Closing Out 2013: Reflections on Wardrobe, Shopping, and Style

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope you all had an enjoyable holiday season and that 2014 is off to a good start for you.  As I mentioned in my last post, I’m going to be doing a series of 2013 “wrap-up” posts in order to close out the year and powerfully start on the next leg of my recovering shopaholic journey.

In today’s post, I’ll be sharing my reflections on the past year in regards to my wardrobe, shopping habits, and personal style.  I will recount the ways in which I’ve grown and changed and open up about the challenges I still face.  In an upcoming post, I will write about my goals for 2014, many of which will be similar to those I stated upon starting this blog in January 2013.

Reflections on 2013

Let’s Pause a Moment to Reflect on 2013…

Reflections on My Wardrobe

I’ll start with the category of my wardrobe reflections.  I began 2013 with an overly stuffed closet filled with items that were rarely or never worn.  Every time I opened my closet, I was flooded with a sense of dread and overwhelm.  I struggled to get dressed each day because there were just far too many choices!

A Pared-Down Closet

My wardrobe is now roughly half the size it was a year ago (I will post an updated closet inventory very soon) and is far more manageable than it used to be.  Most of my wardrobe “benchwarmers” are now gone (a final year-end report on those will be posted soon as well) and I’m wearing and enjoying a much larger percentage of the pieces in my closet.  While I’m still not wearing many of my clothes as often as I’d like, nearly everything I own got worn at least twice and many pieces made it out on the town far more regularly (I will also share those numbers shortly).

Upgraded Work from Home Wear

One positive change I’ve made is that I’ve started wearing more of my “regular clothes” when I’m working from home.  Whereas I used to spend most of my days in lounge wear, I’m now donning casual pieces that I would actually wear out of the house.  Not only are my clothes getting more wear this way, I also feel more attractive and polished when I’m sitting in front of my computer.  While I’m not exactly wearing business attire, I am dressed much better than I used to be and I’m really enjoying the change.  I intend to keep stepping up my style for all of my life occasions, including those when few other people will see me.

Neglected Areas No More!

I made a concerted effort to upgrade previously neglected areas of my wardrobe this year, including my lounge wear, workout clothes, sleepwear, and undergarments.  I used to spend so much time, energy, and money shopping for clothes to wear out and about that I neglected to buy new pieces for these key areas of my wardrobe and life.  I’m now much happier with what I’m wearing to the gym, on walks, to bed, and underneath my other clothing.

An Ongoing Weakness… Similarity

I still feel that I have too many similar pieces in my closet, including knit pieces, dark-colored bottoms, open cardigans, and striped items.  While I like all of these wardrobe categories and will continue to wear them, my future focus will be on obtaining different types of garments.  I will write more about this in the personal style section below.

Reflections on My Shopping Habits and Practices

For as long as I can remember, I’ve bought around 150 to 200 new wardrobe items each year.   Many of these items were purchased on sale or at second-hand stores.  I adhered to a standard of “more is more” and definitely aimed for quantity over quality, as I mistakenly believed that one needed to have a large wardrobe in order to be stylish.  Over the course of this year, I’ve come to understand that it’s those with smaller, more curated closets who actually dress the best.  Accordingly, I’ve aimed to buy fewer but higher quality pieces.  I haven’t necessarily succeeded in this pursuit, but the intention was – and is – there!

Acknowledging My Progress…

As I look back on my shopping habits for 2013, I see that I continued to shop too much and make a number of purchasing mistakes.  I haven’t tabulated the actual numbers as of yet, but I will do so and share my findings in another “wrap-up” post.  However, I do need to give myself credit for the amazing progress I’ve made since I started this blog a year ago.  I’m reasonably certain that I bought less than half as many items as I used to buy. What’s more, I managed to stick to a clothing budget for the first time in my entire life!  So before I recount more of my foibles, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge my gains (pausing to pat myself on the back…).

Slaying the Sales Shopping Dragon

I was able to slay one of my shopping dragons in that I dramatically curtailed my sales shopping during 2013.  I even avoided what I consider to be the Grand Poohbah of sales, the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.  I didn’t shop the spring or fall Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sales, either, and stayed away from the after Christmas sales, all of which had been “must-go” occasions for me in previous years.  One weak area for me, however, was online shopping on Black Friday and the subsequent weekend.   Most of those purchases ended up being returned, but I really shouldn’t have bought them in the first place.  I will do better to take my own advice when Black Friday rolls around this year!

