Over the years, I’ve written many times about the problems that can occur when we accumulate too many clothes. An overly full closet can become overwhelming, and having more garments to choose from doesn’t always mean that we’re well-dressed. In fact, it can sometimes have the opposite effect when decision fatigue sets in. Last month, I posted about having too many plain black tee shirts, the reasons why that happened, and how I plan to address the issue. Today, I’m going to highlight a different type of over-duplication in my closet and how it has impacted my wardrobe at large.
First, A Quick Aside…
A quick aside before I get started… I know that a lot of the topics I write about here can be considered first-world problems, especially in light of the many horrible things that are going on in the world today. I realize that I’m fortunate to even be pondering things like having too many of a certain type of garment, but I also know that such issues can be frustrating for me and many others, even if they’re not of earthshattering importance.
I’ll leave the meatier world problems to those who are more qualified than I am to write about them, and I’ll stay in my lane. Please know, though, that I care deeply about so much more than clothing, style, and shopping – and I hope and pray for a better tomorrow.
It Seemed Like a Good Deal – and a Good Idea…
Sometimes when we find a particular style that we like, we think it’s a good idea to buy that piece in multiple colors and/or patterns. This propensity is even more likely when the item in question is either sold for a low price or on sale. Sometimes buying multiples ends up working well for us, but it can be a risky proposition, especially with the quality issues that are rampant with clothing today. While it’s a definite bummer to have one item fall apart after only a handful of wears, the disappointment and frustration can be intensified when we have purchased two or more such pieces, as has been the case for me with a particular type of t-shirt.
The Nordstrom brand Caslon offers what they call a “rounded V-neck t-shirt.” These tops are regularly priced at nineteen dollars, but they’re often discounted, including during Nordstrom’s yearly anniversary sale. The tops are very comfortable and are available in many solid colors, as well as various types of stripes and other fun patterns. They’re perfect for my casual lifestyle, or so I thought…
Because “the price was right” and the tees seemed to be well-suited for wearing at home or for low-key outings, it wasn’t long before I accumulated a sizeable collection of Caslon rounded V-neck t-shirts. Here’s a look at the ones that I currently own, total of fourteen (eek!):
It’s a good assortment of colors and patterns, right? I was happy with the tees at first, as they were cozy and lightweight. However, I soon discovered that their quality and durability was questionable at best. Although they already run large and I needed to size down, I also found that they stretched out and grew larger with wear and after being laundered multiple times. They didn’t hold their shape well at all, and I needed to wash and reshape them frequently (even after only wearing them for a few hours) to try to regain the fit I had liked when I purchased them.
The tees are made of 60% cotton and 40% modal, which is a form of rayon created from beech tree pulp. Although modal is considered to be more durable and flexible than standard rayon fibers, I haven’t found the Caslon tees to be durable at all. In fact, I’m been extremely disappointed in the durability and longevity of these tops. Although I no longer count wears, I seriously doubt that I will reach the thirty-wear benchmark for many of my Caslon tees, if any, at least not in a condition that I’d feel proud to be seen in.
Fourteen Tees Wasn’t a Good Idea at All!
If I had only purchased one or two of the Caslon tees, I would still be disappointed in their sub-standard quality, especially because I used to rely on Nordstrom for clothing that would stand the test of time. However, since I amassed fourteen such tops, I’m all the more frustrated that the tees stretch out, “bell out” at the bottom, and just plain look shabby after not that many wears. I’m frustrated with Nordstrom for selling a shoddy product, but I’m also frustrated with myself for falling prey to the allure of the multiple.
Yes, the colors and patterns look lovely at first glance, and the price of the tees was low enough for me to jump of the “multiple bandwagon” without breaking the bank. But I didn’t really get a “deal” on the tees now, did I? What I have now are a bunch of t-shirts that I only really feel comfortable wearing around the house. While I had originally designated many of these tops as “crossover items” that could be worn both at home and when out and about, they just don’t look good enough to wear for the latter purpose. Some of the necklines are now too low-cut because they’ve become too stretched out, and the hemlines on the tees often don’t stay in place well, either. These tops are fine worn with joggers at home, but they don’t exactly live up to my “polished” style guidepost. And come to think of it, don’t I want to look polished at home, too?
