Fall purging?

photo credit: @priscilladupreez via Unsplash

I think I need to do some fall purging. When I was trying to figure out what I was going to wear to Jon’s dad’s Memorial Service last week, I pulled a gazillion things out of my closet and got frustrated pretty quickly because I felt like I had a closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear. Does that sound familiar? 

I have never been what you’d call “fashionable” and I’d like to emphasize that I do not spend a lot of money on clothing. It’s not that I keep buying clothes that I don’t wear. I always refer to myself as a “jeans-and-t-shirt kinda girl”, although I do own some pretty skirts and dresses. I just don’t often have an opportunity to wear them, and I feel most comfortable in workout clothing these days. If I could, I would wear yoga pants and tank tops all day, every day (and I often can on the days when I work from home and don’t leave the house).

It doesn’t help that my office has a non-existent dress policy. We are scientists, many of us do fieldwork or lab work, and we can usually dress in jeans and sneakers at the office. This means I’ve never really had to develop a professional – let alone personal – sense of fashion.

What looks fantastic on others (the model on the website, the mannequin at the store, random strangers on the street) looks only half as good on me, or at least that’s my perception. I often feel “dressed up” when I deviate from my usual casual, daily attire because that is what I am used to. I have jeans/shorts and a gazillion basic shirts but very few interesting pieces that can be mixed and matched. What I really need to think about is a capsule wardrobe. But where does one begin? 

Sometimes I feel a little lost trying to figure out what styles and colors work for me. I usually stick to a lot of black-and-white basics, and for color, I tend to go for purple and teal accents. I also like pieces in lighter gray sometimes. In the past, I have tried to branch out to mustard yellow (because it looks so good on other people and is such a nice fall color), but I don’t think that’s a good color for me. Furthermore, I want clothes that make me feel good when I put them on and preferably pieces that can be dressed up and down.

Oh, and if you wondered what I ended up wearing to the memorial service: black cropped skinny pants, black shirt, purple cardigan, and a pair of black Michael Kors pumps (that I almost never wear, but love because they don’t hurt my feet. That’s a win!). Keeping it classy.

What would you wear to a memorial service? Tell me about your style and your approach to buying clothes and building your wardrobe. I could use some help. 

  1. I understand your dilemma about what to wear. I am somewhat the same way, or used to be more so I guess. Now I stick with a simple formula when it comes to events, whether they’re somber or parties. I wear similar to what you mentioned. I wear dark on the bottom [pants or skirt], light on the top [a blouse or cardigan], never any pattern, always some texture, simple jewelry and comfortable leather shoes. I could be going to a funeral or a cocktail party and that’s what I wear, fashion be damned.

    1. I’m glad you can relate and I like your approach! I think having timeless pieces that are versatile is key!

  2. I am pretty much with Ally; I wear classic solid colors, generally black slacks and a solid or maybe striped top and black shoes. I like things that can go from work to a party to a memorial without looking off at any of those places. There is a saying when backpacking that each thing should have more than one use and I also follow that for my wardrobe!

    1. Yes! I absolutely agree with pieces need to have multiple uses/purposes! I need to keep that in mind when re-vamping my closet!

  3. I am HERE for this topic, San (but you knew I would be). I love clothes. I am a firm believer in finding your own personal style and sticking with it, because that’s what a person feels best in. I think your personal style sounds very lovely and sporty, and your outfit for the memorial service sounds exactly right for you. It sounds absolutely appropriate for the occasion, and also very “San.” I wear black 95% of the time, the rest is grey or cream/ white. In summer, I will wear skirts that have some colour, and my yoga tanks also have colour, but mostly that’s what I wear. To a memorial service, it depends on the season. I have some belted black dresses – one more sweater, one more of a shirt dress – that are good for those occasions. I think for my FIL’s funeral I wore a black turtleneck, skirt, boots, and a long black cardigan (it was November).
    Not so long ago I read The Curated Closet, and it was very inspiring for a closet purge. I have decided I have no room in my (now large, but still) closet for clothes that don’t make me feel beautiful. I have to feel gorgeous and happy in my clothes, even if they are gardening or workout clothes. I have to love them or I won’t keep them. That’s my line. Now that it’s fall, I’m mostly in jeans with black tops, adding in scarves and long cardigans as well. I just brought out my boots after a summer of no socks and ballet flats/ sandals.

    1. Thanks for your input, Nicole. You know I always tell you that I feel your fashion style is pretty much what I am gravitating towards, so I should go back and look at some of your earlier posts where you shared outfits! You definitely seem to have found a groove with your wardrobe!

  4. You can’t go wrong with the classics in neutral colors. I know where you’re coming from. Back in the bad old days when I worked in a business casual workplace I had a decent business casual wardrobe. Then I went to work for a casual dress code and then at home so my wardrobe has gotten worse over time.

    1. I am glad you can relate, and yes, you’re probably right that sticking with classics in neutral colors for the majority of my wardrobe is a good thing. I just need to figure out a way to better mix and match.

