The second month of the year is now behind us, so it’s time for another accountability update. If you’re new to “Recovering Shopaholic,” here’s the scoop… 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 just finished an abbreviated round of Project 333, I will include that information in a separate post (to go live later this week).
What Left My Closet
During February, I purged 30 items from my wardrobe:
- 16 garments (including 3 workout tees and 2 workout pants)
- 4 pairs of shoes (including one pair that was returned)
- 4 purses
- 6 scarves
Here’s a snapshot of the pieces that left my closet last month (the scarves and workout items – except one pair of pants – are not pictured):
Why I Purged These Items
In addition to posting photos of what left my closet, I also list 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:
- Black handbag: Since I dyed my brown Brighton bag black last September, that’s been the black bag I’ve been reaching for over this one. I found that this bag looked a bit inexpensive and not as polished as the Brighton bag, so I placed it on consignment last month.
- Black sequined tank/cardigan combo: This is another one of my consignment purchase failures from last year. I thought I would enjoy wearing this with skirts during cooler months, but when I recently tried it on with all of my skirts, I didn’t like it with any of them! So out it went, back to consignment. Lesson learned – no more buying things that aren’t on my priority list, especially at resale shops where I cannot make returns.
- Black suede pumps: Yet another resale mistake goes out the door. I didn’t like these shoes with my skirts (my skirts are mostly for spring/summer wear) and my pants are not long enough to wear with heels of this height. Sadly, the consignment shops didn’t want these shoes, so they were donated this past weekend.
- Black print skirt: I’ve had this skirt for a number of years and have worn it quite a few times. However, I have several black print skirts and this one wasn’t a recent favorite. I didn’t want to be “splitting my wears,” so I opted to pass this one along.
- Brown knit coat: I also have this coat in black and wear that one all the time, but I am not a fan of brown on me. It isn’t one of my best colors and I’d rather just keep the black coat and wear that one when the need for a lightweight, casual coat arises.
- Brown handbag: I’ve had this bag for over ten years and used to use it a lot, but since I’m letting go of all of the brown items in my wardrobe, I decided to add this one to purge pile. I got a lot of use from it back in the day, but haven’t used it in at least three years. Time to go…
- Cabi jeans: These jeans were worn a lot during the past two years, but I now have far better jeans options to wear. These jeans haven’t washed all that well and aren’t as flattering on me as my more recent pairs, so they have now been donated.
- Cole Haan black wedges: I bought these shoes in December before purchasing my black AGL flats. The two shoes are very similar in style and I like the AGLs better, so I returned the Cole Haan shoes to the store last month.
- Grey waffle top with black lace details: I actually love this top, but it is too big for me! Whenever I wore it, I had to fuss with it frequently because of the large size. I don’t want fussy clothes in my wardrobe anymore (nor do I wish to tackle risky alterations), so I passed this top on.
- Grey cardigan: This is the cardigan that I felt frumpy in last month. Since I don’t ever want to feel frumpy and I have another grey cardigan I like a lot more, this one has been placed on consignment.
- Grey leopard print skirt: This skirt was one of my three-time “wardrobe benchwarmers” (only worn once or not at all each year for the past three years). I kept it in order to have a dressier option to wear, but I think I’ve learned that my dressy occasions are few and far between. If I do have the need to dress up a bit, I have other options to wear that will fit the bill, so this skirt has finally left my closet.
- Lululemon workout pants: I used to like this wider-legged silhouette, but I have since come to prefer a straight-leg style for all of my pants. I didn’t feel these pants were flattering on me (not only were the legs too wide, the pants overall were too big!), so I passed them along.
- Orange ombre tee: This top was worn a number of times, but it had become sort of stretched out and no longer looked fab. Although I still liked it, I didn’t like the way it looked on me. I want to feel attractive in all of my clothes, so I purged this top from my closet.
- Pink Chico’s Henley: I’d had this top for a number of years, but it was never a wardrobe favorite. It’s a bit too boxy in fit (as Chico’s garments often are) and the “blingy” buttons never really suited my style. I don’t remember why I bought it, but it was definitely time to let it go.
- Black Privo flats: I wanted to love these shoes because they were oh-so-comfortable, but I never liked the way they looked with any of my pants. They just seemed “clompy” somehow, so I always opted for other shoes when getting dressed. These shoes are like-new, so I know someone will get good wear out of them.
- Red ruffle cardigan: I got this cardigan last year, mostly because I liked the color (not the best reason for buying something!). But the ruffles are not really my cup of tea and I now have another red cardigan I like much more. I know I didn’t even come close to getting my money’s worth from this item, but keeping something I don’t love won’t bring my money back!
