It’s been a little while since I last shared some entries from my outfit journal (see the most recent installment here), so it’s high time for another post in the series. For those who are new to the blog, I’ve been keeping a journal of my outfits since last summer. In this journal, I write what I wore, where I wore it, how I felt about my outfit, and what I would change if I had it to do over again. I also try to take photos of my outfits most days so I have both a visual and written representation of what I’m wearing. This process takes me just minutes each day and has helped me tremendously in improving my personal style and wardrobe satisfaction.
I’m going to do a mini “series within a series” beginning with today’s post. I will share two outfits from last summer as well as two outfits from this summer. The outfits I’ve selected from last summer are ones that I don’t think work for various reasons. I will share what I wrote about these outfits last year, as well as anything else I notice today about why the look didn’t work. I will also comment on how I would change the ensemble if I were wearing it this summer. The outfits from this summer are ones with which I was quite happy overall. The reason for sharing the new looks is to highlight what I’ve learned as a result of keeping an outfit journal for over a year. I have learned so much and I feel that it shows in what I’m wearing now and how my outfit satisfaction has increased.
In today’s post, I am including one skirt outfit and one dress outfit each from 2014 and 2015. Stay tuned for at least one or two more installments in this mini-series. I may even dig up some outfits from earlier summers to feature, although I won’t have outfit journal entries for those.
2014 Outfit #1 – A Problematic Skirt
When I Wore It: October 12, 2014
Where I Went: Running errands with my husband
Thoughts/Feelings at the Time:
- I felt attractive, well put-together and relatively casual.
- I was a bit uncomfortable in the skirt, as it was kind of stiff and just barely fit around the hips.
- The outfit was somewhat fussy overall, as I had to adjust the skirt, top, scarf, and my hair fairly often.
What I Wrote that I’d Change:
- I wrote that I would change the skirt. I mentioned a less flared black pinstriped skirt that I had in my closet (that I recently passed on) or one of my two black midi-skirts. I also considered that I might wear a maxi-skirt instead (either black or grey) with flat shoes.
- I put the skirt “on probation” that day, but I never ended up wearing it again. This outfit was my one and only wearing of the skirt, which I had purchased at a consignment store earlier in the year.
How I’d Wear it Today:
- I agree with what I wrote last year that the skirt was the “problem child” in the outfit. I like the rest of the pieces, but the skirt didn’t work because it was too long, too flared, and too fussy.
- I don’t have any shorter skirts at present that would be a good substitution (I’ve had trouble finding shorter skirts that work for me), so I would probably wear a maxi-skirt instead.
- If I wore a maxi-skirt, I would wear one of my flat pairs of Ecco sandals with it (either metallic or black).
- I would like to find 1-2 straight or very slight A-line skirts that end at the top to middle of my knees. If anyone knows of a good resource for this, please let me know. I will more than likely need to find a retailer who carries tall sizes in order to get the length right. True pencil skirts don’t tend to be flattering on my frame, but straight skirts work well for me if I can get the length right.
- I would also probably tie the scarf differently so it would be less fussy and perhaps wear my hair back in a ponytail for a hot and humid day.
2014 Outfit #2 – Dress and Jacket Proportion Issue
Rating: 9/10 (I was surprised to see that I rated it so high – I would rate it lower today…)
When I Wore It: November 29, 2014 (yes, we often still have warm weather then – we get late summers here…)
Where I Went: To a movie with my husband
Thoughts/Feelings at the Time:
- I felt comfortable, sufficiently casual, and stylish.
- I wrote that the grey blazer made the outfit more cool-toned, which was better for my skin tone.
- I hadn’t worn the necklace in years (I’ve had it since the late 90’s), but I still really liked it and was glad to have kept it and brought it out again.
What I Wrote that I’d Change:
- I wrote that the dress is a little too low-cut and that my bra would sometimes show a bit on the right side. An alternate bra or a camisole (I don’t own any, believe it or not) would help to mitigate that effect.
