Here we are on the final day of 2022… For many of my readers, 2023 is already here, but I’m taking some time on the eve of the new year to reflect on the best and worst purchases that I made over the past twelve months.
This is yet another of my 2022 wrap-up posts. I started with my 2022 wardrobe “benchwarmers” and then moved on to reviewing my closet “all-stars.” I’ll have another one or two (not sure just yet…) essays that look back on 2022, but those will be published in January. Today’s post is the last one of this year, and I’m getting it in just under the wire!
My Worst Purchases of 2022
I’m actually going to start out by sharing my worst purchases, as I’d like to end on a high note today before ushering in the new year. Also, although my benchwarmer and all-star recaps only covered my out-and-about wardrobe, there are some at-home items included in today’s essay, too. I usually experience fewer pitfalls in that area, but I’m not perfect, and I want to pull back the curtain on both the good and the bad – and with my entire wardrobe.
Here’s a bird’s eye view of my worst purchases, but I’ll show larger images and delve into some details below:
Rather than covering the above items one by one, I’m going to discuss them in categories. Unfortunately, I tended to duplicate some of my mistakes, which is a harder pill to swallow but easier to write about…
Athleta Sleep Tops
These three tops were all purchased on sale early in the year:
The fabric on these Wind Down Sleep Tops is super soft, and the tops are very comfortable, too. However, the neckline is a bit too low on me (it’s lower-cut on me than on the model), and the tops are also somewhat too short. Additionally, they have a curved hem, which is one of my wardrobe “don’ts” that I shouldn’t make exceptions for, no matter how low the price may be.
In my best purchases section later in this post, you’ll see a similar style of top that works much better for me. I need to walk – or scroll – on by any curved hem tops that I see in the future, as I never end up liking how they look on me. I feel this type of hem is like pointing an arrow right at my wider hips, which isn’t something that I want to do.
Cabi End-of-Season Items
Cabi is a direct-sales clothing company that is sold via in-home “parties,” for which one of my close friends is a hostess twice a year. At the end of each of Cabi’s two seasons, clothing pieces that remain in each “stylist’s” (what the salespeople are called) inventory are sold at half-price or less. This can be a good time to pick up pieces one loved that were outside of their budget, but all sales are final and cannot be returned. Unfortunately, when one attends a Cabi show, not all styles and sizes are available to try on, so sometimes it’s a guessing game regarding what might fit well versus not.
The two pieces shown above are in line with my style aesthetic, but the fit of both was off. The top was too short, and it also wouldn’t stay in place well. I think that stretch mesh fabric can be tricky and I should steer clear of it, particularly in a final sale situation. As for the coat, it only looks good fully buttoned, and there are a lot of buttons! Additionally, the coat is a bit too “busy” for me, especially the patterned buttons, and it also has absolutely no stretch to it and feels stiff.
Cabi items tend to do well in the resale market, so I should be able to recoup some of my losses on these pieces, but I should have never purchased them in the first place! I just don’t do all that well with Cabi overall, even though I like the look of many of their garments. I have a few “all-star” pieces that are Cabi (one of which will be highlighted below), but I’ve experienced more failures with that brand than successes, unfortunately. I enjoy attending the Cabi parties, but there are many other brands with lower prices and better return policies that fit me better.
Lands’ End Pants
The struggle is real for me when trying to find interesting pants that fit well and are long enough for my tall frame. A lot of brands only carry tall sizes in basics like blue jeans and black trousers (if they offer them at all), but even those can be challenging for me. I love black and white prints, so I was excited to try the two pairs of pants above – one cropped and one full-length, but I should have acknowledged that they were both “misses” rather than hits.
At the time when I purchased the pants, I seemed to be in between sizes, so both pants were a bit too large. Additionally, while the fabric was stretchy and comfortable, it was also kind of stiff and unflattering. I should have returned both pairs of pants, but I let my love of the prints dazzle me such that I opted to keep them. Then I proceeded to lose weight, and now both pairs of pants are huge on me. They’re currently in my holding zone, but I will likely pass them on because I wasn’t excited to wear them even when they fit me decently. Fortunately, neither pant was expensive, but it was still a waste of money.
