In my last three posts, I examined the items that I still own from five or more years ago. The first part of the series covered the twelve pieces (nine garments and three purses) that have been with me for at least ten years. Part two looked at the twenty-five wardrobe items (eighteen garments, two purses, and five pairs of shoes) that I’ve owned for seven to nine years. Finally, part three reviewed the forty-two pieces (all clothing except for one pair of shoes) that I purchased in either 2017 or 2018.
Today’s essay is a “wrap-up” of the series, in which I’ll share some final numbers, as well as a summary of what I’ve learned through examining all my “oldies but goodies.” As with the other posts in this series, this essay will be image and number heavy, but this final installment will also include my reflections about my remaining items, why I still own them, and what they say about my personal style, my purchasing habits, and what works best for me.
“Oldies but Goodies” By Category
Let’s start with a recap of the categories represented among the oldest pieces in my closet. All in all, I still own 79 items from 2018 or earlier. As mentioned in the three prior essays, I’m only looking at clothing, shoes, and purses in this series. While I definitely still own scarves and jewelry pieces that have been around for longer than five years, I didn’t track those purchases, so I’d only be guessing their purchase dates if I included them in my counts, and I’d like to be more accurate than that. I plan to write about jewelry and scarves soon, as these items are part of my wardrobe and style “bucket list” for 2023.
Included below are how my 79 longest-standing items can be broken down by categories. I’ll show photos of the items and share some thoughts about each category.
13 toppers (8 cardigans, 1 vest, 3 jackets, and 1 coat)
Most of these items are still in regular rotation in my closet. The three tie-cardigans are summer staples to wear over my dresses and skirts, while the other cardigans and the vest are lightweight options that work for three seasons out of the year (spring, summer, and fall). The first two cardigans are in my “holding zone” at the moment and may not remain in my wardrobe for much longer. I’ll cover all my holding zone pieces from 2018 and earlier in the next section.
While I was able to bring the velvet coat and the cobalt anorak back into my closet following my 2022 weight loss, the black down jacket went into my holding zone because it’s now too large for me. However, since it’s such a great piece, I plan to hang on to it in case of potential future weight shifts. The pleat-back athletic jacket had become a “benchwarmer” due to size issues, but I recently had it taken in, so I expect it to be a staple item once the temperatures warm up and I only need a lightweight jacket for my walks.
11 pairs of pants (4 jeans, 3 long pants, 4 cropped pants)
Over half of the pants above are now in my holding zone because they’re too large, but one pair of jeans and three pairs of pants are current wardrobe “workhorses.” Black pants and jeans are my “go-tos,” especially in the cooler months, so it’s understandable that my “oldies but goodies” in this category mostly meet that description. Fortunately, I’ve been able to acquire some bottoms in other colors in recent years (mostly in cropped styles), so I now have more variety in this area of my wardrobe than I used to.
I mentioned in a recent essay that I considered having a pair of jeans (the ones at the bottom right) taken in at the seat to help mitigate “droopiness” in that area. I knew it would be a risky alteration, but I opted to go ahead with it anyway, and I’m happy with the result. I can now wear those jeans with shorter tops and don’t need to cover up my saggy backside with long tops and toppers. I considered doing the same with another pair of jeans (not shown here), but due to the construction of that item, I don’t think tailoring would be successful, so I’m leaving those as is and always pairing them with longer accompanying pieces.
4 dresses and 1 skirt
The black maxi-skirt and striped maxi-dress continue to be “all-stars” for me. I’m not as certain about the remaining three dresses because my preferred silhouettes have changed. Two of the dresses are more A-line than I currently prefer, and the black maxi-dress has an empire waistline that may not be all that flattering on my short-waisted frame. I haven’t worn dresses or skirts for months now, so I’ll be revisiting all the above items once summer weather arrives.
19 long-sleeved tops
This is by far the largest category among my “oldies but goodies.” I have had much better luck with long-sleeved tops holding up well than with their shorter-sleeved counterparts. I’m not entirely sure why that is, but I think it might be because the material is thicker and more durable on the long-sleeved tops. Although many of the above tops have been downgraded to at-home wear only at this point, that only happened well past the thirty-wear benchmark (and in some cases, after more than 100 wears!).
