October 2014 Accountability Update

It’s now November and the holidays are right around the corner.  Sometimes I wonder where this year has gone!  Before we know it, 2015 will be here.   I should probably check in with you soon regarding my wardrobe and life goals for 2014, but for now it’s time for my October 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 goals, and some readers have opted to share their own updates in the comments section to stay accountable, too.

Full Honesty and Accountability

Honesty and accountability can help in our recovery.

What Left My Closet and Why

I always start these reports with what left my closet during the previous month.   In October, I purged four items from my wardrobe:

  • 1 dress
  • 1 pair of shoes
  • 1 top
  • 1 skirt
October 2014 Purged Items

I purged these four items from my wardrobe last month.

Sadly, both the dress and skirt were purchased this year and were only worn twice and once, respectively.   I’m still making mistakes with my shopping, but doing these updates is helping me to learn from my errors and gradually improve my track record.

Why I Purged These Items

In addition to posting photos of what left my closet, I also list why I decided to release those pieces.   I highly recommend that you keep track of why you purge things from your closet, too, as it will really increase your awareness.  Pinpointing our reasons for purging wardrobe items can help us to notice patterns and avoid future mistakes.

Starting at the left from the photo above, here’s what I let go of and why:

  • Black and cream print midi dress: I wrote an entire post about why I’m passing this dress on, so I don’t need to elaborate too much here.  One thing I will say, though, is that the dress was yet another consignment buying mistake!   Fortunately, I’ve steered away from resale shopping (my recent analysis scared me straight, I think!) and have shopped retail stores and e-commerce sites exclusively for the past two months – and counting.
  • Black and cream print ballet flats: I really wanted these shoes to work out, as they were comfortable and I loved the print.  However, when wearing them around my apartment (which I often do with shoes to double-check the comfort factor), I noticed that they were very slippery on our hard-wood floor.   Since I don’t want to slip and fall when I’m out and about, I opted to return the shoes to the store.   These shoes were a bit lower-priced than most of the shoes I purchase, so perhaps the rubber sole was of inferior quality. I think I’m going to stick with higher-end shoes from now on, as the last thing I need to do is land on my posterior in public!
  • Black and cream striped top:  This top is a few years old but hadn’t been worn very much.  This was an example of a top that looked good when I was standing still, but didn’t stay in place well.   The cowl-style neck would often hang in a funny way and the material in general would stretch such that the stripes looked curved instead of straight.  I was going to wear it last week and changed into something else just before leaving my house.  At that point, I decided it was time for the top to go!   I’m really done with “fussy” clothes and am gradually purging all of the ones I have from my closet.
  • Denim flared skirt:  Sigh…  This was yet another consignment store failure.   I think I purchased this skirt with “sales goggles” on; either that or I grew impatient after searching for over a year to find the right denim skirt for me.  In any event, I didn’t like the way this skirt looked or felt during its one wearing last month.   The material was too stiff and the hem was simply too flared for my current style aesthetic.   I have a denim pencil skirt on order that I hope will fit my needs, but if not, I’ll keep looking.  Some items on my shopping priorities list have been there for months or even years, but that’s okay.  It’s better to be patient and wait for what we truly want than to settle for less!

What Came Into My Closet

My primary buying focus during October centered on the often neglected areas of my wardrobe.   I purchased a few new tops and pants to wear while working out and lounging at home.  I also took advantage of an online sale to buy some new underwear.   I’m going to make a habit of re-evaluating these areas of my closet at least twice per year, as I spend a lot of time exercising and feel much better about myself when I’m wearing clothes that are in good condition.  And it goes without saying how very important our foundation garments are to the look and feel of our outfits.   I know it’s more fun to shop for other areas of our wardrobes, but we’re better off spending our money on those things we wear most often.

In addition to the items mentioned above, I also added 3 new garments to my standard wardrobe:

  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 2 long-sleeved tops

Those pieces are shown in the photo below.

October 2014 - New Items

I added these three items to my closet during October 2014.

