The wardrobe awards: a year in review

This year, for the first time, I tracked my outfits. I also kept track of everything I bought. So now, I can do a data-driven review of the year! It's been a good year for clothes. Without further ado...

The Wardrobe Awards!

  • For being exactly what I've wanted for years, this new Laer leather biker jacket
  • For surprise star power, this amazing Zara cropped nylon jacket
  • For most dramatic plot, the Everlane boyfriend jeans that I fit-tested. Funny end to the six-month saga: I managed to buy them finally, in a 27, from Nordstrom. Then I decided I also wanted a size smaller, so I ordered them from Everlane this past Tuesday. The very same day, I went to Crossroads (consignment) and found a brand-new pair in size 26 for $30. The unopened order is going straight back to Everlane.
  • For being exactly the shape of my feet, these new Dr Martens Danica boots
  • For all around awesomeness, my old J Crew boy's oxfords that have broken in to look exactly like super expensive oxfords (a salesguy at Totokaelo complimented me on my Marsells...)
  • For future potential, a tie for the Frye campus boots I found at a vintage store and the Paul Green x-strap flats
  • For general utility, my old Uniqlo boiled wool cardigan
  • For making an outfit instantly, my Everlane square silk shirt 
  • For most frequent wears, last year's Uniqlo U tunic shirt with a slightly monastic feel
  • For new directions in style, my Everlane white men's button down
  • Lifetime achievement award: all R13 jeans
Bolded items are in finds below.

What I bought

I bought quite a lot this year: 56 items, not including underwear, socks, or gym clothes. That's far more than any past year. My expenditures are actually in line with budgeting suggestions for those who need professional clothes, but quite high given my casual lifestyle.

I am embarrassed to have bought so much, but I have to say, I absolutely love my wardrobe right now. I am particularly pleased that I added a small capsule of more professional items: an Equipment floral silk tee, perfect Paul Green flats, a Helmut Lang blazer and an Alexander Wang tailored vest. I got a sizable raise this year, and I became more willing to buy new items that I particularly wanted rather than foraging thrift and overstock stores (that said, I got amazing deals on all of those). I also bought a new leather jacket, a goal I've had for several years, with the honorarium I got for giving a big lecture.

I bought a lot of shoes this year, by my standards. Eight pairs! I buy long-lasting shoes, so these weren't replacing things that had worn out. (I also did a lot of cobbler repairs.) The big expansion was four pairs of sneakers, a category I hadn't worn much in past years (since I stopped wearing Converse daily). I also bought a pair of lightweight Dr Martens that have been worn almost daily this fall, and I found a pair of perfect, almost new Frye campus boots at a vintage store. I don't regret the purchases (though I might pass on a pair of fancy sneakers that didn't quite work) but I'll avoid buying shoes for the next while.

And lots of jeans - I shifted my jeans style substantially. Wide leg crops, full length straight and boyfriend jeans, and higher rise vintage-style slim jeans. Since jeans are the core of my wardrobe, I'm happy to put money in this area, though I overdid it and I might prune some accidental redundancy.

Half was purchased from my go-to stores: Everlane, Uniqlo, Gap, Madewell, and Zara. A third was bought used, and the rest was mostly from Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack. I only bought two things from local boutiques. (And it was not all black! Two white oxford shirts, a white tank, silver ballet flats, and light gray jeans.)

What I wore
Bottoms: I have thirteen pairs of jeans in regular rotation. No real losers here aside from a pair I already passed along. The most-worn were all my R13 jeans, especially the relaxed and boy skinny styles. The Gap wide leg crops were also winners. New entrants that are rising fast: AGOLDE high waist button fly relaxed skinnies, Everlane boyfriend jeans. 

Tops: Uhhhh. I wore ~80 different tops this year. That seems absurd. My essential tees and tanks top the list, followed by a large handful of beloved silk and cotton buttoned shirts and wool tops. But then there's a long tail of things that were only worn a few times. Most were things I've owned for years. I will work to pare this down and be very, very selective when buying new tops next year.

