think my readers would really enjoy and benefit from your insights. I hope you will still comment on my blog from time to time, but I will definitely be following yours. Welcome to the blogging world and best wishes!

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  3. By the way, I wish I had adopted your philosophy on oversaturation years ago, as I have more than one story that’s similar to your floral dress tale. I do plan to take this on now, as I still feel the pull toward, “If one is good, then five or six is all the better.” Wrong! Thanks for sharing your insights!

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  4. The more, more, more feeling can be hard to control at times. I bought the halogen pleated skirt in brown/black and really liked it and my first thought was that I should get another one. I realized that it wouldn’t add to my wardrobe but instead compete with a piece I already had so I decided to resist the temptation.

    I think the philosophy you have outlined is very useful for trends that may or may not stick around.

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  5. I’d never heard of this rule of 3 — one dark neutral, one light plus one wildcard. Makes a lot of sense. I think my categories are out of whack, imbalanced. Now I need to take a look at my wardrobe with this in mind. Looking forward to future posts Mo.

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  6. I formulated it after looking back at failed overbuying and successful careful buying lol. By and large, the ballet flats scenario cemented it for me. Ever since, it’s worked great. I tend to buy slowly, anyway. No ‘hauls’ over here 😉

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  7. Hmmm . . . I hear you, but wonder if you have suggestions for those of us that generally don’t touch most light neutrals with a 10-foot pole?

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    • Light doesn’t have to be white or cream. It could be olive or grey. But perhaps you really do not wear any neutrals beyond dark ones . . . I suppose you could tailor it to your closet. Perhaps a dark neutral, a color, and a pattern? The reason I chose light, dark, then color or pattern was that it remixes almost endlessly (once you hone your color palette) and it keeps your closet balanced. I have patterned tops and bottoms, not just all black bottoms or blue jeans. I have colored jackets and shoes. Again, not a row of all neutral shoes that don’t look much different from each other. I found I get a lot of visual bang for my buck with this method.

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  8. I must have missed any posts about the rule of 3 because this is the first I am hearing about it. Very sound logic and I will start using it. Quite by accident I found that 3 items in a given category work really well for me (e.g., three work slacks, three skirts, three leggings). I hope you will write future posts incorporating this idea because I sometimes need to be reminded in order for an idea to stick.

    I know my wardrobe is out of whack. I was switching out my summer wardrobe with my winter wardrobe and discovered I had 12 button down shirts (five are the exact same color of blue). There is no way I need 12 button down shirts. Yet there they are.

    I know some people proscribe to the idea of duplication, but based on tracking actual wears, I find that I wear the original often, but wear the duplicate only rarely. Even if I get the duplicate on sale, the cost per wear is always higher than the original. It just doesn’t pay for me to duplicate things. I think the five blue blouses are an unconscious decision to duplicate “a workhorse.” Yet I will never be able to wear all five. I’ll wear the original once or twice a week during the fall/winter months.

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  9. This is a great tip. I can see where I’ve purposefully done it to good effect in my closet (in skinny jeans for example) and where I’ve disregarded it and ended up with too many similar things of a similar value. The same tunic top in dark green and black? not a good idea, nor is having similar dark booties when I could really use at least one lighter one. I find the ‘light neutral’ is often the toughest to find the right one to buy unless we are talking tops. I have my light neutral colors clearly defined, but they aren’t necessarily widely available at stores 😉

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