This is the first of several “wrap-up posts” to close out the year. Most of these essays will be published in January, but we’ll get this one in right under the wire as the last post of 2021. To begin my wrapping things up, I thought it would be interesting to analyze what have been my best and worst clothing-related purchases of 2021.
Because I’d like to end the year on a high note, I’m going to start with what I view as my favorite purchases. Fortunately, I made a lot more good purchases this year than bad ones, so it was easy for me to choose the items to feature as my “bests.”
For the sake of brevity and getting my posts out in a relatively timely fashion, I’m going to split the review of my favorites into two parts, with the second portion going live next week. Today’s post covers the at-home section of my wardrobe, although some of the pieces highlighted can also cross over to be worn when I’m out and about.
Why What We Wear at Home Matters
I’m starting with my at-home items, as that’s where I (and probably most of us) have been spending the bulk of my time over the past almost two years. One “silver lining” of the pandemic for me has been that I’ve finally started prioritizing buying clothing to wear at home and for exercise. In the past, I skimped in this area because it was much more fun to shop for pieces to wear when I’m outside of the house. But my reality even before Covid-19 profoundly shifted all of our lives was that I’m at home far more often than not. I should have focused more on what I wore at home long before March 2020, but the pandemic was the catalyst for me to dedicate more of my shopping efforts – and clothing dollars – in that direction.
Some people may wonder why it even matters what we wear at home. I used to feel that way, too, but I’ve learned that I feel much better mentally and emotionally when I’m wearing something that I like and feel good in, no matter where I am. Even if no one else is around but me and my cats (who don’t care how I’m dressed), I still have to see myself, and there’s more of a pep in my step when I like my outfit. Additionally, I’m often not alone at home, especially during these pandemic times, and my husband appreciates when I pay more attention to my grooming and attire in his presence.
Finally, I make an effort to get out for short walks during the day, and it’s a lot easier to push myself to do this if I’m already wearing something that I don’t mind being seen in. Usually all I need to do to get going for a walk is to put on a hat and sunglasses (sun protection is very important to me), plug my earbuds into my phone (to listen to podcasts), and grab my house key. This takes just a minute or two, whereas having to change into a completely different outfit would take longer and might derail the entire effort.
I used to be embarrassed to be seen in what I wore at home, but since I prioritized this area of my wardrobe, I’m now quite happy and satisfied with what I wear at home and on my almost-daily walks. The effort I put into my at-home wardrobe in 2020 and 2021 has definitely paid off!
A Few Words About Links…
I’ve decided to add links for my favorite 2021 purchases that are still available to buy now. My reason for doing so is that I know it can be difficult for many of us to find quality pieces that suit our needs. At times, I’ve been led to items and brands that I would have never been aware of had it not been for a blogger pointing them out to me, so I see the value in sharing this type of knowledge from time to time. I won’t ever overdo it, though, because that’s not what I’m about here. Also, with the exception of a handful of Amazon items (I have an affiliate account with them), most of the links in this post are not affiliate links.
Of course, your bodies, preferences, and lifestyles may be vastly different from mine. However, it’s possible that you may find some “winners” that meet your specific needs among my favorite purchases of the year. As always, I encourage using “the power pause” before buying anything new in order to avoid impulse buying. I don’t do that a hundred percent of the time, but I’m always glad when I do. It’s helpful to give ourselves some space between wanting something and deciding whether or not it’s prudent for us to purchase it.
My Best At-Home Purchases
I’ve separated my best at-home purchases into several categories, as I often bought more than one of a given item type. Buying “multiples” can sometimes be ill-advised, but I approached it smartly this year by waiting until I knew an item was a workhorse before purchasing one in another color. If we buy multiples all at one time, we may not be aware of potential issues with the items, which can often only be discovered through wearing and laundering them. Additionally, one or more of the pieces may end up becoming wardrobe “benchwarmers” because we really only loved the first color we selected.
Lounge Henley Tops
I first discovered the Tommy John Lounge Henley at the 2020 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (NAS), when I purchased a charcoal gray version. These tops are super-soft and comfortable, and the perfect weight for mild Southern California winter temperatures. Since I loved my first lounge Henley so much, I gradually added five additional colors to my wardrobe over the past year. These tops are fairly expensive at the regular price, so I’ve usually waited for a sale to take place (there’s currently a sale on a lilac version, as well as the colorblock version shown above), but they’re actually worth the regular price because they’re just so cozy to wear.
It’s interesting that these tops include acrylic, as I usually find that fabric too itchy to wear, but that’s not at all the case here. I have opted to size up because I like my at-home clothing to fit a bit more loosely. I also think these tops run on the small side, especially for those of us who are larger in our bottom halves. As a bonus, the sleeves are long enough for my “gorilla arms,” which isn’t true for most of the tops I try on. My most recent lounge Henley acquisition was the red version, which I wore quite a bit leading up to Christmas.
