Let’s talk fall fashion, shall we? It’s almost the end of August and high time I did my fall closet inventory. Time to look at what I own, decide what I plan to do with what I own, and figure out what I need.
This wardrobe planning thing has been a fall rite of passage for me for years. Like many of you, I’ve always done a big shop at the end of August, just before school starts. But in 2004, I formalized this practice somewhat and started to make actual notes on what was in my closet. Then I’d do my shopping research, and make a “to buy” list. Or at least a wish list for the season. A few years ago I began to see all kinds of articles and blog posts, and even a couple of books, on organizing one’s life, building “capsule wardrobes,” or “curating” one’s closet. Huh. I’d been doing that for years. Was I a clever girl? (I know… not a girl… not for a looong time. Ha.) Or just an anal one who loves to make lists? Or both?
Before you answer that, let’s move on.
My usual planning strategy is to go through my closets and storage drawers listing in categories what I own in my little book. Just like in the picture below.

My lists for 2018.

Then, I decide which pieces I’ll undoubtedly wear again this season. These are the pieces which make me sigh and long for fall weather, so I can wear them again.

Jeans, my black leather pants, and my black Vince wool leggings are no-brainers. As are white shirts, my Lafayette black quilted sweater, my khaki suede Moto jacket, and my burgundy Akris turtleneck which I was so excited to find last fall. Of course, I’ll wear my Veronica Beard suit as long as possible into the fall. I generally pair it with my burgundy Marc Jacobs bag, and a burgundy scarf to make it more seasonally appropriate. My Max Mara fuchsia tweed fall coat is a given as soon as the weather turns cool, ditto my Vince leather-trimmed coat sweater. This year I plan to get more wear from my Theory white ruffled silk blouse, and a purple and white Tory Burch tie blouse which I still love.

Like Bridget Jones, I love these pieces just the way they are.

Next, I ruminate over the pieces which don’t engender automatic enthusiasm.

There are a few pieces in my closet which are teetering on the edge. One more season of not pulling their weight and I’ll see if my friends over at Bella Consignment Boutique can sell them.

For instance, I’ve not worn that Vince sweater, below, nearly enough. And to be frank, I’m not loving that colour on me. It will probably get shipped to Fiona. I’m going to make a real effort to get my Max Mara double-breasted plaid jacket out of the house this season. I love the colour, and it still fits like a dream. I’d have a very hard time parting with it, or with my Akris leather jacket. In fact, if I could find a  brown midi-dress, fitted up top, and flared from the hips, kind of Laura Ashley in style, but not girly, wouldn’t it look smashing with that leather jacket and my low-heeled brown boots? Sigh. I may have to make a concerted effort this year to buy a dress.

Endangered pieces in my closet. Shape up girls or out you go.

There’s a camel turtleneck from Aritzia that I’ll also consign, I think. I haven’t worn it in a year. I have a short, black jacket from Theory which someone else might love; it’s too “worky” for my lifestyle now. Ditto a lovely, blue Smythe boyfriend blazer. And I’ll either sell or donate my brown, bootcut Yoga jeans, and a pair of gold, corduroy ones from Tory Burch.

I moved this Elie Tahari emerald green and black animal-print silk blouse directly to my closet today. It’s very light. I’ll make an effort to wear it in the next while. Shame to have it languish unworn. I can wear it with my black cropped Rag and Bone pants and my black loafers in the first warm days of fall.

Let’s see if I can fall in love with this blouse again.

Now it’s time to make a wish list and start shopping. In the past when I was still working, this upcoming week, the last before Labour Day, would have me going into school for meetings, to set up my classroom, put up posters, order supplies for the department, and anticipate my big shopping day on Thursday or Friday. I’d descend on the mall with my lists and often spend all afternoon with Liz. Heaven.

Those days are gone. As my closet becomes more and more refined, and better suited to my style needs now that I’m retired, I find that my fall shopping list shrinks year by year. That’s because I need less and less. And this year… I need practically nothing.

I have all the jeans, white shirts, coats, jackets, coat sweaters, and boots I need. I have lots of scarves in lots of colours all of which I still love. I’m going to shed a few pieces that don’t make me sigh when I put them on, and which I’d wear only out of guilt, not out of love. But their departure does not leave a huge hole in my wardrobe.

Now, before you think that I’m a totally reformed woman who finally, at the advanced age of sixty-two, has learned to eschew fall shopping in favour of more worthy pursuits… I should point out that I did say I needed practically nothing. Ha.

So, let’s see what “practically nothing” looks like, shall we?

1. A quilted or puffa vest to wear under my light fall coats. I’ve been looking for one that isn’t too tight, and doesn’t have a hood, for a year now. Maybe I’ll be lucky this fall.

