The overall win in my 2021 wardrobe was picking up on a few trends that really resonated with me. A few simple but high-impact purchases got a lot of use. An amazing wool shacket and a very wearable overshirt, a cropped blazer, a few sweaters and cardigans, several perfectly relaxed button-up shirts, Frye boots that solve my tall-boots-short-legs dilemma, a great sweater vest. I did a major update of my jeans, adding full length straight jeans that reminded me of high school (Re/done), a vintage-style HEWI (SLVRLAKE), and the perfect slim straight jeans (+J).

Another win was refreshing my basics — really, replacing every single one. This year’s T-shirt and tank top cuts really appealed to me, so I jumped on them. At Banana Republic, I got ribbed cutaway tanks and boxy cropped tees. At H&M I found a perfect classic t-shirt. & Other Stories had longer boxy tees. I bought several copies of each in black and in white. The duplicates weren’t all bought at once; I went back to buy more once they’d proven their worth. My old tees and tanks are now relegated to workout clothes or rags, depending on the number of holes.

I was back in my office and interacting with people there, and I had plenty of chances to wear my professional wardrobe for my first semester teaching in person. I got a lot of use from new blazers, a few casual dresses (a new category for me), and an awful lot of new button downs (worn daily). I bought several pairs of more-professional shoes, some of which worked well and some didn’t.

The overall "fail" in my 2021 wardrobe was thinking I was truly emerging from the pandemic, and buying too many new clothes in anticipation of that. I had a few good parties in friends’ backyards, went to a few museums and shows, but I mostly come home straight from work and stay in. The statement items I haven’t really worn yet: straight leather pants (secondhand), my dream pants (R13 triple-pleat crossover trousers in grey pinstripe, also secondhand), a ruched linen shirt dress. But I do love all of them.

I had mixed luck with shoes. I like my new scrunched ballet flats, basic Converse, and the Frye boots. The less-winning selections were mid-heel cowboy ankle boots that are surprisingly hard to walk in, Zara boys' loafers that chew up my heel but might break in, and a pair of strappy sandals that I've had no chance to wear. Luckily I have good luck reselling shoes that don't work, so I'll reevaluate in a month or two.

The other negative was over-buying in basic categories and stockpiling duplicates. The duplicates of basic tees aren’t a problem; I do this every few years and wear them into rags. But I also bought more button-down shirts than I needed. And do I really need a second pair of my new favorite +J jeans to keep on hand for when the first ones wear out? No, but... Anyway, the conclusion here is that it can be ok, but I should keep it in check.

In all I’m disappointed that I bought more than I had a chance to use much. It was exciting to see the world open back up a bit after a year without buying much and I got over-eager. They're all very dependable core items, though, so no individual purchase was wasted. Total: 2 blazers, 10 buttoned shirts (!!) including a few duplicates, 2 overshirts / shirt jackets, 5 sweaters / cardigans, 6 tops, 4 jeans, 2 pants, 3 dresses, 6 shoes, and the tees and tanks. This is a lot of new clothes, so my goal is to keep wearing them until they wear out, and buy a lot less next year.