April 10, 2013

In the last year, I focused on buying nothing but pieces that will be "workhorses" in my wardrobe. When I find myself in a store, staring down a need it right now item, I've done a pretty good job of forcing myself to stand there and actually think about what I'm doing.

It didn't always used to be this way. I used to just buy whatever I liked. Then I woke up and found myself with a closet full of pieces I only sort of liked. And none of it looked good together, which lead to many "I have nothing to wear!" mornings.

First thing's first, you must conquer that closet. Figure out what you actually need to fill holes. Make a list. Keep it on your phone. Shopping and spot a good deal you just can't pass up? I try and ask myself this:

Is it on the list? 

If it's not, why do you need it?

Can you think of at least three different and unique ways you can work it in? 

One item on my list was a black leather tote. Living in a city, I had three requirements of this tote. First, it had to have a zipper top for security. Second, I wanted short handles that allowed me to carry it in the crook of my arm, but not so long that the tote would touch the ground if I held it by my side (short people problems). Third, I knew an optional crossbody strap would allow me to use it hands free if needed. Beyond those basic requirements, I knew I wanted high quality materials and construction and free of trendy hardware so I could keep it for years.

But before it was ever on the list, I forced myself to think of three different ways to use it.

I'm imagining it in the spring with a pair of white jeans, a chambray shirt, and sandals for the farmers' market. Laugh if you must, but this is spring & summer wear here in chilly San Francisco.

I could also picture carrying it for a work function, adding interest to a basic black dress with statement shoes.

And since going out at night in San Francisco requires having a place to stash an extra scarf or jacket for the walk home, I knew it would be perfect for meeting up with girlfriends for drinks. San Francisco is pretty casual, so I tend to wear a pair of dark or black skinny jeans with a fun top and boots made for walking when I go out.

Do you keep a running wishlist of items for your closet? I'm curious to hear if any of you have this same strategy? I think it's saved me a ton of money on purchase mistakes.

The Tote | Michael Kors Gilmore Tote
Outfit 1 | Merona Chambray Shirt | Old Navy White Denim | Splendid Sandals
Outfit 2 | Zara Dress | Stella & Dot Rebel Pendant | Zara Heels
Outfit 3 | Madewell Linen Tee | Topshop Black Denim | DV Dolce Vita Booties


  1. That tote is perfect! I'm guilty of buying stuff because I like it. I need to start putting more thought into my wardrobe.

  2. I have a black tote that meets all of these requirements, and I use it almost every day. Definitely a good investment.

    Kristina does the Internets

  3. I always buy neutrals bags since they go with everything! Call me boring, but it's true!

  4. Me too! I only own one bag that's not black, brown, or tan. And it's red, which is not exactly "daring"!

  5. I practically live in that outfit these days!

  6. You know I love this series - I am lusting after a Michael Kors bag, I should do what other girls do with model pictures on their fridge, and tape a picture of the one I want to my wallet so I have to face it every time I spend money!

    If you ever want to do a collabo about saving up and investing in "work horse" clothes, I'm your girl!


  7. I definitely go for quality staples that will last. You just can't go wrong with neutral classics. Love that first summery look!

  8. First of all, I love all three of these outfits (you know how I'm in a black and white period)! I totally hear you on needing a big tote bag when living in a city. I like thinking about both need and want when I'm shopping. Since I shop in spurts, I do keep a wishlist -- mostly in my head. :) What I actually need help with is non-basics! Come to Boston and shop with me?

  9. i absolutely keep a wish list - right now it's quality skinny denim, white top, summer sandals, slim black pants - and there are many demands on all of those pieces to fit the requirements. however, i just bought this top (, which wasn't on my list, but it's basically my uniform during the winter with skinny pants and boots and a cool necklace, and my current version is forever 21, so i thought i'd get one that would last...still feel a bit guilty though.

  10. I really need a classic black tote. This one is so perfect for San Francisco! I love your wish list thoughts and that you use it to help keep your shopping in check. I seriously need to do this. I don't have a good system for tracking my coveted items. I'm going to start a wish list immediately.

  11. love these three outfits and love your sense of style.
    following you:)


  12. Love all of them. I think the last is my favorite though!

  13. Wow, such a great bag find!! I've been trying to be good as well, investing in pieces that really rid me of my "I have nothing to wear" stress syndrome. I'm getting there. These outfits are all so gorgeous, modern and classic.


  14. I love all thre outfits, and that bag is FAB! I love the gold zip detail on it.

  15. I discovered Barbara Kinsel and changed my whole attitude to clothes. I need summer trousers, easy care in navy or a neutral. Two or maybe three tee shirt/summer tops. Being retired I don't need work clothes but have smart casual and casual.

  16. that tote is definitely very versatile. i think i've been a lot better about thinking about my purchases lately, too - it is so key to try to envision with what you will wear it with! or else you end up with a 70 dollar dress that you never wear because you don't have shoes for it!


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