Ongoing Closet Goal: Wearing Old Stuff

My closet goal this fall was to wear what I own. To put together outfits with all the pieces in my closet that are old, and still loved, but not worn nearly enough… and to actually wear them. Particularly my fall jackets which I dearly love, but which have such a short season now that I’m not wearing them to work all winter. And I’ve been doing pretty well. That is until the arrival of snow and colder weather threw a monkey wrench into my plans. Snow, and the dearth of light, ‘easy to slide on under a jacket’ tops, sweaters or tees in my closet. It seemed that in order to achieve my closet goal and wear my old stuff, I needed some new stuff.

New long-sleeve tee from Zella. Old Holt Renfrew brand leather pants, Max Mara tweed jacket, Stuart Weitzman boots. Vintage brooch and earrings.
Sometimes we need new stuff to be able to wear our old stuff.

The hunt for light-weight sweaters, long-sleeve tees, or light turtlenecks is as constant for me as the search for the perfect pair of jeans. Never ending, but not unenjoyable. I like having a project. Ha.

I don’t need bulky sweaters or heavy cashmere turtlenecks. I have those in abundance. No, what I need are lighter tops that will slip easily under a jacket, and thus allow me to be able to wear my jackets again. I need tops that are not flimsy blouses, are warmer than my light summer tees, but are not bulky. Tops that are cut slim enough to fit under a jacket, but loose enough to look good on their own when I inevitably shed the jacket in a too-hot restaurant or coffee shop.

You see that’s the winter weather outfit conundrum here in Canada. Finding outfits that one can wear indoors and out. When it’s -5 °C outside and +22°C inside.

New long-sleeve tee from Zella. Old Holt Renfrew brand leather pants, Max Mara tweed jacket, Stuart Weitzman boots. Vintage brooch and earrings
“New” outfit, indoor version.

So to that end, a couple of weeks ago, I made yet another foray downtown in search of light-weight, but not flimsy tops. And I found two. One is the baby-blue, long-sleeve tee from Zella that I’m wearing above, and below.

New long-sleeve tee from Zella. Old Holt Renfrew brand leather pants, Max Mara tweed jacket, Stuart Weitzman boots. Vintage brooch and earrings
I love the softness of this tee, the length, and the split hem.

I really like this cool blue colour on me. It looks great under my charcoal heather Vince coat-sweater, under my chocolate brown Akris leather jacket, and particularly under this deep green, tweed Max Mara blazer. This old Max Mara blazer has been a heavy hitter in my wardrobe off and on for decades. I remember wearing it back in the nineties with my faded jeans and a soft blue, long-sleeve tee from Gap or a lilac light-weight cashmere sweater.

Gap long-sleeve tees, once a staple in my wardrobe, no longer suit me. The style I used to wear is now too tight through the body. And the styles that aren’t tight are too slouchy around the neck. So I was pleased to find this Zella tee at Nordstrom a couple of weeks before I headed down to my mum’s. It’s soft, soft, soft against the skin. Has a crew neck that isn’t slouchy. And it’s long enough and generous enough in the cut to hide those middle-age bits that want hiding. The side-split in the hem helps with that last part.

New long-sleeve tee from Zella. Old Holt Renfrew brand leather pants, Max Mara tweed jacket, Stuart Weitzman boots. Vintage brooch and earrings
New tee with old Max Mara blazer, black leather pants, and boots.

The baby blue tee shirt gave me an opportunity to pull out this vintage brooch from the fifties, and these old chandelier earrings that I bought in the eighties. I guess these earrings can be classified as vintage now too. Sigh. I love this outfit. The green and the blue with my black leather pants and black boots. The tee shirt is light enough to wear under the jacket indoors, and loose enough for me to be able to take off the jacket if I get too hot.

Long-sleeve tee from Zella. Max Mara tweed jacket. Vintage brooch and earrings
I love this vintage brooch and these old chandelier earrings with the deep green jacket.

For outdoors, I added my double-sided, blue-green and animal print scarf. And this woollen beret that I bought in Ireland in 2011. It’s still warm enough to wear the blazer as outerwear, as long as I have a warm scarf, gloves, and hat. I feel downright Irish in this outfit, in my tweed jacket and woollen tam.