Continued Consignment Catastrophes

I did far less “shopping as a hobby” during 2013 than in previous years.  Most of my shopping was done with a list and for specific items, which led to smarter purchases overall.  However, one major shopping weakness persisted for me – shopping at consignment stores.  Although I was fully aware of the pros and cons of resale shopping and shared some excellent tips for this type of shopping back in June, I continued to make mistakes with consignment purchases.  I often bought pieces that weren’t in line with my lifestyle or which weren’t the right size for my body.  I also threw good money after bad by trying to rescue ill-advised purchases by means of alterations.

While I’m not prepared to out and out ban resale shopping from my life, I do plan to visit such stores far less frequently and to be much more mindful about what I buy.  Since returns are not generally an option with consignment buys, I will only buy pieces that fit me well as is and that I see myself wearing within the next week or so.  As with all shopping excursions, I will be prepared to leave resale stores empty-handed if I don’t find items that are at least “8”s on a scale of 1-10 and which correspond to real lifestyle needs.

Personal Style Reflections

At the beginning of 2013, I thought I had a handle on my personal style.  I believed I knew what I liked and what worked best for my body and personal aesthetic.  I soon learned that this was not the case at all.   As I stopped shopping so much and started to really evaluate what was in my closet, I quickly discovered that I didn’t love a lot of what I owned.  Much of my wardrobe had been bought haphazardly based upon “good deals,” low prices, “must-have” lists, and for other superficial reasons.

Too Much Similarity and Uniformity!

I’ve happily purged most of the unloved pieces from my closet, but although I was left with a smaller and more functional wardrobe, I found that the “love factor” was not as present as it should be.   Many of my outfits adhered to three main “uniform” formulas and I had begun to tire of wearing the same types of ensembles.  Because I had purchased multiples of so many types of garments, however, it was difficult for me to create new uniforms that I might enjoy more.

Defining and Expressing a Signature Style

Refining and up-leveling my personal style will be an area of focus for me during 2014.  That doesn’t necessarily mean I will buy a lot of new pieces, but I do plan to shop more mindfully and buy things that are different from what I already own.  I’d like to define and cultivate a signature style for myself this year.  Interestingly, I used to help others do just that, but I haven’t been able to turn the tables to help myself in that same way!

Cold Weather Bliss and Stylish Casual Comfort

I will also aim to beef up my cold weather wardrobe, as I found myself feeling overly chilly during my recent trip to Lake Tahoe, as well as on the cooler days and evenings at home.  While many people are fine with lightweight garments year-round where I live, I tend to run very cold and need to dress warmer in order to feel comfortable and happy.

I’ve come to understand and embrace the fact that my life is very casual in nature.  My wardrobe needs to reflect that reality, but I’d like to find a way to inject more style into my casual ensembles.  I will attempt to do this primarily through the use of accessories and will first shop my existing pieces before heading out to buy more.  I will also work to better marry comfort and style this year, as both of these factors are important to me.

Some Closing Thoughts

I’m sure I could write a lot more about how I’ve grown and what I still need to learn related to my wardrobe, shopping, and style, but the above encapsulates my insights fairly well.  While I still feel I have a long way to go before I am where I want to be in all three areas, I definitely want to acknowledge myself for how far I’ve come.

I didn’t become a die-hard shopaholic with an out of control wardrobe and a confused sense of style overnight, so it’s not realistic to think I could turn it all around in only one year.  It’s okay, though, as I’m in this for the long haul!  I will continue to take things day by day and month by month and I trust that I will eventually get to where I want to be.  Along the way, I will do my best to enjoy the journey, incorporate the lessons I learn, and share what I can with all of you through my posts.

Your Wardrobe, Shopping, and Style Reflections

I’m sure many of you made great strides during 2013 in terms of your closets, shopping habits, and personal style.  I would love to read about how you’ve changed and what you’ve learned.  I’m also certain that at least some of you continued to experience wardrobe-related challenges over the past year.  I’d also like to hear about those, as our trials and tribulations are often our greatest teachers.  No matter what your frustrations are, you’re not alone!  You’ve read about many of my frustrations and I know there are many others out there who are going through similar issues.  Whether they’re good, bad, or ugly, I invite you to share your 2013 reflections in the comments section of this post.

