The 5-Year Wardrobe Plan

What will your wardrobe look like in a year from now? How about five?

Ever since I was a kid, I always loved thinking about my “dream wardrobe”, from collages of magazine cut-outs to folders of saved images. To me, it’s more than just indulging in materialist fantasies — it’s a form of creative release that renders your eye for beauty, imagination, and deepest aspirations into a tangible vision: the careful assortment of artifacts that represents you. Or the version of you in this particular narrative you’ve got going on. On another level, it’s also a low-stakes way to satisfy needs for control and perfection. It feels therapeutic in a way similar to playing computer farm games or collecting baseball cards.

As time goes on, however, my inspiration boards, albums, and lists usually become buried and forgotten, although occasionally some wished-for items do make it into my closet. But what if out of the “play” comes something can stay with you for a while? Something in between the fantasy montage and the systematic checklist — a way to consolidate your needs, desires, and dreams into a wardrobe “plan” that just might be attainable?


The Concept:

  • Create a projection of what your wardrobe will look like 5 years into the future. What items will you still have? What items do you hope to add?
  • To be used as a reference guide/wishlist/set of parameters, helping you plan and create your ideal wardrobe
  • To help you look at your current wardrobe and consider what are the keepers, what are mere fillers, and what will need replacement over time
  • To imagine how your style and wardrobe will evolve, in conjunction with where you hope to be
  • To be updated and modified on an ongoing basis

This exercise is not meant to be a prophetic forecast, nor a completely make-believe game. My rationale for creating this plan, aside from the fact that I’m a lover of plans, is to represent my wardrobe goals in a way that’s more defined than a never-ending Pinterest board. As a person who cares about personal style, I’m constantly attracted to new things. As a person who cares about reducing waste, I’m cognizant of slowing down consumption and managing my closet turnover.

I chose 5 years because it seemed like a good number — a milestone that’s not impossible to look ahead to, but leaves enough distance for gradual wardrobe transformation. I don’t know for certain what my future holds, but I do have some some expectations of where I’d like to be: more advanced in my career, living in a city with access to nature, perhaps with a little family. I can also rule out where I probably won’t be: living on a ranch in New Zealand, travelling as an undercover Michelin inspector, or colonizing Mars.

The plan includes pieces I already have in my current wardrobe, some of which you’ll recognize. There are also new items, or item-types, that I hope to acquire. Of course, it’s all based on what I like right now, influenced by trends of the present day, which may be terribly irrelevant in a future with 3D printed blouses and shapeshifting suits. It also doesn’t take into the account the inevitable impulse purchases — the gorgeous alpaca sweater from an artisan in Peru or the vintage silk dress that fits like a glove — but it’s meant to demonstrate limited wardrobe capacity. Am I willing to swap out something else I wanted for this? Does this fit into the overall plan? Will I still have this in five years?

The 5-Year Wardrobe Plan

My 5-Year Wardrobe Plan, a.k.a. the wardrobe I hope to have in August 2025, contains 54 items: 28 of which are pieces I currently have, as well as 26 new pieces. On more granular terms, this means I get roughly 5-6 new pieces each year, provided that everything I acquire between now and then must last through 2025, and the items themselves ideally five years and beyond. It also means that more than half of my current wardrobe will have been retired (I may go into more specifics on my rationale for which items were included/excluded in a follow-up post). In total, I see my 2025 wardrobe having between 50-60 pieces, excluding outerwear and shoes, only a small decrease from its current tally. This is a range that might seem modest to some and excessive to others, but is one I feel comfortable with currently. And fundamentally, I’m less concerned about the specific count than about staying within appropriate limits.

A Few Notes:

  • I expect that a number of items in my current wardrobe, including some that I love, will wear out within the next five years. A lot of my secondhand tops and skirts are already showing signs of wear and damage. I’ll definitely try to mend and repair where I can, but this is why there are more new pieces of those types in the plan.
  • There are also some pieces I’m eying to update at some point in the future, like my off-white turtleneck and felted grey trousers, for quality and stylistic reasons. These are not quite the same as replacements, but I think I would get more use out of upgraded versions of these items.
  • I always complain about how I dislike wearing jeans, but I always end up with several pairs in my closet. For my plan, I’m only including two of the ones I already have and I don’t foresee adding any more.
  • This plan largely reinforces my current uniforms and colour palette: skirts, open jackets, grey trousers, navy dresses, and white tops — but I wholly expect my lifestyle, attitudes towards certain clothes, and dressing habits to shift over time.

My Wishlist:

Of course, the most delightful, creative part of coming up with the wardrobe plan is thinking about what I wish to add, perusing my bookmarks and saved files to reach the final edit. For many of these pieces, the pictures represent roughly the typology of item I’m looking for, and not the specific item (although that navy wrap dress from Margaret Howell is a dream). Some I expect to buy new, like the merino long sleeves; some I expect to buy secondhand, like the Edwardian-style top, and some I hope to make myself. I have a few projects in mind; of these pieces, ones I’d like to attempt making are: the white linen top, the Haori jacket, the merino long sleeve dress, the linen wrap skirt, and the silk shorts — but these are longer-term endeavours. I’ll start with learning to thread a sewing machine first. The only items that are more top-of-mind wants are the bodysuits, which I think would be useful for summer dressing and layering, but the plan requires no urgent action.

I curiously await August 2025 so I can pull this out from the archives and compare the results. I’m also interested in seeing how this plan might evolve in just a year. Will I be on the nose or utterly wrong in my predictions? Will I keep this plan in my back pocket or throw it out the window after the novelty wears off? Regardless of the outcomes, spending an evening drawing up a fantasy wardrobe plan never gets old.

5 thoughts on “The 5-Year Wardrobe Plan

Add yours

  1. I actually tried on that exact MHL wrap dress and it was huge! (I am 5’0) I hear that MHL tends to run large so I guess it couldn’t be helped. I also love utility/belt dresses. There is something really pleasurable about clothes that cinch in – almost a protective quality about them? Sadly the search for that perfect wrap dress continues…

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  2. It’s an interesting thought experiment. Thinking back five years, a lot of the clothes I had then are no longer in my wardrobe: pregnancy and looking after a baby caused me to have to change how I dressed. Some changes were temporary but others have lasted. And lockdown has made another difference. Doubt I’ll go back to carrying a handbag even when it stops.

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    1. I really appreciate your insight. I know it can be hard to predict how your dressing needs and preferences might evolve – I definitely want to have kids in the future and part of me is afraid that’ll mean no more wearing pretty silk things. This experiment is an attempt to consider my current wardrobe and prospective additions through a longer-term lens, which is something I’ve never really done before.

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      1. I was surprised to find that having kids didn’t mean I couldn’t wear white or silk. As long as the garment is washable it’s fine. It made more difference to the kind of shapes and shoes I wear; I found I had to be able to sit on the floor and run easily. No more tight skirts in woven fabrics.

        You’ve certainly got me thinking about what I will be keeping out of my current wardrobe though. I had already started trying to do what the sewing blog world calls SWAP (sewing with a plan) in order to make things that go together, rather than random wardrobe additions. It’ll take about six months to see if it works though.

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