My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

As you may remember, I decided to do a capsule wardrobe challenge during the last two months of 2018. My reason for doing this was to shift my focus away from what’s in the stores and toward what I have in my closet. I wanted to better understand what was and wasn’t working for me and why, and I have found that limiting my choices for a period of time aids me in this effort. In today’s post, I will recap my fall challenge, share a bit about the state of my wardrobe as 2018 came to a close, and highlight my clothing and shopping goals for 2019.

About My Fall Challenge

Before I delve into numbers and insights from my fall challenge, I want to first summarize the rules I followed when getting dressed during November and December. My challenge was kind of a hybrid of Project 333 and the “30 for 30 Remix,” plus I added some of my own personal twists to get the most possible learning out of the exercise. Here’s a basic overview of what I did:

  • I dressed myself using two separate 30-item capsules for my “out and about” and at-home wardrobes. These capsules were built organically as I went along throughout the challenge.
  • While I didn’t include shoes and accessories in my 30 items, I kept track of which ones I wore and how many times they were featured in my outfits.
  • I kept an outfit journal for my “out and about” ensembles in which I rated each look and made notes about what did and didn’t work. I also kept track of any pieces I wanted to reach for but didn’t have on hand (either in the capsules or at all).
  • After I reached the 30-item limit in my capsules, I allowed myself the option to swap items out for either weather or style-related reasons. The “weather clause” was necessary because November is often quite warm where I live and cool weather doesn’t generally begin until later that month or early December.
  • Items that I swapped out for style-related reasons were placed “on probation” and at the end of the challenge, I needed to re-evaluate whether or not they should remain in my wardrobe.

The timing of the challenge worked out perfectly, as I wore my thirtieth “out and about” outfit on December 31st.  Below I share my capsules, what I swapped out and why, some wear statistics, and what I learned from taking on the challenge (I already shared some mid-challenge insights back in December).

Out and About Capsule

Here’s a look at my “out and about” capsule at the end of the challenge:

fall 2018 out and about capsule

This is what my “out and about” capsule looked like at the end of the challenge. 

Item Breakdown

Particularly astute readers might notice that there are 31 items in the capsule instead of 30. This is because I struggled to decide between my two burgundy cardigans and ended up including both of them in the capsule.  When all was said and done, the breakdown of my out and about capsule looked like this:

  • Sleeveless/Short-Sleeved Tops: 7
  • Long-Sleeved Tops: 7
  • Toppers: 13
  • Jeans/Pants: 4

It’s interesting to compare these numbers with the ones I shared in my Spring Challenge recap. That capsule included 16 tops (4 sleeveless or short-sleeved and 12 long-sleeved), 8 toppers, and 5 pairs of pants. At that time, I also included shoes in my capsule, of which there were three pairs (I will address shoes later in this post).

Color Representation

I also took note of the colors of my capsule items in both the fall and the spring:

  • Solid Black: 9 (11 in spring, including the 3 pairs of shoes)
  • Black Prints: 8 (6 in spring)
  • Burgundy: 3 (also 3 in spring)
  • Purple: 2 (1 in spring)
  • Blue: 4 (also 4 in spring)
  • Denim: 3 (2 in spring)
  • Gray: 1 (3 in spring)
  • Green: 1 (2 in spring)

It doesn’t surprise me that my colors were so consistent in both seasons. While some people mix up their colors based upon the time of the year, I don’t tend to do that. I’m happy with wearing mostly black and jewel tones all year round and I don’t see that changing much. I may want to lighten up my footwear and handbags somewhat during the warmer months, but I’m sure I will continue to wear a lot of black all year round. What can I say? It’s my favorite color!

Repeated Items

I noticed that some of the same items made their way into both my spring and fall “out and about” capsules. When I looked at the final capsules for both seasons, I saw that the following 14 items were included in both:

spring and fall capsule repeats

These 14 items were included in both my Spring and Fall capsule wardrobes. 

These items were mostly worn on cooler days during December, which makes sense since I faced similar temperatures during my spring challenge. However, some of the toppers were worn on the warmer November days as well, as were the black short-sleeved tee and long black vest. It would make sense to do another challenge during the heat of summer later this year to see how many items can truly work for me year round. I suspect there won’t be many at this point, but this is something I would like to change so that I can eventually maintain a smaller and more cohesive wardrobe.

Shoes and Accessories

I didn’t limit the number of shoes and accessories I wore during the challenge, but I did keep track of them all. By the end of the challenge, here’s how those numbers worked out:

  • Shoes: 7 (5 sandals, 2 booties)
  • Purses: 2
  • Watches: 4
  • Bracelets: 7
  • Necklaces: 6
  • Earrings: 17
  • Scarves: 3
  • Hats: 3

These numbers were pretty consistent (within one or two items) with what I tracked during my spring challenge, except that I wore more earrings (17 vs. 12) and shoes (7 vs. 3) this time around.  I think the fact that I included shoes in my spring “out and about” capsule forced me to minimize in that area, whereas I gave myself the freedom to wear as many shoes as I wanted in my fall challenge and thus ended up more than doubling the number.  The fact that my fall challenge included both warm and cool weather came into play, too, which is part of why I opted not to count shoes in my capsule and to include the “swap clause” in my challenge rules.

The images below show the shoes and accessories that I wore during my fall challenge. Please note that I don’t have photos of all of my accessories, which is why the numbers don’t match up perfectly.

fall 2018 challenge shoes and bags

These shoes and handbags were included in my 2018 Fall capsule wardrobe challenge. 

