I found great success in making plans for my spring wardrobe. It’s funny that after years of helping my clients manage their wardrobes, I never really considered being as thought out and planned as I was last season. In many ways, I always was, I just never committed to being as visual. It may seem unfair, but how I manage my wardrobe is just how my brain operates. It’s my ingrained sportswear designer roots and years of designing cohesive groups of clothing that were balanced. The same way I think about putting my wardrobe together along with the wardrobes of my clients’ wardrobes is very much in line with how designers put collections together, minus the actual designing part. Designers start with a vision or a bigger picture which they use as their guide or direction. Without direction or inspiration, you really are just feeling around in the dark.
When I look back at how I developed my spring wardrobe, I can see how well it worked to see things visually instead of just keeping it all in my head. Even though mentally, I’ve always thought this way, last season, seeing things made me more intentional and as a result, I became more aware. Blind spots I likely would have overlooked became more evident and I always had a clearer focus on which to fall back. Having vision also helped me become a much better editor. When you know where you are going, you know what doesn’t need to come along for the ride. It reminds me of that post I wrote on this topic a few months ago. So as I am moving ahead to a new season, a season I prefer, I am excited to share what I have in store for my wardrobe.
LET’S START WITH MY VISION
Here was my vision from spring which, if you’re only getting caught up now, was inspired by what is known as sprezzatura which translates in Italian as studied carelessness or nonchalance. You can read the whole post on what my vision for spring was here and how I did with it here. I intended to create a style that looked polished but easy, refined but laid back. I aimed to create looks that didn’t come off as overly curated or too planned yet still managed to look curated, elegant and sophisticated.
LOOKING BACK AT SPRING’S STYLE VISION
HOW DID I DO WITH MY STYLE VISION?
I loved it. I definitely learned that the more strongly I narrowed in and focused on my vision the more success and happiness I had with my wardrobe. I found great liberation and peace in accepting my style. This reminds me of another post I wrote here about a Facebook Group Member who had concerns that she had become too settled with her style and was becoming too pigeonholed with her looks, to which I argued, “what’s wrong with that?” Settling on your style does not mean a daily dose of exactly the same thing every single day. There is actually a lot of wiggle room, play, and evolution within the parameters of your style.
Another thing to know is, that narrowing in on style doesn’t mean it just shows up and taps you on the shoulder. It takes a certain amount of self-approval, guts, and vulnerability to commit to who you know yourself to be, and then choosing to let your clothing support that. Style means, to know yourself and, most importantly, not be afraid to show it.
What I have learned over the past year of really drilling down with my style and getting rid of the extraneous is that in the big sea of fashion choices, the more curated I have gotten the better I have also gotten to know myself. It’s interesting how as you develop one you naturally just develop the other. Know yourself, know your style, or know your style, know yourself.
NO REGRETS, NO MISTAKES, JUST EVOLUTION
As I move into fall, I am doing it without any regrets or mistakes, but definitely with good intel. In my opinion, there are no wardrobe mistakes, just good information that you use moving forward. I think women are way too hard on themselves to have to create the perfect closet of clothes, and, quite frankly, this is impossible. We are ever-evolving beings and so should be our wardrobes. Unless you plan to live in suspended animation, you are going to change. While you may have a core and everlasting sense of your style, what goes into your closet to express yourself will change. Instead of seeing your wardrobe as frustratingly never settled and filled with costly mistakes, see it as a fluid work in progress because isn’t that what you are too?
As for me, I learned that I really hate looking sloppy and don’t feel good in clothing that is too relaxed. At the same time, however, I don’t like being too neat or perfect looking, and I think this is why the Italian word for studied carelessness. sprezzatura, speaks to me so strongly. Last week, for example, I threw on my slim straight-leg jeans, my Elsa loafers from M.Gemi, and my Frank & Eileen Joedy shirt. This outfit felt like I was putting on a second skin, but what was most comfortable for me was the fact that when I put on my Joedy shirt, it was a bit wrinkled and I tucked in carelessly, unbuttoned low, the sleeves rolled, and the collar popped. I looked had just thrown it on while running out the door.
