A Perfect Pair: J.Crew ‘Pixie’ Pants + Sam Edelman ‘Petty’ Boots

After keeping track of my outfits for the past seven months, I realized that I have some go-to combinations that never fail me. Last month, I noticed just how much I wore my black J.Crew ‘Pixie’ pants with my black leather Sam Edelman ‘Petty’ ankle boots. I wore the combination in four different outfits I featured here and in four other outfits I wore but did not photograph/share. (Did anyone notice? Haha.) I was slightly worried about sharing so many outfits with the same bottom half, but I loved them too much not to…and after all, they were all outfits I wore in my real life! I figured showcasing some of these “perfect pairs” would be fun, and I always enjoy seeing how an item or two can be remixed!

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  1. Outfit Re-creation: Zipped — with autumn layers
  2. Cardigan wrap — with a belted, chunky knit cardigan
  3. Two months later — with a cropped sweater and collared shirt
  4. Lack-of-snow day — with a long sweater and scarf

Packing for an academic conference

carry_on_bagsEverlane weekender bag / ModCloth tote

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to an out-of-state academic conference. I don’t go to out-of-state conferences very often; in fact, I had only been to two since starting grad school before this one (two years at the same conference in the same location plus one year as an undergrad). When it comes to packing for conferences, I will admit that I’m not a pro. I always second-guess what I choose to pack, especially because I have always needed an outfit to present in. However, Earth science-related academic conferences see a wide range of fashion–everything from suits and ties to parkas, worn-in jeans, and sandals (of course, sometimes with socks…haha)–so this lessens the burden of packing the “perfect” outfits a little bit.

This time around, I packed only 16 everyday pieces (not including a t-shirt & leggings to sleep in, sweatpants, and workout gear). That may seem like a lot, but it includes two tops, two tees, two sweaters, a sweatshirt, a coat, a pair of jeans, a dress, two pairs of shoes, tights, jewelry, and my tote. I noticed that when I pack for trips, I tend to pack layers, and this trip was no different. It’s so easy to mix-and-match when you have a couple of tops, a couple of cardigans or light jackets, and everything goes together. When luggage space is limited, it’s the best way to go.

During my trip, I discovered a cool feature of the Stylebook app. (You may remember that at the beginning of September, I posted my current closet inventory and also noted how I had been using the Stylebook app. I love it!) Besides having a photographic inventory of your closet and outfits, you can also create packing lists! Brilliant, right? I always intend to make an actual list that I check off as I pack and then repack to come home, but it never happens; I rely far too much on my memory, which has been known to fail me one too many times (I forgot to repack my pair of sunglasses on this trip, ha).

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After you create and name your packing list, you’ll see a page like this one above. What’s great about the packing list is that you can either add items by adding the items individually and then the looks that incorporate them, or you can do what I did and add the looks first and it will automatically populate your packing list with the clothing in your looks! How cool, right?! I didn’t make my Stylebook packing list until the end of my trip, but I was thoughtful enough when packing that I already knew my outfits ahead of time. (I actually put all of the looks together in Stylebook while on the plane to the conference!) In the notes section, I wrote down where I was headed/what I was doing and the weather to expect.

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Here are all of the items I brought with me! I stuck to a relatively cohesive color palette of burgundy, grey, and black, but I added in my cobalt dress for one of my poster presentations; my cropped navy sweater over that dress has become a go-to for academic conferences. My trench coat is the only coat I brought (thank goodness the weather cooperated!), and my tote was one of my carry-on items on the plane. I stuffed it full with my laptop, notebooks, poster (it was fabric!), my liquids bag, and a container full of cookies! The rest of the items were either worn on the plane or fit into my Everlane weekender bag, as seen in the top photo.

