2020. The year of gear.

Yeah yeah yeah. Fear, too. But for now, I am focusing on sartorial matters. 

In the past, I didn’t include gear purchases as “clothing” — gear was more along the lines of “exercise equipment” and I put it into the “healthcare” portion of my budget. But I noted that some forum members (Sal, Jenn, LaPed come to mind -- also maybe Carla??)  do include gear in their clothing budget. I've always been in awe of this, a little bit, because they also have relatively small wardrobes! So if you take away the gear -- there's not all that many items left for "regular" wear! 

Now I've been wondering if I ought to make this switch in thinking as well. because this year, my gear purchases far outnumbered my “fashion” purchases, not to mention the fact that I ended up wearing gear throughout my day far more often than I would have done in the past.

Part of this is just…COVID. Instead of exercising at a class or a gym, early in the morning, I’m exercising at home at inconsistent hours. I end up putting on the gear and wearing it to do housework as well as workout. 

In addition, certain purchases crossed over easily -- the Icebreaker shorts I bought for hiking turned out to be good enough looking to wear for whatever else I might want to do. 

I also need to factor in non-COVID-related lifestyle change. I moved to a suburban area and took up gardening and biking and increased my hiking so I needed different “equipment” than in the past. Hence -- purchasing to meet the need. 

Fortunately, I got everything on substantial sale, so while it added up to a hefty-for-me sum, I was still well within budget overall. 

Some of these items are still under consideration (i.e. they have not arrived so I don't know if I will keep). But am I nuts or am I nuts??? The thing is, I am wearing and USING it all. So I guess it was sensible. 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.

35 Comments

  • Jenn replied 9 months ago

    It's so funny you should say this, because since moving to an urban area, I moved all my gear to a different area of my spreadsheet and track it separately from my wardrobe. 

    There's something really great about having the right gear for your activities, though. It's sort of like having the exact tool you need for a DIY project.  It just makes the whole process smoother and easier. For me, that means having small capsules for the beach, yoga, and hiking, as well as comfortable clothes/shoes for city walking. You also need to account for different weather...it really adds up!

    Your capsule looks practical and high-quality. I think it'll serve you well!

  • Suz replied 9 months ago

    Jenn, that is SO interesting!! Hmmm. Definitely food for thought. It's quite affirming, though. You intuitively get the difference. When you're urban, you're wearing real clothes, even to walk...when you are in the country or a suburb, your clothing needs are much more rugged. Hence, gear. 

    You're so right, too. The right equipment makes a huge difference. I currently have an order for biking gear because I've learned I don't have the right items for cold, wet conditions. And because of an injury, I'm sidelined from walking for a while and need to bike for exercise. 

    This batch of stuff of course represents a mix of activities -- hiking, kettlebells class, biking. There's crossover between these mini-capsules (esp. tops). But some is quite activity-specific. 

  • Joy replied 9 months ago

    This seems sensible , Suz. If you wear some of these items a good portion of the day, they should be counted as wardrobe items. I do not wear gear.
    but have Just ordered and not yet received some gear type pull on pants from Gap that I hope will work for everyday. They are a camel color so I hope will go into spring..I also have traded the gym for equipment at home and it is hard to find time to use it since I share it with DH. Hiking trails are so crowded here during the pandemic that there is worry over what happens if you meet other hikers going the opposite way. Most gyms are closed anyway and those that are open have complaints about people not cleaning equipment. I feel safer at home.

  • Teresa replied 9 months ago

    I’ve noticed since I started tracking wears at the beginning of 2020, my most worn items are gear, coats, and handbags.  I don’t wear gear for non-exercise purposes, for the most part—I may leave it on when I’m done for a few hours, but that’s it.  I have separate capsules for yoga, cycling, and hiking, and they all get a lot of wears.  Tracking wears has really helped me see that it’s okay to spend money on high quality gear items (and that maybe I should spend less on other clothing purchases!). Budget wise, I put it in a “sports” category, since it doesn’t feel so much like fashion.

