We're all different. Especially him. But there's something kind of fantastic about that, isn't there?

Why is my wardrobe boring?

I’ve been feeling somewhat dissatisfied with my wardrobe recently, and I’ve been wondering – what am I doing wrong? I’ve been tracking, documenting, and analyzing for a year and half now; you would think I would be happier than I am. I have changed sizes and consequently lost part of my wardrobe, but many items still fit and I shouldn’t be this bored.

I then got to thinking about why I started this process. The guiding question that initiated my data collection was

How do I make ethical shopping choices that accommodate my budget and allow me to feel good in my clothing at work?

Looking at that question now, I realize why I’m not happy with what’s in my closet: my goals have changed. A year and a half ago, I was looking for a simple formula. I wanted to feel good in my clothing with minimal effort. In the process of curating my wardrobe, I’ve discovered that I actually enjoy putting effort into my outfits. I enjoy the process of combining colors, textures, and silhouettes.

This realization surprised me. I’ve never been interested in fashion. I have always viewed style as fulfilling a function for me as a member of society. Iris van Herpen has never moved me, and I highly doubt I’ll ever hop on the e-girl trend.

In the past six months, I have finally seen improvement in chronic health issues that I’ve dealt with for close to fifteen years. This spring has been the best that I have felt in over five years. This has come at a time when there is little else going on in my life and has come at the cost of almost completely eliminating physical activity from my daily routine. With little else to do outside of work, creating outfits has allowed me to have fun with minimal physical effort.

I’ve also noticed a pattern. When I am feeling well, I am creating outfits and photographing them. When I am not feeling well, my only goal is survival. I want to put on clothing that feels appropriate for work, but I don’t want to have to think about it. And so, I feel bored with my closet when I am not feeling sick. My closet is very formulaic: it coordinates to create one cohesive, functional look that works well for my context. It lacks variety because variety creates complexity which requires choice (and effort).

For example, this is an easy outfit for me to put together. It follows a silhouette formula: lightweight cardigan/jacket/blazer + slim fitting shirt + skinny pants + boots. It is monochrome (most of my closet is black/grey/cream) which minimizes the need for matching. I gravitate towards these types of outfits when I’m not feeling well because they require minimal effort.


Easy Outfit

In contrast, this outfit is a lot more difficult for me to put together. The silhouette doesn’t follow my formula, I had to think about balancing color and pattern throughout, and I had to make choices about the shoe/socks/pants.


Hard Outfit

I actually like both outfits, but the first is boring to put together when I’m well while the second would feel like too much effort when I’m sick. It’s an interesting conundrum. I am happy with my wardrobe when I feel terrible, and I am unhappy with it when I feel better.

I would like to think I will continue to feel well, but I obviously cannot guarantee that. I need to make sure that I keep this in mind as I continue to acquire pieces. I need a base wardrobe that is simple and effortless for the days I struggle to complete basic functions. From there, I can add in pieces that create interest and fun for the times when I’m feeling better.

Academic Style: Impostor Syndrome

I just completed my third year as a full time university instructor, and I’ve been reflecting on how my feelings surrounding my job have influenced my personal style.

I started my full-time job with little confidence. I graduated with high hopes of gaining employment, and it took over a year and a multitude of applications and connections for me to actually land a full time position. Anyone in academia knows how few and far between full time jobs are, and I had the added disadvantage of only applying in one geographical location. I have always dealt with perfectionism, but, in starting my position, that had become full-fledged impostor syndrome.

My impostor syndrome greatly affected the style choices that I made. In grad school, I wore what was appropriate to the context, but I never worried about how I was perceived by others. In starting my full time position, I used clothing as a defense mechanism to help me prove my competency.


Although not my usual teaching pose, this was a very typical outfit for me in grad school.

