BEST CLOSET ADDITIONS OF 2020

01.11.21

Hi folks! I’m back in the studio post winter hibernation, which involved lots of puzzling, planning, tv free days, and time by the fire. A welcome escape from the world indeed. I hope you’ve been staying safe and taking care of yourselves during what has been a tumultuous start to 2021.

Last year I shared my Best Additions of 2019 and it was both a hit with readers and a really helpful check-in for my own closet planning. I’m all for ongoing wardrobe analysis and find it so useful for staying on track with my style, avoiding missteps, and curbing repeat purchases.

Here’s what I’ll be sharing today:

  • My top 10 personal additions
  • My top gifted additions from brands
  • A few honourable mentions
  • Plus, a few things that didn’t work out

Let’s take a look!


This post was not sponsored or produced in partnership with any brands mentioned but does contain affiliate links and previously gifted items. If you see something you like and decide to shop through the links included, I may earn commission on a sale at no additional cost to you. All opinions are always my own and I only share items I love. Thanks for supporting Style Bee!



Before we dig in I’d be remiss not to mention that I share this type of post in the hopes that you’ll find these honest recaps helpful for your own closet and style planning. It’s not intended to be a ‘haul’ and or to suggest that you need to add this many pieces to your closet in a year.

Considering that I style clothing for a living I’m pretty happy with the amount of restraint I maintained last year. I say no to 95% of the product I’m offered, whilst agonizing over the 5% I do accept, and do my very best to ensure anything I feature is well worth your while and mine.

I hope that by covering a wide variety of brands and styles, I’m able to help you discover options that will be a great fit for your closet too!


MY TOP PERSONAL PURCHASES



A.P.C. SARAH BAG

{ Colour: Noisette / Customs, duty, shipping covered in link }

The best (& biggest) investment I made in my closet last year was the A.P.C. Sarah Bag in smooth Noisette (a rich brown) leather. I’d had this piece on my wish list for several seasons and decided to finally go for it during a ShopBop sale last spring. It quickly became a favourite and integrated seamlessly into my closet. I’ve had lots of requests for a full review, which is in the works, but if you’ve been considering this bag I would definitely recommend it.



WOOLLY PLAID SHACKET – FRANK & OAK – Canadian Brand – I ordered this jacket when our offer on the cottage was accepted. I’d been looking for an in-between piece of outerwear that would take me from fall outdoors and through the winter as an indoor coat. It’s become the quintessential cottage coat just as I’d hoped and I’m excited to style it for spring. Get on the waitlist for this one if you love it.

BLACK BELT – MADEWELL – I’d been looking for a great black leather belt and this one kept finding its way onto my radar. I’m so happy with the quality and fit (I sized down so it fits my highest rise pants) and find it very comfortable even though the leather is very sturdy. I liked it so much I got the pecan brown version too. Ps. It comes with brass or silver hardware.

KIM COMFORT JEAN – FRANK & OAK – Canadian Brand – True to their name, these jeans are indeed very comfortable. I’d been looking for a grey denim with a longer inseam and these fit the brief very well. I’d say they’re TTS for a relaxed fit but size down for a slimmer fit. I took my usual size and they can be easily layered over a pair of leggings in the winter.




SILK SLEEP MASK* – THE SILK LABS – Canadian Brand – This was one of the least expensive additions that made the biggest impact on my life. I ordered two and I wear one every night, which has vastly improved my sleep. I wake up feeling so much more rested than I used to and have even noticed an improvement in my under eye circles and fine lines.

*Sadly it doesn’t look like these are offered anymore but I would check out ETSY or SLIP for some very similar options.

ORGANIC COTTON CROP TANK & HIGH RISE UNDIES SET – ARC – This size inclusive brand has a loyal cult following on Instagram and I was 100% influenced by Lydia (@styleisstyle) and Melissa (@melissasonico) who’ve been rocking their ARQ sets so well. I got these as a summer sleepwear solution and they’re prefect for that. I also wear them under lounge pants and a sweater in the winter. They fit TTS and I got both the set in both fern and black.

DALIA SHEARLING SLIPPER – A BRONZE AGE – Canadian Brand – These served as a much needed pick-me-up during our first lockdown and I’m SO happy I got them. They took a bit of getting used to since the leather needs to warm and meld to your foot (they are slippery at first) but there has rarely been a day I haven’t worn them, even in the summer! I sized up 1/2 a size as noted on the listing.



HIGH RISE LACE PERIOD UNDERWEAR – KNIX – Canadian Brand – I’ve slowly been amassing a collection of period underwear from KNIX and the lace high rise are my favourite so far. These keep me from stressing about leaks and actually look and feel pretty damn sexy. Fit is TTS.

Save $15 Off your KNIX order with this link.

