I have now passed the two month mark with my “half project,” so it’s time for another update (see my first update here). I don’t have as much to share this time around, but I will feature the swaps I’ve made and some thoughts about my summer wardrobe and potential purchases I may make during the coming months.
What I Swapped Out in July
I decided to swap out 12 items this month:
- Pants: 3 (all cropped)
- Cardigans: 3 (2 cropped, 1 long)
- Jackets: 1 (long and tailored)
- Sleeveless Tops: 3 (all short, for skirts)
- Dresses: 2 (1 midi, 1 maxi)
These items are all shown in the photo below:
Most of these pieces are part of my summer wardrobe and I haven’t worn them since last fall. I took some time last week to try on all of my summer items to assess their fit and how I feel about them now. In doing so, I discovered that some things that I originally included in my active wardrobe are not working for me for various reasons. Here are my reasons for swapping out the 12 pieces above:
- Black cropped pants with white side stripe: I still like these pants, but they are very similar to a plain black pair I own that I like more. The plain black pair is a tall size, so the length is better and they’re also more versatile without the side stripe. I will see if I miss these pants and opt to swap them back in this summer.
- Black cropped drape cardigan: I actually have three very similar black cropped cardigans and I decided that I like another one better than this one. This cardigan is a bit too cropped in the back, which I feel accentuates my larger bottom half (which I’m self-conscious about).
- Another black cropped drape cardigan: Yes, there is some definite redundancy here, but sometimes I buy similar pieces in my quest for something that works better for me. Interestingly, my recent try-ons revealed that my original cropped black cardigan is still the best one. It will need to be replaced soon, but I don’t think this one or the one above will meet that need.
- Burgundy long tailored jacket: Although I like the style and the shape of this jacket, the color is not very flattering on me. While I love burgundy, this piece is more of a brown-toned burgundy and I prefer (and look better in) cooler tones. I may explore the option of dyeing it, but I also may opt to sell it, as it has never been worn. If you have any insights into dyeing clothing pieces, please share!
- Burgundy embellished tank: This was a favorite of mine for many years (I’ve had it since 2010), but it now feels snug and my midsection is not as narrow as it used to be (thank you, menopause…). I have put it in my “skinny box” for now, as I would still enjoy wearing it if it fit me well, even though it’s also somewhat warm-toned.
- Cobalt asymmetrical dress: I still love this dress, but I don’t think it looks good in the back at my current weight. It fits, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing it now, so it’s in my “holding zone” and I will revisit it later this year.
- Cobalt maxi-dress: Same comment as for the dress above.
- Navy print cropped pants: I had hoped that these pants would prove to be as versatile as the black and write print pair I wore frequently last summer. Unfortunately, the fit isn’t quite the same and I also don’t have many tops that coordinate well with this pair.
- Olive print cropped pants: The situation with these pants is similar to the ones above, except they are also somewhat uncomfortable due to the stiff linen fabric and wide waistband. I should have been more selective towards the end of last year in adding additional printed pants to my wardrobe. Neither these pants nor the ones above were expensive (they were bought at end of season sales), but I shouldn’t have kept either of them.
- Purple open cardigan: I like the color and texture of this cardigan, but it’s a bit too big for me in the body and the sleeves. It was an inexpensive consignment purchase, but it was a mistake for me to buy something that wasn’t a good fit.
- Red tank with lace straps: I’ve had this tank since 2009 and have worn it often, but like the burgundy one mentioned above, it’s somewhat snug on me now. I’m going to hang onto it for a while in case that situation changes, as I would definitely wear it if it were looser.
- Teal tank with lace straps: Same situation as the red and burgundy tanks.
Since the summer weather only just started this month where I live, I’m going to wait a little while before making any final decisions on what to do with my swapped out pieces. In a month or two, I will revisit them and will likely opt to pass some of them on, while others will probably make their way back into my active wardrobe later in the year (hopefully the two cobalt dresses).
