Wardrobe 101

My Wardrobe Musts (2019)

Happy day, reader dear!

Are you a journaler? Or a diary keeper? Well, I’ve never been. I’ve had great intentions over the years, but consistency? Not my strong suit. The blog? That’s another story. There’s public accountability out in Weblandia. But as I reflect, the blog is a kind of journaling… Journaling of a sartorial nature. This jumped out at me last week when I linked a post from August, 2017, and realized there are some adjustments to be had! My Wardrobe Musts have shifted slightly since 2017.

So let’s take a moment today to see what still stands the test of time, what has moved on, and most importantly, WHY! Is it “fashion” that has changed my choices? Is it my lifestyle? Or my personality, AKA: my style? I strongly suspect it’s a combination of the three! The end of the year is always good for an assessment, so here we go…

2017: #1 Narrow Trouser: I’m short. No euphemisms necessary. (Although I do like “fun-size” and altitudinally-challenged.) For me the standard trouser needs to be narrow, even when I am carrying extra weight. Wearing big pants just makes me look bigger. Most other lists have a skinny jean here, but I’ll throw my denim on with #10.

2019: #1 Narrow Trouser still cuts the mustard! I haven’t grown (Surprise!), and I’m getting more comfortable with the word short. I might add that I prefer my trousers ankle length. The look is more feminine and adapts well to different heel heights. Which is one of the reasons I crop my jeans…

2017: #2 White Knit Top: I have cool coloring, so mine is soft white. I love a white top for how cool it feels in May-October. (And for the fact that I can bleach it to get out all the food I drop on myself.) A nicely fitted white tee is harder to find than it should be, and unfortunately needs replacing frequently. (It’s the Goldilocks thing, people: not too loose, not too tight; not too thick, not too thin; not too long, not too short; not too high-necked, not too low-necked.)

2019: That White Knit Top is no longer in my top 10! I would have to replace it with #2 White Woven Shirt. Without a collar. And with some shaping. The one from my Summer Capsule Wardrobe was spot on. I’ve put on a few pounds, and the cling of a knit around my bra line and love handles isn’t something I’m interested in. Give me a little flow and drape!

2017: #3 Colored Shoes: I know, everyone says you need a black pump, but unless your hair is very dark, they are not the most flattering choice. I love colored shoes, because most of my clothing is neutral.

2109: #3 Colored Shoes should move to the top of my list. As a matter of fact this is still SO on the list that I have written at least one post all about the wonder of a Colored Shoe, why I think it’s a Style Staple, and How to Wear a Colored Shoe.

2017: #4 Sparkles: I would grab my big silver hoops if evacuating. Yup. Trivial, but they always make me happy and I love how they look with #9. If not those, then a fun necklace. Most likely turquoise.

2019: No change to 4 Sparkles: This summer I fell for an even bigger pair of silver hoops, thus redefining my definition of big. Those big hoops from 2017 now just seem average. I hope they don’t feel belittled… #badpun #sorrynotsorry

2017: #5 Big-ish Tote: This one is all about scale. If you are a large scale person, your large tote will dwarf mine. My current fave is 14.5 in X 6.5 in X 10.5 in. That wouldn’t be large on someone who is 5′ 10″, but on me, it’s plenty large. Bigger than a handbag, smaller than a tote, my everyday bag. Much bigger and I look like a child carrying Mummy’s handbag.

Yes, this is a dupe.

2019: #5 Big-ish Tote: Yup! This one still makes the list, too! Not so much for style (Although the mini-bags trend is giving up the ghost for ultra-huge totes again.), but because it’s my work bag. It’s also the haul-around-stuff bag when I take my mom to her appointments. We have our own binder with her medical history that is updated with each and every medical appointment. (Mama lives with us, and I am her primary caregiver…) Part of me would love to carry a little bag, but this is a season (like when our boys were small) where a larger bag is the order of the day. NOTE: I opt for a hand-held tote. My shoulders and back appreciate it. Yours might, too!

Years old and just getting better!

2017: #6 Day Dress: Throw and go. That’s one of the reasons I love me a dress. That and the fact that in our unbearably-hot-for-6-months-of-the-year weather, a dress means less places the fabric is touching your body. No Waistband=More Coolness. Air circulation is a godsend.

2019: #6 Day Dress: For me, day dress has shifted to one particular dress. My oldest and most favoritest. (Not a word? It is now.) I may not wear this dress as often as you’d expect for it to be a must, but it’s my must for how I feel every time I put it on. Confident. Modern. Sassy. Done. I love how it dresses up or down. (My mother would be so happy to hear me say that out loud.) And it has pockets. Any questions?