Most of these long-sleeved tops are still being worn regularly, so I think they’ll remain in my closet for several more years. I’m a little uncertain about the cobalt and black top, however. I had it shortened from a tunic to a hip-length top a few years ago, but I don’t love the way it looks on me now. I probably should have just let it go, but I loved the color and the neckline. I still struggle sometimes with knowing whether or not a potential alteration might be “throwing good money after bad.”
12 short-sleeved tops
Like my long-sleeved tops from 2018 and earlier, many of these short-sleeved tops are still being worn regularly. I have downgraded a few of them to at-home/exercise wear, but I’m not sure what to do with some of the others that are now too big for me. I have been proceeding slowly with altering my outsized clothing, both for financial reasons and because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to regain the lost weight. Of the five tops in the group above that don’t fit well, I will likely only alter two of them, and the others will probably be passed on next year (I’m being slow with purging holding zone items).
8 sleeveless tops
These tops all still fit me well and will likely be worn regularly this summer and fall (the warmest months where I live). The one in the top right is only used for layering under sheer or thin tops, but it’s good to have around when I need it. The second and fourth tops in the bottom row are shorter lengths, so I only pair them with skirts for proportion reasons. The others are all worn with pants and jeans, usually with a cardigan or jacket over them. These sleeveless tops are all in good condition. I’ve found that sleeveless tops usually hold up better than short-sleeved ones. Short-sleeved t-shirts are the most problematic types of pieces for me in terms of their durability (or lack thereof). I’m still searching for a brand and style of t-shirt that will last longer than a few seasons.
6 pairs of shoes
These shoes have all been worn a lot, with the exception of the metallic peep-toe wedges, which I wrote about in my last post. I’m going to challenge myself to find ways to wear those this summer because I do still like them. The burgundy booties are still in great shape, but all the other pairs are getting close to the end of their lifespan.
I was happy to be able to replace the black wedge booties a few months ago (so the older ones will likely be passed on soon), but I’m still hoping eBay will come through for me with the black Munro peep-toe booties, which have been a favorite ever since I purchased them in late 2016. I’ve had an alert set for over a year for those shoes, but no such luck in finding them in my size (9.5) just yet.
While I’ve used all these purses recently, the only one that I still love is the one at the bottom left. The black purse in the center comes in handy when I only need a small bag, and the pewter purse works well with some of my summer dresses that don’t include black. The other two black purses are good, but I have another more recent acquisition that I like better. I have purged a lot of purses in recent years, so these are all that I have left other than the studded black Brighton bag that I use much of the time. I’m okay with keeping them as long as they still see some use, but if I fulfill upon my “bucket list” item of acquiring another one or two bags this year, I may pass some of them on.
What’s In My “Holding Zone” from 2018 or Earlier?
Ten of my “oldies but goodies” are currently in my holding zone:
I plan to keep the jeans that are too big for me because good-fitting jeans are difficult to find and it’s possible that I might regain at least a portion of my lost weight and need the larger sizes again. I’ll probably wait at least a year or two before passing any of them on. The same is true for my black Athleta down jacket, which I covered above.
The other items are a bit trickier… The two pair of athletic pants are not only too big; they’re also quite worn out and should probably be passed on. I really struggle with letting go of pants, though, because finding pants that are both long enough and fit my curvier shape is always a challenge. The black cropped joggers are in a similar boat, as they were a favorite lounge pant for years when my weight was higher. I wore them a few times last summer by pinning the waistband, but they really need to be altered if I’m going to wear them.
I’m pondering whether I should alter the black cropped joggers, the black-print cropped pants, and the cobalt dress. A reader mentioned that the dress might be difficult to alter (I would want to narrow it at the bottom because I no longer love A-line styles) and that Eileen Fisher pieces do well in the resale market, so I might list it for sale soon. The two pairs of pants might be worth altering because I wore them a lot in past summers, but it will depend upon the cost and what my tailor has to say (she’s been advising against certain alterations more recently). If I decide not to alter the pants, I’ll keep them in my holding zone until at least next summer because I’d want to wear them again if they fit me.