- I would put my hair up because it was puffing up in the humidity. It was very humid here last summer, so I had a lot of days on which I wrote similar comments. I need to be prepared this year with some up-dos that I can easily do when the humidity goes up and my hair gets bigger. (Does anyone remember the “Friends” episode where they went to Mexico and Monica’s hair kept getting bigger and bigger? I loved that episode and that’s exactly what happens to my hair…)
How I’d Wear it Today:
- When I look at this outfit today, I am much less satisfied with it than I was last year. It has that sort of “churchy” effect that I’m trying to get away from.
- I would lose the jacket, as it’s cutting me in half visually. If I needed a topper, I would use one of my tie-waist cardigans (one is shown below) or pick up a cropped shrug to pair with the dress. The dress actually looks a lot better on its own, as it highlights my narrow torso well (see here).
- I don’t like the shoes with the dress for some reason. I would probably switch them out for my red sandals (shown with the dress in this post – the denim jacket in that photo also works better than the grey knit blazer) or my new black sandals (shown here).
2015 Outfit #1 – A Better Skirt Option
Rating: 8/10 (the look was more like a 9, but there were some issues with the skirt)
When I Wore It: May 1, 2015
Where I Went: Shopping, errands, and to take photos at the beach
- I felt casual and comfortable and appropriate for what I was doing on a warm spring day.
- I really liked the look of the outfit, but there were a few issues with it.
- The skirt is a synthetic fabric (I didn’t realize that when I bought it because it feels like cotton) and there was a big static cling problem.
- The tank has been in my closet for a while and the bottom is kind of stretched out and needs to be adjusted often.
What I’d Change:
- Find a way to address the static cling issues with the skirt (I am open to any ideas and suggestions you have!).
- Try putting the tank in the dryer (on delicate) to see if the bottom falls into shape better. If not, look for a replacement for it.
Follow-on Notes: I wore my black tie-waist cardigan with the outfit later in the day and liked how it looked. I would definitely wear this outfit again, especially if I can address the issues above. I feel it is true to my style and appropriate for my casual life and where I live.
2015 Outfit #2 – A More Flattering Topper
Rating: 10/10 (I don’t get many of those!)
When I Wore It: June 21, 2015
Where I Went: Movie and errands with my husband
- I loved this outfit! I felt both comfortable and stylish wearing it.
- I may have looked a little too dressy, but people wear these types of outfits all the time in the summer where I live.
- I loved the look of the new pink tie-waist cardigan with the dress. The color is good for me and the style accentuates my waist and doesn’t overpower the dress like some of my jackets do. The tie-waist cardigans pair well with maxi-dresses.
- I really loved my jewelry, too. They are all go-to pieces that I wear a lot, as are the dress and sandals I was wearing.
What I’d Change:
- The only complaint I had was about my underwear, which kept riding up throughout the day. Undergarments are so important to an outfit and can ruin an otherwise great ensemble. I am gradually replacing my stretched out underwear with new ones (and the pair I wore that day were promptly thrown in the trash when I got home).
Follow-on Notes: I wore this outfit less than a week ago and would definitely wear it again. I really love wearing maxi dresses and skirts and feel they are my new summer style. I have had so many problems with my shorter skirts that I have been wearing the maxi style far more often because I feel it works better for me. I’m sure I will wear this outfit and similar ensembles quite a bit throughout this summer.
I like to encapsulate my lessons learned at the end of each outfit journal both for myself and for readers who might need to learn similar things about their own wardrobes and sense of style. Here are what I see as the lessons I learned from the four outfits pictured above:
- Flared knee-length skirts don’t work well for my body and I don’t like the way they look anymore. I should either wear shorter, more fitted skirts or stick with the maxi length that I’ve been enjoying wearing since last summer. Maxi silhouettes also look more casual and pair well with flat shoes (which is good for my fussy feet).
- I need to have easy up-dos to do for my hair when it’s hot and humid outside. I have written about my hair quite a bit under the “what I’d change” section of my outfit journal, so I need to have some alternate options in place before it gets too hot here.
- Cropped, fitted toppers work better for me with dresses and skirts than standard blazers and jackets. The shorter, narrower silhouette doesn’t overwhelm my frame and better accentuates my narrow torso and waist.
- Don’t buy garments in synthetic fibers, as they are prone to static cling and can be too hot as well. I do much better with natural fibers. I always need to check tags, as sometimes synthetics can be deceiving and feel like cotton.
