Most people around the world switch out their wardrobes a few times each year as the seasons change. In many instances, this involves moving items from one closet to another or packing and unpacking pieces from boxes or suitcases. Even those of us who live in temperate climates generally have some sort of wardrobe transition as the weather shifts to either cooler or warmer.
Believe it or not, summer is only now coming to an end where I live. The warm weather typically arrives quite late – usually in mid-July – and sticks around until early to mid-November. Thus, I’m only now transitioning into my cooler weather clothing. However, I’m doing things are bit differently as I make the change this time.
For one, I no longer have to pack any items away, as my entire wardrobe now fits quite comfortably in my closet. This is great, as it will now be easier for me to seize the opportunity to wear summer clothing when unseasonably warm days come around. But I will plan to move things around a bit and shift my cooler weather garments to a more front and center position for easier access.
The Process and the Steps
But the main difference this year is that I’m doing an end of season wardrobe analysis. And since I believe this process can be useful for pretty much everyone, I’ve decided to share it here on the blog. I realize that many of you have been dressing in cool weather clothing now for weeks or even months (and those in the southern hemisphere have recently shifted into spring), so you probably won’t be doing your summer wardrobe analysis along with me. However, you’ll likely face another weather-based closet shift before too long, so you can use my process at that time if you find it helpful.
The following are the steps I’ve included in my end of season wardrobe analysis:
- Identify favorites
- Outline replacement needs
- Highlight seasonal wardrobe gaps
I’ll walk through each of these steps one by one below and include photos wherever possible to illustrate my points.
Step One – Identify Favorites
The first step in my end of summer wardrobe analysis involves identifying favorite items. To do this, I looked at all of my warm weather pieces and considered what I loved wearing the most over the past four months or so. This was relatively easy to do, as I’ve been keeping an outfit journal since July and have a firm grasp on what I’ve most enjoyed wearing and why. I separated my favorites out into categories (tops, toppers, skirts/dresses, and shoes) and will share them below. Many of them will be familiar to you, as a lot were featured in my recent favorite outfits post.
Notice that I did not simply identify which items received the most wear this summer season. This may seem peculiar to you, as many of you know that I track how often I wear the pieces in my closet and have been doing so since the beginning of 2011. While this process has really increased my awareness about wear frequency and true wardrobe needs, it doesn’t necessarily tell me what my closet favorites are. Why not, you might ask. Well, sometimes we wear pieces because they fill a defined wardrobe need, but we may not actually love – or even particularly like – those items.
An example may be helpful here. I have a black skirt that has been in my closet for over six years. For most of that time, it has been a definite favorite of mine. Although the skirt still received a lot of wear this year, I found that I didn’t love it nearly as much as I had in the past. It fulfilled my need for a casual black skirt, which is why I wore it, but I now prefer a shorter and narrower silhouette. Thus, I don’t consider it one of my favorite summer items. In fact, I have included it on the “items to replace” list which I will describe below.
Favorites by Category
Here is a look at my favorite clothing items and shoes from this past summer (I didn’t include accessories in the mix, but you can certainly do so and I likely will in the future).
I’ll start with my favorite toppers, a wardrobe category that didn’t see nearly as much wear this year as usual. We had the hottest summer that I can remember and even “weather wimp” me didn’t need to wear a jacket or sweater most days. However, I did enjoy wearing my two new moto jackets, as well as some of my longtime staple items from years past. As you can see, most of these toppers are neutral toned and three include prints (stripes and leopard print). Yet I also loved wearing my two bright knit blazers (coral and deep orange) throughout the summer.
In regards to tops, all of my favorites were sleeveless and most were solid colored and jewel-toned. Many of these garments included some type of embellishment, but I loved the tops in spite of this feature rather than because of it. In fact, I’m moving away from embellished clothing in favor of plainer pieces, as the latter are more versatile and a better fit for my evolving style (which is fairly minimalist in nature). There are only two prints in the mix, but they were both worn frequently and are new favorites this year (although they have been in my closet for a while).