- Bronze Sketcher’s flats: I wore these shoes a fair amount six or seven years ago and kept them because they were comfortable. However, I don’t really like the color or style (for me) and hadn’t worn them much in recent years, so it was time to let them go.
- Striped clutch: I bought this at a resale store in 2012 but never used it. Although clutch purses have been listed as “must-haves” by some fashion experts, I don’t like them. I hate having to carry them, plus I rarely go out for dressier occasions. It was a bad idea for me to buy this, so I’m glad it’s gone now.
- Zebra print handbag: This was a gift from my mother probably seven years ago. Sadly, I never used it all that much and I’m not entirely sure why. What I do know is that is doesn’t feel like “me” these days, so it was time to let it go.
In regards to the items not pictured, I let go of the workout tees because I have better-fitting options available and plenty of workout clothes overall (the same was true for the second pair of workout pants I passed on). The scarves were released because I haven’t worn them in quite some time and have more than enough scarves that I enjoy wearing.
Wow, I let go of a lot of items last month! I hope all this information about my items and purging rationale isn’t too boring for all of you… My hope is that reading about my mistakes and my efforts to pare down my wardrobe will help you avoid buying errors and make progress with your own shopping and closet journeys. Sometimes it’s easier to learn from other people’s mistakes than our own, so I hope that reading about my foibles is useful for you.
As I become more and more accustomed to having a smaller wardrobe, it’s getting much easier for me to let go of my less favorite items. While my wardrobe is still larger than ideal (although I’m still not sure what ideal is for me), I’m finding it far more manageable these days. It’s much less overwhelming to get dressed each day and I’m wearing and enjoying a larger proportion of what I own. Good news!
What Came Into My Closet
During February, I added nine new garments to my wardrobe (too much, I know… more about this below). Two items were purchased at a consignment store, three were bought at the mall, and the other four were ordered online. Here’s what I bought:
- 2 jackets (one for workouts)
- 3 cardigans
- 4 tops
I also tried to add another pair of pants or two to my closet, but all five of the pants I ordered online (I often have to order pants online, as I need tall sizes) did not work out. I knew I wouldn’t have kept all of them, but I was hoping to have been able to hold on to at least one pair! I’m going to be persistent with the pants, though, as I know I’d really benefit from having a few more pairs to wear, including one in a non-neutral color. If necessary, I will get pants custom-made, as has been suggested to me on several occasions (I’ll be posting a great guest post on this topic very soon). I also tried to find a pair of brightly colored or multi-color shoes, but haven’t had luck in that department yet, either. I’ll keep looking!
Here’s a photo of the garments I added to my wardrobe during February:
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 February 2014 and why (listed from left to right, top to bottom):
- Black and cobalt striped top: I wanted to add a few more “special” tops to my wardrobe this year – the types of tops that stand alone and don’t need to be worn with toppers or accessories in order to make a statement. I liked that the stripes in this top (yes, I have a lot of stripes in my wardrobe, but stripes are kind of a “signature style” for me) have some variation to them. Black and cobalt are two of my core colors and I know I will wear this top a lot.
- Black hip-length jacket: I wanted to have a shorter-length jacket/coat (most of mine are longer) and I was thrilled to find this one by a designer I love (Nanette Lepore) – but usually can’t afford -on consignment. The only alteration needed to this coat was to lengthen the sleeves (I have “gorilla arms”), so I happily snapped it up.
- Black/sheer striped top: This top also fits into the “special” category and I like it because it includes an attached nude underpinning for modesty’s sake. It can be worn casually with jeans or dressed up with trousers and heels for evening (if a dressier occasion ever comes up).
- Burgundy jacket: This jacket will be worn on walks and to the gym and will eventually replace a similar weight jacket that is becoming worn out. I love the color and because it’s a tall size, the sleeves and body are plenty long on me. It was also on sale, so win-win!
- Forest green cardigan: I wanted to buy a few cardigans that are different styles from what I already have. I like this “boyfriend style” and the color (which looks more vibrant in real life) is a favorite of mine. This cardigan will coordinate well with many of my neutral tops, as well as some of my brighter-colored ones.
- Grey long-sleeved tee: Grey is one of my core neutral colors and I didn’t have any long-sleeved tops in that color (since I let go of the other grey top shown above). Although this top is very plain, it’s comfortable and will look good with many of my scarves and necklaces.
- Grey striped cardigan: Most of my cardigans are solids, so I was excited to find this striped version during the same consignment store visit when I picked up the black jacket above. Although I have quite a few open cardigans (but have purged a number of them as well), I wear them a lot and this one is shaped differently. I can envision wearing this with many of my sleeveless and short-sleeved tops, and since it’s lightweight, it will be a good piece for spring through fall.
