January through June 2014 Purchase Analysis – Part Two

You know you’re a numbers nerd when you have to break your purchase analysis post into two parts!   In the interest of not having epic length posts on this blog that put my readers to sleep, I thought that would be the best approach.

Crunching the numbers

To refresh your memory, last week’s post covered my basic numbers for January through June 2014, what I still own, my best purchases, and my buying mistakes.   Today’s post addresses the rest of the story:  those items that are currently in “benchwarmer” territory and why, my first impressions of my July and August purchases, and some conclusions and questions for you.

The Jury is Still Out…

Quite a few of my January through June purchases have either not yet been worn or have only made their way out of my closet one or two times thus far:

Potential Benchwarmers - Jan through June 2014

These 10 items from January though June are in danger of becoming 2014 “benchwarmers.”

I’m actually kind of surprised that some of these items are currently sitting in “benchwarmer” territory (those pieces that have only been worn once or not at all – see here for more information), as I really thought they would be worn frequently.   I actually love all of the garments in the first row, as well as the grey blazer and teal sweater.  While I didn’t single out individual items in the first part of my purchase analysis, I believe it might be helpful for me to do so here, as I’d like to better understand why I haven’t been wearing the above 10 items.

Why Aren’t I Wearing These Items?

Below is my brief assessment for why the items pictured above have not become wardrobe workhorses.  For reference, I have also included photos of outfits which include some of the items.

  • Black faux-wrap top: I love this top, but I’ve only worn it once so far.  I think there are several reasons for this.  For one, I considered it kind of dressy and my life is very casual.  Also, since I mostly wear black pants or jeans, I don’t end up wearing black tops all that often. Finally, I was pushing myself to wear “benchwarmers” so much during the cooler months that I didn’t wear my closet favorites as much as I normally would have otherwise (I wrote about this phenomenon back in March of 2013, but I’m still struggling with the same issue!).  No more!   This summer, I shifted to wearing only what I most want to wear and plan to continue doing so into the fall and beyond.
  • Black hip-length jacket: I was so excited to find this jacket in February, but have not yet worn it! I normally wear longer jackets and coats (those that hit at mid-thigh or below) with my pants and jeans and need to push myself to wear this new silhouette.   I liked the way it looked when I tried it on and even put together a few outfits with it once I got home (see one example below), but I can be very set in my ways and slow to change.  Once it cools down a bit, I will push myself to wear this jacket at least once and hopefully I will find that I like it as much as I’d hoped I would.
  • Black sheer stripe top: The issue with this is the same as for the faux-wrap top.   I’ve been viewing it as too fancy for everyday life, but it’s really not. When paired with jeans and boots, it can easily be worn for a casual occasion.  The other problem with it is that it’s not at all warm with the sheer sleeves, so it’s hard to gauge when it can best be worn temperature-wise.  The sheer sleeves make it less versatile, but it would still look nice under a topper.   I will push myself to wear this, too, when it gets below 80 degrees, as I really do like the fit and style.
Black top and jacket outfits

These two black tops & jacket have only been worn once or not at all since I bought them!

  • Black velvet coat: Another garment that reads “dressy” and is rarely being worn as a result.   The velvet fabric just makes it seem fancier and that has been stymying me.  I love the way it looks on me and would really like to wear it more often, but it’s only made its way out on the town once since January!  I just hate that it’s a “benchwarmer” because I truly do like it.   Perhaps I need to shift my perspective on what’s dressy and wear this to my heart’s content with my jeans and casual tops (once it doesn’t feel like Florida here, of course!).
  • Geometric print skirt:  The first time I wore this skirt, I looked like I was going to church.  My whole outfit (pictured in this post) was too dressy and I felt out of place for a casual lunch with a friend.  I have since shortened the skirt a few inches and wore it with a tank top and sandals for a summer outing back in late July.  I liked that look better, but I don’t find myself reaching for this skirt as much as others (actually, I’ve been wearing dresses far more often than skirts as of late).   Since we still have close to two more months of warm weather here, I’ll see how much I wear this skirt.  It may have been a purchasing mistake, as I am preferring slimmer silhouettes more these days. We’ll see.
Black velvet coat and geometric print skirt outfits

I’ve only worn this coat once and this skirt twice since I bought them in January and March.

  • Grey knit blazer: I think the reason this blazer hasn’t been getting worn is the very hot weather we’ve been having recently.  Most days, I don’t even need a topper, even in the evenings, which is pretty much unheard of for me.  I think this blazer will be worn more once it cools off, but we’ll see how it goes. When I did wear it (I wore it once in late July but don’t have a photo), I liked the way it looked and felt, so it’s probably just lack of opportunity that’s been getting in the way.
  • Slim-fit jeans (billed as “straight-leg,” but pretty skinny on me): I have been very hesitant to wear skinny jeans, for both physical and emotional reasons.  I can’t wear pants that are too tight due to pain from a nerve problem and varicose veins, but since these jeans are not skin-tight in the lower part of my legs, they feel okay.  I like the way they look from the front (see a few outfits that I tried on – but haven’t yet worn – below), but worry that my hips and thighs look huge from the back (I’m sorry, but I won’t post such photos on the Internet!).  I have major body image issues about my lower half that have persisted despite my trying really hard to overcome them (I even had a blog about body image back in 2010 – I may have to start it again!).   Even though others tell me I’m not overweight or even pear-shaped, I can’t seem to shake such thoughts. But I’m going to keep trying to overcome these issues and embrace slimmer pants, so I’m holding on to these jeans and will wear them again in the fall.
Slim leg jean outfits

A few sample outfits (have not been worn yet) with the slim-leg jeans I bought in January.

  • Long purple cardigan: This was an online buy from an ethical and sustainable retailer that hasn’t worked out well for me.   Based upon the size chart, I ordered a size small, but it was still far too big for me.  I really should have returned it, but the return window was very small and I missed the boat.  So I got the cardigan taken in, but still feel it’s too large and “drapey” on me, even with the slim-fit jeans I paired it with on its only outing (see photo below).    I’m not sure who this silhouette works on because I’m really tall (5’10”) and it’s too long and large on me.   I’ve tried belting it, but I don’t like how “fussy” that is (it won’t stay in place), so I’ll likely be passing this one along soon.
  • Teal sweater: I’m not sure why I’ve only worn this sweater twice, as it’s a great color and fits me well.  It may be because I had too many tops in my closet earlier in the year, but I’ve pared down quite a bit as the year has gone by and will continue to do so.   Hopefully I will wear this sweater more once fall arrives, as I really do like it and have very few sweaters in my closet.
  • White open cardigan: This cardigan has only been worn once, in what Bridgette Raes calls a “chicken outfit (see this post for Bridgette’s and my thoughts on the outfit).   The cardigan is comfortable and I like white, but I didn’t love it at all the one time I wore it.  I’m not sure if it was the entire outfit that was “off” or just the cardigan, but I wasn’t feeling it.   I think I might like the cardigan better with different accompanying items (perhaps with boots or heels and different pants), so I’m going to give it another try.  I haven’t been wearing pants at all lately in the summer heat and the cardigan doesn’t work well with dresses and skirts, so the jury is really still out. We’ll see come fall…
Three sweaters I've rarely worn in 2014

I’ve rarely worn these three sweaters that were purchased this year. 

A Helpful Exercise

That was a helpful exercise for me and hopefully not too boring for you (I’m sure the outfit photos helped to keep things interesting and made it easier to conceptualize my points).   I have a better understanding as to why most of the ten items above are currently in benchwarmer territory (save the skirt and sweater, which have both been worn twice).

I think I’m less likely to make the same types of purchasing mistakes in the future, as I now have a firmer grasp of what works best for my body, lifestyle, and style preferences.   I’m also shopping consignment stores (where items 1, 2, 4, and 5 were bought) a lot less often and using my shopping priorities list to guide my purchases both online and in brick-and-mortar stores.  Hopefully, my recent lessons and stricter shopping practices will help to minimize future buying errors.

