The Current State of My Closet

Now that we’ve lived in New England for almost a year, I thought you might enjoy a peek inside my closet situation.

If you recall, in Atlanta our closet was a master bathroom that had been opened up into a walk-in. The shower/toilet was TINY, but the closet was glorious. Here’s just half of it:

My stuff went on the right, with dresses/skirts on one side of the shelf divider and blazers and blouses on the other, top and bottom. (Spouse’s stuff went in the section you see directly in front of you.)

In our current home, there is a small-ish closet in the biggest bedroom (where we are), and a walk-in in the guestroom, which was probably designed as the master but we wanted the better lighting/more room that came with our current spot. So all the spouse’s hanging stuff, and all my “in season” hanging stuff, go in the closet in our bedroom:

 

And all my “out of season” hanging stuff, or things I just haven’t gotten around to wearing for this season, go in the guestroom closet:

It’s a good way to not overload the closet I use most – and to keep track of things I haven’t “reached for” yet this season.

Trousers, tees, shorts, and sweaters (plus PJs and workout clothes) go in the armoire:


Pretty sure I need to pare down my pants collection…

Yes, this makes me realize I have way more clothing than someone like, say, Anna from The Anna Edit. Part of me would love a more streamlined wardrobe; and part of me is just fine with having extras with which I can play and pad my favorites.

(I should note I’m super streamlined in my casual wardrobe – I wear the same 6ish things over and over again and have kept them several seasons. Just check out any time I’m wearing shorts on Instagram for proof. It’s more workwear where my style tends to evolve and what looks stylish doesn’t always translate to practical that I have more fluff.)

Which makes me wonder – if I lived in Europe (or some other locale without built-in closets), would I naturally have fewer clothes – and hopefully better chosen ones? In other words, would I make better use of my closet real estate? Anyone who has lived in this situation, please weigh in!

Weeding out the Extras

I’ve gotten this curated wardrobe thing down to a science (ha): thrift a bunch of stuff I like and am reasonably sure I’ll wear for the upcoming season, then take them all for a test drive and weed out the extras – anything I’m not excited to wear or have failed to wear completely – after a month or so. And I’m about at that point for my warmer weather clothing.

Though it’s all thrifted, this might seem like a wasteful approach. But for me, it works – I like seeing my picks in play (or not) and learning from that process to make even better, more informed choices next time (hopefully!).

And while I try to gauge in the dressing room what will be too tight/short/chafing etc. and say no accordingly, I’ve found that style-wise, I simply can’t always predict what I’m going to love. Sometimes a cut or color that is a reach for me stylistically ends up being a home run; other times, something that’s right in my wheelhouse ends up curiously unworn.

This dress, for example, should hit all the right spots – it’s a shirt dress, one of my favorite styles, in Light Summer-ish colors (or neutral enough to fudge it):

But I’ve only worn it once and didn’t fall in love:

It’s a bit on the short side, which means I paired it with leggings that are too warm for truly hot days. It doesn’t have as much structure as my two other (beloved) shirt dresses, so it feels a little limp. And the neutral stripes just aren’t as chic as I thought they’d be – instead of elegant or minimalist, they feel washed out. It’s also a tricky neckline to pair with with necklaces; I have one choker I like that sits above the collar, but my other favorite necklaces are in danger of getting lost or clashing with the diagonal lines on the v-neck.

Just… meh.

Here’s another neutral stripe number that underwhelmed:

The charcoal stripes looked like they’d give some great contrast to solid blazers, but the shirt is too tight in the shoulders. (I probably should have noticed this in the dressing room, but I’ll admit I didn’t do a full round of calisthenics in this shirt to test it out.) And it somehow didn’t work as I imagined – I just looked like a referee on a brunch date:

Or a referee disguised as a watermelon (to be fair, my preschooler picked out this ensemble):

I do like the stripes peeking out from under a sweater:

But again, after a few hours, the tightness in the shoulders that felt so mild at first just ruined the comfy-chic of this outfit.

