My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

This is the third part in my series about the oldest items in my wardrobe. In part one, I discussed the pieces that have been in my closet since 2013 and earlier, and in the second part, I wrote about my remaining items from 2014 through 2016. In this installment, I cover the garments and shoes that I purchased in 2017 and 2018 and still own today. I plan to wrap up the series with one more post that summarizes what I’ve learned through doing this in-depth exploration of “oldies but goodies.”

wardrobe longevity - items that are 5 to 6 years old

Do you own a lot of items that are five to six years old?

As with my two earlier posts, I’ll show you all the items from 2017 and 2018 and then break them down by categories. I’ll also highlight some outfits that feature my pieces from five to six years ago. I didn’t think to do that before (other than two dress outfits in part one), mostly because I don’t take outfit photos very often anymore. However, reader Sally did a post on her blog about her remaining garments from 2014, and it was helpful to see those pieces as part of ensembles. My photos aren’t as recent (I have dyed hair in many of them!) or as nice as hers, but they show at least some of my 2017 and 2018 pieces on me rather than as a stock photo or flat-lay image.

I’ll also share what my favorite items are from this last grouping of “oldies but goodies,” as well as which other pieces I’m considering passing on.

Items I Still Own from 2017 and 2018

Below are the forty-two items that remain in my closet from 2017 and 2018:

5 to 6 year-old items - all

As with parts one and two, I’m only including clothing and shoes in this essay. I also included purses in the other two posts, but I don’t own any that were purchased either five or six years ago. I know that I probably have quite a few jewelry pieces that I acquired in either 2017 or 2018, but since I didn’t track that information, I’m going to wait and discuss jewelry (and maybe scarves, too) in a separate post or series later this year.

I’ll discuss individual pieces later and break things down by out-and-about versus at-home/workout items, but here’s a basic category overview for the forty-two items that I still own from 2017 and 2018:

  • 6 toppers (2 jackets, 4 cardigans)
  • 10 pairs of pants (4 pairs of jeans, 3 pairs of cropped pants, 3 pairs of athletic/lounge pants)
  • 1 dress
  • 1 pair of shoes
  • 10 long-sleeved tops
  • 9 short-sleeved tops
  • 5 sleeveless tops

Brand and Purchase Information

There are many repeat brands among the items that I still own from 2017 and 2018. In fact, 26 of the 42 pieces are from brands that I purchased from multiple times during those two years, many of which are brands that I still love. Here’s a list of those brands:

  • Gap – 5 items (the dress, 2 long-sleeved tops, 2 pairs of cropped pants)
  • Lucky Brand – 4 items (all the jeans)
  • Cabi – 3 items (2 sleeveless tops, 1 short-sleeved top)
  • Eddie Bauer – 3 items (all long-sleeved waffle tops)
  • Vince Camuto – 3 items (2 sleeveless tops, 1 long-sleeved top)
  • Kuhl – 2 items (short-sleeved tops)
  • Champion – 2 items (athletic pants)
  • Athleta – 2 items (1 jacket, 1 cardigan)
  • Target – 2 items (1 long-sleeved top, 1 short-sleeved top)

Other brands represented among my remaining 2017 and 2018 pieces include Nic and Zoe, ATM, Lafayette 148, 32 Degrees, Caslon, Old Navy, Bobeau, H&M, and Gentle Souls.

Only two of the 42 “oldies but goodies” from five to six years ago were purchased secondhand (see below), as I had already started to move away from that type of shopping due to my chemical sensitivities. I’m a big proponent of buying clothing from thrift and resale stores, but I’m unable to do so because I’m extremely sensitive to synthetic fragrance, especially the type that’s in laundry detergents.

5 to 6 year-old items - secondhand-items

Only these two items from 2017-2018 were bought second hand. 

Out-and-About Items from 2017 and 2018

Thirty-one of the forty-two remaining closet pieces from five or six years ago can be classified as out-and-about items.

