My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

In my last two posts, I recapped my best purchases of 2021, starting with my favorite at-home acquisitions and ending with the top pieces I bought for my out-and-about wardrobe. Now it’s time to switch over the other side of the equation, those items that I shouldn’t have bought. Fortunately, I made a lot more good purchases last year than bad ones, so my track record is improving (yay!). It’s actually quite normal to periodically make a shopping misstep, but if we take the time to look at why things didn’t work out, we’re less likely to repeat the same type of error.

learning from bad purchases

A few months ago, I evaluated my biggest shopping mistakes of 2020, most of which are no longer in my closet. In fact, just three of the items reviewed remain, including one that I plan to list for sale shortly (the other two are basically “benchwarmers” that may be purged soon). I haven’t been doing much with online clothing sales recently (my last update on that topic was in March), but I have a stack of items waiting to be listed, most of which were purchased prior to 2021. I’ll do another update about selling my closet castoffs on eBay and Poshmark soon, but now let’s take a look at the pieces I definitely should have passed up or returned last year.

Some Photos and Statistics

Here’s a snapshot of my worst purchases of 2021:

2021 worst purchases

With the exception of the tops at the left and right sides of the bottom row, I still own all of the pieces shown. However, most of them are currently in my “holding zone” box, as I’m not sure whether to keep or purge them. Since they’re all off-season items, I’ll determine their fate after the weather warms up, when I’ll likely pass on a lot of them.

Fortunately, none of my 2021 “bad buys” were all that expensive, but when the costs are combined, it’s still a decent sum of money to have basically wasted. But hopefully the lessons I encapsulate in this post will help me avoid such wasteful expenditures in the future – and also provide some useful tips for you with your shopping.

Before I analyze each of my 2021 mistakes, I want to first do some high-level analysis of these ill-advised purchases.

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Happy New Year to my wonderful readers! I hope that 2022 is off to a great start for you, and I really hope this will be a better year for the world.

I’m in the midst of a series of 2021 recap posts, which began with my last essay on my best at-home purchases from last year. I’m continuing on that path today with a review of my favorite out-and-about purchases of 2021. As with my previous post, I’ll break things down into several categories and outline why the new items have made a positive difference in my wardrobe and my style.

favorite 2021 clothing purchases

I don’t spend nearly as much time wearing my outfits for outside of the home as I do my ensembles for staying in. However, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, it makes a powerful difference when I’m dressed in clothing that I’m happy with. When we’re wearing pieces and outfits that we’re both physically and emotionally comfortable in, it can improve our confidence and our overall sense of well-being. Conversely, when our clothes are too tight, too fussy, or not in line with our personalities and lifestyles, we can end up feeling drained, demoralized, or insecure (or all three!). This has been the case for me more times than I can count, which is part of the reason I dedicate so much time to analyzing and improving my wardrobe.

My Best Out-and-About Purchases

I purchased good items in most of my wardrobe areas last year, but what’s pictured below are my absolute favorite buys. I’m grouping them into five different categories of pieces that I’m grateful to have bought over the course of 2021.

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This is the first of several “wrap-up posts” to close out the year. Most of these essays will be published in January, but we’ll get this one in right under the wire as the last post of 2021. To begin my wrapping things up, I thought it would be interesting to analyze what have been my best and worst clothing-related purchases of 2021.

Because I’d like to end the year on a high note, I’m going to start with what I view as my favorite purchases. Fortunately, I made a lot more good purchases this year than bad ones, so it was easy for me to choose the items to feature as my “bests.”

best purchases of 2021

For the sake of brevity and getting my posts out in a relatively timely fashion, I’m going to split the review of my favorites into two parts, with the second portion going live next week. Today’s post covers the at-home section of my wardrobe, although some of the pieces highlighted can also cross over to be worn when I’m out and about.

Why What We Wear at Home Matters

I’m starting with my at-home items, as that’s where I (and probably most of us) have been spending the bulk of my time over the past almost two years. One “silver lining” of the pandemic for me has been that I’ve finally started prioritizing buying clothing to wear at home and for exercise. In the past, I skimped in this area because it was much more fun to shop for pieces to wear when I’m outside of the house. But my reality even before Covid-19 profoundly shifted all of our lives was that I’m at home far more often than not. I should have focused more on what I wore at home long before March 2020, but the pandemic was the catalyst for me to dedicate more of my shopping efforts – and clothing dollars – in that direction.

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As I’ve mentioned in a few previous essays, I turned fifty-five this past August. I know that isn’t a major milestone birthday for most people, but for some reason, it hit me harder than expected. I realize that my age is just a number and doesn’t really mean much beyond quantifying the time I’ve spent on earth. However, since I’m a deep thinker who’s prone toward pondering all sorts of things, I’ve been reflecting upon the various facets of reaching this particular stage in life.

reflections at fifty-five

After turning 55 in August, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the current stage of my life. 

In late August, I published an essay on my feelings about the physical manifestations of aging. In that post, I wrote about the ways in which I’m feeling challenged about looking older. The two main drivers of my discontent are overidentifying with my appearance and buying into societal attitudes and pressures regarding getting older.

In short, I place too much importance and value on the way I look, and Western societal attitudes and norms only make it harder for me and other women in my cohort to age. I didn’t reach any major epiphanies with my August post, but I did gain a better understanding of the issues I need to work on in order to better accept the way I look now. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about the topic of aging in 2022 and beyond, so stay tuned.

But looking older is only part of the equation around aging, so I’m going to delve into some of the mental and emotional issues in today’s post. I intended to publish this second part of my “reflections at fifty-five” series a while back, but I got derailed by my explorations of wardrobe do’s / don’ts and “third piece” challenges. So, before I move on to the 2021 wrap-up posts that I have planned, I decided to complete and publish this essay that I started several months ago. It’s actually not a bad thing that I waited to get this one out, as I have a few new ideas to write about now.

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After a few busy weeks, I’m back! I hope all of my readers in the United States had a nice Thanksgiving (as well as Hanukkah, for those who observe that holiday). I actually got to see almost all of my immediate family on or around Thanksgiving this year. I took a trip to see my family members in the Reno/Tahoe area in mid-November. After I returned home from almost a week away, my sister-in-law and stepson visited my husband and me in San Diego and stayed through Thanksgiving. The remainder of the holiday season will be fairly quiet, but the decorations are all up and I’m starting to feel at least somewhat festive.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be publishing a few yearly wrap-up posts, but first I want to reflect a bit on how my packing went for my Tahoe trip. And because my sister-in-law visited us right after my trip, I was able to compare and contrast the way she packs for travel with my own experience and learn some effective packing trips from her. My sister-in-law is a very seasoned traveler who has taken countless domestic (she lives in Canada) and international business trips over the years, so she knows a thing or two about how to pack and travel well.

two women walking with suitcases

Do you pack lightly – or heavily – when you travel?

In today’s post, I look at the two opposing ways my sister-in-law and I packed for our recent trips. I share what we both did well, what I wish I would have done differently, and what I plan to shift with future packing after getting some tips from my “packing master” family member. Unlike my previous packing for travel posts (you can check them out HERE and HERE), I won’t share photos this time of what I packed for my trip. I’m sure I’ll do that again in the future, but today’s post is more about wins, mistakes, and lessons learned. I’m keeping things more simple to get back into the swing of things with blogging, and I hope you like this post!

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