This post covers what my wardrobe looked like in fall 2016. Since then I’ve shared this updated closet inventory on my new blog, Where With Elle.
Three years ago I woke up early one morning, gazed deeply upon the sparkly baubles of my colorful closet and foggily pondered three questions: Who am I, what am I going to wear, and why is the theme song to “Reading Rainbow” stuck in my head?
So, now that we’re all relaxing to some nice ambient music (thanks, Astrud, João, and Stan!) I want to pour you a digital glass of Malbec and share a secret: There is no such thing as a perfect wardrobe. It doesn’t exist. Any stylist who tells you otherwise is actively hiding half a wardrobe of shopping regrets and a lifetime supply of #shinyponies and these individuals should not be trusted to comment on your small/big, neutral/colorful, simple/fancy, edgy/classic, gloriously personal collection of clothes.
Because, you know what?
Your closet is really a collective journal — a living document — of your past, present, and future. It can say a lot about what’s important to you — fair working conditions, ethical sourcing and environmental consciousness, people and ideas you support each day — as well as how you’d like the world to see you. And that’s a very personal aspect of the self we choose to share, to wear, right on our sleeves each day.
What’s really in my closet
There are boots my mom romped around in before I was born, ragged tees I played soccer in a decade ago, the top I put on the afternoon I landed my first internship in college (and still wear to the office nowadays), dresses worn to weddings and funerals and on that very first date with my husband. I haven’t shared much of those clothes or many of those memories here.
There are ethical and sustainable brands I’ve fallen in love with since starting this blog, not so conscious clothes I ignorantly frequented years back (and have been actively hiding from sharing here — surprise I’m sorry I love you!). There’s a proud little collection of thrifted jewels scooped up from local charity shops, eBay, Tradesy, and vintage shops discovered while traveling.
Over the past few years I’ve been elated to share little pieces of (the best of) my closet, but I’ve also felt that not mastering the “art of wardrobe building” to a point of completion and being done with closet editing altogether was some kind of failure — I’ve often pondered why I would entertain the thought of replacing a perfectly good pair of fast fashion shoes I’d owned for half a decade solely to have a more ethical option, contemplated whether I need the vast majority of what I own (answer: no), and quietly asked why even the logical designer in me still struggles to concede that the most sustainable clothes are almost always… whatever’s already hanging in your closet. Self-doubt doldrums, roll on.
It frustrates me to no end to take to the internet searching for real closets and find so many hyper-curated, glittering and fleeting glimpses of fabulous capsule wardrobes and packing lists, however glorious and gorgeous and perfectly rounded to a nice-sounding number of items they may be. Well, pot, meet kettle.
So, here it is: my big (and small), old (and new), hot weather (and cold weather and just right amazing weather) comfy, cozy, beloved wardrobe. It’s big. It’s a mess. There’s a ton of room to whittle down. Again!
But here’s the thing.
I finally feel confident that my wardrobe fits me well and that shopping is no longer any sort of imperative in my life. Where shopping for clothes was once a gentle distraction, a hobby, a means to celebrate or console, and a quiet sanctuary from the stresses of life, shopping is now just a simple means to a few decidedly better ends:
- getting dressed in just a few quotidian morning minutes
- spending less energy and money on clothes in general
- being more mindful about purchases and patient for the right pieces
- knowing and being proud of who and what my shopping choices support
- equipping myself for life’s big adventures as efficiently and effortlessly as possible
I’m on my way.
And if you’re tinkering away on a similar project, I’m working on a fresh guide for wardrobe editing… And testing it on myself as I go. If you’d like me to send you a copy once it’s ready, scroll to the bottom of this page and add your email to the Rose & Fig notes box (Update: here’s the new guide to cleaning and organizing your closet!).
A few notes
- “Similar by” = a consciously-made piece that is sold out/past season; similarly transparent, ethical, sustainable labels linked.
