My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

In my last post, I shared my wardrobe “do’s,” which are the characteristics that I want to be present in my clothing, shoes, and accessories. It’s helpful to be crystal clear on what we like so we can zero in on those features when we’re shopping. But it’s equally important to have clarity on the features of wardrobe items that we don’t like. Sometimes a seemingly minor detail can make or break something that we’re wearing, transforming what should be a wardrobe workhorse into a closet “benchwarmer.”

It serves us well to catalog our sartorial “deal-breakers” in addition to the characteristics of our closet pieces that have us wanting to reach for them often. Today’s post, which is part two of a three-part series, will focus on my wardrobe “don’ts.” I first created a list of my do’s and don’ts in a May 2015 essay on my previous blog, Recovering Shopaholic. Some important things have changed over the past six-plus years, which I’ll highlight in the third and fourth parts of the series, to be posted in the next two weeks. But for now, let’s move on to those deal-breaker “don’ts…”

defining our wardrobe don'ts

Are you aware of the features that you DON’T like in clothes, shoes, and accessories?

I’ll use the same format for this post as my last one. My “don’ts” will be listed according to the following categories:

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

“Sales Goggles” and Personal Style Shifts

As with my wardrobe do’s post, I’m including lots of visual examples to help illustrate my points. To come up with these examples, I reviewed my purged item folders from the past ten years, which include everything I’ve passed on from my wardrobe during that timeframe. Sometimes I let go of closet pieces because they became worn out, went out of style, or no longer fit me. But in other instances, I couldn’t believe I ever owned certain items in the first place, as they were so far afield of the way I like to dress today!

Yes, my style has changed a lot over the years, but I doubt I ever even wore some of the pieces you’ll see in the photos below. I used to regularly shop at resale stores, which led me to make a lot of shopping mistakes. I used those stores to experiment with various styles because the prices were usually extremely low. But one problem with secondhand stores is that we can be prone to want to make something work in terms of color or fit when there’s only one such item available. After all, we can’t simply find the next size up or down or select a more flattering color or pattern of a given garment.

When I shopped at retail stores, I often wore “sales goggles” and pushed myself to buy things simply because they were offered at bargain basement prices. But as the old adage goes, it’s not a “deal” if we don’t love and wear it! Fortunately, I’m not making those types of mistakes quite as often these days, but it still happens. Hopefully, my increased clarity on my do’s and don’ts will help me make smarter decisions when I shop, and I hope the same will be true for those of you who also engage in this valuable exercise.

A Few Caveats Before I Dive In…

Before I delve into my lists, I want to provide a few caveats. My “don’t” items relate only to me and my style. I enjoy many of the styles, garments, colors, etc., referenced below on other people, but I don’t like them for myself for various reasons. There isn’t a right or wrong way to dress. What matters most is that we dress in a way that makes us happy, which is what this exercise is all about. If I say that I don’t like a particular style, I might actually love it if I saw it on one of you, but it’s just not my cup of tea for myself. Sometimes it’s a matter of body shape or coloring, or it might relate to my physical or emotional comfort, which are both very important facets of getting dressed that can often be overlooked.

Our “don’ts” can make that list for all sorts of reasons, and the last thing I want to do is make anyone feel bad because I’ve listed a certain style on my don’ts list that appears high up on their do’s list. As with everything else in life, “different strokes for different folks.” Part of what can make fashion and getting dressed so much fun is the fact that we all interpret style in our own individual ways. Even if one is a big follower of the latest trends, they can still put their own unique touches on them in order to set themselves apart from everyone else.

With styles, silhouettes, colors, patterns, accessories, and even garment types, we can always take what we like and leave the rest. My last part was about taking what I like, and this post is about leaving the rest. Both are very important to our defining, refining, and loving our style and the way we dress!

Overall “Don’t” Characteristics

  • Overly tight or revealing garments. I tend to be fairly modest in the way I dress, and I’m more comfortable in fitted but not tight clothing.
  • Boxy styles. I prefer to have some level of structure in my clothing.
  • Bohemian or “hippy” styles. This type of style is fine on others, but it doesn’t feel like “me.” Sometimes, “boho-lite” styles are okay, though, like some maxi skirts and dresses.
  • Too much going on. I prefer a more minimal aesthetic in what I wear, so I don’t like a lot of “bells and whistles” on my clothing. I’m also not a fan of wearing a lot of accessories at once and most pattern mixing (although I like to do milder versions sometimes).
  • Exaggerated proportions, especially when they serve to accentuate my hip and thigh area. I’m sensitive about that part of my body and like to try to minimize it.
  • Uncomfortable clothing. I will no longer sacrifice comfort for style, and I believe it’s possible to have both!
  • Too much distressing in a garment. A little can be okay, but I steer away from jeans with big holes in them, for example.
  • Ill-fitting clothing, including items that don’t fit me right because of my height. Examples includes: waistline too high on dresses, too-short sleeves on tops or toppers, and pants that are too short in the hem or rise.