Another neutral denim-y number that didn’t make it because what felt structured and slimming in the dressing room felt like I’d had too much for lunch at home:

In a moment that would do the 10×10 community proud, I used it as an open layer and liked it much better:

I felt very chic in my denim-on-denim outfit with its subtle print-mixing (there’s pattern on the cuffs) – which I created on a whim as I headed out the door. But I want my clothes to be more versatile than just looking chic as a layering piece. If you’re a button down shirt, I want to be able to wear you that way!

I know a chambray shirt would look great with my pink pants and my green ones, though, and with my yellow shorts and red shorts. So I’m keeping my eyes out for a chambray popover tunic – a silhouette that I know from experience will fit my body better.

Alright, here are two more I haven’t even worn yet:

This cute tee with a little neckline embellishment is too cool to be Light Summer, and although I should probably just break the palette “rules” and wear it, every time I look at it I think “nah.” I’ve realized I like some pattern in my casual tees because my shorts never have pattern.

Which is one reason I haven’t worn these spot-on Light Summer shorts:

Plaid Bermudas were my shorts style for a minute back, oh, 8 years ago? But I have long since given away my last pair, which should have clued me in that these wouldn’t get worn (not least because I don’t have many solid tops to pair them with). In these I feel a little too tomboy – a formally beloved aesthetic which no longer does it for me. That’ll teach me to thrift something just because it’s in my color palette!

 

What about you – do you thrift a bunch and then weed out, like I do? Or do you only thrift a few, carefully selected items – but maybe sometimes go home wishing you’d bought that one out-there piece, just to see if you’d grow to love it?

Finding Enough for Now

A few weeks ago – I think it was while I was starting to put away some of the really heavy winter clothing (the lighter stuff is still around…sigh) – I realized that I had worn just a few dresses over the winter, some just once.

And although I cycled through a few different clutches of sweaters this winter, by the end I was consistently wearing…three of them.

And really only two main collared shirts under those sweaters, plus two flannels.

And basically three pairs of pants, plus one for the weekends.

And one blazer.

And I hadn’t even combined them all yet in all the different ways they could go together – I kept wearing the same few combinations that were easy and I loved. So why did I have so many clothes in my closet?

That moment was a good reminder that thrifting – and the sweet prices that go along with it – can often lead to a closet full of things I love, but too full to wear them all as much as I’d like. (I suppose I could theoretically end up wearing all those clothes over several seasons…but my winter style has been distinctively different each of the last three years, so I’m not going to pretend I’m going to wear that entire drawer stuffed full of sweaters for years and years. Plus stuffed drawers – ugh, too hard to find what you want and keep it unwrinkly!)

I’ve pondered this before; it’s a cyclical thing, and I’m okay with that. Although it IS really enjoyable to discover exactly how much I need and have the permission to love those pieces and let go of the rest.

For example, I’m happy with one blazer right now:

It goes with everything and is cozy on chilly New England spring days. (We’ll see what I do in the warm months with the couple of lighter blazers kicking around my guestroom closet.) I’ve told myself I “need” more blazers in other colors for more versatility, but every time I’ve tried to add other blazers, they just….flop.

So I’m aiming for joyful appreciation of what’s right in front of me. Contentment, if you will.

And constantly reminding myself while thrifting that I am incredibly picky about blazers I will actually wear with any regularity, so CHILL with buying them already.

 

Where is “enough” for various clothing categories in your closet? Do you ever go over the threshold, just to have variety? Are some categories easier to rein in than others?

Sweater Edit

Y’all. I had a little sweater/wardrobe freak out a few weeks ago. After my winter wardrobe post went up, I did some impulse thrifting and ended up with a sweater drawer that looked like this:

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Holy exploding sweaters, Batman! You can’t even see all the knitwear stuffed in there.

So I had a little think about what I really wanted in my sweater collection – textures and colors I love and that have some variation, plus comfort and a great fit – and I pared it down to this:
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Two of the above (upper middle) are sleeveless undershirts for layering. Sweater-wise, a few pieces got moved to my “loungewear” shelf or tucked away for next fall; but many more were donated.

