Thank you again everyone for the thoughtful comments on my recent thread about prioritizing wardrobe purchases.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking & brainstorming over the past week or two, attempting to work through the ideas shared in the thread and put them into practice. I thought I would share the results so far in case it is helpful for anyone else, or in case it triggers some brilliant insight for you to share with me! Warning: this is a VERY long post; I know there are a few people on the forum that appreciate these sorts of wordy & thinky posts, but if that's not you, please, just scroll on by.
Inspired by Angie’s description of how she prioritizes based on her style goals, I started with the question “what are my style goals for fall 2022?” OF COURSE! I’m facepalming because it seems so obvious now that this is the correct starting place. I think there are two aspects here:
1. What’s working? (So this is more about maintaining and perhaps building on a current style direction.)
*I am still pretty keen on my “Girl on the Moors” style moniker, so continue to explore that.
*tall boots, skinny pants, and long-over-lean looks with cardigans will continue to be a staple silhouette for me. A good match for my style, my body type, and my climate.
So, do I have what I need to create outfits in that staple silhouette?
*My black skirt leggings have worn out, and I just noticed that a pair of cropped mid-wash jeans I wear in transitional weather have developed that telltale elastane-is-giving-out pucker.
*Otherwise I’m well sorted for essentials, especially dark neutrals. In fact I tend to over-accumulate these items. If I add anything in a dark neutral, it should be something that does not duplicate functions already covered but instead opens up *other* silhouettes. (Thank you to Suz and others for highlighting the importance of essentials on the other thread, thus helping me fold this consideration into the process here.)
*Relatedly, I’ve long had a sense that I would like to shift the balance of my wardrobe more towards color and pattern. So, particularly colored and/or patterned tops, especially at longer/tunic length, would be good purchases.
*My cognac riding boots are a key item for me. I would like to duplicate their function/deliberately split my wears to take some pressure off them. Thus, add tall boots in burgundy and/or gray. As a matter of fact, this has been on my list for a few years now. A-ha moment: I have a tendency to de-prioritize items that have been on my list for a while. Novel wants seem more urgent. Case in point: my recent successful incorporation of cream sandals into my summer wardrobe has led me to ponder adding ivory/cream ankle boots for fall. But the tall boots are probably a higher priority if I’m being honest.
*Long cardigans with certain specific details are both a signature and a HEWI for me. Basically when I spot them and they’re just right, I should probably snap them up.
How about other silhouettes/outfit formulas?
*I’m a dyed-in-the-cashmere cardigan girl, but I do appreciate the simplicity of pullovers in FFBOs. Another A-ha moment: I have a couple of pullovers that are or will soon be out of commission due to wear. I can and will repair them, but that’s a signal that a couple more pullovers, especially in colors and ideally with a versatile length/cut that could be worn with multiple pants silhouettes, would be a good thing to add.
*I’ve been trying to add straight leg jeans/pants to my wardrobe for several seasons now but have had trouble finding the right ones. This alternate pants silhouette would help me get more wear out of some of my shorter tops & cardigans. Note that it would also have the effect of taking pressure off my riding boots, because I wear straight legs with other footwear.
2. Where do I want to go that’s new?
You may remember me having said some of this before but I haven’t put it into action (at least not fully) yet so please bear with me.
*I’m interested in experimenting with skirts for fall/winter. Long (midi/midaxi), full silhouettes with maybe some interesting or offbeat cut like a handkerchief or bubble hem. Skirts for tromping on the moors iykwim. Me: Not sure this will pan out, I don’t wear skirts in fall/winter. Also me: Does not own any fall/winter skirts. A-ha moment: If I want to experiment with something new I have to actually *invest in the thing I want to play with*! This sounds so silly when I type it out but maybe you can relate? Corollary A-ha moment: I may not be able to add just one thing to my wardrobe and magically accomplish whatever new thing I am aiming at — I have to make sure the support acts are in place. (For example, if I buy a fall skirt, what am I going to wear on top?) That doesn’t necessarily mean I need to buy a *bunch* of things! But I need to think it through.
*More generally I’m craving silhouettes with more drama. The skirts are part of that, but also something like a long duster cardigan. A top with a high ruffled neckline. A cape-like cardigan. I started exploring this idea last winter but I think I could go a bit further and add just a couple more dramatic pieces. I’ve been thinking of this mostly in terms of knitwear but maybe that is not the only possibility. It will be key to think this through carefully to make sure the items are actually practical for my lifestyle, and ideally to hold out for items that are not black/dark neutrals.
*I’m intrigued by warm/cool color combinations — for me that would likely mean wearing warm colors on the bottom and cool tones on the top. So, I would need to add warm colored bottoms in colors such as rust, mustard, or olive to be able to accomplish that.
*At the same time, I’m drawn to tonal looks — so an outfit that mixes some combo of burgundy, berries, and plum, OR teal, bottle green, and saturated olive for example. This means that I need to assemble complements across wardrobe categories — so that I can juxtapose e.g., a burgundy top and a plum cardigan. I can do some of this with my current wardrobe, but — A-ha moment: It might be more effective to build out complements more fully rather than adding one-off colors that would mostly be worn as a “pop” against neutrals.
Alright! If you read this far you get a gold star but we are not done yet. Because that discussion above…still results in a pretty lengthy list of possible things to buy, doesn’t it? It begs the question: how do I prioritize?
Two things come to mind.
First, look for opportunities to address multiple style goals with a single purchase. For example, maybe that moor-tromping skirt could be rust or mustard, thus also facilitating warm-cool outfit combinations.
Second, and this might sound contradictory but we are all first-rate intelligences here who can hold two ideas in mind and retain the ability to function, think in terms of style goals, not just individual item purchases. So for example if I commit to that moor-tromping skirt, then any tops I need to complete outfits with it should move up to the top of my priorities list.
In the past when considering potential purchases I have asked myself questions like “When/where/how am I going to wear this?” “Can I think of 3-5 outfits I can make with this?” “When would I choose to wear this over something else I already own?” All great questions, but my process often had a flavor of justification to me. More precisely it felt like I was doing a lot of justifying of purchases but not ending up better dressed or with a wardrobe that provided greater enjoyment. Purchases still felt a bit scattershot, this reduced my confidence level, in turn leading to analysis paralysis, and then me just throwing up my hands and calling the whole thing off.
But this exercise has led me to think that maybe the question that has been missing is something along the lines of “how am I going to wear this in a way that furthers my style goals?” That feels sharper, more incisive. I think it could help purchases feel more satisfying. And has the potential to finally (finally!!!) provide that link between making plans and talking through schemes for my wardrobe, and actually putting them into action. This feels like a real quantum shift, and we’ll see how it plays out over the coming months.
(Interesting side note: when I went back and looked at that previous thread I remembered that I had got myself ALL tied up in knots about the concept of wardrobe holes -- you all were so patient with me -- and that turned out to be *not at all* a prominent part of my thought process here! I mean it is implicit in the questions up top about "do I have what I need to create...?" but the phrase itself doesn't figure in. Partly I think that's me embracing LaPed's policy of trying to be honest about the fact that these are all wants, not needs -- but partly I think a more *positive* vision of where I might go/what I might do with my wardrobe ended up being more compelling than seeing my closet as a series of lacks or missing pieces. Very instructive!)
Ok NOW we’re done, if you read all the way to the end you get not only a million gold stars but a slice of delicious nectarine cornmeal upside-down cake. And I'm grateful for any comments or insights you care to share!
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