Why I Added These Items to My Wardrobe

Here are my reasons for selecting my October items:

  1. Black jeans:  I’ve been trying to replace my circa-2007 black jeans for years now, but haven’t had any luck.  Everything I’ve found previously has either been too short for my giraffe legs or much too skinny in fit to be comfortable.  My new jeans are billed as “trouser jeans,” but they are more fitted and less flared (at least on me) than what’s generally the case for that style.   They also have a decent amount of stretch in them, so I’m hoping they will be comfortable for all-day wear.  The jeans are currently with my tailor for a slight alteration, but I look forward to wearing them soon.
  2. Navy/turquoise waffle top:  Waffle-weave tops are a go-to item for me during the cooler months.  I wear them when working at home, as well as when I go out to run errands or for a casual event (which almost all of my life occasions are).   I love stripes, as you know, but I’m trying to buy them more sparingly and expand my color options beyond the standard black and white.   Turquoise is a favorite color of mine and navy is a nice alternative to my stand-by of black.  I see myself wearing this top with jeans a lot over the coming 6-8 months.
  3. Purple waffle top with grey trim:  My reason for purchasing this top is the same as for the navy/turquoise one.  In fact, I bought them at the same time and have already worn this one.   I love the color and the top is very comfortable.

I also purchased a pair of jeans during the same shopping trip as when I bought the two waffle tops, but I’m going to return them and hold out for a better option.   The jeans look great on me, but don’t pass the comfort test.  After wearing them around my apartment for a short period of time, I started having pins-and-needles nerve pain in my legs.  The jeans are billed as “straight-legs,” but they’re pretty skinny on me and the material isn’t stretchy enough to eliminate pain issues.

Ponte knit has been suggested to me by several readers, so I’m going to search long and hard for pants made from that material in tall sizes.   I hope to find some, as the weather is finally cooling down and I really need to find pants that I can comfortably wear all day long.   Many of my pants are fine for a few hours or if I’m mostly going to be standing, but I’ve gotten into trouble too many times with pants that are painful to sit in.  I don’t know how many of you share my struggle.  For all I know, I may be alone in it, as I see women wearing ultra-tight pants all the time.  Either they’re suffering for the sake of fashion or they feel perfectly comfortable in their pants.   Whatever the case may be, I’m determined to find a solution to my pants conundrum.  Life’s too short to wear uncomfortable pants, at least for me!

And Then There’s the Accessories…

I’ve written quite a bit about my efforts to pare down my jewelry collection (see my two most recent posts on this topic here and here).  I didn’t realize until recently just how overloaded that area of my wardrobe had become. Although I don’t have a set limit for how many accessories I can buy, I find it helpful to report my new acquisitions each month and stay accountable to all of you.

Last month, I managed to purge 26 pieces of jewelry from my collection.  The details are recapped in this post, but here’s a reminder of the items I’m passing on:

Purged Jewelry Pieces - October 2014

Purged Jewelry Pieces – October 2014

By contrast, I only purchased two new jewelry pieces during October.   Not only do I love my new items, I also feel they are quite different in style from what I already have.  Here’s a snapshot of the new earrings and necklace I bought last month.  Read on for my reasons for making these purchases.

New Accessories - October 2014

I added this pair of earrings and necklace to my wardrobe in October 2014.

  • Silver/green beaded earrings: I love the art deco style of these earrings.  They are lightweight and just the right length to be striking but not overwhelming.   I wear a lot of green and blue and feel these earrings will coordinate well with my outfits.  They’ll also look nice with my black, purple, burgundy, and grey garments.
  • Green beaded necklace: When Bridgette Raes reviewed my jewelry collection last month, one of her primary observations was that almost all of my necklaces were silver.   I vowed to add a few colored necklaces to my collection and was thrilled to find this green statement necklace a little over a week ago.   I love that it’s adjustable and frames my face quite nicely.   The color looks good with my complexion and hair, as well as with my cool-toned color palette.

2014 Item Limit Update

When I originally laid out my shopping and wardrobe goals for the year back in January, I decided to dramatically reduce 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 September, I had purchased 45 qualifying items (workout clothing, accessories, undergarments, and gifts don’t count).   During October, I returned one item and added three, for a net addition of two items.  Consequently, I am now at 47 new items for the year and can add up to 6 more garments, shoes, and purses to my closet before December 31st.  So basically I can add three new items per month and still meet my goal.