A Few Words about My July and August Buys

I purchased the same number of items during the past two months as I did for the first half of the year, but I hope I’m now making better decisions.  My outfit journal and recent work with Bridgette Raes have helped to refine my style and streamline my wardrobe direction.   I traditionally shop a lot during the summer months, but I believe I made smarter decisions this year than in years past.

The photo below shows the July and August purchases that are still in my closet (three July items have been returned).  See my two latest accountability updates (HERE and HERE) for more information about these individual items.

July - August 2014 purchases

These are the 24 items I still have that were purchased in July-August 2014.

Four of these items (black sandals, cobalt cardigan, green cardigan, metallic sandals) have already become closet favorites and were included in the “best” section in last week’s post.   Of the remaining 19, I feel very confident about at least two thirds.

Questionable July / August Items

As for the others, I am a bit skeptical but hopeful.  Sometimes when I take a risk and buy new styles or silhouettes – or resale items – I’m not sure my new pieces will become wardrobe workhorses.   I’m still learning and working to overcome previously entrenched bad shopping habits, so I’m trying to cut myself at least a little bit of slack.

The items that I’m less sure about are pictured below, followed by my reasons for my uncertainty in brief (items listed from left to right, top to bottom).

July - August 2014 Questionable Items

I’m not sure if these six items I bought during July-August 2014 will become “workhorses.”

  1. Black/grey striped skirt – It’s a new silhouette for me but I think it will be a positive change. After years of wearing mostly A-line and flared skirts and dresses, I’ve started to like narrower silhouettes more (but not necessarily body-hugging).   I worried that perhaps the horizontal stripes on this skirt would have a widening effect, but it didn’t look that way to me and my husband confirmed that’s the case (poor guy – I do put him on the spot sometimes, but he does his best to be honest and tactful with me).
  2. Blue short jacket – Also a different style, but I love the color and liked the way the jacket looked on me when I tried it on (you can see it in one of the outfit photos above).
  3. Cobalt maxi-skirt – I’m not sure I love the fold-over waist. I love the way the skirt looks, but the waist is a bit fussy.  It seems to stay in place better when I position the waist higher, so I’m going to try that next time.
  4. Denim flared skirt – I’m moving away from this fuller silhouette, so I’m wondering if I should have held out for a slimmer-fitting style. A denim skirt has been on my shopping priorities list for a long time and I recently got rid of one I’d had for years and no longer loved.  But I feel it may have been a mistake to buy the flared skirt in July and I have yet to wear it.
  5. Denim jacket – This jacket had a chemical odor that hasn’t come out after two washings. I’m going to try soaking it in baking soda to see if that helps (I read about this possible solution online). I hope so, as I think I might get a headache if I wear the jacket as is.   I am very sensitive to scents due to my longstanding migraine condition (I don’t even wear perfume), so I really need to remove all traces of the odor.   The jacket fits me well and was difficult to find (most such jackets are far too boxy on me), so I really hope I can rescue it!
  6. Green open cardigan – I’m also moving away from open cardigans, but I liked this particular one, especially since it includes a subtle stripe pattern in the weave and is more fitted than most such styles. I can still return it if I don’t feel compelled to wear it once fall starts, as it’s from Nordstrom and they have an excellent return policy.   I try not to take too much advantage of that generous policy, but it’s nice to know that returning is an option if I find I don’t love the cardigan when the weather is conducive for wearing it.

In Conclusion

The type of analysis I did in this post and the first part of the series took a big chunk of time to complete, but I believe it was time well spent.   Many of us often spend several hours or more trying to find the perfect item online or in a store.  So why not invest the same amount of time to review how well we did with our shopping over a period of several months?   Sure, analyzing your purchases isn’t as enjoyable as shopping, but it’s also not much fun to have a closet full of clothes you don’t wear or inflated credit card bills!

I highly recommend that you keep a running list (or photos – or both) of the pieces you buy, and that you pause to review your purchases at least twice per year.  Quarterly would be even better, as you might be able to identify unproductive buying patterns and turn them around before the year is over.   As you can see with my reports, I made some good buys and some mistakes, but I’ve been able to learn valuable lessons from both categories.   I’m sure I will learn even more if I continue to review my new closet acquisitions every few months, and I believe the same would be true for you, too.

Your Thoughts?

I hope you found this two-part series interesting and helpful.   I know from the comments on last week’s post that some of you were motivated to do purchase analyses of your own.  Such in-depth probing is not the right path for everyone and may feel overly excessive to some, but I like to share my process with you in the hope that it might be inspiring to you in some way.   As with everything else in life, I encourage you to take what you like and leave the rest.   If you think I’m a crazy woman for all of my number-crunching, then of course you shouldn’t follow suit.  Just do what feels right to you at any given time.  You can always revisit some of my ideas at a later time if they feel like a better fit then.

Now it’s your turn to share your thoughts.

  • Have you ever done a purchase analysis?
  • If so, what did you learn?
  • Are you inspired to do your first purchase analysis as a result of this series?
  • What other methods do you use to keep yourself on track with the clothing, shoes, and accessories you buy?
  • How do you ensure that you make few mistakes?

I invite you to share your practices and methods so we can all learn from each other.   I know my method isn’t the only way by any means. I’m open to learning new ways to start shopping smarter and making better purchases all around.

Before You Go – A Quick Announcement to Share…

Many of you are probably familiar with April Benson, PhD, the internationally recognized expert on compulsive buying and author of “To Buy or Not to Buy:  Why We Overshop and How to Stop.”  Dr. Benson not only wrote one of the best books out there for shopaholics who wish to recover, she also created a comprehensive group program that has been proven to be effective.

Dr. Benson’s group program is offered over the phone (so you can participate from anywhere!) and the next series begins very soon.  If you’d like to learn more, you’re invited to attend a free 45-minute teleseminar on Thursday, September 18th at 9pm Eastern time.  During this free teleseminar, you will learn:

  1. How to determine if you really have a shopping problem.
  2. How your thoughts about shopping are sabotaging you.
  3. The three most common mistakes that overshoppers make. (Are you making them?)
  4. How to get on the right track so you don’t have to worry about this anymore.

To sign up for the free teleseminar, click here.   To learn more about Dr. Benson’s philosophies, you may also want to review my experiences with some of the exercises in her book:

74 thoughts on “January through June 2014 Purchase Analysis – Part Two

  1. Hi Debbie! I’ve missed a couple of your recent posts due to grad school gearing up again (booo) but I just wanted to drop a quick note here. I’ll try not to make any comments about your outfits except to say I can really see your style evolving. I think you’re nailing more of your silhouettes and color palettes… good work!
    I’ve been reviewing some of my purchases lately also and can definitely commiserate with your resale/ebay blunders. I’ve forbidden myself to shop on ebay anymore unless I already know my perfect fit in THAT brand. I think I might actually swear off altogether because my last purchase, even though it was only $15, is leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Although it was a brand I like, the scarf I bought is not the exact color I was hoping for, and has a really weird static-y thing going on that I can’t get rid of. Might just have to donate it and move on. 😦

    • I’m not opposed to people commenting on my outfits, Sarah, and I don’t want anyone to treat me with “kid gloves.” It was just in that one post that I got overwhelmed by all of the feedback and constructive criticism, mostly because I was in such a delicate state in terms of my style. I have been finding my way since then and feel more “in my groove” with my style now. It makes me feel good that you and others are noticing that!

      As for resale and eBay purchases, I can understand the pull to swear off them completely. I’ve been trying not to hold myself to too many absolutes, but the evidence is pretty clear. My resale purchases are often not “hits” and are frequently “misses.” Those $15 buys can add up and we could have purchased something great if we had avoided the cheaper items. Donating things that we know don’t work is a good idea, as the guilty feelings tend to leave with the item. If those feelings don’t go away immediately, they at least lessen when we don’t see our mistake every time we open our closets.

