November 2, 2022
What do you do when you’ve got a real longing for some new clothes?
What about when you’re in a store, and you decide you’re going to shop?
That’s what I’m thinking about this month… Our first heroine wanders into Boden, and wander out with some interesting things!
Remember, her inspiration is this scarf:
Our heroine was pretty disciplined – she stayed with green and pink accents for her purchases… The sweater, though…
When she brings her new things home (or when they are delivered, more likely!), she can see that the pants blend in perfectly, her green silk top goes with a lot of things, and the paisley sweater… is lovely.
Maybe this is the time for her to remember that her entire wardrobe doesn’t HAVE to blend perfectly. It might be more efficient if it does, but maybe that’s NOT WHAT SHE WANTS…
Your wardrobe should be what you want, after all…
Her accessories are perfect with everything else:
So, before our heroine makes any decisions about keeping/returning her new clothes, she at least needs to see how she might wear them!
Frankly, I would probably keep all 3 pieces. If you loved the sweater enough to buy it, you need to think seriously about how deep your love is… (start singing the Bee Gee’s, all your women of my generation!)
There’s nothing wrong with bagging something up and sending it back.
You’re allowed to change your mind.
You’re allowed to be wrong.
You’re allowed to mis-read a color online or in a store.
You’re allowed to do what’s right for you!
AFTER this was finished, Boden introduced a different sweater – a Fair Isle – that would probably be MUCH better with this wardrobe. In real life, our heroine would probably exchange… in blogging world, we’re going to keep the paisley sweater…
Our 2nd heroine is ordering a bunch of things from L.L.Bean for her family to wear for the cold weather. Pajamas? Slippers? That’s the place to get them!
And she’s going to toss in a few things for herself, too…
Her accessories have to come from another place – L.L.Bean is NOT the place to get jewelry or silk scarves!
But when the packages arrive, and she (calmly and carefully) tears into her new things, she’s delighted:
Made for her, she thinks…
And her accessories? Just as perfect!
But a smart heroine will ALWAYS try on a new outfit or 2 (or more) to be certain that a purchase is a keeper:
From my point of view, I would imagine that this heroine will keep everything she chose.
But my point of view doesn’t count – she may have perfectly good reasons (all her own!) for sending back something…
Today, we are all about looking at ourselves and our wardrobes, and doing what’s best for each of us, as beautiful, individual people!
p.s. Ten years ago (!) our heroine accented her brown and ivory Common Wardrobe with peach!
I happen to have a turquoise paisley cardigan with all of my other colors, so it’s a central piece in my wardrobe that I wouldn’t return, but different heroines will do what they will!
Lesley C says
Your posts have really encouraged me to overhaul my accessories and rotate them more regularly.
I am also finding myself drawn to incorporating Paisley into my wardrobe this year.
The violet and blue are just lovely. Can’t wait to see the rest!
Amy L. Landis says
So glad I found your website. 👚👕👖
I simply love that you encourage each heroine or reader to be true to herself. Perfectly put when you state “Your wardrobe should be what you want.” Even better to say “you’re allowed to do what’s right for you.” Thank you Janice for excellent reminders to us of what we know, but in the madness of modern life, oft forget.
I’m one who returned something. It was a purple fleece coat I’ve had my eye on for quite some time. It arrived, it fit, and – it didn’t feel right. Something about the cut made it feel too restrictive. So off it goes back, and what’s on the way is a black fleece coat with a very swingy profile that I have great hopes for. No, it’s not purple. Darn it. But I can wear a purple hat and gloves and scarf …
Amanda Hudson says
And if you want to add another accent besides purple it will almost definitely go with black! I just got a navy blue corduroy swing jacket. I have an old black and white tweed and the shape is really great!
There’s zero chance I’d keep a pair of pink pants that had to be dry cleaned! In fact I don’t think I have anything anymore that needs dry cleaning. Can’t stand the chemical smells and I’m pretty much a wear once, wash once—even if it doesn’t smell, I’ve probably spilled something.
Sally in St Paul says
Thanks for the reminder to check the washing instructions and make sure you’re willing to do what it takes to maintain the item in good condition!
I’m quite a fan of Boden, but during a trip to London in the summer, I wandered into one of Boden’s two stores with high hopes of wandering out with something special – and was disappointed. The store is quite small with very limited stock: it’s obviously more a showpiece than somewhere they expect to make a lot of sales. So with them, one has to wander through the catalog. At least they almost always supply the actual dimensions of items on their web site, which can help with size selection.
Sandy b says
These new items are lovely and work so well in their wardrobes. I have worked to the point that it is easy for me to return things. I used to keep everything, wear it infrequently for a season and then donate it. In the last year or two, with time on my hands and inspired by some of the ladies here who know exactly what the cost per wear is for everything in their closets, I have tracked my spending. What an eye opener! If something doesn’t work for me now there is a very short turn around time. I may be disappointed, but I hope to spend that money on something that really works for me.