39 thoughts on “Closing Out 2013: Reflections on Wardrobe, Shopping, and Style

  1. I’m with you on making too many mistakes this year- half of what I purchased were ill-thought out and did not work out for me. I’m frustrated at it but I’m ready to move on and do much better.

    I wrote a long post over the day today about my mistakes (another post to follow) and my goals/budget for this year if you’d like to stop by!

    • Thanks for your comment, Meli. I knew I wasn’t alone in terms of shopping and wardrobe mistakes! I will definitely check out your latest blog post (and will comment, too). I’m glad you’re back to blogging again and look forward to reading your posts!

  2. Debbie – It has been an amazing year for you! Congratulations on all that you have learned and thank you for all that I have learned from you. Because of you, I have done a major closet purge, developed a spreadsheet for my clothes and accessories, and developed four seasonal rotations of my wardrobe.

    When the year started, I was definitely a member of the more is more club. I, too, was depressed and overwhelmed. But finding your blog helped me take the steps to manage the monster I had created. I feel so much better about my clothes and my relationship to them.

    I still have a few hurdles to overcome. I have items I need to get rid of, that do not reflect my style aesthetic. I want to fine tune my color palette for spring and summer, possibly parting with some colors that just don’t work for me. And I want to spend some time this year reflecting on having and “being” enough so I can only acquire items I truly need.

    I would like 2014 to be the year of Simplicity. I would like to have my wardrobe pared down to the essentials and the things that make me happy. I would like to spend less time thinking about getting more and more time thinking about enjoying what I have. I wish you the same!

    • Sounds like you’ve made wonderful progress yourself this year, Anne! Thanks for letting me know that my blog has been helpful to you in making these changes. You have some great plans/goals for 2014 and I love the theme of Simplicity. That is one of my words for 2014, too (my other word is Joy – I couldn’t pick just one, so I have two! Will write about this in a future post…). Best wishes to you!

  3. I am on my way,but the road is long. At least I have NO DESIRE whatsoever to buy any new clothes. I am just totally off them.My 365 clothes shopping diet has worked! Finally a diet that works!

    • Thanks for your comment, Francesca. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and seeing your progress. Congrats on how well you’re doing. I wish you more success in 2014!

  4. I learned many things this year, but I think the most important was that my over shopping tendencies didn’t have very much to do with clothing at all. I learned how important it was to try new things and rediscover old interests. I started painting again, reading more, and completed a few home improvement projects. I finished Dr. Benson’s book and that provided a lot of insight. One of the things that made me feel the best this year was choosing to save for new kitchen countertops instead of shopping for a couple of months. I think that really opened the door for me to see that there are many other things that are more important to me and will give me more satisfaction than shopping. I still spent too much money and bought too many things this year. At times I was very successful and at other times I spent far too much money and bought things that I didn’t need and never used. I seemed to do well in individual areas this past year at different times, but I am hopeful that 2014 is the year that I can put everything that I learned together at the same time.

    • I’m so glad you’re acknowledging the great progress you’ve made, Tonya! It’s been inspiring for me to see how much you’ve grown. How wonderful that you’ve been able to rediscover past passions and learn so much about yourself over the course of the past year. I feel that 2014 will be the year when things come together for me, too. I look forward to reading your updates and helping to encourage each other!

  5. Thank you for your illuminating posts over the last year Debbie. Thanks to you I have analyzed my wardrobe and thought about my purchases. I bought 21 items in 2013, 6 of which were mistakes. I’ve got rid of 5 of those mistakes but still have hopes for the 6th… As for never making mistakes – impossible! I’ve also culled my clothes over the year and am looking sternly at some more garments which had better prove their worth soon. Happy New Year – you came such a long way in 2013 and you seem to understand yourself so well now. You are a great help to all your readers.

    • Congrats on the progress you’ve made this year, Katy. I’m honored to played a role in your growth! You’re right that we will always make some mistakes, but hopefully they will become fewer and farther between. Recognizing and analyzing them helps a lot… I hope you’re able to turn mistake #6 around, but if not, I’m sure you will learn and benefit from it in any event.

