Summer wardrobe results: Better luck next year!

Summer wardrobe results: Better luck next year!

One of the most helpful things I’ve done for myself with regard to this blog was that winter wardrobe recap I posted in March. I even left myself a pre-fall to-do list — thanks, me! So before I begin to wander into fall planning, this is me making notes about how the whole summer outfits lineup has worked out (I should say so far). In short: WAH wah.

I was super enthused about those plans — especially about the dresses. On days I did wear one, I was so happy and comfortable I thought I might come to actually like summer clothes. But alas, it’s been mostly the same old summer struggle. The biggest factor in the struggle is the frozen tundra of Fringe HQ, but in a just a few months we’ll be gaining control over our own climate! Which means next year will, thankfully, be a whole different story. Still, some things to remember when it rolls back around:

Mending my camo pants (some more) was the biggest win. Basically I’ve spent the past couple of months rotating between those, my Point Sur jeans and my black linen ES pants. Comfortable pants (mainly the black elastic-waist ones) have won out over dresses.

• Dresses have lost out because it’s too cold at work for bare legs, due to lack of pockets in some cases, the fact that I still haven’t found a good replacement for my ankle boots (and a trip to the shoe repair didn’t help the old dears much), and lately because — as a result of not baring them while my arms get incidental exposure— my legs are noticeably whiter than my arms. It’s not a good look.

• Also, my idea of solving the outer layer problem by wearing a jean jacket or shirt jacket just hasn’t appealed. Had I actually finished the grey cardigan, that might have made a difference?

• My favorite overlayer is my tobacco linen Nade tunic, but it also has no pockets, so can only be worn over the dresses that do. It’s been worn far less than I anticipated, despite my crazy love for it, but I think it will get a little more wear in the transition into fall.

• Related: I haven’t worn the thrifted grey skirt yet, but also think it will have a better shot in the waning season.

• I’ve officially OD’d on black, largely because I’m so dependent on the black linen pants right now and I tend not to like black pants with anything other than more black.

• The white linen shell has definitely been useful — it’s especially great with the camos — but it’s so big it looks sloppy with some things. It’ll be great under sweaters come fall, so it’s all good, but I’ll make a right-sized version for next year.

• The linen Sloper is so cute, but I’m just not wearing it. As predicted, it’s very drapey, and drapey is my least favorite trait in a garment. So it may wind up going to my sister.

• The linen Fen top suddenly looks deathly drab to me with absolutely everything and has not been worn once. It needs some contrast stitching or a dip in a dye bath or something.

• I haven’t worn the linen Gallery dress once this summer (for all of the reasons above). If I don’t find myself reaching for it in the next couple of months — when I have the option of wearing any of the outfits seen here — I think I’ll shorten it to tunic length for wearing under sweaters.

The most important lesson is I’ve really only worn 15-20 different garments in the past couple of months, just paired up differently all the time. Pictured up top are some of my favorite combos of the summer — the outfits I have felt the most at home in. And just like with the winter recap, all of the outfits I haven’t worn for circumstantial reasons will thus still be new to me next year!

For details on the items pictured and any other garments referenced here, see the summer closet inventory. (The grey linen sleeveless tee is from Everlane, sold out; similar versions available.)


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33 thoughts on “Summer wardrobe results: Better luck next year!

  1. I like black with Olive green…also, pops of color (which frankly your neutrals lack, but that can be solved with accessories). Purls forever with denim… and I love ballet flats with jeans. I own a denim pair and while they were pricey, you cannot beat the classic look!


  2. I don’t understand. I thought you lived (and worked) in Nashville, a place that, to me, is so hot and humid I can barely go outside.
    By the way, I thought your SPLC project was wonderful! We’re on a longish trip right now but as soon we get home we’re going to donate. They’re one of our favorites

    • Right, there’s essentially no going outside in high summer, and my studio is refrigerated. But like I said, we’ll have control of our own climate soon, and I cannot wait!

