In which the commitment to retro normcore begins.
Just to be clear, none of this is an April fools joke. As you may have guessed, I am an aggressively boring person so this is, as usual, serious. (And I don’t think of being boring as a negative. It basically means I don’t make or take jokes well, which I’m okay with for the most part except it means that I can’t play board games that rely on the participants really getting into them and saying funny things or lying 🤷🏻♀️)
I’m really tired of having so many clothes. Like physically and mentally tired of clutter. I share a 400 sq ft apartment with my boyfriend and there are just clothes e v e r y w h e r e. I think we’ve exhausted our options for adding storage at this point (we didn’t realize how much it would suck in the long term to move into a furnished apartment – we’re stuck with a lot of furniture that isn’t optimized for a small space). Definitely no pretenses about doing this for minimalist ethical environmental closet enlightenment. I buy loads of stuff. My m.o. is optimizing to get to a point where I have items that make it so that I can easily make outfits that I unabashedly love on a daily basis, which involves a lot of iterating (I can ponder things all I want, but unless I actually try wearing them, I can’t know if it’ll work or not). I just want to keep stuff from taking over the apartment.
That being said, it’s more bittersweet now to drop stuff off at the local Goodwill because on average I like these items much more than the ones I was donating back in like, fall of 2018. I’m in a place now where I like or love all my clothes individually, so it’s a lot harder to pick things to clear out. I definitely don’t wear items at the same rate though, so I’m continuing my year-long commitment to have a net +0 of items and ideally downsize a bit.
On the whole pretty happy with the results of this whole overhaul so far just from looking at my outfit photos. I think I’m hitting a point where I really need to start focusing more on having a good rate of successful purchases. I should probably resurrect the shopping retrospective series (though for the sake of making it sustainably easy to write, probably just from a qualitative perspective rather than a stats-based one).
Click images to view full-res in a new tab. These are screenshots of my Airtable base, which you can learn more about at Wardrobe Tracking.
This month I wore 45 items of clothing up from 43 last month, 21 (47%) of which were worn once. I wore 42 accessories up from 40, 19 (45%)of which were worn once. This was across 41 ! outfits.
I often wear two outfits on weekend days – a casual one for errands or volunteering at the local science museum and then a fancier one for dinner if we’re going out. I got a set of science-themed earrings for Christmas which I just realized are perfect to wear to volunteering, so you’ll be seeing those in rotation from here on out.
Morris & Co printed skinny pants, size 8, H&M ~$26 (on sale) – I did a whole post on these here: Styling Printed Skinny Pants. I’ve worn them seven times already so it’s pretty safe to say I like them. They’re definitely raising the visual interest bar for my pants!
Frilly button-front eyelet blouse, size 10 (I think an 8 would fit better but this has elastics on the waist and is an airy style so it works out), Anthropologie $39.99 on clearance (Akemi + Kin) – going through my tops in the ‘storybook romantic’ and ‘witchy’ sub-capsules, I realized that I lack warm weather options with visual interest. I’ve got mostly basic tees for summer. Anthropologie never disappoints on the visual interest front (one might say they consistently over-deliver) so I went there to look at tops. I love the small-scale ruffles and openwork on this top as well as the square neckline and buttons (all things I love!). Update: this is supposed to be an off-the-shoulder blouse. It seems to be fine as a square-neck though so I’ll probably mostly wear it that way.
New Balance Classics WL574v2, size 8 Zappos – I wanted a retro look so I got replica old school sneakers. I sized up half a size on the recommendation of the reviews, which was right. Super excited to be able to wear like half my tops as not-loungewear again. I expect next month I’ll probably have a week straight of outfits that are just t-shirt and sneakers based. My boyfriend thought it was absolutely hilarious that I rediscovered what it’s like to dress as a normal person. Retro normcore, here I come!
Patagonia synchilla snap-T fleece pullover, “Kuta Klash Blue”, women’s medium, secondhand on Ebay – I realized I had no cheerful casual outerwear that wasn’t Christmas themed (it’s all gray and black!) and this made me sad. Despite appearances, I love outdoorsy/granola-athleisure stuff generally especially in obnoxious colors and patterns. I’ve gotten into a pattern of only getting black and gray technical clothing but I’d like to change that. This hasn’t arrived yet and I’m hoping it fits. It’s a garish fleece pullover, so either is fine with me! I love how you can totally change the mood of a plain outfit by throwing on some fun outerwear. I always enjoy wearing my ugly Cal sweater, but I wanted one that was not as seasonal. I found this TTS although a bit long, but the waistband is elasticated so it works. The chest pocket just barely fits my iPhone SE.
4-pack tan wool crew socks, OS, Amazon – So it turns out those brown pointed-toe lace-up boots I got last month are actually unwearable with low-cut socks. I thought the edge of the shaft was a bit scratchy but one time I wore them to work without a sock buffer and my legs were literally bleeding by the end of the day. It looked like someone tried to saw my feet off and two weeks later I’m still covered in a line of scabs. NOT COOL. I can live with always wearing them with long socks or tights with them though. I only had one tan pair of socks so I decided to get a pack dedicated to wearing with the boots because I like the monochrome look.
