Monday, September 30, 2013

The Wardrobe: In Detail

This is the post where you learn more about my wardrobe than you ever wanted to know! Actually, I'm posting this for a couple of reasons. One, it's been excellent motivation to clear out my closet and keep only the clothes I really like -- if it wasn't worth photographing and editing, why was it in my closet? Two, I've found detailed looks at people's wardrobes to be helpful as I've tried to create my own, so perhaps someone will find this helpful, too (even if it's to learn from my mistakes *wink*). And three, it was an interesting project!

A couple of thoughts before we dive in. I'll offer a brief summary of each piece and why it's included. I'll also include the cost (if I can remember it), and my estimate of the current Cost-Per-Wear (CPW) for each garment.

I have a few "unnecessary" garments that cost more than I would usually pay for my clothing. In order to keep our clothing expenditure reasonable, these splurges come out of my allowance (a set amount in our budget that my husband and I each get every month -- it helps us keep personal spending under control, while still giving us some "mad money" for treats. Kind of ironic that I never got an allowance until I was married! *wink*). I decide how much I would reasonably spend on the item, and then pay for the rest with my allowance.

Cost Per Wear:
Thinking about clothing in terms of Cost-Per-Wear rather than the ticket price is actually quite helpful to me. If I buy a shirt for $3 and wear it once ($3 CPW), it's not as economical as a $10 shirt that I wear fifteen times ($0.66 CPW). The nice thing is, the CPW goes down every time I wear that garment! If I wear my $3 shirt twice, I cut the CPW in half to $1.50. Four times, and I'm down to $0.75. Some of these garments I've had for years, so the CPW is super low, while others are quite new and thus have a comparatively high CPW. I came up with my Cost-Per-Wear for each item by estimating how many times I've worn the garment, so it's a rough estimate at best. Some are probably higher, and some lower.

Of course, some garments (such as formal attire, which I haven't included) will have a higher CPW, simply because special occasion clothing is usually more expensive and worn infrequently.

All photographs are mine, with the exception of several of the shoe photos (photo credit is provided in the descriptions).



  1. Coral Braxton Top -- Maeve for Anthropologie (e-bay): This is my "splurge" top. I just love it! Though I did have to alter it by adding two pleats to the neckline, which was nerve-wracking to say the least. I've always wanted to own something Anthro "just because" (which is silly, but there you are), and I love the color and style of this top. I wear it belted with a camisole and my black maxi skirt. Cost: $40; CPW: $40 (I need to wear it more!)
  2. Purple stretchy top -- Worthington (J.C. Penney): I've had this for four years, and I've kept it as a semi-formal/great-for-travel top, but I have issues with the neckline when I'm holding babies. Cost: $3.50; CPW: $0.18
  3. White blouse -- H&M (thrifted): I love this as a layered blouse over a tank! It's a light, gauzy fabric that works well for summer. Sadly, it's wearing out, so I'll be ditching it at the end of the season. Cost: $1CPW: $0.06
  4. White cap sleeve tee -- (Me-made): Classic white tee that works great with scarves or layers. I love the fit and the little faux cap sleeves! Cost: $5; CPW: $0.62
  5. Teal tee -- (thrifted): I picked this up back when my closet was still in chaos. The fit is good and I love the color, so it will stay until it wears out. Cost: $1; CPW: $0.20
  6. Pink lace-shoulder tee -- (Me-made): This was my first attempt at making a tee. I used a thrifted men's polo for the fabric, so it ended up a bit shorter than I wanted. I'll keep it through the season, and then ditch it. It was good (cheap) practice, though, and I have worn it a few times. Cost: $1; CPW: $0.16
  7. Coral rope-collar tee -- (Me-made): This is one of my favorite tops, and I've worn it at least once a week since I made it. The color just makes me happy! Cost: $5; CPW: $0.50
  8. Black stripe tee -- (Me-made): This is the first prototype of my custom-designed tee pattern (based on my measurements). I have a few kinks to work out, but overall it was a success and the top has come in handy. I used leftover black stripe jersey from my maxi skirt, so in essence it was "free". Cost: $0 CPW: $0.00


