Shopping and Wardrobe Goals Update – April 2014

Back in January, I created a series of goals for the year regarding my shopping, my wardrobe, and my life at large.  At that time, I also provided a recap on how I did with my 2013 goals.  This year, I decided not to wait until the year was over to share how I’m doing with my various goals.  Instead, I’m going to do three updates:  one a third of the way through the year (this post!), another at the two-thirds point, and a final update at the end of the year.

Shopping and wardrobe statistics

In today’s post, I share how I’m doing with the shopping and wardrobe goals I’ve set for the year. Later this week, I will update you on my progress with what I’ve termed the 2014 “Full Life Project.”  We all get busy with life and our lengthy to-do lists, and goals can sometimes fall by the wayside as a result.  My goals updates will help keep me on track and moving powerfully toward the objectives I outlined for myself as 2014 began.

This update will be structured as follows… I will list each of my ten shopping and wardrobe goals for 2014 as written in my January 27th post.  Below each goal, I’ll provide a brief summary of my progress thus far toward achieving the goal in question.  Wherever applicable, I’ll share statistics (my favorite!) to support my updates.

Goal #1:  Spend a maximum of $3000 on clothing and clothing-related items.

At the time of this writing, I have spent $820.57 so far this year on clothing, shoes, accessories, and alterations.  My budget through the end of April is $1000, so I am quite a bit ahead of my budget at this point.  I don’t expect to spend any more money this month, but I will report my final total in my April accountability update.

Goal #2:  Buy a maximum of 38 wardrobe items (garments, shoes, and handbags).

As I’ve shared in my various accountability updates, I’ve struggled quite a bit with this goal.  I was hoping I could use a yearly item limit rather than having set monthly item limits on my shopping, but I don’t think I’m ready for such freedom just yet.  During January through March, I purchased 18 wardrobe items and was on pace to reach my yearly limit well before the year ended.  Thus, I opted to divide my remaining 20 items among the nine months left in the year instead of keeping things open-ended.   I can now buy two items per month during April through November and four items in December.

I have purchased my two items for April (I’ll share about them in my next accountability update), so I’ve now bought 20 new items during 2014.  I have 18 items remaining and plan to adhere to the shopping priorities list I outlined last week.  Hopefully, between this list and my new monthly item limit, I will stay on track and reach this goal!

Goal #3:  Everything I buy will fit my current body, lifestyle, and personal sense of style.

This goal is far more subjective than the previous two goals outlined above.  My progress on this goal has been mixed at best.  While all of the items I’ve purchased fit my current body, some of them are not a good match for my present lifestyle and sense of style.  Sadly, three items that I bought have already been donated or consigned, as they just weren’t wise purchases to begin with. I fell prey to my longtime mistake of buying things for the wrong reasons, namely because I liked the price, the color, or the brand.  While I am usually able to return retail purchases made in error for a refund, that’s not generally possible with resale buys.  Resale items bought in error are basically a “write-off” and both the dollars in my budget and the items in my allotment are lost.

Looking on the bright side, I believe that many of the pieces I’ve purchased so far this year were wise buys.   Some of them have already received a good amount of play and I feel that others will be worn regularly once warmer weather arrives. I will soon do a purchase analysis post for what I’ve bought thus far during 2014.  In that post, I’ll share everything I’ve bought and whether I believe each item was a wise purchase or a buying mistake. Stay tuned…

Goal #4:  Items I buy will either fit me perfectly “off the rack” or will only need very basic alterations.

One-fourth of the items I’ve purchased so far this year have required some sort of tailoring.  However, all of these alterations were very straight-forward and not at all risky in nature. The alterations included lengthening sleeves (letting down sleeve hems) on one top and two jackets and taking in the sides of two cardigans.  I also had an unattached lining of a shirt sewn to the top layer of that garment.  With the exception of the last modification mentioned, all of my 2014 alterations are things I’ve had done successfully many times before.  I feel that I’m doing well in avoiding “The Dark Side of Alterations” I wrote about last December.

Goal #5:  Return any new items that have not been worn or used within 30 days of purchase.

I’m glad I’m reviewing my shopping and wardrobe goals today, as I haven’t done too well with this one.  As of today, I have seven new 2014 garments that were purchased over 30 days ago and have not been worn!  In the case of four of these pieces, my reason for not wearing them is weather-related.  It just hasn’t been warm enough yet to wear my new warm weather items, but I feel confident that I will wear them.

However, the other three garments haven’t been worn because they are styles that are new to me. I tend to be a “slow adopter.”  Instead of wearing new styles immediately after buying them, I tend to hesitate when venturing out of my comfort zone.  I don’t really want to return these three items, as I do like them.  What I really need to do is push myself to wear them – and soon!

I want to retain this goal, as it’s already been helpful to me in terms of returns I’ve made thus far.  I’ve returned at least four or five items before they were even included in a monthly accountability update.  I generally allow myself a week or two after buying something to decide whether I will keep it or return it to the store.  During that time, I try the new pieces on a few times and assess how I feel about them.

I tend to be moody and indecisive, so I want to be as confident as possible that I’m making the right choice. That said, I’ve still made mistakes, but I do feel that I’m learning and making progress.  I don’t make nearly as many returns as I used to, as I previously returned at least half of the items I bought!   These days, the bulk of the returns I make are for items ordered online that I wasn’t able to touch, inspect, or try on.  It’s very difficult to determine whether or not something will work for us based upon a photo and a description on a website, so I cut myself some slack in regards to e-commerce returns.

