Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My clothes shopping list

The Lucky Shopping Manual should be a go-to guide for anyone building a wardrobe. Seriously. This book has great tips on what pieces to look for, how to tell if something fits (a constant problem for me, for some reason) and how to mix and match pieces to get more interesting outfits. Going through the book and comparing it to my wardrobe, I’m not as bad off as I felt when I wrote my original post, but I’ve definitely got some work to do. In order of the book, here’s my new shopping list:

I love skirts. That’s almost all I wear in the summer, since I don’t wear shorts (and even if I did, I couldn’t wear them to work). I have a number of skirts, two of which need some repair work (a brown linen one had a few drops of bleach spilled on it; I’ll dye it with RIT dye next time I go to my mom’s house and have access to a top-loading [and free] washer, and a black patterned one that is asymmetrical but shouldn’t be—I need to take up the back of the top floaty layer a little bit). However, most of my skirts are definitely summerwear, and the two wintery ones I have aren’t quite right. First of all, they’re almost identical (I hate it when that happens) and neither fit quite right. So the first thing on my list is a winter skirt, preferably in a heavy gray wool. Any skirts that I could conceivably wear year round are fair game, too.

Mostly I’m looking for A-line or pencil skirts-- I also have been really wanting a khaki pencil skirt, but I think that might be something that would go out of style too quickly. I tried one on a H&M that I loved on the mannequin, but didn’t love quite so much on myself.

Just Say No! I went a little crazy at Target a while back, and I am truly covered in the t-shirt department. I’m not allowed to look at them!

This is where I need to do most of my focusing, I think. I wear mostly sweaters in the winter, and mostly t-shirts with skirts in the summer, but I need to dress it up a little with tops that have sleeves but are a little dressier. I’m looking for patterned tops with interesting shapes and fabrics. I have a few blouses I’m going to try to rotate through a little more frequently, but most of them are sleeveless which means I need to wear something over them to work anyway.

April 12--bought pretty black "first date" blouse
July 2--I've bought a number of pretty tops at this point, and can safely say "enough!".

This is my second biggest area of focus. I have exactly four dresses: One is a very dressy sheath with a cowl back that I found on clearance at Macy’s a few years ago—I save it for weddings and other very dressy occasions. Two others are “little black dresses” as my college-age self thought of them—jersey/lycra material that now clings in the wrong places. One of them has an asymmetrical neckline with weird metal fasteners; definitely not the look I’m going for now. And the fourth dress is a patterned faux wrap I bought last year at Kohl’s—I like it a lot, and I wear it to work sometimes, but again, it’s strapless and it’s also a bit casual.

I’m looking for a classy little black dress (though it doesn’t really have to be black) for the cocktail party type events my boss says she’s going to be sending me too. Also wrap or faux wrap dresses in solids and patterns—basically I want to go for classy and stylish here.

I love sweaters. Love ‘em. For one thing, I don’t like to be cold, so sweaters keep me cozy. For another…they’re just fun. Anything soft and fuzzy, preferably with a turtleneck or cowl neck…yeah! However, I have three or four black turtleneck sweaters, several pull-overs in black, brown, grey and tan, some fun casual sweaters, a cardigan…I really don’t need more.

However, my black all purpose cardigan is a little faded and stretched out, and I could do with replacing it. This is a low-priority thing, but a couple cardigans in different colors (to match the work-appropriate tops) would be a great find. Also, most of my sweaters are wear-alones, and I’d like to find some that are more suitable for layering.

May--bought a really nice 3/4 sleeve cardigan from Ann Taylor. I'm good for sweaters until it's cold again!


Ties for my number-one focus. I definitely need a grown-up pair of dark wash, straight leg jeans. I think I can find what I’m looking for at H&M (I found a pair that fit woooonderfully a few weeks ago, but I wasn’t crazy about the whiskering, so I found the same size and style (I thought) in another wash and bought them without trying them on. Not a good idea. I need to go back with flats and heels and spend some time finding a pair or two that will work. Then I can retire the jeans I bought from the juniors department and quit looking like a college student on casual Friday.

This area needs some help too. Not much help, but a little bit. I’d like to find some different patterns of stripe/plaid or shades of grey and black for work. I also definitely need another pair of khakis since I ripped my favorite ones on my desk. :(I especially need to focus on lightweight summer pairs so I don’t have to wear skirts every day, and stay away from anything but flat front! I always make the mistake of buying tab front pants which I later hate and never wear.

April 12--black pants for work, a little dressier than the other ones I had
June--doing really well! I discovered UNIQLO and their wonderful swishy pants.

Luckily, in my job, I have never had to wear a suit. And I’ve not owned a suit since I donated all the ill-fitting ones to Dress for Success, and I’ve managed to land jobs since then. My industry is not super dressy, so I can get by with pants and jackets that look dressy enough. Ignore!

Ties for second focus. When I moved to New York, I was thrilled with the bag vendors on the sidewalks. Five dollars for a bag?! I don’t care for knock-offs (even if they’re not real, I don’t like the idea of carrying someone else’s logo around on me for free) but the other bags these guys sell look cute and they’re cheap! Of course, they fall apart quickly.