What I Swapped In
Doing my summer wardrobe review helped me to decide which pieces from my holding zone to add back into my active wardrobe. Although I swapped out 12 pieces, I only elected to add 10 items in. This is because I’m able to get back to shopping for “out and about” items now that my two month shopping pause is over. More on that later, but here’s a look at the items I swapped in and my reasons for doing so:
- Black tie-waist cardigan: This is the older cropped cardigan that I mentioned above. I’ve had it since 2011 and I’m sure I’ve worn it over a hundred times at this point. It no longer looks pristine, but it still has some life in it and I like it better than the two potential replacements I’ve found at resale stores. I would still like to find a suitable replacement, but I’m not going to buy anything unless I feel it’s as good as or better than this one.
- Black scoop-neck tee: This tee is shorter in length and I wear it with skirts. Since I now have three black printed skirts in my active wardrobe, it makes sense to add this one back in as an alternate choice (and a more basic option) for the black lace-up tee that’s already there.
- Black tie-bottom tunic length tee: This was sold as a workout top, but I tie it lower and looser and wear it with my summer pants. I already wore it last week after swapping it back in and was happy with it.
- Black twist hem top: I had thought this top was too tight, but it fit well when I tried it on again last week. It will pair well with my two pairs of black printed pants and maybe with jeans.
- Black linen full length pants: These are a good summer pant option, but I worried that they weren’t flattering on me, plus they need to be worn with flat shoes and I usually wear heels. However, I tried them on with various tops and discovered a good number of pairing options that I liked, including the next top…
- Black and white striped tee with black neckline: I had previously left this one out because I thought it was tight at the bottom, but I like how it looks now. Hopefully that means that I’ve dropped a bit of weight (I never weigh myself, so I have to go by my clothes). This top looks good with jeans and looser-fitting pants.
- Green twist hem top: This is the same style as the black one mentioned above, and I also thought this one was too tight. I now like how it looks and plan to wear it with my black and black print cropped pants, as well as potentially with jeans.
- Black watercolor print tank: This top is shorter and works well with skirts. I originally left it out in favor of the brighter tanks, but since those don’t fit well at the moment, this one is back. I plan to wear it with my two black skirts and various tie-waist cardigans (I have four – black, gray, cobalt, and purple).
- Navy Henley tunic tank: I have a black version of this same tank that was part of my original active wardrobe. I left the navy one out because I didn’t think it was as versatile, but I actually like how it looks with my black printed pants.
- Red and black striped high-low skirt: I’ve had this skirt since 2013 and have worn it frequently, but it was too tight for me to wear last summer. I can only pair it now with my two shorter black tops, but I can see myself wearing it enough even with that lack of variety.
Swaps by Category
As you may have noticed, I didn’t always swap “like for like” this time around. In my original rules for the challenge (in this post), I mentioned that I would try to do so as much as possible, but it’s not always feasible given what I have and what fits me. After all, part of why I’m doing this challenge is to better understand what I have and what I need – and to ultimately cultivate a workable wardrobe.
Here’s a look at what I swapped in by category versus what was swapped out (in parentheses):
- Pants: 1 (vs. 3 swapped out)
- Cardigans: 1 (vs. 3 swapped out)
- Jackets: 0 (vs. 1 swapped out)
- Short-sleeved tops: 5 (vs. 0 swapped out)
- Sleeveless tops: 2 (vs. 3 swapped out)
- Dresses: 0 (vs. 2 swapped out)
- Skirts: 1 (vs. 0 swapped out)
It often doesn’t matter if I swap in the same types of items that I swapped out, as I may have more than enough of particular types of items in my active wardrobe. Since my overall wardrobe size is too large, my preference is to use the swaps to pull together a workable wardrobe that is comprised of the right number of pieces in various categories. While it would be ideal for me to be able to do this for all categories, the reality is that I have too many of certain types of pieces and not enough of other types.
If I find I don’t have enough of a given category, that’s where strategic shopping will come in, but I didn’t want to jump in and do that right away, as I might just buy what’s easiest and also make a lot of mistakes. The two month shopping pause allowed me some time to work with what I have and evaluate what I might need to round out my wardrobe.
