Welcome to the third installment of my wardrobe do’s and don’ts series, which was initiated after I decided to revisit the “yes and no lists” I created back in May 2015. I wanted to see how much my lists might have changed over the past six-plus years. Before even perusing my old lists, however, I took some time to jot down my present day “musts” and “deal-breakers,” which were shared in the first two parts of this series:
- In the first installment, I compiled a list of all of the qualities that I look for when shopping for clothing, shoes, and accessories.
- In the second post, I shared my extensive list of wardrobe don’ts, those characteristics that I try to avoid when it comes to my closet pieces.
Both essays also included a number of visual examples of pieces that are either currently in my closet (the “do’s”) or those that had been purged from my wardrobe over the past ten or so years (the “don’ts”). As the old saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words, but of course I also offered quite a few words in my posts, too!
Speaking of wordiness, I originally planned for this to be a three-part series, but I’ve decided that there will now be a fourth part. As I was putting together what was supposed to be part three, I realized there was more to it than I had originally anticipated. Therefore, I decided to split it into two portions, today’s essay and another one that will go live next week. Clearly, I have a lot to say – and show – on the topic of wardrobe do’s and don’ts! I hope you’re finding this series both interesting and helpful.
The No Longer Do’s
In today’s post, I compare and contrast my 2015 list of wardrobe do’s with my newly created 2021 list to see what has changed. Upon reviewing my 2015 “do’s” list, I discovered ten characteristics that I highlighted as desirable back then that are no longer wardrobe preferences today. I list each one below and provide a bit of commentary around the reasons for the shift. As with parts one and two, I illustrate the points I make using examples from my own wardrobe. In today’s installment, almost all of the items shown have been purged from my closet (in most cases, several years ago), as they no longer fit my desired style. Let’s get started!
1. Gray clothing
Back when I had dyed auburn hair, I used to enjoy wearing all sorts of gray clothing, including the gray tops and toppers shown below:
While I don’t think gray was ever really my best color, it worked reasonably well with my dyed hair, as I had relatively high contrast in my coloring at the time (this excellent post from Imogen Lamport beautifully illustrates the concepts of value and contrast). Now that I’ve transitioned to my natural “salt-and-pepper” hair color, most shades of gray look terrible on me, so this color is no longer a “do” for me. However, I will still occasionally wear a piece in a deep charcoal shade that actually works with my skin tone and hair.
2. Low-rise pants and jeans
The waistline on almost all of my pants and jeans used to end at least two inches below my belly button. Here are some of the pants and jeans that I enjoyed wearing around the time of my 2015 do’s and don’ts post:
Not only were low-rise pants the most prevalent style for a number of years, I also preferred them because I found them to be more comfortable than higher-rise garments. I’ve struggled with digestive issues for many years and find it uncomfortable to wear bottoms that are tight around my midsection. But I’ve also gone through menopause and my waist is no longer as svelte as it used to be, so I now prefer my pants to come up a bit higher.
My preferred rise is now more of a mid-to-high rise that ends right around my natural waist. I generally aim to buy pants and jeans that contain sufficient stretch to accommodate the abdominal bloating that I often experience, especially in the evenings.
I’ve had more success in finding comfortable pants than jeans, but I have managed to find some jeans that are less constricting for me. I don’t like jeggings or skinny jeans, even if they contain ample stretch, so my “white whale” pair of jeans has a straight cut, a mid-rise, and lots of “give,” while also having an inseam that’s long enough for me. It’s a tall order (pun intended), and black jeans that fit the bill still elude me, but I now have two pairs of blue jeans that meet my requirements.
3. Moto-style jackets
This style of jacket isn’t in the “no longer do” category because I dislike the way it looks. I actually enjoy moto-style jackets very much on other women, but they don’t work on me for several reasons. I have broad shoulders, a narrow torso, and ample hips, so it’s almost impossible for me to find a moto-style jacket that fits me in all three areas. I’m amenable to having the sides of my jackets taken in, and this is a common alteration for me, but most moto jackets are made from materials that are difficult to tailor. Additionally, when I size up to fit my shoulders and hips, the tailoring needed to fit my torso is often just too much.
Knit moto jackets used to work for me, as in the case of many of the pieces shown below, but I rarely see those types of jackets offered today.