  6. You have made such great progress and sharing your journey will help many others I’m sure! I hope you find great happiness in 2014 not only in your wardrobe but also in your whole life.

    • Thanks for your kind words and positive wishes, Juhli! I appreciate your following along on my journey.

  7. I want to share an end-of -the-year shopping story with all of you– one that really made me stop and pause. In fact, it was so upsetting to me that it’s going to be a long time before I purchase any new clothing, and more specifically from Loft, which had become my go-to store this past year to refurbish my wardrobe after the Great Culling of 2013.

    It was the afternoon of Dec. 31. About a week earlier I had purchased a pair of much needed grey corduroy pants in my usual size, but in a bootcut rather than a straight leg style. According tonthe tag, the inseam was the same as my usual style. To my surprise, the bootcut was 3″ longer than my customary straight style. I suppose they were intended to wear with heels, which I do not wear because I have bad feet. Boot cuts do not lend themselves to hemming because it distorts the proportion of the leg.

    I had cut the tags off, with an intention to wear the pants, but once I realized the length discrepancy I packed them up, with all the tags, to return. I had returned things in the past to Loft with no problem. At the store, I found straight leg pants in the right size to exchange, so I requested to be able to return them. I had my tags and a receipt a week old.

    That day, I was wearing an outfit that I purchased at Loft, so I would hardly describe myself as looking like a slovenly customer. Yet when I approached the service desk and explained my situation, the young sales associate looked at me like I was “not their sort” and scrutinized my return as though I was trying to cheat them. Disdainfully, she informed me that by having removed the tags, I had voided my return and would have to “take it up with the manager”. I was baffled because I had returned clothing in the past having removed the tags, with no problem.

    She stomps off to the back, leaving a line of customers to gather behind me. A few minutes later she came back and informed me that I could exchange the pants, but only in the same style in a petite. I explained to her that I did not want a petite, as I am not petite, but that I would be happy to exchange them for a different leg style in my regular size. She said I could do that, but only if I tried them on first to prove they fit. I replied that I did not need to try them on because I was selecting a style I already had several pairs of, therefore I already knew they would fit.

    Once again, she flounces off to confer with her manager, leaving an even longer line of customers behind me, one of whom was actually laughing at the argument the sales associate was giving me. As she stomped off once more, she turns her head and shoots me this vitriolic look of disgust. Our eyes locked and suddenly I felt really angry. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I quietly turned back to my purchase, packed it up in the bag with its tags, and walked out. I was boiling but I didn’t want to make a scene in the middle of the store.

    Once back in my car, I decided to call the store and speak to the manager myself. I described the scenario in unvarnished terms and told her that she needed to deal with her snotty sales associate, that I was a good customer who spent serious money there in 2013, and did not warrant the kind of treatment I had just received in the store. I told her as I had no intention of returning inside that paricular store to expose myself to their attitude that I was keeping the pants until I decided what to do with them. I may try to return them to a different Loft store, or put them in consignment.

    This encounter has left such a bad taste with me that I have completely lost all desire to shop for clothing period. I now remember the disgusted look on the sales associate’s face whenever I think of shopping, and the idea of shopping period seems repellent. I guess you could say I have been cured!

    Thanks for a wonderful enlightening year, Debbie! I have learned a lot from you and look forward to 2014!

    • YIKES! I’ve never encountered a retailer that wouldn’t do an exchange or return with a receipt AND tags — on or off the garment. I work for a major retailer and we take back stuff with or without a receipt, with or without tags, or with record of purchase via in-house credit card (external credit card is a bit trickier…). (One does need something to prove that purchase — tags OR receipt OR transaction record on credit card. But sometimes even without these — if the garment clearly came from our store [that is, not another store brand] — we give a in-house credit at the lowest retail price.) And NEVER would a sales associate dictate what kind of clothing you could do an exchange or return for! Wow! I am so sorry that you were treated so boorishly. Maybe in a few weeks or months you could dip your toe back into retail land by purchasing a non-size specific item like a scarf (but maybe at a different store). Meanwhile, I suggest you write a letter to Loft HQ and share this experience with management. Seems like better training of sales staff may be needed.

      • P.S. I would share with Loft HQ that you are blogging about this experience because it was so outrageous….

      • I called a different location, and they told me it was ludicrous that I was not permitted to return the pants, and that I could return them to their store for a full refund. So later this afternoon I am returning the pants to a different store.