5 to 6 year-old items - out-and-about

Here’s how the above items can be broken down by category:

  • 4 toppers (2 long open cardigans, 2 short tie-cardigans)

out-and-about toppers from 2017-2018

The two shorter tie-cardigans are worn with dresses and skirts, while the two longer open cardigans are paired with pants ensembles.

  • 3 pairs of pants (all cropped)

out-and-about cropped pants from 2017-2018

The pants in the middle and on the right are actually pajama pants (from the Gap Body line), but I wear them in the summer with t-shirts and tanks and I don’t think anyone is the wiser. I have such a difficult time finding pants that fit well and are comfortable that sometimes I improvise. I wish I could purchase more pants like these, but unfortunately, Gap doesn’t make them anymore.

  • 4 pairs of jeans

out-and-about jeans from 2017-2018

As mentioned above, all four of these jeans are from Lucky Brand. The only pair that I’m currently wearing is the one on the right, as the other three pairs are all too big for me and are in my “holding zone” box. My husband and I used to purchase all our jeans from Lucky Brand, but they have stopped carrying longer inseams for almost all styles now. My husband has moved on to Seven for all Mankind and Heritage 34 jeans, while my recent denim purchases have been from NYDJ and J. Jill.

  • 5 sleeveless tops

out-and-about sleeveless tops from 2017-2018

The cami on the top right is only worn under other tops that are either too sheer or too revealing, but the other four have been warm weather favorites for multiple years.

  • 6 short-sleeved tops

out-and-about short-sleeved tops from 2017-2018

These were all favorites at one time, but the only tops that I love and wear regularly now are the one at the top left and the one at the bottom right. I didn’t wear the bright-striped tee for a few years because it was too snug, but hopefully it will come back into regular rotation this year when the weather warms up. I’m on the fence about the other three tops due to fit issues (too big), and I’m pondering whether to alter them, downgrade them for lounge and sleep, or pass them on. I may end up doing some combination of these things.

  • 7 long-sleeved tops

out-and-about long-sleeved tops from 2017-2018

My long-sleeved tops tend to hold up better and have more longevity in my wardrobe than my tees and tanks. The black top shown first is a layering tee that I wear under other tops on very cold days (especially when I visit my family in Tahoe). The remaining tops are mostly worn under a cardigan or jacket, but the teal-and-black-striped top at the bottom is a great standalone piece for either spring or fall. I think all these tops will remain in my closet for at least a few more years.

  • 1 dress
  • 1 pair of shoes

out-and-about dress and shoes from 2017-2018

The dress and shoes above are both wardrobe “benchwarmers” that haven’t been worn much recently. The dress didn’t look good on me for a few years due to menopausal weight gain, and I now feel that it’s a bit too A-line for my current style aesthetic, although I love the gathered detail in the back. The shoes didn’t work well with most of my pants for years, but I’m going to try them with my current collection (I’ve purchased quite a few new pairs of pants this past year due to weight loss) to see if I like the way they look. I’m not sure if either item will last through 2023, but it’s too cold to wear them now. We’ll see how I feel once the warmer weather arrives.

At-Home and Workout Items from 2017 and 2018

While the majority of my items from five or six years ago are part of my out-and-about wardrobe, eleven of them can be classified as at-home or workout garments.

5 to 6 year-old at-home and workout items

These items can be broken down as follows:

  • 2 jackets

at-home and workout jackets from 2017-2018

Both jackets are too big for me, but the lighter-weight one with the pleated back is currently being altered to fit me better, as it has been a staple in my wardrobe. I wore the down jacket hundreds of times and it’s still in excellent condition (Athleta pieces typically stand the test of time) in my holding zone. I purchased a replacement in January that may have already reached the 30-wear benchmark. I regularly go on evening walks, during which a warm jacket comes in very handy. I plan to hang on to the older down jacket for a while longer, but I may opt to sell it next year if I continue to maintain my weight loss.

