Lessons from My Outfit Journal – Pants and Coats

Last week, I started a new series in which I share some of the entries from my outfit journal.   The first installment elicited quite a few comments and seemed to be popular with readers, so I’m going to dive in to another post in the series today.   This time, I will be focusing on a theme, pants/jeans outfits with coats.   I was basically happy with three out of the four looks I feature below, but there were still things I would change about each outfit.

Outfit Journal

Do you keep an outfit journal and/or photograph what you wear? 

Keeping my outfit journal is helping me to fine-tune all of my ensembles and I’m happier with more of what I’m wearing as a result.   It’s very rare that I rate anything I wear below an “8” on a scale of one to ten these days, but my standards are also increasing.  I am no longer willing to settle for ill-fitting or uncomfortable clothing, especially since I now know that I can get by with much less.  If I don’t love – or at least strongly like – what I’m wearing, I’m perfectly happy to pass it on to someone else.

All of the photos below are from this year and I show the outfits both with and without my coats.   I show my least loved look first and my favorite ensemble last.   I also share the ratings I gave to each outfits, what I would change in the future, and the fate of the pieces shown.   In future installments, I will feature different types of outfits, but I thought I would be fun to show the types of clothing I’m wearing now during the winter season (such that it is where I live).

Outfit #1 – Featuring Previous Favorites

Purple coat outfit

Rating:   8/10 (look), 6/10 (feel)

Where I Went:   Massage and doctor’s appointment


  • The top used to be a favorite of mine, but I didn’t like it at all this time. The 3/4 sleeves are more like 2/3 sleeves on me and I had to keep pulling them down over my elbows.   I also felt like it was a bit too tight, but I am not heavier than I was when I bought it.  Maybe it shrunk over time.
  • The jeans also used to be favorites, but now they are too baggy on me (not as obvious in the photo as in real life), as I have lost some weight recently. They are comfortable, but I don’t think they look as good as they used to.  I could try to shrink them, but then they would probably be too short to wear with my boots.   I may try to either alter them or perhaps buy a size down and also keep the old ones (as my weight tends to fluctuate).
  • The coat is also a longtime favorite, but it’s showing signs of wear. I also don’t love the placement of the pockets, as it can create a widening effect.   I love the color and hope that I can find another purple coat at some point and then let go of this one (which I bought in late 2007).
  • I loved both the jewelry and boots I was wearing. The boots were a “benchwarmer” from 2014, but I’ve been wearing them a lot this year and am finding them comfortable and a good heel height for many of my pants.

What I’d Change:

  • Wear one of my other striped tops.
  • Wear better fitting jeans.

Follow-On Notes:    I decided to let go of the top, as I was fussing with it all day and couldn’t wait to take it off when I returned home.   I still have the jeans and have worn them one other time since the occasion outlined above. They are even baggier on me now and need to be tailored, shrunk, or replaced.   I haven’t decided what to do about them just yet.   I still like the coat and have worn it again since the photo, but it’s on my list to find another purple coat later this year if possible.

Outfit #2 – Black and Blue

Turquoise coat outfit

Rating:  9/10  (I’d probably give it an “8” today)

Where I Went:   Movie with my husband


  • I liked the outfit overall and felt both stylish and comfortable. However, I was starting to feel very sick and ended up being quite ill later that night and through the next day.   Luckily, I took the photo before I went out instead of after I returned home.
  • The top was another “benchwarmer” from last year, but I really liked it when I wore it this time (mid-January). I found myself wondering why I don’t wear it more often.   I really need to, as I feel the faux-wrap shape is very flattering to my shape.
  • I also really liked the earrings, which I also don’t wear very often. They include lots of inlaid stones and looked nice against the black top and turquoise coat.
  • Here’s what I wrote at the bottom of this entry: “I really don’t need many clothes!   I’ve been wearing the same two pairs of pants and boots since early December.   I don’t need all that much, but I have too much.  I need to just keep what I love.”  I know that my “Love It, Wear It” Challenge (LIWI) will help with that!

What I’d Change:

  • At the time, I couldn’t think of anything I’d change about the outfit. Now, I would probably wear different jeans and perhaps a different bracelet.

Follow-On Notes:    I still have all of the pieces included in the outfit. The jeans are the same ones I wrote about in Outfit #1, so I either need to tailor them to fit me or replace them (or gain some weight, which I don’t want to do).   I’ve worn the coat a few times since the photo was taken, but I haven’t worn the top again. I believe I will wear it more this year, but I’ve recently been focused more on wearing things I haven’t worn yet this year rather than on re-wearing items.  More on this in my LIWI update next week!

Outfit #3 – Stripes and Cobalt

Cobalt coat outfit

Rating:   9/10

Where I Went:   Errands and movies


  • I felt attractive, stylish, comfortable and appropriately casual in this outfit. I felt that I was dressed well for what I was doing.
  • The top and coat are two of my favorite pieces. I also really liked the watch, bracelet, and earrings I was wearing (hard to see in the photos).
  • The jeans are the same ones as in the two photos above. They are no longer a favorite because they are too baggy, but I used to really love them.   However, a few other pairs of jeans that were too tight and unflattering before are now being worn again.   As long as I have a few pairs of pants that I love and feel good in, I am happy.  Again, I don’t need as much as I used to think I did.

What I’d Change:

  • I would wear better fitting jeans. Then the outfit would have been a “10.”
  • I would also wear underwear that don’t ride up! This has been a big issue for me lately, so I’m planning to buy better-fitting underwear soon.   I already tried one new option that didn’t work out, but I’m not going to give up until I find a better option than what I currently have.

