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Small tasks, big changes: 64 things to do to improve your wardrobe

In the spirit of the new year, I thought that in addition to making some vaguer sartorial resolutions, it would be nice to make a list of specific things that I can do to work on various aspects of my wardrobe. I already have a post about some higher-time-investment long-term tracking and inventorying you can do to help curate your closet, but there’s so much other stuff you can do where even if you do only a few short activities a week, can add up to a more polished, better fitting, more organizedΒ  wardrobe.

Some things here (like conditioning a leather item) might take longer to get through, while others (like getting the measurements of your favorite t-shirt) will be really quick. The idea is that they’re relatively short one-off tasks (though some like the shopping notes you should keep adding to and then actually use) that would probably take you less time to do than the time you spent scrolling through your internet hit of choice today.

This is an aggregation of various tips I’ve read in books and online that I wrote down as a checklist for myself. It’s not meant to be comprehensive or universally applicable, just a way to encourage myself to get in the habit of regularly spending time on wardrobe organization, clothing maintenance, and styling as well as prepping for shopping effectively. I’ll be posting items to my instastories feed on Instagram as I do them (almost certainly not in this order). If you like the idea, feel free to follow along! Most of the items are repeatable or encompass a more general topic to learn about and will be revisited as needed.

General theme of the points that aren’t basic garment care are take a moment to identify why specifically you do or don’t like items or outfits and write it down and make it easy for yourself to find things.

If you’re more interested in doing a full wardrobe overhaul in a more guided manner, I cannot recommend The Curated Closet enough. How to Get Dressed has a lot of good advice on clothing selection and maintenance. See theΒ Style Resources page for more.

The lists:

Organization

  1. πŸ“– Print out a reference sheet for all those garment care tag hieroglyphs and tape it up by the washing machine (or save to your phone).
  2. πŸ’…πŸΌ Get rid of nail polish and makeup that is expired or you are never going to use because it doesn’t suit you or your lifestyle.
  3. πŸ“­ Unsubscribe from any brand/shop newsletters unless you already have a specific item in mind and want sale notifications.
  4. πŸ”‡ Unfollow any style Instagram accounts you find neither helpful nor aesthetically pleasing.
  5. πŸ”„ Rotate out stuff from the back of your closet or a drawer.
  6. πŸ“¦ Knitwear storage – straighten it up or check that you aren’t hanging knits in a way that will give them those little shoulder lumps or stretch them out. It takes up more horizontal space, but if I need to hang sweaters I like to do it like this where you fold the sweater in half and drape it over the top bar of the hanger by anchoring the armpit of the top at the hanger hook (there’s a photo in that link).
  7. πŸ‘£ Dig through your sock drawer and pair up any accumulated orphaned socks.
  8. ⏲ Create a spot for “purge purgatory” storage (e.g. under-bed storage bin, old duffel bag).
  9. ✈️ Consolidate all your travel-sized toiletries.
  10. πŸ‘― Organize your tights. If you have trouble telling them apart when they’re all balled up, I’ve seen suggestions to store them in labeled cardboard toilet paper tubes.
  11. ⏰ Timeboxed vanity / accessories organization. Focus on creating spaces for things to go, e.g. if you have a lot of loose pins and hair elastics, get a small cup or something for them.
  12. πŸ’ Jewelry organization: buy or make an organizer (e.g. corkboard or cardboard with push pins for necklace storage). If you know that you don’t have the discipline to actually put your earrings or whatever back into an individual pocket or hang them up every time you use them, consider getting a more general corral space for items like a dish/tray/box for semi-organization.
  13. πŸ—ƒ Figure out how you can systematically reduce or get rid of the items in that pile on your chair or the floor. E.g. making space for and getting a coat/bag hooks by your door or a small clothing rack or laundry rack for “worn but not done” things. Prevents them from getting all wrinkly, helps air them out between wears.

Shopping prep

Most of these items are meant to be helpful references for online shopping. This is especially useful for secondhand online shopping, where people will often list flat measurements.

  1. ❌ Create an anti wish list – a list of item types of details that you have tried before and you know haven’t worked out before for lifestyle or aesthetic preferences, like “sweaters with sleeves that can’t be pushed up” or “raw hems”. Put it somewhere you’ll always have access to while shopping, e.g. a notes app on your phone and read it every time you’re tempted to buy something.
  2. πŸ€” Create an “I Wish” list. Instead of keeping a general wish list of things you want after seeing people wearing them IRL or in photos, have a list of items that you think “it’d be nice if I had…” while you are actually getting dressed. E.g. “I wish I had heavier weight pants besides jeans that I could tuck sweaters into that don’t get lumpy” or “I wish I had more bottoms that worked for deathly hot weather”.
  3. πŸ“ Take your measurements (or get a friend to take them, or even better, get a tailor to take them).
  4. πŸ‘• Measure a t-shirt (pit to pit, sleeve length, shoulder to hem)
  5. πŸ‘œ Measure a bag (including strap length/drop)
  6. ❄️ Measure a coat
  7. πŸ‚ Measure a cardigan
  8. πŸ‘– Measure a pair of pants
  9. β›ΉπŸ» Measure shorts / a short skirt
  10. πŸ‘˜ Measure a long skirt
  11. πŸ’• Measure a sweater
  12. 🧣 Measure a scarf
  13. πŸ“š Browse some fashion vocabulary infographics. You can browse google images for “fashion vocabulary ___” Personally I’ve seen conflicting info regularly in these kinds of infographics, but even then it’s useful to see what people call things. This allows you to be more specific with your searches, e.g. “cotton canvas kick flares” vs “flare pants” or “dolman sleeve cowl neck top” instead of “loose sleeves top”. Zoe Hong has a playlist of vocabulary videos on Youtube as well.
    1. necklines
    2. sleeves
    3. coats
    4. dresses
    5. skirts
    6. pants
  14. πŸ”¬ Learn about fabric properties: rayon, polyester, wools (merino, lambswool, cashmere, etc), cotton, spandex, nylon, leather (“genuine leather”, top grain vs full grain, etc), silk, etc. Wikipedia is a great jumping-off point, or websites about selecting fabric for sewing. And of course, Zoe Hong also has a bunch of videos on fabric properties like Wools 101.
  15. πŸ”Ž Read about how to determine quality in clothing. I found the guide on Anuschka Rees‘ blog a helpful resource.

Upkeep

  1. πŸ’Š Clean up a pilled item with a pill shaver or comb or lint from an item.
  2. πŸ‘ž Wipe down a pair of shoes.
  3. ✨ Condition a leather item (maybe that pair of boots you wiped down yesterday).
  4. βœ‚οΈ Take that thing to the tailor that you’ve been meaning to have hemmed or taken in for weeks.
  5. πŸ‘‹ Decommission any holey socks (or darn them, if you do that).
  6. πŸ‘™ Check that your rare occasion items like formalwear/workwear/swimsuit still fit.
  7. πŸ› Hand wash that thing you’ve been meaning to hand wash.
  8. πŸ‘Ÿ Wash a pair of older shoelaces (possibly soak them first to loosen dirt before laundering them if they’re really nasty) or re-lace a shoe that’s uneven.
  9. πŸŽ’ Clean out a purse or backpack.
  10. πŸ’¦ Clean your washing machine. I use a communal one for my apartment building, which tends to get some crusty gunk in the rubber seal which needs periodic cleaning. You could also run a hot cycle with the cleaning agent of your choice (vinegar seems to be a popular one) to do a deeper clean.
  11. πŸ› Clean out the pockets of all your coats.
  12. 🐣 Get a sweater bag for delicate laundry.
  13. πŸš‚ Iron or steam that thing or take it to the cleaners if you know you aren’t going to do it.
  14. πŸ–‡ Do you have any items that would benefit from nicer or specialty hangers (textured velvet ones, heavy duty ones, ones for pants, etc)? Get those hangers.

Styling

  1. 🀷🏻 What is an outfit you wear regularly that you feel meh about? How could you style it differently so you like it more? E.g. “This pair of jeans would look better cuffed when worn with these boots”. Try it on an experiment with different tucks, cuffs, folds, accessories, and layering pieces.
  2. πŸ”€ Find another item to pair with a piece that you’ve only been pairing with one or two things.
  3. 🌟 Whats a regular outfit you have that you LOVE? What specifically do you love about it? How can you incorporate that into another outfit? Could just be making another outfit with an item you really like, or maybe there’s a similar color combo or silhouette.
  4. πŸ“Έ Practice posing for photos. There are lots of tips all over the internet on how to pose, but good posture is the best foundation.
  5. 🧣Experiment with ways to style a scarf
  6. πŸ’‘ Find a spot to take outfit photos in your home if you haven’t got a go-to already. Even if you don’t take daily pictures, it can be helpful to evaluate new purchases to photograph them from front, side, and back angles or take a short video. There’s a solid guide on taking outfit photos with your phone on the femalefashionadvice subreddit that I’ve found helpful.
  7. πŸ‘  Which pair of your everyday shoes do you reach for the least? If it’s something you don’t like about the shoe, add to anti-wish list. If you like the shoe but have a hard time styling it, try and put together 1 or 2 outfits for them.
  8. πŸ‘’ Style an outfit with one more accessory than you usually would.
  9. 😡 Note down 2 or 3 outfits (include for warmer and cooler weather) that look decent but are comfy for days when you feel awful but need to go outside / to work and do things.

