This is the third and final installment in my three-part series about what I no longer wear. In my first post, I explored two types of garments that I previously loved wearing but no longer do: skirts and blazers. I reflected upon how the combination of certain types of skirt and blazers created an overly-formal vibe that didn’t work with my casual lifestyle. In part two, I showed how I progressed to the interim outfit formula of maxi-length skirts and dresses paired with cropped or tie cardigans. I also shared the current state of my skirt wardrobe and mused about whether or not skirts will continue to be part of my summer style.
Today, I look at how my style preferences have evolved and what I’m wearing now instead of skirts and blazers. I also highlight some of the reasons for my style shifts and what these changes reveal about my current style preferences and my future sartorial journey.
New Preferences: Cropped Pants and Mid-Length Dresses
After I went through menopause in 2016 and my body changed (more on that below), I started to migrate more toward wearing cropped pants in warmer temperatures rather than skirts. This shift in terms of my bottom pieces has continued as the years have gone by. My current collection of cropped pants is pictured below (I also have a few other pairs that I wear only at home):
I began to feel more attractive and comfortable in pants rather than skirts, so I gradually let go of most of the skirts that I owned. As I mentioned in my last post, I currently own only four skirts – and I wore just one of them last year. Although I moved away from skirts, I continued to like wearing dresses. However, my preferences have shifted to styles other than my previous mainstay of maxi lengths.
I now generally favor midi length dresses, as well as asymmetrical and high-low silhouettes (shorter in the front and longer in the back). I currently own eleven dresses, only two of which are maxi-length. Here’s a look at the dresses that are currently in my closet:
Included below is a collection of photos of me wearing my cropped pants and dresses. I don’t have many outfit photos from 2018 to the present, as I mostly stopped taking them, but this gives you an idea of my current warm weather style. Even though some of the photos are from three or four years ago, I still like and would wear these outfits now:
A few notes about the above photos… Unfortunately, the black jacket paired with the turquoise dress belonged to my friend, but I would wear such a jacket now if I could find one that fit me properly (hers was a bit too small for me and wouldn’t close all the way – I just put it on for the picture). Also, I’ve had the hems taken down on some of the cropped pants to a more appropriate ankle length, or at least as close as I could get with my long legs. I no longer own the first pair of pants shown, but I wear the top with other pairs of black cropped pants now.
Why Dresses Instead of Skirts?
Although I used to love wearing outfits that paired short, fitted tops with flowing, streamlined skirts, I now much prefer to wear looser-fitting, body-skimming dresses, like the ones pictured in the last section. These dresses don’t accentuate my midsection or require that my stomach be ultra-flat or sucked in. I can breathe more freely in the dresses that I favor, and I also feel more elegant in them.
As I mentioned in my last post and other previous essays, “elegant” is one of my three style guideposts (introduced in this essay), along with “dramatic” and “polished.” Dresses often tick all three of those boxes, plus I appreciate the “one and done” quality of dresses. They’re easy to style, although toppers for dresses can sometimes be tricky due to proportion issues. The tie cardigans I showed with my dresses and skirts last week work well for me, but I’d like to find one or two alternate options to incorporate more variety. I’m open to any suggestions you might have…
New Preferences in Blazers
I’ve discussed my move away from skirts toward dresses, but as my style evolved, I also stopped liking to wear blazers. As I worked to shed the “church lady” aesthetic that I decided was too “proper” and dressy for my lifestyle and personality, I ended up purging all of the pieces in my blazer collection. Before doing so, however, I tried pairing the blazers with pants and jeans, but they looked too short in that combination. I felt like I was wearing a shrunken hand-me-down, rather than a jacket that was tailored for my tall frame, so I opted to pass all of the blazers on.
The “blazers” in my closet today can be more accurately referred to as long jackets. They’re much longer and less tailored than my blazers from 2006-2014 that were pictured in part one of this series. I only own three such jackets, and they’re reserved for wearing solely with pants and jeans, similar to how they’re pictured in the stock images below:
In contrast to my old-school blazers, my newer jackets have a casual vibe to them that’s more in line with my 2021 lifestyle and style aesthetic. I can pair them with a knit top, pants/jeans, and short boots or sandals to create an outfit that’s suitable for most of the occasions in my life. I feel attractive in these pieces and just dressy enough to be in line with my style guideposts, but not so dressy that I feel out of place in terms of where I live and how I spend my time.
Moving on From Old Favorites
To sum up some of my key points from this series up to now, I no longer pair skirts with short blazers, and I’ve done away with the latter altogether. The four skirts I still own have been increasingly gathering dust in my closet in recent years, as I rarely reach for them anymore. Skirts and blazers were part of my signature style for many years, but then I experienced a style shift that led me to move away from them and toward dresses and cropped pants outfits instead.
