Lessons from My Outfit Journal – Part One

Before I delve into the topic of today’s post, I’d like to say a few things about my last article, “Putting Together a Dressy Wardrobe Capsule.”  Judging from some of the comments I received, I realize that I wasn’t clear enough about some aspects of that post.   I had originally intended to put together a true formal wardrobe capsule, but then I realized two things:  I own very few true formal items and I rarely attend those types of events.   So instead, I put together wardrobe options for the occasions when I get more dressed up than usual.

Some of you wrote that most of my outfits in the post would be things you’d wear to work.   If I worked in an office, I would very likely wear such outfits to work, too.   However, I live in a very casual community in Southern California where t-shirts, jeans, and flip-flops reign supreme.  Thus, what’s considered dressy around here may not mesh with that description in your part of the world.   Even if our environments and lifestyles are widely divergent, I still hope that my “dressy” wardrobe example was useful for you.

If what you will need for more dressed-up or formal events is different from what I showed, you should definitely compile your dressy capsule in line with those considerations.   If you are interested in writing a guest post depicting a true formal wardrobe capsule, please contact me, as I would welcome such a post!

A New Post Series

Outfit Photos, Outfit Journal

Introducing a new series on “Recovering Shopaholic”

With all that said, let’s move on to the topic of today’s post, the launch of a new series for “Recovering Shopaholic.”  If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that I started keeping an outfit journal last July.  In this journal, I record what I wore on a given day, where I went, how I felt, and what I’d change about the outfit, if anything.  This journal has been instrumental to the process of refining my personal style, and I previously shared some of what I learned two months into starting the journal.   I continue to learn new things about myself and my wardrobe and style preferences over seven months later!

In today’s post and future installments of this series, I will share some of my outfit photos, along with my corresponding outfit journal entries.   This first post includes four of my outfits from last fall, three of which were problematic in one or more ways and one that received a “10” rating.   I will also reveal the fate of the pictured items and the changes I have either made or intend to make as a result of what I wrote. 

Outfit #1 – Looks Aren’t Everything

Striped skirt outfit

Rating:   8/10

Where I Went:   Lunch with a friend

Thoughts/Feelings:

  • The outfit looked nice while I was standing still but was a bit “fussy.” The tank top is getting stretched out at the bottom and had to be re-adjusted frequently, and the jacket is a bit tight under the arms.
  • My hair also got “poufy” and probably should have been put up and out of my way.

What I’d Change:

  • Wear a low-heeled shoe instead of the flats for a more stylish look (this is a wardrobe gap for me – casual black heels).
  • Replace the tank with one that stays in place well.
  • Replace denim blazer with one that is a better fit (this has been on my list for a long time, but I haven’t been able to find one!).
  • Perhaps wear my black moto jacket with black caged sandals for a higher rated ensemble.
  • Another option would be to wear my black tie-waist sweater instead of the denim blazer.

Follow-On Notes:    I still have all of the pieces of this outfit, but it is a priority for me to replace both the black tank and the denim blazer.   I also plan to find a pair of casual black sandals with a low heel this year.  The skirt is still one of my favorites and I still love all of the jewelry pieces I was wearing.

Outfit #2 – Some Things Can’t Be Dressed Down

Purple tank skirt outfit

Rating:  8/10  (I would have rated it lower today)

Where I Went:   Hair appointment

Thoughts/Feelings:  

  • Pretty good overall – “casual-ish,” stylish, and reasonably comfortable (elastic waistband dug into my skin a bit when I sat down).
  • Skirt still seemed too dressy and “churchy” even with the casual accompanying pieces. It’s really hard to dress this skirt down and it was the weak link in the outfit.
  • I definitely need more casual skirts and better black sandals. Also, perhaps I should find more current looking purple jewelry.

What I’d Change:

  • I would either change the shoes or the skirt, as they didn’t work well together. Black sandals would have looked better, but I need better “walkable” ones.   My pewter Indigo sandals would have worked better with the outfit, too.
  • I’d wear a different bracelet (you can’t see the bracelet in the photo, but I felt it was too “blingy”).

Follow-On Notes:    I no longer have the tank top, skirt, or bracelet I was wearing that day.   While I loved the color of the tank, the ruffles in the front were too fussy for my more minimalist style.  I hope to find a more streamlined version this spring/summer (a short-sleeved top would work as well).  The skirt was just too difficult to dress down and I didn’t love it, so I let it go.   My hope is to find two to three casual skirts that are shorter and narrower this year.   I will likely let go of more of my old skirts once I find some suitable replacements.