The Skirts and Dresses
This year, my preference shifted from skirts to dresses and I found myself wearing the latter far more often than in past summers. I also embraced the maxi silhouette for the first time since it arrived on the scene approximately five years ago. Black and blue were the primary colors among my favorites, but my red and black striped skirt was worn frequently as well. Asymmetrical shapes are also a new love of mine, as you can see with one of the dresses and two of the skirts shown below. Many of the skirts I loved dearly in the past no longer hold my favor, as my style aesthetic is shifting away from the fuller silhouette that I embraced for years.
Lastly, let’s take a look at my favorite shoes during the summer season. The shoes I most enjoyed wearing all had very low and/or wedge heels. I shied away from the higher heels I wore a lot in previous summers for two reasons. I wanted to be more comfortable and better able to walk for longer periods of time. Plus, I was endeavoring to tone down the “church vibe” that had me looking too dressy in my outfits. Part of why I jumped on the maxi skirt and dress train was because this silhouette looks great with flat shoes. I loved being able to feel comfortable and look stylish at the same time!
Step Two – Outline Replacement Needs
After I identified my favorite summer pieces, I took some time to outline which items in my wardrobe need to be replaced before next summer rolls around. I started by looking at my favorites and noticed that some of them are starting to wear out. As a longtime shopaholic with a jam-packed closet, I rarely had to replace my wardrobe items. Most of them just weren’t being worn enough to necessitate replacement! Of course, I still bought a lot of new things, but that was more to satisfy my emotional needs than true closet requirements.
My biggest replacement need is in relation to tops, as many of my tank tops have been in my closet for years and are seeing signs of wear. This is especially true of my black, blue, white, and green tanks. My purple, red, and teal tanks are less weathered and are thus a lower priority for replacement. However, since I’m moving away from “girly” details such as lace and ruffles, I would like to snap up plain summer tops in those hues if I can find them.
Also becoming worn out are my black tie cardigan and denim blazer. Unfortunately, these are not easy items to find. Most of the denim jackets I see are boxy, and tie-waist cardigans are not on the cutting edge of fashion at the moment. But since these are pieces that I love and wear often, I am willing to be patient and take my time to find the right replacement options. In the meantime, I will continue to wear the items I have, as they are still in fairly good condition.
Earlier in this post, I shared my feelings about my casual black skirt. My hope is that I’ll be able to find a shorter and straighter option that is still in the casual category. I see a lot of business-appropriate pencil skirts out there, but that’s not what I’m looking for. I definitely want a skirt that skews casual and that will look nice worn with tank tops and sandals. Hopefully that won’t be too difficult to find once the summer clothing arrives on the scene next spring.
Finally, I hope to replace my mid-heeled black and metallic sandals. The black sandals are still in decent condition, but I don’t love the way they look. I would prefer a more modern style that is less “heavy” looking. I don’t want my shoes to be the main focus of my outfit, but I fear that the eye goes right to my current sandals when I’m wearing them. As for the silver sandals, they are a bit too bright and “blingy,” plus they are well past their prime. I will be on the lookout for replacements for both shoes come spring as well.
Step Three – Highlight Seasonal Wardrobe Gaps
The last step in my end of season wardrobe analysis is to highlight any wardrobe gaps I noticed while writing in my outfit journal. In some instances, I didn’t love a particular ensemble because I felt I was lacking an item that would have pulled the look together. In other cases, I kept wishing I had a certain garment or accessory that would have extended my wardrobe options.
This is the part of the process that recovering shopaholics need to be most cautious about. It is easy to get swept up in thinking we need new items when some of those desires may instead be fleeting wants spurred on by retailer advertising and the blogosphere. One way to get around this potential problem is to identify how you would wear the items in question. It’s helpful to list out at least three outfit options in which the new piece would be featured. If a wanted item would necessitate additional shopping in order to make it work for you, it probably doesn’t belong on your seasonal wardrobe gap list.
