Happy New Year everyone! I originally wrote this as a blog post, but figured it’d be something topical to reformat for reddit since we are now in the #newyearnewme week and it could be helpful for folks considering starting up a wardrobe overhaul. I’ve referred to how I personally track stuff in various comments over the years, but here’s the full guide!
As a reminder, we have a few guides written by wonderful users that are helpful for doing wardrobe overhauls:
* [So you want to do a wardrobe overhaul](https://www.reddit.com/r/femalefashionadvice/comments/2sz2lo/so_you_want_to_do_a_wardrobe_overhaul/)
* [Finding a style, building a wardrobe](https://www.reddit.com/r/femalefashionadvice/comments/271tt1/finding_a_style_building_a_wardrobeupdated/)
* [Changing your style and keeping calm](https://www.reddit.com/r/femalefashionadvice/comments/dg3vgn/changing_your_style_and_keeping_calm/)
* [Translating inspiration styleboards into a wearable wardrobe](https://www.reddit.com/r/femalefashionadvice/comments/cd6m24/translating_inspiration_styleboards_into_a/)
* [How to use Pinterest effectively](https://www.reddit.com/r/femalefashionadvice/comments/60991l/new_pinterest_updates_how_to_use_pinterest/) (the 2017 update)
Are you interested in making an inventory of your wardrobe? Taking the next step and recording wear counts of items? Going even further into your exploration of personal wardrobe metrics? In this post I’m going to go over a bunch of different ways you can track your wardrobe inventory and log your item wears or outfits, as well as some things to consider when choosing a method.
I also have links to wardrobe inventory templates I created for Google Sheets and Airtable.
This is a long-ass post, so grab a drink and get comfortable 📚.
# What can you use wardrobe and outfit logging for? 📋
Keeping track of:
* what items you currently have
* how often you wear items (in the long run and short run)
* how much money you spend
* characteristics of your wardrobe (e.g. Do you have mostly spring/summer items? Lots of business casual? What’s your color palette?)
* what things you have in different locations (e.g. storage)
* view past outfits
Can help with planning and decision making:
* see your whole wardrobe at a glance without having to pile it onto your bed
* concretely plan future outfits
* aid when making packing lists
* smarter shopping – identify gaps in your wardrobe and categories that you already have enough (or more than enough!) items for
# Things to consider when choosing a method 🤔
* What do you want to keep track of (i.e. the list of things in the previous section)
* Do you have any long term goals you want to achieve by using wardrobe/outfit logging, like “get my wardrobe down to 100 items because I live in a shoebox”, or “wear all my items as evenly as possible”?
* How much time are you willing to invest up front?
* How much effort do you want to spend on this per day?
* Is collecting metrics important to you? What kinds of metrics? Or are you good with just outfit pics?
* Do you want to be able to track outfits or is wear counts of individual items enough?
* Which of the following characteristics are important to you?
**Ease of use 🍰**
Wardrobe tracking is most helpful when you keep a complete a record as possible of your items and outfits. If something is hard for you to do (either to make time for, physically access, or maybe you find the UI awkward), you’ll be less consistent with it. Also consider how much effort is required to get started, and whether you want it to be easy to update on the go or available without internet access.
Is it easy to get the info you’re interested in out of the data you recorded in the method? Are you interested in seeing statistics, charts, outfit photos, or item photos?
How difficult is it to mess up or lose your data?
**Customization complexity supported 🔀**
How difficult will it be to add to or modify the types of information you’re collecting?
**Data portability 🚚**
How many ways can you access your information? Is it stuck on a hard copy or a single device?
What happens if you want to switch to another method? Can you migrate your old records easily? At all?
# Accounting Methods
On to some methods!
## Pen and Paper 📝
Wardrobe tracking doesn’t need to be complicated. This method is super simple and I feel a little silly explicitly mentioning it, but sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in spreadsheets and such: Make a list of your items. Every time you wear one, add a tick mark or the date next to it. As a bonus, over time the tick marks can also become a loose bar graph of wears.
You can get fancier with this if you like (e.g. you could make and print out templates, or do a decorated bullet journal style setup), but this is a low-effort method that can still be effective!
If you love physical notebooks and want to keep it simple with just wear counts, this is for you.
## Digital document 💻
Basically the same as above, but kept track of digitally in your phone’s native notes app, an app like Evernote, or in a word processing document (handy if you use one that can be edited from a mobile app). If you want the simplest possible digital setup and don’t care about being able to do any sort of fiddling with the list (like automatic sorting), this is a good option.
