My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

Back in May 2015, I published a post on Recovering Shopaholic about my wardrobe do’s and don’ts, the attributes of clothing, accessories, and style that did and didn’t work for me at the time. I thought it would be interesting and fun to revisit these characteristics in 2021, as a lot has changed for me since 2015. I’m six years older, I’ve transitioned to my natural gray hair color, I’ve gone through menopause, and my body is no longer as slim and firm as it used to be. Additionally, a lot of my style preferences have shifted, due to my body changes and also a gradual evolution of what I like related to my clothing. I wondered how different my do’s and don’ts lists might be today as a result of these shifts.

revisiting wardrobe do's

What makes particular clothing items your favorites?

Before I re-read my 2015 post, I took the time to jot down some notes about what I currently like and don’t like in the following key wardrobe areas:

  • Overall characteristics
  • Colors and patterns
  • Tops
  • Toppers
  • Pants
  • Skirts and dresses
  • Shoes
  • Accessories

After creating these new lists, I reviewed my previous lists to see what has changed. I was actually surprised to learn that while some shifts have taken place, a lot has also remained the same. One important thing that I noticed, however, was that I’ve gotten a lot more specific about what I want and don’t want in my garments, shoes, and accessories. Therefore, my lists are now quite a bit longer.

A Four-Part Series…

I’ve decided that instead of writing one extremely long essay about my revised wardrobe do’s and don’ts, I’m going to divide this larger topic into a four-part series:

  • In today’s post, I’ll start with the positives and cover all of the elements that I want to be present in the items that I buy and wear.
  • Part two will address the characteristics that I want to avoid when shopping for clothing and related items.
  • Part three will look at what I used to like but no longer do. When I reviewed my 2015 post, I recognized that there are actually ten such shifts that I’ve made in the past six-plus years, from colors to styles to silhouettes.
  • The final installment will look at what I previously didn’t like but have now warmed up to. As was the case with my “no longer do” features, there are also ten shifts that I’ve made in the other direction.

Each post will be illustrated with photos of clothing, shoes, and accessories from my wardrobe past and present so you can see a visual representation of what has changed in regards to my sartorial preferences.

Why Create Do’s and Don’ts Lists?

Part of why I’m writing this post is to encourage you to create your own do’s and don’ts lists.  Doing so will help you become crystal clear about what to look out for and what to steer clear of when shopping. You may think you have all of this information close at hand in your memory bank, but there is power in actually capturing it on paper or screen.

As I looked back at my 2015 lists, I realized that I had forgotten some important don’ts that might have helped me avoid shopping mistakes had they been top of mind. Since my most recent post was about 2020 shopping mistakes – and I’ve made a few in 2021 as well, I hope that revisiting what I do and don’t want in my clothing and style will aid in my quest to increase my success rate for the rest of this year and in future years.

When we shop, there are often many items that catch our eyes, including the abundance of new styles and trends that are on offer. It can be both tempting and overwhelming to shop, especially when we’re not sure exactly what we’re looking for – and what we should avoid. Getting very clear before we hit the shops or ecommerce sites can help reduce our likelihood of becoming flustered and buying pieces that ultimately won’t work for us. This clarity includes having an updated shopping priorities list (I’ll be doing an update on my list shortly) and an awareness of our wardrobe do’s and don’ts. Another list that can come in handy is a “do not buy list,” as many of us have a tendency to make a beeline for the same types of items over and over again (hello, cardigans…).

Creating these types of lists doesn’t mean that we can’t try on new styles and trends that appeal to us. However, having the lists at hand can prevent us from venturing too far afield from what we know works best for our bodies and our personal style. In some cases, it’s probably best to just enjoy particular trends on others rather than wearing them ourselves. As one example, I often like the way distressed jeans look on other women, but I’ve purchased them myself at least twice when they were trending, and I just never felt right wearing them. Those jeans were only worn once or twice before I passed them on. Needless to say, distressed jeans are part of my don’ts list now, so the next time they’re trending (which seems to be almost all the time), I’ll know that I should just say no and pass them by.

Our do’s and don’ts lists can also be helpful when clearing out our closets, as there’s no use holding on to items that feature some of our don’ts. We often try too hard to make things work simply because we spent money on them. I’ve even been known to alter items in a desperate attempt to salvage something that should have never been purchased in the first place. This 2016 post on Recovering Shopaholic highlights seven such examples, almost all of which include at least one of the characteristics on my current don’ts list.

