2021 fashion shopping review

LogoAs I’ve done for the past few years, I once again kept a list of all the clothes, footwear, and accessories that I bought over the past year so that I could analyze my shopping habits and establish goals for next year. I started doing this because I wanted to be more intentional about wardrobe development and because I wanted to focus on becoming a more ethical shopper. Hopefully, I’ve made progress in both these areas.

Let’s begin by looking at my fashion shopping goals for 2021 and see how I did.

  • I will continue tracking my purchases for at least one more year so that I can review and evaluate my shopping habits again a year from now. Done!
  • I will continue to buy things that I need and items I love that work well with what I already have. Mostly successful. Two items have already been returned to the thrift store though. After wearing one of them a couple of times, I realized that I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. The other, a pair of sandals, ended up being quite uncomfortable when worn for more than a few minutes. 
  • I will continue to experiment with new ways to wear what I already have. Done!
  • When considering a purchase that was made in China, I will attempt to find a suitable alternative made elsewhere. Fairly successful. Only three of the fourteen new items that I bought this year were made in China. Read more about why I’ve made this a personal goal here and here.   
  • When adding to my closet, I will consider five adjectives that begin with C… classy, confident, comfortable, casual, and creative. While I don’t consciously think about these adjectives as often as I used to, purchasing and wearing clothes that say these things about me has become habit.  
  • I will continue to write a Fashion Friday post each week. Done!  

With the pandemic continuing throughout the past year, shopping trips were few and far between. That, combined with the fact that I live in a rural town with a population of just over 800 people and no clothing or shoe stores, made it very easy to limit my 2021 purchases. Let’s take a look at a few stats.

  • I bought a total of 28 items
    • 18 garments
    • 6 accessories
    • 4 pairs of footwear (shoes, boots, and sandals)
  • 14 items were thrifted and 14 purchased new
  • I paid full price for only 4 items
  • I spent a total of $582.38 CAD or an average of $48.53 a month
  • The most expensive item that I purchased was a pair of Asics running shoes that I paid full price for ($159.99)

The six goals from last year, mostly unchanged from the year before, will continue to guide my fashion shopping for 2022, but I’m adding two more.

  • I will strive to add more colour to my wardrobe.
  • I will be more selective and intentional about the thrifted items that I buy. A bargain is only a bargain if it’s something that you’re actually going to wear!

And now a few of my favourite fashion purchases of 2021. They’ve all appeared on the blog before.

Uniqlo denim shirt

The Uniqlo denim shirt, purchased last spring, quickly became a workhorse in my wardrobe and was one of the six items that I wore exclusively for an entire month earlier this winter.

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The Cabella’s utility jacket that I bought at a garage sale was one of my best second-hand purchases this year.

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I stepped a bit outside my fashion comfort zone with this thrifted outfit, but both the dress and the boots have become favourites.

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And finally, the gentlewoman blazer that I purchased earlier in December. Judging by the number of you who checked the link when it first appeared on the blog, I wasn’t the only one who loved it. Now it’s on sale for a fraction of what I paid for it!

And finally, with just a few hours left in 2021, I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year! Hopefully 2022 will be a better year for all of us.

All dressed up and nowhere to go

Prior to the pandemic, this was the time of year when I shared the outfits that I wore to various Christmas events. Now, for the second year in a row, there have been no such events to attend. No parties, no dances, no reasons to dress up! 

As I mentioned last week, I’m not a girly girl, but I do like to dress up once in awhile. On a recent visit to our local thrift store, I even bought a skirt. It seemed a bit daft considering the fact that I’ve nowhere to wear it these days, but I loved the richly patterned fabric and at $2.50, what did I have to lose? 

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We haven’t attended church in months, opting to participate online instead because there have been numerous cases of Covid amongst the congregants and we’re aware of several who are not vaccinated. In spite of the fact that we were only going as far as the living room couch to worship, I decided to wear my new skirt last Sunday. 

No, I don’t usually wear boots in the house, but for the photos, I tried the skirt with a couple of different pairs. I think I prefer it with the tall pair, but both would work. The skirt has a wide elastic waistband which makes it super comfortable and I wore it over leggings for warmth on a cold winter day. I also wore a shirt and sweater that pick up colours from the skirt. Both are from previous seasons of cabi and have been shown on the blog before. 