2. A dress. See above where I wax lyrical on how to make my Akris leather jacket relevant once more.

3. Some sort of bronzie, gold, or reddish coloured long-sleeved tee or turtleneck to wear under my old Max Mara plaid jacket, and make this old piece look new again.

You know, the longer I’m retired, and no longer in need of a five day a week “business” wardrobe, I find that my “research,” my dreaming over magazines, fashion blogs, and Pinterest, inspires me not to shop, but to find new ways to style old pieces.

But more on that in another post.

I doubt that I’ll do much about looking for the things on my fall list for a while. I need to start thinking about what I want to pack for our Italy trip. Only four weeks from today…. I’d better get started!

Now, how about you, my friends? Want to talk fall fashion?

Do you have a strategy for fall shopping? Or do you run madly off in all directions snapping up sweaters and jackets only to suffer from shopper’s remorse when you find you have nothing to wear them with? Come on. Fess up. We’re all friends here.


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55 thoughts on “Curating My Fall Closet”

  1. The truth is I usually skip straight to the need/want list (which I complete at the end of the prior year's season), but have never made a list of what I own – that's way too scary! Although I have an idea of what I'm looking for, I can easily go astray especially since multiple shopping trips are usually required. You're my shopping hero.

    1. Until I started my lists, I would drool over and try on things I loved. Then find out they were really similar to what I already owned. Once an initial list is made it's just a matter of deleting what you had before that you've culled and adding what you've purchased.

  2. it can get colder where you live but that grey sweater make me break a sweat just looking at it. I look for lighter layers here in Essex County, pass by all the sweaters as I know they would just not get worn. Love coats as really for about 7 months of the year in Canada we wear a coat everywhere, it's what you are seen in the most. I need to edit my closet because I am not going to lose that 5lbs and if I did the sand has shifted and probably to a permanent location

  3. Try uniglo for your quilted vest they are so lightweight I love mine especially as its collarless great with a scarf. Love autumn wardrobe planning itsi my favourite season

  4. For a lightweight vest you can’t beat Uniqlo. I have one silver coloured Ultra Light Down Vest which I love, although I was surprised at the sizing. I had to buy the XL for a nice fit and I am not large. I also bought the Ultra Light Down Jacket and can get it under a coat as it really is light as a feather. I bought it in a moss colour and it is gorgeous

    1. I just checked their website and I might order one on-line. The closest store is in Toronto. Based on their size charts I'd need an X-large as well. I wish I could tell about colour. I'm looking at the "wine" but based on Sue's comments over at Une Femme the colours aren't always representative. The price is certainly right. What's the quality like, Jenny?

    2. They are Made in China but they are a very good quality. I have had my vest 2 winters and my jacket one and I like them because they really weigh very little and are not at all bulky. They are nicely shaped, not boxy with 2 deep pockets placed in a comfortable position, not on the side seams. The colours I have are silver/grey and moss green. I love mine – stylish and cosy.

  5. Now dear Sue, you MUST get yourself to re-love that green blouse, you look smashing in it!
    Loved the post and love how you have a method to record when you bought things via your annual analysis. I'm a bit anal about when using bought things ( which probably comes across in my blog!) but I have to rely on memory (where I wore it – on memorable occasions like holidays, dates, business trips, etc etc) – but it works. And it's a good brain stimulation exercise in retirement!
    Loved the post, good luck on your hunt.
    Hugs, x.

    1. Funny that my blog has almost made my little notebook obsolete except as a visual aid. I will do my best to wear the blouse. As soon as the humidity drops. Ickk…silk and humid weather don't go together.

  6. Agree with Pouting Pensioner. The green shirt is lovely. As always admire the research and planning you put into your wardrobe. Like the sound of the dress outfit and look forward to seeing what you come up with. Had a similar idea myself but it's hard to find the right one. As for Italy so nice to have that ahead of you. Love, love, love Italy. Iris

    1. Thanks, Iris. As soon as I finished this post I started thinking of Italy outfits. Even got up in the middle of the night to research temperatures in various places we'll be visiting. Bit different than last year when I had difficulty getting into the spirit.

  7. Yes! That green blouse is great!
    It works for you. I used to have a sweater like yours, it was too heavy and too hot. I understand your doubts about it. Enjoy your stay in Italy, such a great holiday destination. We are heading for the States in two weeks, I am also planning what to pack for Las Vegas and New York. It’s hard! Haha!

  8. Good morning Sue
    Can I hire you? Ha! I love my 3 Old Navy quilted vests. They are a staple in my wardrobe. I will look into Uniglo vests….silver sounds interesting. Yea…A trip to Yorkdale!!
    I love your lists…I magnified it to really check it out. Ohhhh, to be so organized….I can wish!

