Shopping: Planning a Fall Wardrobe

As I mentioned in my last post on capsule wardrobes, I’m moving away from the concept. Rotating through four seasonal capsules last year definitely helped me get a grip on spending on clothing and helped me avoid impulsive clothing purchases. It also helped me figure out what I like wearing versus what I don’t. But, the process of capsuling takes a lot of time and effort and I’m not interested in investing that time or effort anymore.

One interesting discovery I made doing capsules: I love wearing dresses. I always thought I was a skirt person, but dresses are so easy. It’s one piece. If it fits you well and looks good, all you have to do is put it on and you’re good to go. Of course, the fit part is key.

Another thing I learned from capsuling: I hate quantifying my closet. I really don’t care if I have 37 pieces or 50 pieces, as long as they are pieces that I love and actually wear. That’s mainly why I’m not going to bother with capsules any more. As long as it’s not excessive for you, there’s no reason to obsess about numbers.

Putting Together a Fall Wardrobe

The aspect I did like about having a capsule was taking the time to plan my wardrobe out. For fall, that means taking a peek at what I have and figuring out if there are any gaps. For example, I don’t currently have a basic navy or black pencil skirt. I have a colorblocked number from Boden, but it’s not that versatile. I’d like something that I can wear pretty much all the time.

Because I love the fabric the Miyani dress from Theory is made out of, and have a blazer in a matching fabric, their pencil skirt is at the top of my list for fall pieces. It’s also made in the US, which is another plus. I actually went to Nordstrom a few weekends ago to try on, but they didn’t have it in stock. That’s OK, though, because my plan is to wait for it to go on sale during a Friends and Family event or similar, rather than pay full price.

Other Fall Wardrobe Pieces

To round out my fall wardrobe, I’d like a casual, light jacket. The jacket I’ve been wearing since 2012 recently ripped and I’m a little over its style (it was a moto style jacket in a French terry fabric. Kinda edgy, but also kinda suburban).

I am usually drawn to coats with some sort of military detailing. For example, I can’t afford it, but I love this jacket from Burberry:

This coat from Banana Republic is a pretty decent and affordable substitute:

Along with a fall jacket, I’m hoping to add a few every day dresses to my wardrobe. I’ve recently become a bit enamored of the selection from Brooks Brothers. I know they’re usually so preppy, but they recently hired Zac Posen as their creative director, and I have to say I really like some of their pieces. A brown and black houndstooth print wool dress is standing out to me particularly. They also have some jackets that look fantastic.

I’m also looking at the Hattie dress, from Boden. It seems to be a simple, stretchy dress with a flared skirt. Perfect for everyday work wear. I’m unsure whether I want to venture into pants this fall, but if I do, the Foster pant from MM LaFleur seems perfect. Everlane is also introducing a ponte pant, which might be worth checking out.

Fall Wardrobe Budget

I’d like to budget around $600, at the most, for this fall’s wardrobe. But the sticker price of all the items I’d like to get for fall is more than $1,000. Yikes. That’s what happens when you start looking at quality over quantity — the price jumps. For that, I could afford to get that Burberry coat (but then, that would be all I could get…).

Of course, we live in the era of never ending sales, or so it seems. For example, I’ve already ordered the jacket for Banana Republic for 40 percent off, and it’s not even the end of August yet.

Still, I’ll obviously  have to make some cuts and decisions about what to get and what not to get. That’s another reason why I’m moving away from a capsule concept.

With the capsule, you stock your wardrobe at the start of the season, which I think can lead to making not the best purchases. Instead, I plan on making sure I actually have a need for an item (like a casual coat, which I will definitely need when the weather gets cooler) before purchasing it. Will I actually  have a need for a new pencil skirt? We’ll see. It might be that I can find one that’s less expensive than Theory, but equally as good.


Reviewing the Reviews Part 2: J.Crew Circle Mini Skirt

Let’s do another review of the reviews, shall we? A few months ago (in March), I ordered and reviewed the J.Crew Circle Mini Skirt in Crepe. At the time of my review, I admitted to being skeptical about the skirt’s quality, but also pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t the train wreck I was anticipating. Here it is again for reference:

J.crew circle mini skirt in crepe

Review Revisited: J.Crew Circle Mini Skirt

So, flash forward about four months. How’s the skirt holding up?

Eh, not so well, I’m afraid.

In my original review, I said this about the fabric:

The fabric is a poly/viscose/elastane blend. It’s got some texture to it and a soft hand. I’d be afraid my cat would snag it, but he snags everything, so that’s not really an issue. The skirt is lined, which adds some heft to it.

Some texture and a soft hand equals a nightmare for cat owners. Every time I wear this skirt, it gets covered in cat hair. COVERED. It’s like a cat hair magnet. Even if I don’t pet or cuddle with my cat, the skirt winds up looking like a mess. I must spend about 15 minutes before leaving the house lint rolling the skirt and applying packing tape to it to remove the hair.

It’s not only cat hair that’s the problem, though. The fabric just seems to pick up every stray piece of lint and dust in the world around it. Keeping it looking clean and decent is pretty difficult. It’s dry clean only, so it’s not like I can just toss it in the wash and hope for the best.

