October Accountability Update

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.

Shopping Accountability Updates

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:

What Left My Closet in October 2013

These 20 items left my closet in October 2013.

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:

  1. Buying things on sale or on consignment (the allure of the low price).
  2. Buying pieces that are similar to what I already have in my closet (the duplication error).
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Brown tank – I’ve had this tank for years, but I’ve recently soured on brown (for me).
  5. Brown zebra print tank – Same reason as above.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!
  9. 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.
  10. Green tee – I opted to return this top because I have a similar green tee in my closet.
  11. 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.
  12. 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!
  13. 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.
  14. Mint embellished tee – Same problem as with the charcoal embellished tee (#8 above).
  15. Pink tank – This tank was worn and loved but had begun to pill.  It was time for it to go.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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!
  20. 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.

What came into my closet - October 2013

These six items came into my closet in October 2013.

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):

  1. 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.
  2. Black wallet I desperately needed to replace my old tired wallet (pictured above).
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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 leadTracking 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.

Useful Links

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.

41 thoughts on “October Accountability Update

  1. I loved this post Debbie! I enjoyed hearing the “why” of your thought processes. You’ve inspired me to start tracking my clothing purchases and purges. This will be one of my 2014 goals, along with just buying less overall. Thanks for putting your heart and soul into your posts for us. Have a great weekend! 🙂

    • I’m glad I can help to inspire you, Kim! Congrats on committing to track your clothing purchases and purges during 2014. Please let me know how that goes. I think it will help you a lot, as it’s done for me!

  2. RE: Sales and consignment shops. As someone who works for a clothing retailer, I see a myriad of reasons why stuff goes on sale, ends up on the clearance rack, or ends up in the consignment shop. Too often the reasons are: poor construction, poor quality fabric, chintzy embellishment that can’t withstand the most gentle of care, bad overall design or design that doesn’t work with fabric, unattractive, etc. Now some stuff is put on sale to move it out the door and can be a good buy, but way too often there are few “gems” in the clearance rack (and if there are any, the store employees may get there first). I see two trends in many of your purchases: a lot of bling and fussy embellishments that don’t really fit the fabrication or style of garment, and trying to “rescue” poorly fitting clothes with alterations. One has to be very careful with alterations — and if you are planning to alter clothing be conscious of how the garment is made and whether it lends itself to being altered. Fortunately, I used to sew a lot of my own clothing so I know a lot about clothing construction, pattern alterations, etc. I still get some things altered (waist taken in) or hemmed (pants made for giants). I’ve had some luck with adding or moving darts, but things can go very wrong with this ploy. Not all alterations folks really know what they are doing, so that’s another worry. BTW, you look great for someone in her late 40’s!!

    • I was actually wondering the same thing about alterations. One piece of fashion advice that seems to get tossed around a lot is to not expect clothes to fit you right off the rack because we are all shaped uniquely (very true), and to get things altered. I’ve always been afraid of altering so instead I just wait and wait until I find something that fits right. There are some blogs I follow (alterations needed, extra petite) where they show some amazing post-alterations pieces but I’m still scared of it. Debbie, in your experience, how often were you really able to get something great after tailoring or was it mostly throwing good money after bad?

      • When I lived in a different city, I had a wonderful seamstress who did fantastic alterations for very short money. I am still searching for a good alterations person where I live now, and the cost of alterations (hemming and so one) have shot way up! I add the cost of alterations to the overall cost of the garment BEFORE I buy it to determine if it’s worthy of making the trip home to my closet. A classic tweed skirt on sale from $150 to , say, $55, might need $25 in alterations to take in the waist (easy to do), but is still a good buy at $80 IF it has quality fabric and classic tailoring and is in a neutral color — guaranteeing a lot of wearability. By contract, a $75 trendy boyfriend blazer in a non-neutral color, on sale for $35, that also needs a lot of alterations costing, say, $55 (total cost: $90) is not good buy in my book. But if the right person does the alterations on the boyfriend jacket and this is garment will be a staple in your wardrobe, then maybe it’s worth the extra cost. Or maybe there is another jacket that fits better somewhere else. I have to really, really love something before I go to the tailor and spend even more money on clothes I’ve already paid good money for. It has to be “perfect” — except, of course, that the pants need hemming, or the waist needs taking in, etc. I study the construction of the clothing before I buy so I know it can be altered. I used to do my own alterations but decided to let the pros handle them now. Easy alterations (depending on construction of garment): hemming pants, shirts, shortening sleeves, taking in or letting out (if there is enough fabric) waists, adding or deepening body darts. More involved (and trickier to get correct): altering shoulders and necklines; resizing bodices; altering sleeve length on sleeves with cuffs, buttons or other decorations, linings, or sheer fabrics; anything that requires reconstructing the garment (cutting an a-line skirt down to a pencil skirt, etc.).

