We’re now knee-deep into the holiday season and there are only a few weeks left in the year. It’s hard to believe this blog is almost a year old! It’s time for another accountability update, this time for November. For my newer readers, I’ve committed to post on a monthly basis about what left my closet, what came in, and how I’m doing with my clothing budget and shopping rules for the year. I intend to continue doing these accountability posts in 2014, as they help to keep me honest and on track for fulfilling my goals.
What Left My Closet
Let’s dive right in, beginning with what left my closet last month. During November, I purged 13 items from my wardrobe. Five of these items were returned to the place of purchase, while the remaining eight pieces were either consigned or donated to charity.
Here’s a snapshot of the pieces that left my closet this past month:
Why I Purged These Items
In addition to posting photos of what left my closet, I’ve also starting listing why I decided to release these pieces from my wardrobe. I believe it’s very helpful to take the time to pinpoint our reasons for purging closet items, as we’ll begin to see patterns that can help us to avoid future mistakes. For example, if we find that we continually get rid of items in particular colors or styles, we’ll know not to buy those types of things on future shopping trips.
Listed from left to right, top to bottom (from the photo above), here’s what I let go of and why:
- Black back-tie sundress: I bought this dress at a consignment store in June of this year and wore it twice. Unfortunately, however, it never fit me quite right. The seam that is supposed to sit below the bust line kept riding up and I found myself having to continually adjust it. The back tie was also uncomfortable when I was sitting down. I have a similar but better fitting black dress, so I re-consigned this one.
- Black and blue striped blazer: I bought this jacket on sale in April. It was too big for me, but I tried to “rescue” it through alterations. Unfortunately, this didn’t really work and I only ended up wearing the blazer once before consigning it last month.
- Black long jacket: Another consignment and alterations failure! I like the look of a long jacket with pants, but this one should have stayed in the store, as it was far too big for me. I bought it in September and re-consigned it last month, sadly never worn.
- Leopard print cardigan: This cardigan was given to me by a friend last year and was only worn once. I don’t really look good in beige tones and I have a grey toned leopard print cardigan that is much more flattering on my skin tone.
- Grey and black striped top: I bought this top in August because I really wanted a short-sleeved striped top (I have plenty of long-sleeved striped tops). I later found a better and less expensive option (that I’ve already worn three times), so I returned this top to the store in November.
- Grey trousers: I’ve had these trousers for about two years and have only worn them a few times. I have little use for business-style trousers these days and my more flattering black trousers cover me on those rare occasions when I need to dress up a bit.
- Grey jacket: I bought this jacket when I last shopped with my shopaholic friend in October. I really loved the jacket but it didn’t fit me quite right. I decided that it would be a somewhat tricky alteration and rather than risking it, I returned the jacket for a refund. I still want to find a nice grey jacket, but I will hold out for a better fit.
- Grey moto-style jacket: Another purchase made while shopping with my shopaholic friend, this time in August. I also loved this jacket, but it only looked good when it was closed. Since I often like to wear my jackets open, I opted to return this one to the store.
- Houndstooth coat: My husband bought this coat for me as a gift in September, but it wasn’t cold enough to wear it until November. However, when I tried it on again, my husband and I both decided that it should be returned to the store. It just needed too many alterations in order to fit me right and I already have quite a few coats that I love and wear regularly. I’d still like to find a black and white coat, but it’s certainly more of a want than a need!
- Orange long-sleeved tee: I bought this top at a consignment store last year and wore it a few times. It was starting to pill and was also uncomfortably hot to wear due to synthetic fibers. Most of the tops I still own are made from natural fibers and that is now a strong preference of mine.
- Pink tank top with chain details: Another consignment store purchase from last year that was worn a few times. I liked the way it looked but the chains were “fussy.” Also, the tank was longer on one side for some reason and I kept tugging down the other side when I wore it. No more fussy garments for me!
- Black and white striped cardigan: Yet another consignment store failure! I’m kicking myself for buying this sweater back in September, as the ruffles at the bottom were unflattering to my hips. Also, the ruffles overall were fussy and not really my style. I re-consigned this cardigan without ever having worn it!