Franco Sarto pointed toe “Coralie” heels, 7.5 $116.20 (which is annoying because they’re $61 now) – I’m going to be a bridesmaid in wedding this summer and the bridesmaids shoe dress code was “any black heels”. I suspect that the bride wouldn’t care if I wore my flats or heeled boots, especially given that the matching bridesmaid dresses are maxi length, but I would rather just get some low heels in a more open cut (Texas summer wedding yo) because there have been some times getting dressed for other formal events where I wished I had another not-boot option besides dressy sandals. I think these would work with most of my other clothes (and I watch the SF Ballet pretty regularly so I have plenty of opportunities to dress up).
These were TTS and felt very elegant on. I like that they have a cone heel, which is still a little easier to walk in than a stiletto heel. I was thinking of getting a style with a higher vamp which seems trendy now, but I decided that these probably won’t get worn enough to wear out before that stops being trendy. The vamp on these is a pointed shape and not just straight across or round. The strap feels questionably flimsy due to the thin width but that’s part of why it looks dainty.
Also replaced a bunch of ratty old underwear with a some random cotton styles from Uniqlo (in medium, which is consistent with my sizing in their pants/skirts) – not much to say. I’m very utilitarian regarding underwear.
Edit April 15th: I realized I forgot to include a $34.99 straw circle tote bag that I got from H&M on 3/28. I’ll probably do a separate review post on that in the next week or two.
Opting to publish as-is – no photos in this section this month.
ASOS Farleigh slim mom jeans in light wash, petite 30W 30L – annoyingly even though I have this style in ‘washed black’ in the same size, the denim they used in these is thinner and stretchier which affects the fit. I found these too tight in the hips and it showed in pull lines. Also, I thought the stock photo showed a clean dye but these have some of those hip-whiskers, which is a detail I don’t like. I was really looking forward to these, to wear with sneaker outfits. The search continues.
White ribbed button-front top, H&M, M – Part of my search for a casual white summer top. This fit and was pretty cute (I love the tortoiseshell style buttons) but after spending some time trying on various outfits with it at home, I decided that it reminded me too much of long underwear so I returned it.
White shadow-striped collared button-down shirt, size 8 – an impulse purchase on the way out of the store. Surprise surprise it didn’t fit. Couldn’t find a stock photo of this one on the website, but it’s a basic button-down shirt with thin white shadow striping and a boxier cut.
Green linen-blend button-front midi dress, M, Forever 21 – this was decent quality given the low price, but it just didn’t fit. I have a 39″ bust and the top would not button up. It would have required hemming anyway so I would have only kept this if my initial reaction was “THIS IS GREAT!”
It’s always interesting ordering clothes from Forever 21 because I learn new ways you can cheap out on things in clothing manufacturing. Here whatever method they used to sew the buttonholes made them rather unfinished looking with little bits of thread sticking out where the slits were cut. Not enough that it looked like they’d actually unravel or that it would show around the buttons, but enough that it was noticeable.
Some of my favorite items are from Forever 21 (in particular, the my brown wide-leg canvas pants and All Saints “Monument Coat” knockoff) but they are hit or miss (mostly miss) quality-wise which I’m sure surprises no one. I usually search for cotton or linen-blend items in the summer and wool-blend items in the winter. Surprisingly they do carry such items, but I’ve only ever seen them online. I usually just add the fabric type to my search query.
7 items this month. I will update with wear counts later, time permitting.
Green Loft petites 3/4 sleeve sweater dress – this used to be my go-to for “I need to wear something slightly dressy but also on the ‘appropriate’ side” because I love dark green, it’s comfy, and fits really well. I don’t reach for it anymore because I have lots of other somewhat modest, somewhat dressy pieces that are more fun.
Tan Madewell midi sweater dress (from consignment) – this is my “I just want to be really comfy today” dress but it really looks it. Unless I wear it with sharp shoes and outerwear it reveals its true nature as a baggy sweater dress. I have enough other comfy items that are more flattering or more fun. I should just remove this option and wear those instead.
Garnet Hill black linen duster cardigan (via consignment) – I remember being so excited to finally find a long black linen cardigan last year. I was drooling over everything in Sisters of the Black Moon and Ovate for months but was holding out to find one secondhand. I found one around the time it was getting a bit cold for linen dusters and then packed this away. Now that the rest of my wardrobe has beefed up on texture, structure, and color, this just feels kind of anemic now. The cardigan itself looks to be pretty nice quality so hopefully it will manage to find a new home.
Plaid paperbag waist trousers, Forever 21 – I have a love-hate relationship with these but I think it’s mostly hate so they’re going to Goodwill. It was great practice to attempt to style them though. I might do an Item Analysis post on it. Thinking of doing some posts that just talk about how I’ve worn an item and what my thoughts about styling it are. They’d be different from the How I Style… posts because it will probably feature more miss or meh outfits than hits.