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Here are the outfits I wore! I was there for four full days (three days actually spent at the conference), which are the top outfits. The bottom two outfits were worn on the travel days with my yoga pants and sneakers. As far as dressing for conferences goes, I pretty much wear what I would normally wear on a daily basis. I actually felt slightly overdressed at my conference! If you’re looking to feel put-together, I highly recommend dark-wash jeans, simple blouses, and a nice cardigan. Even my sweatshirt felt nice enough for a conference setting. If I’m presenting, I like to go the extra mile and wear a dress with heels, though it definitely wasn’t necessary at this conference. Be sure to pack pieces that mix-and-match (sticking to a cohesive color palette helps a LOT) and you’ll be set! 🙂 (Below is one of my looks in action–post-conference, of course!)

IMG_7667Helmut Lang sweatshirt / LOFT top (sold out) / Madewell jeans / Sam Edelman boots / Ignatius 😉

My Ankle Boot Army

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If you’ve been following along for a while, you know how much I love my ankle boots! They are my favorite shoe to wear during the fall, winter, and spring months. (Unfortunately, it’s too warm here in the summer to wear them comfortably!) I figured it was high time to do a post featuring my army of ankle boots, why I love them, and some outfits I’ve worn including them.

modcloth_laced_bootsModCloth ‘Expert Spokesperson’ Laced Booties by Chelsea Crew

Back when I ordered all the things from ModCloth, I ordered these boots. I had a coupon, and at the time, that meant I could not let it go to waste. I’d say they aren’t my normal style, and I can’t really pinpoint why I adore them so much…I just do! Maybe I like them because they are so different. Them being different does come with some challenges, though. I have a harder time styling these shoes, but I love when I come up with new outfits featuring them. They tend to make me look shorter since they stop just above my ankle bone. However, I think it’s the oxford style that really speaks to me, and the wing-tip adds something extra. I hope to style them more this spring and try something new since I tend to wear them with cuffed jeans. Thank goodness for all of the style inspiration on Pinterest!

Outfits: with high-rise jeans, with a Peter Pan collar & skirt
{similar style}

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ModCloth ‘Strut the Strut’ Heeled Booties

I love these adorable booties! Aren’t they cute?! They are so girly, but because they are grey, they go perfectly with my wardrobe and add some flair to whatever outfit in which I include them. I can tell they aren’t the best quality, but they weren’t very expensive at less than $50. I’ve owned them for over a year, though, and they are still holding up well after light use. I love wearing these with dresses and skirts the most. These did have the highest heels in my closet until I purchased my most recent pair of ankle boots, but I find these easy to walk in. Because they have a faux suede exterior, I don’t wear them when there is precipitation falling to avoid staining them. I’m glad I bought these to spice up my shoe wardrobe. I find myself buying very basic, highly versatile pieces nowadays and I think it’s necessary to add a fun piece every once in a while if it makes you happy!

Outfits: with a striped dress, with polka dot jeans
{similar style in black, similar style in burgundy}

madewell_billie_bootMadewell ‘Billie’ Heeled Boots

My ankle boot obsession truly kicked off after I purchased these beauties. I had first heard of Madewell after I started blogging in the fall of 2013, and in December, I stopped in a store for the first time…and that was how I blew my budget before I even started budgeting (ha!). I remember drooling over these boots and wishing I had $228 to drop on them, and I remember walking out of the store behind a lady wearing them and feeling SO jealous of her. Three months later, these babies went on sale for a more modest $143, and I HAD to make them mine. They took a very large chunk out of my March budget, but it was so worth it. I adore these boots. I baby them, so they don’t get out as much as my black ankle boots, but I love wearing them when the weather is nice. The heel is surprisingly comfortable, and cognac is a beautiful neutral that looks great with everything, even black!

Outfits: with a trench coat, with earth tones, with a dress, with double denim
{on sale in size 11 or similar style from J.Crew}

samedelman_petty_bootsSam Edelman ‘Petty’ Heeled Boots

I received these boots as a birthday gift last year after wanting them for a couple of months, and let me tell you: I wear them ALL of the time. They are my go-to boots when I’m not sure what shoes to wear because they seem to go with nearly every outfit. (I wouldn’t wear them if it was below freezing outside because I always have my ankles exposed, but we haven’t really been below freezing that much this winter!) The leather is beautiful, and I haven’t had any problems with quality in the few months I’ve owned them. These replaced my original pair of black ankle boots (the Wanted brand boots I purchased from Delia’s two autumns ago, which I still own and wear to concerts since I don’t mind if they get a little beat up). At over $100 full price, these boots are on the upper end of what I’m generally comfortable with spending on one item with my grad student budget, but I can say that I 100% recommend these boots if you’ve had your eye on them.