It’s funny in retrospect. I dressed how I thought an academic instructor “should” dress. I’m not sure where I conceived this notion because my instructors have worn some interesting outfits in the 11 years that I’ve been teaching or learning in universities and colleges. One of my first college classes was taught by a professor in flip flops and cargo shorts. I had another professor that was an avid runner and wore a different race t-shirt every single day of class. In an art class my professor wore six inch heels with bodycon dresses. Even in my own current department there is a range of style choices although they aren’t quite as exciting as bodycon dresses.

I set some guidelines for myself at the beginning that were a compromise between my ideal (conservative business casual) with my reality (I walk and move around a lot as a part of my job description and despise how most business casual clothing feels):

  • One stud in my nose (instead of my septum clicker and nostril ring)
  • Shirts or cardigans that covered my tattoos until after I had given the first round of grades (I have tricep tattoos so this meant no shirts that showed higher than my elbow).
  • Denim only if it was black and had no distressing
  • Dressy sneakers, boots or sandals that didn’t show my toes (I probably would have gone more formal than this, but couldn’t tolerate extensive walking in dressier shoes)

This outfit follows my guidelines and was worn starting in my first year of teaching.

In the past three years, I have excelled at my job. I still feel nervous on the first day of class, but I no longer question my place in academia. I know I belong here.

My clothing choices have reflected that. I no longer conceal my facial piercings or tattoos at the beginning of the semester, and I am no longer striving for conservative business casual. I now confidently toe the line between smart casual and business casual. I’ve expanded my sneaker collection and sometimes wear (clean, leather) hiking boots to class.


I never would’ve worn suede pants and hiking boots to teach in my first year.

I used to feel frustrated that my job had no clearly defined dress code, and I felt stressed trying to choose my outfit on a daily basis. Now, I love that I have freedom to wear what makes me happy, and I’m embracing that freedom in my purchases and style choices. My sister is sending me purple suede pants, and I’m looking forward to wearing them once I am teaching in-person again.

Wardrobe Nerd: April Review

Like many others, I’ve spent most of April sitting in my house. For the first half of the month, I still regularly wore outfits. For the second half, I got dressed 2-3 times a week and then just wore old t-shirts and no pants the rest of the time.

Wear Data

Total Individual Items Worn: 39

This was my favorite outfit of the month. I love the combination of the stripes with the dog graphics. I feel like the bright white of the sneakers helps balance it all out.


Wardrobe Changes

Items Removed (2):

  • Geometric pattern dress – I pulled this dress out after not wearing it in a while and realized that my proportions don’t fit those of the dress, so I’m going to pass it on.
  • Purple crop top – This shirt is really worn and needs to become a housewear only shirt.


May Purchase Plans

  • This gorgeous blue dress is for an upcoming wedding, and I plan to also wear it for regular occasions. The Tiny Closet is a brand I’ve been following for a while, and this is a great excuse to buy from Natalie.
  • I desperately want pants that aren’t skinny jeans after losing 3 pairs of pants to weight loss. I think these are going to be a great addition to my wardrobe. I’m probably also going to buy these or these because Athleta’s business casual attire is just amazing although I don’t know if I’ll buy them next month.
  • If the tailor reopens in May, I’m going to take some of my skirts and pants in so that I can expand my outfit options. I also have new-to-me boots stuck at the cobbler that I’ll need to try on and potentially repair.

Total Wardrobe Cost in April: $0

Total Wardrobe Cost in 2020: $1,125

Lesson Learned

I am getting bored because of the limited options in my wardrobe. I especially feel this as the weather warms up since I can’t rely on scarves and sweaters and coats to add variation to my outfits. I’ve been looking for a few pairs of pants and a couple of shirts to add that variety. Once stores open up, I also need to go in and try on 12,000 pairs of jeans¬† to figure out what works, but I’m not going to attempt that through online shopping.

State of the Wardrobe Analysis

I feel like I need more variety in my wardrobe, so I decided to analyze what I already have to determine what gets worn the most and what items I might want next.


