It’s hard to believe an entire month has gone by, but it’s time once again for another accountability update, for June 2014.
Longtime readers are familiar with these monthly reports, but here’s the drill for those of you who are new… 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 June, I purged ten items from my wardrobe:
- 4 cardigans
- 2 blazers
- 1 coat
- 3 tops
Here is a photo of the items I released from my closet last month:
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. Pinpointing our reasons for purging wardrobe 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 coat – I was going to let go of this coat last fall, but I opted to alter it instead and try to make it work. Fortunately, I rarely make such mistakes anymore (they used to be commonplace for me – read about that here), but this coat is one such casualty. It was a boxy coat that I tried to make fitted, but it just didn’t work out. Hopefully, someone will end up loving and wearing it.
- Black and grey print top – I bought this top on consignment over a year ago, but never wore it! I like the print, but the fit is off. I just didn’t love the way it looked on me, so I passed it on.
- Black open cardigan – I had two black open cardigans and almost always reached for the other one over this one. The other cardigan is less bulky and hits me at a better spot. Since I’m trying to reduce the incidence of “splitting my wears,” I opted to consign this one.
- Leopard print tee – I used to be a big fan of leopard print, but as I streamline my color palette, I now realize the brown tones of this print don’t look good with my skin tone. I’ll keep wearing my leopard print shoes and skirt, but it was time to let go of this unflattering top.
- Navy knit blazer – This is a consignment buy from 2012 that has always been a bit too small for me. It looked okay worn open, but I really needed the next size up. A big danger with secondhand buys is to settle for a less than ideal fit, so that’s something to watch out for it you do that type of shopping (read more tips here). As I pare down the size of my wardrobe, I’m raising my standards, so I let this ill-fitting blazer go.
- Purple cardigan – I bought this cardigan at Costco last year, mostly because I liked the color. But the length was a bit “off” on me, probably due to my height. I didn’t like the way the cardigan looked in the back, plus I never know how to button these crew-necked cardigans. I didn’t love it, so I passed it on.
- Red embellished tee – This top was worn many times over the past few years and it was past its prime. Plus, I didn’t love the gold embellishments (I’m more of a silver girl). I like when I purge something from my closet because it’s worn out, as that doesn’t happen too often. Hopefully, it will become more of a regular occurrence as I’m learning to shop smarter!
- Cream and black striped open cardigan – It was a bit difficult for me to let this one go, as you know I love my stripes. I wore it a fair amount, but I had to be honest with myself on the fit. It hit me at the widest part of my body in the back, which was not flattering. I hope to find a replacement for it at some point, but I didn’t want to keep it around as a placeholder. I really want my clothes to adhere to a higher standard these days, so no holding on to ill-fitting pieces!
- Teal cardigan – The story on this one is the same as for the purple cardigan above. In truth, I purchased three such cardigans at Costco last year, but fortunately one of them (grey with black polka dots) works for me. I’m not sure why one fits and looks better than the other two, but I wasn’t happy with the fit of the teal and purple versions, so they’re out.
- Turquoise knit blazer – It stung a bit to let this one go, too. I really love this color, but there was a fit issue once again. In this instance, I think the blazer didn’t wash and wear well, as it fit better when I bought it (and I’m basically the same size). In any case, it just didn’t look great on me and I didn’t feel fabulous in it. I would love to find another blue summer topper at some point (perhaps in my favorite color, cobalt blue), but it was time for this one to leave my closet.
A Few Thoughts on My Purges
You may have noticed a common thread among my reasons for releasing the items above from my wardrobe. I am really raising my standards for the pieces that get to stay in my closet. I used to believe that I aimed for high quality and impeccable fit, but I have definitely upped the ante as of late. If I wear something and don’t feel good in it, or if I find myself pulling and tugging at it all day long, I immediately remove it from my closet. At the very least, it goes into my “hidden holding zone,” but it usually makes its way into my consign/donate bag straight away.
