My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

We’re now almost a month into the new year, so I’ll soon switch from reflecting back on 2021 to looking at my vision for my wardrobe and my life in 2022. But before I do that, I want to share some of the highlights from My Wardrobe, Myself over the past year. In today’s essay, I look at the most popular posts of 2021, my personal favorites, and a few other pieces of information about the blog that you might find interesting.

best of the blog 2021

I’ve done “best of” posts for most of my years of blogging, although I skipped 2020 because it was a strange and surreal year (to say the least…) and I didn’t end up posting all that often. These yearly compilations help new readers to easily access recent highlights, and they also give longtime readers an opportunity to revisit essays they may have missed or would like to explore again. Of course, you can always view my earlier writings via the Article Archive, or you can browse specific topics through the “Browse by Category” links on the site sidebar.

In case you want to check out my previous “best of” collections, here are the links:

Some General Information and Stats…

Last year was when My Wardrobe, Myself was born, as I shifted the name and focus of the blog in late July. What I was writing about had already migrated back toward wardrobe-related topics, but I decided to formally rebrand to align the blog name and tagline with the subject matter. I’ve been happier with my blogging experience since I rebranded, as it’s now much easier for me to decide what to write about. While I’ll still branch out into other topics from time to time, writing about wardrobe management, shopping, and style are really my “wheelhouse,” and it feels good to stay there.

During 2021, I published 38 essays on this blog. That was a sharp increase over 2020, when just 20 new posts went live. I strive for quality over quantity in what I write, so I’ll probably never post all that frequently, but I experienced some major “writer’s block” in 2020. This was a result of the pandemic, as well as the open-endedness of what I could write about when the blog was called Full Life Reflections (you can learn more about my blogging history on the About Page).

I mostly attribute my increase in content last year to the writing course I took in February and March (which I shared about in this post), but narrowing my focus back to the topic of wardrobe also played an important role. I rarely run out of topics or enthusiasm when writing about clothing and our often-complex relationship with shopping and what we wear. Last year, I wrote 29 wardrobe-related posts, while the other 9 essays centered on topics like goals, the pandemic, information overload, decluttering, and aging. You can view a listing of all of my 2021 posts, as well those from previous years, in my Article Archive, but I’ll also be highlighting and linking many of them later in this essay.

Top Posts Published in 2021

The ten posts below received the most traffic of all the articles that I published in 2021. As you can see, almost all of them (eight) were on wardrobe-related topics, while the remaining two focused on the blog rebranding and aging, respectively. These posts are listed in order of the traffic received, with the most-visited one mentioned first. I include a brief synopsis of what each article was about, along with updates in some instances. There are some additional essays from previous years that also attracted a lot of attention, and those will be covered in the next section.