Interestingly, the two bags I used during the fall challenge were the same ones I carried back in the spring. I’ve had the pewter bag since 2013 and the black one was acquired at a consignment store shortly before my spring challenge. My two pairs of black booties were also included in my spring challenge. The shoes I wore most often in November and December were the black closed-toe booties (11 times), black peep-toe booties (6 times), black Taos sandals (4 times), and pewter sandals (4 times).

fall 2018 challenge accessories

These accessories were worn during my 2018 Fall capsule wardrobe challenge. 

Many of my jewelry pieces were also repeats. I don’t tend to purchase many accessories anymore, whereas this used to be a wardrobe area in which I bought a lot. I’m now more selective in what I buy and while I still like variety in terms of my jewelry, I continue to love and happily re-wear the pieces I’ve owned for years. These days, I only buy a few pieces of jewelry each year and most of it comes from one favorite store in Tahoe that I frequent whenever I visit my family there. Five of the accessories in my fall capsule (three pairs of earrings, one hat, and one scarf) are new since the time of my spring challenge.

Weather-Related Swaps

I ended up removing nine items from my “out and about” capsule because the temperatures became too cool for me to wear them. The swaps were mostly summer pants (7 pairs), but I also swapped out two summer tops (one tank and one cold-shoulder top) when the weather shifted in early December. Here’s a look at those items:

fall 2018 challenge - weather swaps

I swapped out these 9 items in December when the temperatures cooled down. 

I believe that I will wear all of these items again once the weather warms up come June or July. I think I may need to get one pair of cropped pants taken in (the polka dot pair), but the other items should be ready to go once summer temperatures hit.

I don’t think it’s too big of a problem that I have different pants for cool and warm weather. I’m actually happy that I finally have a warm weather pants capsule that works well for me. Unfortunately, I can’t say that same thing for my cool weather pants, so there is some work to do there. I wrote about this quite a bit in my insights post, so I won’t repeat myself now. I will say, though, that I’m finding it somewhat boring to wear the same few pairs of less than ideal pants over and over again and I would like a bit more variety there. I think that adding two or three new pairs of pants for the cooler months would make a big difference in terms of my wardrobe satisfaction.

Style/Fit Related Swaps

I also swapped out five items for fit or style reasons:

fall 2018 challenge - style and fit swaps

These items were swapped out of my “out and about” capsule for style or fit reasons. 

At the end of the challenge, I re-evaluated these items. Here’s a synopsis of my reasons for swapping these items out and what I have decided to do about each piece:

  1. Black knit coat – I’ve had this coat for about ten years and it has been worn well over a hundred times (including five times during this most recent challenge). I still like the style and comfort of this piece, as well as how it looks from the front. However, I got a glimpse of the back view in a fitting room in December and was not pleased. Apparently, it no longer works well in light of my menopausal weight shifts and larger hips. The coat is now in my “holding zone” and I will evaluate it again later in the year after I hopefully manage to drop some of the pounds I’ve gained (I have lost a bit of weight, but it’s not as easy with the hormonal changes!).
  2. Black long crepe cardigan – I realized that this recent consignment buy was too large, so I had it taken in earlier this month. It looks much better now and is back in my regular closet rotation.
  3. Black mid-length cardigan – This cardigan hits me in a tricky spot, right at the lower hip area. It doesn’t work so well with jeans or long pants for proportion reasons, but I think it might work better with cropped pants. I will re-evaluate it in the spring, but for now it’s in the “holding zone.”
  4. Black/white diagonal striped top – When I wore this top, I noticed that it’s too big in the torso area, which is a common challenge for me. Since I like the style of the top and find it comfortable and flattering, I plan to have the sides taken in soon.
  5. Off-white and black paisley tee – I still really like this tee (bought during the 2017 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale), but the fabric isn’t holding up so well even though it has been worn fewer than 15 times! It’s a cotton/modal blend and I haven’t had good luck with that combination unless some spandex is also thrown into the mix. I’m no longer buying cotton/modal blends, but I still have a handful of such pieces in my closet. This tee has been downgraded to at-home wear only and will likely be purged later in the year.

Having the swap clause allowed me to replace the questionable capsule items above with pieces that worked well for me during the challenge. Rather than either pushing myself to wear items that had issues or making do with fewer capsule pieces, I was able to select other clothes to wear during the latter weeks of the challenge. I will be able to salvage two of the swapped out items through alterations, I have re-purposed another, and the fate of the remaining two hangs in the balance. I’m glad that I was forced to make a decision about each questionable piece, which was one advantage of the challenge. Without pushing myself to acknowledge and address problematic pieces, they would probably still be hanging in my closet “as is” and either not being worn or being worn with discontent.

At-Home Capsule

I won’t go into as much detail with this capsule, but I do want to recap it as well. After all, I spend more time in these items than I do wearing my “out and about” pieces. These items aren’t as interesting or exciting, but they play a very important role in my life, which is why I included them in my challenge. It’s equally – if not more – important that this clothing works for my body, life, and style!

I don’t have pictures of several of my at-home items, but here’s a look at 26 of them:

fall 2018 challenge at-home capsule

These are most of the items that I included in my Fall 2018 at-home capsule wardrobe. 

Not shown are a pair of shorts and two t-shirts that I wear when using my elliptical trainer at home, as well as one pair of black lounge pants. I mostly wear t-shirts and black pants when I’m at home and when I go on walks or to the gym. If it’s cold, I sometimes wear long-sleeved tops and/or several black toppers. Some of the tops that I wear at home are also worn for casual out and about occasions, particularly the long-sleeved waffle-style tops.

All of the above items were worn multiple times, which was not the case for at least a few of my “out and about” garments. The most frequently worn at-home pieces were my black lounge/workout pants, black jackets, and walking shoes. The items I wear for my in-home cardio exercise were also worn multiple times each week.

