September 2014 “Grab Bag” of Useful Links

Believe it or not, it’s the last day of the month.  Is it just me, or did September really fly by?   It’s time for me to share my September installment of useful links (see earlier versions here).  In response to my question last month, most of you told me you like the current format, so I’m sticking with it.

Links to Ponder

Included below are links to articles I think you might enjoy on the topics of shopping and shopping psychology, wardrobe management, style, and personal development.  I’m also sharing a few early “Recovering Shopaholic” posts that you may have missed the first time around (or may choose to revisit now).

Yes, there are a lot of links in these posts (and this time in particular), but I don’t expect you to click on all of them! Just explore the ones that most intrigue you.   I’m learning to be better at doing that myself, as I work to reduce information overload and fear of missing out (FOMO).

On Shopping and Shopping Psychology

  • But it Only Cost… – Many of us are bargain shoppers who feel proud of our “great finds.” However, we often don’t realize the trade-offs we’re making with our shopping.   This excellent article by Jill Chivers explores how we tend to disconnect our small purchases from the collective amount that could have gone toward something we really want in life.
  • 7 Reasons We Buy More Stuff than We Need – The rate of consumption in modern society has skyrocketed, as has the average home size, the personal storage business, and consumer debt. Joshua Becker of “Becoming Minimalist” outlines seven lies we’ve come to believe that drive our spending behavior.   I particularly resonated with numbers 2 and 6.
  • A Staged Life –Cristina of “Unshopping… and Unraveling” doesn’t post often, but when she does, she usually knocks it out of the park. I found myself nodding along as I read this wonderful post about the façade of style blogs and how many shoppers fall for the fictions they perpetuate.
  • Four Common Shopping Fallacies and How to Avoid Them – I didn’t realize that Anuschka of “Into Mind” shares my background in Psychology. I loved this post about the mental shortcuts we take when making shopping decisions and how they are often based upon pure fallacies.   If you’re like me, you’ll recognize yourself in some of these descriptions. But the good news is that advice is given to avoid falling prey in the future.

On Wardrobe Management

  • Minimalism, Shopping, and Sales – This interesting and thought-provoking video from “Hello Cathy” was shared by reader Leah in response to my resale analysis post. Among the many relevant points made was this one:  “I had a feeling like I was never really satisfied – there was always more stuff I wanted to get. There was always a sense of ‘if I just get these few pieces then my closet will be complete and it will all be over.’ But that never happened for me.” Watch the 10-minute video for more “aha moments.”
  • Size, Transition & Sunk Costs – This post from “Grechen’s Closet looks at two “size” issues related to our wardrobes, as well as how life transition impacts our closets. The final points relate to “sunk costs,” which we’ve often discussed on this blog.   Simply put, “You can never get back the money, time, or angst all of those clothes cost you.”  This is important to remember when going through our closets!
  • Managing a Massive Closet Purge – Sally of “Already Pretty” has been going through a major style redefinition and recently purged a third of her closet. She offers some sage advice for readers who want – or need – to pare down their wardrobes.  I liked her recommendation for doing it in stages, as that’s what’s worked best for me.   Our closets didn’t become packed overnight, so it’s reasonable to approach the purging process as an ongoing project as well.
  • There is No Such Thing as Perfect – I just had to share another post from “Grechen’s Closet”! Many of us keep buying and buying in search of the “perfect” top, dress, jeans, or whatever.  This often leads to too many of those types of items, as was the case for Grechen with her 26 white t-shirts!   She suggests a new way of approaching what’s in our closets – and in our lives.

On Style

  • Do Your Clothes Need to be Figure Flattering All the Time? – Many style experts push us to always dress in a way that highlights our best features and plays down our figure “flaws.” But what if our personal style runs counter to that way of dressing?  Sylvia of “40+ Style” enjoys wearing interesting silhouettes and asymmetrical styles that don’t always highlight her slim waist and toned limbs.   She explains why that’s perfectly okay with her.  I love her style and resonate with her message.  Perhaps you will, too.
  • Rut vs. Signature – We’ve all seen celebrities who have very distinct signature styles. But when does a signature style become a rut?  Sally from “Already Pretty” presents four key questions to ask yourself if you feel you may have become stuck in a rut.  These are also good guidelines to keep in mind to help prevent us from veering into rut territory.
  • Get onto the Style Highway and Out of Your Style Rut with 3 Essential Questions – In keeping with the same theme, Imogen Lamport offers a way to use our closet favorites to help expand our style horizons. Imogen has also created a fun and inexpensive (just $5) e-course called “Evolve Your Style” which can help you to break out of a rut – or just shake things up a bit.  This course includes membership in a private Facebook group where you can see how others are interpreting the various style challenges.
  • How to Make Unflattering Colors Flattering – Of course I had to include something from the always interesting and helpful Bridgette Raes! Do you have something in your closet that you love but is in a color that’s not flattering on you?   Those are usually the types of garments we pass on, but there are also ways to make them work.  This post includes lots of photos to illustrate the points, as well as advice for determining your skin tone (warm vs. cool) and color “season.”