It’s also easy to set up a list on your phone or a google doc, and then if after a while you decide you want to continue with a spreadsheet, you can just paste the data in, instead of having to manually enter it if you’d started with a physical list.
## Physical methods (hangers) 👖
A classic and method to answer the question “Have I worn this since X date?” For items that are hung up, flip all of them so that the hangers are backwards. Record the date. Every time you use an item and then put it back, put the hanger the right side up. For folded items, you can apply the same concept in a way that makes sense in your storage. If you have things folded in a drawer, perhaps put a piece of cardboard in front of each column of items and replace used items in front of it.
There’s some up front work needed to rearrange your closet, but otherwise this is simple to integrate into your usual routine of getting dressed. It’s an easy way of answering the “what do I even wear?” question, but on the other hand, that’s the only question it answers as it doesn’t keep track of number of wears.
After some length of time (one month, six months, a year), you can then take a good hard look at all the untouched items and decide whether it makes sense to keep them. If you want to do this continuously, you can record the wears in a spreadsheet periodically.
A slightly more advanced version of this which I read about on [FFA](https://www.reddit.com/r/femalefashionadvice) involves cutting a standard number of notches in a piece of masking tape which is attached to each hanger. Every time you use an item, you can tear off a notch.
## Spreadsheet 📊
There are lots of ways you can set up a spreadsheet to track your wardrobe, but the simplest setup could just keep a list of total number of wears for an item. You could then add more columns for things like category, brand, color, purchase date, and season and create filter views. Formulas can be used to calculate things like cost per wear and wear rate, and making graphs like charts showing the representation of brands or colors in your wardrobe.
If you’re up for the extra set up, spreadsheets can be a better option than a plain text list if you want to do more customized number crunching (like keep track of spending, cost per wear, wears per week) and make charts from your data, or want to be able to filter your lists by category for easier viewing. However, it can be annoying to edit these on a phone (e.g. on Excel or Google Sheets mobile apps) so if you think that you won’t bother to update your sheet regularly then it may be worth either forgoing the bells and whistles and sticking to a basic list, or using a dedicated mobile app.
### Sample Spreadsheet 1: Wardrobe inventory focused on individual item wears
You can view this sample spreadsheet on Google Sheets [here](https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1AdBpRuN8znwk58OxMnNS-ZVR8Y5Vdfbwmc7-ZhenN7Q/edit?usp=sharing) and get your own blank copy of it for google sheets [here](https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1CHaNZ3SoC6X5h6-dlzeHTnY-afbugxh9KiXMtNYNkac/copy). This one automatically calculates wear counts based on entering individual dates in a separate tab. This is nice because then you can log exactly when things were used, not just how many times. This could be modified into a single tab setup by removing the formula for “# Wears” and just manually incrementing the field.
[screenshot of spreadsheet items tab](https://mgetsdressed.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/screen-shot-2018-09-10-at-12-27-41-pm.png?w=1100) and [wears tab](https://mgetsdressed.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/screen-shot-2018-09-10-at-12-27-16-pm.png?w=1100)
### Sample Spreadsheet 2: Track outfits with Google Forms integration
Someone commented in some other discussion that while spreadsheets are great when you’re at a computer, one thing that can be an issue with them is that they’re annoying to update from a phone. Recently I remembered that Google Forms feeds into Google Sheets, so I had a go at updating the original sample spreadsheet to be more mobile-friendly and include outfit tracking instead of tracking each item separately. The following spreadsheet can be viewed **[here](https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1rxBY4TUW2umAljhIuWowEX5QHz527tyc6KcragK7Jv0/edit?usp=sharing)**, though the “Outfits” tab has been unlinked from the original form. I don’t think there’s a way to share a Google Form so that it can be copied without manually adding collaborators, but the setup is pretty straightforward:
I made a form with fields for
* Date: Forms automatically log the time a form was submitted, but if you’re going to log outfits at a later date, then that needs to be specified. I made this a required field, but I suppose it doesn’t need to be.
* Occasion (multiple choice): To categorize the outfit as loungewear, officewear, etc.
* Outfit rating (linear scale): So you can easily find your great or meh outfits for recreating or analyzing your outfit styling later
* Tops / Bottoms / Shoes / etc (checklist with option to write in an item “other”): One question for each clothing category that lists all your items in that category.
* Photo (file upload): I set this to only accept photos and videos. Setting this as a question will upload these to a google drive folder with the same name as your form. You may or may not want this if you’re already keeping track of your outfit photos somewhere and need the extra space in your Google Drive.
