Thursday, June 10, 2021

2020 Year-End Shopping Reflections Revisited

Now that NYC is almost fully reopen and I'm back in the office at least a few days each week, I'm slowly returning to being able to more accurately evaluate my 2020 purchases based on what I actually like to wear when I don't spend essentially all my time at home, in the interest of public health and COVID safety. In that light, I'm starting to find that, maybe... I wasn't making the best shopping decisions for my wardrobe last year. 

I was aware of this possibility when I wrote my original year-end shopping reflections post for 2020. I refrained from doing my usual analysis to classify my purchases as good, middling, or unwise choices using red, yellow, or green dots - like I've done for 2019 and the period from 2015 through most of 2018 - because I knew I wouldn't be able to do any real analysis before I was able to move freely out in the world again. I couldn't meaningfully "road test" any of my new clothes or accessories or think about their actual functionality for my life outside the home if I wasn't really going anywhere except for a once-monthly trip to the grocery store. 

But now things are getting back to normal here in NYC: I'm going back to the office most weekdays, and K and I are comfortable with dining indoors at restaurants again, including with friends from other households. We're also comfortable with traveling to visit friends or family without quarantining beforehand. (The vast majority of our friends and family and even my close work colleagues do not have young children under 12 in their households, or any other household members who cannot receive the vaccine, which probably makes it much easier for us to just jump straight back in to something resembling "normal" pre-pandemic life with remarkable speed.) 

With all that, I feel like I'm now able to start evaluating my purchases from my usual perspective, taking into account my personal style preferences and actual day-to-day lifestyle in "normal" times. 

This time around, my colored dots analysis system remains fairly simple, like in my extremely belated year-end shopping reflections post for 2019Red means items that turned out to be an unwise choice for me because they don't actually suit my personal style preferences or lifestyle, but this year the items are all in pristine shape and can be resold. Yellow still refers to something that, in hindsight, wasn't as useful for my wardrobe needs as I thought at the time I made the purchase, but I plan to continue wearing the item. Green means something that was one of my "best buys" for the year. 

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Red was a larger category for 2020 than 2019, which is a bit disappointing. In truth, none of these classifications are meant to reflect poorly on the brand that made the item at all. It really does come down to my own decision-making and my going ahead with purchases when I knew I wasn't assessing them based on my actual preferences for what I want or like to wear in normal, pre-pandemic times. Last year, it was difficult to remember how nitpicky I normally am about a lot of details to do with my clothes. 

That Lou and Grey cotton "triple cloth" midi dress (link to current season version in different color) ended up clinging too much to the exact wrong spots on my figure. That combined with the unflattering-on-me placement of the front slit meant I couldn't see myself continuing to wear the dress outside. It's a pity because I do think the Lou and Grey textured cotton "triple cloth" is a nice material for in-home lounging or outside wear in the height of NYC's hot and humid summers - the fabric feels nicely textured and is very light - it's just that the design doesn't work on my body shape at all. I'm probably going to put this dress in a ThredUp bag for resale. 

And ah, I'm going to feel extremely silly about the rest of these because the items were all quite expensive and I was initially so excited to get them. 

I definitely need to put both my Babaa No. 15 jumper and my Babaa merino wool lounge set on the resale market. (I'll probably try to sell directly to interested buyers through Instagram.) Again, this is not a reflection on Babaa at all, the items are all quite well made out of nice materials, I just chose very badly for my lifestyle. The No. 15 jumper is just too chunky and oversized for me, I've come to my senses and accepted that a sweater that can't be comfortably layered under any of my coats is just not workable for my lifestyle. It means there's no real occasion I can really wear it outside the home in NYC's climate. 

As for the merino wool lounge set, I ended up not really reaching for it because I didn't want to accidentally get it dirty while cooking. It turns out that cotton or cotton-blend lounge clothes I feel comfortable just throwing in the washing machine suit my lifestyle much better. Plus, now that I'm mostly back in the office, I don't need as many pieces of lounge clothes in my closet anymore. 