At the same time, if I put on a pair of pants that have an elastic waist, meant to look like pants but wear like joggers, I feel like I’m one step above wearing pajamas, and a few times throughout the summer, I opted for a pair of fly-front khakis over wearing elastic-waist pants because I felt more like me wearing actual pants. So, as I like there to be some easy carelessness in my looks, I still prefer them to be sharp, tailored, and more elevated looking. I didn’t enjoy my elastic waist pants as much as I thought I would this summer. Am I beating myself with regret over this? No. I’m using this as good intel.
I also learned that I love collared shirts which was more of a pleasant surprise. I gathered intel that popover tops don’t belong in my wardrobe but I learned I love collared shirts. This was a new one for me and quite a surprise because I had all but given up on them due to my chest size. However, once I found some for my body, I found my home. Now I want them or my J. Crew Vintage tees if I am not wearing sweaters.
LEARNING TO TRUST YOUR GUT
So the question begging to be asked is, how do you find your way to this point? You don’t have to be an expert to learn these nuances. You learn them by gut feeling. If you pay attention to your own reactions to what you are wearing you start to quickly learn what you react to most strongly, good and bad. I began to learn the difference in how I carried myself and started to notice the difference in how I interacted with my day. I became aware of how connected I felt, how much like myself I felt, and if I felt justification or exposition was required when interacting with people, or if I felt my clothing did a good enough job of expressing what I wanted to communicate on its own and without me needing to say anything. If you don’t feel good about what you are wearing, change it. If you feel sloppy, unmotivated, depressed, or apathetic, consider that your clothes could be part of the problem. I’m not saying it’s the cure for serious depression by any stretch, but general blasé or a lack of motivation or a general sense of feeling off will never be helped by sitting around in clothes that demotivate you or feel like you wearing clothing that belongs to a stranger. The second I started adjusting what I wore in my life to reflect what made me happiest, I felt like me.
MY WARDROBE PLAN FOR FALL
So of course, I am continuing on with my plan. If my clothing has the power to make me feel whole and connected to my life, then it’s worth the investment of my time to be mindful of what I put in my closet. I have a lot of great things already but I’m also looking at my wardrobe and wondering, “what the heck did I wear last year?” How does this happen to so many of us when we break out our clothes from the previous season? I have taken an overview of what I do own, looking at my life and planning the holes that I see currently. I am opening up this process to you.
My inspiration will continue on as same. I took some photos from my board last year and added some new fall-friendly images. They all have that same effortless tailored look that pairs hard pieces with IDGAF. I love denim, I live in denim unless I have to wear something else. These looks also resonate with how I am in general, which can be very specific and particular about what I wear when I wear it. I like what I wear to be easy but not fussy. I like nice things, like luxury, and well-made clothes, and I appreciate fine design. I build my wardrobe with classic pieces, clean lines, neutrals, and very few colors. But I do like the random splash of color, the dash of playful and offbeat irreverence, and while I prefer a stronger, bolder, more badass look, and you will never find a frill, a flounce, or a ruffle anywhere near my body, I also don’t take myself or life completely seriously.
An Overview of My Current Wardrobe
This is what my wardrobe for fall looks like currently all laid out by color. I like laying out wardrobes this way. We also do it for clients when we inventory their wardrobes. It helps to see the color direction. Mine didn’t surprise me in the least because I keep a pretty tight color palette. If your reaction was, “that’s a lot of shoes and not a lot of clothes,” I had the same reaction too, despite it not surprising me. Despite the fact that a variety of shoes and accessories provides versatility to basics in wardrobes, this is not to say I don’t have some things I need to add. Below I am breaking down what I own by classification and indicating what I own, and listing what I have purchased, plan on buying, or am looking for so you can view what I have planned so far.
WHAT THE ICONS MEAN
To make it easy, I put these icons over the images to indicate what each group means. Items that are grouped with the closet mean I own them. The items grouped with the check mark mean they have been purchased. Items beneath the checklist mean I have chosen them but haven’t ordered yet, and the items with the magnifying glass mean they represent examples of what I am looking for.