  • 3 pairs of pants (2 full-length, 1 cropped)

at-home and workout pants from 2017-2018

All three of these pants are now much too big for me, but they were all worn many times and have a very low cost-per-wear. The two pairs of full-length pants are quite faded and worn out, but I’m always hesitant to let go of pants since they’re so difficult for me to buy. When they fit me, they still worked well for walks and workouts even though they were no longer pristine. The cropped pair (center) looks full-length in the photo, but it’s a cropped length on me. Those were one of my favorite pairs of summer lounge pants, but they look large and sloppy on me now. I have pondered taking them in, but I think it might be too difficult and costly to do well, so I’m just going to keep them in my holding zone for the time being.

  • 3 long-sleeved tops

at-home and workout long-sleeved tops from 2017-2018

As you can see, these waffle tops all have a curved hem, which I usually don’t like. However, they’re all tall-sized tops, so the shorter part of the hem doesn’t hit at the widest part of my hips as is usually the case with standard sizes. Even so, they’re not my favorite tops and I prefer the others I own that have straight hems. However, they’re comfortable and reasonably warm, so they work well for wearing at home during the cooler months.

  • 3 short-sleeved tops

at-home and workout short-sleeved tops from 2017-2018

I previously wore the three tops above for out-and-about purposes (you’ll see the pink top featured below), but they’ve all been downgraded for at-home or workout wear. The black tee (a favorite for several years) is quite loose on me now, so I plan to wear it as a sleep shirt. The blue and pink tops are less pristine after many wears, so I now only wear them at home or when I go on walks. I like when I’m able to repurpose clothing instead of passing it on. This isn’t always feasible, but it feels good to be able to give some garments new life.

Some Outfits Featuring My 2017 and 2018 Items

I mostly stopped taking outfit photos in late 2017, but I do have a handful of photos from later years. I was able to find the following photos of ensembles that feature some of the garments covered in today’s post. I have compiled them here and will offer brief comments below each set of looks.

Tie Cardigan Outfits:

outfits with tie-cardigans from 2017-2018

The above photos range from 2017 (first two outfits) to 2022 (third outfit; the fourth one is from 2019). However, I still own most of the pieces (the two pairs of sandals have since “bit the dust” and have been replaced) and would wear the looks as shown today. I like to pair the short tie-cardigans with dresses and skirts because the cropped length creates good proportions.  They can be tied either loosely or more snugly based upon the given outfit, and they also provide just the right amount of warmth during the summer. I also own tie-cardigans in several other colors.

Cropped Pants and Athletic Pants Outfits:

outfits with cropped pants and athletic pants from 2017-2018

These 2018 and 2019 photos show two pairs of “oldie but goodie” cropped pants and one pair of full-length athletic pants. I had the polka-dot pants taken in last year and wore them many times during the summer months. I suspect that they’ll still be a favorite for me this year. The athletic pants and the printed pants at right are both in my holding zone now. I wish I could find good replacements for both, but that has been challenging. I don’t like a lot of the current pant silhouettes, as I prefer a slimmer cut rather than the wider-leg versions that are mostly for sale now. I would still wear all the outfits shown here today, and I wore very similar ensembles in summer 2022.

Sleeveless and Short-Sleeved Tops Outfits:

outfits with sleeveless and short-sleeved tops from 2017-2018

These outfits were from 2017, when I was smack-dab in the middle of my (seemingly interminable) gray hair transition. The main reasons why I stopped taking outfit photos was because I didn’t like the way my hair looked, plus I was gradually gaining weight as I negotiated menopause and was self-conscious about it. I feel better about both my hair and my body now, but I never got back into the habit of doing the outfit photos.

I’m showing these outfits to feature the tops, all of which I still wear today, although the pink top has been downgraded for at-home wear. I no longer own the cropped pants, and I wouldn’t wear pants at that length today anyway. I now prefer more of an ankle-length cropped pant, as was featured in the last section. Other than substituting the pants (and the shoes in the second image – I no longer own those, either), I would wear these looks today. For the first outfit, I would also swap the cardigan for one with a straight hem.

