The sun has set on yet another month, so it’s time for another accountability update. In this post, I share what left my closet, what came in, and how I’m doing in terms of my clothing budget for the year. Also included are some stats on what I wore during August and an update on my “wardrobe benchwarmer” project.
You may remember that in my July benchwarmer update, I committed to making decisions on all 45 of the remaining “benchwarmers” in my wardrobe (for those who are new to this blog, a benchwarmer is something I wore only once or not at all during 2012). Well, those decisions have been made and I reveal my verdicts below.
I’m Still a Shopaholic, But I’m Learning and Growing
There’s a lot to cover in this post, so it’s a long one! The news is not all good, but the growth and learning continues. Although I am still a shopaholic in many senses of the word, I’m definitely in a much better place than I was at the beginning of 2013. While I still have a long way to go, I acknowledge the positive changes I’ve made and know I will continue to transform my relationship to shopping and my wardrobe as the months progress.
What Left My Closet
During August, I purged 33 items from my closet (24 garments and 9 pairs of shoes). Unfortunately, three of these cast-offs were purchased during 2013! All three of these items were bought at a resale shop, which shows that I continue to make mistakes with that type of shopping. Fortunately, I’m doing far less resale shopping these days and I’m using my own tips when I do set foot inside such establishments. It’s important to remember that what may seem like a “good deal” really isn’t a bargain if it’s not on your shopping priority list and doesn’t work for your lifestyle!
Here’s a quick look at the items that left my closet during the month of August:
What Came Into My Closet
As I was preparing for this post, I was surprised to see how many new items came into my wardrobe during August. I really thought I was doing better with my shopping, but the numbers don’t lie. While about a third of the new pieces were gifts for my birthday, I still bought too much otherwise.
All in all, I brought 21 new items into my closet last month (15 garments, 1 pair of shoes, 1 belt, and 4 pieces of jewelry)! Yes, I know that’s too much and it certainly offsets the great progress I made in paring down my wardrobe over the past two months. I brought in roughly half as many new items as I removed from my closet in August (since I don’t include jewelry in my wardrobe inventory). It’s the proverbial two steps forward, one step back scenario.
Here’s a look at the new additions to my wardrobe during August:
The Silver Lining
However, there is a “silver lining” to my August shopping, a few in fact. I’ve already worn seven of my new August items and one garment – a skirt – has even been worn twice. Also, most of what I purchased was either on my shopping priority list or served to replace a wardrobe cast-off that was either worn out (it happens, even for shopaholics!) or was not an “8” or higher on a scale of 1-10.
I’m definitely shopping smarter and using my brain more instead of my emotions, but I’m still shopping too much! Hopefully, my “New and Improved Shopping Rules” that took effect last week will help to minimize future shopping. In particular, my new rule, that I need to wear all new items within a category before I can buy anything else new in that category, will go a long way toward curtailing my buying. At least I won’t be able to purchase “multiples” or buy too much at any given time.
I’ll see how things go next month. I can always tighten the reins and create stricter rules should the need arise, but my wardrobe is still moving in the right direction and I have to give myself credit for that.
August Budget Report
I experienced a bit of an accounting glitch with my July and August budget numbers. I had ordered a few items online during July that I returned during August. In tabulating my July numbers, I subtracted those pieces since I knew they would be returned shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, this resulted in my August numbers looking lower than they actually were. What I’m leading up to is that I’m now over my budget for 2013 by $138.29.
In order to get back on track with my 2013 clothing budget, I either need to spend less during September or return some of what I bought during August. I haven’t decided what to do as of yet, but I do commit to getting back into the black zone by the end of September.
Since I’m pretty much set for my summer wardrobe (warm weather continues through at least the end of October where I live), I really don’t need to buy much, if anything, during September. Once the weather cools down, I’ll need to focus any shopping I do on my most needed (and dreaded) wardrobe category, pants. I’ve been wearing primarily dresses and skirts over the past couple of months, but I know I need to reserve some funds to replace some of my tired and sad pants with better options very soon!
What I Wore During August
As was the case during July, I did not create a wardrobe capsule (a la Project 333) or place any restrictions on what I wore during August. I simply wore what I felt like wearing and kept a running list of all of the garments and shoes worn over the course of the month. As I had committed to making decisions about my remaining wardrobe benchwarmers, I chose to wear some of those pieces to facilitate my decision-making process, so that skewed things a bit.