AURA DENIM PANT – HARLY JAE – Canadian Brand – I love what this BC-based brand is up to and the AURA pant in denim was my first purchase so far. They’re very well made and super comfortable. I love them with a fitted turtleneck and chunky boot now or with a wrap top and a cute pair of sandals in the summer. Fit is TTS and these are offered in sizes XS – 3XL.

FITTED TURTLENECK – KOTN – Canadian Brand – I added quite a few fitted turtlenecks to my closet this year as they’re a staple for me. These have proven to be one of my favourites because the cotton is substantial, the fit is tight but not restricting and they wash up great (although I wouldn’t dare tumble dry). The fit is TTS but snug so size up for a bit more room. Available in XS – XXL.

Use code “LEEV10” for 10% Off your first order from KOTN.

My other favourite fitted turtlenecks include the Pima Micro Rib by Everlane (can be tumbled dry) and the Monty by Tradlands.



GODDESS MINI SHIELD EARRINGS – ENARMOURED – Made in Toronto – This is technically #11 but I couldn’t leave these earrings off the list. I didn’t buy much in the way of accessories last year except for these statement beauties. They’re perfect for when I want to feel a little fancy and dress up my usual style with some thing special.



MY TOP GIFTED ADDITIONS

All the items below were gifted for unsponsored trials or for brand partnerships throughout 2020, however, mentioning them here is entirely elective. I always strive to ensure the products I add through collaborations are pieces that I genuinely plan to wear and would have otherwise wanted to purchase myself.



MARINE CARDIGAN

{ BARE KNITWEAR – Canadian Brand }

Hands down, the #1 gifted addition to my closet this year was the ultra cozy and luxurious Marine Cardigan from Bare Knitwear (more on that piece here). I’m continually amazed at the caliber of knits this Canadian brand offers and cannot recommend them more. A worthy investment for sure.



LE BRUT SEXY ECO JEANS – SÉZANE – These were the first pr product I tried out last year and they soon became my favourite pair of jeans (I’m wearing them right now!). The brand has since improved them even further and added a touch of stretch. My first purchase of 2021 was this same style in the indigo wash. Fit is TTS and these are offered in denim sizes 23 through 36.

GILET GASPARD – SÉZANE – Another crowd favourite from this Parisienne brand is the Gaspard cardigan and I’ve had lots of requests for a review (it’s coming!). This knit is so soft that I actually like wearing it on it’s own with a few buttons undone or reversed for a crew neck. Fit is TTS and this style is offered in sizes XXS – 3XL.

TORI BOOT – ABLE – I’m a woman of many weaknesses and one of them is boots. This pair made it through my scrupulous vetting and I’m so glad I tried them out. The fit is just right, the leather is weather-proof (although I still recommend spraying) and the comfort it top notch. I also think this style is timeless, so they’ll be around for a while!



GUIDE COVERALLS – TRADLANDS – This piece was definitely a surprise hit for me. I’d never tried a coverall style like this before but they’ve been great so far this winter, especially over a pair of leggings and a turtleneck at the cottage! More on these in this post. This style has sold out but there is a waitlist open and this option looks pretty great.

CORTINA BOOT – MAGUIRE – Canadian Brand – These were a love at first sight situation for me and after purchasing Maguire Boots for two winters running, I couldn’t pass up a chance to try these. Suede is definitely a bold choice for Ontario but with a thorough spraying of suede protector they’ve been unphased by snowy days so far. These are nearly sold out but I expect the brand will release something similar again next fall.

CASHMERE TURTLENECK – THE CURATED – Easily the softest cashmere I’ve ever had the pleasure of wearing. This brand continues to churn out the most beautiful staples for those who love minimal, high quality style. Fit is TTS.



WHITNEY JEANS – ABLE – I raved about my quaran-jeans throughout my 30 Days of Fall Outfits post and I stand by my claims that they are alllmost as comfy as sweats. If you’re looking for a high-rise with a relaxed fit and wide leg, these are a great option. I’m excited to see how I can style these for spring! Fit is TTS.

SARAH STRIPED TEE – MOTT & BOW – This brand is known for their denim, however, it was their cotton basics that really stood out to me. The Sarah Striped Tee is so soft and has a perfect relaxed fit to it. I also really like the Marcy Long Sleeve tee. Fit is TTS.

PERFORM LEGGING – EVERLANE – I’ve tried lots of leggings over the years and these are my favourite to date. I’ve worn them A LOT this winter too. I love them for lounging, lunging and layering alike. Fit is TTS.



RAGLAN SWEATSHIRT & HIGH WAIST JOGGER – VETTA – This comfy set quickly shot to the top of my most worn list throughout November and December. It’s super soft and I love that it’s machine washable and tumble dry friendly so I can keep it fresh easily. Fit is TTS on the generous side.

