Creating a Spring/Summer Clothing Shopping List

I’ve been on the fence about whether or not this would actually be of interest to people…but a good friend said that *she* would be interested, so…here goes!

Long ago, I used to do what I call “recreational shopping.” By that I mean that I would go to the mall, without necessarily anything specific in mind, just to see what there was. Inevitably I would see things I liked, many things, and I figure if I LIKED them, that they would work in my wardrobe, because…If I Like All the Things in My Closet…Shouldn’t They All Go Together? So I would just buy things indiscriminately because I liked them, with no real thought to whether the purchases made sense.

It took me many years and MANY wasted dollars to realize that the answer to that question is NO. And I’ll be honest, it wasn’t out of any real wisdom that I came to this conclusion, it was more out of necessity. Once I was divorced (21 years ago) and a single mother of a young daughter, I no longer had “unlimited” (not that they were ever unlimited but I had not yet learned The Very Hard Lessons about overspending and DEBT) funds for my recreational shopping. Now I had to make my “first real office job” salary stretch as far as it could. So recreational shopping became a thing of the past and I had to learn how to build a working wardrobe as efficiently as possible. And it took me almost all 21 years to do that, ha ha!

Hang on, I could tell my stories all day long…let’s get on to the list making!

I start by assessing what’s already in my closet from last year – most seasons the majority of items stay, and I only let go of the few things that are no longer in good condition, no longer fit, or are just things that I find I no longer reach for in my closet. It’s okay to fall out of love with things! They served their purpose for awhile, but when it’s time to move on, let them go, maybe to someone else who will enjoy them more.

Then I consider each and every item in the closet (and drawers). How many outfits can I make out of this item? Just one? Then I consider what new item I could bring in to make that already existing item more versatile. Will the new item go with multiple items already in my closet? That’s a plus. I don’t want to buy something new if it’s only going to go with one other thing. I want every piece to do double- or even triple-duty. I want a closet filled with mostly basics, that will mix with almost everything else.

So now I’ve gone through all my items and made a list of missing pieces. The pieces that will go with what I already own to make new outfits.

Here’s my list for this spring/summer

  • black and white striped top, summer weight
  • basic white tee
  • basic grey tee
  • 2-3 patterned tops – floral, paisley, something with some color
  • 1-2 patterned kimonons
  • oatmeal/tan lightweight cardigan
  • white summer weight pants/jeans
  • black summer weight pants
  • sagey green summer weight pants

A dozen items might seem like a lot (it does to me) but I know from experience that I’ll be lucky to find just a few of these items – due to size, cost and personal taste. This list doesn’t include shoes and accessories. I’ve already shared some of my shoe and bag wish lists with you here and here.

I’ll confess, I got a little confused with what I was posting this week. I wrote this post several week ago and I should have shot a little video showing a couple samples of how I put these steps into practice…but instead I shot a try-on haul of items I’d bought trying to fill out my shopping list above (because everything came in within a few days and I wanted to try on so I could return what I wasn’t keeping and start over).

So just imagine, if you will, me taking my Bobeau sleeveless floral top out of the closet, inspecting it, thinking of what I might wear it with besides just my medium wash skinny jeans. Sage green cotton pants! And those pants would also be perfect with the black and white striped top I don’t have (ha) AND the navy and white striped top I just ordered. And then I’d move onto the next item. Make sense?? It’s not nearly as much fun as just perusing online retail sites or catalogs and going I like this and this and this and this  and ordering a bunch of random unrelated items…but it’s much more organized and you’ll end up only with things that actually go with things you already own. Cuz I don’t feel that I need or want dozens or hundreds pieces of clothing. I want to wear everything I have a LOT. Getting my money’s worth and not having any wasted investments hanging in my closet.

Here’s What I Bought and Tried On:

Loft Plus Textural Sweater Tee, size 24/26

Loft Plus Girlfriend Chinos, size 24

Target Who What Wear Plus Size Rib Trim Elbow Sleeve T-Shirt, size 4x

Asos Curve Stripe Top in Baby Loop Back, size 24

Old Navy Relaxed Plus-Size Sleeveless Boho Top, size 3x (floral no longer available)

Old Navy Plus-Size Linen-Blend Cropped Soft Pants, size 4x

Old Navy Plus-Size Mid-Rise Soft Utility Cropped Pants, size 3x

Macy*s Say What? Trendy Plus Size Long-Sleeve Swing Top, size 3x

Macy*s NY Collection Plus Size Pointelle-Knit Draped Cardigan, size 3x

And there’s a video! Caleb makes a couple cameo appearances 🙂


This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small commission if you click on them and/or buy something as a result of clicking that link.


15 thoughts on “Creating a Spring/Summer Clothing Shopping List

  1. This is actually really useful, thank you! I hate shopping, so tend to avoid doing it at all, but I don’t think my Summer wardrobe can stretch out another year without a refresh, but knowing the staples makes so much more sense. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. WOW, you are so smart. How come I’ve lived this long and never figured all that stuff out about my wardrobe?! I have so many things in my closet that I bought because (1) I really liked it (2) it was on sale… but goes with virtually nothing! Very helpful post – and loved the video. Things look so different in the pictures than when you put them on – of course, they use models that are pencils 😦

    Wish you lived closer so I could hem things for you. $20 to hem a skirt. That’s mind boggling (to me).

