Way back in the fall of 2013, I wrote a post about lessons from closet favorites, using my summer wardrobe from that year as an example. In that post, I shared photos of my favorite items from that season and looked for common threads among them that could inform my future shopping. Today I’d like to do the same with my cool weather wardrobe (the cool weather season spans from December through June where I live – we don’t really get true winters here).
For most people in the northern hemisphere, summer has officially begun even if there are a few days left of spring on the calendar. This is a good time to take stock of last season’s wardrobe and how it did or didn’t meet our needs. If you’re reading this from Down Under or similar parts of the world, you may want to take a look instead at your fall (autumn) clothing for the purposes of this exercise, since that season is coming to a close for you.
Singling Out Our Favorites
Unlike how I typically do things (like with my wardrobe tracking), I didn’t get too scientific with the selection of my favorite cool weather pieces. I just looked at the photos of my items and singled out the ones that I felt I wore most often and loved the most. There are other clothes that I love, but which may not see much play for a variety of reasons, the most significant being that they don’t dovetail well with my casual lifestyle. The clothes I feature below are all a good match for my current body, lifestyle, and personal sense of style.
But before I show you my favorites and delve into a bit of analysis, I’d like to quickly outline how you can follow along with this exercise. Here are some basic instructions:
- Go to your closet and look at all of your clothes and shoes (and accessories, too, if desired) from the past season.
- Ask yourself which pieces you wore most often and/or loved the most (sometimes things we wear a lot aren’t really favorites…).
- Look at each wardrobe category (tops, bottoms, shoes, jackets, etc.) and select your “most valuable players.”
- Write down or take photos of the items (aim for at least 10 and probably no more than 35 or so) that you wore regularly and loved wearing.
- Look for common themes among those pieces and jot those down as well. Consider styles, colors, prints, fabrics, and other key features of your wardrobe favorites.
My Cool Weather “Most Valuable Players” (MVPs)
Here’s how I translated the exercise… The items below are what I consider my favorite pieces from the cool weather season:
Now let’s take a look at these items by type so you can get a better look at them:
The Common Themes
So what common themes do you notice among my items above? Here are the things that came to mind for me:
- Black – Black is the key neutral in my wardrobe and has been for quite some time. Other neutral tones, such as brown, grey, and navy, have fallen in and out of my favor, but black has stood the test of time for me. There are 8 solid black pieces among my 27 favorites above and 3 of the printed items also include black. The purse I carried most often and the two pairs of shoes I favored are all black.
- Jewel tones – I enjoy pairing jewel-toned pieces with black or denim. My favorite jewel tones are cobalt, purple, burgundy, green, and turquoise. A full 14 of my cool weather favorites include some sort of jewel tone.
- Stripes – Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while knows about my love of stripes. Stripes are my favorite print and represent my signature style. Eight of my favorite pieces include some sort of striped pattern.
- Knits – My lifestyle is very casual and I like the ease and comfort of knit pieces. The majority of my cool weather favorite garments are knits. While some of my coats and pants are woven garments, all of my favorite tops from this past season are knits.
- Cotton / natural fibers – In addition to loving knits, I also favor cotton and other natural fibers over synthetics. I find natural fibers more comfortable and breathable. When I occasionally deviate from this preference and purchase a synthetic garment, it very rarely becomes a closet favorite. I am much happier when I stick to natural fibers and especially cotton.
- Henley style tops – I didn’t realize that I loved Henley style tops that much until I looked at my favorites side by side. The proof is there for me in vibrant color! I think I like the visual interest that the buttons add, along with the flexibility for changing the neckline and level of modesty. A full 7 of the 13 tops shown above are Henley style.
- Waffle tops – I have long known that I like to wear waffle-style tops in the cooler months. I like that they are warmer and that stretch is usually incorporated into these types of tops. Six of my favorite tops from last season are waffle style and two of them have been in my closet since at least 2010.
- Slim-fit jeans – Slimmer-fit jeans are a new favorite of mine beginning with this year. While I previously favored boot-cut styles, I now prefer narrower straight-leg jeans. I mostly wore the same two pairs of jeans over and over again. I recently purchased a third pair in black, which I’m sure will become a favorite as well.
- Long, fitted coats – I have liked thigh-length fitted coats since I bought my first one (the purple coat shown above) in late 2007. I went a bit overboard in buying this style in every color I could find, but many of those purchases remain among my favorites. My four favorite coats shown above all adhere to this style.
- Boots – I practically lived in black boots this past season. I mostly wore the same two pairs repeatedly, but I also have a third pair (not pictured) that saw a fair amount of wear as well, as did the new grey pair that I added to my closet this year (pictured here). I run cold, so I like that I can wear socks with my boots, plus I really like the streamlined look of boots with my slim-fit jeans.