        And yes, I AM about to write a letter to Loft HQ and tell them I am blogging about it. I’ve always been so totally satisfied with Loft until this experience!

      • Sadly, rudeness is not confined to Loft! I returned a pair of jeans at TJMaxx, WITH tags attached and receipt in hand, and the sales associate actually smelled the pants to see if they’d been worn. Gag me! I complained to the manager and I haven’t seen that rude, arrogant, condescending cashier since.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your story, Deby. I’m sorry you had to go through such a horrendous experience! Hopefully some good will come out of it, though, and Loft will better train their associates in how to appropriately handle returns. Although I’ve never been through something as awful as what you described, I have felt like I was treated like a criminal when making returns to certain stores. I know that stores don’t like dealing with returns, but it is part of doing business and many returns are legitimate. I’m glad you followed up with the store manager and another store and will be writing a letter to Loft HQ. I hope you won’t be soured on that store long-term, as I know it’s been a store where you’ve enjoyed shopping this past year.

      I’ve appreciated your many comments and insights over this past year, Deby. You’ve been my most frequent commenter (I got a blog report the other day to confirm this) and I always look forward to reading what you write. Congrats on the amazing progress you’ve made with your wardrobe during 2013! I know 2014 will bring more good things for you!

      • RE: returns. It’s not that stores “don’t like to deal with returns” but that a goodish percentage of returns are fraudulent. I won’t go into to details here, but this is a serious cause of “shrinkage” in the retail world, and this is a problem for some stores than others. However, smelling clothes in front of the customer is unforgivable!! I have returned WITHOUT COMMENT (or sniffing) clothes that have reeked with smoke and/or chemical smells or were covered in pet hair. Also “unworn” clothes with obvious perspiration stains — and all of these clothes cannot be resold so the retailer takes a loss. What I see is “return-itis” (I used to have this affliction before I worked in retail) were folks consistently buy a lot of clothes “on speculation” and then decide that they don’t want the clothes or discover that they just bought their 10th striped top, etc. Returns drive up the cost of clothes you buy because the staff has to re-process the clothes (make the return, return to inventory or take out of inventory if damaged in some way, re-tag, put on the floor, etc. Yes, it’s part of the job description for sales associates but the huge amount of returns year round is quadrupled during the week after Christmas — making for cranky and unprofessional retail staff in some stores. But sniffing clothes — really that takes the cake.

      • Thanks for providing the retailer’s perspective on returns, Dottie. Although I have had “return-itis” as you call it, I definitely haven’t returned worn items! I know a few retailers (Express is one…) have started to attach big black tags to garments that need to still be attached in order for a return to be processed. These tags are virtually impossible to tuck into clothes or re-attach. I wouldn’t be surprised if more stores follow suit.

    • Thanks for commenting, Mindingmomma. I know we will be able to refine our personal style this year. I look forward to writing a number of posts on this topic. If there’s anything you (or anyone else who’s reading) would like to read about, please let me know and I will add it to the list!

  8. I love your blog and can’t wait for 2014’s posts. Your honesty is so refreshing, I feel I gained a friend in San Diego who might like to have coffee and not shop after. LOL! Thank you!

    • Thanks so much, Bette! If you’re ever in San Diego, we can definitely grab that cup of coffee sans shopping 🙂 I’ve appreciated all of your comments this year and am glad to have you as a reader!

  9. I’ve enjoyed following your posts since finding your site last spring. You have made tremendous strides in your quest to reduce & improve your wardrobe~ Congratulations!

    You’ve given me a lot to think about and I’ve had some insights about myself and my wardrobe as a result of your posts. Some things confirmed what I’d already figured out for myself… having a couple of basic neutrals for pants is essential. Mine are black, dark navy (denim) and gray. I now only buy pants or skirts in these colors. This allows all my basic shoes to be black~ I do have a pair of navy clogs, grey boots, bronze ballet flats & silver grey fitflops. Other than that, black. This works for me as my shoes go with everything. I would consider buying a pair or two of fun shoes in accent colors, but I haven’t found any yet that appeal to me and are comfortable.