  • Total Number of Items: 95
  • Black/Grey Items: 51 (54%)

Black on black on black

  • Newer items are worn more frequently than older items. Almost all most frequently worn items are black.
  • I need to tailor/modify a couple of my skirts and pants so that I will be more likely to wear them.
  • I want more silhouette/color variety in my pants and more lighter color values in my tops. I will eventually need more sandals for hot weather but that will wait until I know when I can leave my house.
  • I’m not a minimalist.

NOTE: Most and least worn items are determined by comparing the wears/month of items which I calculated using the following formula: wears/month = (total number of wears)/(number of months I have owned item). For items that I have owned longer than I have been tracking, I used my tracking start date instead of the item acquisition date.


  • Total: 30
  • Color Palette: 50% black/grey, 20% green/blue, 10% cream/white, 20% other (purple, pink, yellow, orange, multicolor)
  • Most Worn: black/brown striped mockneck mid-sleeve tee, black pattern tank, black mid-sleeve boatneck tee

Most worn items include shoes, coatigan and shirt.

  • Least Worn: purple crop top (this needs to become housewear only), purple exercise tank (open sides so not for office/church), cream llama print tee (somewhat sheer), grey Star Wars tank (low armholes so not for office/church)
  • Potential Gaps: lighter tops (probably cream/light grey/light blue/muted red) to help with contrast when creating outfits


  • Total: 18
  • Color Palette: black (11), blue (5), other (pink, orange – 2)
  • Type: skirts (4), pants (5), leggings (8), shorts (1)
  • Most Worn: black skinny leg denim (Madewell and Everlane)

I’m going to crop one pair eventually.

  • Least Worn: dark wash skinny leg jeans (I don’t like dark wash jeans with my current wardrobe colors), blue pattern leggings (somewhat sheer), denim shorts (uncomfortable)
  • Potential Gaps: Need to have pencil skirt and green wide leg pants tailored to add more warm weather options, need trousers/jeans that aren’t black skinny leg; need to crop light wash skinny leg jeans (then I might wear them more)


  • Total: 15
  • Color Palette: black (7), white/cream/tan (3), blue (2), other (red, multicolor, gold – 3)
  • Formality: office (4), casual (6), special occasion (5)
  • Most Worn: black and white striped linen dress, black high/low tank dress


  • Least Worn: black lace dress (super extra), red a-line dress (fancy), gold fringe dress (vintage, borderline costume)
  • Potential Gaps: None, but, if I buy dresses, I should choose dresses that work in both casual and office settings because those get the most wear.


  • Total: 17
  • Color Palette: black/grey (11), cream/white (3), blue (2), green (1)
  • Type: coat (4), cardigan/coatigan (6), blazer (3), sweater (4)
  • Most Worn: black striped coatigan, black water resistant coat


  • Least Worn: cream blazer (a last-minute desperate interview purchase), blue sweatshirt (originally my husband’s)
  • Potential Gaps: None, but I really want this piece.


  • Total: 15
  • Color Palette: black/grey (7), brown (5), other (blue, pink, white – 3)
  • Type: sandals/flats (4), sneakers (2), boots (5), heels (4)
  • Most Worn: black leather loafers (this is artificially high because I’ve been breaking these in this month), brown leather hiking boots, black lace-up boots


  • Least Worn: brown oxford heels (uncomfortable), blush ballet flats (uncomfortable)
  • Potential Gaps: open-toed sandals (I’m waiting until I know if I’ll have any need for them this summer), shoes with more visual weight (I have knee high boots *hopefully* coming from the cobbler and am on the lookout for others)

This analysis only includes active items in my wardrobe. It excludes items that are in storage due to incorrect fit, items used exclusively for yardwork/exercise and formal wear.

Wardrobe Nerd: March Review

This month I transitioned to teaching online, and I finally started feeling better health wise. I’m by no means well, but I am seeing improvement which is encouraging.

Wear Data

Total Individual Items Worn: 43

30 Wears or More: dark grey skinny jeans

These were the overpriced pants I bought at the end of January – no regrets. Since I’m working from home and feeling better, I’ve been taking more outfit pics and engaging with the Insta fashion community. It’s nice to feel well enough to want to do these sorts of things.

