operation revamp :: the closet, part II

wardrobe wish listIn my closet, there are many cardigans. There are many sleeveless tops that I have rarely worn. There are many short-sleeved v-neck tees from Target that get too much wear. There are boots that walk many a mile in the course of a month, and little slippers that barely see the light of day. There are some vintage pieces that really don’t fit into my everyday lifestyle, but they were such great finds that I can’t bear to give them away.

Does this soliloquy sound familiar? Last week I revealed my closet problem and my desire to fix it — this is all a part of my 2013 list of things to do. I’ve been slowly but surely culling items I haven’t worn in a long time, and trying my hardest to restyle and realistically implement other pieces with the mindset of “maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough.” That part is going to take some time. Meanwhile, I’ve identified some gaps in my wardrobe that need filling. It’s my hope that, with the elimination of things that don’t work, and with the addition of some key pieces that I know I will have for a long time, I’ll be able to stretch what wardrobe I have when all is said and done.

One of the best resources I’ve found so far on streamlining and simplifying a wardrobe — for a normal person, no less! — is from Rachel of Small Notebook. Much like my favorite Seventeenth & Irving installment, Rachel has a series of incredible posts on identifying problem areas in a wardrobe, culling, and making the appropriate replacements. Plus she has an adorable no-nonsense flow chart that I think I’m going to print out and keep in my wallet.

Another great tip Rachel shares is to not only make a list of what you’re looking for, but to list what you’re not allowed to buy. For me, this includes: v-neck t-shirts; chunky trendy sweaters; skirts; heels; scarves; anything made of cheap fabric, like polyester; sales for sales’ sake (more on this later) or outerwear, excluding the perfect denim jacket.

And without further ado, my wish list:

1) A patterned button-up (or two): I love classic casual button-up shirts. They can be mixed with nearly anything, from a sequined pencil skirt to a pair of shorts, and exude a tomboyish flair. One of my all-time favorite tops is a soft chambray button-up from Lucky Brand that Andrew bought for my 22nd birthday. I wear it at least once a week, and always bring it with me on trips. Gingham and plaid are great patterns – not too prissy, not too masculine, but just right for everything. (like this or this)

2) Some easy tops: This is not as simple as it seems. I have several nice tops in my closets, but they’re so fussy — they require a certain bra, a certain tank top, a certain covering. That is tiresome and so against the idea of simplicity that I want to achieve. I don’t want more t-shirts – excluding that elusive, perfect white silk- or jersey-blend tee – but instead I’m looking for tops of quality fabric that can be dressed up or down. Ideally, they would be of a high-quality knit blend and have short sleeves so as to work for layering and most seasons. Most blouses I’m finding these days are super trendy, made of that strange chiffon-y polyester, cut to fix a box, and studded with some sort of garish collar or embellishment. No thanks. The search continues. (like this or this)

3) A classic, dark-wash denim jacket: This can work for everyone, for every season, for years. I had one growing up that I wore to pieces and finally outgrew. I’d like another, please. (like this or this)

4) A few pairs of flats: I have no flats left in my closet — I have worn them all out. I wore my trusty leopard print flats a few weeks back and they tore my feet to shreds, and so, albeit reluctantly, I took them to the thrift store. Flats are so versatile, and I’d like to be able to invest in some with quality construction that will last and will be nice to my feet. Ideally, I want to find a good brown leather pair, a black leather pair, and a leopard print pair. (like these)

5) A new billfold and, eventually, nice leather purse: The billfold I currently have is kind of broken, so this is more about function than form. But it’s still about streamlining and, also important, feeling like an adult. I’d like a grown-up billfold and a grown-up purse, but I may need to wait until I have more of a grown-up paycheck to do that. (like this)

*     *     *     *     *

With this list in mind, I am in no hurry. I am looking for “the” piece and I won’t settle — plus, there’s no harm in working to creatively mix what I already have and stash some cash in the meantime.

Eventually, I’d like to phase out the things that I have for higher quality staples once they wear out. For now, the sweaters and boots and jeans I have are good and they work for me. I am grateful for this. Additionally, I have my eye out for a cool motorcycle jacket – something slim and cropped and not leather – and I would also really like to buy a classic trenchcoat. All of my years of journalist training must require me to wear one. Plus, I spent my childhood dreaming that I was Nancy Drew, and if anyone should have a trenchcoat, she would.

