In a number of my previous posts, I’ve mentioned the importance of shopping with a list in order to avoid impulse buys and purchasing mistakes. I’ve also referred to my own shopping priorities list on occasion, but other than the partial list I included at the end of this post, I haven’t provided many details. The lively discussion in the comments sections of my “March 2014 Accountability Update” and “Creative Math and Playing by the Rules” posts made me realize I need to write more on the topic of shopping priorities.
In today’s post, I outline why I believe shopping priority lists are important and share my own list with you. I also point you towards several other resources to help you plan your future shopping for clothing and related items.
Why Have a Shopping Priorities List? A Personal Tale…
The best way for me to convince you of the importance of maintaining a shopping priorities list is to share a piece of my personal story. For years, I gave very little forethought to my shopping. I shopped whenever and wherever the desire came upon me and bought whatever struck my fancy. This practice led to a very large and highly disjointed wardrobe. I had hundreds of pieces in my closet and many of them were highly similar to each other in terms of style, color, and silhouette. I adhered to the “more is more” philosophy and never stopped to question whether or not I truly needed that ninth black skirt.
Fast forward to January 2013 when I started this blog and began to make an effort to mend my dysfunctional shopping ways… Once I started to analyze my wardrobe and my purchasing habits, I saw a lot of problems with both. With a closet as jam-packed as mine was and with the amount of money I spent on clothing, shoes, and the like each year, I should have been better dressed than I was and I should have been more satisfied with my wardrobe. But my wardrobe was not meeting my needs, not by a long shot!
The main reason my wardrobe was in such a sad state of affairs was that I had given very little thought and planning to it. I shopped as a way of filling my emotional needs and bought items based upon feelings rather than rational thought and intellect. Clearly, the way I had approached my shopping for many, many years wasn’t working for me at all!
Stop the Insanity! A New Approach…
Since the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result, I decided to adopt a new approach. I opted to inject a lot more rationality into my shopping and to start using my brain when I shopped instead of my much less reliable feelings. One of my primary tools in this effort is my shopping priorities list.
Although I had cursorily kept a shopping list in the past, I rarely held myself to it. If something pretty, flashy, and a “great deal” presented itself to me, I generally purchased that instead of the items on my list. Of course, such behavior just led to more of the same problems with my closet, which had become an unmanageable and overwhelming mess!
Now I wish I could say that I’ve always adhered to my list since starting this blog, but longtime readers know that’s not the case. I’ve still experienced a number of stops and starts and have continued to make shopping mistakes along the way. But that’s okay, as change doesn’t happen in a linear fashion and we all encounter ups and downs on the path toward recovery.
How Accountability Helps in Recovery
As most of you know, I’ve been posting monthly accountability updates ever since I started this blog. These updates outline what came into and left my closet, as well as how much I spent and how well I’m adhering to my shopping rules. These monthly updates have been instrumental in the recovery I’ve been able to achieve thus far. Knowing that I will have to “face the music” with my readers (as well as my husband and myself) each month has gone a long way toward keeping me on track.
Although I report on my reasons for bringing in and letting go of pieces in my accountability updates, one thing I haven’t shared is a list of my shopping priorities and how well I’m doing in sticking to that list. Well, that’s about to change! In just a moment, I’m going to share my shopping priority list for the remainder of 2014 (and potentially beyond). Then in each of my upcoming accountability posts, when I outline what I bought the previous month, I will report on whether or not those items were among my planned purchases for the year. You’ve all been great in keeping me honest, so I know you will help to keep me on track in this respect as well.
How to Create a Shopping Priorities List
But before I tell you what my shopping priorities for the year are, I’m going to let you in on how I came to create my list. It’s my hope that the strategies I used to construct my shopping list will assist you in coming up with your own list. Of course, there are probably other suggestions you can add to the mix, so I welcome any and all comments that can add to this discussion.
Below are the steps I have taken to create my shopping priorities list. There are three main considerations I kept in mind as I put together my list.
What Are the “Missing Pieces”?
Often, when I get dressed for the day, I notice an item I wish I had that would really pull my outfit together or take my look to the next level. This could be a coordinating topper, a statement piece of jewelry, or a comfortable and cute pair of shoes. In many cases, these “missing links” come up time and again in the form of a thought that begins with, “I wish I had a ….” These are the types of items that belong on our shopping priorities lists!
Some of our “missing pieces” are destined to become wardrobe workhorses, those items that more than earn their keep in our closets. At times, such pieces can be difficult to find, but if we practice the “3 P’s” of patience, pickiness, and practicality, our efforts will definitely pay off!
What Are Our Replacement Needs?
Sometimes there are items in our closets that we wear so often that they become in need of replacement. Our favorite pair of shoes or go-to jeans may be showing signs of wear and not look as fabulous as they once did. Since it can take a while to find suitable replacements, it’s a good idea to start keeping an eye out for version 2.0 before our closet favorites are on their last legs. Pinpoint your wardrobe replacement needs and keep them front and center on your shopping priorities list.
What Modernizing Touches Can We Add?
Not only does the fashion world continue to evolve over time, so does our personal style aesthetic. Pieces we used to love may no longer hold our favor and we may wish to edge our style into new territory. In addition, if we love clothes and fashion, we may want to make sure that we stay current and modern in the way that we dress.