- Purple long wrapped cardigan: I purchased this cardigan from Seamly, a small company which focuses on producing ethical and sustainable clothing in the USA. This cardigan can be worn three different ways and I love the color. I also love that it’s longer than most of my other cardigans and looks good with the new almost-skinny jeans (listed as straight-leg but look pretty skinny on me) I bought last month.
- Wine scoop-neck tee: I mentioned recently that I wanted to add a few more burgundy pieces to my wardrobe. This top is more of a wine or magenta than a deep burgundy, but I like the color and it looks good with my skin tone and hair color. It’s a good basic tee that will work well with most of my cardigans and coats and many of my scarves.
2014 Item Limit Update
I know that I bought too much last month and will have to slow down the pace of my purchasing if I’m going to meet my maximum item number for 2014. As I mentioned in my shopping and wardrobe goals post, the maximum number of new items I may purchase this year is 38 (excluding undergarments, workout clothes, sleepwear, and jewelry). Since one of my new garments falls into the category of workout clothes (the burgundy jacket), my number of qualifying new items so far is 13, which means I can purchase no more than 25 additional pieces during 2014.
I definitely plan to buy fewer items during March, as I will quickly blow through my entire item allotment for the year if I keep up this pace! That said, I’m happy with the items I bought during February and don’t regret buying any of them. Everything I bought fit into a category on my shopping priorities list, but I need to slow down my purchasing of tops and toppers and focus more on pants, skirts, and shoes at this point.
February Budget Report
My budget for clothing and related purchases for 2014 is $3000. My February budget was $250 (unlike in 2013, my monthly budget will vary this year). I spent a total of $274.40 last month, which slightly exceeded my budget. However, since I came in under budget during January, I am still doing well in terms of my spending for the year. I’ve spent $418.70 so far, which means that I was $81.30 under my 2014 budget at the close of February.
It’s all about balance, which is something that I’m learning slowly but surely. Although I’m having a hard time learning to shop in moderation, I believe I’m making progress and am gradually cultivating a workable wardrobe filled with pieces I love.
As I purge the less-loved pieces from my closet and shop more mindfully and purposefully, I’m beginning to love my wardrobe more and more. It’s not a quick and easy process, but I’m in it for the long haul. If I make mistakes, which we all do, I will learn from them and move on. Doing these monthly updates forces me to evaluate my behavior and recalibrate as needed, which I’m definitely doing. As long as I continue to learn and grow, I know I’m on the right track!
Many shopaholics bring a lot of new pieces into our closets each month, and many of us are quite adept at purging less-loved items from our wardrobes as well. I’ve found it very helpful to start listing my reasons for bringing new pieces in and letting old pieces go. This wasn’t something I did at the beginning of my recovering shopaholic project, but it’s been a very valuable addition to my process.
You don’t have to reveal your purchasing and purging rationales to the world like I do, but I recommend that you keep a notebook or spreadsheet to track this information for yourself. It only takes a few minutes to jot down some notes, either each time you buy or purge something or at the end of each month. Why not try this for a few months to see what you learn? You may find that you start shopping smarter as a result of gathering this valuable information.
Before You Go… A Few Links to Share
I read a lot of articles (I’m a recovering “information junkie” as well as a recovering shopaholic!) and frequently come across information that may be of interest to my readers. So from time to time, I’ll share some “useful links” with you at the end of a post. Here’s the latest installment:
- “How I Slow Myself Down” – Janice from “The Vivienne Files” shares a quick and easy tip to help you shop less and achieve more of your life goals.
- “How to Wear Wide Leg Pants” – Wide leg pants are coming back! While for some of us, that’s welcome news, if you’ve been wearing skinny styles for years, you may not know how to wear a wider-legged style. Bridgette Raes offers some tips to help you integrate wide-leg pants into your wardrobe (if you want).
- “Does Size Matter?” – Clothing size obsession is a topic I’ve written about before, but I really love this recent take from Jill Chivers, who explores the matter in greater depth. Her considerations at the end of the post are worth thinking about…
- “How to Mix and Match Colours” – Dottie’s wonderful guest posts (part one | part two) have gotten many of us thinking more about color. This article by Imogen Lamport offers some excellent tips (along with the helpful images she always provides) for how to combine colors like a pro.
- “Do I Have to Buy Basic Garments?” – Another excellent post from “The Vivienne Files” provides lots of support for the value of buying basic garments, as well as the more exciting pieces that catch our eyes while shopping. If you’re a visual person, you’ll love the many outfit suggestions shown in this helpful article.