Although I am drawing a complete blank regarding what I wear every day (it's early), I must say again how spectacular that outfit is on you. The boots look perfect.

Such great pieces! I think Angie has a point about having a thought-out FRAMEWORK. I bought some pants for the bakery... and yes I plotted out outfits in my head... but I don’t wear them. And I think it’s because they - the whole outfits - were totally outside my usual framework, which I’ve developed over time and takes all sorts of factors into consideration. But I buy random things within the framework and that’s never a problem.

Random things within the framework -- that makes sense, Rachylou. The "random" is the fun part but the framework is familiar and is there to shape the choices in the right direction.

Gryffin, your purchases illustrate Rachy's point perfectly and are very similar to my own that way. With the bag and the booties, they seemed to be lacking something (or to have something you didn't care for) but once you tried them out you discovered that they had something you liked even better than what you thought you were looking for! That's pretty much my experience with my new items, also. By the way, I already drooled over that bag but now I have to say those booties are perfection -- no wonder you are in love!!

Interesting thread.l often walk away from purchases and if I’m still thinking about them days later go and get them but if they are forgotten I regard it as a sign that I wasn’t that bothered about them in the first place.lf they have gone in that time ,it’s a sign that it wasn’t meant to be !

Opaline, those are great boots! (No correction on vocab intended--"booty" is more strongly associated with your booty to me than with footwear). They look like they'd go with everything, jeans and skirts, in a wide range of colors.

Suz, my Call It Spring loafers are like that. I got them to see what I felt about patterned shoes, loved them, and wore them way more than I'd expected. I wear my white skinnies a lot more than I would've guessed, but seeing as I went through 3-4 batches of 3-4 pairs before finding them, I can't exactly call them a surprise.

It makes perfect sense to me that buying what calls out to you would work out well, assuming you're not completely all over the map. Putting together our living room at our apartment in Tampa, I realized I was pulling out pieces from many different stages from my life. I know what I like, so although there are permutations, there is a core that's pretty consistent, so it all goes together in the end. Trouble comes when I start looking at things I think I'm supposed to like.

Well, I miraculously often feel the same with my wild card purchases, and Angie have said it probably so well: "that with an already well curated and fully functional wardrobe like yours - such spontaneous and unpremeditated purchases can work really well. THAT'S the key." The hard work is getting more and more sense.

Mine this season are the pleated midi, the wide legs and the angled block heel patent pumps(not shown here yet).

Loved this thread and everybody's stories, so meaningfull!:-)

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I find the items that have drawn me in with the least amount of thought are often the best and most frequently used in my wardrobe. I have a natural affinity for them, so I wear them. It the Marie Kondo effect. It means I truly love them.

Currently the item that took me by surprise were my J Brand wide leg crops. I instantly knew they would be good, impulsively made the purchase, and wear them at least one or two times a week.

FashIntern, EXACTLY: "Trouble comes when I start looking at things I think I'm supposed to like." I run into this too. It's why certain categories (dress shoes for example) are a continual challenge for me.

Suz - that’s a really good point. The best I can figure it is those items were each perfect in ticking every functional box. Whether dimensions and compartments for the bag, heel and shat height and toe shape of the booties, color, fit and rise of jeans. Each piece had an element that made me unsure, but the functionality, utility, quality and craftsmanship when experience catapulted the item to favorite. This happened when long blazers were completely unavailable and I needed to try spring/fall toppers as blazers. The better I can elucidate and fulfill the needs of an item the higher the chance I will come to love it even if it’s not what I expected. Necessity pushes my boundaries and I often embrace what works. If that makes any sense!!

Suz, I know exactly what you mean, and Angie's point about how this works especially when you already have a good solid wardrobe to build on, is also astute. I've labored to find the "perfect" whatever classic item, and then failed to wear it much. But I'll chance upon something like that long BCBG jacket that I wore to death for years, and even though such a thing was not on my radar at the time, I came to feel like my wardrobe could barely function without it! I can see why all those pieces work so well for you. Your intuition is good!

This is a great and thought provoking discussion. I do have some of those purchases that I wasn't sure I was going to like but ended up as workhorses. But I also have duds that don't end up working out. I need to figure out how to tell the difference.

My best wildcards have been items that have pushed me in a different direction. All my wildcards I have liked, but given they were statement pieces I worried that they may get worn or used regularly - how wrong I was with each of these.

