This is a follow-on to my March 19th wardrobe over-duplication post, in which I confessed to owning too many cardigans. After writing that essay, I completed the five-step process I devised for dealing with a problem wardrobe category (click here and scroll down for the steps). Doing this allowed me to make clear determinations on the fate of most of my cardigans.
Out of the “sea of cardigans” hanging in my closet, I decided to pass on nine. A few additional “maybes” have been set aside to be worn as soon as possible, which is step five of my process. I’ll likely do an update on the maybes in a future post, as I’ll determine their fate after I wear them. The focus of today’s essay, however, is on the cardigans I’ve opted to purge from my closet, which are pictured below:
Fortunately, I was able to return five of the above cardigans for a refund (I’ll share which ones later in this post), as they were all purchased fairly recently and were still within their return timeframe. I plan to sell three others that had never been worn, two of which still had their sales tags affixed. The one remaining cardigan will be donated, as it was worn multiple times and is in less than pristine condition.
Why I Passed on the Nine Cardigans
Since nine isn’t an overly large and unwieldy number, I’ll go through my purged cardigans one by one and share my reasons for letting them go. I hope that reading through this closet decluttering “post-mortem” of sorts will help you with your future wardrobe downsizing efforts. You’ll likely relate to at least some of my motivations for passing on the cardigans, as many purchasing mistakes are common among shoppers.
To prevent you from having to scroll back up to the photo of my cardigan castoffs, I’ll show them in groups of three below as I delve into my purging rationale.
Purged Cardigans 1-3:
Berry Athleta Pranayama wrap
I own a black version of this wrap that’s been a closet favorite for several years, particularly during the summer months. It coordinates well with most of my outfits, and it’s comfortable and flattering. When I saw this newly-offered pink color, I was instantly drawn to it.
Unfortunately, however, this wrap didn’t fit the same as the black one. The length is a few inches shorter, which created a silhouette that was less flattering on my body. The bottom of the cardigan also “belled” out, and the deep side pockets poked out slightly. Additionally, I found the shawl collar to be somewhat fussy, which isn’t the case with the black version for some reason.
All in all, the pink wrap just wasn’t the same as the black one (maybe they “updated” the design?), and loving the color wasn’t a good enough reason for me to keep it. Fortunately, since I’d purchased it not long ago and the tag was still attached, I was able to return it for a refund.
Black J. Jill button-front jacket
This is called a jacket, but it reads more like a long cardigan in terms of its fabrication and appearance. I bought it on sale in early March while returning an online purchase to the store. It’s a nice piece, but it was just too similar to several garments that I already own. Since it ticked the same box as multiple other items in my closet, it wouldn’t have added much value or versatility to my wardrobe.
If it were another color, it might have been a “keeper,” but I just don’t need more black toppers at this point. In fact, I shouldn’t add any more of them at all unless I come across something so unique and different that it doesn’t occupy the same place in my wardrobe as what I already have.
Black J. Jill striped long cardigan
This was a sale purchase from right before the pandemic started (which feels like five years ago, but it’s really been just over a year). I was drawn to the elegant lines of this cardigan, as well as its subtle silver metallic stripes.
I love the way it looks on the model, but it didn’t fit me in quite the same way. It’s not noticeable in the image above, but there are large slits/vents on both sides of the cardigan. That’s not a flattering detail on my specific body shape, as it adds visual width in the hip area. I fare better with garments that are cut straight across, like the button-front jacket mentioned above.
I thought about potentially asking my tailor to sew the side vents shut, but the cardigan might have been too tight at the bottom as a result. Since I’d never worn this item and couldn’t return it, I have listed for sale to see if I can recoup at least a portion of my investment. The tag is no longer attached (I think I took it off when I planned to wear the cardigan but never did), so I’ve listed it as “new without tags” and will hope for the best.
Purged Cardigans 4-6:
Off-white snakeskin print WHBM cardigan
This was another pre-pandemic purchase, made when snakeskin was having a major “moment” in the fashion world. I love the way this piece looks against the model’s dark skin, but it washed me out with my pale skin and grayish hair. I fell in love with the idea of this cardigan, but it ultimately didn’t work for me.
Even when I was dyeing my hair, many shades of white weren’t flattering on me, even though I’m technically a “Winter” under seasonal color theory. I tried putting on a bright top underneath the cardigan, but I still mostly saw the off-white shade of the top layer – and there wasn’t enough bright lipstick (or a bright mask during this pandemic era) to rescue me from the extreme pallor effect. It’s too bad, but now I know better than to buy something in this shade ever again. The tag was still attached to this piece, so hopefully I’ll be able to sell it for a decent price.