Outfits: with a skirt, with a blanket scarf, with shorts
{available at Zappos or Nordstrom}

stories_ankle_boots& Other Stories High-Heeled Boots

My newest addition, these ankle boots were a love-at-first-sight situation. I had never heard of the brand until Taylor Swift started wearing their boots regularly last fall. Of course, I had to check out & Other Stories, assuming it was a high-end brand (though I love that T. Swift wears more affordable brands, too), and I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that the prices weren’t outrageous. It’s a little sister of H&M but the aesthetic is less fast-fashion trendy and more high-fashion with some abstract details thrown in for good measure. I snatched these beauties up on sale, and while I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about the heel height, they aren’t as bad as I thought they would be even though I am still getting used to them (they are my highest heels!). The leather is gorgeous and supple. I’m glad I went with the dark red color because it’s different, yet goes with pretty much everything in my closet! I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye on & Other Stories for future fun purchases.

Outfit: with a monochrome palette
{similar style in black}

Best purchases of 2014

Now that my worst purchases are out of the way, it’s time to focus on the items I really loved–my best purchases of 2014! It was actually kind of difficult to make this list. I felt myself focusing more on the fall/winter items since those are what I’m currently wearing. Even though this list is mostly fall/winter heavy after considering everything I bought, I feel like it is the best representation of my year-round favorites.

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Cole Haan ‘Wesley’ Tall Boots {purchased January 2014}
Original posts: top left / top middle / top right / bottom left / bottom middle / bottom right

These boots were not featured in any budget posts since they were purchased in January, before I started budgeting. I actually received a different pair of leather tall boots for Christmas (the Sam Edelman ‘Penny’ Boots) that didn’t work out for me. I returned those and purchased these boots, and I ended up having to spend ~$70 of my own money since they were more expensive than the first pair of boots. I’m super happy with these boots! They’re very comfortable with the Nike Air technology (though I’m still breaking them in around my feet, oddly enough), and the color is rich and beautiful. As much as I love them, they don’t get a ton of wear compared to other shoes because I don’t have the leather treated for rain or snow and I would hate to ruin them.

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Madewell ‘Billie’ Boots {purchased March 2014}
Original posts: top left / top middle / top right / bottom left / bottom middle / bottom right
(Older posts: from March, from April, from April, from April, from April, from May)

The number of posts I linked to says it all. I’ve worn these boots so many times since I bought them! I’m so glad I took the plunge and bought them even though they took a rather large chunk of my budget. I wear these a whole lot in the spring, fall, and winter, and I know you’ll be seeing a lot more of these boots this year! Between the tall boots and these, I’m quite proud of my boot purchases from last year.

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Madewell Legging Jeans {purchased March 2014}
Original posts: top left / top middle / top right / bottom left / bottom middle / bottom right
(Older post: from April)

It was hard to pick one pair of jeans out of the three pairs of Madewell jeans I purchased last year, but the legging jeans won because of three reasons: comfort, wash, and inseam. I love my sky wash pair of skinny skinny jeans, but I bought too long of an inseam and most of the time I don’t want to cuff my jeans. The pair I just purchased last month I’ve only gotten to wear a few times, as you might imagine. I wore the legging jeans the most, logging 16 wears on my Stylebook app. They’ve held up quite well despite their thin material, so I have high hopes that they’ll last some time.

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Vince Camuto ‘Lancaster’ Flats via Nordstrom {purchased May 2014}
Original posts: top left / top middle / top right / bottom left / bottom middle / bottom right
(Older posts: from May, from July)

This was another top-notch shoe purchase. I had been looking for black flats for quite some time, and was looking for ballet flats in particular, but when I found these loafers (first in Nordstrom Rack and then exchanging for a smaller size on Nordstrom), I had to give them a shot–and boy was I impressed! These are my go-to shoes if I have to run a quick errand. They go with everything and are quite comfortable! I look forward to many more wears out of them this year.

