In my last post, I wrote about my 2022 wardrobe “benchwarmers,” those garments and shoes that didn’t get worn at all over the course of this year. There were 36 such items, and I reviewed them all by category and highlighted the reasons why I didn’t find myself reaching for them. I also shared what I plan to do with my benchwarmers moving forward.
By the way, I’ve worn two of my benchwarmer tops since I published my last post (the long-sleeved black crewneck tee and the long-sleeved pink print top). The pink print top is definitely a “keeper,” but I wasn’t as keen about the black tee, as it’s not as fitted as I’d like. I’ll hold on to it until I find a better version, as I feel that a black crewneck tee is a wardrobe staple. I’ve been wearing a scoop-neck version, but I like the warmth that a crewneck provides. I plan to wear as many of my 2022 benchwarmers as I can in the coming weeks, and I’ll do another update on these items in a few months.
Moving on from the benchwarmers, I’m going to look at the flip side of the equation today. I’ll show you my 2022 wardrobe “all-stars,” which are the pieces that I wore most often this year. Although I no longer track wears, I have a good sense of what got worn regularly and what I’ve enjoyed wearing. As with my benchwarmers post, I’ll show you the items, review them by category, and highlight the characteristics that earned them their all-star status. I’ll also share my jewelry and handbag all-stars below.
2022 All-Star Overview
I identified 44 garments that I consider to be all-stars, as well as 9 pairs of shoes, 2 purses, and 25 jewelry pieces that meet that loved and frequently worn distinction. Please note that I’m only discussing my out-and-about clothing in today’s post, as was also the case with my 2022 benchwarmers article. I have very few at-home/workout benchwarmers and lots of all-stars, but since that area of my wardrobe isn’t really a problem for me – and in the interest of not having these posts become too inordinately lengthy, I’m just sticking to writing about the clothing and accessories that I wear outside the home when I’m not exercising.
Below are some snapshots of my all-star items:
I discuss my all-stars by category in the following sections, but here’s a quick overview of how everything breaks down:
- 8 cardigans (longer length, for wearing with pants)
- 3 toppers for dresses (short tie cardigans)
- 3 dresses
- 7 pairs of pants/jeans
- 5 sleeveless tops
- 9 short-sleeved tops
- 9 long-sleeved tops
- 9 pairs of shoes (2 closed-toe, 7 sandals or peep-toe shoes)
- 2 purses
- 11 pairs of earrings
- 7 bracelets (including my Fitbit, which I wear daily)
- 7 necklaces
We’ll get started with my toppers… I divided my topper all-stars into two sections: the longer ones that I pair with pants and the shorter ones that I pair with dresses and skirts. My longer toppers are usually cardigans, although I’m working to diversify this collection by adding a few jackets to the mix as well.
These eight cardigans were worn more often during 2022:
The above cardigans are all fairly lightweight and streamlined in terms of their style. Five are solid-colored and three include some type of print. Most of the cardigans are in neutral shades, but the red and teal versions got worn frequently, usually with outfits that were otherwise comprised of neutral pieces.
One of my favorite outfit formulas is to pair one bright item with two neutral pieces. The bright garment is almost always either a top or a topper, as most of my pants are either black or denim. However, this past summer, I acquired a few pairs of brightly-colored pants, but they are all cropped and suitable mostly for warm weather. I suspect that some of those will become 2023 all-stars, but of course that will become clear over time.
Now let’s look at the shorter cardigans that I wore regularly this year:
I only wear these cardigans with dress and skirt ensembles. Although I don’t often need a topper on a warm summer day, I like to have one on hand most of the time, especially for the evenings. I like the short tie cardigans because they add a bit of warmth and style without overwhelming an outfit. They can be tied loosely or snugly, as desired, depending upon how much I want to highlight my waist and what looks best with what else I’m wearing. I wore dresses much more often than skirts this past summer, and the above three cardigans worked well with the dresses I reached for on a regular basis (which will be covered in the next section).
I expect that at least some of my 2022 all-star toppers will retain that status next year. However, at least a few of these garments will need to be replaced in 2023, as they’re starting to look a bit worse for wear. It’s always sad to have to pass on clothing that we love, but I’d rather have that be the case than to purge unworn or rarely worn pieces that just didn’t work for me.