This one is also definitely not meant to reflect badly on the brand at all, but I also need to resell my Elizabeth Suzann Bel skirt in black silk (size M, short). (I know a reader here was previously interested in it. If you happen to still be interested, please feel free to send me an email at aninvinciblesummerblog [at] and I'll give you first dibs! No pressure though, if you've changed your mind.) It's a lovely skirt, and I picked the right size and length for me, but I really do not reach for casual separates much at all in summertime - probably just once or twice in a normal month once my workplace is back to its typical business casual dress code - due to always reaching for dresses instead. Thus, I definitely do not need a second warm weather-friendly skirt in addition to my Uniqlo x J.W. Anderson wrap skirt

Yellow is a fairly small category for 2020, at least. This time around I'm quite confident that the items will still serve a function in my wardrobe eventually, or at least on limited occasions. 

Both the "Pure 50" and "Velvet De Luxe 50" denier Wolford tights I bought last March during a sale will eventually become part of my regular work wardrobe rotation. That is, so long as I continue practicing law in the northeast US and need to continue adhering to at least a business casual dress code for much of the work week. Both those things are practically guaranteed. Because I was working almost entirely from home for more than a year since I bought these tights, they probably won't enter my wardrobe rotation until sometime in 2022 at the earliest. (Keeping in mind that my existing pairs were also saved an extra year of wear and tear while I was social distancing and working almost entirely from home. Wolford tights are fairly durable, so they last a long time even with frequent washing and wear.) 

The Cosabella Never Say Never Curvy Sweetie Bralette also ended up being less immediately functional for me than expected. I picked the right size and can appreciate that there is some utility to a bralette because it's more comfortable and less constricting than my usual, more industrial-strength underthings. But alas - as I sort of already suspected when I first bought it last April - I'm probably never going to be comfortable wearing a bralette with no underwire as support under my clothes while I'm out and about, so this item will only ever be worn at home. 

Green items are a more limited selection of my favorite "best buys" each year, and sometimes I reserve that status for items that managed to pleasantly surprise me in some way. For 2020, I don't think any of my favorite items were outside my comfort zone, so none of them were really surprising like that. But they're still very nice and functional things that I'm very fond of. 

First up is the Brora gauzy polo neck sweater in teal (only a limited color/size range left over from last year; Brora tends to bring back the same styles in new colors every fall/winter season).  I love the color and reach for this sweater often, I like that it's a nice, slouchy, and very relaxed fit all over. The Brora "gauzy" cashmere is quite thin and fine, so this sweater doesn't have as sleek and neat a look as, say, the Vince boiled cashmere funnel neck sweater, which is a noticeably thicker knit that skims the body better and doesn't bunch up at times. But if you don't mind the more casual, slouchy look of the Brora gauzy cashmere - I like it, including for more casual days at work - then this sweater is lovely to wear.  

The second item is my Smythson Mara small zip-around wallet. Longtime readers may recall that I definitely havething for small leather goods, particularly mini-wallets. It's a category of item I can see myself regularly indulging in, even if I never actually need new ones. All the wallets I've ever mentioned in my six years or so of writing this blog are still in perfectly fine shape, and I have all possible sizes already... 

I think this Smythson small zip-around wallet is my favorite of the more mini wallets I have. It fits the most cards easily - some of them in the middle compartment, as there are only four actual card slots inside, two on each side - and is the easiest to get in and out of because the zip compartment opens more widely than on my other mini-wallets, all while still being very compact, enough to fit in a purse as small as, say, the Lo and Sons Waverley

My Cuyana French Terry boatneck sweatshirt and tapered lounge pants in teal are probably my favorite of the lounge clothes I currently own. (Sadly, the current color selection doesn't include any bright shades.) Although I didn't initially love that Cuyana only offers a cotton-modal-spandex blend for sweatshirts - not 100% cotton or cotton with a little bit of spandex - the cotton-modal is nice and soft and very breathable, and that allows me to continue wearing it comfortably when the temperature warms up. Our apartment tends to be quite stuffy, so with my other sweatpants or joggers I put them away much earlier in the year when spring temperatures start coming back. (That does mean that this lounge set isn't the warmest or the most cozy.) 

Did any of you also make less wise than usual wardrobe shopping decisions in 2020? I'm quite sheepish that I ended up selecting no less than three - four if we count the Babaa merino jumper and trousers separately - quite expensive things that ultimately weren't that functional for my normal lifestyle and my admittedly super-nitpicky style preferences. 

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