Outfit #3 – The Ensemble Should Suit the Occasion

Green cardi skirt outfit

Rating:   8/10  (I would have rated it lower today)

Where I Went:   Veterinarian appointment

Thoughts/Feelings:

  • I felt too dressed up for where I went and a bit “marmy” or “churchy.” It was a good outfit but not for the occasion.
  • I really liked the colors and the accessories. I don’t love the cardigan as much as I thought I would, though, as it looks too conservative (and can’t be worn open).
  • I need more casual warm weather clothes and some “edgier” toppers. I need to make these things a priority for next summer!
  • My hair was bad (too much “bend” due to humidity) and didn’t even look good in a ponytail.

What I’d Change:

  • I would wear less “heavy” black sandals (I don’t have any that are casual and easy to walk in, except flats that wouldn’t work with the look).
  • I would wear a shorter and narrower skirt.
  • I would find a better way to wear my hair that would work with the humidity (bun? French twist?).

Follow-On Notes:   I still have everything in the photo except for the tank top (I got rid of it because I didn’t like the lace at the top and I have a striped tank that I like better).   I had the skirt taken in at the sides and I think it looks better now.  I would have liked to have shortened it, too, but couldn’t do so because of the asymmetrical hem.   I now have several moto style jackets, but would still like to find one in a bright color (mine are grey or black).

On my list for this year are a shorter and narrower black skirt and a pair of casual, walkable black sandals.  However, I could maybe wear my black caged sandals with this outfit (I didn’t have them yet at the time when the photo was taken), but their vibe might clash with the more conservative pieces.

Outfit #4 – Now That’s More Like It!

Rating:   10/10

Black maxi-dress outfit

Where I Went:  Lunch and shopping with a friend

Thoughts/Feelings:

  • I love both the dress and the jacket! The dress is a favorite now that I’ve had the straps shortened and the front sewn shut (easy alterations).
  • I felt comfortable all day, as well as stylish, attractive, and slim.
  • I also loved the accessories. I’m glad I kept the shoes (pewter Indigo sandals – a 2013 “benchwarmer”), as they are now a favorite.  They are very easy to walk in and look good with maxi dresses and skirts.

What I’d Change:

  • Nothing! However, I’d love to find another dress like this in a bright color (e.g. green or purple).

Follow-On Notes:   All of the items pictured remain favorites.   I now prefer wearing dresses over skirts and maxi dresses are warm weather staples for me.   Although Bridgette Raes recommended bright shoes and accessories for me, I still prefer to wear metallic and other neutrals.   I could see wearing bright jewelry with this outfit, but I’m not sure about bright shoes.  Perhaps if it’s not broken (in my eyes), why fix it?

Conclusion

I hope you all enjoyed the first post in this series.   It was useful for me to revisit my outfit journal and encapsulate some of what I learned.  I was actually surprised that I rated the first three outfits as high as I did, but that just shows that my style has continued to evolve since that time.   I don’t think any of those outfits are bad, per se, but they don’t necessarily live up to my new style standards, either.

I am now much clearer about how I want to dress when the warm weather rolls around again, and I have a shopping plan in place to fill in the gaps in my wardrobe.   I don’t plan to buy a lot, but I intend to do some focused buying, including the following items:

  • Low-heeled black sandals that are stylish and walkable
  • Two to three shorter, narrower casual skirts (black, denim, bright color)
  • Replacement tank tops – black, purple (plain styles)
  • Replacement denim blazer/jacket (probably in a lighter wash, comfortable, casual)

If you’re struggling at all with your wardrobe or style, I highly recommend that you try keeping an outfit journal for at least a month or two.   I promise that it will be an informative and enlightening experience for you!

Coming Attractions and Your Thoughts

In future installments of this series, I will share some of my cool weather ensembles, as well as some additional skirt and dress outfits from last summer/fall.   While I continue to learn important lessons from my outfit photos and journal entries, some of my best insights were gained early on in the process.

I’m sharing my process and learnings with you in the hope that they might spark some “aha moments” for you, too.   If you have been keeping an outfit journal or using a similar process, I’d love to read your thoughts on how it’s helped you with your wardrobe and style.   What have you learned from writing about and/or photographing your looks?  What other methods do you have for improving and evolving your personal style?   Please share with me and your fellow readers!

Before You Go…  A Researcher Needs Our Help

A while back, I shared that a graduate student is looking for U.S. based research participants for her study on compulsive buying behavior.  I have clarified the time commitment (it’s lower than originally stated) and have updated the page which outlines the study.

