Wardrobe Retrospective: July 2018

TLDR: In which I assume many incorrect things about how items will fit or be easy to actually wear.

A look back on how the things I bought in July are faring in my wardrobe. At the end of July, I gave each item a rating from 1 to 4, or a ❓ if I wasn’t sure how I felt about it.

  1. πŸ‘Ž I (will) never wear this (item defect, fit issue, or severe style mismatch)
  2. 😐 I don’t mind having it / it has its uses, but no tears would be shed if it was lost.
  3. πŸ‘Œ I like this item but it’s not my favorite of its type.
  4. 🌟 A staple or favorite item.

I’m definitely not in literal need of any clothes, so I only but things that I’m genuinely really excited about bringing into my wardrobe. However, even by the end of the month, I could see that some of the things weren’t going to be as much of a favorite as I convinced myself they would be at the time I purchased them. Ideally I would return these things, but I have a bad habit of removing the tags on things immediately in excitement (or in some cases, such as with jewelry, it’s impossible to try the item on without removing the packaging). As such, I expected that these would end up being downgraded in rating on average. Not a particularly morale-boosting post, but I think methodically revisiting how each purchase went and then translating that into a new item on the ever-growing mental checklist of deal-breaker details should be helpful.

For some context, my current wardrobe style goals are moving towards a

  • more cheery earth toned palette
  • fitted-waist vintage-inspired silhouettes (not quite full Modcloth – I want to try to keep the styling current)
  • witchy accessories

while generally trying to make relatively more fun/interesting outfits (incorporating texture and details that I generally would have considered “too much” before, like leather or multiple pieces of jewelry). At a practical level, I have a public transit commute in the SF Bay Area, share a 425 sq ft apartment, and have no kids and no pets.

I’m trying to get to a point where I love every item in my wardrobe. If I have a larger wardrobe, as long as it doesn’t take over the bedroom and everything gets worn regularly, that’s fine. I’m not trying to get down to a capsule wardrobe of X pieces, just not waste money and space. I check ebay and local consignment and thrift shops first for more classic items or things like sweaters that are more forgiving to fit, but I’m currently choosing to not spend my energy on optimizing for an ethical wardrobe as I already find it hard enough to find things that fit my style and body from stores that offer multiple colors and sizes of items with easy returns. I would rather most fun I can actually wearing clothes now instead of on the process of spending years painstakingly finding Perfect Items.

Items are grouped by those with downgraded ratings, those that I correctly guessed how much I’d like them, and those that I ended up liking more. Items with asterisks were not in my originalΒ Wardrobe Round-up. There’s a shitload of stuff because July was when I decided that I wanted to redo my wardrobe to fit the style goals outlined above (instead of being mostly black and gray knitwear + skinny jeans, which isn’t a bad style, it’s just not my preferred look anymore), and I had the means to do it.

⬇️ Downgraded

ASOS black linen paperbag waist midi skirt

❓ to πŸ‘Ž (fit, style)

These were way too big in the waist. All smaller sizes were out of stock by the time I received it, and I figured that since it ticked the rest of the boxes (shape, pockets, material) and I had been looking for a black linen midi skirt for a while, it’d be worth keeping them and taking them to get the waist taken in.

Three months later, I am no longer as into black skirts enough to spend the time and money on getting them altered. This went to a local consignment store. This is one of those annoying things where prior to my more recent style change, I do think it would have been a staple.

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Takeaway: Occasionally things make it to the tailor, but unless there’s some kind of time pressure, assume that no, I won’t get around to getting something altered.

Billabong cream open-knit sweater

πŸ‘Œ to πŸ‘Ž (style)

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At the time I bought this, I had a goal to buy clothing that was not in dark neutrals and that had texture. This ticked all the boxes and fit into the sort of neutral minimal witchy style I had been furiously trying to pivot my wardrobe into.

I think it does fit into that relaxed style, and I think this would be a fun layering piece with a lot of the looser dresses that make up the base of that aesthetic. But I found that I didn’t like the silhouette it made when tucked into high-waisted things, as it would end up bagging out a bit unflatteringly. I would probably have worn it more than I have, but I have since found a more fitted plain beige wool crewneck sweater and an open-knit All Saints sweater from consignment that is much more extra and edgy (and cropped) that I find is more compatible with the rest of my clothes. On the other hand, in this case, I’m really glad that I bought that sweater instead of going “I have something like that already” because it was a massive upgrade.

Takeaway: I’m cool with hip-length loose fit sweaters, but only if they’re chunky knits, not thin. I should probably just sell this to Crossroads.