  • lisa p replied 9 months ago

    This makes me smile . I’d think you were crazy if you * didn’t* have all this gear , living where you do ! To pivot ( a word I’m getting sick and tired of ) and adapt your budget and closet to your new environment is a beautiful thing - and not that easy to do :)

  • Lynne replied 9 months ago

    Suz, you're spot on; COVID has blurred the boundaries we used to have.  And like Lisa said, you've adapted!  I love Jenn's idea of capsules for beach/yoga etc; I essentially do the same: my sarongs and bathers are stored together, the beach towels live in the beachbag.  And all my yoga gear (socks, tops, and bottoms) are stored together because I don't mix those items.

  • Aquamarine replied 9 months ago

    Yes! This year, gear purchases have been a big part of my clothing budget. I live in a 4-season climate and since we are spending so much time outdoors (not much else to do!) I’ve really had to focus on what items make the activities more comfortable in all kinds of weather. It’s really prompted me to invest more money than usual so being outdoors is enjoyable, whereas before I’d kind of wing-it without a dedicated gear capsule.

  • Stagiaire Fash replied 9 months ago

    You know I’m on board with this! The explanation you gave here of gear being a healthcare purchase is the best explanation I’ve seen of why to separate them. But taking care of our health is something we do all day long, no matter what we are wearing, and comfort is important no matter what we are doing. I can easily see you wearing many of these finds for long portions of the day, not just during “exercise hour”.

  • kkards replied 9 months ago

    Great capsule
    100% this has been the year of gear and gear “lite”...

  • suntiger replied 9 months ago

    I'm with you! Nearly all my non sleepwear purchases this year were gear. I don't have a seperate clothing budget, it's all lumped into "things that aren't bills or repairs."

  • Janet replied 9 months ago

    Yes to all of this. Good on you for embracing the challenge and assembling such a great capsule. I wholeheartedly agree with Jenn about how having the right gear — and enough of it to avoid laundry bottlenecks — helps encourage activity and makes it more pleasant.

  • Bijou replied 9 months ago

    Buying clothes that you won’t wear is crazy. These all seem like very practical and useful purchases. Good gear is like good shoes and underwear, once tried, you can never go back.

  • Stagiaire Fash replied 9 months ago

    Btw, I’m not sure when you added the new headshot / profile picture, but I like it!

  • Sal replied 9 months ago

    I think this is a wonderful capsule. And yes 2020 has been about gear.,,and fear.

    I count my gear capsule and purchased for the reasons you mention Suz. There is some crossover with my general clothes especially on vacation. I now am strictly on a one in one out basis with gear - but as your needs change you do have to stock up and adapt.

    And removing obstacles to exercise is a positive! The right layers and fabrics and footwear definitely help with that.

  • Liesbeth replied 9 months ago

    Nice capsule!
    I took up running to relieve Covid related stress and recently purchased some extra running gear... unfortunately I have a history of making do with what I have for a long time, then finally buying specialty gear and... quitting the sport I bought it for. Once again this hs happened and I have only run once since getting all my winter running stuff :(.
    Moral: if you use it, well shopped ;).

  • nemosmom replied 9 months ago

    What a cohesive collection you have created here, Suz! Everything is not only practical, but seems mix-and-matchable to avoid boredom while still keeping it minimal-ish.

    Interesting the budget and tracking part. I include all clothing and shoes in a "clothing" budget, but my gear is stored and counted separately when I count items in my wardrobe. Especially "specialty" or technical pieces that can't really crossover into daily wear - like snow boots/pants, swimwear, sports bras, etc. I am not sure why I count it this way...

  • Helena replied 9 months ago

    Suz, I think this looks like a great collection and I think your reasoning is completely sensible ... if you are living a gear lifestyle at the moment, then why not have great looking gear?!? Dress for your real life (and this will mean different things to all of us, of course) is absolutely the best and only way to go in my book!

  • Angie replied 9 months ago

    Well done!

    Suz, creating a wardrobe that suits your needs is half the battle won! Sounds like you're successfully doing that all over again as you cleverly reassessed your needs after moving to a new home and climate. COVID has played its role for sure.  These items are just what the doctor ordered :)

    As I help clients transition into retired life, their gear and Athleisure capsules usually explode. You are in good company!

    I only wear gear when I do PT or yoga, and that's very early in the morning. Even I - the least gear-wearing person on YLF -  have a gear drawer! I'm in regular clothes by 8am. When I walk (which is everyday and all the time!), go to the beach, or go on trails during the day, I don't wear gear - (although sometimes I wear my trail shoes). So I don't need more than four yoga outfits, which I keep on wearing. The items are indestructible.....

