August 2014 “Grab Bag” of Useful Links

It’s time once again for me to share an assortment of useful links I’ve compiled on the topics of shopping and shopping psychology, wardrobe management, style, and other relevant subjects.  This month I’m also adding a few links to early “Recovering Shopaholic” posts that you might have missed when they were first published.

Summer useful links grab bag

On Shopping and Shopping Psychology

  • When Does it Stop?” – This post from Jill Chivers was inspired by a comment made on this blog!  In response to this post, Renee wondered when the process of shopping and building a wardrobe ever ends.  Jill’s answer relates to having a sense of “enoughness” that is not about what’s in our closets.
  • 3 Ways to Make it Stop” – I had to link to this follow-on post from Jill, too.  This short article offers us three simple – but not easy – ways to stop the seemingly endless “buying treadmill” that shopaholics and many other women get on.  It all boils down to where we place our focus!
  • Shopping:  How to Make Decisions in the Dressing Room” – We’ve all been there… sitting in a fitting room, wrestling with the decision of whether to buy something or leave it in the store.  Caroline from “Unfancy” offers some ways to reframe our racing thoughts into powerful questions that will facilitate the decision-making process.

On Wardrobe Management

  • Starting from Scratch Summer Wardrobe” – The Vivienne Files recently presented a “Starting for Scratch” series that takes us through a step-by-step process for building a cohesive and workable wardrobe using a palette of five colors.  This post presents one example of this process using navy and white as the key neutrals with accent colors of turquoise, fuchsia, and purple (see many more examples – and full explanations of each step – in the full “Starting from Scratch” series)
  •  “The Minimal Closet:  Wardrobe Reality & How to Purge” – I discovered the wonderful blog, “Grechen’s Closet,” when she linked to one of my posts a while back.  Grechen recently decided to pare down her large wardrobe to only those items she loves and which work for her real life.  Her process offers lots of helpful tips for those of us who wish to do the same.

On Style

  • Resources to Dress for the Fall Transition and Fall” – Audrey from “Putting Me Together” just had a baby, but she still took the time to help her readers navigate the summer to fall transition period.  This post provides links to some of her past posts on dressing for fall and wearing our favorite closet pieces throughout the year.
  • What I Look Like in My Friend’s Clothes – a Fun Experiment” – I love the way Sylvia of “40+ Style” dresses in flowing asymmetrical garments, but two of her friends wanted to see how she looked in more fitted clothing.  So she tried on a few of her friend’s outfits and photographed them.  Sylvia shares those photos, as well as her thoughts on the resulting looks and the way she felt wearing them.  A fun and thought-provoking post!
  • Fresh Ways to Wear a Little Black Dress” –  After I shared my experience of working with stylist Bridgette Raes, there were quite a few comments related to her views on wearing black and the term “blackcident.”  In this post, Bridgette sets the record straight and also offers lots of useful tips for styling the “little black dresses” that many of us have in our closets.  I love the fresh color combinations, especially looks #3 and #4!

On Other Topics

  • How to Be a Grown Ass Woman:  Friendships” – I know the title is a bit strange, but I really liked this article from “Yes and Yes.”  When I shared about my struggle to make friends as a middle-aged (I still don’t like that term!) woman, many of you could relate.  This article outlines seven tips to make things easier for us in the friendship realm.  They’re all great, but I particularly resonated with #1 and #7.
  • A Rich Life with Less Stuff” – Before “The Minimalists” set out on their recent 100-city book tour, they gave a presentation at a local TedX convention.  Their 15-minute talk includes the story of how they became minimalists and how that shift has changed their lives for the better.  A very inspiring and entertaining watch!

From the “Recovering Shopaholic” Archives

  • What is a Normal-Sized Wardrobe?” – This early article remains my most-viewed post of all time, probably because a lot of people search for the exact title.  After reading an article in “Oprah Magazine” in which a couple helped each other purge their closets, I decided to help my husband tackle his burgeoning wardrobe.  In the process, we both got to thinking about what constitutes a “normal-sized” wardrobe.  I came up with some simple math to help each of us answer that question for ourselves.
  • Thoughts on the Target Designer Collections” – Several times per year, a famous designer collaborates with Target to present an affordable collection, and many other stores have now followed suit.  But are these “bargains” really worth it?  In this article from February 2013, I share my thoughts on why these designer collections are so popular and what I really think is going on.
  • You Don’t Need a Large Wardrobe to Be Stylish” – I used to work with a woman who was extremely stylish and well-dressed.  Naturally, I assumed she had a huge wardrobe, but I later learned that wasn’t the case at all.  In fact, her closet was probably one quarter the size of mine!  Likewise, the resulting wardrobes of “What Not to Wear” contributors are often less than fifty pieces (I’ve actually paused the show to count!).  Reflecting on these facts helped me to set a new wardrobe goal for myself during the early stages of this blog.  Happily, I have since surpassed that goal and am working on creating an even smaller and more workable wardrobe!

