It’s been a while since I’ve written here, so I wanted to check in. I’ve felt a bit stuck and blocked as far as what to write about, so I’m going to get back to posting with a series of updates on some of my previous topics (you can see my full blog archive HERE).
We’ll start today by checking in on a few posts I’ve written about the tops in my closet. I’ll update you on what’s going on with my “category two” tops (those tops that must be worn with a topper), my overabundance of black tops, and the poor-performing Caslon tees that I accumulated in recent years. I’ll close out the post with some wardrobe-related goals for the remainder of 2022 and beyond.
Update #1 – Category Two Tops
In late April, I shared that I had classified my tops into three categories and organized my closet to reflect those groupings. Here’s a brief reminder of the new top classifications:
- Category One: “Standalone tops” that can be comfortably worn without a topper (in terms of my emotional comfort, a topic I discussed in detail HERE).
- Category Two: Tops that I only feel comfortable wearing with a topper (cardigan or jacket) over them, usually because they’re either too tight or too short.
- Category Three: Tops that are worn only at home or for exercise, either because of the style of the top or its condition (i.e., somewhat worn out).
I set a goal to eventually eliminate category two and to keep category three relatively small. I decided that I wanted the bulk of my tops to be “crossover pieces” that are appropriate for a variety of activities and don’t need to be worn with a topper.
When I initially categorized my tops, I had a total of seventeen pieces in category two, as shown in the photo below:
The above was a rough classification, as I tried on all the tops with the same pair of pants. Since it was possible that some of the tops might be more appropriate with alternate bottom pieces, I committed to spending more time in the coming months to see if I could make any of them work. I also committed to purging any tops that either couldn’t be worn as a standalone garment or that I didn’t like enough to hold on to despite their limited utility (needing to be paired with a topper).
Fast-forward to four months later… Here’s an update on the fate of the seventeen tops that were placed in category two back in April:
- Two of them are now part of category one (standalone tops), as I identified pants that I feel comfortable pairing with them.
- Three tops (all Caslon tees – more on those later) have been downgraded to category three and I now wear them only at home. These tops are all somewhat stretched out and aren’t in line with my out-and-about wardrobe standards. However, they still have a bit of life in them as part of my at-home wardrobe.
- Seven tops have been purged from my closet, either due to fit issues or sub-standard condition. Two of these tops were too short for pants but too long for skirts (I don’t tuck in my tops due to being very short-waisted). The others were either too “fussy” (needing to be adjusted too often) or too worn out. Sadly, one top that I really liked didn’t survive a recent laundering, although that was far from the first time that I had washed it.
- One top is in my “holding zone.” It’s in good condition, but it’s too big for me after my recent weight loss and I’m not sure I want to spend the money to have it tailored. Since I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it, I have put this top in my holding zone box for the time being.
- Finally, four tops remain part of category two. I still only feel comfortable wearing these tops with a cardigan or jacket over them. They’re not being worn at all right now, as we have moved into the warmer months when I almost never wear a third piece in my ensembles, but I will hopefully wear them later in the year.
Shown below are the tops that I still consider to be category two “must wear a topper” garments:
I plan to keep them separated from my other tops to make it easier for me to get dressed. That way, if I grab one of the above tops to wear, I know that I need to pair it with a topper, and the temperature that day/evening needs to be cool enough that I’ll be able to keep that topper on.
Update #2 – Black Tops
About three months ago, I wrote about my overabundance of plain black tops, especially short-sleeved and sleeveless tees. At that time, I had nine very similar black tees, as shown below:
I also showed photos of my more detailed black tops and tees, but those garments weren’t problematic for me because they’re different enough from each other and are worn regularly. The more detailed tops also work much better as “standalone” garments without the need for a lot of accessorizing or layering. In contrast, the plain tees need to be “livened up” with accessories and/or toppers in order to create an interesting outfit.
In the post, I shared some reasons why I ended up with so many similar-looking pieces, the most prominent reason being a “more is more” attitude when it comes to stocking up on wardrobe basics. I decided to address the issue of having a lot of black tees by pushing myself to wear all of them in the coming month or so and evaluate their workability for my wardrobe. I wanted to determine which tops might be more appropriate as part of my at-home or sleepwear capsules, and which ones don’t really serve me in any capacity and should be purged.
After wearing all nine of my plain black tees/tanks, here’s what happened to them:
- Two were purged. Both tees were of poor quality and weren’t in good condition despite not having been worn all that many times (definitely fewer than the 30-wear benchmark).