  • sarah replied 9 months ago

    This makes total sense to me. I've found that the only way I can survive COVID is to exercise my way through it. With very distinct seasons, that means I need a wardrobe for running, biking, hiking, and roller-skiing in very hot, mild, and cool shoulder-season weather, for skiing in moderately to extremely  cold weather, for strength training, and for pilates. Since noone is seeing any part of me except my head at work, I might as well spend most of my clothing budget on gear. Why not?!

  • Runcarla replied 9 months ago

    @Suz - gear is not part of clothing budget.  Expenses for running shoes, swim suits, leggings, even sports bras goes under ‘sports and rec’ along with all things sporty and all things music (piano tuning, sheet music) plus the occasional restaurant meal and theatre, concert, or movie tickets.  During Covid it’s been Bulai Tai and Jim’s Pizza take-away, Queenie’s weekly coffee and pastry take-away, lane swims and golf fees.  One ‘virtual race’ event.  I have bought a new pair running shoes.  That’s it for kit in 2020.  Haven’t been to the gym since March 13th.  My gear does not cross over.  

    You’ve assembled a very nice capsule there, btw.

  • UmmLila replied 9 months ago

    I have a lot of gear. I could go two weeks without doing laundry if I needed to. In the pandemic. I start my day in gear, work a bit, then put in a couple of hours walking and working out (peloton/yoga/weights/pilates), and then dress in my normal style by lunch time. The mornings in gear are for quick work (questions, responses, fast reviews). The normal clothes are for more serious projects. I can't work wearing loungewear or pajamas.

    I've actually called this The Year of Living Quietly.

  • LaPed replied 9 months ago

    Hear hear for gear! Your updated activewear looks wonderfully cohesive and sensible for a PNW climate (lots of wool!). You're absolutely right about rural vs urban outdoor dressing. If you plan on being in and out of buildings, full-on gear doesn't make sense, but if the itinerary is outside for several hours and then back home, you can dress just for the outdoors and change later. This is all compounded if your at-home activities involve hauling firewood and cleaning the chicken coop... I change clothes a lot. ;) 

    No surprise that good deal of what I've bought this year is gear or gear-adjacent. The only job I have to dress for right now is outdoor teaching for a small group of kids (private tutoring/nannying, not a formal school), so it's actually a little hard to justify non-gear purchases at this point because I can't really say when/if I'll need more classroom-y clothes. At some point, I'll have literary/performing arts events to attend and dress for again, but it will be awhile. For now, all of my going-out outfits involve something suitable for hike/bike/paddle (and, hopefully soon, ski/snowshoe). It feels somewhat more important in 2020 to feel presentable on the trails, as it's one of the few public spaces I frequent. 

  • Suz replied 9 months ago

    LaPed, I'm glad you chimed in. And yes -- you've hit the nail on the head (or the log on the grain?) -- if the only times we see anyone are when we are hiking, wearing decent gear is sort of like wearing a decent looking coat in mid-winter, doing sales calls! 

    I did buy a lot of merino -- it's really great for this climate and so easy (for me) to wear. It's as Bijou said -- once you've tried really nice gear items it is really hard to go back to cheaper ones. I do still keep a few of those, for specific situations, but I don't wear my Gap shorts anywhere near as often as the Icebreaker ones. 

    UmmLila, that sounds a lot like my own pattern as well. Until I got grounded due to the meniscus tear, I'd do a workout a couple of days a week at 9 am. Then shower and change into "real" clothes after that. Now that it is PT and biking, I'm in gear for more of the day. 

    Carla, thanks for clarifying -- that makes sense. I guess it doesn't really matter which part of the budge it goes into (as long as one keeps track) and in the end, even though there is some crossover with a few of these items, if I'm honest, the crossover is more "gear" and "loungewear" than "gear" and "regular clothes." Hmm. 

    Sarah, what is roller-skiing? I'm intrigued!! (Not that it is something I could probably do with a torn meniscus, ha!) Nice to see you pop in, by the way! 

    Angie, it's good to know I"m not alone. It makes sense, I guess, that gear takes a larger role in retired people's lives. I'm far from retired but living in retirement so it's similar! 