Goal #6:  Reduce my wardrobe to 200 total items (including clothing, shoes, purses, and scarves).

As of today, my “grand total” for clothing, shoes, purses, and scarves is 221 (see my last closet inventory here).  I have 147 garments (not including workout wear), 34 pairs of shoes, 11 purses, and 29 scarves.  Since I’m able to bring 18 new pieces into my closet before the end of the year, I will need to let go of 39 items in order to reach my goal of 200 maximum wardrobe pieces.

I still believe this goal is achievable, as some of my new items will be replacements.  In addition, at the end of each season, I’ll assess what hasn’t been worn and decide whether or not it should remain in my closet. I will also continue to regularly purge anything in my closet that I don’t love and which doesn’t suit my body, lifestyle, and style aesthetic.

Goal #7:  End the year having worn everything in my closet at least two or more times.

I have worn very few of my warm weather items thus far, as we’ve only had a few unseasonably warm days this year (I know, that’s better than most folks have had!).  Since I’ve mostly been wearing my cooler weather pieces (my Fall through Spring wardrobe, as I call it), those were the only items I assessed today.  At this point, there are 48 items (36 garments and 12 pairs of shoes) that I reasonably could have worn two or more times but have not.  While many of these items have been worn once this year, 22 of them (13 garments and 9 pairs of shoes) have not been worn yet at all.

The good news is that I’m doing far better this year in wearing all of my clothes than I did during the past three years (see those statistics HERE and HERE).  It helps a lot that I’m wearing more of my “regular clothes” when working from home.  I feel confident that I will end the year having worn at least most of my clothes and shoes two or more times, if not all of them. The few dressy items I own may still end up being “wardrobe benchwarmers,” but if that’s the case, I may decide that it’s not worth keeping such pieces around!  Time will tell, but I’m happy with my progress thus far.

Goal #8:  Wear at least a third of my wardrobe pieces 8 or more times and half of my wardrobe pieces 5 or more times.

Since we’re only a third of the way through 2014, I have very few items that have been worn five or more times so far this year.  My wardrobe is still too large for many pieces to receive that much play in just a few months.  At this point, there are 12 items that I’ve worn five or more times and 6 items that I’ve worn eight or more times. All of these items are pants, shoes, or coats.  While some of my tops have been worn three or four times thus far, no garments in that category have reached the five-wear mark as of yet.

I’m not as confident about reaching this goal as I am about some of the previous ones.  I know I’ll wear many of my pants, skirts, shoes, and toppers (coats, jackets, and cardigans) at least five times before the year is through, but I don’t know how many of my tops will reach that benchmark.  In truth, I still have far more tops than I need!  I’m now being more ruthless in purging this wardrobe category, but I don’t want to let go of any garments that I still like.  We’ll see how I’m doing at the end of August when I do my next goal update.  I should have a much better read on the situation at that time and it will be easier to make predictions then.

Goal #9:  Every item in my closet will be at least an “8” on a scale of 1-10 by the end of the year.

This is another very subjective goal, but I believe it’s useful for us to rate our closet pieces and aim to love as much of our wardrobe as possible.  It’s difficult to make the call about “8”s or higher when the garments in question are not on our bodies, but I did my best to assess the state of my wardrobe on their hangers and racks.

I think I have fewer than ten “sub-8” pieces at this point.  A few of them are “placeholders” that are waiting to be replaced later this year, while others have comfort issues that may lead to their ultimate demise.  I have already released a number of items this year because they didn’t meet my ever-increasing standards for fit, style, and comfort, and I will continue to do so moving forward.

Goal #10:  Reduce the size of my jewelry collection by at least one-third.

I dove right into this goal in February, beginning with a jewelry inventory and an initial cull.  You can read the specifics in this post, but here’s a brief summary…  I counted all of my watches, rings, brooches, pendants, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and other miscellaneous items and ended up with a grand total of 282 jewelry pieces.

After looking at each item and asking myself two powerful questions (“Do I love this piece?” and “Can I see myself wearing it within the next month?”), I was able to purge 65 pieces on the same day of my initial inventory, all of which I consigned or donated shortly thereafter.   So I reduced the size of my jewelry collection by 23% right off the bat!  I haven’t done any further culling as of yet, but I feel confident I’ll be able to let go of at least another 10% of my jewelry inventory in order to reach my year-end goal.  I plan to do another round of culling very soon and will report on my progress.

In Conclusion

I feel it was very useful for me to review my shopping and wardrobe goals today and write up this update.  Although I advocate reviewing our goals on a regular basis, I hadn’t looked over these objectives in quite a while.  I guess it’s time for me to practice what I preach, huh?  From this point on, I commit to reviewing my 2014 goals every month when I prepare my monthly accountability updates.  This should help me to keep my goals top of mind – and me on target for achieving them.

All in all, I feel I’m doing fairly well with my 2014 shopping and wardrobe goals.  Next we’ll see how I’m faring with the goals for my life at large. Sadly, I don’t think my progress is quite as stellar there, but I promise to tell the truth even if it’s not pretty!  Stay tuned for that update later this week…

Your Thoughts?