- “Better by” = a thrift find or older faster-fashion purchase; links that follow are to visually similar pieces with stronger ethical and environmental standards.
- Favorite designers: There’s a lot of Everlane ($), Zady ($$), Eileen Fisher ($$), Cuyana ($$$) on this list — they’re my go-to designers for responsibly-made pieces that I know fit, wash, and wear well.
- Size and fit: I am 5’7.5″. 125 lbs. 32″ x 24″ x 32″. I wear a US 8 narrow (or the occasional roomy US 7.5) shoe. I live in loose tops and skinny jeans. Whenever I’m on the fence with a size, I go up for an easy, comfortable fit.
TEES & TANKS
- Zady .02 T-Shirt in white (small) and navy (medium) – review
- Everlane Cotton Vs in white (3), heather grey (2), black (2) (small) – review
- Everlane Ryan Tanks in white, heather grey, charcoal grey, navy (small) (similar Everlane Pima tank)
- Everlane Ryan Long-Sleeve in heather grey (small)
- Everlane Slouchy Cotton Slub Tank in white (small)
- Everlane Women’s Cotton Tank in black (small)
- Grana loose silk tank in dove grey (extra small) – similar Everlane silk tank and Grana regular silk tank
- Grana silk camisoles in cream and black (small) – similar Cuyana silk cami and Everlane silk camisole
- Elizabeth Suzann Harlow tank in black silk crepe (small) – similar Elizabeth Suzann Marlena Dress in silk crepe, Cuyana Silk Slip Dress, Riller and Fount Juno Tunic, Everlane Silk Tank Dress, Eileen Fisher Scoop Neck Silk Tunic, Eileen Fisher Silk Crepe Tunic
- Thrifted Eileen Fisher and Neiman Marcus silk tanks in cream (2) and black (2) – similar options at Nordstrom, Everlane, Cuyana – outfits
- Thrifted Eileen Fisher and Jeanne Engelhart linen tanks in white, olive, and oatmeal stripe – similar by Eileen Fisher, Everlane
- Vintage Harold’s linen sleeveless button downs in oatmeal and black – similar by Everlane
- Vintage linen ruffle crop tie shirt in oatmeal – similar Elizabeth Suzann Maxine top, Stone Cold Fox Skye crop – outfit
- Vintage cotton chambray sleeveless button down – similar by Current Elliott, Everlane
- Vintage silk Anne Klein II Chinese pajama top in cream – better by Reformation, Everlane, and Etsy vintage
- Vintage linen long sleeve loose top in oatmeal – similar by Everlane, Grana, and Etsy handmade and Etsy vintage – outfit
- Stone Cold Fox Seth low-back silk long sleeve top in white (m/l) – similar Stone Cold Fox Shrine blouse, Everlane, Cuyana – outfit
- Thrifted Saint James Meridien Long Sleeve Navy Stripe Breton top (small/size FR 32) – also available at J.Crew
- Zady Sailor Shirt (small) – sold out, similar by Everlane
BUTTON DOWNS & FLANNELS
- Zady .05 The Boyfriend Button Up (small)
- Everlane Men’s Slim Fit Oxford in white (men’s extra small)
- Thrifted Penfield Wayland Chambray and Buffalo Shirt (small/size 4) – better by Bridge & Burn Flint Overshirt and Johnson Woolen Mills Shooting Shirt, more buffalo check by Topo Designs, Filson, Tradlands
- Lou & Grey Artist Cotton Flannel Popover ℅ in grey (extra small) – better by Everlane, Bridge & Burn, Patagonia Women’s Featherstone tunic at Moosejaw and Backcountry, Tradlands – outfit, outfit
- Woolrich cotton flannel plaid shirt in green and blue (men’s small) – better by Lanai, Vermont Flannel Company, Gitman Vintage – outfit
