September 2014 Accountability Update

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.

Telling the Truth

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:

September 2014 Purged Items

I purged these 23 items from my closet in September 2014.

What I didn’t share in my last post was that I also purged seven jewelry items in September.

September 2014 - Purged-Jewelry

I removed these 7 jewelry items from my wardrobe last month. 

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.

September 2014 - New Items

These 8 items were added to my closet during September 2014.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

September 2014 - New Jewelry Items

These are the 4 new jewelry items I bought less month.

  • 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:

September 2014 - Items Worn

Here’s what I wore during September 2014 – 35 garments and 7 pairs of shoes.

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.

49 thoughts on “September 2014 Accountability Update

  1. Debbie, you’re doing so great with your purchases! Under budget too. I also like all the color you’re incorporating into your wardrobe and I’m glad you finally found your black moto jacket. 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Kim! All those returns were what really made the difference. I’m thrilled about the moto jacket, too. I had really hoped the one you told me about would work out, but I now know that I’m sensitive to wool and need to stick to other fibers that will go next to my skin. I’m glad you like the color. I’m no longer a “blackcident,” I guess 🙂

    • Me too, Ginger! I’m just going to take it as it comes, but I’m not motivated to shop resale at this time.

  2. Debbie, you’re doing so well with both your purchases and purging! It’s fabulous that you were able to get rid of 23 items (I read your previous post but didn’t have time to comment). Best of luck for the rest of the year!
    I bought three items of clothing in September. They were basically impulse purchases- all three at once at the same store. One has turned out to be a good purchase, but the other two aren’t as great as I thought and are no longer returnable. Reviewing these three items alerted me to a pattern with my purchases at this particular store. I usually come out with several purchases, and invariably one is successful and the rest are just okay. It’s a fast fashion retailer with very low prices, and despite the questionable quality, I just can’t help myself because their colours and fit are good on me. I’ve tried to avoid the store entirely in the past due to the poor quality, but end up going back there because of the occasional gems I do find there. I realize now I need to get myself out of the “it’s only $20” mentality and limit myself to only one item (if any) when I do go there.
    I did some purging in September, too, and was surprised to find that I now only have 86 items of clothing. I’m feeling a bit nervous being below what I think is my wardrobe set point (about 100), but at the same time I’m managing just find with what I have! My goal for the rest of the year is to add about four more items of clothing and one pair of boots that are on my list, without going over budget.

    • Thanks for your kind words and wishes, Kayla. Congrats on the purging you did in September and the low level of shopping. I think it’s great that you’ve identified potential issues – overbuying at the “fast fashion” store and being below your closet set point. Noticing our patterns is an important first step toward change. Your goal for the rest sounds very reasonable. I wish you the best of luck!

  3. I get a clear feeling that you really are changing your style and getting a more thought-through (wow – english is a hard language) wardrobe. Definitely more edge and less church :-). I bought five things in September: a rollneck jumper, a long cardigan, a pair of sneakers, a pair of Wolford tights and a three-pack of panties (UK Kinky Knickers – they came and they are fabulous). Exactly what I planned in April ;-). And I’m so glad that you and I are also starting to pay more attention to EVERYTHING we wear. We like to shop and get new things, why not extend the pleasure to undergarments and accessories.

    • I’m glad you’re seeing the positive changes in me, Mette. Yes, English is a hard language. I can’t imagine learning it as an adult. I’m not sure when you learned it, but your English is better than some people’s I know who were born here 🙂 I love that your calendar is working so well for you and really focusing your buying and your style. I also love the brand name “Kinky Knickers.” If I were in Europe, I might check those out. Agreed that it’s very important to be happy with our underthings, too!

  4. I really like the items you added as they are different than what you have shown before! No more duplicates hopefully. I’d pair the bronze bag with the blue sandals to try it out. I’ve been taking your advice in your last post and getting rid of items that don’t pass the first impressions test (as I get dressed each day; not all at once). My problem is the opposite of yours. I don’t enjoy shopping, have a very small wardrobe and hold on to items long past their best by date. I’m pushing my self to upgrade what will still be a small wardrobe.

