It’s my first real post! It took so long to write this up. Definitely going to try filling out the September one throughout the month as I buy/return/donate things instead of putting it all together in one day. But I did do a style overhaul recently so there was a lot more to write about! Feel free to skim or skip to sections you’re interested in.
I’m going to go over:
- an overview of my item counts
- my favorite outfits
- what I bought, returned, and donated
- and what’s on my wish list and purge list.
Let me know if you’d prefer to see these as separate articles, or if there are some sections you’re more interested in than others. I figured since these are all things that only make sense to write about at the end of the month, they might as well be in the same post.
I’ve provided links to stuff I liked that’s still buyable if you want to check them out, but none of them are affiliate links.
Closet Metrics 📊
What am I going to do with all these numbers? I don’t know exactly! I don’t have a goal number that I want to shrink my closet down to, but I do like having more space in my apartment. I like having options, but what’s the point of keeping options that you never reach for? I think I’ll use this to get my closet to a state where I wear everything at least once a month (accounting for seasonality and things like hiking gear or formalwear), whether that means getting rid of things or just wearing neglected items more.
Also I assembled this all ‘by hand’ from my Airtable database – I am definitely going to need to write a script or something that parses this all out if I’m going to be doing it every month. I didn’t realize how many stats I wanted to pull out!
This month ☀️
Not counting things classified as loungewear or activewear, in August 2018:
- I wore 83 items – 50 items of clothing and 33 accessories (jewelry, shoes, belts, scarves)
- across 34 outfits
- with an average of 6 items per outfit.
- 31 items (62%) were only worn once
- Average all time wear count was 14 (median was 7)
- Most worn this month was my green field jacket at 9 wears, followed by my uniform t-shirt, button-front cami, and olive trousers tied at 4 wears.
State of the wardrobe 👕
I haven’t been keeping my tracking 100% clean over the almost 2 years I’ve been doing it, so a handful of things are likely miscategorized (e.g. t-shirts that should be counted as loungewear, jewelry that was lost or donated). But I’m not staking money on any of this, so 95% accurate inventory is better than no inventory.
Earlier I said I didn’t have a goal number of items to pare down to, but just for fun, if we’re going by “everything should be worn at least once a month”, then a wild guess is that would be around 75 pieces of outfit clothing: something like 15 tops, 15 bottoms, 5 dresses, 15 layering pieces, 5 outerwear, and maybe another 20 pieces to account for different formality levels and seasonal pieces should be plenty. But I can get into my personal philosophy towards closet minimalism in another article (TLDR there are lots of ways to focus on environmental/humanitarian stuff, but everyone has a finite amount of energy to devote on these things. Being hardcore about a minimal/sustainable wardrobe is not my thing, although I certainly try not to be completely thoughtless about it.).
What I actually have:
- 180 clothing items, 129 of which are not loungewear, activewear, or thermals. Of these, there are:
- 48 tops
- 27 bottoms
- 14 dresses
- 11 outerwear
- 29 layering pieces
- 66 accessories
- 18 pairs of shoes (including rain boots, flip flops, hiking boots)
- 40 accessories (27 of which are jewelry)
- 8 bags
- 4 languishing swimsuits, 2 of which are workout suits. I haven’t really tracked these, but I also am not sure I’ve been swimming more than once in the last 2 years 😐
- 26 loungewear items, accumulated over about 15 years of being roughly the same size.
- 16 workout items (general workout + ballet stuff)
Wear counts for clothing items (over ~20 months):
- Worn once: 9 items
- Never worn: 10 things (I’ll probably go over these in some future blog post)
- Average wears: 11
- Median wears: 5
- Worn once: 1
- Never worn: 8 (including sunglasses and chore flip flops that don’t get tracked and 2 new shoes that I want to get half soles put on before wearing)
- Average wears: 30
- Median wears: 8
Top: Softspun wrap bodysuit from Gap (old, but their “softspun” line is super comfy and I generally recommend it).