Toppers: This category is where I shone. I bought a few cardigans this year and I wore the heck out of them. But, I need to make sure I stop the cardigan hunt now. I'm all set. I also bought some expensive toppers that I need to make sure to wear more often, especially a gorgeous Alexander Wang tailored vest and a DKNY cape-sleeve bomber that saw very few wears.

Outerwear: Another category that shone. I just bought a new leather moto jacket, cropped and loose-fitting, that is clearly going to be a winner. Sadly, I lost one of my jackets on my flight home from Thanksgiving, a wool-blend boucle bomber from H&M. It was my least favorite, and I'd considered passing it along anyway, but it filled a real niche.

Shoes: This is the one I need to think about most. I wore 25 different shoes this year, and 14 were worn often enough to count as workhorses. Those were Dr Martens, fancy Converse, Frye boots, men's oxfords, and sneakers. It's interesting that these comfortable shoes won out, since over the previous few years I'd tried to buy and wear slightly dressier options. For next year, I'd like to focus on wearing a mix of both categories. I'd also like to be very careful about adding things that I'm unlikely to wear often.

All items in my wardrobe are here -- I'd committed to the pinterest board before YLF Finds came along
https://www.pinterest.com/monochro/in-my-closet/
https://www.pinterest.com/monochro/on-my-feet/

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Too oversized? (k/r)

Two shopping decisions needed!

1. I really really want a cotton velvet jean-style jacket. This oversized one from Rag & Bone is luxurious and beautiful - but just too big? Alas, I can't ever seem to pull off the oversized jean jacket look. Luckily I'm hoping it'll be a trend and I can find a more fitted version.

2. Uniqlo's JW Anderson collection had this very trendy sweater. Thin merino wool, oversized sleeves, with (the trendy part) ties at the wrists.

I like it but I'm torn about the purchase. On one hand, I like the look of it, it's good quality, it fits my style, and it's fun to have one item from that collection. On the other hand:

- I keep my clothes a long time, so I don't want something that will feel played out in a year. To be very clear, this doesn't reflect any dislike of this trend, or of trendy clothes in general. In fact I'm impressed by people who have an eye for trends and constantly update their look.
- Much as I like wool and turtlenecks, it's rarely chilly enough here to wear them all day. The loose cut of this makes it more wearable though.
- Related to that - I wear shirts or cardigans a lot more than pullovers.
- It was $50. For half that I'd keep it in as a wildcard.

(Both items are XS. I don't think sizing down would help -- I think some oversized clothes just work better on taller, more angular bodies.)

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Do you ever get stuck on repeat while shopping?

On my shopping list for fall, I had "silk camisole / tee" and "new boots" and "boyfriend jeans". I think I forgot to cross things off as I went! Over the past two months I ended up with not just one but:
4 silk or velvet tops
2 nearly identical pairs of boyfriend jeans (and a pair of high waist jeans, another goal)
2 new pairs of boots (and another pair of nice shoes)

I love all of them, and I was very picky about what I kept, so I don't really regret it. I didn't keep anything outside of these categories. But now it's time to stop shopping for the season. I did end up with more than I needed, perhaps. Three new pairs of shoes is quite a lot. And four fancy tops for someone who lives in tees and buttoned shirts -- good thing I've been going to a lot of parties. My goal now is to make sure I wear everything often.

I've posted photos of many of these over the past month -- I'm just amused (?) to see it all in one place.