Dark red Halogen long open cardigan
I bought this cardigan during last summer’s Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. It was a beautiful color (and one that suits me well, unlike the last piece), and the fabric was soft and felt good against my skin. Unfortunately, however, the weight of the fabric was flimsy and the cardigan just sort of flopped around without any structure of substance. The length was also in “No Man’s Land” territory on me – too long to be a standard-length cardigan and too short to be considered a duster.
I hadn’t worn this cardigan during the six-plus months since its purchase, which revealed how I truly felt about it. I don’t have many opportunities to wear “out-and-about” garments these days, but there have been occasions when I could have worn the cardigan and chose not to. Nordstrom recently marked these cardigans down to just under the anniversary sale price, so I returned mine and hope it was quickly snapped up by someone who’ll love it in a way that I just didn’t.
Burgundy J. Jill long cardigan
This cardigan was the same size and style as the black striped one I wrote about above – and the issues with it were just as I described for that garment. You can see the deep side vents at the bottom right of the stock photo and how they would flare open with movement (the model must have been in motion when the photo was snapped). This effect led to an unflattering silhouette in my hip area that bothered me, even though my husband didn’t really notice it.
As with the red Halogen cardigan above, I never wore it. I tried to wear it a few times, but I ultimately chose a different topper instead. When we repeatedly fail to reach for something that we could wear, that’s a good sign that we don’t love it. I wish I would have returned this item within J. Jill’s return window, but since its tag is still attached, it will hopefully sell for a reasonable price on eBay or Poshmark.
Purged Cardigans 7-9:
Dried cinnamon Athleta Pranayama wrap
I purchased this same exact cardigan for my mom last fall and wished I’d bought one for myself as well, so I was happy to find it on sale earlier this year. I love this deep autumn hue and think it looks “rich” when paired with black or black-and-white print garments. But as with the berry version I highlighted above, it didn’t hit me in the most flattering place and “belled” out at the bottom.
It seems as if Athleta may have changed the design of this wrap since I purchased my black one back in 2017. I know to stay away from this design in the future, as it’s not flattering on my shape. I suit straighter or more tailored silhouettes, which are also more in line with my style preferences. Perhaps I’ll find another cinnamon-hued top or topper, but I’m glad I opted to return this one.
Fuchsia Chris and Carol waterfall cardigan
I purchased this cardigan, along with a cobalt version of the same style (I told you I have a cardigan “addiction”!), in June 2019 during a daytrip to Palm Springs. A boutique there showcased a large rack of these cardigans in various colors, all on sale at bargain-basement prices. I wore both cardigans multiple times that summer, but they pilled easily and started to look “ratty” in short order. Since I wore the cobalt version more frequently, I already passed that one on last year due to its poor condition. The fuchsia one lasted a bit longer, as I didn’t wear my out-and-about clothes much last year, but it was high time for that one to go, too.
We often get what we pay for when it comes to clothing quality. It can be difficult to discern how well an item will hold up when we’re standing in a store considering a purchase. That said, tissue-thin garments like these cardigans tend to be fragile and not last very long, regardless of their fabric composition and how they’re made. Another issue with this cardigan is that I don’t love the waterfall front style so much anymore and now prefer a straighter silhouette. I plan to avoid drapey and fussy necklines moving forward.
It’s not a good idea to buy multiples of a given style, at least not until we’re sure the item in question is of good quality and will be worn frequently enough to justify a duplicate purchase. Even then, it’s best to limit multiples to just two in most cases, in order to avoid too much “sameness” and boredom.
Navy chenille Matty M. cardigan
With some of the pieces above, the color was the main draw; in this case, it was the fabric. When I put this cardigan on, it felt like I was being hugged by a warm and cozy blanket. I also loved the deep, cool navy tone of this piece, which I ordered through Costco late last year.
When the cardigan arrived, I quickly tried it on over what I was wearing at the time. I initially thought it was a “winner,” but when I tried to include it in my out-and-about ensembles, it fell short. As you might notice in the picture, the cardigan curves inward slightly at the bottom, which resulted in a sort of “cupping” effect in my derriere region. As someone who carries any additional weight in that area, it’s not the best look for me. I love chenille, but this cardigan was ultimately a miss, and I’m glad I was able to return it.
There you have it…. I showed you the nine cardigans I decided to purge from my closet, and I shared my reasons for passing each of them on. In my next post – part two, I’ll summarize the six valuable lessons I learned from doing this closet decluttering exercise. Some of those lessons might also apply to you with your own wardrobes, so hopefully you’ll find that recap interesting and helpful.
As always, I welcome your comments regarding today’s post – and feel free to also share your thoughts about your own closet decluttering adventures. There’s a wealth of wisdom in this collective group, and I’m grateful when readers weigh in with what they’ve learned through their own personal experiences. I’m happy when we can contribute to each other’s education and growth.