Wardrobe Basics and a checklist

5:45 AM I posted before about how often my clothes size has changed. I “shop” at the Goodwill so I’ve developed some techniques that have helped me successfully create a wardrobe that serves me for work, play and even a few dress up occasions. I’m at the point where a lot of the clothes I’m buying now will fit when I’m in maintenance, so I decided I needed to be more organized about that process. Here’s what I came up with:

Sizes I’m usually looking for smaller sizes than my current size, unless there is a specific need, like my class reunion last week. So I can’t really try on the clothes, except to make sure they don’t fit NOW. (It does happen that you find something in what should be a smaller size, but is really too big.) I’ve gotten pretty good at estimating the size/fit of the clothes after 9 months of doing this, but expect that some of your “finds” are going to be too long, too short, or just not quite work for your body type even when you can fit into them. But at less than $5 per item, I decided the risk was worth it. I’ve been surprised and pleased by how few of my “new” clothes have been un-wearable.

Color and Feel The main things I focus on are the colors – no more black wardrobes for this girl – and fabric. I refuse to wear cheap, uncomfortable fabrics – brings back too many painful childhood memories. I tend to find several of the same item I’m looking for while I’m shopping, then cull thru them and compare to find the best of each before I make my final selection and check out. I also make a last pass looking for stains, rips and missing buttons, broken zippers, etc. You can fix those, sometimes, but is it really worth it for something you’ll only wear for a few weeks? Doubtful!

Shop with a List Here is my list of wardrobe-checklist that I use to keep track of what I have. (I created this when I discovered that I had accidentally purchased 6 pairs of khaki pants that were basically the same size!) I am putting this on my blackberry and keeping a printed copy in my purse to track which ones I have in each size. It should keep me from buying too frivolously.

Wardrobe Basics List

Bottoms

I tend to start with the “bottom” basics and then build outfits around those. This is what I consider essential and the starred (*) items are nice to haves if I can find them.

Dress Pants:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Tan/Khaki
  • Gray
  • Blue or black pants with a narrow white/cream stripe*

Casual Pants:

  • Blue jeans
  • Khaki’s
  • White jeans*
  • Black jeans*
  • Other fun colors and styles as you find them*

Other Bottoms:

  • One good black skirt
  • Any fun, colorful skirt that I find in an upcoming size*
  • Shorts for summer: khaki and white are good staples that go with everything
  • Colorful crop pants for summer*

Tops

Tops are usually the most fun to find and provide scope for my color palette. I find that the best selection is in the multicolored section, where I just go with what looks good and feels good. Since I stick with pretty basic, neutral colors for the bottoms, I can mix and match endlessly.

Dress Tops:

  • White button down
  • Other button down style blouses for wearing under suits, tucked into pants (tucked in – can you imagine that???)
  • Long sleeve black blouse, slightly longer (for those days my stomach feels as big as the side of a barn)
  • White, black, cream or other solid color camisoles – great layering pieces for under suits
  • Whatever strikes my fancy in colors that make me look great: I like stripes, prints and solids*

Casual Tops:

  • White tee-shirt/polo shirt
  • Black tee-shirt/polo shirt
  • Fun prints, designs – whatever I can find *

Other Tops:

  • Sweaters for winter and fall – I like thinner fabrics, since I live in the South and I go for jewel tones and a couple of useful neutrals like white, black, navy and gray
  • Vests – I have deep and secret passion for vests of all kinds*

Workout Clothes

  • Bike shorts, Sweatpants, yoga pants and shorts/pants with lycra to hold the belly
  • Swim suits
  • Workout tops with built in shelf bras
  • Workout jackets, either pullover or zip

Suits and Jackets

My job isn’t very formal, but I do like to have a suit and some jackets in my closet for building more professional looking outfits. You never know when a job interview might come along!

  • One good black jacket
  • One or two jackets in great colors. I confess that I always end up with too many. But I donate them to Dress for Success when they are too big, so I don’t feel too bad.
  • One good suit in a color other than black: cream, red, navy, gray (not a great color on me, but with a colorful scarf it works)

Dresses

I never really wore dresses before. I used to say I didn’t like them, but as I’ve gotten smaller, I’ve realized, I just didn’t like the ones in size 3x or the way I looked in them. Now I LOVE dresses!

  • Professional looking dresses for work – so easy to just pull on with heels and be ready for work in a flash
  • One great dress for going out
  • Summer dresses – I love long, linen dresses or cool, thin fabrics to beat the Atlanta heat
  • Winter layering dresses – wool or knit dresses – that I can wear over turtlenecks or under jackets
  • Completely frivolous: any long evening or cocktail dress that strikes my fancy*
  • One good dark dress is a nice to have, in case of funerals or court dates (black or navy) but I can always use my jacket and skirt if needed*

Shoes

I had planned to buy new clothes, but I was shocked when my shoes became too big. I went from a size 11 wide to an 81/2 medium. I’ve found one or two great shoe/boot finds at the goodwill, but mostly, I buy new at outlet stores

  • Black pumps, sandals and boots
  • Brown boots, sandals and walking shoes
  • Cream and Silver sandals
  • Sneakers, running shoes and tevas

Accessories

Since these are often things I can buy and keep and re-use with each wardrobe, I don’t limit myself to the Goodwill.

  • Belts – found a great black one at Chico’s that can be resized that I got at size 20W and I still have room to shrink it down now that I’m at size 14. Just got another Chico’s belt – really wide – with a beautiful silver buckle. Can be worn at the waist or hips and has a good size range as I shrink.
  • Scarves – always useful
  • Jewelry – I tend to stick with the basics/classics (my sisters might say boring!) and a few fun pieces I have picked up in my travels

Bras, Underwear and foundation garments

I refuse to buy used underwear. Not going to happen. Luckily, underwear can be worn for several dress sizes. So I’ve only had to buy all new underwear a few times

  • 8 Bras: Black, white, pink, gray and cream
  • 9 pairs Underwear: assorted colors, with lots of white and black
  • 4 girdles – they also last for several sizes, but once they get too big, they are useless (Like most WLS patients, I have a lot of lose skin to manage – ick! TMI!)

Outerwear

I was lucky with my outerwear: all my coats were too big by the time winter rolled around, but someone gave me one that I wore for most of the winter. So now I am on the lookout for next winter’s coat – and I have time to be very picky.

  • Light jacket
  • Heavy coat
  • Rain coat
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