January 2014 Accountability Update

Where did the time go?  It’s hard to believe that February is already under way and it’s time for my first accountability update for 2014.  For those who are new to “Recovering Shopaholic,” I’ve committed to posting monthly accountability updates as a way of keeping myself honest and on track with my wardrobe and shopping goals.  These posts include what came into and left my closet during a given month and how I did with my shopping budget and rules.   I typically write about what I wore that month as well, but since I’m doing another round of Project 333, I will include that information in a separate post (to go live later this week).

Full Honesty and Accountability

Being accountable to others can help you stick to your goals!

What Left My Closet

For the first time since I started this blog in January 2013, I did not purge a single item from my closet last month!  Now that I’ve pared my wardrobe down to a much more manageable level, I will be doing less purging and focusing primarily on “shopping my closet” and wearing and enjoying more of what I have.  That said, I won’t hesitate to donate or consign garments, shoes, or accessories that I find sub-par, “fussy,” or no longer a match for my personal style aesthetic.

Since I plan to end this year with a total of 200 items or less in my closet (including clothing, shoes, purses, and scarves) and I will still be bringing new pieces into the mix along the way, I will definitely need to let go of some of my existing wardrobe items.  However, I won’t necessarily adhere to a “one in, one out” policy, at least not on a strict basis.  Rather, I will let go of things as it seems appropriate to do so and I’ll keep track of my progress as the year moves on.  I will continue to provide updates on my wardrobe purges each month as I’ve been doing since the genesis of this blog.

What Came Into My Closet

During January, I added five new garments to my wardrobe.  Three of these items were bought using consignment store credit and the other two pieces were purchased at, of all places, Costco.   You never know where you’re going to find wardrobe gems, so it’s beneficial to keep your mind and your options open when shopping.  I also bought four new bras (I’m now set in that department after neglecting it for far too long) and two new workout tops last month.

It’s important to note that all five of my January closet additions were acquired very early in the month, before I set my 2014 shopping and wardrobe goals and prior to the creation of my shopping priority list for the year.  I may not have purchased all five of these items had my goals and list been in existence as of January 1st.   For this reason, I’ll set my goals for 2015 by the end of this year and ensure that my shopping list stays current by means of regular reviews.

The maximum number of new items I may purchase this year (not including undergarments, workout clothes, sleepwear, and jewelry) is 38.  Since I bought 5 new items during January, I can buy no more than 33 additional pieces from now until the end of 2014.

Here’s a photo (click for a larger view) of the garments I added to my wardrobe during January 2014:

January 2014 Closet Additions

I added these 5 garments to my wardrobe in January 2014.

Why I Added These Items to My Wardrobe

I believe it’s important for us to understand why we buy new pieces, as becoming more aware of our purchasing motivations can help us to shop smarter.  For this reason, I share my reasons for buying the new pieces I add to my closet each month.

Here’s a list of what I purchased in January 2014 and why (listed from left to right, top to bottom):

  1. Black wrap-style ¾ sleeve top – As longtime readers know, I wear a lot of black.  However, most of the black tops I own are very basic and are sleeveless or short-sleeved.  So when I saw this ¾ sleeved wrap-style top with a silver zipper detail on the side, I thought it would make a nice wardrobe addition.  I immediately included this top in my Project 333 capsule and have already enjoyed wearing it this year.
  2. Black velvet coat – This was mostly an impulse buy and I’m not sure I would have bought it had my shopping rules for the year (particularly the item purchase limit) already been in place.  I already have two black coats (one warm, one lightweight and casual), but I fell in love with this coat when I saw it at the consignment store last month.  It fit me almost perfectly (the only alteration it needed was for the sleeve hem to be taken down) and is a good match for my style aesthetic. Although the velvet fabric puts the coat into a dressier realm, I believe it can be dressed down by pairing it with jeans, boots, and more casual tops.  I feel I will wear the coat, but it was not on my shopping priority list for the year.  No more impulse buys in 2014!
  3. Straight-leg jeans – I’ve been doing a great job in upgrading my pants wardrobe over the past few months.  I was thrilled to find these straight-leg Lucky jeans on sale at Costco last month.  I have never seen tall length pants at Costco before, so finding this pair was a surprise.  I was even more surprised when they fit me perfectly!  These jeans are almost skinny jeans, but they have a bit more room in the legs and are comfortable for me to wear.  As most of my pants have wider legs, these jeans fill a gap in my wardrobe.  I look forward to wearing these jeans after my Project 333 (more like 233…) term concludes.
  4. Red sweater – I have very few sweaters in my closet, so my list for 2014 includes a few sweater purchases.  I was happy to find this lovely red sweater with the tags still attached at the consignment store.  I love the color and the embellishments and the fact that this sweater provides more warmth than many of my other tops.  I almost included it in my Project 333 capsule, but since I did not, I will have to wait until March to wear it.
  5. Teal sweater – This was another surprising Costco find and I was happy to discover that the sleeves are long enough for my “gorilla arms.”  I love the teal color and the fitted silhouette.  I look forward to wearing this sweater come March as well.

