March is well under way, so it’s time for my February accountability update. For those who are new to the blog, these monthly reports are where I share what came into and left my closet, what I wore, and how I did with my shopping budget and item limit. Sharing what I bought, what I culled, and how much I spent helps me to stay honest and on track with my wardrobe and shopping goals.
Although I did a full post on this topic not long ago, I’m also going to update you on how I’m doing with my theme for the year, “balance.” I want to make sure to at least check in on my 2016 theme each month, but I also plan to share more in-depth thoughts from time to time. I think it’s important to keep our goals “top of mind” as much as possible. Last year, I didn’t reflect on my “deliberate” theme often enough (final update here), which led to my feeling that I didn’t do as much with it as I could have. While my 2015 theme was helpful in both my wardrobe and my life, it definitely could have had more of an impact. I intend to be far more deliberate with my balance theme this year (see what I did there?).
Since I will be packing so much into these monthly updates, I will go into less detail in each section than I did previously. In many instances, I will give general summaries of what I bought and what I purged rather than doing an itemized account. However, when I feel it’s valuable to do so, I will elaborate more on particular items or in certain sections.
What Left My Closet and Why
I always start these reports with what left my closet during the previous month. During February, I removed eight items from my wardrobe:
- 1 short-sleeved top
- 2 pairs of shoes
- 2 scarves
- 1 necklace
- 1 bracelet
- 1 pair of earrings
Here’s a look at the items I opted to pass on, along with some notes as to why:
The tee had become stretched out and no longer held its shape well. The shoes were rarely or never worn last year (and the middle pair wasn’t worn at all in three years!). I would like to replace both pairs with a single pair of metallic sandals in a style that I love and which will work well with my wardrobe. I hope to be able to sell the shoes on eBay shortly.
These scarves are in warm tones and my wardrobe is predominantly cool-toned. I didn’t wear either of them last year, so it’s time to pass them on.
The necklace and earrings were gifts that I just don’t love and the bracelet was an inexpensive impulse buy from last year that merely gathered dust in my jewelry box. No use in keeping pieces that I just don’t wear!
What Came Into My Closet
This part of my accountability update is divided into the following sections:
- “Out and About” Wardrobe (to be included in my item limit for the year)
- At-Home / Workout Wardrobe
- Shoes and Accessories
Before I delve into what came into my closet, I need to admit to shopping more than I should have last month. Although I’m happy with what I bought and feel that my new pieces will work well for my life, I probably should have spaced out my shopping more. If I felt that I could trust myself to shop seasonally, I would be fine with having purchased this many things in one month, but my recovery is still tenuous at this point. I’m still at risk for using shopping as a way to try to deal with things that it just can’t fix, even though the choices I make when I shop are far better than they were in the past.
I am committed to adhering to my budget and item limit for the year, but if I shop too much early in the year, it will be more challenging for me to do so. I plan to slow my shopping way down over the next few months (I have allocated a much smaller budget for quarter two anyway) and give myself a chance to incorporate my February purchases into my life. Then I will revisit my shopping priorities (spelled out in this post) and gear up for my third quarter shopping when I will round out my wardrobe for the summer and fall seasons.
“Out and About” Wardrobe
Last month, I added ten new items to my “out and about” wardrobe:
- Two jackets – Yes, they are both black, but they are very different styles. The blazer will be part of my dressy wardrobe capsule, to be worn primarily with skirts and dresses. It fit me perfectly off the rack and was on deep sale, so I took the plunge. The moto jacket will be worn more often. It also fits me well “as is” and is a good length to pair with jeans. It’s an alternate length from the toppers I typically wear, so it will give my outfits a different look.
- Two pairs of pants – I found the black cords and trousers at a consignment store while I was waiting for the store personnel to go through the items I had brought in to consign. I almost never look through the pants at such stores, as they are rarely long enough for me. However, this time they had two pairs of designer pants that were both long enough and fit me well, one that was new with tags. What’s more, they both cost less than $10! The black trousers needed to be taken in and hemmed, but it was well worth the extra price for comfortable, casual pants.
