Wardrobe One Trick Ponies

We (Style Nation) talk a lot about wardrobe workhorses: items that we wear and wear and wear and that are fall back, fail safe items. I’ve got a bunch of these myself: my khaki green full skirt, my various colorful flats, my ponte knit pants. But what about those items that aren’t so flexible? What about wardrobe one trick ponies?
Dress, scarf: gifted
Gold flats: Nine West


This dress is one such item. For some crazy reason, I had been toying with donating it but, after a Style Nation intervention, I decided to keep it and have worn it a couple of times since. The thing is, it’s almost impossible to wear any way other than this. I can change up the accessories — subbing in a necklace for the scarf, switching up the shoes — but other than that it’s stays pretty static (the sleeves are a slightly dolman style which makes it somewhat bulky to wear under something — plus it’s getting hot here so the thought of layers makes me break out in a sweat just thinking about it). Now, in many ways, this is a matter of “why fix what isn’t broken?” However, this means that I don’t often wear this dress since it’s such a highly memorable pattern. Lady mag wisdom would suggest that if you can’t imagine three variations of an item, it’s probably not that versatile. But what about those items that work well in only a single way?




What’s your policy on wardrobe one trick ponies?
Also, today is a wonderful day: Style Underdog is back!

31 thoughts on “Wardrobe One Trick Ponies

  1. I keep one trick ponies for about a year and then out they go. I just can't have them in my closet staring at me saying, Nyah nyah neenahnah, you can't wear me! The nice thing about moving (packing and unpacking) is that I'm really getting time to look at what I have and toss it. I would love to start a clothing exchange but I have a feeling that plus size women like myself would get the shorter stick. There is a lady I know that has a consignment shop that is really nice and stocks all sizes, not just the sizes smaller than me. LOL So I think I'll send her some business and make a couple of bucks on the side for me.

  2. Nice save, j.e. I, too, own a bright blue sweater (in cardigan form) that languishes in my closet while I wear my multiple black cardigans to threads. I am determined to do better with it this spring.

  3. My name is janey_emm, and I also own too many black cardigans. I tried to buy TWO MORE just yesterday because someone let me go shopping unsupervised. I ended up swapping one out for a grey t-shirt (because no one has called me on that addiction yet, so other-coloured-t-shirts can suck it) and the other for a bright blue sweater that I can't figure out how to wear.But I will.

  4. Cynthia, that comment left me smiling from ear to ear. If I was not sitting in a cube surrounded by fellow worker bees,I would have stood and clapped. SPOT ON!

  5. But it's a kind of crazy I can totally relate to! Anyway, it sounds like you have worn the dress a few times in the last few months, it hardly seems like a waste of space for a one-trick pony.

  6. That's true about the seasonality of the print — plus the fabric is fairly cool so it's something I can wear into the summer here even when it's normally far too hot to contemplate sleeves.

  7. Way to make use of all of Disqus's functions, A-Dubs! I like that the scarf not only introduces some color but also breaks up the floral a little bit.

  8. Again, I think it's because most of my other dresses are more multi-functional so I'm thrown by one that has a more clearly defined style. I'm also astonished by my original ambivalence about it. Again, me = crazy person.

  9. Thanks! I think the problem is that I'm a giant narcissist who thinks that everyone is carefully tracking when I wear a particular outfit and so I don't want to seem to over wear it. I find that the sleeves are slightly bulky under something but I think I'll have to experiment a bit more with that option.

  10. I think my wardrobe operates in exactly the opposite way: 99% of my items aren't particularly distinctive so, when something is, I'm slightly flummoxed. Also, I need more black cardigans. I only have one and it's mediocre at best. Though, at the same time, I probably don't need more cardigans given that we're already into 90 degree weather and it's only April.

  11. It totally is crazy talk but I feel the same way sometimes. I think partly this is because about 90% of the dresses I own are solid colors and require something under them so it's pretty easy to switch them up. When I have a patterned dress, then, I'm at a bit of a loss: I feel like I should be doing something to remix it but the item doesn't actually require/ want that. I think my larger point though was that we tend to discount the value of one trick pony items in favor of broad versatility. They seem too frivolous and impractical — but as you suggest there's something kind of liberating about something that has a fairly limited range of versions (which sort of sounds counterintuitive but actually isn't). My anxiety (to over state things greatly) over this dress is that I don't wear it that often but feel that, if I like it, I should wear it more regularly. Clearly, I'm a crazy person.

  12. I don't mind a one trick pony if I like the trick. The beauty of dresses is that you can throw it on and be largely done with it. So I agree with Cynthia. Plus, it's a beautiful cross-season print so if you like how you feel when you wear it (you look great), then go for it.

  13. Yep. I'm adding another vote for Cynthia's point. Plus, I gave her a thumbs-up. Also, you look spectacular in that dress, and I love it EXACTLY as you've styled it here. As Jesse.anne.o might say, I really like this trick.

  14. I'm with Cynthia. Sometimes a dress is just a dress, and when it's an awesome dress – as yours undoubtedly is, it doesn't need a whole lot of extra jazz for interest 🙂

  15. What Cynthia said! Also, great use of the scarf and flats here. Most of my dresses have limited use, but they cut down on prep time in the morning and they're so comfy. Win-win!

  16. It's a very nice dress! I agree w/the previous point about a dress being easy & low-stress but pulled together. I am okay with one-trick ponies as long as I really like the trick. It's okay if it doesn't come out as often.

  17. It's a very nice dress! I agree w/the previous point about a dress being easy & low-stress but pulled together. I am okay with one-trick ponies as long as I really like the trick. It's okay if it doesn't come out as often.

  18. I love that dress! I am a sucker for a black and white/cream floral pattern. I would wear that dress to pieces! Next winter, what about trying a wrap or scoop neck sweater over the dress in a bold solid color?

  19. Ya know, it's a DRESS. It's meant to be a simple one piece thing that you don't have to make decisions about and that looks good all by its lonesome. Don't let some conspiracy of women who match loud prints with screaming turquoise and patterned tights, and make every dress do double duty as a fake blouse and a fake skirt and whatever, ruin the awesome simplicity of the dress for you. Sometimes when I just pop on an excellent dress and some shoes I feel like I'm letting Style Nation down by not doing something Byzantine and complicated with my wardrobe. But, that's crazy talk, right?

  20. I love this dress on you! I have a closet full of wardrobe one-trick ponies because, somehow, I can only make myself buy things that are "distinctive" in some way. Or things that are black cardigans. I own more than five black cardigans (various styles) and I wear them constantly with my distinctive skirts and dresses so I always look exactly the same *and* slightly wacky. I need to rethink much of my wardrobe but I don't have the energy to do so yet. Plus I'm still marking …

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