We’re now knee-deep into the holiday season and there are only a few weeks left in the year. It’s hard to believe this blog is almost a year old! It’s time for another accountability update, this time for November. 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. I intend to continue doing these accountability posts in 2014, as they help to keep me honest and on track for fulfilling my goals.
What Left My Closet
Let’s dive right in, beginning with what left my closet last month. During November, I purged 13 items from my wardrobe. Five of these items were returned to the place of purchase, while the remaining eight pieces were either consigned or donated to charity.
Here’s a snapshot of the pieces that left my closet this past month:
Why I Purged These Items
In addition to posting photos of what left my closet, 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.
Listed from left to right, top to bottom (from the photo above), here’s what I let go of and why:
- Black back-tie sundress: I bought this dress at a consignment store in June of this year and wore it twice. Unfortunately, however, it never fit me quite right. The seam that is supposed to sit below the bust line kept riding up and I found myself having to continually adjust it. The back tie was also uncomfortable when I was sitting down. I have a similar but better fitting black dress, so I re-consigned this one.
- Black and blue striped blazer: I bought this jacket on sale in April. It was too big for me, but I tried to “rescue” it through alterations. Unfortunately, this didn’t really work and I only ended up wearing the blazer once before consigning it last month.
- Black long jacket: Another consignment and alterations failure! I like the look of a long jacket with pants, but this one should have stayed in the store, as it was far too big for me. I bought it in September and re-consigned it last month, sadly never worn.
- Leopard print cardigan: This cardigan was given to me by a friend last year and was only worn once. I don’t really look good in beige tones and I have a grey toned leopard print cardigan that is much more flattering on my skin tone.
- Grey and black striped top: I bought this top in August because I really wanted a short-sleeved striped top (I have plenty of long-sleeved striped tops). I later found a better and less expensive option (that I’ve already worn three times), so I returned this top to the store in November.
- Grey trousers: I’ve had these trousers for about two years and have only worn them a few times. I have little use for business-style trousers these days and my more flattering black trousers cover me on those rare occasions when I need to dress up a bit.
- Grey jacket: I bought this jacket when I last shopped with my shopaholic friend in October. I really loved the jacket but it didn’t fit me quite right. I decided that it would be a somewhat tricky alteration and rather than risking it, I returned the jacket for a refund. I still want to find a nice grey jacket, but I will hold out for a better fit.
- Grey moto-style jacket: Another purchase made while shopping with my shopaholic friend, this time in August. I also loved this jacket, but it only looked good when it was closed. Since I often like to wear my jackets open, I opted to return this one to the store.
- Houndstooth coat: My husband bought this coat for me as a gift in September, but it wasn’t cold enough to wear it until November. However, when I tried it on again, my husband and I both decided that it should be returned to the store. It just needed too many alterations in order to fit me right and I already have quite a few coats that I love and wear regularly. I’d still like to find a black and white coat, but it’s certainly more of a want than a need!
- Orange long-sleeved tee: I bought this top at a consignment store last year and wore it a few times. It was starting to pill and was also uncomfortably hot to wear due to synthetic fibers. Most of the tops I still own are made from natural fibers and that is now a strong preference of mine.
- Pink tank top with chain details: Another consignment store purchase from last year that was worn a few times. I liked the way it looked but the chains were “fussy.” Also, the tank was longer on one side for some reason and I kept tugging down the other side when I wore it. No more fussy garments for me!
- Black and white striped cardigan: Yet another consignment store failure! I’m kicking myself for buying this sweater back in September, as the ruffles at the bottom were unflattering to my hips. Also, the ruffles overall were fussy and not really my style. I re-consigned this cardigan without ever having worn it!
- White t-shirt: I bought this to replace another white tee that did not wash well. Sadly, this tee was just too see-through for it to work for me. It hung in my closet unworn since August, but I finally returned it to the store last month. Why is the material on t-shirts so thin these days? I think we all know the answer to that one…
Patterns I’m Noticing
While I’m glad I’ve started listing my reasons for letting go of closet pieces, the process is as depressing as it is enlightening. However, the point of this entire process is to learn and make positive changes and that’s definitely happening, albeit not as quickly as I’d like sometimes.