I don’t have a very large dress collection (11 at present), but I found myself reaching for the same three dresses over and over this year. They’re all midi-length and have a similar silhouette:
The black-and-white-striped dress was worn most often, including to my husband’s 45th high school reunion (hard to believe!) and for his birthday dinner. I wore the blue dress on my own birthday (my 56th) and on several other occasions. The pink print dress is different from what I usually wear, but I love it. I usually prefer deeper colors, but since I transitioned to my natural grayish hair, I’ve found that I can carry off pastels much better than when I was dyeing my hair a deep auburn shade. It’s amazing how much a change in hair color can affect what our best colors are, but I like having some new choices that were previously not a good match for me.
I anticipate that all three dresses will be all-stars next year as well, but I hope to wear dresses often enough that some others will rise to the top, too. I have four solid black dresses in different silhouettes, as well as another black printed dress. I don’t know if I’ll want to wear the two maxi dresses that I own (one black and one navy striped – pictured in my last post) next summer, but I might consider shortening them if I’m happy with the style otherwise.
All-Star Pants and Jeans
Since I lost weight this year, a lot of my pants and jeans are currently in my holding zone box. However, I was able to rescue some jeans from that box that had previous been too small for me, and I also opted to purchase two of my favorite pairs of pants (black and navy Brooklyn ankle pants) in smaller sizes.
Below are the seven pairs of pants that I wore most often in the latter part of 2022:
Three of the pants above are full-length and four are cropped to my ankles or a bit higher. I always wear the jeans shown rolled unrolled, and the third pair of pants in the top row are longer on me than what’s pictured on the model (I have an older version with a longer inseam than what’s offered now). Although all the pants shown are dark neutrals, I do own some colored and printed pants, too. I just reach for the dark neutrals most often, as I usually prefer to keep the visual interest in the top half of my ensembles (tops, toppers, jewelry).
My favorite pant silhouette is a straight-leg style. I know that wider-leg pants have become more popular recently, but I like to stick with what works best for me. When we change up the silhouette of our pants, we often must make modifications to the rest of our outfits as well, which can be challenging and involve more shopping (which I don’t need!). I sometimes try on newer styles, but I usually find myself going back to the tried-and-true silhouettes that I feel good wearing. I tend to be a very slow adopter of new styles (probably in the “late majority” group highlighted in this article), and I don’t jump on board some of the trends at all.
This time of year, I mostly wear jeans and black pants. Since jeans are more casual, I’ve been reaching for them more often, and I now own a few new pairs that will hopefully become all-stars in 2023. I’m still on the hunt for a great pair of black jeans that are long enough for me and fit me well. One wouldn’t think it would be that hard to find this elusive item, but it has been for me! I have ordered and returned many pairs, but no winner as of yet…
I mentioned that many of my pants are currently in my “holding zone.” Before I went down one to two sizes in the middle of the year, the seven pairs of pants below were my 2022 (and 2021) all-stars:
I was especially sad to have to put away the two pairs of printed pants, as those can be difficult for me to find. I won’t be able to easily alter any of the pants shown to fit my current shape, but I’m going to hold on to them for a year or so to see what happens with my weight. If I’m able to keep the weight off (which I hope I will), I’ll happily pass my previous favorites on to others who can enjoy wearing them.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to find another pair or two of black-and-white-printed pants (cropped and full-length), as I loved wearing the ones I had. Fortunately, the black-and-white polka dot pants shown at the beginning were a nice substitute during the summer months. I’ve owned those for several years but mostly wore them at home (they’re technically pajama bottoms!). I had them altered to be more fitted, so I was able to transition them to out-and-about wear.
I divided my all-star tops into three groups by sleeve length: sleeveless, short-sleeved, and long-sleeved. I’ll show each group below and briefly share why I believe these tops were all-stars for me.
Let’s start with the sleeveless all-star tops, of which there were five:
All five of the above tops have been in my wardrobe for at least three years, and the black sequined tank has been with me for over ten years! These tops are all fairly fitted, but not tight. As longtime readers know, I love to wear black and black prints, and my favorite prints are stripes and polka dots. So, it’s no big surprise that these particular tops were worn frequently. All these tops work well on their own with pants and jeans, as well as under a topper. I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least a few of them on my 2023 all-star list.
