My friend Liz the personal shopper calls the assembling of a series of interconnected outfits “wardrobing.” She does this for clients all the time. Sometimes clients who have long since moved away from Ottawa contact her and ask her to put together a seasonal wardrobe for them. She then ships it to them, they try everything on, and send back whatever they don’t want. Cool, eh?

That’s kind of what I do for myself each season. Of course I don’t buy a whole new wardrobe. Perish the thought. But I do try to add selected new pieces which, when combined with other pieces in my closet, will create a coherent wardrobe. So, wardrobing. And to avoid eventually ending up with a whole closet of black or brown or navy, every few years I hive off in a slightly new direction.

The all-navy closet was a near miss last summer. I have a navy spring coat from Moncler, a navy pant suit from Veronica Beard, an old dark denim skirt from Burberry. And when I resurrected a navy Max Mara pant suit from 2002, it suddenly seemed that I was all about navy. So I began to add red accents, a red tee, a scarf, a bag. You see where I’m going with this. And this year in my spring shopping, I steered clear of anything navy.

This spring I was determined to add some colour to my closet. “Maybe orange or red or yellow,” I remember saying in this post. In the end, I bought a white linen blazer from Theory. I know, I know white is not a colour. But it’s not black or navy either. And then I bought a pair of cropped, yellow linen trousers, a cream and tan striped tee, both from Theory, and a Free People yellow gingham scarf. It seemed to me that these pieces would add a new colour palette to my wardrobe. And they should work together. “Should” being the operative word.

Of course, the white linen jacket goes with tons of things in my closet. I wore it here with a pair of checked pants from Rag and Bone, and my red loafers. I wore it here with the new striped tee, the yellow scarf, skinny jeans, and a pair of really old block-heeled raffia sandals. So, the new jacket fits right into my current closet, and adds new dimension to old pieces. But those yellow pants. Sigh. What am I going to do with those yellow pants? Much as I love them, they are proving to be problematic.

Lafayette 148 white shirt, Zara scarf, Theory linen cropped pants, Aldo sandals. River and garden in the background.
Dear yellow pants, what are we to do with you?

But just as Liz doesn’t give up when she has a problematic client … I was not going to be defeated by a pair of problematic yellow pants. And in that spirit, I spent a couple of hours today trying on outfits most of which will never, ever be worn. I assembled almost all of my summer tops and jackets on the bed, and tried them on in various combinations and permutations with my yellow linen pants. Do you ever do that? Have a “fashion show”, as Hubby calls these outfit try-on binges? A day when you start with high hopes, maybe you’re even a little bit excited. You are finally going to come up with the perfect outfit for a heretofore problematic piece in your wardrobe. Instead, at the end of it all, you ask yourself what the heck you were thinking buying those stupid yellow pants.

I’ll admit I might be overstating things just a tad. I did find a couple of outfits today that I’ll probably wear. The outfit below is unfortunately NOT one of them. I thought the Lafayette 148 blouse tied at the waist with the yellow neckerchief would look sort of fifties style. But because it has some stretch in it, the blouse would not stay in place. And when I moved, I flashed parts that I’d rather keep hidden. I could maybe see a loose, straw-coloured jacket with this outfit. But I don’t own such a thing. Plus the sandals are too dark in colour. I wish I still had the gold metallic sandals I owned a few years ago. But I don’t. I’ve looked and looked this season for sandals that are not black. I’ve even found lots of lovely pairs in the stores. It’s just that NONE of them fit me.

Maybe I should give up and go barefoot like Jackie Onassis in Capri in the seventies.

Lafayette 148 white shirt, Zara scarf, Theory linen cropped pants, Aldo sandals. Eric Javits bag. River and garden in the background.
Bag and pants and scarf… good. The rest of the outfit… not so good.

You see, this is the problem with wardrobing. Reality. It’s easy to dream up hypothetical solutions for what I need to wear with these pants. I can come up with a dozen possible options. It’s the reality that is proving difficult. I’m forced to work with what I have in my closet. Or try to find alternatives that fit me, and which work with my body shape. And sometimes reality does NOT measure up to the outfit dream in one’s head.

