A new month has begun, so it’s time for another accountability update, this time for April 2014. If you’re new to “Recovering Shopaholic,” here’s the deal… I’ve committed to posting monthly accountability updates to keep 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, what I wore, and how I did with my shopping budget and rules.
What Left My Closet and Why
During April, I purged only one item from my wardrobe, a grey scoop-neck tee that I purchased in March.
I had yet to wear this top, so I returned it to the store for a refund/credit (thus, it will not count toward my 2014 item limit). After reviewing my 2014 wardrobe and shopping goals last week, I’m trying to adhere to my rule #5, which states that I should return any items that haven’t been worn within 30 days of purchase.
Unfortunately, I’m not able to return all of my unworn items from this year due to store return policies, but I was able to return the grey tee from Nordstrom. I ultimately decided this top was too pale in color for my complexion, as well as just too plain and basic in style. Although I would like to have a short-sleeved grey top in my wardrobe, I’d prefer one with “special” details that can easily be worn as a standalone piece. I already have too many plain, solid tops and I’d like to get away from pieces that need layering or lots of accessories in order to look “polished.”
I expect that I will purge quite a few more pieces next month, as we’re moving more into warm weather and I’ll be doing an end-of-season evaluation of my cool weather wardrobe. At the same time, I’ll do a preliminary review of my summer clothing and may opt to pass some of those pieces along as well. I also plan to do a second purge of my jewelry armoire to make sure I stay on target with my wardrobe goal #10, to reduce the size of my jewelry collection by at least a third. After focusing on wearing and evaluating my jewelry since earlier this year, I now have a much better idea of what I like and don’t like. I will do an update on my jewelry inventory after my next purge.
What Came Into My Closet
During April, I added two new items to my wardrobe, a dress and a pair of sandals. My second item for April was supposed to have been a pair of summer pants that I ordered from Anthropologie in late-March. I had tried on the regular-length pants in a store and placed an order for the tall version. The pants were originally on back-order through April 15th, but were since pushed out until at least late-May. Hopefully, the summer pants will be one of my May items, but it may be June at this point (and I may not even want them anymore when they finally arrive!).
Both of my April items were purchased at retail stores. I’m steering away from consignment stores for the foreseeable future because I’ve continued to make too many mistakes with resale shopping. In addition, I’m trying to shop more deliberately and focus on my legitimate wardrobe needs instead of on finding “deals.” Given my smaller item limit and generous clothing budget, I don’t really need to seek out bargain buys at this point. I’m far better off spending more money for the highest quality version of the items on my shopping priorities list.
Here are the two items I added to my wardrobe during April 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. Thus, I share my reasons for buying the new pieces I add to my closet each month. Here are my reasons for buying my two April items:
- Black and white striped maxi-dress: My love of stripes is well known, and some of you may think I have more than enough striped pieces in my closet. While you’re probably right, I’ve wanted to purchase a striped dress ever since they appeared in retail stores en masse a few years ago. However, given my height and body shape, I’ve struggled to find such a dress to fit my proportions. I found my new dress quite accidentally after a salesperson had brought it for my friend to try on and it didn’t work out for her. She asked me if I wanted to try it and I was thrilled to find that it fit me well and was on sale (although I’m willing to pay full price now, I’m still happy when pieces on my shopping list are marked down)! As with most sleeveless pieces, I had to have the straps shortened, but that was a very easy alteration to make. Now I’m just waiting for some warmer weather and somewhere to go (today is warm, but I have no plans…) and I will wear my new dress!
- Black low-heel wedge sandals: My recently created shopping priorities list included “black flat sandals” as one of the items. My new sandals are not completely flat in that they have a wedge heel that’s around an inch tall. However, they are very comfortable and I think I could easily wear them for eight hours or longer. I have several pairs of black sandals with sizeable heels that I wear regularly, but I definitely need some shoes that can withstand a fair amount of walking. The new sandals will also work well with my three maxi-dresses, which are just barely long enough and can’t be worn with heels.
