So much has changed regarding the state of the world since I last posted. Although it feels trite and trivial to be writing about my wardrobe amidst so much pain, chaos, and unrest, I recognize that many people want to have other things to read about besides what’s going on in the news. While I’ve been reading a lot of news myself, I’ve often needed a break and found a dearth of new alternate content to peruse. We all need some balance in terms of the information we consume, so I’ll leave the commentary on national and world events to those who are far more qualified to weigh in on it than I am, and I’ll move forward with my standard content here on the blog.
Sometimes when I’m struggling with anxiety (which is a common occurrence for me), I turn to wardrobe management as a way to distract myself and quell the “noise” inside of my brain. Since other people like to read my wardrobe musings, I’ll continue to share them here on the blog. I had thought this post would be related to personal style, but I’ll save that one for next time (hopefully next week), as I’d like to follow up on a few things from my last post.
Part of that post dealt with examining my closet “holding zone,” as well as what I’ve termed my “skinny box,” both of which I’ve recently combined in a single plastic storage bin. After reviewing each individual item again and reading your comments, I’ve come to decisions on almost everything – and I’ve also decided to pass on some additional items. Today’s post recaps what I’ve opted to do – and why.
A Brief Review…
As a reminder, here are the items that were a part of my holding zone as of my last post. While all of these items fit my body, I wasn’t wearing any of them for one reason or another.
Additionally, I also had the following pieces stored away because they were too tight for my current figure:
As you can see, there’s a total of eleven items between these two categories. If you look back at my last post, you can read the reasons why these pieces had been set aside from my working wardrobe.
Holding Zone / Skinny Box Update
I thought that I’d likely wait a month or two before deciding upon the fate of the above items, but after re-reading my own words and considering some of the comments that were submitted by readers, I opted to revisit them earlier.
I tried everything on again and ended up choosing to pass on seven of the eleven holding zone/skinny box pieces, as shown below:
I just didn’t feel good in any of these garments. The reasons varied, but the bottom line was the same. They weren’t in line with my personal style aesthetic and the way that I want to look and feel. I’ve also really come to understand how important fabrics are to me. I don’t like to wear anything that’s stiff or scratchy, or that doesn’t have any “give” to it. Here are a few quick notes about why I’m passing these seven items on:
- The full-length black pants fit me well, but I didn’t feel good in the fabric.
- The ruffled collar on the coat was too “ornate” for my personal tastes. I could have maybe seen myself wearing it for a more formal occasion, but such instances are exceedingly rare in my life.
- The maxi skirt wasn’t quite maxi length on me, plus the waistband was too thick and loose.
- The two pairs of cropped pants were baggy all over and a bit too short. I ultimately decided that it wasn’t worth trying to alter them because they would never be quite right.
- The burgundy pants accentuated my proportionally larger hips and thighs such that I always felt the need to wear a longer top and/or topper with them to avoid feeling overly self-conscious.
- The black and white skirt was too flared in silhouette for my current style preferences. I prefer straighter and/or asymmetrical fits these days.
So, as you can see, I had good reasons for letting all of these items go. I just needed to take the time to examine why I didn’t wear them, and that helped me to understand that I likely never would. I highly recommend that you do a similar exercise with the items in your closet that you’re not wearing. It can be very enlightening and help to lighten the load of your closet clutter (if you have it).
I do feel remorse about these items, as none of them received more than a few wears. The skirt was a hand-me-down, so I don’t feel too bad about it, but the other items were purchases that I should have never made. But I can’t go back and change the past, and keeping ill-advised purchases in our closets won’t bring back our wasted dollars (or Euros or whatever…). I’ve far too often thrown good money after bad by altering garments to try to make them work for me. I almost did that with the cropped pants, but a reader’s comment (thanks, Sally!) made me reconsider. Here’s what she wrote:
“The 2 pairs of Lululemon dance studio crop pants in your holding zone are only 25”, which is why they are too short on you, and also the swift fabric is only 2-way stretch. I don’t recommend trying to get them altered.”
Sally was right! Now I realize that I need to aim for at least 27 inch inseams on my cropped pants, as well as 4-way stretch for sufficient comfort. This is a very specific example, but it illustrates the point that if we learn our lesson from the pieces that don’t work for us, it’s not really wasted money. It’s like what Marie Kondo (of KonMari fame…) tells us to do: thank our castoffs for the lesson and move on.