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Madewell ‘Knitmix’ Sweater {purchased May 2014}
Original posts: left / middle / right

I’ve been on a sweater-buying binge for most of the past year! They’re my favorite article of clothing to wear in the cooler months. I seem to never have enough, haha. Out of all of my sweater purchases, this one comes out on top even though I’ve only featured it three times on here. I’ve worn it nine times according to my Stylebook app, which doesn’t seem like a lot unless you consider the number of sweaters I have. The ivory color goes with everything, and the details on the sweater put it one step above the rest. I can’t get enough!

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Kate Spade ‘One in a Million’ Monogram Necklace via Nordstrom {purchased July 2014}
Original posts: top left / top middle / top right / bottom left / bottom middle / bottom right
(Older post: from August)

This is likely my most worn piece of jewelry in 2014 with 12 total wears. I just adore it. It’s simple and seems to go with pretty much every outfit! I really hope it holds up from all of the wear. I’ve been more nervous about jewelry purchases because the gold plating on all of the necklaces I purchased in 2013 and early 2014 is wearing off. I’ve been trying to stop that/prevent it by painting clear nail polish over the chains, but the chain on this necklace is so small that I don’t think I can do it without painting the surface I set it on. Ah!

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Halogen Leather Crossbody Bag via Nordstrom {purchased August 2014}
Original posts: top left / top right / bottom left / bottom right

This was another item on my list that I successfully crossed off my list last year. I love this bag! I wanted a simple, small black leather crossbody bag to go with everything, and I couldn’t be happier that I found it. Like my black loafers, this is my go-to bag. It has plenty of pockets for storing everyday essentials (and for losing things; Chris seems to have a hard time finding things when I ask him to look, haha). The only downside is that the strap gets twisted easily and taking the couple of seconds to fix it can be annoying at times (I know, such a dumb thing to be annoyed about, but it’s not something I’ve had to deal with before!).

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J.Crew ‘Pixie’ Pants {purchased October 2014}
Original posts: left / middle / right

I can’t believe how many times I’ve worn these pants since I bought them. They. Are. Amazing. According to my Stylebook app, I’ve worn them 16 times. That’s a TON, especially considering that I could only wear them twice in November due to my remix chain. I may or may not have lived in those pants in December, haha. Needless to say, I highly recommend these pants, and my fingers are crossed that they last me years of wear!

Honorable mentions go to my Uniqlo Rayon Sleeveless BlouseMadewell ‘Outbound’ Jacket, Madewell ‘Crisscross Sightseer’ Sandals, Salt Water Sandals, Ellen Tracy Safari Trench Coat via Nordstrom, and a gift–my Sam Edelman ‘Petty’ Boots. You can find most of these items featured in the outfits above. I did pretty well at making smart purchases this year! Here’s to making more smart purchases and fewer impulse purchases in 2015. 🙂

Worst purchases of 2014

Since I budgeted/kept track of my purchases for most of last year, I thought looking through each purchase and noting my worst purchases (as well as best purchases, of course–keep an eye out for the next post!) would be useful to see how well I was doing at limiting impulse purchases that don’t work for me in one way or another. I ended up finding eight items that I would not purchase over again if I could redo 2014. Hopefully I make smarter purchasing decisions this year!

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H&M Striped Tee {purchased March 2014}
Original posts: top left / top right / bottom left / bottom right

While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with this tee, I purchased it right when I saw it without a second thought because I had been looking for a tee like this. I wish I would have purchased a larger size; it’s a bit too tight for my taste. I would have also preferred a red striped tee with stripes everywhere, not like this one with the lack of stripes on top. I ended up buying a similar tee from J.Crew Factory later in the year that better matches what I was looking for.