I have agreed to participate myself and it would be wonderful if a few of you would also agree to join in (she’s looking for people at all stages of recovery).   You can read more details here.   The research findings will be shared in a future guest post on “Recovering Shopaholic.”

52 thoughts on “Lessons from My Outfit Journal – Part One

  1. Lovely post, beautiful outfit photos illustrating, and what a wonderful new “series” you have begun, a great start to your year. Also, I thought you looked rather stunning (in the first photo) the day you had lunch with a friend. As an aside, I wish there was a way to convey (to those who don’t understand) that causally dressed does not always need to equal sloppy t-shirts, jeans and flip flops. To me casually dressed also means an outstanding pair of white pants/jeans, a great silk
    t-shirt, a good pair of quality sandals, and a good quality handbag. And your black maxi dress Debbie, is also my idea of looking great while being casually dressed.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Terra, my friend 🙂 I agree with your wish to convey what casual dressing really means. There is far too much sloppiness going on around here! I’ve struggled to find a happy medium between that and looking too dressed up or “churchy” but I think I’m finally getting it. Yes, I love maxi dresses and find them both easy and comfortable. The outfit you described sounds great and I’m sure you look fabulous in it!

  2. As I’ve thought in a previous post – that black maxi dress is spectacular on you. You should always have something in that silhouette in your wardrobe.

    • Thanks, Susan. Yes, I love that silhouette for me, as it accentuates my best features. I love that it’s also very comfortable and sufficiently casual for where I live.

  3. Hi Debbie,

    I have just started reading your blog & find it really honest & interesting. I don’t buy a lot but I’m trying to limit my consumption & buy better quality as well as really figure out what works for me.

    Just some thoughts on your outfits. Instead of thinking about what parts of these outfits you need to replace to make them better; what if you asked yourself “Do I have another outfit I could wear for the same occasion?” Just thinking out loud – no judgement implied (I have & still do the same thing). If we do have other outfits then do we really “need” the extra items required to make these ones work?

    Thanks again CC.

    • Welcome, CC! I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog and finding it helpful. The question you ask is a very good one. Sometimes we actually do have other good options in our closets and don’t really need to buy new things. In my case, though, I do find that I need a few new things, but not as many as I would have thought in the past. When I keep mentioning the same “missing links” in my outfit journal over and over again, I take heed, but if I just make the note about one or two outfits, I probably have a suitable option in my closet already.

  4. Debbie, I really enjoyed the glimpse into your outfit journal, so to speak, and the concrete examples you gave. Very interesting!
    The discussion about dressy/formal clothing has also been interesting. I’ve moved several times between countries and cities in my life and have had to adapt the way I dress in one way or another each time. It’s always fascinating to hear about how culture, climate and the like shape attitudes towards dress.

    • I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my last two posts, Kayla. I have never moved between countries, but I have seen a wide degree of variance among different areas in the US in terms of how people dress. Even between Northern California and Southern California, there is a big difference. It has taken me a while to adjust to how people dress where I live, that’s for sure!

  5. The first ensemble with the denim jacket has nice individual pieces, but looks out of proportion because of the 1:1 ratio

    http://www.insideoutstyleblog.com/2009/06/proportions-the-golden-mean-or-fibonacci-number.html

    rather than the 1:2 or 2:1 “golden mean”. When you get a replacement jacket, you may want to consider a shorter one. I got a couple of my wool blazers shortened by two inches and they make a world of a difference proportion-wise. Also, if you want to look less formal, try a denim or moto vest instead of jacket.

    • I see what you mean, Nutrivore. I often find that tops and jackets are too long on me, even though I’m tall. I’m very short-waisted, so sometimes I even buy petite versions of tops (which only works for sleeveless and short-sleeved, of course). I like the idea of a vest, too, but haven’t seen too many of those around. I also struggle because I have broad shoulders and a narrow torso, so a lot of jackets don’t fit me right as a result. I’m open to tailoring, but don’t like to have to re-make an entire garment for it to work. Looser is the trend at present, which makes things even more difficult. I’m sure if I’m patient and persistent, though, a great jacket or vest option will come along.

  6. Hi Debbie,
    I absolutely love your turquoise cardigan, but may I please offer a suggestion?

    You said felt a bit ‘churchy’ and ‘marmy’ in it, may I suggest that instead of buttoning the top button, that you fasten the second button.

    It would reveal more of the top underneath and ideally fasten just under the bust to really emphasise the silhouette.

    • Thanks for the suggestion, Elizabeth. I will give that a try. I hadn’t thought of buttoning the second button instead of the first, but I can see how that might work better!