I tried to keep my summer wardrobe gap list short, especially since my replacement item list is fairly lengthy. I don’t want to buy too many new items, as I want to continue to shop less and less each year. I made significant progress with this goal last year and plan to end this year having purchased approximately 30% fewer items than I bought in 2013. If I want to continue this trajectory next year, I need to keep my shopping list tight and well-informed.
That said, here are what I see as my wardrobe gaps for summer 2015. Some of these items are more wants than true needs, but I can definitely see myself wearing each piece frequently during the warm weather months.
- Bright colored knee-length straight skirt (perhaps blue, green, purple, or burgundy)
- Bright colored casual knit jacket (perhaps moto-style or in a new trend that I like)
- Another pair of bright colored sandals (maybe purple or burgundy)
- One to two short-sleeved tops to wear with skirts (for more variety, as I mostly have tank tops at this point)
- Bright colored dress (not blue, perhaps in an asymmetrical silhouette)
- Bright colored tie-waist cardigan (I wear my black one a lot and know I would wear a bright one often with my neutral-toned skirts and dresses)
Preparing for Next Summer
Now that I’ve completed my summer wardrobe analysis, I’ll be prepared to shop when the warm weather clothing arrives in the stores this coming spring. Often, the best selection is available long before the weather shifts and well in advance of when most people think about buying and wearing clothing for that season. I wish the retail calendar followed the actual seasons more closely, but we have to work with what we’re given. If we have difficult to find items on our lists, it will be to our advantage to shop when the selection is largest.
I have resisted buying off-season for a number of years. I’ve long been an advocate of buying things that we will wear right away, but this practice hasn’t always met my needs. It’s worked fine for easy to find wardrobe pieces, but I’ve struggled to find what I need in other wardrobe categories, such as pants and skirts. That’s a big reason why those areas of my wardrobe are less modern and more worn out. I didn’t shop when the selection was highest and suffered as a result.
Now that I have a stronger sense of my style, I think it’s less risky to shop a few months in advance of when I’ll actually need the new items. Also, I’m not shopping end-of-season for things I’ll need almost a year later. I still feel that type of shopping is far too dicey, as many more life and body changes can occur over the course of eight to nine months rather than just two or three. I’m willing to take some chances if the potential reward outweighs the risk involved and I feel that’s the case with shopping when the new season pieces come out.
There’s a Plan in Place
So I have a plan in place and I intend to review it as soon as the summer clothing starts appearing in the stores. At that time, I will make any necessary adjustments to my replacement and wardrobe gap lists, so I know what I’ll be looking for when I hit the stores (or e-commerce sites). It’s my hope that I will be better prepared for next summer’s wardrobe needs as a result of the analysis I’ve done.
I plan to do an end of season analysis at the end of every season from now on. We only really get two main seasons where I live, summer and fall/spring, so I’ll only be doing two analyses each year. That’s why it’s okay if my shopping lists are a bit longer. If you live in a four-season climate, you may need to be a bit more judicious when compiling your shopping lists, particularly is your budget is relatively small.
Of course, some wardrobe items can span multiple seasons through the strategic use of layering. I plan to do more of this based upon Bridgette Raes’ suggestions for wearing skirts and dresses in cooler weather (see this post, scroll down towards the end). I’d like to maximize what’s in my closet and not be so rigid about how and when I wear things, so Bridgette’s advice is a good place to start.
I hope you’ve found my end of season wardrobe analysis process helpful. I know it’s not the end of a season for most of you, but you can either do the analysis retroactively or save my suggestions until your next seasonal transition time.
I’d love to get your thoughts on this post. Do you do your own end of season wardrobe analysis? If so, please share your process, especially if it’s different from mine. Since this is my first time doing such an analysis, perhaps I left something out. In any event, we can all benefit from sharing our experiences, as there is a lot to learn. Please post your thoughts – or any questions you have – in the comments section.