I finally attempted to style this fancy coat that I found at Goodwill back in December.


I also tried out some pattern mixing with some newer items in my closet for an upcoming challenge on FFA.


Wardrobe Changes

Items Removed (2): worn out t-shirt and worn-out turtleneck (I am feeling all these recent losses – my closet is overwhelmed by black at this point)

Items Added (2): black leather loafers ($94) and brown leather flats ($108) – Both pairs are from a family run business in Bulgaria which makes shoes by hand. The last pair I purchased for work didn’t work out, and these pairs were cheaper and came faster.


April Purchase Plans

The current stay-at-home order in my county (and state) is through April 30th, so I doubt I’ll be wanting to purchase anything during this time. Outfits at home are a little easier since I’m less bothered by items being too big.

Total Wardrobe Cost in March: $202

Total Wardrobe Cost in 2020: $1105

Lesson Learned

My low buy was mostly a fail. I “finished” my first quarter low buy having spent more money this quarter than I’ve spent in any other quarter since I’ve been tracking. It was a perfect storm: illness, weight loss (to a size I’ve never worn before) and an increase in income. I’m focusing on the positives though: I put $4600 towards my student loans (which was my primary goal), and I’ve acquired some items that I think will be in my wardrobe for a while.

At this point, my goals have changed. Extra money in our budget which would usually go towards hobbies or extra loan payments is now going into savings to extend our emergency fund a bit considering the current circumstances. I’m focusing more on using the clothing I have now, and I will re-evaluate once I’m leaving my house again.

At some point, I’m going to need to address the fact that a good portion of my wardrobe doesn’t fit, but I’ve been waiting to see if this weight loss is permanent or not. I’ve bought a few items to fill necessary gaps but have been careful to mostly buy things that would still fit if I gained the weight back.

COVID-19: Face-to-Face Classes Go Online

Seeing as this national transition to online classes is unprecedented, I thought others might find my online plans interesting.

I have taught hybrid courses and even incorporate tech in my face-to-face courses, but this was and still is a process. I am very fortunate both in my student demographic (tech savvy) and in my prior teaching experience/style which will hopefully make this transition fairly smooth.

I reviewed my last month of lesson plans and learning objectives and decided to move to a fully flipped classroom model. The learning and delivery of content is happening outside the course through videos/handouts and assignments (including analysis of examples, practice and peer review). Time online together is only used to discuss and review the work students have already done, so, if students cannot attend, it won’t greatly impact their progress.

Oral Communication

In my oral communication course, we are practicing group discussions and interview skills. Their final evaluation is a mock interview. Group discussions and interview practice are happening “in class” on Zoom. Additional interview practice is happening through video recordings of students. Final interviews will be happening on Zoom instead of in-person.

In-person Zoom sessions will be about half the length of our scheduled class times, and homework requirements have increased. We’ve removed a few non-essential activities. For example, I’m splitting the class for group discussions since online discussions are a bit messier than those in person. In addition, we have to modify some of the rubrics: I can’t effectively evaluate body language and volume online. Despite these changes, students will still demonstrate most of the same skills at the end of the course.

Academic Writing

In my academic writing course, students are working on a final research paper. They are analyzing research papers from their fields to determine discipline-specific practices and then applying these practices to their final projects. In class activities were mostly focused on this analysis and review of their projects. These activities have mostly been converted to out-of class assignments, and our reduced class time will be used to discuss and compare their findings and review the feedback they give each other beforehand.

I don’t require students to meet with me to discuss their writing, but I will continue to offer optional one-on-one sessions as I did in the past. Although we will spend less time “in-class”, this course has not changed significantly in delivery or expectations. I did remove a few non-essential activities to help with the transition.

In some ways, I have that nervous yet excited first-day-of-class feeling all over again. I know these students and have an established rhythm with them, but I am sure the next few weeks will bring new and unexpected challenges.