  7. I agree completely in your assessment of the last outfit being the winner. I don’t keep a journal but did collect my favorites from my year’s worth of outfit pics a few times. That helped me see what stood out and I could find some common themes.
    Ironically, I have recently stopped taking outfit pictures. I think I needed the freedom from it all for a bit I guess. I do recall through reviewing my past pics that the idea of always wanting to change out this or that to subtly change up a look was basically spinning my wheels. My goal at the start of 2014 was to think in outfits, not items, and to try to put together a handful of great ones to repeat vs always seeking the ‘tweak’ to feel like it’s new, new, new. I think not taking pics takes the pressure off of ‘presenting’ one’s look (even to oneself).
    I also get the occasion appropriate idea behind a look that might be good on film but feel out of place and awkward worn in the world around you.
    I look forward to the next maxi dress in your collection. It’s a great item for you and your lifestyle.

    • Mo, I agree about outfits being important, not garments. When I started my wardrobe review last year, I was a bit obsessed with this idea that everything should be interchangeable, e.g. a jacket is no good if it doesn’t work with several different bottoms. That approach is really helpful for packing for trips, i.e. getting 20+ combinations out of 10 garments, and in an ideal world would be great for the whole wardrobe (as would give you masses of choice, as shown on many blogs), but can get very over complicated. For now I am just recording outfits that work (‘good’ or ‘very good’, and starting a new list each 3 months). I’m finding about 5-10 outfits out of 10 garments is realistic for me now.
      Debbie, I love the maxi dress too. A tailor might be able to make a copy in another fabric for you, maybe changing the details slightly, eg the top part could have a different texture but be the same colour as the bottom, or there could be a band of a different colour at the hem.

    • Great comments, Mo and Alice! I can identify with what both of you wrote. I used to try to mix and match everything so much, but I’ve relaxed on that as of late. If I love an outfit, I have no problem at all with re-wearing it now. About the outfit photos, I try not to take them too seriously, as you can tell from my non-model poses and boring background. I mostly take them for myself, but include them on the blog to help me illustrate certain points or concepts I’m writing about. I don’t always get photos of my outfits, especially if my husband isn’t around to take them, but I like to look back and see how my style has evolved, especially since I started the blog. Ironically, I am happier with my style with a smaller wardrobe. It makes a lot of sense to me now, but I never would have predicted that two years ago!

      In regards to the maxi dress, I just looked at a fuchsia version of the black dress is now available. I’m tempted to get it. I am trying not to do multiples so much anymore, but I really love the dress and could see myself wearing it a lot. Thoughts? I like Alice’s suggestion for having a tailor copy the black dress and mix textures, too.

      • Ah, yes, the duplicate scenario! I don’t do it, but might in this case. I do buy similar silhouettes (like blouson or surplice front dresses). With black being such a basic and fuschia such a standout I think it wouldn’t be like, “oh that dress, again, just a new color.” As many duplicates can start to feel.

      • Thanks for weighing in, Mo. You make a good point. I am really trying to get away from duplicates, but this does seem like a different scenario than usual. I’m going to think on it a bit more. There is really no risk because the dress is from Nordstrom. If I order it and don’t love the color (sometimes colors look different on our monitors), I can easily return it at no cost.

      • I have several “duplicate” items that really add a lot of value to my wardrobe. Black + fuschia scoopneck sweaters. Camel + gray cable-knit cardigans. Navy + tan wood-sole clogs. Both versions of each of these items get a ton of wear, and I think that my wardrobe would be less functional without the “duplicates.” Notably, the second version of each item was purchased after the first version had already proven itself in my closet. It seems to me that’s the situation you find yourself in with the maxi dress. You could buy a fuschia version of a dress that you already know is comfortable and super flattering (I realize the black dress needed alterations, but it seems they were successful). Or you could spend more time and energy looking around for a “different” purple maxi dress, and you might wind up with one that isn’t so spot on in terms of fit and comfort. I’d buy the dress you know will work , and free up more time and energy for the rest of your life! (The one caveat is that IIRC you describe the dress you want as purple, but the dress you are considering as fuschia. Is it REALLY the color you want?)

      • I think it’s important with duplicates that the second item is purchased after the first has proven itself, like you mention, Sarah. You seem to be doing very well with your duplicates, but I have had some negative experiences with them. I used to buy four or five of the same things (usually “basics”) at the same time and then only wear one or two of them. Now I’m understandably wary. I did mention purple or green as my preferences, but I really like fuchsia, too. But I’m going to ponder it a bit longer. I won’t be able to wear the dress much right away (except on unseasonably warm days), so there is no rush in buying it. It’s also more of a nice to have, although I do think I would wear it a lot. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  8. Hi, I have been following your thought process for 6 months or so. You often mention feeling “churchy/matronly”. I think its your skirts. The length and style seem dated. I know slimmer and shorter skirts may not suit for all, but maybe Bridget Raes can suggest a different cut.

