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?

6 thoughts on “Weeding out the Extras

  1. I try not to make bad thrifting purchases. Who has money to waste, even at thrift store prices? My mistakes fall into the following categories –

    1. Clothes I “should” own (my season, an every woman must have “x”)
    2. Clothes I fall in love with, but don’t quite fit.

    Like you point out, know your own style, be honest about fit and take a good look in a full length mirror!

    1. Lily – those are common traps, for sure! The plaid shorts fall into #1 for me, although I’ve gotten much better at saying no to #2 – I guess I’ve convinced myself that clothes that don’t quite fit aren’t clothes I love? Or I just have done it so many times I know now how it will end up – with a great piece of clothing stuck in my closet, unworn, for months… :)

  2. I once thrifted a “gorgeous” sheer pink blouse with pleated sleeves which I KNEW would be stunning worn so many ways . . . HA! Not! Likewise, a lacy top! Just not the “girly” type! Neither piece worn – ever!

    I’ve also discovered that stripes which seem both chic and practical don’t do anything for me — too rigid and boyish and bland OR too strong and harsh.

    Back to square one. As much as I might “love” everything I buy, too many never really make the cut!

    1. I know now to say “no” to sheer – but some things are just *so* close and I would snatch them up if they were a bit more opaque.
      Curious if you’ve found any stripes that do work for you? I feel like different kinds of stripes read so differently, depending on width, direction, spacing, etc. etc…

  3. My biggest thrift failing is fantasy thrifting. I buy things for the thinner, more stylish, chic-er me, the one who has time to iron and doesn’t need to wear “comfortable shoes.” I need to remember to shop for my real life.

    1. Ooh, Gwendolynn, there are definitely some fantasy thrifts I’ve come home with – a sequined black poncho that belonged at the opera or a gala dinner comes to mind! Sometimes I just enjoy looking at them in my closet for awhile before returning them to the wild, so to speak. :)

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