If you have a don’ts list and review it prior to doing a closet audit, the process will likely go smoother. You’ll be less likely to hem and haw over whether or not to keep certain items when you clearly see that they include some of your deal-breaker characteristics. In fact, I’m going to do another closet audit soon when the seasons switch from summer to “not summer,” and I’ll be grateful to have my updated lists to help guide me through the process. I’m sure I’ll do a post about that wardrobe evaluation process, so stay tuned (“not summer” typically begins in November here in Southern California, but this can vary).

My Wardrobe Do’s

As I mentioned above, I’ve become a lot more specific in recent years about the characteristics I want my clothing and accessories to have. This specificity has been honed through style exploration, trial-and-error, and lessons learned from mistake purchases (as I wrote about in my last post). I’ve keyed in a lot more on the types of big and small details that can make me either love or hate an item.

We’ll get to the hate stuff in part two, but today’s focus is all about the positive. Using the categories that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I will highlight the characteristics can make a closet piece one of my favorites. I’ll also include examples from my closet in most of the sections so you can see pictures of what my wardrobe do’s look like (there are also lots of pictures of styles I like in this 2020 personal style post).

Overall Characteristics

  • Items and outfits should be in line with at least two of my style guideposts, and preferably all three: Dramatic, Polished, Elegant.
  • Quality over quantity! (I’m still working on this…)
  • I prefer streamlined, body-skimming clothing, rather than tight-fitting or baggy garments.
  • Everything needs to be long enough to accommodate my tall height, such as sleeves, hems, and waistbands on dresses.
  • In general, I prefer knits over woven garments. However, I do like wovens that incorporate some stretch for increased comfort.
  • Fabrications: natural fibers or blends, preferably those that are “breathable.”
  • I prefer minimalist styles without a lot of “bells and whistles.”
  • I mostly wear classic items, but I like to sprinkle in some trends from time to time (“trend garnish” over “trend salad,” as Jennifer Mackey-Mary of The Everyday Style School podcast would say).
  • I’m a big fan of the “long over lean” style formula and will continue to dress that way even though the trends have shifted more to wider bottoms and shorter tops and toppers.

Color and Pattern

  • Black is my key neutral, but I’ve become increasingly fond of navy as well.
  • Other colors I enjoy wearing include most cool-toned blues (cobalt continues to be a favorite), red, purple, bright pink, teal, and burgundy.
  • I prefer cool tones overall, but I’ve also started to embrace some shades of rust more recently.
  • Stripes are my signature pattern, but I also like polka dots, dark florals, watercolor prints, gray-toned leopard print, zebra print, houndstooth, some plaids (e.g., windowpane), tie-dye, and geometric prints.
  • In general, I prefer smaller and less “busy” prints, but I like the clean, bold nature of stripes most of all.

Tops

  • I like a streamlined and/or tailored fit, but I don’t like my tops to be tight. I have a narrow torso and a relatively small waist, so I like to show off that part of my body with the fit of my tops and often waist details as well.
  • Because I’m very short-waisted, I prefer to wear untucked tops.
  • I like straight hems that are either mid-hip length or end below the widest part of my hips. I also like asymmetrical hems, as long as they hit me in a flattering way and don’t overly accentuate my curvier hips. I wear to wear shorter tops (hipbone length) with skirts.
  • Necklines: V-neck, crew-neck, scoop-neck (but not too low-cut), and surplice
  • I like most sleeve lengths, with the exception of cap sleeves and elbow-length sleeves. If I wear 3/4 sleeves, they need to actually be 3/4 length and not 1/2 or 2/3 length (I have very long arms!).
wardrobe do's - tops

These are some tops in my closet that meet my wardrobe do requirements. 

Toppers

  • I love longer toppers, such as 3/4-length coats/jackets and duster-style cardigans. I also like the newer style “coatigans” that are a hybrid of a coat and a cardigan.
  • I enjoy “boyfriend blazers” that have a more casual and less corporate vibe to them.
  • With skirts and dresses, my favorite type of topper is a tie-waist style, although I’ve also started to pair duster cardigans with some of my dresses.
  • I enjoy various types of vests, from menswear-inspired styles to mid-length knits to extra-long and dramatic styles.
  • I have several puffer-style jackets/coats that I like to wear for sportier outings and occasions.
wardrobe do's - toppers

These are some of my favorite toppers, for all types of wear. 