I will very likely pass on the two black toppers because I already have plenty of black cardigans and jackets that fit me well and are worn regularly. I may opt to sell the black Athleta Pranayama wrap because I’ve done well with selling Athleta pieces in the past. The other black topper is not from a well-known brand, so it will likely be better to just donate it. It’s still in good condition, but the length is kind of “neither here nor there” on me. I wore it a lot when it previously fit me (it’s been in the holding zone for a few years), but I don’t feel like it’s very flattering on me now. There’s no real need to hang onto it at this point.
One of my “bucket list” items for this year is to get back to having just one holding zone bin. For years, I confined my holding zone to one large bin, but I changed my strategy last year because I had so many too-large pieces following my weight loss. I outlined this change in approach in a post last October, in which I shared that I shifted to having a bin each for at-home and out-and-about items. I’m now close to getting back to only one box, and I’ll be doing a post soon about what I’ve recently decided to pass on and why.
What Do My “Oldies but Goodies” Have in Common?
Now that I’ve shared some numbers and thoughts on the various “oldies but goodies” categories and filled you in on what’s in my holding zone, I’d like to close out this wrap-up post by looking at what my remaining items from five or more years ago have in common. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may have already drawn some conclusions, but here’s a rundown of what I’ve come up with after doing this series.
1. A Consistent Color Palette
The pieces that have stood the test of time in my closet are mostly in my favorite colors that I’ve worn time and again over the years. Here’s how the colors of my 79 remaining pieces from 2018 or earlier break down. Printed versions of each color are included in the tally (by their predominant color).
- Black: 38 items
- Blue (Including Denim): 21 items
- Metallic or Gray: 7 items
- Burgundy: 6 items
- Purple or Pink: 4 items
- Green/Teal: 3 items
I have purchased items in a lot of other colors over the years, but they haven’t tended to stick around as long. While it’s good to try other things from time to time, I’ve done better when I’ve stuck to my preferred color palette.
A few people have asked me if I needed to shift the colors that I wear following my gray hair transition (which I should really do an update on soon…). I mostly have not because I’ve worn predominantly cool-toned colors for most of my life. I have a cool-toned complexion, and transitioning to my natural hair color has only served to make me more cool-toned overall. I have, however, started to wear more mid-toned pastels since going gray, and I don’t wear as much green and gray as I used to. Those colors seem to clash with my gray hair or wash me out, but I still like to wear teal (which can be argued is more blue than green anyway) and some prints that include gray. I’ve also started to wear more red and pink items, which weren’t common colors in my wardrobe in earlier years (as you can see from their relative lack in this “oldies but goodies” collection).
2. Classic Styles and Silhouettes Over Trends
My “oldies but goodies” tend to be more timeless pieces rather than trend-driven. While I have purchased trendy items here and there, they haven’t been as successful for me, and they haven’t tended to stick around very long. It’s taken me a while to hone my personal style and figure out which styles and silhouettes work best for me. Although there have been some subtle shifts in recent years, I mostly stick to the following types of items:
- Fitted, hip-length tops
- Knit tops rather than “wovens”
- Crew-neck, V-neck, and scoop-neck tops
- Stripes (with a few polka dots, space-dye, and watercolor prints thrown in)
- Mid-thigh-length or longer toppers for pants
- Waist or high-hip-length toppers for skirts and dresses
- Straight-leg pants and jeans
- Pants are almost all either black or denim
- Not too much volume in my clothes
- Not too many embellishments in my clothes
- Streamlined boots and shoes
- Large-sized, structured purses in either black or metallic
I continue to like many of the same style features that I liked years ago. However, I saw a pretty big shift in my style around 2014, as I detailed in a Recovering Shopaholic post on my style evolution. Maybe I will do a future post on how my style has evolved since that time, as there have definitely been some important shifts.
3. Bought New Rather than Secondhand
For years, I frequented thrift and consignment stores to build my wardrobe. I liked the thrill of the hunt, plus as a shopaholic, I enjoyed being able to get more from my money by buying things resale. However, I learned over time that many of my secondhand buys weren’t successful. I tended to “settle” when shopping thrift or consignment, especially since everything was one-of-a-kind and the prices were low. I also tried to modify things too much by way of alterations. Yes, I still do ill-advised alterations sometimes now, but the problem was much worse back when I was a major resale shopper.