Sometimes we need to let go of clothes that were previously among our favorites and played a key role in our style identity. The Debbie of the late aughts and early 2010’s was known for wearing skirts and dresses on virtually all warm days and evenings. But that was a very different Debbie than the one who is writing this today.
The 2021 Debbie has endured menopause, a seemingly interminable gray hair transition process (which I’ll be sharing more insights about soon), the deaths of a few dear family members, and a long period of chronic pain and illness. She’s also struggled with her identity, her sense of self-worth, and her place in the world. The “church lady” is gone and so are all of the remnants of her wardrobe.
Perhaps moving on from long-loved elements of our style is a critical part of our overall metamorphosis in life. Maybe I brought the A-line skirts and short blazers into my metaphorical chrysalis, and they didn’t need to accompany me when I emerged as a better, brighter version of myself. In some ways, it feels like just yesterday that I started Recovering Shopaholic as a way to help myself and others shop less and pare down our overstuffed closets. Yet in other ways, it feels like a virtual lifetime ago. I’m still me, but I have evolved – and I’m continuing to evolve.
My Style Today
On my next birthday in August, I’ll be 55 years old. I’m in a much different place in my life – and in my mind – from the me of the throwback photos in part one of this series. I’m not only older now, but I’m also wiser, in many ways due to the introspection I’ve done through blogging for ten-plus years (I had three other blogs before Recovering Shopaholic). I’m now trying to determine what my next chapter – perhaps my final chapter – will be.
My vision for the future still looks cloudy. I’m not sure who my future self will be – and what she’ll look like. I don’t see her dressing like my forty-something self, though, complete with flared skirts and blazers. I see her wearing what she wants to wear, not what two television personalities told her she should wear. I see her marching to the beat of her own style drum, rather than cow-towing to the whims of the “fashion gods.” I envision her as being far more comfortable in her own skin and a lot more aware of her wants, desires, and preferences. I visualize her as being free to be her true self and free to express her creativity in her life pursuits – and in her clothing.
I see my 2021 – and beyond – self dressing more and more like the “Looks I Love” images from my July 2020 personal style post, some of which are shown below:
I’ve been steadily moving toward the above direction in how I dress ever since I defined my “style guideposts” last summer. Taking that action brought increased clarity to how I want to look on a day-to-day basis. I always strive to have my outfits – for all areas of my life – meet the “dramatic, polished, and elegant” description that I created to reflect my ideal style. Sometimes my ensembles don’t meet all three style descriptors, but they’re usually in line with at least two of them.
As I mentioned above, I don’t take photos of my outfits very often anymore. I mostly stopped taking them in 2018 because I was too critical of my appearance while going through my gray hair transition and dealing with menopausal body changes and weight gain. As a result, I don’t have many recent examples of my style to share with you. However, the following photos reflect how I like to dress today, even though some of them were taken several years ago. I no longer own all of the items shown, but I have very similar pieces in my current wardrobe that reflect my ideal style aesthetic. The photos of my summer style shown earlier in this post are also very much in line with how I like to dress now.
Black remains the most prevalent color in my wardrobe, and I often pair it with one or two other cool-toned hues, as well as a warm tone here and there. I’ve embraced red a lot more since early 2020, and it’s now one of my favorite colors. Stripes remain a mainstay, but I also enjoy wearing other prints that are grounded in black.
Although I’ve pared down my jewelry collection considerably over the past seven years, I could streamline it still more, as I typically reach for the same handful of bold, minimalist pieces over and over again. The same can be said of my shoes and handbags, and I’m now trying to find replacements for some of my tried-and-true favorites that are becoming worn out (I’ll be addressing shoes in an upcoming post). I hope that I’ll also be able to be more minimal with my clothing as time goes by. That’s something that I’ll continue to work on – and write about here!
Conclusion, Coming Attractions, and Your Thoughts?
I hope you enjoyed this three-part series about some of the things that I no longer wear – and why. I hope it helped you to reflect upon your own style evolution, as well as the direction you’d like your style to take in the coming months and years. While some of you may have already been clear about your wardrobe likes and dislikes, perhaps taking time to consider what you don’t want and what you no longer wear has brought increased clarity for those who needed it.
In future posts, I’ll share some of my current favorite pieces in various areas of my wardrobe and highlight why they work so well for me. I’ll also continue to write about my adventures in honing my style and paring down my wardrobe, among other topics.
I’d love to read about what you learned from these last three posts. Some of you already shared about your style evolution in the comments section of the last two posts, but I welcome additional insights now from anyone who wants to chime in. Here are a few more questions for you to answer if you’d like:
- How has the past year of lockdowns, quarantine, and working from home affected your style, if at all?
- How do you envision your wardrobe and style in a post-pandemic world (which I hope is coming soon)?
- Are you feeling the desire to dress up more now – or less?
- Has your color palette shifted recently? What about the silhouettes you like to wear?
As always, I look forward to reading your thoughts. Have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll be back soon with another post for you.