  1. Do You Have a False Sense of Security About Your Wardrobe? (June 3) – This was the most popular post that I wrote last year, and it was also one of my favorites. Many of us have closets full of clothes, but much of what’s in there are “filler” items that we rarely or never wear. Think about it… How many of your clothing pieces (or shoes or accessories) do you wear on a regular basis, and how many others just hang there unworn and unloved? I explored this question related to my wardrobe, and shared how my concept of “the rule of ten” could be helpful in paring things down. I haven’t done much with the rule of ten since I applied it to my shoe collection last spring (beginning with this post), but I plan to return to that analysis with additional areas of my wardrobe soon.
  2. “Full Life Reflections” is Now “My Wardrobe, Myself” (July 23) – This post announced the formal rebranding of the blog in the middle of the year. It was high time that the name and tagline matched what I was writing about, which had increasingly migrated back to the realm of wardrobe management, style, and shopping. I set the stage for the topics I planned to address in upcoming posts, some of which I’ve yet to delve into (but will do so in 2022).  I don’t always plan what I’ll be writing about in advance, but I have a running list of potential subjects that I can draw upon as desired. I’m also open to input from readers for what they’d like to read about, so feel free to contact me with suggestions.
  3. The Power of Twenty-Five Good Outfits (September 1) – I used to engage in regular outfit creation sessions, during which I would create and photograph an abundance of ensembles. However, I no longer feel the need to have hundreds of potential outfits to wear, so I decided to hone in on just twenty-five outfits each for at-home and out-and-about occasions. I did this for the warm weather season (typically July through November), but I have yet to do so for the cooler months (usually December through June). I see a definite value in taking time to list out “go-to” ensembles, as it saves us time and better ensures that we’ll like what we’re wearing. It can also convince us that we don’t need as many clothes as we thought we did, which is always a bonus for those of us who desire to get by with less.
  4. If One is Good, Five Isn’t Necessarily Better (March 19) – This post was about my overabundance of cardigans, but the concepts could be applied to any wardrobe area that we tend to buy too many of. I’ve found that we can often end up with too many of one particular type of item because we “settle” for less than what we truly desire. Doing so can lead us to continue to search for – and buy – pieces in that category, which has been the case for me with cardigans and other pieces. I ended the post with a step-by-step process for dealing with wardrobe overload. I followed up this essay with a two-part series in which I went through the process myself with my cardigans. The second part was quite popular and is highlighted below.
  5. Cardigan Downsizing Debrief – Part Two (April 9) – After going through my step-by-step process for dealing with a problem wardrobe category, I was able to purge nine cardigans from my closet. Fortunately, I was able to return more than half of them for a refund, but what’s most important is that I learned some key lessons from the experience. In this essay, I outlined those six lessons and showed how they applied to the purged cardigans. Looking back at those lessons now, I realize that I continue to apply most of them to my shopping, but I still have too many black toppers (lesson four) and I’ve sometimes purchased too many like items within a short timeframe (lesson six). I need to do better at following my own good advice, regardless of how much I love black and even when there are a lot of post-holiday sales going on!
  6. What I Don’t Wear Anymore, Part One (April 16) – My style has changed a lot since I started Recovering Shopaholic back in 2013. After reviewing old closet item photos, I decided to delve into the specifics of how my style preferences have shifted. In this first installment of a three-part series, I shared that I no longer love to wear the skirts and blazers that were wardrobe mainstays of mine for many years. I showed photos of some of those old pieces, as well as outfits that featured them. In looking at those ensembles today, I feel that they’re too formal and conservative, but that doesn’t mean I need to eschew skirts and blazers altogether. Although I have very few of each in my closet today, I hope to get back into wearing such items in 2022 and beyond. However, they will look a lot different today and will be more in line with my “style guideposts” of dramatic, polished, and elegant (you can read about that concept in the second half of this post).
  7. What I Don’t Wear Anymore, Part Three: What I Like to Wear Now (April 30) – This was the most fun installment in the three-part series, as it examined my new style preferences, as well as the direction in which I’d like to see things evolve. Looking at my style inspiration photos now (towards the end of the post), I realize that I’ve taken positive steps toward dressing in my desired style. It’s still very much a work in progress, but I’m happier with my ensembles now than when I wrote the essay. I’d like to incorporate more black-and-white and all-black outfits moving forward, as well continue with long over lean looks. Even though that style formula isn’t exactly on the cutting edge of fashion these days, it’s what I personally prefer, so that’s what I’m going to stick with when getting dressed.
  8. Revisiting Wardrobe “Do’s” Six Years Later (September 28) – It was interesting to go back and look at the do’s and don’ts lists I created in 2015 to see what’s changed and what stayed the same. Doing so launched a four-part series that began with this post, in which I shared the characteristics I look for in the garments, shoes, and accessories I add to my closet. I broke down my “do’s” by item types and also shared photos of pieces in my wardrobe that fit my new specifications. I feel that I’ve gotten even more specific since writing this post, which will hopefully assist me in making better choices and fewer shopping mistakes.
  9. Applying “The Rule of Ten” to My Shoe Collection (May 12) – Last spring, I came up with the “rule of ten” concept to help more reduce my out-and-about wardrobe to a more manageable size. I postulated that I only really needed a maximum of ten items in each wardrobe category. Because I don’t have out-and-about occasions all that often (usually just three or four times per week), I don’t need a large number of pieces in order to dress well. I decided to start my rule of ten exploration with my shoe collection and choose up to ten pairs of shoes each for the summer and “not summer” seasons. In this essay, I showed the shoes I selected and explained why I made those choices. In later posts (HERE and HERE), I addressed the “on the bubble” shoes that didn’t made the cut and outlined my plan for dealing with each pair. I’ll do an update on my shoes soon and also delve into other wardrobe categories related to the rule of ten.
  10. Reflections at Fifty-Five: Physical Appearance (August 26) – I turned fifty-five in early August, which elicited a lot of unexpected feelings in me. I didn’t think it would be that big of a “milestone” birthday, but it was, so I decided to write about what I was thinking and feeling. The first topic that I addressed was physical appearance in relation to aging. I wrote about why looking older is so hard for me, as well as about my long-term struggles with negative body image. I also explored some of the societal influences and attitudes that make it more difficult for women to age. The physical appearance aspect of aging remains challenging for me five months later, but hopefully I’ll find a way to make peace with the changes in the way I look as I inch into my late fifties and sixties.