Outfit #4 – Date Night Outfit

Rating:   10/10 (look), 7/10 (feel)

Black velvet coat outfit

Where I Went:  Dinner with my husband


  • I loved the way the outfit looked, but there were some issues with it. The shoes hurt my feet and I had the same type of underwear issues I wrote about under Outfit #3.  I also had some abdominal pain and bloating that got in the way of my comfort.
  • The shoes were uncomfortable and need to be replaced. I like wearing peep-toe shoes with a low heel, especially with my black trousers (my only pair of dressier pants, as shown in this post), but this pair is not good for any type of walking beyond walking into and out of a restaurant.
  • I love the coat and am glad I kept it (it was another 2014 “benchwarmer”). I don’t think I’ll end up wearing it very often because of its dressy vibe, but I will love wearing it at least a few times per year.
  • The top is a definite favorite, as are all of the jewelry pieces (watch, earrings, and bracelet). I love the asymmetrical stripes on the top and feel that they are very flattering on me.  I tend to save the top for dressier occasions, but I should really wear it more often in casual looks, too.

What I’d Change:

  • Wear more comfortable shoes (replace the black peep-toes with a more comfortable pair).
  • Wear better underwear.
  • Wear the coat and top more often.

Follow-On Notes:   This outfit would have been a “10” if all of the pieces were comfortable.  The shoe issue has been going on for a long time, but I keep putting off finding a suitable replacements.  I’m now going to make it more of a priority.  Also, many of us neglect to consider the importance of undergarments in terms of our outfit happiness.   But I now fully realize that if my undergarments are ill-fitting or uncomfortable, my outfits just aren’t going to be “10”s.   I need to allocate the time and resources to make sure that this critical piece of the puzzle is up to par.


I hope you enjoyed this second installment of my “Lessons from My Outfit Journal” series.   I learned some new things from revisiting a few of my looks and journal entries.   I realize that the weak links in my outfits are often in my bottom half, including my pants, underwear, and sometimes my shoes.   Here are the changes and new purchases I plan to make based upon what I learned from the journal entries featured above:

  • Shrink, tailor, or replace the jeans in the first three outfit photos. Otherwise, wear different jeans with the other pieces.
  • Replace the black peep-toe wedges shown in Outfit #4.
  • Buy some better-fitting and more comfortable underwear.
  • Wear my black faux-wrap top, teal/black striped top, and black velvet coat more often.
  • Eventually replace the purple coat (not a high priority but something I’d like to do).

I liked that I had a theme for the outfits I featured in this post, so I will probably do something similar in future installments.   While I showed only 2015 ensembles today, I still have lots of outfits from last year to share and my lessons from those journal entries were more profound than what I highlighted today.  However, I think that even the smaller lessons can make a big difference in our lives, so I plan to mix up my entries for that reason.

Your Thoughts and Coming Attractions

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?

I know I asked these same questions the last time, but new people are always finding the blog and others who didn’t comment last time may choose to chime in.   Regardless of whether you’re new or have commented many times before, I invite you to share your thoughts with me and your fellow readers!    Comments about my outfit journal entries and insights are also welcome (as long as they are respectful, of course).   I always learn so much from what you all share, so feel free to join in the discussion.

I’ll be back next week with my February accountability update and my thoughts on month two of my LIWI challenge.  Month two has been quite different from the first month of LIWI, so I look forward to recapping my thoughts and what I’m learning along the way.   Have a wonderful weekend!

54 thoughts on “Lessons from My Outfit Journal – Pants and Coats

  1. I love the last 3 outfits! You look so confident. I noticed the similarity of your coats, they are all the same shape yet a (slightly) different color. I am wondering why you want to replace the purple one. You look just as amazing in the blue ones.
    I would not spent money on altering the jeans. Just buy the sames ones in a smaller size!
    And that last striped top: wow, STUNNING on you.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Jessica. Yes, my coats are all pretty similar. For a while there, I was buying one every year. My bright coats are kind of signature pieces for me and I enjoy wearing them. I love purple, but it isn’t a high priority to replace the purple coat at this time. I still like it and actually wore it today! I looked into buying the jeans in a smaller size, but the tall length (which I need to wear with boots/heels) isn’t currently available. I’m going to check back periodically and hopefully will luck out at some point.

  2. Thank you very much for baring your soul as you do on your site. I’ve learned so much about my own personal style over the past six weeks since making the commitment to be ‘conscious’ of my wardrobe and my style.

    I have a basic spreadsheet and I created a graphic based on Polyvore that more or less match the pieces in my wardrobe.

    We’re at the end of summer here in Australia so I’m ready to start rotating in an autumn wardrobe. What I’ve learned over the past six weeks (I didn’t start on my capsule/ Project 333 until the end of the first week of January), was that I have can have so much more fun with my clothes by having a limited range to play with.

    For example, a lace maxi-skirt I was lukewarm about has become a favourite because I was forced to pair it with tops which I wouldn’t have considered before. Those options were hidden in the ‘forest’ of clothes I owned.

    By being deliberate, I’ve discovered what colours and styles suit me (I’m a tall, long-waisted, hourglass Deep Winter).

    In preparing my autumn wardrobe, another skirt which was so close to being sent to the charity store will be one of the feature pieces because I now know I can pull off bold colour blocking.

