When I started this blog in January, some of my early posts addressed some of the “cold, hard facts” of my compulsive shopping situation:
- The Cold, Hard Facts: Finances (what I’ve spent on shopping over the past ten years)
- The Cold, Hard Facts: What I Did – and Didn’t – Wear (my 2011 & 2012 tracking figures)
- The Cold, Hard Facts: What I Have (my closet inventory in January 2013, updated in July)
The Missing Link
I wanted to be as honest as possible with myself and my readers as I began my “Recovering Shopaholic” project. However, I recently realized that I left out one very important piece of the puzzle:
How many items am I buying each year?”
I’m diligent in doing regular closet audits, during which I remove all of the items that no longer work for my body, lifestyle and personality. I make a point of going through my wardrobe at least twice each year, yet I continued to have an overloaded and overwhelming closet. That’s because I continued to buy far too much!
A Lapse in My Tracking…
Unfortunately, I only tracked all of my purchases for one full year, 2011. I started tracking in 2012 but stopped after the first quarter for some reason (probably because it was time-consuming to enter so many items!).
I have started a spreadsheet for my 2013 buys and will provide an update on those figures in a future post. I want to make sure what I’m buying is reasonable, meets my lifestyle needs, and gets worn on a regular basis. I know I’ve made a few mistakes so far this year, but hopefully these faux pas will continue to diminish as I shop less often and more consciously.
The 2011 and (Partial) 2012 Figures
For now, though, let’s take a look at what I bought during 2011 and the first part of 2012. During 2011, I purchased 168 items, including clothing, shoes, and accessories. As of today, I still have only 67 of these items. That’s only 40%, which means that I’ve already donated or consigned the other 60%! They didn’t stay around very long, did they? And who knows how many times I actually wore those pieces before they left my wardrobe. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say, “not many.”
I tracked the purchases I made during the first three months of 2012. During that short time period, I bought 64 new items. If I had continued at that rate, I would have purchased 256 new clothing, shoes, and accessory pieces by the end of the year! In actuality, I don’t believe I ended up buying quite that much. Although my shopping tapered off later in the year due to overspending my budget and ensuing arguments with my husband, I wouldn’t be surprised if 200 new things entered my wardrobe by the end of 2012.
I looked at how many of the 64 items purchased during early 2012 are still in my closet. I was dismayed to learn that I still have only 22 of those pieces, roughly 34%. Judging by the number of “wardrobe benchwarmers” I had last year (update on those later this week), I’m guessing that I didn’t wear most of my 2012 purchases many times (if at all) before jettisoning them from my wardrobe.
Why Did I Leave This Piece Out?
I’m wondering why I previously neglected to investigate or report on how much I’ve bought in previous years. After all, I’m usually meticulous with my tracking and accounting. I’m reminded of Jack Nicholson’s line from A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth!” I must have not wanted to know this particular “cold, hard truth.”
But I wonder why… Sure, it’s depressing, but it’s equally if not more depressing that I’ve spent $50,000 during the past ten years and feel I have little to show for it. And it’s definitely discouraging to contemplate the 146 “benchwarmers” (items I wore once or not at all) sitting in my closet at the end of last year.
Maybe I didn’t want to fully realize how much I buy and just don’t wear. Many shopping mistakes left my wardrobe long before they were even noted as 2012 benchwarmers or counted in my January closet inventory. These silent errors are part of my financial numbers, but are otherwise absent from my wardrobe statistics.
I Now Choose to Know
I may have neglected to keep track of how much I bought for many years, but I now choose to know this figure. I can now handle the truth and believe it will help me in reforming my shopping and wardrobe management practices.
I want to know what I’m buying and whether or not my new purchases serve my lifestyle needs. Knowing what types of items work for me will inform my future purchases and help me to make fewer buying mistakes. And in the long run, I will get closer to my goal of cultivating a smaller, more manageable wardrobe that I love and wear often!
Create a simple spreadsheet to track the new clothes, shoes, and accessories you buy within a given year. Make note of the cost of each item, as well as any additional charges accrued through necessary alterations. If you return, donate, or consign anything, strike-through that line but keep it on your spreadsheet. It’s also helpful to add a note about why that piece left your closet.
Keeping track of what you buy and how much you wear your wardrobe pieces can help you to shop smarter in the future. If you notice that you buy a lot of high-heeled shoes, for example, and never wear them, that’s a clue to stay away from such purchases during future shopping trips. On the other hand, if you find that you wear your ballet flats into the ground, you can feel free to purchase future pairs knowing that they’ll be worn time and again.