Like this one and its blue-grey sibling, both post-wardrobe post additions:

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I so wish these vintage Jaeger wool cowl necks would have made the cut (pun intended), but something about the cut makes them ride up after about 2 minutes of wearing. Nope.

I also said goodbye to this Ivanka Trump number for feeling too artificial (no, seriously) and laying oddly on my torso:

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The original price tag was $98 but I just can’t see it – the feel is not nearly luxurious enough; my hand slides off in a weird way.

Here are the two I added in. A deliciously warm grey sweater with partially dropped sleeves and a split hem – unexpected deliciousness from Old Navy:

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With a little closeup on the texture – this thing is SO. INCREDIBLY. SOFT:

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This herringbone/bling/Peter Pan collared J. Crew number is just an excuse to wear something ridiculously festive:

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And I LOVE IT. Not classic enough to keep forever, but for $6 it’s worth all the fun I’ll have with it in the next few months/years.

And finally, this wool blend from Nordstrom’s that’s a beautiful taupe and has a slightly oversized cut (with split hems!):

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Please ignore the snail-trail line on the torso – I had just steamed it and didn’t let some of the condensation dry.

So now my sweater lineup looks like this:

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A little more trimmed down (12 instead of 14), a little more variety in color, and every piece something I love to wear.

Speaking of sweaters, they are easy to accidentally shrink in the dryer. If you have something in need of unshrinking, try using this tutorial from the good people at Tips Bulletin (no compensation for sharing this; they just suggested it might be useful to my readers and I agree!).
How’s your sweater game lately?

My Winter Wardrobe

First, a note about my posting schedule. Work is ramping up (hello Advent, you’re right around the corner!) which means lately I haven’t had as much time as I would like to write and publish posts.  For the foreseeable future, you can keep expecting at least one post a week, but my usual Tuesday/Thursday schedule will now become the ideal rather than the norm.  Thanks for your flexibility and for continuing to keep this blog a fun and creative place for community and conversation!

 

And now, this year’s late fall/winter wardrobe, for your viewing pleasure. Since I broke up with capsule wardrobes, this is not a comprehensive list of every single piece I will wear this winter, but rather the pieces I imagine will get the most wear; they form the core of my wardrobe.

Tops

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Coin 1804; Gap Body; Eileen Fisher; Ivanka Trump; Workshop by Andrea Jovine; J. Crew; Cyn; Liz Claiborne; Gap; Loft; L.L. Bean; J. Crew; Joan Vass; Gap Designed & Crafted

I’ve really upped the number of tops this year for two reasons: I have about twice as much winter to contend with, plus my M.O. for expanding a section of my wardrobe tends to be “buy several different varieties I think I’ll like and then see what actually gets worn.”  Instead of “less is more” (which is where I hope to end up), this is basically the “more becomes less” approach.

Re: colors – is anyone surprised that my sweater palette is basically blue and cream, with pops of caramel, grey, and red? That’s my whole summer wardrobe right there.

 

And the dresses keep the theme going….

Dresses

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Gap; J. Crew; Merona; Caslon; Merona

I’ll wear these with cream, blue, and grey tights of varying weights.

 

The pants, however, have a liiiittle more variation in hue happening…

Pants

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Loft; Talbots; Paige; Lauren by Ralph Lauren; Banana Republic; Jessica Simpson

I’m enjoying pairing more neutral tops with more colorful bottoms – if you can call purple so dark it photographs as black (those first pants) “color”!  And yes, apart from the jeans, I’m sticking with the all-corduroy streak again this year. They just feel…cozier.  I’m probably deceiving myself that corduroy imparts extra warmth; after all, the fuzziness is on the outside, not on the inside where it would do some good.  I don’t care; just let me hold onto my comforting delusion!

 

Back to the trusty ol’ red/cream/blue color palette for my layering pieces.

Layers:

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Kate Hill; Merona; Tahari by Arthur S. Levine; The Savile Row Co.; Mercer & Madison; Loft

 

Last but not least…

Outerwear:

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United Colours of Benetton; J. Crew; Larry Levine
That’s a lot for now; I’ll share scarves/hats and footwear in another post.