Here are the nine short-sleeved tops that I wore most often in 2022:
These tops haven’t been as durable as my sleeveless all-stars, but I’ve owned most of them for two or more years. The printed top in the center and the two in the third row were purchased within the past year and I’m happy with all of them. The navy print top at the bottom left is a bit of a “wild card,” in that the print is “louder” than what I typically wear. But since it’s grounded in navy, I don’t think it’s too bright and I still feel comfortable and happy wearing it.
My two favorite tops of this group are the black cross-neckline tee at the top left and the cobalt embellished neckline top in the center row. I like that they include interesting details but are still classic and understated. I wore the plain black and red tees a lot during the summer, but I need to pair them with interesting bottoms, toppers, and/or accessories since they’re so basic on their own. In the future, I’d like to find more of what Jennifer of the “The Everyday Style School” podcast calls “beyond basic tees.” Such tops work well on their own because they have more going on than a standard crewneck, V-neck, or scoop-neck tee. It’s much easier to get dressed when we don’t have to worry a lot about accessorizing.
Although I like the tops pictured above and wear them often, I feel that my short-sleeved tops are a weak area of my wardrobe. Many of my tees are either too basic or don’t hold up well – or both. The quality of short-sleeved knit tops has really declined in recent years, and I feel like I’m lucky to get more than a season or two out of most of them. I’ve tried to find woven tops that work for me, but the fit is usually off, plus knit tops tend to be better suited for my very casual lifestyle. I’m not sure why sleeveless and long-sleeved tops last longer, but perhaps I should stick to those more.
Speaking of long-sleeved tops, here are the nine that I consider 2022 all-stars:
As with my sleeveless and short-sleeved tops, most of the above tops have been in my closet for at least a few years. The newest acquisitions were the three-quarter-sleeved tops at the top right and the center of the other two rows. I generally prefer full-length sleeves over three-quarters because they’re easier to layer over, but I loved the “half-and-half” styles of the three-quarter-sleeved tops shown. I like the tops better without a topper so the style is more visible, but they work well underneath a cardigan or jacket, too.
Since I layer a lot in the cooler months, I’m fine with wearing plainer long-sleeved tops. The burgundy and navy crewneck tees are very soft and comfortable. In fact, I tried to purchase these tops in other colors this year, but the style is no longer being sold. Striped tees are staples in my wardrobe all year round and I love the ones pictured above. I have several other striped and patterned tops, but I haven’t worn them as often as my all-star tees. One of my favorite ways to wear the striped tees are with jeans and a brightly-colored cardigan. I also like to wear my treasured black and silver jewelry pieces (shown later in this post) with all my tops to add some pizzazz to the looks.
I mostly wore the nine pairs of shoes shown below this year:
As you can see, except for two pairs of metallic shoes, all my all-star shoes are black. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, almost all my shoes are either black or metallic anyway, so it’s no big surprise that those are the colors of my all-star footwear options. Most of my shoes have at least a one-inch heel, and I can comfortably l wear up to a 2.5-inch heel. Anything higher than that doesn’t really work for me anymore.
Only two of my all-star shoe options have a fully-closed toe. That’s not usually a problem for me because I live in a warm climate, but I would like to incorporate more closed-toe footwear choices into my wardrobe next year. My feet do get cold sometimes, especially when I’m out in the evenings. This past month, I purchased a pair of pewter closed-toe booties, which I could see becoming a 2023 all-star.
As with my clothing, I like for a lot of my shoes to include interesting details. I have sandals with a striped strap and sandals with a studded strap, as well as sandals with metal details and cutouts. I also love a good peep-toe shoe, but that means that my toenails need to be nicely polished all year round! My two pairs of black closed-toe booties are quite plain, but they both have a classic streamlined shape that resonates well with my personal style. One pair has a wedge heel and the other has a block heel, so they’re different even though they appear quite similar in the photos. The block-heeled pair also has a lower heel height, but they’re both quite walkable for an average outing (but certainly not a five-mile walk!).