- White t-shirt: I bought this to replace another white tee that did not wash well. Sadly, this tee was just too see-through for it to work for me. It hung in my closet unworn since August, but I finally returned it to the store last month. Why is the material on t-shirts so thin these days? I think we all know the answer to that one…
Patterns I’m Noticing
While I’m glad I’ve started listing my reasons for letting go of closet pieces, the process is as depressing as it is enlightening. However, the point of this entire process is to learn and make positive changes and that’s definitely happening, albeit not as quickly as I’d like sometimes.
I continue to notice patterns among my purged items, namely the following:
- Consignment failures: Many of my consignment buys are ill-advised and end up being a waste of money. I will do the actual math at the end of the year, but my guess is that only one out of every three or four items I buy at consignment stores end up being things I love and wear. I often try too hard to make a garment work when it should have remained in the store. I’ve recently cut way back on my consignment store visits and may opt to stop this type of shopping altogether. Although I like the idea of buying second-hand on the basis of environmental impact and potential cost savings, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. It may work out great for some people, but not so much for me.
- Sales snafus: Low prices can sometimes cloud our judgment as to whether or not something is a wise purchase. That has certainly been the case for me and I’ve made more than my share of bad sales buys. The bottom line is that something should always be at least an “8” on a scale of 1-10, no matter how low the price is. I know better, but I need to start doing better more of the time!
- Misguided alterations: Alterations can be a wonderful thing and I’ve always been a great advocate of using a tailor to create better-fitting clothes. However, a tailor is not a magician and he or she cannot completely overhaul a garment. I’ve often assigned too much power to my tailor and haven’t been happy with the results. I’ve learned the hard way the difference between what should be altered and what should be left in the store! I will share my insights on this topic very soon in an upcoming post.
What Came Into My Closet
During November, I purchased six garments, one handbag, a pair of walking shoes, and one bra. Yes, I continue to buy quite a few new things, but the difference is that I’m purchasing items that are in line with my lifestyle needs instead of making impulse buys like I did in the past. More on my reasons for these purchases below.
Here’s a photo (click for a larger view) of my November closet additions.
Why I Added These Items to My Wardrobe
I’ve also started to share the reasons for buying the new pieces I’ve added to my closet each month. Here’s a list of what I purchased and why (listed from left to right, top to bottom):
- Black crewneck tee: I bought this top to serve as both a wardrobe staple and as a layering piece for colder days. I love the “column of color” look and will enjoy wearing this top with black pants or jeans and colorful scarves. This was one of the few Black Friday online purchases that I opted to keep. It’s a tall size, so the sleeves are plenty long enough for me (very hard to find!).
- Black knit pants: I’ve often mentioned that I have a hard time finding pants that fit me well and are comfortable to wear. I have a nerve problem that makes tight-fitting pants terribly uncomfortable for me, so I’m constantly trying to find pants that are as comfortable as yoga pants but aren’t actually yoga pants. These pants are a good compromise; they have a lot of stretch in them, yet look more streamlined and stylish than a yoga pant. They are also long enough for me – win, win!
- Blue print waffle top: Now that I’ve started to wear “regular” clothes when working from home, I decided to add a few more long-sleeved tops to my collection. This top will also come in handy during the colder weather we’ve been having in my neck of the woods.
- Charcoal knit pants: The same pants as the black pants mentioned above but in charcoal. They are actually lighter in color than they appear in the photo, so they are noticeably different from the other pair. I’m very happy to have two new pairs of pants to wear!
- Black walking shoes: My husband and I go on walks most days and my old walking shoes were falling apart. I was happy to find comfortable walking shoes that also look stylish and fun. I’ve already worn these shoes a number of times and love them!
- Metallic tote bag: Many of you know how much I love metallic handbags. A friend was going to sell this bag on eBay but offered to sell it to me first. I took her up on it and enjoyed carrying this new bag throughout November.
- Leopard print waffle top: Another top for wearing around the house and on cooler days outdoors. This one needed a slight alteration but it now fits me well and will come in handy over the next few months.
- Navy boat-neck tee: I plan to use this to create a column of color using navy, similar to what I mentioned above with the black tee. I will wear this top with my navy pants and with jeans (I’m still trying to find new comfortable jeans!). I bought this top and the one above at a consignment store, but feel good about these two purchases and believe they will serve me well.
November Budget Report
I’m pleased to report that once again, I came in under my clothing budget last month! My monthly budget for clothing and related expenditures is $250 and after all of the returns I made, I only spent $58.89 during November.