    • I agree that a lot of my skirts are dated, Anne, and I would like to replace them. The striped skirt and the black skirt are more recent purchases, though (2013). I wish the black skirt were shorter, but I still like it. Bridgette suggested that I buy shorter and slimmer skirts and I am on board. However, since I’m tall with long legs, skirts are often TOO short on me. I’m sure I will find some good options eventually, though, hopefully this spring.

  9. Debbie, once again, this is a fantastic post! I have some comments and questions for you to consider…

    1. In the first outfit, I feel like that denim jacket really overpowers you. I see the jacket first, before I see Debbie. Which made me realize – I’m not sure of your height, but you read ‘petite’ to me. Do you ever consider a petite-dressing aesthetic, where you make sure your clothing and jewelry is to scale with your delicate features and bone structure?

    2. You mention your hair is poufy, and you mention something about ‘bend’. Does this mean your hair has natural wave and curl? That sounds lovely! Do you ever consider working with that and seeing what happens? There are some great products out there that can bring out your natural texture, without going all fuzzy.

    3. I think outfit #2 is great, and it strikes me, again, the difference between regions, because here in Atlanta, that outfit would hit the nail on the head of ‘pretty skirt dressed down’, and not at all churchy.

    4. I’m curious to know what makes jewelry ‘current-looking’? My fallbacks are pearl stud earrings, and a necklace the BF gave me for Christmas.

    5. I like the striped top & skirt combo in outfit #3. The cardigan overpowers you. I love the idea of the bun, and I’m wondering if you could make the outfit more Audrey Hepburn casual by tucking in the tank, and then putting a wide, soft black leather or fabric belt around your waist? Something casual, not dressy or blingy. And black ballerinas?

    6. Your last outfit, you totally nailed it! Maybe you should reconsider the role black plays in your wardrobe, because it seems like you are always the happiest in your mostly-black outfits, with a pop of color?

    Also, you seem happiest in fitted clothes, that have a bit of sexy edge. So maybe don’t run away from the word ‘sexy’ – because in the right measure, you’re a knockout, without being overdone.

    • Wow, you’ve given me a lot of feedback, Mary Beth. Thanks for taking the time to share so much. I will do my best to respond… Actually, I am not petite at all! I’m almost 5’10”, but I often think I look shorter in photos. My husband has experimented with different photo angles, but I usually feel that the photos don’t capture me as well as they could. I have somewhat small bones, though, even though I’m tall (especially in my upper body), so I do see how certain garments can overpower me.

      As for my hair, that’s a whole other ball of wax! I have no idea how to work with my natural texture. When I let my hair dry naturally, it looks like a big puff ball regardless of what products I use. My hair stylist said that is because it’s so damaged. I’ve been treating it better and letting the damaged parts grow out and she thinks that by this coming summer, I may be able to work with it better. We shall see…

      It’s good to know that my second outfit would strike the right chord somewhere! Maybe I would fit in better in Atlanta than in San Diego. For here, it is dressier than what most people wear to church, unfortunately. The only places I ever really see people dressed up around here is downtown, in the banking industry, and at the mall. In fact, I used to buy clothes to go shopping in, no lie!

      In regards to jewelry, your pearl stud earrings would be considered “classic” or “timeless,” thus always in style. There are a lot of jewelry trends that come in and out of style, but some pieces always work. I like classic pieces but since I’ve wanted to add more “edge” to my style, I can see the value of adding some trendier pieces here and there. I am by no means a jewelry expert, but I’m going to do some “window shopping” to see what I might like that is more in line with current trends. Then I will likely buy just a few pieces to wear over and over again while they are in style

      I agree that my cardigan overpowers me. I think that’s why I like the tie-waist style of cardigans, as they are more fitted and show off my slim torso/waist (gotta show it off while I have it, as I’ve heard that can change in the 50’s and beyond). I have tried tucking tops in but never like how it looks because I’m so short-waisted. But perhaps I haven’t tried the right combination yet. I like the Audrey look, though.

      Yes, I do love my black and have no intention of stopping wearing it. You’re right that I prefer black with a pop of color. I do like fitted clothes, too, but I don’t usually consider myself “sexy.” I very much appreciate the “knockout” comment!