* Notes (paragraph)
I also turned on the option to allow editing responses. Note that a form can also be hooked up to an existing spreadsheet of the right format, so you can make a copy of this sheet and then hook your own form up to it if you want to use this format but don’t want to retype all the formulas.
You can save the URL to your form as a bookmark on your phone. It basically makes it an app 🙃
[Album with screenshots and more description](https://imgur.com/a/L9UWNF3)
Because I’m lazy and didn’t want to figure out the formulas myself, I used the pivot table feature to pull the average outfit rating of all the outfits that include that item.
This is neat because then you can add other categories as rows and see more granularity of ratings for each item, e.g. average outfit ratings for different combinations of tops and bottoms.
When you add or remove items to your wardrobe, you can then update the form checklists to match.
Some things that could be added to this:
* adding the average outfit rating for the items as a column in the main tab for a category
* making more charts (e.g. outfit ratings over time)
* a tab that shows all the items together. I think there should be a way to do this with the google sheets query API language, but I couldn’t be bothered to work it out for this example (hence why I personally use Airtable 😛 )
* include more fields for each item like brand, price, color, season, and price per wear
# Dedicated App 📱
If you want to keep track of more complex metrics than a simple wear count, but setting up and maintaining a spreadsheet and charts yourself sounds like the opposite of fun, then using a batteries-included mobile app might be the best method for you. If you’re primarily interested in a tool to help you with visual outfit planning, then an app is definitely the way to go.
This section could be its own post! There are a lot of comparison articles out there already such as [this one](https://insideoutstyleblog.com/2016/03/readers-favourite-style-and-wardrobe-apps.html) from Inside Out Style Blog (note that it’s from 2016 and the discussed apps likely have updated some features since then. If you search FFA for “outfit tracking app” or “wardrobe tracking app” or any of the specific apps, you can find more reviews and discussions) for the proliferation of wardrobe organizing apps. Some popular and similar ones are **Stylebook** (iOS), **YourCloset** (Android), **Cladwell**, and **SmartCloset** (both).
[The screenshots here](https://imgur.com/a/o4GuNT7) are all from Stylebook, which is the only one I’ve personally tried. I was spurred to try it after Polyvore (may it rest in peace) shut down and I was looking for an easy way to make outfit collages.
* One of the biggest pros of these sorts of apps is that many of them have a collage feature to help you plan outfits, and that you can easily track outfit wears in addition to individual item wears. Seriously, this is great. Don’t let the shorter list of pros make you think this is a bad option.
* They also usually have built in features for making neat graphs like what percentage of your closet is which brand, color, etc; lists for most and least worn items.
* They also have lots of cool features like random outfit generators and travel packing lists, and some apps have a community feature where you can share outfits or get styled by other users.
* Nice mobile interface
* The first to consider is that for many of these, there’s not an easy way to export your data in a way that you can use outside of another instance of the app. Also, if you’re relying on an app that has external hosting, if the app company shuts it down then you can lose everything (like what happened with Polyvore). On the other hand, with self-contained apps you need to make sure the app is being backed up regularly as part of your phone back ups so if you lose your phone, you won’t lose months of logging.
* I emailed Stylebook to ask if CSV export was possible or a feature they could add, but their customer support said that they couldn’t comment on future development and it was not currently possible.
* Another con for Stylebook specifically is that since it’s not connected to the ~cloud~ (but tbh also a pro, since you don’t need data/wi-fi at all to use it) you have to manually sync each item and outfit recorded on your app like a savage if you want to use it on multiple devices. Other closet apps exist which are cloud connected. SmartCloset, for example, has an instagram-like feature built into it (iirc).
* There’s also more overhead to adding items to your virtual closet. At least in Stylebook, the app requires that you have a photo to use for the item at the time you create the record for it. You can always use a placeholder photo and update it later, but if you know you’ll be bugged by not having a clean photo for each item, adding them can be a lot of work, even if you don’t do your whole wardrobe at once.
* In the same vein, if you know you’re not going to care about labeling each entry with its size, fabric, color, etc, this option might be unnecessarily heavyweight.
* Some of these apps cost a few bucks.
Airtable is a spreadsheet-database hybrid web and mobile application. If you’ve ever thought “spreadsheets are nice, but really they should be relational databases with a nice UI”, then you’d probably like Airtable.
**You can view and clone the template I made for this Airtable base (their term for templates) [here](https://airtable.com/universe/expTICh5Zt2uymkG1/wardrobe-inventory-and-outfit-log)**. There are also more details about the base itself there.