Louise et Cie metallic oxfords

❓ to πŸ‘Ž (fit)

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Louise et Cie ‘Adwin’ oxford

As discussed in the last wardrobe round-up, these ended up being too small, which is really a shame because I LOVE the style of these. Generally I have had a difficult time gauging the fit of shoes as for the first 22 years of my life, I wore shoes that were 1.5 sizes too large. My mom always insisted that I needed to buy shoes β€œto grow into” (even though we got a new pair of sneakers every year??), so I had been trying to acclimate myself to the idea of shoes needing to be fitted. After this pair (and generally trying on a fair amount of shoes this year), I think I’ve gotten a lot better at judging how shoes should feel on my feet.

Takeaway: Try on shoes and walk around in them for more than a few steps. Being comfortable in shoes while you sit is especially not going to extend to walking, especially for non comfort/athletic shoes.

Louise et Cie calfhair oxfords

❓ to πŸ‘Ž (quality)

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Louise et Cie ‘Franny’ oxford

These did fit properly (I tried them on and took a few steps back and forth in the store), but the heel was squeaky in a way that ended up being not worth it to fix. These were purchased from a Crossroads Trading Co consignment shop, which has a fairly stingy return policy. I really liked the style of the shoes, so I decided to chance waiting until I could make a trip to the cobbler and see if it could be repaired and unfortunately it was a no go.

Takeaway: Try on shoes and walk around in them for more than a few steps (again). Squeaky heels can be a structural issue with the shoe that is likely not worth the cost of repairs.

Madewell pink tassel earrings*

❓to 😐 (style)

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I’m not sure why this didn’t receive an initial rating. Possibly I forgot to log it until after I had written the blog post. I initially purchased these thinking that it would be nice to have a more floaty/pastel/girly mid-sized earring option. They’re still great for that, but personally I find that I like these best in all-neutral outfits (or if I had pastels, with pastels), but I don’t wear thatΒ  color combo as often.

Takeaway: This is just one of those items that I like for one of those days when I feel like wearing something outside my usual earth-toned looks. I should try and make a few more outfits to include them, especially since I have a few more cream/beige tops now.

Forever 21 olive batwing open-knit cardigan

🌟 to 😐 (style)

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When I found this, I had been obsessed with Morph Knitwear for about two years. I would have happily shelled out the $300 or so for one of their hand-knit cardigans, but it just seemed like too much a gamble as I know that sort of item can potentially look like it’s swallowing a petite frame. So with (understandably) no return option and no way to try them on in person, I kept an eye out for similar styles at places that either had easy returns or were at local brick and mortar stores.

Eventually I found this and I was so happy with the style. But that was the same month I bought most of what became my current core pieces which are fitted at my natural waist, but otherwise pretty loose. I found that I like this breezy cardigan with fitted outfits, but it just felt like so much fabric when paired with poofy skirts or wide-leg pants. I wear A-line skirts and wide-leg pants most days, so I’ve ended up not reaching for this much. I think if I had bought this in 2016 I would have worn it a ton. I’m still keeping this around as it’s a great light topper for a fitted outfit, but with the silhouettes I’ve moved to, it is definitely not a staple.

Takeway: I’ve come to terms with the fact that I prefer outfits that are conventionally figure-flattering. For awhile I was caught up in the whole #potatosacksisterhood thing of witchy anti-patriarchy knitwear layers. While that sort of outfit is really comfy and fun to wear sometimes, I find I have to work a lot harder on hair and makeup and accessories to feel good in them and it’s easier to just wear items in dressier fabrics and cuts to start with.

Uniqlo cream balloon sleeve blouse

🌟 to 😐 (style, practicality)

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I had been looking for a poofy or frilly but easy to wear (i.e. not too stiff and not see-through) blouse, and this seemed to tick those boxes! It’s mercerized cotton fabric which has a really nice drape and feels really nice. But it’s a cropped style which even on me is a bit tooooo short to stay tucked in easily, and I’ve also found that it still ends up feeling on the costume-y side when paired with trousers and midi skirts. I do still like it, but I’m going to make an effort to bring it in rotation more, even if it means just repeating wearing it with jeans and different shoes + earrings.

Takeaway: Tops should either be Definitely Cropped or Definitely Long Enough to Tuck, but not neither.

Uniqlo dark gray waffle-knit shirt

🌟 to πŸ‘Œ (style)

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I think this would have been a staple back when I was in college. I do like the 3/4 sleeves and the waffle texture (I’m not sure why, but I love waffle knit shirts), but I do also associate waffle-knits with pajamas and I find that I don’t reach for this as much because, again, it’s an item that I feel I end up having to put in more effort into a look overall to enjoy wearing outside of an athleisure / gym look. I should definitely wear this more as actual loungewear especially now that it’s getting colder. This one in particular I also tend to neglect in favor of my warmer earth toned tops.