- Undergarments are important and should be upgraded whenever necessary. A bra or pair of panties that doesn’t fit properly or is all stretched out can ruin an otherwise great outfit. I need to make sure to allocate a portion of my budget to this area of my wardrobe to keep it up to date.
I think those are the main lessons I learned from my 2014 and 2015 outfit journal entries. If I missed any lessons from the outfits in this post, please let me know.
I hope you liked this installment of lessons from my outfit journal. If you have any comments or questions about what I have shared today, please share them. Also, if you keep track of your outfits and have learned some valuable lessons in the process, I would love to read about your insights. You are also welcome to write about topics outside of what was covered in this post (this is true anytime). A few of you do that already, but I just wanted to confirm that it’s okay with me. If you have other types of comments and/or questions for me or others, feel free to post them.
Have a wonderful weekend! I’ll be back next week with my June “Grab Bag” of useful links (see previous installments here), as well as more posts on wardrobe management, shopping, personal style, and trading your full closet for a full life. I really need to dedicate more time and attention to the full life issue, so stay tuned for more posts about that coming soon…
I am a long time reader of your blog (and others), but tend not to comment for the most part.
I love your writing, and have enjoyed seeing how far you have come in your journey.
I just wanted to mention the static cling issue. Perth is a pretty dry area of Australia. I work in a place where our clothing is supplied for us (good!), most of which is synthetic or synthetic blends (not-so good!).
The girls have discovered that if our pants or skirts are clinging, we duck off to the bathroom and quickly slather our legs with moisturiser. Bingo! no more cling. Of course if you are wearing stockings, that isn’t possible, but there are some commercial anti-static sprays available that you can spritz underneath your skirt.
Thanks so much for the static cling tip, Stephanie! I will give it a try for sure. I really like the skirt but the static cling was driving me nuts. Hopefully, the moisturizer will help me to be able to wear it without any problems. I have some other items that cling, too, so I will try your trick with those things, too.
Hi Debbie, just like to say that you look so much more comfortable in your own skin in the two outfits from this summer. In the photos from last year you look a little stiff and awkward, but in this year’s photos you seem brimming with confidence and I can almost feel it coming off the screen. Nailed it!
Thank you, Molly. I do feel more confident in my 2015 outfits. I feel like I’m finally figuring out my style and how I want to dress. It has taken me some time to do that and it has definitely helped that I’m shopping less often. It’s hard to know what you really love when you’re bringing so many new pieces in all the time.
Love, love, love the 2015 outfits, especially the pink wrap and black. Also love the patterned maxi. Not keen on the animal print at all, even with the grey, it’s way too warm for our colouring – I am a winter too. You look lovely!
Thanks for your compliments, Saltbox. I am not sure about the leopard print dress anymore, either. I loved it for years, but the color may just be too off for me now. Time will tell. I haven’t worn it yet this year.
Debbie, with the tank and patterned maxi, what would happen if you tucked the tank in and wore a wide belt over the top to cover the ‘join’ so to speak? I wore a top tucked in last week and my husband said I looked much tidier LOL! Cheek! I always feel awkward tucked in as my tummy isn’t concave.
I know Debbie has mentioned she finds belts fussy or uncomfortable in the past, and so have I. Recently I have discovered that a soft leather braided belt is quite tolerable though. You could even hit up your local thrift store and try one for a couple bucks like I did!
I have had issues with tucking things in, Saltbox. Whenever I try it, it looks “off,” probably because I’m short-waisted. A belt could help, but I have had trouble with the fussiness of belts, too. If I see the type that Sarah E. mentioned for a low price (the thrift store is a good idea), I will give it a try. I do like tucked and belted looks on others, but haven’t been able to make it work for me yet…
Hi Debbie, I use an anti-static spray for the couple of synthetic items I have. It works really well and lasts all day. It goes from horribly clingy to completely cling free after spraying the garment evenly. It is quite amazing actually. 🙂 Here is a link, http://shop.coles.com.au/online/national/allendale-anti-static-spray We can buy it in the supermarket in Australia. I am sure you could find something similar in the USA.
all the best
Thanks so much for the suggestion for dealing with static, Ruth. I have seen static sprays around and have used them in the past. The effect never used to last very long, but they have probably been perfected in recent years. If the spray could remove static for the whole day, I would definitely be interested.