Since I just got a very nice handbag this weekend at DSW, the only thing I'm allowed to look for is a decent worktote--and I'm required to do a very thorough purse/bag decluttering, probably this weekend.

I think I’m ok with shoes. I have knee length black boots, black ankle boots, pointy-toed high heels in black and pattern, round toed high heels in black and pattern, flats in black, pattern and brown, sneakers in black and brown, rain boots, snow boots, sandals and flip flops, and strappy high heels in gold, silver, and black as well as dance shoes like character shoes and ballroom shoes. Really, I’m good.

However, if I happen to find that perfect pair at DSW on 70% clearance…well, I won’t even give myself a good stern talking-to.

I have a couple blazers (green, khaki, and damask) that I can pair with a top and neutral pants on those few occasions I need to be more dressed up than normal (which has happened once). However…I need a black jacket. I don’t anticipate needing an interview outfit anytime soon, but the black jacket I have is an atrocity. I don’t know what it originally went with, but the sleeves are several inches too long (I have to roll them up!), it’s got a very trendy (read: trendy THEN, not trendy NOW) cut, and one button. And fake pockets. This seems like a weird purchase and is exactly what I was thinking of when I said I should go ahead and get rid of some things that I have now so I’ll replace them.

Well! I’m not sure if we’re quite well-acquainted enough for me to discuss my unmentionables…oh, sure, why not!

Putting this delicately…well, I’m single now, but what better opportunity to acquire new fun undies? I like to buy them for myself as much I love to buy them for a mister…so why not?

As far as more practical things go, I’m fairly well covered here. I have two strapless bras (black and nude) and several regular bras (also in black and nude) as well as a bright red and bright purple one. Some of them could use some replacing, so if a good sale comes up at JC Penney, I’ll splurge. I’m done with Victoria’s Secret for all underwear of any practical value, because their quality has dropped like a rock in the last few years and stuff that used to last forever is now lasting about eight washings before fraying and losing elastic. DONE. Not a pressing concern, but something I do want to get around to.

I love knee high socks, and I love socks with patterns (monkeys, dogs, reading books, cats in tea cups…). I think I might need to grow out of this now (sob!). I’m not going to force myself to quit looking at them, but as they wear out, I’ll just toss them and replace with more understated pieces (luckily, I love argyle too!). And I could definitely use some thick winter tights to go with those new winter skirts I plan on having.

I go swimming about once a year. And each time, I have to buy a new swimsuit since I can’t find the one I bought last year. As long as it’s not a string bikini, I’m really not particular, and—bonus!—I still know where the swimsuit I bought in 2007 is. So I won’t be doing this to myself in 2008.

I need to downsize here more than bring in anything new. I have a long wool winter coat (that I will take better care of than my previous one), a black trench coat (which is waterproof!), a ski jacket (let me tell you the last time I went skiing: 2001), and a fun fluffy jacket I bought in England. It won’t stay closed but I love it. I think I need to get rid of the ski jacket.

So! My final list:

Must Buys
* Dark wash straight leg jeans
Cocktail dress(es)
Winter skirts
* Blouses/tops for work (with sleeves)
* A good bag
A black jacket
* Khaki pants

Things I’d Like to Buy
* Underwear (bras and panties)
* Socks/hosiery
* Cardigans/layering sweaters for work
* Work pants (summer weight)

Things I Won’t Yell At Myself For Buying (as long as it’s not at the expense of the other lists)
* Shoes
Jewelry/accessories (something that Lucky doesn’t cover as a section of its own, and which really requires a separate post from me as to my particular hang-ups)


  1. I LOVE the Lucky Shopping Manual! I got it for Christmas a couple of years ago and I pull it out and re-read it every so often. Fabulous, timeless advice that's good to review before a wardrobe update/overhaul.

  2. Re: the shirts for work, I'm building up my work wardrobe too, and I found that the button-down shirts at Old Navy which are cotton with a bit of stretch are surprisingly good quality. And they're on sale right now! I'm hoping that with the stretch, they won't need to be ironed. Their dress pants aren't bad either. For jewelry, definitely try Etsy!

  3. It's so good to hear someone else say Victoria's Secret has gone down hill in quality! I thought maybe I was losing my mind. In high school, they had the best quality bras anywhere. They lasted years! Now the underwire comes out of the sides, poking me, and the bras warp after so many washings. I have a friend (who's big busted like me) and says Lane Bryant is the way to go for quality bras. I'll be checking them out soon! :)

  4. And I'M so glad to hear someone say the same thing! Everyone keeps talking about VS like it's the best thing ever, and I actually prefer bras from JC Penney. They're way cheaper AND they last longer!

  5. I love bras from Fredrick's of Hollywood! They are good for larger breasted women (I wear a 38F) as they provide a nice lift! Go in for a free fitting and I believe the first bra is discounted! Happy Shopping!


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