Of my 79 “oldies but goodies” from 2018 and earlier, only nine were bought second hand:
I shudder to think about how many other resale items were quickly passed on, but I’m pleased with the pieces above. They’ve all been worn many times, and they’re all aligned with my personal style aesthetic. I rarely shop second hand anymore, mostly because I’ve developed chemical sensitivities, especially to laundry detergent and clothing sprays like Febreze.
But even if I could readily shop at thrift and consignment stores now, I would be wary. Just like with sale items, we need to make sure to only buy things that we would willingly purchase at full price. It’s far too tempting to “go for the deal,” but I know all too well that “deals” that are ill-advised can add up to a lot of poorly-spent money. It’s better to buy full-priced items that we know will work well for us than to take a chance on low-priced pieces that we’re unsure of.
I’m sure I could come up with some more common features among my oldies but goodies, but the three mentioned above are the biggest ones. When I stick to my tried-and-true colors, styles, and silhouettes, I often end up with items that are worn regularly and remain in my closet for years. Likewise, I fare better when I shop retail rather than resale and am willing to pay more money for pieces that are in line with my personal style and fit my body at least reasonably well off the rack.
I remain a fan of alterations, but I need to primarily stick with the easiest ones that are more likely to be successful. Looking over my 79 items from 2018 or earlier, I can see that many of them were altered, but it was mostly straightforward nips and tucks like taking tops in at the sides and taking pants in at the waist. When I’ve tried to basically overhaul an item is when I’ve run into problems, but I rarely venture into that territory anymore (thankfully).
I hope that if I do another review like this in a few years, I’ll find that I’ve hung onto many pieces that I purchased from 2019 through this year. Not all of that is within my control, however, as the quality of clothing continues to decline. Although we can pay attention to whether or not something is well-made, it’s not always easy to tell how a piece will wash and wear. We can continue to hone our style and increase our awareness of what does and doesn’t work for us, though, which is something I feel I’ve done successfully over the years that I’ve been blogging. I haven’t always been a “quick study” and I’ve continued to make some mistakes, but my success percentage has increased dramatically and I’m proud of that.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this four-part series on the “oldies but goodies” in my wardrobe. As I was putting together this recap, I got some ideas for future posts, including a look at the types of items from five or more years ago that did not stand the test of time (it won’t be a four-part series, though!). I also plan to do a post on some of the pieces that I’ve purged from my closet recently.
Many of you have already commented on your own personal oldies but goodies, but if you haven’t and would like to weigh in now, please feel free to do so. You can also share your thoughts on anything that I’ve discussed today or in the past three posts. I also welcome any questions you have for me, as well as your suggestions for future topics. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful weekend!
13 thoughts on “Wrapping Up My “Oldies but Goodies” Series”
Great series, Debbie – I’ve really enjoyed seeing what’s worked for you. Even with your weight loss throwing a bit of a wrench in things, it’s amazing how much better your wardrobe is working now than in the past. What a difference knowing your personal style and your preferred types of items (as you listed out) makes! I’d be curious to know what percentage of your wardrobe is represented by the “oldies but goodies” versus newer items and whether that varies by category. That’s something I want to look at in my own wardrobe.
Today I posted about my accessories from 2014 and earlier, and I was surprised to see that 91% of my boots and 42% of my shoes are from that period. My necklace and scarf situation is a little less great, as I have bought (or made) a lot of them in the last 10 years while the number of days in the year (and hence opportunities to wear them) have stubbornly remained the same.
