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

Half of these garments could be classified as “out-and-about” pieces, while the other half were bought to be worn at home or while exercising. I still have many of these items in my possession, but I managed to sell four of them, and I’m hoping to sell two others soon. I haven’t decided what to do with the remaining items, but I definitely wouldn’t purchase any of them again today if I were faced with that option. It’s highly likely that most will be gone before the end of the year, but I might try to wear a couple of them in different ways than originally intended (i.e., for sleep).

Digging a Bit Deeper…

Let’s look at some of the other characteristics of my mistake items, as they may hold clues as to why they didn’t work for me and what I might want to avoid in the future.

Where They Were Purchased

  • 3 items were purchased at an in-person retail store (White House Black Market, J. Jill, and Athleta – all places where I’ve successfully shopped multiple times in the past).

2020 shopping mistakes: bought at retail store

  • 6 items were purchased from an online retailer (Cabi, Lands’ End, Gap, Nordstrom, and Old Navy – I regularly buy from all of these retailers except for Lands’ End).

2020 shopping mistakes: bought online

  • 3 items were resale purchases (1 in person, 1 on Poshmark, and 1 on eBay).

2020 shopping mistakes: resale purchases

Price Points

With the exception of one item (the black Cabi Maestro jacket), all of my mistake purchases were low-priced and many of them were on sale. I don’t think I paid more than $40 for any of these pieces, and several of them were under $20. As many of us know, sales shopping can be either a blessing or a curse. If we take advantage of a sale in order to buy something that we truly need, that’s great, but much of the time, we’re buying things simply because they’re on sale.

An item is only a “bargain” if we end up wearing it regularly. Otherwise, we may end up passing on those “It only cost…” garments with their tags still attached, especially if they were purchased “final sale” or if their return deadline has passed. I’ll delve more into the issue of sales shopping later on in this post.

Reasons for Letting Things Go

I’ll address my specific reasons for letting each item go shortly, but I thought it would be interesting to present a general breakdown first:

  • 3 of the items had color-related issues.

2020 shopping mistakes: color-related issues

  • 4 garments had fit issues.

2020 shopping mistakes: fit-related issues

  • 3 pieces weren’t flattering on my particular shape.

2020 shopping mistakes: figure-flattery issues

  • 2 items were purged for other reasons (a style that I decided to try but ultimately didn’t like; not being able to remove laundry detergent odor from a resale purchase).

2020 shopping mistakes: other issues

The Specific Items

Now I’ll review each of my mistake purchases one by one and state my reasons for passing them on. So that you don’t have to scroll back up to the top to see all of the garments in question, I’ll picture them in groups of three as I review them.

Items 1 – 3

2020 shopping mistakes: items-1-3

  • Black Cabi Maestro Jacket – For the past few years, I’ve attended Cabi shows at a friend’s house twice a year, but the shows turned virtual last year because of Covid. This jacket was actually a replacement for another item I had originally ordered that didn’t work out. I loved the idea of this jacket, but in reality, the sleeves were a bit too short and the fit was somewhat off. I should have returned it, but I was embarrassed to have to “bother” the sales rep again (Cabi is a direct sales brand that customers purchase through individual “stylists” – returns are also processed through those reps). I thought that maybe I could make it work, but when I fully realized that wasn’t going to happen, the return deadline (only 30 days) had passed. Fortunately, I was able to recoup about half of my losses by selling this jacket on eBay, but it was still an expensive mistake!
  • Black Lands’ End Cropped Pants – I ordered these pants to wear for walks on warmer days (I don’t wear shorts due to the varicose and spider veins on my legs). I didn’t have much experience with Lands’ End, but after learning that they carry tall sizes, I decided to order a few things. These pants were the only item that I kept, and I should have returned them with the rest of the stuff. I seem to be in between sizes at Lands’ End, plus the pants weren’t all that flattering on my bottom-heavy body. I still have them in my “holding zone,” but I’ll probably pass them on during my next review of those items, which I plan to do within the next month or so.
  • Black Print Chico’s Kimono – I bought this piece during my last visit to an in-person consignment store prior to the pandemic. I loved the colors and thought that maybe I might want to branch out from my usual cardigans to try something new. Unfortunately, kimonos just don’t look good on me and they don’t feel true to my style (perhaps too boho?). I felt matronly in this item and always ended up choosing something else to wear instead. I sold the kimono on eBay for at least as much as I paid for it, but of course that doesn’t include the time I spent on making that sale happen.

