Before I dive into today’s topic, I want to thank all those who answered the question I asked at the end of my August useful links post. It seems that most of you like the current format of one large links post at the end of each month, so that’s what I’m going to continue doing. I may also post some links on a specific topic once in a while (I’m planning one on accessorizing soon), but for the most part, I’ll compile articles I think you might like and send them to you on a monthly basis.
Now it’s time for my August accountability update. Most of you are familiar with my monthly accountability reports, but here’s the drill for the newcomers: 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 August, I purged eight items from my wardrobe:
- 1 top
- 1 skirt
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 pair of pants
- 4 scarves
Here is a photo of the items I released from my closet last month (scarves aren’t shown):
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. I highly recommend that you keep track of why you purge particular closet pieces, too, as it will really increase your awareness. Pinpointing our reasons for purging wardrobe items can help us notice patterns and avoid future mistakes.
Starting at the left from the photo above, here’s what I let go of and why:
- Burgundy v-neck top: I bought this top at a consignment store about two years ago because I liked the color, but I have never worn it! I’ve put it on a number of times, but always thought I looked kind of “bulky.” Since I haven’t worn it and don’t feel great in it, why keep it around?
- Grey skirt: I bought this skirt on eBay a few months ago as a replacement for a skirt I lost in an alterations casualty last year. I thought it was the exact same skirt, but it wasn’t, and I didn’t really like the way it looked on me. Instead of admitting I made a mistake in buying it, I did something I said I wasn’t going to do – I tried to “rescue” it through alterations. I had it shortened, but that didn’t help, so I’m letting it go (now that I’ve thrown good money after bad!). I’d still like to find a nice grey skirt (I wore my old one all the time), but this one was not it!
- Medium wash Lucky jeans: I bought these jeans last December at the same time I purchased my favorite jeans. These were supposed to be the same style (I bought one pair for flats and one for heels), but the denim was really stiff instead of soft and pliable. I never felt comfortable in these jeans and only wore them a few times. Since I recently purchased a second pair of my favorite jeans and hemmed them for flats, this pair is no longer needed, so out it goes.
- Navy pants: I’ve had these pants for about three years and have worn them many times. I’m not sure if my standards have changed or if the pants no longer look as good as they used to, but something has shifted. I don’t like how wrinkly the legs look on these pants from the knee down. I thought that effect might be caused by wearing them with too low of a heel, but it doesn’t seem to make any difference what shoe I wear. Although I get nervous to let go of pants because they are so hard for me to find, I’m not loving and wearing this pair anyway.
- Scarves: Two of the scarves are too short and thin (I prefer a larger rectangle style these days). I hope to pass them on to my mother-in-law, who wears that style quite nicely. The third scarf is too “blingy” and itchy and the color of the fourth is too warm for my cool-toned skin (I ordered it online and the color looked different on my monitor). I’m going to see if my mother wants that one, as her skin tone is much warmer than mine and the color might look nice on her.
I have identified a number of other items that I may opt to pass on next month. I usually do the bulk of my purging toward the end of each season and our summers start late where I live. While I’ve passed on some summer items as I’ve worn them and identified issues with others, I won’t do a full audit of that section of my closet until probably late September.
My intention is to purge at least as many items as I bring in each season, if not more. While I’ve come very close to meeting my closet item goal for 2014, I still feel my wardrobe is too large. Thus, I will likely pare down further before the year is over.
Items Returned in August
I also returned the following three July items for refunds:
Why I Returned These Items
I decided to separate returned items from the purged items to keep myself present to my buy and return habits. Below are my reasons for returning the items pictured above:
- Black knit moto jacket: I ordered this jacket during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, but it was just a touch too small. I returned it and ordered the next size up, but that size was on back-order. Hopefully the larger size will work out and I will finally have a black moto jacket to wear and enjoy!
- Black tee with cream lace details: I opted to return this top because it only looks good without a topper. The lace details were my favorite part of the top, but they didn’t show up when I put a jacket or cardigan over it. Since I get cold easily and almost always have to wear a topper, that’s a strike against the top. It’s also just a touch too short in the back. It was relatively expensive and wasn’t a “10,” so I opted not to keep it.
- Grey maxi-skirt: I bought this skirt as a potential replacement for the one I ended up purging (see above). The skirt was labelled as a maxi-skirt, but it was not maxi length on me. I considered shortening it to knee length, but decided I was better off returning it rather than attempting yet another risky alteration! From my experience, shortening skirts and dresses a few inches usually works, but any more than that and it’s a bit of a crap shoot.
A Few Words on Returns
I feel it’s important to note that there are some items I buy and return that never make it to my accountability reports. I sometimes order things online that don’t end up working out, and there are other pieces I purchase in stores that I don’t love after bringing them home (it can be a case of “skinny mirrors”). While I haven’t been keeping track of the number of these items, I know there aren’t as many of them as there used to be.
At one time, I probably returned at least half of the items I bought, but that’s no longer the case. I now better understand what I need and what I like such that frequent returns are no longer necessary. When I made returns in the past, it was mostly about recouping the money I spent, but I never stopped to consider all of the time and energy I spent on making returns. My July Nordstrom Anniversary Sale experience really drove that point home. I spent countless hours making returns and reconciling my Nordstrom account (I had a debit card – now closed – and it was difficult to keep track of the transactions). It became abundantly clear that I don’t want to waste my time in that manner anymore.