  2. Thanks as always for the detailed info you are willing to share. I know it must be difficult to post outfits and open up the possibility of unwanted comments but it really is helpful to be able to visualize what you talk about. I have never done a purchase analysis- bit afraid to see how much I buy that doesn’t get good use. I think it would be a good exercise since I have learned a ton from the outfit journal. Next I may start tracking the skin care and makeup I am using as that is definitely an area where I overbuy. The info you share has really helped me be more mindful. I look forward to your updates and hope to hear more about your work with Bridgette.

    • I know the outfit photos can really help and being a visual person myself, I decided to risk any negative feedback I might receive for the benefit of the post being stronger. I’m not against comments on my outfits and I wouldn’t post them at all if I wasn’t open to some of that, but I don’t like when that’s all people comment on. I like a balance and I like to hear what’s going on with all of you, too!

      I can understand your being afraid to do a purchase analysis. I was doing this blog for over a year before I did one, as I was scared of the truth, too! Just proceed lightly and do what feels like a bit of a push but not too overwhelming. Tracking skin care and makeup sounds like a good plan. I’m glad this post was helpful for you. I will share more about my work with Bridgette soon. I just followed up with her and expect to have more input from her shortly and I will definitely share it all here.

  3. I know you don’t like to concentrate on your outfits, per se, but I have to say before even finishing reading the post that the sheer stripe black top and the slim leg jeans not only look fantastic on you but I think are heading toward that edgier, less churchy, direction you are seeking. Great pieces!! Okay, off to continue reading 😀

    • Thank you, Mo! This is definitely a compliment coming from you, as I know you have an edgy vibe yourself. I like the way that outfit looks, too. Now I just have to get used to dressing differently when I’m out and about, and to perhaps still looking more dressy than most other people in ultra-casual San Diego. But I’d rather look more dressed up in that way than in the “churchy” way I was doing earlier, for sure.

    • I agree! Those slim leg jeans look amazing on you! Please wear them, because it would be such a shame if they were to become benchwarmers.
      I was looking forward to part 2 ever since you posted part 1. I really appreciate all the time and effort that you put in these posts. Thank you!

      • Thanks, Jessica! I plan to wear them once it cools down a bit (hopefully soon). I appreciate your acknowledging the time and effort it takes to put these posts together. It DOES take quite a while, but it’s worth it if people derive value from them.

  4. I second everything that Mo said. That sheer striped top outfit looks amazing on you! I also like the tank and skirt outfit. I think the flat sandals and ponytail make it look a bit more casual, but still a well put together outfit. I think you have achieved what you had been looking to do with your wardrobe and I hope that it feels as good as it looks 🙂
    I have done a purchase analysis and I found out that I buy too much stuff, in particular short sleeve tops. Most of the mistakes were impulse buys. For the upcoming fall/winter season I made a list of wants/needs. I believe I had 9 items total. Over the last couple of months I bought those things (as well as 5 additional items because I’m an overachiever like that) or recieved them as gifts. I asked myself if I could change the way I shopped what would I want to do. The answer was to buy what I needed/wanted at the beginning of a season and maybe do a few shopping trips after that if the occasion arose, but to stop actively looking for things to buy on a regular basis. I don’t know if I’ll be 100% successful, but I think trying to be like my end goal is a good place to start.

    • Thanks, Tonya! I’m glad you also like the skirt and tank outfit. I’ve really been working to tone down the dressy, church vibe in my skirt and dress looks and many of my recent outfits are much like that one (and a lot of maxi skirt/dress outfits, too). I definitely feel more comfortable and appropriate in the way I’ve been dressing this summer as opposed to previous years. I’m better at being casual in pants than in dresses and skirts, but now I’ll have to get used to the types of pants outfits I’ve posted in this post. I have to push myself a bit, as we don’t grow without getting outside of our comfort zones!

      It sounds like you’ve learned some useful things from your purchase analysis. Many of the buying mistakes I’ve made over the years have been tops, too, as those are fairly easy for me to fit into. How great that you were able to find all of the items on your list for fall/winter (plus a few more – I tend to overachieve like that, too!). I like the question you asked yourself and my answer would be very similar. I know it would be challenging for me to stop looking for things to buy on a continual basis, but I really want to make that change, too. Best wishes to you with your goal and please keep me/us posted!

  5. I haven’t had time to comment on your last few posts, but I’ve been reading them with great interest, and just went through and analyzed my purchases for the first half of the year. I categorized them into successful purchases, bad purchases, and so-so purchases (not downright failures, but not things I reach for). It was rather eye-opening as the percentage of successful purchases was not as high as I had thought. Instead, I had quite a few more so-so purchases than expected. Every one of the so-so purchases has a small issue- such as the fit or colour being slightly off- that isn’t bad enough to make it unwearable, but means that I never feel quite right in it either. In most cases I knew this in the back of my mind but allowed myself to buy them for the wrong reasons. I really need to work on paying better attention to that voice telling me something’s not right. Looking at things in a more positive light, most of the bad or so-so purchases were made earlier in the year when I still figuring things out, and none of my purchases were for my “fantasy life”. I’ve slowed down my purchasing in the past few months, and I think my judgement has improved. I’m aiming for a higher success rate in the second half of the year!

    • Good to see you commenting here again, Kayla, and congrats on doing your purchase analysis. I’m glad it yielding useful information for you. Those little “off” things about items can really get us. When things are truly bad, it’s much easier to either not buy them in the first place or let them go after wearing them and feeling oh so wrong. But when the problem is minor, we tend to think we should just ignore the issue and wear the item anyway. I think many of us need to better tune in to our inner voice when shopping (I know I do). I’m glad you also looked at the positive and saw that you’re no longer buying things for a fantasy life. That is definite progress of which you should be proud. Best wishes with your purchases for the remainder of the year!

    • I didn’t want to comment on your outfits, but since everyone else is, I will 🙂 I also thought the slim leg jeans look fabulous on you! I love the sheer stripe top on you too. I hope you’ll overcome your apprehension of wearing them!

      • Thanks, Kayla! I’m going to push myself to wear these outfits now that I’ve seen the photos and feel good about how they look. Bridgette told me that no one is really looking at my butt because they’re all worried about how their own butts looks (or other similar worries). I also know that my eyes go straight there, whereas others are looking at me as a whole. I’ve told others that (about their “problem areas”) and I need to remember my own words of wisdom!

      • That’s great, Debbie! I’m very self-conscious about my butt and thighs, but about a year ago I decided I just wasn’t going to worry about them anymore because I was tired of trying to hide them and really wanted to wear slim fit jeans (and not with tunics). I don’t think I’ll ever learn to love my “problem areas”, but like you I try to remember that others don’t care nearly as much as we think they do.
        You’re right that we tend to ignore minor issues with clothes and try to wear them anyway. And because those small issues don’t stick out in our mind as much as the truly bad purchases, it’s harder to learn from them (at least for me). This has been an excellent reminder for me to be more discerning!

      • We are very much in the same boat, Kayla. I doubt I will love my butt and thighs, either, but I’m also tired of hiding them and expending so much energy on disliking them. The back view isn’t as good as the front view, for sure, but when I’m with people, they’re using seeing the front of me much more often anyway! I agree with you about learning from small issues with clothes. I haven’t tended to really take in those lessons, but this blog and posts like this one have helped a lot!

  6. I had to work late tonight, and the only reason I minded was that I couldn’t wait to get home and read this post, since part one gave me such good food for thought. I’ll join the chorus above and say how much I love the new jeans on you, and that all three of those outfits should be in your regular rotation! The only thing I see that looks like it might not work would be the white cardigan. My coloring and body type are much like yours (5’9″, a size larger on the bottom half but not overweight, etc.) and although I tend to like white or ivory (my best white, per my pro color analysis) I find I don’t actually wear it, even though I buy it quite often. The fit of that sweater looks perfect, but the darker, richer colors seem to flatter you more. I really like the dressier pieces styled in these “edgier” ways. Like you, I have to fight my tendency to overdress, but sometimes I just go for it – who says I can’t my nicer outfits to do something casual? I have been shopping too much for fall (thanks, LOFT!) and need to do this sort of analysis on all the pieces that have come pouring into my house this month. Some are going back, but some I love and refuse to part with. I’m also going to do a more honest review of my bench-warmers to answer the question “why don’t I wear this perfectly good item?” I recently realized that many of them came from a few certain stores and were usually purchased with coupons, but I think there are other common traits, as well. As always, thank you for such a detailed look at your progress (and you really ARE making lots of progress, even if it doesn’t always feel like it!) Even though I’m not a numbers person, I love these updates and find them very helpful.