Items 4 – 6

2020 shopping mistakes: items 4-6

  • Black and White Striped Cabi Sporty Jacket – I took a chance and bought this jacket on Poshmark early on in the pandemic. I actually loved the jacket and it fit me well, but despite the fact that it was listed as “new without tags,” it still arrived smelling strongly of either laundry detergent or Febreze. I’m not sure if it wasn’t actually new or if it was perhaps stored in a box with recently laundered items. I should have opened a case with Poshmark to try to return the jacket, but I’m too much of a “people-pleaser” to do something like that. I tried to remove the odor through various means, but nothing worked (I’m very sensitive to fragrances). I resold the jacket on eBay for about the same price as I paid for it, but I went through a lot of hassle in the process, and I was sad not to be able to wear an item that I loved in all respects other than the scent. Since this unfortunate situation, I’ve only purchased shoes and accessories (jewelry, sunglasses) on resale sites. Used clothes are just too risky for me for me to buy unless I’m doing it in person.
  • White Snakeskin Print WHBM Cardigan – This was another pre-pandemic purchase that was great in almost all respects. It fit me well, the material was soft, and I liked the snakeskin print. However, the pale color really washed me out. I kind of realized that at the time of purchase, but I thought that wearing a bright color under the cardigan would help to mitigate the fact that white isn’t my best shade (I really only wear it in prints that are dominated by another color). But since it’s a larger piece and anything underneath it didn’t show up all that well, that strategy didn’t work. I missed the return window during the whole pandemic chaos, but I sold the cardigan “new with tags” for a decent price on Poshmark (not as much as I paid for it, but not bad).
  • Burgundy J. Jill Wearever Cardigan – Like the WHBM cardigan, I bought this one about a month before the pandemic lockdowns began. It was on sale for a relatively low price and I liked the color, but I failed to recognize that the deep side slits weren’t flattering on me. I guess a lot of women must like those side slits, as I see them on so many garments these days. Maybe they work well on “apple-shaped” bodies (not that any of us should be likened to types of fruit!), but I think they make my already curvy hips look larger. I considered having the side slits sewn shut, but I thought the cardigan might then be too tight at the bottom. This cardigan has been listed on both Poshmark and eBay for months, with little interest. I don’t think J. Jill is a brand that sells well on the resale sites, as I have another J. Jill item listed that also isn’t moving. I may just end up donating the cardigan, as I plan to stop all of my online clothing sales at the end of the year (I’ll do an update on that soon – my last one is here).

Items 7 – 9

2020 shopping mistakes: items 7-9

  • Fuchsia and Pink Striped Gap Tee – I bought this tee on sale because I loved the colors and the price was low. My size was not available, so I purchased the next size up, which was of course too large. I should have returned the tee to the store, but I neglected to do so within the return window. I’m usually quite diligent about doing my returns, but last year was a different year in so many respects. I thought that maybe I might wear this too-large tee for workouts or sleep, but I haven’t done so. I usually prefer more fitted tops for exercising, and I like to wear even looser-fitting garments to bed for the sake of comfort. This top is in the in-between zone, so I’m probably just going to pass it on.
  • Gray and Tan Striped Cabi Asymmetrical Tee – I remembered trying this top on at one of the Cabi parties that I attended a couple of years ago. I thought that I had liked it, so when I saw a “new with tags” version available on eBay for a low price, I purchased it. Unfortunately, however, neither the colors nor the fit work well for me. I look washed out in this top and although I like asymmetry, this particular type of asymmetry isn’t flattering on my figure, as the shorter side hits right at my hips. Perhaps I was thinking of another top from a Cabi party? I’m going to list this top for sale shortly.
  • Lavender and White Tie-Dye Caslon Tee – This was the third tie-dye Caslon top that I purchased last year. The first two (navy and light blue) have been “winners” for me in my at-home wardrobe, but the fabric on this top isn’t as soft. I’m not sure why this is the case, as the fabric composition is exactly the same on the garment tags. I still have this tee and have worn it a few times, but I only really reach for it out of guilt, rather than because I truly want to wear it. I like the color and the print, but I prefer that my at-home tops are softer and more pliable. I should have returned the tee when I noticed the fabric discrepancy, but I neglected to do so, so this was a mistake purchase that will likely be donated soon.