Theory linen cropped pants, Vince tee, Michael Kors sandals, Eric Javits bag, Free People scarf.  River and garden in the background.
I’d wear this. Variations on a tried and true theme for me.

Eventually this afternoon I gave up trying to be creative and fell back on tried and true. My black Vince tee and my old black sandals. I’d wear this outfit and feel fine in it. It’s simple. The tee covers enough of my middle to feel comfortable, but isn’t too long. I tried my Eileen Fisher white linen tee and it looked dreadful. The proportions were wrong, the longer tee with the loose pants looked frumpy. I think I’d prefer something a bit brighter on top, maybe a print. But, I’d wear this outfit. And the pants look great with my Eric Javits bag, don’t you think?

Theory linen cropped pants, Vince tee, Free People scarf.  River and garden in the background.
The gingham scarf might be useful on a patio one evening when the temperatures are a bit cooler.

I’m okay with the outfit below too. My Theory white linen blazer, my white tee from Vince, and my old faithful Stan Smith sneakers. I’d wear this shopping, running errands, meeting friends for coffee or lunch. I like the white on white look on top. I think the weight of the sneakers balances off the jacket. And I like the structured jacket with the loose pants. And the bag, well, that bag looks good with everything in my opinion.

So my adventures in wardrobing will be ongoing. I may strike it lucky in a summer sale and find a little pair of strappy sandals that work with the yellow pants, or a simple white peasant top that works with the pants and suits my frame. But knowing what I should be wearing and finding it are two very different things. Wardrobe dreams and wardrobe reality, not the same. Ha. Don’t I know it, people.

In fact this whole exercise reminds me of the thrill of finding a picture of a wonderful haircut in a magazine and taking it to your hairdresser and hearing her say that there is no way your hair will go like the hair in the photo. Not that I do that anymore. Ha. I learned that lesson long ago.

Lafayette 148 white shirt, Zara scarf, Theory linen cropped trousers, Eric Javits bag. River and garden in the background.
I love my bright coloured neckerchief, even if it does make me look as if I’ve escaped from the fifties.

And speaking of wardrobing. As far as I’m concerned that term has always meant the act of assembling a wardrobe, hopefully a coherent one. But apparently it now also means the act of buying a piece of clothing (or shoes or accessories or whatever) wearing said piece to an event, and then returning it for a full refund. It’s tantamount to fraud or shoplifting in the eyes of retailers. And from what I’ve read today, quite common. Apparently one in six women admit to returning worn items, and lying about it in order to obtain a full refund.

Seriously? I was kind of shocked when I read that. And in this article in the The Guardian the columnist defends the practice, blaming the high cost of high fashion and the constant barrage of advertising for driving poor women to do such things. “Come on. As if we don’t have enough of a brain to resist that which we can’t afford,” I thought when I read that. Is it just me, but isn’t the whole idea of committing fraud so you can look good at a friend’s wedding, and then blaming the media, just a teensy bit silly?

Sure, sometimes I may find wardrobing (the original kind) a bit frustrating. And a bit disillusioning, when outfit dream and outfit reality don’t meet. I admit that sometimes I’ve purchased in haste, and I just know I will repent all season. But I’ve always imagined that to be my own fault. Does that make me naive? A goody-two-shoes? Maybe.

And unless I have developed a recent and serious shopping addiction, I’ve no one to blame but myself for buying those yellow pants. I guess now that I’ve had the hem let down I can’t try to return them for a refund. Ha.

Now enough about me and my shopping misadventures, what about you folks? Have you made any problematic purchases lately?

P.S. Shopping links in this post are affiliate links. If you purchase an item through my link, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Linking up this week with: Visible Monday#IwillwearwhatIlikeThursday Favourite Things#ShareAllLinkup , and Fabulous Friday


Would you like to have new posts automatically delivered to you? Sign up below, and when new content appears on the website, we’ll send the story to you via email. 

* indicates required


Would you like to have new posts automatically delivered to you? Sign up below, and when new content appears on the website, we’ll send the story to you via email. 

