2016 favorites

I didn’t have as many blogged outfits to choose from for this year’s favorites post, but I did find a few that I can see myself repeating in the near future. The bottom three are from my Take One, Pass It On challenge that I completed in August; in case you missed it, you can see all 31 outfits here.


1 / 2 /

4 / 5 /

7 / 8 / 9

Evidently, my black ankle pants have gotten good use in 2016…and that’s not likely to change in 2017!

Happy New Year to all!


2016 budget in review

Another shopping year is over, and once again, I’m taking some time to look at my purchases. Much like last year, I operated on an annual budget of $2000. Here’s how that amount was spent on a month-by-month basis:

2016 total: $2008 ($8 over budget)

I’ll reiterate that I think this method of budgeting works well for my personality. If I were to stick to a strict monthly budget, I would probably obsess about making sure I was under that amount to the penny, which just adds unnecessary stress to my life. Instead, I now keep in mind that $2000 divided by 12 months is approximately $165, so whenever I approach that amount in my shopping exploits, I know it’s time to “rein it in” a bit. The annual versus monthly budget provides much needed flexibility in spending depending on seasonal needs (and wants…) during the year. I plan on continuing this budget structure for 2017.

Now for the best and worst buys of the year. Because I haven’t been blogging consistently this year, it’s difficult for me to know precisely how many times I’ve worn certain clothing items, but I’ve made a list of the smart and not-so-smart purchases for 2016:

the worst buys:

  • silver flats: I decided that I wanted a pair of metallic flats in my life, and debated ad nauseam which pair to buy. In the end, I went with the more “fashion-forward” mirror d’orsay flats from J.Crew. And guess what? I never wore them. They just didn’t seem like “me”–y’ know? So I shipped them off to ThredUp a few months ago, in hopes that they found a good home.
  • white eyelet skirt: The fit on this skirt wasn’t all that great when I tried it on, but the price was such a steal that I bought it anyway, in hopes that it would shrink in the wash. Spoiler: it didn’t. So now I just have a too large skirt hanging around. I stowed it away with my maternity clothes in hopes that it could be useful during my next pregnancy.
  • dot blouse: I’d been searching for a polka dot tee or blouse, as it seemed like something that would be a versatile addition to my wardrobe. I settled for this one from Kohl’s at the time, and I ended up regretting it. While I liked the pattern, I didn’t love the way it fit. I often fall prey to this shopping mistake–settling for “good enough” rather than getting exactly what I want. This ended up in my most recent ThredUp clean-out bag.
  • suede skirt: Even at the time of purchase, I suspected that this might be a shopping mistake. I bought this skirt on eBay for about $70 but justified the price tag since it was real suede. I’m not familiar with Zara’s sizing or quality, but I bought it anyway. Stupid, stupid, Caroline. It fit alright, albeit a bit tighter than anticipated for a size medium, but the quality just was not up to par. It didn’t have a lining, which meant I didn’t want to wear it without a slip….which meant I never wore it. I shipped this one off to ThredUp as well. Lesson learned.

the best buys:

  • cognac leather band watch: I wear this watch all the time. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry anymore (not that I ever did really…), as Caleb just pulls on it and generally annoys me with it. But I do wear a watch almost every day, and I wear quite a bit of cognac/tan/brown, so this watch gets a lot of use. See how I’ve worn it here and here.
  • olive green skirt: I think I’ve worn this skirt at least 50 times now. The elastic waistband was really friendly for my rapidly changing body shape this year, and the color fit right in with my current aesthetic. I kind of wish I had bought a backup one in case my current one wears out! See how I’ve worn it here and here.
  • nude flats: So, I guess I’m fulfilling the mom stereotype here in that I wear pretty much nothing but flats anymore. Quite a difference from my pre-baby days when I wore heels 90% of the time. Anyway, I decided that I needed a nude pair and searched high and low for them–I didn’t particularly want a patent leather pair, and that seems to be what’s available these days. I finally found these, and I LOVE them. They obviously go with everything, and the almond-toe is just right for my style.
  • striped turtleneck: After years of wearing only crew-neck and boatneck tees, I’ve finally embraced the turtleneck. This inexpensive one from Target has held up well to its many wears thus far.

Generally, I am pleased with my purchases over the past year–most of the time, I choose items that will serve my lifestyle well and are versatile enough to be worn a variety of ways. However, I clearly still make shopping mistakes on occasion. The lessons from this year’s mistakes can be summarized by the following:

1) Be myself. It’s all fine and dandy to try new things, but I need to remember to stay true to my own sense of personal style and shop accordingly.