At-Home Swaps

I ended up swapping out seven at-home items during the course of the challenge:

fall 2018 challenge - at-home swaps

I swapped these items out of my at-home capsule for fit or weather reasons. 

There were fit issues with three of the tops, with two being too big in the torso and one being too tight in the upper hip area, which are both common issues for me. I have altered one of the tops (the black and white striped one), but the other one (gray graphic) is in my holding zone because I’m not sure if it’s worth tailoring. The pink striped tee is in my holding zone because I hope I’ll lose some weight and will be able to wear it again. The other two tops and the two anoraks are more appropriate for warm weather, so I will revisit these items in June or July.

What I Learned

I already shared some of the lessons I learned during the challenge in my mid-challenge insights post, but I’d like to encapsulate all of them here today. Since this post is already quite lengthy, I won’t delve too deeply into any of these topics, but I suspect I will address some of them in future posts throughout the year.

The Importance of Bottom Pieces

Many of the times when I was unhappy with an outfit during the challenge, it had to do with the pants I was wearing. Sometimes it was because the pants weren’t quite long enough. Other times, it was because they didn’t fit quite right. A common issue for me with pants has to do with comfort, but sometimes my more comfortable pants aren’t very flattering. Regardless of the variation of my complaints, it’s clear that pants continue to be my nemesis!

As I mentioned earlier, I’m happier with my collection of lightweight and cropped pants, but I’m less than thrilled with my jeans and long pants. Most of these items fit me, but I don’t like the way they look on me at my current weight and size. I definitely need to prioritize finding better pants, even if that means doing a lot of online ordering and returning in order to get it right. It doesn’t matter how many great tops, toppers, shoes, and jewelry pieces I have. If my pants aren’t good for whatever reason, the resulting outfit is always going to be subpar.

Too Many Similar Items

I have a lot of items that serve the same purpose, which leads me to “split my wears,” a concept introduced by style expert Bridgette Raes in this article. I think it’s okay to have more than one of a particular clothing item type, especially if it’s something you consider a wardrobe essential. But if you have too many similar pieces, it can lead to a boring wardrobe and a stagnant style. Even though your outfits may include different items, the visual effect may be virtually the same, which may not be what you ultimately want. This is the case for me with my black cardigans and striped tops.

I don’t think my duplication of such items is a huge problem in and of itself, but coupled with my lack of pant and closed-toe shoe options, I find that many of my outfits are just too much of the same. My life is very casual, so it makes sense for me to have a lot of jeans, tees, and knits, but I probably shouldn’t buy too many more of the aforementioned items anytime soon (except for better jean options, which I definitely need!).

I Miss My Colorful Coats

I used to have a nice assortment of colorful coats in my wardrobe, but now all I have left is one that’s in my holding zone because it’s currently too tight to button up comfortably. The others have all been passed on because they became worn out, dated, or snug. I haven’t been able to replace them as of yet and I’m feeling their lack in my wardrobe. I used to love popping on a bright coat over a simple outfit and getting a quick and easy style boost. I had turquoise, cobalt, purple, and gray coats. Now all I have are black coats/jackets and since I wear a lot of black otherwise, that can make for a very dark and unexciting outfit. While I do have lots of colorful cardigans, they don’t provide enough warmth during December through March. I hope to be able to add a couple of bright coats back into my wardrobe in 2019.

Some of My Favorites are Getting “Tired”

As is true for most of us, I have items that I wear over and over again. Pictured below are three examples of this – they don’t have too much life left in them.

wardrobe favorites wearing out

These three favorite items are wearing out and I would like to replace them. 

It’s rare for me to still love items that are wearing out, but I would be very sad not to be able to wear these pieces anymore. I wish I would have thought to duplicate the shoes when I still could, but I can still duplicate the cardigan and plan to do so soon, as I’ve worn my existing one many, many times over the past two years. The exact sandals are not available, but a similar pair is still being sold on Amazon. Because I still love the style and can see myself wearing it for years to come, I may take the plunge and order them. As for the booties, since the style is simple, I’m sure I can find a suitable replacement without too much effort. I will either do so during the spring sales or when fall shoes are released later this year.

2019 Wardrobe Goals and Plans

I bought too many items during both 2017 and 2018. My total expenditures those years weren’t too out of line, but I brought a lot of new pieces into my closet. Since I also purged many items, there was a lot of “closet churn,” as I wrote about in this September post. My biggest wardrobe goal for 2019 is to decrease the churn! I want to make fewer and more strategic purchases. I want my purchases to have a strong impact upon my wardrobe satisfaction. I don’t want to buy things simply because they’re easy to fit (i.e. tops and cardigans), are on sale, or strike my fancy in the moment. While such items may give me a jolt of short-lived pleasure, they don’t tend to increase the overall happiness quotient of my wardrobe.

It’s not fun to have to leave stores empty-handed or order and return multiple items in search of the right one, but I know this is what I need to do. I have to prioritize buying the pieces that are going to add the most mileage to my outfits, as well as maximize my physical and emotional comfort. That said, my shopping priorities for this year include the following items. These are mostly cool weather pieces. I don’t think I will need to buy many warm weather items, but I will revisit that issue as it gets closer to June/July.