On Other Topics

  • Love People, Not Pleasure – I searched out this New York Times piece after hearing the author being interviewed on the radio. The crux of this article is that many people search for happiness in all the wrong places.  We set “extrinsic” goals such as fame and financial success, but these things often lead to more negative emotions than positive.   The truth is that happiness lies more in loving people and using things rather than in the all too common inverse equation.
  • Why It’s So Hard to Make New Friends – Many of us want to love people more and have deeper relationships in our lives. Yet it’s become harder than ever to make new friends.  This Refinery 29 article looks at some reasons for this, as well as the consequences of living a more disconnected life.  The article is a bit light on recommendations, but does mention new websites that are dedicated toward helping women to make friends (what will they think of next?!).   If I decide to try one, I’ll let you know how it goes!
  • 9 Lies that Keep Our Schedules Overwhelmed – This “Becoming Minimalist” article begins with a poignant quote: “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”   To how many people in our society does that quote apply?   The reason people are so overwhelmed these days is because they believe nine common – but often hidden – mistruths.  While I’ve done a lot to reduce overwhelm in my life, I could still identify with many of the points in this article, especially numbers 1, 4, 6, and 7.
  • Time is Money – I have read this post from “The Nife en L’Air” multiple times and just had to share it with you! What is the definition of success?  According to one French politician, if a person doesn’t own a Rolex by age 50, he or she is a failure.   But is success really about being able to afford an expensive watch?   I much prefer the alternate definition posed in this post, that time is a more precious currency than money.   I’ve been lamenting my lack of “success” for many years, but perhaps I’m already more successful than I thought…

From the “Recovering Shopaholic” Archives

  • The Enemy of the Best is the Good – I decided to share this post today, as it relates to the wardrobe “benchwarmer” update I posted last week. If we try to wear everything in our closets and hold on to pieces we don’t really love, some of our favorite items don’t get worn as often as we’d like. I offered some great advice in this post from March 2013 and I need to do more to heed it now, especially the part about only buying – and keeping – items that are at least “8”s on a scale of 1-10!
  • Sometimes Cheap is Really More Expensive – How many times do we buy things just because they’re on sale or the price is low? We think we’re getting a “deal,” but often things are priced low for a good reason.   I share my “tale of four purses” as a way to illustrate that we’re often better served by buying fewer, more expensive pieces.   It was good to revisit this post after my resale shopping analysis last Friday.   How many great items could I have bought had I just said no to most of those consignment store shopping mistakes?
  • Weight, Body Image, and Shopping – When trying on all of my clothes in preparation for Project 333 last April, I noticed that I had gained some weight. The same thing was true this past weekend as I did a closet audit (which I’ll write about later this week).   Many of us fluctuate in weight (I probably go up and down 5-7 pounds), but what do we make it mean about us – and how does it affect our shopping behavior?  Do we shop as a way of having the clothes tell us we’re okay and attractive when we don’t feel that way inside?   That has often been true for me and I share more thoughts in this post.
  • Buyer’s Remorse – Where Did My $50,000 Go?  – When I considered all of the money I’ve spent on clothing over the years, I felt remorse at the sheer waste of it all.   I lamented the lost money and the experiences I could have had instead of pouring so much capital into clothing and related purchases.   And I didn’t even get into the wasted time!   I close the post with some tips for shopping smarter, many of which I’ve done well in heeding since I wrote them in May 2013.   Of course, there’s still a lot of room for improvement, so I’m glad I read this post again today.


I hope you enjoyed this installment of useful links.  Feel free to comment on any of the topics from this post and/or share links to articles you’ve enjoyed recently.   I also welcome suggestions for future blog posts.

I’ll be back later this week with the results of my weekend closet audit.   Evaluating my wardrobe benchwarmers and resale purchases made me want to pare things down further.  I’m still being mindful of my closet “set point,” but I’m happy to be gradually moving in the right direction!

31 thoughts on “September 2014 “Grab Bag” of Useful Links

    • I’m always happy to share your wonderful posts, Sally, although I’m sure many of my readers are subscribers of yours as well.