Wardrobe Nerd: February

This month has been tough. I’ve been undergoing treatment for SIBO which has been exhausting. Plus, things have been busy. I love my life, but it can be difficult to keep up when I am constantly exhausted and in pain. I’ve shopped more than I planned to and haven’t taken many photos or created fun outfits because I just don’t feel well. Through years of chronic illness, I’ve learned to be kind to myself. As long as I’m getting the “have to’s” done and not ending up in debt, it’s okay if I don’t meet all my goals as quickly as I would like.

Wear Data

Total Individual Items Worn: 50

30 Wears or More: Black Striped Osei-Duro Coat; Brown Leather Hiking Boots

Both of these items were acquired last fall, so they were definitely great purchases. I also have had to store 22 items due to a size change.

Wardrobe Changes

Items Removed (1): This shirt mysteriously came out of the wash with a hole. I’ve noticed that cheap tees wear out way faster than I thought they did. I have some more expensive tees that I acquired this past year, and I’m curious if they will hold up any longer.

Items Added (5):

  • Black Calf Height Boots ($230) – I’ve been low key looking for Cydwoq boots for months (these boots are just beautifully made). Tall boots are probably coming back in next winter, and I’m so ready. These are too small in the calf, so they are at the cobbler getting stretched (this was definitely sick shopping – I forgot these boots are made with custom calf measurements).
  • White Leather Tennis Sneakers ($120) – I decided I’m not buying loafers and got these instead since they fit better with my current wardrobe/style.
  • Orange Linen Tank ($35) – This is my attempt at adding some color to my wardrobe since many of my colorful items have died recently. This is also a fancy ethical brand, so this was a way to try it out for cheaper. I’m probably going to hem it but wanted to wear it a few times first.
  • Black and White Striped Dress ($45) – I’ve been thinking about trying to get a few more casual dresses. This one was secondhand and also a fancy ethical brand.
  • Black and Brown Striped Turtleneck ($90) – I saw this while at a local store which focuses on ethical, high quality brands, and I loved the weight and cut of this shirt.
  • Tie-dye Tee ($35) – This is only kind of a clothing purchase in my opinion. I bought it at a concert to support one of my favorite artists although I do plan on wearing it.

March Purchase Plans

I’m still trying to figure out summer shoes since the shoes I ordered in January are a total dud, and I missed the return window thanks to being super sick.

Total Wardrobe Cost in February: $555

Money Earned: $4.80

Total Wardrobe Cost in 2020: $923

Despite how much I’ve already spent on clothing this year, I’ve also contributed a good chunk of money to my student loans (more than I’ve spent on clothes).


Wardrobe Nerd: January Review

Classes started back up again after a holiday break that felt too short. Every semester, my personal dress code becomes a little more “me” and a little less what I think a professor should wear, but I do try to dress up a bit more at the beginning.

Wear Data

Total Individual Items Worn: 72 (plus 1 item from my B’s closet)

30 Wears or More: blue leather sneakers, grey puffer coat

This month I participated in a couple of style challenges. This outfit was for the theme “outdoorsy” and surprised me because I didn’t think I’d like it.


This skirt is one of my favorite pieces because it was a gift from a dear friend, but I had never attempted to winterize it before. I feel like the heavier knit of the sweater and the chunky boots help balance out the pattern in the skirt.


Despite my recent acquisition of items that aren’t black. I’m also still regularly wearing all black outfits (two this month). I’m never happy with how these photograph but love wearing them.


Wardrobe Changes

Items Removed (12): these were mostly items that didn’t fit properly with a few of them being things I just never choose to wear.

Items Consigned (6): This is my first time consigning items. They donate whatever doesn’t sell, and I get a decent percentage of anything that does sell. I’m curious how successful it will be. Ideally, I will wear out my clothing myself, but these items were all still in good condition.

Items Added (3):

  • Work appropriate flats ($160) – I got these custom sized from the same company I ordered boots from a few months back. I went outside of my norm and ordered them in a dark red. They have shipped but won’t arrive until February or March.
  • Black skinny jeans ($140) – I chose this specific pair because I was 99% certain they would fit and knew that returns would be easy if not. I should’ve waited for a sale but was desperate for pants that fit.
  • Blue wide leg corduroy pants ($68) – I got these to “replace” a few pairs of non-denim pants that don’t fit right now. They don’t look that blue in the picture because I’m lazy and don’t edit my photos other than cropping.