    I stick with my basic neutrals, plus my favorite flattering colors for tops~ coral/fuschia, aqua/teal & purple. I stay with solid colors & stripes, because I can’t seem to wear floral or patterned tops. I have several black dresses and I’m always looking to buy a different color, I just haven’t found anything I feel as good in as I do in black! I don’t wear dresses often, so it’s not really a problem.

    Like you, I work from home and live a casual lifestyle, so most of my wardrobe is casual. We do travel to conferences for business, so I have a business casual wardrobe that I use for travel. I’ve now perfected that to the point where I don’t have to pack too much & I know exactly what to bring for these events. I always feel comfortable & stylish in my working wardrobe. It’s only taken me about 8 years of travel to get to that point!~

    Comfort is VERY high on my list. I know that I will not wear anything that’s not comfortable for more than an hour or two~ so shoes, pants, dresses, everything must feel good & fit comfortably.

    The one recent insight I had was from your post about wearing things that make you smile. I realized that I’m very satisfied with most of my wardrobe, but I don’t have a lot of things that I just LOVE wearing. So that’s the gap I need to fill. I won’t be buying more basic clothing, unless it’s as a replacement. What I’m looking for is special things, mainly tops, that make me feel really good.

    I still have more clothes than I need, but I do the reverse hanger routine every season, so I’m gradually weeding out the things I don’t wear. I think I need to gather the nerve to get rid of a bit more, but I’m working on it! In the meantime, I’m definitely bringing in less.

    • I love the reverse hanger trick, and expanded it this past season to one-half closet yes, one-half closet no. My tiny 1950’s closet has a center bar — everything I haven’t worn goes left of the bar. Too small pencil skirts, fitted suit jackets, tight pants, and a cocktail dress — I amazed myself by taking that entire section left of the bar and donating it. Scary, but good.

    • Sounds like you’re doing great, Diane! I’m glad that some of my insights and suggestions have been helpful for you. I’ve been doing the “hanger trick” for years now and it’s definitely increased my awareness and has helped me make changes. You seem to have a lot of insights into what does and doesn’t work for you. Although it took you a while to hone your travel wardrobe, it sounds like it’s working really well for you now (there’s hope for me yet!). I hope you find some great new tops that make you smile this year. I intend to do the same and will definitely share.

      Bette, Big congrats on donating all of your clothes that no longer fit you or work for your life! I’m sure that took a lot of courage but will be very beneficial to you in the long run.

  10. Congratulations on all your progress this year! Thank you for sharing your experiences this year – it has been very thought-provoking for me. I definitely made shopping mistakes this year – I’m not sure how many since I don’t track my shopping and the mistakes are out of my closet! This year I learned that I don’t need so many duplicates in my wardrobe. I think one of my problems is that I think I find the perfect style of top or pants or whatever and I buy several similar ones. I will wear the similar items a lot for one year (I’m basically a “uniform” dresser), but then if I’m tired of the style the next year, it’s a waste to give all of them away. I’m trying to buy just one, because there will always be another “perfect” item.

    • Thank you for your comment and your kind words, Heather. The problem you mentioned of buying multiples is a big one for many people, including me! We mistakenly think that if one is good, then two (or three or five) is better. But we can only wear so many items and you’re right in that we can grow tired of wearing the same styles over and over again. I think your plan to just buy one is a good one. Yes, there will always and forever more be another “perfect” item!

  11. I’ve never had an overstuffed closet because I’ve always lived in old houses with tiny closets — this helped to shape my thinking. Also my parents were Depression kids so a certain amount of austerity was visited upon our household while I was growing up. And I was fortunate to “find” my personal style and “my” colors (in my 20’s) — so I know what works for me and what doesn’t. If I want to experiment with color or pattern, I do so in accessories (or really inexpensive tees, etc.), not in clothing staples (pants, sweaters, jackets, skirts, coats, etc.) My life has changed a lot since I first discovered my personal style, so my clothing has been adapted to suit. Still I prefer to have a small, workable, and lovable wardrobe that’s easy to manage — track, keep clean, rotate for seasons, etc. And because everything works, I spend about $200 a year (or less) on clothing purchases. I also think that working in retail is like working in a bakery — seeing all that product every day makes buying less desirable.

    I find this blog interesting and really feel for people who have posted about their struggles to find themselves in their clothing purchases. I had a bad decade (1970s) when I was young, and after I spent my very limited and hard-earned money on yellow (so not my color) wide-leg polyester pants I said, Enough! And then I began my mission to find my personal style. I avoid most of what “fashion” dictates, and in so doing, I have achieved liberation.