Curation

Identify holes or overfilled niches in your closet.

For the “Evaluate your…” items, expand that to the following points and then write down notes in your anti wish list or wish list. Use common sense and consider whether you have enough of a type of item to make it through a laundry period and don’t over-zealously purge things in their off season.

  • What silhouettes, fabrics, and colors of this item do you have? Which of each are your favorites? Least favorites? Is there a pattern to any of those? e.g. “cool-toned muted colors”, “floaty thin fabrics”, “boxy cropped cuts”
  • Do you already have multiples of something that you don’t need any more of?
  • Do you have a disproportionate amount that are only suited to cold or hot weather?
  • Do you have a disproportionate amount that cannot be worn to work?
  • Is there anything that you would not reach for over any other item in the category for any outfit?
  • Does anything not fit?
  1. 🏑 Do you have any loungewear items you never reach for? Identify why that is (e.g. no pockets, no closure, not warm enough, there are three items in the same niche that are more comfortable). Write it down in the anti-wish list. Move items to purge storage.
  2. πŸ‹πŸ» Same as above, but for activewear.
  3. 😬 Do you have any items you are afraid to wear? If it’s “fear of the new”, consider wearing it around the house and then on a trip to the grocery store. Put these things on your calendar. If it’s “fear of ruining unique/expensive item”, remind yourself that if you’re not going to wear it then it’s pretty much the same as not having it anyway. If you are really never going to wear it out, then purge it.
  4. 🎩 Not exactly a curation thing, but if you have fancy stuff that you feel you don’t have anywhere to wear to but wish you did, consider getting yourself tickets to a ballet/symphony (seats for those can be gotten for about the price of a nice sit-down meal and often there are discounts for students or under-30. E.g. SF Symphony cheap seats are $35, and you can still hear the music just as well), reservations to a nice restaurant, or if you have friends who’d be into it, organize a dinner / no-reason-get-together-and-hang-out at your place where people can dress up. Or if it’s something that doesn’t limit mobility / require dry cleaning after one wear, YOLO and wear it to run errands or sit in a cafe/park and read a book on the weekend.
  5. πŸ– How is your wardrobe when it comes to hot weather? Do you have a sun hat? Do you have a nicer outfit that won’t be insufferably sweaty? Sandals? Sunglasses that suit your face and haircut?
  6. β˜ƒοΈ How is your wardrobe when it comes to cold weather? Do you need thermals, hats, gloves, thick socks? Do you kind of like or dislike the majority of your sweaters?
  7. β˜•οΈ Evaluate your pants
  8. πŸ’ƒπŸ» Evaluate your skirts
  9. 🎽 Evaluate your tops
  10. πŸ‘— Evaluate your dresses / jumpsuits / rompers
  11. 🍸 Evaluate your formalwear (whatever “formal” means for your lifestyle)
  12. πŸ‘’ Evaluate your shoes
  13. πŸƒ Evaluate your sweaters and cardigans

Wardrobe Round-up December 2018

December is over! I’m going to do a separate post for a year-end retrospective.

As usual, I’ll go over favorite outfits, item wear stats, and what I bought, returned, purged, am considering purging, and my wish list.

Favorites

This was a good month for me outfit-wise so I have five picks this time!

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Head to toe orange! This one was really fun. I don’t think I’ve ever considered tucking in a cardigan until pretty recently (I pretty much never wear cardigans closed), but I’d been seeing the tucked styling a lot (Pinterest board link) so I gave it a try.

  • Cardigan – Charter Club (ebay)
  • Pants – Forever 21
  • Boots – Steve Madden

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I felt so cozy and wintery-cute in this. Worn during my trip to Boston! I might yet get out a post on that mini-capsule. I like that the hat is multicolored, but the burgundy band and pom-pom pull it back a bit.

  • Hat – LL Bean
  • Scarf – Steve Madden (from Macys)
  • Sweater – LL Bean (Boston has a brick and mortar LL Bean store! I bought this and the hat during the trip)
  • Pants – Uniqlo, hemmed
  • Boots – Marc Fisher

I liked this one because it featured the round-toed t-strap pumps in a way that wasn’t super twee or 2013, but still felt a little vintage-y with the scarf-look headband. I always want to wear my long cardigans more, but I never like how they look with any pants other than jeans because soft-on-soft often leans too loungewear for my taste.

  • Headband – Anthropologie
  • Cardigan – H&M
  • Jeans – ASOS petites “Farleigh slim mom jean”
  • Top – H&M
  • Shoes – BΓΈrn (ebay) “Polyana” pump

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More winter-cute. I think the pleather midi skirt with these boots is one of my favorite combos now. I also like how the print on the mittens pops against all the black and matches the fair isle on the scarf.

  • Scarf – Forever 21
  • Coat – Calvin Klein (secondhand from a facebook buy/sell group, got the sleeves hemmed)
  • Skirt – Forever 21
  • Mittens – Isotoner (Macys)
  • Sweater – JCrew (Goodwill)
  • Boots – Marc Fisher

Wardrobe Stats

This month I wore:

  • 43 items of clothing, 20 (47%, up from 56% last month) of which were worn once (not including loungewear, activewear, or thermals). -3 from last month, but I was on a trip to Boston for 10 days of the month.
    • 6 tops
    • 16 bottoms
    • 4 dresses
    • 6 outerwear
    • 11 layering
  • 47 accessories, 15 (56%, up from 38% last month) of which were worn once. 15 more items than last month!
    • 8 shoes
    • 2 socks (I count multiple colorways of the same cable-knit sock as 1 item)
    • 4 necklaces
    • 2 bracelets
    • 10 earrings
    • 2 belts
    • 4 hats
    • 4 rings
    • 1 watch
    • 2 scarves
    • 2 headbands
    • 1 gloves
    • 5 bags

Clothes

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Accessories

I realized after taking this screenshot that I logged the black floppy hat instead of the wool panama hat on accident in one outfit, but I’m too lazy to re-take and re-upload the screenshot.

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Purchased

Only one dud this time around. And I’ve worn all of these multiple times already, so a good month for purchases.

Cream balloon sleeve sweater, Athleta (“Lucca” sweater), $67.99, M – I have a dark gray oversized wool sweater that I love functionally, but I feel doesn’t fit my color palette that well anymore. This one is a cashmere-wool blend with balloon sleeves (my favorite sleeves, although it’s not as classic a cut as the other one I have) that I thought would be a great option. It isn’t the most thickly-knit sweater ever but it was plenty warm during my boston trip and I’m glad I got it! I wore it five times already since I got it this month.

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Cream and gray mock-neck sweater, Athleta (“Rockridge” sweater), $55.19, M – I definitely did not need this sweater, but I tried it on and absolutely loved the double-sided knit (not sure what the technical term is for it) of cream and gray and thought the raglan sleeve style with the mock neck was interesting and really flattering! I usually try and avoid high polyester blends in sweaters because typically it’s a sign that it’s just cheap, but I guess Athleta being a higher-end activewear brand means they tend to use poly in a helpful way and here I think it made the sweater drape particularly nice.

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Brown wool panama hat, Brixton via Nordstrom, $39.00 – Been wanting a medium-width brimmed wool hat for a while now since it pops up a lot in my style inspiration board on Pinterest, but I hadn’t found quite the right one. There were a few at Christie’s that looked really nice, but frankly I wasn’t sure I’d wear a hat enough to make it worth their price tag so I wanted a more mid-end one. This one is a basic taupe hat but I like the little braided trim detail! It took me a while to get to a point where I felt fashion-y enough to wear a hat that even remotely resembled a trilby due to hearing years of neckbeard jokes about them.

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low-key Indiana Jones costume

Gold scarf-look headband, Cara via Nordstrom, $28.00 – I like the rust headband in the same style a lot so I thought it’d be nice to have one in a more sparkly colorway. There is no way this is actually worth $28, but frankly at this point I’m okay with just eating the markup for the convenience of being able to purchase one that I tried on immediately. Headbands are so weird to fit. I don’t think I have a particularly large head (one size hats always fit) but I find most headbands to be uncomfortably tight.

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Cream fisherman sweater, LL Bean, $99.00, S (also in the above photo) – I’d tried this on previously in a mail order in M and it just fit all kinds of wrong. The sleeves were super tight and the torso was a bit baggy and long, and the yarn was stiff and scratchy. I gave up on LL Bean sweaters after that since they don’t have free return shipping and there aren’t any brick and mortar ones in California. But there is one in Boston, so I was able to try on a few sweaters and determined that I’m probably a small in most of their items. I don’t know what was up with the yarn in the one I originally tried, but the ones in the store were a better texture.