Those are some great numbers, Sally, especially for the boots! You must have some excellent quality boots and shoes for them to hold up for 9 or more years, or else you have a sizable collection that isn’t worn a lot of times each year (or maybe it’s a combination of both). I’m going to check out your post, as I love stuff like that (I’m a numbers geek!). What you wrote about your necklaces and scarves makes me think about the concept of “splitting wears,” which is the case for much of my jewelry, too. The number of occasions isn’t expanding while my collection is, so that just means that everything gets worn less often. Is it maybe time for a cull? If you still love everything, then maybe it’s time to buy or make less (which I know can be hard). I think I need to do a jewelry and scarf cull – and may opt to post about that soon…
Yes, I was happy to see that I still have a lot of items from five or more years ago. I’m definitely making better choices, but I still make mistakes sometimes. I’m not sure about the percentages… I would have to count, but as a guess, I would say that my “oldies but goodies” are about a third of my total wardrobe. That includes both out-and-about and at-home items, as well as shoes and purses (but not jewelry and scarves), as I didn’t include those items in this series. I still feel like I have too many clothes, especially of the out-and-about variety, but the ones I have are BETTER than in the past. They also better match the way I spend my time, in that I have a lot more at-home pieces now (that get worn often). You’ve given me an idea for a future post or series, though, so thank you!
I can see how a deep dive like this can be very enlightening. I think I’m going to try it myself! Thanks for the inspiration.
Always happy to inspire, Jenn!
I have 34 items that are over five years old. None of them are purses. Eight of them are shoes, and the remainder are garments. Nine toppers (8 are outerwear–needed in Michigan), 4 Long-sleeved tops, 4 short-sleeved tops, 2 sleeveless tops, 5 pairs of pants (2 are jeans), 2 dresses, 2 pairs of flats and 6 pairs of sandals. (I have way too many sandals.)
Blue, gray, brown (especially shoes), green/teal, white, and ivory are dominant colors in my wardrobe and colors I’m drawn to. I have a few black items but they were purchased more out of necessity rather than desire (shoes, funeral pants…). My preferred styles and silhouettes are similar to yours. I do like pants that give my slightly rectangular body shape, such as bootcuts and slim fits. No embellishments for me. Figure skimming, not hugging. Soft fabrics.
This was fun and helpful!
Thanks for sharing your numbers here, Jenn! Yes, we like some of the same item characteristics, but our colors are mostly different (perhaps our coloring is different, too). That’s great that you have eight pairs of shoes that are over five years old. I have a lot of sandals, too, but their wearing season here is pretty long. I’m wondering if you have a smaller wardrobe in general. Sally was wondering what percentage of my total wardrobe is comprised of my “oldies but goodies.” I haven’t done a count yet, but I do feel like the older stuff lasts longer in general due to declining quality. I have some newer pieces that I HOPE will still be with me in five years, but time will tell… I’m glad it was fun and helpful for you to do this exercise, and I appreciate your sharing your findings with us here.
Our coloring is different, Debbie. I wish I could wear black well, but it drains me. I have a total of 195 pieces of clothing, shoes, and handbags, so only 17% of my items are five or more years old. I hope to improve upon those numbers next year.
Have you thought about getting the sleeves of long-sleeved shirts hemmed to short sleeves? I was thinking that might help you avoid the quality issues you have had with short-sleeved shirts. And I’m guessing it would be a pretty easy alteration.
I actually hadn’t thought of that, Maureen, but that’s a good idea. I’m not sure if my recent long-sleeved tops are of high quality, but many of the older ones are. Long-sleeved tops are often thicker in weight, which isn’t always ideal for short-sleeved tops, but I will keep your suggestion in mind, as it might come in handy at some point. Thank you.
Hmm, just did a quick count. My wardrobe is definitely ageing. Rather like me! 69 out of 110 clothing items were purchased 2018 or earlier, and 25 out of 37 pairs of shoes. It’s well over half.
I’m really happy about that actually because it means I am buying more selectively and not having as much churn. I’m not too worried about trendiness- like you I prefer slimmer pants so I haven’t got into buying wide legs.
This has been a good series! Thanks!
You’re doing amazing, Jenni, with your wardrobe item longevity, especially when it comes to shoes! I know you have an impressive shoe collection, too (I saw some of them a while back in your YLF posts). I think I might be aging faster than my wardrobe (lol), but I was happy to see that I had as many older items as I do. I shudder to think of how many things from 2018 or earlier have been passed on, though, especially for reasons other than their being worn out. I hope to reach your level of wardrobe longevity (and minimal churn) soon – well over half is good going! I’m glad you liked this series.
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