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I have no idea how old the skirt is, but I suspect that it might be a vintage piece. I have three reasons for thinking so. 

  1. The only evidence of the brand that I can find online is other vintage pieces being offered for sale. 
  2. It was made in the USA. While a limited amount of clothing is still made in North America, the garment industry began moving production to Asia in the 1960s and most of what has been bought more recently was made there. 
  3. While the paisley pattern made a brief comeback in the early 2000s, it had it’s heyday in the mid to late 1960s. 

And now, a very Merry Christmas to all my readers! I’ll be back next week with my annual fashion shopping review. 

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Gentlewoman blazer

As a child, I was a tomboy. I was happiest climbing a tree or playing barefoot on the beach. Pink and frilly were never my style. Now, six decades later, I still prefer blue jeans and flat shoes over more feminine garb.

In her book, Style Forever: the grownup guide to looking fabulous, blogger and freelance journalist, Alyson Walsh, calls the boy-meets-girl, menswear inspired look Gentlewoman Style. Katharine Hepburn and Diane Keaton immediately come to mind.

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Last weekend, while hubby finished the last bit of his Christmas shopping, I enjoyed an hour simply browsing in the mall. That’s when I found my perfect gentlewoman blazer. At first, I hesitated to buy it because we’re still not going out much and I wondered where I’d actually wear it. After pondering for a bit though, I went back and bought it and I’m very glad I did. I’ve already worn it twice!

Casual, yet sophisticated, the open, tunic length blazer can easily be dressed up or down. Here, I’m wearing it with a column of navy made up of dark wash jeans and a silky blouse. Since I was about to go out and we have lots of snow, I’m also wearing my tall brown boots.

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The timeless houndstooth pattern means that this is an item that will likely continue to be part of my wardrobe for a long time without looking dated. It’s easy to layer and very versatile, so I look forward to trying it with many other pieces from my closet.

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I added a feminine touch with dainty gold jewelry. I’ve had the necklace since the early 1970s and, until recently, hadn’t worn it for a very long time. I’ve also had the earrings for twenty years or more!

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While the blazer might be too long on a petite person, I’m 5’8″ and I love the length. The ultra soft knit fabric has plenty of stretch making it very comfortable and I like the oversized pockets. The jacket is unlined, so it’s not too heavy or too hot and the ultra soft knit fabric is machine washable. Made in Bangladesh, it definitely ticks all the boxes for me and it’s even on sale this week!

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What to do with worn out clothes

LogoAfter a full month of wearing only six items from my closet, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting dressed this week! In fact, I’ve worn something different every single day!

As promised last week, I also went through my closet, tried on a lot of things, and put aside a few to be donated. I usually do this twice a year when I switch my closet from summer to winter and then back again in the spring, but after a month of not missing some of the items in my closet I knew that a few more could probably be moved out.

This exercise led me to think about the different things that can be done with clothing that we no longer want or need. Often, the obvious answer is to donate them or consign them so that they can be enjoyed by someone else, but what about those items, including sheets and towels, that are too worn out to be donated?

A conservative estimate is that clothing and textiles make up 5 to 7% of what occupies landfills globally. Many believe that this figure is closer to 12%. The average American citizen reportedly throws away 70 pounds (31.75 kg) of clothing and other textiles each year. The figures are probably similar in other first world countries. I’ve never weighed my wardrobe, but 70 pounds of clothing sounds like an awful lot to me! What can we do to keep this fabric waste out of the landfill?