Multicolored pom-pom beanie, LL Bean, $29.95 – I hadn’t previously considered ear coverage much when shopping for cold-weather hats, but after walking around in Boston in freezing wind for a day with the beanie I packed that only covered the tops of my ears when pulled down past my eyebrows already, it now is. This hat still doesn’t comfortably cover my ears but I think the design is a little longer so it’s still a solid improvement. I saw a lot of other people whose beanies covered their ears but I’m not sure if it’s just my slippery hair getting in the way or my head shape or not having the right hat or what. I should probably just get a hat with some of those ear flaps next…

I liked that this colorway of the hat was multicolored and cheery, but still comes off as primarily burgundy since the cuff and pom-pom match.

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Outfit for ice skating in Boston!

Fair isle chenille gloves, Isotoner via Macys, $18.00 (also in the above photo) – This was a purchase of necessity as unfortunately I dropped one of the gloves I packed outside our Airbnb building when I had taken it off to dig around my purse for keys and it blew away by the time I came back for it (this was the super windy day mentioned above). RIP basic fitted warm fleece glove. I like the print on these and they’re pleasantly plush, but despite the thickness I don’t think they’re actually as warm as the old gloves. I would have repurchased them (gift originaly) but they’re from Land’s End and I was disappointed in how they handled the whole Gloria Stienem thing a few years ago so I would rather not shop there if I can help it. I will probably keep on the lookout for warmer ones or ones in the removable mitten style which is easier to use with phone touch or digging around in a purse.

Gray check oversized blazer, Forever 21 via Goodwill, $5.99 – I got this with the intention of trying it just once or twice because I’ve seen loads of people with oversized check blazers and I think it looks cute, but after a few attempts at styling I think this one is a bit too oversized for what I was going for. I missed the return deadline so this is just going back to Goodwill.

Purged

Lotta stuff this time, end of the year and all. I’ve decided that I don’t have enough space to keep around some of the summer items and none of them are precious to me, so I’m just going to go ahead and donate them next time I make it over there.

The general themes this time in donations were

  • things that lean towards pajama / loungewear looks, like open cardigans
  • navy, gray, and black
  • thin and/or flat fabrics (I wore so much jersey before)

which are all things I’ve been moving away from as I try to give my wardrobe more dimension. Specific things I’ve taken away are that I don’t like

  • drop shoulders on thicker knits (I’ve also noticed this when trying on stuff in stores)
  • boxy sweaters with a band at the waist
  • waterfall cardigans

Being the end of the year, I took a look at all my items I wore 6 or fewer times (not even worn every other month on average) in the past year and had a look at the ones that I would either never reach for over another item in the same niche that I now had or was not worn within the past 9-10 months.

I may add photos later, but as it’s the end of the year I’d rather spend the time getting my 2018 retrospective post done than adding images here.

Gray rib-knit long sleeve top, H&M – this is actually a pretty solid quality item for H&M, though not spectacular. I noticed I didn’t like most of the outfits with it because the wide rib-knit pattern is too boobtastic for my taste. On top of that, the gray doesn’t fit with all the warmer items that I tend to reach for so I never pick this one. I have enough other tops I don’t think this needs to stay around as a functional piece.

Gray mock neck dress, Nordstrom – this is one of the now-rare shameful “still has the tags” donations 😦 I bought this right before I decided that I wanted to redo my color palette to include actual colors, and I never ended up wearing it. It fits well but it also needed to be hemmed before I wore it, and needed a slip if I wasn’t wearing it with tights. The quality is decent but nothing great.

Brown cashmere-cotton waterfall cardigan, Eileen Fisher secondhand – as usual for EF, this piece is really well made and the fabric is possibly my favorite I’ve ever touched. Cotton cashmere! Who knew there was such a thing. However I’ve come to dislike waterfall cut cardigans as I don’t find them flattering (without careful styling to me they feel like a “older woman trying to hide their stomach” cut) and they tend to feel very loungewear-y when in a smooth thin fabric. Sad to let this one go but as it doesn’t have a closure and has no pockets I find that I’m less likely to wear it around the house compared to basic-ass hoodies, even with the glorious, glorious feel of the fabric.

Cream open-knit linen waterfall cardigan, Eileen Fisher secondhand – similar to the above, this is super well made but I don’t like the cut even though it fits perfectly (even petite sized!). I used to have a lot of waterfall and round shawl collar cardigans in 2014-2016 when I mostly wore jeggings and leggings but as I almost always wear loose-fit bottoms now it just doesn’t work as well. They also come off as dated to me and that combined with just not working with my current silhouette means out they go!

Rust boxy cropped sweater, Forever 21 – The quality of this is decent for the price and acrylic-cotton blend, I still like the color of this one but I found that I hated the boxy cropped cut. I’m fine with loose silhouettes but my personal peeve is anything that makes me feel particularly apple shaped. Since this one was cropped with a banded waist and the yarn was a more substantial acrylic, it definitely leaned in that direction (although as usual, not awful). After getting a brown fitted pullover long sleeve top last month I don’t think I’d ever reach for this one over that, so out it goes. I don’t think I had a

Gray cotton shaker stitch cardigan, Gap – this is very soft and comfortable and used to be my workhorse cardigan. However I never reach for it now because the short and boxy cut suits skinny jeans and leggings more, it’s a bit too loungey, doesn’t have pockets or a closure (not going to reach for it if transitioned to loungewear), and doesn’t mesh with the colors of my favorite core pieces. If I had more space I’d keep this one in case I get back into skinny bottoms or go back into a gray/black phase, but alas I do not.

Gray ruched t-shirt midi t-shirt dress, H&M – the design of this is cool – you can adjust the ruching and it’s a fun witchy/dystopian aesthetic. But the quality is pretty awful as the fabric is thin and clingy in a way that makes you look lumpy if you’re not careful. It’s too casual for my taste to wear to the office and I don’t think I’d reach for it as a loungewear piece over more functional items.

Black box pleat jersey midi skirt, ASOS petite – I don’t like the length of this on me and I don’t love how it looks when I’m just standing. It’s too soft a fabric to hold up an A-line shape or even the box pleats, which end up getting swallowed. Now that I have the black pleather midi skirt I don’t think I’d ever reach for this. I have a black jersey maxi skirt that I think I would always reach for over it if I did want a softer black skirt.

Black cropped cotton cable-knit sweater, Billabong – I never reach for this because I’ve come to prefer pretty much any other color but black by my face. The dropped shoulders with the thick knit tend to make my shoulders look large and round. I don’t like how it pairs with my trousers, culottes, or a-line midi skirts, which is what I wear most of the time. It looks okay with jeans and there’s one skirt it looks nice with, but idk, that doesn’t seem like enough to keep it when I have so many other sweaters where I perk up when I think about them rather than feel meh.

Purge Purgatory

Some stuff I’ve more recently considered getting rid of, but want to stew on for a little longer.

Black linen duster cardigan, Garnet Hill secondhand – flat, black, lounge-y item. I want to give it one more chance next summer because I know I had a black duster cardigan on a wish list for SO LONG when I was into the minimal witchy aesthetic. Not holding out too much but at least it doesn’t take up too much room when stored because it’s thin.

Black cotton oversized “double L” cable-knit sweater, LL Bean secondhand – this looks nice with black leggings and black boots but I don’t think I wear this enough to justify keeping it around. It’s not an oversized cut, just two sizes up, so it tends to need a lot of styling to look intentional in outfits. It’s super comfy and well-made though.

Cream cotton “double L” cable-knit sweater, LL Bean secondhand – similar enough to the new fisherman sweater, but I like how the fisherman sweater looks more so I suspect I would always reach for that over this one.

Cream open-knit sweater, Billabong – transitioning this to warm weather loungewear. This is comfy but I realized the cut is a little wider than I’d like and something about the design makes it look droopy rather than slouchy-chic. I also got the AllSaints open-knit top after I bought this and while it’s less comfortable the design is so much cooler (more structure, more unique) that for ~outfits~ I think I would always reach for that.

Cream basic long sleeved scoop neck top, Target – I got this in high school but never wear it anymore because it’s such a flat basic, but it’s one of those things where I feel that some day I’m going to want it for layering and regret getting rid of it. I’m really impressed with how well it’s held up. I haven’t worn it much in recent years but I used to use it all the time.

Wish List

Instead of a general wish list, I’ve converted mine to an “‘I Wish’ List” on my phone’s notes app. I add something to it if I think “I wish I had a ____” when I’m actually getting dressed. I feel like that’s probably more indicative of “””need””” versus just seeing things that I like when I’m shopping or browsing inspiration photos.

  • Camel Coat – non black/dark gray coat option
  • Lighter mood festive top or dress
  • Formal dress not black
  • Long chunky cable-knit cardigan, not black – specifically cable-knit for adding texture to outfits. I like the taupe and dark gray ones I have but I think a more substantial one would work as an outerwear piece with a lot of my outfits
  • denim or cord button-front skirt (to replace the current one which was a cheap “let’s try it out” purchase that ended up being too thin and stretchy for my taste)

DIY shitty Gorillapod for taking outfit photos while traveling

Pretty much what the title says! If you forgot a tripod or gorillapod, or don’t have one, here’s a janky setup that is still better for taking photos in your hotel or airbnb room than a dusty mirror pic or making do with whatever lighting and angle you end up with when perching your phone on a shelf.