  10. Debbie, as usual, I think you are too hard on yourself! You look lovely no matter what, but I think you actually look totally fine with your hair pulled back! However, I wanted to suggest looking into one of those “sock bun” aids. There are a few different kinds, but essentially you wrap your hair around them and they give you a nice full bun. Some of them have, like, a padded wire in them to help keep your bun in place. I definitely like to have my hair up in hot, humid weather and I think these are worth a try, and can be very chic without looking overdone.

    • I second that! Debbie is way too hard on herself! And yet, look at the results we’re starting to see with her outfits. Very exciting 🙂

      Sarah, where do you get the sock buns? I realize I have seen people with those really great ballerina buns, and yet, they don’t have a huge amount of hair.

    • Yes, I know I am too hard on myself, Sarah and Mary Beth. My husband tells me that all the time. Old habits die hard and I’m too much of a perfectionist in too many areas of life, including my appearance. I like the idea of the sock bun. I’ve seen it look nice on others. I worry about having all of my hair pulled back because I’m not a “spring chicken” anymore, but maybe I look better than I think that way. When I’m at home, my hair is almost always back in a ponytail, as is also the case when I go on walks or to the gym. No one has run away screaming yet 🙂 I think I need to give up on trying to wear my hair down on hot, humid days, as it just looks bad in short order anyway. If I can find a way to wear it up that looks good and is unfussy, I think I will be far happier with my warm weather outfits.

  11. I already love this new series, can’t wait for the following posts!
    I kinda gave up on my outfit journal lately but I’m definitely gonna pick it up again once I start the LIWI challenge (in March).

    • I’m glad you like the new series, Cedrique. I have many more outfits that I can share, both good and bad. I think combining the outfit journal with LIWI is a good way to go. I look forward to learning how LIWI goes for you, as I’m finding it very, very helpful myself.

  12. The black maxi dress outfit is fantastic. Don’t you love it when it all comes together? I also like outfit #1. I think the flat sandals look good with it. Do you think that a simple black tank and a black cardigan would make it more of a simple and elegant look like the maxi dress outfit? I’m looking forward to seeing more of your #10 outfits to see if there is a pattern to them. I don’t do a journal, but I do take pictures. The pattern I noticed for myself was that almost all of my favorite outfits were neutral colors and simple silhouettes. I had always thought that patterns and “boho” styles were my favorites, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.
    I will let my hair cloud my judgement if I like an outfit or not too. I think I need one of those sock buns!

    • Thanks for your compliments on my outfits, Tonya. I think I WOULD like the first outfit better with a black cardigan, actually. I am really enjoying more simple and minimalist looks these days. I don’t have a whole lot of “10” outfits, as I tend to be pretty critical, but there are lots of “9”s (which may really be more like “10”s if I wasn’t being such a perfectionist). I will do another post like this again very soon since people seem to like it.

      How great that you’ve learned such a valuable lesson from your outfit photos. It’s amazing how we can THINK we like something so much but then it doesn’t end up being the case in actuality. I was like that with white. I like it on other people and thought I’d like it on me, but the photos told a different story. Now I just include white in prints and that’s more my style. As for hair, maybe we should both try the sock buns! What a great idea from Sarah…

  13. Hi Debbie,

    I so love your blog! I am starting to do some writing myself now. Just a thought about how to make your toppers work better and in the right proportions. I agree with some of the comments that your jacket and sweater overpower you, particularly because it is buttoned. Sometimes I find that if I go down a size in a jacket or cardigan, knowing that I never intend to button it but want the look of having a cardigan or jacket on that I look so much more pulled together. You have a wonderful figure, so have you thought of getting a few jackets or cardigans in a smaller size with the intention that they just hang open and never button. The garment would likely then not overpower you but still show off your cute tops and your body shape more. I am busty, so it can be a challenge to find a smaller sized cardigan or jacket that just covers my bust but isn’t too tight or too big in the waist. Stay awesome!

    • Thanks for your suggestion, Kerstin. I have actually have a few jackets and coats that are kind of too small when buttoned but look great open. I almost never button my coats or jackets, anyway. Most fashion experts will say that we need to be able to button everything, but it’s tricky for those who are busty like you are or who have broad shoulders like I do. Some rules are made to be broken 🙂 I don’t like when my jackets overpower me and I almost always like my outfits better without a topper (the maxi dress outfit in this post is one of the exceptions, but that moto jacket is shorter and more fitted). I’m glad you like my blog and I wish you the best of luck with your writing!