    • I’m going to really try not to make any more duplicates, Juhli! Good idea to pair the bronze handbag with the blue sandals – I’ll give that a try. I think a lot of people struggle with disliking shopping and holding on to things too long. I didn’t think I’d have those types of people follow my blog, but if what I share is helpful for you, too, I’m thrilled with that. I’m not liking shopping as much anymore myself now that I’m being more mindful and deliberate with it. It’s hard work to curate a small but workable wardrobe. I wish you the best with your upcoming wardrobe upgrades!

      • Whether we shop a little or a lot, we all make similar mistakes! I am learning from your analyses as I curate my small wardrobe.

      • Very true, Juhli! I’m glad that my analyses are helpful to those who shop only a little, as well as for shopaholics.

      • A gentle caveat: getting clothes and/or accessories from friends or relatives can be tricky. Just like any great deal, it’s only a win if it works with your coloring, style, body, etc. If that’s the case, high fives all round! However, I think I read that you already have this bag in a colorway that works well with your evolving wardrobe. Do you really need or want your Mom’s bag? If yes, that’s great. But if not, would she consider selling it instead? Try ( and this is really hard for me) not to get caught up in the guilt of “my Mom gave it to me so I can’t get rid of it. . .”

      • You’re right, Amy. I kind of wasn’t sure what to do, so I took the bag and will see if I end up using it. If not, then perhaps I will sell it (my mom wouldn’t have any idea how to do that!) and buy something nice for my mom with the money. I know a lot of us hang on to things because they were gifts from loved ones, but I don’t think those people want us to feel guilty about their gifts. Maybe a post on that topic is in order!

  5. I like your purchases, especially the black caged sandals and Moto jacket.
    Here’s my September update on Project 60! (goal: to have a stylish, workable wardrobe by the age of 60, ie july 2018)

    Stats: starting point (July 2014) around 270 garments, 350 with shoes+scarves.
    Problems: too many things, difficult to find, too much time spent trying to assemble outfits, results not stylish enough. I don’t often overspend, but do shop for wrong reasons, purchases are often random (and poor quality) and haven’t resulted in a coherent personal style
    Aims; buy less but more thoughtfully, fewer total things (number not critical, but probably around 200 would be comfortable); all garments to be fabulous!
    What I’ve done so far: mostly diagnostic, trying to pinpoint what works and doesn’t in my existing collection. I’ve always stuck mostly to flat shoes, trousers, a tee-shirt or knit, and a blazer (I’m small and slim), and while in some ways this is a ‘style’, it’s been rather pragmatic and routine, I’ve paid little attention to cut, detail, image etc.
    Action so far: I’m keeping a spreadsheet of outfits that work (I have for several years) but now I’m highlighting things I really love, the ones that make me happy to wear them. I’m also taking photos of outfits, and examining the effect very carefully.
    I’ll update on progress from time to time!

    • I appreciate your sharing a bit about your Project 60, Alice. It sounds like you’re off to an excellent start! The diagnostic part of making style changes is really important and is often skipped or rushed by many who are eager to hit the stores. The pre-work you’re doing will serve you well. I love that you’re keeping an outfit spreadsheet. It’s much like my outfit journal, which has been more helpful to my journey than pretty much anything else. I wish you continued progress with your exciting style journey!

  6. Setting aside the shoes and accessories for a moment, you bought (and kept) 3 garments in Sept. This number, annualized, is well below your original target of 38 items (which of course included shoes, etc.). As you have developed greater focus on — and comfort with your style — your rate of shopping has slowed. Doesn’t it feel great to know that you are buying clothes that will live with your for a while — less hectic than a dizzying round of buying-and-returning. Final comment on color: I don’t think the person who can successfully wear burgundy or black or charcoal can also successfully wear coral, yellow, and orange. The first is a cool palette and the second is a warm palette. Yes, you can mitigate the impact of these colors with accessories but I wouldn’t buy more of them. But that’s me –a staunch adherent to my color palette for 30 years.