A Question For You…

I hope you enjoy this month’s useful links installment.  As always, feel free to comment on these links and add some of your own to the mix!

Before you go, I have a quick question for you…  Do you like that I’m sharing a large selection of links once a month, or would you prefer fewer links but more often?  I don’t want to overwhelm anyone with information overload, especially since I’m working so hard on eliminating that phenomenon in my own life!  Of course, I don’t expect anyone to click on and read all of the links.  The idea is to give you a “grab bag” from which to choose so you can select what’s most interesting to you.

I enjoy compiling helpful articles and sharing them with you, but there are various ways I could do this.  I could go back to sending a group of links on a specific topic (but probably not every week like I used to), I could send fewer links on various subjects but more often, or I could stick with the status quo.  If you have any thoughts on this matter, please share them, either in the comments section or by contacting me directly.

Thanks for your support. I wish you all a wonderful weekend (and for those in the U.S., Happy Labor Day)!

40 thoughts on “August 2014 “Grab Bag” of Useful Links

  1. Many of the blogs I read post once a week with links around the web, usually as a Weekend Reading post. Those posts have about the same # of links as you share with your monthly posts. The number of posts you share is a fantastic number for one post, so if you don’t have enough posts to share each week, I recommend keeping it to a monthly grab bag. I personally clicked on 4 links from this month, only because I already have the Minimalists’ TEDTalk favorited elsewhere. Love these posts, they are excellent for friday lunchtime reading!

    • I get those types of weekly links posts, too, Melissa, but I usually only click on one or two links. I sometimes find such posts overwhelming, which is why I asked how others felt about them. I’m glad you liked this month’s edition! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. I appreciate the links. Either in one fell swoop like this, or maybe weekly. Both would be fine. Really, it’s up to what works for YOU.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Mo. I will likely stick to the monthly post, but will also do periodic links posts on specific topics (I plan to do one on accessorizing soon, for example). The monthly links post works well for me, but wanted to make sure that most of my readers agreed!

  3. I enjoyed both of Jill Chivers posts. The second one is very timely for me right now. I like the monthly post myself.

    • I really enjoyed Jill’s posts, too, Tonya. In fact, I re-read them as I was preparing the links post. They are both very timely for me, too! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. I enjoy these monthly roundups so much, and hope you’ll continue them if your schedule permits. This weekend, after a grueling first week of the fall semester and almost 20 hours at my part time job, I’m going to come home, put on something comfy and read every single link as my reward for good behavior! I agree with Mo that you should do what works best for you. Your faithful readers are going to read whatever you post, whenever you post it, and we are grateful for the effort that goes into these very detailed and informative posts.

    • I’m glad that you find my links posts to be an “oasis” after a busy week, TexasAggieMom! I hope you enjoyed the August edition. I appreciate your thoughts and kind words!

  5. Great set of links Debbie and thank you so much for including my site! I personally enjoy fewer weekly links as there are just too many to check out here, but you should really do what suits you best.

    • My pleasure, Sylvia! I enjoy sharing your wonderful posts and especially liked the one I included this month. I have friends and readers tell me I should wear more body-conscious clothing, too, but I feel more like “me” in more modest styles. I especially love your asymmetrical looks and am using them as inspiration for my own style! As for the links posts, it seems that most readers prefer the monthly installments. If there are too many links for you (I totally understand that!), just pick one or two to check out and call it a day 🙂

