January through June 2014 Purchase Analysis – Part One

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I’m big on tracking.  I believe that tracking can be highly beneficial for recovering shopaholics, as well as anyone who wants to shop smarter and better utilize the wardrobe pieces they own.   I’ve been tracking how much I spend, what I wear, and how often I wear it since the beginning of 2011, and this year I added photos and an outfit journal to the mix.  I also decided to look at what I’ve bought and whether my new items have become wardrobe workhorses or closet “benchwarmers.”  All of these types of analysis can help us make fewer buying mistakes in the future.

Purchase Analysis

Do you review your purchases later to see if they were good or bad?

It’s been four months since I last did a purchase analysis, so it’s high time for another one!  Last time, I reviewed the purchases I’d made from January through April, but it was probably a bit premature to analyze my most recent acquisitions at that time.  In truth, since I did my post on May 5th, the jury was probably still out on everything I had bought during April – and perhaps for the March buys as well.

Beginning with today’s post, I’m going to look at the items I brought into my closet from January through June of this year.  Since my purchase analysis is quite lengthy (you know I’m a “numbers nerd,” right?), I’m going to split it into two parts.  Part one covers my best buys of the year so far, as well as what I consider to be my 2014 purchasing mistakes.  The second part, which will be posted on Monday, explores those January through June items which are currently in danger of becoming benchwarmers.   I will also touch a bit on my July and August purchases in that post, although it’s still too early to determine whether those buys were smart or ill-advised.   Those items will be explored in more depth later in the year.

The Basic Numbers – January through June 2014

Let’s start this analysis with a few basic numbers (please note that this report only includes clothing and shoes – jewelry pieces, workout clothing, and undergarments are not included):

  • Items Bought During January – June 2014: 27
  • Items I Still Have: 17  
  • Items Returned: 5
  • Items Purged: 5
  • Items Downgraded to Loungewear: 1  (wine scoop-neck tee)

The photo below shows all 27 of my January through June purchases.  I will delve into the other categories in the following sections.

January - June 2014 purchases

I purchased these 27 items January through June of this year.

What I Still Own

Before I explore which purchases were good and which were less than ideal, let’s look at what I still have in my closet today.   As I mentioned above, I still have 17 of the 27 items I bought during the first half of 2014, which is roughly two-thirds (63% to be more exact).   Here’s a snapshot of those pieces that have stuck around:

January - June 2014 purchases I still have

I still have these 17 items that I purchased this January through June.

Starting on a High Note – The Best

Let’s start on a high note and look at my best purchases of the year thus far.  The nine items shown below – seven garments and two pairs of shoes – are what I consider my best buys for 2014 to date:

Best January though June 2014 purchases

My favorite nine purchases from the first half of the year (three are from July).

Instead of looking at these items one by one, I think it will be helpful to identify their common characteristics:

  • All garments are knit and casual in nature (the burgundy jacket is for my frequent walks and to wear to and from the gym).
  • Both pairs of shoes are flat or very low-heeled, neutral-toned, comfortable, and casual.
  • The colors are all within my newly refined color palette.
  • All items are either solid or striped (my signature print!).
  • Everything is true to my personal style, which is classic minimalist with a touch of edginess (not all are edgy, but there’s some of that in the mix).

I like that I have embraced the maxi dress / skirt style this year, as well as moto jackets and V-neck cardigans.   I used to try to make crew-neck cardigans work for me, but I much prefer the “V” style.  I also like that I’ve added a bit of variety to my stripes with the moto jacket and the variable stripes in the cobalt and blue top.  Many of the pictured items have already been worn many, many times and I believe all nine will be wardrobe workhorses for some time to come.

The Flip Side – 2014 Shopping Mistakes

Of course, not all of my buys this year have been as good as the ones shown above.  Sadly, I have continued to make shopping mistakes, but I feel these have slowed down as I’ve become clearer of my lifestyle needs and personal style.

The Returns

Let’s first look at the lesser mistakes, those garments that I was able to return for refunds (and are not included in my item number for the year).   Of course, these are not the only returns I’ve made this year.   There were other items that were bought and returned within a given month and did not appear in one of my monthly accountability updates.  I have not kept track of all of those returns, but many of them were online purchases that didn’t work out due to sizing issues and inaccurate web descriptions.

The seven items shown below were January through July purchases that ended up being returned to the store of origin for a full refund:

January - July 2014 returns

I returned these seven items for refunds this year.