For years, I owned fifty or more pairs of shoes, so it’s surprising to me that I can get along just fine with around ten pairs of shoes now. Yes, I have others that I wear beyond my nine all-stars, but if push came to shove, I could wear just the shoes shown above (plus my new pewter booties) all year long. I like to have choices in what I wear, but identifying my footwear all-stars has confirmed that I don’t need to have a large number of choices in order to be satisfied.
I have gotten rid of a lot of my handbags in recent years because what I like and what works best for me has changed. I found myself carrying the same two purses for most of the year:
These purses are both from the Brighton brand, and they’ve both been in my closet for over ten years! I still love them, but I’d like to expand my handbag horizons a bit in 2023. I’d like to acquire at least one small crossbody bag (probably in black), and I’ll also like to find another fun larger bag that I would be excited to carry.
I still love Brighton bags, but my local store recently closed. Maybe it’s time to pursue some alternate brands and find new favorites. The types of purses that I like tend to be at least somewhat pricy (but not in the luxury designer handbag realm – not that I don’t like some of those, too!), so it’s an investment piece for me for sure. I’ll give myself time to find something that I will love as much as my two bags above, which I’ll keep and continue to carry regularly.
Last but not least, I want to mention my all-star jewelry pieces. I won’t delve into a whole lot of detail here, as this post is already getting quite lengthy. I identified the 25 pieces below as my most-worn jewelry items for 2022:
Since it’s difficult to see the detail in the small thumbnails, I’ll break the jewelry down by category and say a little bit about each grouping.
Let’s start with the earrings… Here are the eleven pairs of earrings that I enjoyed wearing most often this year:
I’m sure it’s no big surprise to you that most of them are black and silver. There are two beloved pairs of blue earrings in the mix, too, but the bulk of them are neutrals. That’s just what I like most… It’s hard to tell the scale of the earrings from the pictures, but I would call most of them “mid-sized.” The largest pair is the one at the middle left, which I would call a statement earring.
Most of my all-star earrings were purchased at my favorite store in Tahoe. Every time I visit my family, I take a trip to that store and see what treasure – or two – I might add to my collection. My mom has also bought me quite a few pieces from there, too. My jewelry collection has been pared down considerably over the years (I wrote about this process multiple times on “Recovering Shopaholic,” including HERE, HERE, and HERE) and is now in a much more manageable place. I could probably stand to do another review of my jewelry, but my inventory is by no means out of hand, and I love and wear most of my pieces.
Now let’s look at my seven all-star bracelets:
I included my Fitbit watch in this grouping. I wear my Fitbit every day, and it has helped me to increase my activity levels over the past three-plus years. I miss wearing my more fashionable watches, but the benefits I derive from my Fitbit outweigh that one drawback. Once my current Fitbit bites the dust (it has lasted since August 2019, although I’ve had to replace the band several times), I’d like to get one that’s a bit more streamlined in style, perhaps even one with a silver band.
The six bracelets shown are almost all silver and black, much like my all-star earrings. I’ve owned most of them for years, too, but the one at center left was a late 2021 acquisition. The bracelet that I’ve owned the longest is the silver “snake” style at the bottom, which dates back to the mid-nineties. The lapis heart bracelet has been around almost as long, too, but sadly the t-clasp is missing a lapis stone. I don’t wear that bracelet quite as often as the others, but it pairs well with my blue/silver earrings shown above.
Finally, here are my seven all-star necklaces:
Again, almost all of them are either silver or silver with black, and most of them have been in my jewelry box for a long time. The newest necklace in the group is the gray beaded necklace in the top row, which I purchased at J. Jill and looks more expensive than it was. I’ve had it since late 2020, but it has increasingly become a favorite this year. It looks great with black, as well as the jewel tones and mid-toned pastels that I like to wear.
Most of my all-star necklaces are longer lengths, but the one at the bottom left is a shorter pendant. It’s actually reversible, which makes it all the more versatile (it’s smooth and shiny on one side and patterned on the other). That necklace and several of the others were consignment buys, and they have all served me very well over the years. The black sun necklace is mid-length and pairs well with my black-and-white-striped all-star dress.