The Rest – Dress, Cardigans, and Long-Sleeved Top Outfits:

outfits with dress, long cardigans, and long-sleeved tops from 2017-2018

These photos are from 2016 (fourth photo – December 2016), 2018 (first two photos), and 2021 (third photo). I mentioned that the dress is in my holding zone, but I have a similar version that I wore last year. The cardigan in the second photo is paired with the tee and pants shown in a photo two sections above. I wore that cardigan once this year, but it’s quite large on me and I thought it looked kind of sloppy. I might repurpose it for wearing at home as either a robe or a lounge piece.

The third and fourth outfits are my favorites and I would wear something very similar today. I could wear the third outfit exactly as shown, as I still own all the pieces, but I no longer own the vest in the fourth photo. While I think it looks good in the photo, it was flaring out at the bottom more recently, which is why I opted to pass it on. I’d love to find a similar menswear-style vest at some point to recreate the look.

My Current Favorites from 5 to 6 Years Ago

Of the forty-two items featured in today’s installment of “oldies but goodies,” the thirteen below are my current favorites:

favorite remaining items from 2017 and 2018

These pieces are all in line with my current style aesthetic and they have all been worn regularly over the past year. I opted to alter a few of them to fit my current shape, but I did so because I still loved the items and the alterations were straightforward and easy to do (i.e., taking in the sides of a top or jacket). The trickiest alteration was for the polka-dot pants, but luckily it was successful and gave the pants new life in my closet (they’re more fitted on me than in the stock image).

Most of these items are fairly classic in terms of style and silhouette, which has contributed to their longevity in my wardrobe. In terms of color, there are three solid black pieces, seven print or color-blocked items that include black, and three jewel-toned garments. I can see wanting to wear all thirteen of these favorites for at least the next few years, provided that my size remains stable. Because they’re all knits, they have more “give” and can accommodate minor weight fluctuations if they occur.

What I’m Considering Purging…

Among my remaining 2017 and 2018 purchases, there are thirteen items that I might end up purging in the coming months:

remaining items from 2017 and 2018 that I might purge

I’ll briefly detail my reasons for potentially purging each of the above pieces, many of which have also been discussed earlier in today’s post.

  • Black Athleta down jacket – As mentioned previously, this jacket is now too large for me and I have replaced it with a better-fitting option. If my size stays stable, I’ll likely try to sell this jacket on eBay.
  • Black Athleta Pranayama wrap – This cardigan is too large, plus I have other black cardigans that I now prefer. I’ll probably either wear this wrap only at home or elect to pass it on.
  • Black Champion athletic pants (2 pairs)– These pants are too big for me and they’re also quite worn out. I’m reluctant to purge pants and have been hoping to find a suitable replacement. Sadly, this style is no longer being sold, so I couldn’t just purchase the next size down. I’ll keep them for a while longer, but they will probably end up being purged from my wardrobe.
  • Black Gap gathered-back dress – I feel the dress is too much of an A-line shape for my current preferences and I also own two other black midi-dresses. I like the unique back on this one, but if summer comes and I’m still not feeling it, I’ll likely pass it on.
  • Black laced-up shortened tunic – I’m not sure if I still love this top. The neckline is fun, but the fit and shape aren’t the best for me now. I may have it taken it at the sides or I may just pass it on.
  • Black Lafayette 148 cropped pants – These pants were an at-home-wear staple for several years. Even though they’re too big for me now, I’m keeping them in my holding zone for a while. I think they’re too complicated to alter, which is too bad because they’re very comfortable and the material is quite soft.
  • Black-and-white-print cropped pants – As I mentioned in a previous section, these pants are too large for me now. I still love the print, though, so I’m going to keep them in my holding zone for another year or so and see what happens.
  • Black V-neck Target tee – I downgraded this tee to sleepwear recently, but I haven’t been wearing it because it’s too cold for the low-cut V-neck. Hopefully it will be a good option for summer.
  • Lucky Brand jeans (3 pairs) – These jeans are all two sizes too big for me now, but I’m holding on to them for now because jeans (and pants in general!) are so difficult for me to find. When I gained weight with menopause, I held on to a lot of garments that were too small, and I gradually passed things on when they continued to not fit me. I suspect that I’ll take the same approach following my weight loss (I wrote about this in a post last fall).
  • Metallic Gentle Souls peep-toe shoes – I like these shoes in theory, but I have struggled to pair them successfully with my pants. Since I have quite a few new pairs of pants, I plan to experiment with different pairings once the weather warms up

