Whenever I go home to England, I travel light. I have had my baggage lost before and it's not fun. Also not fun--dragging heavy bags through airports, on public transport and across Britain. I usually carry a soft bodied bag that limits me to a few items and maybe one pair of shoes--in the winter, with heavy clothing, I can bring even less, especially when I'm also carrying Christmas presents. I do store a few things at home--I have underwear, nightwear, tights, a couple of dresses and a skirt or two. I think hard about packing--I wear heavy items (jeans, knits, shirts) to travel, and, if its winter, boots and a jacket or coat. I bring 2 or 3 dresses--generally one that can be dressed up, a cardigan, maybe 2, plain dark skirt and pants, maybe another skirt, a few tops--striped long sleeved ts, plaid shirt or 2 and a couple of more dressy tops. I may add another skirt, a few different color pairs of tights and, if it's winter, another couple of sweaters. Amazingly, I find I have more options with a few items. I never run out of ideas, I never find myself without anything to wear and it always looks like I have an extensive wardrobe. Back in NYC, I often struggle to find something to wear.
Maybe it's because the weather in England is more temperate that I don't need to worry about the same degree of temperature fluctuations--there's little chance of insane cold or blistering heat and humidity. But I think there is something to the less is more ethos, including the way it causes me to think about what I need to wear and how to put it together. Certainly, I bring some of my favourite items with me but there is more than that involved. I think the clutter distracts and prevents me from being able to see what I have.
So this year is a year to pare back. I still recognize I have the key problems of "investing" in those sale pieces I know I'll wear a lot, and often stockpiling those items (like J Crew cashmere boyfriend cardigans which really don't pill) in the even they will not be as affordable in future years as well as falling for some beautiful but perhaps unwearable/unnecessary items that capture my heart. I'm going to watch out for both weaknesses this year and marshal my willpower and discipline.
I set up Community Closet Sale partly for these reasons--I have lots of lovely clothing that I don't wear and maybe wore once or twice, if at all. I come back to the same favourites--three Rachel Comey dresses, my green plaid Rag and Bone Victorian blouse, my Lyell/Tocca blouses, my blue and white plaid Madewell shirt, my black Rag and Bone pants, my black Lyell box pleat skirt, my Earnest Sewn denim skirt and my cashmere J Crew/Club Monaco/Inhabit crew neck sweaters and boyfriend cardigans and my J Crew striped long sleeved tops. There are other pieces I wear a lot--and of course several of my Lyell (and Tocca) and Mayle coats get heavy wear--but not all of them. I'm also struck by how many of these items are several seasons or even several years old. Of course extreme weather (cold and hot) leads to major changes--the wide leg pants come out in the winter and the cotton dresses in the summer. But you get the point. This wardrobe itself is very much like the ones I bring home to England--not always the most exquisite items I own, but the ones I actually wear.