    Oh, and don’t get me on my new favourites – silk and satin scarves…!

    • Thanks for sharing your process, Elizabeth. I agree that we are often more creative with our wardrobe when we work with less. When I did Project 333, I used my scarves and creative color combinations a lot more to help infuse variety into my outfits. I don’t do that as much when I am working with my wardrobe at large. Your lace maxi-skirt sounds like a wonderful summer option and how great that a skirt you were going to donate is now a feature piece for you. I wish you continued success with refining your personal style and getting more mileage out of your wardrobe. I’m glad my blog has been helpful along the way!

  3. I vote for new jeans a size down! Not because I am trying to encourage you to shop, but if your weight fluctuates wouldn’t it be great to know you had flattering pants to wear whatever your size?

    I love the cobalt top and coat outfit especially! Glad to see you wearing your velvet coat. I think you could casualize it with jeans, especially in a more casual light to medium wash.

    I’ve been tracking what I wear daily for almost a year now and it has been incredibly useful! I don’t have a formal outfit journal system but lately I do write some brief comments about whether or not I liked an outfit. I too often find myself wishing for better underpinnings!

    I ‘m a couple months into a capsule wardrobe experiment right now — I resisted this for a long time because my goal isn’t really a “minimalist wardrobe.” But I do think that I’ve learned a lot about wardrobe structure — the balance between neutrals and colors, and of different types of garments that work for me.

    • I would love to get the jeans in a size down, Sarah, but they aren’t currently available 😦 I will keep checking back, though. I’m going to try the velvet coat with jeans, as I’ve only worn it with dressier looks thus far. How great that you’re doing a capsule wardrobe experiment and finding it helpful. I did Project 333 twice and found it highly beneficial even though I wasn’t really going for “minimalist” at the time, either. That and wardrobe tracking has made a huge difference for me and I’m glad it is for you, too.

  4. I vote for new jeans as well! Set the ones aside that don’t fit, in case your weight fluctuates, as you indicated. No need to try and make them fit

    • I think that’s probably the way to go, Paula. I tend to want to make everything fit me NOW, but it’s good to have options for weight changes or bloated days. I’m just sad that my previous favorite jeans don’t look as fab anymore, but I still have some other jeans that I love and may not even need to buy a new pair.

  5. Interesting notes! I don’t think the purple coat photographs that badly (although it may look different in person). The patch pockets get a bad rap but I think the waist detail actually counteracts it quite nicely. It gives the impression of wearing a belt without the fussiness. (Note to self- get this in my next coat).

    I think the wrap style of that chocolate brown top is also very flattering to your figure. The diagonal stripes on your last top echo this construction as well- I think you’ve definitely hit on a staple silhouette for yourself. DVF was onto something with her wrap dress. It really does flatter everyone. I love that you are leaning towards more fitted, structured items as I think you will be really pleased with the results (as long as they are comfortable of course!) since you are so tall and slim!

    • Oops I’m seeing that wrap top is actually black. But the illusion of chocolate brown, I think, actually really looks nice with your skin and hair tones.

    • Bridgette Raes thought the wrap top was chocolate brown, too, Sarah, so you’re in good company. I can do chocolate brown, but have been off of brown for a while now. I’ll probably circle back around to it at some point, but I do like the black top and feel it’s a good silhouette for me. I am definitely preferring more fitted items as of late and have soured on the baggier fits for the most part. I still like the purple coat and actually wore it today, but I’m not sure how much more life it has in it. I may get one more season out of it, but probably not much more. I agree that the waist detail is a good counterpoint to the patch pockets. I likely won’t buy something with those types of pockets again, though.

  6. Oh my, you’re gorgeous in the cobalt striped top and in the teal one!
    Like Jessica in the first comment, I realized your coats are really similar. At first I thought you had bought the same model in different colors! I especially love the turquoise and I felt like it would have been great with your teal striped top and black pants. Maybe because I’m “bothered” by the fact that the velvet coat and the pants aren’t the same black (maybe it’s just the light in the picture).
    I don’t think you should buy new jeans if you are wearing the one that used to be too tight (except if you don’t love those off course). As you said, you don’t need much things but you have too much so why buy something you already have?
    Like Sarah above, I think you could wear your velvet coat more often if associated with jeans. That’s my case: my black coat cinches the waist and from there to the knees it’s quite wide (a bit like a redingote from the 18th century!) so it can be very dressy, but worn with a pair of medium washed jeans I can use it everyday.
    I look forward your next posts on both your outfit journal and the LIWI challenge!

    • Actually, you’re not too far off, Cedrique. I DID buy the same brand and similar model of coat in four different colors, but I no longer have one of them. The cobalt blue coat is a different brand, though. I used to be very into “multiples,” but in my defense, I bought them all a year apart (they were part of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale four years in a row!). The velvet coat and black pants look like a much better match in person, but I will also give the turquoise coat a try with the fourth outfit (great idea!). I will also try casualizing the velvet coat with jeans so I can get more wear from it (since I really like it). As for the jeans, I have two pairs of slimmer-fitting jeans that I like a lot more after I dropped a bit of weight. I’m going to see if those jeans will fit the bill for many of my outfits and save the looser ones for bloated days or if I (perish the thought!) gain some weight back. I’m glad you like these types of posts. LIWI update next week!