Conclusion – and Your Thoughts?

I’ve now reviewed all the clothes, shoes, and purses that I still own from 2018 and earlier (five-plus years). I thought that I would recap all my lessons learned at the end of today’s installment (part three), but this post has gotten lengthy, so I’m going to add a fourth part to the series. Stay tuned for that essay soon, when I’ll do a basic recap of the series and encapsulate what I’ve learned from doing this deep dive into my closet “oldies but goodies.”

For today, though, I’ll say that I seem to be happier with the clothes I purchased from 2016 and earlier versus the ones that I bought in 2017 and 2018. About a third of the more recent acquisitions are on the chopping block to potentially be let go, mostly for size-related reasons. I’m trying to be prudent when it comes to doing alterations, as they can be costly and sometimes aren’t even successful.

I started going through menopause in 2016 and went up about two sizes over the next few years, so a lot of the items I bought in 2017 and 2018 were in larger sizes than my purchases in earlier years. Since I was able to drop the extra weight last year and get back to my pre-menopausal size, some of my previous wardrobe all-stars have become “benchwarmers” that were relegated to my holding zone box – or purged from my closet altogether. I’m not being hasty in letting things go, though, as weight fluctuations can be unpredictable, especially when we get older.

I’m happy that a large portion of my closet pieces have stood the test of time for five years or longer. I’m also pleased that I’m making fewer purchasing mistakes as I gain increased clarity of what I do and don’t like. Whenever I buy something because it’s trendy or because a friend or sales associate pushes me to do so, that item is less likely to stick around for very long. Of course, it’s great when the trends are in line with our personal preferences, but I’m increasingly learning to just say no when that’s not the case. I’ll share more on this topic in my next post…

I welcome your offering any thoughts you have on what I’ve shared today. If you’d like to tell me and your fellow readers about the items that remain in your closet from 2018 or earlier, I invite you to do so and would look forward to reading about them. I’d especially like to read about what makes something an “oldie but goodie” that has stood the test of time versus a closet benchwarmer that either gathers dust or is passed on in short order. Thank you for reading this series, and thanks in advance to all those who choose to comment.

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8 thoughts on “The Oldest Items in My Closet: Part Three

  1. Krissie says:

    Thank you for another interesting post, and looking at the dates you mention, it suddenly dawned on me that im almost desperately trying to extend the life of clothes bought before the pandemic…2018 onwards id say, but pre 2020. Since the pandemic the clothes here, choice, fabric etc have been severely compromised. I went shopping the other day and nothing, literally nothing piqued any interest. There doesnt seem to be any particular direction, colour, or theme, and the clothes in the shops just seem to be random bits. Ive noticed that the clothes hang till the end of a season, and arent snapped up like they used to be. Shopping makes me feel lost. Currently going into winter here, and im looking for trousers, and cosy lounge wear. So far, havent been successful. Top wise, no cotton mostly polyester, which is not suitable in our climate, but thats all that seems to be on offer. Take it or leave it, so I’m hoping that the clothes I bought pre pandemic will last me another season.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m guessing you’re in Australia, Krissie, but I’m feeling much the same regarding shopping here in the U.S. (but it sounds like it’s worse where you are). Even before the pandemic, clothing quality was declining, but it’s gotten worse since 2020. I don’t think you have sales as often as we do here (from what I’ve read on some forums), but I feel like I’ve gotten numb to it now, as there almost ALWAYS seems to be many sales going on. But even at the sale price, most of the items aren’t even worth buying! I’ve mostly been buying things online, but that means lots and lots of returns, which gets to be exhausting. I probably should just stop and work with what I have, like what you’re doing! I hope your pre-pandemic clothes will hold up for at least another season or two, and I hope the shopping landscape improves. It could all still be pandemic-related… I really hope we all see better options – and better quality – soon!