I once read an observation from one of “The Minimalists” (I can’t find it online just now) that he can always tell which conference attendees are doing Project 333, as they’re the best dressed people in the room. I now understand why he said that. I think such a challenge forces us to select the very best pieces we own and to not settle for anything that’s “less than.” While I don’t strictly adhere to Project 333 all the time, the principles of that challenge have stuck in my mind. I am becoming more and more okay with having a smaller wardrobe and I’d rather have fewer, great pieces than a closet full of mediocre items. While it’s true that I still have a fairly large wardrobe, I’m ready to pare things down further, especially as I bring new quality pieces that I love into the mix.
What Came Into My Closet
Speaking of what I brought in, I added three new items of clothing to my closet during June, one dress and two jackets. In truth, I also ordered a few new pieces toward the end of the month which I have not yet received. It’s likely that many of those items won’t stick around (I return more online purchases than I keep due to size issues, color discrepancies, etc.), but I will include anything I keep in my July accountability update.
You may wonder why I order things online if my success rate is so dismal. I used to be mostly a “brick and mortar” shopper, but I was also accustomed to buying whatever caught my eye. These days, I’m being far more targeted with my buying and I’m finding it increasingly difficult to locate items on my shopping list in the stores. What I usually encounter is a sea of sameness with very little variety in what’s on offer. Many pieces are only sold online, so I have a wider selection via the e-commerce landscape. Yes, it’s frustrating to have to return things so often, but I’ve come to adopt a similar philosophy and approach as what Janice espoused on “The Vivienne Files.” It takes some patience and effort to be sure, but I am experiencing some success with my online shopping.
Back to my June clothing purchases… Below is a photo of the three items I bought.
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 three June items:
- Black maxi-dress: This item was on my shopping priorities list, as I knew it would a versatile addition to my summer wardrobe. I have a knee-length black dress that has received lots of wear and I believe that will also be true of my new black maxi-dress. It’s easy to dress such garments up or down and they can serve as a base for many types of outfits. I ordered this and one other maxi-dress online and was pleased to find that this one fit me extremely well. You can’t tell from the photo, but it has a v-neck and banding at the waist, which is flattering for my shape. It’s also long enough for my 5’10” frame (I learned that it ran long from the online reviews – it’s always a good idea to read those!) and I can even wear a low heel with it!
- Black moto jacket: I was happy to add a grey striped moto jacket to my wardrobe last month, so I opted to purchase a second jacket of this type. I was alerted to this jacket by a reader (thanks, Kim!), who remembered that I wanted to add some edgier pieces to my closet. I tried the jacket on in the store, but they didn’t have my size in black (they only had a pale grey that washed me out). I had to pay shipping to order the jacket online, but it was worth it. In a sea of low quality items, this jacket stands out for its impeccable workmanship. It’s even half merino wool, so it will be warm enough to wear in the cooler fall weather.
- Grey knit blazer: I used to have a grey peplum jacket that I had to let go of last year. I’ve often found myself wishing I had a grey jacket to wear with my skirts and dresses, so I was happy to find this one last month. It looks better in person than in the photo and it has some attractive pin-tucking in the back. It needs a minor alteration (taking in a bit at the sides), which I plan to get done this week. I believe this jacket will become a wardrobe workhorse, as my previous grey jacket fit that category. It’s casual and comfortable and looks good on me. Plus the sleeves are long enough for my “gorilla arms!”
I know I mentioned that I wanted to add some lighter colored pieces to my closet and I still hope to do so. I actually ordered two white jackets that I ended up having to return due to the fabric being too thin and see-through. I’ve also been actively looking for white tops and coming up against the same roadblocks: low quality, thin material, and shapes that are far too boxy. I will do a bit of a “drapier” fit, but downright boxy silhouettes just don’t look good on me (and they’re all the rage at present)! I have some white and bright items on order, so hopefully at least one of them will work out. Fingers crossed…
And Then There’s the Accessories…
Beginning last month, I also started sharing the accessories that I’ve purchased and why I bought them. Although I have not set a limit for how many accessories I can buy, I noticed that I was starting to accumulate too many of them (which hadn’t been a problem previously). Knowing I will need to share which accessories I buy – and why – on the blog each month is helping me be more mindful with this area of shopping.