In the meantime, check out my winter wardrobe this time last year; a lot has changed!

Summer Work Wardrobe

With weather regularly in the 80s here in the ATL, it’s time to post my summer wardrobe! (And as the title implies, this is for work – keep your eyes peeled for my casual summer stuff in a week or two.)

You’ll recognize pants, skirts, dresses, and a top layer from my spring closet; mostly it’s the tops that swap out.  You may have noticed from Instagram (on the side bar ->) that I’ve already been freely swapping short/sleeveless items from this “capsule” into my spring lineup; likewise, I’ll be using some of my long-sleeved spring blouses during summer as weather and context dictate.

Last but not least, my “disclaimer” from my spring post bears repeating: Since I broke up with (strict) capsule wardrobes last summer, this post does not contain every. single. piece. of clothing I will wear for the next few months; but it’s pretty close! My goal with a seasonal wardrobe like this is to have a curated closet full of things I love to wear that play well with one another; you’ll see that idea reflected in the color palette, style, and limited number of clothes shown below.

Without further ado, here’s what’s on the roster for summer 2017.

Tops
It’s time to break out the short sleeves and the no-sleeves! These all have a boxy or flow-y cut and lightweight fabric (mostly cotton or high quality polyester) to keep me cool during the Hotlanta summer.

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Beige floral – Talbots; sky blue sleeveless – Dalia Collection; white sleeveless with lace – Loft; navy polka dot – Jacqueline Ferrar; coral flowers – Old Navy; blue/green ikat – Old Navy; gold crepe – Zara

 

Jackets/Blazers
Fewer top layers this time around because it’s HOT.

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Navy blue blazer – Charlotte Russe; white denim jacket- J. Crew

Pants
I found the blue trousers I’ve been looking for!

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Alfani

Still in the mix from spring:

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Banana Republic; Bandolino; Vince Camuto

I also added these babies back in since summer is rather casual around here:

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Loft


Skirts
No changes here; these have worked really well for me. I do need to get the navy skirt repaired, though, because the tacking on the hem has come undone in one spot.

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Taupe – H&M; navy – J. Crew; white – Ann Taylor

 

Dresses
Out went the long-sleeved blue Land’s End dress – too hot. (Don’t worry, it will make a reappearance this fall.)

Staying on from my spring wardrobe:
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Orange creamsicle sheath – Ann Klein; white sheath – H&M; blue sheath – Ann Taylor; caramel shirtdress – New York & Co.; teal/pattern A-line – vintage

I haven’t worn the orange sheath much – I think its silky smooth lines make it a liiiittle too formal for my taste/environment.  Having a little structure (as in the white and blue sheaths) seems to break things up a bit and hit my sweet spot.  I’ll keep the orange one tucked into the back of my wardrobe in case of any formal summer occasions and then “make an assessment” (Old Gregg, anyone?) at the end of the season.

I haven’t worn the caramel shirt dress AT ALL yet – it’s a bit too short and the weather’s too hot for full-on leggings underneath. I’m looking for some above-the-knee white legging-shorts (sheggings?) to make it work, because otherwise I love it.

New this go around:
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Blue stripe – Old Navy; olive shift – Theme; Swiss dot shirt dress – Old Navy

I’m excited for these more casual dresses since our office really dials down the formal vibe over the summer. The olive shift dress is a new cut and color for me but I think it will work really well with my skin tone and I love the casual-yet-polished sleeve roll (plus who can resist the whole horsebit Gucci nod? Fun detail). The olive shift and the shirt dress also need sheggings, so keep your fingers crossed. (I think I’ve created an inverse wardrobe exponent…)

Confessional interlude: I bought this frick-frackin’ Swiss dot shirt dress by Old Navy AGAIN. (The first someone had cut it and left it with a raw hem so I had it hemmed to tunic length but the shoulders/bust were too small and I eventually, ahem, busted it. The second time I thrifted it as a shirt but didn’t love the hemline and didn’t like wearing it untucked which made it unacceptably un-versatile.) It’s a little less form-fitting and a little more, well, shirt-dress, and I’m hoping that once I find that elusive pair of off-white sheggings this outfit will stick. Third time’s the charm? I’m ether charmingly optimistic on this one or deliberately obtuse – only time will tell.