* indicates required

From the archives


Enchanted By Coming of Age Novels … Whatever the Age

These are some of my favourite coming of age novels. For readers if any age.

Seasonal Affective Fitness Disorder

How does one stay fit in the winter when winter makes it so hard to stay motivated?

A Mind For Murder: Saying Good-bye to P.D. James

P.D. James died recently. She was the Queen of Crime Fiction. I wonder who will inherit her crown.

45 thoughts on “Ongoing Adventures in Wardrobing.”

  1. I can see that blouse would annoy you but you have some great outfits there . I’ve come to the conclusion that some items I buy will not be worn very often . I know , heresy in these days of saving the planet . I do my best in lots of ways – refusing plastic bags , not wasting food , obeying the recycling rules & feeding the garden compost pile etc etc .
    But occasionally there is a a top or trousers that I just fall for , not a major purchase , when my head says ‘ You won’t have many opportunities to wear this ‘ but my heart just can’t resist . Perhaps it is a certain colour like the soft dusty yellow of those trousers or maybe an unusual shape like my new wide cropped black trousers which make me feel quite snazzy . It’s like an unsuitable love affair ( but what would an old lady like me know about that ) How dull life would be if we were sensible all the time & I’ve always found the best dressed women take risks & make the odd mistake .

    1. If the blouse didn’t have stretch it might be okay. But still… midriff baring is not something I’m keen to do anymore. Ha. But you’re right, the yellow pants just called to me. They are so easy and comfortable. Once I get used to the wrinkles.

      1. I just love the white blouse outfit, it looks classic and crisp. I have done the same thing with shirts before and to avoid flashing skin, I’ve worn a cami or body shirt underneath, I have them in white, black, navy, and nude, and they work wonders with helping to style an outfit.

  2. You could wear the yellow pants with a red top, too, if you want to be really colorful. Or navy. Or green.
    I like the white top/white jacket with the yellow pants. My problem in such situations is that one of the whites usually looks off, a little grayer or yellower than the other. Sometimes it’s due to different ages of the garments or just to different fabrics. I have never noticed this on other people, so I am probably just being too hard on myself.
    The neckerchief is wonderful and, while I don’t think it makes you look like an escapee from the ’50s, I don’t consider that to be a bad thing, at least style-wise (I’m glad to not have experienced the sexism and racism of that era, but the clothes were great).
    Re wardrobing returns, Rent the Runway was created just for this–to have an amazing outfit for a special occasion without shelling out to buy it.

    1. I’m not so much worried about the colour as I am about the shape and weight of the tops. So many of my tops are too tailored for this style of looser pant. But I am going to try to fit wearing the neckerchief into an outfit somehow.

  3. The yellow pants and the black tee look just right, to my eyes. I think the problem with the nattily tied shirt is that it almost looks like dressing up – today, I am vintage – and strikes a rather false note. That straw bag is great. Summer dressing should be relaxed and I think you have nailed it. Gold sandals. I had a pair I loved in 1981, available thanks to the emergence of Diana Spencer who spearheaded a real change in dressy fashion back then. Perhaps I will copy you. We can be the Glittery Twins.

    1. That’s a good call. It looks a bit as if I’m trying to emulate someone. Not sure who. But I fear that subconsciously it might be Sandra Dee. Ha.

  4. I have a pair of yellow crops and a pair of red ankle pants I bought on sale last fall. My plan is to wear them with
    Black and white or navy and white striped knit tops either alone or with a jacket. I would also do a solid
    With a pattern in a scarf or bag or hust jewelry. Now I need to do what you did and try them on to make the outfits. It has been cool and raining here.

    1. Ah… the trying on is the key. I found out that most of my jackets are too heavy or too structured for the pants. But it won’t hurt me to move away from structured for a bit. Good luck with your “fashion show.”

  5. I purchased a blue and white striped, sleeveless dress from the sale rack at Target. I thought I would wear it with my jean jacket. I don’t like my 65 year old arms. I put the jean jacket on. Oh no. I even purchased a white cardigan. Oh no. The dress and the cardigan went back. I enjoy your blog.