Sometimes returns can’t be avoided, especially for those who do a lot of online shopping. But the number of returns I used to make – and the number I made in July – was ridiculous and not who I am any longer!
What Came Into My Closet
While I didn’t buy as many items as I did in July, I still purchased quite a bit last month. The relapse that I wrote about continued through the first part of August, but fortunately I’m in a much better place now. I’m ready to buy a lot less and focus my shopping on the new priorities identified through my work with Bridgette Raes and the insights I’ve gained by keeping an outfit journal for the past two months.
I’m also ready to focus more on the rest of my life, although I have to admit that I feel both stuck and scared in many areas. But I won’t get un-stuck or eliminate my fears through shopping. Shopping may make me feel better for a short period of time, but the problems I was attempting to escape won’t go away while I’m immersed in so-called retail therapy!
During August, I added 9 new items of clothing to my wardrobe:
- 2 dresses
- 1 skirt
- 2 cardigans
- 3 jackets
- 1 top
Five of these pieces were purchased at retail stores and the remaining four were bought at the new season reveal at my favorite consignment store. I had mostly refrained from resale shopping for the past several months, save a few pieces of jewelry I bought here and there. But I got back on the proverbial horse during August and I’m not sure that was a good thing. I feel the items I bought were good choices, but I haven’t worn three of them yet. If the consignment garments end up being “misses,” I will refrain from resale shopping for the foreseeable future.
The photo below shows the new items I purchased last month.
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 selecting my August items, working left to right, top to bottom from the photo above:
- Black and cream print maxi-dress: Since I’ve been preferring dresses over skirts during the past two months, I opted to add a few new dresses to my closet. I found this one during a recent shopping trip with a friend. It’s comfortable, flattering, and versatile. It shows off my slim torso with detailing around the waist and a back tie. I really like wearing maxi dresses and skirts because they work well with flats and are very popular where I live. I was a late adopter, but I’m now a firm devotee of the style and hope it sticks around for a few more years.
- Black cropped cardigan: I have a short black cardigan, but it’s starting to show signs of wear. So when I saw this one from an expensive brand (Eileen Fisher) at the consignment store event I mentioned above, I snapped it up. It looks good both worn open and tied at the waist, and the length works well with my dresses and skirt ensembles.
- Black and grey striped pencil skirt: I’ve been leaning more toward narrower skirt silhouettes as of late, but it’s hard to find them in the right length for my height (I don’t like above the knee skirts due to my aging knees and varicose and spider veins). This skirt was midi-length, but I opted to shorten it a few inches. I hope that I’ll enjoy wearing this new skirt shape in the coming months.
- Blue short jacket with ruffle details: This was another consignment purchase. I bought it for the color and because I don’t have any other jackets in this style and shape. I think this jacket will look good with many of my dresses and skirt outfits. It’s knit, so it’s comfortable and easy to wear, so hopefully it will be worn regularly once the weather cools down a bit (we’re currently in a major heat wave where I am!).
- Black and white print knee-length dress: This was my fourth and final consignment purchase and has already been worn. I recently let go of another black and white print dress, so this is basically a replacement for that one. It is comfortable and versatile and much more flattering than the dress it replaced.
- Denim jacket: A casual denim jacket has been on my shopping list for a long time and I was happy to finally find one that worked for me and only needed minor alterations. The standard denim jacket style is generally far too boxy for my frame, but this jacket was more fitted and only needed to be taken in a little bit at the top. I plan to wear it with dresses and skirts to tone down the “going to church vibe” I’ve mentioned previously.
- Hound’s tooth top with striped sleeves: A hound’s tooth item has also long been on my shopping list and being the stripes lover that I am, I was excited to find a top that combined the two prints. I likely won’t be able to wear this top for at least another month or two, but I look forward to wearing it when fall weather arrives.
- Tweed knit moto jacket: I ordered this jacket during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, but it was on back-order and I didn’t receive it until late August. This wasn’t clear from the website description, but the jacket is made from a soft sweatshirt-like material. It also fits me perfectly! I probably have more than enough short jackets in my closet at this point, but I’m keeping this one for the “love factor.”
- White v-neck cardigan: I was happy to finally find a white cardigan that fits me well and isn’t see-through. This was not an easy find, but it was worth the wait. It’s just the right thing to brighten up many of my summer looks. Since I often wear dark-colored bottoms, it helps to have a light topper to keep a brighter vibe.
And Then There’s the Accessories…
Beginning in May, 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 to be more mindful with this area of shopping.
Below is a snapshot of the accessories I acquired during August. Read on for my reasons for these purchases.
- Black and gray ombre scarf: This was pretty much an impulse buy that I found when purchasing my white cardigan. The store was having a 40% off sale and I got caught up in the thrill of getting a “good deal.” I didn’t really need another new scarf (I have so many…), but I liked this one and felt it worked well with my color palette (gray and black are my key neutrals). I believe I will wear it, but I probably need to hold off on buying more scarves until I wear the ones I already have more regularly.
- Silver Brighton earrings: I’ve been trying to wear my statement necklaces more often, but I found I didn’t have the right type of earrings to wear with them. Most of my earrings are either too large or eye-catching to wear with larger necklaces, so I bought these smaller and more subdued earrings for that reason. I’m not a fan of really small or stud earrings (on me), so I’m hoping this new pair will serve the desired purpose.