      • Wow Dottie! This is clearly where knowing how to sew clothes and understanding how clothes are constructed really helps to inform your choices. I think my trouble is I don’t know what kinds of alterations would even make something wearable, and if they are easy/hard ones to do.

    • Although I will take my clothing to consignment, I seldom purchase clothing there. I have a hard time finding clothing I like that fits. Most of the high end, non-embellished clothing is too small for me, which I find odd because I’m not THAT big. I wear a size 10 on the bottom, usually a 12 on the top (big busy and shoulders), but most of the clothing I like is size 2 or 4. The stuff in my size is always too embellished or a fabric I don’t like.

    • I love the discussion that’s going on here! Some excellent comments from all of you.

      Dottie – Thanks for your perspective as someone who works in retail and for sharing your insights on alterations.

      Alice – Dottie already shared a lot of great information on alterations, but I wanted to answer the question you posed to me. A lot of the alterations I have done are successful and make a big difference in terms of how the garment fits. The best alterations are the ones that are more “standard” and not too involved. For me, it’s taking in the sides of a top or jacket (I have broad shoulders but a narrow tors0) and taking in the waist of pants or jeans (my hips are quite a bit larger than my waist, so I often have the dreaded “waist gap”). Those types of changes, as well as adjusting hems on pants, skirts, and sleeves, are almost always “winners” for me. Where I’ve gone wrong is when I’ve basically tried to re-make an entire garment or tried to make something work because I couldn’t return it. As Dottie mentioned, shoulder alterations are very difficult to do and I don’t think I will attempt that again. Also difficult is narrowing an A-line skirt or dress. It’s fairly easy to narrow a straight skirt, but not as easy with a flared version. More delicate fabrics (such as silk and rayon) are also hard to alter. Did you see my links post on alterations? There are more tips there – here’s the link: https://recoveringshopaholic.com/useful-links-on-tailoring-your-clothes/

      Deby – I’ve had similar experiences with consignment stores. There are lots of small sizes there and as of late, there has been FAR too many highly embellished, ultra-trendy, and low quality pieces there. I’ve almost completely sworn off consignment shopping at this point. I think Dottie makes a good point – the stuff is usually there for a reason and we should at least consider what that reason might have been.

  3. Just this evening I got done doing the final count of my spring/summer wardrobe minimizing. Everything has been cleaned and pressed, ready to count.

    I can scarcely imagine it now, although it was just seven months ago, but I started out my spring/summer (and we are not even approaching the winter wardrobe here) of a grand total of 286 pieces of clothing–not counting jewelry, shoes, purses, nightwear, yard/maintenance wear, and underwear.

    My goal was to get down to 99 pieces for each six month period of the year. As of today’s count, the 286 has dwindled to 73 pieces–representing 75% of my spring/summer wardrobe.

    And you know what? I can’t even remember what most of that 75% looked like today!! I thought that I would miss them, but once the wrong things left, I never gave them another thought. I sent them to a consignment store and to charity, and wished them godspeed with their new owners. When I look in my closet now, I see a curated, sensible, flexible workable wardrobe that coordinates in a variety of ways and moods. There is space between my clothing on the rack so that I can actually see what is there. I am proud of my excessive self for being able to pare down like this AND be happy.

    I am now in the process of doing the same thing with my fall/winter wardrobe.

    • I forgot to mention is that I wonder how I am going to feel when spring rolls around again. I’m sure I will want to get some new things, but at the same time, I’m not going to want to up my numbers!

    • Deby, Your progress is amazing and I hope you feel very proud of yourself! My experience has been quite similar. The more items I purge from my closet, the happier I become with my wardrobe and the easier it is for me to see actual wardrobe gaps. I don’t want to up my numbers, either (will do another closet inventory post soon), so I’m going to focus on up-leveling some of my basics. I think that when spring rolls around, you will ready to hit the ground running with your wardrobe. Your hard work is definitely paying off!

  4. Loved your blog and also your thought process. Could you please tell me how I could take and organize pictures of my clothes the way you did. What program did you use to post these pics??? I want to do this too!!