What a fantastic idea! Even though I hate keeping track of things *lol* it makes such a difference in figuring out what works (and, more importantly, figuring out what doesn’t work).
You’re right, Curvy CEO. It may be hard to start tracking, but it really doesn’t take much time to do once you get going. I’ve found that taking photos and writing in my outfit journal has made a really big difference in terms of my style. Even just doing one or the other would be very helpful.
Love the 2015 outfits. Your style has really evolved Debbie, and I think for the better! You look way happier and it definitely looks like you’ve achieved your style and wardrobe goals with both outfits. I love the minimalistic yet dressy comfortable vibe both outfits have.
I really appreciate your kind words, Maneera. I am definitely happier with my outfits these days. I think the way you described my vibe is right on. I like to be somewhat dressy, but I think I have succeeded in toning down the “churchy” vibe that I didn’t like in my last year’s ensembles.
The pink tie waist cardi over the maxi in #4 is perfect. Perfect.
I sometimes look back on past faves and see where improvement could be made. But sometimes I just love a look as is. Perhaps I should endeavor to simply repeat those “10’s” more often!
Thanks for your compliment on outfit #4, Mo. I agree that we should repeat our “10”s more often! I used to always try to wear DIFFERENT outfits, but now I am far more likely to do repeats. I don’t even see the same people most of the time, but even if I do, so what? I hope you will start to wear your favorite looks more often…
Wow. Just, wow.
Although the 2014 looks are ok, the 2015 looks are right on target. Hurray for finding polished and comfortable summer looks in those maxis! You look so much like your best self. Great!!!
One question: why even look for the just-right knee length summer skirt, now that you have several maxis that work well for your body and for your lifestyle? Just curious.
I really appreciate your kind words, Amy. I’m glad you think I look like my best self. I am not in a huge hurry to find knee-length skirts now that I have the maxis I really like, but I would like to have the option for both lengths. I do still have a few dresses and skirts that are shorter and which I like, but I’ve passed quite a few on. I’m going to keep my eyes open for the style I like, but I can also wait if I just don’t see what I’m looking for. No urgency about it at all…
I love the 2015 looks! The dress in the 2014 picture looks more like a business look to me. The 2015 looks casual, comfortable, and still very put together. I think the new direction that you’ve taken suits you and your lifestyle much better.
Thanks, Tonya. I agree the 2014 dress look is more businessy. I didn’t see it then, but I see it now. That kind of look is no longer me. You’re right that my new style is a better fit for me and my lifestyle. I’m much happier with it.
Debbie, I’ve noticed your previous ’14 looks looked like they were business trying to become more casual. I think that’s where the “churchy” vibe is coming in. The pieces just didn’t work together and fit your personality. Also I will say that the colors didn’t harmonize as well as they could have and the proportions were off. ’15 looks are more flattering on your body type, more relaxed, more modern, and better colors for you overall. Great job!
Very astute observations, Margaret. I agree about how the “churchy” vibe came in with my previous looks. Not every outfit I wore last year was like that, but some of them definitely were. I don’t do those types of looks anymore and I’m much happier with how I’m dressing now.
LOVE the maxi dress with pink tie-front topper. These are items I’d never buy for myself but they look FAB on you. The gray jacket is too structured for the fluid reptile print dress — looks like you grabbed it out of your (very small) husband’s closet. My advice: read the fabric content label for all of your clothes before buying (along with the care instructions). You can’t go by how something “feels” alone (I although I like to test the “hand” of fabric once I read the fiber content tag). I passed on a gorgeous lined wool tweed skirt a few years ago because it had a metallic thread in the weave which required hand-washing. Unbelievably fussy care instructions (and I wasn’t sure the lining and skirt fabric would both come of out the washing process intact). I have to know the fabric content because I have very sensitive skin — and can’t tolerate acrylic in any form next to my skin. However, as Ruth says, an anti-static spray might make that pretty black and white skirt more “wearable,” esp. in your lower-humidity climate. Looks like, from this post, that stiff, structured garments are not your friends.