  3. There are things that remain in our wardrobe because we need them, even though they may get only occasional wear, such as your linen dress. I own but two dresses, worn for all dress-purposes in my life, year round; they are three and four years old, respectively, purchased from Eileen Fisher specifically for their basicness. There aren’t actually many dress occasions in my life, and sometimes a whole season goes by without requiring one, but I love that when I am suddenly invited to a wedding, or a special dinner, or a funeral for that matter, I have exactly what I need with the help of an accessory or two. Keep the linen dress, just as it is, because it is such a dress, and offers a zillion opportunities to be used with just the items of clothing you already own, It needn’t be in constant rotation, but there it will be when you need it. That’s a basic, too, just one of a different sort.

    • Oh, I completely agree. We’re just back from a four-day road trip and I wore my black linen sack dress the entire time. The dresses are great for vacation and so on, and it’s fine if I just don’t get as much wear out of them in daily work life as I had hoped, but I believe I will in the future. It’s only the one dress that I think might be more useful as a tunic than it is in its current state.

  4. Don’t even tell me that white legs and barely tanned arms don’t go together, because it’s what I am stuck with. :-) Unlike you, I wear skirts and sandals all the time in the summer, to work anyway. I haven’t got a lot of them, and all of my shirts (3/4 sleeved to avoid the sun and chilly AC) are solid colors that mix and match well with them. But you (as always) inspire me to go through the closet with an eye toward making sure I wear things, and mixing it up a bit more. With black, I like white (shocking, I know!) but also purples, reds, pinks, teal, oh especially teal!, light blue and lately, tan. Tan and beige aren’t colors I can wear, but I think they look so sharp together, I am working on ways to get the combo in without having the beige near my face. So be bold, branch out and as Ellen said, keep the dress! Sometimes you just need a dress.

  5. I solve the “a/c makes it too cold for bare legs (and besides that they’re deathly pale)” problem by wearing capri-length leggings or skinny pants under dresses.

    • I was going to say lightweight footless tights, brought to the office and then added there if it’s hot outside.

  6. Have you considered adding pockets to dresses and tops that are pocket-less by putting them along the side seam or adding patch pockets?

  7. You probably already know this “trick”, Karen, but I’ll share it anyways in the hopes that it may help some of your readers. Reverse every single hanger in your closet for one month…hooks facing out rather than in. Reverse the hanger to its original position only after you wear a garment. At the end of the month, you can quickly see that you wear the same few garments multiple times while others are never worn. We wear only 20% of our clothing…but for 80% of the time. I try to analyze what works and what doesn’t – and why some garments aren’t touched. Is it the style, the color, the fabric? I was a “color consultant” in another lifetime many years ago, and I definitely think color makes a huge impact. Wearing colors that are “good” for your skin tone (not color) will often bring compliments and make you feel good. Your “not so good colors” can make you look tired and drawn…with people often telling you just that – you look tired. Just my humble opinion…hope it helps at least one person today!

    • I think the color issue is right on. Years ago I had my colors “done” and it made a difference, especially in my choice of makeup colors. Now, older (well, just old actually), paler, and quite freckled from my wanton youth (I predate SPF, it was baby oil and iodine when I was a teen), I am more olive than pink, and the colors that gain complements are quite different. You make an excellent point.

    • My recent version of this is I don’t organize how I hang things in the closet, but just put things back right in the center (i.e., in front of the door). So it’s easy to see what’s getting worn versus what’s gradually getting shoved to the side from being out of service.

  8. I think a lot of us pare our working wardrobe down to a rather small number of items, any given season. Sorry to hear that you work in a refrigerator. Here on the north shore of Lake Ontario we have no need for air conditioning, thank goodness. Summer is blissful; winter far more cruel (although great for knitters). I’ve taken up your suggestion to read “The Curated Closet”, in which there is an entire chapter devoted to “uniforms”. My own summer uniform seems to be Sonya Philips Pants #1 in XS (three pairs in pale grey, navy, and black Essex), paired with a collection of linen sleeveless shirts, and occasionally accompanied by a lightweight mohair pullover. The book has also been useful in helping me to focus in on a colour palette. I think I must do a blog post about it all. Thanks for putting me onto it.

  9. I think I need another serious closet purge. It isn’t that I’ve gotten more clothes as much as it is that I have gotten pickier about how something feels and looks on me. That turns out to be a surprisingly small amount of garments.