  2. Sue says:

    Wow! You look absolutely fantastic in all these photos 😍. You do wonders for your clothes, shoes and other accessories. I do SO hope you get back in the habit of photographing yourself in your outfits and sharing them with us.

    I live in Europe. The only brand I own on your list is Swedish H&M. Now I feel inspired to find out the most common 5-year-plus clothes and shoes I still wear. I own many second-hand items and don’t record purchase dates, but I can make reasonable estimates. I’ll report back.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Sue. My husband used to take my outfit photos where we used to live. In our current home, there’s not a spot as good as the ones we used to have, but maybe we’ll figure something out. I definitely don’t want to be an “outfit blogger,” but I know that sometimes the photos help to illustrate what I’m writing about.

      I guess there’s not a lot of crossover in terms of brands in the U.S. and Europe. I wish we would get more European brands here… That’s great that you own a lot of secondhand items. I wish I could tolerate them more because the quality is often much better with older pieces. I would be interested in reading about your clothes and shoes from five or more years ago. Estimates can be helpful, as most people don’t track as closely as what I used to do (I have been less diligent in recent years).

  3. Jenn says:

    When I commented on your first installment on this topic, I said I needed to investigate why I like my “old” stuff more than the new. Afterward, it occurred to me that they are the tried-and-true pieces that provided the most seasons of wear and survived the most closet clean-outs. The items that I didn’t wear and ended up not providing the function or joy I’d hoped for were eliminated.

    The newer items have not been as tested.

    My plan for April, a month that often provides both winter and spring conditions here in Michigan, is to analyze and get a better handle on my wardrobe—including color, brand, style preferences, etc. and become a wiser more intentional shopper.

    Thanks for the inspiration, Debbie!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I found myself nodding along with your realization in your first paragraph, Jenn. I will be sharing more about that in my wrap-up post. I was surprised how many older items I have, especially since I shop more than a lot of other people do, but you’re right on in what you wrote. Your plan for April sounds great! The most transitional months for me where I live are probably June and November, but I’m going to keep doing analysis in April, too. April can be a weird month with some days that feel like summer but still a lot of cooler days. I hope to continue to become a wiser and more intentional shopping, too! I hope you’ll share more of what you learn as you do your analysis.

  4. RoseAG says:

    I’ve had wardrobe change since 2018 because of my changed hair color.
    The warmer tones, particularly greens, I used to wear with my auburn colored hair don’t look good against my salt/pepper hair.
    If something is white, but not ivory/cream, or a clear jewel toned color I’ve still got it.
    I love your jewel toned things, have you found that you’ve shed clothing b/c of your hair transition?

    P.S. – if those metallic wedges are comfortable I would keep them even if you aren’t wearing them a lot. I had several formal events pop-up last year and had to do some shoe shopping for those one-off events. Those wedges look timeless.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m so sorry for my tardy reply to your comment, Rose! For some reason, it escaped my notice. In response to your question, I haven’t changed the colors I wear all that much following my gray hair transition, as I have pretty much always worn cool-toned items. However, I have found that I can wear some mid-toned pastels now, whereas those colors didn’t used to look good on me with my dyed hair. I also love red and pink now and I don’t like green as much (although I still like teal). I know that a lot of women have had to make more wardrobe changes than I have, though, as it sounds like has been the case for you. It’s good that you have figured it all out now, though. I know it can take a little while… Thank you for your feedback on my metallic wedges. Since I still like them and have the space, I’m keeping them for now even though I haven’t been wearing them.

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