FERN TRENCH – ONLY CHILD – (Available in Cotton Canvas and Wool currently) – This piece almost escaped my list as I’ve had it tucked away for winter but it was a mainstay during the warmer months of the year. The design of this piece is so smart and I just adore the oversize fit and super minimal cut. This style is offered in sizes XS – 4X.


HONOURABLE MENTIONS



REAH WRAP TOP – EMLEE x STYLE BEE – Maybe this will seem like I’m tooting my own horn (which I guess is true lol) but this top brought some much needed delight to my closet this year. It is a true joy to wear and I can’t wait to bring it out again this summer. See more on it in this post. Fit is TTS and this piece is offered in XS – 3X.

PS. It’s still available & made to order! Use LEE15 for 15% Off any EMLEE order.

THE DREAM FLAT – I’m really glad I tested these flats out and you can read all about them in this unsponsored review. Even though they’re a bit on the wide side for my narrow foot I think they’re a great option for a timeless and well-made classic flat.

THE HOODIE – FRANC – Canadian Brand – A good hoodie goes a long way, especially during a year like 2020. This one is a comfy gem from the Canadian basics line FRANC. The colour is sold out but other options are available. Fit is TTS and offered in sizes XS – 3X.

PAOLA SWEATER – L’ENVERS – Every Canadian closet can use a super cozy wool sweater. This piece is so beautifully made and while it hasn’t been in my closet long it’s already been earning its keep this winter. Note: I’ve only worn it over a base layer, not directly on my skin. One size.



A FEW THINGS THAT DIDN’T WORK OUT

{ all personal purchases, mostly denim }


DEBBIE BLACK SKINNY JEAN – The fit on these wasn’t great for me. Not a high enough rise and very tight through the crotch. I also found that the fabric was a little scratchy and attracted lint.

CASTANER JOYCE ESPADRILLES – I haven’t given up on these but this style was a far too tight in the toe for my foot. I might go for this style instead this spring.

VINTAGE GREY WOOL COAT – Well, this could have ended up being my dream coat except someone STOLE IT right off my front porch so now I’ll never know. This was a real bummer because I’ve been looking for this piece for years now.

LEVI’S 501 SKINNY JEANS – I had high hopes for these but the fit wasn’t quite what I was looking for. They gaped in the waist and felt tight through the hip.

BOYISH DEMPSEY HIGH RISE STRAIGHT-LEG JEANS – (no longer available) – I’ve heard great things about this denim brand and haven’t given up on them but these jeans didn’t work for me. I can’t quite recall the specific issues but I know the style just looked really awkward on me.

HUNZA G BIKINI – I have a couple of friends with swimwear by this brand but the style I tried (cropped bikini) wasn’t the fit I was looking for. I love the crinkle texture material though and I’m planning to try my luck with a You Swim set instead this spring.


There you have my best additions of 2020!

I’d also love to know what your best additions were last year, so please feel free to share. It’s likely that a few other readers have been considering those very items!

Leave me a comment here!

  1. Nicole Boyd says:

    Hey Lee! I have been eyeing the Arq tank but I am in Ontario. Did you order from US or is there a Canadian site you know of that sells the brand?

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Hey Nicole! I ordered from the US directly during their Black Friday Sale so it helped with shipping. Beaton Linen is a Canadian stockist that carries ARQ (linked to their site). Looks like they have a few in the same Fern Green I got 🙂

  2. Whitney says:

    Hi Lee! Happy New Year! This was a really enjoyable post to read, and it’s encouraged me to reflect on my own purchases this year. Also fun to read what some other commenters have purchased. Thank you for continuing to create thoughtful, well-written content (and for all of the lovely photos of your beautiful country). All the best from New Zealand! 💕

  3. Lene says:

    Hi! I loved reading this post! Both informative and entertaining. Finding good jeans can be a real struggle!

    I decided to buy only 12 things for my wardrobe during 2020, and in January I thought it sounded like a lot and was very confident I could do it. It turned out to be a real challenge, and I ended up buying 16 things. My best buys were a long, black wool coat, a multi colored bag from Ganni and two wool/cashmere sweaters I knitted for myself. My worst buy was a pair of pink tailored wool pants (ordered online during the first lockdown…). I learned a lot about my buying habits, and I have decided to try again this year.

    I hope 2021 will be a good year for you, Lee! Love from Norway.

    • Lee the Bee says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this one Lene! Good jeans are indeed a rarity lol.

      Thanks for sharing about your low buy 2020 experience. I can imagine it was a really interesting learning exercise!