Items 10 – 12

2020 shopping mistakes: items 10-12

  • Light Gray Marled Old Navy Fleece Joggers – This was another instance of purchasing an additional color of a pre-existing wardrobe workhorse item. I also own black and black space-dye versions of these joggers, which I wear at home during the cool weather season. I don’t typically wear lighter-colored bottoms, but these joggers are so comfortable and inexpensive that I decided to give the pale gray version a try. I actually don’t mind the light color in this instance, but the pockets on these joggers are outlined with a darker color thread, which I feel draws too much attention to my hips. I wish I would have pinpointed this issue before wearing the pants, but unfortunately I didn’t. I may still wear them with longer tops, as they’re soft and cozy, but if I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t have purchased these pants.
  • Olive Athleta Metropolis Joggers – My reason for buying these pants can be encapsulated in two words: sales goggles. I found them on sale for a very low price shortly after stores opened up to shoppers once again last summer. I didn’t own any olive bottoms and I like the jogger silhouette, mostly for at-home wear. These joggers, however, are not a tall size, so they’re much shorter on me than on the model. I thought I might enjoy wearing them with wedge sandals for casual out-and-about activities, but I didn’t end up liking that look. Also, the fabric is a bit stiff and not very breathable in warmer weather. If the fit and length on me was similar to what’s shown above, I’d wear the pants at home and on walks, but they’re a “miss” because they’re just too short and aren’t very flattering.
  • Red and Black Plaid Old Navy Fleece Top – I purchased this top last fall to wear at home. I loved the colors and the buffalo plaid print, and the fabric was very soft and comfortable. However, there were two issues with the top that made me not want to wear it again after its initial wearing. The large plaid pattern is unflattering in the bust area because of where the individual squares/stripes hit. I’m not super large-chested, but I don’t wear my most supportive bras at home (I eschew underwires for at-home wear). Even with my best bras, however, I didn’t like the way the top looked across my chest. Additionally, the curved hem hit me in an unflattering spot in the hip area. I prefer straight hems over curved ones, as I feel they’re more flattering with my wider hips. For some reason, almost all of Old Navy’s tops have curved hems. I would think it’s easier and cheaper to construct a straight hem, but perhaps I’m wrong. Either that or I’m in the minority about not liking curved hems (and side slits, too, as both features are extremely common these days). I’ve already purged this top from my wardrobe. It wasn’t expensive by any means, but it was still a mistake!

Lessons Learned from 2020 Mistake Purchases

In reading through my descriptions above, you may have identified a few repeating themes. I was aware of what some of my most common mistakes were before I sat down to write this post, but I’ve gained even more insights through this process. Fortunately, I’ve already stopped making most of the buying mistakes that I made last year, many of which I feel pretty stupid about today (but I can probably chalk at least some of it up to the pandemic and the related craziness). I’m going to encapsulate my lessons learned here to further inoculate myself from repeat errors – and perhaps help you to shop smarter as well.

1) I need to trust my instincts!

I usually have a good sense about whether or not an item works when I first try it on. If I find myself trying to convince myself to keep something, I should either not buy it or return it in the case of an online purchase. Blogger Derek Sivers has a rule that could be applied to this situation: “If you’re not saying ‘Hell Yeah!’ about something, say no.” Although he used this rule when considering personal commitments, I find that it works well with shopping as well. If I don’t feel confident and happy about a new purchase, I should return it!

2) Not wanting to deal with the hassle or embarrassment of a return is not a good reason to keep something.

I kept the Cabi jackets because I didn’t want to deal with facing the salesperson for a second return or initiating a potentially contentious Poshmark case. But my embarrassment ended up costing me a lot of money, as neither jacket worked out for me despite my telling myself that I could find a way to turn a miss into a hit. Yes, it would have been slightly uncomfortable to have to return a jacket that was already a replacement for something else, but as long as I was gracious and appreciative, it would have been fine. Likewise, I was well within my rights to return a jacket that was supposedly new but reeked of laundry detergent. Being too much of a people-pleaser not only cost me money, but it also had me feeling remorseful and resentful.