- Three vests – I purchased a vest last year that has become a closet favorite. I like how vests can add special details to outfits without adding too much bulk or warmth. This is useful in the temperate climate in which I live. My new vests are all different styles from each other and from my existing vest, so there is no redundancy among them. The puffer vest is reversible, as shown above, which will make it an especially versatile piece.
- One bright tunic – This is another consignment store find that I absolutely love. It fits me well and is different from everything else in my closet. You can see it in an outfit below.
- One pair of jeans – This is a darker version of my favorite slim-fitting jeans (shown in outfits below). The style works well for me and is no longer being made, so I decided to buy a second pair on eBay. The jeans were new with tags and less than half the list price.
- One t-shirt – This is actually a replacement for an ill-advised December purchase. The white V-neck tee I bought late last year is too long and baggy. I am going to downgrade it to sleepwear and wear this one instead.
I have already worn four of these items: the puffer vest, black trousers, cobalt tunic, and dark-wash jeans. I am happy with all of these pieces and feel that they will be worn regularly. I’m now tracking the wears of my new 2016 items in my accountability updates in order to increase my awareness of my purchasing successes versus failures. This information is included in the item limit section of these posts.
For my at-home / workout wardrobe, I purchased three items:
- Black “athleisure” pants
- Short-sleeved workout tee
I actually purchased the tee in January, but I forgot to include it in my last accountability update. I’ve worn it several times already, but I don’t track the wears for my workout clothes (I don’t need to, as such items are always worn regularly). The slippers were an urgent need, as my two old pairs were both falling apart. I scoured the local mall for slippers, but couldn’t find any that were suitable for my needs. I also struck out at Target, but luckily found a comfortable pair at a local boot store (and on sale at that!). I wear them every day, including right now as I type this post!
I’ve wanted to buy the pants since last fall, but I had blown my shopping budget late in the year. Since I still liked them and knew what size I needed, I periodically searched for them on eBay. When I recently saw my size listed “new with tags,” I snapped them up at just over half the list price. I’m a relatively new eBay shopper and don’t plan to shop there all that often, but it can be a great resource for finding items that we know fit us well. For some tips on how to shop successfully on eBay, please check out Margaret’s excellent guest post from last summer.
Shoes and Accessories
As I mentioned in my 2016 goals post last month, I’m going to keep my accessory purchases to a minimum this year since I have many items that aren’t worn very often. In contrast, I plan to focus more on my shoe collection and have slated seven pairs of shoes that I would like to purchase before the year is through. I found one of those pairs in February, burgundy ankle boots.
I actually opted to return the black coat I had received as a Christmas present from my husband in exchange for the boots. The coat didn’t fit me as well as I’d hoped and my friend convinced me that my existing black velvet coat can be worn for non-dressy occasions. Since I really like that coat, I didn’t need a new black coat. I feel that the boots will be a much better purchase, as I have already worn them four times and love them.
As with last month, I bought just one accessory in February, a pair of purple beaded earrings:
I like the design of these earrings and the fact that they are more of a muted “pearlized” purple than a bright shade. The earrings are different than anything else in my collection and I’m happy with them.
I have decided to purchase no more than 36 “out and about” items this year (see this post for more information), as I already have a lot of pieces in this area of my wardrobe. I would like to focus more on my at-home clothing and shoes this year. Each month, I will list my “out and about” purchases, when I bought them, and how many times they have been worn thus far. For the sake of completeness, I will also share how many at-home items, shoes, and accessories I have purchased and include the wear numbers for those pieces as well.