      Hope you’re doing well in Norway. Looks so beautiful there. All the best for 2021! xo

  4. Kirra says:

    I really enjoyed this post Lee, and had a re-look at the one you did last year too. It’s a really good suggestion to reflect on your purchases for the year, I’m going to do it for this last year too I think. Thanks for the inspiration!
    My two favourite purchases were some black Everlane jeans with the button up front that you recommended, they have been great to wear to work in winter as a teacher. I also bought some denim overalls which I love to wear, I used to wear them in in high school and it’s fun wearing them again on the weekends.
    It’s summer here in Australia and I just bought a long sleeve zip up rash vest for going swimming. It’s really easy to get burnt here and they’ve just come into fashion in a big way which is great (you can get long sleeved swimsuits as well). I don’t think sunburn is as big a problem in the northern hemisphere but if anyone is concerned about sunburn I can recommend these new rash vest styles.

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Thanks so much for tuning in and for sharing your top additions Kirra! I’m so glad one of my recommendations worked out for you. Wearing a pair of Everlane denim right now actually 🙂

      Enjoy that Australian summer weather for us! It’s C O L D and grey here right now. Surprisingly our summers get very hot here in Canada so sun protection is a must. I’m always looking for wide brimmed hats and long, lightweight cover ups and well, shade lol.

      Cheers to a great 2021! xo

  5. Emma says:

    Love these kind of posts! That Fern Trench is such a gem! My fave purchases this year were the structured tote from Cuyana, linen jumpsuit from Everlane and my blunnies!

    • Lee the Bee says:

      That’s great to hear Emma! The Fern Trench is a great one for sure. Those all sound like awesome additions. I’ve got the Cuyana structured tote on my long term wish list 🙂 xo

  6. CoraL says:

    Oh, the coat that got away! That’s such a bummer about the stolen coat. Your “indoor coat” style has inspired me to branch out from fleece sweatshirts while I’ve been working from home, thank you for sharing your style this past year!

  7. Abby says:

    Thank you Lee, as always, for a thoughtful post. I especially appreciate the disclaimer at the beginning that this is not intended to be a “haul” post or to promote excess consumerism. I’ve always considered you to be an astute curator, and I’m even more impressed now that I know you turn down 95% of what you are offered! My question is about the Madewell belt. I have been eyeing the Atelier B. one you’ve shared previously. I’d appreciate if you could share any insight as to why you purchased the brown Madewell one as well…thank you in advance, and wishing you all the best for a good year ahead.

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Thanks for the kind feedback Abby, I’m glad that disclaimer hit the note I was going intending to. I hope “turn down” doesn’t sound disrespectful, a lot of the time it’s not awesome brands that are offering, it’s product that wouldn’t make sense to accept but nonetheless.

      Great question about the belts. Short answer, the Atelier B belt is a bit too thin and ends up getting sort of bent back by the back centre belt loop on thicker denim. Does that make sense? It’s a great option and price point but the leather is much sturdier on the Madewell belt, which I think will last for a long time. Hope that helps and be sure to let me know if you have other questions!

  8. Rose says:

    Will you do a full review of the Curated’s cashmere sweater? I’ve been wondering about them!

  9. Hi friend! So happy to see you back on the interwebs, what a great, insightful round up. I too snagged an APC purse in 2020, and it is a thing of beauty! I quite like the style of yours. Also, you influenced me to get that madewell belt and it’s a hit. Also, I just read an article about the founder of Arq, and was excited to see she’s a fellow Oregonian who lives in the Portland (ish) area. Here’s the link if you’re interested -> https://www.mothermag.com/abigail-quist/

    And what a bummer about your coat! That is outrageous! I am so sorry to hear about that. Re:swimwear, I am in the market for a new two piece so I’ll be very curious to read your take on You Swim. I love the look of them, but the lack of support up top makes me nervous. Cheers again to a great post!

    • Lee the Bee says:

      I love your APC choice, was just admiring on your site today 🙂 So glad you love the belt too! That is so serendipitous about the ARQ article, it’s on my list for a read this week.

      Totally hear you on the support (or lack there of) of You Swim. Only one way to find out if it’ll work 😛 Thanks for tuning in friend! xo

  10. Happy New Year! You have so many fabulous purchases especially that shacket! I bought one from Banana Republic that I love for its softness, but I wish the colors were a little brighter. I had 4 closet favorites for 2020: my Allbirds TreeRunners, J.Crew Chateau Parka, Madewell Mid-rise jeans in Tencel, and my Staud handbag! XO Nipa

    • Lee the Bee says:

      Those all sound awesome Nipa! I haven’t worn my Tree Runners in ages but I miss them (and warmth lol). Staud also makes the most amazing bags! Hope your week is going well so far. xo

  11. Amanda says:

    Super excited to see how you style the Aura pants as I added them to my closet at the end of the summer.

  12. Please, what does TTS stand for in your fashion posts? Thank you, Barbara