Pants

  • My preferred silhouettes are straight and “baby boot” cuts.
  • I also prefer to wear dark-colored pants and jeans most of the time.
  • I generally wear solid-colored, plain styles, but I do have a couple pairs of black-and-white printed pants.
  • During the warmer months, I typically wear pants that are cropped 2-4 inches above my ankle bones.
  • For casual at-home wear, I like to wear slouchy fit joggers.
wardrobe do's - out-and-about pants

These are my favorite out-and-about pants and jeans. 

wardrobe do's - at-home pants

These are the types of pants I wear at home and on walks. 

Skirts and Dresses

  • I prefer dresses over skirts at this point in my style journey. I only have two skirts that that I like to wear at this point.
  • Midi-length styles are what I typically wear, with the hem hitting either just below the knee or beneath the “meatier” part of my calves. I still have a few maxi-length skirts/dresses, but I don’t think I would purchase any new full-length pieces.
  • Silhouettes: slight A-line, straight, asymmetrical, high-low, handkerchief hem.
  • I like to have some shaping and/or waist definition in my dresses, such as tie-waist details, twisting, ruching, draping, or surplice/wrap styles.
wardrobe do's - skirts and dresses

These are my current favorite skirts and dresses (almost all of the ones I own). 

Shoes

  • I like to have at least a small heel in most of my shoes, but I can’t really wear heels over 2.5 inches now. I typically stick to 5” to 2” heels.
  • Almost all of my shoes are either black or a cool-toned metallic.
  • I would also be open to shoes in my other key colors, but I like for my shoes to coordinate with my outfits rather than be a “pop” of color.
  • I enjoy having metallic details on my shoes.
  • Styles I like: ankle booties, peep-toe booties/sandals, gladiator sandals, wedge or stacked heels, cut-outs.
wardrobe do's - shoes

These are my favorite shoes – mostly black and metallic. 

Accessories

  • Long rectangular scarves in either solids or bold prints.
  • Large structured handbags, preferably in black or metallic.
  • Statement earrings, often in silver and black.
  • Silver and black bracelets.
  • Cat-eye sunglasses.
  • Necklaces: either long pendants or approximately 20” pendants. I often use necklace extenders to get the desired length for the neckline I’m wearing.
  • Metals: silver or gunmetal, often mixed with black stones.
  • Bold statement pieces.
wardrobe do's - accessories

These are some of my favorite accessories to wear: jewelry, scarves, sunglasses, bags. 

Conclusion

So, those are my lists! I’m sure I probably left something out, but I found it helpful to encapsulate all of the details of my wardrobe do’s in one place. Of course, your lists may be dramatically different from mine, as we each have our individual tastes and preferences. It’s fine that we don’t agree on our wardrobe and style likings, as the world would be pretty boring if we all dressed exactly the same.

Speaking of style, I believe that defining our personal style is much more important than following trends or looking “current.” However, these things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. If we’re clear on our own style and what we like and don’t like, we’re much more able to pick and choose from among the trends and translate them in a way that resonates with who we are and how we want to look. It’s definitely possible to stay true to ourselves while still enjoying fashion.

I hope that reading through my wardrobe do’s has gotten you to think more about what you like best in various aspects of your wardrobe and style. Back when I did my initial do’s and don’ts post in 2015, I wasn’t nearly as specific as I was today. However, as I read through the many wonderful comments that I received from readers at that time, I was alerted to many clothing characteristics that I hadn’t even considered previously. The comments were extremely helpful to me, and I’m sure other readers were also grateful to have their horizons broadened as they perused all of the feedback.

Your Thoughts?

I hope the same thing will be true with today’s post – and the rest of this series. So, I invite you to share your own wardrobe do’s in the comments section. Be as general or specific as you’d like. I think it will be fun to read your input and recognize how different we all are. What matters most, though, is that we’re each happy with our individual wardrobes and how we dress. That’s the “end game” in all of this introspection and navel-gazing!  I look forward to reading what you have to say about what works best for you in terms of what you wear, so please weigh in with your thoughts.