I continue to notice patterns among my purged items, namely the following:
- Consignment failures: Many of my consignment buys are ill-advised and end up being a waste of money. I will do the actual math at the end of the year, but my guess is that only one out of every three or four items I buy at consignment stores end up being things I love and wear. I often try too hard to make a garment work when it should have remained in the store. I’ve recently cut way back on my consignment store visits and may opt to stop this type of shopping altogether. Although I like the idea of buying second-hand on the basis of environmental impact and potential cost savings, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. It may work out great for some people, but not so much for me.
- Sales snafus: Low prices can sometimes cloud our judgment as to whether or not something is a wise purchase. That has certainly been the case for me and I’ve made more than my share of bad sales buys. The bottom line is that something should always be at least an “8” on a scale of 1-10, no matter how low the price is. I know better, but I need to start doing better more of the time!
- Misguided alterations: Alterations can be a wonderful thing and I’ve always been a great advocate of using a tailor to create better-fitting clothes. However, a tailor is not a magician and he or she cannot completely overhaul a garment. I’ve often assigned too much power to my tailor and haven’t been happy with the results. I’ve learned the hard way the difference between what should be altered and what should be left in the store! I will share my insights on this topic very soon in an upcoming post.
What Came Into My Closet
During November, I purchased six garments, one handbag, a pair of walking shoes, and one bra. Yes, I continue to buy quite a few new things, but the difference is that I’m purchasing items that are in line with my lifestyle needs instead of making impulse buys like I did in the past. More on my reasons for these purchases below.
Here’s a photo (click for a larger view) of my November 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 crewneck tee: I bought this top to serve as both a wardrobe staple and as a layering piece for colder days. I love the “column of color” look and will enjoy wearing this top with black pants or jeans and colorful scarves. This was one of the few Black Friday online purchases that I opted to keep. It’s a tall size, so the sleeves are plenty long enough for me (very hard to find!).
- Black knit pants: I’ve often mentioned that I have a hard time finding pants that fit me well and are comfortable to wear. I have a nerve problem that makes tight-fitting pants terribly uncomfortable for me, so I’m constantly trying to find pants that are as comfortable as yoga pants but aren’t actually yoga pants. These pants are a good compromise; they have a lot of stretch in them, yet look more streamlined and stylish than a yoga pant. They are also long enough for me – win, win!
- Blue print waffle top: Now that I’ve started to wear “regular” clothes when working from home, I decided to add a few more long-sleeved tops to my collection. This top will also come in handy during the colder weather we’ve been having in my neck of the woods.
- Charcoal knit pants: The same pants as the black pants mentioned above but in charcoal. They are actually lighter in color than they appear in the photo, so they are noticeably different from the other pair. I’m very happy to have two new pairs of pants to wear!
- Black walking shoes: My husband and I go on walks most days and my old walking shoes were falling apart. I was happy to find comfortable walking shoes that also look stylish and fun. I’ve already worn these shoes a number of times and love them!
- Metallic tote bag: Many of you know how much I love metallic handbags. A friend was going to sell this bag on eBay but offered to sell it to me first. I took her up on it and enjoyed carrying this new bag throughout November.
- Leopard print waffle top: Another top for wearing around the house and on cooler days outdoors. This one needed a slight alteration but it now fits me well and will come in handy over the next few months.
- Navy boat-neck tee: I plan to use this to create a column of color using navy, similar to what I mentioned above with the black tee. I will wear this top with my navy pants and with jeans (I’m still trying to find new comfortable jeans!). I bought this top and the one above at a consignment store, but feel good about these two purchases and believe they will serve me well.
November Budget Report
I’m pleased to report that once again, I came in under my clothing budget last month! My monthly budget for clothing and related expenditures is $250 and after all of the returns I made, I only spent $58.89 during November.
Lest I seem virtuous with my shopping, I have to admit that not all of my Black Friday holiday weekend expenditures are reflected in the total above, as most of them were actually credited to my accounts during early December. I still haven’t received everything I ordered and I’m not sure how much I will end up keeping (I already returned some things this past weekend), but I’m determined to come in under my shopping budget for this year.