Great idea of keeping a visual diary of “what I wore and how I felt.”
Yes, I definitely need to always read the fabric content label, Dottie. I really don’t know why I didn’t that time, but I agree that I can probably make the print skirt more wearable. Like you, I have very sensitive skin. I can’t wear acrylic or wool, except cashmere. As for the grey jacket, I agree that it’s not right for my animal print dress. I have other toppers that work much better with the dress for when it’s cooler outside. I’m not sure if I will keep the grey jacket. It depends upon whether or not I like it with anything else. That remains to be seen, but LIWI will help me figure it out.
I love the pink sweater/black maxi combo. And the pink matches my vintage Dalton cashmere cardigan!
You keep referring to your former look as “churchy” but that’s not how I see it and wanted to tell you why. The outfits from a year ago are silhouettes that were popular about 2005 or so–the flared tulip skirt, the fitted jacket, the cut of the leopard dress. These are the kinds of separates I used to put together as a professional creative look to visit clients ten years ago. To our eyes today, I think these styles look a little overdone and fussy. We have become used to the aesthetics and proportions of maxi skirts and other simpler silhouettes that skim the body and have a casual vibe . So as I look at them, the flared skirt and the fitted jacket of your earlier outfits reads as more “dated” than churchy.
I know you are fond of that leopard dress, as you mention it often. If I could make a suggestion, I think if you wore it with a deep merlot or marsala colored topper and your dark red shoes, it would coordinate better with your own coloring. The grey jacket and the pewter shoes fight with the brown tones. And I agree with Dottie that the style of the jacket is at odds with the dress.
Fantastic ideas about the colors elevating the reptile print dress! You comment about “churchy” vs “outdated” are very perceptive. The jacket might also be “saved” if worn with a different combo of clothes — say a drape neck (very fluid) top, white slim leg pants and lots of chunky silver jewelry. It would take some trial and error to get the right combination — and one also has to decide if it’s worth the effort for one garment that might be out of whack with the rest of your wardrobe.
Dottie, you’re so right about all the effort one goes to to hang onto one item. Often we should just let something go rather than throw yet more money and effort into trying hard to make it work. That’s quite an epiphany, I’ll use it from now on 🙂
Good observations, Deby. The flared skirt was bought on consignment, so it might have been from 2005 or thereabouts. The grey jacket was bought last year, though, and they still sell that style at Nordstrom. It’s probably the combination that made it look dated. I like your idea for how to better wear the printed dress. I would love to find a merlot cardigan and know I would wear it with lots of other things, too, so I will keep my eyes open for one. Dottie’s ideas for the grey jacket may work. I don’t have those exact items, but I’m going to see if I like the jacket with anything I have. If not, I will thank it for the lesson (a la Marie Kondo) and send it on its way. I’m definitely happier with the outfits I’m wearing this year. I prefer simpler silhouettes with a more casual vibe. They work better for both my personality and my lifestyle.
You look fantastic in the black maxi dress and pink sweater. It looks chic, effortless and comfortable. 🙂 A few years ago, I had several jackets similar to your gray one and kept hanging on to them hoping to find a way to style them for casual wear. I finally donated them and now wear less structured jackets. The animal print dress would look nice with a black sweater in the same style as the pink and nude shoes to blend. I am currently looking for nude flat sandals for my wide feet, wish me luck. 🙂 Wonderful post as usual.
Thanks, Jan. I actually have a black tie-waist cardigan and will try it with the printed dress. I agree that would be a good look. I may end up passing on the grey jacket and other similar ones I have in my closet. We shall see… I’m done with trying to force things to work. Good luck with finding those nude flat sandals. I know it’s hard with wide feet. My mom has wide feet and I always help her to buy shoes (and clothes). It can take some doing, but we always find something that works.
You have definitely moved from a rather stiff dated ‘churchy’ look to a modern casual elegance which really suits you. I think the skirt was always going to be the wrong shape, but it would be interesting to ‘shop you wardrobe’ and try putting together updated outfits with the other items. Maybe the jacket with slim jeans, the dress with different shoes and necklace, and the green top and scarf with a maxi skirt – just to see how a different combination can update the look of an item without having to buy anything. I have some sandals similar to your metallic ones which I realized look rather dated. I am avoiding wearing them with shorter outfits where they will show.