Other Popular Posts Written in Previous Years

Many of the essays that I wrote prior to 2021 continued to receive a lot of traffic last year, primarily as a result of Google searches. Although my gray hair transition posts are still quite popular (the pandemic really boosted the interest in that topic), a few articles from my earlier years of blogging also attracted attention from readers over the course of 2021.

Below is a list of the ten essays written before 2021 that were among the twenty-five most popular on the blog last year. For the sake of time and space, I won’t give a synopsis for these older posts. However, they’re all linked below in case the topic appeals to you and you want to check them out.

  1. Gray Hair Transition – Don’t Do What I Did! (April 20, 2018)
  2. On Forgiveness: The Three Types and When They Apply (April 26, 2018)
  3. What a Pain in the Neck! (September 9, 2010)
  4. Gray Hair Transition – Changing the Narrative (February 20, 2019)
  5. Gray Hair Transition – Rounding the Seven Month Mark (November 18, 2016)
  6. What is a Full Life? – Revisited (March 2, 2018)
  7. 2020 Wardrobe Goals – End of the Year Update (December 31, 2020)
  8. Are You a Moderator or an Abstainer? (June 8, 2018)
  9. Gray Hair Transition – Three Months and Counting (August 5, 2016)
  10. Missing Tile Syndrome (May 3, 2010)

My Favorite 2021 Essays

While many of the most popular 2021 posts highlighted above are also among my favorites (numbers 1, 4, 5, 7, and 10), there are some additional essays that I feel especially proud to have written. These personal favorite articles are listed in chronological order, from the oldest to the most recent. As with the most popular posts above, I include a brief summary of the essay, as well as notes about why it’s one of my favorites.

  1. Reflections on My 2020 “Enough” Theme (January 16) – For as long as I can remember, I’ve been selecting a word/theme to govern each year (I’ll share my 2022 theme in my next post). My theme for 2020 was “enough,” but I worried that it kind of got lost in the midst of the global pandemic that so greatly impacted all of our lives. However, as I reflected back upon how “enough” had permeated my existence throughout the previous year, I found that I made more positive changes than I had originally thought. I looked at my shifts related to “enough” in various facets of my life, and I ended the post with some insights from readers about that concept. I enjoy looking back and seeing how I’m still experiencing a lot of growth even when I don’t always realize it.
  2. Less is More in 2021: Part Two (February 6) – I wrote two posts to introduce my word for 2021, “less.” While the first part centered on my home and my wardrobe, this second installment focused more on the psychological manifestation of the theme. I set intentions for less worry, fewer “shoulds,” less consumption of news, decreased procrastination, and less self-criticism and comparison during the course of the year. I also highlighted the things that I wanted to cultivate more of in my life, including love, joy, presence, creativity, peace, gratitude, health, and time in nature. How did I do with my intentions for both more and less? I’ll do a recap about this next week before I introduce my new 2022 theme.
  3. Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2021: Lessons Learned (August 4) – As has been the case for many years, I shopped the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (NAS) in 2021. I wrote a separate post about how I got sucked into the NAS vortex, but I followed it up with this recap of what I learned from the experience. There were actually eight key lessons that I learned (in most cases, re-learned), and I want to make sure to revisit this post before I even entertain the thought of shopping NAS 2022. For the most part, I don’t think it’s worth it, as there’s just so much hype and scarcity involved, and the sale also occurs long before the cool weather begins where I live. Following this post, I did an analysis of how many pieces I actually ended up keeping from the sale each year, and the numbers are low. For me personally, I think the only things worth buying at NAS are tried-and-true basics like bras, t-shirts, and sleepwear.
  4. A Tale of Two Suitcases (December 3) – I took a trip in late November to visit my family in the Reno-Tahoe area, and my husband’s sister arrived for a visit to our home in San Diego the day after I returned. The confluence of these two trips allowed me to compare and contrast the way both my sister-in-law and I packed for our travel. As is typical for me, I over-packed, particularly when it came to tops and out-and-about-specific clothing. My sister-in-law surprisingly arrived with just a small carry-on bag, despite the fact that she had spent a week visiting friends in the Vancouver area prior to arriving in San Diego. In this post, I share her very pared-down packing list, as well as my personal takeaways from comparing my own suitcase contents to hers. The next time I take a trip, I plan to employ a few of her strategies to see if I can easily get by with less.
  5. Reflections at Fifty-Five: The Mental and Emotional (December 19) – In this essay, I explored some of the psychological issues surrounding aging, including what it means to be a “senior,” whether or not we feel and think older when we reach that status, if it’s too late to do certain things, and if it’s a bad thing to have fewer dreams and a shorter “bucket list” in our later years. These are all concepts that I continue to ponder, but I’ve mostly come to the conclusion that there’s a peace to be found in embracing a simpler, more contented existence rather than pursuing the continual striving that’s so rampant in today’s society. My priorities have changed as I’ve moved through middle age, and I now more fully value being rather than doing and having. This is a complex and evolving situation, however, and I sometimes still struggle with the tyranny of the “shoulds” and other such challenges. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about aging in upcoming posts in the “myself” realm of the blog, so stay tuned…