YMMV depending on what phone you have and what you have on hand, but I think this should be pretty general.

All you need is a piece of luggage, a hair elastic or rubber band, and your phone.

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Hopefully it’s pretty self-explanatory from the photos. Use the elastic to bind the pen and phone into a clamp over the top of your luggage handle, and you can now take photographs from roughly waist height from anywhere in your room as well as adjust the height. It can be a little fiddly and you need to check that the phone isn’t tilted from the side or front before you take a picture with the timer, but I’ve found it was pretty serviceable.

Prior art includes using a binder clip or three to make a stand for your phone (image search for “binder clip phone stand”), although this isn’t quite as portable since you have to also have a conveniently located surface to put it on (same with just finding something to lean your phone against on a table, counter, or bookshelf).

Hope that was helpful, and happy outfit cataloguing!

Wardrobe Round-up: November 2018

Similar to last time, I’m going to go over:

  • my favorite outfits this months
  • an overview of my item wear counts and wardrobe inventory
  • what I bought, returned, and donated
  • and what’s on my wish list and purge list

Been really busy recently so I’m opting to get out a pared-down version of the round-up post rather than not post one at all! So it’ll be lighter on the links and stats this time.

Favorites

I’m taking it as a good sign that each month I have a harder time paring my outfits down to a few favorites.

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November 13, 2018

I like pretty much every outfit with this skirt tbh. I’ve had a harder time figuring out how to pair outerwear that isn’t cropped with dresses and skirts, and I like how the trench worked here. Bit more of a streamlined shape, but still fairly fitted so it’s not overwhelming.

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November 25, 2018

First outfit with docs (the classic 1460 boot)! I wore a different pair of boots to go get them and then I wore this around the house for an hour to start breaking them in. Definitely the most painful shoe break-in I’ve done but they were very comfy after about two weeks!

I dig the rosie the riveter vibes here with the scarf style headband with the workwear vibes in the clothes.

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November 21, 2018

Worn on the first rainy day after like two weeks of awful smoke from the wildfires!Β  I know the dress is more of a summer weight item compared to the rest of the outfit, but it was fairly warm out and I feel like compared to many fashion-interested folks I consider matching fabric weights a bit lower on my priority list.

It can be tricky to pair untucked sweaters with skirts, but I found I tend to like them more with shorter skirts. I shortened this dress by tying a fabric belt around the waist and then hitching it up and over the belt a few inches.

Wardrobe Stats

 

As usual, all these numbers have some nonzero error bar associated with them. I’m not perfect at logging things but I’m hoping that over time, this will help me learn more about my buying and wearing habits.

This month I wore:

  • 46 items of clothing (not including loungewear or activewear)
    • same number as last month!
    • 26 of which I wore once (56%, up from 48% last month)
  • 32 accessories (shoes, jewelry, bags, scarves),
    • Down from 42 items last month. I think this is partly due to sticking to boots as it’s gotten a bit colder.
    • 12 of which I wore once (38%, up from 33% last month)

I’ve been pretty happy with the direction my accessories diversification has been going. I used to rotate through like two pairs of earrings and two pairs of boots, and I think diversifying the types of accessories I use has been helpful with making my looks more interesting, especially since I tend to favor more minimal clothing items. Continuing on from last month’s use of fancy tights, I’ve now expanded to visible chunky socks! Just in time for winter.

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Purchased

Green short sleeve linen blend button-down shirt, Goodwill, $4.99 – probably won’t get to wear this until it gets warm again, but I think it’ll look cute tied to a crop style with jeans. I’m still not sold that I’ll end up loving the really boxy style that’s been popular in recent years for button-downs (like the ones at Madewell and Everlane), so I think this is a good way to try it.

Black sleeveless velvet maxi dress, Goodwill, $6.99 – I like that the slit on this one isn’t too high! It allows for more movement but the dress doesn’t become scandalously flappy in the wind. Also it didn’t need hemming. Hurray!

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Embroidered mesh overlay dress, BaronHong brand on Amazon, $36.99 – trying to find a less goth-y dress since I’m going to be watching a couple of shows at the SF Ballet in 2019 and didn’t want to go in all-black every time. This is still mostly black, but it’s a bit cheerier with all the florals! I’m not 100% digging the oversized sleeves/shoulders on my petite frame, but I think with a thin waist belt and a different cami dress than the provided one (which is laughable quality) it’ll look nice. For this price, I’m not as picky.

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Red suede block heel sandals, Nine West via Zappos, $71.10 – got these to replace the black suede block heel sandals that died a few months ago. I was hoping to find one that was better quality, but I’m starting to think that these are just intrinsically not a super sturdy shoe. But they work well for more dressy events, so I just got a similar pair from Nine West. It was the only low-heeled ones I could find in a red colorway. They seem okay, quality-wise. Not everything needs to be an out-of-the-park home run.

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Black faux leather A-line skirt, Forever 21, $16.03 –  A-line midi skirts forever! Hoping this lasts a fair amount of wears. Forever 21 is either really hit, or really miss. This has a raw edge which I normally hate but with this particular material it’s okay. I like that this one was on the shorter end of midi for me. I feel like a longer one would be a bit overwhelming with this fabric.

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Remembered to take fit pics in this. Trying to be more strict about doing that before taking tags off! Top’s wrinkly from being hastily put on, but didn’t bother fixing it for these photos.

Green christmas bauble earrings, Amazon, $11.19 – got these to dress up my black dress for an office holiday party. I really liked how the thread has a nice sheen, the weight, and the size, but I did not like how the metal bits were not glued on straight. Not too noticeable when moving around though.

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Brown cable-knit thin sweater top, Stradivarius via ASOS, $32.00 – I realized I liked my fitted sweaters the most, so I got an orangey brown one to go with the cream, dark green, and black ones I have. It’s in the pleather midi skirt photo.

4-pack wool blend chunky socks, Amazon, $21.19 – more chunky socks for heavy boots. These seem pretty solid, though not like, outdoors/hiking brand solid.

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Dr Martens 1460 boots, Bill’s Footwear, $140 – from the wish list last month. The one and only combat boot. Although I finally internalized (despite being told earlier) that these take like five minutes to get on, so I may still end up getting a chelsea style flat boot for when I’m in a hurry or just wanna go out to take out the trash or something πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

These are pictured in the velvet maxi dress photo above, as well as the “rosie the riveter” outfit in favorites.

T-strap pumps, BΓΈrn via Poshmark, $46.49 – also from the wish list. I always check current stock for shoes because 1) more sizes 2) easy / free returns and 3) less chance of getting some foot fungus from used shoes, but for things like this which are just so out of trend that nobody sells them, ebay and poshmark it is. The T part of this is actually not as sharp as I ideally like, but it’s close enough. As usual for Born, these are really sturdy and comfortable. The leather’s a bit scratched but I actually like the effect here. I feel like t-strap shoes that are too shiny tend to look like “character” dance shoes.

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here they are, gloriously clashing with some art deco motif fishnets

Returned

“lady love song” green velvet dress, Modcloth, $97.23 – I feel like they must have had some special lighting or pinned the dress for the photoshoot because on me the ruching on the bust was significantly more …. ruched in person than the texture of rest of the dress and it looked mismatched on the bust and body parts of the dress. Someone else on reddit mentioned they had the same issue with it too.

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Embroidered velvet sleeve mini dress, Amazon, $19.99 – Sometimes the cheap stuff is surprisingly good. This was expectedly meh. The design was cute and it fit, but the mesh sleeves had a bunch of tiny rips in them already.

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Rust corduroy wide-leg pants, ASOS, $40.00 – Trying to get another pair of not-black pants. These fit but I didn’t like how the thicker fabric meant that it was wide but had less drape. I felt like I had tree trunks for legs particularly with this colorway lol.

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Rust wide-leg pants, ASOS, $48.00 – I liked these but they were simply too small in the hips.

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Silver art deco style clutch, Nordstrom, $79.00 – I really liked the design of this but it was absolutely not worth the price. Lots of cheap-looking details. The fabric lining inside was glued down with lumpy air bubbles. The little interior pocket only had accordion folds on one side so it didn’t expand evenly.Β  The hinges that held the chain to the bag were super flimsy. Booo.

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Red sparkly sweetheart neckline dress, Macys, $19.99 – the fabric on this was incredibly cheap looking in person. I usually don’t order from the juniors section because of the cheapo fabrics, but I was getting more desperate to find a holiday dress and juniors stuff is short. Probably never going to even look at a jrs section again after this. Also wish that sweetheart necklines were more common!