    Really a good post – thanks. I’m going to seriously try the list thing. Have already been through my closet and had 3 bags to donate. Might just find a few more if I look at things the way you do.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have said to myself that I have to shop better! Because I also used to buy an item that I liked and then have nothing to combine it with. So, I am trying, yes me also, to think better about my purchases.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hope it helps! It seems so simple now that I’ve figured it out, like how did it take me so long?? I wouldn’t go to the grocery store without a list of what I needed to complete a recipe, and I try really hard to stick to the list. There’s an occasional impulse item (with food AND clothing), but for the most part I manage to stick pretty closely to the list.

    When I lived in Brooklyn and was still selling clothes on ebay I found a seamstress who worked out of her apartment and as long I sent her like 10 things at a time, she’d hem dresses for $5/apiece. I wish I could find someone like her out here on the island!

    Thanks, as always, for the nice comments!


  5. Enjoyed the video, I thought you looked very nice in the floral black top, but I think you said you were sending it back also loved the olive green chinos and the black ones ( sorry not the white ones ) Which pieces did you keep my sound is not very good on the video( plus my hearing) so didn’t catch everything.


  6. I think, eventually, after wasting half a lifetime filling our wardrobes with clothes we love but that don’t co-ordinate and, even if they do, we have no shoes to go with them, we realise we have to streamline our choices. What’s so frustrating is that when we know what we want, we often can’t find it in our size/fit. Your video illustrates this to a T. Have you ever thought about taking a sewing class and making your own? It’s not as intimidating as you might think. Just start off with an easy pattern with only a couple of pieces to cut and sew. There are plenty of sewing classes in the U.S. and New York is the place for bargain fashion fabrics. With YouTube and sewing blogs to help along the way perhaps a new hobby could solve the fashion basics crisis? Also you’d have the skill to take up the hems on those ready to wear pieces you just can’t resist. Good luck with finding the summer pieces. Love the blog and vlog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Val, thanks so much for your thoughtful comment! If you only knew how many sewing classes I have taken in my lifetime, only to learn that MY SEWING MACHINE HATES ME. Correction: EVERY sewing machine hates me 😦 The first class I ever failed was home ec – we were sewing a very simple jumper and I couldn’t even finish mine it was so bad. FAIL. The most I’ve ever managed to accomplish sewing was (simple) curtains and decorative pillow covers. I took ANOTHER clothing sewing course just a few years ago and dropped out in the middle cuz I was so far behind and kept ruining everything. I’m good at a lot of things. I’m not good at precise measuring and careful, neat cutting, both of which are pretty crucial to making clothing. I’m also not good at BOBBINS, ha. Back to sewing machines – I don’t know what it is I do wrong, but I always get needle jams, tangled-up bobbin thread, BROKEN needles. It’s just One of Those Things for me. I finally took to STAPLING hems on pants. Stapling. With a desk stapler. It’s really attractive. And quite a feather in my bonnet. Me, the fashion blogger, ha ha 🙂 But at your suggestion maybe I’ll give it One More Try this summer. If only YouTube could reach out of my monitor to unstick my bobbins…


    2. Lol. I can see it all. No point doing something you hate (or hates you) if you can avoid it. Who needs to feel a failure about not managing a sewing machine? You could try Wonder Web iron-on hemming tape for those hems.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have tried the iron-on seam tape but it turns into a mess in the washing machine and if I haven’t cut the length of (whatever) before hemming, it is noticeably bulky. So I’m back to my lack of “neat and careful” hand skills 🙂 But no, now I’ve got this in my head I need to try again. One last time. I would really love to replicate my beloved black jersey knit sleeveless swing dress in several linen colors. It seems like about the simplest clothing item you could possibly make. So. We’ll see. I’ll definitely post pictures on the blog if I attempt it.


  7. We are on the same wavelength with the striped tops. I’m not able to watch the video right now but want to see Caleb! Ok, I’m going to repeat back to you the things you say to me: I wanted to hear about your life being a single mom and stretching your dollars. I was starting to sink into that story and I already know the ending b/c you successfully raised a strong daughter but I wanted to hear your journey. Maybe continue it sometime?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I find this both helpful and interesting ! I think being thoughtful and analytical is very smart. Knowing the 12 items you need is Pragmatic and you will find them I am sure. That’s one of the things I love about dresses. It’s a one item outfit and I know that I don’t have to worry about it matching anything else.
    Loved seeing the haul and especially like that nautical stripe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do have mostly dresses for work for the summer, but I like to have at least a couple work-appropriate pants outfits. And I go out in the evenings a lot in the summer and need several casual but cool outfits for that.

      And I always allow myself a wild card item or two in addition to the efficient list 🙂


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