“Out and About” Purchases:
- Burgundy polka-dot long-sleeved top (January, worn once)
- Burgundy waffle top (January, worn twice)
- Teal waffle top (January, worn twice)
- Black straight leg cords (February – not yet worn)
- Black lightweight trousers (February, worn twice)
- Dark wash straight-leg jeans (February – worn twice)
- Black blazer (February – not yet worn)
- Cobalt/black tunic (February – worn once)
- Black/grey print reversible puffer vest (February – worn once)
- Black long vest (February – not yet worn)
- Denim vest (February – not yet worn)
- Black woven moto jacket (February – not yet worn)
- White crew-neck short-sleeved tee (February – not yet worn)
- Blue-striped long-sleeved top (January, worn five times)
- Dark green long-sleeved top (January, worn three times)
- Purple striped long-sleeved top (January, worn four times)
- Light green/teal short-sleeved workout tee (January – don’t track wears)
- Black “athleisure” pants (February – not yet worn)
- Sheepskin slippers (February – wear daily, don’t track)
- Burgundy ankle boots (February, worn four times)
- Bright blue scarf (January, not yet worn)
- Purple beaded earrings (February, don’t track wears)
Here’s a summary for the year as of the end of February:
- Items Added: 22 (13 “out and about” garments, 6 at-home items, 1 pair of shoes, 2 accessories)
- Items Purged: 11 (2 tops, 4 pairs of shoes, 2 scarves, 3 pieces of jewelry)
Please note that returns are not included among the purged items count. I also don’t report on returns made within a given month in these accountability updates.
February Budget Report
My clothing budget for 2016 is $2500, the same as last year’s budget. Like in 2015, I am working from a quarterly budget, but I have opted to allocate my money based upon my traditional shopping patterns:
- Quarter 1: $750
- Quarter 2: $375
- Quarter 3: $1000
- Quarter 4: $375
My first quarter budget is $750. As of the end of February, I had spent $766.16 on clothing and related expenses (clothes, shoes, accessories, alterations), which is over my budget by $16.16. Consequently, I have no money remaining in my budget through the end of March. I will need to wait until April before buying anything else.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I would really like to move more toward doing the bulk of my shopping on a seasonal basis. If this is the approach I’m taking, then my having bought so many items in February is not really a problem. Rather, it represented my having filled in the gaps in my winter/spring wardrobe. What I’d like to do is focus on incorporating these pieces into my regular outfit rotation over the next few months while purchasing very little during that time. Since I’ve spent my entire first quarter budget and my second quarter allocation is small, this makes good sense. Ideally, I’d like to buy few “out and about” garments leading up to July and instead look for shoes, at-home wear, and underwear.
What I Wore
In each accountability update, I do a quick recap of the items I wore the month before. Here’s a quick look at what I wore during February:
- Clothing items worn: 55 (note that some items worn only at home for workouts are not shown):
- Shoes worn: 9
- Scarves worn: 1
- Necklaces worn: 1
- Purses carried: 1
I don’t track my earring and bracelet wears, as I have less of an issue with using those items regularly, especially since I have pared down my collection considerably over the past two years.
Here are a few of my favorite outfits from February 2016:
There’s a bit more variety here than what I featured in my January update. We experienced unseasonably warm weather last month, which allowed me to pull out some of my other shoes, as well as various short-sleeved and sleeveless tops, which I typically paired with open cardigans. I experimented with alternate shoe choices for my jeans ensembles and liked most of the resulting outfits. My favorite colors continue to be black, cobalt, burgundy, purple, and teal, but I also enjoyed wearing other shades such as pink and grey. As usual, stripes are my signature pattern and are included in half of the outfits shown above.