  1. Black straight-leg pants (forgiving fit)
  2. Dark wash straight-leg jeans
  3. Mid wash boot-cut jeans (long enough!)
  4. Black boot-cut jeans (long enough!)
  5. Black print full-length pants (Spring-Fall weight)
  6. Blouses or special tops (2-3)
  7. Gray or pewter booties
  8. Black booties (replacement)
  9. Black Taos wedge sandals with silver hardware (replacement)
  10. Black Athleta Pranayama Wrap (replacement)
  11. Black cropped lounge pants
  12. Black full-length lounge pants
  13. Colorful 3/4 length mid-weight coats (2)
  14. Black cross-body purse (I have a few options in mind)
  15. Cobalt cardigan (replacement for one from two years ago)
  16. Cobalt moto jacket (very hard to find item for years now!)
  17. Cobalt fitted short-sleeved tee
  18. Burgundy fitted short-sleeved tee

Yes, there’s a lot of black in there, but that’s what I often wear and I know it works for me. I would be very happy if I could find all of the items on this list during 2019. I don’t need more than what’s on this list, but I’m okay with buying a few fun pieces here and there, as long as I don’t go overboard!

I’m going to keep this list with me for when I shop and I’m also going to keep it handy on my computer for when I’m browsing online. My 2019 word is “freedom” and I believe that I will experience a lot more freedom with my wardrobe and how I dress if I focus on my priority items and don’t allow myself to go astray. Most of the items on the list are essentials that will serve as foundation pieces for my outfits. These are the things I need, not a bunch of additional striped tops and similar style cardigans!

Next Steps and Your Thoughts

I mentioned in my capsule challenge insights post that I’m going to formulate seasonal capsules and do more outfit creation sessions. I have also been identifying “uniforms” that I’d like to focus on to help streamline what I wear, make it easier to get dressed, and reduce the need to maintain a large wardrobe. I will be writing about these subjects in future posts, so stay tuned.

I’d love to get your thoughts on the topics of this post. I used to worry that articles like this would bore people, but they were always popular on Recovering Shopaholic and hopefully they are of interest here as well. I always learn from what others share about their wardrobes, so I can understand why people like reading my musings on the subject, too.

Feel free to comment on what I have shared, as well as what you learned about your wardrobe in 2018 and what your shopping and clothing goals are for this year. If you have a shopping priorities list for 2019 and are open to posting it, I’d love to read it. If you need some tips and suggestions on putting such a list together, you might be interested in this 2014 article. Wishing you wardrobe happiness in 2019!

27 thoughts on “Fall Capsule Challenge Recap and Wardrobe Goals for 2019

  1. Gail says:

    Debbie–It’s NOT boring! I for one ate it up.
    I still cannot get over your statistical, energetic attention to the details of your wearing items. I could never have the mindset, energy, or ability to do this. I respect the why you have, but it still seems easier just to give away or sell what you do not like 99% or more and keep the small amount you say you would like to have. Why not do that all at once and be happy with less? I am not trying to be critical or obnoxious: I truly don’t see going through all this. I have told you I did a biggish blitz and that was it (whole house, not just clothes), but I did not start with the big numbers you have. This is so interesting to me. I cannot imagine dealing with what you are doing. I am rather in awe.
    I like your colors and awareness of what feels good, looks good and does not.
    For myself, I have bought a not fancy dress for afternoon outings with older granddaughters (second hand) and a new bathrobe or housecoat that I can wear over clothes when it is cold inside. I turned the old one into rags and got rid also of a silly skirt that didn’t accommodate changing waistlines. So I still have 36 items incl. shoes and outerwear as per Project 333. I do not include tanks because they are always, at my fair age of 73, underwear. Perhaps that is cheating, but if counted, they would raise me to 42.
    Please, please, know I enjoy this, respect this and you, and realize we are all different. I am just flabbergasted that I cannot understand this tedious process. Love, Gail

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m kind of surprised you find these types of posts interesting, Gail, especially since you are such a wardrobe minimalist. I used to do a lot more statistical analysis of my wardrobe back when I was writing “Recovering Shopaholic,” but I lost the interest and enthusiasm for continuing to track at that level. I do find that doing a challenge or two like this each year is helpful to keep me on track towards progress (not perfection). I think it’s hard for someone who doesn’t struggle at all with clothes to understand where I am coming from. It’s not just about the clothes for me; it’s much deeper, as I have written about a number of times over the years. I’m just trying to find my way as best as I can given the tangled spider’s web of emotions that I have related to my wardrobe, my body, how I relate to others, how I want to present myself in the world, and much more. I think it’s wonderful that you don’t have to deal with all of this emotional baggage around your clothes and that you can keep a small wardrobe and just wear the clothes without any angst around them. Because you don’t have such issues, you see this type of exercise as “tedious,” whereas I view it as helpful.

      We ARE all different, which is why many people wouldn’t be interested in my blog at all, at least not these wardrobe posts. It’s a credit to you that you try to understand, but maybe you never will really be able to, and that’s okay. I will probably always have what you consider a “big wardrobe.” I would like mine to be smaller and it IS much smaller than it used to be, but I don’t ever see myself as becoming a wardrobe minimalist, and that’s okay, too…

      1. Gail says:

        Just curious: how minimal or not are you re kitchen gadgets, books, etc.? Or is it just clothes that get you?
        I don’t know why this topic of wardrobe decluttering is so fascinating to me, but it is. Maybe it’s because for so many years I did not even think about organizing clothes.
        I am not so totally mentally/emotionally healthy, either! I worry too much, sleep too little, feel lots of anxiety, esp. socially at many times, and over-over think everything. So never think I am judging or feeling superior because that I am not! I just NEED to keep my possessions under control Maybe that in itself is indicative of my state of mind.
        Thanks for answering every single time; you are an outstanding blogger and a thoughtful–in both senses–individual. I enjoy your writing so much.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          I used to have too many items in lots of household categories, Gail. My compulsive shopping was “equal opportunity,” so to speak. I bought too many books, knick-knacks, CDs, gifts, jewelry, shoes, AND clothes. Now it’s just clothes, so they are the last bastion of my shopping / over-accumulation problem. But many people who have too many clothes (or other items) aren’t compulsive shoppers. They just never (or rarely) get rid of stuff! I found that often when I was doing wardrobe consulting. Lots of old, dated, worn out clothes that never got worn but still hung in their closets. There were usually a lot of emotional issues going on, so my psychology background came in handy. It’s easier to help other people than myself, though! Have you heard of the writer Gretchen Rubin? She is releasing a book soon called “Outer Order, Inner Calm.” I don’t know TOO much about it yet, but I resonate with the title and it sounds like you do, too. Because I have a chaotic mind, I see a lot of value in paring things down AND in organizing things. Yes, it’s true that I would have less to organize if I had fewer clothes, but until I do the emotional work around my clothing issues, I would simply buy more if I were to purge a lot of my clothes. I have written about this quite a bit, too, and other people have commented in a similar fashion. I feel like I’m gradually chipping away at my clothing issues. It seems very slow to me sometimes, but I do feel like I’m making good progress (and I’m very happy to have conquered clutter and over-accumulation in basically all other areas).