- Three were downgraded to at-home wear only. One tee had developed quite a bit of pilling (which is sad because it was a favorite that had been worn many, many times), another has a too-low neckline, and the third is looser-fitting than I usually prefer for out-and-about wear (it has stretched out quite a bit since I purchased it).
- The four tops/tanks below are still part of my out-and-about capsule:
I had to get the second top from the right taken in a bit at the sides, but it’s now a nice tunic-length tank that pairs well with more fitted pants for a hot summer day outfit (the hotter days just started this week).
Now that I have worn and reclassified my plain black tees, I’m getting a lot more wear out of them than I did when they were all grouped together. I found that I was only wearing the “tried-and-true” black tops previously and the others were simply gathering dust. I certainly don’t need to add more black tees to my closet despite my love of black, but since I’m wearing the ones I have more now, the time I took to analyze this section of my closet was well spent.
Update #3 – The Caslon Tees
Finally, let’s look at the Caslon rounded V-neck t-shirts that I wrote about in late June. I had accumulated a large assortment of these tees over the past couple of years because they were inexpensive (especially at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale) and were offered in many different colors and patterns. They were good comfortable casual items at first, but after being laundered multiple times, they began to look stretched out and shabby-looking. Sadly, I had amassed fourteen such tees (shown below) and many of them started to look “worse for wear” at around the same time.
In the month and a half since I published the post about my Caslon tees, I have purged five of them. These tees all looked fine when I first put them on after they were washed, but they became very misshapen within a short timeframe. I need my tops to at least too good for a full day, so I opted to let the ones shown below go. I was especially sad about the two black-and-white printed tees, as they were among my favorites. Fortunately, they had been in my closet for a while and were worn more often than most of the other Caslon tees. It seems as if the quality of these tops has declined over time, as some of the more recently-acquired ones have deteriorated more quickly.
I still have nine of the Caslon tees that I posted about in June, and almost all of them have been demoted to my at-home wardrobe due to the “bagging out” issue. The only two that remain in the crossover section of my closet are the leopard and red-and-white print versions that were purchased last year. Those two tees have only been washed a couple of times, so we’ll see how they fare with additional laundering. I always wash these tees in cold water with mild detergent and hang them to dry, so there’s not much more I can do to prolong their lifespan.
I think a lot of t-shirts tend to stretch out, especially if they don’t include any spandex in their fabric composition. Because of this tendency, I’ve taken to buying tees that are on the snug side in order to help mitigate the bagging and belling out issue that has been so frustrating to deal with. I prefer for there to be some spandex in my t-shirts if at all possible, but such tops also tend to be more fitted, and I sometimes like a looser silhouette, especially for wearing at home. I will be more careful when buying tees in the future after my Caslon tee debacle, and I hope the remaining tees from that group will last at least a little bit longer.
Some Wardrobe Actions and Goals
Now that I’ve given a few updates on some of the issues I’ve written about this year, I’d like to share a handful of short-term wardrobe-related goals/actions for the remainder of 2022 and beyond.
1. Reorganize the tops section of my closet now that I’ve mostly eliminated category two tops.
This is how I plan to divide up my tops:
- Out-and-about-only tops: These tops will be arranged by sleeve length and then by color, with patterned tops organized by their dominant color.
- At-home-only tops: The tops that I wear only at home or for exercise will be hung in their own designated area and arranged in the same way as the previous category.
- “Crossover tops”: Fortunately, this is the largest category of tops in my closet, and thankfully almost all of them (except for the four pictured above) can be comfortably worn without the need for a third piece.
- Skirt tops: This is a relatively small grouping, but I do wear separate tops with skirts versus pants. These tops are shorter in length for better proportions when paired with skirts.
One issue that I sometimes have with my tops (mostly the out-and-about and crossover ones) is which bottom to pair with them, as either tighter or looser-fitting tops work better with specific pairs of pants. Accordingly, I will divide my crossover tops into two sub-sections: those that are very fitted and those with a more streamlined fit. I don’t wear any truly boxy or baggy tops (despite their being very much in style recently), but whether a top is snug or glides over my body can make a difference in terms of what pants I pair with it.
I realize that this may seem like a lot of nuance and classification for some of you. You may be blessed not to be as “picky” about the fit of your clothing as I am, but I’ve learned to work with my tendencies (i.e., pickiness) instead of trying to ignore them. I would rather take the time to arrange my clothes in a way that will result in better-proportioned outfits than experience select days wearing ensembles that feel really “off” to me. I like to do the work upfront so that I can easily grab and pair pieces when I’m pressed for time to get out the door. One of the goals I’ll outline later in this post will further facilitate that process.