Black sleeveless velvet maxi dress (from Goodwill) – I would have wanted this tailored to be more bodycon to get it to “I love this!” status, and it’s just not versatile enough to justify the space it takes up.
Madewell mock-neck high-low merino sweater – I noticed I wore this like twice in all of fall+winter, and both those times I felt really meh about it. I got this one from consignment. The quality is okay, though a bit thin and slightly pill-y. Wasn’t as comfortable either because the neck was a bit tight.
Old H&M white crochet lace crop top – I never wore this much because it’s too short for work and had no stretch so wasn’t super comfortable (though I wouldn’t say it was exactly uncomfortable either). I probably wore this once in the past whole year. On top of that, I noticed it was starting to fray at the edges (not enough that I would opt to throw it out) so I donated it.
Athleta Cream balloon sleeve sweater – this is a really warm and soft but not delicate and well-designed and made sweater, but the sleeves are just disproportionately long on me and I have a ton of other white sweaters. I always have a harder time parting with high quality clothing at Goodwill because it makes me sad to think they might end up as trash if no one picks them up. I might try and sell this although I think at this point Crossroads might not be buying for winter anymore (I don’t buy anything valuable enough on the resale market that I feel dealing with reselling is worth my time).
Gap black linen cami jumpsuit – I was on the linen wide-leg jumpsuit train last year and while this is comfy, it’s not really something I can wear to work and I’m not really into mostly-black outfits anymore. Might see about getting this one hemmed. I think one aspect of it I don’t like in my old outfit photos is that it feels a bit overwhelming.
Black side-lace-up t-shirt – I haven’t worn this in months. I just feel like with the sorts of things I go to, someday I’m going to want a black t-shirt
Burgundy cutout lace-up boots – This is just tenuously in purge limbo, but tbh at this point I regret buying the red cutout boots. They’re cool, but the color just is not as different from the black boots as I was thinking it would be. Might try selling these at Crossroads (and make room for other shoes…)
Born black oxford pumps – these fit great and are well made and theoretically should fit in great with my stuff (I like my black boots and brown oxfords so why not black oxfords??), but for some reason I never reach for them. I think it’s because I don’t wear as much black in my storybook style outfits as when I bought them, so brown just always feels like a more cohesive choice. This isn’t a style that’s super easy to find though. Might try changing up the laces to something more fun and see if that makes me want to wear them more, or try styling a few classically goth-y outfits. They’d probably work well with my patterned lace tights.
Clarks black suede oxfords – same boat as above. I also feel like these are very low-key compared to a lot of my clothes now. Often when I try them with an outfit I put them back in favor of something more visually heavy.
I also want to do a purge of loungewear. I have a LOT of loungewear because I’ve accumulated many free t-shirts, so that could probably be its own post.
Items are carried over from last month unless noted otherwise.
Tan Clogs (new to list) – I am very well set on boots and oxfords and I’m not much of a flats person, but I would like a shoe option for warm weather that is a little funkier than my black birkenstock mayaris or understated tan leather sandals. I’m thinking more of a platform sandal style clog and not full coverage orthopedic clogs.
Long red or yellow raincoat – More coverage, brighter color (more cheery and safer), and would go better with my vintage-aesthetic stuff. I wish Seasalt Cornwall wasn’t so expensive to ship to the US.
Cheerfully colored dressy top – I have so many dressy bottoms but most of my tops are very casual fabrics.
Long camel coat – probably won’t find one new this time of year as it warms up. Still poking at the local goodwill but the pickings there are not great.
Light-wash mom or boyfriend jeans – for casual looks
Removed for now: black skinnies. I feel energized enough by the new sneakers and blue jeans I don’t feel like I need these to open up more combos.
New section! A lot of this stuff has been in this limbo for a looooong time.
Bridesmaid dress – get this hemmed as it’s like a foot too long
White button-front tea blouse – get the sleeves taken up (they’re folded here and it looks sloppy up close). As long as I get this done before the annual September heat wave I hope to get more wears of this in!
Sporty bodycon dress – needs hemming. I think this would be fun to wear with the sneakers so I’m now more motivated to bring this in.
Black spaghetti strap maxi dress – needs hemming (I bought this last year and meant to get it hemmed for summer 2018 and it still hasn’t happened 😂😭)
Trench coat – get the sleeves taken up. Currently just folding them under. Wore this enough times I think it’s a keeper.
In addition to continuing to pare down what I have, I also want to start a low-buy for the foreseeable future. Thinking of limiting to 3 items a month. Which is probably still a super high volume for a lot of people (tbh 36 items could be a full wardrobe) but I’ve averaged about 14 items per month for the [July 2018, February 2019] period which is ridiculous even considering that includes small accessories like fashion socks, and I was doing a major overhaul. All that being said I’m really happy with where my wardrobe has ended up. I’ll be posting the second part of my outfits soon. You can see the first part here: March 2019 Outfits: Part 1