    • I’m touched that you were really looking forward to this post, TexasAggieMom! I hope this one gives you some food for thought, too. I hear you on the white cardigan. I feel like I look like a ghost in the photo! I think I might prefer white in prints and as an under-layer, but I may try styling the cardigan a bit differently to see if it might work. I could always dye it a darker color if I decide the white isn’t working for me. As for your September shopping, perhaps you are like me and tend to shop more during the summer/warmer months (although I know it’s warm in Texas for much of the year). I’m going to allow myself to shop more in the summer in future years, but the key will be to cut back enough in other months! Good analysis of your benchwarmers! Many of mine have similar back stories, but some are just new styles that I need to get used to. I’m glad that even non-numbers people like these types of posts and learn things from them.

  7. I enjoyed this post and just wanted to comment that the purple sweater looks beautiful on you! That color and style are very flattering, as are the straight-leg jeans.

    This weekend I was thinking about your concept of “benchwarmers.” I feel like I have been buying more items, yet still never have anything to wear. I decided to take pictures of all my clothes so I could keep better track of them.

    What an eye-opener! First, the embarrassment of the sheer amount of clothes; second, noticing how many were so similar (9 black skirts). What was useful was as I pulled out each item to take a picture, I immediately had a gut feeling: “Oh, I love this” or “Ugh/blah.” I think since I wasn’t considering getting rid of items–just taking pictures–I was able to instantly “yay or nay” them without the typical guilt of “I should wear this/I spent good money on it/it might be useful some day” that often keeps me from discarding items.

    I plan to go through the photos and use them to eliminate the items that I felt were NOT exciting and focus more on wearing the ones I love. Normally, I have a tendency to “save” my favorite clothes instead of actually wearing them, which is silly.

    Anyway, just wanted to thank you for your blog, which is helping me a great deal in trying to dress and buy more for my real (very casual) life and less for my “fantasy” life.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Karin. I haven’t actually worn the outfit with the purple sweater yet. I wore it with other items and it didn’t look as good. Perhaps I will try it as styled in the photo and see how I feel. I’m glad my benchwarmer concept has been helpful to you. Good for you for taking the photos and gleaning so much useful information from them. About a year ago, I had 9 black skirts, too! Now I just have 3, which is still a lot, but they all serve different purposes. I love what you wrote about your gut feeling when looking at the photos. Perhaps I will try that sort of analysis myself, as I also have photos of all of my clothes. Good luck with your pare-down process. I hope you write back and let me/us know how it went.

  8. I too love the slim leg jeans on you! They look fabulous on you, and you in them.

    I keep track of what I buy in an Excel spreadsheet. I keep track of what I wear in another. At some point I will match them up and make sure I am not missing any obvious mistakes. I think maybe I should do this as a season ends. It’s a new program for me to do so much wardrobe analysis. Yippee!

    • I guess the jeans are a big hit and I just need to start wearing them, huh, Holly? Once it cools off here, that is. I really need to start keeping a spreadsheet of what I buy. I keep track here in my accountability posts, but it would be nice to have all of the data in one place. I like the idea of matching up the data and think I will do that as well. Now that I don’t have as much and aren’t bringing as much in, it should be easier.

  9. Great post (again)! I’ll second everyone admiring the slim jeans on you – you look fantastic, modern and edgy. It is possible to turn body image issues around, and I hope it will happen for you soon as this is where the key to loving your style lies… Once I embraced my own build, that was when things started happening. I thought my boobs were too small, my hips too wide, my arms too skinny, but guess what – they weren’t ;-). One ‘friend’ made fun of my boobs 20 years ago – called them two dimes in socks, and that had a bigger impact on my self image than every sweet remark from dh. But even that has changed – knowing that her one boob is now hanging to her belly button and the other one only reaching half way, might also have helped a bit 😉 (I’m such a vicious person, I know).

    Well, that said, you know I track almost everything that can be tracked, I analyze my purchases – sometimes even before I do them – and these numbers are filled with valuable info. I did a little mini-purge yesterday and am down to 99 pieces total now. A very comfortable number. Everything I purged were online buys, uncomfortable, hand-me-downs, thrift shop finds, outlet buys and cheap supermarket stuff. None of my workhorses, purchased with common sense and love have turned out to be mistakes. Sure, I have a dress that is over-dressy, but I love it… And it looks good – I just need the occasion to wear it to reveal itself :-).

    • I love the story of your “friend” and how karma came back to haunt her years later, Mette. I think you look great and this women with the lopsided boobs probably thinks so, too! I definitely believe that body image issues can be overcome and I’ve made some headway in recent years. I’m not going to give up, that’s for sure. I want to have fun with my clothes and not have to worry so much about hiding my “problem areas.” It seems that maybe I’m the only one who views them as problematic, anyway (of course, I didn’t post back view photos – I really admire the courage of the few bloggers who do so!).

      I know you are someone who really “gets” my love of tracking! Congrats on your mini-purge you did yesterday and arriving at a comfortable wardrobe number. Most of the pieces that I purge fit the description you gave, too. My better purchases are usually those that were not bought on impulse of because the price was low. I need to continue to remember that when I’m shopping! I remember the dressy dress from your closet video and I think you had photos of it in one of your posts, too. I hope you find an occasion to wear it soon, as it’s quite lovely.

  10. A purchase analysis that was interesting for me was looking at 2 garments I bought this year – one which I thought would be a real wardrobe workhorse but didn’t and the other which I thought would be only worn occasionally but which ended up being a worn every week and was indispensable.
    The first was a pearl grey jacket. The color, the cut and the style were all perfect and ticked all boxes BUT it proved to be not the working staple I thought it would be. On analysis, it could only be worn with a few things and wasn’t as versatile as I thought. Furthermore, I realised I don’t like the look of a lighter jacket on me and I prefer a darker jacket with a lighter top underneath (maybe why you don’t like your white cardigan.)
    The most versatile item I bought was an off-white lace shift dress. The shape, cut, colour, the hang, the length were all perfect for me and I could wear it casually and dressier with different sandals and jackets and accesories. It has been worn weekly and has gone on all my weekends away and summer holidays. It has been worth every cent and a lot to learn for me on the type of dress that suits me and works for me.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your purchase analysis, Carolyn. The dress sounds great and like it’s a definite wardrobe workhorse for you. Hopefully, any future dresses you buy will end up in the same category now that you know what works best for you. As for the jacket, I can identify with what happened there. I often buy things I think I’ll wear a lot and the white cardigan fits in that category. The point you made is a good one and may apply to me, too. I usually wear either dark or bright (often jewel-toned) toppers, so the white was a new one for me. I’m still on the fence about it and will see if I can find some good outfits for it once it’s cool enough to need a topper again. But it may end up like your pearl grey jacket. We win some, we lose some, but if we can learn from our mistakes, that softens the blow at least somewhat.

  11. Ditto what everyone else said about the slim leg jeans. You look fantastic in them! I can definitely see an edgier vibe in your choices. Seems like your time with Bridgette is working out for you.

    I’ve only bought a pair of earrings since July so I don’t have much to analyze. I had such high hopes for the earrings as they were exactly the style and shade of pink I wanted. Unfortunately they were waaaay to heavy for me to wear so they’re going back. I’d never ordered from Novica before but wanted to give it a try because they have some beautiful items. I guess my analysis of this experience would be that I need to see earrings in person to judge their size and weight so that I don’t end up returning them.

    Oh, and Mette’s comment about the woman’s uneven boobs made me spit out my tea I was laughing so hard!