October 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 October, I spent a total of $289.05 on garments and accessories.  However, because of returns made back in September, I am still under my budget for the year by $44.79.  As long as I don’t spend more than $444.79 on clothing and related purchases between now and December 31st, I will finish 2014 under budget for the second year in a row.

That feels very doable to me at this point, but I have to remain mindful of my spending with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holidays coming up.  I had planned to allow myself a larger budget for the last two months of the year, but since I overspent during the summer, I no longer have that option.   I just have to remain strong and remember both my commitments and my needs (which are much lower than my wants!) and I will finish the year on a high note!

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 October, I wore 29 garments and 7 pairs of shoes, which is not that much larger than a Project 333 wardrobe capsule.   I actually wore 7 fewer garments in October than I did during September.   It’s getting easier and easier for me to get by with less, especially since I’m no longer forcing myself to wear wardrobe “benchwarmers.”  If I wear something and am not happy with it, it’s much easier for me to pass it along instead of agonizing over how to make it work.

I still struggle with guilty feelings over wasted dollars, but I’m realizing more and more that making ourselves feel bad over “sunk costs” is counterproductive to our growth.  It’s far better to let go of unloved pieces and internalize the lesson than to hang on to closet mistakes just because we spent ill-advised money on them.   If we’re not using the items anyway, what good are they doing hanging in our closets?  Wouldn’t it be better to pass them on to someone who can use them and focus on wearing those pieces we do love?  I think so!

Here’s a photo of the items I wore during October 2014:

Items Worn October 2014

These were the items (29 garments and 7 pairs of shoes) that I wore during October 2014.

October was still pretty hot where I live, so I mostly wore dresses and skirts and didn’t need toppers much of the time.   My color palette is getting tighter, with mostly black, blue, green, and burgundy items taking center stage. My shoes are still mostly black and metallic, but I’ve been enjoying wearing my new blue sandals over the past two months.   Now that it’s getting cooler, I expect to also start wearing my new burgundy ballet flats and I may opt to add another pair of colored shoes to my closet before the year is over (or perhaps early in 2015).

Next Steps and Conclusion

My primary focus for the remainder of the year (in terms of my wardrobe anyway) will be to add a few new pairs of comfortable pants to my closet.   As I’ve mentioned numerous times in the past, pants are my most challenging wardrobe item.   I used to avoid shopping for pants because it’s so frustrating, but that led to a major closet gap that adversely impacted many of my outfits.   Over the past year or so, I’ve gradually been working to upgrade my pants wardrobe, but it hasn’t been an easy road.   I have to order most of my pants online because of my height and I probably return at least five times as many items as I keep.

But I’m going to remain vigilant and committed, as I know my persistence will pay off.   Other closet priorities include slimmer style skirts and a few replacement pairs of shoes.   I understand that these purchases will likely filter into next year and I’m okay with that.   I’m becoming more patient and willing to wait for the right items, rather than buying out of urgency and only wearing something a few times before realizing it just doesn’t meet my needs after all.

I’m also going to continue my outfit journal and follow through on the styling suggestions given to me by Bridgette Raes (see here, here, and here).   I feel like I’m finally finding a sense of style that resonates for me after many years of aimless and frenetic shopping.   I have found that I dress better with fewer clothes in my closet and that I buy smarter when I purchase less overall.

It takes a long time to cultivate a workable wardrobe, but I feel I’m making good progress as a result of my commitment and the awareness I’ve gained through blogging for almost two years.  Now I just have to keep on keeping on and taking it one day at a time. With a little faith and a lot of hard work, I’ll get to where I want to be!

Your Thoughts and Experiences?

Now it’s your turn to chime in.  How did you do with your shopping and wardrobe during October?  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.