Let’s start with shoes because I think it’s pretty evident from my wardrobe layout I really don’t need any. Unless you are new to reading my blog, you know I went deep with M.Gemi all spring and now consider myself set on most of my shoes as a result. I get tempted to buy more M.Gemis sometimes but have reached the point where nothing is really a pressing need. I think about adding a third pair of M.Gemi Sacca Donna loafers in Luggage because those loafers feel like I am wearing shoes made of napping kittens, and it’s hard to resist the Lizza Nuova sandals because I love my navy pair and I don’t know if these are coming back. I love the Gia flats in Biscuit and I’ve had the Gianna oxfords in my cart more than once. But then I remind myself that once it gets cold I basically live in boots, that I have other things I need to spend my money on, and I have my almond-colored Edetta loafers that will work just fine in lieu of the biscuit Gias.
For winter, Aquatalia is my ride-or-die, so it was time to assess that situation for fall. Even though I do spend on my shoes, I still buy this brand on Poshmark because Aquatalia is still out of reach if I want this many pairs and the deals are far too great to pass up on Posh. This season, I decided to let go of three Aquatalia boots and replace them. I am passing two of them to my assistant Rachel who, lucky for her, wears the same size as me and will get great use out of them in Colorado. The other pair was worn out. The first three on the left column are my replacement pairs. I choose my boots based on function, color, and need. All do something different in my wardrobe. If a need is covered, I don’t buy duplicates.
The rest of my shoes are pretty self-explanatory. I pulled my magenta driving loafers due to brightness and the time of year, but they are still lovingly tucked away in my closet.
Being the jeans girl that I am with few places to go and people to see, I don’t have a lot of pants but I did find myself caught off guard a few times when I needed some. I had sized out of a pair of navy Akris Punto Franca pants from The RealReal that were too big and I hadn’t replaced in a smaller size, so I finally got a new pair in navy and also picked up a few other pairs of Akris Punto pants on The RealReal. Akris Punto pants in a 10 just usually fit me across the board, so I typically jump on The RealReal, see what they have going on and I’m done, which is how I came to own some more of their pants for fall. I was super bummed when I bought a great pair of their belted relaxed grey trousers that The RealReal mislabeled a 14 and I had to return. I am still on the hunt for a similar style and am eyeing something like that or like Vince’s style that they did in grey wool that they did a few seasons ago. But, I’m not hunting them down like a mad woman because my need for tailored pants is minimal and I’ll probably live my life just fine without them. I’m more drawn to the look than the need.
Jeans, even though I wear jeans practically daily, I still go for J.Crew’s jeans. They just fit. I could think about looking elsewhere but it becomes a matter of bandwidth. I spend enough time trying to nail down the right jeans shape for enough clients. I don’t have the mental capacity to do it for myself when I know what works. My favorite find for myself was their curvy slim straight jeans this season. If they told me I was their fit model and they used me while I was in a coma I’d be inclined to believe them. That’s how well they fit.
Other than that, I have an old pair of Theory cropped pleated pants in burgundy that I still love and a pair of Everlane’s dream pants that I like but only wear when I feel the urge to be super casual.
If you take into account my style, I should have eleventy-billion blazers in my wardrobe. If you look at my life, having the styles I have, plus what I am buying/planning on buying, the number is more accurate. This is what I love/loathe about where I live: the window for blazer wearing is way too short. The issue is, once it gets cold, what is the plan? Wearing them under a coat? Really? Maybe if I am going to an office, but otherwise?
The reality is that most people aren’t putting a blazer on underneath a coat on most days. And even if I am layering a blazer under a coat and going somewhere, how often am I doing that and where am I going? So, essentially, how many do I need? When you live in the northeast, you primarily wear your blazers in the fall and the spring when the weather is such that you can wear them on their own outdoors. Thankfully, it seems to stay warmer later into the year (one in the win column for global warming <shudder> ) but once it gets cold, my blazers sort of taking a back seat until spring.
Right now, I have my navy Stella McCartney blazer which falls into the irreplaceable territory. I also have that other non-wool, inexpensive navy blazer that won’t die and is great for travel and other wrinkly things.
Wanting to add more, I had to be discerning. The lady on my inspiration board wearing the orange coat, got me stuck on bright safety orange as an accent, and my love for splashes of color, had me swooning over this Rag & Bone blazer that I just ordered resale. It has a bright orange flannel under-collar and thoughtful seaming. I am also in the middle of contemplating a resale camel hair Max Mara blazer as well. As much as I love a good blazer, I think I’m good after securing these.