Old Navy Jeans
I must have ordered fifteen pairs of jeans from Old Navy early in the year in my fervent quest for some jeans that weren’t blue and fit me well. Their sizing is all over the map depending upon what style you order, but I finally found two pairs of jeans – one black and one gray – that I thought might fit the bill. I wasn’t 100% certain that I liked the jeans, as they were both stiff and had a higher rise than what I considered ideal.
But then I got into a difficult period of my life and missed Old Navy’s short return time frame (it was reduced from 45 to 30 days this year). So, I was stuck with the jeans, but I thought I would probably wear them at some point. However, the jeans no longer fit me after I lost weight, and the black jeans look downright ridiculous on me now.
I’m still on the search for some great black jeans, but I was able to find a nice pair of gray jeans at J. Jill recently (HERE – the Laguna wash). The difference between those and the Old Navy jeans is night and day in terms of fit and comfort, so I doubt I’ll hold on to the Old Navy jeans. Even if they fit me again in the future, I don’t think I’d want to wear them. I don’t doubt that Old Navy jeans work well for some people, but I haven’t had good luck with them and probably just need to spend more money on my jeans and pants.
Warm Weather Pants
It’s kind of embarrassing to write these types of posts, which is part of why I started with the worst purchases and will end with those pieces I bought that have served me well. This is the last section of misery for me to recount… The three pairs of pants above are all lightweight and suitable for warm weather wear.
The navy pants were bought early in the year on deep sale, but they could have been returned and I didn’t opt to do so. They weren’t quite long enough for me, but I tried to stretch them while they were wet. Sadly, they didn’t wash well, and J. Jill doesn’t allow for returns without the tag attached. I could have maybe pushed the issue, but I didn’t feel like doing so for what was a relatively small amount of money.
The olive pants are too high-waisted and the fabric wrinkles very easily. The quality is just not there (again, I need to stop buying cheap pants!), and the pants look sloppy and not in line with my “polished” style guidepost. They’re currently in my holding zone, but I doubt I’ll want to wear them when next summer rolls around.
There may be some hope for the red print pants, but I still think they were an ill-advised purchase. Again, I got dazzled by the print and ignored an important detail about the garment. I’ve been writing about shopping for so many years, but I still make stupid mistakes! The fabric of these pants is kind of scratchy, and there’s no stretch in the material. I prefer to wear pants that include some stretch, but it’s not a hard-and-fast rule and I sometimes buy woven pieces with no stretch if they tick all other boxes. Unfortunately, I don’t see myself wearing these red print pants very often, but we’ll see what happens in the spring/summer.
Best Purchases – At-Home Items
Okay, I’m glad the worst purchases part of this post is over, as it was making me feel bad! However, I do think I learned some important lessons from the items I reviewed above, and I hope that some of you experienced some “aha moments,” too. But now it’s time to move on to a much happier topic: my best purchases of 2022. We’ll start with my ten best at-home/workout purchases of the year:
Athleta, Gap, and Old Navy Joggers
As with my worst purchases, I’m going to review these items by categories (to try to keep this post from becoming the blogging equivalent of “War and Peace”!). The four pairs of joggers below were bought this year and have been worn often:
The Brooklyn joggers have a very subtle print and a nice amount of stretch. At first, I thought I could only wear them with solid tops, but I’ve recently started pairing them with striped and space-dye shirts, too. I wear these joggers on walks and for casual errands. The black Gap modal “sleep joggers” are not pajamas for me. In fact, I wear them at home and for walks, and they’re a perfect weight for summer wear. They fit me very well, and I loved them so much that I purchased a second pair later in the year.
The two pairs of Old Navy Breathe joggers were purchased as replacements for workhorse joggers from 2021 and early 2022. I bought them in the next size down when my previous versions became too large for me. I may not have a lot of luck with out-and-about pants at Old Navy, but I can vouch for this jogger style. My mom loves them, too, and wears them most days, even when out and about. Sadly, it looks like Old Navy is phasing out this style, but I was happy to be able to buy the two pairs that I got, which should hopefully last me through 2023.