2017: #7 Short Cardigan: The long boyfriend (or grandpa) cardie is too long for me. (See shortness issue in #1) I opt for short; then, it also looks better with a dress. I am still looking for one I can turn around and wear buttoned up the back…

2019: Sorry, Short Cardigan… You’ve been replaced. By #7 Short Jacket It’s not you, Cardie, it’s me. I’ve been grabbing short jackets instead of you for the extra structure and polish they give to any outfit, but especially jeans. I’ve written before about the power of a great jacket; it’s the third piece I’ve been choosing again and again.

2017: #8 Watch: Yup, again. I am old-school. Yes, this is a generational thing. Most of the under-30’s I know don’t wear a watch (unless they are medical personnel.)   I like a watch. As a matter of fact, I love my watch. It’s old, scratched, and sturdy; it has proven to be one of the best clothing/accessories purchases I have made. Thank you LLBean!

2018: #8 Watch:  No change here! My trusty old watch is still ticking. Not only is it the item I own with the lowest cost per wear ever, it also qualifies as a sentimental piece because I’ve had it for so long. It has traveled the world and been a reliable companion for 20+ years.

2017: #9 Neckerchief: Anyone who knows me, knows that this is a signature for me. Maybe you prefer long scarves, or maybe a scarf would never grace your neck. I can’t explain why they make me happy, they just do. Ideally, this neckerchief would be the same color as my colored shoes!

2019: #9 Neckerchief: My scarves and neckerchiefs are still a signature style item for me. So much so, that a colleague did a double take last week at a networking event and assumed it wasn’t me because, you guessed it, no scarf. (It’s rare, but it does happen!) If you follow my Instagram, you’ll see it more often!

2017: #10 Denim Jacket: This is another signature item for me. Mine is years old, from Target. The one before that was Levi’s. Who knows from where the next one will come? It casual-izes any dress or trouser, and wards off the chill in frigid air conditioned spaces. Layered with a cardie underneath, it handles most of what qualifies for winter here in the CSRA. Other items move in and out of my wardrobe with the seasons, but the jean jacket is there 12 months of the year. Some day, heaven forfend,  I will pull it out of the washer to find it has come from togetherness. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. And a halt to all superfluous activity until a suitable replacement is found. BUT…

2019: My apologies, Jean Jacket. My trusty jean jacket, the one to which I wrote bad poetry, has taken a backseat to #10 Denim Shirt : (BTW: Did you know that August 18th is National Bad Poetry Day? We take that seriously at our house.) Maybe I should clarify. I’m not talking about any denim shirt. It’s THIS denim shirt, more like a blouse. I found it last spring when we were visiting family in Arizona, and it has gone from my back into the wash and right back on again. I wear it at least weekly, often more, and it has taken me through spring and summer, right into fall. I layer it over dresses and it feels like an artist’s smock. I love its swing over narrow trousers and shorts. I will weep when it finally comes from togetherness, as I know it will someday. But I’d rather wear it to death than have my closet wear it!

NOTE: Before anyone gets their knickers in a knot about the fact that there are no jeans here… My denim devotion goes to my Levi’s 501’s. I could rhapsodize about them. (It may be time for their own ode…) Unfortunately, they are a 6-8 month a year item in our climate. I wait (impatiently) for the weather to cool enough for me to wear them in the fall, and I snivel and pout when spring’s temperatures make it uncomfortable to continue wearing them. I find a more lightweight pair to tide me over for the hotter months, but they’re never the same. They always fall short. And I feel badly for them, because it’s not their fault. My heart belongs to my 501’s. Button fly. No stretch. Old school. The real deal.

How did I decide on my Must-Haves? A browse through this year’s selfies helped, but the 10X10 Challenge that I did at the beginning of the month solidified much of this list. If I couldn’t get through 10 Days without it, it needed serious consideration! Thinking it through, those pieces are likely to form the backbone of my Winter Capsule Wardrobe! (Sorry, no Winter Capsule link yet… Unless you are interested in last year’s.)

So how about you? What would YOUR 10 Wardrobe Must-Have’s include? Would any of yours be the same as mine above? Would any of mine be on your Wardrobe Nevers list? Do let me know in the comments below! I love to hear from you…

Stylishly yours,


  • Lise

    So interesting. My similar wardrobe musts are my hoop earrings, a denim jacket (not a denim shirt), boyfriend jeans, and one particular dress that can be dressed up or down that I have had for 20 years and still always feels just right when I wear it. A newish staple to me is a pair of camo pants that I thrifted. They are made in Italy from organic cotton and are so comfortable and never crease and retain their shape no matter what. They have been glued to me this spring and now this autumn (so much that my hubby commented :)). I have to retire them as of today until next spring as it is finally getting colder here in my area of the Black Sea and only thick jeans will suffice from tomorrow.

    • closetplayadmin

      Interesting! Your camo pants sound like an amazing find. I’d challenge you to revisit your list again next year to see how you may have changed and grown!

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