    • Glad you like my blog, Ruth! The hardest part with my photos was taking them all in the first place. That took quite a few hours! What I do for my “what’s new” and “what left” photos is place all of the images in a single folder (I have a PC but you can use this same process with Mac). Then I use the “Print Screen” button on my keyboard , making sure my cursor is in the folder so that image will be captured. Then I open Microsoft Paint (I’m sure there is an equivalent for Mac or something free out there that will do the trick) and copy the print screen contents into that program. I crop the image as desired and save it as a .jpg file. I used to do the images in Photoshop, but it was far too time-consuming. The method I outlined above is very fast and easy!

  5. Congratulations on sticking to your budget. If you can do that you will certainly get the rest of it right sooner or later. It was encouraging to see that not everything that left your wardrobe was a shopping mistake. I think we have all bought things like the white tee that turned out not to be as good as they seemed. I fear this will only get worse as clothing quality seems to decline every year.

    • You make a really good point about the clothing quality, Marion. It continues to decline more and more. I have some shirts from the same brand from four or five years ago that are in better shape than ones I bought this year! So some of the “mistakes” are not really my fault, but I’m not sure how to avoid them. Seems like a post on how to discern good quality clothing is in order, but I’ll either have to do a lot of research or perhaps have someone do a guest post on this.

  6. It’s really worthwhile to write down the reasons why items are not working and need to be released. I’ve been doing it myself over the past fortnight as I wade through 300+ clothes. I’d never done this before now but it’s made a huge difference to me and has enabled me to let go of 5 bags of clothing so far this week. I think it has made it easier for me to see in black and white, more logically I guess, and has stopped my emotions from taking over.

    I LOVE Deborah (Deby) ‘s 99 items idea. Projects 333’s concept of 33 items is just too difficult for me but 99 sounds feasible, achievable and more than enough. I’m going to adopt that one!!!

    • Carolyn, I’m glad you like my 99 idea! I couldn’t do the 33 either, it was too limiting. Also I was trying to come up with a method that would cover me for 2 six month seasonal periods instead of 4 three month periods. This is mostly due to our seasons where I live, and how my closet was already set up.

      I also find it exhausting mentally to switch out a capsule wardrobe every 3 months when I’m trying to cull at the same time. It’s easier for me to evaluate when everything is in front of me at once.

      I have a walk-in closet with a window at the far end. There is a long rack on each side with 2 levels of shelves above. One side is spring/summer, the other is fall/winter. The entire year’s clothing is visible at one time.

      This arrangement is especially helpful when I am working with colors because at the cusp of each season when I am transitioning pieces, it’s easy to see what goes together from one season to the next. I have different color palettes for the 2 seasonal wardrobes: summer has lighter and brighter tones, winter is primarily darks and more jewel tones. I like being able to see the whole year at one time, even though once we get past the transitional phase of any season, I tend to ignore the past season and focus on the present one.

      • I live in Europe where closets are small so don’t have the luxury of a walk in. I have to switch out seasonally. I like the idea of thinking in 6 months instead of 3 and I’m going to work with that concept. Don’t know why I didn’t think of it before, lol, because although my closet is smaller I still have room. Also, like you, my colors don’t work for all seasons. I live in the Alps and cold, bright colors don’t work here at all in winter. They look totally out of place in an environment of snow covered fir trees. 99 pieces sounds perfect to me. I tried 33 but pretty quickly went over that with my essentials, especially winter. I have a lot more winter clothes than summer as it is longer and requires specific snow-proof gear plus accessories are important. A different hat, gloves and scarf is the only way to change a look when there is no choice but wear a full padded jacket and fur-lined boots. Thanks for some inspiration.

    • You’re making excellent progress, Carolyn! I’m glad you like Deby’s 99 items idea. It’s definitely a lot easier to do than the standard Project 333. I may do some sort of modification myself come January. Still pondering… Please keep us posted with what you end up doing and how it goes for you. I think that any type of wardrobe challenge, whether someone else’s idea or your own creation, can be very beneficial. It helps us to be more conscious of what we have and what we love and wear and that can only help us over time. Best of luck to you!

  7. Amazing, you went under budget! Your shopping rules are certainly helping you to achieve your goal. Good for you Debbie!