33 thoughts on “Revisiting Wardrobe “Do’s” Six Years Later…

  1. Jenn says:

    This is such a smart way to help avoid shopping mistakes AND make closet editing less challenging.

    I’ve been shopping increasingly more these past several weeks and am currently on day 14 of a self-imposed buying fast. I’ve added items to carts and wish lists, but not made any appearance-related purchases.

    I’m super picky about the orders I keep, but not picky enough about what I buy. Keeping track of the deliveries, the trying-on, the deciding, the packaging of returns, the monitoring of my refunds and very complicated credit card statement—what a time suck!

    I am finding myself more productive and gaining clarity with every passing day.

    I have made notes regarding my preferences at several points throughout the years, but now is a good time to more thoroughly address and organize them for future purchases and closet edits.

    As always, thank you for sharing and for inspiring me!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Good for you for doing the self-imposed buying fast, Jenn! How long are you planning to keep it going? Taking a pause can help us to get more in touch with what we really need, as there are always so many things to WANT (and many of them won’t end up serving us well). I’m often not picky enough about what I buy, either, especially since the start of the pandemic. I find that I’m buying things to try them on, and I end up returning SO much! There’s only so much we can discern about an item online, and I prefer to shop in person when I can (but so often have to buy tall sizes, which makes it trickier). That’s so great that you’re gaining clarity and becoming more productive! Good luck with putting together your do’s and don’ts lists. I hope you’ll share what you came up with in the comments of a future post.

      1. Jenn says:

        Debbie, my no-buy will last a total of 30 days. I’m on day 16. As for my preferences: I like a streamlined, figure-skimming fit, shorter tops to wear untucked due to my short-waist. For prints, I like stripes best, and Ikat, only subtle (and tiny) animal print–like snow leopard. I like a moderate scoop neck best, and mock and cowl-necks. Love a short ruffle collar, but only under a sweater. I rarely tuck a shirt in. I love denim jackets, lounge toppers with pockets, soft knit pants/joggers for walks and around the house In pants, I prefer a slim fit or boot-cut (with no or minimal distressing). I need my pants to give me shape–otherwise I appear too straight. I like dresses that hit me at my (high) waist, or skim the waist area. I love fringe, a kiss-lock or gathering on a handbag and minimal metal. I like my overall appearance to be (subtly) feminine and (intentionally) effortless, with a playful twist. I admire a lot of what is described as French or Parisian Style, though I usually dress as a very relaxed version of that! I’m going to be checking out Terra’s blog!

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks for coming back to share about your preferences, Jenn. It seems like you have a lot of clarity about what works best for you. We have some similarities in terms of our “do’s,” but also some important differences. I like how specific you are about many of the characteristics you look for.

          Good luck with the rest of your 30-day no-buy period. I often find that I get increased clarity about what I truly need if I step back from shopping for a period of time. I probably need to follow your lead here!

  2. Amber says:

    Very inspiring to list it all out like this by clothing category. My style guideposts are Artistic, Bold & Clean. (Bold = dramatic and clean = minimal. I liked those words better, and my guideposts spell ABC so it’s easy to remember.) I know what colors I prefer (same cool tones list as yours but add a specific bright kelly/grass green that I love) and I know my fabrication preferences (knits & natural materials like cotton, hemp and linen). All the rest I “know” but have never written it out so here goes… Solid colors almost exclusively, with an acceptance of black and white stripes on tee shirts. No other patterns! I like long sleeves, cap sleeves or tank tops – all with elongated torsos. Cardigans and sweaters and jackets all elongated and body skimming. Jeans are fitted above the knee boot or flare or skinny, the darker the better. Body skimming (but not tight) maxi or midi tank or long sleeved dresses and I rarely wear skirts anymore for some reason. I have TONS of skirts, why am I not liking these anymore? Hmmm. I prefer artistic/unique shoes and like them to be bold, especially red. Small 1-2” heels on knee high boots, 2” heel on ankle boots or flat sandals or flat Mary Janes. Also could do a flat or low heel mid-calf boot. Minimal accessories or jewelry unless it’s an artistic statement piece and only one at a time. While my ears are pierced, I do not own a single pair of earrings, isn’t that funny? I wonder why.