December is often a “dicey” month for me shopping-wise and after my recent online “binge,” I’m kind of on pins and needles about the whole thing. I’ve already decided to allocate a large proportion of my shopping budget for November and December next year, as I like to use holiday sales to buy things I need for the colder months and to fill wardrobe gaps. Of course, I could save money from previous months, but until I really get my shopping problem under control, I really need to have my budget parameters firmly laid out for me.
Am I Following My Shopping Rules?
I have a number of rules that I created for myself in order to help manage my wardrobe and my shopping habits. These rules include my shopping budget, a “one in, one out” rule, wardrobe tracking, accountability, and a rule around purchasing too many items within a given category. The latter rule stipulates that I cannot buy a new item within a given category until I’ve already worn all of the other new items within that category.
I’m somewhat unsure as to whether or not I adhered to the purchasing category rule, as I purchased two pairs of pants on the same day as well as two long-sleeved tops on another day. I didn’t have any unworn new pieces within those categories, but I think my original intent was to only purchase one item within a category at a time. I actually don’t feel bad about these potential slip-ups, as I believe I will properly utilize all of the new pieces, but I need to be careful moving forward.
I am definitely in danger of “wardrobe creep,” especially now that I’ve already purged so many pieces from my closet. I need to make sure that I continue to release at least as many wardrobe items as I bring in, as I never want to own upwards of 300 garments ever again. I am not entirely sure as to my ideal wardrobe size as of yet, but I do know that it’s far less than what I started this year with!
I really need to slow down how many new pieces I’m bringing into my closet and focus on quality over quantity. I feel that I am aiming more toward quality and fulfilling lifestyle needs, but I’m still a shopaholic so I need to be mindful of my tendency to overshop. I plan to revisit my goals and rules for 2014, so there may be some changes in order for both areas. Stay tuned…
What I Wore During November
I continue to track all of the garments and shoes I’m wearing each month. During November, I wore 45 garments (including outerwear but not including workout and lounge wear) and 7 pairs of shoes. There were far more repeat wears last month than during the other months (July through October) when I tracked what I wore. This was partly due to my decision to start wearing more of my “regular” clothes at home (mostly tops) and partly because I don’t have all that many warm clothes and it’s been unseasonably cool where I live.
In all, I wore 13 garments and four pairs of shoes more than once. The biggest “all-star” for November was my black Paul Green boots that I recently dyed from their original brown. I wore those boots 7 times last month! I’m so glad I decided to dye the boots instead of having them languish in my closet because I’m not currently a fan of brown. There were three garments that saw four wears during November: my black jeans, my black trousers, and my burgundy cardigan. I also wore my black knit coat and my new black and white striped short-sleeved tee three times each.
I’ve learned that I wear my cool weather clothing more often than my warm weather items because we actually have a longer cool season here and a relatively short summer. I’ve often purchased far too many summer clothes because summer is my favorite time of year. But this year, I only wore most of my summer clothes during July through October, so many of those pieces were only worn two or three times. I now know that I need to stop buying summer clothing, use more of what I have, and focus any purchases I make on things to wear during my dominant cooler season.
I was going to include a “wardrobe benchwarmer project” update within this post, but since this is getting so long, I will save that for a separate post. Suffice it to say that I’ve made excellent progress in that realm and I look forward to sharing the specifics with you all soon.
Entering the Home Stretch…
As I enter the “home stretch” of 2013, I want to make sure I end the year on a high note. I plan to finish strong and accomplish as many of my goals as possible for the year. I look forward to reporting that I’ve stuck to my budget and eliminated the majority of my wardrobe benchwarmers. I also hope to share that I’ve increased my feelings of gratitude and satisfaction with both my wardrobe and my life.
I definitely plan to continue this blog through 2014. A few of you have expressed concern that I may stop posting after this year concludes, but that will not be the case. I still have much to learn and much to share with all of you. Thank you for being here and thank you for helping to keep me accountable. It helps me more than you know!
