Category: Organization

How to Remember to Pack Underwear

Recently, I was invited to a beach weekend with a group of my friends.  In my excitement I completely forgot to pack some pretty crucial items.  I mean underwear and toothbrush crucial.  Fortunately, you can buy underwear and toothbrushes anywhere these days!  However, I would could have saved myself a huge amount of hassle (and a little bit of money) if I had a go-to packing list for occasions like this.

This winter when I was flying all over the country interviewing for jobs I had a specific interview packing list.  It included the clothing for my pre-interview dinner, and my interview, as well as the toiletries and other specific items that I would need.  This list made packing very easy, and it allowed me to feel secure knowing that I had not forgotten anything.

The beach trip made me painfully aware of how little I can trust my own brain to remember even important things.  So, with that experience behind me, I am setting out to try to ensure that it never happens again.  Here is my beach trip packing list:

A weekend beach trip:

bathing suit(s)


casual outfits for lounging around

dressier outfits for going out






workout clothes

sunscreen/aloe gel

shampoo/conditioner/hair product/hair ties

face wash/moisturizer


body wash/soap





cards/board games

beach towel

cell phone/cell phone charger

tea bags (I am not a coffee drinker, so I take tea bags with me pretty much everywhere.)


I have easily adapted this list to help pack for weekend trips to visit my family.   I removed all of the beachy items (sunscreen, bathing suits) and added church clothing.  Also, I keep a running pile in my house of things to return to my mom. That “return-to-mom” pile is also on my list.  I have saved both of these lists into my Google Docs and will reference it from now on when I am packing for a trip.


Clothing Swap

Throwing a clothing swap with friends is frequently tossed around as a frugal way to update your wardrobe.  I’ve always been very skeptical of this idea, probably because I didn’t want to come across like a cheapskate/werido to my friends.  Fortunately, I have friends who are much less insecure than me who decided to invite me to participate in their clothing swap this year!

(Side note: Of course I didn’t judge my friends for organizing this. They suggested something that I thought was a great idea, but was too insecure to bring up.  Lesson learned: don’t be afraid to suggest things that seem a little unconventional.  Other people probably have the same ideas anyway and will be thrilled that you brought it up!)

So that was how I found myself full of good food, with a glass of wine in hand, rifling through my friends’ clothing this weekend.  Everyone brought their unwanted clothing, which was spread throughout the house so that others could try on and take whatever they liked.  Everything left over at the end was donated.

Before the swap, I did a wardrobe inventory to identify the clothes that I would take to the swap and to give myself some basic guidelines. My main rule for myself was that I would not take anything that I wouldn’t spend money on.  I’m trying to be more organized and minimalist, so I did not want to use this as an excuse to start accumulating crap that I don’t need.  I chose to focus on dresses because that was what my wardrobe inventory told me that I should look for.

So how did I do?  Do you remember how I said that I don’t need any more skirts?  Of course I chose a skirt.  It was this lovely, hardly ever worn J. Crew skirt.  It went perfectly with the shirt that I was wearing (so I knew that I would have something that I could wear with it), and it fit perfectly.  Well, perfectly except that it is too long.  However, I feel comfortable enough with my sewing skills to hem it myself.  I’m going to put it in rotation as soon as I hem it.  If I don’t wear it, it will get donated!

The second item was a casual button-down shirt.  In the past I have bought button-down shirts but didn’t ever wear them.  However, I noticed that I do wear button-downs if I can roll up the sleeves, if they are long enough, and if they don’t need to be ironed.  The button-down at the swap met all three of my criteria and will replace a shirt that I have in my closet that is too short.  I have already worn that shirt this week, so I’m confident that it will earn its spot in my closet!

I took several items to the clothing swap, so I feel great that I still had a net loss of items this weekend.  I am trying to buy a little more used clothing.  It’s good for my wallet and for the environment.  As I have gotten older, I have noticed that my priorities have shifted some.  Right now, I want to spend less on my clothing and contribute more to my student loan payments, retirement fund, and vacation savings account.  Of course I would love to be able to spend more on clothing, but I realize that I don’t want to sacrifice my other goals to have a perfect wardrobe.

My Wardrobe Inventory

Is there ever anything that is more dissatisfying to a woman than her wardrobe?  I always feel like I have too much crap and not enough quality clothing.  Earlier this year I tested out Project 333 for a couple of months and was actually really pleased with the results.  Limiting myself to 33 items of clothing seemed really challenging initially, but I soon realized that I tend to wear the same (very small number of) items over and over anyway.  Even better, moving the rest of the stuff out of my closet freed me up to see what I had more quickly.  Suddenly getting dressed in the morning was much easier!

I decided to go through my closet this weekend to take an inventory of the clothes that I have.  I need some clothes for work, but I wasn’t quite clear on the specific holes in my closet.  The numbers were pretty surprising to me, actually, and now I have established some new ground rules for my shopping.

Here’s what remained after culling a few items:

1 suit

2 pairs of jeans

3 pairs of dress pants

4 skirts

9 cardigans

3 sweaters

11 blouses (including 7 camisoles that need to be worn under a sweater or blazer)

6 long-sleeved T shirts (casual and dressier)

4 camisoles

4 t-shirts

6 work dresses

3 cocktail dresses

1 blazer

*This list does not include my workout clothing or sweatshirts.

Nine cardigans!  I do wear the hell out of my cardigans, but nine is insane.  Especially, when I admit that I really only wear 3 of those most of the time.  I was also surprised to realize that I have 4 skirts because I rarely wear them. To me, finding tops to match skirts can be quite difficult, so I end up pushing them to the back of my closet and forgetting them.  On the other hand, I love my dresses.  I don’t own a single dress that doesn’t make me feel great when I wear it.  Unfortunately 1/3 of the dresses that I own are special occasion dresses that I might wear once or twice a year.

With these numbers in mind I have devised some rules for myself:

1. No more skirts.  I am also going to challenge myself to wear the skirts that I do have more often, and give away the ones that aren’t earning their space in my closet.

2. No more cardigans or sleeveless camisoles.

3. Purchase more work-appropriate dresses.  No more cocktail dresses!

4. Wear the blazer more often.  I have a great khaki blazer that I love but never remember to wear.  I’m sure my cardigans would appreciate the breather.

5. Pick up some 3/4 or long-sleeved blouses.  I have 3 sweaters that I don’t like very much.  Most of my long-sleeved T-shirts are pretty ratty too, and are not work appropriate.

6. Consider getting rid of more items.  Start the 33 item challenge again to simplify preparing for work in the mornings.

7. Check out the local consignment shop.  I have read great reviews about this place but haven’t been yet.