  1. Navy 3/4 sleeve Cardigan -- Questions by Say What? (Ross): Perfect for nautical outfits, and quite comfortable! Cost: $14; CPW: $1.40
  2. White Cropped Cardigan -- Mossimo (Target): One of my rare brand-new purchases -- actually, all of my current cardigans were purchased new! Perhaps because it's difficult to find them in good condition at charity shops. Anyway, this shrug was a bit spendy but has been fantastic thus far. Cost: $17; CPW: $1.54
  3. Mint Cropped Cardigan -- Mossimo (Target): Same as the above. The mint color is delicious! Cost: $17; CPW: $1.70
  4. Deep Mint "Lace" Knit Cardigan -- Cynthia Rowley (T.J. Maxx): This was a little splurge, but I love how unique it is! It's actually linen, and has a lovely drape. Cost: $20; CPW: $6.70
  5. Red 3/4 Sleeve Cardigan -- John Paul Richard (Unknown): I wore this cardigan very seldomly until I removed the beads and ribbon flowers that it came with. While quite lovely, they made it too dressy for frequent use. It's one of those long time closet lurkers that just needed a slight alteration! Cost: Unknown; CPW: Unknown
  6. Grape 3/4 Sleeve Cardigan -- Gap (Gap Outlet): I just purchased this cardigan, so I've only gotten to wear it once so far! But I think it will be one of my Autumn wardrobe staples. Cost: $20; CPW: $20
  7. Black Cropped Cardigan -- Mossimo (Target): This is a super light-weight cardi I found on clearance at Target. Fortunately it's held up nicely, and is a great casual piece. Cost: $7; CPW: $1
  8. Black 3/4 Sleeve Cardigan -- Maurices (Maurices): I purchased this last winter and it's really a bit too heavy for summer. It's come in handy for church or dressy occasions, though, so I've kept it out. It's got a lovely woven pattern, and is definitely a favorite. Cost: $20; CPW: $3.33

These are all worn as layering pieces, except for #1 and #5, which can be worn alone. I'd eventually like to
end up with all "Me-made" tanks that are modest enough to be worn alone if need be.


  1. Purple ruffled shell -- (Me-made): I refashioned this piece from a thrifted plus-size top, and I love how it turned out! The knit was tricky, because it's incredibly flowy (which is great!). I added a bit of ruffling around the neckline, and ended up with a piece that works well on its own or under a cardi. It's probably my favorite tank! It's new, though, so the Cost-Per-Wear is still "high." Cost: $1; CPW: $0.20
  2. Coral tank -- Shade ( These tanks run really small, but they're very well made. I'm very fond of this one, and it's holding up well to repeated use. Cost: $5; CPW: $0.25
  3. Rose shell -- Jones New York (thrifted): This is really a deep tea-rose pink, but it came out rather bright in the photo! I took in the shoulder seams and sides, and now it fits beautifully. Cost: $1; CPW: $0.08
  4. Sage tank -- Eddie Bauer (thrifted): This one may be on the chopping block soon, since I really only wear it with my denim skirts. But it works for now, and I'll reevaluate it with my winter wardrobe. Cost: $1; CPW: $0.12
  5. Black shell -- Frazier Lawrence (thrifted): I love this tank, which is made from a slinky "traveler" knit. It's flattering, feels great, and doesn't show any signs of wear! I used to have a lot of trouble with the neckline, until I realized I could just taking in the shoulders would solve the problem. Cost: $1; CPW: $0.04
  6. Cream ruffled tank -- Eddie Bauer (E.B. Outlet store): I've worn this piece a lot in the past three years, but now it only goes with my denim skirt and my black maxi. I need to see how much I wear it this winter, so for now it stays. I love the ruffled detail! Cost: $6; CPW: $0.12
  7. White shell -- (Me-made): This was another "experiment" with knit gleaned from a thrifted turtleneck. As a layering piece, it's adequate. I'm not pleased with how it loses its shape a bit during the day, though, so I'll be replacing it with another white tank soon. Cost: $1; CPW: $0.16
  8. Beige tank -- Unknown (thrifted): This is a handy neutral piece. 'Nuff said. Cost: $1; CPW: $0.16
  9. Navy tank -- J. Crew (thrifted): This tank is not pictured, because I thought I was going to get rid of it. Even shortening the shoulder straps by two inches left the neckline too immodest for my taste -- but the armholes were now as small as they could go without alteration. Then I realized that the back neckline was slightly higher than the front, so if I removed the tag, I could wear it backwards! Problem solved. The style is virtually identical to #6, my cream ruffled tank (minus the ruffles). So this brings me up to nine tanks -- but I think I may use it as a replacement for #4, the sage tank. Cost: $1; CPW: $0.20