- Brushed silver teardrop shaped earrings: These earrings were a birthday gift from my mom from my favorite jewelry store in Lake Tahoe. My mom saw which jewelry pieces I liked during my last visit and selected these earrings for me. I have already worn them several times and love them.
- Purple and pink beaded bracelet: This bracelet was a gift from my friend, who bought it for me “just because” when she came to visit two weeks ago. While I probably wouldn’t have picked out this bracelet for myself, I like the colors and have identified a few garments that will pair well with it.
- Silver medallion Brighton necklace: I bought this at the same time as the silver earrings mentioned above. They work well together, but the necklace can also be worn with other earrings I have, as it isn’t as large and eye-catching as many of my other necklaces. The medallion is reversible, but I will probably wear the less “blingy” side (shown) face up most of the time. I have another necklace in a similar style (with a black cord instead of a chain) that’s a favorite, so I believe this necklace will see a lot of wear, too. It won’t be a case of “splitting my wears,” as the black one won’t work with the same outfits as this one will. I believe there is a place for both necklaces in my jewelry collection.
2014 Item Limit Update
When I originally laid out my shopping and wardrobe goals for the year back in January, I decided to dramatically cut down the number of items I purchase. However, I feel I was too ambitious when I set the target of buying half as many items this year as in 2013 (38 instead of 76). When I came dangerously close to reaching my item limit last month, I opted to raise it from 38 to 53 (70% of what I bought last year). I feel the new number will be much more achievable but will still require discipline and mindfulness in order to stick to it.
As of the end of July, I had purchased 35 qualifying items (workout clothing, accessories, undergarments, and gifts don’t count). During August, I returned three items and purchased nine, for a net addition of six items. Consequently, I am now at 41 new items for the year and can add up to 12 more garments, shoes, and purses to my closet before the end of the year. Obviously, I will need to slow down my shopping quite a bit in order to keep to my limit, despite the fact that I raised it last month.
July and August have long been high purchasing months for me, so I’m not too surprised that I bought a lot of new things these past two months. But it’s time for me to focus more on shopping my closet and adding only a small number of very selective purchases between now and the end of the year. I hope to find a few of the items on my shopping priorities list, including black jeans, comfortable pants, bright shoes, and a bright handbag, but I don’t need all that much at this point.
August Budget Report
My budget for clothing and related purchases (shoes, accessories, alterations) for 2014 is $3000, which is $250 per month. However, since I overspent my budget last month, I lowered my monthly allocation to $200 for the remainder of the year. During August, I spent $219.27, which was slightly over budget. I need to continue to be mindful of how much I’m spending so I don’t end up exceeding my budget for the year.
I was originally going to allow myself to spend more money during November and December, but I won’t be able to do that now. That’s okay, though, as I still have a number of new items that haven’t even been worn yet! So my focus should really shift away from buying new things and toward integrating my recent purchases into my wardrobe and better utilizing what I have. That isn’t the easiest thing to do for a recovering shopaholic, but it will lead to the most growth. As many of us know, doing what’s easy doesn’t push us to become better versions of ourselves. Since I definitely want to continue to grow, I need to walk the road less traveled instead of continuing to do what I’ve always done.
What I Wore
For over a year, I’ve been keeping track of the garments and shoes I wear each month, as well as how many times they get worn. This helps me to better understand which items are my favorites and which ones should perhaps be passed on for donation or consignment. I shared what I was wearing during August in my recent post, “Doing Project 333 Without Even Trying,” but I have a few updates to report since that time.
By the end of August, I had worn 29 garments and 7 pairs of shoes, which is slightly larger than a Project 333 wardrobe capsule. However, since I wasn’t intentionally trying to do that challenge, I’m okay with my numbers for the month. It’s interesting to note that I wore 10 fewer garments and 5 fewer pairs of shoes than I did during July. I think I just became clearer about the type of outfits I like to wear, so I didn’t have to experiment quite as much. I’m happy that I’m streamlining my closet more and more as time goes by and becoming increasingly satisfied with my ensembles through keeping an outfit journal.
Here’s a photo of the items I wore during August 2014:
As I look at the image above, I see that my color palette has become smaller, brighter, and more defined over time. While I’d still like to add some more white, light, and bright pieces to my closet, I no longer feel that I’m a “blackcident.” I will always love black and I’m sure that black garments and shoes will continue to feature prominently in my wardrobe, but I’m happy that I’ve broadened my color horizons. I love the other colors I’ve been wearing, especially shades of blue and purple, and I enjoy combining other shades with my beloved black.
These posts always take a long time to write – much longer than I expect! But I always discover new things about my shopping behavior, wardrobe preferences, and personal style through summarizing and closing out each month.
This month, I realized that I tend to do a lot of shopping during July and August, both for my summer wardrobe and for the fall. Since summer starts late where I live, I’m able to take advantage of both end-of-summer sales and pre-fall specials to fill in my wardrobe at discount prices. I need to allocate more of my budget (and item limit, if I opt to continue that for future years) to those months moving forward.
I’m also still hanging on to quite a few items “just in case” or because I love one aspect of them, such as the color. While it may not be easy to find items on my shopping list, there’s no reason to hang on to sub-standard garments until a replacement is located. If I don’t love something and I’m not wearing it, it shouldn’t have a place in my closet!
Your Thoughts and Experiences?