Tommy John Lounge Henley Tops
I wrote about these Tommy John Lounge Henley tops when reviewing my best purchases of 2021, and I still love them this year. They’re my go-to at-home tops for the cooler months, but the ones I had from last year were too baggy and looked kind of sloppy following my weight loss. Fortunately, I was able to take advantage of the Black Friday sales to purchase some of these tops in a smaller size last month. I’ve already worn all of them multiple times (in fact, I’m wearing the red top as I write this!).
I definitely recommend these Henley tops, but unless you want a very snug-fitting top, I would size up one size. Based on the size chart, I would need a size small, but I find that medium fits me in the body-skimming way that I prefer (fitted but not tight). These tops are pretty pricey, but I love the way they fit, feel, and look, so I feel they’re worth it. They’re a staple at-home item for me during the cooler months, but those who live in cold climates might not find them to be warm enough.
Space-dye Tees and Plush Jacket
I found the tees pictured above at Costco, of all places. I love all things space-dye, and these tees were low-priced and fit well. I’ve worn them a lot on walks and for lounging at home. I think the two-pack was only $13, and I’ve worn both tees many, many times, so the cost-per-wear is extremely low. The tees are from a brand named Mondetta, so I might look out for tops from them in the future.
I bought the black version of the Athleta plush jacket last year and love it. At the time, I purchased a purple version of the jacket for my mom, but they didn’t have it in my size. Fortunately, they brought the jackets back again this year, and although this year’s purple is a more muted shade than last year’s option, I still really like it. These jackets are so cozy that it feels like I’m wrapped up in a blanket when I wear them. I love that Athleta offers almost all their pieces in tall sizes (as well as petite and plus), which is a big reason why they’re one of my favorite stores. Their prices aren’t cheap, but the quality is good and they have a lot of sales (especially this year), so I was able to buy the jacket at 30% off in November.
Best Purchases – Out-and-About Items
Last but not least, I want to share my favorite out-and-about purchases of 2022, many of which were also discussed in my wardrobe “all-stars” post earlier this week. Here’s a top-level view of my top ten out-and-about purchases, but I’ll review them by category below:
Pants and Jeans
Pants are always a challenging area of my wardrobe, but I’m pleased to say that I had some good purchases in that category this year, including the one pair of pants and two pairs of jeans shown below.
The black pants were another “workhorse item in a smaller size” purchase. I wore my black Brooklyn ankle pants a lot in the summer of 2021, so I knew I wanted to have this garment on hand for last summer, too. Like the Brooklyn joggers I wrote about in the at-home section, these pants are comfortable and stretchy, but they look polished enough for most occasions and can be dressed up or down.
Both pairs of jeans are relatively recent purchases. I mentioned the gray straight-leg jeans in the worst purchases section, when I contrasted them with a lesser pair of gray jeans that I bought at Old Navy earlier in the year. The J. Jill gray jeans, as well as the more recently acquired medium wash bootcut jeans, are a flattering cut for my hourglass figure. The rise hits at about my bellybutton, and there’s a nice amount of stretch that helps the jeans to be more comfortable.
I tried buying the dark wash version of the gray jeans, but the fit was quite different, which was strange because they were supposed to be the same pair of jeans! Sometimes if the fabrication is different, the fit will also vary, but I’m happy I was able to find two pairs of jeans that work well for me. With any luck, J. Jill will soon offer black jeans that work well for me, as well as perhaps a darker wash in the bootcut jeans. Fingers crossed, as I need to round out my jeans wardrobe. I wear jeans almost daily during the cooler months (when I’m out and about, that is), so I could use a couple more pairs that fit me well now (I have lots of too-large jeans in my holding zone bin and very few pairs in my current size).
I love long toppers, and I’m a bit of a “cardigan junkie,” but I’ve been trying to branch out into alternate styles. The three toppers above are different from my other toppers, and I love them all. I bought the black knit coat at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, and it was the only non-basic purchase that I kept. It was one of those hard-to-get items that customers were clamoring to buy, so I was lucky to get my hands on one, especially since I had to size down from the coat that I initially bought. I like this coat because it’s a step up from my black cardigans in terms of the style quotient. It also works well with most of my tops and pants and it can be dressed up or down.