Color and Pattern Don’ts

  • Most warm tones. I prefer cool tones, which pair better with my coloring.
  • Browns and beiges. I just don’t like these colors, and they also don’t look good on me.
  • Most grays. They should ostensibly work for me with my hair color, but I usually look washed out in gray unless it’s a charcoal shade.
  • White. I like to wear white as part of prints, but solid white washes me out.
  • Cream tones. They also wash me out and tend to be too warm-toned.
  • Light pastels. I used to avoid all pastels, but I can now wear mid-toned pastels with my hair color change.
  • Neon colors. These are too bright for my personal preference.
  • Most yellows and oranges. I occasionally like certain tones of these colors on me, however, so I won’t rule them out completely.
  • Most pale colors. They wash me out and I don’t feel fab in them.
  • Super bold patterns (with the exception or stripes, of course).
  • Light florals. They’re just too feminine for my taste.
  • “Cutesy” or overly feminine patterns.

Tops Don’ts

  • Boxy styles. I like to accentuate my narrow torso. Boxy styles just make me look bigger all over.
  • Overly fitted/tight styles. I prefer a streamlined fit that’s skims over the body but isn’t snug.
  • Stiff fabrics. I prefer to wear knit tops, but I also like woven pieces that include some level of stretch.
  • Curved hems. I prefer straight hems and sometimes asymmetric hems as well.
  • “Shark-bite” hems. I don’t feel that they’re flattering on my lower half.
  • Side slits. I feel that they make my hips look wider, especially if the slits hit right at that area.
  • Crop tops. That ship sailed for me long ago! My mid-section just isn’t firm enough, plus I worry about looking like “mutton dressed as lamb.”
  • Necklines: square neck, boat neck, cowl neck, any “fussy neckline.” Square and boat necklines seem to maximize my shoulders, and cowl necks are just too much fabric for my taste.
  • Sleeves: flutter, cap, elbow-length, puff, bell. I prefer more minimal types of sleeves, and most of these styles are just too fussy for me.
  • Off-the-shoulder or drop shoulder styles.
  • Peplum waist
  • “Boho” styles.
  • Spaghetti straps. I like to be able to easily wear a supportive bra. I don’t like to wear strapless bras or to have my bra straps show, so I steer away from spaghetti straps.
  • Shoulder pads or epaulette details. My shoulders are broad enough on their own.
  • Ruffle details.
  • Tie or twist bottom styles. I like the look, but these styles never stay in place on me and I find them very fussy.
  • Partially tucked tops. I know this is trendy, but it feels sloppy to me and doesn’t align with my “polished” and “elegant” style guideposts.
wardrobe don'ts - long-sleeved tops

These are some long-sleeved tops that I passed on over the years. 

wardrobe don'ts - short-sleeved tops

These short-sleeved tops include many of my current “don’t” characteristics. 

wardrobe don'ts - sleeveless tops

These tank tops include some “don’t” details: ruffles, peplum, and colors that don’t suit me. 

Toppers Don’ts

  • Boxy styles. I prefer to have some shaping and tailoring in my toppers, especially in coats and jackets.
  • Double-breasted coats/jackets. I don’t like the way they look open, and I don’t like to always have to take the time to button them up.
  • Jackets/coats that must be worn closed in order to look good. See the last bullet… I like to wear my toppers open much of the time, so I need to have styles that look good that way.
  • Overly cropped styles. If a topper is too cropped, it often looks like I’m wearing a size too small or like I outgrew my jacket. This is exacerbated by the fact that garments are often too short on me anyway because of my height. One exception is that I like to wear shorter toppers that hit around the high hip with my skirts and dresses.
  • Bomber jackets. They tend to be boxy and not have enough structure, so they don’t look good on me.
  • Moto jackets. I love the look of this style, but moto jackets almost never fit me right. When they fit my broad shoulders and wider hips, they’re almost always too baggy in the torso area. I used to have a knit moto jacket that fit me well, probably because of the stretchiness factor. I had to let go of that piece after I gained weight, but I’d love to find something similar again.
  • Belted jackets/coats. This style can look nice, but as I mentioned above, I like to be able to wear my toppers open (and it’s not too cold where I live, so that usually works for me). Having to belt my jacket or coat every time I put it on feels too fussy to me.
  • Fringe on jackets. This feels too “boho” and ‘70s inspired to me, and is not my vibe.
  • Kimonos. I love the look of kimonos on other women, but they always look too boxy and unstructured on me. I’ve tried on many, many kimonos over the years and even bought one (which I wrote about in this post), but I’m now going to sit this style out.
  • Side slits. I wrote about this feature in the “tops” section, but I don’t like side slits in toppers, either, unless they’re on a duster length topper that hits way below my hips.
wardrobe don'ts - blazers