59 thoughts on “October 2014 Accountability Update

  1. A great accountability post! your new necklace and earrings are stunning. A worthwhile addition to your collection.

    I did a ruthless purge in October and got rid of 30 items. I’ve moved to a rural area with my family since September and even though our new home has more and larger closets, I decided to pare down further to my already small wardrobe. I came here with 115 or so items and now I’m down to 85 including shoes and bags. I don’t count jewelry and winter accessories like hats and scarves since I own so few of those to begin with. Living here really reduced my desire to acquire any fantasy items since my daily activities does not involve seeing many other people other than my family. The times when I do go into the city to meet with friends and have the opportunity to wear nicer items, I still don’t simply because I don’t care anymore. I don’t wear jogging suits and look like a slob or anything but my daily look is even simpler than before. When the weather was warm, I threw on a dress and wore the same two pairs of sandals. Now that the weather is cooler, I wear the same 2 jackets and 3 sweaters. I also realized that I just don’t need that many pairs of trousers and jeans. Realistically, I only need 2 pairs of trousers and 2 pairs of jeans. (I still own 3 times that amount) The more important factor is that I am finally able to let go of the items that I’ve been hanging onto that I paid A LOT of money for but never worn and never will wear, especially with bags and shoes. I’ve never been a bag person but I finally sold the one designer bag that I’ve been hanging onto that I NEVER used. It was one of those items that was for the ‘just in case’ moments. It was very liberating.

    I think the amount I have is good now. I will always be refining my wardrobe but the items that made me feel guilty are finally gone. Now I just have to be diligent in transferring the money I made from the sold items directly to my bank account and not use it to buy new shinny items to ‘reward myself’! Recovering some of the money I spent and having a wardrobe that I’m happy with ARE the rewards.

    • I was so pleased to read your update, Wendy. You really have come a long way! How wonderful that you’ve been able to pare down so much and have gotten rid of things that made you feel guilty. You’re so right that having a wardrobe you’re happy with is the best reward. Keep up the great work!

  2. It seems to me that your recent purchases are much more thoughtful, the colour palette especially is becoming very defined and clear, as reflected in the new jewellery.
    On my Project 60: I’m doing it by season (developing seasonal capsules from my over-abundance of garments) so will report on numbers near the end of the autumn. However I’ve made progress in the colour area. At the start of the autumn, as a way of bringing some cohesion to my capsule, I decided to focus on brown, denim blue and burgundy. Almost as an afterthought I threw pink into the mix (I have hardly any pink items). To my surprise, this palette has worked really well, including, in fact especially, the pink. A big splash of bright colour helps to avoid the ‘uniform’ problem I mentioned in an earlier post. I’ve no intention of developing a pink-focussed wardrobe, but it was an interesting lesson that it’s the mix of garments that matters, more than each individual piece. This post, showing mixing 3 colours, was especially helpful: http://www.bridgetteraes.com/2014/03/02/how-to-wear-color-to-work/ (The Vivienne Files are also great.). I’m already planning winter palette; maybe brown, cream, grey and green.
    Thanks for the regular updates.

    • I love how much thought you are giving your color palette, Alice. I can see how the addition of a few pink items would make a big difference in your wardrobe (many of the posts on the Vivienne Files really illustrate the power of less). Bridgette’s post on wearing color to work is excellent and helpful even for those who work from home or don’t work at all. You’re doing great – it seems like Project 60 is off to a wonderful start!

  3. Wow, you are doing so very well! I can tell you have gained great understanding of your issues, taste and needs. I so hear you on the pant length problem and ordering online…. I have the same issue, but in the opposite direction, as I am just shy of five feet tall. Most stores have very little in the way of petites. I just went through ordering about 8 different plain black pencil skirts… Finally kept one! It’s frustrating to be a special size, but we have to persevere. Keep up the good work!!!

    • I know that petites face a lot of shopping challenges, too, Paula. I feel your pain about having to order 8 black pencil skirts to find one good one, but I’m glad you finally experienced success! You’re right that we do have to persevere and it can be time-consuming and exhausting, but it’s worth it when we find something that meets our needs.

  4. This month was a reminder to me of why it’s important to constantly be checking in. In addition to several very good purchases (running tights, a sweater dress and two new pairs of jeans) I also bought two statement necklaces on a lark. Unfortunately they’re not returnable and neither of them are something that I gravitate to very often. I could have easily gotten by with just one of them. They were very inexpensive so I don’t feel bad about immediately donating one of them but I’m not interested in keeping it around.

