Style Lessons Learned: Spark The Joy

Today I want to revisit style lessons learned, or as Grandma Gibbons used to say, “we don’t need to wear that again.”

Having read Marie Kondo’s earthshaking (it seems!) book about tidying, I am more conscious of the phrase “it sparks joy.” Although I enjoyed the book, I have not done a thorough clean-out of my home. We’re fairly minimal right now, living in about 1300 square feet with no storage and only a mini garage for the car. I have about 60 pieces of clothing on hangers, and likely another 50 or so pieces: tees, underthings, workout wear, jeans and shoes. So I’m well-equipped but far from a hoarder (that TV show makes me want to scrub the ceilings).

I often ask the question at the heart of Ms. Kondo’s book – “does this spark joy?” – when handling my clothing. It helps when shopping too, to choose only the pieces that make my heart flutter.  Ms. Kondo advises when we say goodbye to our donated clothing, we thank it for what it taught us, even if that lesson is: “we never need to wear you again.” I’ve been inspired to look back at some of my non-joy-sparking outfits, to learn from them.

Here are a few, along with the lessons I’ve learned. There’s no embarrassment or shame here, fashion is about experimenting and should be fun. And some looks just don’t need to be repeated. And these are just me: you wear whatever moves you.

DSCN0739 Lesson: Fab rain boots – save for wearing in the rain. I still have them but for limited use only.


DSCN0614 Lesson: A boxy top needs a lot of work to look good over a full and fluffy skirt. A slim white shirt would be a good choice here.


DSCN0565 Lesson: I don’t need to belt any and everything. This would look better sans belt, and the belt itself is better with rugged looks.


DSCN0517 Lesson: Say no to overall pink! It makes my pink complexion look red. And the bodice of this dress does not fit one bit. Cute dress, for another (chestier) woman.


DSCN0307 Lesson: This skirt was inexpensive (a good thing) and looks cheap (not so good). A quality linen skirt would look fab.


DSCN0381 And one that got away. Looking back, I love this funky Cowboy shirt and wish I’d kept it. Lesson: hold on to the unusual pieces that make you smile.


Do you have some departed clothing that taught you a style lesson?

Stay fabulous,


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  1. The cowboy shirt is cute even if it wasn’t something you wore constantly.

  2. Love the rain boots! Wear with a black or navy trench and a wild umbrella!

  3. We live in a flat in London, and I feel like I’m permanently decluttering. Think I need a better storage system. I actually really like the pink dress on you, Patti – is it too late ?!

  4. Those rain boots would be great porch deco with a bunch of spring silk flowers in them. I’ve been looking in thrift stores for a similar pair for over a month now. Repurpose them.

  5. It’s funny because when I see some of the pieces of clothing in old pictures, I sometimes think I’d wish I’d kept them. Then the reality hits that 1-I don’t have room for everything and 2-sometimes they were stained or worn out!!
    I do believe that it’s almost more fun to make the fashion “mistakes” —it’s great creativity and fun! This practice of taking pictures of outfits seems tremendously helpful to really see what works for you & what doesn’t.
    I first saw the pink dress picture and thought that it looked great on you—yet the picture doesn’t really show the fit like you commented on—there is a difference between pictures & reality!! jodie

    • It is fun to make fashion “mistakes”! No one gets hurt : > And I so agree, taking pictures is very instructive. xo

  6. If it doesn’t make me feel fabulous then out it goes. I don’t think I’ve regretted getting rid of anything, I get joy from someone buying a vintage dress from me that I’ve worn and loved previously.
    I didn’t know anyone wore wellies other than for snow, gardening or muddy festivals until I saw a Russian girl wearing them sightseeing in India. xxx

    • You have a wonderful system, Vix, of finding and wearing (and creating) and then passing on treasures. You always look lke “you” in the most wonderful way. xo

  7. There are things I got rid of 10 or 15 years ago I wish I would have kept, and they were really unusual vintage pieces that I thought I wouldn’t wear anymore. Sigh. As Melanie pointed out, some things spark joy one day, and not another. I have a copy of Marie Kondo’s book, and have read it, but haven’t attempted to “Kondo” my wardrobe as the thought is too overwhelming. Baby steps!

    In the photo of you in the pink dress, I don’t think your complexion looks too red at all, and I rather like it on you. We see ourselves very differently from how others see us – I have things I wear that I’m not fond of, and then someone tells me how good it looks and I start to second guess myself. Gotta go with the gut instinct!

    • Agreed – we see ourselves with our own eyes and filters. I’d love to see the vintage pieces you’ve given away- you have exquisite vintage taste! xox

  8. We live and learn Patti, though agree the lime wellies should stay! I recently looked in the wardrobe and thought ‘I’m not this person any more’. So I got rid of every piece of clothing that didn’t ‘spark joy’, leaving me with about 20 items, which was actually plenty. With a few exceptions, I noticed the things I kept were quality items, either bought new or from charity shops. The cheaper stuff felt like eating M&Ms – a shortlived buzz followed by instant regret! I now feel justified buying ‘better’ things but very few of them and I know I spend less in the longrun. It’s taken me SO long to learn this but at last there is clarity and joy in my wardrobe, and it feels like (the new) me.

    • what a great style evolution, Sarah! Clarity and joy in your closet – that’s a wonderful place to be. xo

  9. Yeah, but the thing that sparks joy one day makes me feel gross another day. That’s the hard part for me. Even the staples, like a black T, does it spark joy? No. But it will spark joy with that other piece I have. I have learned that the most unusual pieces that instigate the strongest reactions, pro and con, are the ones that I’ve regretted giving away the most.

    • Right. My undies don’t inspire joy, but I do like having them nearby. And yes to keeping the oddest things – not easily replaced! xox

    • A black t-shirt might not inspire joy in and of itself, but maybe it fits perfectly…that would bring me joy!

  10. I have come to despise most items that I bought from Forever 21 or H&M when I still shopped there. Even when I wear them and they still look good I have a feeling of guilt that weighs heavy on my conscience.

    I often feel much happier in items I’ve “rescued” from thrift stores or consignment shops.


    • Me too. I think I have purged all my Forever 21 stuff, unless I got it at the thrift (odd, isn’t it, but true). xox

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