Black faux leather A-line skirt, Forever 21, $16.06 – same as the one I kept, but a size M instead of L

Gray herringbone pinafore dress, Forever 21, $17.43 – I had a suspicion that pinafore dresses might not work on me, but this confirmed it. I am not at a point where I want to join theΒ  #potatosacksisterhood and this was just not conventionally flattering. Pinafore + boobs adds like 15 lbs, and the little triangle thing I felt made my back look wider by comparison to its tiny triangle-ness. Also when I sat down the buttons bunched up a ton, but I think that’s intrinsic to the stiffer fabric + fitted cut rather than a pinafore style specifically. Compare it to the more commonly known as conventionally flattering A-line skirt outfit.

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Gold hand rings, ASOS, $8.00 – I generally collect realistic hand and eyeball motif jewelry as I come across it. These were just particularly cheap looking in person.

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Purged

Mostly loungewear this month.

“I’m too cold for this” blue waffle knit pajama tank – This top is a conundrum. By the time it’s actually cold enough to wear this, it’s too cold to wear it. I got it out of the $2 bargain bin at Old Navy in high school and I think it’s had its run.

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I stole this photo from this poshmark listing: https://poshmark.com/listing/Im-Too-Cold-For-This-Tank-Top-5b9c2f7a4ab633cf1bda34f6

“I need coffee” blue pajama t-shirt – this is really thin material and I find that I have other tacky t-shirts that I reach for over this for my slightly more substantial but still soft t-shirts. This was from Forever 21, back in high school.

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black and white polka dot popover shirt – this is a slippery material and whenever I wear it I end up fussing with it every 30 seconds. The last time I wore it was January 2018 and have not really felt like wearing it since.Β  This was from the Merona brand at Target.

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I stole this photo from this poshmark listing https://poshmark.com/listing/Black-and-white-polka-dot-popover-shirt-57f8120a99086ab8fe02abdc

cream shawl collar cardigan – I’ve come to favor a more polished/fitted look generally, and this one is a bit too loose-boho-loungewear for what I’m going for. Also it’s not super luxurious / notably enjoyable to wear from a tactile standpoint. This was BDG Urban Outfitters from consignment.

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wrap white stretch cotton crop top (loungewear) – this was comfy, but not as comfy as enough of my other loungewear items that I just never reached for it. It was also too boobtastic to wear outside for my tastes tbh. This was from Forever 21.

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Purge Purgatory

Carrying over from last month: Eileen Fisher cream open-knit cardigan and the Garnet Hill black linen maxi cardigan. I try not to donate off-season items. Much easier to feel like you will never wear something when it’s been the wrong weather for it for months!

Navy floral-print long sleeved blouse – this used to be one of my most-worn items. I still love the print and the little rouleau button details on the cuffs and neck fastening, but the blue doesn’t go as well with a lot of my current color palette (e.g. if I’m deciding between this and something cream/white/brown/olive, I always go for the earthy tones) so I never reach for it. Also it’s that polyester “silk” fabric that tends to be less breathable. I used to have mostly “silk” or chiffon poly blouses for my workwear and I think this is the last of that era.

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Gray boxy cotton cardigan – This is very comfy but 1) it has no pockets, 2) I prefer to wear it with skinny bottoms. These used to be my go-to 9/10 times but now I wear fitted bottoms once a week at most. Also leans a bit into the loungewear look which I have been trying to avoid for work outfits. Might get more use of it when it gets colder as a layering-only item during commuting.

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Unintentional purgatory: I know I had at least two more long sleeved heattech thermal shirts, but they seem to have disappeared along with my black pleat-front culottes. Where could they go?? My apartment is 425 sq feet!

Wish list

Camel coat – carried over. Long outerwear in a lighter color option!

Concluding thoughts

Pretty pleased with how things are going in my wardrobe generally, although it has been pretty frustrating trying to find some petite formal dresses. Partly because I wanted to find one that fits off the rack and even most petite items are a tad long, and the ornate fabrics in formal dresses I think wouldn’t even always be alterable without spending as much as the dress. Probably going to keep an eye out, but with the floral mesh maxi and the new shoes, going to stop actively looking those now.

 

Styling Midi Skirts

A while back I asked what sort of posts people would like to see, and “how I style X ” posts seemed like a popular option. And thus you have: How I style midi skirts! I picked this item since it seems like many people were interested in them after seeing them in some of my outfits and learning that I was 5’1″.

Psssst…what’s a midi skirt?

I actually didn’t know the term “midi skirt” until sometime in college. (Being part of cliques growing up that aggressively ~didn’t care about fashion~ will do that you ya.) In case you’re in the same boat, a midi skirt is simply a skirt that hits somewhere along the calf.

Man Repeller has a great article about the genesis and ebbs and flows of the midi skirt here https://www.manrepeller.com/2016/06/history-of-the-midi-skirt.html which I highly recommend reading, as it’s a good overview of the history of hemlines in the 20th century, including That One Time in the 1970s When They Tried To Make Midi Skirts Happen, but they totally didn’t, because the populace wanted their modern and freeing minis!

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Mini-skirted women protest the midi in Miami in 1970 (Jim Kerlin)

Although the midi-length peeked its head out via the classic 90s slip dress, it didn’t really find its footing again untilΒ theΒ SpringΒ andΒ FallΒ 2014 collections when designers started mashing together influences from all the latter decades of the 20th century and β€” this is the clincher!!! β€” people actually liked it.

Which is kind of the point, right? If the midi debacle of 1970 achieved anything,Β it proved that even the most influential voices can’t sway the public if they don’t want to be swayed.

Good news: trends and progress and freedom lie in the hands of the collective.

Nowadays, there seems to be a pretty healthy selection of both minis and midis (although anecdotally, fewer maxis than in the mid 2000s – early 2010s), which is nice, so you can have some choices in both.

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Anecdata from ASOS, an online-only marketplace for a zillion brands, mostly trendier items

Half this post is disclaimers

On prescriptive style advice

I talk a lot in this post about what β€œlooks nicer”. It felt like a ridiculous amount of stuff as I listed everything out! But don’t think of it as laws not to break for fear of The Fashion Police hauling you away, but more like concepts you can keep in mind when deciding what aesthetic you want your outfit to have. Maybe you’re going for a sturdy, stocky look. You can invert the suggestions! Also this isn’t, like, a literal checklist I go through every morning when I get dressed, but rather an enumeration of everything I could think of that I’ve internalized after scrutinizing daily outfit photos for two years.

This is the obligatory disclaimer that there’s nothing wrong about having short legs, wide ankles, skinny calves, wide calves, or any other variation in shape of the human body in that vein. However, in practice, many people including myself have been conditioned to consider a particular type of figure as ideal (namely, hourglass with legs on the longer side). I’m not going to get into the whole can of worms in this post.

And for sure, none of this is information groundbreaking, but I figure it doesn’t hurt to put a few more β€œhow I style” examples from another perspective and on another body out in the world. I’m 5’1” and usually a US size 8 (29”/39”).

On trends

While I’ve tried to figure out from first principles why I like certain stylings better on myself, I’m definitely still influenced by current trends. I wouldn’t even be wearing midi skirts at all back in 2013 when there was rarely a midi skirt to be found in the trendy shops, and I distinctly remember when the shafts on trendy ankle booties started getting higher a few years ago I thought it was the ugliest, dumbest thing ever – β€œankle boots should hit at the ankle bone, duh”.

For real, though, take a look at any of the WAYWT threads from the 2013 era on r/femalefashionadvice – it’s a different look! Except for the great therosenrot, who has her own very distinct, very awesome style.

Styling Notes

I’m going to focus on shoe choices, since I feel like length comes down to more of a personal preference (also because the demonstration photos I was planning where I would roll down the waist of a thinner jersey midi skirt to demonstrate different lengths didn’t work because it changed the way the skirt draped too much to make length the only variable).

But generally, I feel like midis that hit either slightly above or below the widest part of calf are most flattering, since they’re not highlighting the thickest part of your calf without also showing the full curve (stocky cutoff vs showing defined muscle). Though skirts that hit at that part of the calf can look better if they’re a more flared shape, since the volume of the skirt itself makes a bigger visual impact.

Note that many of the photos I reference as a less flattering option I don’t think look anywhere near awful, just relatively less flattering than the other options.

(I recommend viewing the higher res image below in a new tab)

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(Left to right)
6″ shaft, 3″ heel
5″ shaft, 2.5″ heel
Oxfords with 3″ heel
Flat oxfords
Flats (I think a traditional plain pointed toe flat or d’orsay flat would have demonstrated the points better, but I only own strappy flats)
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Boots with 6″ shaft and 2″ heel vs flats, but with a shorter skirt (borderline knee length / midi). I think this bodycon-like cut was called a “wiggle dress” and as you can see this stance is a tad too wide for it, as you can see some pulling across the skirt.

Observation 1: The more parts you divide your bottom half into (and/or more evenly the parts are divided), the shorter they will collectively look.