3) Don’t buy resale clothing items online.

More often than not, said pieces have arrived smelling strongly of laundry detergent, Febreze, or perfume, which is a big problem for me. Although I’ve sometimes been able to remove the offending odors, it’s a major hassle and it isn’t worth the stress and the trouble. Buying used clothing in person can work, as I’m able to identify any odor issues on the spot, but I’m going to stay away from making such purchases online. I can still buy shoes and accessories on Poshmark or eBay, but even “new with tags” clothing purchases on such sites are too risky for me with my fragrance sensitivities.

4) Don’t buy items that almost work, no matter how low the price may be.

Many of the mistakes outlined in today’s post fit into this category. They ticked almost all of the boxes, but they failed to meet one or more of my most important criteria, whether it be color, fabric, fit, or styling details. In reviewing all twelve of the ill-advised purchases I wrote about here, virtually all of them could have been avoided had I adhered to this simple rule. Even if I love most everything about a piece, I’m not going to wear it if the color washes me out or if the side slits or curved hem accentuate my hips, so I need to either leave it in the store or return it post haste!

5) Beware of “sales goggles”!

A good adage to remember is not to buy anything on sale that we wouldn’t be willing to pay full price for. Sales can be a wonderful way to save money when buying items that we need and/or love. But they’re risky because far too many of us are willing to compromise our standards for a lower price. I did just that with many of the pieces pictured above, and I regret it. Something may cost “only $10,” but if we don’t end up wearing the item, we wasted that $10! Using “the power pause” can also go a long way toward helping us to avoid making ill-advised “sales goggles” purchases.

6) Be careful with “multiples.”

It can be difficult to find pieces that we love, so it can make sense to try to duplicate our success by buying a second – or third – color in a given style. But in many instances, we end up only wearing the first item. Among my 2020 shopping mistakes, there were two cases of buying an item in a third color: the Caslon tie-dye tees and the Old Navy joggers. I used to have a rule to only buy an item in two colors, and I still think that’s a good guideline to follow.

When purchasing a duplicate, it’s a good idea to wait and make sure that the original item wears and washes well. I have come to find out that the Old Navy joggers have a tendency to pill, and the Caslon tees stretch out and lose their shape easily. When one has just a single item with an issue, that’s a bummer, but the problem is compounded when multiples were purchased. We’re often afraid of missing out (that old FOMO…)  if we don’t jump on buying multiples right away, but we can also lose out when we purchase things that have issues or that don’t end up being worn as often as we thought they’d be.

Conclusion

I learned a great deal through taking the time to analyze my 2020 mistake purchases, and I hope you also found this post interesting and informative. Although the shopping mistakes that you make may be very different from mine, sometimes reading about others’ foibles can help to clue us in on our own. While it’s a bit embarrassing for me to share that I’ve continued to make purchasing errors even after blogging about my wardrobe for many years, it’s worth doing so if it provides you with a few “aha moments.”

I’m no longer buying resale clothing online, and I’m making sure to pay closer attention to important details that can make or break a garment. I’m also being more mindful about both colors and fabric. The problems of “sales goggles” and buying “almost items” are proving more challenging to overcome, but writing this post has boosted my resolve to uphold my standards regardless of price. I also need to remember that less can be more when it comes to our wardrobes. It’s far better to have fewer items in our closets that all work well for us than to have a large wardrobe filled with lots of things that we merely settled for. Now, I’m probably going to have to come back and read this post every few months to remind myself of my own wise words!

Your Thoughts?

Now I’d love for you to weigh in on your own mistake purchases, either recent or from a while back. Here are a few questions to help you gather your thoughts:

  • What types of shopping mistakes do you typically make?
  • What items do you wish you never would have bought?
  • Are there any rules that you adhere to when shopping that help you to avoid purchasing errors?
  • What words of wisdom can you share with me and your fellow readers?