  14. Debbie, Thanks for sharing your journal with us. I can see how this has been helpful for you. It is interesting how your opinion of some outfits has evolved in just a few months. I find myself doing the same , you have inspired me to start taking photos again. I had the same problem with V neck cardigans, except I buttoned two or three buttons at the waistline. But it still looked odd, because the top portion would just hang there and look bad. Buttoning under the bust line didn’t work for me either, perhaps it will work better for you. Now, I wear round neck cardigans buttoned at the waist, it accentuates an hourglass shape. Another look I feel great in is, a boatneck top tucked into pencil skirt with a wide belt worn with heals or ballet flats. I think you are smart to look for straight skirts. I have a sister that is the same height and shape as me, our coloring is very different though. When I visit her, we usually shop together. ( Our wardrobes are opposite , I wear mostly pants and solid neutrals and she wears dresses in bright colors and prints. ) If I can’t decide if something looks good on me , she will try it on and vice versa. I can usually tell right away if I like it once I see it on her. It’s funny how we can’t “see” ourselves in the mirror. It’s like having my own personal model. 🙂 I’m looking forward to your future post! Good luck.

    • Thanks for your comment, Jan. Yes, those cardigans are tricky! I’ve had trouble with the round-neck cardigans, too, as when I button the middle buttons, the top tends to flop around. Maybe I should just stick to jackets and tie-waist cardigans. How great that you have a sister you can shop with. I have shopped with several friends who were about my height and size but have very different figures. It’s fun to try on the same things and see how very different they look on us. Very rarely have we been able to look good in the same pieces, but we often found great finds that we wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. Sometimes things seem like they would work well for one figure type on the hanger, but actually look best on an entirely different shape. I’d love to find skirts that would look good with ballet flats. Although I love heels, my feet have become increasingly fussy, so it’s nice to have options that will work with flats, too, without looking frumpy.

  15. I can see and read that an outfit journal can be very enlightening. I totally agree with you about bright jewelry rather than bright shoes. I have learned that I much prefer most color around my face to make me the focal point rather than drawing attention to my feet. I do have pink shoes but I always repeat the color once if not twice going up to my face. I won’t be replacing the pink shoes when they wear out, I like them and they are comfortable but I have learned my preference. By all means stick to what feels most Debbie, you are the authority on that! Also you are so right about the maxi dress, it’s very flattering on you.

    • Your points about jewelry echo my views, Annette. I like to have color around my face more than on my feet, too. However, I do like leopard print shoes and would love to find a pair of black and white printed shoes, too. I think I just prefer neutral footwear overall, but I do have a pair of red shoes that I like and blue sandals that I got as a gift last year. I just wear the neutrals far more often overall. I like to repeat the color from the shoes somewhere else in my outfit, too. I know that it’s fashionable to just use the shoes as a pop of color by themselves, but it never looks quite right to my eye.

  16. Debbie–I have to say something: every week reading your replies to reader comments I am so impressed with your careful word choice and attention to your readers’ feelings. You are so kind, thoughtful, and deliberate about what you say and with so open a mind always consider everyone’s ideas worthy. Yu must be a wonderful and fair-minded friend.
    I am not a shopaholic but find the topic and the individual stories so interesting. Thanks for your blog and model of consideration and humility.

    • I really appreciate your saying this, Helen. I do always try to honor those who comment, as I know that virtually all of them are on my side and have good intentions in terms of what they write. I have learned a lot of valuable things from the commenters here, so I always try to keep an open mind. Sometimes I might feel a bit defensive upon first reading something, but I do my best to put that aside and carefully consider what was written. I don’t take all of the advice I’m given, but I try to consider all of it and see if it has merit for me.

  17. Debbie – I would love to do a guest post for you on a formalwear capsule wardrobe. I am a Foreign Service Officer living in Europe at the moment and I have lots of occasions which call for cocktail or black tie attire and have just gone through the exercise of clearing out this section of my wardrobe and creating a capsule (both to bring more order to my closet and in preparation for an upcoming international move.) I’d love to create a post for you to review, if that is of interest to you.
    All best,
    Elizabeth

    • I would LOVE for you to do this guest post, Elizabeth. Thanks so much for coming forward. I’m sure that readers would love to learn more about creating a capsule for actual formal events, as mine is more like upscale casual or business casual in nature. As many photos as you could include would be great, too, to illustrate your points. I will follow up with you by email and you’re welcome to contact me at debbie at recoveringshopaholic dot com, too (or use the form on the “Connect” page). Thanks again and I look forward to seeing what you create!

