Outfits, Personal, Popular Posts, Smart Shopping, Wardrobe Editing
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What’s Inside My Wardrobe: A Complete Closet Inventory

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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?

In retrospect the answer to that last quandary was obvious (and if RR is now stuck in your head, might I offer a soothing classic that will effectively obliterate anything else on your mind).

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.

And yet.

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.

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TEES & TANKS

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TOPS

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BUTTON DOWNS & FLANNELS

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SWEATERS

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JEANS

  • 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.

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PANTS

SHORTS

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DRESSES

SKIRTS

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COATS & CAPES

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JACKETS

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SHOES

CAMP & ATHLETIC GEAR

SLEEP & LOUNGE

Here’s how I put it all together.

Wondering how to get started clarifying, cleaning, and organizing your own closet? Here’s a handy guide.

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  • KBMN

    Hey – do you not still have the Hunter ‘tour’ packable boots that was mentioned in a traveling post? I was inspired to get the hunter tours from this blog. Have not yet gone forward with that buy. I see they are listed as the ‘hunter original’ in this post… I am seeming like a psycho – but hey, I’m doing research. Research. 😉 I need to know if you kicked them out and why. Maybe they sucked in comparison?

  • You are so right! It has been so long since I have worn them (Atlanta drought problems) that I mis-labeled them here. Yes, they’re the same Hunter ‘Tour’ Packable Rain Boot in black from this post: roseandfig.com/nyc

    I do love the Hunters and have no plans to get rid of them (although those made in USA “Alice and Whittles” I linked to are sooo tempting with their pretty gold hardware). The Hunters do run true to size — the only reason I have a size 9 instead of my regular 8 is because I scooped them up from that glorious Upper Eastside Goodwill during a rain storm. The oversized fit works fine though and I like it! I just wear camp socks and slog around.

    They DO have a really thick, heavyish lug sole and treads, which is awesome if you are tramping through a forest but overkill if you’re just walking around the city (or flying with them on an EU budget airline lol). I walked so many miles in them for that bachelorette trip… the entire festival was a giant mudpie and I am SO glad I had comfortable *knee-high* rain boots for it. No blisters or mud seeping in or anything. It was also nice to just stuff my other shoes into the foot bed of the Hunters then roll the legs around each sole like two sushi rolls packed in my bag.

    I would say check them out in person if you have a Nordstrom or similar store near you, then set up a followed search on eBay once you have your size handy (or try Poshmark, Tradesy, The RealReal, DePop, etc). They are solid boots but I wouldn’t pay full retail for a new pair since they’re meant to get kicked around and beat up, anyway!

  • KBMN

    Thanks for the help – I work at a nature center so slogging through forest to farm is my most frequent path. Great feedback. Will go fit myself then begin my search on the websites. It really is the only way to buy when working for a nonprofit. #Deals #Budget #AweYEAH

  • Toril Hjorthol

    Thank you for sharing! This post not only pleases my voyeuristic tendencies, your wardrobe is also inspiring for its simplicity and coherence, yet variation! Peace out from Norway.