How about you?  Have you set goals in terms of your shopping and wardrobe for this year?  If so, how are you doing with those goals?  I’d love to hear your thoughts, updates, and comments on what you’re hoping to accomplish during 2014.  In addition, if you have questions or comments on my goals, I welcome those as well.  All I ask is that you be respectful and kind in your communications here.  Feel free to question and challenge me or your fellow readers, but remember that we’re all on the same side. We’re all looking to shop more consciously and wisely and cultivate workable wardrobes.  Let’s all do our best to help each other succeed!

50 thoughts on “Shopping and Wardrobe Goals Update – April 2014

  1. Big kudos on what looks to be a very good year for you so far. Particularly big in my mind is where you are on budget — which I presume is the number one goal for a reason. So you should feel really proud of yourself for these accomplishments. One of the things I took away from To Buy or Not to Buy (yes, I read it! OK, so I didn’t do all of the exercises, but still felt like it was beneficial and worthwhile) was that have to fight against a tendency to be too hard on yourself for not meeting goals or staying perfectly on track. These ‘mini-failures’ are growth moments. It’s perfectly OK to see that you are not on course on some of the goals and correct your course going forward; progress isn’t always linear and doesn’t have to be. I thought it was worth repeating/reminding to celebrate the good stuff and reflect on the hard work it took to get here. So keep up the good work, Debbie!

    One practical question that I’d love input on is how you track your ‘wears’ on a particular item. I saw some use the hanger-turning method, which seems OK, but what do you do after the second wear when you haven’t worn everything once? I could do a spreadsheet, but would have to create an official inventory to make that work. I’ve thought about attaching a tag to each hanger and noting the date every time I wear an item. Does anyone have methods they find particularly easy and useful that they’d be willing to share?

    • I have started tracking my daily wears, partly because Debbie’s talk of statistics has just made me curious about what I wear most/least/etc., and partly because I’m hoping to find my way organically to dressing more “seasonally” even though I live in a climate that is chilly/wet for most of the year. I’m not sure if that last part makes sense, but anyway!

      I am using a spreadsheet, but it is not based on a wardrobe inventory. Instead I have columns for “bottom,” “top,” “cardi/topper,” “other” (things like tights, silk longjohn shirts for layering, etc.), “shoes,” and “accessories.” Then in each row I can enter what I wore each day.

      (Actually, I have also been jotting down outfit ideas at the bottom of the sheet, and then when I plan outfits each week I pull those ideas up to the day I plan to wear them. I resisted outfit planning for so long, it seems kind of forced/try-hard, but like Debbie I work at home and this is the best trick I have found to help me make sure I put on “real clothes” each day, which in turn makes me feel better/more productive.)

      My spreadsheet is in Excel and in order to figure out how often I’ve worn something I can just highlight the rows of interest and then choose “Sort” in the “Data” menu. (Sort by “Tops” and I can see how many times I’ve worn each top, then do the same thing for “Bottoms” and so on. Sorry if this is obvious, I am kind of a remedial Excel user so I was very happy when I figured this out!)

      Of course, this doesn’t actually ensure that I will wear everything in my closet. But I figure that if I get to the end of the season/year/etc. and find that there’s something I *haven’t* worn, well, that in itself is a useful piece of data about that garment, right?

      This comment is getting long, but Debbie I also wanted to applaud your progress! It really seems like your progress towards your wardrobe/clothing goals is gaining momentum, and I feel certain that you will soon find the same with your “full life” goals.

      • I love the way you’re doing your tracking, Sarah! Anything we can do to get ourselves to actually WEAR our clothes, even if we’re working from home, is a winner in my book! I use hang tags on my hangers to track how often I wear things and then I enter the numbers in my spreadsheet at the end of the year, but I like your method, too. I hope you’re right about my “full life” goals. I’d really like to gain more momentum there!

    • I personally keep a log of what I wear every day in a quick simple spreadsheet and compile it monthly. You don’t need an inventory to do this but do need to note your items the same way every time.

    • I’m like Sarah. I can spend far too long on Excel playing around with orders and statistics (almost the only stats I actually like!) I keep my records in precisely the same way and can sort alphabetically to find the number of times a specific item has been worn or by number of wears. Both are very useful when compiling the monthly cull.

      I don’t have goals about what I can or cannot buy. As a general rule I cannot buy anything unless there is a specific need unmet by my current wardrobe. At the same time I am rigoroursly removing items until I can get the wardrobe down to less than 100. Then I am going back to doing Project 333. I reckon that 100 items should enable me to cover all the seasons we seem to get in the north of England including the occasional summer day!

      • If 100 items will work for you in England, Gillie, I should definitely be able to do it in my far more temperate climate! Project 333 helped me a lot in paring down, as I only wanted to have items I LOVED in my capsule wardrobe. Best of luck to you in your continued wardrobe pare down!

    • I use the iPhone app Jeeves. It’s not very sophisticated, but it’s quick and easy. I use my phone a LOT more than my computer.

    • Thanks for your kind words and for the reminder of what April Benson writes about in “To Buy or Not to Buy.” Like you, I read the book but haven’t done all of the exercises. However, I can see the value in doing so and in sharing some of them here on the blog. So I’m going to dive back into that very soon…

      I see that others have already given you some great suggestions for wardrobe tracking, some of which are things I hadn’t heard of or thought of before. There is a lot of wisdom in this group! As for how I track my wardrobe, I outlined it in a post about a year ago. Here’s the link: Hope this helps! Feel free to ask any other questions you have.

