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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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!