I’ve gotten to the point where I wear the skirt at home and change into something else before leaving the house.

Yeah. That kinda sucks.

It’s not just that the skirt is a lint/cat hair/dust magnet. It’s also got some quality issues.

The grosgrain ribbon waistband I was so concerned about is holding up fine. But, the tag inside the skirt has fallen off. I have to say that this is the first time I’ve had a tag fall off of any piece of clothing. That sounds like a minor issue, but if I wanted to sell the skirt at some point, it would be a problem. Not that anyone wants to buy this skirt, given that it looks beat to crap after just four months of wear.

Another deal: the fabric is pilling in spots, notably on the sides of the hips. Blugh.

I think this circle mini skirt is the proverbial final nail for me. I’m done with J.Crew. It’s one thing to sell cheap, low quality clothing and fully admit that. It’s another to sell them while at the same time crowing about your commitment to quality and the like.


That all said, if anyone has any recommendations for a well made, black skirt, I’m all ears.

Books: What I Read in July

And … I’m back. Decided to take a bit of a break from blogging for July, so I’m going to skip reviews of what I read in June and get right to the books I read last month. Except for the first book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, because it’s really five books and I read them over the course of June and July, along with a few others.

Ready? Let’s begin.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

I have a bit of a hypothesis about Douglas Adams’ books. I like the Hitchhiker’s trilogy (it’s actually five books. Just let that sink in and you’ll get the humor found through the books). But I love Dirk Gently. And I think that’s because I read the Dirk Gently series first. Meanwhile, people who read Hitchhiker’s first love it, but only like Dirk Gently. My hypothesis that whichever Adams series you read first is the one you like more could have nothing to do with anything and could just because we are different people, and so we like different things.

Anyway, Hitchhikers. The basic premise: Right before Earth is destroyed so that an intergalatic superhighway can be built, Ford Prefect (an alien) whisks Arthur Dent (a human) off of the planet. Hilarity ensues, over the course of five books.

Admittedly, some of the books are better than others. I found the third book, “Life, the Universe and Everything,” to be a bit of a slog, while I thought the fifth book, “Mostly Harmless,” was the most enjoyable (after the first book, which is absolutely hilarious). “Mostly Harmless” is a little on the dark side and the ending is a bit, “whoa, OK, did that just happen?” But I liked it.

If you’ve never read Hitchhiker’s, go read it. But first, I’d recommend reading Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Just to test my  hypothesis.


The Children Act by Ian McEwan

July was all about re-reading books I’d enjoyed in the past. I first read The Children Act, a slim novel from Ian McEwan, when it was published in 2014. It’s been on my re-read list ever since.

Fiona Maye is a high court judge in the family court in London. She’s earned praise and recognition for her level headed decisions in challenging cases, most notably a case involving conjoined twins. Severing the twins would save the one, but kill the other. Leaving them attached would kill both.

In The Children Act, Fiona faces another challenge. A 17-year-old Jehovah’s Witness has leukemia and is refusing blood transfusions, because of his religion. The transfusions would most likely save his life. Fiona has to decide whether to accept that his wishes are valid or rule in favor of the hospital giving him the transfusions.

At the same time, her personal life is going to shit. Her husband has announced that he’d like to have an affair (but stay married) and promptly leaves their shared flat. Fiona’s constantly wondering if she made the right choice in not having children. Although she ultimately makes a decision in her case, a few of the choices she makes at the same time come back to haunt her.

Although The Children Act is a short book, it packs a powerful punch. Fiona’s a character steeped in regret. She’s done well professionally, but she’s not sure if she made the right choices throughout her life. The books not only focuses on the big choice she must make and the ramifications it will have for Adam (the teenage boy) and his family, but also how the small choices and decisions she’s made and continues to make have affected her life and those around her, for better or for worse.

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

Not only was July re-read a few favorites month. It was also “man month,” in that I only read books by male authors. I guess it happens sometimes. The last book I read in July was Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections. I first read the book in 2003,  after the Oprah’s book club debacle (my copy actually has a small label on it announcing the book as a book club pick. Oops.)

If you’re never read the book, it centers on the Lambert family. Albert and Enid, the dad and mom, live in a small town in the midwest. Their children have scattered, with their oldest son, Gary and their only daughter, Denice, in Philly. Their middle child, Chip, is in Lithuania by way of New York City and some terrible life choices.

The first time I read the book, I was a super naive 20-year-old. Now, I’m a less naive 33-year-old, a year older than the youngest character, Denice. So, I guess I got the book a bit better this time around. There were parts of it that I found funny, and I don’t remember there being so much humor the first time I read it. There were parts of it that were more relatable.

Although The Corrections was Franzen’s third novel, it’s interesting to re-read it and note how much like a first or beginning novel it feels. There’s a lot of heavy handedness about it, in terms of metaphors and symbolism (true to its title, the book sure talks about things being corrected a lot).  It’s like you can feel him trying to write the Great American Novel. There’s a sense of strain throughout, like he’s trying to achieve greatness. I’ll have to re-read Freedom and Purity, but I don’t remember getting the same sense from those two books.