With one more month in the history books, it’s time for another accountability update. 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. These posts help to keep me honest and on track for fulfilling my goals for 2013 and beyond.
Even though most of you don’t have blogs, I highly recommend that you conduct some sort of regular review (if not monthly, than at least quarterly) of your wardrobe in-flow and out-flow and how much you’re spending on clothing and related purchases. Although I’ve engaged in wardrobe tracking for almost three years and clothing expenditure tracking for nearly eleven years, the reviews I’ve been doing this year have been even more enlightening. For one, I’m usually surprised at how many new pieces have entered my closet each month, even during the months when I believe I’ve shopped very little.
It’s amazing how easily we can put blinders on and delude ourselves about our shopping habits. Forcing ourselves to stay honest by means of a regular review process can be highly beneficial in helping us to change our behavior and stop overshopping. With that introduction, let’s move on to my October accountability update!
What Left My Closet
During October, I purged twenty items from my wardrobe, nineteen garments and one wallet. Here’s a snapshot of the pieces that left my closet this past month:
Two of these items (the striped cardigan and the green tee) had never been worn and still had tags attached, so I was able to return them for a full refund. Sadly, two other pieces that I purged during October had been purchased this year (see below for the reasons why I opted to pass these items along). Although I’m making far fewer purchase mistakes than I did before starting this blog, I still have a lot to learn! The primary mistakes I’ve continued to make this year are:
- Buying things on sale or on consignment (the allure of the low price).
- Buying pieces that are similar to what I already have in my closet (the duplication error).
- Shopping for an imagined or wished for lifestyle instead of for my real life.
All of these errors are becoming less frequent, but I mention them both to stay honest and because I know many of you struggle with similar issues. We need to be mindful of the following when it comes to shopping:
- It isn’t a “deal” if you rarely or never wear it!
- If we already have a particular area of our wardrobes addressed, buying more pieces in that category will lead us to get less wear out of everything. In many cases, less is more! (see the links section below for an excellent article on this topic!).
- If you don’t want “wardrobe benchwarmers,” shop for your actual lifestyle needs instead of for “just in case.”
I’ve written about all of those topics in previous posts, but the points above bear repeating. I know it takes me a long time to learn important wardrobe lessons, so I’m repeating myself as much for me as for all of you!
Why I Purged These Items
In addition to posting photos of what left my closet, beginning last month 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.
Since I released so many pieces this past month, I wondered if perhaps I should skip this “why” section. However, I opted to leave it in, as some of you may learn valuable lessons from the mistakes I’ve made.
Listed from left to right, top to bottom (from the photo above), here’s what I let go of and why:
- Black jeans – I ordered these jeans online two years ago (on “Cyber Monday”) and the fit was not optimal. I should have returned them but opted to have alterations done instead. I wore the jeans a handful of times but never ended up loving the way they looked on me.
- Blue sequin sweater – I purchased this sweater at a consignment store, thinking I could wear it with skirts during cooler months. But it’s a bit too “blingy” for my personal style and I’m not really a fan of crew-neck tops in most instances.
- Blue zip tee – Also purchased at a consignment store and needed alterations. I like the look of this top, but it was very “fussy” to wear. I’m not sure if I could have foreseen this issue, but perhaps the tissue weight of the fabric combined with the zipper could have clued me in.
- Brown tank – I’ve had this tank for years, but I’ve recently soured on brown (for me).
- Brown zebra print tank – Same reason as above.
- Black and white striped cardigan – I bought this when shopping with a friend. Of course, it was on sale. I returned it to the store because I have enough black and white striped pieces in my closet.
- Charcoal blazer – This was bought at a consignment store last year as a “just in case” piece. I thought I “might” need it for networking events or speaking engagements. However, I never wore it because it’s uncomfortable and I rarely (well now, never…) attend networking events and I don’t (yet!) have any speaking engagements.
- Charcoal embellished tee – I love this top and wore it a lot, but it was always “fussy” because the heavy embellishment caused the neckline to sag and become too low-cut. I was sad to let this one go, but I no longer choose to wear fussy garments!