Skirt: Cotton high-waist circular skirt from Uniqlo
Shoes: Halogen (the “Kali” flat which isn’t sold anymore, although Frye has a similar style called “Sienna”)
Earrings: “Triple trident” claw earrings from the WildKlass store on Amazon, although I think you can find this from other sellers too.
Rings: cheapo costume jewelry from Forever 21. They didn’t carry this exact set anymore last I checked, but they usually have a selection of boho jewelry, especially in the summer for festival season.
Sweater: Billabong “See Ya Soon” sweater. Nordstrom doesn’t carry it anymore, but there are a bunch of colors on the Billabong website.
Trousers: Uniqlo wide-leg pants from last year, with a couple inches chopped off. These are similar from this year.
Shoes: Børn “Waverly” oxford. I got these off ebay, and it seems like these were from 2011. These are a tad large for me, but I wear them without socks and find that my foot shape fits it well and I don’t end up slipping around.
Top: Really old rib-knit shirt from H&M
Skirt: Same Uniqlo skirt as the first outfit, but in tan
Shoes: Børn “Waverly” oxford again
Surprisingly, none of these include my new hat, but it definitely gets an honorable mention for being a really fun accessory! Here it is in an outfit I enjoyed, but felt a little flatter compared to the other three because the tee and culottes were both soft, thin, solid colored fabric.
Side-lace-up tee and culottes: Forever 21
Sandals: Børn “Alisha” block heel sandal
Jewelry: ASOS. The “Pas de Deux” ring from Catbird is similar (nicer, but more $$$$).
I didn’t buy anything this month! 🎉
I was very tempted to buy a corduroy skirt from the IDLF collab at Uniqlo, because the winter weight texture looks delicious. I might go try on the skirt next time I’m at a brick and mortar Uniqlo, but I’m still riding on the novelty of other recent purchases to have needed to get it as soon as it dropped online.
I did buy a lot of things in July. I tend to buy things in bursts, especially when I want to implement a pretty major style change. A couple weeks ago, I was looking at an album of my outfits, and realized that almost all of them had black pants/skirts, and this was why I had been feeling bored and uninspired when putting together outfits. I felt like a lot of my outfits were very flat (not helped by the poor lighting conditions in my apartment) and could also use more texture to avoid the singular-mass-of-fabric look. I suspect I may be more keen on the walking pile of knitwear look come colder weather, but it was feeling pretty stifling for July. So I set out to buy several pieces (focusing on bottoms, where I had the least diversity) with more texture and colors besides black.
I bought 5 bottoms, 3 tops, 2 open-knit sweaters, and a blouson sleeve cardigan over the course of the month. I feel like I quadrupled my wardrobe size though, since there are so many more visually distinct combos! I wore all of these this month besides the cardigan, but it’s still been too warm for it.
I also noticed that oxfords were a common theme in my style inspo and that I found myself wearing my one pair of high heeled oxfords with my new outfits, so I kept an eye out for some low-heeled ones that would be a bit more wearable when I need to walk more. I ended up with two pairs of oxfords: a statement metallic pair of Louise et Cie oxfords from Nordstom rack and a tan/cream calfhair Louise et Cie pair from a local consignment store. 🙈 But I haven’t worn them yet because I haven’t taken them to the cobbler for half-soles and the tan ones need to have a squeaky heel fixed.
This wasn’t every single thing I bought in July (there were misc accessories and a dress that’s waiting for me to get it hemmed, probably some other things I’m forgetting) since I didn’t keep very good track as I wasn’t planning to write about it, but this is the bulk of it and hopefully this still provides some insight/records.
“Rowan” embroidered joggers in rust, Anthropologie, $118.00, size S. I think these are legit the most expensive pants I’ve ever bought, but they feel super luxe and I’m not mad about it. The fact that they’re comfortable joggers made of lyocell means that I can wear them around the house as fabulous loungewear even if they’re not in style anymore. These run really big. I usually wear a US size 8 in pants and have 29″ waist and 39″ hips and honestly the waist could be taken in 2 inches for a really optimal fit (it fits my hips, though)
Cotton high-waist circular skirt in olive, Uniqlo $29.90, size M. I love this skirt so much!! Fit TTS, beautiful silhouette, deep pockets that don’t bulge out, partially elastic waistband, nice weighty cotton twill fabric. It’s definitely a statement silhouette, but since everything else is pretty plain I think it’s pretty wearable.
