My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

Last month, I took a trip to the Reno/Tahoe area to see my family. That was my first time traveling in almost a year, and the temperatures were much colder this year than the last time I visited. I always struggle with what to pack when I travel, and this time was no different.

Although I’ve learned a lot over the years when it comes to packing, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. I’ve found that writing travel debrief posts like this one helps me to formulate and deepen my lessons learned so that I can hopefully do better the next time around.

In today’s essay, I share what I packed for my recent trip, what I ended up wearing, what would have been better left at home, and what I wish I’d brought with me instead. I also highlight some of the mistakes I made and what I learned from them.

Travel and Clothing Overview

I spent a total of nine days just before Thanksgiving in the Tahoe area.  Unfortunately, most of my time was spent indoors because the temperatures were just too cold for me to enjoy the outdoors. Not only do I not own a lot of extra-warm clothing, but I also feel the cold more intensely than those who reside in cool climates full-time. I did the best I could with packing layers and warm outerwear, but sadly my dreams of long walks by the lake went mostly unfulfilled this time around.

The purpose of my trip was to visit with my family, most of whom are currently living in either Reno or Tahoe. My secondary desire was to take long daily walks by beautiful Lake Tahoe, but I had to settle for working out at the gym instead, except for one wonderful walk the day before I returned home. Fortunately, I planned for the possibility of exercising indoors, but I could have done better with the clothing that I packed, as I will outline later in this essay…

Here’s a bird’s eye view of the clothing and shoes that I brought with me on my trip:

November 2022 Tahoe Trip - All Clothes and Shoes

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I’ve written quite a bit about the frustrating buy-and-return cycle that I often go through, especially when it comes to online shopping. Usually when I return an item, the most common reasons are that the fit was off or the website description wasn’t accurate. I usually don’t like the items that I’m taking back, so even though it’s a hassle to do the returns, I don’t experience any ambivalence or remorse over them.

However, there have been some instances when I’ve decided to return a garment or accessory that I actually loved. In these cases, other reasons were at play besides poor fit and an inaccurate item description. In today’s post, I’ll review three such items. I’ll share why I bought them in the first place, as well as why I later opted to return them to the store.

The Three Items

Pictured below are a pair of slide sandals, a duster cardigan, and a sleeveless midi dress that I returned within the past month:

three loved but returned items

Looking at the photos, you might think all of these pieces are in line with my style guideposts of dramatic, polished, and elegant. The cardigan might not as obviously dovetail with those words, but I fell in love with it when I saw it and felt it was very much accordance with my style aesthetic. I’ll explain more when I get to that particular item…

I’ll go through each loved but returned item one-by-one below, beginning with the shoes.

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This is part three of a three-part series. In the first installment, I wrote about ten wardrobe items that I recently purged from my closet and why I opted to pass them on. The second post summarized the eight key lessons that I learned from letting go of those particular pieces. In today’s essay, I address my wardrobe “holding zone” and how I’ve changed my approach to it this fall.

As a review, my wardrobe holding zone is a place where I store items that I’m not currently wearing. This may be due to either size or style issues. Many of us worry about being too hasty in purging closet pieces, so storing “on the bubble” items in a different location for a period can help us feel more secure. I’ve often found that I’m able to make better decisions a few months later, after the items have been out of sight and out of mind for a while. Using a holding zone can also be helpful for those who regularly fluctuate in size, as it’s best to only store garments in our main closet that currently fit us.

wardrobe holding zone

Do you maintain some sort of wardrobe “holding zone”?

My wardrobe has been in flux in recent months for size-related reasons. As I wrote about back in June, I have lost a decent amount of weight such that many of my closet pieces no longer fit me. I’ve opted to alter some of my favorites, but the bulk of the too-large items are now housed in my holding zone. This has meant that I’ve needed to modify the way in which I deal with my holding zone, which I will detail below.

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In my last post, I wrote about ten wardrobe items that I recently purged from my closet. I showed photos of these pieces and outlined my reasons for letting them go. As I looked back on what I wrote, I noticed some key themes that were repeated multiple times. In today’s essay, I highlight eight lessons that I learned from my recent closet castoffs.

Summarizing the lessons in one place will hopefully help me to better internalize and apply what I’ve learned. I hope doing so will also give you some “aha moments” about your clothes. I want to avoid repeating the same types of sartorial mistakes. Although not all of our mistakes can be avoided, if we take some time to review why wardrobe items didn’t work well for us, we can usually improve our purchase track record. This has definitely been the case for me, which is why I like to do these types of posts at least once in a while.

A Reminder of the Ten Purged Items

As a reminder, below are the ten items that I wrote about in last week’s post. I will be referencing many of them throughout this post as I encapsulate my lessons learned, but the lessons are much more important than the individual garments and shoes. My hope is that I’ll recall all eight lessons when shopping in the future, and I hope you’ll remember the lessons that apply to your wardrobe and purchases.

purged items october 2022

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Cooler weather is starting to arrive where I live. Although I suspect we’ll experience at least one more heatwave before it’s all said and done, this week has felt a lot like the fall season bloggers and YouTubers have been writing and talking about for months. When the seasons change, that’s when I usually opt to do a closet audit. I try things on, decide what should stay and what should go, and switch my pieces around so that the current season’s items are more accessible to me.

I recently started this process by going through my “holding zone” box. As I’ve written about previously, this is a large plastic bin that I store in my garage and fill with garments that either don’t currently fit me or that I’m considering letting go of for other reasons. In this latest review, I opted to pass on multiple pieces from my holding zone, and I also purged some additional items from my closet.

clothing castoffs

In today’s post, I highlight ten pieces that I’ve passed on and share my reasons for purging them. This will actually be the first post of a three-part series. I’m experimenting with doing shorter posts more often to see if that works better for both myself and readers (so let me know what you think). After writing a “marathon post” yesterday and today, I thought it might make more sense to break it down into more “digestible” portions:

  • I’ll start with the purged item review in part one
  • In part two, I’ll highlight the lessons I learned from these recent castoffs.
  • In the final installment, I’ll update you on the state of my holding zone and how I’m managing my wardrobe in light of my size and style shifts.

The style shifts may even be addressed in an additional part of the series if I find that part three is becoming too lengthy. This is all part of my wanting to wrap up the year powerfully and intentionally. We’re now in the fourth quarter of 2022, believe it or not, so I suspect I’ll be doing quite a few yearly wrap-up posts. I will likely also revisit some of the topics I’ve written about previously to provide updates on how things have progressed and evolved.

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