in my closet, right now: 5 things I swore I would never wear again

by Susan

I bought a denim jacket this week. I’m still a little startled every time I walk in the closet and see it hanging there.Gap 1969 Denim Jacket

I’ve been going back and forth in my head for a while (a long while, like perhaps a year or so) about the denim jacket. I see them on other women my age and they’re adorable  — the perfect mix of casual-yet-tailored — and I think ooh I need a denim jacket! But then I think about actually wearing the denim jacket and I’m terrified that I will look like a middle aged lady trying to relive my high school years.

I probably need to get a life over here. Seriously.

Anyway, I bought the jacket this week because I had a coupon at the Gap and I wanted one that was nice but not like $150 worth of nice, and also not pre-distressed because that’s just not me. And on my way home from the mall I started thinking about all the other pieces in my closet that have somehow made the move from Things I Will Never Ever Wear Again So Help Me God to Things I Wear All the Damn Time.

To wit:

Denim shirt: The denim shirt always baffled me. What did you wear it with? Jeans? No way. I know denim-on-denim (or the Canadian Tuxedo) is a Thing these days, but I just…can’t. And I grew up in New Mexico where the denim shirt was cowboy wear, which is totally not me. In the 80s I remember wearing oversized chambray shirts (with STIRRUP PANTS you all OMG) buttoned all the way up and fastened with a big blingy broach, which is also a look I do not want to revisit. But then at some point the denim shirt lost its cowboy connotations and became a less uptight substitute for the white button down and I was totally smitten. And now I own four denim shirts and I’m in the market for a fifth (because how fab would a denim popover be???).

Puffer vest: There is a big part of my brain that doesn’t understand the vest. It has no sleeves! It has no point! How does it keep you warm??? Why not just put on a coat and be done with it?!? But there is another part of my brain that is totally seduced by the puffer vest over a blazer or under a pea coat or paired with skinny pants and a slim tee. And that’s how I wound up owning a vest. And wearing it all the time. (Although when it’s really cold, I put on a real coat because my arms get cold. Seriously.)

Navy blazer: Like most of the pieces on my ABSOLUTELY NOT OH WAIT LET’S RETHINK THIS list, the navy blazer was something I loved in high school. I stole the one my mother had bought for herself, which had wide lapels and huge gold buttons and a hemline that hit right at the widest part of my backside. And I wore it everywhere (or at least everywhere I wasn’t wearing a cotton sweater tied around my neck). In my mind, the navy blazer was what Yuppies and Young Republicans wore, and I am certainly neither of those (any more). But then Rachel persuaded me that the navy blazer could be hip and cool and indispensable, and that it went with everything, not just pencil skirts and Oxford shirts. It’s still a fairly conservative look, but I’m hopeful that I’ve made mine less GOP wife and more hipster creative. Either way, I wear it aaaaaaallllll the time.

Sweatpants: I own yoga pants. I own yoga capris. I own cashmere lounge pants (yes, really!!!). But you know what? This winter I decided that what I really needed was a pair of old school sweatpants. I wanted the kind that tie at the waist and are skinny all the way down, but I wound up with a pair that have the elastic at the ankle (although they still tie at the waist and do not bunch or bulge, which was a HUGE deal for me). They’re perfect for the days I go to the gym to swim, or for lolling around the house after I run. And while I still believe that treating sweats like real pants is a sign that you’ve given up, I think tossing them on after a hard swim or a long run counters that. And they’re so damn comfortable, you all. For real.

And, of course, the denim jacket: Since I just brought this home 48 hours ago, it has not achieved the same kind of workhorse status in my closet that these other pieces have, but I can already see the value. For the longest time I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly the last layer is on a day that is cool but not cold (like many days here in OKC) and with an outfit that is distinctly casual (like most of my ensembles). The last straw came on Sunday night when we went to dinner at my in-laws. It was 60-something degrees out but getting cooler; I was wearing a striped tee and pair of cropped printed pants. I needed one more layer but my blazer was too much and my vest was too warm and what else is there??? Well, there’s the denim jacket (except that I didn’t have one that night, sadly). I’m going to have to play with how to style the jacket so that it is age-appropriate, but I think I can make it work. And unlike the denim jacket I owned in college, this one is a slim cut and doesn’t look like I stole it from some boy. (I’m pretty sure I bought the one in college in the men’s section because there were no really good women’s options, in fact.)

What’s the lesson here? I don’t know. Style is cyclical? Never say never? Keep reaching for the stars? I have no idea. But I do know that I still won’t wear black and orange together, and I will never put a pair of stirrup pants on again. Ever. I swear.

Is there anything in your closet that surprises you? What’s on your NEVER AGAIN list that you might be willing to revisit?

Photo via Gap