Cotton-linen relaxed pants, Uniqlo, $29.90, size M. These have been great! I got a medium, which fits my hips, but I have to really scrunch in the hidden waist drawstring and belt this for it to stay up. Tbh it can look a bit bunchy from the back, but overall it’s a fun and comfy look that reminds me of old timey adventure outfits. I like that the fabric is a bit rough, which adds a little texture.
Same cotton high-waist circular skirt in brown from Uniqlo, $29.90, size M. I bought this one first and liked it so much I got the green. If I had to pick just one I’d go with the brown because the color is richer.
Wide-leg linen/lyocell/cotton blend culottes, Forever 21, $22.90, size M (but they’re perfect full length pants on me, lol), Forever 21. Still available in khaki. I really liked these, but the third time I wore them, some of the looser stitching on the hem got caught in the zipper of my ankle boots over walking around for a few hours and unraveled 😥 So now it’s in the “take to the tailor” pile to be fixed/reinforced.
Cream open-knit sweater, Billabong (via Nordstrom), $59.95, size M. Not available at Nordstrom anymore, but the Billabong website has it in cream and even more colors. I got a medium and have to fold the sleeves up, but otherwise fits nice in a boxy sort of way.
Mercerized cotton gathered half-sleeve t-shirt, Uniqlo, $14.90, size XS. I went for this one because it was a little more dramatic and blouse-like than most of my tops, but the fabric is basically just a really nice thick t-shirt material. I like the dropped shoulders because I think a poofy sleeve blouse that hit at the natural shoulders would feel even more costume-y. Not a 10/10 for me though because it has trouble staying tucked in most of my pants. I think it’s meant to be worn as a crop top, but I’m about 8 inches shorter than the Uniqlo stock photo models so it’s just a strangely short top on me.
Waffle-knit 3/4 sleeve top in gray, Uniqlo, $14.90, size S. Texture! It’s not a statement texture, but I’ve always been fond of waffle knit since it’s a shirt with sweater vibes. I like the 3/4 dropped shoulder sleeves here because it means I don’t have to push them up all the time.
Waffle-knit 3/4 sleeve top in taupe, Uniqlo, $14.90, size S. Same as above, just in another colorway.
Olive open-knit batwing cardigan, Forever 21, $17.90, size M. (Currently only available in orange). I’d been wanting a loose style of cardigan like this for at least a year now after seeing the gorgeous cardigans by Morph Knitwear. I just couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger on a $400 item I can’t try on and (understandably) couldn’t return if it didn’t fit or drape right… so here I am. I love the olive color of the one I got!
Cashmere cardigan with blouson sleeves, taupe, Halogen, $199.90, size S/M Petite (even more on sale for $122 now, but no more petite sizes). The most luxurious thing I’ve ever draped upon my body. Never owned any 100% cashmere before this, but wow, I can see why people shell out for this! I’m concerned that it might pill easily if I wear it with my work backpack, so I might only wear it under a coat or with handbags, but still super excited to wear this out. I’m super into blouson sleeves and I’m glad they’re trendy this season and everywhere, but since the rest of the elements of this piece are pretty neutral/classic, I think it should have staying power.
In the process, I also returned a bunch of things. I don’t have photos of these on me since I didn’t know I was going to be writing about it, but for future things I’ll take some fit pics before returning.
Olive paperbag chino pants (size M and L)
Forever 21, $22.90
I got two sizes of this online, but neither fit. The waistband didn’t have any stretch and the shape of these was made for someone with a more extreme waist:hip ratio
Rust open-knit sweater
Forever 21, $12
The sleeves on this were way too long and couldn’t be folded up, and it looked like it wouldn’t survive the washing machine in a garment bag (but I’m not sure what I was expecting for $12, honestly).