  7. I’ve enjoyed following your blog and journey. It has inspired me and I’ve shared it with friends. We all regularly refer to our clothes as “all stars” or “benchwarmers”.
    I would love to see a light colorful scarf worn in #2 and a pretty silver chain necklace with interest in #3 and #4. I think accessories really add more interest to an outfit and make the fun, love to wear factor increase. Similar to how like Bridgette styles her outfits (she is how I found you in the first place).
    Not to be negative but just a thought as I looked at your outfits.
    Yes to new jeans!!

    • How fun that you are your friends are using the terms “all stars” and “benchwarmers,” Terrie. Maybe they will become commonplace style references at some point 🙂 Thanks for the styling suggestions for my outfits. I have quite a few scarves and necklaces that I rarely wear, so I would be fun to try to incorporate them more. I tend to be a bit of an accessories “minimalist,” but if I push myself outside of the box a bit more, I may find that I like the alternate looks.

  8. You are stunningly beautiful in every outfit photographed. Do you really need 3 coats? Why not just wear your favorites, and not split your wears. Though all 3 coats are lovely and look great on you. I also vote for you to keep the jeans as they are. Save them to wear at home and/or on days when you feel bloated, and need a more baggy fit. Buy a new pair in a smaller size or with a tighter fit. Most importantly is that you look wonderful, confident and happy. I remember back when I first began to discover my style, and learned that I really didn’t need all that much, and I released what I didn’t need or love. It’s a great feeling, isn’t it.

    • Thanks so much for the stunningly beautiful comment, Terra! No, I probably don’t need as many coats as I have, but I do enjoy wearing them. I will likely get rid of a few of my coats/jackets soon, but not the ones in this post, as they still get a lot of wear (I just wore the purple coat today, actually). Good suggestion about the jeans. I definitely have my bloated days when I will appreciate having a pair of looser fitting jeans. I will see if I really need to buy another pair of jeans, as I have quite a few pairs that fit me pretty well. Yes, it DOES feel great to realize that I don’t need a lot and get let go of things that I don’t love or don’t suit me. Less really can be more!

  9. Hi Debbie!

    Almost didn’t comment but just had to tell you: these kinds of entries are A+ material. So, so helpful and straightforward. Hard to believe you could improve on your format, but you’ve done so here.

    All three outfits look terrific. I agree that great clothes merit great underpinnings–they’ll fit better, too. Why not get some new underwear before you make a final decision on the jeans?

    Also, I really loved the comment about how little you need to have great looks. Keep on keeping on!

    • I really appreciate your comment on my blog material, Amy. I always try to write interesting content, so it’s nice when readers let me know that they’re enjoying what I’ve shared. I think your suggestion to find new underwear before buying new jeans is a good idea. No matter what, the underwear need to be a priority, so I’m going to keep looking and will hopefully find a good option soon. Thanks for your kind words and encouragement!

  10. First, congrats on the quote and mention of your latest book in the Daily Mail article! Seeing you quoted in print, my first reaction was “OMG-I know her!”

    Reading your journal thoughts paired with these great photos was fascinating, and confirmed something I’ve realized lately: How our clothes FEEL is just as important as how they look! This epiphany has helped me move toward wearing mostly flats, instead of “pretty” heels, and it’s also been a good way to weed out benchwarmers as I continue to plow through my ongoing wardrobe purge. In fact, “How does this feel?” is the #2 question on my list, right after “Do I love this?” All your photos LOOK great, but it’s interesting to learn that they didn’t feel good for one reason or another.

    I have also had similar thoughts on panties lately, and just ordered several brands on sale in hopes of finding some that won’t ride up. If any of these work, I’ll let you know the style and brands, since you and I seem to have very similar shapes. I finally got fitted for a decent bra two years ago and started wearing the only one that fits me (LaFemme by Wacoal; not cheap but worth every penny and sometimes available NWT on eBay for much lower prices.)

    I think you’re really starting to hone in on what looks work best for you. All of these outfits are so flattering, both the items and the colors. Not to encourage you to shop, but I just wanted to share an item with you that has gone from a benchwarmer to a fave for me this year: black twill jeans. I have some by Jones New York and an identical pair from LOFT that are straight-legged jeans style (not skinny) but more of a twill fabric in a dark true black, rather than a faded denim kind of black. These have become my go-to bottoms in for a multitude of occasions, and they seem to perfectly straddle the line between dressy and casual. I know you fall a little to the more casual side than I do, but these are so much more versatile than either black dress pants or my black denim skinny jeans, and they can be worn with flats, suede ankle booties or tucked into riding boots. I wore them to my recent conference with a black knit blazer and embellished blush Ann Taylor top and looked like I was wearing a suit. I can also style them with a chunky knit sweater tucked into knee high suede boots, or with a cobalt blue turtleneck, quilted black vest and scarf for three completely different looks. When it was icy here last week, I wore them three days in a row, styled as described above, and not one person noticed that I had worn the same pants for three days. I was thinking with each of your outfits that I would have worn the same exact thing except with my black jeans. Thanks for sharing these thoughts with us in such detail – it’s so helpful to combine your written thoughts with the photos for the full picture! Looking forward to similar posts and to seeing how the LIWI challenge impacts these sort of decisions for all of us!

    • I also found “Jean style” pants in twill, that are perfect for everyday, not too dressy or too casual. I purchased 3 colors, black, navy and wine, and have worn them all winter. They are J Brand from Saks off 5th outlet. They can be dressed up or down, and worn tucked in boots or with flats. Same here TexasAggieMom, I have worn my multiple days styled differently. Finally found pants I like. It seems like most pants are super tight lately. Love your post Debbie.