    • I definitely feel better to be buying fewer things, Dottie, and I hope my success ratio increases as I’m being more mindful and deliberate about the whole process. The coral, yellow, and orange garments pictured are all at least 3 years old. I’m not buying those colors anymore (although Imogen Lamport wrote just yesterday that most colors have both warm and cool tones:, but I’m keeping those particular items because I still like them. For my current and future buys, I’m sticking with my defined color palette of black, dark grey, burgundy, cobalt, teal, purple, emerald, fuchsia, and blue-red. I like some other shades of blue, too, but they’re pretty much all cool tones.

      • True, most colors have a “warm” and a “cool” version but only one version of the color is a person’s color palette. The trick is to know which one works best for your own coloring. I’m a cool Winter and actually have a lemon yellow (blue undertones) in my color palette although I never wear yellow — there are too many other pretty colors I like better. My sister, a warm Autumn, wears a dark red-orange with warm undertones and as much as I love this color, I only buy red (blue-red), which has cool undertones. This part is fairly easy, but it can be harder with a “neutral” color like gray or tan or taupe or navy or green. For example, some grays have warm (or greenish or yellowish) undertones, and some have a cool (or blueish) undertone. I try to find “neutral” grays — not too warm and not too cool. It can be a bit of a challenge matching or coordinating gray (or navy or tan, etc.) if you are matching, say, a gray sweater with cool undertones to a gray skirt with warm undertones. For me, the “near-miss” in matching the undertones makes me crazy. Your butter yellow top is a warm color amidst a wardrobe of cool colors. But as you say, it’s an older purchase and maybe someday you’ll replace with the a top in a “cool” cool color that matches your other clothes perfectly. I’ve been wearing for 30 years nearly all of the colors that you wear, although I’ve pulled back on the fuschia for everything but sleepwear.

      • I think those color “outlier” items can work both ways. Yes, you might decide that you prefer to stick to exclusively to a tight color palette and that is a great strategy. On the other hand I think just one or two items in an out-there color can really add to your experience of variety in your wardrobe. For example I am mostly a cool-colors girl but I have ONE lemon-yellow top and it is one of my most-worn tops! I love how it pairs with navy and with burgundy. Same thing with my tomato-red cardigan — not what I usually think of as “my” color, but has added a lot more to my wardrobe than an item that is in my usual palette would have. I have been surprised how happy I have been with both items!

        I think it depends though on where you like your outfit variety to come from — I enjoy variety in color much more than variety in silhouette. It also depends on what sort of color combinations you like — and I often really enjoy unexpected pairings of color and/or pattern. Anyway, I just wanted to put in a plug for the idea that the “rules” here might not be one-size-fits-all.

      • Very good point, Sarah! My coral and orange jackets are good examples of what you’re talking about. They may not be my very best colors, but I like the way they look on me and I generally pair them with items that are in more flattering shades. Like you, I tend to prefer variety in terms of color rather than silhouette, although I’m working to vary the shapes I wear, too. The color combinations you mentioned sound lovely, actually. I can totally see wearing my lemon-yellow tank with either navy or burgundy and I’m going to give that a try!

  7. Great job!!! You continue to inspire me. The new things definitely have taken a turn for the edgier. Don’t limit the blue sandals to blue… Think camel, grey, and try them with something unexpected like burgundy. Play around with the color. Love Sam Edelman ballet flats, I have 3 pairs, they come in gobs of colors and patterns and are well priced, especially at Nordstrom Rack! You are making progress!! I also like that you mentioned addressing other issues in your life…that’s huge! Keep doing what you are doing.

    • I really appreciate your kind words and vote of confidence, Paula. Thank you for the suggestions for the blue sandals. I’m going to play with them and will incorporate your ideas into the mix. When I bought the Sam Edelman ballet flats, the salesman mentioned that many customers have them in multiple colors. The old me would have bought 2 or 3 pairs on the spot, but I’m going to make sure I love the first pair before I buy more. But I am eyeing another pair as a replacement for my very old and tired leopard print ballet flats. I tried to replace them in July (with a Nordstrom Anniversary Sale item), but that didn’t work out. I’m proceeding more slowly with my purchases and giving them more thought and that’s working out better for me.