    Very helpful, thank you for your posts, I just recently found your work and this is by far the most “real person” inspiring fashion blog I have found.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Amber! I’m so glad you found my blog and are enjoying my posts. I love your style guideposts! All three of your words were ones that I also considered before settling upon dramatic, polished, and elegant. I also considered “minimal,” but “clean” is a bit different. What matters most is what the words mean to US and how they translate into what we most like to wear and what feels most like “us.” Your list of “do’s” is very clear, and I hope that writing it all out was beneficial to you. Interesting that you also rarely wear skirts anymore. I used to wear skirts a lot more than dresses, but that has reversed in recent years. In my case, I still like skirts, but I no longer liked the ones I had so much, and I haven’t found others that I liked (and there’s also the issue of what types of tops to pair with them – dresses are just easier).

  3. NATALIE K says:

    I decided to only wear skirts over 20 years ago. I also have decided I am a true lover of classic colors. Most people would say neutrals. They aren’t boring but very sophisticated. I do include neutral colors as well, for example navy and burgundy. My neutrals are ivory, camel, chocolate brown, etc. I do like bigger pieces of jewelry, especially in the summer. I’m a fabric girl and textures matter to me in a outfit this time of year. Examples would be corduroy, suede cloth, lace, velvet, ponte knits, linen, chiffon, velvet, cashmere, leather, etc. Really good leather shoes and handbags matter to me! Good undergarments (i.e., Soma is my favorite). Good perfume and make-up! Of course creams – good skin care in general! Sunscreen 50! All these things matter in my self-care. I do buy a few brights that are me such as teal and red, but these are accents. I don’t wear really tight clothing and I prefer longer skirts. I prefer skirts over dresses because I’m short waisted and long legs even though I’m not tall No tunics on me! Love collars and Basic white button-downs! A few pin-tuck flannels to stay warm, but I dress them up. Love sparkle jewelry and antique jewelry. Thank you for all the hard work you put in here!!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      You seem to be very clear about your style, Natalie, and what you do and don’t like. I’m sure this clarity is serving you well! Thanks for sharing all of this specific information here. I didn’t think to include cosmetics and skin-care in my list, but those things are very important, too! Like you, I always use SPF 50 on my face (I need to be better about using SPF on my body, but I’m not out in the sun a whole lot). I don’t find neutrals boring, and I agree that they can be very sophisticated. I’m glad you liked this post and are enjoying my blog.

  4. Terra Trevor says:

    It’s fun watching your style (and lifestyle) evolve. Thank you for taking us along on your journey and for allowing us to peek into your closet.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      You’ve been with me since the early days of Recovering Shopaholic, Terra, and I’m grateful for your readership and friendship. I’m always happy when my wardrobe and style journey can benefit others. Great to see you commenting here – you’re always welcome to chime in 🙂

  5. Terra Trevor says:

    PS. Debbie, I’m behind due to moving, and I need to begin doing what you are doing. Thank you for the inspiration. https://earthandthegreatsea.blogspot.com/p/moderately-minimal.html

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I can see how you would be behind due to moving! Moving is a big deal. I love that you set up a page with links to your posts on minimalism. I know I’ve read some of them, but probably not all (but even the ones I’ve already read are worth revisiting). Best wishes with getting your wardrobe in order for your new climate and lifestyle!

  6. Vildy says:

    This is going to be a wonderful series of posts and looking forward to the other parts and reading reader evaluations of their own clothing aspects. On the topic of the *emotional* aspects, this dialogue between Terra Trevor and psychotherapist Martha Crawford is THE most powerful piece I’ve ever read.
    https://earthandthegreatsea.blogspot.com/2019/01/closeted-away_58.html

    1. Jenn says:

      Wow. Thank you for sharing!

      These words deeply resonated:

      “Now I understand that I was using shopping as a means to search to find myself and my identity.”

      And …”if we dwell in relationships that do not, or cannot reflect us back to ourselves accurately and with approval, we are unable to “see” ourselves with accuracy and admiration.”

    2. Terra Trevor says:

      Vildy, thank you, and also thank you for the reminder. This morning I sat down and reread this pieces with fresh eyes, as a reader this time, taking in Martha’s deep wisdom and my candid answers to her questions.

      Back in 2019 I was in a place where I finally had everything all figured out, and then the pandemic hit in 2020 and this past June, 2021, we moved into a much smaller space, and I now have a closet half the size of what I had before. I’m back to figuring it out all over again! Slowly I’m beginning to find my rhythm.

