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

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Kaelyn replied 6 years ago

    I love the creativity of doing wardrobe awards. It sounds like you've had a great year, overall. Good for you! I really ought to do what you did and track what I buy and wear for next year...

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Wow. What an amazingly cohesive and stylish closet you have. I want exactly the same closet except in navy and grey! :) 

    Seriously, you made some excellent, intelligent purchases. I don't think 80 tops is too much, really, but then I live in a climate that is insane, so if I count shirts and blouses and knits I get around the same number (all worn). 

    The leather moto looks amazing and will be a workhorse!

  • Jaime replied 6 years ago

    Excellent awards and explanations. My R13 jeans are the most worn in my closet too. Love the story with the Everlane jeans at Crossroads!

  • replied 6 years ago

    You have a beautiful wardrobe , and I appreciate your mix of high and low . I would wear any of these pieces in a heartbeat ( if I were leaner ) and envy your access to brands not readily available here . I’m thinking I could stand to do a thorough and honest closet review too , and recognizing and awarding the stellar pieces would be an informative excercise . Lastly - I’m particularly interested in your denim review as I am thinking my collection could use a cull and an update .

  • SarahD8 replied 6 years ago

    What a fun AND enlightening overview! You've convinced me to be diligent about tracking both purchases and wears next year, I have done so in the past but rather haphazardly and your post makes clear how very rewarding a real effort would be.

    Are you saying that you buy literal boys' shoes like from Crewcuts? Hmmmm, that is a resource that had never occurred to me, i am intrigued.

  • Greyscale replied 6 years ago

    Sarah, yup, they're Crewcuts shoes. I'm a women's 6.5 or 7 and the kids' 5 fit me well. Shoes that are proportioned for men's feet fit me better in general, but I'm too small for men's sizes, so I was excited to find high-quality leather shoes in boys' sizes.

    They discontinued this style, but their kids' chukka boots are also popular with women, based on the reviews on their site!

  • replied 6 years ago

    WOW.  What a great, great post.  You have given me serious wardrobe envy and aspirations.  I've saved your post for future reference.  

    Like Lisa P, I think doing a thorough and honest closet review would be beneficial for me as well.  I have time this coming Holiday.  

  • Style Fan replied 6 years ago

    What a great post!  I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  Now I am going to think about my wardrobe in terms of awards.  What fun!  I love your style and your footwear is similar to mine.  I am tempted by Docs.  They are so popular here.  I have the Fryes harness which I love.

  • Stagiaire Fash replied 6 years ago

    The Closet Awards are great. I notice, though, that you say “expenditures are actually in line with budgeting suggestions for those who need professional clothes, but quite high given my casual lifestyle.” Check me if I’m wrong, but I believe you wear most of these new purchases while you are working, ie professionally. The finds don’t look like things you’d wear to slouch around the house.

    Yes, professional attire is more casual these days, but it’s still clothing that you expect to be able to wear for long days, quite possibly frequently and/or over a number of years. Even though it is not tailored sheaths and blazers or suits, it does need to be well made so you can present yourself well.

    Eight pairs of shoes sounds like a lot to me too. Several of them do indeed sound like things you’ll keep and wear over the years, except for the sneakers.

    I am clearly a long way from such clarity in my wardrobe. Thanks for showing me how it’s done. :)

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Awesome roundup! I love your style, and your enthusiasm for the things you love is contagious. I agree that a black nylon jacket is indispensable and your R13 waxed jeans look suspiciously like my crash pants (all four pairs of them).

    I've tried tracking wears and outfits in the past, but I'm always moving my own goalposts so it never really works. But I have been tracking my shopping this year, so will probably post on that before it's out. 

  • JAileen replied 6 years ago

    Very interestng analysis. Your wardrobe is very cohesive (obviously). Yet we have overlap - Frye campus boots! I have had mine for years and stopped wearing them until recently, when I tried out leggings. I fell in love with them again. Your wardrobe is much edgier than mine, of course, but your black is my grey. Yesterday I wore grey from head to toe, and felt great. And when you wear black from head to toe, I bet you feel great, too.

  • Cardiff girl replied 6 years ago

    I like the idea of closet awards.I have images of gold envelopes and wild applause for my favourite clothes!But seriously what an interesting Post you have done.I m sure that this level of reflection will help you continue to curate your already lovely wardrobe effectively,thank you so much for taking the trouble to share this with us.

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    What a GREAT post. Wardrobe Awards are a fab idea, and I'm pleased you had a happy style year. 

  • LaPed replied 6 years ago

    Nice review. Uniqlo and Everlane are my heavy-hitters right now, too, followed (at a guess) by Boden and Patagonia. 

    I had a big shoe year too, and I felt like I was being wildly self-indulgent. But they're all getting worn, and usually they are the make-or-break factor that determines whether what I'm wearing is an outfit, or just a bunch of clothes. :)

  • Sara L. replied 6 years ago

    Interesting post!  I enjoyed reading your analysis.  I wish I was this organized about my wardrobe but at the same time I'm pretty sure I don't really want to know.  I know I have way too many pairs of shoes but knowing the exact numbers might just make me feel guilty. 

  • Greyscale replied 6 years ago

    JAileen, I think a lot of us are gravitating to taller boots again after a few years of wearing them less. Not that I ever stopped, but I just wasn't excited about them for a while.

    The Frye campus boots are a solution to my usual boot problem. My lower legs are very short, and no boots described as knee-height will work on me. So high calf-height boots are my standin. These are perfect though a bit tight on my calves (in part because they come all the way up to the widest point of my calves). I like the look but I need to find the right pants to wear with them (they're great with skirts). Leggings are a great idea.

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