July 26, 2019
If not, why not?
To me, clothing is an essential item in life, and as such, should be purchased with care, and with a plan. In order to have a plan, I think that a shopping list is important, if not essential.
For example, you wouldn’t buy any sort of furnishing for your home without thinking about it and having a plan. The clothes that you wear can be thought of as furnishings for your body. You can live in a completely empty home, and you can live without clothing, but neither of these options is great!
So I’m pondering the most obvious things that I might purchase for the upcoming cool weather….
I’m heartened to see a number of lovely garments in warm, “autumn or spring” colors, and I’ve chosen to share quite a few of them with you!
(of course, you need to pass a careful eye over your socks, your other hosiery (in my case, opaque tights), and your undergarments. If they need to be replaced, everything else should wait!)
The thing that probably most needs to be replaced in my wardrobe are the shirts and other tops that I wear next to my skin; tee shirts, and button-front shirts tend to be laundered most often and wear out most quickly…
I always want a new sweater in the autumn. Who am I kidding – I want TEN new sweaters! But I can only wear 1 at a time, and it’s much wiser for me to buy one really GOOD sweater and wear it constantly… After 10 years of buying nice sweaters, I will have a wardrobe of 10 great sweaters…
Because cold weather tends to throw me into pants for at least 6 months, even though the weather isn’t always that cold, I try to remember to make sure that I have a nice, versatile skirt…
Possibly the most important thing for many of us to find is a pair of pants that aren’t blue jeans, and aren’t some sort of leggings… We deserve the resources to look nicer than that! And leggings are NOT pants; revealing that much of your anatomy to the general public may not be wise…
You can find nice jeans that aren’t black… The idea of ponte jeans really interests me!
I’m pretty well set for boots this winter – I have both the Minnetonka Moccasins and the Blondo boots shown below, which are lovely! But a pair of tall boots with low heels might be a good idea with skirts…
Do you have a really nice, “go-to” warm scarf? Your new winter jacket (or the one you’re going to wear again this year) might suggest that you find one that you love:
An accent scarf in a soft fabric is always a good idea! They tend to never wear out, and they serve much the same function as a piece of jewelry…
Do you need a new coat or jacket? Yes, the weather is ghastly warm in much of the world, but it’s also the very best time to find your wardrobe’s best jacket… Have them sent to your home and try them on in the comfort of your home’s air conditioning!
You can buy a bag at any time (oh, don’t we all know that?), but this might be the right time to choose one. It can be chosen for both function and for how well it works with your outerwear…
And if you want a really pretty bag to use for evening and dressy wear, keep your eyes peeled. These will become more and more available as we near the winter holidays…
The best part of having a plan (except for really getting your money’s worth from your purchases) is that you can really take your time and focus on what you want, and what’s available. Don’t be swayed by what’s on sale, or the newest, flashiest thing on the market. Remember how hard you work for your money, and be wise…. You will actually look better, and feel better about your appearance too!
p.s. 3 years ago, we started with a Gustav Klimt painting to build a lovely grey and pastel wardrobe for a heroine who was headed off for a restful break spent in nature…
I do lists!! Often at the end of a season so I know the gaps. For accessories especially don’t forget how useful vintage stores can be for purses scarves etc. have landed some lovely presoftened linen in “thrift” stores as well.
Margie from Toronto says
I always do lists when it’s time for serious shopping! It’s tricky at the moment as I’m losing weight again and at this rate will easily fit into my smallest sized Fall dress pants (haven’t worn them for about 18 months). If that goes to plan then I’ll need very few dressy or office clothes as I have a lot of tops that are in good shape and I have tons of sweaters – but like you – I can always find room for one more – this year I’m looking for a medium grey cardigan – the one I currently own is now miles too big so that’s my excuse.
I do need a pair of black Oxford shoes and a new black cross body bag along with some new Winter gloves – red wool is my preference so I’ll keep my eyes open.
My medium weight winter coat fits again and my heavy duty parka is now much too big so I will have to think about replacing it. LL Bean is opening a store just outside Toronto at the end of August so I will pay them a visit as my current parka is from them and is unbelievably warm.
Other than these items I don’t actually need anything – even the underwear and sock situation is in good nick – all of which pleases me as I try to get down to my more uniform look.