I definitely recommend these tops, but I wasn’t as pleased with the joggers that are sold as companion pieces for them. I tried on a pair at this year’s NAS, but they weren’t long enough for me (no big surprise there!). I also feel that better options are available for a lower price, including the joggers I cover in the next section.
As with the tops covered above, I first discovered the Old Navy Breathe Joggers in 2020, when I purchased a pair in the color called “In the Navy.” I had been searching for comfortable at-home pants that were offered in tall sizes, and I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of these joggers given the low price. They fit true to size and are roomy enough for my larger thighs and calves. After wearing the navy version quite often, I gradually added four other colors to my closet.
I’m sad that the Breathe Joggers aren’t offered in black (why not?), but I love the colors that I was able to acquire. Surprisingly, I wear the green camo version the most, and I temper the somewhat “loud” pattern by pairing it with a black top. My 77-year-old mother also loves these joggers. I added a pair of purple joggers in with a puffer vest I bought for her in order to get free shipping, but they were a hit! I have since purchased three additional pairs for her, too, and she wears them on a daily basis, including for out-and-about wear (she pairs them with regular tops and shoes). The joggers are offered in regular, petite, tall, and plus sizes. The selection is a bit picked over at the moment, but they will likely replenish the supply shortly and may even add some new colors and patterns to the mix as well.
Relaxed Yoga Pants
I sometimes think I’m the only woman on the planet who doesn’t like to wear leggings, as they seem to be everywhere these days. I much prefer to wear more loose-fitting bottoms, and I’ve had a hard time finding ones that fit me well and are long enough. I’ve bought and returned countless pairs of yoga-style pants, but I finally found ones that work for me, at Amazon of all places. I’m not even sure how I found these pants, but I think I decided to search Amazon on a whim after I struck out everywhere else.
I ordered two different styles of the Yogipace yoga pants: the loose-fit sweatpants with pockets and the fleece-lined straight leg sweatpants. They are both offered in five different inseam lengths, including one that’s actually too long for me! The fleece-lined pants are warmer, whereas the loose-fit sweatpants are more lightweight. Both fit true to size and are very comfortable. Yogipace also offers many other types of pants, shorts, and skorts in their Amazon store. I may try their loose-fit wide leg dress pants sometime next year. Many of the Yogipace bottoms are only offered in black, but some are available in navy, charcoal, khaki, and white, too.
I’m so happy that I found relaxed yoga pants that work for me, as the old pairs I’ve been wearing were discontinued several years ago and have gotten extremely worn out. The only negative with the Yogipace pants is that I’m between two inseam lengths and had to get the pants hemmed by about an inch. For reference, I purchased the 35-inch inseam (I’m 5’10”), but the 33-inch inseam would have been too short. Interestingly, most tall-length pants from other brands have 34-inch inseams, which is often not quite long enough for me to wear with heels. This is why I’m going to consider Yogipace for non-exercise pants in the future, as the 35-inch inseam in that option would be perfect for me.
Barefoot Dreams Cardigans / Robes
One of my most worn 2021 purchases came from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale this year. I’ve been a fan of Barefoot Dreams cardigans for several years and had two previous versions that I’ve worn into the ground. Nordstrom almost always offers a few versions of these cardigans at their anniversary sale, and the one I liked the best this year was the CozyChic Lite Long Cardigan. It was one of my birthday gifts this year, and I liked it so much that I received a red version as one of my Christmas presents!
This cardigan is an open style and doesn’t include any fasteners, so I had a hook added to the front to keep it closed for added warmth (this addition only cost $5 via my tailor, but those who sew could add a hook themselves). One nice thing about the CozyChic cardigan is that it can we worn out and about as well as at home. It’s cozy but also looks quite polished and works well for casual wear.
Black Puffer Jackets
Two black puffer jackets are also included among my best purchases of 2021. I bought both of them early in the year, so they’re now in their second cold weather season. The Athleta Downtown jacket is shorter in length and is mostly worn for my evening walks on colder days. It’s still available for purchase in black, fuchsia, and burgundy (which is on sale now) in regular, petite, tall, and plus sizes. A cream print version is also on sale, but in limited sizes. I had to size up in the Downtown jacket, as it runs small in the midsection and hip area (many reviewers agree with me on this, but it may be true to size for those with an inverted triangle shape).
The second puffer jacket came from Old Navy and is longer and lighter in weight. I loved that it was offered in tall sizes, and I also was able to purchase it on sale for less than $50. Unfortunately, this jacket is no longer available, but they do have a shorter version for sale in three colors in limited sizes (I bought this one for my mom, who felt that it ran small, so you may want to size up if you decide to order it).