Where Readers Came From…

Surprisingly, there were visitors to this blog from 189 countries last year! Of course, some of those were probably “bots” rather than actual readers, but I was still happy to see that my writing has reach well beyond the country in which I live. That said, the largest number of visitors were from the United States, and the other predominantly English-speaking countries weren’t far behind.

Here’s a look at the top ten countries where my 2021 readers hailed from:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Canada
  4. Australia
  5. New Zealand
  6. India
  7. The Netherlands (where everyone knows how to pronounce my last name – it’s “roose” rather than “rose”)
  8. Germany
  9. Ireland
  10. France

Most visitors reach My Wardrobe, Myself by way of internet searches, but there were a few blogs that also regularly directed traffic here, including my own previous blog. As a thank you to those other sites, I’m listing the top referrers here:

  1. Katie Goes PlatinumHelpful tips and resources for “ditching the dye” and rocking natural gray hair.
  2. Sew Ruthie StyleAdventures in garment construction (plus random thoughts, photos of interesting places, and various stuff she’s made).
  3. You Look Fab Comprehensive blog and forum about all things fashion and style!
  4. Recovering ShopaholicThe blog that started it all in 2013 (at least in terms of my wardrobe and shopping exploration – I actually started blogging in 2010!). I haven’t posted there since 2017, but I’ve left the site and its hundreds of posts up as an ongoing resource on smarter shopping and other related topics.

Conclusion and Coming Attractions

I hope you enjoyed this retrospective on the state of the blog in 2021. Hopefully you were able to read a post or two for the first time or perhaps revisit one of your favorites. It was interesting for me to see which topics were popular with readers this past year. Seeing that wardrobe-related essays were generally the most visited (although those gray hair posts are still high on the list!) validates my decision to rebrand the blog back in July.

I plan to go back and re-read some of the essays linked in today’s post, as I often need reminders in various areas of wardrobe management – and life. In fact, I may dedicate some future posts to revisiting topics that I wrote about in the past to see what’s changed in terms of my experience and perspective.

As always, I welcome your thoughts on what I’ve shared today. Feel free to comment on any of the topics highlighted above, as well as whatever’s on your mind. In my next post, I’ll share my word of the year for 2022, as well as do a recap on how I did with 2021’s word, “less,” which I introduced in a two-part series (HERE and HERE) last January/February.

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4 thoughts on “The Best of My Wardrobe, Myself 2021

  1. Sue says:

    #4 If One is Good, Five Isn’t Necessarily Better has been the biggest game changer for me. It helped me realise that I prefer unique pieces over duplicates every time in my wardrobe. Thanks for all your great work, Debbie. From a live fan in the Netherlands (definitely not a bot 😉).

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you found that post so helpful, Sue! I think I’ve struggled a lot with my wardrobe over the years from either having too many basics or too many unique/one-off pieces, so I’ve come to really understand how much balance matters. Unique pieces give our outfits “life,” so we need to make sure to give some priority to them.

      I’m so happy to have readers from around the world! I know there are some bots that are skewing my stats in certain countries, but I don’t think as much in the European countries. I hope to visit the Netherlands one day… My husband is almost 100% Dutch and I’m about a quarter Dutch (my maternal grandfather was from Vlaardingen).

  2. Maggie says:

    HI Debbie, I missed the chance to add a comment on your gray hair transition post. I remembered that I had seen men and women with some bright colors in their hair. I looked around on the internet and found color spray and colored wax in different colors as well as silver. I wondered if any of your readers had tried them. There are videos on YouTube as well.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Those temporary colors can be fun, Maggie! I haven’t explored them myself yet because my hair isn’t really that gray/white, but I’ve seen them look pretty cool and edgy on those with light hair. The bright temporary colors like blue, purple, and pink look particularly good on short hair. I may try them one day… The closest I came was testing out a silver spray color to try to help with my gray hair transition a few years back, but it didn’t work well enough to blend my roots with the rest of my hair (too much contrast). If anyone has tried these types of products, I’d be interested in reading about your experience as well.

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