  18. I hope you won’t mind this comment but the only thing I think is that your skirts are just a wee bit too long (apart from the maxi of course) and that is what gives you a “churchy” “marmy” feel you describe. I think you have great legs and I think you would look great in skirts that sit just above the middle of the knee.

    • I agree that my skirts are too long, Carolyn. I have shortened some of them when I could and most are actually shorter in real life than in the photos (something about the camera angle, which we play with but struggle to get right). It is really hard to find a skirt that’s at an ideal length for me, as I’m tall with long legs. Most are just too short, but I like the mid-knee length that you suggest. I do plan to find some better skirts that are less “churchy” this year, though, no matter how hard they are to find!

  19. Debbie,

    It really looks like the outfit journal is doing wonders for your recovery! I really need to get back into doing mine, as I dropped off for the week I was home in sweatpants post-surgery, and didn’t pick it back up.

    In reference to your note about wanting to find another maxi-dress but perhaps in purple, LOFT has a beautiful purple maxi-dress on their site, with a different waistline (more Grecian) and a slightly higher neckline. It’s not a jewel tone purple, more grayish purple, but I saw it this morning in an email and thought I would mention it!

    • Thanks for sharing the dress recommendation, Melissa. I will check it out! I think you get a pass for not dressing up or doing your outfit journal after surgery. I hope you are recovering well and feeling more like your normal self now. I have been very pleased with my outfit journal and I hope you find it beneficial as well. I don’t have as many epiphanies as I did in the beginning, but I’m still learning and growing from doing it.

  20. A few of your wardrobe pieces you were hanging onto until you could find a better replacement. I can really relate. I have been looking for new boot cut jeans for months and I don’t like the one(yes, one! ugh jeans are so hard!) I have but I cant seem to find new ones. I just tried to wear them this week but I finally put them in my yard sale pile because I do not like them any more. Skinny jeans are so popular right now but some outfits I want a jean that lengthens me, and the Boot cut ones I can get in a length to wear with heels. I think part of my problem is price-in the past I would buy what is on sale for around $25. Which brings up a point you have written about a lot which is buying QUALITY over quantity. And I want to point out too that by letting the jeans go it is more of a push for me to go to the mall and find some new bootcut jeans since now I don’t have any to wear. I think you might try to let go of the pieces that you don’t really like and are just hanging on to for lack of a replacement item. Of course this advice only works for people like you and I who have plenty of others clothes to wear.

    • I agree that if we really don’t like something, there’s really no use in keeping it around until a replacement is found, Laura, unless it is a true staple item that would leave a wardrobe hole. But as you point out, most of us have plenty of other clothes to wear. I do still like my black tank and denim blazer, but I don’ t love them like I used to. There are other pieces, though, that I could probably pass on and will give that some more thought. I hope you find some good boot-cut jeans soon! It’s hard to find low-priced well-fitting jeans, but maybe you will get lucky. Otherwise, why not splurge at bit, if you know you will be wearing the jeans a lot.

  21. I have signed up for the compulsive buying behavior study that Debbie promoted, and want to encourage more of you to do the same. Talking with Lorraine is so easy and comfortable – within minutes I felt like she was a friend I had known for much longer! The time commitment is low and very flexible (she’ll work around your schedule) and I hope my participation helps make me more aware of the causes behind my shopping habits. She still needs a few more people, so please consider contacting her this weekend!

    • How great that you signed up for the study, TexasAggieMom! I haven’t spoken to Lorraine yet – just email correspondence, but I’m not surprised that she is easy to talk to. I hope that others will agree to join in based upon your ringing endorsement. It can only help the cause, as the more that is learned about compulsive shopping, the better help there will be available for those of us who struggle. Thanks for sharing your experience with Lorraine!

  22. I started taking outfit photos a few years ago and evaluating my outfits really helped me learn what works, what doesn’t and why. The outfit journal is a great exercise and I appreciate the thought process insights into why something does or does not work. Three of the four looks here, had stripes, and I know you’ve mentioned a fondness for stripes, which had me wondering, is one reason why #2 was a miss because it didn’t have stripes in it? The swirl print is much busier than a stripe is. And I am with you, I prefer pieces that can dress up OR down, not one’s that only fit into one use.

    • Good point about the stripes, Lisa! I hadn’t even noticed that and there may be something to it. However, I don’t wear stripes EVERY day 🙂 although I do wear them a lot. I think what you wrote about the swirl pattern being “busy” was part of why I didn’t love it as much, plus the fact that the skirt skewed dressy and the top was also busy with the ruffles. I’m really learning that I like a more minimalist, streamlined style. The swirl print skirt and ruffled tank are no longer in my closet.

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