2014 Item Limit Update
As specified in my shopping and wardrobe goals post, the maximum number of items I may purchase this year is 38 (half of what I bought last year). As of the end of March, I had purchased almost half my limit (18 items), so I instituted a monthly item limit of two. I stuck to my limit in April by buying just two new items. I also returned one item for a refund, as mentioned above. Consequently, the number of items I’ve added to my wardrobe during 2014 now stands at 19.
Because I made one return during April, I’m going to allow myself to buy three new items in May, provided I’m able to find three of the things on my shopping list. I have made a few updates to my shopping priorities list based upon recent wardrobe observations. See below for my revised list and the reasons for my modifications.
April Budget Report
My budget for clothing and related purchases (shoes, accessories, alterations) for 2014 is $3000. My April budget was $250 (that’s my budget for all months except December, when I can spend up to $400). I spent a total of $251.81 last month, slightly above my budget. In addition to the two items I wrote about above, I also purchased two sleep shirts, a scarf, a pair of earrings, and a necklace. I’m leaning toward returning the scarf and the necklace, but I haven’t done so yet. My expenditures for the year to date add up to $932.09, which means I am currently under budget by $67.91.
What I Wore – March and April
While I continue to track all of the garments and shoes I’m wearing each month, I haven’t included this information in my accountability updates since December. My January and February updates didn’t include what I wore because I was doing Project 333 during those months, and last month I just plain forgot to resume this reporting! So this month’s update includes both my March and April numbers.
During March, I wore 53 garments and seven pairs of shoes. Most of my garments were worn only once (I think I was making up for lost time after Project 333!), but I did wear three garments three times and four garments twice that month. Four pairs of shoes were worn three times, one pair was worn twice, and the remaining two pairs were worn once. As I’ve mentioned previously, I have a lot of days when I either don’t leave the house or only leave to go on walks or to work out. I don’t include my workout clothes and shoes in my “what I wore” numbers, so that’s why some of my totals are on the low side.
As for April, I wore a total of 51 garments and eight pairs of shoes, which is quite similar to my March totals. I wore two garments three times and eleven garments twice during the month (everything else was only worn once). In regards to shoes, I wore one pair five times, one pair three times, three pairs twice, and the remaining three pairs once.
Below is a photo of my March and April “wardrobe all-stars,” all of those pieces that were worn at least three times during the given month (and in some cases, both months). I know it’s a lot of black and some items look quite similar, but the boots have different heel heights and the black pants are in different fabrics and lengths. I assure you that I also wore quite a bit of color during the past two months, but all such pieces were worn only once or twice.
Later this year, I’m going to try to make some sense of these monthly wear numbers. Part of my reason for keeping track of my monthly numbers as well as my yearly statistics is to try to get a sense of what an optimal wardrobe size for me might be. We all have different needs for variety, as well as divergent lifestyle needs, so there is no universal ideal wardrobe size (for my thoughts on this topic, see HERE and HERE).
As someone who has had an overly large wardrobe for many years, my threshold for repeat wears is still quite low, but I’m getting more accustomed to revisiting my closet pieces more often. As time goes on, the wardrobe size that best meets my needs and desires will likely shift. My hope is that I will continue to pare the size of my closet down and wear – and love – the pieces I have much more! Stay tuned for more on this topic…
Favorite Outfits – March and April
I don’t take photos of all of my outfits, but I try to photograph as many of my ensembles as possible, for several reasons. My primary motivations are to see how my sense of style is evolving over time and to help me nudge my style into new territories. I often think I look fine when I leave the house, but at times the photos tell a different story. Or maybe I did look “fine” but not as polished and put together as I’d ultimately like to appear… In any event, having a visual representation of what I’m wearing ends up being quite helpful for me, even if I never share my images with another soul.