Now it’s your turn to chime in. How did you do with your shopping and wardrobe during August? Was it a good month for you, or did you struggle with overshopping or other challenges? What are your commitments for September and for the rest of the year? How can we support you in keeping you to your word?
I love the discussions that take place in the comments section of my posts and how supportive you are of me and your fellow readers. Feel free to share how you’re doing and what you need and to pose any questions you have related to the topics discussed on this blog. I am happy to help and I know others are as well!
My 1st reaction to seeing this e-mail notification pop up on my ipod: I LOVE accountability posts!!!
I let go of several items last month and also overspent (as I had commented before) last month. I bought 12 items and let go of 32. This month is shaping up to be interesting to say the least. I’m concentrating on following my instincts and being INTENTIONAL in my purchases. I had set 45 items total as my limit and reached 40 items at the end of August *gulp*. To add insult to injury, I’ve already added 4 accessories (dearly needed variety may I say) this month so I am certain I will go over my item limit. I’m not resetting my goal, and will try to keep future additions low in number- but I am not sure what is going to happen! I won’t buy as much as last year for certain, and nearly ALL of my purchases here out will be replacements or upgrades, but I have several items that need upgrading and/or replacing. For instance, I just wore out my beloved burgundy pumps!
You’ve inspired me to do an audit of my spring/summer clothing so I hope to do that soon too! I also have recently committed to attempting to purge one clothing item for one, one accessory item for one as a minimum because I also want to stop the wardrobe creep. I also buy and return more than I post about, since I do not list returns at all! It’d be embarrassing I think to do so, but perhaps because of this I should so I can be more mindful.
oh and P.S.- when do we get another post about your style session with Bridgette?!?!
I’m glad you and others like these posts, Meli. Knowing that helps me when I’m spending hours putting them together – LOL. It sounds like you are being much more intentional about what you’re buying and streamlining your wardrobe considerably. I need to let go of more items, but I know I will do that during the seasonal switch-over next month of early November. I will see what I did and didn’t wear and act accordingly.
I will do another update on my work with Bridgette soon. I have been very busy with other things and haven’t done a whole lot yet with the wonderful information she gave me, but it’s all been “percolating” in my mind and has been informing my decisions about what to wear and what to buy. I’m sure I’ll do another update before the end of the month.
Hi Debbie! I’m impressed that you’re doing well and really seem to be internalizing what works and doesn’t work for you, which is how this will become a lifestyle thing instead of a project thing. I’m working on the same things myself.
I am truly finding this year that I am shopping in fits and starts. I didn’t buy much in August, but shopped a bit in July, and I just ordered three things yesterday (two new tees and a new silk blouse) and bought three new lounge/workout/pj items on Monday (two shelf-bra tanks and cropped leggings). Counting all the things (belts and hats and undies and the like in addition to shoes and clothes) I’m still well over 300 items, but I’m planning to do another “Minimalists Game” in October to clear things out again and to prep for end-of-the-year giveaways for tax purposes.
I can feel, at the edges, my goals starting to take better shape. I don’t know that I really need to keep my workout and pj/loungewear separate. I have a number of “not exciting to me” things I can probably bear to let go. I’m getting pickier about what is worth my time and effort to maintain and what I like enough to wear. I’ve semi-abandoned formal Project 333, but still work within a capsule of sorts (probably closer to 40-50 items all told), and rotate out/in anywhere from 3-10 items at the start of each month. It keeps the capsule fresh but doesn’t feel so “stark” at the start of each “season” because it just lives and breathes. I think I’m getting more mindful about shopping, too.
So, baby steps. I’m actually really excited to do a big closet cleanout and inventory. I am hoping to give myself permission to be more ruthless than I have been in the past (I don’t know that I will ever exceed my “spider-bite-get-rid-of-everything” purge of March 2012, but I don’t know that I need to get quite that carried away at this point either).
Great to hear from you, Rebecca. I have been wondering how you’ve been doing. I’m sure if I counted EVERYTHING, including undergarments, I would likely be over 300 items, too. I need to pare down in those other areas of my wardrobe more. I love that you’re planning on doing the “Minimalists Game” again next month. I may join you, as I still feel there is a lot of excess stuff lying around in our apartment. I loved following your progress on Instagram and found your journey very inspiring. I also think it’s great that you’ve molded Project 333 to best meet your needs. I think 40-50 items sounds more doable, especially with the monthly “refresh” you’ve been doing. Keep up the great work!
I love reading these updates for so many reasons, but I’m always particularly amused at your comments on the local weather because it seems our patterns are exactly opposite yours. We’re already especially cool for this time of year -highs in the 60s for the foreseeable future.
My spending in August was unusual -I spent $150, knowing full well that I would be returning some of what I purchased. I spent $50 on replacement tees and a set of pajamas for the fall, and $100 on two items of jewelry and five different varieties of the same dress. I purchased the tall and regular size in two colors and then a third only in the tall. That’s not uncommon for me – I generally buy both when available and then return the one that doesn’t work. (Sidenote – I wish more stores would carry Talls for women in-store!!) The material was terrible so I wound up returning all of them, and I’m on the fence about whether to return the two accessories as well.
I haven’t purchased anything in September and probably won’t. While I’d love a new dress for work I’m going to wait until more wintry items hit the stores.