Since I really like all of my January purchases, I would love to wear them all right away.  I’m considering making some Project 333 swaps in order to integrate my new pieces into the mix.  However, I haven’t decided what to do in that regard as of yet.

I still find myself struggling to compile a wardrobe capsule that provides me with the versatility and interchangeability that I desire.  I will delve into this and other Project 333 issues in my next post.  For now, I’ll just state that I’m happy with the shopping I did last month and look forward to getting a lot of wear out of all of my new items.

January Budget Report

My budget for clothing and related purchases for 2014 is $3000.  My January budget was $250 (unlike last year, my monthly budget will vary this year).   I spent $144.30 last month, so I came in under budget by $105.70.

Being able to use consignment store credit for three of my purchases definitely helped me to stay within my budget parameters.  Since the majority of my consignment items have sold and my closet purging has slowed down considerably, I won’t be able to rely on these additional funds (which don’t count toward my budget) for much longer.

I’m actually happy to be limiting my consignment shopping, as I made a lot of mistakes with that type of shopping in previous years.  Even though I’m shopping smarter overall these days, I’m still at risk for resale mistakes, especially since purchases at such stores are almost always final sale.  I like the idea of resale shopping on principle, as such shopping is generally more ethical and sustainable.  However, my past resale shopping was mostly counterproductive, as many of the pieces I bought either hung in my closet unworn or were either re-consigned or donated in short order.  I feel I would be best served by buying things I will actually wear and keep for a number of years, regardless of how much they cost or where they were purchased.

In Conclusion

I feel that the year is off to a good start for me in terms of my wardrobe and shopping.  My purchase item limit has already stopped me from buying new things on several occasions.  Knowing that I can only buy a maximum of 38 new items this year is forcing me to be more conscious and deliberate about what I acquire.  I believe that this one rule alone will go a long way toward helping me to shop less and make better buying decisions.

I make a lot of suggestions and recommendations in my posts and I’m always happy when readers share that my tips have been beneficial for them.   If you only take on one of my suggestions this year, I recommend that you set a purchasing goal for yourself, particularly if you have a tendency to overshop.

For years, I had a budget (which I often overspent!), but I never limited how many pieces I could buy with that financial allocation.  Consequently, I often hunted for bargains and thrift store buys in order to satisfy my penchant for more, more, more.  In the process, I often ended up with lower quality, sub-standard pieces.  Keeping the same budget this year but limiting how many new items I can buy should push me toward buying higher quality pieces and sticking to my shopping list.  I wish I would have set such a limit earlier, but maybe I wasn’t ready yet.

Recovery Tip

If you’re scared to set an item purchase limit, make it high in the beginning.  If you know how many items you bought last year, try to reduce that number by one quarter or even half that number this year.  Set your target at a number that feels like a stretch for you but doesn’t seem out of reach.

Everyone’s number is different and the important thing is that we’re growing and improving.  Sure, there are those who only buy a few new things each year and perhaps you hope to reach that goal one day as well. But remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t cure your shopping addiction in a few months or even a year.  It takes what it takes, so just keep going until you get to where you want to be.  That’s what I plan to do and I invite you to join me!

Before You Go… A Few Links to Share

This past week, I read so many great articles in the blogosphere.  So as not to overwhelm you, I like to only share a few at a time.  Here are some of the best articles I read on the topics of style, wardrobe management, packing, and advertising.

