Happy New Year to my wonderful readers! I hope that 2022 is off to a great start for you, and I really hope this will be a better year for the world.
I’m in the midst of a series of 2021 recap posts, which began with my last essay on my best at-home purchases from last year. I’m continuing on that path today with a review of my favorite out-and-about purchases of 2021. As with my previous post, I’ll break things down into several categories and outline why the new items have made a positive difference in my wardrobe and my style.
I don’t spend nearly as much time wearing my outfits for outside of the home as I do my ensembles for staying in. However, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, it makes a powerful difference when I’m dressed in clothing that I’m happy with. When we’re wearing pieces and outfits that we’re both physically and emotionally comfortable in, it can improve our confidence and our overall sense of well-being. Conversely, when our clothes are too tight, too fussy, or not in line with our personalities and lifestyles, we can end up feeling drained, demoralized, or insecure (or all three!). This has been the case for me more times than I can count, which is part of the reason I dedicate so much time to analyzing and improving my wardrobe.
My Best Out-and-About Purchases
I purchased good items in most of my wardrobe areas last year, but what’s pictured below are my absolute favorite buys. I’m grouping them into five different categories of pieces that I’m grateful to have bought over the course of 2021.
Most of the garments and accessories shown are no longer available, but several are still on offer in limited sizes and colors. I’ll include links to anything shown that’s still for sale (and often at a deeply discounted price!) in case any of you might be interested in potentially buying them. Please note that the links in this post are not affiliate links.
Comfortable Black Bottoms
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I struggle when it comes to bottom pieces, especially pants. I’m tall and short-waisted with very long legs, and I also carry any extra weight in the hip and thigh area, all of which contributes to good-fitting pants being extremely difficult for me to find. Luckily, I was able to find two great pairs of black pants last year that fit well and are comfortable to wear.
The metallic trim on the sides of the slim-leg pants adds some nice visual interest to an otherwise basic pair of trousers. I’ve enjoyed dressing these pants up and down in many different outfits. The straight-leg pants are a wider version of the slim-fitting knit bottoms that I bought in 2020 and have worn frequently. Unfortunately, the straight-leg version is no longer available, but the slim-leg version is still offered in both black and navy in standard, petite, plus, and tall sizes. You may need to size down in these pants unless you prefer a more generous fit.
I mentioned in a post last year that I’ve been mostly moving away from skirts, but I still enjoy wearing them from time to time. However, I’d gotten to the point where I only had one skirt remaining – a black maxi skirt – that I felt fit and flattered me (two other skirts are in my holding zone). While I pondered phasing skirts completely out of my wardrobe, I decided to add a second black skirt to my closet instead, as I still own a small capsule of shorter tops that only work with skirts. The purchase of the new midi-length black skirt, which I bought via a late-season sale, will help add more versatility to my summer wardrobe and help me get more wear out of the tops. The skirt pictured above is no longer available, but a similar version is currently being sold from the same brand.
Loveappella Printed Tops
Just as it can be challenging for me to find pants that fit me well off the rack, I also experience issues with the fit of tops. Much of the time, I need to have the sides of my tops taken in because I have broad shoulders and a narrow torso, and I also prefer a more fitted (but not snug) silhouette. However, I found a brand and style of tops this past fall that fit me well without the need for any alterations. Since I’ve also been wanting to purchase more tops that look great on their own, I was happy to find a few great options from Loveappella at Nordstrom.
I purchased the black print floral stripe top first, and once I saw how well it fit me, I bought the navy stripe / polka dot hybrid version (available via the same link above) shortly thereafter. These tops are both a bit longer in the back than the front, which I like because the length still works well for me even given my height. A couple of months later, I bought the charcoal and burgundy colorblock top, which I pair with black pants the way it’s shown on the model.
All of these tops are still available in most sizes and for a discounted price. The colorblock top is also offered in two other color combinations, but I didn’t take the leap on those because the colors didn’t suit me as well and I also want to avoid having too many “multiples” in my wardrobe. I find that the Loveappella tops run true to size, and the three-quarter sleeves have enough length for my long arms. At the moment, I’m pairing my new Loveappella tops with cardigans or jackets, but they also work well on their own, which is in line with my goal (that I wrote about in this post) of buying more “special tops” that don’t need layering or a lot of accessories in order to look “complete.”
J. Jill Cardigans
I blogged last year about my “addiction” to cardigans and my desire to pare down an oversized collection. At the time, I had purchased far too many pieces for that area of my wardrobe. Fortunately, I was able to return or sell nine cardigans that didn’t work well for me and also identify the issues that made those items problematic. It wasn’t all bad, though, as the cardigans above were good acquisitions that have served me well since I brought them into my closet.
All of the cardigans pictured were purchased at J. Jill during the early portion of 2021, so they are mostly no longer available (but the light purple cardigan is still available in size XS). A lot of J. Jill clothing doesn’t fit me very well, as the cuts can sometimes be too boxy and oversized, but the five cardigans shown are all cut slimmer (although I sized down in each of them). The cardigans are all mid-weight, which is perfect for my Southern California climate. I also own black and teal versions of the red cardigan from 2020 that have been worn often.
