It’s time for my final monthly accountability update for 2013. As long-term readers know, I’ve committed to posting regular accountability updates as a way of keeping myself honest and on track with my wardrobe and shopping goals. Included within these posts are what came into and left my closet during a given month, what I wore, and how I did with my shopping budget and rules.
Soon I will be posting a more comprehensive report for 2013 as a whole, but today’s post covers just the month of December. I plan to continue these accountability updates during 2014 and for as long as I need them. I’ve definitely found it helpful to share the good, the bad, and the ugly truth with you as I progress along my recovering shopaholic journey. I don’t always look forward to writing these posts, especially when I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit, but what’s good for us isn’t always pleasant and can even be painful at times.
What Left My Closet
During December, I purged 15 items from my wardrobe:
- 3 garments
- 3 pairs of shoes
- 1 purse
- 2 hats
- 6 scarves
I hadn’t even looked at my hat collection for a number of months and did not include hats in my January or July closet inventories. In fact, I was so unaware of this wardrobe category that I’d forgotten I had loaned a large number of hats to my friend who was being treated for breast cancer last year. It was only when she gave them back to me last month (fortunately, she’s fine now) that I realized those hats hadn’t been in my closet for over a year! I will likely pare down my hat collection further during 2014, as I intend to shift my focus this year toward minimizing my accessories now that my clothing is more under control.
Here’s a snapshot of the pieces that left my closet last month (the hats and scarves are not pictured):
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 those pieces from my wardrobe. I feel that pinpointing our reasons for purging closet items can help us notice patterns and avoid future mistakes. Listed from left to right, top to bottom (from the photo above), here’s what I let go of and why:
- Bronze Clark’s sandals – I hadn’t worn these shoes for several years, but I kept them because they were comfortable and still in good shape. However, I have several alternatives that I like better (I prefer silver and pewter over gold and bronze tones), so I decided it was finally time to consign these sandals.
- Long grey waffle jacket – This is (hopefully) the last of my consignment buy alteration casualties. This jacket was too big when I purchased it and, like I’ve done too many times to count, I attempted to “rescue” it though excessive tailoring. The result was a bit of an ill-fitting mess, so out the jacket went. Sadly, the consignment store where it was purchased did not accept it for re-consignment, so I wasn’t able to recoup even a portion of my wasted money. At long last, I “get it” and I will no longer attempt risky alterations on my clothes!
- Leopard print fleece jacket – I’ve had this jacket for a few years and it was mostly intended for wearing on walks or to the gym. However, both the body and the sleeves were a tad too short. I should have either purchased a tall size or left the jacket in the store. Out it goes!
- Leopard print waffle top – This one stings a bit, as I just bought this top in November 2013. I liked it and the fit was good, but it was far too “fussy” to wear. I had to keep yanking and tugging at it to keep it in place and I just don’t have the patience for such clothes anymore. So I took the top for consignment after only two wears.
- Navy sporty Mary Janes – I bought these shoes as an alternative to my many black shoes and to wear with my more casual outfits. As I do with many of my shoes, I wore them around the house before wearing them outside to ensure that they would work for my fussy feet. The comfort just wasn’t there, so I returned the shoes to the store for a refund.
- Black wedge sandals – These were an impulse sale buy from the summer of 2012. I wore them a few times, but the heel is just too high for me (I was 6’2” in these shoes!). I have better options available in my closet, so these sandals are being sold on consignment.
- Silver tote bag – This bag was always just a bit too bright and a bit too flimsy for me. After I bought a similar but better tote in November, I decided it was time to get rid of this lesser alternative.
- The two hats – Both of the hats I purged from my wardrobe were in colors that I don’t really like and which don’t suit my complexion (beige and brown). I have better options, so out these ones went!
- The six scarves – The scarves which left my wardrobe were either too thick and bulky or too similar to other scarves I own. Since I’m becoming more comfortable with owning fewer clothes and accessories, it’s getting easier for me to let go of my less favorite items. I still have a lot of scarves, but I’ll see what I wear this year. I may end up paring this wardrobe category down further in the coming months.
What Came Into My Closet
During December, I added 10 new items to my closet. Two of these pieces were Christmas gifts, while the others were either closet replacements or wardrobe staple items. I feel good about the things I added to my closet last month and have already worn half of them (and some several times). Although I am still buying too much, I feel that I’m making wiser purchasing decisions. That said, I will definitely be setting limits on how many items I buy during 2014 (stay tuned for my upcoming post on goals and rules for this year).