    • I blog, and take photos (darn near) every day of what I’m wearing. It helps me: (1) keep track of what I’m wearing; (2) better evaluate how things look and work for my lifestyle; and (3) better track my emotional connection to items (i.e., how I feel when I wear them, versus how I feel when I look at them).

      Early in the Project 333s, I would tally the wears – it was so easy to get in the habit of taking and posting the photo and then go back through the photos in one sitting to see what I wore at a later date. You can set up a free blog through any hosting site (Blogger, WordPress) and make it private if you want (I originally only blogged for me, though I share my private blog with a few readers now), or you could upload them privately to a site like Flickr or Photobucket or the like and maintain privacy, but the ability to access remotely as you need to (all sites also have phone apps to make taking and uploading with a phone very easy, too).

  2. I’ve just started reading some of the blog posts on this site and it’s great! Although I don’t see myself going through the effort to take inventory of every single item of clothing/jewelry/accessories I own, I am truly inspired. One thing that I think could be easily narrowed down is the number of purses/bags. My philosophy has been to buy one expensive (designer or otherwise) bag that I absolutely love; this is almost the only purse I own! I feel that a nice, classic purse can pretty much be paired with any outfit and it minimizes the effort of switching purses. I also have one laptop bag for work that doubles as a large purse when travelling and a small side satchel when I want my hands free. I also have a small clutch that doubles as a wallet in my main purse that I can take out and carry by itself, if necessary.

    • Welcome, Taryn, and thanks for your comment. I’m glad you are inspired by my posts! I have a similar philosophy to you in regards to bags, but I haven’t always been that way. I used to switch out my bags often, but now I will carry the same one for a few months at a time. Since I’m now buying higher quality bags, they last longer and I’m still carrying bags I bought a number of years ago. As long as I still really like them, I keep them around. That said, there are probably a few I could let go of at this point. I like your idea of carrying a small clutch in our main purse!

  3. Love your progress posts! I actually just revised a goal today and was thinking I should do a review of my goals. I’m very happy for you Debbie, isn’t it great to think we’re doing things we wouldn’t have been able to do a year ago?!

    I am doing well so far but have an incline to go up as well now that I’ve pushed my goals higher. Overall I’m feeling good about my wardrobe and I’m happy with my progress. I have some small edits to make but feel great. I now have 78 articles of clothing and if I count EVERYTHING it’s 164. I never set a specific number but it feels great! I recently had 261 articles of clothing and ~50 accessories!

    • I enjoyed reading your recent post, Meli! I really need to comment on other people’s blogs more… Anyway, I think you’re doing great, too! Yes, we have BOTH made a lot of progress over the past year! You’ve done tremendously with paring things down and the size of your wardrobe seems so manageable now. I’m still unsure as to my desired wardrobe size. The goals I’ve set have been kind of arbitrary, but at least I’m moving in the right direction.

  4. It sounds like you’re doing well with your goals, and your honest accounting must be helping a lot with your awareness of your patterns and challenges. I think it’s a great idea to do a quarterly/thirdly (?) review so you can readjust things as you go.
    I’m doing Project 333 and I’ve been keeping notes on what I wear each day since April 1. I was inspired by what you did with your inventory and tracking, so today I transferred my P333 list into a spreadsheet, printed it out and added a colored checkmark for each wearing of an item (a different color for each week). It’s only been 3 weeks so far, but I was surprised by how often I’ve worn certain pieces (my black cotton cardigan 8 times! no wonder it’s looking worn!) and how little I’ve worn pieces I consider fundamentals (for 2 weeks I didn’t wear my denim skirt at all, although I wore it twice the third week). I often change clothes part way through the day and I layer a lot, so I often wear more than 3 items each day. I should probably make a note of the average temperature. I keep my notes in my planner so I can see whether it was a lazy week or if I had special events. There are several tops and tees that haven’t gotten worn yet, but as the season continues and the weather warms up I’m sure I will wear most or all of them. It will be interesting to see how much though.

    • I see that you are learning the power of tracking, Joanna. I did that type of tracking during Project 333, too, and found it extremely enlightening. However, I was actually surprised that I wasn’t wearing my clothes MORE often than I was. I did notice, though, that things wore out faster during P333. It really shows me that I need to focus on quality when I shop. When I was wearing things once or twice a year, it took a long time for me to see any wear in my clothes. You’re doing great the Project 333 and seem to be learning a lot. Keep up the great work!

      • I agree that things wear out faster during Project 333 and that it encourages me to buy better. One of the frustrations I’ve had is that I purchased some items that were *eco*-friendly, but not necessarily of higher quality. On the other hand, how infrequently do any of us really use up our clothing? I rather like that I have the chance to do this, and as my “rounds” of Project 333 went on, I found myself sometimes working in things that had seen better days with the idea that I’d enjoy their last wearings and let them go. I find it’s easier to evaluate whether something is really “done” when you have to contemplate relying on it for 2-3 months!

      • Very true words, Rebecca! I have been disappointed by some supposedly eco-friendly clothes, too. I guess we can just do our best to make informed decisions, but not everything will work out as we hope. As for using up our clothes, that almost never used to happen with me. But now I am wearing out some things that have become closet favorites. Even now as I type this, I’m wearing a shirt that probably just has a few good wears left in it. I don’t think I would have put it in a capsule wardrobe because it looks “tired,” but I still wear it at home because I love it (even in it’s less than perfect state).