- My mom’s vintage Cabela’s Chamois Saddle Blanket shirt in green-blue and umber – better by Johnson Woolen Mills
- Thrifted Ralph Lauren button down fly-fishing shirt in olive – better by Everlane, Topo Designs – outfit
- Thrifted Chap’s cotton flannel plaid shirt in red and green – better by Tradlands, Gitman Vintage
- Zady .01 The Sweater in light grey (medium)
- Zady .06 Lightweight Alpaca Sweaters in heather grey and charcoal ℅ (small) – outfit
- Zady .09 Natural Chunky Knit Sweater in natural (extra small – oversized fit) – outfit – sold out, similar by Everlane
- Thrifted Everlane Original Seed Stitch Raglan in grey (small) – review, outfits
- Thrifted Gap cotton open stitch sweater in cream (small) – better by Everlane Chunky Knit Cotton Crew, American Apparel Fisherman’s Sweater
- Vintage Ruff Hewn hand knit silk cable-knit turtleneck sweater in black (medium) – better by Zady, Everlane Luxe Wool Square Turtleneck, Cuyana Wool Cashmere Turtleneck Sweater
- Vintage Anne Taylor silk and cotton popcorn fisherman’s sweater in cream (small) – better by Zady, Seven Oak Grove, Etsy vintage, Etsy handmade, Inis Meain knits
- Thrifted Paige Skyline Ankle Peg in dark rinse, light rinse, white (all of my Paige jeans are size 27R)
- Thrifted Paige Verdugo Jegging in medium rinse
- Paige Skyline Skinny in black
- Thrifted Paige Coated Denim Peg Skinny in black
- Thrifted Paige Skyline in distressed light rinse (boyfriend fit)
Where I buy Paige Denim: New at Nordstrom, Revolve, Amazon; thrift at Tradesy, eBay, Poshmark, The Real Real. Outfits wearing Paige jeans.
- Elizabeth Suzann FW15 Clyde Wool Pant in grey (a tailored down US 6; size 2 tall Clydes would suit me best) – similar Everlane GoWeave Track Pant
- Thrifted Adriano Goldschmied AG Jeans Stevie Ankle Pant in olive (27R) – similar AG Jeans Prima
- Thrifted Sold Design Lab suede feel moto legging in black (small) – similar Paige Hoxton Ankle Pant
- Thrifted J Brand neoprene Scuba Pant in black (27R) – similar J Brand Quinn Scuba Legging
- Thrifted Eileen Fisher Linen Ankle Pant in black (extra small; these are pull-on pants with a roomy fit on me)
- Vintage linen pull on ankle pants (by Jeanne Engelhart and Connie’s Moon Light) in oatmeal and olive – similar by Eileen Fisher
- Thrifted Ann Taylor stretch side-zip legging in black – better by Everlane
- Thrifted Patagonia Women’s Cotton Stand Up Short in olive (US 6) – similar Patagonia Men’s Stand Up Short in 5″ and 7″ inseams – outfits
- ASOS leather shorts in black (US 4) – better by Rag & Bone – outfits
- Grana silk shorts in olive, black (extra small, but wish I had ordered small for roomier fit!) – similar by Zady, American Apparel – outfit
- Vintage California Concepts high-waist cut-off shorts in light rinse distressed denim – similar by Current/Elliott, Mother; vintage cut-off denim on Etsy
- Thrifted Cuyana navy silk shirt dress in navy (small) – review
- E. Fitzpatrick Japanese twill dress ℅ in oatmeal (extra small)
- Thrifted Stone Cold Fox Alabama Gown in navy (xs/s)
- Stone Cold Fox Marrakech dress in white (size 1) – alternate here, similar by Bailey 44 – outfit
- Stone Cold Fox Iowa Lace Dress in black (xs/s) – similar SCF Bonita Dress
- Stone Cold Fox Topeka dress in white with nude slip (size 1)
- Stone Cold Fox Locals Romper in black (xs/s) – also here, similar by Bec & Bridge