  1. Black Floral Skirt -- Chico's (thrifted): This is one of my all-time best purchases. I bought it at Goodwill a few months after Little Man was born, and have worn it over and over since. It has a stretchy yoke waist that's very forgiving post-partum, and it's made out of a "traveler" knit that doesn't wrinkle or wear out. I wouldn't have wanted to pay the $80 or so this would have cost if it had been new, but looking back, even full price would have been well worth it! Cost: $3; CPW: $0.05 -- Yes, I have probably worn this at least 60 times in the past 2 1/2 years!
  2. Cherry Print Skirt -- Notations (thrifted): This was an impulse buy that proved successful! It fits beautifully (fortunately! I bought it without even trying it on), and has a lovely flare. It works well with my black and red tops/cardigans, the flowers are actually a coral color that matches my coral Shade tank. I think I'll always want a few "just-for-fun" pieces in my closet -- and as this skirt has shown me, they can still be versatile even if they don't go with *everything*. Cost: $1; CPW: $0.20
  3. Denim A-Line Skirt -- (Me-made): I made this skirt using Cal Patch's custom A-line skirt workshop, and it fits like a dream! Though I did make the hem circumference a bit too big, so it doesn't drape *quite* as nicely as I'd like. It's turned out to be a staple this summer, and I love that I can easily make more if needed. The fabric was thrifted denim yardage. Cost: $1; CPW: $0.08
  4. Black Knit Maxi Skirt -- (Me-made): This is my go-to skirt! It's cotton with spandex, and I just love it to pieces. It'll be a great transitional piece -- assuming I don't wear it out before it's needed in such a capacity! I'll definitely make another when this one bites the dust. I did purchase 3 yards, but I have quite a bit of scrap yardage left over. Cost: $18; CPW: $0.90
  5. Black Stripe Maxi Skirt -- (Me-made): Yet another staple in my wardrobe! Black stripe may seem a little redundant when I already own a black maxi, but I've really enjoyed having both. I can pair this with a solid top and not look too drab, and the cotton jersey is lighter than the black cotton spandex (i.e., better for summer). Cost: $18; CPW $0.90
  6. Denim Flare Skirt -- Westport Denim (thrifted): I bought this skirt five or six years ago, and at the time it was a bit too snug -- but I thought I could use it as a pattern, or something like that. Then I lost 17 pounds during my engagement, and it fit perfectly! Two kids later, it's a tad snug on my permanently expanded hips, but it's still a staple. Sadly, it's starting to wear out, so its days are numbered. *sniff* Cost: $1; CPW: $0.02
  7. Navy Stripe Midi Skirt -- (Me-made): A little something to satisfy my craving for all things nautical! A perfect, comfy summer skirt. Cost: $6; CPW: $0.60

All of these dresses require neckline "fillers" (I use short camisoles)