  2. Katrina B says:

    I love your assessment of how very specific additions to your wardrobe will give you more freedom, and it really makes sense. If you started adding random things it would reduce your options and limit your freedom to use any of the items. We’ve all been there!

    Your wardrobe is so cohesive and well-coordinated that it’s just a pleasure to look at. I know these are just capsules out of a larger collection, but it looks like you have really pinned down your colors and styles perfectly. I love that even your at-home and workout clothes are in the same colors and you take the same care in selecting the items.

    As I thought about this, I realized that I still keep a closet of “good clothes” and drawers of at-home clothes that are lesser quality, not my best colors, or getting worn out. But I should know better because I’ve done the lifestyle analysis and I know that I spend more than 90% of my time at home and probably go on casual outings a few times a month. It seems like wearing my “good clothes” more often could give me an emotional boost. That’s probably obvious to anyone reading this! But I also get frustrated if I wear my nicer clothes around the house and get them messed up (pets, cooking, etc), which leads to more frequent laundering, which results in wearing out faster. So I’ll have to think and analyze and reorganize the closet and think some more and maybe come up with a compromise of some sort.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I never used to think about my wardrobe in terms of freedom, Katrina, but it really hit me when I was compiling and writing this post. Taking the time to find the items that add the most mileage to my wardrobe WILL bring me freedom. Realizing that will help me to put in the necessary effort even though the process can be demoralizing. As you noticed (thank you!), I have taken the time to pin down the colors and styles that work best for me and that has helped to increase my wardrobe satisfaction. I still have work to do on increasing the quality of my at-home wardrobe, so I get where you’re coming from there. It’s been a gradual process for me. I understand about not getting things dirty, but it DOES give me an emotional boost to wear better stuff at home. I started wearing more of my “regular” tops at home a few years ago and that made a difference. It’s interesting that you mentioned reorganizing your closet, as I did just that recently. I separated out my tops into three sections: 1) Those that I wear ONLY for “out and about” 2) Those that I wear BOTH for out and about and at home 3) Those that are ONLY for at-home or workouts. Right now, these three sections are similar sizes, but my goal is to have section #2 be the largest. Something to work on over the next few years…

  3. yettie says:

    I love your wardrobe posts a lot!

    One painful lesson I’ve learnt from my wardrobe in the last few years is to hold on to the well-made essentials for as long as possible. Especially true with shoes. My favorite (and one of three) pair of black boots was looking pretty scuffed and I wanted to replace it this year. I have however learnt that finding quality, comfortable boots is getting harder and harder so instead on doing the one in, one out concept with the boots, I bought another pair but kept it. That way I’m not using it as much and can get more life out of it.

    I’m planning to do a lot of that with most of my wardrobe favorites this year.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you like these types of posts, yettie. I think your strategy of holding onto well-made essentials is wise. I have found that in pretty much all wardrobe categories, quality has gone way down, including shoes. When I replace the two pairs of shoes I mentioned, I plan to hold on to the original pair as well and wear them for many “riskier” times when the shoes might get dirty of beat up. I will take good care of both pairs so they will last as long as possible. I hope we see a turnaround in terms of quality. I know that I for one would be willing to pay more money for this.

  4. Harriet says:

    Debbie, I am embarrassed that I haven’t commented since you started blogging again. I was so happy when you launched Full Life Reflections. It was a long wait, but worth it. I love reading everything you write about because you are such a gifted writer. I finally separated my cold weather/warm weather clothes last fall. Where I live in Oregon, I really can wear most of my clothes all year round by adding or subtracting layers. However, by separating my clothes, it gives me fewer choices and more breathing room in my closet. While I will occasionally think of something in my warm weather closet, I don’t allow myself to wear those items. I think when I switch things out again, my clothes in storage will seem “new” and I look forward to wearing them again. I did a “no buy” January and did not purchase any clothes, shoes, accessories or makeup. I even extended that to not buying anything that was a want and not a need. It wasn’t too difficult. I just stayed out of the stores and I’m not an online shopper as I’m disappointed 90% of the time when I make online purchases and have the hassle of returning things. My current plan is to do “no buy” months at least half the year. I will do “low buys” on the other months as I’m happy with my wardrobe and don’t really need anything else unless something wears out. Two of the trips we take every year have unique stores that I love. I will definitely make those months when I will allow myself to make some less than necessary purchases. Wish me luck! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and progress with us.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      No worries about not commenting sooner, Harriet! A lot of readers never even comment at all, which is fine. I’m glad you’re enjoying Full Life Reflections and I appreciate your kind words about my writing. I could probably wear most of my clothes year round, too, but I haven’t cultivated a good layering wardrobe yet. I tend to only wear two layers most of the time – a top and a jacket or sweater. I also feel the cool pretty easily, which is also an issue. I separate my clothes into cold weather and warm weather categories recently, too. My warm weather clothes are currently in a different closet. It was motivated by space constraints (my husband am I now share a closet), but I love what you had to say about it, too. I think I will enjoy bringing these items back to my main closet and feeling like they are “new” again. I also like your idea of doing periodic “no buy” months. A friend of mine does that and finds that it helps to make her shopping more targeted. It’s a lot easier not to buy when we don’t visit stores or browse online (for those of us who do like to shop online). If I look for something to want, I will invariably find it! I wish you the best of luck with your plan for this year, which sounds like a very solid and practical one. I hope you check back and let us know how you’re doing!