I really wish the first, second, and fourth items would have worked out.   The embellished black sandals were returned after I had worn them a few times because the strap keep slipping off my heel no matter how tight I made it.  Fortunately, I was able to purchase an alternate pair (shown in the “best” section above) that I’ve already worn countless times.  My search for a black moto jacket continues (the one above was returned because it was itchy), but I think I will finally have a good one by the end of this month.   The black top with lace trim was something I loved but ultimately decided wouldn’t work well for me, as the lace trim is not visible when worn with a topper (and I’m cold much of the time).

The other four items were returned because I didn’t love them as much once I got them home.  The sandals on the right only really looked good with maxi-length skirts and dresses and the grey skirt was an odd length that would have been risky to alter.   The green cardigan and grey tee were too warm in tone for my complexion and made me look washed out.  Sometimes it’s difficult to determine a good color match from website images or store lighting and we have to see how things look once we get them home.

Consigned / Donated Items

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to return all of my 2014 shopping mistakes for refunds.  The five items pictured below all ended up being taken to a local consignment shop, where I was only able to recoup a portion (usually 25% or less) of my losses.

January - June 2014 purged items

I ended up consigning these five 2014 purchases.

Perhaps you’re wondering what these five items have in common.  Well, let’s look at that…   Three of these pieces – the striped cardigan, printed blouse, and red sweater – were bought at a resale store.  The grey skirt was purchased on eBay and the navy cardigan was an impulse buy that was bought on sale (when I was buying jeans, I browsed the sale rack and thought I found a “good deal”).

Lessons from the Purged Items

What was wrong with these items?  In every single case, the problem had to do with fit!   While I like them all in theory, they didn’t work on my body.   The striped cardigan, blouse, and sweater were all just a bit too large, and the other two items were “off” when it came to length.  The skirt hem hit me at the widest part of my calf and the cardigan ended right at the largest part of my hips.  I tried to have the skirt shortened, but given the wrinkly material, the length then looked uneven and unflattering.  I really hate when I throw good money after bad, but fortunately I’m doing that far less often these days!

My key lesson here is that I should never compromise my fit and style standards just because something is a low price or on sale.  None of us should do that!   Such behavior has gotten me into trouble more times than I can count, and I’m sure many of you can identify.   The bottom line is that something isn’t a good deal unless we love and wear it.  Otherwise, we may as well have flushed our money – whether it be $5, $20, or whatever – down the toilet!

Until Next Week…

In Monday’s post, I’ll single out the 2014 purchases that are currently in “benchwarmer” territory, having only been worn once or not at all thus far.   I’ll delve into what I see as the reasons for that undesirable status.   I’ll also look at my July and August buys and how I see those playing out in the coming months.   I already have strong feelings about which pieces will become wardrobe workhorses and which ones have a chance of being buying mistakes that may leave my closet before the year is over.

In the meantime, I’d love your thoughts on this post and the topic of purchase analysis.

  • Do you take the time to analyze the items you buy later down the line?
  • If so, what have you learned about the way you shop?
  • Have you made changes to your buying practices as a result of doing a purchase analysis?
  • Are there other methods you use to keep your shopping on track?

I invite you to share your thoughts on these topics in the comments section of this post.

I wish you all a happy and restful weekend!  It’s my wonderful husband’s birthday tomorrow, so I will be spending the day with him.  I may not respond to all of your comments right away, but I appreciate them all and will reply when I have a chance to do so.

I know the end-of-summer sales are still going on, so I hope those of you who choose to enter the stores (or visit e-commerce sites) shop wisely and are pleased with your purchases.  If you make mistakes, try to learn from them, forgive yourself and move on. We’re all human and we all commit blunders in shopping and in life.   As long as we’re growing and learning, it’s all worthwhile!

40 thoughts on “January through June 2014 Purchase Analysis – Part One

  1. I bought 33 items from January to June. I still have 14 of them. The best things that I bought are black capri pants, black ankle pants, black flip flops, a gray dolman sleeve top, and the most expensive blouse in the universe ( a black top with a blue and white print). With the exception of the blouse all of these items are pretty basic and the shoes and pants were needed. Of the 19 that I no longer have, 9 were never used. All but one were Ebay buys that couldn’t be returned. I am really trying not to do that anymore. The other 10 items I did wear at least once, some several times. A few of them weren’t the same after washing them multiple times and some I just got tired of. I am uncertain how I feel about these particular items. On one hand it seems like a waste because I didn’t even keep them a year, but on the other hand if I hadn’t been so on top of purging my closet they would have probably stuck around and I did use them. I think I’m okay with spending more money on my basics that I know I’ll keep and buying some inexpensive, thrifted “fun” items that I might keep for just a season. I want to buy less of both categories overall and spend less time and effort on the whole process.