  1. Navy Stripe Tee Dress -- Calvin Klein (Ross): This was a bit of a splurge for me (even at 70% off of retail), but I'd been looking for something exactly like this. I wear it with white capri-length leggings. Actually, the neckline is so low and stretchy that this works as a nursing dress when I pair it with a modified camisole (I take camisoles and cut the bottoms off, for use with shirts/dresses that have low necklines -- it's cooler and less bulky than using a full tank top, and it's more convenient for nursing). It's still new, so the Cost-Per-Wear should go down drastically next summer. I'd love more of these in the future, but I'll be making them myself to reduce the cost! Cost: $30; CPW: $7.50
  2. Black "Spot" Dress -- Maggy London (thrifted): I really bought this dress because I thought it would be fabulous for maternity (the front skirt is slightly gathered). It's not nursing friendly, so I've only worn it once so far. I love the "traveler" knit fabric, and it makes a great date night dress. Cost: $1; CPW: $1
  3. Little Black Dress -- Chaps by Ralph Lauren (Kohls): I bought this shortly before I married, and technically haven't gotten much use out of it between pregnancy and nursing -- but it's a classic dress in a traveler fabric that will probably last for years to come, so I'm holding on to it! I love the empire styling and slightly flared skirt. Cost: $50? CPW: $5
  4. Brown Dot Cap Sleeve Dress -- Jones New York (Stein Mart): I bought this around the same time I bought my LBD (they're identical in style, except that this one is a bit longer), and I love it! I recently found out that it can work for nursing in a pinch, since the fabric is quite stretchy. Cost: $30?; CPW: $3

  1. Purple Braided Skinny Belt -- Bealls; Cost: $2
  2. Navy Leather Dockers Belt -- Thrifted; Cost: $0.20
  3. Brown Embossed Skinny Belt -- Bealls; Cost: $2
  4. Black Feather Skinny Belt --; Cost: $7
  5. Red Skinny Belt -- Thrifted; Cost: $0.20
  6. Brown Dockers Belt -- Thrifted; Cost: $1?

  1. Mint Chevron Infinity Scarf --; Cost: $8
  2. Navy Stripe Gauze Scarf -- Walmart; Cost: $5
  3. Coral(ish) Chevron Infinity Scarf -- Walmart; Cost: $2.50
  4. Turquoise "Eggshell" Infinity Scarf -- Me-made; Cost: Free
  5. Fuchsia Paisley Scarf -- Walmart; Cost: $5
  6. Black Pashmina Scarf -- Thrifted; Cost: $0.50 
  7. Coral Gauzy Scarf -- Base Exchange (shh, it was an Air Force base! *wink*); Cost: $4
  8. Purple Gauzy Scarf -- Base Exchange; Cost; $4