Shoes
No change here apart from the fact that I need to get my Trotters champagne flats repaired – the sole is flopping around on one of them and Gorilla Glue didn’t work.  Any DIY suggestions before I take it to the cobbler?
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Clarks sandals (retail); Bandolino wedges (more about these here); Champagne flats (more here); Floral sneaks (more here)

And there you have it!  I’ll keep my eyes out for sheggings, an off-white blazer, and some open-toed, muted red flats and that’s about it.
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Have you all switched over to summer wear yet? Scroll down to share!

My Big Aha Moment from the 10×10 Challenge

So I learned some things after wearing the same 10 pieces of clothes for 10 days.

-I really liked concentrating on just a few itens. Paying each piece some one-on-one attention, as it were, gave me a chance to figure out how I really feel about them.  I slowed down and considered, instead of just wearing, tossing aside, repeat.  Taking outfit pics and having to reflect on each ensemble helped with this – so thanks, y’all, for reading and for commenting!

-I’m really feeling the blouse/pencil skirt combo right now (shock):
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-I’m keeping this white sheath dress:
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It just feels good and is super versatile without being blah/shapeless.

-I’m not keeping this red linen/cotton blouse:
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Too baggy in the torso; someone else will love it as is; I have plenty of blouses.  Sorry, fans of the BR Soft Wash Shirt!  (PS it’s a size S; if one of you living in a humid clime wants it I’ll ship it to ya. #thriftsolidarity)

-I’m not as excited about this blazer as I thought I would be:

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It fits dreamily and is so comfy. But the print seemed to clash with my printed tops and the grey was just a little too cool and not a great match for my grey pants. I’ll see how it matches with all the other stuff in my spring wardrobe, but I have a feeling it’ll get donated, because of my last realization.

The Big Aha Moment

The biggest thing I learned was before I started, when I was trying to pick out clothes for the challenge.  I wouldn’t even call it a “thing” I learned, but rather a shift in perspective.  All thanks to a dress coat:

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Tahari by Arthur S. Levine

I was staring at my closet, ruminating on what jacket/cardigan/blazer/coat I would pick as my finishing layer for the next ten days. I figured if I chose just one I’d have more room in my 10-day mini-capsule for other things. My eyes lit on this dress coat (coat dress?) and I said to myself, “That’d go with everything.”

For some reason that little insight swung the door open to a much bigger one. If that dress coat really would work with everything else I planned to include (it would), why did I have so many other blazers/top layers in my closet?

I looked over at my dresses; I had similarly decided to include just one dress in my 10×10 wardrobe so as to have room for more tops and bottoms to mix and match. If one dress, styled two ways, was sufficient to get me through ten days of work outfits, why did I have two dresses I loved but didn’t really fit right anymore and another I never really loved but thought I needed for color variety? This was after I did my spring closet clean out, mind you.

Somehow the lens of a mini capsule wardrobe brought into focus what “enough” really is in my wardrobe. It suddenly felt easy to let go of those three dresses, two blazers I hadn’t fallen in love with yet, and a couple of tops that went with everything but were rarely worn because I had so many others I liked more. And instead of feeling like I needed to go get my thrifting fix after my thrifting fast, I felt myself relax.

I don’t need a dress in every color to “complete” my spring wardrobe.  It’s been a bit strange to look at my dresses and see a lot fewer colors; the rainbow they made brought a smile to my face. Anyone else get that feeling of chromatic satisfaction? But I’m really looking forward to wearing the ones I still have, so does it matter if all that’s in there for spring is white, blue, caramel, and orange?

I don’t need more than two weeks’ worth of dress tops. I do want SOME variety in my life; not repeating a top in two weeks, give or take a few days, is my happy place for now.

I don’t need every color corduroy pant known to humanity just because they look so enticing all lined up on the thrift rack. In fact, having just two seems to work quite well. (But maybe my green ones instead of grey because JOY.)