Also, the length can be an issue given my height. Most jackets that are a good hipbone length on other women are often too short for me. Additionally, as I’m sensitive about the size of my rear end (which is where I tend to gain weight), I prefer for my jackets to be a bit longer, such as the one at the bottom left in the image above. That particular jacket didn’t work for me for another reason, however. As is the case with many moto jackets, it only looked good when worn closed because the knit fabric was too “floppy” and wouldn’t stay in place when it wasn’t zipped up.
While I’m open to the possibility of finding a moto jacket that looks good on me and can be worn open (which is my preference), it’s not all that likely to happen, which is why moto-style jackets are no longer a “do” for me.
4. Cropped and Shrug Cardigans
Much like the moto jackets I wrote about in the previous section, shrug-style and cropped cardigans are no longer on my list of “do’s.” I now prefer my toppers to be a bit longer and either “bisect” my rear end (i.e., stop at the middle of it) or finish below it. I find that length to be more flattering on me now that my body is no longer as slim and firm as it used to be. I still like to wear tie-cardigans with my skirt and dress ensembles, but those toppers are a few inches longer than the ones shown below.
My phase of liking to wear tunics was relatively short-lived, but I accumulated quite a few of them during that time, as pictured here:
As I’ve mentioned previously, I have a narrow torso, and even though my waist isn’t as slim as it once was, it’s still relatively small for a woman of my age. I like to highlight my narrow torso, as I feel that it’s one of my best features, and tunics tend to obscure rather than highlight that area.
Unless a tunic has some structure to it, I don’t feel all that fabulous wearing it. I like my tops to be more fitted than most tunics are, and I like them to be at least somewhat shorter than tunic length. I also dislike the side slits and curved hems that are common features of many tunics. So, for all of these reasons, I have crossed tunics off of my “do’s” list.
6. Maxi-Length Skirts and Dresses
For at least a few years, I was all about wearing floor-length skirts and dresses. I found them to be elegant, plus I liked the fact that I could wear flat shoes with them without feeling frumpy. As with many trends, I was a late adopter of the maxi silhouette. I got in on it towards the tail end of its popularity, when seemingly everyone was wearing maxis, especially in the Southern California beach area where I live.
Here’s a look at some of the maxi-length skirts and dresses that I loved and wore during the mid-to-late 2010’s:
I enjoyed wearing maxis for a long time, but I’ve gradually soured on them such that I currently own just one maxi skirt and two maxi dresses. I think I wore the skirt twice this past summer, but I didn’t wear the dresses at all. Of course, we’re still in a pandemic and I’m not wearing out-and-about garments as much as I used to, so my wear stats for 2020 and 2021 aren’t really representative of my “normal” situation.
It’s possible that I might continue to wear the maxis that I own, but I have no desire to purchase any new ones. We’ll see what happens next summer, but I think my current preference is for the now popular midi length that’s at least six inches shorter than a true maxi. That’s mostly the length of skirt and dress that I gravitate toward these days, and I bought a few dresses and one skirt of that length this year.
7. Knee-Length Skirts
Prior to my love of maxi-length skirts, I almost exclusively wore skirts that ended just below my knees. Most of those skirts had at least a slight A-line shape, and many of them could be referred to as “flared” in silhouette. I usually paired them with fitted sleeveless or short-sleeved tops, as well as either the cropped cardigans shown above or short fitted blazers. You can see photos of some of the ensembles I used to wear in this April 2021 post, but here are some examples of the skirts I previously owned:
Although I jettisoned most of the blazers prior to 2015, I continued to wear the knee-length skirts for the next few years with fitted tops and tie-cardigans. Swapping the blazers for cardigans gave me the more casual look that I preferred. It also helped me to avoid looking like I was on my way to church when I was instead running errands or enjoying coffee or a meal with my husband or a friend.
As my body changed with menopause, however, I no longer felt comfortable in the short, fitted tops and cropped cardigans. I also felt that the A-line skirts accentuated my larger bottom half. And most importantly, I no longer felt that this style of skirt was in line with the way I wanted to look. In fact, I hardly ever wear skirts anymore these days because I’ve had trouble finding any that I like.
Most skirts that I’ve seen in stores have been either too corporate-looking or too short and tight for my preferences. I’ve started to see more midi skirts on offer lately, so it’s possible that I might get back to wearing skirts regularly once again. But for now, I prefer dresses, and most of the ones I wear are in that middle ground between knee and maxi length.
