Wardrobe Planning, Part One: Planning For Climate....

....or, Why I'm Skipping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale...

Recently, a chance remark made me re-assess my wardrobe...   

An online acquaintance commented that, while she lives in the South, which is warm most of the year, she is always buying clothing for cooler climates.   The result is that she has a lot of clothing, but nothing to wear.

Mind = BLOWN.   I do this.

I buy suede shoes and fabric handbags - unless there is a drought, 100% of my life is spent places with heavy rain or snow.   It is above 65F most of the year, but I have more black wool jackets and leather bombers than I can count.   I don't work in a corporate environment, but I have business suits.   I have a collection of leather skirts that would make a stylish Domme sigh in admiration.

And then there is special-occasion wear - but that's a conversation for another day.   

Today, I want to talk about how climate and weather affect my wardrobe planning.  

Last Christmas, our holiday travels took us from Toronto to South Florida.   The two climates could not have been any different, but the feeling was the same:   I was disappointed with what I was wearing.  At a very festive time of year, I didn't feel very festive.   I didn't feel cute, sleek, elegant, sophisticated, or dapper, all of which I aspire to. 

I felt bland and invisible.

What went wrong?   Well... my closet and my choices did not reflect my needs.  I did not take into account climate, weather, or the wisdom of tried-and-true.

In Toronto...

Instead of sticking to my beloved black-based palette, which always makes me feel sleek and elegant, I decided to lighten things up.   I packed uninspiring neutrals, mostly grays and browns, to wear with my dark blue jeans.   I included pops of cobalt, which I have since realized is a washout color for me.

Lesson #1:  stick to the script, and wear what you already know works for you.

I also realized, that, despite having a lot of "fall" clothes... I do not have good outerwear for very cold, snowy city weather.   Sure, my fur-lined bomber is toasty-warm, and adorable in Atlanta when it's 20F out, but it rides up and shifts around when dragging a suitcase and carry-on through snow.   

I also packed one pair of boots, some ballerina flats, and a pair of high-heeled pumps.   Guess what I wore the entire, snowy-slushy week?   That's right, just the boots.   Which I quickly tired of, and didn't really like with skirts.

Lessons #2:  Don't be unrealistic in your choices.   Four-inch heels in snow?   No no no.  

Lesson #3:  Try on and photograph your outfits before you pack, so that you know your shoes will go with your outfits.

Another mistake: packing a lot of heavy turtleneck sweaters, aka, 'crumbcatchers'.   I dislike most turtlenecks, and I don't wear them very often.   I prefer just about any other neckline.   If my neck is cold, I add a scarf.   The turtlenecks fit under the shifting furry jacket, but overall, I felt bulky and somehow stifled.

Lesson #4  Why would you pack a bunch of something that you already know you dislike?  PACK THE STUFF YOU LIKE.

We don't go to Toronto every Christmas season, but I noticed we have wound up there four times in the past five years, and we're usually there 7-10 days.  

And then... Florida....

We had a one-day stopover home, between Toronto and Florida.   Go figure, I packed a lot of black - because I had missed it in Toronto.   I didn't pack shorts.   One pair of shorts (non-black) would have made all the difference.   I've been back to Florida a couple of times since Christmas, and I realized that a black t-shirt + any other color skirt or shorts = me feeling very happy.  Same with black shorts paired with a white or color top.

I have been down to Florida five times in less than a year, and I'm planning another visit soon.    My visits are usually 7-10 days, before my family drives me nuts.  (Just kidding, family!  I love you guys!)

January-July in the South

It was cold in January-February, but never as cold as Toronto, and no snow.   I got to wear my 'cool-weather' clothes, but there simply weren't enough days and occasions to wear everything I have.  Most weekdays this year, I have had dance class, acting class (requiring physical movement), or rehearsals for a show, which means that button-down blouses, delicate silks, tailored clothing, and brocade jackets are kind of pointless.   By mid-March, I had switched to lightweight zip cardigans as outerwear, skinny jeans and ponte stretch pants, and stretch skirts.

Around Memorial Day Weekend, all layers were gone.   My wardrobe is lightweight top + lightweight bottom + Shoes That Don't Make My Feet Feel Hot.

What I need:

  • A Very Cold/Snowy Weather Capsule Wardrobe for 7-10 days
  • A Very Hot & Humid Weather Capsule Wardrobe for 30 days
  • A Seasonless Wardrobe that allows for eight months of temperate weather, and three months of cool weather.

What I don't need anymore of:

  • Fall jackets
  • Suede Anything (it rains or snows regularly everywhere I go)
  • Fabric bags or Shoes (see the previous)
  • Half-way shoes - i.e., booties, or shooties.  If it's warm enough for shooties, it's too hot for shooties.  And I would rather wear pumps than booties.
This is why I'm skipping the NAS - I have more than enough 'fall' clothes.   I need clothing for High Summer.

My Cold-Weather Capsule Checklist:

  • Allows for 7-10 days in snow and slush, at temperatures from below zero F, to the teens
  • Makes me feel sleek and fabulous
  • Includes a longer winter coat
  • Includes a pair of low-heeled dressy leather boots that look great with skirts and dresses 
  • Includes slim-fitting underwear and layering tops that aren't bulky and fit closely to the body
  • Lined leather gloves
  • Warm hat
  • Soft scarves

My Hot & Humid Weather Capsule Checklist:

  • Several pairs of shorts in black, white, and tan.   Cotton and linen are preferred
  • Basic short-sleeve tees that fit closely to the body without being too clingy.   In black, I like cotton, viscose, or linen-blend.   In white, viscose or cotton.
  • Slim-fitting skirts in black, denim, or khaki
  • Makes me feel sleek, cool, and happy.  And not over-exposed.
  • Wedge sandals in nude, beige, or light-brown leather, that can be dressy-casual with skirts, or very casual with shorts
  • Shoes That Don't Make My Feet Feel Hot.   My litmus test is EPCOT.   If I can wear the same shoes all day at EPCOT without whimpering, they're summer keepers.

In summary, I have most of the things on these checklists already.   There are some things I anticipate I will be refreshing every year:  shoes for the hot and cold capsules, and tees and shorts for the hot weather capsule.

For the rest, I am going to experiment with a no-shop until Labor Day Weekend, and see where it gets me.

So on to you... do you plan your wardrobe according to your climate?  


Pret a Porter P at: July 18, 2017 at 11:10 PM said...

I love lesson 4. I know I'm way less tolerant of slipping straps and uncomfortable/impractical stuff while traveling.

Antonella at: December 4, 2017 at 11:46 AM said...

Just found this and I think it's brilliant. I live in a 4-seasons country (Italy) and still I'm guilty of the same: for me suede and high heels is just impractical (cobbled streets and rains/snow...).

Thanks for the inspo!

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