  1. Black ballet flats -- Payless: Simple, go-with-everything flats. They're also super light-weight and very comfortable! I'm contemplating make some leather clip-on emellishments, just to schnazz them up a bit. Cost: $13. Photo credit.
  2. Black Mary Jane Heels -- Mudd (thrifted): I don't really wear heels, but it's nice to have a pair on hand for dressy occasions. For the price, I couldn't pass them up -- and the scalloped trim and Mary Jane strap really are delightful! Cost: $1
  3. Black Dressy Sandals -- Payless: I desperately needed some dressy sandals two years ago, and these were the best I could find! I don't like the heel height, but I'm keeping them until they wear out. Cost: $13?
  4. White Dressy Sandals -- Payless: This pair is identical to the black pair (above). Cost: $13?
  5. Beige ballet flats -- I was looking for brown ballet flats, but during a fruitless search for inexpensive options I came across beige/nude flats. I now prefer them to brown, because they blend with just about any color! I'm disappointed with the quality of this particular pair, though -- after only a few wears, the beige ispeeling up in a few spots in the toe area, so they'll soon need some sort of embellishment or paint job. Cost: $23. Photo credit 
  6. Brown Braided Strap Sandals -- Wet Seal: Okay, so I'm a little embarrassed that I bought something from Wet Seal, even if it was an internet order! But I wanted to try out this style of sandal (since it's pretty much all that's available right now), and didn't want to spend a fortune. They have more than met my expectations (which were very low, considering the low cost). Yes, they're cheap shoes. But they held together all summer, and still have some wear left. Cost: $7.50.  Photo credit.
  7. Black braided Strap Sandals -- Wet Seal: Again, these are identical to the pair above, but in black. I'm really surprised at how well these held up! And I actually love the look. So many pairs had studs, grommets, rhinestones, or other unwanted decorations. The ankle straps are loose (even after punching new holes for the buckle), but I could have easily fixed that if it had really bothered me. Cost: $7.50. Photo credit.
  8. Merrell Barefoot Run Vapor Gloves -- These technically don't count as part of my shoe closet, because they're workout equipment. But I love them so much that I had to include them! (Besides, it makes an even eight). I've recently started short distance running as part of my bodyweight Crossfit workouts, so a pair of athletic shoes was in order. These Merrells are as close as you can get to running barefoot, which is supposedly the best possible way to run (makes sense!). They're incredible. Really, really, incredible. And don't require socks. And can be washed in the washing machine. And are totally worth the price. People have put thousands of miles on Vibram soled Merrells before, so I have no doubt they'll be a good investment. Did I mention they're incredibly comfortable? --  Cost: $72. Photo credit

Concluding Thoughts:

This project took a bit longer than I anticipated! I set up my camera on a tripod and put each piece on "Yvonne," my dress form. That actually went rather quickly; editing the pictures in Photoshop Elements to remove the background and fix the inadequate lighting took much longer. Now that I've figured it out, it will probably go faster in the future. I think I'll do a similar post for my Winter wardrobe (which hopefully I can pull out in a month or two -- we've finally had a few cooler temperatures, but it's still quite warm in Florida). At that point I'll have a good feel for my entire wardrobe.

In the future? I think I will continue to photograph each item in my closet and edit them as seen here (minus the "collages"), so that I know exactly what I have at a glance and can shop for new fabric or garments more effectively. Quite honestly, seeing nice photographs of my clothes makes me feel happier with them! I happen to have a dress form, but I think this would be equally helpful if I were taking pictures of my clothes on hangers over the back of my closet door. It was a fantastic evaluative tool (though next time I'll pick a spot with better lighting).

Once I do my winter wardrobe, I won't have to do such an extensive "survey" again, since I'll only need to photograph a few new items each season (and delete photos of discarded items). Incidentally, this will also be a great way for me to keep track of out-of-season clothing.

As for my wardrobe itself, I shared most of my thoughts in my last post. I have a feeling I will never quite make it to the 10-item wardrobe, partly because I only wear skirts and dresses. Capsule wardrobes seem to work best with simple items that can be mixed and matched. Even a basic denim skirt is a little more unique than the ubiquitous pair(s) of jeans that you'd find in many women's wardobes. I find that wearing the same skirt repeatedly can be a bit boring, and because of that I'll probably have at least six or seven skirts in my closet at any given time. I do really like my current layering capabilities. I think eight each of tops, tanks, and cardis is a good number for me (though I'm not opposed to fewer, and think I can manage it next summer -- perhaps six of each?). I also foresee more "Me-made" custom clothing.

I already have some ideas for next summer's wardrobe -- it's so nice to finally be at a place where I can quickly decide what I need to replace, add, or subtract! It's a much better feeling than scanning the racks at the thrift store, picking up anything in my size and general style (and hoping against hope it will actually be a good purchase). I've made a few mistaken purchases since starting this experiment, and I'm sure I'll make more in the future. But I have a feeling that they'll be an exception rather than a rule, especially as I grow more experienced. I'm excited to see where this journey takes me! It seems odd that I'm simultaneously more interested in my wardrobe, while spending less time and money on it than ever before. Odd, perhaps, but definitely good.