The only cardigan that I had altered in any way was the textured tweed duster, as it originally had side slits, which is a detail that I don’t like (I mentioned why in this post). It was a simple alteration to have my tailor sew the slits shut, but I plan to refrain from purchasing tops or toppers with that detail in the future. The other cardigans all fit me well off the rack, and the duster is a new favorite after the simple modification was made.
I like that the two black and white print cardigans pair well with all of my black pieces, as well as with the jewel tones that I like to wear. The red and purple cardigans look great with my black tops and many of the printed tops in my closet. I have a handful of navy-printed tops (including the Loveappella one shown in the last section), so it’s nice to have a good quality navy cardigan to throw on over them when necessary. All in all, I’m very happy with these five cardigans and I’m glad I bought them. I still need to curtail my penchant to accumulate an overabundance of cardigans, but at least I’m more aware now of which styles are likely to become wardrobe workhorses.
Sleeveless Midi Dresses
For years, I only wore dresses and skirts during the summer months, but I’ve embraced cropped pants more during the past few years. That said, I still enjoy wearing dresses, especially when I go out with my husband or to meet a friend for lunch or dinner. While my preferred hemline used to be either knee-length or a full maxi, my preference is now the midi-length styles that have recently become more popular. I added the above three dresses to my closet last summer, and I love them all.
I already owned several black dresses, but I was immediately attracted to the asymmetrical hem of the first dress when I saw it at Nordstrom. The silhouette of the dress is “easy and breezy,” which is wonderful during the hot summer months. The black and white print dress also came from Nordstrom, and it can easily be dressed up or down based on what I pair it with.
The pink print dress was kind of a “wild card,” as I don’t own any other garments in that light pink shade. I tried it on at J. Jill on a whim and was surprised to find that I loved the way it looked on me. I do need to wear a special bra with it because of the halter style neckline, but I fortunately own several bras that I can easily convert to a racerback fit. I like that this dress is quite different from all of the other dresses that I own, so it adds some nice variety to my summer wardrobe. I never used to be able to wear such a light pastel shade, but since I transitioned to my natural hair color a few years ago, I’ve found that many lighter colors that previously washed me out now suit me quite well.
I now own twelve dresses, but I’ll likely pass a few of them on next summer. While I used to basically live in maxi-length dresses, I currently have just two, one of which was not worn at all during 2021. That dress and two or three shorter styles in my closet probably won’t make it into the rotation for summer 2022. However, with my new acquisitions shown above, I think I’ll have plenty of pretty and versatile dresses to carry me through the warmer months this year.
Fun and Interesting Accessories
Accessories are the pieces that add a lot of “flavor” and personality to our outfits, so I was pleased to acquire a nice selection of accessories during 2021. The three bracelets, two pendants, two scarves, and pair of sunglasses shown above are all among my best purchases of the year. The sunglasses were my most recent accessory purchase, from a costume accessory store at my local mall. They were inexpensive and kind of an impulse buy, but I love the cat-eye shape and I feel the sunglasses are in line with my “dramatic” style guidepost.
My favorite bracelets to wear are a combination of black and silver. The three bracelets shown are all in line with that description, but they’re different enough to allow me to mix things up a bit. I’ve worn the bracelet in the top right more often than the other two, but I love them all. I also really like the two pendants I bought from J. Jill, which are similar styles but different colors. The gray and black version is still available at a very low price, and that pendant is also available in a violet option. Because I’ve been moving into wearing navy and other blue shades more often, the long blue pendant was a good purchase for me. It would also look good with a white or light-colored top as part of a summer ensemble.
I haven’t been wearing scarves as often as I used to in recent years, but I want to get back into it, as a printed scarf can really help to pull together an outfit that includes several solid pieces. The two new scarves also came from J. Jill, and the black watercolor print wrap is still available (and on sale). The navy print scarf pairs well with the navy cardigan pictured earlier in this post, as well as with the light purple cardigan. The fact that both cardigans were also purchased at J. Jill helps with the color coordination.
Conclusion – and Your Thoughts?
Overall, I feel that I bought too many out-and-about pieces this past year, especially given the fact that we’re still in a pandemic and I spend even more time at home than usual. Not all of my purchases were successful, but I feel good about the items that I covered in this post and the last one. I’m also happy that I placed greater emphasis during 2021 on buying clothes for the way I actually live my life. I’m making far fewer mistakes than I used to with both out-and-about and at-home clothing, which I feel is in large part due to my style definition and my analysis of what pieces didn’t work for me.
Speaking of that last point, my next post will cover my worst purchases of 2021. Fortunately, there weren’t that many of those, but I could sometimes kick myself for the ones that do exist. I’m not going to kick myself, though, and instead will endeavor to learn from the error of my ways so that I can continue to improve my purchasing track record.
Stay tuned for my worst purchases review next week, but for now, I’d love to get your thoughts on what I covered in today’s post. Feel free to share about either my purchases or your own. Here are a few questions that may help you to gather your thoughts:
- What were your best out-and-about purchases of 2021?
- What was it about those items that made them your favorites?
- What is on your list to buy this year, either for your at-home or out-and-about wardrobe?
- Have you dramatically changed the way you dress as a result of the ongoing pandemic?
I welcome your answers to these questions, as well as any other thoughts you’d like to contribute here. Thank you and have a wonderful weekend!