Taupe textured knit cardigan
The sleeves on this were also way too long, and in person the openwork had a pretty ratty effect. Could be nice for a dystopian look, but not what I was going for.
Gray convertible zip coat
This was a terrible impulse purchase but I had never seen a convertible coat (short moto jacket to long overcoat via a zipper around the waist) and I had to see it. It ended up being comically oversized on me (with the size that fit my bust/hips) but it wasn’t a particularly great quality overcoat anyway, so it’s for the best.
Also, over the past year, I noticed that I have never been happy with any purchases from H&M. I’ve found the stuff they have in the stores now is generally pretty awful quality and I always just check it out of habit from when I bought most of my clothes there. I’m not going to go into the brick and mortar or the website anymore. The older stuff I’ve found from there (like from the earlier part of the 2000s) seems pretty nice though, so I’m still open to H&M labeled things at thrift stores.
Black patent leather oxfords
Nordstrom Rack (Louise et Cie brand, Fenn oxford), $79.97
I had a lot of outfits on my inspo board that featured black oxfords with black socks, and it looked so cute! But I kept thinking of the orthopedic aesthetic when I put these on, so back they went. It was a nice shoe overall, but not the style I wanted. If I go for black oxfords I think I’d want to find some with a daintier profile, or else just go all out with the chunky style and get the doc marten oxfords.
Olive linen-blend paperbag pants
Forever 21, $45.00
The fabric on these was more like a pajama pant material (very soft and clingy) than a trouser. Which is fine, if you want pajama pants, but I was looking for something that would be okay in a smart casual office outfit. The price was pretty steep on these for the construction, too. In my experience the pricier stuff on Forever21’s site is often marginally better than the extra cheapo things, but not this time.
Gray cable-knit cardigan with blouson sleeves
Nordstrom (Topshop), $49.90
I am aware that the Anniversary Sale is not actually full of fantastic deals in that a lot of the inventory is likely purchased specifically as “sale inventory”, but I was looking for textured sweaters anyway and this one seemed cute. I got a US4 which I would guess is the best fit, but it was still pretty overwhelming on my frame so I returned it. The cream one looked super cute on Ms. Louie and I think she’s even smaller than me, but they didn’t have that one in stock anymore and I had also bought the tan cardigan anyway.
I think the main conclusion I’ve drawn from this set of six donations is that I shouldn’t get things if they’re similar to things I already have, but are harder to wear in some way (less comfortable or harder to style). And that I don’t like wearing polyester in anything that isn’t specifically an activewear piece, but I knew that already.
Blue and white patterned fit and flare dress
I got this from H&M a few years ago (I’d guess around 3 years). I’ve worn it twice since then. I actually really love the pattern (pretty sure this is the main reason I bought it), which reminds me of those fancy porcelain tea sets, but the fact that it has open sides means that I can only wear it to super casual settings. The fabric is also extremely lightweight, and the slightest breeze blows the skirt up! This happened a lot the second time I wore it (to a party in SF) because it was really windy, and I’ve been too paranoid to wear it out since. It doesn’t fit with my current ~color story~ anyway.
Faux leather asymmetrical zip jacket
This was from H&M, maybe 2 years ago. I absolutely loved this when I got it. It was my favorite piece in my whole closet. I ended up wearing it 15 times, but all in the first six months of 2017. I was really into the gothninja look at that time, and I do think it’s a fun piece. However, the only outfit I liked it in is with black skinny jeans and black boots (like above). I’d prefer something more cropped for my wider silhouette pants and skirts.
I was also never really 100% comfortable in it because the style of the funnel neck is a little too dramatic (it felt like I was wearing a costume) for my taste, and when it’s unzipped the rather thick fabric is more flappy than drapey, so I was always fussing with it. If I had more closet space, I might have kept this because I did enjoy seeing it hanging up, but I 1) already have another black moto jacket that I always reach for over this 2) haven’t worn it in over a year and 3) don’t love it enough to spend money getting the sleeves taken up, so to Goodwill it went. I did think it was a pretty nice jacket overall, but not versatile enough to justify its closet space. I’ll miss it, though.