- Vintage Gianni Versace linen shift dress in white – similar by Bailey 44, Eileen Fisher, Elizabeth and James, Bailey 44
- Vintage Korean scalloped top and skirt set in white – similar by Bailey 44, MM6, Stone Cold Fox, Black Halo, Shoshanna
- Vintage washed silk maxi wrap dress in black – similar by Rachel Pally, Velvet, Sundry, AG, James Perse, Reformation, Refomration, Elizabeth Suzann
- Vintage B Brownfield raw silk shift dress in shell pink – similar by Bailey 44, Bec & Bridge
- Thrifted Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti silk wrap dress in coral – similar by Bailey 44, Bailey 44, Max Mara, Everlane
- Thrifted S Max Mara mesh-panel scuba cocktail dress in black (small) – similar by Bec & Bridge, Everlane, A.L.C., Amanda Uprichard, Bailey 44, Bailey 44, Bec & Bridge
- Thrifted pencil skirts in marled grey wool (Yumi Mazao), black leather (vintage), and black quilted silk (Max Mara) – similar by Theory, 5th & Mercer, Reformation, Black Halo, Bailey 44, Eileen Fisher, Eileen Fisher, Theory, Tomas Maier
- Thrifted Adrianna Papell netted ball skirt in black – better by Elizabeth Suzann, Reformation, Reformation
COATS & CAPES
- Eileen Fisher Alpaca Kimono Coat in grey (small) – similar by Cuyana, Everlane, Zady, Eileen Fisher, Paige, Bridge & Burn, Eileen Fisher
- Vintage fur coat in grey – purchased here. There is no reason on this good earth to ever a buy a new fur coat — it’s super taxing on the environment and animal welfare standards on foreign fur farms are notoriously poor. Please, please, only consider faux or vintage fur pieces.
- Patagonia Down Sweater Vest in black (small)
- Islay Woolen Mill knitted serape in “Lagavulin tartan” hunter green – similar by Eileen Fisher, Johnson Woolen Mills
- Vintage alpaca wool fringe poncho in grey – similar by Cuyana, Acne, Apiece Apart
- Thrifted Cuyana Classic Alpaca Cape in black (size petite) – similar by Chakanu, Eileen Fisher
- Barbour Ferndown Waxed Cotton Jacket in black (size UK 10) – better by Filson, Filson, Bridge & Burn, Bridge & Burn, Coalatree Organics, Taylor Stitch, Campbell Cooper, Schott, John Partridge, Epaulet, Wilson & Willy’s – outfit
- Thrifted Etoile Isabel Marant Ariana cropped knit jacket in marled grey (size FR 38) – similar by Isabel Marant on The RealReal
- Vintage Saks Fifth Avenue Signature cropped jacket in cream – similar jackets on The RealReal
- Vintage Geiger Tyrol boiled wool jacket in cream with gold hardware (size FR 38) – similar by Eileen Fisher, vintage Geiger wool jackets on Etsy
- Vintage Rich’s Stanley Blacker wool equestrian blazer in navy with gold hardware – similar vintage navy wool blazers on Etsy
- DIYed raw silk smoking jacket robe in black – similar by Reformation, Stone Cold Fox, Hackwith Design House, Splendid
- Sevilla Smith “The Sandy” D’Orsay Ballet Flats in black pebble grain (size 38 EU/7.5 US) – similar by Everlane
- Hudson Horrigan Booties in black, brown, and doe suede (size info and review) – also still in stock at ASOS, Country Outfitter, Daniel Footwear – outfits
- Vintage Cole Haan leather loafers in brown – better by Everlane, Everlane, Nisolo, Zero + Maria Cornejo, Frye, André Assous
- Loeffler Randall Luz Tassel Block Heel Sandals
– also available at Zappos, Neiman Marcus, Amazon, Shopbop; similar by Raye X Stone Cold Fox – review