  8. I’m with Dottie on the alterations- the item should be worth it to have altered, be that in terms of a classic staple for your wardrobe or in some cases if it doesn’t fit that criteria but you KNOW you will wear it over and over again as it was the missing link for making a multiple of outfits in your wardrobe (recently I purchased an item which was a basic cotton blend semifitted t-shirt in navy blue which was a missing link to make a number of new outfits with items in my closet-while it was in general what I needed, it did not quite fit the criteria of what I wanted as it was long sleeve-I was searching for a 3/4 sleeve simple true navy tee with a v-neck but had absolutely no luck-lots of scoop or bateau necks or wrong type of material or not true navy.etc. However when I came across this particular tee which fit all the criteria save the 3/4 sleeves, I quickly purchased and simply took it to my tailor who turned into a 3/4 for pennies. I have also done this previously with other tops that have fit the bill except for one or two small issues-length too long or had sleeves when I wanted a sleeveless. In all cases it was worth the few dollars to get exactly what I wanted but couldn’t find in the marketplace so for me the money was wellspent although the items were not staples like pants or jackets.
    And Debbie- you are doing soooo amazing with your shopping even if you don’t think so (step back and look at the habit back at the start of your blog)-you have come a long long way! Although I have my wardrobe pared down as I discussed in other comments and have a system to keep it managable, I still get the urge to buy when I don’t need whatever it is because I am bored or unhappy with something in my life and am looking for a quick “fix”. When this happens I pop over and read your blog to keep me on the straight and narrow or some of the minimalist clothing blogs. I also remind myself of the 4 to 5 French wardrobe rule which I follow loosely (it advocates only 4 to 5 quality items seasonal to keep the wardrobe refreshed)- for my wardrobe that is actually way too much new stuff(approx 8 to 10 items a year) as it is classic like Dotties in my best colors and kept in good repair). Anyway the point of this is that I take a look back at what I may have purchased in the last 4 to 6 months( I keep a list with the price) – in this case a great pair of flats in oxblood, a custom leather jacket,a new scarf and a custom unique belt. Yes all were bloody expensive( and trust me, I still have to catch my breath and sleep on the thought of paying”that” amount for a few weeks before I follow through after years of being a single parent who couldn’t afford even the basic tee& jeans) but worth every penny as all have added a punch to all basics in my wardrobe that keep it fresh( and more important they will not date- kept in good repair I should never have to replace 3 of the items and the flats , when properly cared for will last a goodly number of years as well/I am fanatical about care of my footwear-all are sprayed twice with shoespray before the 1st wearing,soles are redone when they show wear-I have a great cobbler- I wipe of the bottoms after every use and periodically respray them throughout the year /an example of this is my riding boots which are 7 years old but as the cobbler said when he redid the treads last month, they will go another 7 years at the least so the cost of these boots which originally gave me insomnia(they were my first real expensive-at least in my eyes- purchase), have so been worth the price as they are worn constantly for our 8 month winters here in Alberta . )So in doing this exercise, I then see that I purchased 4 new items(and what I spent for them) and really do not need whatever it is I think I want at the time. By writing it down, it helps keep me adhering to the 4 or 5 rule and I am not likely to follow through on my wardrobe”whim” and stay on budget.

    • Thanks for sharing your alterations experiences and wardrobe philosophy, Abgurl. I’ve done some of the types of alterations you mentioned, too, especially turning long sleeves into 3/4 sleeves. It’s often out of necessity for me, as my arms are too long for many long-sleeved shirts, but it’s an easy and inexpensive way to make something work.

      I love your insights on the French wardrobe. That’s really what I want to work towards. I want to have a relatively small but workable wardrobe filled with quality pieces I love and wear, and add a few new items each season to spice things up and modernize my closet. I still have a ways to go, but I’m getting there. I love the story about your boots! I’m still afraid to buy expensive items because I don’t trust myself to make the right decisions, but I’m working up to it, starting with handbags (I’ve done well there). Thanks for inspiring us with the way you do your wardrobe!

  9. Firstly congratulations on being under budget!
    Secondly being “bored to tears” by anything you write on this blog could never happen! Everything you write is insightful and even though I’ve never been a shopaholic I’ve made shopping mistakes and bought more than I ever needed (mostly duplicates). So by sharing your reasons you have helped me to question why certain garments were removed from my closet and what I need to be aware of for future purchases.
    So thank you again Debbie for all your wisdom and the links to other useful blogs.