    • Yes, my work with Bridgette is already paying off, Kim, but I’ve also benefitted from reader suggestions, especially about cultivating an edgier vibe. I’m glad that you’re seeing more “edge” in my looks! Sorry to hear that the earrings didn’t work out 😦 I know you had high hopes for them. Hopefully, you’ll find a better option soon. As for Mette’s comment, I’m glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I read it. Hilarious! Karma was a work there, to be sure.

  12. Debbie: Keep the black sheer top — it looks wonderful on you as other have stated. I’d pair it with other pants than jeans but that’s me. Is the blue cardigan that’s a “maybe” is the same as in photo 6? If so, I think it looks too small for your height mostly because of the 3/4 sleeves (or perhaps because of the “gap” created by the lack of a second button). Getting the right proportions can be so tricky in buying clothes — it took me a long while to learn that tops that covered my rear were a no-no. I’d like to see photos of you in some of your “win” purchases, like your moto jacket, the glen plaid top with striped sleeves, the sheer stripe top with other pants, etc. It’s exciting to “watch” your wardrobe come together.

    • I definitely plan to keep the sheer top, Dottie. As soon as it cools off here, I will wear it, even if it’s just to go to the movies or a casual dinner. I really want to wear my favorite clothes instead of saving them for occasions that don’t seem to come around. Yes, the jacket that’s a “maybe” is the one in photo 6. I’m on the fence about it, perhaps for the reasons you mentioned. I’m going to see how it works with other items in the closet, but I may have been a mistake to buy it. I agree that proportions can be challenging. As a tall woman, I don’t want to look like I grew out of my clothes! I’m sure I will post photos of outfits with the new items at some point. I took a few that I sent to Bridgette for feedback. When I do a follow-up Bridgette post, I will likely share some of the outfits and what she said about them, as well as looks I put together based upon her input.

  13. I really enjoyed reading this post, especially the outfit posts! I cannot believe how different a woman can look in slimmer cut jeans- you look really amazing, modern, and younger in those. I really hope you do decide to love them and wear them, they’re a *10+* for sure. I also agree that the purple shade of the cardigan you don’t love is perfect for you (and in the future I’d keep an eye out for that color). The white cardigan- perhaps you have my problem? I hate white cardigans against dark clothing, they look so… off! Try it with another white top or light colored top- I bet you’ll love it. The blue blazer with the wide lapels- I feel you can do better. I think the wide lapels are not exactly right for your long slim frame, though as a jacket it’s interesting and unique. I think your instincts are correct on the jacket and the blue printed skirt- but the rest of the items I think you look fabulous in, and I think you have the problem I used to have. I used to be afraid to wear my favorite items because they were so DIFFERENT and I was afraid of how people would judge me because I felt so conspicuous. Once I got over that, I made enormous progression in my style development.

    Of my own purchases– I’ve found that while I have done pretty well, fewer of my purchases were really home runs than I had thought. 12 items are ‘home runs’ out of the 25 I bought Jan-June. 3 have been purged and the rest are on the fence. Some are really great items and I think will get more wear later on, and some may have been mistakes.

    On another note- I’ve done so many purges this month it’s crazy (I’m up to 32 I think right now). I’m finally ready to reduce my color palette a little and let go of mistakes and old old favorites that I wasn’t ready to let go of before. I’m also starting project 333 very soon- I’m really finally READY for this. Oh, and I’m starting to feel ready to take a long extended break from shopping- I do not want to keep myself backsliding! I think I’m going to try from now until January 1st, which would be the longest period I have ever stopped. And as you know January 1st I’m starting a french wardrobe challenge, so purchases will be heavily guided and will be 20 or less next year. I’m excited more than scared- huge progress over the last year 🙂

    • Well since you said I looked younger in the slimmer jeans, I have to wear them, Meli 🙂 As I edge closer and closer to the big 5-0, I’ll definitely take “younger” (but amazing and modern are very nice compliments, too). Thanks for your input on the white cardigan. I very likely may have the same issue with it as you do with light toppers. The problem is that I don’t have very many light tops. I’m trying to lighten up my wardrobe overall and the white cardigan was supposed to help that, but maybe I do need to pair it with a lighter under-layer . I will try it. Thanks for the input on the other items, too. Since those are summer items, I will decide their fate at the end of the season (late October, early November here).

      I think it’s so great that you’re going to do Project 333! I look forward to following along. It helped me a lot and I think you’ll find it beneficial as well. Of course, your wardrobe is already in better shape than mine was when I did the challenge, but I can tell you still want to refine things further. If you have 12 “home runs” out of 25 purchases, I’d say you’re doing pretty well. I know we’d like to have a 100% success rate and I think our hit rate will increase as time goes on, but I’m sure your shopping success this year is higher than for previous years. I know mine is, but I still have all of those “on the fence” items. At the end of the year, I’ll tally up the number of hits and misses. I hope it’s at least 50/50, but the jury is still out at this point!

  14. No matter what anyone says about specific clothes, if you don’t feel comfortable in them, you won’t wear them. I like a lot of the things you’re on the fence about, but they’re not my clothes and I’m not the one trying to put real outfits together with them. So my knee jerk “but that’s so pretty!” reaction is probably not helpful.
    It sounds like a lot of your potential benchwarmers are just out of season right now. I have to agree with everyone else – I think those slim jeans are very flattering. I know what you mean about your “too fancy” clothes. I’ve had that same problem over the years. Luckily (?) I always wear really crappy shoes which always bring down the tone of an outfit! Maybe if you try the geometric skirt with the closest thing you have to ratty flip flops or torn faded Converse it will feel more appropriate for everyday 😉 Have you tried it with a slimmer cardigan? or does that throw the balance off too much? (I like knee length skirts in that shape so I am biased, although the pattern is more busy than I would prefer).
    Your style is more serious and polished overall, so wearing something that tends to be on the dressier end of the spectrum is probably going to look even more dressy on you.
    I need to take some tripod-assisted outfit shots for my blog. I’ve hesitated to figure out how to do that in part because I’m a bit afraid to see myself that way! But I try to remember that what we see in the mirror and what the camera sees is not what a friend sees when they look at us. They aren’t picking our outfits apart, wondering why we wore that cardigan with those pants. We are not clothes hangers – we are people who slouch and move and laugh – not runway models showcasing someone’s artistic vision.

    • Good point about things being off-season, Joanna. Many were in-season when I bought them, but I was still trying to wear EVERYTHING in my closet at that point, which led me to not wear things that I loved. Hopefully, once it cools down, I will reach for the items that people are loving from this post. But you’re also right that I need to feel comfortable in things. I’m willing to experience a bit of emotional discomfort when I’m trying something new, as such feelings often subside after a while, but I’m not willing to be physically uncomfortable. Thanks for your suggestion about casualizing the skirt. I will give those things a try.

      About taking outfit photos, sometimes they are very helpful, even if we never end up sharing them on our blogs or with others. I learn a lot from my outfit photos and I often end up feeling like things work better than I originally thought. You’re right, though, that we are not runway models. I never know how to pose and get self-conscious, but all of you know I’m not a model or a style/outfit blogger and the same thing would be true for your readers.