Well, welcome to weird-land, where there are tons of stripes, a lot of navy and white, one rando Vince camel silk top, and a Tuxe body suit that never gets worn and will probably get ditched. I’d agree with you if I didn’t find all this completely normal in my life. So shirts. I don’t know. Where do I start? Tops are hard, they’re not all that comfortable, they usually fit for crap, they’re fussy, and not all that good to look at. No, I don’t want a bunch of doodads, I don’t want ruffles and all the other crap. I want to be able to move and don’t want to fuss all day, thank you very much. Oh, and I’d like some sleeves, not the kind with puffs, ruffles, or whatever the heck else you’re sticking on them. I buy tops, most get pushed around in my closet.
Tops are hard.
So this is why my tops page here looks like this and for me, I don’t see anything wrong with it. And I am also in a top rebuilding season. And, also, yes, I have the short sleeve Etrille Saint James Breton and, yes, I did buy a really cute zipper back 3/4 sleeve Breton from Lafayette 148 resale last spring, and, yes, I did just buy an ecru and navy classic Minquidame long sleeve tee for fall this past weekend, and, no, I don’t see why this is an issue. Can you ever have enough classic Breton striped tops? I think not.
As far as I am looking to add: I have the Quince washable silk tee. It’s a great dumb piece in my closet and for fall I will be adding it in navy. I like that it’s a step above a t-shirt but wears like one. What I also love is my white button-down Frank & Eileen Joedy shirt. If this shirt dies, I will need to take to my bed for at least a day. So I might get a second as a back up so I have one in the wash and one in the closet. I also want more Frank & Eileen shirts. I will hunt these down on Poshmark because despite the fact that these shirts, along with my new love of wearing button-downs, bring me an insane amount of joy, I still can’t bring myself to justify the price tag, And given the amount that I want to own, dropping over $200 on them per shirt makes me dizzy.
Another thing I might add, just to add something dressy, is a long sleeve Vince top in silk. Those tops are fussy but they are beautiful.
Okay, now we’re slipping into something a bit more comfortable. Sweaters. Give me a sweater over a top any day.
I am starting in halfway decent shape but definitely have needs in this area after dealing with a few fallen soldiers and the fact that I have become increasingly more tactile sensitive. I’ve always been sensitive to things beyond just fabric itch, but merino wool and I just aren’t enjoying each other much these days. That olive turtleneck? Love him, but he’s out the door for that reason. Seems cashmere and I are going to be good friends as a result. Wool isn’t out entirely and, like most people who think they are allergic but aren’t, I’m not allergic to wool because an allergy to wool requires an allergy to lanolin, which most people don’t have. Merino gives me a serious case of the itchies and given how tactile sensitive I am, I basically want to jump out of my skin. So, Quince’s cashmere to the rescue. I have a whole bunch of styles on deck to purchase. Love their quality and their prices. I plan on buying their grey and navy cashmere turtlenecks, their short sleeve cashmere sweater in camel and ivory, their cashmere crew in grey, and their v-neck sweater in that fantastic spicy mustard.
In addition, I am loving their cotton fisherman sweater in navy and their oversized cotton cardigan in charcoal.
In addition to all these styles on deck, I do love Vince’s weekend v-neck cashmere sweater and plan on stalking Poshmark for it in their honey shade. I need to own more than one of this style because it’s divine.
We should quickly touch on dresses because I have one that I bought last year, the Margot dress from Rails. I love it, I need no more dresses. I rarely wear dresses to begin with, I’m not inclined to wear one in the winter. If I do want to wear one, I’m covered. If I need something else, I can rent it or look for something on The RealReal.
BAGS, BELTS, AND SCARVES
My bags are in fairly good shape. I’m not a terribly big bag person. I do have a thing for Tod’s handbags and have developed an obsession with Demellier bags. In fact, I was just about ready to pull the trigger on their Vancouver bag last season when M.Gemi’s semi-annual sale started and that plan went out the window. Otherwise, I would already own it. So if there is to be a new bag, it will be the Vancouver bag. I also like M.Gemi’s Rosetta crossbody. The Rosetta sits way below the Vancouver on the list of priorities and there are probably four other Demellier bags I’m dying over before I’d even get to the Rosetta, so I don’t know if she’ll make it this season. One thing I do know is I like crossbody bags.
