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My Print 12: Garments I Would Keep If I Started from Scratch

Janice at The Vivienne Files wrote recently about her 10 favorite garments, which she defined as "things that I would buy again IMMEDIATELY if my clothes were all suddenly lost." This occasioned some lively discussion in the comments of various ways to define "favorites." Yesterday, Janice followed up with an interesting definition, "10 things you have that you would keep if you had to start from scratch," and called this a "Keynote 10." As she put it: "I wouldn't need to keep jeans, nor tee shirts, nor basic neutral sweaters that are always available." This allows us to put aside practical concerns about our basic core wardrobe and focus on the personality pieces.


When I thought about my Keynote 10, I naturally start thinking of rabbit-themed clothing that I don't want to do without. But filling my Keynote 10 with my bunny stuff didn't seem much of an exercise. I take it as a given that rabbit items are my obvious keynote. So I decided to take this in a slightly different direction by identifying non-rabbit print garments that I would keep if I started from scratch. I excluded solid pieces to make the exercise more manageable but also because print pieces are more distinctive.


To complete the exercise, I went into my wardrobe spreadsheet and started scrolling down the list of items, bolding the names of the non-rabbit print garments I had a strong "would definitely keep" reaction to. For once, I didn't over-think it; I went with my initial reaction and didn't try to keep track of how many items I selected. When I was done, I counted my selected garments and came up with a nice round dozen!


Before I reveal my Print 12, an observation: one thing that's obvious by its relative absence is floral prints on a navy background. It's not that I didn't feel a bit of a tug when I saw them on my spreadsheet, but despite that style being a beloved one and another potential keynote, I respond more at the category level than the garment level in most cases. I also find navy-based floral prints to be relatively common, so if I were starting from scratch, of course I would seek them out, just as I would navy and white striped tops and anything with a bird print, and I think I would find some.


For all of these prints, to carry a garment in my closet forward into a start from scratch wardrobe, it needs to be either a) an extremely rare, unusual, and beloved print that would be very difficult to find a replacement/substitute for and/or b) a particularly great garment (in terms of print, cut, fabric, color, etc.), not just an example in a category that I like. So before we even review my chosen dozen garments, there's already one takeaway: the value in distinguishing between beloved styles or categories and beloved individual garments.


Now on to My Print 12!

My Print 12

What do we have?


First, there are five striped items: beige striped skirt, circus tent striped skirt, navy pinstripe pants, beige striped top, and striped jacket. I'm immediately struck by the fact that four of the five have vertical stripes, which are an appealing, flattering, and somewhat unusual style. The top and jacket consist mostly of lighter colors that appear softer (less stark) due to the linen fabric. The beige skirt has a mix of neutrals, which is very handy, and is also linen. I'm seeing a theme there. The circus tent stripe skirt is just so vibrant and fun (yet is relatively kind to my coloring because my face isn't directly competing with the bright colors), and it goes with so many things. The pants are an interesting case: when I ordered them from ThredUp, I thought they were navy with white or cream pinstripes, but there's actually a red/maroon pinstripe in there as well as cream. That makes them less versatile but more distinctive and ultimately very fun to wear with my red, white, and/or navy clothing and accessories. Another thing these five striped pieces have in common: they all fit very well!


On to the next group: prints with animal images, which I call zoological prints. We have five of these also: burgundy bird/floral blouse, navy bird/floral blouse, black Cheshire Cat tank, blue-grey and salmon cheetah sleeveless blouse, and navy bird/floral cardigan. So...yeah, I do like prints with birds and flowers, and that's how I snuck in more floral prints than it initially seemed! These choices are pretty much all about how much I love the prints, though the two navy bird/floral pieces and the cheetah top fit quite well also. I probably shouldn't choose the burgundy blouse because it's a size XXL from Loft and doesn't fit me as well now as it could, but I love the print and the mix of colors, and I am still getting a lot of use from it as a layering piece under sweaters and vests. (For example, I have skinny pants + long cardigan vest combos in burgundy, black, and dark grey, and this blouse looks terrific with all of those pieces in any combination.) The Cheshire is a size XL but due to the swing cut, it still fits fine (though I could wish it to be a bit longer).


Garment #11 is the navy/purple/teal floral top that is made from a wonderful somewhat textured knit fabric in a wonderful cut that feels and looks great. It's more substantial and has a more structured feel than a typical T or knit top, but isn't stiff, heavy, or restrictive at all. I also love the curved hem on this one. This is my favorite straight-up navy-based floral print. And along with the beige striped top is one of my favorite stand-alone tops (i.e., tops that I absolutely don't need a topper to wear) for summer.


And finally, to round out my dozen picks, the terrific teal-green, black, and a hint of grey rounded geometric print knit skirt. This is a newer piece in my closet that I haven't worn a lot yet, but I am just crazy about that print and those colors. Arguably it's just a highly stylized, rather cartoon-ish sideways flower-and-leaves print. And it looks good on, in part because those stripes break up the geometric print and add vertical integrity. I can't even say for sure that I'd prefer it if it were a navy-based print, that's how much I like it.


Some common themes:

Vertical stripes

Soft stripes on linen

Navy-based prints

Bird-and-flower prints

Zoological prints


I'd say that if you throw in the rabbit prints (my signature print), simple navy geometric prints like stripes and polka dots (which are easy to replace), and the general navy-based floral prints (which I gravitate to as a category), that's a pretty fair assessment of my favorites!


I am actually very surprised and impressed by how easily I made my selections! I thought for sure that I'd pick like 30 things and then have to pare down from there. But within the fairly-specific parameters that I set for the exercise, going with my immediate reaction of "would definitely keep" worked well.


I do wonder, though--it's the height of summer now. Would I pick differently in another season? None of these items are winter choices, and many of them are really very much summer pieces. It might be worth revisiting this at the depth of winter to see if my "would definitely keep" reactions change.


I know that for some people, attempting to select their "definitely would keep" dozen or so print garments (excluding their signature print entirely from the exercise) from their wardrobe would be like...Um, I don't even OWN a dozen print garments?! Could you pick 10 garments from your entire wardrobe as your "definitely would keep if starting from scratch"? Would you need to narrow things down a bit? If so, how would you do it?


I link up with:

Shelbee at Shelbee on the Edge (Mondays; 3rd Thursday)

Mica at Away from the Blue (Mondays)

Debbie at My Random Musings (Mondays)

Leelo at Beauty by Miss L (Mondays)

Roxanne at Glass of Glam (Mondays)

Claire at Claire Justine (Mon, Wed, & Fri)

Laura at I Do deClaire (Tuesdays)

Emma at Style Splash (Tuesdays)

Jess at Elegantly Dressed & Stylish (Tuesdays)

Gail at Is This Mutton? (Wednesdays)

Shelly at The Queen in Between (Wednesdays)

Jodie at Jodie's Touch of Style (3rd Thursday)

Carrie at Curly Crafty Mom (Thursdays)

Ada at Elegance and Mommyhood (Thursdays)

Jacqui at Mummabstylish (Thursdays)

Suzy at The Grey Brunette (Fridays)

Nancy at Nancy's Fashion Style (Fridays)

Michelle at My Bijou Life (Fridays)

Erika at A Little Bit of Everything (Fridays)

Rena at Fine Whatever (Saturdays)

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