While I had a few outfits that fell flat last month, that’s as a result of experimentation I was doing with proportions and silhouettes. You win some, you lose some, but the important thing is to learn from what doesn’t work. I will continue to shop my closet, put new combinations together, take outfit photos, and capture my thoughts in my outfit journal. To see some of what I’ve learned in the almost two years since I started that journal, check out the following 2015 posts:
- My Outfit Journal Two Months In
- Lessons from My Outfit Journal – Part One
- Lessons from My Outfit Journal – Pants and Coats
- Lessons from My Outfit Journal – Slimmer-Fitting Jeans
- Lessons from My Outfit Journal – Maxi Dresses
- Lessons from My Outfit Journal – Summer Then and Now
Interestingly, as I look back at those posts, I have different perceptions of some of the outfits than I did when I wrote them and would assign lower ratings in some instances. My style has continued to evolve as I’ve been working on refining my aesthetic and dressing well for my body and lifestyle. I will likely do new installments in the above series soon, as those were popular posts that readers seemed to enjoy. I also learn quite a bit from revising my outfit journal and putting the “lessons” posts together.
Balance Goal Update
A few weeks ago, I gave a detailed update on how I’m doing with my theme for 2016, balance. At the time, I outlined nine commitments that I felt would help me to further this goal. Here’s a brief summary of my progress with those promises:
- Bedtime: I pledged to get to bed by 12:30 a.m. each day. I have only done so a few times, but my overall bedtime has moved up by about an hour most nights. I’m going to continue inching the time up over the coming weeks.
- Setting key tasks: I have been doing this about half the time and it has helped my productivity. I still need to make it a regular habit.
- No social media before key task time: Most days, I have been working for at least an hour on a key task before logging on to social media.
- Decrease Facebook time: I have decreased my time on Facebook messaging quite a bit, but I still spend about an hour a day in the “End Closet Chaos” private group. Surprisingly, that feels like it’s not even close to enough time to read and respond to the many threads there. However, I’m not willing to spend more time on Facebook than I have been and I would actually like to decrease it further to 10-12 hours per week maximum (I’m still at 13-15 hours, down from 20 or more!). I will aim for quality over quantity, just like in my closet!
- Eliminating backlogs: I wanted to do 30 minutes per day, but I haven’t always been able to do it. I’m going to decrease my backlog elimination time to 15 minutes and do more on the days when it works out for me. Those little bursts of time can add up!
- Email time: I also planned to spend at least 30 minutes per day on email. While some days I spend much more time, there are days when I barely even look at my in-box. I’m going to set 15 minutes as the benchmark here, too, as that will help to prevent backlogs and ensure that I don’t miss important messages.
- In-person activities: I was aiming for one per week, but with my many health issues and medical appointments, I think this may be too much. I’m going to change my goal to two or three such activities per month, as I feel that’s a more realistic number for me.
- Other “full life” activities: This includes photo walks, movies, and personal-growth reading. I have been doing these things, but not as often as I aimed for. I’m going to scale these numbers down to 2+ walks, 1 or more movies, and 3 or more reading times per week.
- “Batching” appointments and errands: I’m trying to do this as much as possible, but this week has been difficult with appointments every day. Two of these appointments were made last minute, but in general I’m going to aim for two appointment/errand days per week instead of four or five.
I feel that doing these monthly reviews and recalibrating my goals will be very beneficial for my continued focus on life balance. I believe that I’ve already made excellent progress since the year began. There is much more that I’d like to do, as I still feel quite ineffective in terms of getting things done, but as with my wardrobe, I am aiming for progress over perfection. As long as I continue to move in the right direction, I will get to a better place in time.
So that’s it for my February accountability update. Now it’s your turn to chime in:
- How did you do with your shopping and wardrobe during February and thus far in March?
- If you have one, how is your theme for 2016 coming along?
- What successes and/or challenges did you experience in these areas?
I invite you to share your wins and setbacks, as well as any questions you have for me or others in this community. Some of you have opted to share your accountability updates each month, too, which is great. There is strength in numbers and in declaring our truth on a forum such as this one (many readers also share their accountability in the “End Closet Chaos” closed Facebook group). We’re here to encourage and support each other, so please feel free to ask for help if you need it. I wish you all the best for the remainder of March and throughout 2016!
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