Below is a snapshot of the accessories I bought during June. Read on for my reasons for these purchases.
- Agate necklace – I don’t have any necklaces like this and I thought this one was pretty. Yes, it was a bit of an impulse buy, but I’ve already worn it and liked the way it looked. I am trying to only buy accessories that are different in style from what I already have and this one fit the bill.
- Multi-color metal tassel earrings – Like the necklace, these earrings were different from anything I already owned. They were also an unplanned purchase, but I think I will get good wear out of them. They were fairly inexpensive, so it was worth it for me to give them a try.
- Black belt – Believe it or not, I only had one belt prior to buying this one! I feel that I’m a bit “belt-challenged,” but I’m trying to ease myself into wearing belts more often. I like the way this one sits on my waist. I intend to wear it over fitted tops (I prefer this option over tucking things in) and perhaps dresses as well. I would like to add a few more belts to my wardrobe, but I need to determine which types of belts will work best for me. I will add them one at a time and give myself a chance to discover my belt style persona (if there is such a thing!).
- Purple / burgundy print scarf – I have been purging some of my scarf collection this year. I’m letting go of all scarves that are not in my preferred colors or are of sub-standard quality. As such, I will likely add a few new scarves to my wardrobe in the coming months. I like that this one includes three of my favorite colors (purple, burgundy, and white) and has a striped design. It’s also lightweight and good for summer.
Accessory Impulse Buys
One thing I’ve noticed about my accessory purchases is that they tend to be impulse buys. I’m not sure how much I mind that, however, as accessories are a way for me to express my creativity. They are frequently inexpensive as well and don’t take up much space. I usually don’t know what I like or want until I see it. That said, I feel it’s important not to just keep buying the same types of pieces over and over again, which was something I did previously. I’m trying to be more mindful of what I have (my latest jewelry inventory helped a lot!) so that I add new styles instead of repetitions.
Like all of my other June accessory buys, the belt purchase was unplanned. However, I was very happy to find the belt at a local boutique. Some of you suggested that I add belts to my skirt ensembles and I liked that idea. I’m going to give it a try and this new belt is a step in that direction.
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 May, I had purchased 21 qualifying items (workout wear, sleepwear, and undergarments don’t count). I allowed myself to purchase 3 clothing items in June based upon a prior return I had made. Since I did buy – and keep – three new items in June, the total number of items (clothing and shoes) I’ve bought this year is 24.
In all honesty, I am feeling ambivalent about my item limit for the year. At this point, it feels so arbitrary and I don’t have a “big why” behind it other than the fact that I said it was something I wanted to do. Although I definitely want to cut down on the number of purchases I make, I am also in the middle of a big wardrobe overhaul and style redefinition process. I’m replacing a lot of sub-standard pieces with better quality items and am discovering the type of style statement I wish to present to the world. I feel I am being much more mindful about what I buy and am mostly sticking to my predefined shopping priorities list.
Possible Changes and Feared Repercussions
I am considering raising my item limit, but my main hesitation is that I will be raked over the proverbial coals by some commenters for doing so. I recently read a post by “The Minimalists” about why they had removed comments from their blog. I could identify with a lot of what they wrote. Although I enjoy interacting with readers, I sometimes feel that I censor what I write due to my fear of the comments that will be made. I don’t want to do that, but I find it difficult not to. I find myself toning down what I’m expressing or adding additional content to justify my point of view. This is sad because most people who read this blog rarely or never comment and most commenters are perfectly lovely and respectful.
I need to do what I feel is right for me, not what others believe is right for me. And I will undoubtedly make mistakes from time to time. A lot of readers have told me they like my accountability posts and learn a lot from them, and that makes me happy. The primary reason I am writing this blog is to help other shopaholics who wish to change their shopping habits and trade their full closets for full lives. I also started blogging as a way to facilitate my recovery from compulsive shopping, and it has definitely helped in that regard.