  5. Great job taking stock partway through. Certainly more helpful than at the end, when it’s kind of too late already anyway lol.
    I’m also at 18 items bought but feel a definite slow down in not only needs, but desire to acquire. I’m still pretty confident in coming in around my goal amount give or take a few.
    I am not doing as well with wearing what I’ve newly gotten. The two dresses I got are yet to be worn, but mostly due to lack of occasion at the moment. Soon! In this vein, I’ve noticed my last few purchases have been very practical – bras, running skirts, lounge/gym t shirts. Not exciting to buy, but gratifying to see them in the laundry load each week, knowing I spent my money wisely.
    I am learning a few things about my shopping habits this year. The bulk of my budget goes to low to mid range priced items. But it seems balancing those deals with one big ticket item per season is perfect for me at this stage. Winter was leather pants, this spring was a designer swimsuit, etc. Balance.
    I think beyond all the numbers and technicalities, it is about a balance, that creates harmony in one’s life, rather than causing stress or obsessive behaviors.
    Here’s to a balanced, happy year for us all!

    • Thanks for sharing your progress and what you’re learning, Mo. I think it’s great that you’ve added a few big ticket items to your wardrobe. You’re right that it’s all about balance. I’m gradually figuring that out, too. I still find myself wanting a lot of things, but I’m often able to calm down those desires by reminding myself of what I have and making more informed decisions about what will really add value to my wardrobe. It’s definitely a process but we’re getting there!

  6. I am quite similar to you at this point in the year. I’m also under budget-$831.40 and over the item number-21. I have 103 articles of clothing and counting shoes, coats, scarves, and purses it is 150.
    I’ve been doing a bunch of cleaning this month and I came across some old paperwork that had my totals from several years ago. In 2009 I bought 276 items, 2010 was 279, and 2011 was 225. All three years I spent well over double my budget. So even though I would like to be buying less, looking less, and returning less I am taking the time to appreciate how far I’ve come.

    • How great that you found those old numbers, Tonya, as they really illustrate how far you’ve come! I’m sure I used to buy that many pieces in years past, too, but how many items I bought was one statistic I hardly ever tracked (except for 2011). I think I couldn’t handle the truth! I’m glad you’re taking time to appreciate your wonderful progress! You’re buying FAR less and have a much more manageable wardrobe these days. So good for you!

  7. I’ve purchased either 18 or 11 items this year, depending on whether you would consider tank tops as undergarments, which I do because I wear them almost daily and never on their own. The number is pretty high for me, but I have been doing a lot of replacing of my casual wear. I also had very low purchasing (like three items per year because grad school) in 10 11 and 12, and them only office wear in 13, so most of my non-work clothing is very worn.

    I have a bit of culling left to do in my closet (I do it at the end of a season) and will be replacing more of my closet now that I’m done with school and have a suitable work wardrobe in place. But now my focus is on the bigger ticket items – winter gear, sunglasses and my work tote, so I haven’t set a spending goal.

    In the near future I also want to take a full inventory of my closet, complete with pictures. I would estimate that I am at 100ish items, excluding winter gear and gym clothes but it can’t wait to see whether that’s even close!

    • Sara, I think that if you only wear those tank tops under other things, they are more like camisoles and would be classified as undergarments. They seem to be good purchases for you nonetheless, especially since you wear such pieces daily. You seem to have a good handle on what you need at this point. I look forward to hearing about your closet inventory when you get around to doing it. Having the numbers and photos has been very helpful for me and I hope it will be for you, too.

  8. I always enjoy some stats, thanks for sharing! I am also guilty of owning far more tops than I can sport in one year. They are so easy to shop for, it’s not surprising that this is a category that is often full off excess items. I also think there are more tops than bottoms in a store to pick from, but maybe that’s just me? Personally, I failed this month with my two item shopping limit. An upcoming trip meant I added a number of new pieces to my spring/summer wardrobe. Time to get back on the bandwagon for May!

    • I agree with you, Lisa, that there are more tops than bottoms in the stores. Many style experts recommend that we have 2-3 times as many tops as bottoms, but my number is closer to 4-5 times as many. With the number of tops I have, many of them won’t be worn even 5 times per year and I’d like to get closer to 8-10 wears per year with my clothes. Good for you for admitting that you didn’t meet your April item limit. It’s always good to admit our behavior and recommit to our goals. Best wishes to you for May!

  9. Thanks Debbie. This was interesting. When you got to the part about not wearing all of your items, especially some newer purchases, it started me wondering about my own habit of “saving” some of my favorite things for…what??? It seems like I avoid wearing my best pieces. Maybe I’m afraid I will ruin them. I don’t know. But anyway, they get less use and then eventually they fall out of favor because styles change, or whatever. It seems silly when I think about this. Why wouldn’t I wear my favorite pieces the most and right away after I purchase them so that I get the most use out of the things I love the most? Does anybody else do this?

    • Me! In the past I struggled with saving my favorites, worrying about them wearing out. I struggled with this for years, and I have “finally” (yay!) begun wearing my favorite things often. The way I managed to cure myself of my silly habit of saving things for “good” was to get rid of anything I might wear instead. This way I had no other options. Sometimes it feels odd wearing my best clothes on any ordinary day, and then wearing the same outfit for a special occasion. Yet I’m teaching myself to understand that every day of my life is a special occasion. I’m a slow learner but inch by inch I’m getting there!

      And Debbie, you are doing wonderfully!

      Everyone is doing well, we are all making great strides!