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Sole Society ‘Bethanie’ d’Orsay Flats {purchased March 2014}
Original posts: left / middle / right

I love how these flats look, but I don’t wear them as much as I thought I would. (I’ve worn them once since the post on the right.) They’re not the most comfortable (simultaneously feeling too small and too big, which is a problem I had with my other pair of d’Orsay flats). I also had a harder time creating outfits with them. I wasn’t expecting that at all because they are beige and gold, but I find that I reach for my sand J.Crew ‘Cece’ ballet flats before these. I’ve held onto them for the purpose of variety, but now I’m seriously considering selling them.

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Francesca’s Top {purchased March 2014}
Original posts: left / right

This was another impulse purchase. I walked into the store, spotted this top on the sale rack, tried it on, thought it would be a good addition to my wardrobe…and then I bought it. I think I would wear it more if it wasn’t so long, but it’s also a bit tight in the shoulders and the fabric is weird and slippery. I wouldn’t buy it again now. I can feel myself ignore it when I look through my closet and put outfits together, so I have a feeling it won’t be staying around too much longer.

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H&M Striped Crop Top {purchased May 2014}
Original posts: left / right

I can’t fault myself too much for this purchase because I wanted to try the crop top trend, and spending a mere $11 at H&M was the best way to try it out without feeling bad about how much I spent. I ended up wearing this top only twice–both times were photographed for the blog–and then I managed to shrink it somehow so I’m not sure if I will wear it again. It shows more of my stomach than I am really comfortable with. Oh well! I now know that I do enjoy the trend a bit and I’ve taken a liking to cropped sweaters and other, slightly less cropped tops.

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Carrini d’Orsay Flats via Hautelook {purchased July 2014}
Original posts: left / right

Ughhh, these shoes. I should have known better than to buy $16 shoes on Hautelook–that never ends well, does it? (Luckily, I only paid $6 because of credit I had on my account. But still.) Holes appeared after the first time I wore them (look on the left), but I was determined to wear them at least six times to end up with a $1 cost-per-wear. I wore them the second time–the look on the right–and they were flapping off my feet by mid-morning. It was a terrible idea to wear those shoes, especially because I had to walk around a LOT that day! I informed Hautelook of my misfortune and they were kind enough to refund me with store credit, so now these sit in a donation bag waiting for a new home.

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Gap Eyelet Dress {purchased August 2014}
Original posts: left / middle / right

I was so excited for this dress, and I spent more on it than I would normally. However, after I wore it and washed it the first time (following the care tag), it shrunk SO much in length. You can really tell in the difference between the left look above and the middle and right looks. I now can’t wear it to school without being in major danger of flashing someone. It’s now not at all what I wanted it to be, and I’m bummed because I was hoping to have it for at least a couple of years if not more. This was probably the most disappointing purchase.

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J.Crew Factory Tank Top {purchased May 2014}
J.Crew Factory Button-down Shirt {purchased September 2014}

These were two purchases never featured in an outfit post. The tank top I’ve worn once or twice, and I have yet to wear the shirt. I’m determined to plan outfits with them this year because I do love them. I admit that the tank top is a little bit low for my liking, but it’s a nice layering piece…and it was only $5. Every time I go to wear the shirt, it feels too formal. My goal this year is to not give up on these pieces and wear/feature them at least once (more, hopefully!).

Closet inventory + digital organization

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I’ve been overhauling my wardrobe for about the past year, but I haven’t really been aware of how much I owned until now. I figured it was time to do a closet inventory to figure out where I’m at after a year of purging and buying items that fit better and that better fit my personal style. I’ve been slowly but steadily selling and donating things that no longer work for me, but I thought I was doing a pretty good job at ridding of things and not buying as much in order to decrease the size of my wardrobe, but I’m not sure if that has actually been happening…

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Here’s where I’m at right now!