Lessons from my Castoffs
So what are the lessons I’ve learned from the above purged items? Here’s how I would classify them:
- Don’t settle in terms of length on pants, even with cropped pants. There is an optimal length for me for both full-length and cropped pants, and I should hold out until I find pants that fit that criterion, even if it means buying and returning lots of items.
- Stick with fabrics that have some “give” to them and feel soft and pliable to the touch. I don’t like stiff or scratchy fabrics and won’t wear such items, even if the color, style, and silhouette are in line with my preferences.
- Don’t buy pants that make me feel self-conscious about my lower half. If I have to wear a longer top or topper with the pants in order to feel attractive in them, I should pass them up and instead look for pants that will work with shorter tops and without a topper (it does get warm where I live, plus I want pieces that are more flexible and versatile).
- Be careful about the details on garments. I prefer simpler styles, so I should beware of extra features like ruffles, flounces, and the like, as I will always feel self-conscious and “off” when I wear them.
- Try to avoid side pockets on pants. I didn’t mention this above, but with my larger hips, I’ve found that side pockets often tend to bunch out and look unflattering on me. I often need to sew them closed, which isn’t always a successful alteration. It usually works, but there have been times when the line ended up looking “off.” It’s better for me to find pants without side pockets or with pockets that zip closed (like the two full-length pairs of pants pictured above, which didn’t work for other reasons).
Basically, the bottom line is not to settle. This is a lesson that I should have learned long ago! I think that because pants and skirts are so challenging for me to buy, I get weary of the buy-and-return process and end up saying, “This is good enough.” Well, it’s not… I’ve learned time and time again that I’m picky and so I need to remain picky during the purchasing process. When I’m not, I end up wasting money and feeling guilty and bad – and still having few bottoms to wear. After all, it’s not what’s hanging in our closets that matters; it’s what we actually wear!
What I Kept and Why
I did decide to keep four of the items that were in my holding zone/skinny box:
After trying these pieces on again, I decided to put the sleeveless blouse back in my closet. I think it’s a good piece, but it’s a matter of what I pair it with. I’m going to try to wear it this summer and hopefully will learn that I like it after all, as long as it’s combined with the right type of bottom garment. The same may be the case for the skirt, which currently fits me but I’m not so sure about the style. It’s still in the holding zone at the moment, but I’ll revisit it in a month or so.
As for the vest and pants, they remain a bit too small, but I would happily wear both of them if they fit me well now. I likely won’t be wearing jeans that much in the next few months due to the heat, so I’ll try these items on again in the fall and see what I think. The vest is also mostly a fall/winter item, so I’m okay with waiting a few months to decide on its fate. I’m still going to be on the lookout for a similar style in a size up (medium vs. small), but since I purchased the vest back in 2015, that may be hard to find. However, since it’s a classic style, I might be able to find a similar version from another brand once fall offerings are available online and in stores.
Additional Closet Purges Made
While I was considering the fate of my holding zone/skinny box items, I also decided to look at other pieces in my closet that I was on the fence about. I tried on a number of items and was honest with myself about how I looked and felt wearing them. As a result, I ended up throwing six additional pieces into my donation bag:
Of these six pieces, just two were worn enough to achieve a good cost-per-wear: the black parka and the striped skirt. The parka was worn literally hundreds of times (it was purchased in 2011), but it’s now too snug in the hips when zipped, especially when I’m sitting down. Since I purchased a new winter parka to replace it last fall, I’m ready to pass this one on. It was a good purchase and it served me well, so I have little guilt or remorse about it.
The skirt was purchased in 2013 and was worn 24 times. No, it’s not up to the 30-wears benchmark, but it does have a cost-per-wear of $1.67, which isn’t bad at all. I haven’t worn it since 2017, but I kept it around because it had once been a favorite. I thought I wasn’t wearing it due to my menopausal weight gain – and that’s part of the issue, but I also don’t love the style as much as I once did. Maybe it was just more flattering on my slimmer figure, but I’m not feeling it anymore, so I’m letting it go.
The other four items were all purchasing mistakes. Three of them were low-cost thrift/consignment purchases, but the coat was a retail buy that I also had altered. I think I like the idea of some pieces more than the actual application of them, or maybe I like the way items look on other women and think I’ll feel the same when I wear them myself. The problem with the moto coat was that it only looked good when it was zipped closed, and that’s just not ideal or practical for me. I like to wear my coats open and keep them on indoors sometimes, as I tend to run cold. I think that I’ll steer away from asymmetrical closures from now on, unless they look good when worn open. I used to have an asymmetrical knit moto jacket that I wore all the time. I actually never wore it closed, but it looked great open. That’s the type of asymmetrical topper that works for me and it’s the only type I will buy moving forward.