      • Karen, you have had a big influence on the way I regard my clothes. It is almost depressing to see a lot of things that I don’t wear, just taking up space in an already small closet. At the same time, I find myself holding onto things because of the possibility of remaking them or utilizing the fabric. Just this morning, I was realizing that a skirt I have would make a great Stowe bag! But then there is the time needed to take the thing apart and make the new thing. And the question of whether it would be better to give it way as it is. A beautiful J. Crew skirt might bring real delight to someone who needs it. And so, it sits.

        I am proud to say that there are numerous knit FOs I have frogged and then used the yarn for a new project. I don’t post these remakes on Rav for a variety of reasons, but it is satisfying. Still….I have too much. It is time to pull it all out and make decisions. Soon. ;-)

  10. I am having the biggest closet purge itch right now, but I’m not sure it’s for good reasons. Having had a baby 4 months ago, there are whole swaths of my former wardrobe that are dead to me right now — either they aren’t nursing-compatible (most dresses, sigh), or I like them too much to want them to be spit up on all the time (many handmade things, sigh), or they aren’t comfortable enough (baby caring is pretty physically demanding, and I find I can no longer abide clothes that assert themselves *at all*), or they are styles that just don’t feel good to me now that my proportions are somewhat shifted.

    The thing is, many of these issues are transient. I don’t want to get rid of once-beloved clothing that I may love again when this rather unusual phase of my life has passed, but it’s making me itchy suddenly having a “so many clothes, nothing to wear” problem (that’s never been me before). I have very minimal making time these days, and I worry about making new things that only suit this unusual phase — will I even finish them before everything changes again? I haven’t read any “closet curation” stuff that deals with this (maybe I just haven’t read widely enough?). Most of what I’ve read seems to assume you are in some sort of personal style / physical shape plateau.

    The tl;dr, I guess, is that I’m really missing feeling like I can engage in the sort thoughtful planning and reflection in this post! I may just have to live vicariously (and enviously?) for a while…

    • I’m sure that’s incredibly frustrating, but do try to keep in mind it’s somewhat brief. I know most people’s bodies are never quite the same as they were before childbirth, but the one you have immediately after is most likely not long-term. I’d say have patience! It’s a good time to think about how you want to dress beyond this phase and make really smart, considered decisions about it.

      • Julia, I have a 16-month-old and went through exactly the same thing! I found that my post-baby body had changed so much (even after I lost all the weight) that I had to let go of much of my pre-baby wardrobe (rib cage now too big, hips too wide, etc. for my very tailored pre-baby look). I was so, so frustrated by this for a long time, but it has been really satisfying to slowly, slowly build up a new style and a much smaller wardrobe. I had already started to become more conscious about what I bought, but this has only accelerated since my baby was born. In the end, I found it liberating to let go of all those old things. I’m still a work in progress, but in some ways it has been great to have to start over in some respects. Good luck, I know it is a very challenging journey!

  11. This may be a bit sacrilegious but I’ll just mention that it would probably be easy to put side seam pockets in the Nade tunic if that would make it more wearable. I agonize over such things because I’m not an especially careful sewer/modifier, but I’ve loved it when I’ve done it.

    • I’m planning on it, yeah. I sent an email to Maggie at Nade recently to see if she had any scraps she could sell me, otherwise I’d do side-seam pockets in some other fabric. Just heard from her over the weekend that she does have pocket-sized scraps for me, yay!

  12. There is nothing wrong with having no dresses in your wardrobe as far as I am concerned. I wore lovely silk pants with a wonderful silk tunic as “mother of the bride” . I have no regrets. I just got rid of 3 dresses that I never wore. I sit behind the lady who they were given to in church. She loves them and I am happy in my linen pants.
    Another suggestion which was mentioned above: use the color suggestions. Black and white look fantastic on some people but not for all. I do wear black even though I know it is not my best color since it is so versatile but know it makes me look drab. Being 72 I do not worry about that so much. Good luck in working though all this. Know you will. It is a challenge and anyone who says it is easy must have more insight than I.

    • I really enjoy a dress when it’s the right one, but there’s no question I feel the most myself in pants or jeans. Living in such a hot climate has prompted me to want to try to get more comfortable with myself in a dress, but the attempt is thwarted by the hot/cold issue. Which shouldn’t be such a problem next year!

  13. I love this summer wardrobe recommendation. And it’s so sweet that you had already made a perfect collocation. I think we also can mix it and change in different styles.

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