I used to like to wear these styles of blazers, but not anymore… 

wardrobe don'ts - coats

“Don’t “characteristics of these coats include color, ruffles, and double-breasted closures.

wardrobe don'ts - sweaters and vests

The colors, patterns, and silhouettes of these garments are all wrong for me! 

Pants Don’ts

  • Overly stiff fabrics. I prefer that my jeans and pants include some level of stretch in them, for the sake of comfort.
  • Skinny jeans. I have muscular calves, so skinny jeans are often too tight in that area on me. They also tend to give me the “ice-cream cone” effect in my lower body. I prefer straight-leg fits, which are less exaggerated. They tend to fit me how skinnies fit other women because of my larger hips, thighs, and calves.
  • Leggings or jeggings. They’re too form-fitting and unflattering on my hips and thighs.
  • Ultra-high-waist styles. They come up too high on my short-waisted body, often all the way up to my rib cage!
  • Ultra-low-waist styles. On the flip side, if the waistline is too low, it gives me a “muffin top.”
  • Bell-bottom or flared pants and jeans. This look is too ‘70s for me, and that’s not my vibe. I also don’t find them flattering on my figure.
  • “Mom jeans.” I think they make my butt look long, flat, and wide, so no thanks!
  • Overly wide-leg pants and jeans. I think I just don’t like “extremes” in pants. Since I tend to be bottom-heavy, I prefer my pants to be more minimal in style and to keep the visual interest in the top half of my body.
  • Overly baggy pants or jeans. Same comment as above…
  • Diagonal side pockets. These almost always poke out on me and I have to get them sewn shut, at least on the bottom. I try to avoid diagonal side pockets if I can, but since I have such a hard time with finding pants, I’m willing to do the alteration if necessary.
  • Drop crotch styles. I don’t like the way this looks. However, I do have a few pairs of joggers (this style) with a moderate drop-crotch that’s quite comfortable, but I wear those only at home.
  • Ripped or distressed jeans. I’m okay with very mild distressing, but bigger rips or holes aren’t in line with my “polished” style guidepost.
  • Capri pants that hit at my mid-calf area. I used to wear these all the time when they were more in style, but I don’t like the way they look now. Even though I have very long legs, I find this style “stumpifying” and unflattering. I prefer a longer version of a cropped pant these days.
  • Light-colored pants. Because I carry any extra weight in my bottom half, I prefer darker colors for the most part.
  • Hems that drag on the floor. I think this looks sloppy, and it can also be dangerous!
  • Hems that are of a “no-man’s land” length. I know that shorter full-length pants are trending now, but they just feel like “floods” to me. I guess it’s because I’ve struggled to find pants that are long enough my whole life… I’ll stick to either traditional full-length pants or intentionally cropped pants.
wardrobe don'ts - pants

These pants are either too short, too wide, or the wrong color for me. 

wardrobe don'ts - jeans

I can’t believe I wore all of these wide jeans (but I never wore the distressed pair). 

Skirts and Dresses Don’ts

  • Skirts that are overly A-line / flared. I used to wear this style all the time, but it feels too formal to me, plus I don’t feel it’s flattering on my shape. I prefer a straight style of skirt these days.
  • Skirts that end above my knees. My knees are not attractive, and I have a lot of varicose and spider veins on my legs. Even if I get the veins taken care of, which I hope to do soon, I still have unattractive knees that I don’t think I can change.
  • Pencil skirts that curve in at the bottom. This style accentuates my hips too much and it’s also not very easy to walk in.
  • Tiered skirts. They feel too “boho” to me and also add too much weight to the bottom half of my body.
  • Brown or beige skirts/dresses, including brown-toned leopard print. I like gray/black leopard print, but that can be hard to find.
  • Empire-waist or baby doll style dresses. I’m short-waisted and these styles tend to exaggerate that effect.
  • Overly feminine styles or prints.
  • Shift or swing dresses. I look better when my clothes include some sort of shaping.
  • Too much flare or material. I prefer more streamlined styles with less material.
  • Blouson-waist or drop waist dresses. I like to accentuate my slim torso, and the extra fabric in the blouson styles hides it. Drop waists tend to put the emphasis on my hips, which I don’t like.
wardrobe don'ts - skirts