8. Wearing Only Short-Sleeved and Long-Sleeved Tops with Pants
Back in 2015 when I wrote my original do’s and don’ts post, I preferred to only wear sleeved tops with my pants ensembles. I reserved the wearing of sleeveless tops for my skirt outfits. At the time, I felt that sleeved shirts balanced out my top and bottom halves more. I tend to be somewhat bottom-heavy, which is often more obvious when I wear pants than in skirts and dresses. I was also quite thin in 2015, especially in my upper body, which I think contributed to my looking more pear-shaped when I wore sleeveless tops with pants.
Now I’m a size or two bigger than I was in 2015 and my arms aren’t as firm and toned as they used to be, but I actually don’t mind pairing sleeveless tops with pants and jeans today. I usually end up also wearing some type of topper, as I run cold, but I wore sleeveless tops with cropped pants a number of times this past summer and was satisfied with my ensembles. Perhaps my proportions are now more balanced, or maybe my eye has just adjusted to a different silhouette, but I now happily wear tops with all types of sleeve lengths with pants.
I don’t have any pictures to show for this entry, as I haven’t taken many outfit photos the past few years. But suffice it to say that sleeveless tops with pants are now a “do” for me.
9. Bright-Colored Shoes
Remember when it used to be very much on trend to add a bright pair of shoes as a pop of color to an outfit, even when that color didn’t appear anywhere else in the look? Well, I tried to jump on board with that style and purchased a handful of colorful shoes, as shown below:
I was encouraged to try out this look in my virtual style consults with Bridgette Raes, who was (and I think still is?) a big proponent of wearing non-neutral footwear. However, I never felt truly comfortable having my shoes be the only instance of a color in a particular outfit. I always felt the need to include at least one other piece in that shade in my ensemble, and I sometimes ended up bringing in enough such items to be considered “matchy-matchy.”
Nowadays, I mostly keep it simple and wear only black and metallic shoes. The black shoes pair nicely with my mostly dark-colored bottoms, and my cool-toned metallic footwear provides a nice “bookend” for my hair. I currently own only one pair of shoes that isn’t black, metallic, or gray: my burgundy ankle boots. I love these boots, but I still only wear them with outfits that also include burgundy somewhere else, such as in a top, topper, or scarf. I’d be open to a multi-colored shoe option, perhaps an animal print or striped pair, but I’m no longer interested in wearing bright-colored footwear.
10. Colorful Jewelry
One of the goals I listed in my 2015 do’s and don’ts post was “aim to buy more colorful jewelry.” At the time, I thought I had too many neutral pieces in my accessory collection. I did end up purchasing quite a few colorful jewelry items over the next few years, but I didn’t love them as much as I hoped I would. I wore them on occasion, but I continued to reach for my neutral jewelry most of the time, especially my black and silver earrings, bracelets, and necklaces.
I still have some bright pieces that I wear, especially earrings in the blue family, but I put the brakes on buying any new colorful items. I also purged everything that I just wasn’t wearing, including most of the pieces shown below:
I was able to “rescue” the earrings in the middle of the top row by painting the light green stone with metallic nail polish to create a more versatile neutral piece. I also still own the turquoise earrings in bottom row, but I don’t wear them all that often. I’ve found that although I love the look of turquoise jewelry, I can really only wear it with black and white clothing, as I don’t own any turquoise or similarly colored garments (not for lack of trying).
Conclusion and Your Thoughts
So, that was a look at my ten previous “do’s” that no longer hold appeal for me. It was interesting for me to reflect back on my former style preferences to see how they have changed. Of course, many of my do’s from 2015 remain the same, but I feel that the shifts mentioned in today’s post are significant, as are the ones that I’ll cover in my “no longer don’ts” post next week (there are ten of those, too!).
Now, I’d love to hear from you! Here are a few questions to help you gather your thoughts, but please feel free to comment however you’d like:
- What types of garments, footwear, accessories, styles, and silhouettes did you used to love wearing but no longer do?
- How has your personal style changed in recent years or over the course of your adult life?
- What do you see as the reasons for those changes?
I look forward to reading about your “no longer do’s.” I hope you find this type of exploration helpful as you continue on your style journey.