Guidelines:

  • For a maximally leg-lengthening look, choose sandals or nude colored shoes with a bare leg or wear tights/leggings that match your shoe. If you’re digging a sturdier look (or it’s cold), wearing knee or over the knee boots that are higher than the hem of the skirt works too.
  • Otherwise, for longer midis, a boot that has a higher shaft that hits closer to the skirt hem (as opposed to a shoe that hits at the ankle bone) will be a more lengthening look because the effect is more like two pieces (skirt + boot) rather than three (skirt + leg + boot).
  • A shoe with a low vamp (the part of the shoe that covers the instep) will be more lengthening because the line of your leg gets cut off further down.

Notes

  • Longer leg effect doesn’t necessarily mean the best styling, depending on what you’re going for. For example, I like both 1 and 2 in the 5-photo collage, but while 1 gives a longer visual block for the legs/feet, 2 gives the whole look some breathing space. I’ll usually wear the boots in 1 if I’m going for a more buttoned-up Victorian sorta vibe.
    • Heck, I wear all of the combos in that collage. Just depends on what look I’m going for (or if I’m going to be doing more walking that day).
  • The thing to observe is what shoe when paired with the skirt results in the most unbroken area. In the photo with the floral dress, the 6″ shaft boots divide the legs/feet area exactly in half, which is a stockier look than that flats, where the biggest swatch of color is from the knees to almost the toes (although here visually complicated by the straps). Heeled sandals with thin straps would be even more streamlining, as they’d show more continuous skin and also give a height boost (see photo below, taken before the pictured sandals died but with a different angle and lighting)

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Observation 2: More visual elements like color change, angle change (i.e. 90 degrees change with feet flat on the ground), and width change in the same spot will emphasize that spot more. Shoes that cut off exactly at the ankle also end up emphasizing sections because they put an additional visual element (color) in the same spot that already has two other dimensions of change (angle and width).

Guideline: A shoe with a high vamp and a low shaft that hits around the anklebone (like an oxford or a 3″-4″ shaft bootie) will look more lengthening with a heel, not just because it literally gives you more height, but because it decreases the other factor that emphasizes the “parts” of the leg: the angle that your feet stick out. I find that even a 2″ heel makes a difference and with a block heel is easy to get around in.

Aside: It seems like over the past couple of years, ankle boots with high shafts have moved into style at the same time as cropped length pants and midi skirts. So it makes sense to me that when pants go shorter and we moved from mostly maxis and minis to include a decent share of midis in stock in popular brands, the boot style would shift to suit that!

β€œBut I don’t have the money, time, or space to have a dedicated shoe for each of my midi skirts!”

Well first of all, we’re going to cheerfully do the best we can with what we have and no one is going to declare you have to stay at home if you haven’t achieved Legs For Days. Choose the better of your two (or three, etc) options and rock it.

Second of all: socks.

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I think these oxfords are actually not chunky enough of a shoe to balance these thick socks (something like a Dr Martens 1461 would be better), but you get the idea. You can get the same effect as a boot with a higher shaft by adding a sock. A sheer sock or a thin trouser sock would fit better here.

 

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Three ladies who have better sock-shoe-pairing game than I do. Sourced from the unfortunately attributionless pit that is Pinterest.

Further reading: Extra Petite on skirt silhouettes

Hopefully that made sense! Let me know if this post useful or at least interesting, or if you want more of this type of content (although, I’ve spent much less time thinking about styling other items of clothing, so I’m not sure any subsequent posts would be quite as thorough or helpful, since I’m not Great At Hats or Great At Tucking In Shirts, etc).

 

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.

Wardrobe Round-up: October 2018

Similar to last time, I’m going to go over:

  • my favorite outfits this months
  • an overview of my item wear counts and wardrobe inventory
  • what I bought, returned, and donated
  • and what’s on my wish list and purge list.

This is a REALLY. LONG. POST. so feel free to skim and skip to the bits that look interesting to you! The word count is getting kind of ridiculous, and at this point I should probably be breaking these up into multiple posts. (Alternatively, I could stop churning my wardrobe so much and then I’d have fewer items to write about πŸ™ƒ)

Product links are provided for things that are still available, but none of them are affiliate links or sponsored.

An aside

I lost 1000+ words of this post because of some bullshit with the wordpress editor. It’s 2018 but apparently one of the world’s preeminent blogging platforms still can’t get a text editor to work. I specifically recall checking that the post was saved before closing the window. I was able to load the saved content on a fresh load of the page on my phone the next day (and the media I had uploaded in the interim was persisted) so I know it was definitely saved at one point. But when I reloaded the editor page in a browser window on another computer that had the post in an earlier state, it somehow overwrote the old content including the history? Guess I’ll be editing in a google doc from now on, but apologies that this isn’t the most beautifully written thing I’ve ever produced. I’m super annoyed and just trying to churn out the bare-bones content at this point πŸ˜’.

Favorites

This sweater. Normally this section is for favorite outfits, but I was having a hard time picking favorites this month and I realized that most of the ones I was waffling between all had this ochre blouson sleeve sweater. I got it from Madewell (see “Purchased”Β  section below for details).

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Also wearing:

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Continuing the effort to make some cute outfits featuring graphic tees. I particularly liked how all the details complemented each other in various ways, even though tbh you couldn’t really see any of them from more than five feet away. I liked how the oxfords, tee, and purse all had vintage vibes, the earrings and the socks had goth vibes, and the earrings and t-shirt had metal vibes. Basically, this outfit is the nexus of the venn diagram of goth metal vintage awesome, except actually not that hardcore and quite wearable.

This was the first time I’ve worn a mini skirt in a while, and I forgot how much I like the silhouette but also how annoying it is to not be able to bend over (for shoe-tying, etc) for fear of flashing people.

At some point I’d like to make a post about all my vintage tech t-shirts. There are some pretty fun ones.

  • vintage t-shirt, ebay
  • button-front denim mini skirt, H&M
  • suede oxfords, Clarks (secondhand)
  • “Willis” crossbody, Coach (secondhand)
  • claw earrings, amazon
  • lace socks, amazon

I was going to include my outfit with the Macworld ’94 t-shirt, but I realized I accidentally included that in the September Round-up even though I wore it on October 2nd, whoops.

Bonus: Halloween!

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This is now by far my most liked photo on Instagram. Maybe it’s a sign that I should pivot into exclusively animal themed loungewear.

  • bat costume, Leg Avenue from amazon, size XL (I’m usually a US size 8, and if I were to buy again, I’d even do XXL. It’s a bit snug when I zip it up)
  • pleather leggings, Athleta, size S (secondhand)
  • boots, Steve Madden
  • t-shirt, Old Navy

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Boyfriend and I went out as Mad Max inspired wastelanders. In retrospect I could have gone a lot heavier on the “dirt” application on his shirt, and if I had more time I would have liked to have distressed his pants and done some dirt-paint on my leggings, but overall I’m really pleased with hose these turned out!

Boyfriend:

  • henley, amazon
  • pants, goodwill
  • bullet belt, amazon
  • goggles, amazon (aged with some rust antiquing solution from an art supply store because they were too shiny and chrome out of the box)
  • Doc Martens (already had these)

Me (I had all this stuff already LMAO):

  • “Mayur” sweater, Allsaints secondhand
  • leggings, Athleta (secondhand)
  • former party decor chain-o-skulls inherited from an old roommate
  • Victorian style boots, Forever 21 (spring 2017)
  • goggles, amazon

I used some Mehron AQ face paints (I used to be super into SFX makeup style face painting) for dirtying our faces and his shirt. I also used some matte reddish-purple and dark brown eyeshadows on myself.

Wardrobe Stats

As usual, all these numbers have some nonzero error bar associated with them. I’m not perfect at logging things but I’m hoping that over time, this will help me learn more about my buying and wearing habits.

This month I wore:

  • 46 items of clothing (-3 from last month, but expected since the fall 10×10 started this month)
    • 16 tops
    • 14 bottoms
    • 3 dresses
    • 4 outerwear
    • 9 layering items (sweaters, cardigans, blazers)
  • 42 accessories (+3 from last month)
    • 14 shoes
    • 22 other (belts, jewelry, watch, scarf, or hat)
    • 6 bags
  • Of clothing, 22 items (48%, -1%) were worn once
  • Of accessories, 14 items (33%) were worn once

Not including loungewear, activewear, tights, or thermals, I have:

  • 55 tops
  • 30 bottoms
  • 15 dresses
  • 15 shoes
  • 10 outerwear
  • 30 layering
  • 49 accessories
  • 9 bags

for a total of 212 items (140 are clothing items). I have 68 items total in the excluded categories.

Within clothing items, wear counts all time:

  • max 107
  • average is 10
  • standard deviation is 16
  • median is 5

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Purchased

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Ochre 100% cotton balloon sleeve sweater, Madewell, M, $61.60 (on sale from $88). At the time I wrote this, are a few left in odd sizes at Madewell and Nordstrom.