    I had a Bridget Raes-inspired moment this month and realized that I have two black dresses and two navy dresses that serve the exact same purpose. All four of them are slim-fitting, conservative work dresses that can be worn most of the year. I can’t imagine a clearer case of her “splitting wears” philosophy so I got rid of one of the black and one of the navy. (I work in a very conservative environment so most of my work wear is black/navy/gray so I don’t really consider having the same thing in black and navy as duplication.)

    • Congrats on recognizing that you were “splitting your wears,” Sara, and for passing on the duplicate dresses. I know I’m still splitting my wears with some things, too, and am gradually working to get rid of duplication. About the necklaces, at least you recognized your mistake and are willing to donate one of them and move on. Awareness is power and you’re less likely to have a repeat incident.

    • Thank, Juhli. I do feel that I’m making better decisions and making progress, but I appreciate when others acknowledge that!

  5. What a shame abt your blk& cr flats- they are an excellent essential flat that would have worked perfect for your wardrobe. A tip when encountering shoes that appear slippery- many of the higher priced footwear have this issue because the sole is actual leather not rubber- all my reppetto flats as well as my shorter walking boots( known as ropers here in AB as their purpose was for on the ranch activities like cow / horse roping,corral work,etc.) which are outrageously priced but last forever- have these so in essence no tread on the sole. There are 2 good solutions- number one is take them to any good cobbler and they can add on tread to the soles and heels if necessary( this is actually the only thing I do when I get a shoe like this before wearing- it also extends the life of the shoe/ I have repettos that are more than 7 years old and they look new even though I have worn them constantly in everyday life as well as on most trips ) and the other
    is to take coarse sandpaper and go crazy on the sole (just an FYI even Hermes jumping boots at about 1800 dollars nor do their various sandals- all are smooth hard leather soles and heelshave no sole or heel tread and must have these added to be safe to walk in and many many high priced mens shoes have the same issue and get cobbler treads done before wearing). So if you still really like these flats, you can also repurchase and have this done by a cobbler- quite inexpensive and I usually pay abt 25 Can per pair

    • Very helpful info. I have often gone to the cobbler for other things but not this, but will now consider for some items. Repetto flats are so charming but look so fragile. How great that you can keep wearing them! Is the tread subtle enough to retain the delicate look of the flats?

    • Thanks so much for these suggestions, Abgurl. I considered putting treads on the shoes, but the rubber was grooved and I didn’t think it would work. My more expensive shoes tend to be less slippery, but it’s good to know that price is not necessarily a good indicator of that. It’s also good to know about the options for dealing with slippery shoes in the future. I’m also curious about Amy’s question, as I’d also like to retain the delicate look of my flats.

      • Hi Ladies,
        Yes the flat still retains its” delicate” look.
        I know at my cobbler he has different types of treads that vary in thickness. He uses abit thicker tread with more notches/ grooves for any of my boots and such that I need good traction while the treads for my flats are thinner. You can not tell there is any at all on the various shoes unless you were to turn them over and looked at the sole.
        Amy – just an FYI for keeping shoes of all types in great shape esp Repettos for as you mention they are very delicate( almost flimsy in nature although bloody expensive). As soon as I get a new pair of footwear I immediately spray with a waterproofer all season protector. I do all the shoe ensuring that I do both the inside and outside including the soles& heels. I let dry for an hour and do a second time. After this I will do them again periodically , about 4 to 6 months for as long as I have the shoe. With boots I do the same usually at the start if the wearing season and then before I put them away for the season. If they are leather like my riding boots I will also polish them before putting them away using boot trees( both my riding boots are now more than 7 yrs old and still like new). I also check for wear on the soles and will take them to the cobbler for new treads every so often( so far it has only been once I have to do this). And the most impirtant thing I do though is everytime I wear any shoe/boot is before they get put away for the day, I will wipe off the soles/ heels with a damp papertowel to remove any dirt as well as on the shoe itself. Seems like alot of work all together but really only takes abit of time and footwear will last & last in great shape. Actually for anything that is leather or suede from jackets to purses to belts,etc. I do the protector. I suspect Tandy or Tana ( the cos that make these) will never go out of business with the amount I buy!