Do you have any pieces you’ve been dreaming of adding to your wardrobe? What’s on your wish list? Let me know, I’m always curious!

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9 thoughts on “operation revamp :: the closet, part II

  1. Hah. I have a “no tops that require a strapless bra” rule, because strapless bras drive me nuts. Also, Lindi bought me a leather hobo Lauren wallet for my birthday last year and it is the best. I would totally recommend it.

    After my insane closet overhaul earlier this month, I have a few “things to look out for” as well. I need a new pair of black skinny slacks (not denim) because the pair I have that I wear all the time is starting to wear out. And a new pair of black suede boots– I wear mine so often they are starting to disentegrate!

    Things I totally should not buy: cardigans, pullover knit sweaters, black t-shirts, A-line summer skirts, scarves. I have SO MANY scarves. Hah!

    • You have a great list! I love your “do-not” buy category — every time I have ever seen you, you basically wear all of those things at once! It’s appropriate that you would not allow yourself to buy a black t-shirt, an A-line skirt, a cardigan or a scarf because that is the essential “Helen” outfit. (And you always look great, doll, so you’re doing something right.)

      I think Dillard’s has some pretty good boot sales this time of year, so you might see if they offer any black suede options like what you’re looking for.

      • I know! It’s a little bit ridiculous. I’m not a huge fan of shorts (and can’t wear them to work anyway) so I wear skirts and dresses for at least half of the year. (Plus, I wear above-the-knee skirts in the winter with leggings or tights. Like today!) And scarves? Pretty much 365 days a year. At any rate, I have a whole bunch of both, and I don’t need anymore. 😉

  2. I remember a year or so ago I started to really re-work the wardrobe I had inspired by another one of your posts! Love it 🙂

    I’m working hard to keep my wardrobe at bare bones since I won’t be in Ireland forever (2 years total, ideally) and will have to get rid of everything that won’t fit back in my backpack. Since the weather is just so unpredictable layers are essential! I find that my 3 simple skirts (maroon, tan, and black), thick/cozy winter tights and light-weight summer leggings, a few solid-colored tops of varying sleeve lengths, 2 pair of shoes, a cardigan, and my 2 favorite coats from back home has done the trick. I mainly just struggle to keep to the 2 pairs of shoes, which I set as a personal goal of mine, but invested in nice leather shoes which are all-the-rage out here so I never feel out of place and are great for the amount of hours spent walking.

    I just did a month-long backpacking tour and found that this wardrobe really is all-purpose; worked from the camel rides under the Sahara sun to walks around the remaining pieces of the Berlin Wall in sub-freezing weather!

    I am keeping an eye out for a great and affordable (thrift store) party dress, and perhaps a formal red hat just to feel fabulous. To keep my closet thin, I am constantly giving away any piece I find that I am not getting that much use out of and end up basically with what I mentioned above.

    • April, I am so impressed! Once your whirlwind traveling has calmed down, you should do a blog post about this — I think a lot of us would be interested in hearing your tried-and-true advice for packing the most versatile traveling wardrobe. Really, I think it’s wonderful. Have I mentioned that I’m fascinated by things like this? The way people pare down to the bare minimun, keeping only what they need and use and eschewing the rest…Keep me updated on what makes it into your backpack and happy travels! xo

  3. I can’t wait to check out your links in more depth. The flowchart is so cute..love the hoodie comment. 🙂

    For me, the hardest part is waiting for the perfect piece. It’s so easy to just buy it because it works or because you love it but maybe it doesn’t fit perfectly. But when the perfect pieces are found they are worn to shreds. One of the things I love best about paring down the wardrobe is that it makes getting dressed so much easier. There are only a few options and if you’ve shopped well, you love each one.

    Can’t wait to hear your updates!

    • It is so hard, but I’m learning that it’s worth it. And then I forget and buy something cheap and cute that really wasn’t what I was looking for in the first place! Thanks for keeping up and for continuing to share your experiences — I love your wisdom!

  4. operation revamp :: the closet, part IX | little dutch wife

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