2. Limit my top purchases and only purchase tops that are “standalone” and include special details.
I don’t need any additional plain tops, as I have plenty of them now. If I do opt to buy new tops in the coming months, they need to offer something different from what I already have. If I see something I like in the stores or online but it’s already well-represented in my closet, I need to pass it by and focus on wearing what I own instead of acquiring new garments.
When I look at pictures of my tops, I see a lot of basic tees, even though some of them are in eye-catching colors or patterns. Basic tees are harder to style, especially during the hot summer months. Since I mostly wear plain bottoms, too, that can make for a boring outfit unless lots of accessories are used. Sometimes it’s too hot to wear a “third piece,” scarf, necklace, or bracelet, so my tops need to carry the load of making my ensembles interesting.
3. Create a list of twenty-five go-to summer outfits. Do the same for fall/winter.
Last September, I wrote about the power of twenty-five good outfits. It can be difficult and time-consuming to put together attractive outfits that we feel good in, especially when one has a large wardrobe. This often results in either wearing the same few looks on repeat or stepping out in uninspired ensembles when we lack the time or creative energy to pull together something that we love.
I used to do outfit creation sessions and photograph them so that I’d have ideas for what to wear later. I stopped doing that a few years ago because I was too judgmental about the pictures, but I miss the results of those sessions. So last summer, I started writing down outfit possibilities to try and/or ones that I wore that worked well for me. While I came up with a list of twenty-five outfits back then, my size and style have changed since that time. Many of the pieces that I wore last year are now too big for me, and I’ve acquired some new pieces that I want to fully utilize.
So, I plan to create a 2022 summer outfit catalog of looks that are figure-flattering and suit my personal style. I’m not sure if I’ll take photos of these outfits or catalog them some other way (in writing or maybe a wardrobe app of some sort). I still firmly believe that twenty-five good outfits are more than enough to suit most of our needs, particularly those of us who don’t have a whole lot of out-and-about occasions. I also plan to create a catalog of good fall/winter outfits when that season rolls around.
4. Resume keeping an outfit journal.
Over the years, I have periodically kept an outfit journal in which I write down what I wear, where I wore it, and my feelings about each look. I first shared about this process back in 2014 on Recovering Shopaholic, and I wrote an entire series about lessons from my outfit journal. I’m not sure how much I’ll share my outfit journal on this blog (although I’ll do it if there’s interest), but I do plan to resume the practice, at least for a while.
I always learn a lot when I keep an outfit journal. It helps me to clearly see what is and isn’t working with my ensembles, and I’m able to make shifts to improve upon what I’m wearing. I always include a section in the journal about what I could do to make the outfit better if I were to wear it again. Sometimes that involves switching a piece out, styling something differently, or wearing alternate accessories. The outfit journal also helps me to shop smarter, as I often identify potential purchases that might go a long way toward improving my style.
I plan to log at least thirty out-and-about outfits, but I could go on longer if I feel like the process is especially helpful. I also might take a quick selfie of each look (even though I’m terrible with selfies!) so it’s easier for me to look back on the outfit later and maybe add new pieces of information to the mix. A picture can speak a thousand words, as the saying goes, but what’s most important is that I increase my awareness of my likes and dislikes regarding what I’m wearing. I always want to continue improving my personal style, and journaling is very helpful with that pursuit.
I think that’s enough wardrobe-related actions for the foreseeable future. I was originally just going to outline actions and goals pertaining to my tops, as that was the main subject of this post. However, I thought it would be helpful to identify overall wardrobe actions that I could take for the remainder of the year (I can’t believe it’s almost three-quarters of the way behind us!).
I’m glad I pushed myself to write and publish a blog post after a weeks-long hiatus (which was unintentional – I’ve just felt uninspired after a few very difficult months). I hope you found my updates and action steps interesting. I plan to do some additional updates in the coming weeks, including about my recent birthday (56!), my theme for the year, and my summer wardrobe. Hopefully I can get back to at least some semblance of regular posting soon…
I welcome your comments, either about what I wrote in this post or about what’s been happening with your own wardrobe and the actions you’d like to take before year-end. Also, if you have ideas for topics you’d like to see me write about – or any questions for me, please feel free to weigh in (either in the comments section or privately via the Contact page). As always, thank you for your readership and your support!