It’s mid-August, and my husband and I have been spending time in the garden. We harvested half the potatoes and spread them out to cure in the attic of the barn. We braided garlic and shallots to hang in our kitchen over winter. We reseeded garden beds with fall crops of broccoli, beets and lettuce. These little jobs are satisfying and fun, but more than that they ensure good food for months to come.
Similarly, while I have no immediate clothing needs, I do have a few chores to take care of as summer comes to a close. Here’s the Mud and Grace work list:
Evaluate your summer wardrobe
Now is the perfect time to take note of what you’re wearing, and what you aren’t. Go through your summer clothes. Is there one dress you’ve been wearing over and over? Is there anything that’s just hanging there, never making it into the mix? These are your work horses and your space hogs, and I’ve got plenty of both.
A few reflections on the Mud and Grace Summer Essentials…
The hiking shorts were too big.
I wore my Maison Jules tank tops all summer.
Man I love this skirt!
This sweatshirt is cute, but it only worked with a few of the other items and I didn’t wind up wearing it all that often.
What do you reach for, but never find in your closet?
Next up, evaluate what you don’t have. Like me, you’ve probably searched your closet for something that just wasn’t there. A light cotton dress, maybe? An easy pair of market pants?
Last summer, it was t-shirts. I had about 20 of them, but none fit right, and I was constantly shuffling through my drawers trying to find that magical t-shirt I’d never taken the time or energy to find and purchase.
This summer I found myself reaching for a light denim jacket. I have a wonderful jacket that I bought in Rome nearly 20 years ago, but the shape and color are heavy and it just doesn’t work well with my summer ensembles.
I also keep reaching for a classic, cross-body leather bag. I have a whimsical, not-cross-body bag that is bright yellow in which my wallet and sunglasses don’t fit. I keep looking at it, hoping it had changed color and grown a strap. It hasn’t.
Keep tabs on what you reach for, and make a list. When I plan for next summer, I’ll be sure to remember the jacket and the bag.
Stock up on anything you know for sure you’ll wear next summer
Overbuying and stocking up on things you’ll never wear is not stylish. But knowing what works and preparing in advance is. Think of it this way; I’ll can about 50 quarts of tomatoes this summer because I know we’ll use them. I’ll only can about 10 pints of pickles, because I haven’t settled on a good pickle recipe yet, and we just don’t eat that many of them.
If you know you’ll wear something again next summer, go get it while you can find it. It’s probably on sale by now. I ordered more of those tank tops in neutral colors, and replaced my too-big shorts. (Read about the ill-fitting shorts here The Complete Camping Road Trip Wardrobe, Summer 2016 )
On the other hand, as much as I love it, I didn’t buy another Boden jersey dress. This one is so well-made it will last at least one more summer if not two. By that time I’ll want the pleasure of picking out a new dress.
Sell your space hogs to a resale shop while they’re buying
It’s still summer. If you have nice summer pieces in good condition, a second hand shop will be interested. Free your space hogs to become work horses for another woman.
Start looking towards fall
Stores and catalogs are beginning to scatter a little fall foliage around. You can definitely start thinking about what you want to be wearing in the coming months. When you sit down with a catalog, flip through it without any intent on buying. Look at the colors and shapes and note what appeals to you. Stop by your favorite shop in the middle of running errands one afternoon, and just walk through. Do you like the outfits coming out this fall? What colors do you want to base your wardrobe around? Think about the activities your fall is likely to include, and plan ahead for them. This is the style equivalent of looking through the Territorial Seed Company Catalog in January.
Make a list
You should be keeping a style notebook by now. In it, make a detailed list of everything you’d like to have for fall. I mean everything everything, even the unders you haven’t replaced in forever. Don’t worry your list is crazy-long. Our list for seeds was crazy-long, and look where it got us. Pre-planning is for more than just your retirement portfolio.
Enjoy your summer style chores, then kick back with the knowledge that you’ve made getting dressed that much easier for yourself in the coming months and years.