Summer 2017/18 wildcards were my orange playsuit, lilac bag and cape jackets

Winter 2018 wildcard
Gold velvet dress, black dress and grey ankle boots.

The bag and boots would have hit the 30 plus wears easily, the others are well on their way if not there too.

Great score, Suz. You look fab as always. Such experiences happen to me but rarely. More often I have the opposite experience: I buy something thinking it will be a great workhorse and then it turns out to be a great flop. I echo Robin F: I have not understood yet how to tell the difference.

On the flip side of this question, I thought this tee might be a workhorse. Fortunately, I was able to see that it wouldn’t and return it rather than let it languish in my closet. I love the look of it and am sad to return it, but the material is a bit too soft and wrinkly, and the stripes just don’t lay right on me, though they should. (Except one even looks painted on crooked.) I think the tee would need a more substantial drape in the fabric to lay better. I am VERY SAD, but I know I’d aways be fussing with it. This is why I said above that I don’t know until I wear something a bit. In this case, I saw it while wearing around the house to make outfits.

My unexpected one was this top, which I bought for $10 when doing an online order maybe 6 years ago. It works tucked into skirts, untucked with pants, casual and for work. Not considered long and hard when purchased!
Eta. For a workhorse, I had to go back a long way to find a photo!

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Christina, you dodged a bullet! I think I did too in returning that blazer and skirt recently. If, in the next couple of months, I get to a point when I can actually wear them, they will probably still be available (& maybe at lower prices). But for now, I think I was falling for them without any plan of how to make the relationship work. If only I was that smart with men, lol!

Bijoux, your wardrobe continues to amaze and inspire. So many times, we say it isn’t the individual pieces, but how you wear them, that counts. But the more I pay attention to what’s in your wardrobe, the more interesting, fun pieces I see. It might be more of a challenge to combine them, but the results you get must make it worth your effort. I’m trying to keep that in mind as I make choices.

FashIntern, I did dodge a bullet, for sure. I just wish I could find another tee with as pleasing a combination of colors, to my eye. I'm tempted to order another and see if I find one where the stripes lay better, but that's a crapshoot and probably a waste of time. NEXT (but said with a deep sigh). It sounds like you made good choices about the items you were considering - for now, as you said.

My burnt orange cardigan for sure was an unexpected workhorse! It goes so well with my coloring and the things in my wardrobe. Im wearing it again for probably the 30th time this year and still love it

Thank you all for your thoughtful replies. It's interesting to hear that for some of us, like Bijou, "statement" items tend to become surprise workhorses. Whereas for others it is more likely to be something closer to a wardrobe "essential."

For me personally, it's split between statements and essentials. I don't expect all my statements to become workhorses, but some of them do turn out to be. Recent examples the scarf and top in Finds. But a lot of my workhorses are "trendier" or "more current' versions of my old favourites. Those might surprise me in the way Gryffin describes. I might worry initially that they aren't quite the thing I want, but then their workmanship persuades me, or the slight difference turns out to be a huge benefit, either practically speaking or as a way of evolving my style in new directions, allowing me to see the beauty in some of my older pieces (in new combinations) etc.

Christina, good call on returning that (admittedly fun!) shirt. Same to you, Fashintern. The right suit will appear when you need it.

Janet, Staysfit -- both your purchases fall into the broad category of items you typically love to wear (jackets, jeans) and in each case find relatively easy to fit (jeans for Staysfit, jackets for Janet). They sound like the "evolving your style forward" items that become workhorses in my closet.

Suntiger, I can imagine burnt orange being a real winner for you!

Cardiff Girl, I use that strategy too. I walked away from booties without trying on, and bag (though on sale) and went home and thought for a few days. They were still in mind so I went back to investigate more thoroughly. I tried on. I bought.

LaPed, Fashintern -- I'm curious about this "things I'm supposed to like" comment. What does that mean? Things you feel you have to buy to fill certain holes, but never really like?

Such a fun question! It can be so hard to predict the winners, right?

This summer a TH sleeveless button down became a workhorse, and this fall a random grab from a rack of belts at Anthro has been invaluable. I love both these pieces (and am noticing that it pays off to follow my magpie instincts since these pieces both have gold elements!)

Reading along with interest...and I did fix my initial response that was laden with appalling autocorrect typos etc. Never do YLF on my phone - note to self. My reasons for the RM backpack not working were myriad - the least of which was that when I carried by the top handle, the bag hit the ground. Weird. Also - it was too soft and big and open inside and the side pockets were useless for how I want to use them (easy access without having to put the bag down) . Anyways, glad you love yours! I'm just annoyed I paid SO much for it and was unable to recoup much when I sold it. This entire thread makes me feel I need more clothes, which is ridiculous. I'm in a definite stand-off with my wardrobe at the moment.