New long-sleeve tee from Zella. Old Holt Renfrew brand leather pants, Max Mara tweed jacket, Stuart Weitzman boots. Vintage brooch and earrings. Hat from Ireland, Holt Renfrew brand wool scarf.
“New” outfit outdoor version.

I am definitely pleased with this “new” outfit. Well… the tee shirt is new. The rest is old, and even older. And because you can’t see the brooch when I have my scarf on, I decided to pin it onto my hat.

Max Mara tweed jacket. Vintage brooch and earrings. Hat from Ireland, Holt Renfrew brand wool scarf.
I love how the brooch brings out the blue in my scarf.

I was inspired to do this by a lady I met when I was shopping at Nordstrom last month. A long-time customer of Liz’s arrived at the store while Liz and I were chatting and I was trying on tops. This lady is well up in her eighties and she looked wonderful in an animal print top, camel coat, and a red beret with a brooch pinned on it. When I commented she said airily that she always pins a brooch to her beret. “Now, why don’t I ever do that?” I thought. Because I don’t wear my hats, and I should. So now I will. With a brooch.

You know, it warms my little outfit-obsessed (okay, not really obsessed, more like preoccupied) heart to meet someone who still loves clothes and still dreams up outfits well into their eighties. I hope I’ll still be doing that a couple of decades down the road. Maybe I’ll still be wearing this Max Mara jacket, too.

New long-sleeve tee from Zella. Old Holt Renfrew brand leather pants, Max Mara tweed jacket, Stuart Weitzman boots. Vintage brooch and earrings. Hat from Ireland, Holt Renfrew brand wool scarf.
I’m excited by my new outfit. Hat and brooch and all.

The same day I bought the Zella tee, I also bought a soft grey, light-weight turtleneck from Vince. I’ve been wearing it with my black Liverpool jeans, black boots, an old grey and black animal print scarf, and my cream ultra-light down jacket from Uniqlo. I’m pleased to report that this combo is warm enough even on snowy days. And not too hot for mall shopping. Nothing takes the edge off Christmas shopping, or makes me cranky any quicker than lugging around a too heavy coat and wearing a too heavy sweater in a hot, crowded mall.

I’ll need to wear my new-old outfit soon, before colder weather makes the jacket too light even with a scarf and hat. So I’ll wear it to finish up my Christmas shopping this week. Since I won’t be shopping for myself, I won’t be trying on clothes, and I won’t have to worry about having to take my hat off. Having to take a hat off being one of the reasons for my not wearing them. My hair does not recover from hat-head easily. Ha.

You can find my new tee shirt below. Plus a few other choices that I think would fill the bill just as well.

Well, that’s it for me today, my friends. I shopped and shopped. And I finally found some new stuff that makes me feel great in my old stuff. And at a great price. Now you can’t argue with that, I think.

Not that you would argue. Being such an open-minded bunch. So tolerant of someone who blithers on and on about clothes way too much. What would I do without you guys? Oooh. I don’t even want to think about that.

Now it’s your turn. What are you wearing these days, folks? Do you have a particular closet goal that you’re working on? Blither away. We’re all ears.

P.S. The clothing links above are affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking a link I will earn a commission.


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47 thoughts on “Ongoing Closet Goal: Wearing Old Stuff”

  1. I just love the brooch on the hat! And yes, finding lightweight tops that aren’t too snug and aren’t too baggy is really a challenge! You’ve done well with this one.

    1. Thanks, Sue. I may have to buy that tee in another colour. So many long-sleeve tees are either too baggy or can only be used as under-pinnings and since menopause I HAVE to be able to take my jacket off. 🙂

  2. I always love your style, though I don’t always comment. Great choices!! I really like the brooch on your hat-what a good idea. I like the magnetic brooches that don’t leave holes and have bought a couple I love from The Magic Scarf Co. Now, I have a new use for them!