The black-and-white duster coat is another knit piece that looks great and works with many of the clothes in my closet. I had to have it taken in a bit in the back, but it now fits me well and looks stylish and attractive. The wide lapels and the long length add drama (“dramatic” is another one of my style guideposts). I haven’t had this coat for very long, but I can see it becoming an all-star for 2023.
Not all my Cabi purchases have been ill-advised like the ones I discussed in the worst purchases section. The long navy cardigan shown above also has speckles of purple, pink, turquoise, and white in the yarn for added depth. It’s warm enough to wear in the evenings where I live, and it looks nice worn either open or buttoned up. This is probably one of the best Cabi purchases I’ve made over the years. It’s soft and comfortable, and is a nice addition to a lot to my outfits.
Summer Dress and Top
Most of my 2022 best purchases were for the cooler “not summer” season, but there were a few in the mix for summer, too. The black sleeveless top with cutouts at the neckline fits me perfectly and pairs well with the two new printed skirts that I purchased this year (which were also great buys, but I wanted to limit my best out-and-about purchases list to ten). The cutouts are a fun detail, but the top is still modest, which I appreciate.
The blue twist midi dress was featured in my 2022 all-stars post because I wore it multiple times during the summer. The style is flattering, and the fabric is cool and breezy. I wore this dress for the first time on my birthday in August and was happy ushering in 56 in a dress that looks good on me. I have a black dress from a few years ago that’s a similar style, but I actually like the blue dress better. I’ll always love and wear black, but it can sometimes skew dressy, so I like to have some dresses in alternate colors that work better for casual wear.
I was excited to finally find a replacement for my favorite black Ecco wedge booties this year. I had an eBay search set for these boots in my size, and I finally got a notification for them last month. I originally purchased my black wedge ankle boots back in 2015, and I’ve worn them into the ground. I’ve had them “refurbished” by a cobbler several times, but they were on their last legs this year. The replacement pair from eBay is nearly new, so I’m thrilled to be able to wear my favorite style of booties for at least a few more years.
I’ve wanted a pair of metallic ankle boots for a few years, but I hadn’t found the right style. Most of what’s been out there has been either too shiny or too warm-toned, and many of those boots had a heel that was too high for my comfort level, too. I wanted pewter rather than silver, and I finally found a good pair this fall. The heel height is at the “sweet spot” for me, and the boots are streamlined in style and comfortable on my feet. I wear black footwear much of the time, but metallic shoes work better for outfits that don’t include any black in them otherwise. Since I’ve been wearing navy more often, too, these pewter booties are an ideal accompaniment.
I think I had a lot more good purchases than bad this year, but I don’t think it’s possible to completely avoid buying mistakes. I would like to continue to make fewer of them, though, and I feel that I’ve learned from the errors that I recounted in the earlier portions of today’s post. I don’t intend to purchase any more tops with a curved hem, and I also plan to return any items that aren’t a “hell, yes!” And I’ll only buy “final sale” items that I absolutely know will work for me because I made some mistakes that hurt in that regard this year.
I also plan to be a lot more careful when it comes to buying pants, since many of my worst purchases this year were in that wardrobe category. It can be frustrating when it takes me a long time to find pants that work well for me, but it’s even more frustrating when I settle for less than what I really want and end up wasting money.
I want to learn from my mistakes, but I also want to celebrate my wins. My best purchases in both the at-home and out-and-about categories have added a lot to my wardrobe this year, and I’ve enjoyed wearing these wonderful new items. I like that I now pay as much attention to what I wear at home as to what I put on when I go out, as so much of my life is spent in my house. I feel good in what I wear when I’m sitting at my computer, as well as what I wear when I go out for my regular walks.
My wardrobe is in very good shape now. Yes, there are still a few small wardrobe holes that I’d like to fill, and pants remain a challenging area for me, especially since I lost weight and had to pretty much start over there. But I realize that I don’t need a lot of pants; I just need enough pairs of jeans and pants to put nice outfits together that suit my most casual lifestyle. I need to remember that it’s about good and enough, not about more.