I derive increased versatility from my necklaces by using necklace extenders. That way, I can position my necklaces at the best place for a given neckline. These extenders are inexpensive and have helped me to wear many of my necklaces more often.
It was more fun to review my all-star items versus my benchwarmers, but I learned a lot from both processes. Here’s a brief encapsulation of the patterns I’ve noticed:
- Most of my “all-star” items are in neutral colors, particularly black (and metallics for shoes and jewelry).
- The all-stars that aren’t black are red, burgundy, purple, or blue.
- The all-star garments also tend to be streamlined in terms of their style and silhouette. They’re mostly fitted, but not tight.
- Almost all my all-star garments are knit pieces rather than wovens.
- In terms of patterns, stripes are most common, but I also like space dye and polka dot items.
- Black and silver combinations for jewelry feature heavily, as do oblong shapes for earrings and necklaces.
- Surprisingly, many of my all-stars have been in my closet for many years. Although I still like to shop (and often shop too much!), my tried-and-true favorites have stood the test of time.
- Many of my “benchwarmer” items earned that status due to sizing issues related to my recent weight loss, as well as some shifts in my lifestyle and personal style aesthetic.
- Other benchwarmers occurred when I veered away from what I know works well for me, particularly in terms of color and pattern.
- I still like some of my benchwarmer items, but I didn’t have a chance to wear them for various reasons (i.e., lack of appropriate occasions or items to pair with them). I believe that at least half of these pieces won’t be benchwarmers in 2023, while the remainder will likely be passed on.
I’m sure there are more “nuggets” that I could mention, but this post is already akin to a short e-book! I hope you enjoyed reading about and seeing what I’ve worn most often this year. Now, I’d love to “hear” about some of your favorites. Here are a few questions to spark your thoughts:
- What have you most loved wearing during 2022 in terms of clothing, shoes, and accessories?
- Do you notice any patterns among your wardrobe all-stars related to colors, styles, silhouettes, etc.?
- How do your “all-stars” differ from your “benchwarmers,” and what can you learn from these differences?
Please feel free to share your insights and feedback in the comments section of this post. I’ll be back later th
is week with my final essay of the year. I’ll probably do another 2022 wrap-up or two in early January, but my final 2022 post will cover some of my best and worst purchases of the year. Stay tuned, and all the best to you in the final days of 2022!
10 thoughts on “My 2022 Wardrobe “All-Stars””
I am very impressed by your ‘all-star’ collection. If I saw a boutique with items like these, I would certainly stop by!
My own all-stars resemble yours somewhat: I also favour knitwear, clothes that skim and a similar colour scheme, although I tend to own much fewer straight-up black items these days and I also love navy, perhaps even with a pop of blue green. I have become very fond of gemstones like garnet or amethyst for a pop of colour too. And I adore the fun of polka dots or a subtle stripe to break up blocks of colour.
Your question about how my benchwarmers differ is interesting to consider. I guess they are on stand by for special occasions and rare events – festive birthdays, cocktail parties, weddings, extreme weather, boat trips, mountain walks, farm stays, beach visits, … I own items that would never do for my usual activities (work, an ordinary weekend about town or hanging out at home), but it is nice to know I have them when I do need them.
Thanks for your kind words about my all-stars, Sue! It’s fun to think of my favorite clothes in a boutique 🙂
Navy is a nice alternative to black, and I’ve found myself wearing that color more often, too. Gemstones as a pop of color is a great idea! It sounds like you have a lot of all-stars in your closet and much fewer benchwarmers. We all need some “specialized” items that maybe we don’t wear all that often, but they can come in handy when we need them. That’s part of why it’s hard to have absolutely NO benchwarmers because the occasions for some of our specialized clothing may not happen some years. But I hope you have more occasion for such pieces next year!
Your all stars are a lovely and cohesive group – it’s easy to see why you reach for them!
After reading this I went into my closet to think about my all stars , and I’m still pondering it. But for sure the list includes gray, blue, and 2 pairs of black jeans, navy cropped pants,1 black and 2 navy cardigans, and numerous body skimming print tops – sleeveless, short sleeves, 3/4 sleeves, and long sleeves. It has gotten harder for me to distinguish between out and about and at home clothing. Some of my all stars are nice sweatshirts now: even some of my job activities call for wearing nice hoodies and jeans. So 4 sweatshirts are on the all stars list as well.