      • Me too! I still have a couple of things I “save”, because they are statement pieces, or beautifully made, and likely fairly irreplaceable. But I am trying to use my special things. It’s like the story of grandma’s linens that rot in the cupboard – what if that lovely top with the tiny buttons doesn’t ever fit me again? Use it while you can, and enjoy it now. 🙂

    • I think a lot of people do that, Happy Forgiver. In fact, I wrote a previous post on that very topic: I think Terra’s method would work very well – getting rid of the other alternatives. I am not quite there yet, but I find that I’m wearing my “good” pieces more and more as I pare down my wardrobe. Sometimes when I wear those items, I wonder WHY I don’t wear them more often! I think we get into habits or even ruts when it comes to our clothes. We need to nudge – or even downright push – ourselves out of them! I just wore a top tonight that I rarely wear because I think it’s “dressy.” I felt great in it and have vowed to wear it more often!

  10. Debbie, I too have too many tops/button-down shirts and love them all. I suggest you box about a third of them up. Then when some of your tops wear out, you shop your own wardrobe by re-discovering what’s in your box.

    I used to donate good items until I realised you can’t buy that kind of quality any more. I’d rather keep them aside and reassess later rather than regret giving them away. Also, since I exclusively wear cotton tops, all my new purchases are predominantly white or lighter colours that suit me. That way, I don’t have to worry about fading. I find that with cotton, fading of dark colours is more of an issue that staining.

    With silk and wool, fading is not that big an issue, so I am confident buying bolder colours.

    • Yes, I had to learn this lesson the hard way too – donating good items until I realised you can’t buy that kind of quality any more. Now I have begun to do what you are doing. I have a few things (just a few) packed away that are very similar to what is in my current closet (I used to buy duplicates) and when what I’m currently wearing wears out, I will have something on hand that is of good quality material to pull from.

    • Great suggestion, Nutrivore! I definitely think we appreciate our clothes more if there are out of sight and out of mind for awhile. When I did Project 333 last year, I boxed up everything except my 33 items in my capsule. After the challenge was over, I enjoyed rediscovering the rest of my clothes. Of course, some of them ended up being purged because I didn’t love them, but there were at least as many re-discovered treasures in my boxes. Both you and Terra are right that quality items are hard to come by these days!

  11. After successfully having a smaller but much more useable winter wardrobe when I restricted my color palette and removed all clothes that did not fit the palette, I intend to do the same with my spring/summer clothes.
    I recently took all my spring/summer clothes out of storage and already I have been having a lot of difficulties getting dressed and putting outfits together every day. There are too many colors and prints in there. It’s so distracting.
    Restricting my color palette automatically restricts what I am buying as I am not buying randomly as I used to. I can also see what I need more easily and what items might extend what I already own.
    My goals are to stop buying incessantly, to stop buying clothes in every color of the rainbow, to restrict the amount of prints and to buy better quality solids.

    • You did very well with your fall/winter wardrobe, Carolyn, and I trust you will also do well in making your spring/summer wardrobe more manageable. It definitely helps to narrow down the color palette and limit prints. I’ve reduced the number of colors in my closet, too, and it makes it easier to shop. No need to consider everything in the store! Your goals are very worthy. Please keep us posted on how you do!

  12. You are doing so well. Reflecting on your progress one third of the way through is a must for meeting your goals. I haven’t set any goals for spending and don’t think I will, as my goal is to shop wiser in terms of getting stuff I’ll be happy about and actually use. I’m not saying ‘no matter the price’ that is definately not what I mean, there is a budget in there somewhere, I just don’t know what it is. I do have a fixed number of items, you know this from the five year shopping calendar on my blog, and so far it’s going well, but May will be a challenge because there are a lot of items on the list. This will push the invisible boundaries on my budget.
    About your goal #3, I’ve been there too. What I did that changed the purchasing of things that didn’t fit my lifestyle, was to ask myself if I would go to the dressing room and wear the thing right away out the store (don’t worry – I would pay for it). Also I did a post on dressing according to your values and checking if the thing fit your values. If it’s online shopping, it’s exactly the same – would I wear that thing right now if I had it next to me. A lot of the time I wouldn’t – if would fit a Cannes Film Festival event better than a board meeting in the GIS-committee…
    As some of the others have mentioned buying stuff and then not wearing it was also one of my bad habits. I would let it hang in the closet to mature and then I’d wear it. Maybe. Right now I do have one dress I got in November, that I haven’t been worn yet, but it will do nicely for the wedding I’m attending in June. I do however think it is crazy to save a dress for an event that I didn’t even know about when I bought it. Oh the pitfalls…
    Thank you for your honesty, it makes it easier for the rest of us to admit our own faults, problems and challenges, but also progress, victories and solutions.

    • I really like the questions you ask yourself when buying, Mette. I think that if we want to wear something RIGHT away, it’s a very good sign. I enjoyed your post on dressing according to our values. Did you know I used to be a life coach? One of my many careers, but one I may go back to. I think we don’t consider the values question with our clothes often enough, but it would really serve us well to do so. I know I would avoid a lot of mistakes if I keep my values in mind! For others who are reading this comment, here’s the link to Mette’s values post:

      • Mette your blog is great and I love your randomly generated outfits!

        Debbie, one of the most important things I learned from To Buy or Not To Buy was that I have to realign my life with my core values. (Spending a lot of time, effort and money on clothes does not really reflect any of my core values.) It’s a big thing and not easy and obviously still a work in progress. I think I relapsed when I stopped paying attention to my core values and goals. I’ve found that focusing on the big things makes everything else far simpler. If you are interested in this approach, reading about acceptance and commitment therapy will give you more tools and insights – I found a lot of them really helpful!