This is now officially my favorite pullover sweater 🧑.Β  The size of the balloon sleeves here are big enough to be noticeably poofy, but not impractical. I also like how the chevron stripe in the front to provides some angular contrast to the rounded sleeves. It’s not the warmest or the softest sweater I’ve ever had, but it’s still really comfy. One thing I did notice about it is that the yarn used to knit it is kind of lumpy, which results in a kind of worn (or rustic, if you’re trying to spin it as boho) texture overall.

I usually hate sleeves that go past my wrists so I usually cuff sweaters when I wear them, but here the balloon part narrows around my wrist, so I found that I actually didn’t mind the cuff going down further.


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I liked it so much, I got another one in white for $70.40 (also sale).


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Gold fallen petals necklace, Madewell, $32.00. I thought this was such a cool necklace because 1) it’s a unique take on the floral motif (at least, I’ve never encountered a design like this before) which I think is especially appropriate for fall, and 2) the petals on this thing are individually articulated! Super fun, and it is slightly adjustable in length.


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Gold fallen petals earrings, Madewell, $24.00. I got the matching earring set! These have been my go-to for days when I feel a little more feminine and don’t want to go for my claw, half hoop, or skull earrings. My boyfriend pointed out that shape-wise they also mirror my existing hand motif jewelry, which is nice.


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Gray plaid paperbag waist tapered trousers, Forever 21, M, $18.09 (incl 20% off). I had really been digging all the fall plaid I’ve been seeing on Instagram and decided that a lighter color of trousers similar to the black “peg pants” paperbag style that has been in heavy rotation over the last year would be a good way to try it. These seem to be well-received on Instagram and reddit, but I still feel like they look off somehow. It took me a couple of wears to get used to the black trousers, so I’m going to give these another few chances with different shoes (so far I’ve tried these boots and some gray pointed-toe flats). However if I still don’t like them after the fifth wear or so I think I’ll probably donate them.


Rust pointelle knit sweater, Forever 21, M, $12.56. (pictured with gray plaid trousers) I wanted a rust sweater, so I bought a rust sweater. 55% cotton 45% acrylic knit that should be a nice option for warmer days, and I think the cropped length will be a nice option to have for skinny bottoms. We shall see how this fares against my ever-growing menagerie of sweaters in the increasingly fierce competition for wear counts. I think last winter I was rotating between three pullover sweaters that I felt aggressively meh about. Now my heart is so filled with sweater-induced joy that I don’t think I’d even be upset if I end up in a perpetual coat + sweater + jeans + boots combo again when the temps drop.


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Doing the tone-on-tone thing that’s trendy now. The 70s would be proud. Mid-2000s me is horrified. I’m sure in five years or so this palette will have the same effect that turqoise and white chevrons do now, but I’m currently really enjoy this.

Brown wide-leg canvas pants, Forever 21, L, $19.67 (incl 20% off). I saw these pants that are really similar to wide-leg styles (in shape and color) offered by Madewell, Everlane, and Jesse Kamm at Forever 21 and decided to give them a try. The ones at Madewell and Everlane are also probably made by enslaved children, and I don’t think warm brown wide-leg canvas pants are exactly going to become a ~timeless classic~ worth shelling out $400 for (also I believe that meaningful change across the fashion industry is going to have to come from policy change and not rebuying an entire fresh wardrobe from some currently hot ethical brands, but that’s a rant for another time), so I went with these. They’re supposed to be cropped, but I’m really pleased that they ended up as perfect full length pants on me (I’m 5’1″)!

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Some fit pics from more angles. Highly recommend taking multiple fit pics before deciding to take the tags off something! I’m trying to be more diligent about doing that. These have pockets that flare out when you bend at the hip. Not a deal breaker for me, but I know some people hate that. The Everlane pants have front pockets that do the same thing. The Madewell and Kamm pants have weird tiny front pockets with horizontal openings that I’ve heard aren’t super functional, although I haven’t been able to check out a pair myself.

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An easy breezy outfit, ft. my end of day partially wiped off eyebrows

Green velvet button-front cami, Madewell, 8, $45.15 (I think this was on sale). I was super excited when I saw this because it reminded me of the button-front linen cami that featured in a lot of my favorite outfits from this past summer, and the Victorian/Edwardian vibes from the rouleau buttons and the fantasy villain luxury of deep green velvet really spoke to me. I hope this gets as much wear as the summer cami.

I wish I knew more about design+manufacturing because I wonder what makes this cami priced at this point in the current market. It is lined, but that seems kinda steep for a camisole. Are velvet rouleau buttons hard to make? Are there drastically different grades of velvet? I wasn’t curious enough to actually look things up, just note the thought down here.


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When I wear hip-length sweaters, I like to wear the same color pants and shoes to create a longer leg line and keep my top-bottom proportions balanced.

Brown cable pattern boxy sweater, See U Soon via Foxglove Store, S/M, $73.60 (incl 20% off). This was 100% acrylic, which I usually tend to avoid, but I’m willing to compromise on that if 1) the sweater is a unique (to me) design and 2) it’s a soft knit. As it is, I’ll try to avoid any open flames while this is draped on my person.Β  I liked the pattern here because it reminds me of tree bark, and I thought the 2-D variant of the classic twisty cable-knit shape was fun.


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Black and white cotton scarf, Gray Market Design via Foxglove Store, $33.60 (incl 20% off). I was really drawn to the pattern here, which has organic shapes but doesn’t venture into the trypophobia realm and is a good balance between black and white. Apparently this is hand made and block printed by the smiling Indian workers in the video on the “About” page of the Gray Market website, but they don’t seem to have any sort of official fair trade / ethical certification. Granted, those sorts of certifications could be a bureaucratic time-consuming headache and / or expensive to obtain especially for a small indie company, but I’d still take the feel-good marketing with a grain of salt. When it comes down to it, it was a cute and cleanly constructed cotton scarf.


Lace fishnet crew socks, Amazon, $15.90. I enjoyed the patterned fishnet tights I bought last month, so I followed up with some socks. Planning to wear these with my oxfords, although I think they might also look cool with my strappy pointed-toe flats.

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Black button-front mini skirt, H&M, $24.99, size 8. I think around 2016, I really wanted a button-front A-line mini skirt, but they were everywhere and I thought that it was going to be a microtrend and if I picked one up it’d look dated really easily. Well, it’s 2018 and while they’re not as ubiquitous, they’re definitely still a thing, so I picked one up. This one has relatively muted buttons anyway.


Beige 100% lambswool sweater, JCrew via Goodwill, $5.99 A basic fitted crewneck cut. Thin but relatively warm, since it’s wool. This is the sort of item that I think is the best bang-for-your-buck (including time!) to find secondhand. Ebay has lots of classic basic sweaters with high wool content from good brands like LL Bean (and even brands that are mediocre now but were better quality in times past), and sweaters are a pretty forgiving when it comes to sizing.

Returned

This is going to be brief – this will be the skimpy section this month.

  • ochre sweater, Madewell (bought two sizes)
  • tan wide-leg pants, Forever 21 (bought two sizes)
  • plaid paperbag waist trousers, ASOS (realized after I bought it that the cloth belt was sewn onto the pants, and I wanted a detachable one so I can use different belts)
  • rust paperbag waist trousers, ASOS (the fabric on these was a little too stretchy and thin to get the substantial trousery look I was after)
  • brown scarf, Forever 21 (this was really thin and kind of limp looking and already had a hole in it when I got it)
  • Camden sweater coat, Madewell (color was more drab than I was hoping for, cut was generally also more relaxed than I wanted)
  • gray herringbone blazer, H&M (was going to potentially upgrade my existing boyfriend blazer from H&M which I really like but I like herringbone more than the burnout texture it has, but it turned out the mix on this one was a substantially larger percentage of polyester and it was the type of poly fabric that feels kind of clammy once you’re wearing it for a little while)

Purged

We’re having a format switcharoo, and the photos are now going to come after the related text. Still working out the best format

Herringbone blanket scarf with pockets, 1 wear. This had been in my purge purgatory for the last two months and I was originally going to wait for this upcoming winter season to end before deciding whether to purge this, but I thought about it some more and even though I think the design is great, I wouldn’t actually wear it. The berry color is a little too cool toned compared to the rest of my wardrobe, and it’s a large scarf which frankly it just doesn’t get cold enough here to wear often anyway. I’m going to see if my sister or mom wants it before going to Goodwill though, as it is quite a nice scarf.

Eileen Fisher colorblock yak hair and merino blend sweater, 8 wears, most recently worn in May 2018 (layering for ice skating). I think this was the first Eileen Fisher piece I bought after being introduced to the brand via /r/ffa. I’ve been consistently very impressed with the quality of EF items I’ve seen at my local consignment store, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that the design of this particular sweater just doesn’t vibe with my style. In particular, I find the colorblocking on the arms makes outfits tend to look rather busy unless the waistline of the bottoms is near the colorblock demarcation. When I wear it untucked, the zippers also feel unnecessarily busy. This is a really comfy sweater and I had previously kept it as a layering piece, but the cream lambswool sweater I picked up this month can fill that niche and I think is also easier to style since it’s just a solid cream.