I agree that you would probably do well to give up consignment shopping all together. But I can understand the thrill of it for someone who enjoys shopping and receiving a bargain whilst pursuing it. Me, I can walk into Nordstrom spend $300 and the purchase will fit inside my handbag. At the end of the month we will have spent the same amount of money, but I will have netted only one garment or accessory. Once again, I applaud your guts to lay it all out there for everyone to comment, and your accountability is impressive. Me, I did the hanger trick for about one week. ;/
I’m beginning to think your way of shopping is much smarter, Cornelia, and I hope to move in that direction. I still have a hard time trusting myself to make those bigger purchases, but I’m getting there. I can spend more on handbags, shoes, and watches, but still struggle with the clothes. I make far too many mistakes with clothes, but I’m gradually learning and improving. I get impatient with my progress, but I know it’s happening…
While I take a good many things to a consignment store, I seldom purchase anything there myself. I have a hard time finding the right fit, its just too iffy most of the time. I have identified particular brands and cuts that fit me without alteration, so I would just as soon go directly to those types of items and bypass the cost of alterations altogether. The only kinds of alterations I will consider are the ones I can easily do myself.
You’re right that the fit on consignment items is just too iffy, Deby. I guess I’m a slow learner, but I’m finally starting to get it! I’m not too easy to fit off the rack, but I have found some winning brands and styles that have worked for me without alterations. I will still do the more simple alterations, but I’m done with the bigger jobs that have often ended up as failures!
I have to say there is one item I will generally buy in a consignment store: vintage 1990’s Coach cross body bags in good condition. Cross body bags are so popular now, and Coach made the best ones–intelligently designed so that they work even today with the kinds of gadgets we carry, and the leather lasts and looks good forever!
Coach bags and Frye boots are the two brands where I have zero guilt about spending the amount of money on one item. I may have guilt when I do it when I can’t afford it, but when I can, I don’t think twice. You have quality products that will last forever. I’ve had my Frye boots about 3 months and I already have gotten my money’s worth as I wear them 5+ times a week.
Sounds like your Frye boots are serving you very well, Melissa! I find I get my money’s worth out of boots and bags, too. I can’t say the same about all of my shoes, but my boots usually see a lot of wear and the cost-per-wear ends up being quite low.
One thing to keep in mind when shopping consignment stores is the possibility that the garment has already been already altered. I NEVER take altered (shortened pant length, waist taken in) garments to consignment, but I also notice that the people at the store really never look at clothes to see if they have been altered. When I shop consignment, I focus on simple standard garments: shoes, purses, scarves, belts, jewelry. A friend just scored a pair of expensive but unworn shoes for $6, so it’s possible to do really well in these shops.
Debbie – You have have made great progress in a very short time. I think it is awesome that you are figuring out what is wrong with the items you are letting go. It is true that we learn from our mistakes. You have taken the time to understand exactly what you have learned. I applaud you!
It has taken me about two years to correct my shopping habits at thrift and consignment shops. First, the item has to be on my list of needed items (like a charcoal gray jacket). Then it has to fit within the parameters of items that I can personally fix. I am quite a good seamstress but I have my limitations. It took a couple of disasters with removing sleeves and trying to narrow the shoulders of a jacket to convince me to reject jackets that are too big.
I have become a much pickier shopper no matter how inexpensive a garment is. I often tell myself to leave it for the person who it will really fit. And because I shop so much at thrift shops and eBay, I have learned that if I pass on something not quite perfect, something I like better will come along eventually. It took a year to find that perfect charcoal gray jacket!
Thanks for sharing your journey re: thrift and consignment shopping, Anne. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has tried too hard to make such pieces work! I have a charcoal grey jacket on my list, too! It hasn’t been quite a year yet, but it just might take me that long to find one. I am gettig MUCH pickier with shopping, too. Looking at WHY I’m returning things or purging items from my wardrobe is helping a great deal!