Takeaway: No more dark gray or pajama fabrics for now.

Uniqlo tan waffle-knit shirt

🌟 to πŸ‘Œ (style)

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Same as above, but as it fits my current favored color palette, I’m going to try and make an effort to incorporate it more.

Takeaway: Avoid “could be pajamas” tops.

Black straw hat*

🌟 toπŸ‘Œ (style, practicality)

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I have enjoyed wearing this hat, but I feel I never got quite into the swing of how to integrate it into looks. It’s too cold now for straw hats, but I’m definitely going to try again next summer. I found it a lot more wearable than my black wide-brimmed floppy wool hat.

Takeaway: I’m still getting comfortable wearing brimmed hats?

β˜‘οΈ Correctly calibrated

Forever 21 faux obsidian triangle necklace*

πŸ‘Ž (bad design)

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I didn’t think about this until after I wore it for a day, but the pendant on this is directly linked into the chain, rather than a separate finding. This means that when the chain inevitably shifts, the lightweight pendant will end up everywhere but center! I’m planning to do a jewelry clean out soon, and this is definitely going to go.

Takeaway: Pendant necklaces need to have actual pendants, not be part of the chain.

ASOS gold hand necklace*

😐 (practicality, dethroned)

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This one had a different clasp from the usual lobster clasps of my other necklaces, and it’s a little harder to manipulate, meaning I don’t reach for it when I’m in a rush in the morning. Also the “fallen petals” necklace is also a short gold pendant necklace, and I like it a lot better.

Takeaway: Lobster clasp necklaces only.

Anthropologie rust embroidered joggers

😐 (fit)

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These are a beautiful color and I love the embroidery, but I find they haven’t gotten as much wear time because they don’t sit exactly on my natural waist. I should get these altered and/or try and acclimate myself to the look by wearing them more.

Takeaway: I still really like these, but I find that the activation energy of coming up with an outfit that isn’t too casual or eclectic is difficult, so I’m going to find two relatively dressy outfits featuring them so that I can actually wear them to the office.

Uniqlo green cotton-linen trousers

🌟

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Still not perfect – waist is slightly too big, but the color, wearability, fit, and compatibility with the rest of my core items is great and I wear these a lot.

Uniqlo brown midi circle skirt

🌟

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This is still as great as the day I got it.

Uniqlo green midi circle skirt

🌟

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Same.

ASOS gold hand ring

🌟

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This is my favorite ring. Minimal but kind of freaky, and it’s a slight upgrade from the totally cheapo Forever 21 jewelry as it’s gold-plated.

⬆️ Upgraded

Forever 21 green wide-leg pants

😐 to πŸ‘Œ

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These had the snagging-hem-thread-in-boot-zipper accident pretty early on, so they were out of commission after a few wears. I’m still excited to wear them even four months later though, so that’s a good sign. Still not a star because the fabric belt is attached to the pants. I like my belts. But on the other hand, I really enjoy the bow.

Takeaway: More things with large bows?

Halogen tan cashmere cardigan

❓ to 🌟

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I really loved the style of this when I bought it, but I haven’t had any cardigans this voluminous or light colored so I wasn’t sure whether I would actually end up wearing this regularly. However it’s a really warm sweater, so I had to wait a few months before it was cool enough to wear it.

I included it in my fall 10×10 and honestly during that two weeks, my biggest clothing regret might have been any time that I was not wearing this sweater. It’s so soft and the sleeves are entertaingly voluminous. I find that as it’s cashmere, it does tend to pill, so I’m keeping an eye out for a commute friendly laptop tote so that the back of the sweater doesn’t get overly pilled.

Takeaway: I enjoy wearing lighter neutrals a lot more than dark gray and black for outwear.

Conclusion

In the end I had

  • 10 items I ended up liking less
  • 2 items I ended up liking more
  • 7 items I like the same now as I did at the end of July.
  • 5 πŸ‘Ž
  • 5 😐
  • 4 πŸ‘Œ
  • 5 🌟

So, not great. The biggest disappointments here were the shoes ($$, and I liked the styles) and the technical issues with the jewelry, which was just annoying.

I’m going to be stricter about not buying items that are in a soft fabric and cut as well as really scrutinize shoes. I’m going to focus on how I can wear the meh items more, or else donate them in a month or two. The nine items I liked have ended up making it a lot more more fun to get dressed (and subsequently to go and do other things). I suppose the conclusion there is that I’ve liked wearing outfits that are a bit more voluminous and colorful, but waist defining. So here’s to moving more towards a wardrobe that will make getting dressed every morning a wholeheartedly enjoyable process.

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