I invite you to share the good, the bad, and the ugly here. You’re among friends (and you can always be anonymous if desired), and I don’t think there’s even one of us who has never made a purchasing error. It happens to all of us, even the most careful and seasoned shoppers. But perhaps we can help each other to make fewer mistakes by offering our tips and tricks here.

18 thoughts on “Analyzing My 2020 Shopping Mistakes

  1. Dori says:

    I’m looking at what I bought this year and have already given away. I bought only second-hand and let’s say that the price made it easier to buy some pieces. I had several pieces that I thought I can make work, but in the end I donated them. I have a list of things I know to look at, things to avoid but still I learn I can make mistakes. Sounds like a trueism, but the less I buy the less mistakes I make.
    May I ask if you donated something bought in 2021?

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Low prices can definitely make us lower our standards, Dori. It happens to most of us, at least occasionally! I just looked to see if I donated anything that I purchased in 2021. I haven’t dropped these things off for donation yet, but I did put four tops in the donation bag! They were ALL purchased for low prices (at Costco, Gap, and Old Navy), and one was a duplicate of another top I already owned. I’m glad I wrote this post because hopefully I will finally learn to be a lot more careful of those “sales goggles”!

  2. Murphy says:

    Most of my shopping mistakes are because I settled for something not quite right because I needed or wanted something new. Then I force myself to wear it and”make it work” which makes returns impossible. I have been doing better overall, but I just discovered some holes in my wardrobe and can’t find anything I like to fill them right away. So I’m glad to read this as a reminder that something great will come along if I can just wait a little bit longer.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, Murphy, “settling” can be a big problem! We need to learn to be more patient and to be willing to leave a store or the mall (or an online site) empty-handed. I think the “hell yeah or no” rule can be very helpful in this regard, and it should be implemented regardless of price. Fingers crossed that we will continue to improve! You’re right that something that truly meets our needs will eventually come along, but sometimes a lot of patience is required.

  3. This was a fascinating and educational essay, Debbie. Thanks for doing this deep-dive into your purchasing mistakes. Many points resonated with me.

    Looking at my purchasing mistakes in 2020, I am seeing:
    -I don’t like turtlenecks/mock turtlenecks, nor do I like acrylic sweaters, and stark black and white patterned sweaters don’t suit me, so why did I think ordering a black and white striped turtleneck acrylic sweater was a good idea?
    -I don’t like cropped tops, and I am sensitive about having something too tight around my wrists, so why did I order not one but TWO blouses that are cropped and have elastic in both the wrists and the waist?
    Yep, sales googles. Loft sale with items for $8 apiece that weren’t worth paying shipping to return that I wore once and will never wear again.

    I also got desperate for new bras so I ordered some online in a new size, which is a VERY risky proposition, right? About half of them actually worked out. The others weren’t very good. But I didn’t want to have to pay return shipping, so I procrastinated until the return window passed. And now I have 3 bras in a box that I don’t wear.

    I also know that I have to be careful with how t-shirts/knit tops are cut because there are certain cuts that even if I size up so that it’s boxy and big everywhere else, the fabric pulls across the bust…which I hate. Then there are the tops that are too tight over the tummy, which I also hate. I do better if it’s more fitted on the shoulder then has a flow-y quality in the body. Unlike the dumb purchases described above, which were clearly inappropriate looking at them online, this kind of fit issue isn’t necessarily obvious before you try it on, even if you read all the comments, etc. I can tell when I try it on, but I have kept a few over the last couple years that had one of these fit issues because I like or feel that I need the color or I convinced myself it was “good enough” because I didn’t want to pay return shipping. I have been wearing these tops occasionally, but I’m not happy with them. Most of them have been relegated to sleepwear, but I wear them as a last resort because I prefer an overall oversized fit for sleeping.

    So yeah, I’m weird about shipping costs! I really need to factor shipping costs into the purchase decision better! If it’s a store where I know I’ll have to pay to ship something back if it doesn’t work out, that means that the item needs to really check every single box and to be unique/rare enough that I wouldn’t be better off ordering something similar from a store that has free returns or that I can return nearby in-store (well, in non-pandemic times; I’m not going into stores right now so it needs to be free return shipping). That’s a very high threshold, but I need to make a potential purchase hit that high threshold!