      A few years ago, on Debbie’s other blog, a reader recommended the book “Simple Isn’t Easy.” Was it you Vildy? This book greatly changed me in profound ways.

      And Debbie, again thank you, thank you dearly, for offering a platform for all of us to exchange ideas and information.

      1. Vildy says:

        I definitely owned, read, liked Simple Isn’t Easy. I found the link to your piece in the biweekly thread on YouLookFab forum, where members add links of special interest. So it will be uploaded to the front blog page either today or tomorrow under the title Link Love. So loads of people will encounter it then. Here is the link to the front page of the blog https://youlookfab.com/

    3. Debbie Roes says:

      Vildy, Thank you for linking to Terra’s wonderful post! I remember reading it years ago when she first published it (in fact, I had it bookmarked, but I have too many bookmarks and don’t look at them very often), but I think I got a lot more out of it revisiting it again today. There is SO much richness in there and so many powerful insights to reflect upon. In fact, I think I could do at least several blog posts using the themes that were discussed.

      I love the lines that Jenn quoted in her comment, especially the first one. I definitely believe that a lot of my shopping issues had to do with trying to find myself and establish an identity that felt authentic to me.

      I recently bought the book “Simple Isn’t Easy” (I think Vildy mentioned it in a comment?), but I haven’t read it yet. I always seem to have so many books and articles that I want to read, but I’m seeing this comment thread as a sign to read that book now, especially after the glowing endorsement from both Terra and Vildy.

      How great that you included Terra’s wonderful piece as part of the YLF Link Love, as that means more people will read it and benefit from it!

      Terra, best wishes with finding your rhythm again after the (ongoing) pandemic and your move. I trust that you will settle into a great place with your minimal wardrobe. Many of us could learn a lot from you for sure!

      1. Vildy says:

        Just to clarify, it wasn’t me who originally linked Terra’s piece on the member contribution thread that forms before it goes live on the blog. I read some of the links as they appear, depending on what interests me, and that’s how I discovered it. I certainly *would* have linked it had I been the first to discover it. 😀

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks for clarifying that, Vildy. I’m glad that somebody linked to Terra’s wonderful post, even if it wasn’t you. 🙂 I’m sure a lot of YLF readers will enjoy and benefit from it.

        2. NATALIE K says:

          I took the time to read all of Terra’s posts this evening. I cried my eye’ out about the writings about Jay. So touching!!

  7. Terra Trevor says:

    Vildy, I’m surprised. I didn’t know. I’m a literary writer, and I write about my wardrobe woes and my journey becoming moderately minimal for fun. I figure if I am struggling with something, maybe some of my readers are also grappling. Thank you for alerting me.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I look forward to revisiting more of your wardrobe posts, Terra. I look at it the same way… knowing that if I’m struggling with something, I’m not alone. That has been the basis for so much of my writing. At first, I worried that no one would want to read my often long-winded wardrobe exploration, but I’m glad that people do want to read it and have benefitted from it.

  8. Terra Trevor says:

    Debbie, me too! I’m nearly ready to begin writing about my new journey, downsizing from a 1600 sqft house, with a big back yard and lots of private space to a 790 sqft condo, and my new tiny closet. My NYC friends are kindly cheering me on and laughing gently, as this California Girl begins to find her way.

    Love the serendipity of how the post Martha and I wrote resurfaced now, just when I most need to revisit it. I also love reading your current series. My closet has been on hold for a while now due to the big move, and I want to get going on it.

    1. NATALIE K says:

      Terra, I learned so much reading all your post yesterday evening! I’m fascinated that you were able to cut your closet down so far. Then now you’re doing so again, I believe! I pray this goes well for you! I must admit I don’t have the desire to cut down my closet, but I am working on not buying so much. I am definitely making progress in that area. I’ve spent half as much for two months. I did allow myself to spend my allowance on other things. Books – I LOVE books! They fill me with pure joy! I don’t ever read fiction. I learn how to do things I’m curious about and I then apply that knowledge, which brings joy to my life.

      I have a son who has joined a cult. This is like a death in the family because they cut themselves off from you and all relatives. It’s NOT the same, just FEELS that they are gone!! Anyway, what I anted to ask, what was the process you used to cut your closet down? How did you decide what to include? How did your style change? You said you dress now for the cold and hot of your house. Do you mean more casual? I liked how you said if you don’t have the “right” outfit that you’ll sit down and write about your feelings, what’s going on within you. How did you stop buying clothing to add to your closet?