When I first started this blog, I shared my favorite outfits every month. I did this to highlight themes that I noticed about my style and to encourage readers to look for common threads among their looks as well. Although I can be self-conscious about my appearance and don’t put myself out there as any sort of style icon, I think there is value in showing you how my style is evolving as I work to heal my shopaholic ways. Now that I’m not shopping constantly and always looking for the next “new and great” thing, I’m placing more time and attention on what I have and how I’d ultimately like to appear.
Here are a few of my favorite outfits from March and April, posted in the order in which I wore them. In the next section, I share a few observations about my style, what I’m liking, and what I hope to change.
What I’m Noticing about My Style
I’m happy that I have refined my color palette in recent months, as it’s making it much easier for me to get dressed each day. I enjoy wearing black, grey, white, blues, greens, and purples as my primary wardrobe colors. I’ve also been favoring prints over solids and heels over flats as of late. I don’t like to wear too much of a heel, but I feel more polished and put together when I’m wearing even a low heel rather than a flat shoe. My black AGL flats are one exception to this “rule,” but my general preference has been for heels and boots.
I’m also moving away from the open cardigans that have been mainstays in my wardrobe for the past few years. While I still wear them from time to time (there are a few in the photos above), my preference has been more for jackets, coats, and long-sleeved tops in order to keep me warm. I’m also moving away from baggy clothes and more toward closer-fitting garments. I have yet to wear my new pair of “skinnier” jeans (I’m a slow adopter…), but I think I’m even warming up to the idea of more fitted pants (but not overly tight!).
Shopping Priority List Update
What I’ve noticed about my style preferences has affected my shopping priorities, so I’ve made a few shifts to the items I hope to buy between now and the end of the year. Included below is my revised list, broken down by category. In order to adhere to my 38-item limit for 2014, I may purchase 19 additional items this year. As a reminder, “R” refers to closet replacements, “M” denotes missing links in my wardrobe, and “S” points to items that I feel will help to evolve my style.
Tops and Toppers:
- Denim jacket (R) – medium blue, fitted style, not boxy
- Grey short jacket (R) – knit or woven, casual style, fitted
- White or grey top to wear with skirts (R) – special style, perhaps embellished
- White top with special details to wear with pants (M)
- Short, tie-waist cardigan to wear with skirts and dresses (M) – white, blue, or grey
- Lightweight, bright jacket to wear with pants (S) – anorak or trench style, somewhat fitted
- Special top in cobalt, red, or grey (S) – standalone piece, modern style
- Hound’s-tooth or black/white geometric print top or topper (S)
Bottoms and Dresses:
- Grey knee-length or midi skirt (M) – casual style
- Black maxi-dress or maxi-skirt (S)
- Black straight-leg jeans (R)
- Summer casual pants (M) – have a pair on back-order for May/June
- Denim skirt (R)
- Bright skirt (M) – preferably cobalt blue
Shoes / Accessories:
- Black peep-toe low wedge heels (R) – current shoes are uncomfortable, but I still wear them often!
- Metallic peep-toe low wedge heels (R) – current shoes are very worn out, but I still wear them…
- Multi-color flats or low wedges (M) – ballet slipper style
- Tan sandals (R) – modern, strappy, comfortable
- Bright (preferably cobalt or green) or black/white purse (S)
Wow, that was a long update, but I hope it was interesting for you… Part of my hope with these accountability updates is to inspire you to create more structure for your shopping, budget, and wardrobe evolution. You don’t have to use my rules or process, of course, but it can be useful to hold yourself accountable in some way. It’s also helpful to be accountable to someone else who can keep you honest during your difficult times.
Some of you have started to post your accountability updates in the comments section of my monthly posts and I think that’s great. I encourage you to share with me and your fellow readers, if you feel comfortable doing so. If you have questions or comments for me, feel free to post those as well. Best wishes to you for May with your shopping and wardrobe goals – and your lives in general!