  6. What I see in the dressing rooms of the retailer where I work would make you weep. Way too many shoppers take in arm loads of clothes and leave most of them behind — usually in a big pile on the floor. I once found 90 garments from one shopper in a dressing room. It took me about an hour to pick them up off the floor, turn them inside right, zip and button as needed, search for the missing belts (at the bottom of the pile), search for the appropriate hanger (at the bottom of the pile — along with the shopper’s cell phone!!!), sort out the garments that were damaged by the patron, and hang all the clothes back on a hanger. Another hour to put all of this back on the racks. And yes, you are paying my wages to clean up like this in cost of the clothes you buy. I don’t know how anyone can make a choice when trying on 90 garments — or even 20! My process is much simpler: I know what I need (not want) to buy from perusing my wardrobe and once in the store I hone in on garments that meet my needs, in my color palette, in my personal style, and in fabrics I choose to wear (100% virgin wool, 100% cotton, etc.). If I am looking for a white long-sleeve cotton blouse, I choose only white l/s cotton blouses to try on (and by this time I am down to 2-3 as a plain l/s white cotton blouse is scarcer than hen’s teeth). I don’t get “shopping by the arm-load — or cart-load” concept. Too much choice leads to less choice (the paradox of choice).

    • A retail colleague of mine said, after taking out over 40 dresses out of one dressing room, “If I had to try on 40 dresses to find what I wanted, I’d go home and shoot myself.” (Retail humor?) I wonder whether the customer HAD to try on 40 dresses because she had no clear idea of what she needed and so “wandered” through the wide range of choices via the dressing room? It seems so much more painful (not to mention time consuming) to grab and try on 40 dresses than to use an internal selection process BEFORE one gets to the dressing room. Many, many people seem to have no clear idea of what colors best suit them, for example. Or that a particular silhouette works better than others. I wonder WHY so many people who are about to spend their hard-earned money on clothing don’t know what looks best on them. Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living for a human being.” Seems a bit extreme, Soc, but knowing one’s “clothing self” definitely seems worthwhile.

      • I wonder if the customers even bought anything…I had an acquaintance who would go to fancy stores and try on loads of expensive stuff and then…leave it all in the dressing room. I think it made her feel powerful during a period of relative boredom and not much money.

      • And how do you think people figure out what colors, styles, shapes work for them? they try on a variety of clothes. Obviously it’s a good thing to know what suits you but a little compassion for people trying to figure it out is also good.

      • I AM NOT LACKING in compassion (or more accurately, empathy, for people who are trying to figure out their color and style preferences. Although I am not a personal shopper I SPEND MOST of my time helping customers select things to try on that would work best with the coloring, body type, occasion, and so forth. It’s always surprising that so many people never think about what colors work best with their skin tone and hair and eye color — it’s a total revelation to them that this is something they should consider.

        There are several ways to figure out what works best before taking a disjointed assortment of clothes into the dressing room. One is to have a color analysis done — or enlist the helpful of a discerning friend with good fashion sense or, as Debbie is doing, work with a professional stylist (in person or on-line). A “good” sales associate (one who is willing to help and just not make a sale) or personal shopper can help. There are lots of on-line resources and fashion mags that also help folks get a handle on body shape and what clothes work best with each shape and similar issues.

        What I was referring to in my previous post was the kind of shopping that is centered on taking a large number of clothes (40, 50 or more garments at a time) and trying to make a selection from this jumble of clothing. Too often how the clothing is left behind seems to show a something — a lack of respect? disapointment?– for the garments themselves (and maybe some comment on the shopping process itself?). And I wonder, why that is? The sad result is that while the quality of clothing seems to diminish every year, the cost of said garments doesn’t. Part of this is the cost of labor to design, make, and ship the clothes. And part of the cost of labor is the salesperson who has to clean up the 40, 50, 90 garments left in a big puddle on the dressing room floor.

        And doesn’t leaving 90 garments on the dressing room floor show some lack of awareness of — if not empathy for — other shoppers (never mind the sales staff) who can’t use the dressing room? Or can’t find the skirt or jeans in their size because they are lying in a big puddle in dressing room 6?

    • This is an interesting thread. I agree that it’s very rude to leave a bunch of clothes on the floor of a dressing room! This is bad form whether it’s 5 items, 30, or 90, and it shows a lack of class and respect. But I do think that some people need to try on more items in order to find what will work best for them. It’s wonderful when we have a good sense of both our style and our needs – and I’m happy to be feeling more confident about those issues myself as of late, but it often takes a while to get there. Also, if one is looking to expand her style horizons, she will often need to bring more items into the fitting room to try on, especially in terms of new silhouettes about which we’re unsure.