      Did Jay’s passing make you realize how short our time is in this world? I will not be here long due to several major illnesses…so I understand this very well. Comfort has now become much more important with my being in pain. I NEVER thought I would feel this way. But, being out with my husband is more important than my looking “perfect” or NOT being out with him! This is a completely new way of looking at things! I’m so glad you celebrate Jay by giving each other special items you don’t necessarily need but a happy item or I assume something to do together. Thank you for all your writings! You’re a great writer!!

  9. Vildy says:

    I’m not prepared yet to do a thorough – and wonderful! – audit the way you have but I did learn something today when I purged a sweater. I feel preoccupied with fabric itself and the weight of it. I had on black flared leg ponte pants – my first ever ponte pants – and a fairly neat fitting black turtleneck and wanted some more warmth so I put on a large cream colored medium heavy weight sweater with a huge oversized cowl neck, that
    I suppose could even be made to sit around the shoulders. And I hated it.

    I know this is supposed to be about the positives but the best way for me to get there is to backdoor it. I noticed that I had sewed a center seam
    down the back and front and I suppose that might have improved things for me but I have lost a lot of weight. I liked the brand – Loft – and I liked
    the cream color. I checked what it was made of and right away saw a problem. Cotton-rich and therefore tending to a droopiness – unless it is one
    of those stiff heavy cotton summer sweaters that provide structure where and how I don’t want it, so they almost feel abrasive. I realized I am
    always seduced by advertisements or influencers where the creamy clothes look so sculpted. Sculpted, I really like. Amorphousness, no. I have
    a slim fit J Crew sweater coat that is heavily ribbed and so, in its way, is more body con. This sweater I am purging almost has a horizontal rib
    structure, more detectable in the raglan sleeves.

    When I took the sweater off, I reached for a longish boyfriend cut soft blazer in a brushed black and cream plaid and I felt my whole body relax.
    Though I certainly have plenty of sweaters and knits, I realize I am much fussier about their details. Wovens are so much easier for me. This
    explains why I continually am drawn to blazers and jackets of every sort. I have maybe one or two duster length cardigans and both of them
    are thin knits and not “full” in any way. They don’t get in my way. Most of the shorter cardigans I have, I wear as blouses/shirts, a first layer.
    The cardigans I have that are too low cut to wear alone, I wear over even thinner layers and the cardigans are thin as well. I wear them open
    and somewhat bodycon, indicating the outlines of my body. If I have thicker cardigans, then they are very structured and I wear them as little jackets. I guess I press everything into service as jackets as often as I can.

    I’m also going to get rid of a smoky charcoal blue thick open work cardigan that’s formed into half a circle. Though I like the color and the
    soft chenille touch to it and it theoretically can embrace my shape, somehow it has too much drag or movement. When I put it on, I wince.
    I guess I like my clothes to stay where I put them.

    I recently bought several identical sweater dresses. I’ve tried this type of garment before but find that the softness and shapelessness irk me.
    I think of a lot of the clothes I don’t like as having low energy and therefore I think of the clothes I do like as having higher energy and as more
    dynamic. These new sweater dresses are entirely different as they are somehow tailored sweaterdresses. They have a moderate vee neck and are a shapely extension of a cable knit sweater. The cables drop down and the skirt widens some so that it hangs almost in folds. Sculptural.
    It has weight. Exactly the opposite in feeling of my nemesis fabric, cotton jersey.

    I never get too far with style guideposts but lately I have felt that my style is largely explained by the phrase Classic Gone Riotous. I want
    a whole lot of structural points in easily understandable shapes but within that structural outline I am happy to have pattern mixing, bold pattern,
    strong color. I also have another descriptor that is important to me and it is something like feline. I remember a friend remarked about
    Robert Preston in The Music Man that he moved like a cat. That kind of feline. I want to suggest a kind of purposeful sinuousness, especially about the waist, but yet with strong grounded energy.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I get it about needing to “backdoor” wardrobe “do’s” but first looking at what we don’t like, Vildy. When I was trying to find my three style guideposts, I did the assignment of creating “Looks I Love” and “Looks I Loathe” Pinterest boards. I did the “Looks I Loathe” board first… But I wanted to start with the “do’s” in this series because that’s what I did in the original 2015 post. I’ll be posting the “don’ts” update soon, and hopefully you’ll weigh in more on those issues then.