Black linen blazer
Old Navy, purchased within the past year and never worn. I didn’t even know Old Navy made 100% linen blazers, but when I saw this at the store, my logic was “I wear blazers. Blazers are a classic! Also, linen is great. I will definitely wear this”. But it turns out that I also hate constrictive clothing and my blazers that I do wear are all stretchy and/or a loose boyfriend cut, so I never reached for this even when it was warmer. I could see a lighter colored loose-fit linen blazer working, but this wasn’t it.
Black side-tie sweater
I got this Loft sweater from the local Goodwill for a few bucks, I think this June. I wore it 3 times at the beginning of July.
I was really intrigued by the fabric – a ramie and cotton blend. I hadn’t heard of ramie before, but it’s a really similar plant-based material to linen that’s not commonly used in the US. I also thought the side-ties were a cool detail, and thought it’d be good to have a lighter weight black sweater since I really like my heavier cable-knit ones.
This was a pretty comfy sweater, but I found that the side-ties felt bulky, and since I have two other black sweaters that were easier to style (one cropped and one oversized) combined with my shift away from wearing black tops 90% of the time, I never ended up reaching for this.
Black mock neck crop top
This is a few years old, from H&M and I wore it 11 times, though not since March of this year. The style is fine, but frankly it’s primarily made of polyester, and not the nice activewear kind like the “unstinkable” fabric from Athleta, and I definitely get more of a BO smell in this top than any of my other tops. There were plenty of opportunities to include this in an outfit this spring and summer, but I always put it back in favor of other tops that didn’t make me feel paranoid about smelling bad.
Black drape-neck blouse
Another purchase from when I was convinced black drapey stuff was the coolest. From ASOS, and worn 3 times in Fall/Winter 2017. I do like the style of this blouse, but it’s made of that woven polyester fabric that I think is supposed to imitate silk crepe, and I just get so sweaty wearing this even though it’s so thin! It’s also a little hard to move in. It also required a lot of time to tuck and re-tuck the front in because all the extra fabric had a tendency to poof out unattractively. The sleeves were also a liiiittle longer on me than I would have liked. While I did like the look of this in my pedantically styled and posed WAYWT photos, it just was too much of a pain to actually wear throughout the day that I donated it.
Wish List 📜
Continuing in the vein of adding some color and texture:
- Tan or taupe cropped leather or suede jacket. I wear my cropped-ish black moto jacket a LOT (like 81 times to date), and I think having a lighter colored option would be good for variety. I’ve been keeping an eye out, but the bane of my jacket-hunting existence is those arm zippers on leather jacket sleeves. What are those for?? They’ll just make getting the arms taken up more expensive.
- Luxe wool turtleneck sweater (cream or a rich tan/rust) with a really dramatic cable-knit. (inspired by full_boyle of r/ffa’s sweater collection). I have four crewneck cable knits, two of which are black and one of which is dark gray. I want to move away from the mass of dark knitwear look, and I think having one more cold weather pullover option would be nice. Since this is a pretty classic item, I’d like to get one secondhand or from a less sketchy manufacturer than my usual ASOS/Forever 21/Uniqlo if possible.
- A corduroy button-front skirt from the IDLF collab at Uniqlo.
- Large brown leather tote – The blue beachy one that I have is really functional, but it would be nice to have one that actually goes with my outfits and is a bit more suited to an office.
- A brown hat. I really like the black shorter brimmed one and I think a brown one would go well with a lot of my outfits. I’m still a little hesitant to buy a straight-up fedora though, because of the associations. I know that I’m realistically probably not going to be associated with the fedora neckbeard, but I’ve encountered enough of those IRL that the negative connotations die hard. Also people in my area generally don’t wear non-beanie/baseball/sun hats.