    1. I have a sleeveless dress that I only wear with my jean jacket. I’m glad you noticed that it didn’t suit before you’d worn it.

  6. I am with you on the ethical issue of wearing and returning. Simply not okay.

    My problematic area is shoes. The older I get the harder it is to find shoes that are comfortable for more than 20 minutes. Unfortunately, I don’t walk around in the stores wearing them for that length of time. Then when I get them home and wear them in the real world I’ll discover the little darlings pinch here, or rub there or slip just a bit at the heel. It didn’t help that I broke a bone in my foot after rolling my ankle and have been wearing the dreaded ‘boot’ for the last six weeks making shoe shopping a tad perilous. With a trip to Europe in September, I need something walk-worthy and supportive so I won’t be hobbling around. Bought a pair of leather (not the current fabric trend in many sneakers/trainers – hopeless in rain), low-cut, padded Ahnu hiking shoes yesterday and praying they will do the trick.

    1. Shoes are difficult aren’t they? I’ve bought shoes that I thought fit fine, and then after a day of teaching in them I had to almost crawl home from work.

  7. I think you should tuck in the white shirt. That would work for you since you are so slim! The black tee also looks really good, and your yellow scarf just pulls the outfit together. You are braver than I am. Since I am heavy I only wear black. navy or white slacks. I feel really uncomfortable drawing any attention to my lower half. I also have trouble finding good shoes that fit. I have narrow, skinny feet plus I have to use orthotics in my shoes! yuck! I end up wearing really nice in style sneakers ALL THE TIME. No dresses or skirts for me!

    1. Ah… well… you see tucking on and I don’t agree with each other. Unless the shirt can be bloused out over the waistband hiding my middle. 🙂

  8. I know I’ve said it before but that pale yellow looks lovely on you. Would the trousers work with any navy tops you have? And I think the dark sandals ground the first outfit quite successfully, though I guess the effect could be different IRl. So far this winter (I’m in Australia) I’ve bought a navy wool unstructured blazer, a pair of NYD jeans and a black and white woollen jumper, all of which I love. I’m thinking about replacing my black wool coat. But the colours of coats I’ve seen aren’t convincing, the prices are a little eye-watering and there are too many coats that are a mix of wool and synthetic fibres and I prefer pure wool. We’ve got quite a few sheep down under so why is it so hard?

    1. Thanks, Maria. In retrospect I think it’s just that the white shirt and soft yellow pants together don’t look good with the sandals. I need a barely there pair…. with respect to colour and size of straps. Strange that you can’t find woolen coats where you live.

  9. Hi Sue, as I mentioned on IG , your discussions re styling these trousers and your yellow scarf reinforced my thoughts on yellow. I only have bags … clutch, cross body and tote! … and scarves but whenever I use them , they feel ok rather than “just right” 😊 … I tend to use them as accessories with navy, grey and black … similar colours to you styling your trousers. I love the bags … just never as much when part of an outfit … which makes them somewhat redundant… I like them best with jeans and say a white tee or chambray shirt … adding just a pop of colour.
    I do like all the combinations you’ve come up with here … especially the one with the black tee … very you!
    Wish I could come up with the perfect solution for you, as I really like your trousers …. but for now the black and white combos, mean that at least you’ll wear them!
    Rosie xx

    1. I think chambray would be great with the yellow. I must try my blue cotton shirt to see if I like them together. The thing about the black tee is that I do it so often. Black tee, black sandals, with whatever in between. Wore that today with white jeans in fact:)

  10. I’m with you on the “wearing and returning” phenomenon. It’s definitely fraudulent, and I would never be able to enjoy a special occasion wearing clothes that I obtained in this way. I’ve heard that renting a dress for a special occasion is growing in popularity; this makes a lot more sense to me.

    Back in the early 90s, we were having our kids photographed in a high-key studio (all white) — I don’t know if this is still a phenomenon. The photographer suggested that I could buy the requisite white clothes and return them to the store after the photo shoot. I was shocked at the suggestion, so I guess I’m naive and/or a goody-two-shoes right along with you!