    • I love that you are asking yourself both if you love things and how they feel, TexasAggieMom. My journal has really helped me to hone in on the feeling aspect of my clothes, as I was focused too much on the look facet previously. Both are important! Good luck with the panties and please let me know if any work out for you. Our undergarments are very important parts of our outfits even if most people will never see them. Your black twill jeans sound great and like something I would really enjoy having. I looked at the Loft site and couldn’t figure out which ones you were referring to, so if you could respond to this and let me know or send me a private message, that would be great. I believe you’re tall, too, so your recommendation would be of particular value to me.

      Jan, your jeans sound great, too! I don’t know if I’ve ever tried on J Brand, but I think I might have a long time ago. I definitely could use some great black jeans. I bought one pair last year, but they didn’t really work out and my other pair is very old and needs to be replaced. The wine pair sounds like it would be a good color for me, too. I know what you mean about pants being super tight lately. Even the “boyfriend” fits seem to be tight on me, as my hips and thighs are curvier than a lot of people’s. Glad you liked my post!

  11. Looking at your pictures, with your sleek hair style and the earrings you choose…..and your height…it suddenly came upon me that you are perfect for for Eileen Fisher clothes. Sell, consign, donate, ditch everything you own….no more quibbling….no more church lady looks by accident…no more parsing every little detail. Start clean and new.
    You are attractive…and you can do this….everything I have seen so far on your body seems to diminish you instead of complimenting your natural gifts.
    I have no personal stake in this…..I wish I was taller and sleeker so I could do exactly what I’m recommending to you…..sigh.

    • I like Eileen Fisher’s clothes, Gloria, and have a skirt and a dress by that brand However, since she doesn’t carry offer tall sizes, a lot of her pieces don’t work for me, especially pants. I have neither the desire nor the budget to replace my entire wardrobe, but I am definitely open to adding some strategic pieces in new styles and brands. I like a lot of what I have and many of the outfits I wear, but I realize they aren’t for everybody. I feel happy with how my style is evolving over time and I feel I’m on a good path overall. My “Love It, Wear It” challenge is working how I want it to, so I expect there will be far fewer “church lady looks,” at least by my definition.

  12. I agree with everyone else. You look wonderful in all of your outfits. The last two stripe tops are also my favourite of yours.

    As I’ve been fine tuning my wardrobe and trying very hard not to buy anything new to replace what I got rid of, I would suggest you might want to try doing the same thing for one season. I’m now down to 38 items for my fall/winter wardrobe and 29 for spring/summer. This also includes shoes but not bags (which I only have 2 so I’m not counting them). My natural course of action for years is to replace a higher quality or somehow ‘better’ item from the one I purged. I noticed through my donated/sold inventory list that I got rid of some items that were the same. For example, coats – I now have 2 for winter while before I had 9, but 2 out of 9 were purchased only 3 months ago. So obviously I never needed to replace my coats in the first place! Once I got over the uncomfortable feeling of only having 2 coats, I felt great and honestly, I only wear one. The other one I love and it’s fairly new but I don’t reach for it as often.

    My new experiment is to keep what I have, perhaps continue to get rid of items that are not in rotation (at this point I have to go slow otherwise I really won’t have much left!) and not replace anything until next year. If I really need it, then I will get it next fall/winter and hold off on getting it right away. I think part of being creative is to find solutions for the so-called holes in our wardrobes. It’s not going to be easy for me but your blog does give me emotional support when I feel like pressing the ‘buy now’ button.

    • Your wardrobe sounds very streamlined, Wendy, and I congratulate you on not rushing out to buy more after you pared down. I think it’s a good idea to work with what you have, as I agree that we are often more creative when we work with less. Like you, I frequently rush out to replace things that perhaps don’t even need to be replaced. I’m glad that I’m doing that less often these days, though. You seem to be making excellent progress and I’m happy that my blog serves as support for you in your journey. Keep up the great work!

  13. I too dislike large pockets on coats as it makes my hips look bigger. Sometimes it’s possible to have them removed or you may be able to do it yourself with a seam ripper depending on how they’re attached.
    Regarding underwear, riding up was a never-ending issue for me for some reason. That all changed when I bought the kind that have thin silicone grips on the back edges (also eliminated VPL). I bought mine at Target a couple years ago but it seems they don’t have them anymore. I should have bought another dozen while they were still available!

    • I’m not sure if I can remove the pockets on the purple coat, Emmy, but it’s something to look into and consider. Your underwear sound great! It’s too bad they’re no longer available. It used to be that we could easily find the same styles over and over again, but fashion moves so fast these days, even in the area of undergarments. We don’t want to overdo it and buy too many “multiples,” so we have to find some way to strike a good balance and have what we need. I hope you find another good option soon. One pair of underwear I tried at Nordstrom had those types of silicone grips, but they weren’t the right fit for me. Great idea, though!

  14. The outfits look a little bare to me, because you’re missing a scarf/hat. That must be a benefit of living in California!

    I like the neckline of shirt #2 with the coat better than the neckline of #1. I think the V-neckline with the coats is flattering because it shows some skin and you get some contrast from the collar.