  5. I definitely gravitate toward dark colours and, because of my “ample” hips, find dresses and skirts far easier to wear than pants.
    I buy 95% of my clothes second-hand which I love! I tend to have a very minimal wardrobe, but do mix things up regularly (when I’m paying $3.50 for a shirt second hand, it’s okay if I only use it for a few years – plus, I CONSIGN any clothes that are still in good shape when I’m done with them, so sometimes I actually make money on my clothing purchases).
    I’m like Nicole at this point: I want to really like what I wear. I tend to wear the same outfits over and over and over again. 3-4 days a week I will be wearing the same yoga cropped pants because they fit like a glove and are SO comfortable. If I don’t like or wear an item, chances are it gets removed from my wardrobe. That said I do tend to hold on a few things that I rarely wear – I have two pairs of dressier pants that I rarely use but it’s “nice to have” them just in case?

    1. I am taking any and all thrifting advice from you, Elisabeth. I know you’re a pro! I definitely want to check out the thriftstores again (after purging) to fill gaps. I don’t go often but sometimes I find such great gems!

  6. I am a jeans and T-shirt girl too and don’t need work clothes. I have one winter dress that I would wear to a memorial service. It is dark green with small white flowers. For going out I have the dress (but a second would be good, I just haven’t found another one I like yet), and for more casual going out I have two nice tops that I wear with black jeans. For summer I have three dresses (jeans and nice top are not good if it’s too hot so they need to work for more casual outings as well) and a couple of nice tops to wear with jeans on cooler days. One of the dresses is a black dress made of a stretchy fabric (but the dress is not tight) that never wrinkles that I wear to funerals if needed, I’ve actually had that dress for at least 10 years and it still looks great. I like to have at least one dressy and two smart casual-type outfits for each season that I really like and feel good in.

    1. It sounds like you and I are in a similar situation, the only difference being that you have figured out a wardrobe that works for you! :)

  7. I tried to remember what I wore to my mom’s memorial service and my mind is completely blank. Something black for sure but it does not go further than that. Finding something back in my wardrobe is not too hard. . I used to wear a lot of skirts and dresses but since the dress code at work is long pants and closed toed shoes it mostly is Jeans and sneakers these days and I feel utterly boring. I started making more of my clothes recently what gives me a whole new sense of accomplishment.

  8. I think your personal style sounds wonderful! If you do want to find new pieces for your wardrobe, I highly recommend Stitch Fix, although you might have sticker shock at some of their prices, haha. But I loved getting a new box full of clothes every few months – some of it was in line with my own personal style and some of it was something I would have never picked up on my own, but somehow worked! It could help you diversify your wardrobe, if that’s what you’re looking for.

    1. Same! Tried Stitch Fix back in 2017, and somehow the pieces they picked out worked!

  9. Finally, in my 40s, I have a better sense of style. Or so I think. 😜 in summer I wear dresses since it’s just ONE piece and simple earrings. In the fall, I live in cigarette pants and button down shirts/sweaters, in winter same thing, spring – dresses with tights and above pants. This past season I ordered a few items of quite brave color. A mustard shirt (gasp), a coral shirt (double gasp). But they looked great, especially that I got a tan in Spain! I have lots of blues, greens, some red/burgundy. I love taking a summer dress and making it “fall”- tights+booties+cardigan+scarf. Great post, thank you for the thoughts!

  10. What you wore sounds perfect. I would wear something similar – dark colors in pants or dress form.

    It sounds like you know your style and just need to build the wardrobe! I like jeans and casual tops for home life, and jeans and dressier colorful tops for work life.

  11. I have really pared back my closet in recent years, mostly because my body has changed since having kids. I kind of have a bit of a uniform. So I either wear a dress the style of which varies between late spring/summer/early fall and winter/early spring. Otherwise in wear fitted pants and a silky sort of top. When I WFH, I wear a top like that and then leggings on the bottom since no one can see my bottoms on zoom!

  12. I was at this point by end of last year. That is why my 2023 goals list has the cryptic line “Find magic in my closet”. And I did. I found a blogger when I googled bloggers from Idaho who is also a scientist and blogs about what to wear as a scientist in an office. And she has these Soduko challenges which is a sort of capsule wardrobe to test out. And. then she talked about an app. this app doesn’t only make you combine clothing pieces and create outfits but has stats. I bought it on a spur of a moment (I dont really spend money on apps) but those 7$ are well invested. I am thinking about writing a post about the whole experience for NaBloPoMo. Here is the link if you are interested in my bawling: https://www.cottoncashmerecathair.com/blog/2020/4/10/how-i-catalog-my-closet-and-track-what-i-wear-with-the-stylebook-app-review

  13. San, you are one of my people. At least wardrobe-wise. I am even more color averse – I wear black, gray, brown pants (not in tops, I’d look like the walking dead…) and the occasional, um, “highlight” of dark green. That’s pretty much it. Leggings, joggers, and yoga pants, + fleece. I’ll be eager to see how you cull and then build your wardrobe, as I may learn something. (I also refuse to dress up at work. I am wearing clothing that covers me and is in good shape.. I figure that’s enough. ;>)

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