Your Thoughts – and Happy New Year!
So, now with less than two hours to spare, I close the books on “My Wardrobe, Myself” for 2022. I got this one last post in just under the wire… Of course, I realize that most of you won’t read it until the first or second day of 2023, but that’s okay. I’m happy to be able to get one other post out there on this last day of 2022.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my shopping mistakes and triumphs for this year. Now, I’d love to read about some of yours. Feel free to weigh in on some of your own best and worst purchases of 2022, as well as what you learned from them. I look forward to reading your thoughts and insights.
And with that, I sign off and wish all my wonderful readers a warm and heartfelt Happy New Year! I wish you abundant blessings in 2023, with your wardrobes and in your lives. Much love to you, and thank you for being here with me on this journey.
8 thoughts on “My Best and Worst Purchases of 2022”
I’ve read your blog for some years and I think your worst purchases list has shortened a lot from when you started out. Good job!
I have a similar issue with ON pants. There is a store near my preferred grocery so I go in and look things over. That’s saved me many a return. I didn’t follow my own rule and ordered a pair similar to the olives ones in your post. They were too high-waisted for me, the fit at the thigh wasn’t what I like, and a mistake. The annoying thing is they didn’t look that bad on the web site.
That’s interesting that you don’t like curved hem shirts. I’m more pear-shaped and I like them on me. It lets a shirt be longer without creating a straight line at the top of my thigh – not the place I want a horizontal line. The curved hem must not work with your height.
I have had some good luck this year with pants from the Banana Republic, both the regular store and the factory. But, that’s almost all in-person shopping with a try-on. The regular store has gone overboard on their web site, big rich pictures of exotic models, sometimes it’s hard to get a good look at the item you’re interested in.
So, here’s to a Happy New Year, I hope you’ll be feeling as well as you’re looking 🙂
Thanks for your kind words, Rose. I definitely feel like I’m making a lot fewer mistakes with my purchases now versus in past years. I think it can be hard when prices are very low (like with Old Navy) because we’re more likely to make compromises that we wouldn’t otherwise make (such as with my olive pants and your pants that you mentioned).
As for the curved hems, I do think my height is one of the main issues. If you’re more petite than I am, the hems of your shirts probably hit you below the widest point of your hips. On me, that curved part tends to hit at or right above my widest point, which I feel accentuates it. If I got a curved hem top in a tall size, it might work, but of course I would have to order that online since there are never talls in stores.
Thanks for sharing about your good luck with Banana Republic. I used to shop there a lot more often, but haven’t in recent years. I prefer to do in-person shopping when I can, as there are a lot fewer returns that way. It’s touch to get a sense of fabrication online, as well as some other characteristic. I wish you all the best in 2023, too!
I have same concerns as you do—HIPS—& upper thighs, & like Rose AG, a curved hem top is very flattering on my frame. I’m always seeking them out. So it must be the height issue like you mentioned (I’m short).
Very intriguing & I will find myself pondering this endlessly, lol.
Since we have approximately 5 days of not summer as you say, I don’t even bother w/ jeans.
I definitely notice your mistake list is much shorter these days!
I think height has a lot to do with it, OCD, because that will impact where the curved hem hits on an individual’s body. If both you and RoseAG are more petite, the shortest part of the curved hem probably hits BELOW the widest part of your hips, whereas on me (being tall), it usually hits ABOVE that point. Also, where we’re wide can tend to vary, too. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Imogen Lamport’s body shapes, but she talks about the 8 shape vs. the X shape. The 8 shape’s widest part is in the upper hip area, and the X shape’s widest part is the lower hip area. I’m an X shape and tall, which is probably why curved hems don’t work well for me. All of this to say… if you (and Rose and whoever else) find curved hems flattering and enjoy wearing them, by all means, you should continue doing so!
Yes, I’m very happy that my mistakes list is shorter these days. It’s been a long road and I still make more mistakes than I’d like, but I have to acknowledge my progress 🙂
I think you did really well, not too many “worst” purchases and you clearly understand why they didn’t work. I don’t think we’ll ever reach perfection with this, trying new stuff (which inevitably results in some mistakes) is part of the ride.