    As an aside, I LOVE a curve hem top! It’s a flattering look for me. I will definitely wear straight hem ones also, but I do like the curved ones. But it’s good when we can recognize an element in clothing that immediately puts it on the NOPE list. I should have done that with those ridiculous Loft sale purchases. The more we can identify features that rule something out for us, the easier it is to navigate the huge array of options out there. I think those of us who wear less-common sizes (tall, petite, plus) can have the sense that our options are already so limited compared to what’s available in “regular” sizes and thus sometimes fall prey to a desire to not want to reduce our options too much further. (Of course, this can be true of anyone no matter what size they wear!) I know that as a plus-size 2X-3X woman who used to wear a size M that I sometimes feel like just finding something in my size that I like the look of is as good as I can really ask for. And the sense of scarcity can give me a FOMO that leads to purchasing too many merely-OK things. But that’s silly…we all deserve clothing that fits us well, is comfortable, looks great, and makes us happy to wear. Why should I reward a company who isn’t making clothing that does that for me? Especially since I already have clothing!

    1. Margarita Garcia-Otero says:

      Hi Sally, I know that Isaac Mizrahi and some other brands on QVC have curved hem bottoms. I used to get a bra fitting at Nordstrom every few years. I recently discovered Rhonda Shear Invisible Bra with Lift on HSN – hard to find different colors now though. She has a new Sweetheart neckline bra that I haven’t tried yet on HSN. I saw the Bali EasyLite Smooth Comfort Wirefree bra on QVC and ended up finding them in Kohls and on Amazon. I have tried them on in Kohls but I might try to order a S and XS on Amazon because Kohl’s doesn’t carry XS. I just wash my bras in the sink with Woolite and hang to dry. I have issues with shipping charges too. Regards,
      Maggie

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      Sally, Thanks so much for sharing so openly about your 2020 purchasing mistakes. I’m glad that many of my points resonated with you, and I can say the same about what you shared here. I like how specific you are about what doesn’t work for you. That will serve you well with your future shopping. I’m going to do a “do’s and don’ts” post soon, which will be a revisit of something I wrote about years back. I’m not going to look at the old article before I write the new one, as I want to see how much has changed with my clothing and style purchases since then.

      I get it about not wanting to pay shipping to return things! I’ve also fallen prey to buying things that were “final sale,” including one tee that I purchased earlier THIS year. I also relate to what you wrote about not being able to discern fit issues when shopping online, even when there are lots of reviews. I’ve found that the reviews often contradict each other, probably because we’re all shaped so differently. When I write reviews, I try to be specific about my shape and fit challenges in order to be more helpful to others.

      It’s good that you like curved hem tops, as there are many out there! Judging from what you wrote, you and I seem to be shaped very differently, which may point to why you like that style and I don’t. Yes, those of us in the trickier to fit categories are more challenged with shopping, especially online. My mom is in the same size category as you are, and her online purchases don’t tend to work all that well (and in store can be tricky as well).

      Thanks, Maggie, for sharing your tips with Sally. It’s great when we can help each other with challenging items. Sometimes we don’t think of certain retailers (for example, I never shop on QVC or at Kohl’s), but those just might be the place where we’ll find our “white whale” items!

      1. Maggie says:

        Thanks Debbie 🙂
        I know that Diane Gilman just launched a new jegging on HSN – infinity stretch tri-fit stretch in bootcut and skinny (Petite/ Regular/Tall) for around $54. I have 5 pairs of her bootcut jeggings in petite from 5 years ago (bought on sale) and they are still keeping their shape and color as long as I don’t dry them on hot or they will shrink. She also has a trouser cut but it has faux buttons on the front and I dpn’t know if I will like that. style. Pants are so hard for me to fit that am willing to pay more to fill a need. (I do think that HSN now has extended returns for the holiday season – beyond the normal 30 days. I also use the Easy Pay option so I am not billed for the full amount the first month.) I will keep you all posted.

        FYI – I have tried on the Bali bra at Kohls in Small and Medium and I did like the feel and fit. (There are more colors and sizes on Amazon.)

        I will keep you all posted.