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Ok outfit. It’s a bit more pajama-y than what I strive for now.

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Brown and white calfhair oxfords, 0 wears. I’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion that as much as I like these, the squeaky heel is caused by something related to the structural integrity of the shoe and fixing it would probably require rebuilding the whole shoe, which would likely cost more than the original price of the shoes. I had taken these to a cobbler who said he couldn’t do anything for it, too.

Metallic almond toe oxfords, size 7.5, 1 wear. Tragically, I think these may be too small. I’ve definitely had leather shoes before that were really painful to wear for a few weeks, then stretched out to become very comfortable, but I compared the length/width of these shoes to my other shoes and I think they are short and narrow enough that even after some stretching they will still be too small.

They fit insofar as I can put my feet in them comfortably sitting down, but when I actually walk in them they just don’t have the necessary give. I’ve tried walking around in my living room (I take my outfit pics in the living room with shoes, but I would usually not actually walk around in my apartment wearing shoes that have been outside on the nasty sidewalks of SF and downtown Berkeley) after my one painful outing in the shoes, but I’m not convinced there’ll be a return if I breaking them in for a few more weeks, especially that I’d have to not wear other shoes that I definitely like and definitely fit.

Black linen midi skirt, ASOS petites, size 8, 0 wears. I got this a couple months ago back when I was still in the “witchy all black everything” phase and swept up in the linen errything hype. Normally I’m reliably a size 8 in ASOS house brand items, but with this skirt I think what happened is they used a 29″ measurement for the waist, but didn’t account for the fact that it was highly elasticated and thus should have been smaller to start with so it wouldn’t sag under its own weight when actually worn. I had been planning to take it to the local tailor and have the waist taken in (smaller sizes were sold out by the time I got it), but at this point I don’t think I need more black bottoms in my closet, and I don’t think I’d wear this one enough compared to the other midi skirts I have to justify the cost of tailoring and having it continue take up space in my wardrobe.

Urban Outfitters black button through midi skirt, size L, 5 wears. I also got this in my Sisters of the Black Moon fangirl phase and at the time of purchase was totally convinced that it was going to be a ~staple~.Β  However I’ve only worn it 5 times, including the time period when I was super into the style. The fabric it’s made of is pretty thin and the result is that when sitting or walking the front placket has a tendency to gape a little bit. Tucking anything into it also results in lump city (although to be fair, I think it’s meant as a summer skirt). It’s also at a kind of awkward “not sure of maxi or midi” ankle length that I’m not a fan of anymore. I think at the time I really liked the length because it was “maxi but not dragging on the ground”, but looking back at my outfit pics it really just looks like I’m wearing a midi skirt that’s about 7 inches too long for me.

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This is the nicest outfit I have with the skirt. I think this actually looks fine, but when I wore ankle boots or flats with it the skirt just hit at a weird spot.

Old Navy chunky handkerchief hem vest, XS, 9 wears (seven in fall/winter 2017, and two in February 2018). Another casualty from the black and gray drapey knitwear witchy era. I have two outfits that I like wearing this with. One of them included a gray dress that I have since donated, because that was the only outfit I liked wearing it with. I found that when worn over any outfit that doesn’t also have a gray top, it tends to look kind of chucked on. The actual vest is a pretty cool piece of knitwear and I do dig the silhouette especially from the side. It kinda reminds me of mori girl silhouettes. I just don’t love it anymore.

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I think this outfit is pretty cute, but it was the only combo I would wear this vest with.

Gray puffer vest, ? wears. (UPDATE: I wrote this before I actually went to Goodwill with the full intent of donating this, but I couldn’t find it. A few months and one winter trip to Boston later, I realized this has utility in layering under jackets when you don’t want to add any more bulk to your arms, so I ended up keeping it.) I think I wore this mostly back when I was in a phase where I had embraced wearing the same tunic + leggings + boots to work every day, and I would sometimes layer this vest over that ensemble for warmth. This was probably in fall/winter 2016 when I hadn’t started tracking my outfits yet, though I bought it sometime when I was in college. It’s a really nice vest – compact but warm, and it has zip pockets. I’d been keeping it around as a utility sort of item, but now I have a full puffer jacket and I don’t think it makes sense to keep both since I think It would always reach for the jacket over this vest because I like how it looks, and if it’s cold enough to wear the vest, I wouldn’t suffer from wearing a full jacket.

Black merino blend turtleneck sweater, Gap, 13 wears. I bought this sweater (and its gray counterpart) in January 2017, which I think was the first winter that I was into curating my wardrobe. It did a solid job keeping me warm, but looking back at my outfit photos I don’t like any of them (they’re “meh” at best) and I find that the turtleneck on this is rather too long for my own neck and I often end up folding it twice, which is kind of a funny look.

Gray merino blend turtleneck sweater, Gap, 11 wears. I just don’t think I’d reach for this over any of the other sweaters in my wardrobe now. It was a step up from the thin hoodies I was mostly wearing at the time I purchased it, but I think it’s time for me to let it move on. It is a pretty nice sweater (not like, LL Bean or Eileen Fisher quality, but solid) and I hope it makes it into a new home and not a landfill.

Black loose-knit cotton cardigan, Gap, 12 wears. Same as above.

Black skinny jeans, Gap, 72 wears. Basic black skinnies erring on the side of jeggings. I think these may have been my most-worn jeans at some point. I’ve since come to favor the straight-leg cut for jeans, and I accidentally put these into the dryer and just didn’t want to deal with looking like a sausage casing for the first day wearing them after a wash while waiting for them to stretch out again. I had been keeping them as more of a backup item anyway and pretty much never wore it as a first-choice item in the past several months anyway. Surprisingly, these were in good enough condition that I definitely felt fine donating them instead of trying to find some jeans recycling program to send them off to.

Purge Purgatory

Two items that haven’t seen much wear and I’m feeling pretty meh on. I don’t like to immediately purge off-season items though, so I’m going to give these a while in storage.

Eileen Fisher cream open-knit linen waterfall cardigan, 2 wears. This is a beautifully made cardigan and I think it fits me well (the sleeves are even the right length!). I was super excited to find it back in summer when I was collecting lighter colored pieces with texture. However, I’ve only worn it twice since then, and both times I felt pretty blah about the outfits. I think it’s because

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Garnet Hill black linen duster waterfall cardigan, 1 wear (I tried it on as an option for several outfits over a couple of months but it only ever made the cut once). I got this from a local consignment shop, again, during the phase in which I wanted to buy everything at Sisters of the Black Moon. I noticed a lot of my Pinterest pins at the time included long, sweeping, thin black cardigans so when I finally found this hooded 100% linen one I was so excited! But I haven’t loved it in outfits I’ve worn it with because now I feel that so much black (especially in an untextured knit) kinda weighs down my outfits in a way that makes them feel a bit shapeless (not a silhouette I’m going for). Plus it doesn’t have pockets so it doesn’t make for a very good loungewear piece.

Wishlist

Long camel/tan coat. Same logic as applied to my purchase of the tan moto jacket. I have a black toggle coat that I wore a lot last year, but I would like a lighter colored option as well now that I’m not into the all-black look. I’m looking for a high quality one in a fairly understated / relatively classic style.

Blundstones (chelsea) or Doc Martens (lace up). I want a pair of truly comfortable low heeled boots that will stand up to a lot of walking (for day-to-day stuff – I’ve got hiking boots for hiking). Mostly debating which goes with more of my wardrobe, but I think they’d both work and fill a similar niche of stompy, fitted-ankle-higher-shaft boots so I’ll probably just go with whichever is more comfortable for my feet. I would replace my current pair of well-worn ankle boots with these.

Leather t-strap pumps. I suspect these are horribly out of style right now which is a bummer mostly because I could only find really matronly looking ones or cheapo plastic ones in an initial search of current store inventories. But I really liked my oxford heels that I wore in the 10×10 and I think that t-strap pumps would be another fun vintage-y option. I’m hoping to find a wingtip style because the smooth ones look a lot like literal dance shoes, which is not quite the look I’m shooting for.

Festive winter weight dress. All my formal/cocktail dresses are black. I’d like one that’s a little more festive (probably something velvet, or shiny) that I can wear to fancy events in the winter.

Concluding Thoughts

(Besides “Fuck the wordpress editor”)

It’s not a phase, mom, it’s who I really am

– me, buying 50 black and gray knitwear items last year after spending too much time browsing Sisters of the Black Moon and Death by Elocution

A lot of solid dark color near my face and hair kind of swallows me, and also you can hardly see any textures on black items! Also it looks at worst okay with everything but at best… usually also okay, with the plain items that I own, anyway.

– me, now

Hoping that there won’t be another round of style whiplash quite so soon after this round of changing my color scheme and getting into slightly more dramatic silhouettes! But I do think I’m more comfortable with my current style than I was with the more generic minimal witch style when I was into it. I haven’t gotten rid of all my old witchy handkerchief-hemmed things, but for now I am having a lot of fun exploring more colors, textures, and silhouettes that I previously limited myself from.