Yea new pants!!!!! A trick I have for not falling for sales in the stores is to never look at the prices. I gather what I am interested in and try it on. I decide what I would like to buy and then check out what they cost. If they’re too much, then I will wait for a sale or pass and if the price is right I will purchase. That way I’m not drawn in by the bargain on something that isn’t quite right. The other reasons like purchasing second hand (on Ebay for me) and items that are too fussy I still struggle with. After months of not buying on Ebay I had some Paypal credits so I decided to test the waters. I got a couple of nice tops and a couple of other things that didn’t fit at all and couldn’t be returned. Sooooooo nothing has changed. I haven’t made a bunch of rules, but one I am going to stick to from now on is Do Not Buy Anything That Can’t Be Returned. I think listing the reasons that the items you are passing on that don’t work for you is a great idea. When you notice patterns you’ll be able to avoid those things.
I like your tip about not looking at prices, Tonya. I will give that one a try and see how it goes for me. I DO want to buy things only because I love them and they work for my life, not because of a low price. I also like your new rule about not buying anything that can’t be returned. That’s a really good one and I may add it to my rules for 2014! As you can see, I did return some items last month that I decided didn’t work for me, but I was not able to return the consignment items. Another reason to stop buying on consignment!
Debbie, I think you should just stop shopping in consignment stores.
I don’t shop in consignment stores at all. I just think of them as shops filled with other people’s caste-offs. I have my own caste-offs to deal with, I don’t need other people’s.
Secondly, the clothes in consignment stores have been put in there for a reason, probably to do with cut, fit and flattery problems for the original owner, now being passed along to someone else!!!
The money (and time/energy/effort) would surely be better spent on well-fitting garment in the first place. Shopping consignment seems to be a false economy in the end.
Very good points, CS. I am starting to be able to see some of the reasons why certain items have been consigned. Of course, sometimes people just consign things because they are “trend chasers” and the pieces in question aren’t on the cutting edge of fashion, but frequently there is something “off” about the items in second-hand stores. I like your comment about “false economy.” That has certainly been the case for me more times than I can probably count!
You seem to buy a lot of poor fitting garments and attempt to transform them with alterations.
I am a patternmaker and dressmaker by trade, and a sewing teacher. Simple nip and tuck alterations can be worth doing to improve fit such as adding darts to improve shape, hem/sleeves shortened, seams taken in on simple garments, change of buttons etc.
But it is very difficult to alter more complex garments like jackets. Trying to make a TOO BIG jacket SMALLER doesn’t work because you just can’t take in the side seams and hey presto!! If the jacket is too big for you, it will be too big for you all over – in the neck circumference, the depth of the armhole, the distance from the shoulder to the bust to the waist etc et etc. I know how to do these alterations but I would never bother myself – incredibly time-consuming to be worth it in the long-run.
CS hits the nail on the head about alterations — and all the “hidden” elements that need to be altered!! As I’ve noted before, simple alterations (shortening sleeves and hems, etc.) are worthwhile, but trying to alter shoulders, necklines, drape, front closure, etc., can lead to a lot of bad alterations and needless expense. WALK AWAY from poorly fitting clothes and stop trying to rescue bad purchases through alterations.
Too bad sewing classes are no longer “required” in school curriculum. Knowing how to sew has helped me eliminate a lot of poorly constructed garments from consideration for purchase and also helps me know what can be altered and what cannot (0r cannot be altered well or cheaply) — as CS points out.
Totally agree Dottie. I have saved myself a fortune on alterations and jeans hemming. Also, I haven’t bought a skirt in years and years. You also develop a better understanding of fabrics and how different fabric compositions wear and wash.
It’s great to get insights from an experienced seamstress! I have certainly learned the hard way which alterations are worth doing and which shouldn’t even be contemplated. As I mentioned, I will be sharing my insights in a future post, but I agree wholeheartedly with what you stated. I think that I just went a bit “hog wild” with alterations once I discovered how much of a difference they can make. But I now know that sometimes it’s a matter of throwing good money after bad. A hard lesson for me, but I think I finally “get it.”