Here’s a photo (click for a larger view) of my December closet additions.
Why I Added These Items to My Wardrobe
I’ve also started to share my 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 AGL flats – These shoes were a gift from my wonderful husband. I’ve wanted these shoes for several years now and have tried them on at Nordstrom numerous times. However, the high price tag scared me despite the fact that other women I know rave about this brand in terms of its comfort and longevity. I finally took the plunge last month when my husband bought them for me for Christmas. I know these shoes will receive a lot of wear in the coming months and years.
- Burgundy waffle top – I bought the blue version of this top in November and really liked it, so I opted to buy the burgundy version during my Black Friday weekend online shopping (this was one of the few items I kept from that shopping “binge” of sorts). I am trying to purchase fewer “multiples” these days overall, but I am happy to have these two print waffle tops in my closet and have already worn them both several times. In the past, I might have bought three or even five such tops (I’d think, “Why not? The price is right!”), but two is definitely sufficient this time around. I’m learning…
- Black low-heel wedges – These shoes were bought as a replacement for similar shoes that I wear a lot but aren’t very comfortable. The style is slightly different (the old shoes are peep-toes) but more versatile to wear during the colder months. They’re definitely more comfortable, too!
- Red cardigan – This was a bit of an impulse buy, as I bought it at the Reno airport after my flight home from Tahoe was delayed. However, the style is different from my other cardigans (the belt detail makes it more fitted at the waist), I love the color, and I’ve already worn it twice. I’m happy with it even though it wasn’t a planned purchase.
- Emerald green V-neck – This was originally going to be a workout / lounge tee, but I like the color so much that I’ve incorporated into my “regular” outfits a few times already. It’s a nice color for me, has good layering potential, and will work well with many of my printed scarves.
- Green coat – This was also a gift from my husband. I love brightly colored coats and they are one of my signature wardrobe pieces. This fitted silhouette works well for my shape and the color looks good on me. It’s not a heavy coat, so I know I’ll be able to wear it for at least half the year in the moderate climate where I live.
- Medium denim Lucky jeans – I was thrilled to finally find jeans that work for me! It’s very difficult for me to find jeans that are long enough for my legs and which aren’t overly tight on my thighs, knees, and calves (I can’t wear skinny jeans or jeggings due to a painful nerve condition). These jeans are medium-rise and straight-legged. They are fitted but not tight, are very comfortable, and are the perfect length to wear with flat shoes.
- Dark denim Lucky jeans – These are similar to the jeans above but are extra-long for wearing with boots and heels (I even had to have them hemmed!). I love both pairs of jeans and know they will receive lots of wear in line with my casual Southern California lifestyle.
- Radiant orchid V-neck – The story with this tee is similar to that of #5 above. It was originally intended for workouts and walks, but once I learned that this is the Pantone color for spring 2014, I decided to wear it for “regular” life occasions instead. While I am not overly concerned with wearing the “in” colors, I love this particular color and have worn the tee several times already. Both this and my new green tee are part of my Project 333 (more like 233) wardrobe.
- White V-neck – This top was purchased as a replacement for my previous white short-sleeved tee that didn’t wash well and was discarded after only 5 or 6 wears. It’s so difficult to find a white t-shirt these days that isn’t tissue thin and see-through! Although I’ve traditionally worn these Eddie Bauer V-neck tees for workouts and walks only, I’ve decided that the weight and quality of these tops will work well for my everyday wardrobe.
December / Year-End Budget Report
This is the part of the post that I’ve most dreaded writing. The reason is that I have a bit of “egg on my face” in regards to my shopping budget for 2013. In a previous post, I shared how proud I was to have adhered to my budget for the first time… ever. Unfortunately, however, after the dust settled (lots of purchases and returns during December) and I did the math, it turns out that I actually exceeded my budget by $9.59 (my budget for the year was $3000 and I spent $3009.59). Yes, that isn’t very much of an overage, but I did feel a bit of a let-down, as I really wanted to be able to state without equivocation that I had come in under my budget for the year.
You know what, though? I am choosing to be proud of myself anyway for how well I did with my shopping in 2013 in contrast to previous years. I made a vast improvement in the amount I spent on clothing last year and in how well I did with my purchasing decisions (believe it or not, I used to make far more mistakes!). I am fully aware of how far I still have to go before I’m truly a recovered shopaholic, but when I consider the fact that I exceeded my budget by over $2000 (!) in 2012, I can see I’ve come a long way in one short year. Of course, budget adherence is only one measure of my improvement. I will be sharing many more statistics, facts, and insights in my (two, I think) remaining 2013 wrap-up posts.
