January Accountability Post

As I have completed the first month of my journey, it’s now time for my first accountability post (see my last post for “Reflections on the First Month”).  Today’s post will be a bit disjointed, as I did quite a bit of returning/exchanging of items I had purchased in December 2012.  As indicated in my shopping rules, exchanges are permissible, as long as they are done on a one for one basis and within my designated shopping budget.  Since I will only be purchasing one item of clothing and one accessory per month during this year, exchanges should be relatively minimal after this month.

New Purchases

Early on in the month, I decided to purchase a coat as my January clothing item.  I wear the coats I have frequently and really like how a nice coat can up-level even the most casual outfit.  Unfortunately, I found the coat inventory in stores had already been depleted by mid-January.  It can be frustrating how the retail season is months ahead of what we are experiencing weather-wise.  I was forced to turn to online shopping to find my coat.

After two online coat orders didn’t work out, I finally found a winner in a black brocade coat in a classic double-breasted style.  I love this coat and believe I will wear and love it for many years to come.  My accessory purchase was a black leather embellished multi-strand bracelet from Brighton.

January Purchases

My January Purchases – Black Brocade Coat & Black Embellished Bracelet

I will aim to use my own photos on this blog whenever possible, and I have chosen not to link to product web pages.  I know that I have purchased items through blog links in the past, and I do not wish to be a shopping enabler for my readers!  My aim is to help, not encourage impulse buying!


As I turned my focus to appreciating what I have instead of acquiring new things, I realized that some of the newer items in my wardrobe were not destined to become wardrobe all-stars.  Since some of these garments were unworn and still had tags attached, I opted to return them in exchange for things I couldn’t wait to wear.

As I write this, I realize that I could have simply done the returns without acquiring replacement pieces.   While that would have been more helpful for my goal of minimizing the size of my wardrobe, I’m not going to beat myself up for deciding to do the exchanges.  Even with these replacements and my monthly sanctioned purchases, I will still end up buying much, much less during 2013 than in 2012 or previous years (when I likely purchased close to 200 items per year!).

During January, I returned the following items:

  • J.Crew forest green trousers
  • Ann Taylor zebra print ¾ sleeve top
  • INC black/green open cardigan.

The replacement pieces I purchased were:

  • Gap black/blue/white striped sweater
  • Ecco grey sporty ballet flats
  • Ann Taylor green and black striped long-sleeved crewneck tee
  • Ann Taylor fuchsia crewneck long-sleeved tee.

First Rules Infraction!

Yes, I returned 3 items and purchased 4 items in exchange, so I have already broken my rules!  I had a good reason, but I still need to own up to my behavior…  When I made the Ann Taylor return, I had passed the “cash back” deadline, so I could only return for store credit.  While I tried to find a replacement item in the same price range as what I was returning, the only garments I liked were on the sale rack at deeply discounted prices!

I will make sure to release an extra piece from my wardrobe this month to ensure that I am at least doing “one in, one out.”  More on that in my February accountability post…

Managing the Finances

Since I did so much returning and exchanging during January, it was difficult for me to keep track of my adherence to budgetary constraints.  One of my actions for the month was to close out my store credit cards.  I had accounts at Nordstrom, Macy’s, Gap, and Eddie Bauer, all of which have now been paid off and closed.

My husband and I opened up a new bank account for my shopping, but we are still finalizing how to effectively manage that account, especially since I frequently order things online and sometimes order several different garments and sizes to increase my chances of getting one good purchase out of the mix.

As I am still reconciling all of the finances related to the store cards, purchases, and returns, I don’t have the exact numbers for January as of yet.  I will report on both my January and February budget numbers in my February accountability post.

Items Released from my Wardrobe

I was inspired to go through my workout and lounge wear garments and ended up trashing three worn-out t-shirts and adding three others to my donation bag due to poor fit.  In addition, I “demoted” one of the short-sleeved t-shirts from my standard wardrobe to the lounge wear category.  I also plan to sell one casual jacket and one pair of athletic shoes on EBay during February.

Finally, I decided to release two open cardigans that I purchased in fall 2011 and have worn only two times each.  I feel guilty about having made these purchases as they were not cheap, but I also didn’t love these cardigans and felt like I had to force myself to wear them.  Since I have such a large wardrobe and am looking to downsize, I decided to finally stop flogging myself over these misguided purchases and let them go.

Cardigans released in January

Two “benchwarmer” cardigans I decided to release from my wardrobe

Benchwarmer Project Update

Each month, I will tackle one wardrobe category as part of my Wardrobe Benchwarmer Project (my effort to either wear or release items which were not worn or worn only once during 2012).  During January, I focused on my long-sleeved shirts and wore each of the 11 “benchwarmers” in that category.  Surprisingly, I ended up liking – or even loving – all of these shirts and will aim to increase their wears during 2013.    Hopefully, they will all become “all-stars” as the year progresses.

During February, my benchwarmer focus is on pants and jeans.  Since I don’t have a large number of garments in this category, I will aim to wear all of my pants and jeans this month, not just the benchwarmers. I will also try to wear at least one benchwarmer garment every day, with the hope of addressing all of my benchwarmers long before the end of 2013.

What I’ve Learned

The most important thing I’ve learned so far is that I spend a tremendous amount of time and energy on shopping, not just the actual shopping, but also thinking about shopping and looking forward to being able to shop.  I think that all of the returning and exchanging I did during January was at least in part due to my withdrawal from shopping. The reality of what I have decided to do with the “recovering shopaholic” project started to set in and I experienced a bit of a panic.  It was akin to a kid having his security blanket taken away.

I am also starting to focus more on quality over quantity. I am worrying less over price tags and looking more at how a prospective purchase will fit into my wardrobe and how often I will feel inspired to wear and enjoy it.  This is one of the intended results of my project, so I am excited that I am already moving in the right direction.  I definitely want to love everything I buy and own and have that be my primary focus instead of “getting a good deal.”