Another month has passed and we’ve now moved on into October, although one would never know it from the weather in my part of the world! But many of you are now enjoying fall weather and fall clothing (and Happy Spring to our friends in the southern hemisphere!). Regardless of the hot temperatures where I sit, it’s time for my September accountability update.
For those who are new to “Recovering Shopaholic,” these monthly reports are where I share what came into and left my closet during the previous month, what I wore, and how I did with my shopping budget and rules. It’s my way of keeping myself honest and on track with my wardrobe and shopping goals, and some readers have opted to share their own updates in the comments section to stay accountable, too.
What Left My Closet and Why
I always start with what left my closet, but most of this was already reported in my last post. You can read all of the specifics there, but here’s a reminder of the 23 pieces I removed from my closet during September:
What I didn’t share in my last post was that I also purged seven jewelry items in September.
Why I Purged These Items
In brief, here are my reasons for letting go of the items above:
- Silver statement necklace: This is a beautiful necklace, but it’s not “me.” Every time I tried to wear it, I always felt like it was too much. It’s just too big and shiny for my taste and is too dressy for my casual lifestyle. I plan to list it for sale on eBay shortly and hope I will get a decent price for it, as it was never worn!
- Shell pendant: I bought this as a souvenir during one of my trips to Hawaii (I think in 2008), but it’s not really “me,” either. I have a lot of necklaces and never reach for this one, so it was time for it to go.
- Black bead pendant: The three black strands of this necklace never stay in place and it feels “fussy.” I have other necklaces I like more, so hopefully someone else will end up enjoying this one.
- Black embellished mirror: This isn’t really a jewelry item, but I stored it in my jewelry armoire. This item is just too heavy and weighs down my handbags. I have a smaller mirror that works just as well and weighs a lot less. Sadly, the consignment store didn’t take this item, so I’m just going to donate it.
- Antique-look pewter bracelet: I used to wear this bracelet, but it no longer fits my style vibe. I just never liked the way it looked when I put it on recently. It wasn’t expensive and I was fine with passing it on.
- Silver rose bracelet: I think I just don’t like really shiny jewelry anymore, plus the rose details on this bracelet were a little too “precious” for me. I held on to it during my last two jewelry purges, but I was finally ready to pass it on last week.
- Silver cat bracelet: I’m a major cat lover, which is why my friend gave me this bracelet as a gift a few years back. I wanted to love it, but I just didn’t. It was too big for my small wrist and a bit too “cutesy” as well. I’m not against animal motifs on jewelry, but this one wasn’t right for me.
I think it’s helpful to outline why we opt to pass certain wardrobe items or accessories on, as it can help us avoid future buying mistakes. If we notice that our style preferences have shifted, away from shiny jewelry as an example, we can then stop buying certain types of pieces. This extra step really doesn’t take much time, especially if you’re not blogging about it like I am, but is well worth doing. I highly recommend that you take the time to note why you bring things in and take things out of your closet. I’ve learned a great deal through this exercise and I believe you will, too!
What Came Into My Closet
I mentioned in my last update that I was planning on slowing down my purchases in September, yet I ended up adding almost as many items as I did during August. To be fair, though, two of my additions were gifts and I’m now focusing far more on accessories than on clothing pieces. After my consult with Bridgette Raes (I’m having a follow-up this week – stay tuned for an update soon!), I realized that I really needed to improve my shoe selection, so that was a major focus during September and will continue to be through the end of the year.
I added the following 8 items to my closet during September:
- 1 jacket
- 1 top
- 1 skirt
- 4 pairs of shoes
- 1 handbag
As a piece of good news, none of these items were purchased at a resale store! I think my recent resale purchase analysis may have steered me away from that type of shopping for the foreseeable future – and maybe forever! If I ever decide to venture back into secondhand stores, I’ll be sure to follow my own advice that I shared on this blog last year (sometimes we know what to do but don’t always do it!). If you like to shop in consignment and thrift stores, I recommend that you read that post, as well as my previous article on the pros and cons of resale shopping. Be sure to check out the comments sections of both posts, too, for recommendations from your fellow readers.
The photo below shows the new items I purchased last month.
Why I Added These Items to My Wardrobe
Here are my reasons for selecting my September items, working left to right, top to bottom from the photo above:
- Black caged sandals: I’ve mentioned previously that I wanted to add an edgier vibe to my style and these shoes fit the bill. Yes, they’re black and I have a lot of black shoes (although I did just pass three pairs on), but they are unlike any other shoes I have in my closet. These shoes work with both pants and skirts/dresses, so they should be a versatile addition to my wardrobe.