 

I feel a shift coming on: from buying (or keeping) something because it goes with everything else to keeping just a few pieces that meet my needs and are a joy to wear, not just look at. Maybe I’m headed back towards capsule territory – at least in spirit.

 

So that’s what I learned from the 10×10. Did y’all participate?  Learn anything? Wanna share?  :)

PS Here’s what I donated after this epiphany. Bye:
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Friday ReBlog & My 10×10 Wardrobe Challenge

I think I’ve mentioned the 10×10 Wardrobe Challenge before; it’s the brainchild of Lee from Style Bee but I found out about it through Caroline at Un-Fancy. Starting on Monday they’ll be teaming up for a spring 10×10 wardrobe remix and I’m playing along. You can, too!

What’s a 10×10? Both of the links above explain in more detail (and have helpful tips and examples!), but basically you pick 10 pieces from your wardrobe and wear nothing but those items for 10 days.

There aren’t super strict rules – you can count shoes in your 10 or not; you can do 10 straight days or two work weeks; if you have a special event during the 10 days you can leave your formal outfit out of the 10; etc. The point isn’t rules for their own sake, but limitations that spark creativity. Creating 10 different outfits out of only 10 pieces will likely produce new combinations you’ve never thought of, give you new insights into your style preferences and wardrobe versatility, and assuage some of your “I have nothing to wear” and “I need to go shopping” feelings.

Today I’ll share my goals for the challenge, the parameters I’m following, and the 10 pieces I’m including. Next week and the week after I’ll feature shots of how I put them together as outfits. And I’ll follow all that with a post on what I learned. Teaser: I may have had my biggest epiphany of the whole process before I’ve even started!

A tip before you get started: check the 10-day forecast and try to cover all eventualities with layering. My temps will (likely) run from the 50s to the 80s every day so I’m aiming for lightweight long sleeved blouses with a blazer/spring coat for early mornings and AC.

The Goals
I really like the general types of clothes in my closet (slim pants, pencil skirts, etc.) and feel like my wardrobe is already very mix-able, so I’m not looking to discover radically new combinations or silhouettes. What I would like to do is get over the hump with a few pieces I’ve been excited to try out but just haven’t worn yet. Do you ever have that problem in your closet or, say, with a new recipe or a new book? You know you want to incorporate it into your life but until you put it on/cook it/crack it open for the first time, it feels easier to go with tried and true favorites. I’m gonna just go for it with some new pieces that have been sitting on the bench for too long and see how they do.

I also want to challenge myself to post legitimate outfit posts every day for two work weeks. So far I haven’t found a camera set up/photo op time that consistently works for me, which means I haven’t used my Lenten thrifting hiatus to share more outfits/how-I-styled-it posts with you like I wanted to. This challenge is a good excuse to change that.

The “Rules”
Like Caroline’s, my remix will run next Monday through Friday and the Monday through Friday after that so I can focus on my work wardrobe. Although both Lee and Caroline count shoes in their 10, I won’t because I only ever wear the same two or three pairs of warm-weather work shoes that go with everything (you can see them in my spring wardrobe; click the link below) and I don’t think I’ll learn anything new from including them.
Also, accessories definitely don’t get counted in my 10. :)

The Players
All from my spring wardrobe.

Four blouses:
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Banana Republic; Chico’s; Forever 21; Banana Republic Heritage. 

I’ve only worn the muted red BR shirt once; including it will give me a few more test drives to figure out how to style it. I want to find out if the Chico’s top feels too casual for work with its lovely light cotton and tie neck. And I broke the BR leopard print in during cooler weather so I want to deliberately pair it with skirts to get myself out of the mindset that its darker colors belong in fall/winter.

Two skirts:
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Ann Taylor; J. Crew

I haven’t worn the white one yet at all since I tend to associate all-white clothes with hot weather, but I want to find out if it’s a keeper. It’s labeled two sizes larger than I normally wear but is actually tighter fitting than I’m used to; I’m guessing it shrunk in the dryer, which also explains why the lining is peeking out the bottom. I’m on the fence and need to give it a few good wears to decide.