I used to be all about this style of skirt, but now I wouldn’t wear any of these pieces! 

wardrobe don'ts - dresses

The color or pattern is the issue with most of these dresses (and blouson waist for the fuchsia one). 

Shoe Don’ts

  • Heels over 2.5” high. I just can’t walk well in higher heels anymore.
  • Completely flat shoes. Because I have very high arches, I find shoes with even a low heel a lot more comfortable. Heels also work better with my overall style vibe.
  • Patent leather shoes. They’re just too fancy for my lifestyle and don’t work well with the clothes I like to wear.
  • Square toes or “stumpy” rounded toes.
  • Big lug soles. I know they’re trendy at the moment, but I don’t like the way they look for anything other than hiking.
  • Shoes that are too heavy or “clompy.”
  • Stiletto heels. They look pretty, but I can’t walk in them.
  • Flip-flops or any material between my toes.
  • Loafers. They’re too preppy for my style.
  • Ballet flats. I just don’t feel good in them. They’re also too flat for my high arches, which feel more supported by at least a small heel.
  • Bow details. They’re too feminine and “twee” for my style.
  • Over the knee boots. I think I just can’t get the image of Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” out of my mind…
  • Too much “bling.”
  • Brown or beige shoes.
  • Cork, rope, or white soles. The cork and rope feel too preppy, and I don’t like the white soles because they’re hard to keep clean and I also wear a lot of dark colors. I prefer to have darker soles on my shoes.
  • Gold or bronze shoes or details. I prefer cool-toned metallic shoes and details.
  • Sneakers for any activities other than walks or workouts. I know it’s trendy to wear sneakers with everything these days, but it’s not for me personally. They may feel physically comfortable, but I don’t feel emotionally comfortable wearing sneakers with a dress.
wardrobe don'ts - flat shoes

I no longer like to wear flat shoes, especially with bows or in patent leather. 

wardrobe don'ts - heels

Most of these heels were bought on sale or at resale stores – and were rarely or never worn! 

wardrobe don'ts - sandals

With the exception of a few pairs, most of these sandals were rarely worn.

Accessory Don’ts

  • Infinity scarves. I find them “fussy” and limiting, as they can only be worn one way. I prefer long rectangular scarves that can be worn many different ways.
  • Scarves in colors that don’t suit me or prints/patterns that I don’t like.
  • Gold or brass jewelry (I prefer silver).
  • Warm-toned beaded jewelry.
  • Overly beaded or too “chunky” jewelry items.
  • Choker necklaces. They feel confining, and I also find longer necklaces to be more flattering on me.
  • Most pearl jewelry. I’m not a fan of traditional white pearls on me, but I do like black pearls.
  • Dainty jewelry. I prefer bolder pieces, both because of my tall stature and my “dramatic” style guidepost.
  • Bohemian-style jewelry or bags.
  • Too small bags. I like to carry larger bags that hold more stuff, plus they look better with my tall frame.
  • Clutch purses. I find them to be fussy and impractical. I like my bags to have some sort of straps or handles.
  • Floppy or unstructured bags. I’ve learned the hard way that unstructured bags just don’t work for me. I like my bags to have more “substance” to them.
  • Patent or overly shiny bags. These read too “dressy” to me, and my life is very casual.
  • Brown or beige bags. These colors just aren’t for me.
  • Big hoop earrings. I’m not really a fan of hoop earrings in general (for me), but I especially don’t like extremely large styles of hoops.
  • Multiple large jewelry pieces worn together. I prefer to have one “star” piece and keep the other items more minimal.
wardrobe don'ts - scarves

Some of my scarf castoffs over the years, mostly for color or pattern. 

wardrobe don'ts - purses

These purses are either too brown/beige, too “busy,” or too shiny for my current tastes. 

wardrobe don'ts - jewelry

Jewelry that’s too warm-toned, boho, or blingy for my current preferences. 

Your Thoughts?

