When to Commit to Placeholder Wardrobe Items

A placeholder is an almost perfect purchase that you will wear until a better version comes along. While a perfect item is first prize, there are situations when an almost perfect purchase is the right way to go. For example, you might be under time pressure so you compromised to satisfy an urgent need.

That said, some of our forum members have set goals to stop purchasing placeholder items because they’ve accumulated too many of them. This resulted in a wardrobe that fell short of their expectations, as well as the guilt associated with wasting money. This brings me to how I guide my clients on whether to commit or pass on a placeholder, so that they don’t amass a collection of items that are headed for the donation pile way before their time.

Commit if you can alter

If you can do alterations to create the perfect item, purchase it and get cracking with the alterations. If you’re unsure, purchase the item, take it to a tailor and hear their suggestions. If you can successfully dye the item, or repurpose and upcycle it in a brilliantly creative way, then commit to the purchase.

Commit to hard-to-find and hard-to-fit items

Some items are extremely hard to fit and find, so we tend to compromise by wearing less than perfect versions. I’m inclined to say commit to this almost perfect purchase because it might be as good as it gets. This was true when I was shopping for very comfy white sandals in a very narrow fit. They had to stay on my feet, go the distance, and look reasonably okay. I had exactly two options available to me after years of searching, so I bought them. Aesthetically they were a bit of a compromise, but they did the job in extremely hot and humid weather and I was grateful to have happy feet.

Pass if it isn’t urgent

If the item does not satisfy an urgent need, hold out for something better. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been waiting to fill a wardrobe hole, or replace an item that bit the dust. If you can make do with what you have, wait until something better comes along. That way you’ll reduce the quantity of less-than-perfect items in your wardrobe.

Don’t fall into the trap of committing to an almost perfect purchase that cannot be altered because it was on sale, inexpensive, hard to return, or you simply want to tick it off your shopping list. Something better will come your way.

Over to you. When do you commit or pass on placeholder items?

Cosy Statement Knitwear

It’s been snowing and extremely cold in many parts of the northern hemisphere. That’s when cosy knitwear comes to the rescue. Fun patterns or textures, vibrant colours, and beautiful design details like the six bloggers are showing below, can go a long way to providing that extra stylish touch we might be craving.

Knitwear - Elaine

Elaine’s ink blue sweater is the star of the show. The combination of the cable knit pattern with the playful fringe is delightful and gorgeous. The way the fringe waves from sleeve to sleeve, dipping down in a curve on the front of the sweater cleverly contrasts with the verticality of the cable knit. The ink blue also works beautifully with the beige wide-legged trousers that bring the dress factor to the look. As do her pointy-toed snakeskin booties peeking out from under the trousers. The cool-toned white, grey, and black animal print contrasts in an interesting way with the warm beige of the bottoms, and complement the dressy white shoulder bag. Elaine’s dressy structured bag, black sunnies, and sleek ‘do add interesting angles to this gorgeous relaxed dressy vibe.

Knitwear - Allison

Here, the Fair Isle pattern in black, white and baby pink is the eye-catcher creating great visual interest in a simple sweater and jeans outfit. Allison has semi-tucked the drapey sweater into skinny jeans, which lengthens the leg line from the hips up and tempers the volume. She’s sporting cosy black Winter booties with white shearling lining that peeks through the black footwear and bright red laces. This bookends our blogger’s fab wavy hair and the sweater, and reminds me of Alexandra’s recent aviator jacket look. She finishes off the outfit with a black bucket bag, chain link necklace, and polished orange-red lip gloss.

Knitwear - Coral

Coral opted for a neutral-toned sweater that gets its visual and textural interest from the diamond pattern and ribbed mock neck. Pairing the oatmeal with the gorgeous midi skirt in cool emerald green and cool-toned grey tall boots is unexpected, and makes the look for me. Faux-tucking the sweater showcases the knotted detail on the elegant midi skirt. The pointy-toed dressy boots lengthen the leg line, and match the grey in the stunning checked coat. Coral’s skirt and coat finish at the same length, which adds polished elegance, and draws the eye up and down. Her playful woolly bag almost matches the colour of the sweater. Pearl hoop earrings, and bright red lippy and nails are the glam finishing touches.

Knitwear - Georgette

The shocking pink sweater and coat combined with the burgundy skirt create a vibrant dramatic impact, Georgette added statement snakeskin boots for an even more daring and fabulous effect. Picking a cosy knit in a bright colour like our blogger’s vibrant turtleneck is a great way to lift your mood on dark, dreary Winter days. She’s tucked the fluid fit sweater into an A-line midi leather skirt that adds structure and a luxe touch. The skirt’s paneled detail provides some extra visual interest, while the hot pink bouclé coat brings lots of texture and pizzazz to the picture. The pointy-toed tall boots lengthen the leg line and scream “fierce”. Large hoop earrings and a bright lip finish off the look.