During August, I wore 36 garments and 13 pairs of shoes. Of these, 8 garments and 7 pairs of shoes were also worn during July. Interestingly, 6 of my August garments were also included in my April through June Project 333 wardrobe capsule. August repeats were on the low side overall. I wore 4 pairs of shoes and 3 garments more than once over the course of the month.
I plan to continue wearing what I want and tracking what I wear during September. This method is working well for me, as it’s helping to increase my awareness of what I truly like to wear. As I become more aware of what I like and what I don’t like in my wardrobe, I’ve been better able to release the things that don’t serve me. In addition, the purchases I’ve made have been much more conscious and targeted than they were in the past.
Wardrobe Benchwarmer Project Update
At the end of 2012, I learned I had 146 items in my wardrobe (125 garments and 21 pairs of shoes) that had not been worn or were worn only once during that year. This realization strongly contributed to my decision to start this blog. I vowed to wear and evaluate all of these pieces during 2013 and either integrate them into my regular wardrobe rotation or release them to a better home.
While I had made good progress with my “wardrobe benchwarmer project” by mid-July, I decided to escalate the process. I committed to making firm decisions about all of my remaining benchwarmers by the end of August. Done! Here’s an update on the status of my wardrobe benchwarmers:
- July: 18 benchwarmers consigned or donated (15 garments, 3 pairs of shoes)
- August: 19 benchwarmers consigned or donated (14 garments, 5 pairs of shoes)
- Total: 37 benchwarmers consigned or donated during July/August
Since the beginning of 2013, I have consigned or donated 98 of the 146 wardrobe benchwarmers from 2012. I still have 48 of the 2012 benchwarmers in my closet, but most of these items have been worn this year (some multiple times) and I’ve determined I like them enough to keep them in my closet.
At present, there are 17 benchwarmers from last year that have not yet been worn during 2013. These pieces will either be worn very soon (some are warm weather items I haven’t gotten to yet) or are dressier garments that I decided to keep for those rare formal occasions in my life.
A Word about “Just in Case”
While I’ve said it’s not a good idea to buy things “just in case,” it can be prudent to keep a small formal wardrobe capsule in our closets for the rare times when we may need to get more dressed up than usual. At this point, I have five dressy garments I’m hanging on to, as well as one warm winter coat for when I travel to much cooler climates. I feel that keeping six items for rare life occasions is reasonable, but I will continue to re-evaluate all of my closet pieces a few times each year to help me create and maintain a more manageable wardrobe.
Whew, that was a long update! If you’re still with me, I applaud your stamina and I thank you for your attention. I don’t really look forward to doing these monthly accountability updates, but I know they help to keep me honest and on track. If I get off track, like I did last month, coming clean with all of you helps to get me back on target.
While I always welcome and appreciate feedback on these and all posts, I’m reminded of something my friend said to her mother years back. My friend had made multiple errors in booking a travel arrangement, resulting in significant financial consequences for her. She dreaded telling her mother about this, as her mother rarely missed a chance to criticize. Sure enough, after hearing the news, the mother started to launch into a diatribe, but my friend cut her off at the pass by simply saying:
Mom, nothing you can say will make me feel worse about myself than I already do right now.”
That’s kind of how I feel right now. I know I continue to shop too much and I’m not proud of it. Sometimes I feel like I’m letting all of you down. More importantly, I often feel like I’m letting myself down. Clearly, I still have underlying emotional issues I need to address before I can truly achieve my goals for recovery.
While I do feel I’ve made some good progress this year, I’m still a shopaholic. I still like shopping far too much and rely upon it to meet my emotional needs as well as my wardrobe needs. I still shop when I’m anxious, when I’m lonely, and when I feel the need to boost my mood. I know I need to cultivate more constructive ways of meeting my needs because shopping doesn’t really work. “Retail therapy” is a ruse in that it’s not really therapy at all (more on this in a future post).
So I welcome your comments, but please be gentle. I’ve already flogged myself enough for all of you. I’m my own worst critic and that’s a big part of my problem. My self-flagellation only serves to send me back into the stores. I need to find a better way and I won’t give up until I do!