  5. Sally says:

    Hi Debbie,

    Happy new year and I wish you all the best in finding freedom this year.

    I love all your blogs and from my previous comments you know that we have a lot in common. I know that you read some of the same blogs as I do, Imogen Lamport’s Inside Out Style & Bridgette Rae’s, so I thought I would recommend another blog that I read that you may like and find useful, if you aren’t already aware of it.

    It is The Vivienne Files:

    “The Vivienne Files is a unique personal style blog with carefully-selected capsule wardrobes based on color palettes drawn from works of art, nature, and more. It helps women buy less clothing, and to love what they buy.
    The wardrobes you see on The Vivienne Files are primarily what is known as a Capsule Wardrobe. The theory is to have a wardrobe of minimal, classic pieces that mix and match to form a wide variety of outfits. By choosing classic, well-made wardrobe items as a neutral base, you can change your entire look by adding a few simple accent pieces. A capsule wardrobe helps you define your personal style while making both shopping and getting dressed in the morning much easier. Not to mention this minimalist outlook is better for the environment and our wallets.”

    A lot of the posts tend to have the more casual types of clothes that you wear and you can also search for blog posts with black and jewel colours that you like. The posts show how many different outfits you can make by using just a few clothes and assessories, so it may give you some ideas of how to make the most out of your existing wardrobe.

    With regards to my goals for 2019, I am currently seeing a clinical psychologist for depression, stress, anxiety and emotional/binge eating.

    I am now 51 and have put on 2 stone and gone up a dress size due to menopause, depression and emotional/binge eating. None of my clothes fit me, so I don’t want to go out as I have nothing to wear and I look awful. I didn’t want to accept myself at this weight, as I don’t like my body and was hoping to diet and lose the weight so my clothes would fit me again, however this hasn’t happened and has made me more depressed. I have been caught up in a dieting/binge eating struggle for many years and now i can’t seem to lose the weight.

    My psychologist recommended this book:

    Rick Kausman: “If not dieting, then what?”

    Here are a couple of relevant extracts:

    “Diets don’t work. Many people not only regain the weight they lose, but actually end up heavier than before they started the diet. Dieting has been seen to be closely associated with an increased chance of depression and has been shown to be a risk factor for eating problems and eating disorders. When we regain the weight lost on a diet our self esteem drops and this impacts in a negative way many areas of our lives.

    Forget about setting a goal weight. When people aim for a goal weight either the person is unable to achieve the goal weight or even worse, they reach their goal weight but are unable to stay there. Both situations result in a feeling of failure.

    Instead you need to develop an appropriate long term eating pattern to achieve and maintain a healthy, comfortable weight for you. You need to work on things you can continue to do, otherwise when we finish a diet or other short term eating plan, our behaviour will revert to what it was before we started the diet, with the associated inevitable weight gain.”

    “Body Image:
    Body acceptance is so important because without it you may believe those who tell you that you are worthless. You reinforce this belief by not eating healthy food and not exercising your body in a positive way.
    If you don’t accept that your body is alright as it is, you may feel alienated from the general health messages and feel that you are beyond help. You need to feel comfortable with your body to become comfortable around food. If you like your body, you want to put healthy food into it, to nourish it. If you don’t like your body, what you eat doesn’t matter much, so you eat many foods that you know don’t help your body to run well.
    Real body acceptance means accepting the body you have now, regardless of your size, shape and weight. This means more than just accepting your natural weight, because some of us have gone beyond even this point as a result of our past behaviour. It means accepting your current weight, whatever it is. Irrespective of where a person falls in the continuum of weight, they deserve to be respected and supported in obtaining self acceptance.

    What happens if we don’t accept ourselves as we are, is that no matter what weight we maintain, we don’t end up feeling satisfied anyway. It is almost impossible to look after ourselves in the most helpful way when we are feeling bad about ourselves and our body image.

    Long term change doesn’t come from disgust or self rejection, but from a realistic acceptance of who and what we are and from a desire to be the best person we can possibly be.

    Just live in your body, it is the only body you will ever have and it’s your home and it is important to take care of it. Become comfortable in your own skin, after all, there is one thing that can be said for the birthday suit, it always fits.”

    “Dress for now:
    Many people have a range of different size clothes hanging in their wardrobe. They think that keeping a supply of small sized clothes will motivate them to lose weight. However, just the opposite often happens. The more often we look at those clothes and the more often we try on clothes that don’t fit, the worse we feel. We may not want to buy any new clothes until we can get into a smaller size, so we end up walking around in clothes that are too tight, or we have clothes in the wardrobe for so long they end up becoming unfashionable. We may even be left with only one or two outfits we can wear. We end up feeling demotivated rather than motivated.
    Going out and buying some new fashionable clothes will increase the chances of us feeling better about ourselves. Spend a bit more on clothes you love and feel good in. Making sure you have something comfortable to wear is very nurturing. Making the effort with your appearance and actually having nice clothes means you can go out feeling more confident about yourself and avoid not wanting to go out because you literally have nothing to wear.”