    • Thanks so much for your kind words and congratulations, Megan! I’m glad you find my insights helpful even though you’re not a shopaholic. I think it’s helpful for everyone to increase their awareness about why they buy new items and purge unworkable pieces from their wardrobes. I was worried my analysis might bore people, but I’m glad to hear that wasn’t the case with at least one person!

  10. Great post, Debbie. Forgive me if I’ve mentioned this before, but the colors of the items you discarded are all over the map. IMO, there is no way the same woman could look good in beige/brown/tan and black/white/pink. Have you ever determined your colors (a la Color Me Beautiful or some other scheme) and then taken a look at your clothing with an eye toward flattering colors? Maybe there’s a subliminal reason these items don’t appeal and end up being tossed? Perhaps that’s why you gave away your brown items?

    • I made the comment on a recent post that I realised that I had every neutral color in my wardrobe. I have also had my colors done (light summer) many years ago but it didn’t seem stop me adding clothing in beige, brown, black, grey, taupe, navy, camel, olive. I decided to remove everything taupe, beige and brown and make it a rule NOT to buy these colors again. Beige looks ghastly on me.
      As a shopaholic, one of the problems is not knowing when to stop. Buying into the advice of having a core of good “neutral basics” meant I went off to make a core of basics in EVERY neutral. Seeing someone looking chic in head-to-toe taupe or elegant in cream, beige and brown would inspire me want to go off and do the same. It’s all very emotionally driven rather than sensible I’m afraid, lol.

      • I agree with these posts about color choices — it seems so random. I had my colors done in the 1980s and I basically stick to them, especially for anything that will be near my face. Having the right colors has saved me tons of money by avoiding colors that won’t look good. I don’t even look at these colors in the store (making shopping more focused and less time-consuming). I also know what works on my body type and avoid clothing that isn’t cut in a way that flatters my body. Also a huge money/time saver. Once you have good quality clothes in the right colors, with the right fit, and meeting your daily needs, the desire to shop further may dissipate as it has for me. (Also, the quality of clothing on offer today is decidedly less than even a few years ago — and offers little appeal.) I still buy a limited amount of replacement clothing and accessories to update my “classic” wardrobe. And replacement shoes. And that’s it, all on $25 per month. (Obviously, I have to plan and save up for many of my purchase, like shoes.)

    • Great discussion about colors here! You’re right, Bette, that no woman would look good in all of those colors. I actually DON’T look good in beige / brown /tan. I bought those items in error, for pretty much the same reasons that Carolyn mentioned (covering all neutral bases like a “good shopaholic,” buying things because they looked good on others, being driven by emotions, etc.). I think I have only one brown item left in my closet (and it may soon go) and no beige or brown. I look best in black, white, and jewel tones and most of my clothes now fit into those categories. I also wear charcoal grey and navy as neutrals. I look better in the cooler tones. I had my colors done MANY years ago, but I mostly just go by my intuition and “eye” now. I used to try to make sub-standard colors work by adding scarves or combining them with a “good color” (e.g. I wore the beige leopard cardigan with a cobalt tank top underneath), but now that I’m paring down my wardrobe, I’m just keeping my best colors in there. It’s much easier that way!

      • From your photo I would have guessed that you are a “winter” and thus look best in clear jewel tones, black, white, navy, charcoal, etc. Me, too! The challenge is that jewel tones are most available in winter — tough if you’re shopping in other 3 seasons. When I find one of “my” colors is back in fashion (like wine/purple this fall), I plan a purchase that will work in my wardrobe. I definitely use my colors near my face, thus allowing slightly more latitude in choice of pants, skirts. I have a lovely pair of very dark brown pants (hand-me downs from my “autumn” sister) that I wear with several colors (black, white, cobalt blue. or icy blue tops). But I have really trained myself not to contemplate clothes in yellows, khaki, greens, oranges,corals, tans, off-whites, etc. — they don’t work for me so why even look? And the toned-down version of jewel colors also don’t work, so I avoid these too.

      • Sounds like we look best in the same colors, Dottie. I’ve made some stupid mistakes in buying other colors, but the colors you mentioned are really what suits me best. You’re right that the jewel tones are available much more in the winter, which makes it a bit tougher. Like you, I no longer contemplate pastels, tans, and the like. I still wear green and orange but only very deep tones and only once in a while. It’s much easier to shop when you can eliminate a wide section of the options right away simply by virtue of color. Few people do that, as I’ve noticed, but like you said, why even consider things we know don’t work for us?