      • Oh this reminds me that I was going to give you guys an update on my leather dyeing experiment. I took a brown pair of doc martens boots, stripped the finish, and dyed them black using Fiebings products. The color took very well, and it was kind of a fun (if messy) process. I did run into a little difficulty sealing the boots back up after dyeing, as it seems like the color rubs off a bit on my fingers (although luckily not on clothes or furniture). Maybe next time I will put more elbow grease into removing excess before rewaxing the boots with leather conditioner and waterproofing, or using a different product to seal the leather.
        Has anyone else attempted leather dyeing?

      • Good for you for dyeing your boots yourself, Sarah! I had a pair dyed by a cobbler last year and it turned out well. I don’t know that I would have had the guts to take it on myself. I’m even nervous to dye some clothes, but I would like to give that a try soon. When I dyed my brown boots black, they went from being a “benchwarmer” to being an “all-star.” I’m just not into brown anymore. I hope your boots will be all-stars, too!

      • They sort of have to be all-stars because I’m required to wear them at work! I’m also nervous to dye clothes because I would think it’s really hard to get the excess dye out of your washer and I’ve already had one bleach incident this year. I didn’t really care if these boots were “ruined” because they are pretty old and just my work boots anyway. I think I might try again on a purse that’s getting worn out. It’s a good idea to practice on things you might get rid of anyway.

      • I’ve dyed a lot of clothes over the years with varying success. The newer the item the better it has worked because the slightest stain you can’t even see can cause uneven dying. My best recent attempts have been a sweater I’d had a few years and never worn because the color just wasn’t right, and a light blue cardigan bought in the sale to dye turquoise. Both worked well, although the final color can be unpredictable depending on the fabric and start color. So read the label well as some fabrics need special dyes and some fabrics don’t take dye. Wash the item first, rinse, wring and put into the dye wet, and keep it moving or the dye will be patchy. Best of luck.

      • I really appreciate your taking the time to share all of this, Abgurl. I know many of us can use tips for keeping our shoes in good share, so thank you!

      • I’m nervous with dying too because my mom used to always get streaks when she did it. I’m not sure if the dyes have improved since then. An alternative to the washing machine is a croc pot. I’ve seen several blogs use them instead of the washer for readying dark jeans. Haven’t tried it myself yet but thought I would mention it.

  6. Hi Debbie,

    I really appreciate how honest you are with your readers. It’s not easy to place yourself in the public’s eye and have people scrutinize how much you spend and what you are buying, . It must be difficult to take it all of it in! Don’t let the negativity get to you, you are making progress!

    With that being said, a lot of your posts have helped me a great deal. I was really surprised to see how much I spend on clothes and how many items leave my closet so quickly. I decided there was no sense in crying over spilled milk, all I can do is learn from it.

    Since starting my closet purges and inventory, I have gotten rid of A LOT of items and brought in A LOT as well. However, I am now shopping with a purpose and goal. For example, I had about 10 sweatshirts/hoodies (because a few years ago I was a college student). Do I ever use them now that I am a full time employee? No. I just felt bad getting rid of them because I’d spent money on them. In the end they were taking up space in my closet and making it harder to find pieces I really do want to wear. I kept 3 and got rid of the rest. I’m working on assessing what I use and don’t use and realizing that some things are WANTS not NEEDS. From the readers point of view, this seems like something you could still work on. You seem to buy a lot of items and I sometimes am left wondering why you “needed” those items when you say your daily life is very casual. Do you like to have a lot of variety in your outfits? I think a lot of times we think we need something when we actually don’t. For example, I love the current trend of faux fur vests. I really want one but after thinking about how many toppers I have for the winter months, I realized I don’t NEED a faux fur vest, I already have a puffer vest and faux leather jacket. I’m sure either option would work in whatever outfit I’d like to pair it in. We don’t really NEED black trousers and grey trousers, light jeans and dark jeans, etc we just prefer to have more options. Something I started working on is playing around with pieces I already own and pairing them differently. Usually, I end up getting compliments and asking if x is new. It’s not! It just looks completely different paired with different items. I end up repeating pieces but not outfits at all. I have less clothes then I started out with but feel like I have more to wear.