Knitwear - Tanja

Tanja shows us that an outfit consisting of all neutrals can be as striking as one with vibrant colours or patterns. She is wearing distressed cropped skinny jeans in light grey under a beige ribbed knit sweater with big turtleneck collar. The play between warm and cool tones creates clever visual interest from top to toe. Tanja’s warm beige suede booties with lighter coloured lug sole contrast against the cool grey of her jeans and coat. The same goes for her sweater, scarf, hat, and one of her two bags. Loosely tying the taupe scarf over the turtleneck adds warmth and further visual interest. The sharp shoulderline of her peacoat adds structure and a dressy touch. Her small snakeskin crossbody, arm candy, and glam sunnies are the dressy accessories of choice.

Knitwear - Kim

Kim goes Sporty Luxe by pairing her casual statement sweater with a dressy black leather midi skirt and refined pumps. The sporty sweater’s big fold-down collar, zipper, and striking royal blue rugby stripes against the earthy mustard background add plenty of visual oomph. The skirt’s tailored fit with alluring front slit balances out the top’s relaxed fit. Kim’s optical white pointy-toe pumps lengthen the leg line, and bring and unexpected crisp fourth colour into the mix. Her blue zippered clutch cleverly echoes both the blue stripes in the sweater and the zipped collar. Large oblong earrings and oversized sunnies complete the look.

I can’t wait to hear what you think of these wonderful outfits with statement knits. Let us know in the comments, and tell us if you have a favourite cosy statement sweater in your closet.

Fab Sale Finds

There is lots on sale right now, as retailers clear stocks to make room for Spring and Summer collections. Size assortments are quite picked over at this point, which is the downside of sale shopping. But if you relax into it, it’s worth browsing end-of-season sales in case you find something you need or like in your size. Remember that there will always be another sale, and another killer item. Don’t let the sales boss you around.

Here are some good items, most of which are on sale. Be sure to browse the colour and size options.

1. Elie Tahari Items

Elie Tahari is an Israeli designer headquartered in New York City. It’s one of the brands on my list. I don’t have any of their items in my wardrobe at the moment, but loved items from the designer in the past. They are generally clean, crisp, luxe, dressy, tailored, beautifully made, and fairly classic. Sizes run from a US0 to US16, which is disappointing. I wish the brand was more size-inclusive, and hope for this in the future. Prices are on the high side, but great when on sale. Some of the items below are discounted.

2. Hobbs Westbourne Bag

This item is not on sale, but deserves an honourable mention. I got the light blue for Christmas and it’s STUNNING. It’s a saddle bag, which works with my sentimental horsey wardrobe capsule. It’s light blue, which is my colour of the year. It’s also a style goal to add light blue wardrobe items to my wardrobe.

Most importantly, the bag is beautifully made, very lightweight, practical, and not bulky. The canvas strap is genius. It’s super comfy and adds a casual and hip touch to a classic and dressy bag. The blue is a little darker in person, which disappointed me at first, but I loved it after precisely ten seconds.

Westbourne Bag
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Top Pick
Westbourne Bag
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Top Pick

3. Sam Edelman Genia Wedge Chelsea Bootie

Generally, Sam Edelman’s on-trend lug-soled boots with a ‘90s flavour have been exceptional this season, and these are no exception. Lightweight, comfy, chunky yet sleek, and flattering. These have a back zipper despite the heavy duty elastic inserts. The length is especially fab for cropped pants and midi skirts and dresses. The brown is rich and yummy.

4. Designer Wear at the Rack

Lots of designer items from Nordstrom end up at The Rack at some point. If this is your thing, it’s worth browsing the site regularly because absolutely gorgeous items can go for a song. Sizes and colours sell out fast, so it’s best to keep your expectations low. But the more often you browse, the higher the chances of finding treasures at a bargain. I’ve had my fair bit of luck at The Rack, so I’m reinforced to regularly check the site. Here are some items to whet your appetite.


Simpler Items

This week's list of top picks list is about basic pieces.

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Assorted Items

Items for Summer, both in and out of air conditioning.

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Casual Summer Vibes

This week's top picks are good for a casual Summer vibe.

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Summery Earth Tones

These items are for those who like to wear casual earth tones in warm and hot weather.

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Hints of Spring

Some tried-and-tested winning items to refresh your style for Spring.