      • Oh I totally agree with your slower strategy! The flats are quite comfy, I think you will enjoy them a lot! I myself have slowed way down… The multiples are from my “before” days. Thanks again for the blog, it has helped me a LOT!!!

      • I think some multiples can be okay, Paula, and I would be open to getting more than one pair of the flats, especially the patterned pair I’m considering. They seem like they will be very comfortable, but I need the weather to cool down so I can wear some closed-toe shoes. So glad you like my blog!

  8. Debbie, looking at that collage of your purchases for September I see moderation in the clothing purchases and some well-thought-out steps in your desired style direction with the shoes. Well done, and I hope these items work out great for you.

    May I play paper doll for a moment? 🙂 Skinny-ish jeans + black long-sleeve top with ruffles on the front (I think from your benchwarmers post? you like it but often feel it is too dressy) + burgundy ballet flats + bronze purse (I think bronze/copper is SO nice with burgundy) + labradorite earrings. Ah, so cute! Now go out to dinner with your husband! I would absolutely wear something like that to dinner at a casual brewpub in my casual town, I think you can find ways to wear the dressy/polished items that you’re drawn to without feeling too churchy/out of place.

    I’ll share some “what I wore” stats just as a data point, because I think the different ways that people’s numbers shake out is so interesting. Over the course of 6 months my average is 64 items, including shoes, worn per month. That’s about twice the size of a Project 333 capsule. I also have 4 months of data on “# of items worn in the last 3 months” and the average is 109 — just over 3x the size of Project 333. What I’m wearing feels like a good amount of variety to me so I’m starting to think that I would not really enjoy Project 333! After 6 months of tracking what I wear I have 52 items that have been worn 5+ times, including 19 that have been worn at least 10 times. Right now I’m mostly curious about how this will all turn out at the end of 12 months, I’m reserving judgement and not holding myself to any hard goals.

    • I love your “paper doll” idea, Sarah. Thanks for sharing! Maybe that hand-me-down bag from my mom will work out better than I thought. I just need to get into the habit of switching my bags out more often. How great that you are keeping “what I wore” statistics. You seem to be doing very well in that you’re wearing many items multiple times. I’m not quite that far along yet, but I’m improving. It’s good that you recognize your need for outfit variety. There’s nothing wrong with that. Project 333 isn’t for everyone. The important thing is to love and wear our clothes and it sounds like you are!

  9. Debbie, thanks so much for the great inspiration! I’ve been reading for a while, and actually started my own outfit journal blog this summer (, which has been a huge help in figuring out what I like and don’t like. I was pleasantly surprised, because I’ve been keeping track of my outfits and closet in a spreadsheet for a few years now, but it’s amazing how much a visual can help. Anyway, I’m finally commenting because I’ve been looking for a pair of black sandals for a few months now, and the ones you just purchased are great! Do you mind sharing where you got them from?


    • Welcome, Laura, and thanks for sharing your blog. I’m going to check it out in more detail later, but just wanted to wish you a belated Happy Anniversary and say how beautiful you looked in your wedding dress (and in your recent outfits). I’m glad that writing your blog and posting photos has helped you a lot with your style. I would imagine it would.

      As for the black sandals, they are from an New Zealand brand called Ziera. Here’s a link to the store where I bought them (in San Diego, but they have other locations and an e-commerce store): I got them on sale, but it looks like they are regular price online. Perhaps another retailer like Zappos might have them, too. Good luck with finding them! I know it can be very difficult to find some items on our shopping priorities list! I’ve been looking for black jeans for months now, but no luck yet! I know that sounds like an easy item for some, but I have to buy talls and can’t wear the ultra-skinny styles that are most popular now.

      • Debbie, thanks so much for your kind words, and for the sandals link! I’ve heard of this brand before, and it seems like they are a great brand, both stylish, comfortable and good quality, so I will definitely check them out. Good luck with your search for black jeans – this is exactly how my black sandals search has been going, and it can be frustrating, but it’s so rewarding not to settle and finally finding the perfect item!