Yes, we do have pretty weird weather here, Sara! Right now, it’s the hottest it’s been all year with no real sign of abating, so we definitely have late summers. Your high 60s weather sounds pretty good right now. I always say summer is my favorite time of the year, but I’m ready for less heat and humidity about now!
It sounds like you’re doing very deliberate shopping, which is great. I sometimes buy multiple sizes when shopping online, too, as sizes tend to vary so much. I am totally with you in wishing there were more tall sizes available in the stores! My paltry pants collection is a reflection of the lack of choice for those of us who are long of limb. I do a lot of returning when I order pants online, but once in a while something hits. Good luck in finding a new work dress when the cooler weather items come into the stores!
I shopped too much in August and have already in September as well. I bought 10 new items. A striped grey and white top, a black peasant top, a pair of black lace up short boots, a black linen tee, a gold bracelet, a gray sweater dress, a long sleeve gray colorblock top-all that I love. I also bought a black and white striped top, black sweater, and light gray top that I shouldn’t have bought. I spent 301.00 so I’m still about $200 under budget for the year, so that’s the good news. My item limit has already gone over my goal and is at 52 items including jewelry.
I spend way too much time on returns. Some of it can’t be avoided, but I just overall buy too much stuff. That is something that I’d like to work on in the future.
I like the new items that you bought. You can see that they were bought with more of a plan than some of your past months. I wonder if the blue jacket would also look good with a white top and black pants? I thought that I rememebered an inspiration outfit like that in one of your posts.
When I start buying I can’t stop and buy a dozen items in one trip. I generally take back 8 of them so I’m going to have to work on buying more often and with more consideration rather than once every couple of months and in a frenzy!
Congrats on being under budget for the year, Tonya. I think it’s good to focus on the positive. The item limit is more challenging for me, too, as you know. It seems that the items you purchased are true to your color palette and style, which is a good thing. As for returns, I need to focus more on that as well. I will likely write more posts on that topic, as I’ve really started to realize the amount of time and attention I spend on returns. Plus, I almost always end up buying MORE things when I take the returns to the store!
Saltbox, buying too much in one trip used to be a big problem for me, too. I don’t think that’s always a bad thing if one only shops a few times per year, but I would do that a few times per MONTH! I think that getting a better idea of our unique personal style and wardrobe needs and shopping with a list helps to cut down on excess buying, but there is often an emotional component in there, too, which is harder to address. But I will probably write more about THAT moving forward, too!
I am also at about 40 items for the year if a recent H&M order for a top and jacket pans out. But I’m also finding I don’t need much else. I only have 3 things on my wish list in fact – a sweater, wool coat, and hat. I don’t NEED any of them and may well go until next year without them if I don’t find just the right ones.
I bought probably 6 things last month, but resold 2 right off the bat (they were not returnable) and purged/sold another 3. As for budget, I’m on target for $2100 including gift money of $250. So, $1850 out of pocket. That’s a lot for me. I include alteration and return postage charges (both of which are topping $100). I also record every last bra, cami, sleepwear and workout item in my budget, but not in my item numbers.
I’m happy with how this year is shaping up although I am higher in number of items and in dollar amount than I’d anticipated. Sometime a month or two ago I felt a shift in the how and why of my shopping and it feels so much more purposeful now. I can sense a significant change that I hope sticks with me from here on out. I’m really thinking that will affect the bottom line. I feel like I’m in a place to just refresh and distill each season.
I think it’s so great that you’re identifying fewer wardrobe needs these days, Mo. That shows that you’ve done a good job in cultivating a workable wardrobe. You may have spent more money and bought more items than you anticipated this year, but your efforts seem to have paid off in your experiencing increased closet happiness. I love reading these types of success stories. Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work!
I also tend to shop more in July and August than other months. A big reason for that is the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and the fact that I wear jeans often and jeans go on sale for back to school during these months. Now I have to keep from shopping in Sept and Oct to make up for the bigger budget busting trips from July and August.
Yup, NAS is it for me, too, Lisa. I should look out for those jeans sales, too, as I also wear jeans a lot during the cooler months. I need to cut back on my shopping in the coming months as well. I’m definitely going to plan differently for 2015 to allow myself more money to shop at NAS and during the end-of-summer sales. It just works well for me to buy more during July and August, so why not just plan for it?
I feel the same way. And with only 9 days left in Sept right now, I’m on my way to no shopping in Sept, yay!
Good for you, Lisa! I still did some shopping in September, but have toned it down quite a bit over August and (especially) July. I feel like my wardrobe is coming together pretty well now. I suspect that I will do much better with my NAS shopping next year and not go so crazy with the whole thing!
Gosh, I just love the new direction your wardrobe is taking! That outfit journal and the consultation are really paying off. I especially love that you are naturally reaching for fewer items of clothing to wear – I’m sure that’s going to provide benefits in future as you’ll probably be able to release more items that aren’t getting any love.
As for me, I didn’t buy anything in August. My item limit is 2 per month, and I am totally losing track but I think that means I didn’t buy anything for 3 months straight. I have already purchased 4 items in September, though, so I think I’ll end the year about where I wanted. I am finding I just really don’t care any more about what other people think of me repeating outfits, and am reaching for what calls to me (and fits). That feels like progress. I haven’t done much purging lately, though, aside from setting aside 4 items of nightwear to account for buying 2 new pj/lounging pants last week. I’m trying to do “1 in, 2 out”. I haven’t ventured into the pants and skirts section of my closet yet, but will do that by the end of the month, so I can release at least 4 items to account for 2 new pairs of pants. But I also want to purge some cardigans and jackets. I have too many cardigans and many of them do not get worn because they are too fussy or too warm. They must go!