For the love of all that IS holy. I want a navy belt. Part of the reason I didn’t get one last season was that I never had time to really look for one, but, come on, should it be that hard? Do women not wear navy bells? And a grey one? I get it, belts are leather, and leather isn’t cheap, but I bristle at the idea of spending nearly $200 for a strip of leather for my waist. At the same time, I don’t want garbage either. I don’t know, why am I finding this so difficult? I plan on getting a grey and navy belt this season and hopefully, I will make time to find them.
I have a decent amount of scarves and I like wearing them. I wore my camel cashmere scarf to death all winter. I’d like a grey one similar to my camel. I am going to look for a winter-weight Etro scarf on The RealReal that captures the colors in my wardrobe because I love Etro with every fiber of my being. I also like the idea of a modern, perhaps color-blocked, scarf for my wardrobe too, something like that one from Brunello Cuccinelli which even at resale isn’t cheap, but, holy crap, gorgeous.
Lastly coats, because I’m getting exhausted writing this and it will be spring by the time I finish this stupid post. I could use some coats. I love my camel Uniqlo coat. It’s a good coat and I have no complaints about it, but it’s a Uniqlo coat. I’d like to upgrade it one day. Given how much I lived in it, I would love to replace it with a gorgeous camel Max Mara coat, like the 101801 Icon Coat, because, yea right, I have over 4K lying around for a coat when I have an IRA to max out. I’m not against saving up for that coat and buying it. It’s an icon coat I would keep forever. I would also buy that coat or something similar and equally luxurious resale. That’s what I am looking to do next. I want to buy a gorgeous, stunning camel coat. We’ll see where this goes.
Next, I am clearly in need of some casual coats. And that lady with the orange coat in my inspirational photos. Damn her. Now all I want are splashes of safety orange in my wardrobe this fall. And I do have a strange obsession with the color neon coral. I also love bright orange paired with grey. I guess I’m doing some orange this season? Maybe I’ll buy an orange casual puffer. We’ll see where the muse takes me. To be continued.
Also, in my travels, I found this cute little lightweight chartreuse coat by Ines de la Fressange for Uniqlo that I could use and chartreuse is another color I have a hard time turning down, I can use a shorter winter coat but it probably needs to be heavier.
Well, I think this has gone on longer than War & Peace. Now I actually have to start checking off my list and see where it all takes me. I will keep you posted. In the meantime, I hope it has helped you make some wardrobe plans of your own for fall.
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I just wanted to say that these posts you’ve been doing on developing the vision for your wardrobe have been incredibly helpful!! I’ve always learned a lot from your blog, but I feel like this is helping me crystallize a sense of what I want out of my closet in a new way. It makes me wish I could afford to hire you, but maybe one day!
Hi Elizabeth, thank you so much for your supportive and thoughtful comment. I am glad it has helped you with your own wardrobe. Let me know how else these blog posts might be able to help you in the future. When the day comes that you can hire us, I very much look forward to welcoming you into the fold!!
Worth the investment of my time spent reading this. I love this deep dive into wardrobe planning. I did note several inspiration jeans pinned had raw edges instead of hems. Is that deliberate? I’m having a hard time embracing that look, but it would save time spent getting jeans properly hemmed.
I generally find NYDJ works for my curvy body, and I like the quality. I’d like to upgrade (and then donate) several pairs of pants, both navy and gray. I’ve found Ponte knit pants that make me look slimmer in both black and brown.
I have been sticking to the one in and one (at least!) out to keep my closet from exploding. I hate it when you know exactly what you need but you can’t find it.
Thank you, Patricia! I appreciate that you took the time and found it worthwhile. As far as the raw edges of the jeans go. Inspirational images are never meant to be taken completely literally. They should always be seen more as a general mood or a feeling. So, until you said something, I didn’t even notice the hems. When choosing things that inspire you, try not to get too bogged down in things like that and instead, think more of the general feeling you get when you look at them.
Thanks for clearing that point. I like the image you’re aiming for. I need to find my target inspiration also. I should probably dive into the thousands of Pinterest photos I’ve saved and see what jumps out. I’m with you on merino wool. Within a few moments, I start to itch. Fortunately there are other fibers.