    1. I've been hesitant to shop on-line for things I haven't seen in person. But I may try with Uniqlo since I won't be going to Toronto to shop in person, and it comes so highly recommended. If you see the vest at Yorkdale… do let me know what you think..

    2. I hear their under-garments…cami's…are nice at Uniqlo too…I'll let you know.
      I love your glasses with your green blouse… very hip!

  9. I live in a very warm climate in Florida. I will be happy when the temps drop to 85Fahrenheit here! So thinking about winter clothes is not happening now! But I will say, that I am constantly culling my wardrobe. I have gained weight so I am ditching a lot of clothes that don't fit now or are not in style right now. Please wear that green blouse! It is lovely!

  10. When I was working, I never had much time to shop for clothes and my outfits were basic and unexciting. In retirement, I have time to make lists and shop carefully, and so my wardrobe has a bit of flair. It does pay to spend the time in planning your purchases.
    Now, I also need to spend more time shopping to find clothes that flatter an aging body.

    The animal-print shirt is beautiful and looks great on you. You must wear it.

    You’ve chosen the perfect time of year to visit Italy. Buon viaggio!

    1. Planning my wardrobe was always a great way to offset long evenings of marking while I was working. Also useful to keep me pedaling my exercise bike. Whatever works, eh? Now that I'm feeling better I'm allowing myself to get excited about Italy.

  11. Ditto here from me, too — that green blouse needs to go out and party!

    Italy? Italy? You're going to Italy? How did I miss that? Where? For how long?

    Your post above has inspired me to go into the closet and start culling. It's past time to do so, and as I'm currently on a very successful decluttering jag this time I expect to actually donate, sell at my favorite consignment boutique or even (gasp!) toss.

    Ann in Missouri

    1. Thanks, Ann.

      Yep, Italy. We're off at the end of September. Been in the planning for months. Actually we had all of our reservations made my the late spring. Hubby doesn't mess around… unlike moi:) We'll visit Venice, Florence, drive down the east coast cross over to Amalfi Coast and then Rome. Three weeks in total. Really looking forward to it. But these days, I'm excited about just leaving the driveway. Ha.

  12. Hi Sue, yet another vote for the Elie Tahari blouse … I love everything about it and you really suit it … great colours on you! I hope you find that you wear it regularly… I’m slightly hesitant, as I wonder if it were mine would it end up on the “ I really love this, but for some reason I don’t wear it” list I know I’d find it hard to let it go though.
    I definitely like the idea of a new dress you could wear your leather jacket with and depending on the colour maybe your green suede one as well. Add boots and a scarf … I can really see this look working for you! You could always put a thermal tee and tights underneath the dress in cooler weather.
    Fall and Winter fashion is my favourite… I’m really looking forward to wearing boots, scarves, hats, cashmere etc I had a successful shopping session at Cos recently ( well, two sessions, I returned for a dress!) Three tops that will work for Fall/Autumn, Winter and Spring … one will even work for all four seasons I think. They’re all cotton and/or silk and have three quarter sleeves … my favourite length! The dress is navy in a “tent” style 🙂 Actually it hangs beautifully, asymmetrical hem, longer at the back. I’m hoping it doesn’t turn out to be in the “love but don’t wear” list with the linen tunic dress, in grey and lemon, that I bought this year … I’ve only actually worn it once in Barcelona and even then just on the hotels roof terrace!
    I am trying hard to be more disciplined and shop in a more organised fashion like you. 🙂
    Looking forward to see what you pack for Italy … maybe the green blouse??
    Rosie xx

    1. I will do my best to wear that blouse. But if it becomes a "pity" outfit… I'll probably consign it. It's in such great condition, it needs someone to love it.
      I wish we had a Cos here in Canada. I shopped there in London and in Bath. I was disciplined and didn't even try anything on, but simply bought a scarf for my sister. Orange and camel. She loves it.
      Dresses like your grey and lemon tunic are made for specific occasions, in my books. I have a lovely black dress that I've worn three or four times in 12 years. But I won't let it go because the moment I do I'll have an occasion to wear it and have to shop for a new one. And dresses are hard to find in my experience. Put yours in your… "stand-by" closet, so you don't have to look at it all the time and feel guilty, but still know you have it in case you need it.:)

    2. You’re so right about the tunic dress Sue 🙂 it felt just right for when I wore it and I can think of other occasions…. mainly on holiday with Jess 🙂 where I’ll be happy to wear it. I can’t see myself walking into town for a coffee or early evening drinks in it though!

  13. I have a long brown dress fitted in the bodice and flared on the bottom. I’ll ship it to you, if you ship your green silk blouse in exchange. Deal?
    Love your very anal way of curating your closet. Mine is full. I need your help. Planning a trip out west anytime soon? Ha!

  14. Hi Susan,

    We do have COS here in Canada. Unfortunately not in the Ottawa area but in the Toronto area.

