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.)

 

My Current Winter Wardrobe

I started out my winter wardrobe with a color palette of navy, cream, grey, and touches of gold and blush pink.  3 months in, I’ve added some more color (thank goodness!), my pants have multiplied like rabbits, and I’ve axed the blush pink and some pieces I wasn’t wearing.  Let’s take a look!

Tops

Still on the team:
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From top left: Merona, Ambiance, Japna, Coldwater Creek, Piazza Sempione, Meadow Rue, Pull & Bear

The standouts in this category have been the velvet floral (above) and the leopard print (below).  No surprise there, I can’t say no to delicious patterns and textures.

Although I had previously proclaimed that this would be the Year of the Turtleneck, I’ve only strated wearing them recently as layers for the cold because I’ve had such fun with my sweaters.  I also haven’t worn the blue/taupe plaid at all, except for our trip to Michigan, but I still love the pattern.  I wore it every weekend last winter so it may just need a rest.

For the sake of transparency, I gave the exact Swiss dot tunic pictured above (first pic) to a friend because it was just too small, and thrifted the same thing in a shirt version, one size up.

Note to self: wear the Pull & Bear chain top more or out it goes!

New Recruits:
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I’ve behaved myself fairly well in this category – just one addition, this leopard print shirt by Banana Republic, which I LOVE. Pats self on back. Expect to see this well into spring/summer.

Axed:
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The left top, by Banana Repbulic, was too structured and scratchy.  You can read about axing the Madewell shirt here.

Relegated to workout/loungewear
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This Faded Glory turltneck is a great color but, true to its name, its glory has faded a little too much.  It had a couple holes and I like my turtleneck sweater, below, better.

 

Sweaters

Still on the team:
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From top left: Gap, Liz Claiborne, Liz Claiborne, Mossimo, Loft, French Connection, Express

The stars here have been the new-with-tags navy turtleneck sweater (so delicious and so chic) and the gold-trimmed cream v-neck (my holiday go-to).

I love the two-tone oversized sweater but I don’t love the oversize-over-flares look that I get when I pair it with my new jeans. I think I’ll slim those down (see below).

The athleisure Mossimo sweatshirt I thought about scrapping has earned its place as my weekend staple, just not for work. And I’ve recommitted to the robin’s egg blue zipper detail sweater (last pic) since recently discovering it’s great on its own (not with a layer underneath).

I haven’t worn my snow leopard (a favorite last year) or the cowl neck much (at all?) even though I still like both of them, in theory.  Is this a sign that I have…gasp…too many sweaters?!  I may tuck them away for next year and see if they feel fresh in 10-12 months.

 

New recruits:
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J. Crew, Joan Vass, Gap Designed & Thrifted

Read all about the first two here and here.  The third is VERY soft, short sleeved, and has a split hem, all of which I like.  But it also makes me feel like a millenial style blogger who wears nothing but expensive, organic neutrals.  Since I have so many sweaters, I’m waiting to see if I wear it enough to justify keeping it.

Axed:
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Forever 21

SO soft, but just too washed out for my newly warmed up, colorful wardrobe.  Kinda sad about it, but someone else will love it.

 

Toppers

Still on the team:
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Old Navy, Loft, Haberdashery Collection by Personal

I have worn the heck out of the first two.  The third I put through the washing machine and still haven’t ironed. :/  I’m feeling lazy/guilty about that since I probably should have just combed/brushed it…but it collects hair and fluff really easily and I’d love a navy velvet blazer in its place, so maybe I’ll just donate it.

Made a comeback:
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This merino cardigan by Talbots was sitting out this season until I suddenly had an urge to pair it with my Swiss dot button down.

New recruits:
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Merona, Isaac Mizrahi Live!, Kate Hill, Old Navy

I LOVE the plaid – so funky, unexpectedly goes with a lot of my wardrobe – and the red – it’s a wool/cashmere blend and is so soft and the cut is <insert A-okay or 100 emoji here>.  The snakeskin… well, I still feel kind of tacky wearing it.  But it’s almost sweatshirt-like and goes with a lot of what I have, so I’m committed to wearing it more to see if I can learn to love it.

Post to come on the vest!

Axed:
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Merona
You can read about our breakup here.

Relegated to spring wardrobe (for the most part):
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Cartonnier
I LOVE this blazer; the colors just go better with my spring/summer wardrobe.  But it’ll probably make an occasional cameo, thusly.