  4. GingerR says:

    Analysis of wardrobe mistakes is one of my favorite areas — although favorite probably isn’t the right word.
    One thing that I keep track of is where/when I bought something. After a string of fails from Kohl’s and Zara I don’t even go into the store.
    I’ve had some winners from H&M, mostly in the sweater category, so I don’t buy pants or dresses there b/c my giveaway pile has had too many of them.
    Anthropology is a store that vexes me. I love their look and their store. But there prices are highish for the quality and when I look back at things I’ve purchased there they haven’t gotten a lot of wear. These days if I break down and go in I look at the clothing, but buy marked down housewears. Who doesn’t have a place in their heart of ceramic measuring spoons and fancy dishtowels are such a great thing to gift.

    Looking at your fails I think Cabi and you need to take a break. You had losers from that brand in both the new and resale category. Clearly it appeals to you, but seems to let you down.
    Overall I think you did pretty well in 2020. For me it was a year of online shopping and it’s hard to have hits when you don’t have a chance to try before you buy.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Great tip to keep track of where the mistake items were purchased, Ginger. I need to be more systematic with tracking my mistakes, or at least I should re-read the blog posts I do on this topic. It’s definitely true that some types of items may work for us at a particular retailer, whereas we don’t do well with other types of items there. Case in point for me… I’ve had success with pants and jackets at Athleta, but their tops are almost always too boxy for my preferences. I think you’re right about Cabi. While I have some items that I love from that brand, I’ve also had a lot of fails. Fortunately, the resale market for Cabi seems to be good, so I was able to recoup SOME of my losses, but I definitely need to be careful with Cabi, if not avoid it altogether. I think I have a better sense now of which types of Cabi items work for me (sleeveless tops, long cardigans, sometimes dresses), so I doubt I would still make as many mistakes, but you’re right that this brand tends to let me down. You’re also very right that it’s much harder to have hits when we’re shopping online. I think I return 2/3 to 3/4 of the items I order online. I return in person if possible to minimize the environmental impact (I live about a mile from a big mall), but I know it’s still pretty bad!

  5. Amber says:

    I didn’t buy much of anything in 2020 since I was at home so much. A couple bras that were just replicas of ones I already had and needed replacing and a pair of brown leather ankle boots that I have worn well over 30 times. I think it was my lowest clothing purchase year of perhaps my entire life!

    Now that I am leaving the house again, I am having these intense urges to BUY ALL THE CLOTHES, but I am trying to be very mindful and sustainable about it and go very slowly. No fast fashion, no impulse buys. I recently removed everything from my closet to get a feel for what I actually wear most often, what I don’t (and why) and if there actually are any holes that need filling in my wardrobe. Your post was helpful to remind me of mistakes to avoid this coming year as I slowly add a few things I need.

    Also, I “got my colors done” recently and wow, that was incredibly eye opening. Most of those clothes that I love in theory but never wear? They are all the wrong colors for me. My favorite clothes that I wear on repeat? All my best colors. I “knew” my colors intuitively but now that it was confirmed by a color worker I am confident and it is helping me make better purchase decisions. No color mistake purchases anymore at least! Plus, now that I know what palette really works for me everything works together so seamlessly.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      It sounds like your 2020 shopping was very good and practical, Amber. Good for you for wearing the new boots over 30 times already! It’s understandable that you’d want to buy a lot this year after hardly shopping at all in 2020. I’m glad my post helped you to be aware of some potential “danger zones” to avoid when shopping. I’m glad that getting your colors done was such an eye-opening experience. It helps a lot to be able to just avoid a lot of colors when shopping, as we know they won’t suit us (of course, I still bought that one Cabi top, so I don’t always heed the good advice!). Good luck with finding what you need this year and avoiding overshopping.