    • Thanks for sharing your numbers, Tonya, and thanks for the birthday wishes for my hubby! It sounds like your purchase analysis was helpful and that you learned some things from doing it. Your Ebay buys are like my consignment buys, it seems. Very risky with no possibility of returns. It’s like a gamble that sometimes pays off, and the “sometimes” is what keeps us doing it even if our track record isn’t all that great. I’m curious about your “most expensive blouse in the universe.” I hope it’s something you love and will enjoy for quite a while to come. As for the “fun” items for a season, I think that’s okay, but I get wanting to spend less time and effort on the whole process of shopping. I feel the same way, but it’s taking me some time to put my actions where my intentions are. But intentions are a good place to start.

      • Ha ha, the most expensive blouse in the universe was the one thing I bought on my NYC/New England trip. It was $150 and that was at 50% off. I’m sure there are more expensive things out there, but this is way more than I usually pay. I do love it and have worn it often.

      • That’s more than I usually pay, too, but it’s worth it for something you love and wear often. Good for you for taking the plunge! I’m glad it paid off.

  2. I’m in a quandary. I’ starting to think he more I analyse and track the more self-obsessed I become. I now spend a ridiculous amount of time thinking about clothes and shopping 😦

    I think I have enough clothes now – probably about 75 items including loungewear. Now I just need to stop accumulating things, stop analysing what I’ve got and how to wear it in various ways and just get dressed every morning in what I love and what suits me!!

    The outfit journal has been a real eye-opener for me and a tool I will continue to use, thanks Debbie! 🙂

    • I’m glad the outfit journal has been helpful to you, Saltbox. As for tracking, there CAN be too much of a good thing. I went through a period when I spent FAR too much time thinking about clothes and shopping, too. I still spend more time than I want to spend, but it’s decreased. I throw a lot of ideas out in my blog, but all readers should just take what feels right to them and leave the rest. Some things will be good for a season but not long term. It sounds like your wardrobe is a very good size. I think your intention to just get dressed in what you love every day is a very good one. Just stick with that and the outfit journal for now and see where it takes you. Best wishes, as always!

  3. I have a similar post in my queue lol- but it’s far from done! I’ve just recently purged 2 necklaces I bought this year (one is a discovery from my outfit journal that it’s an orphan and I dislike pairing it with the only tops/dresses it goes with, and the other I purchased on impulse and splits the wears of another I like better) and I accidentally ruined my spectacular dress that I bought in January in the wash. I bought 25 new items (clothing and accessories) January-June, and 3 of them have been purged. The scary part is that July-September so far I’ve added another 25 items (and I still have more items on the way). Yep, I busted my item limit (45) even when I said I didn’t think I would. I’ve shopped twice as much in the last 3 months compared to the 6-month period before that. I’ve been under MAJOR stress due to serious family issues lately and that may be a factor, but I just haven’t really TRIED that much either. I’ve focused on my wardrobe and what I want to replace and not on other things. I’ve also purged more than 60 items so far this year and have more things to go.

    I feel some stress and shame about it, but I’m really ready to just move forward. I’m focusing on being more intentional in my purchases, more discerning in weeding out my closet, and preparing for a ‘French’ wardrobe challenge next year of only purchasing up to 20 items for the year. That preparation partially involves upgrading items that really need to be upgraded now, but also pretending that I’m currently on the challenge and evaluating my purchases as if that were the case (bet that would have changed several of the purchases I made this year). I have a strong motivation to sticking to this challenge that I won’t make public yet, but I think that this will help me stick to my resolution.

    My husband’s birthday is next Friday- how funny! I always said Leos and Virgos make the best pairs 😉

    • Thanks for sharing your numbers, Meli. I look forward to your post on this topic. It sounds like you did very well with your January through June purchases. I bought just as many items in July-August as I did for the earlier months, too. I think that with the item limits, even if we go a bit over, we’ll still have done better than if we’d set no limits at all. I feel kind of bad about buying so much, too, but I’m determined to learn from the past and move forward powerfully to the future, just as you are. I think it’s great that you will be doing a French wardrobe challenge next year and really look forward to following along on your journey.