So those were my very extensive “don’ts” lists… It’s a good thing I also have lengthy lists of the features I do like in my wardrobe items! I hope that reading my lists perhaps provided you with a few “ahas” about what you might add to your own lists. Speaking of which, I’d love for you to share all or some of your own personal wardrobe don’ts.

  • What are your “deal-breakers” in terms of your clothes, shoes, and accessories?
  • What makes you pass something by when you see it in a store or on an e-commerce website?

I invite you to share your thoughts with me and your fellow readers. I’ll be back next week with the third installment of this series, when I’ll comment on what used to be “do’s” for me back in 2015, but no longer are. There are ten items on this “no longer do’s” list, and there are also ten items on my “no longer don’ts” list, which will be published the following week. In these two posts, I’ll break down all of those characteristics and share what I believe it means for my style. Stay tuned, and have a wonderful weekend!

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22 thoughts on “Checking in on Wardrobe “Don’ts”

  1. Krissie says:

    Three weeks ago I had a wedding outfit to buy for my daughters wedding. I got a great recommendation of a specialist wedding outfits shop and went there as I know that locally there really isnt a great deal that would fit the bill. I wanted a dress that would fit in with the theme of the wedding as closely as possible, but I was open to whatever. well how hard could it be I naivelly thought as I entered the store where I saw about a million dresses and variety of outifts suitable for a fancier occasion or wedding. I had a sales lady help me personally as I told her what I wanted and my size and colours etc etc. She was great, and brought dozens of dresses to my cubicle for me to try. after about 2 hours my list of donts went out of the window, I was close to tears fearing I wouldnt find the dress for the occasion. I think the sales ladies smile began to resemble more of a worried frown after I had tried a lot of outfits. It was the last dress that she brought out that I finally bought, it fitted perfectly but was nothing like the dress I had imagined. All my wishes and wants slowly evaporated but this dress I did like. it wasnt my usual style, or colour or anything really, and it wasnt an outrageous price which ashamedly I was willing to pay for anything that fit at one point. is my body a weird shape? no it isn,t I am within the range of normal sizing yet why was it so hard to find anything that fit. The sizes did not match the styles, and there was one dress with so many layers that I couldnt find an entry point into, which ever way I put it on I couldnt find the opening to get into it. in the end I gave up and decided that if you cant get into a dress then its obviously not the one for me!!
    Anyway, the wedding was lovely, my dress… although I wasnt in love with per se… I looked and felt very good in it and was complemented on my choice.
    sorry this is so long but wanted to share my latest experience with clothes buying!!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, Krissie, and no worries about the length of your comment! I’m so glad the story had a happy ending and you ended up with a dress that worked well for you for your daughter’s wedding. Special occasion clothing can be quite difficult to buy. It’s good that you didn’t blame your body or yourself for the challenges you experienced. Sometimes the styles we love are not what’s currently being offered in the stores, which can be so frustrating. I remember having an experience similar to yours for a corporate holiday party (which I know isn’t as big of a deal as the wedding of one’s child), when I also had to settle for “good enough.” I guess we need to plan WAY in advance for special occasions and hope for the best!

    2. Terra Trevor says:

      Krissie, thank you for sharing this. I had a similar experience when I searched forever to find a dress for my daughter’s wedding. In the end it all worked out for me, like it did for you, and it sure did not turn out to be anything like I had hoped or expected.

  2. Lisa says:

    Many of my deal breakers are the same as yours. Color is number 1 for me – if its not within my selected palette or doesn’t work well with other items in my wardrobe, I won’t buy it. I was trying all spring/summer to find some wide leg crops & finally realized I don’t like them on me because they need a trimmer fitting top & my midriff and waist are not anything I want to highlight. Likewise, I prefer woven tops (with stretch) over many knits. I found it very helpful (& easier) to first identify what I don’t like before I could get to my actual preferences. My struggle/frustration is now finding those things in the shapes and colors I want, and I’ve found shopping on-line is especially problematic when it comes to color.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, color really is number 1, Lisa. I remember trying many times to “make something work” that ticked all of the boxes except color. Never again! I agree that the colors we see on our computers or phones when shopping online may not be what shows up at our doorsteps! I’m not a fan of wide crops on myself, either. I did get one pair, but ended up having them narrowed (which wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped due to the fabric – I will revisit them next summer). Yes, proportions are important. I thought I might appreciate the wider-leg pants, as I used to enjoy wearing them. But my preferences and my body have both changed, so I will likely stick with narrower pants (but never say never… I sometimes try new styles on just to experiment and see if my preferences have shifted).