  6. Jelena says:

    Thanks for another very interesting and informative post.
    I was pretty happy with my style and purchases recently, but I usually make mistakes when I want to try something different.
    I’ve bought a pair of blush pants, but I don’t like how they fit now. I’m not sure why I bought them in the first place as I had nowhere to wear them. They probably didn’t fit me all that well when I bought them, as I’d find an excuse to wear them.
    I love dark colours and most of my mistakes were related to lighter coloured items, mostly for warmer weather. I’ve also bought a couple of light, nude-ish shoes I’ve hardly worn.
    I’ve recently bought a tunic/pants set in black. I was very happy with the pants. However, the long tunic has slits and I wasn’t comfortable wearing it as a dress. I’m going to sew them in a little, so I could wear it as a dress or over pants.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      You made an excellent point, Jelena. I think a lot of us make mistakes when we try to step out and try something new. That’s definitely true for me, as is evidenced by a few of the items showcased in this post – kimono, olive joggers, a few of the colors). Sometimes I think I have too many black and dark-colored items, but when I buy lighter or brighter colors, they tend to be mistakes (especially with pants, as you also found). So, then I think that maybe I should just stick with what works and if I want to “step out,” maybe do it with different textures or silhouettes. It’s hard to avoid ALL mistakes, but when we explore our past ones, we can learn what NOT to do next time. Good luck with the tunic. I hope that sewing the slits shut will help you to be able to wear it.

  7. Jo says:

    Hi Debbie,

    Over two nights during Labor Day weekend I went through my closet and bagged up a lot of donations. I gave away 75 pieces of clothing and 3 pairs of shoes. Many of the clothing items had served me well for many years and I definitely got my money’s worth. What’s puzzling is why I felt the need to keep them for 10+ years when I had many newer and size-appropriate options to choose from.

    Many tops I donated were purchased in 2020. I was used to shopping and dressing for the office and for church, not for WFH. I thought I needed new cute tops for all the Zoom/Teams calls. While some of the tops worked and I felt good in them, others were simply mistakes, impulse buys or both. It’s been almost two weeks since I dropped off all those bags of donations and haven’t regretted giving away a single piece.

    The closet-cleaning exercise taught me that I have appropriate clothes for just about any occasion. In July and August I bought a few new tops and cotton shirts for late summer/early fall. I have worn several of them and like them. No mistakes so far. My purchases were from Talbots, Anthropologie and Soft Surroundings. What I need to work on is my desire to buy new pieces regularly. I generally order at least a couple of pieces from each monthly Talbots catalog, often more. The September catalog came in late August and I ordered a ruffled denim shirt that should arrive next week. There was a mustard yellow tweed Chanel-type jacket that caught my eye, but I don’t need it. I’ll admit it’s taken a lot for me NOT to order it, but I’m determined to stay strong! The October catalog arrived a few days ago and I am honestly not tempted by anything. That’s progress for me!

    As always, I enjoy reading your posts as well as the comments.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Great job on your closet cleanout over Labor Day weekend, Jo! Getting rid of 75 items of clothing is a big deal. I think it’s hard for a lot of people to let go of things, even when they’re not serving us. This can be due to the “sunk cost theory” or feelings of “just in case” (or other reasons). Yay for not regretting any of your castoffs, and for realizing that you have appropriate clothes for just about any occasion. That’s a very good feeling to have. I know what you mean about continuing to desire new pieces even when we don’t need them. It’s hard to resist the allure of the new. The “power pause” can help with that. One reader suggested using private Pinterest boards to keep track of items we want and MIGHT buy. I’ve been doing that ever since and it has helped some. I find that often if I hold off on buying something, I realize that I don’t really need it. The fact that you didn’t even want anything from the October Talbot’s catalog shows that you’re making excellent progress – and it’s also great that you didn’t order the tweed jacket from September!

      1. Jo says:

        Hi again, Debbie,

        I was near my favorite Talbots store today and decided to stop in. I wanted to see the offerings from the October catalog in person. I left empty-handed. Not a single piece appealed to me. I even saw the yellow tweed jacket that I had been listing after. It left me disappointed, as it had metallic threads in it. In my opinion, it cheapened the look.

        I stopped at the nearby Soft Surrounds store too. I tried on a tunic top I saw in the recent catalog. It too was disappointing. I felt GREAT about coming home empty-handed. That’s a switch. In years past I would have felt let down.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks for coming back to give an update, Jo! I was inspired to read about your recent shopping experiences. Good for you for leaving two of your favorite stores empty-handed! Sometimes we ignore aspects of items that we don’t like because we want the “high” of buying something new, but those pieces can end up becoming wardrobe “benchwarmers” later. How wonderful that not only did you NOT do that, but you also felt great leaving the stores empty-handed!

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