      Happy early birthday to your husband! Here’s to Leo/Virgo pairs! I hope that your stress will decrease soon and your family issues will improve. I usually shop more under stress, too, as I’ve written about previously. It’s a coping mechanism for many of us and works on some level, even if it leads to other not so pleasant consequences. Learning new coping mechanisms is easier said than done, but it IS possible. Still working on that one!

  4. The one thing I see in common across the “mistake” buys is not fit, it’s buying resale. Between these and the one sale browsing buy I think it’s clear you’re still struggling with “sale (or good deal) goggles.” You’ve already identified resale as a weakness, so I think it would be worth revisiting your approach in this regard. I appreciate that you’re trying to adjust your limits in several areas in ways that make sense and are healthy, but among the most recent posts (especially the previous monthly update) I get the sense that there are a lot of rationalizations and optimistic assessments creeping in, when the reality is that you’re still very much in the early phases of recovery. It’s not up to me, of course, but I would encourage you to set some hard limits, like not buying resale or browsing sale racks at all, that will still let you meet your wardrobe goals but help prevent some less-advised decisions.

    • Hi Debbie!

      It was great that you stopped yourself from throwing good money after bad by not trying to alter a skirt that wasn’t working. Changing that kind of habit is hard.

      I agree with AK’s analysis on the resale/consignment/sales rack purchases. It’s not just throwing money down the toilet, as you say so frankly. It’s negative clothing dollars. It’s dollars and cents that could have gone to one great thing–or used to extend your budget toward an item that you otherwise would consider outside your price range. A “great deal” must fit your body, your wardrobe needs, and your life first. If it also happens to be on sale, that’s just icing on the cake, but not a place to start.

      On the other hand, I really love the wardrobe workhorses you show here and look forward to seeing how you continue to integrate them into your refined look. Great analysis as always!

    • I can appreciate what AK and Amy are saying about limiting/banning resale purchases, but as the resident defender of thrifting around here 🙂 I’d like to suggest that it might be helpful instead to analyze your successful secondhand scores (you mentioned in your response to my comment on your previous post that you have gotten a lot of valued items in your wardrobe that way). Are there certain brands, colors, types of items (sweaters vs. skirts, etc) where you’ve had success? Understanding that better might help you create some structure that could enable you to still find the kinds of items that work for you but decrease your proportion of misses. For example no more than x items or $y in your budget may go toward resale items, or absolutely no jackets from consignment stores, etc.

      When I look at the items you’ve already passed on, what ties them together for me is proportion — they all look just a little bit off, a little droopy/bottom heavy, while your successes are trimmer and jauntier (yes I know that is probably an odd description). I know that for me, I’m likely to pass on my secondhand mistakes more quickly than my retail mistakes, just because of the smaller $ investment. So I wonder how/if your analysis of possible benchwarmers might change the picture.

      Or maybe you’ll find that none of your recent secondhand purchases have been home runs — in which case, yes, it might be reasonable to step away from that sort of shopping for a while.

    • Thanks for your comments, AK, Amy, and Sarah. You all make some really good points and offered useful suggestions. I definitely agree that resale and sale purchases have been problematic for me in the past and continue to be an issue even today. I’ve decreased this type of shopping, but haven’t eliminated it completely. I pretty much stayed away from consignment stores for a few months but then went back recently and probably shouldn’t have done so. I still have a tendency to compromise my standards for low prices. When I wrote that fit was the problem, that was what I meant (not being picky enough because there’s only one size available and the price is low). Good point, Amy, about negative clothing dollars! That’s a good (but depressing) way of looking at it.

      I think I will follow Sarah’s suggestion about resale buys. It would be useful for me to look at what types of resale purchases work out better than others (if any) and what my overall track record for that type of shopping is). That may be the topic of an upcoming post, in fact!

      • I am with you about eBay purchases. It’s thrift store clothes with a big mark-up plus shipping and no-returns. Why in the world am I wasting my time and money?

      • You’re right on, Ginger. I’ve usually been too scared to take the plunge on eBay items, but I’ve more than made up for that with all of my crappy consignment buys. Either way, it often adds up to wasted time and money. I guess since it works out for us SOMETIMES, that’s what keeps us going. But it’s worth looking at just how often it really does work out. Maybe it really isn’t worth it for those very rare “scores.”