TOPS: 81
Sleeveless: 5
Short-sleeved tees: 10
Long-sleeved tees: 12
Blouses: 9
Collared shirts: 6
Cardigans: 17
Sweaters: 18
Sweatshirts: 4

BOTTOMS: 32
Shorts: 6
Skirts: 13
Pants: 6
Jeans: 7

DRESSES: 30

OUTERWEAR: 13
Vests: 1
Blazers: 1
Jackets: 4
Coats: 7

SHOES: 34
Sandals: 6
Sneakers: 2
Flats: 12
Heels: 6
Boots: 8

These numbers don’t include a bunch of shirts and shorts I have around for sleeping and working out, leggings, tights, pajama pants, and a lot of old shirts I have on probation and will probably be donating in the near future. I also have a basket of older shoes that weren’t counted because I don’t really wear them, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of them just yet (they’re on probation too…or just not currently in style!). A good number of items in my closet I count as “utility” items–necessary because of just typical day-to-day life: snow boots, running sneakers, my down coat, etc.–and were not counted in the total.

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In all, I have 190 items that I wear regularly. That’s more than what I was expecting, but it’s not too bad considering how much I’ve gotten rid of the past year. I’m pretty happy with everything I have right now; there’s only a few things I’m hoping to add before we dive head-on into fall and winter (though I have to try and hold off on buying anything until next month!).

The photos don’t show everything I own. My stuff is split between the bedroom closet, which I share with Chris, and a dresser. My jackets and coats live in a closet by the front door, and my shoes are scattered between the bedroom closet, the spare bedroom closet, and the closet downstairs. (I also have a bad habit of kicking my shoes off and leaving them in the living room, so you can pretty much find shoes everywhere…) I’ve been trying to better organize my things. The things I wear regularly are in the bedroom closet, and they are organized first by type and then by color. I keep the things I’ve worn but that aren’t yet dirty in the front of the closet separate from the clean clothes. I don’t have good organization for my shoes, though the shoes I baby more (my leather shoes) are in the bedroom and spare bedroom closets so they are away from the cats and getting banged up by other shoes.

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Speaking of organization, I’m kind of a freak about it. I have three different ways of organizing my closet (besides actually organizing it): I am building an Excel spreadsheet with details about everything I own including whether the item is a core piece, spring/summer piece, or fall/winter piece; I have secret Pinterest boards with the actual items in my closet (and links to them if applicable); and I recently downloaded the StyleBook app on my phone, because I’ve been wanting a way to digitize my closet and keep track of what I’m actually wearing.

After using StyleBook for just over a month, I can say I’m really pleased with how it’s been working for me so far!

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With StyleBook, you add the individual pieces of your wardrobe, and then with those you can create looks. My favorite part is keeping track of what I’m wearing every day by adding looks to the calendar. Once looks (or individual pieces) are added to your calendar, it keeps track of how often you wear the pieces as well as calculate the cost-per-wear of each item (you can input the price of each item when you view it). I love that feature because I’ve been wanting to know cost-per-wear, but I didn’t want to calculate it myself. It’s much more fun (and much easier!) to create looks and add them to the calendar–then all the hard work is done for you!

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I LOVE seeing how often I’m wearing pieces. Since I just started keeping track of my outfits on August 1st, it doesn’t look like I’ve worn my clothes that much, but I know in a year it will really be telling. If I get sick of an item before I get a lot of wears in (which is subjective because it depends on cost-per-wear), I’ll know it wasn’t a good buy and I need to be more mindful in the future. The app also shows you your 25 Least Worn items. (Note that I wore the shorts six times in August but they have been worn seven times according to this list. That’s because I wore them today!)

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Here’s what my best cost-per-wears look like after August (and two days of September). Of course, my cheaper pieces, even if only worn once, have the best cost-per-wears right now. See my tan sandals, though? I’ve worn those so much in just the past month (six times) that my cost-per-wear is looking quite good! I generally aim for a cost-per-wear of $1, but it would be fabulous to have cost-per-wears that are below $1. That is what I’m hoping for with the (hopefully) better quality pieces I’ve been picking up recently. StyleBook also keeps a list of the 25 Worst Value.

I’m planning on doing another closet inventory and StyleBook update in about a year. I’m excited to see what my most/least worn pieces are and all the various looks I can come up with. I’m also hoping to reduce the size of my closet a bit more–think I can do it?! 😉