      • I found Debbie’s blog through Sally’s, and consider both a “must read,” information overload or not! I love these round-up posts, which remind me of Sally’s weekly Friday updates that give me so much great reading for my weekends. All these topics are so interconnected, and exploring them through the insightful posts of all the bloggers you’ve linked gives me so much food for thought as I work through my wardrobe, body and shopping issues.

      • I’m glad Sally’s blog led you to mine, TexasAggieMom. I’m very happy to have you as a reader and I’m glad you’re finding my blog helpful! I love Sally’s Friday links round-ups, too, as well as the Sunday “Web Time-Wasters” on the blog, Yes and Yes (by Sarah, a friend of Sally’s – I used to click on ALL of their links, but now I’m being more selective in keeping with my plan to combat information overload. They provide me with some great weekend reading and I’m happy to do the same for my readers from time to time.

  1. Great links once again Debbie. I was especially intrigued by the link about making new friendships. It’s so hard to make new friends when you’re an introvert like me and don’t get out much. My husband is my best friend and my sister my best girlfriend but she lives several hours away and we can’t get together in person very often. We talk to each other almost daily though. I looked at the website ( recommended in the article and it looks like it has possibilities.

    • You are I are very alike in this regard, Kim, only my sister (half-sister) lives on the other side of the country and we have almost no contact. I have some friends who live far away and a few who are local that I don’t see very often. I am considering trying out that website, too, but I’m a bit nervous, introvert that I am. But I’m lonely enough now that I might be willing to take the risk. If I do, I’ll definitely write about it!

  2. I enjoy Gretchen’s posts. She and I are the same age, height, like the same colors…..Almost eerie 🙂 I like the way she approaches minimalism.

    • I love her posts, too, Tonya, which is why I had to include two of them in this links round-up. I like the way she approaches minimalism as well. I can actually DO her type of minimalism!

  3. Great links as always! I’m so happy that I discovered your blog.

    I started tracking my wardrobe expenses a year ago but only began analyzing the numbers after I found Recovering Shopaholic a couple of months ago. The results were scary—almost everything was bought on impulse, I loved less than half of my purchases, and I ended up donating about a third of them before the year was over. Now I’m making an effort to really think about how an item will work with my entire wardrobe and my personal style before I buy it, and I’m starting to like my outfits better and feel more in control of my spending and compulsive desire to shop.

    Learning how to sew is helping as well, because I can see that the fabric and style options in ready-to-wear stores represent only a tiny fraction of the possibilities. Now that I know that, I know that I don’t have to settle for anything I don’t love.

    I’ve been a compulsive shopper for at least four years and probably longer, so I know that a complete change won’t be instant, but I really appreciate your blog for helping me realize that I have a problem and showing me how to start fixing it.

    • I have been a shopaholic for 2 decades, but managed to change my ways. Reading your comment reminded me of my own struggles with overshopping. You have made significant progress, congrats! You can do this!

    • Welcome, Mia! Your story is very much like mine, but I’m happy to see that you’re turning things around. I’m honored that my blog has been a part of your recovery! I think it’s wonderful that you’re learning how to sew. That’s something I have considered as well, but I always think it’s going to be too hard. Maybe I should at least take a class, though. I would be thrilled to be able to have more options than what the fashion industry hands us, especially in terms of clothes to fit my tall frame. Best wishes to you. Here’s to no more settling and to having a wardrobe that we love and wear!

    • My pleasure, Imogen! I plan to participate in “Evolve Your Style,” but it’s been too hot here to contemplate layering, scarves, and the like. I hope some of my readers decide to enroll in your wonderful program, as I know they would get a lot out of it!

    • I’m always happy to share your posts, Bridgette. It’s hard to narrow it down, but I chose the one on color because not many bloggers approach it the way you did. I’m sure my readers will learn some useful tips from reading what you shared on the topic.

  4. A very good assortment of articles, blogs, and videos. Jill Chivers hits the nail on the head in describing what I call “opportunity costs.” This is a concept in macro-economics that deals with scarcity and choice: “…opportunity cost plays a crucial part in ensuring that scarce resources are used efficiently.” (From”Opportunity Cost”. Economics A-Z. The Economist. Retrieved 2010-09-18.) I think about the opportunity costs a lot. I work from a strict clothing budget in part so that I can free up $$ for other goals, one of which is travel. Another big goal is saving for retirement. Occasionally, when faced with a purchase temptation I ask myself what I want more — a trip to London or more clothes cluttering up a closet already filled with great clothes; food and shelter when I’m 90 or yet another purse. It works for me.