      • I just did my first solo photo shoot and it was HARD! Partly because I couldn’t see little details like a collar rolling over strangely or a garment sitting strangely until after I took the shot. Partly because I couldn’t figure out what to do with my hands! But a couple of things I was uncertain about looked better than they did in the mirror (even if overall I felt like I looked worse/chubbier than I had thought). I saw one set of photos and immediately decided that the skirt must go. Like, yesterday! It would be perfect if I was 5 months pregnant. It makes me look 5 months pregnant! And it wasn’t a fluke – every picture, every angle looked the same. So I can definitely see the value in taking photos of things I’m not sure about. At the very least I can learn that standing in the 3/4 angle in photos doesn’t make me look slimmer – or maybe I’m doing it wrong! I’ll have to practice 🙂

      • Now you know why my poses are always so boring, Joanna! I’ve tried others and they don’t make me look slimmer or more stylish, so I pretty much just stick to the front facing poses with either hands at my side or crossed. Occasionally, I “go wild” and put one hand on my hip 🙂 but that’s pretty much it. My hat is off to those who have learned how to pose and take great photos, but I settle for “serviceable” at this point. Remember that we do tend to look heavier in photos than in real life and this may be exacerbated by camera angle and pose. The purpose of photos is not to make us feel bad about ourselves (we have scales for that – LOL – why I avoid them like the plague!)! I try to learn from the photos and sometimes use them on the blog, but do my best to refrain from using them as an excuse to flog myself. Sadly, I don’t need much of an excuse to do that, but I’m working on that, too…

  15. I’m going to give you the “skinny” on your outfits, Debbie! You look sensational in those skinny jeans. They are so much more modern and chic looking than your boot cut styles. Yes, I agree the purple sweater is engulfing and trailing. Its too long. It makes your legs look shorter.

    Speaking of jeans, if I were you I would downgrade the pair that is faded across the front of the thighs to lounge wear. They are to casual looking to enhance most of your tops. For everyday, I would only wear jeans that are dark wash with no “techniques” done to them. Just plain and simple style.

    I still think you need to shorten your skirt about 2-3″ so it hits mid-knee–it will look more proportional to your leg and less “churchy”. I know you say you don’t like your “aging knees”, but if you treat your knees with a firming hydrating lotion (Jergens and Nivea make a good ones), you will see them improve a lot and then maybe you won’t feel so self-conscious.

    • Thanks for your input, Deby. The faded-looking jeans are already gone. They were in my August purge pile. I never liked how light they were (I prefer dark-wash jeans, but those looked darker in the photo when I ordered them online than they actually were) and they didn’t have enough stretch in them to be very comfortable, either. The skinny style is actually pretty comfortable, as it have a lot of stretch and isn’t tight around my knees and calves (I guess that’s the difference between a true “skinny” and a straight cut).

      As for the skirt, I’ve already shortened it a few inches (it was longer in the initial “churchy” outfit) and don’t really want to spend more money on tailoring something I’m on the fence about. I’m okay with mid-knee lengths on skirts and dresses but not really any shorter. I have varicose veins on the side of my left knee and already had treatment for that once, but they came back. I’ll probably have to get it done again. My stepmother has the same problem and she says she has to get the treatment every few years. Sigh…

      • Yes, that’s what I got – foam sclerotherapy. I got it 5 years ago, but need it again. I was going to get the laser treatment, but I wasn’t a good candidate. Apparently, my vein is too small at the top 😦 That would have been covered by insurance, but the sclerotherapy was not. Fortunately, my varicose veins are only on my left leg. I have some spider veins on the right leg, but those don’t bother me too much. The varicose veins actually HURT, as well as being unsightly. No fun!

  16. Hi Debbie!

    It’s great to see your style coming together! These posts are always enjoyable because they are so explicit about not just the what but the why of wardrobe editing. And you’re right, the photos really help us see what you mean.

    I agree with the commenter who said that many of these items may just not have been worn much because the weather has been unusually warm. We’ve had the reverse here in Virginia: a cool summer. Some of my favorite shorts and tops have been worn only once–but only because of the weather. Especially since you are headed into a cooler season, you may want to hang on to those coats and jackets until next spring arrives in full force. That way you’ll know whether the few wears were due to the weather or the fit/style.

    A thought about the smashing black velvet coat: having a more formal coat or jacket may not be something you wear often in your casual life. However, for those times when it’s cold and you *are* dressed up, nothing crowns the look more than having a chic, appropriate formal coat. [And nothing brings down a formal look more than an everyday wear puffy jacket, e.g.] Several years ago, I bought a silk satin knee-length skirt and sparkly top for an anniversary party. I thought it was a splurge because I was sure I wouldn’t wear it again. It’s not at all like my usual life. But for those times, and they have come, when I needed a chic little cocktail look, I already had it nailed. I also learned to wear the top (boatneck with 3/4 sleeves) with jeans and heels for an entirely different look.

    If you love the velvet coat and it fits as well as it looks, I humbly suggest that you keep it, even if you use it 1 or 2 times per year. Just don’t buy another one. 😉

    Great work!

    • Weather shifts can really impact how often we wear things, as you know, Amy. My summer last year was like the one you describe in Virginia this year. I’m definitely going to hang on to the spring/fall weight items and see if I like them when the weather is more conducive for wearing them. I have no plans to get rid of the velvet coat, as I love it. I agree that such items probably won’t be worn all that often, but they’re nice to have for those occasions. I’m keeping the coat, but I promise not to buy another one like that or anything that fits into the same category!

  17. Those jeans look FANTASTIC on you! Maybe you just need to wear and wash them a few times so they soften up and you get used to them. And I also think the purple sweater looks amazing. It looks great the way you styled it, but if you’re on the fence about its staying power, try pairing it with some boot leg jeans and short boots or Dansko-type clogs. I’m tall too (6′), and find similar sweaters look very cute that way.

    Because of you, I have finally admitted that I have way more clothing than I could ever need. Thank you. In the past few months, I have really wanted to buy “dressy” clothes which is silly because besides the occasional fancy date night, I just wear the nice clothing to church. And the church I go to has people wearing everything from suits and ties to cargo shorts, so I could easily wear most of what I typically wear during the week. So I’m trying to quell the urge to purchase clothes in that category. I also took a hard look at my Fall pieces and decided that all the gray, navy and black is acceptable, and that all that I should purchase is a few t-shirts in nice fall colors. So I used my “Gap Cash” and bought pretty t-shirts in bourdeaux and light pink. Is it ok that I’ve finally admitted that I’m a black, gray, and navy blue girl most of the time, and just live with it? People occasionally tease me about this (my husband loves to sing Johnny Cash songs when I enter a room 🙂 ) but it’s what I feel most comfortable in.

    • Good to hear from a fellow tall lady, Katherine. Since you’re even taller than I am, I know you can feel my pain about shopping and finding clothes that fit! Thanks for your compliment and suggestions about the purple cardigan. I think I’m going to give it at least one more try. I’ll probably play with some outfits a bit and see if I find something that feels right. I actually like it in the photo, but that was an outfit that I never wore. The outfit I wore was with flats (and the slim-fit jeans) and it just felt “off.”

      I’m glad that my blog has helped you reach some realizations about your wardrobe. I see that you’re not only a fellow tall lady, but also a fellow lover of all things dressy 🙂 People around here don’t really dress up for church, either. In fact, we live very close to a mega church, which is also near a grocery store where we shop. We see people walking with their bibles wearing shorts and flip-flops all the time! I’m usually dressed nicer than the church goers and I’m just going to the grocery store. Your new Gap t-shirts sound nice. I think there’s nothing wrong with preferring neutrals, but I do think it’s funny that your husband sings Johnny Cash songs! The new t-shirts will be a way for you to see if you like to wear color sometimes, too. If you don’t, that’s okay. I know Tonya, who comments here often, recently realized she’s more of a black and grey girl and that might be true for you, too. I like neutrals a lot, too, but have warmed up to color more in recent years. We all should wear what we feel most comfortable in!

  18. I just want to chime in and say that the jeans look so great on you!!!! I understand body image issues are tough, but please believe- those jeans are just so wonderful on you!!!!

    • Thanks, Marcy! Well, I think I need to believe you and the others since there are a lot of you and you’re saying the same things. My back view isn’t as good, but it’s probably not as bad as I think it is, either. Perhaps I should stop looking at it and just wear and enjoy the jeans!

    • Thanks, Lynn. I have had it in my mind that I’m pear-shaped for so long, even though 3 image consultants/stylists (most recently Bridgette Raes) have told me my shape is hourglass. I think I just have a complex about my bottom half, but I really want to get past it! I’m enjoying wearing shorter tops, so the slimmer jeans should be next.