 

Pants
Remember my core silhouette (skim over slim) vs. my fringe silhouette (fitted over flare) – core being what I mostly wear, fringe being my alternate? (More about core vs. fringe here.)  I’ve divided my pants up accordingly.

Still on the team – slim:
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Banana Republic, Lauren Ralph Lauren Jeans, Chico’s

Love these, going strong.  Got the waist on the cream pants taken in a bit so I didn’t have to hike them up all the time.  And I wear the Chico’s skinnies (with an elastic waistband!) pretty exclusively on the weekends since they read so casual.

New recruits – slim:
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Jessica Simpson, Style & Co., Gap

Love the first two; love the third but they’re pretty darn lowrise.  Looking for a thrift upgrade so I don’t have to worry about exposing my backside to the world.

New recruits – flare:
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I’m keeping the caramel velveteen as they are since I’ll wear them mostly with slimmer tops, but I’ve taken the jeans to the tailor to have the legs tapered.  (I know, I know, y’all encouraged me not to, but I have passed over them too many times for having not as formal/chic a silhouette as I wanted.  These babies deserve to be worn!)

Relegated to spring/summer (left) or to storage ’til I love them again (right):
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Uniqlo, Old Navy

 

Dresses 

Still on the team:
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Merona, Land’s End, Merona, Jacqueline Ferrar, George

I haven’t worn my off-white sheath or my leopard much.  In fact, haven’t worn many dresses at ALL because I am so enjoying my new pants.  A happy problem to have.

Two new recruits meant for summer but which, when layered, also play well with winter:

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Talbots, Jones New York

You can read about my red & caramel love affair here (same as links above).

 

Coat stayed the same – although it doesn’t look quite this fresh and is in need of some de-pilling:
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J. Crew

I did add some cold weather accessories:

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There it is!

Looking over everything: wow, I like blue.

Overall, I am happy to claim victory over the winter wardrobe revamp pickle in which I found myself 8 months ago.  To wit: I have found a core winter silhouette I love – slim pants with skimming sweater on top; and some great fringe options – dress over leggings, turtleneck with big thick cardigan.  I thrill to get dressed in the morning instead of floundering around with too many disparate pieces and incohesive outlines.  Yippee!

Also, I have PLENTY of things for the rest of our (very short) winter.   Not counting gloves/hat, pieces I’ve barely worn but haven’t put away, and pieces that are primarily for warm weather, I have about 35 solidly “winter” pieces.  Even though that’s right in line with a lot of minimalist wardrobe recommendations (e.g. Project 333), it feels kind of overwhelming to look at them all laid out like this.

I’m no longer trying to create a silhouette I love or fill holes, so I expect to keep this wardrobe relatively static through the end of this winter, when I’ll refine things a bit and donate some pieces I’m not excited about keeping around for next year.  I pledge to be satisfied with what I have, but not so stingy that something delicious won’t sneak its way in…

 

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on


Congrats if you made it to the end of this post; I hope it was informative, or at least entertaining!  What are your winter wardrobes looking like these days?  Scroll down to comment.

 

Fall /Winter Wardrobe Preview

We’re still in hot temps here but I know many of you have already started the slide into fall weather so I’m going to post some of what I *think* will work as my core/fringe items to get those autumnal juices flowing.  This is not an exhaustive or restrictive list but covers most of what I plan on wearing.

As you may remember, I’ve been restyling my cold weather wardrobe as I try to figure out some styles I love that keep me warm. I’ve been doing it during the summer to give me time to think about additions and go slowly without the pressure of chilly temps right around the corner – but this also means I haven’t been able to wear any of the clothes together yet! So consider this most definitely a first draft.

(Also, the cords below are currently at the tailor to be transformed into actual slim pants instead of boot cuts, so you’ll just have to use your imagination.)

Enjoy!

 

Mixing my core/fringe model with a dual-silhouette idea borrowed from Un-Fancy, I’ll do two core silhouettes – my go-to silhouettes that most of the clothes in my cold weather closet can participate in – and a fringe silhouette – the one I use occasionally to mix things up a little and that’s made up of some pieces that don’t mix and match as well with the core silhouettes.