When all was said and done, I spent $350.33 on clothing, shoes, accessories, and alterations during December 2013. I had some money left over from previous months, so that’s why I spent more than my $250 monthly budget during December. Of course, I shouldn’t have cut things so close and risked going over my budget!
Some More Thoughts on Budgets and Shopping…
Although I’m sure I will address this topic in a future post, I want to say a bit here about the whole clothing budget “elephant in the room” before I move on. For some reason, I feel the need to spend every penny of my clothing budget, if not more. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember and I am not like this in any other area of my life. I routinely come in far under my cash spending budget, as one example. At the end of the year, if I see that I didn’t spend all of my cash allotment, I don’t head to the bank and withdraw the balance while the getting is still good. I just let it be as it is and feel at peace with the whole thing. Not so with my clothing budget!
Only recently have I begun to see the folly in my attitudes and behaviors related to my shopping budget. For some strange reason, I feel somehow “cheated” if I don’t spend all of the money I feel I have coming to me. When I stop for a moment to consider this attitude, I feel a bit like a spoiled brat child. Except I’m not a child; I’m a grown middle-aged woman who should know – and do – better! I will delve into this deeper at some point, but just wanted to call myself out a bit here. I understand that things need to change and that only I can change them. So while I fully acknowledge the positive changes I made during 2013, I vow to do even better this year in many respects.
What I Wore During December
I continue to track all of the garments and shoes I’m wearing each month. During December, I wore 46 garments (including outerwear but not including workout and lounge wear) and 9 pairs of shoes. Interestingly, these totals are very similar to my November numbers (45 garments and 7 pairs of shoes).
I also wore a number of items multiple times during December. My biggest “all-stars” were the bag and boots that I had dyed from brown to black during September. I carried the bag for the entire month and I wore the boots 10 times! Dyeing these items was one of the best decisions I made last year and the money spent was well worth it.
Below is a photo of everything that I wore three or more times during December, 11 items in all (click for a larger view).
Yes, there’s a lot of black in there, but I do enjoy wearing black. I also really like grey and various jewel tones, which are also represented among my December “all-stars.” Of course, there were a lot of other items that got worn last month and many of those were not black! I will always enjoy wearing black, but I’ve been working to incorporate more color and other neutrals into my wardrobe during recent years.
I’m happy to be making better use of many of my closet items as time goes by and as I continue to pare down my wardrobe. Although I arguably still have too many clothes, I’m happy to be making steps in the right direction!
These accountability posts are always lengthy, so I thank those of you who are still following along! When I first started doing these posts, I wondered if anyone would really be interested in the granular details of my wardrobe journey. I knew that I liked reading such posts from other bloggers and I also knew it would be helpful for me to be accountable to my readers each month, so that’s why I proceeded. What has been pleasantly surprising to me is the number of views and comments my accountability posts receive. Because these posts help me and seem to be popular with you, I will keep on keeping on with these monthly summaries during 2014 (and perhaps longer).
Just a quick tip before I close out this post… I know that most of you don’t have blogs, but if you struggle with compulsive shopping, I encourage you to form an accountability relationship with a friend, relative, or therapist. I firmly believe that being accountable to all of you each month has played a large role in the strides toward recovery that I have made thus far. Onward and upward in 2014!
A Few Reminders Before You Go…
- Thanks to those of you who have taken a few minutes to complete the compulsive shopping research questionnaire I linked to in my last post. The researcher, Dagmar Verheij, would love to get some more responses before the survey closes on Tuesday. So you if you have some time to help her out, she would greatly appreciate it. As I mentioned on Monday, at the close of her research, she will do a guest post on “Recovering Shopaholic” to report her findings.
- There is also still time to join the New Year Style Challenge from the 40 Plus Style blog, either officially or unofficially. A blogger I follow has taken on this challenge and is reporting her progress each day. This blogger, Sue, is a longtime follower of Project 333 and has learned a lot about her personal style through doing that challenge. However, she seems to also be learning a great deal through her participation in the 40 Plus Style challenge. I recommend this challenge to those of you who are struggling to define your personal style (although it may also be fun for those who have a good handle on their style aesthetic). You don’t have to share your findings or photos with anyone if you don’t want to. Just do the challenge for you and see where it takes you!
- Speaking of Project 333, you can still join in for the current term if this challenge speaks to you in any way. Check out the rules for getting started or purchase the “Dress with Less” microcourse for guidance along the way.