    Bridgette Raes’ resource on how to make unflattering colors flattering is a must read. Many years ago, I had a closet full of clothes in a wide range of colors. I had my colors done (a big breakthrough) but I couldn’t afford to replace all of my clothes at once. I used several of tricks that Bridgette illustrates so well: a navy blouse (my color) replacing the peach (no!) blouse I wore with my [new and expensive] camel suit (I had to keep in spite of not being my color); a red necklace and red cuff to wear with a greenish-grayish dress which, other than color, was perfectly flattering; and so on. I think Bridgette’s tips are especially helpful if the top one has bought is a near-miss color-wise– more tan than taupe, more peach than rose, more blue than teal. (Stores have horrible lighting.) All in all, a good round up of ideas and tips.

    • I knew you’d like Jill’s article, Dottie, as you’ve mentioned opportunity costs quite a bit in your comments. I don’t think people consider that often enough. I know I didn’t… I just thought about what was right in front of me and how I could buy it. That didn’t serve me very well in multiple respects!

      I remember your story about the camel suit and how you made it work. It isn’t always an option to immediately replace things in the wrong colors for us, especially in the case of expensive items like suits. It’s good to have some tips on hand to work with less than flattering colors. You’re right that horrible lighting can skew the way a color appears on us. The same is true to photos of items on e-commerce sites. I’ve often received things and thought, “This isn’t what I ordered!” Of course, I usually then returned the item, but many of us have pieces in our closets that we’d like to work with. Bridgette’s tips allow us to do that if we choose.

      I’m glad you liked this month’s links installment. I sometimes have a hard time selecting which links to share, but I aim to have a good variety, as I know that different topics will speak to different readers.

  5. OMG- even though I consciously try to avoid buying the “unnecessary” things that aren’t on my need or wish list, I find myself fighting tooth & nail when I check in with my fav blogs to not run out (or alternately make that retailer click with my mouse/or search foolishly through the internet for hours to find that elusive item the blogger is showing-unfortunately it tends to be some expensive items as there really is only one blogger whose style was much my own when I first started reading her and I was thrilled because the clothing was simple&not much of it in terms of numbers, easy to find and very similar to my own. She just kicked it up a notch with the accessories and I will still say that was the best lesson I learnt from her blog-however over the last few years after reading her blog, I always felt I needed to go buy not only the accessories/ but the clothing to keep achieving the look-I couldn’t put my finger on why I felt this way as it was supposedly a capsule wardrobe she was using and until something is worn out, you don’t need to replace it,right? -after reading the one article you posted the link to about how bloggers
    are encouraging us to buy – it struck me like a thunderbolt why I felt disgruntled and wanting to buy when my wardrobe had all it needed( including shoes and accessories)-the blogger in question continues to say her wardrobe is a capsule one BUT it really isn’t/the items might appear to be the same as 2 years ago with the addition of a handful of new things like pants or tops,etc but when one examines the pics over the course of the last few years, they are not the same but new albeit abit different in style than the older pics and while this would indicate perhaps the articles had wore out & she was buying to replace, this is not the case because guess what shows up frequently, the older items as well- so in reality she likely has quite the closet( or closets) since all of the older have shown up in the last few years along with much new. The other I never realized was how she began to show her items and started to include links to where they could be bought- I thought she was just being nice to alleviate all the emails she gets about where to buy a particular item, not realizing she is being paid to promote!
    Good Lord-and I thought I was a bright one!!! No wonder I really haven’t enjoyed reading her blog for about 2 or 3 years now(which is about the time she started showing her new stuff and adding links). Thank you Debbie for sharing “A Staged Life” – it woke me up!

    • Good to see you posting here, ABgurl. You were one of my earliest readers and I’m glad you’re still around! “A Staged Life” really struck a chord with me, too, and I knew that many readers would also resonate with what was expressed in that article. Interesting what you shared about the blogger who you’ve followed for years. I’m sure it can be difficult to turn down free merchandise and lucrative promotion offers, but there is a way to make money as a blogger without selling one’s soul or leading readers down the proverbial “primrose path.” I think being honest about what you’re doing is really key and that is what I would do if I were ever in such a position (I have gotten some offers, but promoting merchandise is NOT in line with the mission of this blog). One needs to always think of their readers and put their interests first, or else one may lose them! Sorry to hear that your favorite style blog isn’t what it used to be. I’ve had similar experiences myself and sometimes end up un-following those types of bloggers.