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Cut them up to use for cleaning rags. Towels and sweatshirts are particularly good for this purpose.
  2. Some thrift stores do accept worn out fabric that can be cut up and sold as industrial rags.
  3. Take advantage of the H&M Garment Collecting programme. Simply bag any unwanted clothes or textiles, by any brand, and in any condition, then take them into an H&M store and hand them to a cashier. In return, you will receive a thank you voucher to use toward a purchase. Anything that is still wearable will be sold second-hand. Textiles that are no longer suitable to be worn will be turned into other products and those that can’t be used in any other way will be shredded into textile fibres that are often used as insulating material. Several other brands including The North Face, Zara, Patagonia, Levi’s, and Uniqlo have similar programs. 
  4. Check with a local animal shelter. Many will take old towels, sheets, and other soft or fuzzy fabrics to use for bedding.
  5. Compost natural fibres. Remove attachments such as buttons and zippers, then shred the fabric finely and add it to your compost alongside fresher, wetter material such as vegetable peelings or garden cuttings to help it break down faster. Find more information about how to to this properly here.
  6. Purchase an unstuffed pouf style hassock such as the one pictured below and fill it with old bedsheets, towels, and clothing. Again, remove any attachments like buttons and zippers that might poke through the cover. If you’re like me, it might take half a lifetime to fill a hassock, but you can do the same thing on a smaller scale by filling  an unstuffed throw cushion.

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Unstuffed pouf from Amazon.ca

Do you have any ideas to add to this list? What do you do with old, worn out clothing?

One more day and what have I learned?

LogoTomorrow is the final day of my “six items or less” fashion fast! It went by faster than I thought it would and now it’s time to share what I learned. Again, let’s take a quick look at the two pairs of pants, three tops, and one cardigan that I’ve been wearing for the past month. 

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The first thing I learned was that we don’t need as much as we think we do. Dressing in just six items for an entire month was much easier than I thought it would be. In fact, not having a lot of clothes to choose from every morning was quite liberating. It took the work out of having to decide what to wear each day. 

Apparently Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein understood this concept. Jobs wore the same black turtleneck, blue jeans, and New Balance sneakers every day. I hope he had duplicates of the turtleneck and the jeans or they would have become awfully smelly! Einstein was known for owning several variations on the same grey suit so that he wouldn’t have to waste time deciding which outfit to wear each morning. Both men understood that they had a finite amount of brainpower for making well thought out decisions and intentionally determined not to waste it on deciding what to wear!

Secondly, I learned to be more creative. Even though I wasn’t going out a lot and being seen by other people, wearing the same six items day in, day out did get boring. As the month wore on, I started to look for ways to use accessories to make little changes to my outfits. Instead of wearing the same few pairs of earrings over and over again as I usually tend to do, I brought out some that hadn’t been worn for years. Some days I wore funky patterned socks instead of plain ones and at least half a dozen scarves came out to play. Here’s one of my most creative looks. 

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No, I didn’t cheat! That’s not a blouse that I’m wearing under the cardigan. It’s a large, square scarf! I held it in front of myself, tied the two top corners behind my neck and the two bottom corners behind my waist, and voila! It looks like a blouse, but it isn’t.

This trick could revolutionize packing when we finally feel comfortable flying again. After managing three and a half weeks in Europe pre-pandemic with carry-on luggage only, we’re committed to traveling that way in the future. A scarf takes up hardly any space in a suitcase, but what a great addition to a limited wardrobe! 

I learned that I missed colour. My wardrobe tends to be made up mostly of neutrals and I intentionally chose a limited colour palette for this exercise so that the six items could be mixed and matched to create many different outfits, but as time went by it definitely began to feel bland. 

I also learned that I need to take a closer look at what’s in my closet and let a few things go. When I started this exercise, I thought about moving the six items to a different, empty closet so that I didn’t have to look at the clothes I wasn’t going to wear, but I’m glad I didn’t do that. As I looked into my closet each morning, I found myself yearning to wear some of what I saw, but other pieces didn’t call out to me at all. If, after a month, I didn’t miss them, do I really need them? I’m going to do another closet purge this coming week. If I didn’t miss it, I probably don’t love it, and if I don’t love it, maybe it’s time to donate it. I’ll be asking myself questions like: Do I love it? Do I wear it? Does it still fit properly? Does it go with other things I own?  

Today though, I’m just dreaming of what I’m going to wear on Sunday and Monday and…  

I’ll definitely be keeping the six items in rotation, but I probably won’t be wearing them for a little while. Except for the blue jeans, that is. Over the past month, I wore those at least twice as often as the grey skinnies. I’ve always been a blue jeans kind of girl and I don’t think that’s about to change!