      • I hope the sandals work out for you, too, Laura! By the way, I had a chance to look at your blog some more and I really like it. I love how you put your “outfit journal” online and I like the categories you’re using. I actually updated my outfit journal to use your categories, as I didn’t have “what would have made it better” before. That’s always an important thing to consider and we can learn a lot from the answers!

  10. I agree with everyone else who posted. I have been shadowing you somewhat but not put in near the effort you or some of your other posters have. Now I see the results and I want it too! You are doing so well at creating your best look.

    • Thanks for your comment, Cheryl. Yes, it does take quite a bit of time and effort to create a workable wardrobe and a sense of style that really resonates for who we are, but it’s well worth it. Just take it day by day and one step at a time and you’ll get there. If you try to do too much at once, it can be daunting, but a bit at a time is doable for all of us!

  11. Debbie, this is great. I can totally see your new style shining through in the new purchases. I especially love the shoes and jewelry! You are getting to a really defined and cohesive look. You are inspiring as always!

    As for me, I bought 4 items in September, which I already mentioned in a previous comment. Two pairs of pants and two pairs of PJ pants. All from Costco. The pants are skinny leg and one pair is burgundy while the other is a dark olive green. I thought the olive green pair were charcoal grey in the store, but once I saw them in broad daylight, my mistake was clear! And while olive green is not a color I would normally buy, I am actually enjoying it. While 4 items is over my 2 items per month limit, I have had quite a few zero item months this year, so I am overall on target, or even slightly below target. I also had a goal for September to purge 5 toppers, which I have done. I am getting ready to purge some skirts and pants – I am finally ready to release everything in that category that doesn’t fit well. And I am going to use your “first impression” technique on my dresses and coats.

    I’m currently looking for some black pants to replace 2 pairs that are wearing out, and some cute flats. I want one colored pair and one black pair (to replace a raspberry pair of flats that are looking very sorry, and 2 black pairs of flats). But I’ve been looking for flats for a couple of months so we’ll see if I find the right replacement or not. I feel the need for a new top too, but it’s not a necessary item so I’ll only buy a top if I see something really good. I do find that setting myself shopping targets really helps me with the “must go splurge now” types of feelings. With a plan in place, I can take my time and find the right item.

    • Thanks for your kind words about my purchases, Sarah. It makes me feel good that others are seeing cohesion and resonance in what I’m buying. It sounds like you’re doing very well with your shopping this year. It’s good that those olive jeans are working out for you even though you thought they were grey in the store! What’s even better is that you’re ready to get rid of the skirts and pants that don’t fit you well. I wish you the best of luck with the “first impression test.” Your point about setting shopping targets for ourselves is a good one. It’s better to take our time to find what really works for us instead of snapping something up because we must have it now!

  12. I really like what you bought this month. The black leather bracelet in particular. The last few months you’ve really narrowed down what kind of things you are buying and they all look like they will suit you.
    I bought 13 things this month. An ivory tank, a black sweater dress, a light grey tunic, a charcoal short sleeve sweater vest, a charcoal tunic, a light grey v neck sweater, a black embroidered peasant top, a black and grey striped sweater hoodie, a silver and black leather bracelet, 2 pairs of black pants, a pair of black leggings, and a light grey short sleeve cardigan. I spent 408.21. Even though I bought more than usual this month I am still about $40 under budget. I got everything on my want/need list for fall and winter and I can say that I’m done. Anything else that I buy for the rest of the year will just be something that is an impulse purchase so I want to make sure there isn’t too many of them.

    • I’m glad you’re seeing progress in terms of what I’m buying Tonya, as you’ve pretty much been here since the beginning and know all of my ups and downs. I think it’s great that you were able to fulfill all of your fall/winter needs during September. That’s eventually the way I’d like to shop, by season instead of pretty much all the time. How wonderful that you are also under budget for the year! As for impulse purchases, I think it’s okay to have a few here and there (sometimes we find some of our best things that way), but many people shop that way all the time. That’s how I used to shop and it didn’t serve me well. I’m doing a lot better with planning what I buy, while still allowing myself to fall in love with the unexpected from time to time.

  13. You got rid of 23 items and only added 8, that’s a very, very successful wardrobe purge! Great job! When I finally do purge clothes, it always feels like a big relief. And you are under budget too, this is excellent progress!