    Initially my goal for 2019 was to “Lose weight to get back to my previous goal weight and fit back into my existing clothes”, which I haven’t been able to do and it has made me more depressed, so after reading this book I have changed my goal to be:
    “ Develop an appropriate long term eating pattern to achieve and maintain a healthy, comfortable weight for me.”

    I have also given all the clothes that don’t fit me to charity, as it depressed me every time I tried them on and they still didn’t fit and I felt like a failure for not being able to lose the weight like I used to. As I am not currently working, I don’t have much money for clothes, however I have read all the “Starting from Scratch” posts on the Vivienne files, so I am only buying a few clothes that I definitely need now, that are in my colours, that are good quality, that fit my current body, so I have had to go up a size and I have also had to reassess my style and buy clothes that are more flattering, forgiving and comfortable for my current size and all the clothes have to mix and match so that with a few accessories I can maximise the number of outfits I can get out of them.

    I hope you find some of this useful.

    Best wishes as always, Sally

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I really appreciate your sharing so much wonderful information with me and your fellow readers, Sally! I always like when you comment, especially since we do have so much in common. I’m sorry you have been struggling with similar difficulties to what I have, but I’m glad you’re getting help and have found some resources that have been beneficial. I used to read “The Vivienne Files” regularly, so I’m familiar with it. I stopped reading that blog when I cut back on almost all blogs due to overwhelm and information overload, but I think I would find some of those capsule wardrobe posts helpful now and will check them out. I used to consider using that blog’s concepts as a template for some of my posts (like pulling together my own capsule wardrobe using her template), so maybe I will revisit that now.

      I have never heard of the book “If not dieting, then what?” but I definitely resonate with the excerpts you shared. I learned long ago that diets don’t work (there’s a book by that name that is also quite good) and that it’s far better to focus on gradual lifestyle changes. I think what’s hardest for me is that the shifts that used to work aren’t doing the trick now with menopause… I don’t know how much I’ve gained because I never weigh myself, but I went up a size like you did and have been very depressed about it. Body image has long been my Achilles Heel and bad feelings about my body have been a primary driver of my overshopping. I wholeheartedly agree with this quote that you posted: “Long term change doesn’t come from disgust or self rejection, but from a realistic acceptance of who and what we are and from a desire to be the best person we can possibly be.” I also agree that we should dress for now and I only keep clothes in my main closet that fit me currently and that I feel good in. I do still have some items that are too tight for me to wear now, but they are all in a box that I keep in my garage and don’t look at. I have been able to pull a handful of these items out with minor weight loss and I have gotten rid of pieces that I don’t realistically see myself wearing again for either fit or style reasons.

      I love your idea of using the “Starting from Scratch” posts to put together a workable wardrobe. I also love your new goal for 2019. It sounds so much more positive and life-affirming than what you had before. I wish you the very best always, too, and I hope you check in periodically throughout the year to let me know how you’re doing.

  6. Irene says:

    Debbie, I enjoyed this post a lot. I always found these summary posts in your previous blog thought provoking.

    In response to a comment in this current post you wrote about clothes that you have a, “ tangled spider’s web of emotions that I have related to my wardrobe, my body, how I relate to others”. This is so on target for where I am about this topic. Your new blog moves into solutions about untangling the web and that speaks to me.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, Irene, and are benefiting from this blog as a whole. For so many of us, the whole shopping and wardrobe management issue goes beyond mere practicality. I like to address both the practical issues and deeper matters, as it’s a good mix and I hope to provide value for different types of readers (plus, we’re all complicated individuals with our own types of emotional “spider’s webs”). I hope you will enjoy and benefit from my upcoming posts – and I’m always open to suggestions for what to address in my writing.

  7. Jenn says:

    Definitely not boring, Debbie. Gave me lots of ideas for a future project.

    I saw that you mentioned Gretchen’s new book, Outer Order and Inner Calm. It’s on my wish list.

    I initiated a new budget that will limit my combined spending on nonessential beauty and office supplies, clothing and accessories, and books. Those are the areas in which I tend to buy more than I need. I don’t get myself in financial trouble, I just waste time and money. I’ve set forth “rules” for the clothing and accessories. I must eliminate three for every two items I buy. And with books, I must have read, donated, or deleted two for every one that I buy. (Sorry if I already mentioned this in my comment on your last post.)

    My Happiness Project is still ongoing and for the majority of the time, I adhered to the habits I set forth for January. February is off to a good start as well. I have noticed a slight increase in my self-esteem which I am 100% sure stems from this project.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad this post gave you ideas, Jenn. I’m excited to read Gretchen Rubin’s book and to see her speak in San Diego in March. She’s long been one of my favorite writers. Your new budget and Happiness Project both sound very helpful. I like the idea of combining non-essential spending into one “bucket” and I like your two in, three out rule, too. That may be a good one for me to take on! Congrats on your January and February progress! Having an increase in self-esteem is a wonderful outcome and I hope that continues for you as the year progresses.

