My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

Analyzing why certain wardrobe items don’t work for us is one of the most helpful things we can do to improve our future shopping. We usually buy clothing with great intentions and believe that we’ll love and wear our new acquisitions for years to come, but that doesn’t always end up happening. When we opt to pass something on, it serves us well to take a few moments to jot down our reasons for letting the item go. If we commit to this practice, over time we tend to notice patterns that can help us avoid future mistakes. When we know better, we often do better – or at least we have more “ammunition” for doing so.

In today’s post, I evaluate twelve purchases from 2020 that didn’t end up working out for me. I share photos of the items, where they were purchased, why I bought them, and my reasons for letting them go. I also look at some common elements among these items in order to gain more insights about my purchases that fell flat. At the end of the post, I encapsulate the lessons I learned from the shopping mistakes I made last year.

A Look at the Items and Some General Information

Here’s a look at the twelve shopping mistakes I’m going to evaluate below:

2020 shopping mistakes

These items can be broken down into the following categories:

  • 2 jackets
  • 2 cardigans
  • 1 kimono
  • 4 tops
  • 3 pairs of pants

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For many years, I engaged in the regular practice of spending several hours every month or two putting together outfits and photographing them. The objective was to come up with as many combinations as possible that I could wear, so I would try out lots of options. Some of my resulting ensembles looked great and others fell flat, but I typically photographed anything that I thought I might want to wear someday.

Taking the time to map out my outfits helped me to wear more of what I owned and get ready to go more quickly when I had plans, as I always had good ensembles close at hand. It also served to boost my sartorial creativity and improve my personal style.

outfit photos

Photographing favorite outfits can streamline getting dressed & enhance our style.

I stopped doing these outfit creation sessions a few years ago, mostly because I’d become increasingly self-critical. I didn’t like looking at photos of myself wearing the various ensembles, as I always found multiple aspects of my appearance to pick apart. The combination of gaining weight after menopause and going through a long and difficult gray hair transition process put the kibosh on my photographing my outfits, both when I was creating them and when I actually wore them out of the house.

I miss having a ready-made directory of outfits to wear, and I feel that my style has suffered as a result of abandoning my styling sessions. Much of the time, I find myself wearing the same combinations, and I neglect to reach for those pieces that are harder to style. While some of my “go-to” outfits are ones that I love, others feel pretty uninspired. Additionally, I feel bad about not wearing some items that I love simply because I’m not sure what to pair with them. I considered going back to my previous practice, but I’ve decided to do something different instead, which I’ll share with you in today’s post.

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Almost three weeks ago, I turned fifty-five. Yes, the “double nickel” or “the speed limit,” as I’ve heard it referred to colloquially. The cute nicknames don’t really help to ease the blow of my reaching this milestone, though. I know that age is just a number and I shouldn’t really care what the calendar says, but I have to be honest and say that it does matter to me.

I’ve been ruminating a lot about my milestone birthday and what it means to me. Because I know I’m not alone in what I’m experiencing related to aging, I’ve decided to share my sentiments on the blog. I have a lot to say about this topic, so I’m going to split my musings into two parts. Today’s post is about the physical manifestations of aging and how I’m struggling to make peace with looking older. In part two, which will be published sometime next month, I’ll address some deeper considerations, including mindset, regrets, complacency, and “letting the old woman in” (or not).

aging woman examining her face in the mirror

Sometimes I don’t recognize the older woman I see in the mirror…

I’m sure I’ll continue to write about the aging process in future posts, as it’s an important component of the “myself” area of My Wardrobe, Myself. I plan to sprinkle such writings in from time to time among the wardrobe-related posts that are the main focus of this blog.

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In my last post, I shared a hypothetical collection of my top summer items. In celebration of my recent fifty-fifth birthday, I selected that number of pieces for the warm weather season, which typically runs from July through November where I live. I included clothing, shoes, and purses within my collection, and showed photos of each of my items by category.

In today’s post, I delve a bit deeper in regards to the closet exercise that I did last week. I look at the breakdown of my hypothetical collection by color, and then I highlight some of the lessons I learned through examining my wardrobe in such great detail. Forcing myself to select my favorites allowed me to better understand what is and isn’t working in my closet in terms of my summer pieces. While I’m happy with the items that I chose, some of what didn’t make the cut is problematic in ways that I’ll outline below. I also got in touch with a few closet gaps that I’d like to address before next summer rolls around.

Collection Breakdown by Color

Let’s start by looking at how the fifty-five items in my collection can be broken down by color.

  • 19 Black Items

summer 55 - black items

If you’ve been following me for a while, I’m sure it comes as little surprise that black is so highly represented in my collection. While my wardrobe at large is not quite as dominated by black pieces, this exercise was about choosing my favorites. Black items just feel like me, plus they’re very much in line with the “dramatic” part of my style statement. I also think that black often reads “polished” and “elegant,” which are my other two style guideposts (I explain that concept and my choices in this post). I also love that black tends to be slimming and can be easily mixed and matched with most other colors. As I mentioned in my last post, I often like to have the base of my outfits be black and then add one bright or printed piece for visual interest.

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This past Sunday was my birthday, on which I turned fifty-five. The time sure does go by fast! I guess I need to incorporate more novelty into my life, as I wrote about in this 2019 post. The pandemic has resulted in a lot of “sameness” in many of our lives, that’s for sure… I’ll soon publish an essay outlining my feelings about my milestone birthday (the “speed limit” birthday, as my dad called it), but I thought I’d do a fun and lighthearted wardrobe-related post this week.

I decided to select my fifty-five favorite warm weather closet items and share photos and some thoughts about those pieces. This “collection” is mostly hypothetical in nature, as I still plan to wear other items this summer as well. However, I’ve often found that even just the process of making selections can teach us a lot about our wardrobes and how they are or aren’t working for us. This exercise was no different, and I learned quite a bit through the exercise of choosing my items.

As I often like to do, I conducted a bit of analysis about my selections, including colors and item types. While I share some of my analysis in today’s post, I reserve the rest of it for a “part two” that I’ll publish next week.  In that follow-on post, I’ll expand upon my reasons for choosing the pieces in my “fifty-five collection” and also summarize what I learned from doing this exercise.

top 55 summer items

Included in my warm weather “capsule” are clothes, shoes, and purses. I decided to leave jewelry out this time around because even though I’ve pared that area of my wardrobe down considerably in recent years, I’d probably still need fifteen or more slots for those items alone. I may do a later post about my favorite jewelry pieces, though, as I really value the style boost those items add to my outfits.

In a few months, I’ll also share my fifty-five favorite cool weather closet items. I’m sure there will be some overlap between the two groups, as I’m fortunate to live in a temperate climate and don’t need completely different wardrobes for various times of the year. As I’ve mentioned previously, we really only have two seasons where I live: summer and “not summer” (which is more like spring or fall weather in most other locales). There are also quite a few unseasonably cool or hot days here throughout the year, so I like to keep my entire wardrobe hanging up in my closet at all times, although I do reorganize things to keep the current season’s items front and center as much as possible.

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