  3. I’m digging around in my old stuff too , mainly due to weight loss this year . I’d packed away things I loved as they were just too small to be flattering but now seem to look right again . Some things are too big now but I’ll put them away & get them altered if I don’t grow back into them . That green jacket is lovely & MaxMara fabrics are such quality that they last forever . You do suit a beret . Wish I could wear one but they make me look like a dotty old woman ( Which some say I am )

    1. Is the weight loss due to your illness earlier this year? That’s a pretty tough way to change up your wardrobe! I agree that the DOW look is one to be avoided at all cost. Maybe I’ll start wearing berets all the time and carrying a string bag with my library book and the sausages and chunk of cheese I’ve just purchased for my lunch… a la Pym heroines. Ha.

      1. Yes Sue , the recent illness shed a few pounds plus tooth trouble early in the year (dry socket owwww) shed even more . Still not skinny though . You’d make a good Pym heroine – might have to ease up on the swearing though ?

  4. Love your new/old outfits, particularly brooch on beret. Oh, and the Maxmara jacket, I have made the mistake of ‘moving along’ some Maxmara pieces, total idiocy!
    Yesterday, the temp here was 38 degrees Celsius, so it is a sundress and Birkenstock’s.

    1. I’ve “moved along” a few Max Mara jackets over the years. Just the ones that were becoming difficult to button. No need to be reminded of middle-age expansion every time I tried them on.

  5. The brooch on the tam is a great idea. I see tons of people around here unironically wearing berets in winter. They are great–you can stuff one in your bag or your pocket, and nothing beats a hat (and you can pull a beret down over your ears if it’s really cold…who cares about looks) to stay warm.
    Your jacket is a style I still have several of. The ’90s high-button look. I hope it comes back.

    1. Oh. I thought they had come back. Still… there are so many blazer styles, and all the longer, oversized menswear inspired ones, it still looks current, I think. I was so pleased to see all those long jackets again a year or so ago.

      1. I’m sorry–it wasn’t intended to be a critique. You look fabulous in the jacket. You also are tall and slim and would look fabulous no matter what. As someone very short, I look dowdy even in my finest duds, so I’m probably overly sensitive about my aging wardrobe and whether it’s up to fashion snuff.

  6. I’ve been looking for a very casual, but warm tunic. A tunic, because as my mum always used to say, ‘bum-freezers’ (e.g. too short jackets or jumpers) won’t keep you warm in winter. Something not too bulky or too long (I’m short). Haven’t yet found it.

    Thanks for the inspiration for the hat. I’m taking my plain old black Kangol hat with me to the UK in January and you have now inspired me to sift through my brooches and find one to liven it up.

        1. Thanks for the tip about White Stuff. I see John Lewis/Oxford Street sells some of their clothing. They also have a store in Glasgow–another one of my stops. Agree about COS, I usually hit up one near Peter Jones and another on Kensington High Street. I’ve had occasional luck with the January UK sales, so we’ll see.

  7. Hats are such a fantastic element to add to an outfit and topping them off with a brooch adds even more interest and pizzazz. Love wearing older garments that can be updated with the addition of a new piece…classics that will serve you well this year and into the future. A lovely colour in the newest addition to your wardrobe that blends beautifully with pieces you already own…well done! Cheers, Alayne

    1. Not sure why that isn’t working for you, Lise. I tried to pin the outfit on my desktop computer and it worked. But I have the Pinterest button in my tool bar on my browser.

  8. Hats are a marvelous (and practical) item to add to an outfit and the a brooch adds even more interest. I know what you mean about hat head though! One of my accessories these days is an umbrella, not as fun as a hat but kinda mandatory here in Vancouver. So I have a few different ones that brighten my outer togs…..
    That baby blue colour is wonderful and looks perfect on you and great with pieces you already own – good eye.
    Thanks for posting
    Suz from Vancouver

  9. Love the way you have energized your existing clothes with these 2 new tops. I am totally with you on finding tops that fit, aren’t too baggy, but at the same time loose enough to float over the bits where we need floating! Well done. You look great in that beret and the brooch really adds a bit of cheer at this time of year.