      Interestingly, Bridgette Raes recommends that we try on a lot of items in this post: Here is an excerpt:

      “Go through every rack you can manage, pull everything and anything that seems to resonate with you, don’t think, pull! How do you know if it is resonating with you? If you stop and can envision yourself wearing something (even if it is in a fantasy vision, pull it. You never know.) If you’re unclear about your size, pull the size you think you are and the next size up and/or down. If you’re looking for something, like a black pair of pants, pull from more than one designer; you never know which will fit. Pull, pull, pull and load up the dressing room!”

      Bridgette gives a lot more advice on the topic, so I recommend reading the post. She doesn’t make specific recommendations on dealing with the “reject” items, but common sense should prevail for most of us. I know I always hang everything up nicely and bring it out to the hang rack at the front of the fitting room area (if there is one). Sometimes I even put things back on their racks, but I will usually get stopped by a salesperson who will grab the items from me.

      Sadly, common courtesy isn’t so common as of late. There is no excuse for the type of behavior Dottie described, but I do believe that many shoppers need to try a lot of things on, especially since sizes are so variable these days. I know I prefer to go into the fitting room only once and many stores don’t have salespeople who ask if you need help with getting additional sizes. So if I can (if there aren’t try-on limits), I take several sizes into the fitting room so I won’t have to get dressed again to pick up the alternate sizes.

    • Dottie, what you said really struck a chord in my heart. I put myself in your shoes and feel that this behavior is utterly selfish. Most of the time we are so focused on pursuing our unachievable perfectionism without considering the negative impact on other people. They may not be able to get their size to try on during their limited time shopping trip, they may end up buying the clothes you tried or stained and tossed on ground. Many of the new clothes we bought looks like second hand because of this. Not to mention the depressing process you created for the sales associate to clean up your mess. This past weekend I went on a shopping trip with my mom who is a savvy and conscious shopper. I said I need a pair of white shorts and a tuxedo vest right before we enter the store, however 10 minutes later my mom saw me holding 3 skinny jeans/jeggings and a black coat. She asked me why I am taking these as she just helped me purchase two pairs of skinny jeans a week ago and I don’t need a coat in my So Cal weather. I answered that I want to see how they look on me and if this slight variation of style would flatter my butt more. My mom said this is sick – to just try on clothes with no functionality, or to find the perfect piece. “Do you really have nothing better to do in your life then endlessly refine your clothes?” She got so upset and stepped outside the store right away. To be honest I didn’t think I was wrong until I read your comments here today. Thanks Dottie for your straight forward wisdom. I know it sounds harsh to us people who are committing it. Not that we ever try that many items but the idea is the same. We need to excise discipline, internal selection, and more importantly content with our body and clothes we already own, and respect and consideration to other people during our shopping process.

  7. Love Grechen of Grechen’s Closet… Her blog and yours are my favorite daily must-reads. Post links however works for you, they are always good. I’m trying to keep “information overload” in check. That was a great article for me.

    • I love Grechen’s blog, too, Pam, and I was very happy to share it here. I’m glad you liked my information overload article. I think it’s a common problem for many of us and I want to do my best not to add to it for my readers! It seems most people like the monthly links, so I will leave it as is for now.

  8. I love reading all the links in one fell swoop via the monthly roundup. But I agree, do whatever works best for you! Thanks for all the hard work you put into your posts. Have a lovely holiday weekend!

    • I hope you had a great long weekend, Kim! I appreciate your feedback and kind words. After getting all of the feedback, I plan to stick with the monthly links round up, but may thrown in a topical link post (a bunch of links on one specific topic) from time to time, too.

  9. Epictetus’ advice to “first know thyself then adorn yourself accordingly” is robust and would certainly do away with the 90 garments on the floor syndrome Dottie! This deceptively simple adage has been my guide during my self-discovery and could have saved me untold angst but hindsight as they say is a wonderful thing. This website and the amazing support from Debbie and all the wonderful commentators has been my saviour. As I was driving along from mymother’s today after helping her with her weekly shop it suddenly dawned on me that I wasn’t tempted to look at the new autumn range of clothes as I have already curated my early
    Autumn wardrobe and had already resolved to stop buying until a need was evident. Also thanks to Rebecca another poster o n here I have rediscovered my style which I now realise to be classic casual with a hint of funky cow girl! I love the links either weekly or monthly whatever suits you Debbie and I read all of them as another poster said as relaxing Friday night/weekend reading g therapy. Keep up the good work!