Tops:
1. Equipment tee from NAS
2. Grana camisole
3. Acne silk top found with tags on at Wasteland (amazing consignment store) in LA.
4. Gap silk velvet top 

Jeans
1. Uniqlo men's selvedge jeans - these are amazing.
2. Everlane boyfriend jeans! I finally got them, after my whole saga!
3. AGOLDE high rise button fly jeans

Shoes
1. Dr Martens Danica boots, more delicate than the usual Docs, and shaped like Birkenstocks for my wide toes! I think they'll be really useful though wearing them, I feel like I have clown feet. I'm sure I'll adjust.
2. Paul Green Margo flats from Nordstrom. They fill a huge wardrobe hole for comfortable, professional flats. A pricey splurge at first. But after sending the wrong shoes in the right box, they eventually tracked down the right pair for me and by then they were marked down to $110!
3. Frye Campus boots -- I found these today at a consignment store in perfect condition. They're more retro than my usual look, but I like the clean lines.

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Gap velvet top: a winner (now with photos)

I just found the most beautiful velvet top at the Gap. It's a casual kimono-sleeve tee that drapes beautifully, made of a rayon/silk blend. It's trendy and super high quality -- it could easily come from Rag & Bone or the like. The cut is really loose, so it won't be everyone's cup of tea. But it reminds me of the Elizabeth Suzann silk tee that people love, as worn by Caroline at Unfancy: http://www.un-fancy.com/outfit.....four-ways/

I ordered it online after trying it in the store because there's a better discount online (40% off today). I do want to take photos once it arrives to make sure it's not too overwhelming. XS was definitely the right size for me. With my short arms, I might shorten the sleeves an inch or so.

I think I could wear it with faded jeans to work and not feel too fancy. I was wearing high waist vintage-y gray jeans (in finds for reference) and it was a great combo. 

Click through to watch the model walking, because the photos are all pretty meh.

Edit: the top arrived, and I wore it to a party last night with my new (used) high waist jeans and my new Paul Green shoes. It's almost overwhelming on me but my boyfriend really liked it, which is a good indicator that it moves enough in person to not look totally shapeless. The velvet is so soft - 80% rayon, 20% silk. I added some photos of yesterday's outfit, though the sunlight was coming straight through the window, so they're not the best. I think I'll probably leave the sleeves this length.

It's a departure for me in style, dressiness, and fabric (currently my only synthetic top). I'm not sure how much I'll wear it, but I think I like it!

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Last minute packing decision (thanks, it was great!)

Last minute packing dilemma!

I'm packing as we speak to go to LA for a few days. I'm giving a talk at UCLA. It's the first time I'm giving an important invited seminar (not counting job interview talks) and I am less well established than most of the speakers in this weekly series. So I want to look grown-up, of course, but also, science is really casual and it is important to me that I don't look out of place by dressing up too much. Mostly I see it as a fun chance to pull out some of my slightly nicer clothing while still looking like myself.

I can't decide between a few options for bottoms. I'm wearing my square silk shirt from Everlane. The pants options are:

1. Everlane wool trousers, ankle strap flats

2. Helmet Lang wool cropped pants with interesting seaming - very me. The only shoes that balance out these pants are my chunky sandals. If I had a pair of refined, low ankle laced boots they'd be perfect with this outfit but I tried all my shoes and nothing else was quite right for my style. This is my favorite outfit, but I'm afraid the sandals are too casual.

3. Alice and Olivia high waist pleated pants with ankle strap flats. The dressiest option, and I feel like it is a bit too dressy for the situation and my comfort.

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Silk cami: is this The One or not?

I'm searching for a silk cami as a versatile dressy/casual top. I loved the look of this one from Grana, especially the deep vee. The shape looks elegant yet relaxed. The two layers of heavy silk are gorgeous and as a bonus, the style covers my bra straps. It's the nicest one I've seen out of the options.

But the thick silk doesn't drape as well as I'd hoped and I fear it ends up looking too big. Maybe just too long? And also somehow less casual than some options. It is soooo close to perfect that I'm tempted to keep it. What do you think?

Definitely can't go down a size, because this one is just barely big enough in the bust. For Grana sizing reference it's an XS.

Sorry for the sleepy-grouchy faces!

edit: can't make a Grana find but here is the link: https://www.grana.com/silk-v-n.....;color=383 and I made a find for the closest competitor, an Everlane cami that's shorter and more casual (and doesn't cover bra straps for what it's worth).