One pant:
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Vince Camuto

One dress:
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H&M

Haven’t worn this puppy yet; it has interesting structural details I’m a little unsure about (aka weirdness in the chest), so I’m excited to see how I like wearing it.

Two finishing layers:
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Arthur S. Levine; Merona

I definitely won’t need these when it hits 80 outside, but my office runs cool and mornings will still be brisk.

Have you ever done a 10×10 (or similar) challenge?  Want to join in on the fun? Check Un-Fancy today for the hashtag to share your outfits on Instagram, or just document your challenge for yourself – you may be surprised by what you learn!

 

Spring Closet Cleanout

I like to clean out clothes at the end of a season (as opposed to the beginning) for two reasons. First, I can remember clearly what I did and didn’t reach for in the last few months; no chance for my memory to get fuzzy. Second, I find it a lot easier to say goodbye to clothes when I’ve just put them through their paces and know what they’re worth to me rather than at the beginning of a season, when wishful thinking (“Surely I’ll make use of it this year!”) can cloud my judgment.

So here’s what I’ve let go of as I’ve transitioned from wintry wardrobe to spring sartorial.

Puffy vest of yore, Kirkland (Costco brand)
This was an impulse buy right before a trip (the worst time for impulse buys!) 6 years ago and has not had a lot of wear since; just too casual.

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I also gave the bamboo/recycled down Nau awesomeness to a friend from the Pacific Northwest where, according to her, vests are mandatory. I loved how sustainable and different it looked but it was too sporty/Eurocool for my style.  More on my vest choices here.
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Sequined capelet, Joseph Le Bon
This had a lovely stay in my closet; although I never wore it even once (where would I wear this??), it made me smile every time I looked at it.  You better believed I thanked it for that, Marie Kondo-style, as I gently laid it in the “donate” bag.  May it make someone else just as happy!IMG_4880

Blue plaid blazer by Merona
My earlier foray into plaid blazer territory convinced me this would be a good idea, but the colors were just too intense (cerulean) and dark (navy) for my wardrobe/face:
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I reached for this other one again and again, so I’ll stick with its dulcet tones for next year:
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Navy pants – Gap and Uniqlo
Every time I wore my navy corduroys by Gap I asked myself why I hadn’t just worn jeans since they read almost exactly the same – “casual navy pants.” The cords fit perfectly in the legs, but were seriously low cut; although I don’t love the cut of the legs in my jeans *quite* as much they fit superbly in the butt/waist and never make me afraid of giving crack to unsuspecting passers by.

Similarly, although these Uniqlo chinos fit well, they felt super casual due to their canvas-like fabric. Their weight made them great for cooler weather but I already had the cords and the jeans…plus the seam on one leg twists around to the front (poor fabric cutting?).  It’s not super noticeable but was another strike against them.wp_20161020_14_04_27_pro
I could only find a picture of one of the two pairs described above, which tells you how infrequently I’ve been wearing them.

I have concluded from tossing these two but still having a wardrobe palette where navy pants are a workhorse that I need some dressier, lighter navy pants to wear in the spring/summer/fall; something like my Vince Camuto cigarette pants:

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Add it to the thrift list.

Did I mention I’d tossed the snakeprint Isaac Mizrahi Live! blazer? Enough hemming and hawing, I wasn’t reaching for it and that’s that. Reasoning (and pictures) here.

Blue shirt dress by Virginia Hill
This had great flow but it felt like a mismatch for my style.  The smoothness, the completely structure-less collar, the intense color made me feel like someone with bolder taste should be wearing it. (If you are into seasonal analysis this is definitely a color for bright winters, which I am not.)

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In a rare fit of pre-seasonal sorting, I also chucked these spring wannabes:

Sleeveless navy blue rope-detail dress by Uniqlo. (Sorry Uniqlo, you did not fare well this round.)  The cut was too wide in the hips, made worse by pockets I wanted to love but which just bulked everything up. It was also a tad bit short.  Too bad, because the color works in my wardrobe and it felt so comfy while still looking stylish thanks to that textured detail. But I felt like I was compromising every time I put it on.  I’ll be on the lookout for a similar style/hue dress to keep me cool and comfy this summer.