I'd love to know what works for you with your wardrobe! I'm always on the lookout for good tips. And I apologize for the plethora of clothing-related posts of late; it happens to be something in my life that needed attention, and, lucky you, I brought you along for the ride. I'm sorry, or You're Welcome. You pick. *wink*


  1. Shannon--
    I've been reading your blog for some time (maybe that's actually called lurking) and thought I'd finally say "thanks for blogging". As a fellow mom of small children and one who struggles with looking presentable through the pregnant, post-partum, and nursing days, I've enjoyed this current series.

    1. Leslie,

      Thank you so much for your comment! I enjoy blogging, but it's a huge encouragement and blessing to me to hear from a reader (or lurker :-), and know that someone is enjoying my posts! It's a pleasure to *meet* you!


  2. Shannon ~ Thank you, thank you, thank you for your wardrobe post(s)! I am undergoing the same process in between work and college classes and it's making mornings much simpler! Love your recent posts!

    1. Thanks, Cari! At times I wondered if it was just really weird to post my wardrobe on my blog, so your comment made me feel much better about it! :-) Good luck with your own wardrobe makeover -- it really is remarkable how some simple changes can make such a big difference.


  3. Shannon I admire you for being able to have a minimal wardrobe. :) My wardrobe always seems to be bursting at the seams with too many articles of clothing. This is a blessing I have an abundance, but one thing I have done is not bought an item unless I actually need it. This is super hard for me! My most recent clothing purchase was a needed item that being a black full slip for my dresses. Its come in handy and it was affordable from an etsy shop. Thanks for sharing your clothing/wardrobe journey with us.
    I am so glad that now I have mostly items in my closet that are my color palette as well. That definitely helps. Have you heard of the book Color Me Beautiful Shannon?
    In Christ with love,

    1. Rebecca,

      I definitely sympathize with the trials of only buying clothing you need! But, like your slip, it's so satisfying to purchase something that works so well!

      I have heard of "Color Me Beautiful" and am familiar with the concept, but have never actually done it for myself. Which probably means I wear some of the wrong colors! I usually pick based on what seems to look good (I know yellows and light greens are NOT good on me!), but I should look more into the science of it. Thank you for suggesting it!


  4. Do you wear pants?

    1. I do have two pairs of capris and one pair of jeans for painting or outdoor work (which is why they're not pictured here!), but I do not have pants as part of my daily wardrobe.


  5. Shannon,
    I'll take the "You're welcome."
    Thanks so much!
    I guess I "lurk" =) too; I've enjoyed popping in to see what you've sewed over the years.
    It always inspires me to add an extra bright touch to projects.
    I'm trying to create a flexible wardrobe (we're expecting our first!) that is bright, pretty & cheery (esecially for gray, rainy winters); so your posts were "just the ticket!"
    I also wear skirts, and though I love to have a very few *favorite* clothes in my closet, it is still hard to balance the "capsule wardrobe" concept with practical life. (Home, Church, Town, Outdoors...)
    Seeing your selection helped me clarify my choices. I'll see how these sets of 8 work ot in my closet!
    Thanks for going to all that work.
    By the way, batch-processing should speed things up next time; and I've found a thrifted vinyl blind makes a perfect white screen for backgrounds! =)

  6. TheTayloress,

    What a pleasure to meet you, and I'm glad you enjoyed the posts! Congratulations on your baby, too -- how exciting!

    Bright, pretty, and cheery sounds delightful -- and you're so right about the difficulty of the capsule wardrobe being versatility. Even a multi-functional piece has its limitations. I'm looking forward to seeing if I can make my wardrobe even more versatile next summer, as I'll have a relatively blank slate and a little more experience under my belt.

    I wish you luck with your wardrobe endeavors! And thank you SO much for the batch processing tip; I had no idea that was even an option!



I'd love to hear your thoughts! Thank you so much for stopping by!