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Fall haul: the reckoning

I've been shopping a lot, without clear goals, and I'm not sure which things I'll really use. My vague list is: a pair of boyfriend jeans, high waist vintage-y jeans, some silk tees and tanks, a "weird shirt" (e.g. deconstructed poplin shirting) and a cropped, loose jacket. And maybe something pink and/or dark floral. But here's what I ended up with, and decision time is here.

1+2: Uniqlo men's selvedge jeans. I love these! The only question is length: should I hem them to full length and roll? Wear long? Crop to ankle length?

3+4: Helmut Lang blazer I've been stalking. It looks great and my Theyskens blazer is sadly deceased but... these days I only wear blazers for job interviews (which I do hope to have this winter). I am really torn on this. It's a good deal at $200 but that's substantial.

5+6: Uniqlo cocoon sweater. Checks all the boxes: avant-garde shape, nice cotton fabric. But maybe more boring than I thought? I have a lot of tops, and pullovers get much less wear than tees and buttoned shirts.

7: Gap denim jacket. Expected to love it but I don't - something about the shape. This one is going back.

8-11: J Crew funnelneck top (showing sleeves at different lengths). A contender for "weird shirt" that I've wanted since I saw it in their fashion show months ago. I wish the sleeves were tapered and had buttoned cuffs. Otherwise I like it - but I have to say the quality is really disappointing. Seam threads hanging off all over, even some messed up tangled seams.

12: Equipment tee. I think I love it. I hope I can get a price adjustment down to its new sale price. Fits the dark floral theme I've been enjoying recently. I need to figure out if I would wear it often. There is a similar cami but with some pink in the flowers that I also love... (edit: Nordstrom adjusted the price! Hooray! I will definitely keep it at $75 even though that's a lot, but $113 was a stretch. Also, cami option added in Finds.)

Writing this post helped me realize I do have a clearer sense of what I need. Not all of these fit it, but some do. And please do chime in with opinions on how I should hem the jeans.

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Heat wave!

I always say that September is our hot month but this is ridiculous.

I've lived in San Francisco for 15 years and this is the first time it's been warm enough to go outside in a tank top and shorts at night. Yesterday was 106, smashing the all-time record. Today was "only" 102. I realize that isn't so weird elsewhere, but it is just so so strange to feel it here, where our usual highs are ~68 and no one has air conditioning.

I ventured out today in shorts and a tank top! I didn't even bring a sweater "just in case"! (Do you know how hard it is to fight that instinct?) I added a bandana around my neck to prevent sunburn -- I can only wear mineral sunscreen, and if I put it on my neck, it stains my shirts. This one is cotton, from Madewell, perfect for hot weather.

I walked all the way up Valencia Street to BART (the hipsters were mostly absent, probably indoors) and bought an ice cream cone on my way. Then I headed to the air-conditioned mall while my apartment melted. I'm still on this fall shopping spree... I found so many exciting things. I need to dial it back and decide what to return, but for now I'm just excited to have options.

Gap (50% off today)

  • New denim jacket.
  • Wool felt fedora. I'd like to wear more hats to keep sun off. This one is floppier and more casual than my fancy Rag & Bone fedora, and at only $17 I won't worry about crushing it.

Uniqlo

  • KM posted that the Ines de la Fressange collection was mostly sold out online. I remembered that my Uniqlo is one of the few to stock it, and the store still had so-so selection. I got one thing, a white cotton shirt.
  • This sweater might be one of the rare avant-garde finds at a mainstream store that make up my core wardrobe. But I rarely wear pullovers, more often turning to buttoned shirts or tees and cardigans, and it was pricey for Uniqlo. I'll model it once the weather cools down and decide.
  • Men's jeans. I think they fit me perfectly. But, they're very similar to the Everlane boyfriend jeans that will come out this week (the ones I fit-tested and loved) so I won't cut the tags.

