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Too many choices can lead to a fashion disaster.
Too many choices can lead to a fashion disaster.

15 wardrobe essentials to prevent fashion disaster

My wardrobe is overwhelming me.

I try not to be a clothing hoarder. (Hashtag: #FirstWorldProblems.) I diligently make routine donations to Goodwill. Bags full of garments I am willing to part with exit my home regularly and yet, so much attire still remains. Gazing at "my side" of the closet, I am overwhelmed by the collection of fabric hanging wistfully. Open a drawer and my heartbeat quickens from the stacks of T-shirts that no one person could get through in a year. One human certainly does not "need" this much variety.

In fact, too many choices inevitably lead to a fashion disaster.

Enjoying style is one thing. But the over-consumption of attire I have participated in is confronting me every time I meander into my closet. I am a bargain shopper, so if it’s on sale for $5 and it intrigues the avant-garde in me, I snatch it up and add it to the masses. But, those purchases add up, pile up and crowd together.

As I get older, I understand the concept of investing in better quality, most likely more expensive wardrobe basics/staples and having less of them.

There is a part of me that wants to part with the majority of it. Pare down the clutter into minimal basics. Inspired by an email from that touted "15 Pieces, 10 ways," I wondered if I could reduce my wearables down to the basics, a scant 15 items. Would my inner fashionista be satisfied with fewer choices? Perhaps she’d even be relieved at a clearer picture of coverings. Maybe reducing volume would inspire creativity in the mix and match realm.

Before I attempt to downsize on my own, I queried some of Milwaukee’s most influential style mavens for their advice. If they could only have 15 pieces in their entire wardrobe, what would it come down to? I went to an array of sources, so find the gal you identify with most and heed her advice! Or mix and match their suggestions to create your own custom, 15-piece collection! Be mindful of their overlaps like black leggings or the "little black dres…

"What is done in our studio is very gymnastics-like. We consider pole dance to be one of the many forms of the aerial arts," says Metzger.
"What is done in our studio is very gymnastics-like. We consider pole dance to be one of the many forms of the aerial arts," says Metzger. (Photo:

Rethinking the pole

Contrary to popular belief, I am not, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer.

I do, however, own a silver pole, the kind that typically brings to mind high-heeled ladies in various states of undress, climbing, clinging to and performing athletic feats of contortion on. It has never, however, been unpacked from its box that has been hidden deep in the depths of the scariest place in our home – the attic – until this very week, as I started thinking about Valentine’s Day and thought the shimmering shaft would be a nice opportunity for a photo op.

Full disclosure – the photo idea preceded the writing idea of this piece, which in turn, took a spin in a much different direction. I was originally motivated to write about inappropriate Valentine’s gifts (next year!), but this blog twirled into other territory when I realized why, perhaps, that pole sat collecting cobwebs for so long.

The pole was a Val-Day gift five years ago from my then-boyfriend and now husband. I don’t remember if I asked for it, motivated of course, by the pole fitness craze or if he invented the reason for this gift himself, but I’m sure we had very different ideas of the purpose of this pole. I imagined hour long "workout" sessions that would create the lean, lithe muscles of a "dancer" and, well, I’m sure my sweet husband’s intentions were pure as well. What neither of us imagined was the controversy a little pole could stir up.

Mention pole dancing for fitness or muse philosophically about the silver beam as an element to any "profession" (there are restaurants where food/beverage staff remains fully clothed, but shimmying on a pole to choreographed dances is part of the job description) in a social setting and be prepared for a backlash.

Pole-discussion seems to make people very uncomfortable – for both the women who swear up and down that they would never climb for "less than…" or "only with my clothes on" or "no way" and the men who squirm at the thought of their amore sl…

"Trade ya?"
"Trade ya?"

Barter your way to a better life

I am a vehement Craigslist enthusiast for a multitude of activities. I find the site a useful resource for freelance jobs in my makeup/fitness realm. Its calendar of events can be a goldmine of local activities. Do not underestimate the entertainment factor that can be glommed from the "Missed Connections," "Rants and Raves" and "Pets" sections.

Most of all, I utilize Craigslist for its "For Sale" area. If you want it or need it, God knows it's gotta be on Craigslist. I think of it as another way to save money, to consume less, to recycle and reuse. For all of that and a feeling of camaraderie with my fellow penny pincher, the shining star of the 'List is the "Barter" area.

Bartering has a rich history and is almost a primal instinct in children. Remember the power an individually wrapped piece of candy had at the lunch table back in elementary school days? That morsel of sugary goodness could be exchanged for any number of material desirables.

How about baseball cards or Garbage Pail Kids – a "collecting" activity motivated by the barter system. "I'll trade ya for a ..." fill in the blank. You could get what you wanted by means of exchange back in the day. Trading items is not only useful, but has an element of sportsmanship that makes it fun too, so no wonder kids see the option of exchange as a natural means for an economic system to get what they want.

These days, Craigslist is the hub of the bartering world (for me at least – if you know another resource – do tell!) I have found much success recently doing what I call the "Barter Bus." It started with "Bowflex Dumbbells for Spin Bike" and then went successfully to the next stop, "Trade Spin Bike for Treadmill."

I got an almost instantaneous response and therefore, immediate gratification almost identical to shopping for something brand new! You can start at a one-item destination and trade up to whatever your last stop will be. Remember that guy who traded a paperclip for a house? The Barter Bus can …