  19. Hi Debbie! Just a few minutes to post but wanted to chime in with a few thoughts.

    1. I like the geometric skirt shorter, and prefer it in your casual look with just the tank top. I think it’s just busy, which you may or may not be comfortable with. Sometimes I like the idea of a pattern but can’t really live with it in my closet. Wonder if that applies here?

    2. I love the straight leg pants on you! A thought – try cuffing them to expose the skinniest part of your ankle. You have the height for it (I don’t, but do it anyway) and it’s a nice way to show off cute shoes. Plus, the very straight line it creates from hip to ankle (since there’s no “break” in the hem as when worn uncuffed) can help with “rear view” concerns. You’ve seen photos of me and know I’m a curvy little thing – I love my skinny and straight jeans. Sometimes the silhouette balances the more loose-fitting or boxy tops that you like (cardis, jackets, etc) – and you’re tall and slender! Perfect for the combo.

    3. I *love* the stripey “maybe” skirt. Would be great with the denim jacket! I hope you can get the smell out. Let me know if baking soda soak works! Otherwise, I’d keep the idea but swap the jacket. I wonder why it has such a strong smell? Crazy.

    Good luck and great post!

    • Good to see you commenting here again, Rebecca. Thanks for your input! I’m not sure if that geometric print skirt is too busy for me. I have another skirt (also shown in the second Bridgette Raes post) that is also busy and that one doesn’t bother me. In fact, it’s been one of my favorites for years. I do only like to have ONE busy item in an outfit, though, and agree that the skirt is better with the plain tank than with the ruffly jacket.

      Thanks for the suggestion about cuffing the jeans. I’m wondering what type of shoes you wear when you do that. I’ll check your blog for photos. I know that it’s best to have either the top or bottom loose on an outfit, not both. I sometimes can get away with loose and loose due to my height, but it’s not an ideal look for sure.

      I think I will love the striped skirt, too, but I haven’t worn it yet. It’s been so hot that I’ve mostly been wearing dresses since they tend to be cooler. I agree that it would work well with the denim jacket. A reader emailed me that powdered milk works best to get the odors out of clothes, so I’m going to try that. I’m hopeful, but will swap the jacket if the odor persists. Sometimes new clothes have chemical smells. I’ve noticed it more over the past few years (maybe due to questionable manufacturing practices?) and usually return things if the smell doesn’t go away after hanging something outside for a day or two. But I’ve waited so long to find a denim jacket that’s not boxy on me that I opted to keep it and get rid of the smell. I hope it works and I’m not out the $70 I spent on the jacket!

      • Debbie, something I have had success with in getting odors out of clothes:
        Mix up a generous amount of baking soda, (fresh unused) coffee grounds, just enough water to stick it together, and optionally any essential oils of your choice (peppermint and almond have been nice). You can form these into “pucks” in a muffin paper and tin. Once they’re dry, seal them in a 2 gallon ziploc with your article of clothing and leave for 1-2 days. I’ve found this eliminates perfumes and cigarette smoke pretty well for dry-clean only clothing. Also like you said leaving them outside for awhile helps. I did a couple cycles of this for a sweater I bought on ebay and it was smelling quite fresh. Unfortunately I’ve decided not to keep it….

      • What a great tip, Sarah! I love that it doesn’t require having to wash the item (which I’ve already done twice for the jacket), which often leads to the follow-on activity of having to IRON it (which I hate). I don’t know why this jacket smelled so bad, but I really thought washing it would do the trick. It kind of smells like mothballs – not very pleasant! Then again, my husband accuses me of having a “bloodhound nose,” so maybe I think it smells worse than others would. Too bad about your sweater, but at least you know how to get rid of offending odors now and we able to pass your knowledge on to all of us.

      • The puck idea is great! Hope it works. I generally like substantial shoes with cuffed pants — clogs or Birkenstocks or sneakers. I think they better balance the weight of the pant and make the balked look skinnier. A really minimal flat or sandal doesn’t feel as balanced to me. 🙂

      • That makes sense, Rebecca. I think that I’ve tried wearing ballet flats with rolled cuffs before and it just looked wrong. I don’t have any clogs or Birkenstocks, but I can try sneakers or other more substantial shoes. My eye may need a bit of time to get used to the look on me, but I do like it on other people. As it is, I’m still getting used to a skinnier jean. I tend to be a very slow adopter and sometimes just when I start to like a style, it’s on its way out. This is my first year to wear both maxi-dresses and skinny jeans, so I hope they stick around for at least another year or two!

      • You might look at the dansko-style clogs – ll bean sells some. They offer a lovely bit of support and a fun and funky European vibe. I could see you in a pair of black or even slightly metallic ones, and they work with or without socks. 🙂

      • Sounds good, Rebecca. You know I love my black and metallic shoes and I like the idea of having a funky European vibe. I will check them out. Being able to wear socks with shoes is a definite bonus. Even though it doesn’t get that cold where I live, I often have cold hands and feet. That’s why I wear boots so often during the colder months. I appreciate your suggestions!

  20. Hi Debbie, All of your recent purchases are colors you look fantastic in. Also, its nice to see that you have found some white items to lighten your wardrobe. You look great in the straight leg jeans. I recently went on a shopping trip to a large city and purchased only 4 items! A few years ago I would have purchased shopping bags of mediocre pieces. All 4 are high end items that I love! These are pieces I will feel comfortable in on a daily basis and not too dressy. I also live in a casual coastal town. I bought a lambskin jacket ,cashmere top, designer ballet flats, long gemstone necklace . I pinned the jacket on my pinterest board months ago and was excited to find it on sale. I can’t believe it but I spent $500 for the ballet flats! I have never spent anywhere near that amount on shoes. I’m tired of having multiple pairs of average priced shoes I don’t love. I’m slowly upgrading my wardrobe, I still have a long way to go. I mix the high end pieces with my existing pieces to elevate my look. I want to feel amazing in my clothes not just presentable. My goal is a small high quality wardrobe. Your are so lovely inside and out it would be nice to see you treat yourself to a few wonderful luxury pieces you truly love and to see you really excited about them.

    • Your new items sound great, Jan! It’s a goal of mine to buy fewer high-end pieces, too, but I have trouble trusting myself to make good decisions. So I started with handbags, watches, and shoes and am proceeding on from there. I have a pair of $300 ballet flats but they were a Christmas present from my husband. I wrote about them here. I had previously bought and returned the shoes TWICE before I trusted myself to keep them! I’ve made SO MANY shopping mistakes that I have trouble knowing which items will work out and which will not. But I’m learning, especially in recent months through doing the outfit journal, so I’m getting closer to being able to buy more high-end items. Thank you for your kind words and wishes for me! I’m glad you are making great progress toward your wardrobe goals.

  21. Thank you for sharing your own journey with honesty! I don’t have much time to comment anymore as I have limited by home internet time, but I’m still reading everything, and find it very instructive to see someone else’s learnings and growth.

    It does seem indeed that you are starting to refine your style, some of these pieces look really great on you (these skinny jeans are awesome – although I really understand how hard it is to wear that kind of cut when we have a complex with our legs and hips…). It might be worth asking yourself what you want your style to “say” about you. It feels like you are uncomfortable with too dressy outfits, no? Is it a fear not to fit in, to be seen as less easy-going? Or is it just a practical thing linked to lifestyle?

    Finally to answer you question, I have made such analyses since 2011, when I realized my style was incoherent with who I was, and sent out an image completely different from who I was inside and who I wanted to appear. I started off with the image issues though – why did I want to dress that way before, why it doesn’t fit my personality, what did I try to hide with my outfits etc. – and then I made style experimentations to try and find what type of outfit I felt myself in.

    Having a blog helps a lot – like you, I come back to my past wishlists and purchase lists and analyze the items: why did I want them at the time? Was it because of a passing trend, a brand that I liked, advertising that put it under my nose? What gap was it supposed to fill in my wardrobe? Did it fill it? Am I still wearing it now? If not, why? what part of the garment was off? Fit, colour, overall style?

