Style Lessons 2016: What I Learned From Studying My Wardrobe For One Year


Lessons learned, during and after a capsule wardrobe

During the months of November and December, I got a little carried away with buying stuff. Namely, clothes.

The way I define too much shopping, may be different from the way many would define it, but it felt like too much for me. Like I’d done something wrong. I felt guilty. I returned things.

I also started evaluating my current wardrobe during this time. I’d just given up capsule wardrobes, and was free to have whatever I wanted in my closet. Then, I noticed something I didn’t like.

There were several pieces that were a little more expensive, from a favorite brand, that I just wasn’t wearing. For a few different reasons, there were items in my closet that I had invested in that I didn’t want to wear. That got me thinking about all the purchases I’ve made throughout the year. The conclusion I reached wasn’t pretty:

Most of the money I spent on clothes this year was wasted.

Many of the items I purchased ended up donated, sold, or sitting in my closet unworn. The truth is, I still haven’t perfectly identified what my personal style is, and I haven’t totally figured out what I truly want to wear. Unfortunately, I thought I had it figured out. I thought that buying items from brands I loved, that were cool, that looked great on everyone else, would work.

It didn’t.

What really happened is that I accumulated items that fit a certain image, but didn’t totally fit my lifestyle. I was forcing items to work, when they really didn’t. In the process, though, by figuring out what doesn’t work, I can continue to focus on what does work. I want to share a few of these style lessons I learned to show that it’s okay to still be on the journey of figuring out what works, and what doesn’t.

Style Lessons

  1. Find the right fit. Aside from a cozy flannel and a couple chambray shirts, most button-ups just don’t work for me. I have a small build, but my chest a little larger than most my size. So, I get that dreaded boob gap. I have visions of cool layering, but in reality, I’m uncomfortable and feel confined when I do layer. In general, I’d like to pay more attention to fit. The biggest culprits are tops that are too tight around the chest and long sleeves that are too short.
  2. Low maintenance is key. I purchased three silk pieces this year, and I rarely wear them. The first is a blush sleeveless Everlane blouse. I love it, but the armpit area was the victim of sweat, I was constantly checking for boob gap, and I found it to be quite a bit of work to keep the shirt clean. Then, within a week of buying my favorite silk square shirt, I dropped a pen and got an ink stain on it, that I’ve never been able to remove.  That one teeny tiny dot by the hem keeps me from wearing it. A green silk skirt got a few stubborn grease stains. Lesson learned: I’m not quite ready for the high maintenance of silk.
  3. I need to really identify my style before making big purchases. I thought I had it all figured out. When I started capsules, it was to be more minimal. Then, the capsule lifestyle led me to ethical/sustainable fashion, and I was focusing on that. Of course, I was also blogging about all of it, and wanted to fit the mold of ethical/minimal style blogger. All of this culminated with a wardrobe that wasn’t really all that cohesive, that still didn’t feel 100% “me”, and a lot of money wasted on clothes not worn enough. I need to focus on more affordable options until I feel more comfortable with my style.

I don’t want to make it sound like I failed this year, or that I hate my wardrobe. To the contrary, I feel like these lessons learned were so worth it. Mistakes often lead to the most important breakthroughs. I also discovered what I do like: fitted pants with stretch, long cozy sweaters, and flowy (not boxy!) tops. For now, I’ll be stepping back and prioritizing a little bit better, and will keep these lessons in mind when I’m shopping in the future.


  • Try raw silk like Jamie + The Jones, it’s so low maintenance. Anti-microbial naturally so can take a couple of wears and once it’s dirty it can be machine washed. I also wash some of my regular silk in delicate bags, but it can be risky.

  • I’m not ready for silk either, but that’s partially because I don’t have a washer and dryer at home so it’s too much fuss. Maybe one day.

    • I’ve hand washed and machine washed, but what’s tough is the stains. I should take them to a dry cleaner but don’t want to pay. I’ll stick with cotton for now :)

  • I also hardly ever wear silk! I have just one tank and I’ve only worn it once or twice. But I LOOOOVE the raw silk from J+J.

    You are so brave to admit your true feelings to yourself and us. It’s very wise of you, and I appreciate your transparency. Excited to see what you learn in 2017.

    • Two J + J silk recommendations – I’ll have to try them out in a couple months (when I’m done with my thrifting challenge!) I get so nervous about my Everlane silk that I just don’t wear it, which is a shame.

      Thanks for your kind comment, Andrea! I’m looking forward to 2017 too :)

  • Kate

    Late to the game here but my biggest concern/problem with silk (or any fabric really) is grease stains (I can’t be the only one that has trouble with salads flinging dressing at me!). I’ve learned that 99% of the time I’m able to get these out by using baby powder or corn starch – dab up as much as possible, don’t wash or use water, and then just cover with a layer of powder and let sit, ideally overnight. The powder absorbs the oil from the fabric and then you can wash as usual!