Items Repaired (1): black tank top (took in straps by hand)

February Purchase Plans

I’m still attempting to participate in a low-buy (assuming my size doesn’t change again), so my purchase list is limited to 2 pairs of summer shoes – I’m thinking loafers and gladiator sandals.

Total Wardrobe Cost in January: $368

Total Wardrobe Cost in 2020: $368

Lesson Learned

This month I was reminded that the best laid plans often go awry. I was only going to buy shoes this month, and, then, my measurements changed by a full inch. I bought two pairs of pants to compensate for the six pairs that no longer fit. I don’t know where my weight will end up, but I know that the pants I bought will have good resell value if I don’t wear them out myself. One of my biggest wardrobe frustrations is having clothing that doesn’t fit well, so the money was worth it.


2020 Wardrobe Plans

One of the things that surprised me about my purchasing habits in 2019 is that I acquired 25 items that I classified as “needs”. Now, I did need new shoes, but, even so, I know that my conception of a need is heavily steeped in privilege.

This year, I plan to purposely buy less and to be more intentional than last year. Ideally, I will spend less than I did in 2019.

Wardrobe Goals

  • Continue to track my wardrobe and write monthly updates
  • Buy fewer fast fashion items than in 2019 (I bought 8 items in 2019)
  • Resell or consign higher value items that aren’t working for me
    • UPDATE: I’ve already consigned 4 items and have 2 more that I’ll be taking in this weekend.
  • Document outfits through photos more regularly
  • Wear at least 10 outfits outside my comfort zone
  • Reduce the number of unworn or underutilized items in my closet
    • I currently have 38 items with 1 wear or less
  • Complete a low buy Jan. – March where I only purchase needs: 2 pairs of summer shoes and undergarments

I want to focus this year on being more creative with the wardrobe I already have rather than acquiring new things. I would also like to focus on paying off my student loans which will happen more quickly if I spend less money on clothing.

2019 Wardrobe Review

After a year of tracking what I wore, what I purchased and what I got rid of, I decided to review the data. Here’s what I observed.

Items Acquired vs. Items Purged

I am happy to report that I got rid of more items (58) than I acquired (50). Many of the items I removed from my wardrobe were worn out (52%).

Items Acquired

One of my goals for last year was to purchase more ethically. I spent more money on secondhand and slow fashion items than I did on fast fashion items, but I need to work on continuing to reduce my fast fashion purchases.

I revamped my shoedrobe this year (over 25% of my total spending) in addition to updating my work wardrobe extensively (75% of the items could easily be worn to work). Not surprisingly, 40% of the items I acquired were black.


Overall, I feel that most of my 2019 purchases are items that will be worn regularly and will be kept until they wear out.

My biggest (and most expensive) wardrobe fail this year would be the shoes I bought secondhand off of Instagram. I love them, but they do not fit. I’m not quite sure what to do with them, but I need to get them off my shoe rack soon.

My most worn items of the year reflect utility more than they reflect preference. My winter coat, my shoes and my pants have the highest wear counts because I have limited options in these essential categories.

I’m not sure what my favorite addition is this year. I love the texture that this print creates (this tank was also my first time visiting a tailor for a daily wear piece).


I am in love with this coat (despite my face saying otherwise), finally purchased pants that weren’t skinny jeans, started to experiment with visible socks and found some shoe companies that actually keep me pain free.


I foresee this blazer being a staple for years although it’s a recent addition and hasn’t seen much wear yet. Plus, this outfit features my most frequently worn shirt, pants and boots, so it’s probably a good representation of my 2019 style.


I’ve enjoyed the process of tracking my wardrobe, and plan to continue tracking in 2020. I also am going to try to add regularly photographing my outfits.