  5. Thanks to your recent posts and Gretchen’s Minimal Wardrobe series that you linked previously, I feel I’m making significant progress in identifying what works and doesn’t work in my wardrobe, and more importantly, WHY those things do or don’t work. Grechen’s suggestion to identify stores and sales to avoid (in addition to certain types of clothing) really resonated with me, as does your post today. What I realized is that I tend to shop at Macy’s, Gap and Old Navy when I have coupons or cash rewards, but that I rarely actually wear those items. For some reason, I seem to do okay with thrift store items, because I tend to stick to my list and fill wardrobe gaps with them. I really enjoy your accountability posts and the photos are so helpful. I look forward to your followup and to continuing this journey with you!

    • I loved Grechen’s recent post, too, and am enjoying her entire Minimal Closet series (here’s the link for those who might want to check it out: http://grechenscloset.com/category/the-minimal-closet

      I think it would be useful for me to look at which stores and sales I should avoid, too. I used to shop with a lot of coupons, too, and often bought things that didn’t work out. But I closed all of my store credit cards at the end of last year (except for the Nordstrom debit card, which I closed about 2 weeks ago), so I don’t really get any coupons anymore. I think it’s great that thrift store purchases work out well for you. As you know, I haven’t had as much success with that type of shopping. I’m glad you like these types of posts and are benefiting from them!

  6. Years ago I defined my style preferences, color palette, and wardrobes needs (new purchases must works with several items I already own, etc.), fabric choice, and quality markers, so generally I don’t buy items that I need to return. When I shop I do the analysis IN THE STORE, but occasionally something slips through the net of quality, color, etc. and ends up at home. I try on my new purchases right away with the items in my closet (including shoes, jackets, scarves, accessories, etc.). If the new item doesn’t work with what I already own, back it goes. I seldom buy clothes on-line after some significant disappointments and the pain of paying for return shipping!! If I find I have purchased a dud I take it back immediately. Nothing unloved sits in my closet. A portion of my mortgage (plus insurance, property taxes, utilities, etc.) covers that closet so it has to be useful square footage — otherwise I am paying a lot of money to store a bunch of crap in it. (Not to mention the wasted $$ on buying and not returning for credit or cash back crappy clothing.) I work to hard to earn my income to waste it.

    • Trying on new garments immediately at home is a good practice, Dottie. I don’t always do that, but I should! I try to do all of the analysis in the store, too, but sometimes I’m not successful. My track record is improving, but I still strike out on occasion. I have to buy some things online because most stores only offer tall sizes that way. I know it’s a crap shoot when I go in, but I would have fewer pants than I have (which isn’t very many!) if I eschewed online shopping altogether.

  7. The dark side of resale shops (as well as a lot of “clearance” sales) is that the stuff ends up in the store because of poor construction, harsh color, wrinkly fabric, etc. We all would like to believe that some fashionable person just our size has cleared out her closet of wonderful items and taken them to our favorite resale shop for us to “discover.” More likely someone made a bad purchase and is trying to recover part of her losses through consignment. I’ve done this myself (which is why I don’t buy in resale shops). While there may be a few “gems” in resale shops, most of them seldom make it to the sales floor.

    • I agree that many items end up on resale stores for the reasons you mentioned, Dottie, but I do think there are other reasons as well. Sometimes people buy things thinking they will lose weight and fit into them, or they purchase items for “just in case” situations or fantasy lifestyles. I have definitely been guilty of the latter two scenarios. Another problem I used to have was when I shopped with other people and let myself be influenced by what they thought I should buy even if it just wasn’t “me.” Those types of items sometimes got returned, but often they were among the pieces I took to a consignment store. I hope that someone benefitted from my castoffs, even if it was an employee of the store!

      • True that sometimes the resale stuff is there for other reasons. I scored a pair of shoes for my fussy feet at one resale shop that had scores of shoes from a size 9 shoe hoarder; the ones I bought were new in the box. And some resale shops are more vigilant about accepting clean, current fashion clothing the others. I once considered buying, at an “upscale” resale store, a lovely suede jacket, Unfortunately, the jacket had a series of “dribble” stains (soup?) down the front placket. It looked like it might have come out with cleaning ($40 for suede cleaning around here) but the resale shop would not budge on the price, not even by $10. Actually, they accused me of spilling the soup on it myself! (Yes, I always shop with a thermos of soup just for this purpose.) It was too much of a risk to buy the jacket and pay an additional $40 for cleaning with a stain that might or might not have come out. I crossed that store off my list pretty fast — actually before I got out the door.