As for benchwarmers- it’s mostly dressy clothes. I have maybe a dozen dresses and a couple of skirts, but only a few are casual. Most are for outings: weddings, fundraising dinners, baby showers, etc. I actually love my collection but my life has gotten more and more casual, so the dressier items don’t get out a lot.
I’m glad my post prompted you to go to your closet and identify your all-stars and benchwarmers, Murphy. It sounds like the all-star group is a lot bigger than your benchwarmer group, plus you have a clear and understandable reason for why your benchwarmers earned that status this year. I think a lot of women could say the same thing about their dressy clothes. It’s definitely true for me, too. I try to find reasons to wear my dressier clothes, but it has become increasingly difficult lately.
It’s great that you can wear your nice sweatshirts to work, and it’s also great that you have more “crossover” items in your wardrobe now. Those are the best, as they see a lot of wear! I wish you even more all-stars in 2023!
Only 1/8th way through, & I must stop & say: do I detect new earrings? The 3 stone onyx drops? Those are **gorgeous**!
You’ve been getting lots of use from your pieces. If I could manage my time better, I’d get more jewelry on before running out the door. I used to put it on before makeup in the morning, but age has reversed my priorities. 😦
From one (obsessive) jewelry lover to another: well done!
You have a keen eye, Ocd! Yes, those earrings are new. They were a birthday gift from my mom from my favorite jewelry store (which I mentioned in this post). I love them! Yes, it can be challenging to accessorize our outfits when we’re short of time. I need to wear MORE of my jewelry pieces and can tend to get into the habit of wearing the same favorites over and over again. I guess that’s okay, though, as long as I come around to some of the others when I have more time to see what they can best be paired with. The same for the clothes…
My benchwarmers are mostly lifestyle-generated. I bought a new dressy skirt this holiday season because I thought I’d be going to some holiday parties. I didn’t end up going, and now I’m trying to figure out where to wear it. I put that sort of thing in the ‘aspirational’ purchase category. I’m dreaming of a holiday party, group picnic, fancy night out, but it’s not in my current lifestyle 😦 There is some question in my mind as to whether I should make more effort as to my lifestyle since I seem to aspire to it.
At the same time I’ve attended a wedding and two funerals, so I do need dressy clothes, but less sparkly and more somber.
Since I’ve let my hair go natural, and it’s silvery streaks I’ve added optic white toppers. They really enhance my hair and skin tone.
You don’t have a single white shirt in any of these stars. Is black or cobalt your magic color?
I think keeping with black shoes is a good strategy. As I’ve gotten older my feet have gotten pickier and good shoes are not cheap. It’s better to stick with winners in a neutral color like black and not waste money on fancy infrequent wear shoes.
To answer your question, Rose, I don’t wear solid white tops, as I find that I look washed out. But I do enjoy wearing white in prints, as you can see in some of my favorites. Yes, black remains my most frequently worn color, and I still like cobalt a lot, too, as well as burgundy and red. I have found that I can wear some different colors than before after I transitioned to my natural hair (more mid-toned pastels, for example, and I also like navy more now).
I think a lot of us have lifestyle-generated benchwarmers, especially if we actually like wearing dressier clothes (which I do). I’ve thought about trying to create more opportunities to wear some of my dressier benchwarmers, too, but it’s been difficult the past few years. I hope next year will be better in that regard – for all of us!
You have done a great analysis of how your wardrobe serves you. I can only imagine how this will benefit you in the future.
I’m curious about your “word” for 2023. I hope you share it soon. Mine is “freedom.” Seems you might have chosen that one in a previous year?
Happy New Year, everyone!
Thank you, Jenn! The analysis always helps me, but it would also be a good idea for me to review some of my posts from time to time to keep the information top of mind. I haven’t selected a word for 2023 yet, and I didn’t do all that well with my word for 2022 (“lightness”). But the year ended up being “heavier” than I thought it would be… I did have “freedom” as my word a few years back, and it’s a good one. I hope it serves you well over the course of the coming year. Happy New Year to you, too!
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