I am not partnered with Airtable and do not receive any money for plugging it. I’m sharing because I have personally found it a very useful service. The free tier of the app I’ve found usable for personal use as a wardrobe tracker. There are other wardrobe tracking bases available if you search the Airtable Universe, and you can certainly make your own from scratch.
[Here are some screenshots of various parts of the UI](https://imgur.com/a/Vr2jOZv)
Here are some actual views from my own (the UI is richer when it’s viewed from the account that created it, though there is still some filtering and sorting options for public views)
* [Gallery of items](https://airtable.com/shrFzlrwtwA2cIV8R/tblQkH8LVsuASOsgh?blocks=hide)
* [Gallery of items I wore in the past 30 days](https://airtable.com/shrPp1AQXEJFxoin1/tblQkH8LVsuASOsgh?blocks=hide)
* [Spreadsheet view of items](https://airtable.com/shrF0c7XKlSodPHXy/tblQkH8LVsuASOsgh?blocks=hide)
* [Gallery view of favorite outfits](https://airtable.com/shrr7UKyKMvik1BHv)
**Pros and cons**
* IMO Airtable’s main advantage over spreadsheets is in *item* visualization. The UI allows you to easily set different views (multiple filters and grouping on table view, gallery view of photos with customizable tiles). You can also do this in spreadsheets, of course, but I’ve found it *so* much more pleasant to do in Airtable. Personally one of the features I use the most is checking which items I’ve worn in the past n days for different categories, and it’s much less annoying to switch views than in a spreadsheet.
* The gallery view isn’t officially supported on the mobile app, at least on iOS, but you can bookmark links to embed urls to get read-only gallery views in a browser.
* A visualization con is that graphs and fancier features like pivot tables are only available in the paid tier, so you’d need to export/copy the table you’re interested in graphing and do that in another software.
* Its main advantage over an app like Stylebook is customization as well as being able to export data in a non proprietary format. I also like that there’s a desktop and mobile interface.
* There’s even an API you can use for free to do [CRUD](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Create,_read,_update_and_delete) operations on your base and load data into your own scripts for analyzing it.
* There is a limit on the number of records you can have in a single database on the free tier. Depending on how big your wardrobe is, you may need to cut a new base every 2-3 years. Personally I don’t find this a con because I don’t care how many times I wore that sweater in November of three years ago, nor do I have any goals realted to ultimate wear counts or cost-per-wear all time, but if you’re interested in very long term tracking you’ll have to cough up (it’s currently $120/year, about the cost of a Netflix subscription) or just use a different method.
* If you’re already familiar with relational databases or complex spreadsheets, Airtable is straightforward to use. If you’re into DIY, you can basically build your own super duper custom wardrobe tracking app with it. If you aren’t, they’ve got some pretty thorough documentation as well as a support forum, but for more complex setups the learning curve can be higher than the previously mentioned methods.
* In my experience the Android app, while it technically exists, is so buggy as to be functionally unusable. The iOS app is very usable for data input. I primarily use it in desktop browser when actually analysing things.
Personally, I use Airtable to track my wardrobe. For a few months I used Stylebook (in parallel), but I decided I preferred having the ability to do my own data munging and create more specific views, and that seeing actual outfit photos on myself was more useful than seeing the collages anyway. I still have the app on my phone and use it to make collages if I’m planning a packing list or for a 10×10 challenge though.
If even this is not enough to sate your desire for data collection and display dashboards, there is of course the option of building your own wardrobe management software / webapp. I’m going to call that as out of the scope of this article 😛
# Visual Methods
These can be used on their own if you just want a visual record of your items and outfits, or you can combine these with one of the above methods.
## Photo Album 📸
This is what it sounds like. Take a photo of your outfit every day and/or store stock or original photos of your items for collages. Keep the photos in an album on your phone or computer, and/or back them up on any of Google Drive, Imgur, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. (remember to check that the privacy settings you’re using aren’t set to public if that’s a concern for you). This is possibly the easiest way of getting some form of wardrobe tracking into your life, without any data entry aside from taking photos and filing them into an album.
* You may want to start a new album or board for each new year or season to keep things at a manageable size.
* Instagram and Pinterest are good options because they have options for private accounts/boards, if you like to have your outfit pics and your outfit inspo in the same platform. The ability to create sections in Pinterest and Saved albums and hashtags (I’ve seen people use very specific ones like #InstagramAccountDressesForWork and #InstagramAccountDressesForPlay to categorize their fits, though this always runs the risk of someone else picking up the hashtag and diluting it) in Instagram are also nice features for sorting through things.
