Thank you all once again for all your advice and commiseration on my previous thread about when and how wardrobes “click”! As I mentioned there, I decided that this week I would do an experiment — give myself 5 minutes to put together an outfit in the morning and try to notice what the barriers are to making outfits that I like.

Here are the results from 5 days’ worth of outfits. I’ll share my observations and would be grateful for any other insights that come to mind as you look/read.

1-2, Monday: black ponte leggings | navy & black plaid tunic | vintage intarsia cardi | black tall boots | self-made poppy bracelet (this was Veterans/Armistice day)

You all have seen this top/cardi combo before. That’s fine. I’m happy repeating favorite combos. Not as happy knowing that there aren’t too many other long tops in my closet that I can wear with these leggings.

3-5, Tuesday: dark skinny jeans | medium-blue Breton tee | fair isle cardi | cognac riding boots

Gosh, I love this cardi. The color scheme is so perfectly autumn. I wish I had more tops I could wear it with, though — I would love to be able to pick up the pink, purple, or pale yellow with a top. Or pair it with rust or plum bottoms, or gray skinny jeans. Don’t have any such items in my wardrobe though.

I don’t usually wear Breton tees in fall/winter. Breton stripes are a spring/summer thing for me (actually, fair isle is my fall version of Breton stripes, if you see what I mean). But I was curious whether this combo would work. I like the top and cardi together. Overall though this outfit is an awful lot of blue.

6-9, Wednesday: dark straight-leg jeans | black watch plaid button-up | black shawl-collar cardi | black patent tassel loafers

I also tried this outfit with cuffed jeans and cognac ankle boots, but this look doesn’t feel like me. Too..hipster?

Chose my black patent loafers instead but still, really not happy with this outfit in any dimension. It is awfully dark, first of all. And I feel dumpy in these jeans. At first I thought maybe I’m just not used to straight-legs after years of wearing pretty much exclusively skinnies, but now I suspect they are just too big. Also, even though they are blue jeans, the dark wash is somehow too “black,” if that makes sense. I think I’m going back to the drawing board on straight-leg jeans.

10, Thursday: black skirt leggings | gray floral sweatshirt | black patent tassel loafers

FFBO, I had an unexpected work phone call that ran long and then had to run to a meeting out of the house. Again, you’ve seen it before and that’s fine. I do wish I had a couple other iterations of this outfit formula. (I’m wearing this same outfit again today and that feels…less fine.)

11-12, Friday: medium-wash skinnies | white pin tuck popover | plum long cardi | cognac riding boots | watercolor necklace | rings | marcasite hoop earrings

This was probably my fave outfit of the bunch.


-All of my casual bottoms are black or blue (black skirt leggings, ponte leggings, skinny jeans; navy skirt leggings; medium-wash skinny jeans; dark-wash skinnies and straight legs — the latter of which I may edit out).

-A lot of my tops are also in the blue family. I look good in a lot of shades of blue and it’s easy to find.

-BUT, the result of those first two points is that it’s hard to make outfits that aren’t monochromatic and/or dark. And mostly, I don’t want to wear monochromatic and/or all-dark outfits.

-Wow, no wonder I depend so much on white shirts! I need more tops that function in the same way to bring a bit of lightness and/or color to my outfits.

-It doesn’t take a lot to brighten up an outfit to my liking. Wednesday’s outfit was too dark, but I felt totally comfortable in Monday’s.

-I am happy to repeat outfits. Just not within a week. And I don’t love feeling that there’s only one way to wear a particular item (if I can only wear X with Y, then every time I want to wear X I have to wear Y as well, which gives me little opportunity to wear Y with something else — and that bums me out!).

-I have really edited my wardrobe quite severely of late, removing not just what doesn’t fit or isn’t my style but also what I just don’t want to wear. (I’m keeping a few things in an archive/holding zone.) I am down to 7 or 8 pairs of cool-weather pants and 16 cool-weather tops in my active wardrobe. Those numbers just aren’t enough to support seasonal capsules — I can’t deliberately stop wearing certain items for a few months without creating wardrobe Tetris and/or laundry issues.

-I still have two dozen cardigans in my cool-weather wardrobe! They cover a broader range of colors than my bottoms and tops. But I don’t have the support acts to make them into outfits.


this was a very useful exercise!!!

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