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Grey/camel/white cotton floral tee by Old Navy
I like the colors and print in this tee and the softness of the cotton, but I want some COLOR in my spring/summer wardrobe! …it just felt too neutrally drab. The fit was also a little baggy in weird places.  In short, it was not making me happy to see it in my closet.

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Camel skirt by Merona
This is too big in the waist and therefore my waist is completely lost. I thought it was fine in the dressing room (below) but I wore it to work once and nope. Also I don’t like camel. There, I said it. Somebody remind me of this next time I try to buy a camel/tan/beige skirt!!

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Teal leopard print tee by s. Oliver
I just wasn’t reaching for it.  Too intense of a color? Too casual? No matter, I will trust my arm’s resistance to picking it out of the closet lineup.
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The Sebagos I painted.  The color was more blue-grey than the cement grey I wanted; plus they are utterly uncomfortable and I have no patience for wearing them in. Enjoy, Thrift Universe!
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This freed up some good space in my closet and inspired me to move my spring clothes to the fore:

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Excited to show it all to you on Thursday!

 

Reach For It

In reply to Tuesday’s post, reader Carol L. commented:

Like you, I also have a tendency to pick up “great finds” that are “nearly but not quite right”! How can we counter this habit? Maybe remembering the ideal of a streamlined closet? Or one in, one out?

Good question!  I think we find a system or a saying – like “one in, one out” – that works for us. In deciding whether something stays in my (theoretically) well-edited closet, my mantra lately has been “Do I reach for this?” And I think it could be applied proactively in the thrift store; I’ll explain how in a minute.

I’ve found that having a simple question like this keeps me from slipping into a lengthy pros-and-cons analysis – something that is unlikely to give me clear answers or a sense of peace about what’s in my wardrobe. (You know when something is unresolved and a small part of your brain is always paying attention to it? Not worth it.)

The most (in)famous of such mantras for clothing is Marie Kondo’s “Does this spark joy?”  I love this question in theory and find it works well in other areas of my life. But for clothing it doesn’t seem to cut to the heart of the matter. Why?

For starters, more than one closet favorite has started as a closet “eh” that I had to grow into.  Remember my futzing around with this sky blue Loft sweater that wouldn’t seem to layer? I was unconvinced for quite awhile.
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But then I figured out it looked smashing with my caramel pants (particularly when paired with this massive cardigan), and look how thrilled I am to sport it under a navy polka dotted vest! Good thing I didn’t chuck it because it wasn’t sparking joy right away.

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Second, I’ve found that some items that DO spark joy (see: fabulous sequined capelet below) are not things I ever wear.

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In contrast, “Do I reach for this?” seems to be where joy hits the road – do I love not just the piece itself but wearing it? Is it something I don’t have to talk myself into? The question also measures whether I’m being won over by an unlikely contender: “Hmm, I was not sold on this top at first but I seem to be reaching for it a lot lately.”

The concept helped me jettison a few items I’d been on the fence about during my last closet cleanout (post next week!) and I’m keeping it at the ready as I finalize my spring wardrobe lineup. When my Lenten fast from thrift shopping is over, I’m also going to try “Will I reach for this?” as a preemptive question while I’m still in the thrift store, trying to decide about a piece.

Stopping for a moment to figure out how I feel about a piece – am I excited to wear this the first chance I get? – rather than how I think about a piece – it’s so practical, it will fill a wardrobe hole, it has lots of features I normally love – connects me to same the emotional space targeted by “Does this spark joy?” In my emotional lexicon, thinking “I can’t wait to wear this!” or feeling drawn to something I love both fall under “reaching for it.”

 

Does “reach for it” do it for you? Or some other short question/phrase/mantra? Or do you prefer a more data-driven or analytical system?  Scroll down to share!

 

PS “Reach for it reach for it…” There’s your Hamilton reference for the day!  You’re welcome. (Sorry, can’t help myself when it comes to Lin-Manuel.)