Good idea to shop my wardrobe to put together new outfits using the items in the top two outfits. I actually do wear most of those pieces in other ways. I bought the metallic shoes in 2013, but don’t like them as much as I did when I first bought them. I’ve worn them quite a bit, so I would be okay with passing them on if I find myself not wanting to wear them this year. I struggle to find shoes that work for my fussy feet but still look stylish. When I was younger, I didn’t have that problem…
Great post, Debbie, and it’s really interesting to see how your style has evolved. I agree with others that your outfits from this year are right on the money — you look polished yet casual and your confidence radiates through the photos!
Just in the spirit of outfit journal experiments, I would be curious to see you try to re-style some of the past outfits that don’t quite hit the mark for you anymore. (Similar to the way that Bridget Raes re-styled outfits when you worked with her.) If you actually made those changes and put on the clothes again, would you rate the resulting outfit higher? I also wonder if there are any outfits from last year that you would still rate as a 9 or 10 today and would love to see you re-wear them and evaluate whether they still rate so highly with the wearing. (Not trying to imply that they would or wouldn’t — just genuinely suggesting an experiment.)
For me, I am finding that when I wear an outfit that I liked last year and still feel really good in it this year, then I know I am really on to something. It builds a welcome confidence about really having a handle on my personal style.
Thanks for giving me a future post idea, Sarah! I like your idea of restyling the first two outfits. Maybe after I do another post like this, I will re-style the 2014 looks in a follow-0n post. I definitely think I have outfits from last year that I loved then and would still love now. That’s another good post idea! The two outfits I chose for the 2014 looks in this post are not how I always dressed last year, but I did want to illustrate how my style has changed and how I’m much happier now. I agree that it feels really good to have a handle on our personal style. I am more confident now for sure. I still have some missteps, but not as many as before, so I know I’m moving in the right direction.
Debbie, I like all of the outfits, but agree that the last one is best. I think outfit #1 would look better with the scarf tied in a more interesting way around your neck and shorter.
Agreed about the scarf, Sherri. I usually do more of a “European loop” or “pretzel knot,” but I am open to other scarf-tying suggestions if you have them. I’m not that much of a fan of the longer look I had in outfit #1, but I used to like that style more.
Those are some really great outfits from this year! I have memories of my mom using hairspray to deal with clothing static, and sometimes carrying a dryer sheet around with her.
I remember using hairspray and dryer sheets, too, Sara. Maybe your mom and I are in the same age range. When I was out and about with the skirt, I looked in my purse for some hairspray, but I didn’t have any there. I don’t remember the effect lasting all day, but it did work for a while.
What a difference! This is my first time commenting here- just wanted to add my voice to remark on how stylish and comfortable you look. A tip for static cling- I have several half slips in black or white in different lengths for different length skirts (i.e. maxi and knee length) and those always work for me!
I appreciate your kind words, Sheree. Welcome! Thanks for the static cling tip. I have a couple of half slips, so I will give that a try the next time I wear the printed maxi-skirt. I sometimes wear slips to smooth things out, but I can see how they would help with static, too.
I also love seeing you in the black maxi and pink sweater. Your face and body language in the photo tells us this outfit sparks joy for you. You look happy and ready to have fun. Whereas your skirt/top/sweater/jacket outfits of yesteryear give the impression that you are on your way to a meeting, or a business casual event and that you are a rather serious person. This new direction you are taking with your clothes is so wonderfully versatile it will work for “any” occasion, and it is both confident, edgy, elegant and comfortable-looking, and makes you look approachable and friendly, instead of ready to take minutes at a meeting. Lol.
Yes, Terra, that outfit definitely sparks joy for me. I don’t give too many of my outfits “10”s, but I’m getting more and more “9”s as time goes on. You’re right about some of my previous outfits – too corporate (or at least Southern California corporate). I don’t want to come across as a very serious person because I’m really not. You would know because you’ve actually met me… Thank you for your kind words about the new direction for my wardrobe. I don’t want to look like I am taking minutes at a business meeting!