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Dressier Items

An assortment of dressier top picks might be just what the doctor ordered.

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Keeping Items That Don’t Fit

When I help my clients edit their wardrobes, there are items that do not fit the current size and shape of their bodies. Items are ill-fitting for various reasons. For example, the size is right but the silhouette is a mismatch for the body type of the wearer. Or the size of the item is too big or small. Or laundering has caused an item to shrink or stretch out in the wrong places. Although I am an advocate for passing on clothes that do not fit, there are also reasons to keep them.

My clients and I discuss each ill-fitting item, and make a plan. Many are passed along. But more and more items that are in good condition are kept for the following reasons when clients really like the garment.

1. Alterations

Some items can be altered to create a good fit. Of course, alteration results are mixed and it’s a gamble. But if the alteration is fairly small, straightforward, and affordable, I vote give it a bash. It’s amazing how an item can be transformed to fit with a little nipping, tucking, and hemming.

2. Placeholders

Some clients continue to wear slightly ill-fitting garments because they are workhorses. They therefore serve as a placeholder until they find a better fitting version of the same item. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right item because of unavailability or budget constraints.

3. Weight Fluctuations

Some clients keep a range of sizes in items because their weight fluctuates regularly. This means that a size up or down will fit in the not too distant future. Other clients hold onto items that are several sizes too small because they are on a weight loss journey (especially post pregnancy). At the end of their journey, they refit the items they held onto, and reassess how they feel in them. If they fit and feel fab, great! They’ve successfully refreshed their wardrobe without spending a cent. If they don’t fit at this stage, or clients no longer like the items, they are passed on.

4. Held For Specific People

Some clients hold onto ill-fitting items so that they can be passed onto very specific people — like children, family members, or friends — when the time is right. If the items don’t end up fitting the recipient, they are passed on.

5. Sentimental Reasons

Items that no longer fit but represent a special moment or time in a client’s life can be kept for sentimental reasons. They decorate your wardrobe and make you smile each time you glance at them, or they can be stored somewhere else. For example, a client kept a stunning teal leather jacket she bought in Italy in the ’90s that is two sizes too big. But it’s pretty, her favourite colour, and might be passed onto a family member at some point. Another has kept an Aran jumper that she bought on a very fun Irish vacation decades ago. It’s too wide and too short, but it makes her happy seeing it with all her other gorgeous fab fitting pieces.

Over to you. Do you ever keep clothes that do not currently fit, and why?

Outfit Formula: Fun Tights

Tights with skirts, dresses and shorts in colder weather can be a fab look if you don’t mind wearing thick hosiery. Keeping the tights neutral, non-neutral, solid, patterned, low-contrast, or high-contrast is up to you. Choose the option that works with your sartorial preferences and makes you feel pulled together. 

Here are some potential outfit combinations for Team Tights.

1. Solid Sweater with Tights

This is the easiest combination to pull together. Combine a sweater with a pair of tights in the same colour so that they match. Here it’s a shade of olive. Finish off the look with a skirt and shoes in the same colour. Here it’s black, and matches the hair of the model. Throw a jacket or coat over the top and you’re done.

Solid Sweater with Tights

2. Pattern-Mixed Sweater with Tights

This is harder to achieve because you’ll need a pair of patterned tights that work with a patterned vest or pullover. Here the teal geometric pattern of the tights works well with the teal, pink and black geometric floral of the vest. The teal and geometric nature of the patterns pulls them together. The white shirt works well with the white soles of the shoes, while the black portion of the shoes works well with the black in the pattern of the vest. The cinnamon skirt matches the earthy centre of the floral pattern. A much more maximal combination, yet precisely matched in great detail.

Pattern Mixed Sweater with Tights

3. Neutrals with Patterned Tights

This is an easy way to wear an outfit with patterned tights if you like to wear black. Combine a black dress with black shoes. Black booties are a good way to go. Throw in a pair of black patterned tights and Bob’s your uncle. These tights are dark navy, which works well too. A denim topper is an easy addition, but throw in any type of coat or jacket that works with the outfit and weather.

Neutrals with Patterned Tights

4. Shorts with Statement Tights

If you like to wear wintery shorts, by all means combine them with wintery tights. This outfit combines earth tones in high and low contrast and has a fab ‘60s vibe to it. The argyle tights make a statement as the only patterned component of the outfit. They perfectly match the palette, thereby adding polish to the look. The vertical pattern of the argyle accentuates the leg line and draws the eye up and down. Fun look! Add jewellery, watch and eyewear as desired.

Shorts with Statement Tights