    • Lol Dottie! I think (and hope) I’ll be saying just the same thing when I am your age! 🙂 my trigger was the waste rather than the yellow pants but I feel you there, and I’m so happy how much of my thought process has changed in the last 6 months,

    • Dottie, your post made me laugh. I think we must be of the same genre — my “moment” was a lime green double-knit Easter outfit I saved for 3 mos to purchase in the mid-70’s. It was absolutely hideous and I cringe just thinking about it. At that time, I rec’d $5/week clothing allowance from my parents — in order to buy anything, I had to save awhile — that outfit cost me several months of $ and it was so sad and pathetic, I think I spent the next two decades trying to make up for it. Even today, I can’t look at lime green. Or cat-eye glasses — but that’s another story. LOL!

      • I think this color was called “acid green” or “apple green” — I remember it well. I had a Chelsea-influenced acid green wool dress once — the style was spot-on by acid green is also not my color. Uh-oh, I’m showing my age….

    • Tiny closets can definitely prevent “wardrobe creep,” as you mentioned, Dottie. My husband lived in England for years and he said that they usually had very small closet (mostly, they used what we call “armoires” in the U.S.). But I know that many women in the UK also struggle with overshopping. It seems to be a worldwide phenomenon these days! I love your yellow pants story, as well as Bette’s green Easter outfit story. I had some similar stories from my past, but it wasn’t enough for me to learn, apparently!

      I’ve often wondered if working in retail would have scared me straight regarding my shopping. I never worked in a bakery or an ice cream store, but I did work in a frozen yogurt shop and I continued to love and eat frozen yogurt the entire time I worked there (maybe 6 months or so). Maybe I wasn’t there long enough! I DID work in retail many, many years ago, but back then I was SO broke that I didn’t have the money to really overshop at the time.

      Your point about becoming liberated by avoiding the dictates of the fashion industry bears calling out. Especially these days, it’s virtually impossible to keep up and when I tried to, that’s when I got into the most trouble. Now I’m getting back to following my own inner muse and I’m doing much better. I still have a ways to go, but I’m happy to be overcoming my compulsive shopping issues!

      • I thought about frozen yogurt vs. clothing concept. The way I see it, there are some good brands of frozen yogurt and some “less-good,” but frozen yogurt as a product has not declined in quality in most of the retail outlets. Maybe it has increased in price in order to keep pace with the rising cost of ingredients. But what I have seen over the last few decades (especially in the past 10 years) is an overall decline in quality of clothing (except for very high-end retailers). This seems to be happening in order to keep clothing affordable and, perhaps, to keep pace with “fast fashion” and the concept of more is more. What I see (and reject outright) are poorly made clothing and inferior quality fabrics masquerading as “the latest trend.” I hope that people who read Debbie Roes blog (and others) can become more discerning in their purchases and seek quality over quantity. I imagine that it’s easier to overlook poor quality if one has a closet full of clothes that are worn once or twice a month or even a year. But if the goal is to have a smaller, cohesive, and workable wardrobe, then quality REALLY matters. Lots of clothing on offer, even with the gentlest care, will not hold up well. I bemoan the decline of quality because I worry about what I will be able to buy when something I really love finally gives up the ghost. Try finding a 100% virgin (not processed) wool coat or a cashmere sweater you can’t see light through on sale this month — it’s almost a mission impossible.

      • You’re definitely right on about the decline in clothing quality, Dottie! I think that a lot of people wouldn’t know good quality if they saw it because it is SO lacking these days. If you are up for it, I would love for you to do a guest post on how to recognize good quality clothing. Since you have been in the retail industry for a long time, I’m sure you have a lot of wonderful tips you could share. I know you share some great insights in the comments section (like how you shouldn’t be able to see through cashmere sweaters when you hold them up to the light), but a lot of people just get this blog through email or feed readers and never read the comments. Also, it would be wonderful to have a comprehensive post to which people could refer to steer them in the right direction when shopping for quality pieces. This topic has been on my list for a while, but I would have to do some research to do it justice. I’m guessing you could offer some excellent tips just off the top of your head. Let me know if this is something that would interest you. I know it would benefit a lot of people.

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