    1. Square One in Mississauga and Yorkdale in Toronto.

      Love your Blog! ElizabethC



  15. The green silk blouse would be perfect to take to Italy, to wear out to dinner with dark wash or black jeans. Simple, but elevated, and it will be considered tres chic.

  16. You've really inspired me. I've gotten rid of so much stuff and do need to go through and see what basics need replacing, and I will make a list! Hope you don't mind suggestions, but if the Max Mara jacket were mine, I'd sort of "knock it down" so it doesn't look like office wear – I'd wear a white tee, jeans and sneakers with it (or boots if the weather demands). I don't love the green silk shirt on you, not a big fan of animal prints.

    1. I know what you mean, Kathy. The jacket needs to be "toughened up" a bit. I think a turtleneck and faded jeans would help. As for the green blouse. In theory I like it, but I'm not sure if it works on me anymore. That's probably why I haven't been wearing it.

  17. It's hard to think about fall when it's still really hot outside (thanks Florida), but I know I'll need a few casual things since I am no longer working full time. But what will I need? What works best in retirement? I don't want to find myself wandering around in yoga pants all the time, but they are soooo comfortable!

    1. Hot weather clothes are my least favourite. Not sure how I'd fare if I lived in Florida. I had to decide how to turn my work-a-day wardrobe into a full time casual wardrobe too. I ended up wearing a lot (but not all) of my work tops and jackets just with casual bottoms. Good luck!

  18. I love,love your green animal print silk blouse-and it suits you perfectly! Just think about it as a basic piece,not some silk-for-the-work blouse. And love it again,please!
    I don't know why I don't wear more green
    Your wardrobe organisation skills are ,and will, be a legend
    My plans are quite simple: I really have all I need and love and don't want to "cheat" on my faitful things too much . I'm going to replace my "winter and snow " ankle boots (the soles are worn out and too slippery) with biker ankle boots with rubber soles and part with my off white longer ribbed turtleneck-maybe replace it with a camel wider one (ahem)
    The other things are still in the "maybe" category
    I have a chocolate brown viscose jersey dress for years and it goes perfectly with the leather jacket and knee boots-so,thumbs up!
    Can't wait to hear (and see) about meeting with Liz

    1. Thanks, Dottoressa. I look forward to searching for a dress. But it will have to wait until we get back from Italy. It will be my late fall project… or one of them:)

  19. I took myself off to the shops for a browse and a wander today, tried some stuff on and thought: can't be bothered. There was little to really grab my attention and it occurred to me that, in actual fact, I have enough clothes already. I'd just be re-buying the same old gear. Rather refreshing all round, and definitely easier on the pocket. Perhaps, when I am not looking, I will find the One True Thing. Cheering thought.

    1. "Re-buying the same old gear" would not be good. Unless some of the old gear is cherished and needs replacing. Much like finding a mate… the "one true thing" can appear when you least expect it. Perhaps you need to stock up on bombazine?:)

  20. I have to admire your diligence in curating and planning your closet. I only aspire to be as good as you. I like the green blouse on you and could see it being worn in Italy for an evening meal with black jeans but I can see that it may have limited wearability so maybe it's one to add to your keep on the side for that occasion when it perfectly fits the bill. Love the idea of a dress to wear with several of your jackets, reminds me of the type of outfit that I wore in the past and just loved.

    1. Ah, thanks, Christy. Your comment made me remember that I had a longer dress back in the eighties, which I wore with boots… maybe it's that one that's still stuck in my head.

  21. "Or do you run madly off in all directions snapping up sweaters and jackets only to suffer from shopper's remorse when you find you have nothing to wear them with?" You pretty much summed up my shopping strategy with your one sentence there. Except that I also have terrible guilt from having spent so much money and still having nothing to wear. I admire the fact that your purchases are so well thought out, and that it seems like you're taking old friends out of your closet when the seasons change. That's what comes from making more thoughtful purchases.

    On another note, I wanted to thank you for recommending Susie Steiner's two books. I bought the first one on your recommendation and enjoyed it so much, I read the second one also. What a pleasant surprise to find such a good author and such engaging characters in a genre I seldom read. I would never have found Steiner without your recommendation. Thanks again.

    1. Shopper's guilt is way worse than shopper's remorse. Never shop without a list is my mantra. It wasn't always that way… only after years of remorse and guilt:)
      P.S. So glad you enjoyed the Steiner books, Julie.

  22. You are so well organised Susan! I sometimes find an item in my wardrobe I have completely forgotten about – isn't that terrible?! I do need to take your advice. I agree with many of the ladies above about the green shirt – you look great in it!! xx Maria

    1. I'll shop but I won't be wearing them for a while. I guess you live in a warmer climate that Canada… or eve down under and are just going into spring.

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