    In August I shopped a lot, as I also took advantage of the Nordstrom’s sale and by September I honestly was not in the mood to shop at all. I was over the hours of time it takes to find the best deal, to find the perfect shoe, etc. It took me 3 returned pairs of riding boots to finally find the ones I kept and same for black booties. Yes, buying a good shoe/dress/skirt/etc is better than buying on sale as you likely end up spending more money buying another! But it’s also exhausting. I took September to really play around in my closet and appreciate what I did have and put outfits together. Then in October I shopped a lot and am now taking another break this month. I think I pretty much have everything I need at this point. Give it a try, you may find it helpful to have a shopping hault – you might see that you have a lot more things you do like than WANTS/ gaps in your closet.

    Hope my experience so far is helpful!

    • Thank you for your compliment on my honesty, Millie. Yes, it can be hard to put myself up to public scrutiny, but I’m happy that my doing so has helped both myself and other people. You’re right about the distinction between wants and needs, but it can be a difficult thing to determine sometimes. Most of what a lot of us buy are really wants and not true needs. Congrats on shopping your closet more often and better using what you have. My ultimate goal is to just shop at the beginning of each season to fill gaps and upgrade my wardrobe and then shop my closet for the remainder of the year.

  7. *Some wants I see for example, are the necklace and earrings. You seem to have A LOT of pieces of jewelry. Would an outfit you wear these new purchases with not work with any other necklace/earrings you already own?

    P.S. I love the purple waffle long sleeve! It’s cute and seems like a very versatile piece!

    • True, I didn’t really NEED the new necklace and earrings, as I do have a lot already. They were more wants, but they ARE different from what I already have, which was my goal. I’m going to allow myself to make some strategic jewelry purchases, especially for the types of items recommended to me by Bridgette Raes. As for the purple waffle top, I do think it will be a versatile piece in my wardrobe!

  8. Hi Debbie! Every month I notice the “what I wore” section is becoming more and more cohesive and the color palette is so “you”! I hope you can see the progress as well as we can. I’m also a little apprehensive about the Black Friday madness this year because after my purges this year, I actually have quite a few gaps to fill. So to control my spending I made a list of a few priorities that I will look to see if they are on sale on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. I will not allow myself any off-list shopping, and I’ll do it all online because I can’t stand the crowds.

    I’ve also started experimenting with a new way to control my budget. Although I haven’t gotten totally out of control, I don’t like putting things on credit and having a balance month after month. So I’ve opened a new savings account with my online bank (Capital One 360), and have an automatic savings plan transfer a budgeted amount of money into it each week. I can only spend what is in that account. If this works out for me, I plan to use my rewards credit card for the amount in my savings, and then pay it off immediately.

    Also, I know some people disagree with you raising your item limit mid-year, but I think it’s important to recognize that all SUSTAINABLE changes happen slowly, a lot like weight loss or politics! I’ve read that sustainable weight loss should be done at no more than a 20% deficit so I think 30% of your wardrobe is pretty ambitious.

    I think Millie makes a good point about wants vs. needs as well. Living in the first world we sometimes lose sight of our privilege and I think it’s good to check in with that once in a while. However, at least for me, the goal is to have a mixable, flexible wardrobe that makes it so easy to get dressed I hardly have to think about it, and don’t have to worry about shopping anymore. It’s more difficult than I thought to get to that goal (especially with fluctuating weight), and I think some people need to experiment more than others as to what works for them in terms of style, comfort and confidence.

    • Thanks for noticing the progress I’ve made, Sarah, and for validating my raising my item limit mid-year. You’re right that sustainable change takes time, which is why I’m not being too hard on myself for buying more than my original intention. It sounds like you have a good plan in place for facing holiday shopping. I think I will do the same in terms of having a list and not buying anything that’s not on it. I love your new method for controlling your budget, too. You’re doing great!