But one thing I am going to do is take those dress pants that now fit into a dressmaker near to where I work – the waistband uses those hidden slider thingies – which never stay down up properly – so I’m going to get her to replace them with buttons and button holes!
Great post – I know it seems crazy in this heat but Fall/Winter clothes are already in the shops!
Shopping for clothing is always oriented for those who plan ahead – you can NEVER buy things in season. This spring, Chicago was SO COLD for so long, and all that tourists could find were sweatshirts emblazoned with various Chicago images and motifs. We can always tell who’s visiting us and got caught off guard!
Sheila Harden says
I have that Lands End scarf in the pink multi and it is super soft and wonderful to wear!
I’m doing a No Shopping/Replace Only year which is helping tremendously in terms of seeing the true holes in my wardrobe. Granted, I have purchased quite a few shoes because many of mine were worn out and hurting my feet. That’s intolerable.
I complete agree with regards to purchasing one (or two) good sweaters a year rather than ten crappy ones. But where does one find such items? The past few years I haven’t been able to find a middle ground between the $50 sweaters and the $300-400 variety. I have also abandoned cashmere after two years in a row of disastrous purchases of sweaters that pilled horribly after just a few wears. This becomes problematic when one lives in Wisconsin and only owns 4 sweaters in the first place! This year I’m going to experiment with high quality wool. Perhaps from Pendleton. Wish me luck!
Merino wool is fantastic. Light to layer, washes a dream at 30 degrees C, and is durable. I love it and am slowly replaying all my synthetic items with this. I, too, have given up cashmere but do love a cashmere/merino or silk blend!
I second the merino wool suggestion. Lands End (always running a sale) and Uniqlo are good options. My all cotton sweaters have held up well too. Last year so many sweaters had “acrylic” listed in the materials and that basically equals pilling. It feels gloriously soft but looks like garbage after 3 wears – and they were selling for $80+ at Madewell!
Abbey smith says
I agree with the suggestion of Merino, but do find Talbot’s cashmere sweaters very nice. Very little pilling and about middling re cost. I tend to shop early to get colours I want because some of theirs can be very bright.
I love the pink Lands End sweater but it is not available on the British website. There is a teal coloured one, or “Capri seas” which is on my list. I have bought lots from Lands End having seen the clothes first on the Vivienne files so I hope the commission you receive extends to Scotland.
I always make lists but mine is for what I am going to sew and what fabric I already have or what I need to buy. Occasionally I buy something RTW but my clothing fits much better and I can afford the high end looks if I sew them. I need a good pair of short boots and some good wool pants too. I don’t usually wear jeans. I am looking for wool or wool blend double knit for pants. I also have an animal print winter coat and a leather jacket on my list to sew. Usually my list is more than I can get finished. My goal is to add more color into my wardrobe of gray and black. So far I’ve got warm red as my accent color.
Hurrah — my colors are finally returning to the marketplace this season ! However, I am still downsizing both my body and my wardrobe, so purchases might be limited to a scarf or two in a color that I don’t have . I might have a few olive green wardrobe holes in my closet that could be filled , however, and that Land’s End shirt jacket is tempting ! Just not sure about the pocket placement, emphasizing my hips — I would prefer all of the pockets to be on the chest area instead . At least I now know that some olive green garments might be available again this season, thanks for the ‘ heads up “ !
Sara K says
I have a shopping list.
Right now most of the items on my lista have been there for at least a couple of years. I just haven’t managed to find perfect items, and of course less than perfect won’t do. :D It’s ok though -because I have had a shopping list in place for several years, my wardrobe is already pretty well rounded and the things lacking from it are “nice to have”- I can wear other things.
On my list right now:
Black riding boots (low heel): I have boots in other colors and heel heights, so no hurry.
White button down crepe de chine shirt: I have actually spotted a good one, it’s just very expensive. I have plenty of other shirts, so this has been low priority. Maybe this fall I’ll get into it.
cashmere (or equivalent) knitted tunic w/turtleneck or cowl neck, baby pink or blue. This is one item I’d really like to find as I don’t have many sweaters, but no luck so far.
similar cashmere tunic in black. Last year I ALMOST found one, but it sold out super quickly before I even realized what was happening. Better luck this year?
grey knitted dress
charcoal grey basic blazer I have hunted this one for several years with no luck. By far the most difficult item to find. But once I find it, it will last me for a decade.