  3. Jenn says:

    I would say your overall characteristics would apply to me as well. And like you, I admire a lot of my “don’ts” on others, just not on me.

    For reference, I’m 5’3”, have blue eyes, fair skin, and dark blonde hair. Not a lot of contrast. My coloring is quite neutral, but leans cool. I have a short-ish neck, no shoulders, a short (only moderately defined) waist and kind of a long rise, so finding pants can be especially challenging.

    My list isn’t as well-organized as yours, but here goes: I avoid colors that are very warm, too muted, too bright, or too dark—if wearing by my face. Rarely do I like a plaid, and I own none. No boat necks or epaulets. Patterns with high contrast don’t look right on me. I don’t like too many feminine details, but I’m not comfortable with anything masculine. I avoid moto jackets (those angular edges). I like the look of leggings on me, but I don’t like feeling compressed. With thin-ish legs and a semi-straight shape, baggy bottoms don’t look good on me. I avoid hole-y jeans and raw hems as I feel sloppy in them. I rarely wear skirts or dresses. I’ve sworn off heels over 2” high and avoid heavy-looking shoes and masculine loafers. I’ve never been comfortable with statement necklaces and prefer more of an understated look. I avoid handbags that are stiff /angular/have narrow openings. Like you, I don’t like shiny bags. Softness is key for me, in look and overall feel.

    As for details, I don’t like scalloped hems or necklines, tassels on clothing, tops that are hard to get on and off or billowy. Button-downs, look “wrong” on me. I also avoid split necklines, stand up collars that won’t lay down, lounge pants and toppers without pockets (what’s the sense?), pants with inseams shorter than 26” or longer than 30”. I also don’t like thick belts. I’m not much of a belt-wearer anyway.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Your list is actually quite organized and clear, Jenn. You seem to have a lot of clarity about what doesn’t work for you, which hopefully serves you well when shopping. You actually mentioned a few things that I agree with but neglected to include on my list: scalloped hems/necklines, tassels, button-downs (they also look wrong on me), split necklines, and stand-up collars that won’t lay down. I agree that lounge pants are better with pockets, but I struggle sometimes with the pockets poking out (as I wrote about). Good idea to include actual parameters for pant inseams. I’ll have to define my numbers, too, as they vary based upon cropped vs. full-length pants. Thanks for giving me and others more food for thought!

  4. Terra Trevor says:

    Debbie, I’m enjoying seeing how your style preferences have evolved and changed over the past few years. Looks like you have finally nailed. Though it is also equally wonderful that you gave yourself the freedom to explore until you found your happy place with style.

    Me? Well, the past few days I’ve been going through my closet and since I now have a much smaller closet and way less storage areas for my clothes, I am once again culling. Everything I’m keeping must “earn” an opportunity to claim space in my closet. In terms of buying anything new, my key word is don’t. Don’t buy unless I’ve given it tons of thought and believe it might truly add and be an asset. At the top of my don’t commandments list is, don’t buy anything conservative. I have plenty of those. Currently if I do buy anything it must be one of my best colors and it must be something with bohemian vibe to bring some much needed movement and energy. Remember, I’m a type 3-4 and when I feel withdrawn, I dress entirely 4 and I need to bring out more type 3 energy.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m definitely much more clear about my style now, Terra. Looking at some of my castoffs (many of which were from the early days of Recovering Shopaholic), it seems like I was basically throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what would fit! Great point that everything much earn an opportunity to claim space in your closet. That should be true even for those of us with larger closet spaces! I think a “do not buy” list can be different from one’s “don’ts” list. For example, black pants and black t-shirts really need to be a “do not buy” for me for a while, even though I love to wear these items (I just have too many already!). I love that you mentioned your DYT primary and secondary types. I’m a 4-2 and now that you mentioned dressing more as your secondary when you feel withdrawn, I can see the same thing in myself. But I’m not happy if I dress more like a Type 2, so I need to watch out for that, just like you need to make sure you don’t dress like a Type 4.

      1. Terra Trevor says:

        Debbie, good point about a “don’t” list being different from “do not buy” list. When I get back into shopping again, someday, I will make a careful list. Also, do you not like to ever dress for your secondary type 2 because it does not feel like you? For me, I love a type 4 vibe. But a 4 is “still” and a 3 energy is all about “movement” and I need to make sure I wear type 3 outfits at least half of the time. My natural tendency is to lean toward 4. But I know a 3 vibe is better on me.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          I think that I leaned toward dressing more Type 2 for a long time, and when I first learned about DYT, I thought I WAS a Type 2. But I don’t feel fully myself when I wear both Type 2 colors and styles. The colors are too muted for me and there is too little structure in the garments. It was hard for me to fully embrace the “bold and striking” vibe of Type 4, but I feel stronger and more confident when I do so. But in the same vein, if I wear TOO much structure (like completely Type 4 without any of my secondary Type 2 thrown in), it can be “too much of a good thing.” So much of it is about balancing things out, and I’m still fully finding my way in that regard. I hope this makes sense!