About that Strategic Shopping…
I’m now allowed to shop for “out and about” items again and it’s critical that I don’t go back to overbuying. After all, it doesn’t matter how well I do at paring things down if I still bring too much in! The first two months of the “half project” have helped me to identify what will make the biggest difference in my wardrobe in terms of new additions. I’ve also realized that I need to replace a few closet staples that are becoming worn out. Since the summer season only just started for me and will likely continue into November, I’m going to focus only on warm weather pieces for now. As it gets closer to when the cool weather usually begins, I’ll re-evaluate that portion of my wardrobe and update my shopping list accordingly (although I think I need less in that area of my closet).
Here is my tentative shopping list for the coming months based on what I’ve learned thus far during the “half project”:
- Midi dresses (2 – one bright and one print)
- Maxi dress (bright color or print)
- Black mid-length skirt (replacement item)
- Tops to wear with skirts (2 – would love for them to be red and cobalt)
- Loose-fitting pants or jeans (2-3 pairs – including cobalt and maybe another black print)
- Red items (tee or tank, cardigan)
- Short-sleeved cardigans or vests (I like to wear a third piece even when it’s warm out)
That’s probably more than I need right now and more than I will have the budget for (both monetarily and in my item allowance), but it’s good to have a list to keep me focused on what to look for – and what not to look for. It’s a good start in any event and will help to prevent mindless shopping and buying whatever’s easiest or whatever catches my eye in the moment. I don’t need a lot of “more of the same,” as all that does is beef up my wardrobe size without adding much outfit diversity to the mix. Then I just end up being bored with what I wear even though I have a relatively large wardrobe, which is something I want to get away from!
In case you’re curious, I have not shopped the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (NAS) this year. The sale only just started last week (for cardholders only) and will continue into early August, so I’m not out of the woods yet. The only way I could see myself buying something from the sale would be if there are items on offer that I can basically wear right away. Since the sale is focused on fall merchandise, that’s not all that likely, although there has been some crossover in the past. I sometimes purchase undergarments, sleep wear, and lounge wear at the sale, but I have recently enhanced those capsules, so I don’t plan to use NAS for that purpose this year. I will admit to having perused the NAS offerings online out of curiosity, but I have already saved myself many hours over what I did last year in terms of shopping the sale in person, buying things online, and doing countless returns. Hopefully I will be able to stay the course and focus more on other things beyond NAS, for which my track record hasn’t been great.
Conclusion and Coming Attractions
I don’t know if I will do a dedicated post each month on my “half project,” but I will keep you posted on a regular basis as to how I’m doing. If any of you are doing the half project or something similar, I’d love for you to weigh in on how it’s going for you. Even if you’re not doing a wardrobe challenge, feel free to share how you’re feeling about your clothes and your style and what your goals are for that area of your life. Sometimes it’s helpful to take a step back and evaluate how things are going, especially at the beginning or end of a season. I know that I have always benefited from the wardrobe analysis I’ve done. My numbers crunching may feel like overkill to some of you, but even a little bit of introspection can help you to move forward in a positive way with your shopping, wardrobe management, and style.
In my next post, I plan to revisit the “normal-sized wardrobe” exercise that I wrote about on Recovering Shopaholic back in 2016. One great thing about that exercise is that it helps us to determine how many items we truly need within each wardrobe category, based upon desired frequency of wear, climate, lifestyle, and clothing preferences. I probably should have done this before beginning my “half project,” but I still think that aiming to pare down my wardrobe by half is a worthy goal. It will be interesting to see if my calculations put me in the same ballpark anyway.
I also plan to write more about the concepts from Cal Newport’s book, Digital Minimalism. Last month, I wrote about the importance of solitude and how our attachment to our digital devices can lead to solitude deprivation. Well, I have now finished Newport’s book and feel that there are many other concepts that I can highlight and explore on the blog. So look out for more posts in the category of information and technology (see my previous posts on those topics here), which is especially relevant given my freedom theme for 2019 – and to all of us in this digital age. Stay tuned, and as always, I welcome your thoughts on the topics explored within this post.