Hi all. I have been lurking a bit but not posting much — just in one of those phases where life/work/family is taking precedence over participating more here. But I wanted to think through some recent purchasing mistakes and see if I can find a way forward.

I was recently taking stock of my wardrobe purchases so far this year as a part of a mid-year review, and identified several items that I mentally categorized as “I wear these a lot, but don’t really like them.” Hmmmm, not ideal. What’s going on there?

I realized that all three of the items are transitional season pieces. For a while now I have been working to figure out reliable outfit formulas for transitional weather.

By “transitional weather” I mean roughly upper-50s to mid-60s F and possibly overcast/foggy but mostly dry. At those temperatures it’s too warm for my cold-season formulas (plus I am either sick of them in spring or not quite ready to dive into the 8+-month stretch of wearing them in autumn) but not warm enough for the skirts and dresses that are my summer staples. This transitional weather seems to be increasingly prevalent/long-lasting in the Seattle area in recent years, triggering a need and desire to solidify this capsule.

The three pieces purchased this year:

  • gray cargo joggers (Photo 1).
  • navy roll-tab pants (Photo 2).
  • gray waffle-knit lightweight pullover sweater (Photo 3).

Here’s what I’m noticing about these three pieces:

I got a lot of suggestions to add a couple pairs of joggers in a previous thread on transitional dressing, which sounded sensible. But it turns out that I don’t really like woven joggers for my casual style.

I also don’t care for cargo pants for me — yes yes I know they’re trending, but that doesn’t mean I have to like them. They are just too…busy? I really prefer very simple, streamlined pants.

The blue pants are better but again the roll-tab is not my preference. Plus, it means the pants are (literally) bottom-heavy, and they tend to slide down my hips.

Both pants are made from linen-blend material (the joggers are linen-tencel and the roll-tab pants are linen-cotton) and tend to bag out A LOT.

Based on measurements I *thought* the rises of these two pairs of pants would be low enough for me but it turns out not. So I am doing the ole roll-the-waistband-over-to-lower-the-rise trick. Sigh. Dangit I am almost 50 years old, I deserve pants that fit!

As for the sweater — I wanted something lighter weight and not as warm as the sweaters I wear in colder seasons. But it turns out the heavier fabrication of those sweaters adds a kind of structure that is missing here. This sweater just seems…kind of neither here nor there. I put it on and my body is covered but I just think what am I doing here? Is this really what I’m aiming for?

In sum, the overall effect of these three pieces just feels droopy, floppy, and sloppy.

I do know that I need comfortable, soft pieces for my work-from-home lifestyle. Ease/fluidity in fits, stretch at the waist, and so on. But in terms of course-correcting here I keep coming back to the idea of structure. I think what I need is some kind of soft, gentle structure. I am able to strike that balance in other seasons but I’m going too far in the direction of soft/loose for transitional season clothing at the moment.

But wait. Shouldn’t elastic-waist cargo joggers be the very definition of “gentle structure”? Have I completely lost the plot here???

On reflection I think…no. Bells and whistles are not the same as “structure.”

So here’s where I think I’m going with all this:

  • The gray joggers can move to my gardening capsule.
  • I may experiment with wearing the sweater with jeans or other more structured pants, but will likely pass it along shortly.
  • I would like to alter the navy pants to remove the roll-tab and shorten them so they just have a simple straight-across cropped hem — maybe that will make them more wearable for me. Worth a try.

Going forward, I'll look for lightweight pants with a simple, streamlined cut. Possibly elastic in back but not in front? Possibly also a slightly crisper fabrication (all cotton?). Beware of linen and tencel.

Other ideas:Hey, remember my black lightweight overalls? (Photo 4) I like those, but they’re stuck in my mending pile. I need to get those back into rotation. I could use a couple of cap-sleeve tops/tees to wear underneath. Overalls + cap-sleeve tee + cardi could work for a transitional season formula.

I have a couple of pullovers that are a bit heavier weight but 3/4 sleeve length. I like wearing those. The more robust fabrication and visible forearms/wrists seem to provide the structure that I’m after. Could they be what I wear instead of lighter weight, long-sleeve sweaters? Need to experiment to see exactly what temperature conditions they’re ok for, then maybe add a couple more of those.

Another thing that I like wearing in transitional weather are skirt leggings. But I don’t want to wear them every ding-dang day! So, what if as a variation on that formula: cropped leggings, above-the-knee sundress, cardi? (This is also a variation on my cold-weather formula of ponte leggings, tunic, cardi — but would hopefully be just different enough to feel like a change.) I’m a little trepidatious about this as I fear it might feel too cutesy for me. But again worth a try — I could try it out with this linen sundress I bought this year (Photo 5), would only require investing in a pair of lightweight cropped leggings.

If you made it this far, thanks for listening to me talk this through! I feel really good about having learned something really concrete about purchasing mistakes through this exercise — like not just “that was a mistake” but “here’s what it taught me about what I DO want to wear.” I guess I have my marching orders — stay tuned to see if I will be able to carry them out by September! Also very happy to hear any suggestions, thoughts or commiserations you may have now!

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