        2. Terra Trevor says:

          Debbie, yes, I understand, what you said makes perfect sense! I feel the same way. Perhaps this is why her system has a secondary type.

  5. Rachel says:

    This is amazing…at first glance (looking at the photos) we don’t quite share the same style – but reading this post, we share virtually every single one of the same rules!! (the exception would be: as a short person, I’m all about the shorter full-length pants look – besides looking modern, it makes me look longer! double win! And I think my “statement pieces” might be classified as “dainty” by most people, for the same reason. But otherwise: I couldn’t agree with you more!)

    You are a thousand percent right on gray – I’ve grown out my gray hair recently too, and found I had to retire everything in that shade but the charcoal (and all things in any color with a flecked or “mottled” look.) It pained me deeply, since that was a good 50% of my wardrobe…but suddenly, instead of being a cool contrast tone, it just made me look super washed out. (I didn’t really wear yellow or orange before, but those are now permanently banned – they’re definitely a no-go for gray hair…even if gray hair doesn’t get the dreaded brassy tinge, it’ll make it look like it does)

    One other random thing I’ve found: I like skirts in theory…but a few years ago, I realized I never reached for them if I could help it. And I CAN help it! Dresses, sure; skirts, I never loved. So now I have a skirt-free wardrobe – I’ve replaced it as a category with jumpsuits – and my new personal rule now is: It’s ok to eliminate an entire category from your wardrobe! There is no such thing as a “must-have.”

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      The items that I pictured are not my style at all, Rachel! Those were all items that I got rid of, and many of them I didn’t wear (and now I better understand why). To see more of what my style is, check out my “do’s” post. I think the shorter full-length pants can look great on a lot of people. I just have a “poison eye” for them because I’ve struggled so much all my life to find pants that are long enough for me…

      Thanks for validating my opinions on wearing gray clothing with gray hair. So many people say that those with gray hair CAN wear gray, but most shades look terrible on me. And when I had auburn hair, I didn’t like to wear red, and I now LOVE to wear red, so maybe matching one’s hair color isn’t really a good idea. Bummer that you had to jettison such a large proportion of your wardrobe 😦 I agree with you about yellow and orange making gray hair look brassy, which I definitely want to avoid!

      I completely agree with you that there is no universal “must have,” despite what many fashion experts say. It’s totally okay to eliminate entire categories from our wardrobes. Yay for you for embracing jumpsuits and letting skirts go!

  6. Lisa S says:

    Unforgiving overly structured fitted clothing I can only wear at an exact weight. Sheath style dresses I am looking at you. These days I am looking for clothing that will allow for some weight fluctuations.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m totally on board with you here, Lisa! I used to have SO many of those types of clothes and I spent many days feeling like I was vacuum-packed into my outfit if I had retained water or put on a few pounds. I LOVE to have stretch in my clothes now for the sake of comfort and flexibility. I’m still struggling with pants somewhat, but I’m getting there…

  7. Sue says:

    I too share many don’ts in this very helpful post. But as my waist is relatively long and my legs relatively short, I find it best to avoid low and mid-rise jeans and pants, and any pants that do not reach my shoes. And, for me, long shorts, cardigans, skirts and dresses never seem to work well. I always pass on anything that digs in, clings, strangles, billows, blouses or bags. And this goes for my neck area especially. I avoid turtle, crew or gathered necklines. Comfort has become a huge factor in my shopping choices. I avoid tops that reveal my upper arms and short skirts or dresses, especially those that tend to ride up and need constant adjusting. I also avoid shoes with any sign of pinching, squeezing, rubbing or instability, and any material with potential for scratching, constraining, pilling or overheating. Colour is also a major concern for me. I never bother with any wardrobe item unless the colour flatters me and goes with all my other clothes and accessories.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m so glad you found this post helpful, Sue! I share so many of the “don’ts” that you mentioned, especially anything that isn’t comfortable. You seem be be very clear on what doesn’t work for you, which hopefully serves you well. Being mindful of color is very important, and I like that you added in that items must “go” with your other clothes and accessories. It’s a pain to buy a piece that’s an “orphan” because of color or any other reason, especially for those of us who have more than enough clothes already!