- Black moto jacket: I finally found a black moto jacket that works for me. The third time was the charm! This is actually the same jacket that I returned last month, but it’s in the next size up. This style of jacket ran very small, but I was lucky to be able to get a larger size at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale discounted price. I had to wait a few weeks for it to arrive, but it was a much better fit. I’ve already worn it once and I’m sure I would have worn it more often if the weather were cooler. I think this jacket will become a wardrobe workhorse.
- Blue sandals: These shoes were a gift from my mom during her recent visit. Before I got these sandals, I only had one pair of non-neutral shoes in my closet (a pair of red heels). I’m still struggling a bit with how to incorporate colored shoes into my outfits, but that’s mostly because I’m not used to the look yet. I wear a lot of blue, so I will likely pair the shoes with blue garments or other blue accessories. I wore these shoes with a neutral dress and blue earrings recently and liked the resulting ensemble.
- Bronze hobo bag: After I gave my mother the grey handbag I wrote about in my last post, she passed along her existing purse to me. I’m a bit unsure about this bag, though, for two reasons. I have the exact same bag in pewter and I tend to prefer silver and pewter metallics over bronze and gold. If I find that this bag won’t work for me, I’ll try to find a way to pay it forward to someone else I know. It was incredibly satisfying to give my purse to my mom (like Mette did with all of her castoff items) and see her enjoy it, so I hope to do that type of thing more often.
- Burgundy ballet flats: The color of these shoes doesn’t come across well in the photo, but they are definitely burgundy, not brown. Burgundy is one of my favorite colors and I have many garments and scarves that will work well with these shoes. I’m easing my way into wearing colored shoes through this more muted tone, but I feel I will get a lot of wear out of them this fall and winter.
- Burgundy top with twist-front detail: This style of top is especially flattering on my figure, as I have a narrow torso and waist. I was thrilled to find a top that fits me perfectly and needs no alterations, as tops are often too wide for me at the sides when they fit my broad shoulders. This top is different from anything I have and I love that it’s a solid with interesting details.
- Black and cream geometric print ballet flats: I actually bought these shoes in August but had to exchange them for a larger size. They are very comfortable and will work well with my color palette. I have wanted a pair of patterned ballet flats for a while and am very happy I found a pair that works for me.
- Charcoal maxi skirt: This skirt doesn’t look as dark in person as it does in the photo. I have wanted a grey skirt for a while, but the one I bought on eBay earlier in the year was a big fail and was purged from my closet in August after only two wears. I wasn’t specifically looking for a replacement last month, but was happy to find this charcoal maxi skirt on sale at Athleta (they just opened a store in one of my local malls). I have already worn it twice since I picked it up a few weeks ago.
And Then There’s the Accessories…
Beginning in May, I also started sharing the accessories that I’ve purchased and why I bought them. Although I have not set a limit for how many accessories I can buy, I noticed that I was starting to accumulate too many of them. Knowing I will need to share which accessories I buy – and why – on the blog each month is helping me to be more mindful with this area of shopping.
Below is a snapshot of the accessories I acquired during September. Read on for my reasons for these purchases.
- Turquoise stretch bracelet: This was kind of an impulse buy, but I do want to add more non-neutral accessories to my wardrobe. I like stretch bracelets, as they are more likely to fit my small wrists than bangles or other bracelet styles. Turquoise is one of my favorite colors, so hopefully I will wear this bracelet often.
- Labradorite/pearl earrings: These earrings look darker in the photo than they do in real life. They’re actually a purplish/grey tone and are quite lovely. I’ve already worn them twice and really like them. They’re relatively lightweight and are of a moderate size. I found them when I was shopping for the ever-elusive pants (still no luck there!), but fell in love with the style and was happy to snap them up.
- Embellished black cuff bracelet: I love this style of bracelet, but they are often too big for me. This one is great because it is adjustable. I also like that the embellishments are black instead of metallic and thus look more subtle. This bracelet will add a bit of edge to some of my outfits.
- Black/pewter stretch bracelet: I have other stretch bracelets in pewter (this one is less shiny in real life), but none of them also include black. I really like the two-tone effect of this one and have already enjoyed wearing it.
2014 Item Limit Update
When I originally laid out my shopping and wardrobe goals for the year back in January, I decided to dramatically cut down the number of items I purchase. Although I originally set an item limit of 38 for the year, I opted to raise it to 53 back in July. This will still represent a 30% reduction over what I bought last year but is more doable for me than my initial item limit.