I purchased some used clothes from ThredUp this year and while buying online is a guessing game, buying online used is even more so. You have mentioned them before and I too am so sensitive to the SMELL of the detergent! I find I have to wash with vinegar and baking soda at least 3 times and then hang outside on the line to get it to go away. Some of my worst purchases came from doing the thredup thing, but two of my best purchases came from there as well. The worst ones were mostly because it was in poor condition (think, faded blacks) but so cheap in the first place I didn’t bother returning. All in all, I didn’t buy much this year and I only bought one thing brand new – a pair of boots which are winners so far.
I agree that we’ll probably never reach perfection with our purchases, Amber, and that’s especially true with trying new styles. Sometimes we can’t know that something isn’t going to work from just a brief store try-on. I’ve discovered “no, not this” lots of times only after wearing something for a period of time.
Purchasing clothes from ThredUp, Poshmark, eBay, etc., can be challenging, especially when on is sensitive to fragrance from detergent, perfume, and Febreze. There have been instances when I haven’t been able to get rid of the smell, but doing what you did has often worked for me, too. One of my good friends buys almost all of her clothes secondhand, but she’s not as sensitive as I am. I would love to be able to do more secondhand shopping, but I wish that synthetic fragrance didn’t exist!
I’m glad you had some success with your ThredUp buys in 2022, and that’s wonderful that you only purchased ONE new item. Very impressive! I wish you good luck with your 2023 purchases, too.
It was interesting to see the grey and especially the navy items in this post and the last one. It’s clear that black is still your go-to option, but it’s cool that your changed hair color has brought these other two neutrals into the mix and that you have several winner pieces in them. In the previous post, I’d wondered what shoes you wore with your navy for out-and-about, but seeing those pewter boots, it all makes sense.
Considering how challenging it is for you to find pants, even not in a time of changing sizes, your “worst purchases” could have been a lot worse than they were! I’m sure I’m not the only reader who saw the curved hem tops and thought, Nope! – why is it so much easier to see this for someone else than for ourselves?? One thing that occurs to me is that when I think of someone else’s purchase, I think “well it’s worth the money to buy the thing that is the right thing” and am not as strongly swayed by price. I noticed this when I did a wardrobe refresh for my husband this fall. His preferred color of sherpa-lined hoodie was $80 but another OK color was on sale for $40, so he was considering the cheaper one, and I over-ruled him. I wouldn’t settle on a merely “OK” option for someone else, so why do I settle for myself sometimes?
A theme that emerges throughout the recent posts is that our purchases need to check all the boxes, and we should pay what it costs (within our budgets) to get the right items. Buying the inferior substitute (out of desperation or from sales goggles) is a false economy almost every time. If that means being able to buy fewer items, that’s fine; as long as the items we do buy work well for us, we can just wear those great items into the ground! For me, this is easier said than done as there is definitely some scarcity thinking and some “can’t resist a good deal” thinking that can take over.
I’ve been happy to be able to add some new colors to the mix, Sally. What to pair with navy clothing can be a bit of a conundrum, but I’ve found that metallic footwear works best. But before I purchased my pewter booties, all of my metallic shoes were open-toe. People may think that we can wear sandals year-round in Southern California, but we DO have fairly cold weather here (but not compared to where YOU live, of course).
I agree that it can be much easier for us to see others’ mistakes than our own sometimes. I’ve often seen/heard friends trying to talk themselves into certain purchases, and it’s been very clear to me that they should walk away (I try to help them see that, but it doesn’t always work, and the reverse can be true, too). That’s great that you convinced your husband to buy the sherpa-lined hoodie in his preferred color. That was likely the difference between a “workhorse” and something he would probably only wear once in a while.
Yes, our purchases need to check all of the boxes, and we need to beware of “settling” just to get a low price. SO many of my “benchwarmers” have been in instances when I’ve settled in some way. I like the term you used: “false economy.” Maybe I should do another post about where my “all-stars” vs. “benchwarmers” were purchased and whether they were bought at full price or on sale. That could be quite eye-opening…
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