I agree Sarah, there is a dramatic difference in her wardrobe- her style really seems cohesive but it also has the variety her old wardrobe was lacking, as she has expanded beyond her old ‘uniform’ (long cardigan + simple pants + simple top) and her color palette looks really striking and flattering. She’s really done a lot to eliminate the excess that was dragging her down and to be selective in her choices, and it’s really paying off!
Thanks for your kind words, Sarah and Meli! I do feel like I’ve finally gotten into a good groove with my wardrobe and style. I’m glad I’ve taken the type to do the work to have a better foundation and plan for my shopping and closet. I still need to eliminate more excess and follow up more on the work I did with Bridgette (and have another session with her), but I feel I’m on my way. I’m very happy that others are noticing the shift!
How great that you didn’t buy anything for a few months, Sarah, and that you are not caring about what others think when you repeat outfits. I’ve experienced the same shift in that if I love an outfit, why not re-wear it and continue to feel good about what I have on? One in, two out is an excellent way to streamline a wardrobe. That’s basically what I did in 2013 and I have a much more cohesive closet as a result. I’m now doing more of a one-in, one-out, but I need to step it up a bit so that my closet gets to where I want it to be. Small steps along the way lead to big changes over time, though. Keep up the good work!
I bought a few things in August but ended up returning most. I live in a small city so I order most things online. That can be so frustrating! Colors, sizes and materials are so hard to distinguish online. But I got a great navy ponte dress from Lands’ End. It fits perfectly and the fabric is awesome. But I sent back one cardigan (too bright), one cardigan (too big) and pants (too wrong).
My husband pointed out that it is much cheaper to pay return postage than make a special trip to a larger city an hour away. That made me feel better but it still galls me. I guess I am learning something about what works for me and about products I can only get online.
I also returned a very pilled dress to the company that sold it. I decided to be pro-active with shoddy purchases. That felt very empowering!
I feel your pain about the online orders, Anne! Sometimes the photos and descriptions don’t do the items justice and that can lead to problems. Congrats on the navy dress, though. Sounds like a winner! I think your husband is right about the returns. Our time IS worth something, but I didn’t realize that until recently. Good for you for returning the pilled dress. As Dottie has written here many times, we need to let manufacturers know when they are producing shoddy items. I can imagine you WERE empowered by making the return!
Like Meli said above, I also really enjoy your accountability posts. I like the direction your new style is headed! The photo showing what you wore in August is definitely lighter/brighter and I’ll bet looks great on you. In the interest of accountability, my shopping hiatus for July 2014 to January 2015 was going great until I saw a pair of gorgeous pink earrings on The Vivienne Files. I broke the hiatus and purchased them for about $45. I decided against waiting till January for that raspberry purse and got the perfect pink earrings which I anticipate wearing quite a bit. Now I’m back to not shopping.
I’m glad you’re noticing changes in my style, too, Kim. It helps me to know I’m on the right track when others are see a difference. It sounds like you made a very deliberate purchase with the earrings. Even though you broke your hiatus, it still seems like it’s helping you a lot. I don’t think we have to do things perfectly in order for them to help us make changes.
Love your posts as it makes so many of us take audit of our own situation. Learning the reasons and mistakes helps prevent the same in the future! You recently responded to my whining about feeling overwhelmed and wanting to be done purging – and said that my time involved in selling to consignment etc. I so appreciated that – it gave permission for me to be done if I so choose – it’s almost done as far as the big purging and then I can maintain. Also my husband of 1 yr (next wk!) paid of my credit cards so I really am getting a fresh start. Live within my means is my goal 😉
I’m glad my previous feedback to you was helpful, Sandy. Congrats on almost being done with your big purge. Maintenance will be a new journey for you, but it IS doable. Living within your means is also a very worthwhile goal. It’s helped my husband and I a lot to do so, as it’s given us much more freedom in life. Happy anniversary and best wishes with your goals!
Wow, I am doing really well. Have only bought one thing! Yay me!
I also know what I need to buy to update my winter wardrobe which is very little but higher end purchases – a thicker, cosy black cashmere sweater, new knee high boots and a new Longchamps bag which I have spotted. I will probably add some new scarves.
I would also like to update my workout gear as I have not done this for 5 years so my current workout clothing is a bit shabby and faded now.
Congrats on only buying one thing, Carolyn! It sounds like you have a good plan for your winter wardrobe and the new purchases you have planned sound very nice. Updating your workout clothing is a good idea. I did some of that earlier this year but need to work on that area of my wardrobe a bit more in the coming month as well. It’s good for us to feel good about what we’re wearing ALL the time!
The glen plaid top with striped sleeves is adorable! Too bad about the black and lace top — I thought it was a keeper but I can see that the impact of the lace would be lost under a jacket. Sigh! I wonder if the white cardigan — a basic building block kind of item — will seem too tame for your edgier look? I have a white denim jacket that I wear in the summer (and a bit before and after) in lieu of a cardigan. It’s a classic style that can be dressed up a bit or can be very casual. I also like the black and gray striped skirt — also a garment that can be dressed up or down. You’re definitely are working your style preferences! I too would like to see more about your sessions with Bridget.