  1. How to Get Out of a Style Rut:   Most of us have encountered a style rut at one time or another, but Sylvia of 40+ Style is here to help the style-challenged among us.  In this informative and motivational post, Sylvia offers tips, encouragement, and resources to help us get our style mojo back.
  2. Dressing for Your Lifestyle:  I often write about how we need to shop and dress for the lifestyle we have rather than for a past or wished for life.  Jill Chivers of Shop Your Wardrobe also decided to address this important topic in a wonderful two-part post (see part two here) complete with personal examples and photos.  A must read!
  3. How to Pack for a Business Trip:  This is another fabulous post from style expert Bridgette Raes.  Although this article focuses on creating a capsule wardrobe for a business trip, I received a lot of value from it even though I haven’t traveled for business in years.  Bridgette provides tips for what to pack, as well as lots of photos of the various ensembles one can create using a small number of items. Very inspiring!
  4. 7 Life Inaccuracies Portrayed in the Super Bowl Ads:   Even my readers outside the U.S. are probably aware of the sports and advertising extravaganza that is the Super Bowl.  The ads aired during the Super Bowl are so good that many people (myself included) watch this event more for the commercials than for the football game.  While it’s fun to watch the ads, we need to be aware of the underlying messages that are being conveyed through them. I found this timely post from Becoming Minimalist very informative and enlightening.  I’ll never look at ads the same way again!

16 thoughts on “January 2014 Accountability Update

  1. Love your link roundup!!

    The wrap top and jeans are my favorites of what you bought. I have to say- project 333 is inspiring but I think I love the concept, not the exact number. I think for some women, it may be 30 and for others 35, know what I mean? It’s more about challenging yourself rather than suffering like you said. My fear is that if I participate in 333, I won’t get to my goal of 10 wears for each item I own (saving special occasion wear). I’m thinking of doing a 30×30 when my 30 day shop your wardrobe is done, just to test the waters. 🙂

    • Also wanted to add: I bought becoming Minimalist’s new book Clutterfree with Kids and so far am enjoying it a lot! Today was the last day at 2.99- first book about this topic for me 🙂

    • I’m glad you bought Clutterfree with Kids and are enjoying it. I’m sure it’s wonderful, as everything Joshua Becker does is great. As for Project 333, I know it can be very scary. I considered it for close to a year before I took it on. I don’t necessarily think that challenge is for everyone, but if it calls to you, you can always modify it to suit your needs. I like your idea of doing a 30 x 30 as a first step. I’m actually considering doing that and other challenges down the line. What we need and what feels right for us will likely evolve and change as time goes on. I think you’re doing great and I love how much self-exploration you’re doing on your blog!

  2. Love all your new items -I can see you wearing all of them alot,esp the sweaters.
    And a very good point about one never knowing where a clothing gem will be found- I have found some of my best items in the least likely places and it really helps to have that need/ wish list memorized so you don’t walk past those gems!

    • I agree that it’s a good idea to have our need/wish lists memorized (or at least in our purse or on our phones) so we are prepared for unforeseen circumstances. I always glance at the clothes at Costco but usually don’t see things that meet my needs. I was pleasantly surprised this time around!

  3. How awesome is it that you found jeans at Costco? I must say I am loving the black coat. I have been wearing the same army green winter jacket since November, but after seeing that coat I am reminded of a beautiful dark purple coat I own. I will have to get in a few wears before it warms up. I bought 4 items this month. A black hi-low dress, a pair of black capri pants, a grey dolman sleeve top, and a gold Lucky Brand necklace. I spent $239.76. I am very happy with everything I bought and I think that I will get a lot of use out of everything. For whatever reason having a set number of items has clicked with me the way that nothing else has. When I was looking at it from a money point of view I also tried to buy as much as possible for the smallest amount of money. Most of the time I wasn’t very happy with what I bought and it didn’t stick around long. When I did shopping bans I binged horribly after it was over. So far with a set number I think I’m approaching things in a much different way. I see things I like, but I don’t feel like I have to buy them if they’re not just right for me.

    • Thanks for sharing what you bought and how much you spent last month, Tonya. I’m glad you’re happy with everything you bought and are feeling good about it! Everything you wrote about budgets and shopping bans resonated with me and echoed my experiences. The item number has really clicked with me, too! I read on forums about people buying a set number of items in a given year, but the number always seemed too difficult for me (it was usually one or two items per month). It just dawned on me one day that I could cut my number from last year in half and that seemed totally manageable for me. I think I will be able to do it, although it may feel challenging at times. While 38 items is still a lot, it’s a stretch for me, but having this number has already done a lot to shift my perspective, just like it has for you. I wish you continued success!

  4. Hey Debbie, I often buy clothes at Costco! My advice to you is if you like those jeans–go get yourself a second pair. Reason being–with your more casual lifestyle, you will wear them, and once you find a pair you like, you will want to wear them more often, so it’s a good idea to have a backup in this instance. Earlier in the year I’d pared down to one pair of jeans that fit perfectly and found that I either had to get a second pair or do laundry more frequently than I cared to. Having 2 pairs of the identical jean was the perfect solution. Besides, you probably won’t find better pricing elsewhere!