  11. Great job being under budget Debbie! You’re really doing great. I send an email with my shopping confessions to my sister and best friend every month. It does help to be accountable. It has stopped excessive purchasing more than once! After several months of moderate shopping I have come down with an acute case of I want to buy it the last week or so. I always want to buy new outfits for the holidays and I am planning a vacation for next year, so some of my big triggers are coming into play. I am glad to say that I am refocused and the damage wasn’t very big. It was very weird to have that shopper’s high after being more used to being calm and logical when deciding if I should buy something or not. I’m glad I came to my senses or I would have about $1000 worth of tops,sweaters, dresses, necklaces, and boots zooming their way to me instead of $135. Progress…..

    • I think it’s great that you have accountability relationships with your sister and best friend. I highly recommend that others do something similar. Dr. Benson writes about “Shopping Support Buddies,” which is quite similar. Here’s a link for others who might read this and be interested: http://www.shopaholicnomore.com/for-friends-family/shopping-support-buddies/

      Congrats on your awareness of your “I want to buy it” triggers and avoiding doing any major damage. Yes, you did shop and experience the “high,” but you were much less destructive then you’ve been in the past. The same has been true of me. I am having more calmer experiences and fewer “high” emotional shopping experiences. This shows we truly ARE recovering! We ARE making progress!

  12. Congrats on your achivements this month! I really like those “accountability updates” as they help a lot stay in line with objectives, or become aware of drifting away and redirect course, thank you for sharing your inspiring journey. And thanks for the link love, I’m really grateful you appreciate my blog.

    • Thanks, Kali! I’m glad you like my accountability updates. I like your “new guests” posts as well. Part of why I like your blog is that you and I think in similar ways. When I read many of your posts, I find myself nodding because I’ve had similar thoughts. With other posts, I get a perspective I didn’t yet have but that’s very much in line with my beliefs. Good stuff!

  13. The why questions are extremely useful, please keep asking them! And congratulations on being under budget. Please do stay under budget until the end of the year and then use the surplus to do something really memorable with your husband. (Of course it’s great if you can make a big splash like a night in a hotel, but ometimes memorable things can be very inexpensive – for example I could take the ferry out to the islands with children for the price of one adult’s bus ticket.)

    I’m wearing a narrow range of favorites these days. I tend to get bored of my clothes really quickly, and I seem to have far too many dressy options. Although I repeat-wear a few long-term favorites constantly (jeans and knits mostly, plus some scarves), I tend to fall in love with an item for a few weeks, wear it obsessively, and then forget it. My best purchases this year have been two pairs of white jeans, a chambray peasant shirt, and a loosely strung string of ivory plastic pearls – they go together perfectly and are currently my favorite casual outfit option.

    I really liked sweater dresses during the cold season last year, but although I love to wear them, most of them are out of rotation at the moment: one of them was destroyed in the laundry, another has a ripped neckline, and a third has tiny holes that look suspiciously like the moths had a feast in the summer storage. Maybe this week’s challenge is to repair them, if they can be repaired…

    • Thanks, FrugalFashionista! I like your idea of using the extra funds to do something nice with my husband. I will keep that thought in mind as the year winds to a close… It sounds like you’re doing well with your wardrobe and made some excellent purchases this year. It’s interesting that you wear new items a lot and then forget about them. Do you revisit them later? I don’t tend to do what you do. I often buy things and forget about them before I even wear them! I’m turning that around this year, though. My goal is to buy things I can’t wait to wear and have them become long-term wardrobe “all-stars.” I’ll get there… Good luck with repairing those sweater dresses. Sounds like you’ve had some bad luck with those items, but I hope you’ll be able to rescue them and wear them during this cold season.

  14. Here’s a trick I’ve been trying to use when shopping. Instead of asking myself why I should buy something (It’s my favorite color! I could wear it to the X event. It’s a classic!) I try to ask myself “Why wouldn’t I buy this?” The answers might help — the embellishment makes the neckline of this shirt sag; it’s not really comfortable; it’s not one of my colors.

    • Great question, Sara! I can definitely see how turning the tables that way could be helpful. I think I could have avoided quite a few shopping mistakes with that powerful question. I will add it to my arsenal moving forward.

    • OHHH- I really like that idea too Sara and I am going to steal it as well if you don’t mind, to add to my shopping weapons.

  15. You’re welcome, Francesca! I think you’re doing some really great work and raising very important issues. I know I’ll be staying tuned and cheering you on in your efforts!

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