Nordstrom

  • New bras (one beige to enable all the white shirts I've been wearing recently)
  • Emergency fishnet socks! (Visible in the photo) After a few hours of walking (and sweating) my sandals were giving me blisters. The socks saved the day. I'm really loving this fishnet trend.

I also tried to buy this J Crew shirt that I've had my eye on ever since fashion week, but the store was sold out in white, so I'll order it. I can't decide between white or stripe.

I hope the rest of you in the Bay Area, especially inland, are coping ok. We're just not prepared for this sort of weather...

(Well, except my little cat. She was born in Puerto Rico and I think she still misses the island heat. She was dozing in full sunlight when I left this afternoon.)

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It's fall in stores, hooray! And I'm shopping too much! (k/r)

Every August, without fail, I start getting excited about clothing again. Summer styles aren't my thing. As soon as the darker colors start reappearing, it's like I'm binging after a long fast.

Some of these things are wardrobe staples but I should be picky about what I keep.

1. Gap denim top. I'd probably trim the fringe a bit. It could be a good wildcard or it could be too boho for me and hard to style. I think it's actually a little short on the torso - the darts aren't in the right place. What do you think?

2. Everlane men's short sleeve shirts. I think I like the white and not the black. I love the long sleeve version I bought this summer and I've been searching for more short sleeve shirts. It's oversized of course but I think it fits my look. Styled with skinnies and wide leg crops to test different ideas.

3. Phillip Lim shirt from the Outnet. It's cool, and my style. It's also expensive and a little fussy. I do wear a lot of shirt dress tunic things... but maybe I don't need another. Fit looks great but it's tight through the chest when I move my arms.

4. Madewell denim skirt. So I own a zillion skirts and I've only worn a skirt three times since April. But when I did, it was always my Gap black denim skirt that is a little big and hits just below my knee. I like this as an alternative because it's much more flattering. And I've gone through phases of wearing a denim skirt really often. But also, is this too short for, say, the conference I'm going to next week? (Everyone dresses like they're at summer camp. Summer camp for grown up nerds! So the only concern is the sexiness, not casualness.)

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A laundry triumph

I did one of those "I should know better" things the other week. I bought a wool Margiela cardigan at the good used clothing store, took it home, and realized it was perfumed just enough to be unwearable. 

I may have mentioned that I'm very sensitive to most fragrances (headaches and upset stomach). Well, unsurprisingly, a lot of used items have a strong perfume scent. I don't always notice in the store, surrounded by competing scents, but it hits once I'm home. I can't count how many times I've tried to wear a thrifted item and changed my outfit within minutes. Even when I think I can just ignore it... no. And this is after I've washed it, or even dry cleaned. It doesn't help.

I was sad about my lovely Margiela sweater so I hit the internet looking for a solution. Everywhere I searched seemed to recommend the same product: Atsko Sport Wash. It's marketed for hunters who need to be scentless to avoid deer noticing them though as far as I can tell they also sell the exact same product as Sensi Clean laundry detergent and a few other re-labelings.

So I bought some off Amazon and it was miraculous. I wore the Margiela sweater today and I can't smell even the tiniest whiff of perfume.

They claim it's safe for wool and silk and all sorts of delicates, though I'm a little nervous, given how strong it seems to be. But I did a whole load of delicates with this stuff instead of my usual detergent and everything smells so much cleaner now. My delicate-wash silks were building up a bit of human odor from overly-gentle washing.

The funniest thing is that I also washed a heavily perfumed Madewell top I got for a few dollars... and now that the perfume is gone, I can tell that the wool is completely permeated with sweat smell. Ew. No wonder it was perfumed! I suppose that's why humans started using the stuff to begin with...

Speaking of consignment stores, I sold a stack of nice things I don't wear anymore and got $275 for them! Good laundering helped there, too -- they'd passed on buying a white Everlane shirt that was just a bit yellowed. I threw it in the wash with my other whites and some Oxyclean until it was shining white, and they bought it on the second try.

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