    1. I can’t believe that women feel so entitled that they want to be able to do things like that. And the author of the article said she didn’t mind if a dress she bought had had a few freebie nights out with other customers. Ickk. Stores must go crazy when customers do that.

  11. Love yellow with white,navy or black
    I have only simple ,t shirt like, yellow silk blouse and wear it usually with white jeans
    When my son was a toddler,I had an amazing tulip skirt in yellow-constantly on the way to the cleaners ….
    As a very young girl,I’ve made some (a lot?)fashion mistakes-used to buy something that looked perfect to me but didn’t suit skinny tall girl (oh glory times….)
    Maybe I do mistakes today as well but I like how they suit me :-)….and sometimes some are waiting for their soul mates (already existing in my closet !)and the “aha-moment”

  12. Me again! After commenting I put on a pair of red shorts that I bought last year to add colour to my summer travel wardrobe of blues and whites … in principle they work with all my tops … I had a good look … and changed to identical shorts in navy! Instantly felt they/ I looked better 😂 … it’s just perception at times, isn’t it?

  13. I like both the white and black tops with your yellow pants and navy would also be a good alternative. Those pants don’t look like a mistake to me! You look great in them.

  14. I love that shade of yellow and the black tee and sandals and the white blazer look great. You’re right about the length and fit of tees… They can look frumpy. The Gap used to sell really nice 100% cotton tees for a reasonable price, but now they’re too thin so I wouldn’t buy them, and really nice tees I’ve seen can be over $100. Say what?? xoxox, Brenda

  15. I love your yellow pants. I would think a solid blue or red top would look wonderful, the primary colours. Or why not analogous colours, orange or green? There are great colour blocking possibilities here. Or patterned pieces with those colours and splashes of yellow. It would be a shame to give up on these great pants. I enjoy your wardrobing adventures.

    Wearing and returning is a no-no in my books. And who wants to pay full price for something a stranger has sweated all over?

    1. I agree, Melanie, any of those colour possibilities would be great. Just need to find them now, in a cut that works for me. I’m off hunting today.

  16. I “wardrobe” All. The. Time! A lot of times it comes down to proportions, as you’ve observed. How about pairing some of your red with the yellow? Too bright? I’m a “color” person through and through. Maybe find an inexpensive (vs. investment) top of some sort that has yellow and black/white or red? I’ve had a devil of a time finding brown sandals that fit this summer. And, “no!” I would not buy, wear, return!

    1. I’ve tried on so many tops of various shapes and colours that haven’t worked. It’s amazing how many tops seen appropriate in theory but aren’t when I try them on. After a final shopping day yesterday, I’m waving the white flag and deciding to be satisfied with what I already own.

  17. Midriff baring. Did not do it in my 20s, certainly would not do it in the decades that have followed. (Smh)

    I do love you in those pale yellow’s.

    “To wardrobe” – funny, but good!

  18. Wearing and then returning clothes may have a new name but it’s an old practice. When I was a girl my mother knew someone who worked in a fur salon and she would tell stories of women returning newly purchased coats where you could see the pin marks for the corsages they wore on these coats to whatever swanky event they attended to which they wanted to wear an expensive fur.

    1. You’re right. Back in the eighties, when I worked selling cosmetics at a department store which had a “customer must be satisfied” policy, we had to listen to customers lie through their teeth, and still issue a full refund for that half-used lipstick which was the wrong shade. Ha.

  19. I love the yellow pants. I especially loved them with the black top. The white shirt was great as well. I disagree with your harsh views regarding the yellow pants. You looked sharp and stylish and lovely ! Wear them often.!

  20. Did you consider taking the yellow pants to Liz for her advice? Tell her you have an international audience eager to see her magic! I had a pair of yellow jeans that fit perfectly. but I just felt they emphasized my bottom half and didn’t wear them. White doesn’t do that, oddly enough.

  21. Love your saga of the joust with the yellow problem pants. Keep on keeping on, they’re worth it! The black top, which you might think as giving up, is a lovely mate.

Comments are closed.