I also love the plaid/striped long-sleeved T–fabulous pattern mixing that will work with most bottoms in your closet and give you more of that edge you are looking for. The dark, inky blues are also terrific. As for the ivory cardigan, I think that one or two basics like this can prove very versatile. If it’s not see-through, it can be worn as a button-up “shirt” with a scarf or necklace, as a standard cardigan over tops, and layered under a jacket. One of my favorite combos for cool weather is to layer a long-sleeved T, a v-necked cardigan such as yours, and a jacket with a scarf tied loosely. The layers serve well to keep me warm on a chilly morning and can be shed piece by piece as the day warms up. I’m eager to see the larger jewelry shown with your new things. What fun!
Amy: Excellent ideas for the cardigan!!! I am rethinking my sole cardigan sweater (sort of a cobalt blue but several years old) even as I tap out this reply.
Is that top glen plaid, not houndstooth? Either way, I really like it and I’m glad I bought it! I look forward to wearing it when the temperatures drop. I like Amy’s ideas for the white cardigan, too! I have a few other v-neck cardigans that I can also try wearing that way, too. I don’t need to be “edgy” all the time. I still have a basically classic style, but I just want to add a bit of edge to my looks from time to time. Some of the pieces I’ve added recently will help me do that. I will be sharing more about my work with Bridgette soon.
Hello, I have just discovered your blog and I am fascinated of your ideas! I also write down how much I spend monthly for clothes and since two mounths I photograph the clothes that I wear each day. In this way I want to track eventually unconsciously patterns and I hope to discover what I truly wear and reduce my wardrobe. But you do so much more! I will definitely inspire myself from your blog posts! Thank you for your wonderful ideas and for sharing!
Welcome and thanks for your comment! I’m glad you’re finding my blog inspiring. It sounds like you’re already on a good path. All of the tracking I do came about bit by bit, so I recommend just adding one new thing at a time and seeing how it goes. Best wishes to you!
“I opted to return this top because it only looks good without a topper.” I thought this was an interesting insight to note, not just because you stated that you tend to wear toppers because of feeling cold regularly, but also that is a good point for anyone because a top that cannot be worn with a topper is simply not as versatile as one that can. It can make all the difference between an item being for summer only and an item being transitional where it can be worn in the fall with a topper. For this same reason I think we have to be careful how many patterns we wear, not that we can’t wear pattern, but I think the majority of wardrobe pieces should be solids with a few patterned pieces for variety, while making sure that the patterned pieces coordinate well with your solid pieces, as this increases your overall wardrobe versatility. So, that is a very good observation.
Great point about the toppers, that never occurred to me when I bought an item.
I buy only solid color clothing plus a few items of clothing with an all-over pattern because of the versatility of wear. Like Brittany, I look for clothing that has a multi-seasonal shelf life. Choosing clothing is a process that requires a lot of forethought as well as try and error. But once one’s “rules” become internalized, you can shop on autopilot. I just don’t look at clothing that doesn’t fit my rules, my lifestyle, etc.
I’m glad you found that particular insight helpful, Brittany. Through tracking my wardrobe, I came to realize that I don’t wear particular items because they don’t work either WITH toppers or WITHOUT them. My preference is to find items that will work in BOTH instances whenever possible. I see your point about solids versus prints, too. I probably have more printed items in my wardrobe than many people do, but they are mostly tops (and some skirts/dresses). I agree that solids are generally more versatile, but prints can be versatile, too, depending upon one’s individual wardrobe. For example, I wear only solid, plain pants and jeans, so I can easily wear my printed tops with them. We all need to figure out what works best for us, but the sharing we do here can help each other learn valuable insights that can help us moving forward.
When I first saw your “new purchases” pics, I chuckled. I almost bought that identical black/cream maxi dress earlier this summer! I didn’t because it wasn’t on sale! Also–the blue ruffled jacket is very similar in style and color to a wool knit jacket I am sending to consignment because I have a heavyweight long knit jacket in the same color that fits better. The ruffled jacket looks a bit fussy on me as I am busty and look better in a long plain silhouette. Anyway, it looks like we have some similar tastes!
I have been purging my wardrobe for two reasons, one is that we are on the cusp of the new seasons and its time to re-evaluate last year’s silhouettes and colors, second because I have experienced some wardrobe casualties requiring things to be replaced in same colors, but with updated silhouettes.
While I remain a devotee of leggings and skinny pants, I’ve recently come to appreciate the casual elegance of more flowing leg styles because they give a different kind of effortless-but-casual-business look. I don’t know if I will wear these lightweight trousers into the winter unless I put thermal leggings underneath, but one pair is a deep floral that goes with my winter color palette.
I’ve also been looking at the shapes of cardigans from last year, realizing that some of the cascade styles I favored were too fussy with details. I am going for a more streamlined look now, because simple silhouettes mix better with other things. I still like cascade cardigans though, as long as they are plain. And another plus is when a cardigan has pockets, because it helps when I walk the dog in the morning.
At first I was not loving the idea of maxi skirts, thinking the hems would get caught under the wheels of my desk chair, but I’ve gotten a few that have a slimmer profile and haven’t had a problem. I have tried on some elliptical skirts and I think they make my legs look shorter, but I like the look of elliptical tops that give a sense of flow in the back as you move around. I usually buy elliptical tops in a size larger to get that flow, instead of having it more fitted to the hips.