    TG, you're right -- dressing for the real life is key. Even when we wish we could live the fantasy lives!

    Nemosmom -- that actually sounds like a really sensible way to count/ keep track. Especially when there is little crossover. 

    Liesbeth, I hope you're able to get back to running soon and make use of those purchases! 

    Sal, Janet -- you're so right -- the wrong clothes do present an obstacle to exercise. I'm usually quite motivated to get outside, especially (much less so for gym work, but I can do it with a good class). But it I run into laundry bottlenecks I (ahem) have been known to skip a class...so the less risk of that, the better! 

    Suntiger, you were a real inspiration to me earlier this year with your very sport specific capsules. You did a great job of creating a cohesive gear wardrobe. 

    Fashintern, the Icebreaker items in particular are wearable for long portions of the day (if I'm inclined to it). I do like the feeling of wearing "real" clothes, but when you're in and out of the garden or whatever, it does make more sense to be dressed practically. 

    Aquamarine -- so good to know I'm not alone and others have been thinking and acting on similar lines. You're right -- if all you can safely do is go outside, you might as well have the clothing for it. 

    Lynne, so nice to see you pop in again! The mini capsules is a great idea. It helps remind us that what works for one activity doesn't necessarily work for another. 

    LisaP your "pivot" comment cracked me up -- I feel exactly the same. If I didn't pivot so much I wouldn't have a torn meniscus!!! 

    Teresa, that is so interesting about tracking wears and gear coming out on top (with coats and handbags). Tracking does give such useful information. As Angie said, lots of gear is virtually indestructible, so not only do we wear it a lot but the cost per wear tends to be very low over time. 

    Joy, I hope those pants work out for you! Let us know! 

  • unfrumped replied 9 months ago

    Way to go.

    I think “ blurring the lines” is spot on.
    Especially post- retirement.
    Since I have a yard and garden areas, all spring and summer I was in and out. So I’d didn’t change type of clothes just to have lunch. Some days I did “ stop” and then clean up and maybe do some errands in casual but “ real” clothes.
    And also really liked having an evening semi- loungewear capsule.
    In winter now it’s a mix of gear and “ rugged “ clothing. Some items are specific for glory excercises and weight training partly to set the mood and trigger to “ just do it” but from a functionality standpoint, these items would be great for housework!

    I don’t currently have a more specialized sport like biking or skiing but I could see keeping some items.

    I really expect now to have a sort of “ rainy day” capsule ( winter = cold), because less likely to go walking, not running in and out much. Times for reading, puttering, cooking.

  • Karie replied 9 months ago

    This has been very much a gear year for me. While DH and I have always enjoyed hiking, this year we have taken to mountain climbing, hence the need for good moisture wicking, durable garments. When the snow starts falling, we’ll be snowshoeing, and my gear for that has seen better days so I’ve been making some purchases in that area too. Fortunately I bought good snow boots last year (LL Bean) so at least that big ticket purchase is out of the way.

    Plus, I’m mostly teaching virtually from home, and although I am well dressed I am definitely casual. I am hoping to retire in about two years and will not have a need for dressy clothes then, so I’m not buying them now.

    I like some of your finds above, and I’m going to check them out!

  • DonnaF replied 9 months ago

    You may want to re-jigger the size of your fashion vs. gear budgets at least for the next year or two or maybe combine them. I understand cross-over, but does the cross-over work both ways? If you got up one morning and knew you weren't going to be doing anything super active, would you still get dressed in that activewear item?

    Oh, this is coming from a person who doesn't keep a real budget and who is like Angie in that gear is strictly gear -- but that's because when I do my steep hill I get super sweaty. 

    Great new active capsules! After not buying gear for years, I finally broke down and bought a few things this year. But I want pockets to fit my phone and gloves. The pockets on REI's hiking pants barely work. Ugly but utilitarian. 

  • Runcarla replied 9 months ago

    Totally understand investing in gear if you are, as Torontogirl says, ‘living the gear lifestyle’ and agree with Bijou that one shouldn’t be buying clothes one won’t wear.  What I don’t get is spending the better part of the day in gear or loungewear, and only getting ‘dressed’ for when you will be seen by relative strangers!  