- A plain, but quality, leather belt, in black and maybe in cognac. I have some skinny faux leather ones but a plain belt is something that is well… a basic for me and I’d like to have some quality ones. I tried looking for a 1″-1.5″ one on the Nordstrom website and in the store one of the times I went in July, and was astounded that they apparently didn’t carry any plain ones. In retrospect it probably would have been a good idea to check the men’s section, but when my boyfriend went to buy dress clothes last month he also wasn’t impressed with the quality of their selection. I went to the San Francisco flagship Levi’s store they didn’t have any women’s belts in stock, which was surprising. I’ve also been checking the local Goodwill and Crossroads Trading Co. but haven’t seen any. Do people not wear belts anymore?? Are they satisfied with ones that start peeling after a few wears? This has been very frustrating.
- These boots 😍 I have one pair of similar witchy boots from Forever 21 that I like the style of and actually find pretty comfortable to walk in (I usually avoid Forever 21 shoes like the plague), but they’re polyurethane and sweaty so I usually just wear them for shorter outings.
Keeping an eye out for, but not necessarily searching for:
- Pretty dress (with traditionally feminine details, as opposed to something minimal or sack-like) that can be worn casually / to an office. I have one that fits these criteria now, but it would nice to be able to choose between two.
Purge Purgatory 📦
I have a few items that I don’t or have never worn, but take up hardly any space and I might wear again someday?? When do you decide to purge something that isn’t actually in the way but has a low chance of being used again?
I’m always scared during purges that I’ll end up regretting purging something, because I have a fair amount of items like my high heeled oxfords that I didn’t wear for ages after I bought them, but now love. But on the other hand, I can’t actually think of anything that I donated and regret (although I regret that my dad donated his super boss MACWORLD ’94 conference tee with a super 90s looking fractal on it several years ago when it was merely an unstylish free t-shirt and not retro).
Thin drapey vests, 1 black and 1 tan, from Target. Black one was worn twice and the tan one never. I keep thinking they’ll be useful for costume or something someday, and they’re so thin they take up the space of a pair of socks when rolled up.
Peach mesh/lace longline kimono, Target. I wore this once in the house but never out. It’s nice but kind of fragile to actually wear as loungewear (what I was planning), and it’s a little bit scratchy so I always reach for more comfortable things over it. This is probably going to be donated next month.
Black suede block heel sandals, Steve Madden. I wore these to a few formal events, but when I realized that they were comfortable enough to wear in normal outfits, one of the heels apparently decided it wasn’t up for walking 1.5 miles a day and became squeaky. I’m not sure if I want to replace these with another pair of fancy sandals or not, but I definitely don’t like them enough to get them repaired.
Blue scarf, Target. I used to wear this multiple times a week, but it hasn’t fit into my color palette for a while. I like the size and that it’s soft but not such a fancy material that I’m scared of snagging earrings on it. There isn’t anything really unique about it though.
Herringbone scarf with pockets, Nordstrom (BP?). Worn 4 times. This isn’t scratchy, and isn’t soft. My main beef with it is that the burgundy color is more of a cool-toned berry which I don’t think goes particularly well with the rest of my wardrobe colors. I was just so taken with the fact that it was a SCARF with POCKETS that I impulse bought it. I still like that it has pockets, but if I end up not reaching for it after this winter is over, I think it should be donated.
Colorblock merino and yak wool sweater, Eileen Fisher (secondhand via Crossroads Trading Co.). This is really warm, really comfortable, really quality, and about as sustainable as I’m ever going to buy…. but I don’t actually like the colorblocking. I haven’t just purged it yet because I think it’ll be good as a purely functional thin layering piece when it’s actually cold. If I don’t wear it this coming F/W then it should be donated.
There’s a lot more that are good candidates for donation based on low wear counts, but I want to do a formal “purge purgatory box” before I get rid of stuff I’m iffy on.
👏 Thanks for reading this far! Let me know if you’d be interested in me going into more or less detail in particular sections in future posts, or if you have general suggestions. Hoping to make one or two shorter and more focused posts after this one.