It seems as if the tees all started looking “worse for wear” around the same time, which can be a hazard of both buying multiples and having a larger wardrobe. When someone dresses from a smaller capsule, they’ll typically be able to identify quality issues much sooner because all of their closet pieces are being worn more frequently. But for someone like me who owns well over a hundred garments, it’s taken longer for me to wear and wash the tops enough times to identify the quality issues. And in the interim, I accumulated more Caslon tees because I thought they were a good staple item for my lifestyle. But now that I’ve gradually gotten around to wearing most of the tees ten to twenty times (as a rough estimate), they’re like dominoes falling down in terms of their becoming “shabby.”
An Expensive and Embarrassing Lesson
This is an expensive lesson for me to learn, and an embarrassing one, too, because I’m revealing it on the Internet. Even though each tee only cost an average of fourteen dollars (because I got many of them on sale), I have wasted over two-hundred dollars on these shoddy Caslon tees in total. I suspect that most of the tees won’t even make it to the end of the year, even as at-home wear. But as I mentioned earlier, I still want to feel good about the way I look at home, and misshapen tops don’t exactly increase a person’s self-confidence.
I decided to share my embarrassing multiple Caslon tee story to warn you of the potential hazards of buying too many of the same types of items. Not only might you run across quality snafus like what I wrote about above, you may also experience changes to your lifestyle or body size (like I shared about in my last post) that could potentially render a large swath of garments unwearable or impractical. When you only have one or two pieces that you can no longer wear for whatever reason, it’s unfortunate, but it’s not that big of a deal. However, when the number reaches the double digits, that can sting.
Now, if you’ve tested out a particular type of t-shirt (or pair of jeans or whatever) by wearing and washing it at least several times and found that it suits your needs and holds up well, it can make sense to purchase other colors or even “backups” of your favorite colors. I wish I would have done that with my favorite Old Navy V-Neck Performance Tees, which have sadly been discontinued. I’m still “babying” the few tops that I have left in that style, but I have yet to find a replacement that I like as much. Those tees cost even less than the Caslon tees, but they’ve held up much better and have only recently had pilling issues (after far more than thirty wears!). It would have made sense for me to buy more of those tees when I had a chance, but I didn’t know that Old Navy would decide to discontinue the V-necks in favor of other styles that didn’t work for me.
The bottom line is that we can’t always tell early on whether or not something will be a wardrobe “all-star” or a closet fail. I loved the way the Caslon tees fit and flattered me early on, but the tops I have now bear little resemblance to the way they looked at the beginning. Clearly, they weren’t built to last. I don’t necessarily believe that a nineteen-dollar top should last for years on end, but it definitely should make it to the thirty-wear benchmark in my opinion.
I have to wonder if all cotton/modal blends are the same, although I’ve also had issues with 100-percent cotton tees as well. The type of cotton can of course make a difference, but I’ve found that synthetic fibers or blends with a portion of synthetic fibers tend to hold up better. When spandex is included with cotton or cotton blends, that tends to help, too, especially when it pertains to pieces holding their shape.
Tees That Have Worked Well for Me
So, what tees have worked well for me? Here are a few of the brands/styles that have impressed me when it comes to casual and athletic tees (I’ve linked to those items that are still available for purchase – only the Amazon tops are affiliate links):
- Athleta Momentum Tees – I like both the short-sleeved and long-sleeved versions, but I’m not as fond of the sleeveless options (I don’t like racerback styles). What’s great about these tops is that they have “grippers” at the bottom hem to keep them from riding up. The sizing is a bit inconsistent, with some styles running true-to-size and others running a size small (if you don’t like your tops to be super fitted). The printed styles look less “athletic” in my opinion and work well as crossover items.
- Athleta Outbound Tees – I have only tried the short-sleeved version of this top, and I sized down in it for a more fitted look than on the model. These tops have a thicker band at the bottom to hold them in place, but I don’t like the way that looks on white and other light colors (I’m still in search of a good white tee that isn’t too sheer). I only have this top in the tawny rose color, but I would consider buying other darker colors that may come along (you know I don’t need more black tees!).
- Mondetta Plain and Space-Dyed Tees – I found these tees at Costco and have been very happy with them. They come in packs of two with two different colors or prints. I needed to size down in these tops for a more fitted (but not tight) These tops stay in place well and can be worn for both exercise and casual out-and-about purposes. These tops are also available on Amazon (for a higher price and in limited sizes) if you’re not a Costco member.