    Personally I’d just buy smaller jeans and put the bigger size away for a time when you’re at your heavier weight. It seems to me that you haven’t had much success with altered clothing, it never seems to fix whatever the problem was adequately. Jeans do not cost that much and you can keep the too big ones for a time when you’ve had too many snacks and put on a few pounds. It happens to us all 😦

    • Yes, I hardly ever wear a winter scarf or hat, Ginger, and I’m a bit of an oddball here in San Diego with my coats (I feel the cold more than most). I agree that v-necks are more flattering with my coats and I like that neckline better on me anyway. I think you’re right about the jeans. None of us expect to go up and down in weight, but it happens to a lot of us, especially when we get into our 40’s and beyond. I don’t even fluctuate all that much, but since I tend to carry weight in my lower half, it doesn’t take a lot to need a larger size.

  15. I really like the black top on you and think it would look great with the purple coat. Thanks for being so open to our critiques.

    • Thanks for the tip, Kathy. I like black and purple together (and pretty much black and any other color, really). I try to be open to suggestions as much as I can, as we often don’t see ourselves as clearly as others do. Of course, flat photos can only tell so much, but since I don’t receive too much input in real life, I’m glad that I get ideas from readers. I’ve learned a lot from all of you over the past two-plus years.

  16. It is a great idea to rate outfits on “comfort” as well as appearance. And for me, the comfort is not only physical but psychological. I’ve finally started asking myself if I feel “like me” in my outfits.

    You look so pretty in all the pictures! I have to confess that after seeing a previous picture of you in the teal striped top, I thought you looked so cute that when I saw a similar top at Nordstrom’s I bought it. Unfortunately, my shape is a bit different than yours, and I spent a lot of the day tugging at the top – so I sent it on to a good home. But I’m grateful for that lesson too, because I’ve finally realized that just because something looks good on someone else does not mean it’s great for me. Slowly but surely I am zeroing in on my own style. Thanks for the help!

    • So true about psychological comfort being as important as physical comfort, Murphy. I know there are a lot of things that look good on me but that don’t feel like “me” for whatever reason. We have to pay attention to our inner voice. As for buying things that look good on others, I have done that quite a few times to less than stellar results. I’m learning to admire certain styles on others and stay clear of them for myself. It’s good to learn what suits us best, both in terms of our shape and in terms of our personal style. I’m glad you’re making progress in those areas and I’m happy that my blog has been helpful!

  17. Hi Debbie! My comment today is not really directed to the topic of this post, but I have felt such a need to vent about my winter wardrobe in general. I’ve spent a great deal of time and effort to perfect my wardrobe this season–only to be fooled by ….the weather. For a solid month we have had nothing but snow. As I look out my window this morning, fat fluffy flakes are falling (how’s that for alliteration, lol?!), covering the already 12+” that have been on the ground for weeks.

    It is impossible to wear normal shoes or nice boots outdoors. For over a month my footgear has consisted of Bearpaw (ugg-like) boots or heavy lug soled hiking boots to have traction. The snow is so deep you have to wear boots to keep your feet dry. The temps have been in in the teens and below. We got slammed with the tail end of the east coast snow you’ve been hearing about on the news.

    For over a month I’ve been functioning dressed as I live in the North Pole. My daily attire consists of corduroy pants, with tees and sweaters layered on top, a boring black down parka, and gloves. I look like I am going camping every day.

    So I ask myself, if this is the result of global warming, should I ditch most of my better clothes and just buy my clothes from Eddie Bauer for the winter going forward? Why waste resources on good clothes if I can’t wear them? It makes me sad to see my carefully curated wardrobe hanging unworn because of the weather. I have to go outside a lot and it’s not practical to dress inappropriately for the cold.

    It depresses me to dress in hiking boots, corduroy pants and a black down parka everyday. I think longingly of how I used to be able to dress in stylish winter attire in years past. I look at the nicer clothes waiting to be worn and I feel sad that I’m pigeonholed into dressing like I’m going hiking every day in order to keep warm from the elements.

    Does anyone else feel this way?

    • It sounds as if this is unusual. That being said you will probably have plenty of time to enjoy this curated wardrobe for a longer spring. Just adding in a few fresh spring colors. Weather has it’s cycles. It’s hard not to reap the rewards of a well thought out wardrobe and all that hard work go for nought. Just remember the joy of the process and what you learned.. I have really had the same only reverse here in the Pacific Northwest. We are starting to have spring way to early so for a totally different reason I didn’t get to wear my winter capsule as much. I haven’t traded it out yet because we often have a winter weather redo. I find these weather patterns have a 7 yearish cycle.

      • Kathy, the past two winters have been like this here, which is why I am questioning if I should rethink what I consider the components of a good winter wardrobe. Two days ago the weather man announced that we had just broken the last cold spell record set in history for this area–which was the winter of 2012!

        For years, I have bought all types of clothing from Eddie Bauer, and they used to carry a good blend of outdoor wear and work-type clothing. You could go to EB for nicely made dresses and separates that were appropriate for the office. (The receptionist at my MD’s office loves her EB corduroy dresses with boots for the winter, and was lamenting that they are no longer available.) A few years ago, EB began cutting back on the work-type clothing and are now focused on outdoor wear, with the accompanying pants, shirts, shoes, etc. While I realize that people of all walks now wear much more casual clothing for business no matter where you live, I wonder if EB is just being smart in anticipation of projected weather patterns, strategically positioning themselves in a niche they see becoming more important in the future?

      • Kathy and Deby, I agree. Weather patterns for the past 2-3 years have been so unusual it has become near impossible to plan a wardrobe in advance for any given season. In some regions winter lasts darn near forever, and in other regions unusual endless summer with extremely hot weather prevails for the better part of the year. And since we have no idea what is ahead for us in any given season, and it is not possible to buy “what” you need “when” you need it due to the (stupid) fashion industry, it takes all of the fun out of clothing and getting dressed.