Of course, there are always so many new trends entering the fashion scene that we can’t possibly keep up with all of them. For that reason, it’s useful to select a few favorites that we can translate via our existing wardrobes and perhaps a few selective purchases. Style blogs and Pinterest can help us to identify new pieces that will help to modernize our wardrobes and keep moving our style along through the years.
This is an area of caution, however. Those of us who are prone to overshopping often have a tendency to want to participate in too many trends and we may desire to overhaul our closets each and every season. So it takes some discipline to identify just a few pieces that will really make a profound difference in our personal style. Capturing in writing the modernizing touches we wish to add to our closets can help us see if we’re trying to change too much at once and if we may need to do some constructive editing.
My 2014 Shopping Priorities
Now that I’ve outlined the process through which I construct my shopping priorities list, it’s time to share my newly edited list for the remainder of this year. Since I’ve already bought my two items for April (and will share what they are in my next accountability update), I have 18 items remaining in my purchase allowance for 2014.
Below are the pieces I hope to purchase in the upcoming months. The items that are replacements have an “R” in parentheses after them, while “missing pieces” have been highlighted by an “M.” The remaining items on the list are either modernizing touches or items that I feel will take my style to the next level (and are indicated by an “S”).
My list is categorized by item types: tops/toppers, bottoms/dresses, and shoes/accessories. Some list items are very specific, while others are more vague in nature. Although I believe it’s best to be as specific as possible in order to best guide our shopping, it’s not always easy to spell out our priorities in explicit detail. As I become clearer about my needs, I will fill in the gaps as appropriate. I was going to indicate the month in which I hope to purchase each item, but I decided to keep things simple for now. While I will definitely shop with particular items in mind, I will also keep my eyes open for everything on my list. We never know when and where we might find things!
Tops and Toppers:
- Denim jacket (R)
- Grey short jacket or tank (R) – may possibly get both
- White top to wear with skirts (M)
- White top with special details to wear with pants (M)
- Tie-waist cardigan to wear with skirts/dresses (M) – white, blue, or grey
- Bright v-neck cardigan to wear with skirts/dresses (R) – cobalt, purple, green
- Special top in cobalt, red, or grey (S) – standalone piece, modern style
- Houndstooth or black/white geometric print top or topper (S)
Bottoms and Dresses:
- Grey knee-length or midi skirt (M) – casual style
- Black maxi-dress (S)
- Black straight-leg jeans (R)
- Denim skirt (R)
- Bright skirt or pants (M)
- Bright dress (M) – color other than blue
Shoes / Accessories:
- Black flat sandals (M) – modern, strappy, comfortable
- Multi-color flats (M) – ballet slipper style
- Tan sandals (R) – modern, strappy, comfortable
- Bright (preferably cobalt or green) or black/white purse (S)
That’s my list as it stands today, but I may opt to make revisions as the year progresses. If I do revise the list at any point, I will share the modifications in my subsequent accountability update. Any modifications that I make will be done at home, not while I am in a store faced with a tempting item. I definitely want to make sure that my future purchases are things that serve my real wardrobe needs, not things that only serve to fulfill momentary wants!
Other Helpful Resources
While I hope my suggestions for creating a shopping priorities list are helpful, I also want to share some other resources to assist you with any purchase planning you opt to do.
- “The Ultimate Five Year Shopping Calendar” – Reader Mette recently started a new blog following the discussion on my “On Creative Math and Playing by the Rules” post. Recently, Mette created a shopping calendar which allows her to plan her purchases over a five-year period. In this fascinating post (especially for the “numbers geeks” out there!), she outlines her approach and provides lots of details and examples. I may opt to adopt Mette’s calendar in 2015.
- “The Four Implicit Categories in Your Shopping List” – Fashion expert Angie from “You Look Fab” specifies the four distinct item categories which generally comprise our shopping lists. In re-reading this post just now, I realize that I need to allow for Angie’s category number four on my list, those “unexpected delights” that we absolutely fall in love with on sight. I think Angie is right that we need to allow for some element of “magic” in our shopping (but shopaholics will still benefit from using the “power pause” before taking the plunge with our purchases).
- “Ask 2 Questions – To Shop Like a Personal Shopper” – Image consultant Karen Hughes shares a basic method and some powerful questions to ask to help us shop like a personal shopper. While this article is geared toward fall shopping (from last year), the tips provided are useful all year round.
- “How To: Seasonal Wardrobe Update” – This classic post on “Into Mind” outlines a five-step process to use for updating our wardrobes each season (or whenever the need arises). Particularly germane to today’s discussion is step 4: write a shopping list.
- “Wardrobe Architect: Planning Your Pieces” – This is part of the “Wardrobe Architect” series on the Coletterie Sewing Blog. While the entire 12-week series is worth reading (even if you don’t sew…), this particular lesson focuses on planning to add new pieces to one’s wardrobe. Some good visual examples are included, as well as a useful exercise that will help you create your shopping list.
Your Feedback and Suggestions
So there you have it… my mistakes, my philosophies, my shopping priorities list, and some useful links. I hope this post has been helpful to you! As always, I welcome your feedback, questions, and suggestions. If you have other tips and strategies for wardrobe planning and shopping prioritization, I invite you to share them with me and your fellow readers. If you are reading this post via email or through a feed reader and wish to comment, please click here.
Thank you for reading! If you liked this post, please share it with your friends and subscribe for free updates by email.
I also invite you to join the End Closet Chaos private Facebook group, where you can interact with others about the topics discussed here.