      • Looks like you and I wear the same shoe size, Dottie. I wish I would come across a bunch of great shoes let go by a shoe hoarder! There was one who wore 8.5 who unloaded lots of lovely shoes at a store by me, but that’s just a touch too small. That soup story takes the cake! The gall that they would accuse you of making the stain! I definitely think you made the right call to leave the jacket in the store. I wonder if anyone ended up buying it. If so, I hope they were able to remove the stain because who wants to wear a jacket with dribble stains on it! I don’t think I would have gone back to that store, either. Bad customer service practices, for sure.

  8. I think the first thing I learned to aid me in shopping wisely was what colors look good on me. I am a winter based on my black hair, brown eyes, and pale skin tone. Knowing this, it gives me a wide variety of colors to chose from, which I further narrowed down. Of those colors, I narrowed it down to 4 neutrals (black, white, gray, navy) that I can use to go with a small selection of my optimal colors. People who are winter hair/complected vary in a wide range of hair colors and skin tones but for my particularly contrasting features (light skin vs. dark hair and eyes), colors with lots of contrast look best on me out of the possible choices. Saturated colors and jewel tones look best on me even though there are other colors in the options for winters. So, I navigate towards these colors when shopping now.
    The second thing is knowing what my style is. I am someone who loves classics and a Parisian chic vibe of sophisticated dressing but I love to throw in a bit of edge to my outfits. This could be as simple as a edgy ring or as noticeable as lace up mid calf black boots, cobalt tee, and black skinny jeans (I prefer skinny jeans when wearing the boots over the pants) with a black moto jacket. I think narrowing down your style further allows you to shop quickly and efficiently.
    The third thing I did was learn what looks good on my body type. If it doesn’t look good on your body and doesn’t flatter your figure by highlighting your good traits and hiding anything you may be self conscious about, then skip it. You won’t love it.
    I have been in the process of cutting down my wardrobe since doing these three things so I am opting to do the Five Piece French Wardrobe in order to minimize what is coming in and I really feel that 5 pieces a shopping season (spring/summer, fall/winter) is enough for me and this method will help me to be picky about what I allow into my closet, avoid making shopping mistakes, and remind me to put quality first.

    • and of course, as an aside, I always consider the versatility of the garment. I want my clothing to be able to work together so I can mix and match such as with a capsule wardrobe.

    • I totally agree with you about the importance of color, style, and figure flattery, Brittany. I’ve been refining my color palette this year (I’m also a Winter per Bridgette Raes) and it’s been helping to streamline my shopping. Your color palette sounds much like mine. As you know, I’m still in the process of honing my style, but the more I do so, the more it helps my shopping. As for figure flattery, that one can be challenging when the current styles in the stores are cut more for other types of figures. I look better in fitted tops and looser bottoms, but that’s not the current style. I’m trying to find a way to marry my style preferences and figure flattery needs with the current fashions, but it can be challenging to be sure!

      I think it’s great that you’re going to do the 5-piece French Wardrobe! I hope you’ll check back from time to time and let us know how it’s going for you. I was inspired by Erin’s post. Also check out Shopping Brake’s posts on this topic – here’s the latest: http://shoppingbrake.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/french-in-the-fall/

  9. First time commenter here. I want to thank you for this blog, which has helped me so much in recent months to make more thoughtful decisions regarding my wardrobe. Last year, after major surgery I found myself shopping for distraction and wound up spending lots of money on random items that didn’t cohere and multiples of styles I have tired of. No more! This year I have made much better decisions and am happier with my closet, primarily by reflecting on your experiences and adapting similar strategies. I just finished reviewing my January – June purchases, and had only 3 items that were mistakes, a huge improvement. I’ve purged those items already and am happier without having to stare at them and feel guilty. Reflection before purchasing has been very helpful.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Gigi. I’m so glad my blog has helped you in your wardrobe journey. Congrats on your success this year! Only having 3 mistakes for January through June is quite admirable, especially for a recovering shopaholic. And good for you for already getting rid of those items. I need to be better at letting things go faster, as I still have some “mini guilt trips” hanging in my closet. I wish you continued success on your journey.