I agree with the others’ comments – you should just stay away from consignment stores. You have made incredible progress this year Debbie! I really like reading all your posts and am very glad that your blog will continue in 2014! I look forward to new posts and check in here everyday. BTW, that EB blue waffle henley is one I also ordered. It fit well and I loved the colors but I decided the fabric was too thin for me. I had older ones with much nicer fabric. It was a hard choice to make because I really liked the pattern and colors and the fact that it fits my very casual lifestyle. Glad it works for you!
Thanks for your kind words, Kim. I’m glad that people are seeing my progress. I see it, too, but I definitely get frustrated when I take some steps backward. But I will keep going and I know I will eventually get to where I want to be. As for the EB waffle henleys, I totally agree that the older ones were of higher quality and thicker material. I like the newer one and it doesn’t usually get too cold where I live (except lately!), but I wish I could buy some more of the ones from 2010 or earlier!
I’d add a 4th pattern that seems to leap up from your post: shopping with a “shopaholic friend.” Sometimes shopping with anyone (shopaholic or not) can lead people to make purchases that they might not make on their own. I finally decided that no one’s eye was as critical as mine when it came to fit, construction, and appropriateness of a garment for my wardrobe. As I’ve said before, I use extreme caution when shopping resale shops and sales — there’s often a reason that the clothes end up on clearance racks or in a consignment shop. Too often it’s because the trim was “fussy,” one side was longer than the other, the ruffles hit at the widest part of the hips, etc.
Good point, Dottie. That is another pattern of mine and one that I’m turning around. I rarely shop with anyone else these days. This one friend is the only person I ever shop with and those trips are getting fewer and farther between. Your point about resale shops is also good, as I mentioned in response to another commenter above. Since you work in retail, you probably see a lot of sub-standard items going on sale and you know why. I am seeing the reasons more and more these days. If I take a few moments to consider it, I can usually clearly see why many items have been taken to consignment or put on sale.
I only shop with friends if I am shopping for a very specific purpose (I recently took multiple friends with me to go charity ball dress shopping). All are very honest, and that resulted in my not buy several dresses I may have purchased otherwise. In the end, I wore my trusty black ponte fabric dress (THAT HAS POCKETS) and instead bought some fantastic glittery shoes and and a necklace to dress it up at probably a quarter of the cost of a formal gown. And I was comfortable the entire evening.
Your charity ball outfit sounds lovely, Melissa! How wonderful that you didn’t end up buying a new gown and were able to use a dress you already own (which I’m sure you can also wear for other less formal occasions). Hopefully you’ll also be able to use your new shoes and necklace for other future events. Sounds like a win-win situation for you! It’s great that you have friends with whom you can successfully shop.
1. Consignment shops: I drop off a lot of garments, but never check the front to see what’s on sale. I don’t want to be tempted.
2. Thanks to you I have been ruthlessly decluttering clothes (especially jeans) that don’t fit right. They are either too long in the rise or the pockets are not deep enough to keep my phone from falling out.
I have been asking myself why I bought these imperfect pieces in the first place and I think it is that old fear of scarcity. I let these items in because they were “good enough” as place holders until I found something that fits better.
No more place holders. Even if there is a wardrobe “gap,” I need to work around it until I find a suitable candidate even if it takes awhile.
I’ve fallen into the placeholder trap several times. I’m half afraid I just did that with my 1st suit but we’ll see I suppose, sometimes only time will tell. I may end up very happy with it too- that’s the worst part.
I have also fallen into the place holder trap many times, and I agree, no more place holders, even if it means that I will have a gap in my wardrobe. I need to wait until I find what I really want and fits me well, even if it takes awhile.
I think buying things as “placeholders” is a common practice, but one we’d do well to avoid, as you all mentioned. I have done it many times myself and when I would wear the item in question, I’d always find myself wishing certain things about it were different. I almost kept the two grey jackets and a grey skirt even though they weren’t quite what I wanted. I’m glad I’m holding out for garments that really work for me. It isn’t always easy to be patient, but it pays off in the long run.
Woohoo! Congrats on finding those pants, lady! Hearing about your victory is almost as good as experiencing my own pants-related success. 😉
You make a good point that although consignment shopping can be a challenge to get right, it can also have a positive ethical impact. Even if it takes a while, I know you’ll figure out the right balance for you. I support your efforts in finding your own best approach for this issue.