I’m interested in the way you all decide if something works. Obviously, I know if a fit or a colour is wrong right away. But there are the insidious Closet Lurkers that you think are going to be great, but never wear much and have no clue why. Am I in the minority with having Closet Lurkers? I ought to fill a donation bag, but having spent the money, feel compelled to try to wear them.
Sally in St Paul says
I would love to hear more about the “insidious Closet Lurkers” (great phrase) in people’s closets that fit and are a good color but we don’t wear…and what to do with them. Off the top of my head, ICL can arise when:
It fits but it isn’t actually comfortable (on its own or in combination with other pieces);
We like it a lot but it’s not really our style;
It doesn’t line up with our lifestyle needs;
It’s good individually but doesn’t go into outfits as we expected;
It’s not obvious how to style it and we don’t take the time to do a styling session with it;
It requires more effort to style than we want to spend;
It’s fiddly or fussy to wear throughout the day and we want something that just stays put;
It felt like a “smart” practical purpose but it just doesn’t excite us;
It’s our “7th favorite hammer” (yes, I once had a boyfriend who had way too many tools) so we never pick it;
It has burdensome maintenance needs (dry cleaning, ironing, etc.);
It has negative associations for some reason.
I personally would say give the ICL a good styling session effort and see where you land. It may be you discover a great outfit or several where the ICL finds its purpose…or it may just not work for you, in which case you can donate it with confidence. The sunk cost fallacy can be strong when we spent good money on something, but if it’s an item with no current/near-future expected value, it’s good sense to bid it farewell. And if you find yourself really not wanting to spend the time on a styling session with it because you feel meh about it, maybe that’s all you need to know to make the decision to let it go.
I love the seventh favorite hammer analogy! I’m trying to slowly wear everything I have to determine if it falls into the criteria you mentioned. Sometimes a piece is just futzy, and I can’t find a reason to toss, but moving forward it will go if I can’t find a reason to keep.
I’ve realized recently that the stuff I don’t wear is because it’s “too good” and I’m saving it for…what? A recent heartbreaking death has shown me that my clothes might easily last longer than I will, and how very, very brief life is. My daughter will happily inherit drawers full of scarves and a lot of jewelry (some, my own mother’s), but she’s not the same size as me. So lately, each day I try to wear something I haven’t worn in a long time, and more accessories. I’ve also gotten rid of all shoes that aren’t comfortable. I’ve saved many combos of TVF to my Pinterest “wardrobe ideas” board and look through that or my Stylebook app if I can’t think of anything.
A couple of years ago I did an experiment. When shopping, I would buy one item because it was the “smart” choice that fit into my capsule. I also bought one item just because I loved it. Hence, the practical Uniqlo plaid shirt and the pink one I really preferred. I bought my useful scarf and my beautiful scarf at a sale for charity. I ended up wearing and keeping the items I loved. The “smart” picks were seldom worn and donated to Goodwill. But hey, that’s just me!
Sally Williams says
I am so delighted by the colorful additions to these wardrobes that provide a much-needed dose of cheer as we in the northern hemisphere feel winter’s approach. The resulting tonal outfits are fabulous.
In the beige wardrobe, that bright paisley sweater looks great to me (as would the fair isle option). It does reinforce my thought that the wardrobe would benefit from some mid-value items, especially pants/skirts, that help stairstep between the light stone neutrals and several deep accent colors. It just still feels like the bottom pieces are so overwhelmingly beige! On my screen, the new pink pants should work with the other pink items except the hoodie – I hope our heroine isn’t disappointed there.
The grey wardrobe just looks better and better! It’s a bit overall desaturated for my taste, but the colors are beautiful together. Of course I think it could use some print garments as well as a white T + blue denim jeans combo.
I absolutely agree that an outfit creation session when an item comes home or arrives in the mail is critical to the keep/return decision. And try these outfits on! We kind of pretend in the various hypothetical capsules that if the pieces fit nicely individually and the colors match that all is well, but in our real wardrobes, we need to make sure that the pieces will fit together on our bodies (e.g. for me, sleeves that do not want to layer under a cardigan) and create silhouettes/proportions that we’re happy with (e.g. for me, pants that look good with a tucked shirt but you don’t tuck so the outfits look sloppy). It definitely takes time to do this, but it is so worth it. It would be a terrible shame to spend over $200 on a sweater you end up not wearing because it turns out to be a weird length/shape for the various pants you envisioned it with.
My usual downfall is color. Thinking something is going to look good and then it’s the wrong shade or a warm vs a cool gray (for instance). If things don’t fit they go back right away. I shop almost exclusively online, and sometimes the colors just aren’t right, particularly when I’m challenged in seeing shades anyway.
Sandy b says
Color gets me, too. It looks great on the website, plus the two or three other colors they put it next to, yada yada. Also if I try to branch out from my known style, Tshirt and jeans, it usually goes south. I used to get the package, try it once and wash it right away. The next day it wouldn’t look as good but I would then have to keep it. Now I try it two or three times over a day or two to decide. It is hard to separate fantasy from reality. As to donating things and regretting the money spent, I think about some other person who really needs clothes and hope it will work for someone. And then forget it.