  10. Well, I started spreading out purchases into future months sometime around my birthday in May, so I can’t take an accurate accounting 😉 I can say that I am ‘bought up’ until mid Oct., or a month ahead of myself. I have 38 – 40 new items purchased (2 on the way). I sold one dress after wearing it once to an art museum and finding it just a little fussy in the fit to want to bother with. I have one graphic tee that was a non-returnable eBay item that’s likely going to be purged before ever seeing a wear, as it’s really just too small. I also went and highlighted ‘iffy’ items after reading your post and came up with 2 or 3 more. One is a top in a color that’s great, but the material is awful scratchy poly. One is a jumpsuit that I love but the occasions to wear it might be few and far between. The other is a bright red hi low shirtdress that I just won’t know until late fall because I can’t wear the long sleeves and poly blend yet with this heat.
    I get most of my clothing online, so fit and fabric are usually the make or break once they arrive. I learned a long time ago non returnable items are a trap and only rarely still gamble on one. The tee I got on eBay was $9 so I decided it was below my threshold and worth the risk. Win some, lose some lol.
    Interestingly, I found myself in TJ Maxx today, where I have only been 3(?) times this year. I fondled a lot of ‘pretties’ but left with none. I only have 3 things left on my year’s list! And what I spied in the store wasn’t any of them!
    So I guess my failure rate would level out around 10%. 4 items out of 40, just to round it out. I think I can live with that. If I succeed in 20 or even 30 items next year I would not be upset to have 2 or 3 of them just not work out. There is no growth without some failure along the way.

    • I could definitely live with a 10% failure rate, Mo. I think even the best shoppers have “misses” sometimes. If most of your shopping is done online and you’ve only had mistakes 4 out of 40 times, I’d say you’re doing quite well overall. I agree with you wholeheartedly that there’s no growth without some failure along the way. It seems you have a good handle on your style and what works for your life. I hope the red hi-low dress ends up working out for you. I know how hard it can be to buy things off-season, but sometimes that’s what we have to do because that’s when certain things are available. Best wishes to you in finding your 3 remaining items on your list for this year!

  11. Oh Debbie, I wish I had your fortitude for analytics. I started doing a big closet inventory today while I was doing some purging and reorganizing. And got depressed, so I stopped. I feel like I’ve done SO well with shopping in the last 18 months or so, and I have purged a LOT, yet when I try to tie that good feeling in with my whole wardrobe I just get so deflated about how far I have to go. I’ve tried to plan out what I want in my wardrobe, and settled on 200 pieces in total (including everything – underwear, PJ’s, sports wear, you name it). Closer to 120 if I don’t count things I wouldn’t necessarily be seen wearing or leave the house in, and those random pairs of gloves, etc. So I got totally stymied on thinking how DARE I buy new stuff when I have (for example) 42 toppers when my goal is 12. So I need to purge 30, which seems insanely difficult to do. And I get stuck deciding which of my 3 beige cardigans should go. Analysis paralysis, here I am again. Sorry, comments were supposed to be about purchases. Sigh. I DO find my newer purchases are generally bigger “hits” than my older ones, in terms of where I want my style to be now, and especially fit/comfort, and fitting in with my current life. But the guilt of past overshopping and inability to purge quickly is real!

    • I know that paring things down can be very hard, Sarah. I’ve definitely been there myself and still want to pare down further. I think it can often be better to proceed slowly in this arena to avoid the temptation to build things up again due to closet set point issues (I wrote about that here: https://recoveringshopaholic.com/do-you-have-a-closet-set-point/). The most important thing is that you’ve “stopped the bleeding” and aren’t bringing a lot of new things into the mix. I think it could be helpful to set some intermediate goals on the way to your ideal 120-200 piece wardrobe, as the big goal may seem too daunting to you. Perhaps instead of thinking that you need to purge 30 toppers, take it 5 or 10 at a time. One good way to do it is to have a “hidden holding zone” where you put things to see if you miss them and reach for them at some point. If you haven’t missed things after a month or two, it might be easier for you to let them go. That type of strategy has helped me a lot. I took the purging slowly and have made a lot of progress over time. So can you!