Black (patent) ballet flats: another lower priority
In addition, I’m planning to buy a couple of jewelry items and if extra money comes my way, it’d be nice to get another vintage Hermès scarf (didn’t like anything in this years’ collections). I like to keep my clothes simple and add interest and personality with great accessories.
I can’t praise enough your advice about thoughtful reviewing and having a list *before* you go shopping. I feel lucky to have enough (more than enough) clothes at present and for the coming season, in a well-coordinated wardrobe, thanks to reading your blog regularly. And buying wisely rather than impulsively means being able to afford better quality clothes that last longer.
So at present when I feel tempted to shop, I cruise a couple of op shops (thrift stores?) for quirky or retro accessories. It’s good for my wallet and the charities, and a fun way to spend an hour or so. It’s a useful reminder, too, to pass on “edited” items from my own collection.
Barb in Burnaby says
Oh Janice. I thank you for your fantastic articles and the strategies for building a cohesive wardrobe. I finally picked my neutrals and accent colours after much consideration and reviewing your posts and articles. Navy and charcoal grey are my neutrals and cranberry, pink and blue as my accent colours. Yeah! Moving away from black!
I can feel I am changing with list in hand and templates. Just passed up a cute black and white zebra print top with black pants with a zebra strip up the side. It’s not in my overall plan! Oh I was tempted and will be traveling soon, but it’s not on my travel template. Discipline!
I retired recently and need to change to a more casual wardrobe. There is nothing boring in neutrals, interest can be added in style details and texture and accessories. Love, love love scarves.
Janice, Thanks again for your lovely blog. I have been thinking about the capsule wardrobes that you do so well. I have the Stylebook App on my tablet. It is so helpful to see what is in my closet and what I wear regularly. In the “Stats” category, can see my 50 most recent additions. Most are solid or striped. I have discovered that I avoid buying Statement Pieces for my wardrobe.
I have built a wardrobe over the past ten years so I don’t NEED anything. I would LIKE to add one quality piece that adds to the whole effect. I am thinking shoes, handbag or scarf. (I love your jewelry selections.) Thanks for the suggestion. A list is a great place to start!
Thank you for this. I’m a list maker in most areas of my life but I’ve never been this focussed for clothing. I actually hate clothes shopping, I find it quite overwhelming. Since following your blog I’ve found shopping much easier so this is great. I recently packed for a week in Brittany and used one of your posts as inspiration. Packing was so much easier, I’ve taken less than I usually do, but with so many more options. Thank you.
I’ve made a list of what my ideal wardrobe would contain and crossed off all that I have (using a different color for stuff I have but I’d like to replace). What was left is A LOT of clothes and I can’t afford to buy everything yet, so I’m trying to focus on the items I miss the most. I already placed my first order (bless those summer sales)!
I love finally having a plan, and I have you to thank for it.
PS: I also don’t love seeing leggings used as pants, but to be fair it’s not my place to decide what other people should feel at ease in.
Fair point! I just hate to see people dress in a way that’s so patently unflattering, and not realize it. Or else they don’t care. I should be less judgmental, you’re right!
Hope I didn’t sound too snarky, I love your work and your frankness!
No worries – we are all friends here!
Linda M says
I have decided not to buy anything over the cold months, I have plenty. The exception will be if I spot the few items on my mental list, and like another commenter, they have been there for a few years. I found some perfect grey jeans a couple of days ago, after waiting about three years, and at a good price, so bought two pairs. I would also like a merino turtle neck in moss green, or some shade of yellowy green, to replace one that is now shabby and too big, but not desperate. I have just thrown out my most comfortable sneakers, with holes in the toes, so they have to be replaced, and I would also like a cream aran cardigan in pure wool. I know who sells them, so just depends if they have the right colour. I would also like one of those Uniqlo down jackets, the very thin ones you can wear under a coat, but having looked at the measurements, suspect they won’t be a good fit for me. I like the round, collarless neckline, and the idea of being able to wear it with a scarf over the top.
I was hesitant about the fit of the Uniqlo down jacket but it ended up being perfect. It looks polished, I wore it frequently, and it packs like a dream. Going to get one in another color. – nancyo
Linda M says
Thanks! Good to know.
Coach Laura says
Yes, I do have a list of what I want to purchase. I wanted to thank you for the new posts and also for the history of capsules, which has been so useful.