- Polka dot tie top – Another consignment buy bought because I love polka dots. However, the sleeves are an odd length and the tie is a bit too “precious” for my personal style aesthetic.
- Green tee – I opted to return this top because I have a similar green tee in my closet.
- Green ombre tee – This top was always a bit too big on me and the fabric bunches up at the waistline in the back. The effect is unflattering, so the top had to go.
- Grey and turquoise striped waffle tee – This top was a gift and the sleeves have always been a bit too short and the shoulders a bit too tight. I kept it because I felt guilty about letting it go, but I’m trying to eliminate guilt from my life as much as possible!
- Leopard print wallet – My husband bought this wallet for me about eight years ago and I’ve used it every day since! It was long overdue to be replaced and I finally made the effort to do so last month.
- Mint embellished tee – Same problem as with the charcoal embellished tee (#8 above).
- Pink tank – This tank was worn and loved but had begun to pill. It was time for it to go.
- Polka dot peplum top – Another consignment purchase mistake, from earlier this year no less. I wanted to participate in the peplum trend, but I didn’t notice that the seams on this top are uneven! It doesn’t look right from the back (a reminder to always look at the rear view when trying things on!), so it had to go.
- Rose print tank – Another top bought on sale that I didn’t really love (I’m seeing a pattern here!)… I have a similar tank that I like better, so I decided to let this one go.
- Salmon ruffle tank – I bought this tank at a consignment store a few years ago. I did wear it quite a bit, so I don’t consider it a purchasing mistake. I just don’t love and wear it anymore.
- Turquoise Henley – Another sleeve length compromise… I used to “settle” for sleeves that were too short, but my standards have improved as of late. No more sub-optimal sleeve lengths in my closet!
- White v-neck tee – I bought this tee earlier this year and wore it 5 times during Project 333. Sadly, it didn’t wash and wear well (and it wasn’t a “cheap” shirt). I’m not sure how I could have avoided this unfortunate development. Sometimes things just don’t work out…
I hope you’re not bored to tears after this past section. Perhaps some of you saw yourselves in my buying mistakes and will be able to avoid such calamities in the future. I know it was useful for me to ponder why I’ve opted to let things go. My ultimate goal is to only purge items from my wardrobe when they have been loved and worn so much that they have passed their prime.
What Came Into My Closet
Fortunately, I let go of far more items from my closet than I brought in last month. However, until I started to work on this report, I thought I’d only bought one or two things during October. In actuality, I added six new items to my wardrobe over the course of the month! As I mentioned above, we have a large capacity for deluding ourselves when it comes to shopping…
Here’s a photo (click for a larger view) of my October 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 sequined tank/cardigan combo – I love these types of “two in one” pieces. I plan to wear this with more casual skirts to dress it down. I hope to wear skirts more often in cooler weather and this piece will help me in that effort.
- Black wallet – I desperately needed to replace my old tired wallet (pictured above).
- Burgundy print sleeveless blouse – I originally thought I would be able to shorten this top to wear with skirts, but my tailor told me she couldn’t do it because of the way it’s made. I couldn’t return it because it was bought on consignment, but I plan to wear it with my black trousers for those relatively rare dressier occasions in my life.
- Cobalt maxi-dress – I love this color and need more casual pieces for my “real life.” My only regret with this item is that the weather turned much cooler shortly after I bought it, so I may not be able to wear it until the spring (although we do get some unseasonably warm days from time to time).
- Grey jacket – I purged another grey jacket from my closet a few months ago and I missed having this neutral basic to wear with skirts.
- Navy sporty Mary Janes – I need more comfortable shoes for my actual lifestyle and I don’t have any navy shoes.
October Budget Report
I’m pleased to report that I came in under my clothing budget for October. My monthly budget for clothing and related expenditures is $250 and I spent $219.55 last month. However, the real news is even better, as I made another return this week (for a skirt I bought in early October and hadn’t worn) to put me even more under budget for the year.