      • Thanks Debbie. Actually after whining here, I forced myself to go and continue the inventory. And I found that toppers were the area of my wardrobe that was most out of line with my goals, so stopping after counting those items gave me a distorted view. I have actually been making good progress in all other areas, so my overall wardrobe is really not that obscenely far off my goal. I was even able to organize my t-shirt drawer after a bit more purging – just my short sleeved t-shirts used to overflow from one (large) drawer of my dresser. Now that same drawer easily contains all my short sleeved t-shirts, long-sleeved t-shirts, bathing suits, AND sweatshirts/fleece tops.

        Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the areas in which I am not doing so well, and forget the progress already made. I think I will set myself a goal to purge 5 toppers by the end of the month. Thanks for being there to hold our hands and help us along!

      • I’m glad to hear that you have made a lot of good progress with paring down other areas of your wardrobe, Sarah. I think we all have one or two “problem areas” and toppers have been difficult for me, too. Congrats on the consolidated t-shirt drawer! I agree that it’s easy to get caught up in what’s wrong such that we lose sight of what’s right. It can’t be all bad! Good luck on your goal to purge 5 toppers by the end of the month. You can do it! Feel free to ask for support from me and others if needed.

  12. This is a “build” year for my wardrobe. I bought 63 items from January – June and have kept 40 of them. The new clothes cover all sesons: winter, spring/fall (which is one category in my wardrobe) and summer. Most of the items I did not keep were returned for a full refund but I have 6 items unreturnable and designated for fall consignment. I have not sent anything packing because of not wearing it this summer. We had such a flukey cool summer here, I did not spend as much time in summery work outfits as I envisoned. Also, life threw me a curve ball of family illness and I had to change things up and adopt a more casual style for many days and nights. So due to weather and My Life, I did not end up wear my suudresses except once or twice. I don’t plan many more purchases this year but am looking forward to wearing the new fall items I purchased last spring.

    • Your summer seems the opposite of mine, Holly, in terms of weather. We had the cooler summer last year, but this year it’s blazing hot. But last year, many of my summer items were rarely worn. We can’t control weather or certain life situations, especially things like family illness. But it sounds like you are set in terms of your cool weather wardrobe and have a good plan to wear and enjoy what you lave. I hope that works out well for you and I hope the stress in your life subsides soon.

  13. I don’t make the same effort as you to analyze my purchases although I do look at what I buy each month. In the past, it used to be an alarming sign to see an amount from a store on my bank statement and have no idea what it was that I bought – something fabulous that I had to have that was quickly forgotten!!!!
    I have had a very lean year so far and have bought very few items of clothing. One reason is that I have been staying out of the stores and not browsing for the sake of it. My restricted color palette also keeps me on the straight and narrow. I have bought a few accessories though.
    Summer was dismal in my part of Europe so I could not justify buying lots of summery things. I bought 3 dresses and 1 pair of sandals. I only bought 1 pair of good quality italian leather ballet flats in the summer sales. I resisted my usual idea of buying summer sale for use next year, knowing full well that it is false economy as I will want new next year.

    • I’ve had that same sort of experience, Carolyn, of seeing a bill and wondering where all of the money went! The strict tracking and analysis I do is in response to that, as well as my poor track record with shopping in recent years (or pretty much all years, but I’m glad it’s improving as of late). Restricting my color palette has really helped, too, although I still have to remind myself not to buy an item when I’ve already got that area of my wardrobe covered. I really want to stop “splitting my wears.” Your summer this year sounds like mine for the past two years. I didn’t get a lot of wear out of my summer clothes until this summer, but my jackets are hanging in the closet unworn due to the oppressive heat we’ve had lately. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to wear them soon… Good for you for not buying summer clothes for next year! That strategy usually backfires, as our tastes, bodies, and lifestyles often shift over the course of a year. It’s better to buy things we’re going to wear pretty much right away!

  14. Well you know I’m a fan of numbers as well and I think tracking can give one great insight into what has made purchases successful or not. One thing I’m noticing recently is, the quality difference in some items I own and where they were purchased. Of course, retailers change their stock and quality with the seasons, but my outlet store items are not lasting as long as my retail store items.

    • This is an important thing to notice, Lisa. I’ve been noticing similar things lately. The decline in quality for most retailers is pretty upsetting, but I still do pretty well with my Nordstrom items overall. I don’t do much outlet shopping, but I have done a fair amount of consignment shopping over the years, as you know. I’m going to do a post analyzing those purchases soon, as a reader suggested that in one of her comments to my 2014 purchase analysis. Should be interesting! By the way, I loved your post yesterday with all of the numbers!

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