      I love that you were so specific about fabric in this comment, as that can be a feature of clothing that many women overlook in favor of other characteristics like color, pattern, and silhouette. But fabric issues have ruined many of my clothes, too. I don’t like amorphous clothes or garments that lose their shape and get droopy, either.

      One really important feature of your comment is how much you pay attention to how you FEEL when you put a garment on, as well as the expressions you make. Wincing when we put something on is never a good sign!

      As a cat lover, I like your “feline” descriptor, and “Classic Gone Riotous” is very descriptive. You always paint such a wonderful picture of your wardrobe that I find myself wishing I could peer into your closet…

  10. NATALIE K says:

    Debbie, My words I have decided over a year and a half of really examining myself and what style now in my mid-fifties expresses me the best are: classic with a European twist, and feminine with glamorous details. That’s me!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Great descriptors, Natalie! I feel like I get a good sense of what you might like to wear with those descriptions. You and I are the same age, and I’ve found that my style has made some important shifts in recent years. Good for you for having a clear picture of how you like to dress!

  11. Vildy says:

    Continuing on with this valuable assignment, I found myself yesterday and today purging very low contrast items. One skirt and several blouses and a jumpsuit. The skirt was the only low contrast *light colored* one I had and it was an online purchase mistake. I had looked at many examples and thought it might be a midtone. It’s plaid and I love plaid. It’s diagonal plaid and I love that. I might have tried overdying it with a khaki but we have one of those low water washers that we hate and I don’t trust it for dying.

    So I realized that I have many low contrast items that I like
    and wear but they’re all midtone or dark. I can add a brighter or lighter contrast item with them but I don’t seem to like adding a darker or brighter item
    to the more pastel low contrast items. I did end up keeping a few of the low contrast lighter items and the difference between those and the ones I
    purged were that they had a sheen. That brings in a different contrast that makes them livelier.

    I also surprised myself by purging a tote bag that had been a favorite GoTo for a couple of years but I had realized I never reached for it anymore.
    It’s a lighter low contrast photo print of a Parisian city scene complete with Eiffel tower. I get a lot of compliments on it. I already do know that I love
    the idea of hokey kitschy travel stuff but since I have been choosing punchier clothes to wear, this bag is too subtle for those outfits.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m so glad you’re getting so much value out of defining your “do’s” and “don’ts,” Vildy. You’re really learning a lot and are getting rid of some “dead weight” garments along the way! Good for you for doing so much hard work this week on going through your clothes and gaining increased clarity about your style.

  12. Vildy says:

    I also realized, because I purged a knit top, that I need a lot of firmness in my tops, whether that means they’re woven or, if any kind of knit they have to either be firmly woven or else, as the case might be with a soft cashmere style cardigan that has deliberate ease, they have a lot of points of structure: shoulders, ribbing. I had a red orange rayon knit top and I love the color but it has large dolman sleeves creating a lot of surplus fabric
    under the arms unless I walked around with my arms stretched out at the sides. And no structure to the shoulder, no ribbing at neck, no ribbing at
    waist. The only structure I could implement would be to cuff the sleeves and that doesn’t get me far. The fabric is soft and lightweight enough that
    the dolman sleeves would fit under a jacket but the top wouldn’t stay put and would twist and shift.

    And another thing I realized I like is when buttons either contrast sharply with a shirt, either white or black, say, or they match a colored shirt.
    I get irked by the typical white mother of pearl buttons that come with shirts. It’s such a pain to replace them that I often end up cutting a piece
    of stiff light cardboard to insert behind each button as I go and then coat them with nail polish! I care that much. 😀

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      That’s great that you understand your need for structure in tops, as well as some type of contrast in your buttons. I share your dislike of those typical white mother of pearl buttons. Great idea to paint them with nail polish! I’ve used the nail polish hack for jewelry and metallic details on accessories (to turn them from gold or brass to silver), but I hadn’t thought to do that with buttons. Brilliant! I’m also not a fan of dolman sleeves, for me anyway. I can often enjoy certain styles on others, but I get into trouble when I try to wear them myself.

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