I am unquestionably in a much better place than I was a year and a half ago (when I started the blog), but I still have some steps to take before shopping is in its rightful place in my life. I know my recovery is not yet set in stone and that I am vulnerable to relapse. I intend to continue being honest with how I am doing and sharing my story – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am aiming for progress, not perfection. Perfection isn’t even possible and I’ve caused myself a lot of grief in life by trying to achieve that unattainable goal. I would now much rather be happy than fight such a losing battle.
Anyway, I think my main point is that just because we set goals at the beginning of a year, we are not necessarily beholden to sticking with them, come what may. Some of you may think it’s the shopaholic in me that’s writing that, and you could be right. But I am more concerned with cultivating a workable wardrobe – and sticking with the budget my husband and I agreed upon – than I am with holding fast to an arbitrary item limit I set in January. If I end the year having bought more than 38 items but I’m happy with my wardrobe and my style (and have come in under budget), I will consider 2014 to have been a success. I may opt to raise my item limit or I may not, but I’m still happy to be stretching myself and buying less – and shopping smarter – overall.
June Budget Report
My budget for clothing and related purchases (shoes, accessories, alterations) for 2014 is $3000. My June budget was $200 (it varies somewhat month by month). I spent a total of $171.93 last month, which was $28.07 under budget. However, it seems I was over my budget by a bit more than I thought for May. As I look at the budget report today, I have spent a total of $1513.25 on clothing and related categories so far this year. That means I am currently over budget by $13.25. I’m pretty much on target, but it helps to review things at least monthly in order to make sure I don’t get off track.
What I Wore
For over a year now, I’ve been keeping track of the garments and shoes I wear each month, as well as how many times I wear them. This helps me to better understand which items are my favorites and which ones may be slated for donation or consignment. I like to look back at these monthly tracking sheets to see how I’m doing with my wardrobe. I have also started creating visual representations of what I’ve worn each month. Since I have photos of all of my clothes, it’s easy for me to create folders on my computer containing the images of what I wore in a given month. That allows me to see patterns at a quick glance.
During June, I wore 48 garments and 9 pairs of shoes. Most of the garments were only worn once, but five of them were worn multiple times. Four pairs of shoes were worn multiple times as well. I purposely wore a lot of items, as I was trying to assess my summer wardrobe and determine which items should stay and which should go. Many of the pieces I released last month had been worn, assessed, and rejected, and a few additional items were downgraded to workout/lounge wear only.
In July, I intend to focus more on wearing the items I know I love and will likely work with a smaller capsule wardrobe. I may opt to do a few wardrobe challenges later this year (sort of a modified Project 333) to continue my journey toward dressing with less and maximizing what I have.
Here’s a photo of the items I wore during June 2014:
The overall color scheme is still on the dark side, but I brightened things up a bit over the previous month. Hopefully, I’ll soon find a few new white pieces so my wardrobe can start looking more summery! Another piece of good news is that I’m tightening up my color palette. You can see a lot of blue, green, burgundy, purple, and red in there along with the black and grey. I have a few coral and orange items in the mix, too (along with one yellow). The two jackets in that group are definite favorites, so I plan on keeping them around for the foreseeable future.
Well, that’s it for this accountability post! I always feel like these summaries get too long, but many of you seem to like the in-depth analysis that I do each month. I’m glad that my thought process can help spur you to look more deeply at what you’re buying, what you’re purging, and what you’re wearing each month.
As we head into a holiday weekend for those in the U.S., I’d like to wish you a happy Fourth of July! For those in other parts of the world, I wish you a good weekend. Tomorrow is a special day for my husband and me, as well as for our country. We will be celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary! I hope we will have many more happy years together. We will be spending the day together (no work allowed!) doing some things that we love. We don’t have it all figured out just yet, but I’m sure it will be a great day.
For those who are newer to this blog, I wrote one of my favorite posts following my anniversary last year. It was a positive sign for my recovery that I was able to return to a popular shopping destination and experience it in an entirely different way. I invite you to check out my thoughts on that trip in “Same Place, Different View.”
Have a wonderful weekend!