    • That’s a good way of looking at it, Lisa. I’m not doing the “one in, one out” in as much of real time as you are, but that’s my goal, at a minimum. I like that I removed a lot more than I brought in last month. I agree that it’s a big relief to let things go. I think people often underestimate the emotion baggage that keeping unloved and unworn clothing can create.

      • So true! The guilt of wasted money has stopped me many times in the past during a closet purge. Yet when I finally do donate a bag of clothes it feels so good to do so! I’m still working on how to better link the two together so that I I feel happier about purging faster.

      • You and me both! Guilt really does play a large role in all of this. It’s said that guilt is a wasted emotion and that’s usually true, but I still battle it often. Hopefully, we’ll be better able to combat it since we’re getting so much practice as of late!

  14. Wow. What a great job! Let me join in the general congratulations and say that you seem to be aligning your style more and more to its “true North.” It’s fun and exciting to watch.

    Meanwhile, in my seasonal closet switch out, I made the unhappy discovery that several diehard basics have in fact, died. Hard. I got rid of one skirt, one pair of pants, four tees and a nightgown (not counted in the 333 stats). I’m weeding through socks that seem to have multiplied in storage. One pair of jeans will need to be downgraded to “housework only” status. I’m on the fence about one of my cardigans: sturdy but I’m tired of it.

    I also confronted last year’s hits and misses. A hit: an Everlane ivory blouse that fits well, was reasonably priced, and filled a hole in my wardrobe. Another hit: a pair of two-toned lace up brogues that suit my style to a T and just happen to be on trend. And my favorite: a Boden jersey button front shirt that has several of my key colors.

    The misses: a pair of Gap “boyfriend” khakis that looked good in the store but . . . you know the drill. They were on sale but that’s no excuse. A trustworthy friend deemed them just ok: I’m probably stuck with them for at least a season given that a pair of jeans are on their way out. Another miss from a surprising source: Everlane. The mushroom color they carried last year can be hard to find so I was thrilled to see it. So thrilled that I ordered two–two!- of the sweaters, in a boatneck and a scoop. First, the sizes were off, so I exchanged them. When the replacements came, I was bewitched by the color and texture. But the shoulder seams in both sweaters are slightly crooked. And I’m definitely splitting my wears. But I was just sick of the back and forth so I caved. Lesson: I should have made myself decide up front on the neckline that was best and let the other sweater go. Then I’d have only *one* feel-good-but-doesn’t-look-as- great-as-I’d-like sweater. 😦

    On the up side, the blouse, the shirt, the khakis, and the sweaters (plus some nice underwear) were all I have bought this year so far.

    • I like the term “true North,” Amy, and I definitely feel like I”m getting there. I really appreciate the encouragement that you and others are giving me. I’m sorry to hear about the demise of your diehard pieces. I’m sure that’s one of the hardest things about having a smaller wardrobe. I’ve mostly gotten rid of things because I didn’t love them or they didn’t work for me, but now I’m starting to have things wear out, too. It’s tough but it just means we loved and wore those things a lot!

      Good for you for confronting your hits and misses from this year and for learning the difficult lessons about those misses. So many of us have been there, done that, but at least you’re learning from it. Congrats on only buying a few pieces this year and best wishes on finding replacements for the diehard items you’ve had to downgrade or release.

  15. For the blue shoes you added this month, try pairing them with something not blue, or pair them with a striped top, go bold 🙂 You’re doing great!

    • Thanks for the tip and the vote of confidence, Bella. You know I love stripes, so that’s an easy pairing for the shoes!

  16. You’ve done a great job!!! I love these posts and enjoy reading them. I love seeing the accessories you added and am happy for you to see your large purge didn’t trigger shopping. I agree that you’ve really made great progress and I can really see your style shining through 🙂

    • Thanks for your kind words, Meli! I think I’m in the place of being able to lower my closet “set point” now, so I was okay with letting go of more items without going on a shopping binge. I feel like I’m finally starting to “get it” regarding my wardrobe, shopping, and style. It’s taken a while, but I feel like I’m in a much better place!

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