Lest I seem virtuous with my shopping, I have to admit that not all of my Black Friday holiday weekend expenditures are reflected in the total above, as most of them were actually credited to my accounts during early December. I still haven’t received everything I ordered and I’m not sure how much I will end up keeping (I already returned some things this past weekend), but I’m determined to come in under my shopping budget for this year.
December is often a “dicey” month for me shopping-wise and after my recent online “binge,” I’m kind of on pins and needles about the whole thing. I’ve already decided to allocate a large proportion of my shopping budget for November and December next year, as I like to use holiday sales to buy things I need for the colder months and to fill wardrobe gaps. Of course, I could save money from previous months, but until I really get my shopping problem under control, I really need to have my budget parameters firmly laid out for me.
Am I Following My Shopping Rules?
I have a number of rules that I created for myself in order to help manage my wardrobe and my shopping habits. These rules include my shopping budget, a “one in, one out” rule, wardrobe tracking, accountability, and a rule around purchasing too many items within a given category. The latter rule stipulates that I cannot buy a new item within a given category until I’ve already worn all of the other new items within that category.
I’m somewhat unsure as to whether or not I adhered to the purchasing category rule, as I purchased two pairs of pants on the same day as well as two long-sleeved tops on another day. I didn’t have any unworn new pieces within those categories, but I think my original intent was to only purchase one item within a category at a time. I actually don’t feel bad about these potential slip-ups, as I believe I will properly utilize all of the new pieces, but I need to be careful moving forward.
I am definitely in danger of “wardrobe creep,” especially now that I’ve already purged so many pieces from my closet. I need to make sure that I continue to release at least as many wardrobe items as I bring in, as I never want to own upwards of 300 garments ever again. I am not entirely sure as to my ideal wardrobe size as of yet, but I do know that it’s far less than what I started this year with!
I really need to slow down how many new pieces I’m bringing into my closet and focus on quality over quantity. I feel that I am aiming more toward quality and fulfilling lifestyle needs, but I’m still a shopaholic so I need to be mindful of my tendency to overshop. I plan to revisit my goals and rules for 2014, so there may be some changes in order for both areas. Stay tuned…
What I Wore During November
I continue to track all of the garments and shoes I’m wearing each month. During November, I wore 45 garments (including outerwear but not including workout and lounge wear) and 7 pairs of shoes. There were far more repeat wears last month than during the other months (July through October) when I tracked what I wore. This was partly due to my decision to start wearing more of my “regular” clothes at home (mostly tops) and partly because I don’t have all that many warm clothes and it’s been unseasonably cool where I live.
In all, I wore 13 garments and four pairs of shoes more than once. The biggest “all-star” for November was my black Paul Green boots that I recently dyed from their original brown. I wore those boots 7 times last month! I’m so glad I decided to dye the boots instead of having them languish in my closet because I’m not currently a fan of brown. There were three garments that saw four wears during November: my black jeans, my black trousers, and my burgundy cardigan. I also wore my black knit coat and my new black and white striped short-sleeved tee three times each.
I’ve learned that I wear my cool weather clothing more often than my warm weather items because we actually have a longer cool season here and a relatively short summer. I’ve often purchased far too many summer clothes because summer is my favorite time of year. But this year, I only wore most of my summer clothes during July through October, so many of those pieces were only worn two or three times. I now know that I need to stop buying summer clothing, use more of what I have, and focus any purchases I make on things to wear during my dominant cooler season.
I was going to include a “wardrobe benchwarmer project” update within this post, but since this is getting so long, I will save that for a separate post. Suffice it to say that I’ve made excellent progress in that realm and I look forward to sharing the specifics with you all soon.
Entering the Home Stretch…
As I enter the “home stretch” of 2013, I want to make sure I end the year on a high note. I plan to finish strong and accomplish as many of my goals as possible for the year. I look forward to reporting that I’ve stuck to my budget and eliminated the majority of my wardrobe benchwarmers. I also hope to share that I’ve increased my feelings of gratitude and satisfaction with both my wardrobe and my life.
I definitely plan to continue this blog through 2014. A few of you have expressed concern that I may stop posting after this year concludes, but that will not be the case. I still have much to learn and much to share with all of you. Thank you for being here and thank you for helping to keep me accountable. It helps me more than you know!
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