I wear the Old Navy jacket more for out-and-about occasions that are casual in nature. I packed both of the above jackets for my November trip to Lake Tahoe to see my family, and they were the perfect toppers to have along with me. I wore the shorter Downtown jacket for my walks by the lake, and I paired the longer puffer jacket with my standard outfits. The Downtown jacket is definitely warmer, but the Old Navy topper worked well for a mild November in Tahoe and is also great for the moderate temperatures we experience during our Southern California winters.
Dark Neutral Sneakers
The last of my 2021 best purchases were acquired late in the year but have already made a big difference in my wardrobe. After years of wearing walking shoes that combined black with other colors and white soles, I decided to buy a solid black pair. My reason for this is that I never wanted to wear my jogger pants on walks with my old walking shoes because I felt my feet looked large and obtrusive when my shoes weren’t partially covered by wider pants. Therefore, I only wore the joggers at home and continued to wear two very old pairs of straight-leg yoga pants on my walks (which I’ve now fortunately replaced with the Yogipace pants I wrote about above).
Buying the black Brooks Ghost 14 sneakers (which are actually running shoes, but I only wear them for walking) has helped me to broaden my horizons with my walking attire. The solid black sneakers look great with the multiple pairs of joggers that I own, as they don’t stand out so much with the narrower hems on the pants. I do have relatively large feet (size 9.5 or a European 40), but I always go up a size in walking shoes since my feet tend to swell during and after exercise. I also have high arches and high insteps, which could be considered “high volume” feet (check out this article about foot volume to learn more). The Brooks Ghost sneakers work well for my feet and were comfortable to wear on a long walk from the beginning. I’m very happy with these sneakers, which I’ve already worn at least thirty times despite only having them since mid-November.
I purchased the metallic sneakers in late-November after seeing my mom wear this style with her Old Navy joggers. I liked that they looked a bit more polished (one of my style guideposts – explained in this post) than my walking shoes and worked well in a more upscale ensemble including jogger pants. The style – Mephisto Runoff – is no longer being sold retail, but I was able to find a pair on eBay in my size (a half-size up from what my mom wears). They show minor signs of wear, but are still in good condition. I’ve worn them a few times to run some basic errands wearing my at-home clothing. I also wear the long Old Navy puffer jacket for that purpose, which creates a casual outfit that feels like it’s a step up from what I wear on my walks.
Both of the sneakers shown above have led to a big improvement in my ultra-casual wardrobe. I’m able to wear my jogger pants more often, and I also feel more pulled together when I’m wearing more casual attire outside of the house. I plan to add a nice pair of flat sandals to pair with joggers during the warmer months. Ideally, these will be shoes that I can walk decent distances in so that I can wear open shoes for strolls on hotter days.
So, there you have it… my best at-home purchases of 2021. I didn’t think this post would be as long as it is, but clearly, I had a lot to say about why these recent acquisitions have made such a big difference in my wardrobe satisfaction. I feel like I’m finally on the right track with my at-home wardrobe after years of feeling frumpy and unattractive in what I wore inside my house. I love that it’s so easy now for me to head out for a short walk around the complex where I live without having to change my clothes, and that I also feel more attractive for the largest proportion of my life. While at-home clothing isn’t typically as interesting and exciting as what we wear when we go out, it’s still very important and can make a big difference in how we feel.
Now I’d love to hear from you in terms of your best purchases of 2021. You don’t need to only comment on at-home clothing, but if you have insights and wins to share in that area, I’d love to read them. I’ll be writing about my best out-and-about purchases shortly, but if you want to comment on your favorite new pieces for that area of your wardrobe here, please feel free to do so. I look forward to reading whatever you decide to share.
Happy New Year!
As I write this, it’s the evening of December 31st. The new year is about to dawn where I live, but I know it’s already 2022 for many of you. Let me take this opportunity to wish each and every one of my readers a very Happy New Year! I wish you abundant blessings in 2022, and I hope this year will bring you good health, happiness, peace, and joy. I also wish for healing for the world and for the coronavirus pandemic to finally be brought under control. The past two years have been so challenging for all of us, but hopefully 2022 will be a year of hope, possibility, and recovery.
Stay tuned for part two of my best purchases of 2021 series, which will cover my out-and-about buys. Following that post, I will reveal my worst purchases of the year, along with the lessons I learned about my wardrobe and myself in 2021. I also plan to share a “best of the blog” post sometime soon, in which I’ll recap the most popular posts and links on My Wardrobe, Myself in 2021, as well as my personal favorite essays of the year. Later in January, I’ll share my word/theme for 2022, as well as my vision and plan for my wardrobe in the coming year. As always, thank you for being here, and I hope you’ll stick with me through 2022 as I continue to explore the intersection of clothing, emotions, and life.