    • I understand your dilemma! For the second year in a row, we’re having unusually cold, icy weather in north Texas and I am really struggling to dress for work. Our normal dress code is business formal – suits, dresses with jackets, etc. I have tried to buy more wool items, but they are difficult to find in this area, so I have to rely on on-line retailers. I don’t really like the lumberjack look, but you’re right – what else can you wear when you’re slipping and sliding your way into the office every day? I’m going to try to add more fleece-lined tights and wool turtlenecks in hopes that I can wear them under my usual pantsuits and stay reasonably warm next year. Footwear really is the toughest thing, so I’ve been wearing snow boots and changing once I get inside the building. Here’s hoping for warmer, drier weather soon for all of us!

    • I felt this way last year for sure. I was so sick of corduroy pants and hiking boots by the end of the season. Ugh. So I focused very little attention to winter wardrobe this year while I tried to figure this out. I bought a few sweaters for work, and a really cute puffy coat because my previous one had bitten the dust after last winter’s polar vortex. But what I have come to realize this year is that my focus for adding to my winter wardrobe going forward should be those things which are going to be seen the most and get the most wear. It suddenly dawned on me one day that I only own two winter coats. And I live in a place where I wear a winter coat just about every single day for four months straight. That’s just crazy! No wonder I get so sick of the stuff I’m wearing. I’m understocked in outer wear and overstocked in cute clothes which rarely get seen, even if they are worn. So I’m now on the prowl for coats to add to my wardrobe as well as scarves of all kinds. Things to really mix it up on the outer layer. Because except for work that’s what most people see me in, or at least that’s the first impression I make.

      • Holly, I only have one winter coat– the ubiquitous black down parka! You can imagine how boring I feel! Like you, I wear a winter coat 4-5 months out of the year. I walk the dog every day, get wet a lot. Maybe it’s time to have more than one coat!

    • I really feel for all those who live with extreme winter weather. I have spent the majority of my life in either Northern or Southern California, so I can’t really relate. Even the three winters that I spent in Colorado and Lake Tahoe weren’t anywhere as extreme as what the East Coast of the US has experienced the past two years. I’m glad that others chimed in to commiserate with you, Deby. I knew that there would be other readers who are going through what you are. I can only imagine how hard it must be to have to wear Ugg-type shoes every day (I’ve always wondered why so many people wear them where I live when there is absolutely NO need) and big bulky coats, hats, and scarves day in and day out. This must be all the more difficult when one has a carefully curated wardrobe for the usual types of weather that one’s area generally has.

      I can only comment on the reverse side of the equation, to which Terra also referred to above. Our summer last year was completely different from what we usually experience. I often felt like I had been transported to Florida without my knowledge, as it was extremely hot and humid for months and months in Southern California last year. I was only able to wear about half of my summer wardrobe as a result, so I kind of understand your frustration from a different angle. I hope that we will have our “normal” summer this year so I can wear more of my clothes (and not hate my hair every waking moment like I did last summer). I don’t know how those who live in Florida and other hot, humid areas do it. I guess having air conditioning must help, as we don’t have it in San Diego (usually no need…). I hope the crazy weather subsides for you soon, Deby and others who are in the deep freeze. You definitely have my sympathy!

  18. Debbie,
    I love the black faux-wrap top on you. It’s a favorite style that I’ve worn for years. You might want to note that Talbots has a faux-wrap knit top this spring. It’s offered in six colors. I bought three of them during a recent 40% off promotion! Last fall I bought four colors, mainly as replacements for the Ann Taylor versions that hadn’t held up very well over the last two years. I wear these tops to work, to church, and on the weekends, so I don’t feel guilty about having multiples.

    • Thanks for the compliment, Maddie. I don’t know why I don’t wear that top more often, as I really should! I will check out the Talbots similar options, as I do like the faux-wrap style. Thanks for the suggestion. I agree that multiples can sometimes be a good thing, as long as we don’t overdo it (like I used to do all the time!).

  19. Hi,
    I usually look at your blog every week or two and have your ebook. I just wanted to say that HSN has superstretch jeans by Diane Gilman in tall. (I like the fit in her jeans but they still don’t come small enough for me – I am between a size 0 and 2.) Looks like you are wearing a bootcut. I think NYDJ has tall as well but maybe only on-line. (I can find the petite lengths at Nordstrom and even at Nordstrom Rack online sometimes. 6pm.com has them too. I usually wait until they go on sale.)

    I wondered if you had had your “colors” done recently. I think you definitely look better in the warmer colors, such as turquoise and purple, then you look in black and navy but that is just my opinion. I had my seasonal colors redone a few years ago and am a “warm autumn.” I still love gray and colors close to the color of dirt since I have a large dog that sheds and black is out. I try and put a scarf in one of my more flattering colors near my face – I am favoring olive in my scarves at the moment.

    I know Eddie Bauer had some of their coats in a pretty aubergine but they might be too casual for you. (I have the insulated “girl on the go” – the insulated layer is removeable – in a grayish teal and it does have some tailoring. It looks nice on even in the petite lengths.)

    If I think of other ideas, I will write a short comment.