After unexpectedly losing 30 pounds due to cancer, I found that much of my wardrobe does not fit. I wear really classic clothing to work (smart business casual) and need to recreate a work wardrobe for fall without spending a ton. Luckily I found your article “How to build a capsule wardrobe from scratch” and used the light navy, pink, grey and medium blue palette, substituting lavender for the pink. It was perfect! I also used the Lightening over Colorado Art from scratch wardrobe as additional help. Using some things that still fit, some alterations and new purchases (mostly on sale) I now have a fall wardrobe that I can’t wait to wear! I just bought the Nic+Zoe Lights Trails sweater that you featured yesterday as my last piece. My birthstone is amethyst and I have a beautiful collection of amethyst jewelry to go with my fall wardrobe. I also eliminated black, which was a feature of my prior wardrobe: I’ve also been following Susan at Un Femme and decided it was time to transition to charcoal and denim blue after her discussion.
So thanks again and I look forward to seeing your future posts.
What a tough reason to rebuild a wardrobe! I hope that all is well with you; you have a whole community of friends here who send you lots of healing love!
And your wardrobe sounds awesome; that Nic+Zoe sweater is really great…
Coach Laura says
Thank you Janice for the good wishes. I’m in remission and hoping it lasts a long time.
Linda and Nancyo – I purchased the Uniqlo compact down jacket – it’s featherweight but so warm – and it fits great. After wanting one for a long time I took a chance. I had worried about it fitting but got a large and it fits perfectly on me.
Belinda Oakes says
I’d love to understand how many;
– LS Ts,
– SS Ts,
– LS Blouses
– SS Blouses
That is really needed in a business & casual wardrobe.
I dislike my current batch and I feel guilty replacing items but there has to be the right mix for my professional, work travel & personal wardrobes.
I live in a place with very little weather variation and I think that makes it even more off a struggle because I don’t get to change, with the change of season.
I’ve got a little Excel worksheet that can help you calculate a target number of garments; send me an email at theviviennefiles @ gmail.com (take out the spaces…) and I’ll send it to you!
Thank you, Janice, for your wisdom, and for sharing it. I have never known how to shop for clothing. I am told I am stylish, and hope so. How to put together a wardrobe has always been a mystery to me, and your blog is quite helpful. Anyway, just here to recommend the Frye boots you are looking at; I got the “Melissa” in both the brown and black colors and LOVE them. You will have them for years and they are very comfortable. If you have a source for a nice, “traditional” camel color cardigan, I would love to hear about it. Something along the lines of the black and white one you show above. I have searched high and low to replace my beautiful camel cardigan that was destroyed by moths. You could probably do an entire post on keeping wool clothing moth free!
I keep a list on my iPhone so it’s handy when I spot a sale. I note any major needs or upcoming stuff that’s beginning to need replacement soon.
My list for fall is mostly directing me to refresh my bra collection the next time I spot a sale on my brand & size. Sigh. I’m adulting as they say now.
But the running list allows me to get the most out of clearance sales by keeping my focus on the needs rather than whatever hits my eye.
I DID hit a real clearance last Tuesday for a suede cardigan open front jacket in a mushroom taupe shade. That’s been on the list a while as I’ve realized I am moving towards a softer silhouette. $25 from $110 —
My structured casual jackets are just not me anymore. I wear my knits & open front softer looking topper layers. I put that type on my list when I realized I’d fundamentally changed.
I am still looking for a couple more. My knit navy jackets are wearing out from overuse, and I would like grey, champagne and navy as well as the taupe one I just bought. But I can wait till a good sale. I just know that’s an upcoming need.
I just bought some summer tops on clearance for $10 each that’ll refresh my supply and allow me to toss a few that are getting too worn out to store for next year.
July and January are best for deep discount clearance but I love the preseason sales. I can usually find 20-30% off right now for the fresh fall stuff coming in. The full range of sizes and colours are intact & if I really needed anything I’d buy now.
In January I hit an amazing clearance sale on several wool sweater tops and a pair of black leather shoe boots so those will get put into circulation.
Last year I bought a lot of plain classic pants in my navy, black, grey & even white jeans on various sales so I estimate I won’t buy more for a couple of years. I keep a few with tags, unworn till I toss one or want to look extra spiffy for something.