    • I love your comment, Andrea, including the great Epictetus quote! I’m happy this blog and the commenters have helped you with your style and shopping journey. Congrats on having your autumn wardrobe well curated and not being tempted to shop! Your classic casual style with a hint of funky cow girl sounds fun and like a nice combination 🙂

  10. I like that your links post comes all at once at the end of the month. They’re always good links and having them in one place is helpful, too.

    • Thanks, Amy. I”m glad you like my monthly links round-ups. It seems others do, too, so I will keep it going.

  11. I really enjoy the monthly “useful links” posts. I just click on what interests me. It’s obvious you put a lot of work onto this blog. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  12. I enjoy the monthly links! Please keep them coming!

    Also, I am really enjoying your stylist series you have been reporting on… You have great content. 🙂

    • Thanks, Chelsea. I plan to keep up the monthly links posts, as it seems that most others agree with you. I will have at least a few more posts in the stylist series, too, but it may be a couple of weeks until the next one. But they WILL be back!

  13. Thanks so much for including two of my posts this month Debbie! It’s a blessing we have found one another – all of us — and can share with and help one another. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be able to share with others who are also either struggling with or simply fascinated by the unignorable consumerism that surrounds us, and the ways in which we choose to respond and manage ourselves in such an environment.

    • I am always happy to share your wonderful posts, Jill, and I especially enjoyed the two I included in this month’s post. I love that they were inspired by a comment on one of my posts, too. I, too, am grateful we have all found each other and can help each other tackle our shopping issues and challenges. Your blog and programs have made a profound difference for many, including me, and I’m happy to be following in your footsteps, at least to some degree!

  14. Such a great list of links! I called my best friend even before finishing the post about friendship 🙂 Thanks a lot Debbie!

    Post the grab bag as you like and have time to do it. Often I get stuck at a blog, this time there were a lot of interesting blogs included that I did’nt know yet. Thumbs up!!

    • I understood what you meant, Sandra, and I’m glad that post motivated some immediate action on your part! I love sharing posts that may interest readers, as well as introducing you to new blog you might enjoy. I find myself getting stuck on certain blogs, too. There are so many great ones out there, but I’m trying to limit how much I read so I avoid the dreaded information overload!

  15. great set of links! I really enjoyed quite a few of them and now have some new blogs I’m following. Personally, the monthly round up works for me – I can’t keep up with weekly lists, but I think you should do whatever you find convenient.

    • Thanks for your comment, Kuri. I have trouble keeping up with weekly links lists, too, which is a big reason why I stopped doing them myself. It seems most readers agree with you that monthly is the way to go, so I intend to stick with what I’m doing. Glad you liked this recent installment!

  16. I love the links too but am overwhelmed at times also! Currently in that place (again) of I WANT LESS!! Make it go away lol! Now! Purging again – and have to wait and bring 10 items a week to local consignment – I want to just dump it all – is it worth it? I mean I’m making locally about 15/week – sometimes more – I send better shoes/coats/accessories to a Boston store and make more (prob 1k this year)….but it gets exhausting!! Sorry – that’s my rant – good news is I helped my daughter (21) clean through her mess of clothes this weekend and am trying to teach her smarter habits…wish I had learned years ago!

    • As far as the links go, Sandy, just pick a few to click on and leave the rest! I know it can be difficult with “FOMO,” but we will NEVER be able to read and learn EVERYTHING, so it’s best to limit ourselves from the get go. I know what you mean about wanting less. I seem to go back in forth between wanting more and wanting less (and sometimes I even want both things at the same time – LOL, wrote a post about that:

      Good for you for purging more of your unloved and unused items and congrats on helping your daughter pare down her wardrobe (and for teaching her good habits!). Only you can decide whether or not consignment is worth it. I still do it, but the places near me don’t have limits so I can bring more in at once. I don’t make very much money for my items, either, but it does help me to feel a bit better about letting things go. I still donate quite a bit, too. We need to consider our TIME, though, in addition to the money. So is the time you take to deal with the consignment worth it? Something to think about…

  17. Debbie thank you for sharing the links. By reading your articles I feel that you are a very genuine and good hearted person. I wish you overcome whatever difficulties or challenge you are facing and enjoy the happy life you deserved!

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