Thanks for your congrats and support, Claire. I know you “get it” about the pants issue and I know you realize how elated I was to have found some pants that work for me. I hope to be able to find workable jeans soon, too, but that seems to be harder. About finding the “right balance” with shopping, that’s proven to be difficult. I think that if I just buy less overall, I will be a more ethical shopper and have a lesser impact on the environment. I think I will focus there for the time-being while continuing to try to find more ethical and sustainable brands that work for me.
I enjoy reading your blog. I also have been drastically improving in several areas; i can identify fit, i have reduced my too-large wardrobe drastically, i’m getting much pickier about what i keep, and am also identifying ‘gaps’ and trying to focus more on those and not trendy cool items. I just passed on a sweater i adore because it isn’t vetsatile, will not hold up to much wear, and is too casual to suit my needs. Small victories! My big downfall was this month’s overshopping and i kept more things than i intended. 1 pair leggings, 2 dresses, 1 top, 2 jackets, 2 belts, 1 pair jeans, 1 skirt, 3 pairs of trousers, and 2 pair stockings. On the positive side I have placed myself on a budget that i’m going to work hard to stick to. I’m also planning on listing many things on ebay that dont fit my lifestyle but couldnt part with until being recently inspired by you and others.
Congrats on the wonderful progress you’ve made, Meli! I’m glad you’re acknowledging yourself for your “wins” and not just berating yourself for the overshopping you did recently. Recovery from something like compulsive shopping doesn’t usually happen in a linear fashion. There are lots of ups and downs, as you can see from my accountability updates and other posts. We just have to keep forging ahead, learn from our mistakes, and take what we learn to inform our future actions. You’re doing well and I’m sure you’ll continue to improve as time goes on.
This past year I’ve discovered that I also wear my cool weather clothing more often than my warm weather items for the same reason you do, because we have a longer cool season here. And I also tend to purchase too many spring and summer clothes because I like spring/summer clothes. But now that I see the pattern I’ve fallen into next year I will wear what I already have and love, and not buy more.
I know your climate is similar to mine, Terra. I think most people think that Southern California is all sunshine and warm weather, but not so much near the coast. I can’t believe it’s taken me over 11 years of living here to “get it,” but I’m glad I’ve finally learned. Especially with the cold spell we’ve been having in recent weeks, I know I really need to focus more on my cool weather wardrobe. I won’t “go crazy,” but I do need to fill in some cold weather wardrobe gaps. It may not be as fun to shop for such pieces, but I’ll be glad I did!
Interesting. Here’s my shopping strategy-tailored to a person who hates to shop for clothes. I work with a stylist/personal shopper/tailor-we shop together twice a year, occasionally an additional shop for specific items. She is extremely efficient-typically we shop between 10am-noon and then have a quick lunch. Everything needs alterations and gets altered by her. I am much happier now with what I have-relatively few but better pieces-for example, I have 2 black wool pencil skirts, 1 brown, 1 grey, 1 print, 2 for summer (1 solid, 1 print) and 1 denim. 8 skirts. I dont need 24 skirts. Most have been altered several times: hemming, plumbing the side seams (surprisingly often not cut correctly) and taking in/adjusting the waistband. What I have learned from this is not to buy multiples-I use this strategy when I pack for trips-it is better packing 3 different types of sweater (cascade card, pullover, hoodie) than 3 in the same style. I NEVER shop in consignment stores because I don’t have the patience to hunt through racks of stuff-it just is not worth it for me and I know this, and now I need not bother with it ever again!!! I dont shop on eBay either though I do occasionally mail order-hose and shoes (I mostly wear only brands that I know fit) mostly. I never shop for recreation-it just is not fun for me. I am happier with what I have and my wardrobe is more versatile as a result.