- Amazon Essentials V-Neck T-Shirts – Like the Mondetta tees, these also come in packs of two, and in a wide assortment of colors, as well as a few patterns. I haven’t had these tees long, so I can’t vouch for their durability, but I like the fit and the fact that they stay in place well (probably due to the 6% elastane in the mix). I feel like they’re pretty true to size, but if you like a looser fit, size up. They’re good for layering or on their own. I also like the crewneck version of these tees.
- 32 Degrees Cool Fitted T-Shirt – If you like very fitted tees with a lot of stretch, you might give these a try. They’re very inexpensive (and on deep sale right now) and work well for exercise purposes or as layering pieces. I tried sizing up for a looser fit, but I didn’t like the way the larger size looked on me. So, I just stick with my standard size and wear the tees for working out. I like the space-dye versions and the darker colors, but I found the white to be too sheer (as is usually the case with white).
In the past, I’ve had good luck with tees from Kuhl, but the style that I own is no longer available (this style might be close). This brand is definitely pricier than most (but in the same range as Athleta), but my two Kuhl tees have held up very well for several years. Sometimes we get what we pay for, but I’ve also had tees from Target (Universal Thread brand – the style I liked is no longer offered) and Old Navy (their Performance Tees that are no longer available) stand the test of time. Unfortunately, it’s more about trial and error to see what works rather than relying on price points or brand names. This is all the more reason why we should hold off on buying multiples!
A Hard Lesson to Learn!
I learned a hard lesson with the Caslon rounded V-neck tees. I shouldn’t have purchased so many of them, and I should have held off on buying multiples at all until I had a better idea of how the tees would hold up. I’ve also learned that I prefer for my t-shirts to include some percentage of spandex, as that helps them to stay in place and hold their shape better. However, spandex also tends to make things more fitted, and sometimes I like my tops to be looser-fitting, especially with certain pants. In those instances, I’ve found that cotton blends work better for me than 100% cotton, but I’m not a fan of cotton/modal fabrications without a bit of spandex in the mix.
I miss my “tried-and-true” Old Navy tops, which were synthetic but moisture-wicking, as they had a more streamlined and less snug fit. I’m wearing one of my few remaining such tops as I type this, and I will be sad when they’re all gone. I’m still looking for a good alternative, as it seems like Old Navy isn’t going to bring back their V-Neck Performance Tees. I’ve held out hope for at least a year and a half now, but no such luck!
I’m happy that I have found some good tees that are working well for me in the other styles that I mentioned above. However, I don’t plan to buy too many of any one style, as I don’t want a repeat of my Caslon tee disaster. I may take a while to learn my lesson sometimes, but I eventually do!
In Closing – Mo’s Great Tip
In closing, I’ll share a tip that I recently remembered. It’s from Mo, who sometimes comments here and who used to write a great blog that’s still online with lots of timeless advice. She published a post back in 2014 called “Avoiding Oversaturation,” in which she recommended a “rule of three” to help us avoid having too many similar pieces in our closets.
Mo suggested that we purchase just three items (at the most) of any new trend or silhouette:
- One Dark Neutral
- One Light Neutral
- One Color or Pattern.
There’s a lot of wisdom there! Of course, if you don’t wear either dark or light neutrals, you can modify the advice to suit your needs. For me, I’d probably change the guideline to one dark neutral, one color, and one pattern, and that would work quite well for me. Now I just need to do it!
Now I’d like to hear from you… Below are a few questions to help spark your thoughts, but feel free to share whatever thoughts you have about what I covered in today’s post (but please remember to be kind – I’ve already been hard enough on myself about my Caslon tee disaster!).
- Have you had any bad experiences with buying multiples? What were they?
- What types of items have you tended to buy too many of and why?
- When do you think it’s okay to purchase an item in multiple colors or patterns?
- Have you put any “rules” in place for yourself in order to avoid oversaturation in any wardrobe category?
- What brands and styles of t-shirts have worked well for you?
- Have you found a brand of white t-shirt that isn’t too sheer?
Okay, the last two questions are things that I’d like to know, but I’m sure others would also like to become aware of t-shirt brands and styles to potentially try. We’re all different in terms of what we do and don’t like, so if you can share WHY you like the items you mention, that would be helpful, too.
Thanks in advance for your feedback, and I wish you all a wonderful weekend. I’ll be back soon with another post, including a new essay on the four-by-four wardrobe (my warm weather version – see my cool weather capsule HERE) and a check-in on what I have and haven’t worn in my closet this year to date.