* If you make a WAYWT Instagram, you can find a lot of FFA-ers with the #redditffa tag.
* There is the entire can of worms of the social aspect of using Instagram for WAYWT/OOTDs. Having a community built in can be great for moral support, but then there’s the whole potential social-media-drain-on-mental-health thing if you make a public account.
* There’s a great FFA [guide on how to take good outfit photos with your phone here](https://www.reddit.com/r/femalefashionadvice/comments/2iupe5/taking_outfit_photos_with_your_phone/)
I like seeing all my outfit photos together because it’s easy to see outfits that I relatively like or dislike, plus it’s just much more helpful than only keeping flatlay collage images because you can see how fit varies over time, or if colors fade or fabrics get bagged out.
Generally I highly recommend taking outfit photos if you are interested in improving your personal style (whatever that may mean for you) because there’s really no substitute for having a record of outfits on your own body, and in the long run it’ll make it easier to mentally picture outfits on yourself when choosing outfits or thinking about how a potential purchase would fit into your wardrobe.
## Paper Dolls
If you loved playing with paper dolls as a kid (or even now!), making a miniature version of your wardrobe can be a fun tactile way to visualize your wardrobe and quickly see different outfit combinations and reveal how versatile items are. This obviously requires a large amount of upfront effort and you may also want to consider just using an app that has a outfit building collage feature.
You can print and cut out small photos (stock photos if you can find them will likely be clearer than any photo you take yourself) of your items to pin or magnetically stick to a calendar each week, or if you feel like exercising your art skills, illustrate them yourself. Zoe Hong’s channel on YouTube is a great resource for how to render different types of fabrics, although you can certainly still have fun with this with simple doodles. [I did a few of these](https://mgetsdressed.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/rzm96dh.jpg?w=1024&h=1024) once for fun but it’s not a project I think makes sense for me at this time, unless it’s just for drawing practice.
I first saw this idea from gallow_glass’s [reddit post](https://www.reddit.com/r/femalefashionadvice/comments/6rvue1/i_thought_ffa_might_like_to_see_how_i/) on FFA. @dressing_dawn went an extra step and [created stickers](https://www.instagram.com/p/BdyxOb7DsuT/) (this is a link to the instagram post about it) of her minimal wardrobe to use in a planning notebook which I thought was super nifty.
# Conclusion and tips
And that’s all! If you already track your wardrobe, chime in! I am but one person with one person’s experiences. What method(s) do you use, and how have you found it helpful? Do you have any tips for people interested in tracking their wardrobes? **Please note that if you share links to google sheets, your comment will be automatically filtered by automod for approval and not be visible to the subreddit right away, and depending on your settings, your name may be publicly viewable from the sheet**.
* The #1 takeaway is consistent tracking is best, so choosing the method you’re most likely to actually stick to is a better strategy than trying to go all out and burning out on it.
* Don’t feel like you need to put your entire wardrobe into any of these at once. You can do one section at a time, or simply add individual items as you wear them.
* If you don’t want to take photos of your own items, see if you can find the stock photo online, or something similar. It’s not like you’re going to be selling the item and need 100% accuracy, so as long as it makes sense to you, go for it.
* Try and work this into your routine. Log your outfit at the same time every day. Maybe before you go to bed, or right after you put it on. I log mine on the bus while I commute.
* To motivate yourself, be clear on why you’re doing this. Write your reasons down. If you ever feel like tracking is a huge drag and you are no longer getting anything useful out of it, then quit confidently! You can also always downgrade the way you track things to a simple list, or just photos if you started out with a more comprehensive method.
* For spreadsheets or Airtable, consider looking at metrics which are rates in addition to just counts. i.e. if you’ve had something for 4 years and something for 4 weeks, it’s going to take a long time for the new thing to catch up, and that may not feel representative of how much you actually wear them if you just do total wear count vs wears per month. Cost per wear is also a metric many people like to use.
* If you’re going to bother with a more intensive method like fancier spreadsheets, schedule some time in periodically to actually look at your damn data. Otherwise you may as well just use a simple list with counts or just keep photos.
Also, yes, this is a pretty big part of how fashion manifests as a hobby of mine, so if you just read all this and are thinking that I’m way too into wardrobe metrics, you’re not wrong. To be honest I currently use a combination of Instagram (I like the visuals, editor, and social aspect), Airtable, and google sheets (for making graphs at the end of the year) which for 99% of people is complete overkill. If you have never felt the need to track your item wears or outfits, it certainly is not a requirement because there’s no one way to do personal style correctly.