  8. Julie says:

    My deal breakers are: straight lines. These go against my curvy lines. Especially mens wear inspired looks.
    Any clothing that won’t fit if I eat one large meal or it is that time of month.
    There has to be a wow factor for every piece I buy now, even basics. Otherwise I save my money.
    Skirts and dresses need to have curvy lines (straight hemlines are normally not okay). Subtle ruching is best.

    Shoes have to be comfortable – no high heels (except for specific outings), no sandals (my feet swell in summer), no loafers.
    I stick with boots, more dressy sneakers (typically in leather) and flats.
    I’m very picky about fit as I’ve had lots of bad purchases in the past.
    My flats have to have the hidden stacked heel, as this makes them wearable and gives arch support.
    I stick with mostly Frye, Lanvin and Common Projects. I’m more than happy to buy these brands gently used and save a bundle!
    Pants and jeans: no skinny cut, no bells, no high or low waisted, short length, mixed colors or distressing.
    Pants and jeans without spandex are also a no. No capris or pants that hit above the ankle, they aren’t flattering.

    Jackets and tops have to accommodate my wide shoulders, so anything dainty in that area won’t work.
    I’m okay with oversized jackets/coats as long as they accentuate my waist.
    Finding jackets and coats to accommodate my wide shoulders and smaller frame isn’t easy and most jackets and coats are made for a woman with slim shoulders.
    Tops need to be long enough so there is not any gap between the top and bottom, I wear a medium rise.
    Tops that are baggy, hit below the higher hip or lower are out. A top can be oversized as long as it belted, cut in towards the waist or slightly cropped.
    Otherwise prefer a skim fit. No funnel necks, cowl necks and most turtlenecks are out. Patterns are mostly out, I prefer solids or color blocking.
    Most tops with zippers in the back are out because the shoulders tend to be narrow and even when they aren’t they are very difficult to get on/off without being heavily smeared with makeup.
    If there is interest, it is in the fabric (silk and wool, leather and cotton, etc.)
    Any shirt with straight lines is out: a subtle puff or shoulder pleating is preferred. Any boxy shirt with tiny arms is out.

    Brown, green, burgundy and blue are my go to colors (red hair with blue eyes). I also have a limited amount of creme, grey and black.
    No pastels. Any other color is either limited or non-existent in my wardrobe.
    I look best in muddy or clear colors-mid tone to deep in saturation.
    Prefer most fabrics to be flowing and thin, with a few heavy winter time exceptions.

    No more purses unless I get rid of the one I currently have in the same color family. No patent leather.

    Scarfs are great as long as they are in shades brown, green burgundy or blue. I especially like to wear them with black, creme and grey.

    I have lots of hiking/working out clothing basics that have in a variety of colors and that aren’t always in curvy lines.
    Workout clothing is always comfortable. Bras have to hook, no attempting to wrestle off a sweaty pullover bra over my broad shoulders!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your “don’ts” here, Julie. I love how very specific you were about everything! I really think out don’ts free us in many ways and also save us from making mistakes and wasting money – as long as we stick to them! I share your issues with broad shoulders and a narrow torso. I get SO many of my tops and toppers taken in along the sides because there’s often extra fabric there when I fit my shoulders and make sure the sleeves are long enough for my “gorilla arms.” I also love and wholeheartedly agree with this statement you made: “Any clothing that won’t fit if I eat one large meal or it is that time of month.” I no longer have a time of the month, but I do still retain water fairly often. I think I will adopt your don’t about pants and jeans without any spandex. I just don’t find non-stretchy bottoms comfortable.

  9. Nina B says:

    I thought I was really boxing myself in by my long list of don’ts. I also felt like I might have been too afraid to try something new. Every time I venture away from my rules to try something new and currently fashionable, especially in regard to shapes and proportions, I end up with fails. Your posts helps me feel more confident in my long list of don’ts. Don’ts really do pay off in time, money and general contentment with my wardrobe.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’ve had very much the same experience as you have, Nina. Almost every time I’ve deviated from my list of “don’ts” on the encouragement of a friend or a salesperson, those items have been fails. I think we can still make shifts over time as styles change, but that has to happen on our own terms, not just because the “fashion gods” tell us we need to change the types of pants we wear. I’ll be talking about those types of shifts in my next post. I’m so glad my posts helped you to feel more confident about your don’ts!

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