2) Don’t settle. All too often, I want a very specific type of clothing item but can’t find just the right thing, and end up buying something that’s almost right…then end up not wearing it.

3) Fit is key. I’m giving myself a little leeway here in that my body has been changing a lot this year, so what fit in the spring doesn’t fit anymore, BUT I need to be more mindful of how certain brands fit before ordering on eBay or other no-returns-allowed vendors.

So those are my reflections on my 2016 shopping habits. Here’s hoping that the mistakes become even less frequent as I continue curating my closet in 2017!

2015 budget in review

As I mentioned in my December budget post, I wanted to take some time to review my 2015 purchases on the whole. This was the first full year in which I operated on an annual budget as opposed to a monthly limit. Even with that change, I tended to spend approximately the same amount on a monthly basis–approximately $150 to $175.

2015 total: $1988 ($12 under budget)

I think this method of budgeting really works for me; it allows some flexibility depending on “need” or seasonal sales. Accordingly, I plan on maintaining similar spending habits for 2016.

In terms of best and worst buys, I would normally do some cost-per-wear calculations, but that’s not really an accurate assessment of an item’s usefulness this year–the whole pregnancy thing kind of put a kink in how often I was able to wear my clothing purchases. But in general, I’d break down my purchases as follows:

The losers:

  • navy printed jeans: I had seen several bloggers style these jeans, and I genuinely felt that they fit my style aesthetic. The trouble was, they didn’t fit my body all that well. J.Crew’s toothpick jeans notoriously run small, something I didn’t know at the time of purchase. They were quite snug pre-pregnancy, so I can only imagine how things will shake out once I attempt to lose the baby weight. I’m keeping them for now in hopes that I can fit into them someday…
  • floral blazer: I’ve bought and returned several floral blazers over the years, but I never seem to find one that works. I bought this one from SheIn last spring and wasn’t totally sold on the quality or fit of the piece, but returning it was prohibitively expensive. So it has sat in my closet for the past 9 months or so collecting dust. I know other have had great luck with SheIn, but I never seem to get a proper fit with their items. I will likely list this on Poshmark in the future. I think I need to give up on the hunt for a floral blazer for good anyway–I think part of the reason I can’t find one I like is because it’s not reflective of my personal style anymore.
  • cap toe pumps: I fell in love with these pumps on Poshmark, as they looked almost identical to the much more expensive Etta pumps from J.Crew. I bought them, but when they arrived, they were a smidge too small. I tried stretching them but to no avail. I reluctantly re-Poshed them.
  • blue patterned sleeveless blouse: The lesson I learned from this top is that I need to just stop ordering items online from H&M. We don’t have a store near us, so I am unable to try items on, which apparently is a problem. In my experience, H&M’s sizing is a bit unpredictable, so ordering online is pretty risky. I hate paying for return shipping, so I ended up selling this much too large and long top on Poshmark.

The winners:

  • gray quilted dress: This dress was definitely a favorite during the winter and spring months. It was pretty easy to style it in various ways so as to be seasonally appropriate; gray is definitely one of my favorite neutrals these days.
  • gold link necklace: I’ve been attempting to invest in nicer quality, classic jewelry pieces this year, and this necklace was part of that effort. I think a simple gold necklace like this one is a great addition to pretty much any woman’s closet. I’ve gotten the cost per wear down to $2.75!
  • white jeans: This year was the year I finally found a pair of white jeans that fit and made me feel great–an evasive combination, I tell you! I grabbed these during an Easter sale, and I am so glad I did. I wore them so much during the spring and summer months, and I might even be brave enough to try wearing them this winter too!
  • reversible tote: This is an item that you all are probably really tired of seeing. It has been my go-to bag pretty much since I bought it back in July. It goes with everything and is big enough for all my nonsense (i.e., pens and snacks).

Overall, I would say that 2015 was a year in which I tried my best to carefully evaluate each clothing purchase. I would also venture to say that this year marked a bit of a style evolution in that I now find myself increasingly drawn to neutral, classic pieces and less toward bright colors and crazy patterns; this is pretty evident in the items I chose as “winner” items. My “loser” purchases were primarily the result of poor fit, so I suppose the lesson there is that I need to shop only at places where returns are free and easy.

I’m excited to continue curating a closet that’s reflective of my personal style while still remaining in my allotted budget. Here’s to a fun and financially responsible 2016 🙂