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


New glasses!!

Even I am wearing pink!

I say that my current glasses are a key part of my look. And I do love them -- the color makes me really happy and I think they flatter my face shape. I've had them five years, and the lenses are wicked scratched. I was going to replace the lenses in the same frames.

Then, at my favorite eyeglass store (Eye Gotcha on Castro St), a sales guy with a knack for choosing the right frames completely sold me on the idea of something new. These frames were the first ones he thought of, and the boldness of the black frame with icy pink sides just called out to me.

I was there on a day that the designer (Anne et Valentin) had a trunk show with all the frame color options (the shop was so crowded!). For this same frame, I could have gone with a color theme similar to my old glasses, warm tortoiseshell in front and a vibrant purple-blue on the sides. But it was time for a change, and the trunk show designer rep also said he preferred these because they were a little edgier and matched my style better.

I hope he's right! It's always hard to adjust to a new look but it's exciting, too.

My one aesthetic dilemma, photo #3: I've been wearing lime green eye shadow occasionally (no mascara, going for a sort of weird Tilda Swinton effect). I'm not sure it really goes with the pink frames. What do you think?

ps - as a bonus, these stay on my face so much better. My old glasses always slid down my nose, with no nose pads. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's the main source of my forehead wrinkles, a lifetime of scrunching up my face to move my glasses up my nose.

pps - these photos are from the day I bought them, without prescription lenses. My eyes look so much bigger! I don't have good photos yet of the final version, but it's too bad that my strong prescription will always shrink my eyes (-6 plus -3 astigmatism).


Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →


Finite space for shoes

I kept the Born flats from last week's question. I wore them with my orthotics and they are, indeed, amazingly comfortable.

But the shoes had unintended consequences! My shoe collection outgrew its home. I don't have a closet - I use a corner of our large bedroom for two clothes racks, and my shoes are all lined up along the wall underneath. With this newest addition, I finally realized I'd moved from "spare, minimal design" to just plain cluttered.

Enter Ikea, the solution to all storage problems. I found a little metal cabinet that looks like an old card catalog, if your library were furnished by Scandinavian designers. Now nine pairs of shoes live in drawers perfectly sized for them. (Side note - I absolutely love assembling Ikea furniture.)

My parents arrive tomorrow for a week's visit and it motivated me to de-clutter the rest of the house. Among other things, I realized my clothes racks were too full as well, so I begrudgingly moved my dresses to the spare bedroom closet. I apparently own 15 dresses. For someone who doesn't wear dresses, that's rather startling! I like them all, though. I hold onto special occasion dresses for quite a while in case a need arises. I do have a few casual dresses I want to make sure I wear often, so I hope they don't get forgotten.

I feel like buying furniture for my shoes might be a sign of a problem. I'm not worried, though. I'll just make a point of wearing all my shoes often, to justify it!

Here's a photo of the "after". I didn't think to capture the "before".


Thanksgiving packing failure

I just got back from a perfect Thanksgiving weekend in Tahoe with my family. The food was wonderful, the company was wonderful... and I packed so incorrectly.

My family vacations are always hiking and camping. We don't go out to restaurants. We don't go into town. We spend all day hiking (which I love) and all evening sitting in front of the fireplace with wine and conversation. My retired parents live in hiking pants and hiking shirts at home, and even more so on vacation. I know all this.

And yet... I was so excited for winter weather, but I packed for a winter version of my usual city life! I brought Doc Martens, but not my heavy hiking boots (we hiked each day, including one serious day-long hike). I did bring one outdoorsy Smartwool top, but I forgot my rain/wind parka. I brought light leather gloves, not at all suitable for winter outdoors. The docs were actually quite comfortable for hiking (and I got more than one comment from other hikers saying how cool it was to see someone hiking in docs) and I was warm enough, so I suppose it's not a true packing failure.

I did enjoy the cold. I got to wear my new heavy cardigan, and also an Angie pick sweater I bought last year but can only wear on trips away from SF because it's too warm for SF. My mother really liked the sweater.

My birthday gifts included two giftcards to REI, so I can stock up on serious hiking clothes. I used to do a lot of backpacking, but I've become so citified over the past few years. I was happy to be reminded how much I like hiking, but occasionally I wish I had a family that wanted to dress up for holidays!

I hope all your Thanksgiving celebrations were fabulous and your packing choices were better than mine. Do your clothing preferences line up with your families'?