      • FrugalFashionista and Debbie, thank your for your nice comments and I really value both of them. I’ve also wondered why my dressing values seem to be so far from my life values, but I do think my effort to only shop ‘perfect’ items paires well with trying to be authentic and living sustainably. Maybe it’s because I think if I looked authentic and sustainable I’d be wearing only wrinkled beige linen stuff and offsize chunky home knit sweaters:-). I should maybe change my own perspective on what those two values look like.

        I find it so comforting, Debbie, that you’re a life coach as well. Comforting might be a strange word to use here, but I know we’re in good hands then.

      • I really appreciate the helpful insights and resources that you continually provide! I definitely need to align my life more fully with my core values. I wrote about them in my “What is a Full Life?” post and have a values collage hanging up in my bathroom where I see it every day. But I need to honor love, spirituality, growth, freedom, and contribution more fully for sure. And I would DEFINITELY add health to that list, too! In fact, I think I will edit the collage accordingly. Health is really everything because if we aren’t feeling well, it’s really hard to honor any of our other values! Time to go back to “To Buy or Not to Buy” and do (and blog about) more of the exercises…

  13. Debbie congratulations, you are doing so well! I’m impressed with how much you have changed over the past year. Please tell us more about the new items you hesitate to wear!

    I’m asking because I’ve realized that a lot of my overshopping behaviors have been ‘stuck’ patterns,. A dress received a compliment, so I bought it in two different colorways. I felt great in boyfriend jeans, so I bought another pair. I liked silk underwear, so I bought half a dozen new sets. Winter white looked nice on me, so I bought four different white tops and a coat… Getting out of the ‘stuck’ pattern can be really daunting, as routines are very soothing, . You might also research the concept ‘marginal utility’ (sorry I forget whether you have blogged about it) – my seventh pair of something will never feel as special and lovely than the first pair. That has helped me and I’m trying to remember it, not going beyond a second item of something that I love.

    We took a brief trip abroad over Easter holidays. It was not far away but we’ve never been there before and a total change of language and culture was very refreshing. We did very simple things, walks, meals and short bus and tram rides, but the days felt special. I took a total pause from the Internet, read a lot in the evening (trying to understand the complex history and culture of the city we visited), observed and listened a lot, and slept really well, and made a new friend. I spent next to no money and didn’t think much about clothes and style – my main concern was that we all wore something showerproof. I think I will remember this trip forever, yet it was no more expensive for us four than my monthly clothing budget. I do think that investing in experiences is far more satisfying than my mindless clothes shopping…

    • Your Easter trip sounds wonderful, FrugalFashionista! I agree that investing in experiences is more satisfying than overshopping for clothes. I’m trying to do more of that… I haven’t blogged about “marginal utility” but it sounds like a concept I would enjoy reading and writing about. I just Googled it and got lots of fun results to explore. I have definitely gotten caught up in what you described – buying multiples when I liked the first item. I think your policy of sticking to two or fewer of a given item is a good one.

      As for the items I’ve hesitated to wear, it’s a pair of slimmer-fit jeans (not quite “skinnies,” but close), a shorter jacket, and two different style cardigans. I feel like I look bottom-heavy in the jeans, but my husband said he likes the way they look. I need to wear them on a day when I’m feeling slimmer… One of the new cardigans looks best with those jeans, so I plan to wear them together. I feel less nervous about the jacket and the other cardigan, but I think I just get into habits where I wear the items in which I feel comfortable (the “tried and true,” if you will). But if I’m going to nudge my style into new territory, I need to venture out of my comfort zone and take some risks. When I’ve done so in the past, it’s usually paid off.

      • Hi, getting out of the ‘stuck’ pattern can be really daunting. You could try pairing a scary new item with a comfort item and wearing them around the house for a while. And rewarding yourself in some small way (are there any things other than clothes and accessories that you could use as rewards?) if you are able to wear them. Remember that it is really difficult for us to see ourselves correctly in the mirror – trust your husband in this.

        But I’m also not sure whether you need to totally redefine your style and change everything. I think the ‘This is it, this is who I am’ moment is really important. I had a moment like that sometime last year. I walked on the street and saw a couple of nuns. This probably does not make any sense to anyone but I realized that for me, trying to dress in a style that emulates supermodels, celebrities, or socialites is as silly as trying to dress up as a nun – in fact, I’d have much more success as a nun (the plain outfits, no makeup, unfussy hair) than I’m having trying to keep up with ever-changing trends 😉 And I had another a-ha moment this winter in London where I walked around for half a day. I saw lots of people wearing different clothes (very expensive high fashion items in South Kensington; cutting-edge trends in Shoreditch, dull officewear in the City). I looked very different and felt very frumpy and self-conscious until I arrived to a part of town where I had some work-related things to do. There, I fit right in. I thought ‘This is it, this is me, I accept this, I look the part, I don’t need to change’.