    I feel a responsibility to look good for the people I see everyday - like DH!  and any random children that might be living with us at the moment. It’s a form of respect!  I expect the same from DH and the kids.  When DH retired (same time I did) I asked him what he wanted to look like - and told him ill fitting stained jeans and a faded Seahawks T wasn’t going to cut it with me!  I remember Clinton Kelly informing a MOTG who’s default uniform was sweats, that dressing nice doesn’t mean being uncomfortable.  DH found a retirement uniform that is both comfortable, and attractive.  He might don golf kit in the morning, but when he comes home, he cleans up and puts on a nice casual outfit for the rest of the day. I’m in regular clothes until I’m in workout kit, and then I’m back into regular clothes.  

    There is some nice gear out there (as several posts have demonstrated) and some kit crosses over to day wear.  Performance wear is super when in activity mode.  Loungewear can be good looking, but has its limits.  I just don’t believe that retirement = an abdication of dressing, or that only strangers are worthy of our best sartorial efforts!

    *This rant isn’t a scold directed at any individual, but a worry about pajamafication and sloblivian tendencies that seem a byproduct of the pandemic! :-( *

    ...and this from a person with 2 drawers full of gear.  LOL!



  • Brooklyn replied 9 months ago

    I’m going to challenge Angie for the title of least gear wearing person on YLF. I don’t think I bought any gear this year, or last year, or ??? But I totally get the appeal. You gotta wear what works for your own lifestyle, comfort and aesthetics.

    Your capsule looks great. Stylish and very you.

    An upside of Covid is a lot of people are becoming more active. Partly because they are at home and have the time, and partly as a relief from lockdowns. Having the right attire is part of that. I recently went to an exhibition of political cartoons, and this one made me smile. I think it’s non controversial. Hooray for the dog walk :)

  • Stagiaire Fash replied 9 months ago

    Brooklyn what you say about people being in better shape is interesting, after months of jokes about “the Covid 19 (pounds)”. I’d like to think you’re right, and can think of some friends who have started or gotten more into fitness routines over the last few months.

    Carla, i recall a bf telling me basically what you said about dressing well being a way to show respect , but he meant when I went out, like to the grocery store.

  • Suz replied 9 months ago

    Carla, you gave me my morning laugh....soapbox rant duly noted! 

    I should show it to Mr. Suz. He's been wearing sweatpants NON STOP since we moved to the Island.....

  • Angie replied 9 months ago

    Suz and Brooklyn, I haven’t bought gear for 5 years, although I got trail shoes a few years ago. Brooklyn and I can hold the title of Least Gear -Wearing Person on YLF together :)

  • lisa p replied 9 months ago

    I threaten to throw out my husband’s hoodies and sweats if I start seeing them too often . That usually gets him going :)

  • Gigi replied 9 months ago

    I totally get it. In the last several months, I've gone through a course of physical therapy, plus started Pilates and returned to dance class. All of this stuff requires gear, and I found that my limited stash was not enough, especially for winter. And with not having to go out as much due to virus restrictions, there's no need to change out of the gear after the activity, so I think it's really important for your gear items to fit properly and make you as happy as possible, because you'll be wearing them a long time. As long as you're using all of it and it's making you feel great, I think you've done a fine job.

  • Minaminu replied 9 months ago

    You developped a great capsule and it is very interesting to read that you track your gear purchases as part of your health budget, it makes total sense! I think I will try it for my 2021 budget and wishlist.

  • Zaeobi replied 9 months ago

    I can understand how 'gear' may be applied to the 'healthcare' category because, for me at least, it transcends the concept of just 'clothing' into a tool. Like any good tool, it should disappear into the background so that it isn't the main focus of your activity. I don't mean in terms of colour or style (I think no one is surprised to find out I have a yellow gym top lol) but rather, comfort - there's nothing worse than going on a hike, only to find that you're spending more time adjusting your waistband than focusing on the hike itself!

    Anyway, I suppose this line of thinking will be affected by how often you use said items & how (e.g. if exercising is an 'event' for you or integrated into times between your daily life errands). In HK, life is more back to the 'previous normal' than in other places so, whilst I can still WFH, I can also go to the gym (making exercise more of an 'event' for me than, say, someone who is still exercising solely at home, in between work calls & cooking). There's no one right way :)

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