    • Your advice is good, Deby, but it may be too late 😦 I will go back soon and see if the jeans are still there. Fingers crossed… I’m trying not to buy too many “multiples,” but there CAN be a good reason for them at times. Since it’s difficult for me to find pants (Costco good luck aside…), it could be a wise move to buy two pairs when I find a style that works for me. I wish I would have multiples of some of my old pants that have worn out!

      How great that you’ve been able to find good clothes at Costco! I was always bummed that they never had long pants lengths. We still didn’t see any jeans there for my husband (he’s 6’4″!), but at least one of us got to take advantage of the low prices!

      • I have a cashmere sweater that I purchased at Costco about 12 years ago. It was a very good price, and the cashmere is a better quality that most of the sweaters on offer in stores these days.

  5. We don’t have a Costco membership yet, as they just opened a store here and it’s some distance away, but I do shop for clothing at Sam’s Club and I’ve found bargains there which are some of my favorite items. Glad you found good buys at Costco! I like all your new items and I think you’ll enjoy them.

    I’ve actually NEVER tracked my clothing costs or number of items purchased for a year. In recent years I’ve purged and upgraded my wardrobe to the point where I have mostly things I like and wear, though I still have too many items. I now feel like I have the right clothes for any trip or occasion.

    So I think for this year I will just track how many items I buy and how much I spend, without setting any specific limits. This will give me a baseline for what I’m doing. I am writing a list of items I need or want to fill in my wardrobe. I’m definitely trying to keep my purchases for the year on the low end, both in number & cost.

    Shoes are a problem for me, as I have very fussy feet and need comfort. I need a pair of black walking shoes that I can wear for travel and a pair of comfortable flats. I’m also looking for a black packable down jacket. And I need a new swimsuit this year. I’m keeping a list of items I need on my phone.

    In January I purchased only 1 item, a black infinity scarf. It was $10.50 (with a coupon) at Bed, Bath & Beyond (bizarre!) and I took it on a recent trip to San Antonio, where it was freezing and I enjoyed wearing it. I know that some months I’ll be spending a lot more when I buy shoes or jeans, so I’m off to a good start keeping the total low for January.

    • Sounds like you have a good plan in place for the year, Diane. I think it will be very helpful for you to have a baseline for how much you’re spending and how many items you’re buying. Then you can set goals for making changes if that seems appropriate for you for 2015. Your one January purchase seems to have been a good one. I wish you the best of luck in finding the items on your priority list this year! Keeping the list on your phone is an excellent idea. I’ve been pretty low-tech with my list in that it’s on a piece of paper in my purse, but I think I’ll join the 21st century and transfer the list to my phone 🙂

  6. I bought two items in January – a 2-pack of Costco camisoles for $10. I had vaguely set myself a two-item-per-month limit (up from one last year, which felt too low), so I stuck to it for January but mostly through laziness as I didn’t want to go out shopping the rest of the month. [And we have a brand new outlet mall opening this month so I was thinking of that too – I didn’t want to go crazy before at least checking out the stores there.] I’m kind of itching to try Costco’s yoga pants, which look good and seem to get great reviews, but I have plenty of yoga pants that are still working well so I am holding off.

    Anyway, good job for January! I think cutting way back on the consignment shopping will be great for you.

    • Good for you for sticking to your January shopping limit, Sarah. Hopefully the two items per month limit will be more manageable for you. I tried to stick to one item of clothing and one accessory per month last year, but that fell apart after a few months. I was trying to change too much too fast and it didn’t work for me, but I think the goal I set for this year (38 items) will be much more doable. I think it’s great that you didn’t buy the Costco yoga pants since you already have good yoga pants at home. Sometimes we stock up too much on “basics” when we have plenty as it is. I’m still learning this myself, but getting there!

  7. I think it is very helpful to have a once a month check in on how one is doing with achieving goals. For myself, knowing I’ll have to ‘record’ when I make a wardrobe addition, helps keep me aware of how many other ‘additions’ I’ve made. After purchasing my two items for the month of March, I’ve had to stop myself again and again, before adding yet more items! A real eye opener.

    • The accountability has made a profound difference for me and has been instrumental in the recovery I’ve made thus far! Having an item limit has helped to push my recovery to the next level this year. I may switch from an item limit for the year to monthly limits, as I continue to buy too much (although FAR less than I bought in previous years). I keep testing myself to see what will work best. I’m still a work in progress and am willing to switch things up as needed until I discover the best solutions for myself.

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