Some brief notes about the other three pieces… The burgundy faux suede jacket was great in theory, but not in practice. It was too long in the front to look good with a skirt of dress, which is how I had hoped to wear it, and it was too short to pair with pants (the proportions looked off). The stripes at the bottom of the maxi skirt made it difficult to pair with tops and also made it less flattering to wear (the stripes broke up the clean line). I think I would have liked a skirt that was striped from top to bottom rather than just in part like this one. The joggers were a bit too short, much like the cropped pants that I wrote about earlier in this post. I would have needed a tall size, but when one shops at secondhand stores, we get what we get! Wasted money is still wasted money even when something is cheap, which is a truth that I need to remember.
Some Thoughts on Resale Shopping
Even when all of the stores open up again, I don’t think that I’ll do much thrift or consignment buying. This is mostly because of the fragrance issue that I wrote about in my last post (thank you to those who offered tips and advice on that subject), but I also think it’s tough to be as discerning in that environment. Secondhand shopping offers a “treasure hunt” type of experience, which is great for those who need a lot of new pieces or who can be extremely mindful of what they purchase. For those who already have a closet full of clothes and only need to add very specific pieces, such shopping can be frustrating and a waste of time. It can be like looking for a needle in a haystack to try to find items on a short shopping priorities list in a resale shop. Additionally, secondhand shopping can be problematic for shopaholics who have low resistance to snapping up “good deals.” Those of us with compulsive shopping challenges may find it difficult to remember in the heat of the moment that just because something is low-priced, it doesn’t mean that we need to buy it!
The bottom line is that I want to buy very few pieces for the remainder of this year and I want to focus those purchases on my true wardrobe needs, which mostly center on my at-home capsule. That’s how I spend the majority of my time, so that’s where my clothing dollars should primarily go. If I can find good crossover pieces, all the better, as those will give me the biggest bang for my buck, so to speak. If I buy out-and-about only items, I want to stick to my list, which I outlined in my last post and will recap below:
Shopping Priorities List – June through December 2020:
- Turquoise short-sleeved top (amended to say “or topper,” as either would suit my needs)
- Burgundy short-sleeved top
- Black straight-leg jeans
- Red or red print dress
- Tanks or short-sleeved tops to pair with skirts – black, solid colors (2-3)
- Red topper
- Replacement black flat sandals
I think I may have found my red topper (just waiting for what should be the right size to arrive), but the rest of the items remain on my “to buy” list. I’m not in a huge hurry to find most of them, as I have plenty to wear. These items are mostly “wants” rather than true needs, with the possible exception of the black flat sandals (as my current pair is quite worn out).
Conclusion – and Your Thoughts
I didn’t think I would have so much to say about my wardrobe midway through 2020, but the shutdown and sheltering in place have given me more time and space to consider what’s in my closet and how it is or isn’t working for me. In my next post, I’ll discuss what I’ve learned about my personal style this year and how that has impacted – and will continue to impact – my wardrobe and what I choose to wear. After that, I’ll likely switch back to non-wardrobe topics for a little while.
When I started this blog in January 2018, I didn’t think that I would write much about clothing and shopping, but those subjects continue to be top of mind for me and seem to be popular with readers as well. I think I needed a break from such topics when Full Life Reflections began, but I came back around to enjoying writing about them as time went by. I probably didn’t need to switch to a completely different blog, but it felt like the right choice for me at the time. Hindsight is always 20/20! Regardless of the name of the blog, though, it’s still me writing about my life journey, whether it’s about clothes, technology, life balance, relationships, or whatever else I feel compelled to explore (see my full post archive here).
As always, thank you for accompanying me on the ride, and I welcome any feedback you have to offer regarding this post, whether it be about my wardrobe or your own. Here are a few questions to help prompt your thoughts, but feel free to weigh in however you’d like:
- Do you maintain a “holding zone” for items you’re not sure whether to keep or pass on?
- What types of items are you usually on the fence about purging from your closet?
- Do you keep a list of the items you pass on and why? If so, how has this practice been helpful for you?
- What are your most common purchasing mistakes? What have you learned from these shopping errors?
- Conversely, what types of items are you generally successful in buying?
- What types of items – or clothing details – do you feel you should you never buy again?
- Do you shop in resale stores? Why or why not?