One day last year when my friend Liz and I were having coffee at Nordstrom, she commented about one of my blog posts in which I had, yet again, edited my closet. She laughed and said, “Susan, you’d better stop getting rid of things because you won’t have anything left.” And we both laughed. Ha. Ha. Imagine me not having anything left in my closet. Well, folks, I think that day has come in a kind of way. In a small way. With respect to my fall wardrobe staples. Tops in particular.
Not sweaters. I have lots of sweaters. Lots of chunky turtlenecks for wearing on their own in the fall and under coats in the winter. And I have a sufficient number of shirts: two white and one blue. A couple of blouses for dressy wear that I didn’t even bring out from storage. Lots of blazers, now that I am wearing all my really old ones from the nineties. A few coat sweaters. I mean, who needs more than three, I ask you?
But I do need light fall sweaters or long-sleeve tees. Not short-sleeve tees; I have lots of those. But light-weight, long-sleeve sweaters and tees that I can slip under a blazer or coat sweater, but which still look good on their own. Those puppies are not easy to find, I’m telling you. Looking back at my little book of lists, I see that I have had on my “needs list” every year for the past three: light fall tops.
Long-sleeve tees used to be a staple in my closet. I always had one in white, one in black, usually a light blue one, and at least one other colour. But since Gap tees became too fitted for my evolving shape (ha), I have had trouble finding new ones that I love. And now that most of the shirts I still had have worn out completely, I find myself almost long-sleeved tee shirt-less.
Almost. I have two left that are in good shape, and which I really like. Unreservedly like, I mean. A long-sleeve, black and white patterned tee from Noujica. And my old A.L.C. striped Breton tee from 2015. Today I tried my striped tee with my old black Max Mara blazer, my Frame high-rise jeans (similar here.) and my Stan Smith sneakers. I love this look. I may even wear this to my book club meeting tomorrow. The white of the tee, the silver earrings, and my vintage brooch with the rhinestones adds a bit of glint to brighten up the black. Enough for me to feel good in this outfit.
Of course I have a lovely blue, long-sleeve tee from Zella. Purchased last year as part of my never ending search. But the neck has stretched out from washing and I think I will relegate it to wearing at home only. I also have a long-sleeved burgundy tee which I bought at Talbots in 2019 for our trip to the Balkans. This is a good quality tee, and it wears and washes well… but, well… I don’t love it unreservedly. It’s the shape, a bit too big in the neck and too tight at the bottom. I know; I’m picky. I like it under my burgundy down vest, but not on its own. So, I think I’ll probably save it for travel.
Last year when I was looking for light tops and tees, I also bought this thin, loose-fitting, grey cotton turtleneck from Vince. (Similar here.) It has a great shape, and is really light-weight. Perfect for wearing under jackets and sweaters. And with this Lafayette 148 quilted coat sweater, and my black Liverpool Glider jeans. But it’s not a tee shirt.
For the past couple of years, along with long-sleeve tees, I’ve been looking for a good quality, loose-fitting, light cashmere crew neck sweater. One that is warmer than a cotton sweater, but light-weight enough to slip under a blazer. I tried to order a pink cashmere crew-neck sweater from Everlane last winter but they were out of stock. So I settled for this purple one from Uniqlo. I love the colour. Looks great, I think, with my ancient Alfred Sung blazer.
Even though I had a tailor remove the huge eighties shoulder pads from this jacket and replace them with smaller ones, those are still some pretty big shoulders aren’t they? But I love the green and cream and burgundy in the hounds-tooth plaid with that purple sweater. I don’t love the sweater itself, however. The fit is quite weird, especially in the arms. Last year when I was looking for a cashmere sweater, I wrote a whole post about cashmere which you can read here if you’re interested.
The other day after I did my closet turn-around, I sat down to update my little book of lists, and assessed the state of my fall wardrobe staples. Specifically light sweaters and long-sleeve tee shirts. That purple Uniqlo sweater, fills the bill even if I don’t love it. I have this navy Vince v-neck cashmere sweater, which I do love. I bought it last spring, and it’s been in heavy rotation on cool days ever since. But where have all my tee shirts gone?
Well, relegated to camping or cool-weather biking wear, or gone to the Salvation Army. The last two Gap tees shipped off just last week. And not replaced. I guess Liz was right. I have edited myself into a bit of a corner.
But here’s the thing about closet editing. If I hadn’t shipped off for sale or donation, over the years, all the sweaters and tee shirts that no longer suited me, I’d still be hauling them out of my drawer, trying them on, grimacing and putting them back. I’d still be moaning today that I had no long-sleeve tee shirts to wear, and those tees I owned would be lying in a drawer unworn. This way, I know what I have. Or don’t have, as the case may be. And someone else gets a new-to-them top.
But the bottom line is that I still need one or two new long-sleeve tees. If I found those I’d be good.
You know, I knew full well that this day would come sooner or later. It’s not like I haven’t been looking. And looking. There are lots of tees out there, but the fit, the fit is so important. The crew-neck must be just right, not too big and droopy. The cut must be just right, not too baggy in the shoulders nor too tight across the middle. The length must be just right. Long enough to be able to partially tuck in, but short enough to look good worn out over my jeans. See? It’s complicated. The days when I could pull any sort of tee shirt over my head and feel good in it are long gone. Just like all my old tee shirts. Ha.
I debated if I should order a long-sleeve tee from Vince, but they don’t look as if they are the same fit as the short-sleeve ones which I like. So instead, I thought I’d try Everlane’s long-sleeve tee shirts. Especially since I have really liked the short-sleeve ones I bought this summer. And it looks as if the fit is the same. Just with long sleeves.
Eventually I ordered this long-sleeve, box cut pocket tee in forest green. I could wear it under my Khaki green suede moto jacket and under that old Alfred Sung houndstooth blazer. I also ordered this square cut long-sleeve mock-neck tee in navy. One can always use a navy tee. So, we’ll see how I get on. Whether I have solved my light-weight fall top problem, and brought my fall wardrobe staples up to quota. Or not.
Not that there is a quota. More of a comfort level. I want a few light-weight choices for fall. Three or four tops that I feel good in, and which will look great with what I already own, with my coat sweaters and jackets. Tops I can haul out of the closet and pull on with whatever jeans I feel like and which ever jacket I feel like, and bounce out the door. Ready to face the world.
Of course, if my two new tees are suitable, I may have, in fact probably will have, more outfit choices than I have places to go to wear them. Facing the world has become such a treasured and limited treat these days. And given the predicted “second wave” of covid… well… you know where this is going.
I will no doubt spend way more time this fall dreaming about what I might wear, than actually wearing my clothes. But, you know, I’m good with that.
Now it’s your turn my friends. Tell me… what pieces do you find problematic replacing in your wardrobe? As I get older I find that while my taste hasn’t changed all that much, my body has. Ha.
P.S. The clothing links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking my link, I will make a commission.
Linking up with Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for #IWillWearWhatILike