Interesting to Note…
Interestingly, although I made this list without looking at my list from the 2013 article, there are a few common elements that have held true over time. Black, jewel tones, and cotton pieces remain key features among my favorite wardrobe items almost two years later.
It’s also interesting to note that 18 of the 20 items shown in my 2013 post remain in my closet. The only two pieces that have been passed on are two of the skirts, as I have changed my skirt preference to either maxi length or shorter and more fitted. I will do a summer favorites post later this year, at which time I will do more analysis and comparison/contrast with my 2013 preferences.
In looking at my 2015 cool weather favorites, I feel I could have easily done the wardrobe challenge Project 333 (if you’re not familiar, learn about it here) in recent months. I could have easily selected an additional six items to round out a cohesive capsule that I would happily wear for a three month (or longer) period. Once again, I have basically been doing Project 333 without really trying, much like I did and wrote about last summer. This runs in sharp contrast to the agonizing process I went through to select my first Project 333 capsule wardrobe back in April 2013.
Just for grins, I gave a bit of thought to what I would add to round out a Project 333 wardrobe for myself, assuming that I’m only including clothing and shoes in my capsule (I know the purists include accessories, too, but I like to have more variety there). Here’s what I would add and why:
- AGL black flats – I haven’t been as into wearing flat shoes lately, so I’d probably prefer to add a pair of heels instead, but virtually all of my heels have open toes. I do have one pair of pewter closed-toe pumps, but I think the black flats would be more versatile with the rest of the capsule. I also think these shoes would pair well with my slim-fit jeans.
- Black straight-leg jeans – These are a new closet addition as of last month, but since I like black and slim-fit jeans so much, they are an obvious choice for adding to a Project 333 capsule. They would pair well with the other black pieces and jewel-toned items shown above.
- Black/white/yellow tunic – I thought it would be good to add a couple of dressier pieces to the capsule, and this top fits the bill. It’s also a very different style from the other tops shown above. It would work well with the slim-fit jeans in the capsule and can be dressed up or down.
- Grey boots – These were another easy addition, especially since I have favored boots so much this year. I could wear these boots with jeans and with many of my favorite tops. They also look nice with the coats in the capsule.
- Grey embellished open cardigan – For a while, I had grown tired of the open cardigans that I used to love. But since I started wearing slimmer-fit jeans, I have warmed up to the style once again. While the “drapiness” of these cardigans can look too voluminous with boot-cut jeans and flat shoes, the streamlined nature of slim-fit jeans and boots provides a good offset and makes for a nice pairing. This cardigan is a longtime favorite that has been in my closet since 2010. The embellishments on the sleeves add a nice, unexpected touch without being over the top.
- Teal/black striped top – This top makes a nice addition for dressier occasions and can also be dressed down with jeans. I love the color and the diagonal stripes. It is a more special type of striped top and is a flattering style for my frame (you can see a photo of me wearing it in this post).
That was an interesting and fun exercise to do. Here’s what my hypothetical Project 333 wardrobe would look like with my 27 favorites and 6 proposed additions:
I think it looks quite cohesive and I could easily see myself wearing and being happy with this wardrobe for at least a three month period. I’m not sure if or when I will officially do Project 333 again, but it feels good to realize that the prospect no longer feels overwhelming or daunting to me. I have genuinely become happier with less. Project 333 got me started on that path two years ago (read about my top lessons from doing the challenge here), and LIWI and my outfit journal have helped me to progress along that path.
I definitely feel that it was useful for me to take the time to identify my closet favorites from this past cool weather season. Isolating them into a folder and seeing them all together really helped me to see the common themes among these items. Understanding what I actually like to wear will help me to shop smarter in the future. I don’t want to have too many similar items in my closet, so I don’t plan to just buy more of the same. However, I can take the elements that these pieces have in common and use those to inform my buying decisions.
Conversely, we can also learn from our shopping mistakes. I did a post on that topic back in 2013 and it would probably be helpful for me to revisit that subject soon. Looking at the photos of my 2013 mistakes, it is extremely obvious to me now that I should have never bought any of the items shown in the first place. I’m glad I’ve learned at least a few things since that time…
I encourage you to take a bit of time to look at your wardrobe favorites from the past season and see what they have in common. If you decide to take this project on, I would love to read about what you learned. I invite you to share your insights in the comments section of this post. If you have any feedback you’d like to share on my favorites (maybe you noticed a unifying theme that I missed…), I welcome your input there as well.
I will be back soon with another post on wardrobe turnover and longevity (see the first one here), as well as another entry in my “lessons from my outfit journal” series (see the two most recent posts in that series here and here). If you have any suggestions for future posts, please leave them in the comments section or contact me directly to offer your ideas. Some of my best topics come from readers’ input, so share away. Thank you and have a wonderful weekend!