    • Thanks for your suggestion about the jeans, Maggie. It can be hard to find tall jeans, so I always appreciate learning about other options. I haven’t had my colors done formally, but when I had a virtual session with Bridgette Raes, she said she was reasonably certain that I was a Winter (she couldn’t be 100% sure over Skype and via photos). I wrote about that in this post: https://recoveringshopaholic.com/virtual-styling-session-with-bridgette-raes-part-two/ My most preferred colors are bright jewel tones, but I also like black and Bridgette told me that I can wear black well. I like gray, too, but only certain grays work on me (if they’re too light, I look washed out). I will check out the aubergine coat at Eddie Bauer – thanks for the recommendation. I have a very casual lifestyle, so it might work well for me. I don’t really NEED a new coat, but I like that Eddie Bauer has tall option and I do buy quite a few items there as a result.

  20. I forgot to mention that if you are looking for tops in black, white or a mix, White House Black Market always had a variety to choose from throughout the year. I worked there for a few months one year and was surprised at their strong following. I have older sisters who shop there now when they need a few tailored pieces that fit well. I have seen WHBM clothes on women of all shapes and sizes. The store is well-stocked, the sizing is pretty consistent and the clothing is very well cut. WHBM also changes their featured “color” each month so if a color you like is being featured, you can find tops and bottoms and usually some prints too.

    Most of their clientele are working women or women who need something dressy to go out.

    They usually have faux wrap tops too.

    • Thanks for this additional tip, Maggie. I do like White House Black Market, but I haven’t shopped there much as of late. I do like that they have lots of black and white prints and that they switch out their “feature colors.” I have to remember to check out their options when I’m looking for something specific, especially since you mentioned that they often carry faux-wrap tops. I think that’s a good style for me. I appreciate all of the suggestions you have given me. Thank you for sharing.

  21. Also – Lands End has some really pretty Italian wool coats in the fall/winter in some stunning jewel tones and classic colors. I bought my daughter one on sale a year ago and it is just lovely.
    If there is a sale in the store but they don’t have your size or color, you can ask them to order it on-line and they can make a call to give you the same sale price that is in the store.

    • You are a wealth of information, Maggie, and I really appreciate your taking the time to share. I will keep Lands End in mind for coat options come Fall. I know they carry talls, too. I don’t always need talls in coats/jackets, but it’s good to have the option when necessary.

  22. The blue coat looks smashing on you because it has a very well-defined waist (great color too). I think the other two coats have too much volume and overwhelm your small frame — at least they do unbuttoned. But the old winter-hardened Yankee in me wonders why, if you live in God’s paradise on earth, you have 3 coats of roughly the same weight and warmth. Why “save” the black one to wear a few times a year (unless if reverts to a special occasion coat for very dressy events)? Why not have one great coat that you can wear with lots of different stuff? That’s the cheap-o in me talking. I have 3 coats and one jacket for all 4 seasons — a dressy black coat, a down coat for sub-zero days, and short jacket, and a raincoat. The short jacket is a hand-me-down from my sister, the dress coat is a successful resale shop purchase ($40), the raincoat is of come vintage, and the down coat was purchased after last year’s Polar Vortex — on sale and with an employee discount — for very little money. And I still debated for weeks about whether I “needed” it but the full-length dressy coat is not very warm when the temperature falls below 0 F. I attend a number of events for which I need a longer coat (and I’ve had this one for more than 10 years), so I didn’t want to eliminate it nor could I replace it for almost any money as long (like just below the knee) coats seem to have gone the way of the dodo bird . But I have been very toasty in the down coat, so I think I have justified it’s existence in my closet. I don’t wear a coat unless I button/zip it, meaning it has to be cold enough (or rainy enough) to wear a coat at all. And I always add a scarf or hat or whatever to accessorize.

    Focusing on sleeve length is a good idea — a “long” 3/4 or bracelet length seem to look best on you. I’m glad you ditched the top with shorter sleeves — looked like you borrowed it from Barbie. I sound super crabby and picky. Sorry!! You look GREAT in each photo – confident and relaxed as other have said.

    Be careful, if you have your jeans altered, with placement of back pockets. You don’t want them too close together.

    • My coats aren’t all that warm, Dottie, and it does get cold (or at least cool) where I live. I actually wear most of my coats pretty often. The black one is a bit trickier because it’s velvet, but I really like it and need to learn to dress it down or just be comfortable being more dressed up than most others around me (people don’t dress up much here). I did go a bit crazy with buying coats in the years before I started my blog and I bought one last year that I should have left in the store. I’ve been gradually paring things down, but I do like my bright coats and will wear them as long as I continue to love them.

      In regards to sleeve length, I used to not be picky enough about that when I really should have been. It’s just as important as pants length and I’ve been a stickler about that forever. I don’t have many 3/4 sleeved tops left at this point because the sleeve length is tricky on me. I don’t think I’m going to alter the jeans, but I know what you mean about the pocket placement. Too close together is just as bad as too far apart. I’ve usually had pants taken in at the sides instead of the middle for that reason.

  23. Debbie, I love your coat collection! I commented above about living in a polar zone and only owning two winter coats. What’s up with that, I ask myself? Not that your winter coats would qualify as winter for me, but you know what I mean…

    What I really wanted to after looking at these outfits is that you rock stripes like no one else I know! Way to go on figuring out what you love and what works for you.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Holly. I love my bright coats and you know I love my stripes, too! I have a lot of coats for where I live, so I can only imagine how many I might have if I lived in the polar zone… I would definitely select warmer coats, though, as most of my coats just don’t cut it in actual cold weather. The cobalt one is the warmest, but I was still really feeling the cold when I wore it in Tahoe in December 2013.

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