      I think a lot of people fall prey to the staged lives that are portrayed by many style bloggers. I know I have! I’ve also tried – in vein – to keep up with the ever-changing face of fashion. That was part of what my shopaholic behavior was all about. Now I’m trying to look within more and evaluate my needs based upon my own life rather than the life of someone I’ve never met (who probably isn’t even leading the life she portrays anyway!). It’s not easy, but it’s worthwhile. Cristina mentioned losing sight of her love of reading fiction. I have also been reading blogs, magazines, and style forums more than books and “A Staged Life” served as an important reminder for me to get my priorities back in line.

      • I follow a few blogs — yours, Debbie, is one. But I don’t feel the siren song to purchase what’s shown. I take it all “under advisement.” I actually read these blogs to keep up on current trends and get ideas how I can inexpensively rejuvenate my wardrobe or as research when I do need to replace something I already own. Do I have a stiffer backbone that allows me to withstand the subtle pressure to buy, buy, buy? Nope! I have already been there and done that decades ago and got a lot smarter about how I want to spend the $$ I work so hard for. And I’ve long realized that shopping is a transitory pleasure; spending time with loved ones is something that will feed your soul for decades after the glitzy blouse with (unwashable) embellishments) is donated to charity.

  6. Oh Debbie- never fear, while I may not be posting , I am still here and reading everything/this is such an excellent blog with something for every woman be she a shopper, a minimalist or just looking for good advice on anything to do with wardrobe.

    As to the article- I am still so mad at myself for not seeing it( although strangely enough I did have a fleeting thought awhile back about what was going on but told myself it wasn’t).
    But now that I know about “these staged blogs”- it has been interesting because I did some googling and could not belief the plethora of articles over the last year and a half on exactly the subject. How I missed what many of the blogs really were or were becoming, I still can’t understand and am shaking my head over my being so naive-never never again!

    • I’m glad you’re still a regular reader, Abgurl. Thank you for your kind words about my blog! I’m glad that my reader base is broader than I originally anticipated. I think a lot of people are unaware of the staged nature of many style blogs. I was naive to that for a long time myself but have seen a number of articles about it recently. There are still some authentic style blogs and bloggers out there, but we have to be careful about what type of information we’re consuming and how it’s impacting us.

  7. Many blogs–not yours!–have gotten more over-the-top commercial. It is disconcerting to realize that we–the readers–are the “product” being offered up to advertisers.

    • So true, frugalscholar. I think a lot of bloggers lose their way and forget why they started blogging in the first place. While it’s not wrong to want to make some income for one’s efforts, the way some people go about it turns off their readers and sends their blog into decline. It’s sad to watch sometimes, as some of those blogs were once really great and added a lot of value.

  8. I also what to say how much “There’s no such thing as perfect” is also compelling reading. In 1990, I helped my sister, who has great style, move house. She had a bunch of funny little closets where she had been living (part of the problem — she couldn’t see her entire wardrobe in one place) and one closet contained only off-white or cream blouses –23 of them. Now my sister had been running her business from home for over a decade, so I wondered why she had so many. She explained: “The collar on this one won’t lie flat, the buttons on this one won’t stay buttoned, this one has a stain that didn’t come out….” In fact, she wore 3-4 at most. I told her I wasn’t going to help her move the duds, and she stood there and cleared out 18 blouses which she took most of them to a thrift store that supports homeless women. Why so many blouses? These were the result of her search for the mythical perfect blouse. Next we tackled her 15 pairs of red shoes….

    • Good for you for pushing your sister to pare down her off-white blouse collection, Dottie. I had the problem with black skirts, among other things. I just kept buying and buying looking for the “perfect” black skirt, yet the ones I bought were clearly very imperfect upon later scrutiny (of course, hindsight is 20-20). I didn’t have someone to get tough with me, so I had to do it for myself. I still have too many pairs of black shoes, but made some headway on paring things down this past weekend. I loved Grechen’s article on perfection. She does a post in her “Minimal Closet Series” every Thursday and their all great (including today’s!).

  9. I echo the opinion of others, I’ve been reading less and less fashion blogs because I feel like more and more of them push products instead of helpful advice and insight. I don’t need more reasons to shop, driving past retails stores, online ads, billboards, and junk mail are enough!

    • You’re so right, Lisa. We don’t need MORE pushes to buy. I became a shopaholic many years ago, back before the internet, blogs, style forums, etc. I managed to get myself into more than enough trouble with just catalogs, magazines, billboards, and the like. Now the temptation is virtually everywhere. I used to read probably 30-40 style blogs and now it’s just a few. If any of them start getting too promotional, I remove them from my list. I’m looking to learn and be inspired by style bloggers, not be tempted to buy!

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