My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

In my last post, I shared my wardrobe “do’s,” which are the characteristics that I want to be present in my clothing, shoes, and accessories. It’s helpful to be crystal clear on what we like so we can zero in on those features when we’re shopping. But it’s equally important to have clarity on the features of wardrobe items that we don’t like. Sometimes a seemingly minor detail can make or break something that we’re wearing, transforming what should be a wardrobe workhorse into a closet “benchwarmer.”

It serves us well to catalog our sartorial “deal-breakers” in addition to the characteristics of our closet pieces that have us wanting to reach for them often. Today’s post, which is part two of a three-part series, will focus on my wardrobe “don’ts.” I first created a list of my do’s and don’ts in a May 2015 essay on my previous blog, Recovering Shopaholic. Some important things have changed over the past six-plus years, which I’ll highlight in the third and fourth parts of the series, to be posted in the next two weeks. But for now, let’s move on to those deal-breaker “don’ts…”

defining our wardrobe don'ts

Are you aware of the features that you DON’T like in clothes, shoes, and accessories?

I’ll use the same format for this post as my last one. My “don’ts” will be listed according to the following categories:

  • Overall characteristics
  • Colors and patterns
  • Tops
  • Toppers
  • Pants
  • Skirts and dresses
  • Shoes
  • Accessories

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Back in May 2015, I published a post on Recovering Shopaholic about my wardrobe do’s and don’ts, the attributes of clothing, accessories, and style that did and didn’t work for me at the time. I thought it would be interesting and fun to revisit these characteristics in 2021, as a lot has changed for me since 2015. I’m six years older, I’ve transitioned to my natural gray hair color, I’ve gone through menopause, and my body is no longer as slim and firm as it used to be. Additionally, a lot of my style preferences have shifted, due to my body changes and also a gradual evolution of what I like related to my clothing. I wondered how different my do’s and don’ts lists might be today as a result of these shifts.

revisiting wardrobe do's

What makes particular clothing items your favorites?

Before I re-read my 2015 post, I took the time to jot down some notes about what I currently like and don’t like in the following key wardrobe areas:

  • Overall characteristics
  • Colors and patterns
  • Tops
  • Toppers
  • Pants
  • Skirts and dresses
  • Shoes
  • Accessories

After creating these new lists, I reviewed my previous lists to see what has changed. I was actually surprised to learn that while some shifts have taken place, a lot has also remained the same. One important thing that I noticed, however, was that I’ve gotten a lot more specific about what I want and don’t want in my garments, shoes, and accessories. Therefore, my lists are now quite a bit longer.

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Analyzing why certain wardrobe items don’t work for us is one of the most helpful things we can do to improve our future shopping. We usually buy clothing with great intentions and believe that we’ll love and wear our new acquisitions for years to come, but that doesn’t always end up happening. When we opt to pass something on, it serves us well to take a few moments to jot down our reasons for letting the item go. If we commit to this practice, over time we tend to notice patterns that can help us avoid future mistakes. When we know better, we often do better – or at least we have more “ammunition” for doing so.

In today’s post, I evaluate twelve purchases from 2020 that didn’t end up working out for me. I share photos of the items, where they were purchased, why I bought them, and my reasons for letting them go. I also look at some common elements among these items in order to gain more insights about my purchases that fell flat. At the end of the post, I encapsulate the lessons I learned from the shopping mistakes I made last year.

A Look at the Items and Some General Information

Here’s a look at the twelve shopping mistakes I’m going to evaluate below:

2020 shopping mistakes

These items can be broken down into the following categories:

  • 2 jackets
  • 2 cardigans
  • 1 kimono
  • 4 tops
  • 3 pairs of pants

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For many years, I engaged in the regular practice of spending several hours every month or two putting together outfits and photographing them. The objective was to come up with as many combinations as possible that I could wear, so I would try out lots of options. Some of my resulting ensembles looked great and others fell flat, but I typically photographed anything that I thought I might want to wear someday.

Taking the time to map out my outfits helped me to wear more of what I owned and get ready to go more quickly when I had plans, as I always had good ensembles close at hand. It also served to boost my sartorial creativity and improve my personal style.

outfit photos

Photographing favorite outfits can streamline getting dressed & enhance our style.

I stopped doing these outfit creation sessions a few years ago, mostly because I’d become increasingly self-critical. I didn’t like looking at photos of myself wearing the various ensembles, as I always found multiple aspects of my appearance to pick apart. The combination of gaining weight after menopause and going through a long and difficult gray hair transition process put the kibosh on my photographing my outfits, both when I was creating them and when I actually wore them out of the house.

I miss having a ready-made directory of outfits to wear, and I feel that my style has suffered as a result of abandoning my styling sessions. Much of the time, I find myself wearing the same combinations, and I neglect to reach for those pieces that are harder to style. While some of my “go-to” outfits are ones that I love, others feel pretty uninspired. Additionally, I feel bad about not wearing some items that I love simply because I’m not sure what to pair with them. I considered going back to my previous practice, but I’ve decided to do something different instead, which I’ll share with you in today’s post.

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Almost three weeks ago, I turned fifty-five. Yes, the “double nickel” or “the speed limit,” as I’ve heard it referred to colloquially. The cute nicknames don’t really help to ease the blow of my reaching this milestone, though. I know that age is just a number and I shouldn’t really care what the calendar says, but I have to be honest and say that it does matter to me.

I’ve been ruminating a lot about my milestone birthday and what it means to me. Because I know I’m not alone in what I’m experiencing related to aging, I’ve decided to share my sentiments on the blog. I have a lot to say about this topic, so I’m going to split my musings into two parts. Today’s post is about the physical manifestations of aging and how I’m struggling to make peace with looking older. In a later essay, I’ll address some deeper considerations, including mindset, regrets, complacency, and “letting the old woman in” (or not).

aging woman examining her face in the mirror

Sometimes I don’t recognize the older woman I see in the mirror…

I’m sure I’ll continue to write about the aging process in future posts, as it’s an important component of the “myself” area of My Wardrobe, Myself. I plan to sprinkle such writings in from time to time among the wardrobe-related posts that are the main focus of this blog.

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