Debbie, I think you look great in maxi skirts, much more so than the knee length flared you often favor. Maxi skirts with flat sandals and an interesting pedicure color is very modern!
Great minds think alike with the dress and the jacket, Deby! I hope I will end up loving and wearing both pieces often. It sounds like you’re continuing to streamline your wardrobe and style. You’ve made such great strides in the past year plus and I enjoy reading about your progress. The end of a season is a good time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t work. I look forward to doing that when the weather cools down here. I didn’t think I’d WANT fall to start, but we’ve had very hot weather here lately and I would be happy for it too cool down.
I am loving the maxi skirts and dresses. I had similar concerns to yours when I first got them, but I’ve actually been quite happy wearing them, especially since they work so well with comfortable flats! I like the elliptical hems, too, but haven’t ventured into that territory with tops yet. I think I might like them, though. Best wishes with your fall transitional wardrobe. I will live vicariously through you and others for the time being. Our fall usually starts around early November here.
Debbie, I love the new direction your wardrobe is taking you, and I love knowing that you are finding your rhythm. All of the work you have done to have a better foundation and plan for shopping is paying off. It’s all coming together for you in wonderful ways, and I enjoy reading your updates and the comments. As for me, within the past few months shopping has been limited to replacing items that have worn out. And I’ve recently released a number of pieces that I haven’t been wearing, letting go of “what if” items. It never ceases to amaze me that the smaller my wardrobe gets the better dressed I become, and the more options and ways I discover to wear and enjoy what I have. Although I no longer do a formal project 333 and keep count, I continue to find that somewhere between 30 and 40 items is ideal for me. Yet since life is fluid and I’m a mood dresser I love knowing I can dig out a long-loved yet seldom worn sweater or pair of earrings when the mood strikes.
I’m glad things are coming together for me finally, Terra, and I appreciate your noticing (and your kinds words). I think that what you wrote about dressing better with a smaller wardrobe is right on. My wardrobe is still large, but I’m wearing fewer items and am feeling better dressed for the most part as a result. I’m not pushing myself to wear “benchwarmers.” I still notice them and ask myself if I want to wear them. When I do wear them, sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised, but other times I know it’s time for them to go. It takes a while to build a workable, cohesive wardrobe, but as long as I continue to see progress, I will stay the course. You sound like you’re doing great!
I always find these posts so interesting, Debbie, thank you for all the work you put into them. I too can see the strides you’ve made in refining your style — both your purchases and your wears hang together really well.
Interesting that you are finding your item totals going down (accidental Project 333). I am not finding that as I continue to track my wears. Partly that’s a matter of my extreme lizard-bloodedness (there were only 9 days in August(!) that I didn’t wear a cardigan/topper of some sort), but I think it also just reflects the level of variety that I like. To each her own!
I do think that tracking what I wear (again, thanks to your inspiration!) has helped me to make good buying decisions, especially when purchasing at retail. For example I bought a pair of nude sandals at the beginning of the summer and have worn them 21 times! And, realizing that even items I consider “workhorses” don’t get worn all that many times has helped me hold off on some purchases because I realized there just wouldn’t be enough opportunity to wear them (avoiding the “if one is good, four are better” trap). Finally, I’ve noticed a shift when evaluating whether items should enter or stay in my closet from “do I like this?” to “what does this add to my wardrobe?” That’s huge!
Like you though I find that my resale/thrift purchases don’t work out 100% of the time. On the one hand it’s easy to beat oneself up about that. But I also have many thrift/secondhand purchases that I couldn’t do without and that would be hard for me to acquire at retail (hello All The Cashmere). For me, I think the solution might be to accept that there is some level of trial and error inherent in secondhand shopping, while also taking care not to let the time/effort/$$ spent get out of hand. I’m not sure exactly what that looks like in practice, but it’s something I’m keeping in mind.
I’m curious about your moto jackets and how they will work out in your wardrobe. I think that you have bought 3 in recent months — striped, tweed, and the solid black one you are waiting for. On the one hand a skeptic might see that as a rapid acquisition of multiples. On the other hand I’ve definitely experienced how a certain kind of garment can really crystallize one’s style, and having several iterations isn’t redundant at all in practice. I’d love to hear how these items are working out for you in the coming months.
Funny what you wrote about “lizard-bloodedness,” Sarah. That term definitely applies to me, but it’s been SO hot here lately that I’ve rarely worn a topper in recent weeks. I think that’s a big part of the reason why my monthly item totals are lower. I like variety, too, but haven’t been able to get as much as I like due to the heat.
A lot of what you wrote really resonated for me, especially your comments about resale purchases. Those type of buys are definitely riskier, but like you, I have some wardrobe workhorses that have been bought that way, so I don’t want to give up on such shopping completely. I also enjoy it, but am learning to be a lot more discerning in what I buy at secondhand shops. I’m okay with making SOME mistakes, but definitely need to keep it all within reason (the time, effort, and money).
As for the moto jackets, the jury is still out, especially since I haven’t been wearing toppers much lately. I think I will stick at 3 moto jackets, though, and see how it goes. I may have bought too many, but I do really like how these jackets take my style in another direction. I really hope they will be as valuable in my wardrobe as I think they will. I will definitely share my thoughts on this later in the year.