        I’ve been thinking about an old post of yours, ‘Stay true to yourself’ and some of the photos in it where you looked really happy. In those photos, I see you, not your clothes. I think being able to accept who we are and to see ourselves in a positive, non-judging way is really important. Often, fashion and style becomes competitive, a battlefield or an obstacle course… We try to become someone we are not, and it’s like an ill-fitting jacket that has been altered and altered but still does not fit…

      • I really loved this comment, FrugalFashionista! I enjoyed reading about your two “aha moments,” especially your nun story. Makes perfect sense to me! Thanks for what you said about my “Stay True to Yourself” post. I definitely lost my way related to my style. I think I was happier when I dressed for myself and wasn’t trying so hard to look stylish or fit in. I am gradually finding my way back to myself in recent months. I like your idea of wearing the new clothes around the house to see how I feel. I will do that. I hope to be pleasantly surprised and love them, but I’m also okay with letting them go if they don’t feel like “me.” I really want to honor myself in how I dress now instead of trying to impress others. No matter what I wear, some people won’t like it anyway, so I may as well wear what I love!

  14. Firstly, I love your blog and have been following it closely as I too am/was a shopaholic with many of the same “issues” that you are working to address to congrats on being brave enough to doing it so publicly. Wrt the new clothes in the new styles, that you have bought but not worn in 30 days, I’m wondering if the style truly suits you or if it was purchases simply because it is “in style” and what happened to be available in the stores right now? I’ve bought styles simply because they are “in style” but didn’t ever wear them since they didn’t match my personal style.

    • Welcome, RM, and thanks for your comment. You ask a very interesting question. I have often bought items just because they’re in style but never wore them because they didn’t feel like “me.” That may be the case with the slimmer jeans I bought, but so many people have told me I would look good in that style (including people on this blog). But I am sensitive about my bottom half and worry that I look “hippy” in skinnier jeans. I have body image issues, though, so perhaps I should just trust other people’s judgment… I at least need to push myself to wear them a few times to see how I feel. Who knows? I may end up loving them. I try to listen to my own inner voice in terms of style, but sometimes there’s a lot of “noise” in my head!

  15. Hi Debbie! I think you are doing such a great job, and I think it’s a great idea to review and address/adjust things as you go along to make sure you want to stay on the same path, and that it’s heading in the right direction.

    I didn’t set up yearly goals for 2014, mostly because I wanted to get through my final round of 2-month 33-item wardrobes, and see where that landed me. And I know for certain that as much as I think I enjoy having a wide range of choices in my wardrobe, it causes me FAR more stress than enjoyment, so I’m going to use the opportunity to take stock and divvy things into four seasons (and not worry so much about whether it makes for a wardrobe of 33 or 50 items). And so I’m going back to capsule wardrobe, and I am excited. I’m overwhelmed about counting everything up, because though I’ve made a lot of progress, I have things stored in a number of nooks and crannies, and I don’t think I’ll like the number much at all. SIGH.

    I suppose every journey is a bit like this, though. Days where the horizon doesn’t seem so far and the path be clear, and days with brambles and other obstacles, where you feel like you’re *this close* to warranting your own episode on reality TV and might as well sit down and give up. 😉

    • Thanks for your kind words, Rebecca. I have been very impressed with what you’ve done over the past year. You learned so many powerful lessons through doing the 2-month 33-item wardrobes, and you’re STILL learning! I have similar feelings about having a lot of choices. On the one hand, I crave it. Yet it also stresses me out. I keep thinking I just need to keep paring things down, but I toy with the idea of doing the capsule wardrobe again. I like your idea of seasonal capsules, although I know you have more “true” seasons where you live than where I am.

      I feel like I’m in one of the brambles and obstacles seasons you mentioned right now. I feel like I take two steps forward and one step back. I often feel angry with myself for creating the sort of wardrobe mess in which I still find myself mired. I envy those women with small, workable wardrobes filled only with items they can’t wait to wear. I have to remind myself that I am making progress and getting closer to where I want to be. We will get there eventually. We have to keep moving forward and course-correct as needed. I look forward to reading about your continued journey. I read many of your posts and often intend to comment, yet time seems to get away from me. Please know that I really enjoy reading your perspective on all of these issues and I wish you continued growth and progress!

  16. Debbie – if you take two steps forward and one step back, at least you are moving in the right direction! Better than two steps backward and one step forward! I think you’ll definitely get down to 200 articles by the end of the year.

    I don’t have much to add – I think you’re doing fine with your goals. My goal for the year was just to limit purchases to 2 items per month, plus do “some” more purging. So far I’m at 10 new items for the year and it’s nearly the end of April. So, not bad. I’m a little ahead of where I wanted to be, but I think I’ll catch up. I was at 9 at the end of March but have managed to just buy one item so far this month.

    As for purging, I am behind. But I have a house guest coming next week, so I HAVE to ship off to Goodwill all the clothes that have been stacked in the guest room closet – that’s my temporary holding pen before they go on their merry way. I am beginning to feel almost ready to tackle project 333. Sort of. Inspired by your “233” project, I think I might do a “133”, and then reassess every month. So once the guest closet is clean, and my guest has departed, I think my clothes that are not part of the 33 might fit in there, and I can shop that closet to move things back into the main one. Then hopefully I can purge what is left in there at the end of the year.

    • Thanks for your encouragement, Sarah! It means a lot to have people out there who believe in me. I think you’re doing great with your goals overall. I love that your impending house guest is motivating you to purge clothes from your temporary holding pen. I like the idea of doing a “133” and I’ve considered doing that myself. I think the actual time frame and numbers are not really what’s important. What matters most is that we are learning and growing through taking on a challenge. Please let me know what you decide to do and how it goes for you!

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