Thanks for sharing your shopping strategy, Maharani. It sounds like you’ve really go things down in terms of both shopping and packing. Good for you! While not everyone can afford to work with a stylist, we can all learn from your process of cultivating a smaller but very functional wardrobe. For those who do have an interest in working with a stylist, it’s not as expensive as you might think and the benefits are often more than worth the cost! I worked with two stylists in the past and would definitely do it again. Your wardrobe sounds quite functional and I’m sure everything fits you impeccabily, Maharani, which I know makes a big difference, too.
Well, I used to sew and knit-my generation learned at school-and those clothes were not only the most interesting ones I had but the best fit and lasted longest….. Consequently, the poor quality of much that is out there is a problem, but I do feel and look better when my clothes fit! A small wardrobe needn’t be boring-I enjoy buying quality and taking care of it, and thinking about ways to make outfits out of what I have. I find makeover shows interesting-they are really about people transforming their lives with a new wardrobe-but the changes have to come from within for there to be any real change. re affording a stylist, it may work out cheaper than doing your own shopping in the long run-I shop way less frequently, never return anything, and like what I have.
Love it. This reminds me of Harpers Bazaar’s essential wardrobe list which has 8 bottoms + 2 tops for every bottom, 1 casual and 1 dressier totalling 16 tops. I have tried and tried but never succeeded.
Love being reminded about not buying multiples. I have to work really hard at that one as am often tempted.
My personal shopper has really helped me ID the things I look best in and focus on essential pieces that fit well and look good. I am not a good shopper so she does the heavy lifting.
This is a really interesting idea — a personal shopper who also can do the alterations! Sounds like a great career opportunity out there. Sort of Stacie London from What Not to Wear and Nancy Zieman from Sewing with Nancy rolled into one person.
She does wardrobe organizing, personal shopping, alterations and couture sewing from scratch. A lot of her business is weddings so she is often busy in the summer but as I only shop 2-3 times a year it works out.
Do you mind listing where items come from in your list (both in and out)? I’m curious as to where you got the pants
I don’t usually go into brand information, as I know that can sometimes be triggering for people. However, I’m always happy to answer questions, especially for things that can be hard to find like pants. The pants I got were the “Girl on the Go” style from Eddie Bauer. They also have leggings in this style and ponte pants (which also have lots of stretch) in both straight and skinny styles. I originally wanted to get the ponte pants, but for some reason the tall sizes start at size 10 instead of size 4 like usual (I usually wear a 6-8). I know that Talbots also carries the ponte style of pants and I plan to look there as well, as I’d like to find at least one more pair of pants if possible.
Interesting to read about how far you’ve come in only one year. Nice job! What really caught my eye on this post was your comment ‘But this year, I only wore most of my summer clothes during July through October, so many of those pieces were only worn two or three times.’
I have also learned that spring and summer clothes, do not really work well for me, despite having a distinct spring and summer season. I am always cold, so my spring pieces need to provide warmth. A sweater with holes in it, or 3/4 sleeves, just doesn’t work well for me. Also, I am in a/c setting more often than not in the summer. So all of my summer tops have to be able to layer with a cardigan or blazer/jacket. Once I started to realize this, I was able to purge my spring/summer wardrobe considerably these past few years. I went last summer with only two pairs of shorts, and that was plenty! After all, I only get to sport shorts on weekends, and even then, I will often grab a pair of jeans because I’m going to be in the a/c. Now I am bypassing purchasing spring/summer pieces in favor of saving my money for fall items, which are warmer.
Also I started purchasing more seasonless pieces for both color and prints which allows me to sport my spring and fall items during both seasons.
I am always cold, too! In fact, when others are sporting tank tops and shorts, I’m often wearing pants and a jacket… I’ve come to realize that I just need warmer clothes than a lot of other people. I love to wear skirts and dresses, but the season for them is relatively short (at least for me). I remember that Angie wrote a post about shopping for one’s dominant season. That stuck with me… My dominant season is spring/fall, so most of my clothes need to be of a medium weight. Layering is key, too, so I’m working on doing better in that department. I try to keep my colors and prints more “seasonless,” too. I don’t get too caught up in fashion “rules” (like no white after Labor Day and the like); I just want to do what works best. Still learning, but making progress…