  8. Wendy says:

    I can’t seem to overcome my obsession with wardrobe churn! I am with you to at least reduce the number of buying and purging for 2019. 2018 was not a good year for this – I bought and donated a lot with only a small weight fluctuation to justify the frequency. I gained about one pant size larger around my waist and hips but not much on my upper body. I also stopped liking baggy pants as I felt frumpy and can’t seem to find slim pants that are comfortable enough for me to wear all day. Lots of experimentation with different styles and materials and I have about 2 pairs I’m happy with for warmer weather and only one for the winter. Summer clothes are much easier for me, as I’m happy with a few nice dresses, t-shirts and thin pants. It’s the whole layering thing in cold weather I have a problem with – I never seem to get the right items. I don’t need to consult a stylist or any fashion professional for advice as I’m very specific with what I like. I just need to stop buying and purging so frequently and sit with what I do buy for some time before I donate it. I love your analysis posts and I will do something similar for myself in the future. I have very few clothes right now so there’s not much to analyze. When I do add new items, I will have no choice but to be very analytical of it’s function.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I understand, Wendy… I had a lot of wardrobe churn in the past two years and a lot of it was motivated by weight gain (I also went up about a pant size). I hear you about feeling frumpy in baggier clothes but not feeling comfortable enough to wear slim pants all day. Experimentation can definitely lead to a lot of wardrobe churn and it’s super frustrating! I have an easier time with summer clothes, too, and struggle with layering (which I still need to do in Southern California despite what a lot of people might think!). In terms of donating items, I tend to wait a month or two between thinking I want to donate something and actually doing it. I just put the items somewhere else (usually a closet in another bedroom) and often will try them on again before passing them on. I do occasionally “rescue” something and decide to give it another chance. Sometimes the issue was with my mood on a given day (I’m a very emotional dresser) or with what I tried to pair an item with. I like the idea of a smaller wardrobe, but I don’t want to keep having so much churn and “wardrobe waste.” Challenges like what I did help me to better understand what works for me, so that hopefully I will buy smarter. It’s a process, but it sounds like you have made progress in knowing what you like and need. It’s not easy, but we are moving forward, even if it feels super slow sometimes…

  9. Maureen says:

    Hi Debbie! I’ve been reading this blog + Recovering Shopaholic for years but haven’t commented before. I just found my new favorite source for jeans and I thought you would also be interested to know! It’s Duluth Trading Company. They mostly sell outdoors/workwear, but they also have jeans which look nice and totally normal for everyday. They have a “curvy fit” for a smaller waist relative to hips and a lot of their pants come in a 33″ inseam. The boot cut jeans even go up to 35″! Plus,they have stretch in the material so they are comfortable.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for your comment and the recommendation, Maureen. I have heard of Duluth Trading Company, but I didn’t realize they sold longer lengths in pants. I definitely need the 35″ inseam. Sometimes I can get away with a shorter inseam in a skinnier fit, but I want to add a pair or two of boot-cuts to my wardrobe this year. I will check them out – the stretch in the material is also a win!

  10. Claire says:

    Hi Debbie, happy 2019! Fun post to read as always, I love these. I’m so glad the “holidays” are over, we ran away to Vegas which was a fun strategy, both the distraction of looking forward to it and then actually getting away (we flew on dec 25). I haven’t flown in 5 years, my health has been so bad, so that was a big deal. Might do it again next year, looking at maybe the Keys. Your word for the year is awesome, “freedom” affects so many aspects of life! I also find it especially poignant given our current political climate and culture at large. My word has shaped up to be “space” in all it’s variations – making space, holding space, taking up space, outer space, spaciousness. I almost chose “witchy” because I feel strongly called to explore my witchy/crafty/naturey side… but I can simply “make space” for that as an aspect of my chosen word. I feel like I got a LOT of mileage out of my word last year… 2018 was a very “intuitive” year and I made deep inner connections and developed techniques with long-term changes and benefits that will hopefully continue. I will definitely not be leaving my intuition behind as I explore space this year ❤

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Great to hear from you, Claire! Interesting that you went to Vegas, as we did, too! We were just there for 3 days (Dec. 29-31), but maybe we overlapped each other? I always worry about traveling, too, with my health, but I’m glad to have gone and I’m glad you got away as well. It would be fun to visit the Florida Keys (I have never been there).

      I love the word “space” for you, especially how you described it. “Witchy” would have been interesting and fun, too. It sounds like “intuitive” served you well in 2018 and I hope “space” will be transformative for you this year. I always carry my previous words into the next year and I’ve found that they tend to dovetail well with each other. I definitely plan to keep “essential” going in 2019 as I cultivate more “freedom.” Best wishes to you always!

      1. Claire says:

        Ha! Debbie that is so funny we were both in Vegas! We flew home on the 29th… maybe we passed each other at the airport. I almost contacted you to let you know we’d be near your side of the country, but then I was like, that’s just still really so far for us to try and meet up… but it would have been cool to even meet at the airport. I got us great souvenir shirts there too, need to send u a pic 😉 Maybe we will meet someday in the Keys or otherwise, I would love to make “space” for that! xo

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          We drove to Vegas (it’s about a 5 hour drive from here), so we weren’t at the airport, but it’s interesting that you and I were in Vegas at least part of the same time! I’d love to see a pic of your souvenir shirts. I’d love to meet you one day – the Keys would be cool!

  11. Cathie says:

    Debbie I need to read this and comments in more depth but I had to comment on the cobalt moto jacket on your wish list. Check out kettlewell, they have amazing colours, they have a blue moto and it might be just what you are looking for. I haven’t bought anything from them, they are UK and I’m in Australia so a bit problematic, but I think a bit easier in USA ?. Worth a look.

    1. Cathie says:

      Whoops missed that this was a year ago, but maybe you are still looking…..

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks so much for the suggestion regarding the cobalt moto jacket, Cathie! Yes, this post is from a year ago, but I am still looking for such a jacket, as it’s been hard to find. I appreciate the resource you sent and I agree that Kettlewell offers very beautiful colors! I love the moto jacket they have available in cobalt! It’s definitely risky for me to order such a jacket online because these types of jackets rarely fit me well with my broad shoulders, narrow torso, and wider hips. However, I will keep it in mind if I don’t find my cobalt jacket locally soon (for the price, the shipping would be free, but I’d probably have to pay to return it if it didn’t work out). I will also keep Kettlewell in mind for red items, as it looks like they have a great selection there as well. Many thanks!

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