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!