There are different reasons I might feel like I'm "supposed" to like something. Maybe the SA or my mother or YLF or someone else in my life said it was good on me, even though I don't feel comfortable. Maybe I think it seems like something a person at my age and stage "ought" to wear for whatever activity. Maybe it's the latest thing, but not really my thing. Maybe it checks off all the boxes but I'm just not feelin' it.

If I get something for any of those reasons, I might wear it a few times, feel "off" in it, and then let it linger in the closet, too guilty to get rid of it because I'm "supposed" to like it, and would be letting someone down if I didn't keep it. (That last bit is spurious, I know. My mother has even commented with surprise that I still have/wear something she's gotten me. Another time she criticized a top I had on; when I said we'd gotten it together, she wondered what we'd been thinking. Thanks, Mom, lol. But I still feel guilty getting rid of things given to me by someone else.)

Anne - that is such a great top!

FashIntern's comment resonated with me because there are a quite a few things that I've ended up with over the years just because they felt like "what you're supposed to have": classic pumps for job interviews right after college (thank goodness I spent all of $6 on them at the thrift store); tights/leggings for running (give me loose-fitting track pants any day); skinny jeans (I've told that story a thousand times); supportive bras (I'm all bralettes, all the time); and probably plenty of others I can't think of right now. White sneakers would be on that list except every time I try a pair on I laugh at myself and then send them back. The unifying theme is that all of these are pretty common essentials for other people, just not for me. Sort of like how we all have to learn not to take those "Every Woman Must Have" lists too seriously...

Yes, exactly. Beware of Other People’s Workhorses.

SarahDB: One person's workhorse is another person's stuffed giraffe?

Thanks for explaining, Fashintern and LaPed. I get it. I've had the experience of hanging onto something because it was a gift, for sure, so I know what you mean there.

I've also had the experience of laughing at myself in something. I tried for years to buy a black leather moto but the whole idea was just so hilarious whenever I put one on. Who am I trying to kid?

On a positive note, I've become much better at avoiding the SA- prompted purchase since YLF. I've never really been at risk of the "age and stage" purchase because I'm so out of sync with my age group in pretty much every way!

Lisa, I wonder if my bag is smaller than yours was. I think mine is "medium." It definitely does not drag on the ground when I hold it by its top handle, and while large inside, it's not as large as my RM hobo. I would still love a more structured bag, though. I had to retire my RL shopper at the end of the summer and I miss it.

I got it on substantial sale so that also made it more attractive. It's no longer trendy but it's still (I hope) somewhat current. But for me, a bag that works is the main thing, and they are hard to come by. Especially with silver hardware, lately -- gold's the thing these days.

Anne, you look great in that top both ways. And Rachy, you're a mensch.

Suz, I think you're dead right. As much as I LOVE the items I wear all the time and forever, I CRAVE CHANGE. The newness of the roomy tailored jeans, A-line midis, body con tops, cape coat and shooties are rekindled loves.

With your wardrobe and style in place and sorted - Janet, Jenn and Tanya's wardobe's spring to mind too - the spontaneous wild card fun purchases work 99% of the time. You get back what you put in

This can happen to me. But I do like Cardiffgirl's approach of going away then going back, and if it's gone, it wasn't meant for her. I've used that strategy for about 10 years. I remember these most amazing slouchy red booties which I saw in a younger person's surf- type shop on display outside. I went back a few days later- only the display pair left, my size, and half price $110 down to $55. My best friend called them my puss-in-boots booties ( meant as a compliment). I wore them into the ground. It felt like the universe gave them to me.( Bit OTT, I know, but expresses the wonderful feeling of it). The going away part is because I can overbuy and get attracted to more things than I can realistically use.

For me my latest workhorse has been the Sak guitar strap bag. It perfectly matches my lifestyle and color scheme. I also love that it’s not precious. My cost per use is probably a couple cents by now.

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I relate SO MUCH to the "things I'm supposed to like" issue. So much. And frankly, a lot of it for me comes from things here on YLF.

And yes, I bet you're right about the size of the RM pack. Mine was definitely the large size. And regardless of currency or not - yours looks so good, and so organically in sync with your wardrobe already. Kudos for a good purchase.