- Thrifted Ancient Greek Thais Criss Cross Slides in black – similar by Sseko, Robert Clergerie, Eileen Fisher, Everlane
- Thrifted Ancient Greek Sandals Niove Cross Strap Sandals in nude – also at Barney’s, Net-A-Porter, Ancient Greek
- Dolce Vita Gwendolyn block heel sandals – better by Joie, Schutz, Pedro Garcia, Alexander Wang, Loeffler Randall,
- Thrifted Christian Louboutin Simple Napa Pumps in black – also available at Nordstrom, Barneys, The RealReal
- Thrifted Christian Louboutin t-strap nude heels – similar at Barneys, The RealReal
- Frye Paige Riding Boots in cognac brown – also at Nordstrom, similar Frye Cara boot – outfits
- Steve Madden Perrin lace up boots in tan – better Frye Melissa Lace Up Boot, also at Nordstrom, Amazon; vegan option by Vegetarian Shoes
- Thrifted Banana Republic riding boots in black with gold hardware – better by Jenni Kayne, Stuart Weitzman, Frye, Alexander Wang
- My mom’s vintage Nine West riding boots in tan – better by Frye, Frye, Frye
- Thrifted Teva Universal Sandals in black (size 8) – also at Nordstrom, Backcountry; similar Chaco Z1 – outfits
- Thrifted Hunter ‘Tour’ Packable Rain Boot in black (size 9 – a little oversized) – better by American Apparel, Roma, LL Bean, Sloggers, Alice and Whittles
- New Balance 696 Shadows Tennis Shoes in black (size 8) – New Balance 620 Capsule, 420 70s, 555; similar by Veja – outfit
CAMP & ATHLETIC GEAR
- Everlane Anorak in stone khaki (women’s extra small) – similar Everlane City Anorak, similar by Bridge & Burn – outfit
- Marmot PreCip Rain Jacket in grass green (small) – Similar Patagonia Houdini
- Thrifted Patagonia 1/4 Zip Better Sweater in heather grey (small)
- Thrifted Patagonia Velocity Running Tights in black (small)
- Patagonia Barely Baggies Shorts in black (medium)
- Thrifted Nike lined running shorts in black – better by Runyon, Icebreaker
- Grana Pima Joggers in heather grey (xs) – similar Everlane Street Fleece Pant.
- Workout t-shirts from camps, concerts, events (5 short sleeve, 2 long sleeve)
- VS Swim bikini bottoms in black – better by Tavik, L Space, L Space, Beth Richards, American Apparel, Rachel Pally
- Lisa Marie Fernandez Lauren neoprene bikini in black (size UK 2/US medium) – outfit
- Eberjey “Mason So Solid” one-piece bathing suit in black (US small) – also at St. Bernard Sport – review
- And… 3 thrifted costumes – 1 ridiculous vintage fur coat (Margot Tenenbaum or Joanne The Scammer), 1 incredible five-piece 1980s paisley tennis kit (Billie Jean King or “The Official Preppy Handbook,” and 1 beaded flapper dress (Tina Turner or Stevie Nicks)
SLEEP & LOUNGE
- Zady “Vive en Simplicite” .02 T-Shirt in white (extra large, sleep shirt fit)
- People Tree Savanna Shona Loopback Sweatshirt (size UK 8) – similar Everlane Boxy Striped Tee
- People Tree Savanna Loopback Shorts (size UK 8) – similar Everlane Gia Short
- Reformation Tyson Linen Short in oatmeal (small) – outfit
- Zara ski leggings – better by Eileen Fisher, Everlane
- Atlanta-made 30306 Poncey-Highland sweatshirt in blue – similar by Everlane, Wilson & Willy’s
- Thrifted oversized bird print sweatshirt in tan – similar by Bridge & Burn
- Eberjey Quinn robe in heather grey and lace (size large)
- Stone Cold Fox Garden Party silk robe in rose floral (one size)