Here’s my first core silhouette, continued from summer into fall:

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Torso-skimming top over slim pants.  This silhouette will cover a variety of temperatures with some lightweight tops, some toppers (cardignas, blazers, ruanas, etc.) over lightweight tops, and finally proper sweaters (with shell underneath for really chilly days).  Please ignore the tag on the top – recently thrifted and not yet worn! – and imagine the pants a little slimmer in general.  All my slim trousers were at the tailor.

 

Second core silhouette: sheath/sweater dress over leggings and long sleeves (as needed)

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Two more dresses I’ll be wearing in this manner: here and here

Merona – Land’s End – Merona – Jacqueline Ferrar – George – all thrifted

 

Here’s my fringe silhouette, moving from the starting list last winter to more of a relief pitcher this year:

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Fitted top over flares
I like the chic, long lines of this silhouette, but I got a little tired of it last year, so it’ll make some appearances this year but not take top billing.  Now I’m mixing metaphors…

 

And here are the items that will fit into each silhouette:

Skim over slim – lightweight tops

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Japna – Madewell – Meadow Rue – Merona – Ambiance Apparel – Piazza Sempione – White Stag – Coldwater Creek –  Pull and Bear (detail of sweater worn in silhouette photo above) –  all thrifted

 

Skim over slim – sweaters

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Liz Clairborne – Gap new with tags – Forever 21 – Mossimo – French Connection – Liz Claiborne – Loft (the back is more interesting) – all thrifted

 

Skim over slim – toppers

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Old Navy – Loft – Haberdashery by Personal – Merona – Cartonnier – all thrifted

 

Skim over slim – bottoms

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Uniqlo – Ralph Lauren new with tags (to be tailored to slim fit) – Banana Republic (to be tailored to slim fit) – Chico’s – F21 – all thrifted

 

Fit over flare – tops

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Banana Republic (featured in silhouette photo above – Express – both thrifted

 

Fit over flare – bottoms

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Old Navy – thrifted

 

 

Outerwear
Just one coat, because it makes me just that happy:

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J. Crew – thrifted

This feels like a lot, but not counting leggings, shells, or outwear, it’s 35 pieces – right about at the sweet spot for typical mix-and-match capsule wardrobes (although I do have a few more things on my thrift list that might either grow this list or elbow some of these items out of the way!).  I’ll keep you updated on what works, what doesn’t, what gets worn and what sits at the back of the closet or drawer.

What’s in your capsule or edited wardrobe this fall/winter?  Scroll down to comment!

 

Happy fall!

 

Summer Wrap Up

Time for a quick retrospective on the summer wardrobe before we turn the corner into fall – or, more accurately, before y’all turn the corner into fall. It’s gonna be hot here in Atlanta for awhile yet but I’ve worn these clothes four and a half-ish months already and I’m probably just as ready to put them away as you all are ready to get your autumn on.

So. Summer review today, and more on what I’m thrifting and wearing for fall tomorrow and next week (including how I’m incorporating little tastes of autumn while still dressing for highs in the 90s). Continue reading “Summer Wrap Up”

What I Wore & My Secret Weapon for Keeping My Wardrobe Focused

A quick What I Wore from our long weekend here in the states:

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I don’t typically wear necklaces over button-downs, but it seemed to work here – something about the delicate nature of the necklace and the way the leopard pattern broke up the strong lines of the shirt:

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Speaking of leopard, turns out I do own a leopard-print top…but in such a subtle, almost gentle color combo that it still does not solve my leopard conundrum.  (More on this later in the month.)

Top: Forever 21, thrifted
Pants: Banana Republic, thrifted
Sandals: Clarks, gift from family
Necklace, earrings: DIYed from thrifted parts

 

And now, as advertised, my secret weapon for keeping my wardrobe in hand.
Continue reading “What I Wore & My Secret Weapon for Keeping My Wardrobe Focused”

Other Fashion Rules to Break

Reader (and friend!) Sheena spotted this Old Navy advert featuring bloggers busting the myth that “certain jeans are for certain body types.” (Let us take a moment to celebrate that Old Navy didn’t select a bunch of skinny white women as their featured style bloggers.)

It reminded her of one of my “Can I Wear This?” posts where young women felt restricted and shamed by these very rules.  That post also features a picture of Sheena!  Isn’t she gorgeous?

Inspired by their take on things, Sheena asked me to do another post on fashion rules you should break – particularly ones that say that certain kinds of people “can’t” wear certain kinds of clothes. Continue reading “Other Fashion Rules to Break”