As of the end of August, I had purchased 41 qualifying items (workout clothing, accessories, undergarments, and gifts don’t count). During September, I returned four items and added eight, for a net addition of four items. Two of the items I returned were gifts and two of the new additions were gifts, so they basically cancel each other out (I know this can be confusing, so I’m going to do things differently next year!). Consequently, I am now at 45 new items for the year and can add up to 8 more garments, shoes, and purses to my closet before December 31st. Obviously, I will need to slow down my shopping in order to keep to my limit. Otherwise, I will reach my limit before the end of the year and I’d really like to more evenly space out my purchases if possible.
September Budget Report
My budget for clothing and related purchases (shoes, accessories, alterations) for 2014 is $3000, which is $250 per month. However, since I overspent my budget during July, I lowered my monthly allocation to $200 for the remainder of the year.
During September, I actually had a negative expenditure number of $34.79, as my returns added up to more than my purchases. At this point, I am under my budget for the year by $133.84. This is not a common occurrence for me, so I am proud of the restraint I’ve shown with my shopping!
What I Wore
Since April 2013, I’ve been keeping track of the garments and shoes I wear each month, as well as how many times they get worn. This helps me to better understand which items are my favorites and which ones should perhaps be passed on for donation or consignment.
During September, I wore 35 garments and 7 pairs of shoes, which is not that much larger than a Project 333 wardrobe capsule. I actually wore 6 more garments in September than I did during August, but my numbers are still a lot lower than they were earlier in the year (as an example, I wore 54 garments during May). Now that I’m no longer forcing myself to wear wardrobe “benchwarmers” and instead am simply wearing whatever I feel like putting on, I like many more of my outfits and am having more repeat wears. I feel good to be streamlining my wardrobe and refining my personal style. I experience a lot less stress over what to wear every day, so my hard work is finally paying off!
Here’s a photo of the items I wore during September 2014:
As you can see, there is still a lot of black in the mix. I’m okay with that, as I love my black and often pair it with lighter and brighter pieces. You may also notice a yellow tank top in the photo. Yellow is not one of my best colors, but this very deep tone worked relatively well on me. I also paired it with a patterned scarf that included some better shades for my skin tone. This is one of the tips suggested by Bridgette Raes in her excellent article (shared in my September links post) called “How to Make Unflattering Colors Flattering.” If you have any pieces in your closet that you love but that make you look a bit pale and sickly, I highly recommend that you read this article and use the tips within.
The other colors are all among my favorites and I enjoyed wearing them during a very hot September. I didn’t wear many jackets or sweaters, as they just weren’t needed. I hope to incorporate more of my toppers into my October ensembles, as some of them are in danger of becoming wardrobe benchwarmers at this point. Not only do I really like many of these pieces, I also feel more “finished” when I incorporate a third garment into my outfits. Sure, a scarf, necklace, or belt can pinch hit as the finishing piece of a look, but I’m definitely a jacket girl at heart and I look forward to wearing mine (the cardis, too!).
Next Steps and Conclusion
We’re coming into the home stretch of 2014 and I want to end the year on a strong and positive note. I’m going to continue writing in my outfit journal, as it’s helped me to improve my looks and hone my style considerably over just three short months. I’m also going to focus more on shopping my closet than in the stores, although I do plan to make a small number of strategic purchases before the year is over.
I’m looking to add at least two new pairs of pants to my closet and replace two very worn out pairs of shoes. I’m also replacing some tired undergarments and workout/lounge wear. I used to neglect these important areas of my wardrobe, but I’ve come to understand how essential our foundation pieces are to our outfits and that we need to feel good about how we look while we’re exercising and lounging at home. Everything we wear matters, even if the only ones who’ll be seeing us are our pets. I don’t know about you, but when I feel good about what I’m wearing, I’m more productive and I feel better about myself overall.
I’m also going to shift my attention more fully to other areas of my life beyond clothes and shopping. I’ve been avoiding focusing on some difficult facets of my life, but it’s time to stop avoiding and start facing my problems, even if they are very challenging and feel insurmountable. I can’t shop my problems away and no amount of closet organizing or wardrobe statistics gathering will magically shift other areas of my experience. Try as I might, I just can’t make my issues disappear by avoiding them. More on this in future posts!
Your Thoughts and Experiences?
Now it’s your turn to chime in. How did you do with your shopping and wardrobe during September? Did you end the month on a high note, or were you challenged with overshopping or other issues? What are your plans for finishing 2014 powerfully? Please let me and your fellow readers know how we can support you in honoring your commitments to yourself and making progress on your goals. Feel free to share your wins, challenges, and questions in the comments section of this post.