    Thanks to Mette, I now have an even more detailed tool: an excel sheet – she gave me the idea. I always had a wardrobe list on a notebook but excel sheet allows to write down price, number of wears, last date of wear – I also note down new purchases and items I purged to see how quickly the rotation takes place. And having all these numbers laid down helps seeing incredible things – for example, before the start of my shopping fast I had bought almost 30 pieces and purged 35, that’s a third of my wardrobe, it is an extremely quick turnover! As I was working toward a simple life for 3 years, I never thought my turnover was so quick. And I aspire to a much slower one, as both buying and purging can be bad for the wallet and environment. Hence the shopping fast – I want to find out why the turn over is so high, is it shopping mistakes, organic replacement of the cheap items I bought 2 to 3 years ago when I was experimenting which are now falling apart, am I still unconsciously influenced by seasonal collections to replace perfectly usable items? These questions are easier to answer once all the wishlists and new purchases are out of the way for a while.

    • I could say the same thing about your blog, Kali. I always read your posts, but don’t comment nearly as often as I would like. I would love to comment more on other bloggers’ posts, but after I get around to writing my posts and responding to comments and emails, I seem to not have much more time and energy left over. I try to compensate by sharing excellent posts in my links posts (and sometimes on social media), though, as I find so many posts that I love out there.

      After I discovered your blog, I went back and read a lot of your earlier wardrobe posts and really got a lot out of them. I learn so much from reading about others’ journeys, as it gives me new insights to apply to the path I’m on. It also gives me hope that I can eventually reach a better place. The questions you posed to me are very good ones. I will write a bit here, but perhaps I can respond in greater detail in a future post. In regards to my dressy outfits, I used to live in a place (San Francisco Bay Area, where I lived from age 10 through 32) where it was much more common to dress up, at least in what could be termed “smart casual” wear. That felt natural to me for much of my life, but now that I live in a much more casual place, I’d like to fit in a bit more (plus, my lifestyle is quite casual, too). The problem is that I feel more attractive and like myself when I’m a bit more dressed up. This year, a big project for me has been to find a happy middle ground and I’ve been doing much better in that regard. I’m still more dressed up than the majority of people around here, but I no longer stick out like a sore thumb. Since I already stand out due to my height, I’m happy to be looking more “relatable” in the outfits I’m wearing as of late.

      Mette’s ideas are great, aren’t they? Stay tuned for a wonderful guest post from her tomorrow! I’d love to have you do one sometime, too, if you’re came. It could be a “story of recovery” or on some other topic that would be of interest to my readers. I know you don’t have a lot of time for blogging, but the invitation is there if you’re ever interested! As for the Excel spreadsheet, I have one but haven’t been tracking my purchases there. My reasoning was that I was tracking them on the blog anyway, but I’d love to have everything in one place. It sounds like you’ve already gained a lot of useful information from your new tool! I think I would be surprised at how quick my turnover is, too. I’m sure I will post about that once I get the spreadsheet populated. Best of luck with the rest of your shopping fast. As always, I will be eagerly awaiting your future posts.

      • Thanks for the guest post invitation, that’s a lovely idea! I’m very busy at work these days so I hardly have time to keep my own blog up to date, but when things slow down at the end of the year I can definitely come back to you with a post idea, see what you think and if it would interest your readers 🙂

      • The invitation is open anytime, Kali. Just let me know when it’s a good time for you and what ideas you have. You can do a “stories of recovery” post or a post on a different topic. I’m sure whatever you contribute will be excellent and well-received!

  22. Hi Debbie, Great post. You look great in those slim jeans. I am loving your outfits especially the purple cardigan, which I know you are not happy with the fit but it does look nice on you and I love the teal jumper. Obviously at the end of the day, we all need to feel comfortable in what we wear. I have given clothes away which I like but I don’t like on me as they don’t fit how I want them to or I have something similar which I’d rather wear. I am guilty of splitting my wears too! I haven’t done any purchase analysis but maybe I should as I often buy clothes which don’t end up getting worn very much. For example, I found at the bottom of my wardrobe a few weeks ago some lovely magenta flat shoes with a Velcro strap which I have been wearing quite a bit. I also struggle like some readers of your blog with stressful situations at the moment a family member is unwell and so is a good friend of mine and it would be nice to comfort myself and block it all out by ‘binge’ shopping but I realise that is not the answer!

    • Thanks for your kind words, Sharon. I think I could like the purple cardigan. I actually like it in the photo in this post, but I wore it with flats the one time I wore it out of the house and it just looked wrong. I actually looked short and I’m very tall! So proportions and companion pieces are really everything! But I’m over giving things too many chances. I used to keep things around for literally years because I felt guilty about having spent money on them. I just felt bad and I couldn’t find my favorites amid a jam-packed closet. No more! Congrats on rediscovering your magenta flats and having a “new” pair of shoes to enjoy. As for stressful situations leading to overshopping, I’ve definitely been there, too, and that was a big reason why I shopped so much in July and August. The shopping DOES feel comforting while we’re doing it, but it more often than not leads to other problems (big credit card bills, full closets, etc.) such that we feel worse in the end. It’s difficult to find new and better ways to cope, though, especially in the midst of a very challenging situation. I hope that your unwell family member will feel better soon.

  23. I like the white cardigan, and you’ve certainly created a great column of color underneath it.

    White tends to create a high-contrast look. I have a hawk’s eye for high-contrast looks, because my coloring is low-contrast, and I have made all kinds of mistakes in that area.

    You have the coloring to wear a high-contrast look. I suggest swapping out the deep blue (?) top underneath the white cardigan and trying it with one of your black and white tops – maybe the white top with the narrow black stripes, or the black top with diagonal white stripes. And of course there are lighter colors – maybe the turquoise tank top?

    Don’t give up on the white cardigan!

    • Thanks for your suggestions about the white cardigan, Susan. Between you and Meli, I now have some new options to try with that piece. I think I would like the cardigan better with a black and white top underneath, as opposed to the deeper blue item. A lighter blue top could also work. Once it’s cool enough out for a cardigan again, I will try some of these ideas and see how it goes. I tend to like high-contrast looks, too, but sometimes that’s not the best option for a given item even if one has the coloring to pull off the look.

  24. I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time, but have been a bit shy leaving comments. This time I can’t help myself. Those skinny jeans look a million times better on you than the other jeans. Granted I have different body issues (my thicker waist), but I think regardless our attempts to hide whatever body part we’re unhappy with often has the opposite effect.

    • Thanks for coming out of lurker mode to comment, Shannon, and thanks for the compliment on the jeans. I agree that sometimes we make things worse when we try to hide our “problem areas,” as we often end up covering up some of our good points, too. It can be difficult to adjust the way we see things when we look in the mirror, but the comments here have been a good reality check for me. Granted, not all of the photos in this post were taken at the same time (though all were from this year) and my weight does fluctuate some, but I think you’ve all convinced me that I need to wear the slim style of jeans more often.

  25. Hi Debbie, I don’t often comment, but I read your interesting posts quite a lot. I just wanted to say that your straight legs look fabulous! They make you look so slim- never do wide legs again! Keep up the good work, Jenn x

    • Thanks for your comment, Jenn. I see that many readers have strong thoughts about the straight leg jeans, so I plan to wear them more often. I don’t think I’ll go so far as never wearing wide legs again, but at least I’ll start mixing it up a bit more 🙂

  26. My purchase analysis have shown me that I’ve gotten better at purchasing items that fit my core wardrobe instead of wildcard items that do not pair with anything else. I’ve purged so many items in the past because they are not very versatile with my wardrobe, now if I mistakenly purchase something that will not remix well, it goes back to the stores or ends up in the donation pile.

    • I’ve had a similar experience, Lisa. I try to always consider what I will wear things with when I shop these days. I also try to only buy items that are on my shopping priorities list, but I do allow myself a little room to be “wowed” by something else. I’ve made SO many shopping mistakes and it’s usually when I allow myself to be swayed by a sales associate, a friend, or a low price. I’m really working on improving my shopping track record, but I still have a long way to go!

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