Hmm, thank you ladies. I’m mentally looking at my Closet Lurkers and think it may be a case of 7th favorite hammer. My Talbots Newport pants in canyon are an ICL. They fit, the colour is good, but I rarely reach for them…and instead grab my wide leg twills or the polished denim newports because I like them better. Thank you. Now I know that to get my $ out of them, they need to be styled so I want to wear them. Bless you all for your help.
I like the paisley sweater from an aesthetic standpoint but I also think it would be hard to wear something as memorable as that more than very occasionally, so the cost per wear would not work out for me.
I’ve been buying new sweaters in my accent colors (my wardrobe is not so minimal, so the colors are bluey-greeny shades, plum/burgundy, and rose) – mostly cashmere, which is so nice. I feel like in prior years the cashmere sweaters available were either neutrals like black and gray or primary colors, which are hard for me to wear. I’ve been able to find cashmere in more suitable colors this year, like a muted peacock from Land’s End, and a deep emerald from Macy’s.
I would like to gently challenge the idea that something memorable cannot be worn often :)
Even though I am familiar with the concept that clothes shouldn’t be worn often, at least not noticeably, I have been working against it lately. I wear my favourite, memorable, items (at the moment it’s a pink jumper with Pom-poms) as much as I want to, as many days in a row I can keep them visibly clean and fresh-smelling, which is sometimes almost a week!
Vicki G says
I too was thinking about this, after looking at the paisley jumper, which is such a bright and happy garment that I would love to see someone wearing it frequently. I have a bright and memorable flowered item of clothing that a family member says makes her happy whenever she sees it, which certainly encourages me to bring it out often!
The gray wardrobe looks really cohesive and I love that the heroine chose basics that go with everything. The first wardrobe with the green was a bit more accented and pieces that stay in my memory, that green blouse is super dressy and beautiful! But I can see how it works.
Thank you, Janice for showing us all these different combinations, I keep learning a lot. Recently I bought two pairs of pants, but just as I did my work got a different dress code and only one pair of pants matched it, so now I have some very dressy dress pants that I can’t wear to work… I’ve been wearing them more casually for church events, but it’s sad that I can’t take them to work. Such are things in life. I’m glad at least that I took it slow and didn’t buy too many pairs.
Vicki G says
Off topic from me, but I’ve just finished the archives! What an absolute treat it has been :) Thank you so much, Janice. You are a treasure, and I’ve learned a lot. And thanks also to the community (yes, I read almost all the comments also) – you also are all treasures. I am retired in the last two years, and working on having my wardrobe fit my new lifestyle. It’s going well. Covering the basics in terms of neutrals has been a real eye-opener for me, and made it easier to get dressed. And, as others have mentioned, I had a tendency to “save” my good stuff for “best”, and hardly wore my off-white stuff so it stayed clean. But now I’m wearing my good stuff, in case it outlasts me. And my off-whites, because I’m a good washerwoman! And, I may have mentioned before, but I’m not wearing anything I’d be embarrassed to answer the door in, even when gardening :) Very best wishes to you all from Aotearoa/NZ xx
In the last couple of years I went back to work as a part time teacher after staying home and homeschooling my kids for 18 years. So my jeans/tee/cardigan uniform didn’t work anymore. I have never been dressy so this has been a challenge. I have loved sites like this that help me figure out what I’m doing fashion-wise. I have always wanted to look put together but don’t have the innate ability to figure that out. I have now figured out my good colors and am starting to put together two capsules for work and home that sometimes overlap. Getting things at used clothing stores for cheaper has been a good way to test drive different dressy things that I’m not sure if I like without spending too much. Then if I really don’t use them I don’t feel too bad sending them back to Goodwill for someone else to try out. And also realizing like someone above that having some basics are good, but really the things I love are the ones that get worn the most.
I find that thrifting improves the likelihood that I’ll wear it. If it was retail, and spendy, I’d be afraid of it.
I love all my clothes but they don’t really reflect my lifestyle as a retiree so I am constantly in jeans and my good clothes only get worn occasionally. I love it when I can dress up to meet friends or family but refuse to ruin good clothes sitting crafting. Recently I have been wearing jeans with a white tee and a navy jacket (very French inspired) and long skirts or dresses with trainers (granddaughter inspired) but other combinations defeat me. I also have a few Mavericks in colours that don’t 100% fit into any of my capsules but which I can’t seem to let go because I like them.
The new fair isle sweater introduced by Boden is a winner! In the real world, that’s the one I’d pick.
Cathie P says
Radical idea, fair isle AND paisley! Wear both as often as makes you happy. We judge ourselves much harder than anybody else does. I loved the paisley skirt but don’t wear pencil skirts, but mmm I could wear a sweater. Off to look at Boden again🤔