As of today, I have almost $800 remaining of my 2013 clothing budget. While I certainly don’t have to spend all of the allotted funds, I’ve never been this much under budget since I began creating and tracking clothing budgets in 2003. In fact, I’ve always been far over my budget at this point in every other year besides this one! So I’m giving myself a pat on the back for sticking to my budget for the first time… EVER!
Whatever shopping I do for the remainder of this year will center around replacing key pieces (walking shoes, bras, athletic wear) and buying items for the lifestyle I actually lead. Tracking what I wear has helped me to realize what does and doesn’t get worn, so I will only buy items that meet real lifestyle needs for what I’m doing now. My life is very casual at present, so no more buying anything I don’t see myself wearing tomorrow (or at least within the next week)!
Am I Following My Shopping Rules?
I continue to adhere to the rules I set forth in “My New and Improved Shopping Rules,” including not buying new pieces within a given category until I’ve worn all other new pieces within that category (see the post for more details). That rule has actually been extremely helpful for me, as it’s stopped me from buying so many duplicates and has forced me to either shop less or buy what I need to fill defined wardrobe needs. I’m no longer buying a plethora of short-sleeved tops and cardigans like I used to, simply because it was easy to do. This shift in shopping practices will make a big difference for me over the long run.
What I Wore During October
During October, I wore 38 different garments (not including workout/lounge wear) and 9 pairs of shoes. I had very few repeat wears (3 of the garments and 5 pairs of shoes were worn more than once), as I’ve been focused on trying to avoid having “wardrobe benchwarmers” at the end of the year. Wearing pieces that hadn’t been worn in quite some time has allowed me to discover “diamonds in the rough,” as well as determine when it’s time for other items to head out the door.
I’m going to continue wearing whatever I want and tracking what I wear through the end of the year. Then next year, I’m going to take on a new challenge. At this point, my plan will be to do two-month terms of Project 333 (instead of three month rotations) through all of 2014, but I will share my specific plans as it gets closer to the end of the year. I still hope to end 2013 with few or no “benchwarmers,” but that remains to be seen. I’ve managed to eliminate quite a few potential benchwarmers from my closet since the time I wrote “Wardrobe Benchwarmers Past and Future” and I’m pleased with both my progress and what I’ve learned about myself and my wardrobe.
For a number of months, I’ve been posting useful links on select topics each Friday. While I’ll continue to do dedicated links posts from time to time, I’m going to shift things a bit. At the end of select posts, I will share a few articles I’ve read recently that I think you’ll enjoy. This way, I won’t overwhelm you with too many links and I’ll be able to share articles in a timely fashion and won’t be limited by a narrow topic description. I will also share useful links in my Facebook and Twitter feeds, so I welcome you to follow me there as well.
Here are a few articles I enjoyed this past week:
- “One Reason You Might Have Too Much of the Same Thing in Your Closet” – Another gem from Bridgette Raes! Bridgette looks at why we end up with so many similar pieces in our wardrobes and she provides a few concrete tips for turning it around.
- “Shopping Motivations” – This post on The Nife en L’Air (an excellent blog that is well worth following!) explores the many reasons for wanting to buy something new. I saw a lot of myself I the seven reasons highlighted and I think many of you will as well.
- “Hello 35!” – Tammy from Rowdy Kittens turned 35 yesterday (she’s just a “spring chicken” in my book!). In this wonderful post, she shares 35 lessons she’s learned over the course of her lifetime. Many of these lessons are relevant to those of us who overshop and struggle with the less vs. more dichotomy (my favorite lessons are numbers 1, 2, 17, 30, 32, 33, 34, and 35, but they are all great!). Perhaps I will do a similar post on my next birthday, but I’ll have to come up with 48 (Eek!) things!
Thanks for Being Here!
Thanks for staying with me throughout this very long post! I’m extremely grateful for all of my readers and have appreciated the support and encouragement you have offered me over the course of this year. Even if you’ve never commented or emailed me, I know you’re there and you keep me going and focusing on my “Recovering Shopaholic” journey.
I welcome your comments and feedback, as well as suggestions for future posts. This blog is for you as well as for me, and we are all in this together as we work to trade our full closets for full lives! I wish you a wonderful weekend filled with joy and simple pleasures.