What a fun read! I find that we have a similar style aesthetic, but I prefer jewel tones with my gray, navy, white, and black basics. I, too, love collared shirts. My teaching “uniform” was collared shirts, cardigans, and dress pants. And loafers—I love loafers. I guess I steered away from this look when I retired six years ago but am finally finding my way back. Why fight it if I love it and it works on my 5’ 2” apple-shaped size 12 body?
My biggest struggle is finding petite jeans that don’t slide down my body! I prefer a slim straight style, and it’s taken me 60+ years to realize that I’m long-waisted! The current high-rise jeans are too high, and since I have no waist, they slide down and feel like I’m wearing a dirty diaper on my butt. Not a good feel or look! An elastic belt helps somewhat, but I’m on the hunt for mid-rise jeans. I think a mid-rise will work better when I front tuck my shirts. Wish me luck!
I enjoy your posts and the free and inspirational info you share with us. You are appreciated, and I’m glad that your business is thriving!
Thanks so much, Barb!! Good luck with your jeans search! It can be quite an endeavor. have you tried Paige’s Cindy jeans? A client who is a bit curvier but longwaisted with shorter legs and a tummy has had great success with them. Thankfully you can still find some mid-rise jeans and there is the blessed elastic waist now that doesn’t look like a bad frumpy jean that someone wears when they have given up on life. If it is helpful too, try looking at some European brands which tend to cut straighter and narrower in the waist and hips. They don’t even have to be expensive brands. Historically, American cuts tended towards a rounder hip shape and European cuts were straighter and not so curvy. You might have some success.
Thanks for your supportive words and loyal readership!
I will take a look at the Paige Cindy jeans and some European jeans as well. Thanks for the tip! I received a pair of NYDJ Sheri Slim jeans today that I had ordered, and they have potential. I need to test them further to see if they stay up, but the rise seems right.
Try Sezane, a French brand- I have a long torso also and really like the way their jeans fit. https://www.sezane.com/us/product/eric-trousers/indigo#size-2
I LOVE this post! Thank you!
Thank you, Emily! Thanks for hanging in there with it until the end! I bet you have read books that were shorter. LOL
Love this post! Thank you for taking the time to post all the details- you give me so many ideas, and I know I will come back to it again. Your wardrobe looks beautiful. I hope you find all the things you’re looking for on resale.
Thanks so much, Shira! I just got the Rag & Bone blazer today and I was shocked by how well it fit! So a win in the column for that. Most of the Quince orders have been placed. Happy to hear you are inspired by ideas! Good luck to you as you build your wardrobe for the season!
Great post! I need to take the time to do something similar. I don’t own a lot of clothes, so everything tends to get dragged through all seasons!
Same, and if you saw how absolutely tiny my closet is, which I share with my husband, you would see why I don’t have the luxury. In fact, our closet is hardly a closet. Our apartment was built in 1912, which I occasionally remind myself was before the Titanic sank to put it in perspective, and, believe me, people from Downton Abbey did NOT live here. So my closet is something that looks pretty makeshift. I think there is a benefit though. The smaller the closet, the more it forces you to be incredibly discerning.
Sounds like you have a great plan going, Alicen! Keep up the good work!!
Great post- my wardrobe could not be more different from yours- I never wear jeans, love dresses and patterned fabrics, and my colour range is nowhere near similar… but all that said, the ideas you set out still apply. You do have to have faith in your style, know your body shape and lifestyle, and keep a strict handle on what comes in through the door. Its all about making your clothes functional and joyful.
Thank you, Susanna! Exactly. I think when someone is embracing their style authentically, even if it doesn’t resonate with who we are, we can truly appreciate it and even admire it. We even aspire to be like them in our own way. I’ve been incredibly inspired by the styles of others, not because I’ve wanted to dress exactly like them but because I’ve wanted that level of freedom, liberation, and confidence with my own clothes. I am grateful to have gotten to a point where I feel that way with my own wardrobe. I am happy to hear this is the case for you.
I forgot to say I was also thrilled with your comment about merino, I just can’t wear it, it’s so irritating. I thought it was just me being a sensitive little flower- now I can just quietly avoid it and not feel bad!