  10. Great outfit, Sue – totally you! The brooch on the hat is one of these details that makes a whole outfit unique. Works on crochet purses, too.
    Winter has finally reached us, which is good – we need the rains! Some Israelis just don’t go outside if it’s raining – I can’t believe I used to be like that, but I was. Having lived in Los Alamos, NM, then Princeton, and later Stockholm, has definitely changed my perspective.
    Now debating whether to “move along” several good blazers that have become too tight, or bury them somewhere (I don’t have much closet space) and hope I’ll use them again in a decade or two. I don’t think the “midlife middle” is going to leave me any time soon. Any advice?

    1. I kept two of mine which I will probably never wear buttoned again. My short double-breasted MM blazer that I featured in a post a few weeks ago is one. But it looks good left open, which makes it a pinch longer in front as well. So, win, win. I think I’d choose a couple of yours that might do the same, instead of getting rid of all of them. Good blazers made from quality fabric are not easy to find these days, unless you pay an arm and a leg.

  11. Finding beautiful tops is sometimes very difficult(loose enough/slim enough)-your baby blue tee is so nice and it suits you excellent,I would wear it too 🙂
    Actually,I have a baby blue EB crew neck
    I find silk/wool blend to be best solution under the jacket,but it is coat weather here already.
    You have such a well curated closet,full of beautiful things-they all deserve to get a chance to shine
    Brooch and beret,lovely!
    I don’t plan any purchases,my wardrobe still makes me happy ,there are always some inspirations and new combinations……

    1. My shopping is done for fall, that’s for sure. I’m waiting on delivery of a light cashmere crew neck sweater that I ordered from Uniqlo, in a soft purple. I loved the cashmere turtleneck I bought last year so much I thought I’d try the crew neck. We’ll see what the colour is like, though. We are into coat weather here as well. That green MM blazer being the only one I own that is heavy enough to still wear… at least for another week until the temperatures go into deep freeze.

  12. I read your post to my Husband Sue as my dilemma was the same, needed to buy new stuff in order to wear the old stuff. My Husband had a good chuckle. I had a longer collarless jacket that I don’t wear much as I find it difficult to style but do love t. I felt a turtleneck is just what was needed. Off to find the perfect one which I finally did at Banana Republic. They are washable 100% merino wool and perfect for layering but not too snug. They were 40% off so I picked up three.
    Love your outfit and the vintage brooch on your beret really amps up the whole look. Isn’t it wonderful when you can get inspiration from another stylish Lady!

    1. Ah… you scored on that one, Glenda. I have not had good luck at Banana Republic. I love some of their sweaters and shirts but the sizing is always wrong for me. Funny isn’t it, how different brands have cuts we like and others don’t?

  13. As always, you are an inspiration with your timeless style and well thought out wardrobe choices. Love your style!

  14. Your posted outfit is perfection. Love the leather pants! Wish I had a pair. I am trying to shop my closet too. So much in there I need to get back in rotation.

    1. I am currently entertaining myself when I am Christmas shopping by scouting out leather and faux leather pants in stores. Not for buying… just out of interest. Blog post coming soon on that project.

  15. Love your “new” outfits and you look amazing. I find it extremely hard to find sleeved tops that lay nicely under a jacket. The neckline many times will just not lay right. I need to do the same. I am not wearing jackets I used to wear to work. This will all have to wait until after the holidays. You inspire me. Thanks.

  16. You are so right about adding new items to freshen up and continue wearing old items. I understand finding the right weight and style of shirts to wear under things. I have yet to hit on a formula, but find myself going (back) to collared shirts quite a bit.

  17. Those are great pieces. I’d buy new things to keep those in circulation too! I like the wool long sleeved tees at Costco as a base layer. They are warm (I’m outside Toronto) and look quite good.

  18. I bought a navy beret when we were in Paris in May. I’ve been wearing it quite a bit recently, sometimes with a pin on it. I got that idea from one of Brenda Kinsel’s posts. She’s one of my very favourite fashion bloggers. Like you, I’ve been focusing on wearing what’s in my closet this winter, trying to combine older items in new ways.

  19. The perfect tee is rare as hen’s teeth! Lovely that you found one that works for you… Love the brooch on the beret. I wrote a post about ways to wear a brooch last spring, but didn’t even think of on a beret… It was too warm for them by then. Time to go pop one on my blush beret! Thank you (and the lovely older woman) for the idea! XO

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