The 80/20 Rule

It’s an axiom known as the ‘Pareto principle’, named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who discovered that roughly 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. It turns out, the same ratio could be applied pretty much anywhere: 80% of sales are made by the same 20% of clients, roughly 80% of the world’s wealth is owned by the top 20% of the wealthiest people, and if applied to fashion, then, roughly 20% of what’s in our wardrobe is what we spend 80% of our time wearing. Indeed, the principle may be correct: As I’m writing this, I’m wearing my all too familiar oversized black knit sweater atop grey joggers that have kept me warm through the winter months. It’s not for lack of clothing that I choose this as my ‘go-to’, but mostly comfort, ease, and, frankly, what’s available – the first thing I see and reach for in my closet. The problem with the 20% that we often wear, however, is that it becomes clothing that comes to present us as ‘comfort’ – if not, frumpy, rather than fashionable, stylish, professional, or even ‘well-put together’.

In efforts to remedy the 80/20 fashion cycle, I spoke to Toronto-based fashion designer, founder of Venao Swimwear, stylist, and influencer, Tetiana Paratchuk, for her go-to tips:

“The 80/20 rule is very true and it is simply because of our comfort level and how we display our clothes in our closets. Most women forget the items they have in their closet until they get to cleaning it.”

Tetiana’s first step to getting out of the 80/20 cycle: purge it. “Closet purging is something that every person should do and it involves you going through your entire closet and taking out everything you haven’t worn for 6-12 months. I absolutely recommend everyone do a closet purge, as through this process of “shedding” you’re making space for a new, upgraded you. I myself do this every season and donate the clothing to various charities and shelters.” When it comes to helping clients or giving recommendations, Tetiana advocates for not going at it alone:

“This process is especially fun when combined with a friend and a glass of wine! Make sure your friend doesn’t allow you to try on the clothes and tells you the truth about the item if you truly need it or if it has to go. Don’t be tempted to keep it.”

After the purge, organizing one’s closet becomes key to making sure the 80% of unworn clothing goes noticed:

“I reorganize my clothing by color and whatever category the item is. For example, knee length dresses and mini dresses would be hanging together, because they are in the same category of dress. Evening gowns would be hanging with other evening-wear or long jumpsuits. Blouses and casual shirts would be hanging together. It’s an easy way to find the items based on the occasion instead of going with what’s near. And keep purging – as you go through your seasonal clothes, you can now concentrate on the combinations of clothing you’d be wearing that season and everything that doesn’t make the cut, donate it”, advises Tetiana.

One of the main keys to the organized closet is that you can now see everything you own, and, subsequently, everything you don’t, including a few key items Tetiana recommends: “There are go-to staples every woman should have”, she says. “A little black dress that fits you like a glove, strappy high-heeled sandals, preferably nude in color or red, fitted jeans, knee high boots, leather jacket, high wasted black trousers and a nice fitted off-white or light coloured blouse.” Other items she recommends include a blazer, trench coat and “of course, the perfect bikini that you feel sexy in.” Adding these items into the mix not only gives a professional, pulled together look, but offers classics that can be mixed and matched with already owned items in your closet.

For more unique pieces, Tetiana suggests shopping for your measurements, most of all height, and continuously trying on new looks until you’ve settled on your own style:

“Most of the time when women shop, they forget to take in consideration their height. It makes a huge difference in the way your clothing fits. Women who are under 55 need to purchase Petite clothing items that will sit perfectly on the waist line and give correct chest positioning. This is especially true with fitted items. To cultivate your own style, just keep trying new styles until it feels good. Once you find it you will have the internal feeling that ‘this is me’ and I love how I feel in it. It’s the reflection of your inner beauty and self-expression. I’m still learning and having fun with my style. It’s ever-changing! I dress according to how I feel and as I grow, my style changes with me. I think it’s one of best parts of being a woman. You get to play with your style and you don’t have to be the same every single day.”

And on that note, I think it’s time I trade in my joggers for trousers –but the black knit sweater, I’ll keep!

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