  9. gosh, Debbie, you’re doing so well. Love the new items and necklace is fab. I thought of you today as I was dithering over a purple maxi skirt that would have been lovely with a purple jumper I already own for Christmas. and then I thought as Debbie says where else would I go in this and decided sadly that I wouldn’t, and I put it back. Previously I would have bought it and worn it once. baby steps, but that’s how you start a walk to the moon…you are inspiring lots of us!

    • I’m glad that thinking of me helped you to avoid an impulse purchase, Cathy. It’s actually Bridgette Raes who originally coined the question, “Where are you going in that?” It’s saved me from making ill-advised buys, too. Baby steps are great and how lasting change happens. They are less scary to do and really add up. You’re doing well – keep up the great work!

  10. Hi Debbie!

    It’s great to read about your continuing progress in this accountability post. These posts are so fun to read! Not only have you cleared out more mistakes–you’re getting better at spotting them quickly. And the additions sound like really good choices for your life: better workout wear, foundations, and tops that already work with what you’ve got but help to build on your evolving color palette. I especially like the new necklace, because it pulls several colors together in an interesting way. I wonder what Brigette will say?

    But mostly, I wanted to mention how impressive I think it is that there are so *few* items in either the cull or purchase categories. Your shopping is much more focused–and so is your culling. It’s all coming together for you and that’s terrific.

    You invite us to share our own wardrobe woes here. The last time I posted, I think I remarked that the transition into my fall/winter wardrobe was rough: I had to cull several workhorse items from an already small wardrobe. For the first time in a while, I went shopping to replace them and was shocked by the poor quality of clothing that’s out there. Just try to find 100 percent wool in a skirt, pant, or jacket. And a full day spent trying on jeans left me feeling rather raw.

    So I decided to do–nothing. What would happen if I didn’t replace those beloved gray flannel trousers, or that smart patterned pencil skirt? If I just kept wearing jeans that were worn out (and not in a cool way) around the house and wore my suede skirt or my nicer wool more frequently?

    So far, so good. I won’t lie–it would be fun to load up on new things, if I could find things I wanted. I won’t make a virtue of necessity. But as has been said so many times, I now find myself reaching for things I love but just didn’t wear as much–and I think I’m looking better, not worse. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 😉

    • You’re so right about the declining quality. Sometimes I think we should all put together a collaborative list of where you can still buy QUALITY clothes but I wouldn’t want to encourage anyone to overshop.

      • Oh do not get me started on the clothing quality issue!!! Some of the fabrics look to me like the textile equivalent of mystery meat! And what in the world is a fabric called “other”? And the faux leather… We still eat meat, where is the real leather going? And the see through t-shirts and knitwear… It’s depressing, especially for someone who loves natural, nice fabrics :-). I wish manufacturers would leave off the over done details, and concentrate on a smooth seam… I daydream!

    • I really appreciate you acknowledging my progress, Amy. I think Bridgette would approve of the new necklace and earrings. She told me no more blue. Green is close, but still different 🙂 Maybe I’ll branch out more next time… I hear you, Sarah, and Paula on the quality issue! That’s a big part of why some of my favorite wardrobe pieces are among my oldest items. They really don’t make things like they used to! I would be in favor of posting a round-up of places where we can still buy quality clothes. Yes, there’s a risk that it might push some people to overshop, but I think the collective wisdom may be able to help all of us. Perhaps I can ask for feedback at the end of a future post and consolidate it all at a later date.

      • Ahhh Debbie- how about a lovely burgundy or wine color necklace or similar color for your next purchase? The color would look great with everything in your chosen palette.

      • That would be great, Abgurl! I’ve been keeping my eyes open for jewelry in my palette colors and haven’t seen much. But when I do, I will be sure to snap something up!

      • Agreed, Meli! Bridgette recommended purple jewelry for me. I haven’t found anything I like in the stores, so I’ll probably peruse online, as there are always more choices there (as you well know).

  11. Great job Debbie!! Such a difference from where you were just a year ago.

    I didn’t buy any clothes in October, which wasn’t necessarily a conscious choice as I did go out looking a couple of times, but I didn’t find anything that really excited me. [That, in itself, is a huge improvement, as I’m finding I am able to be much more dispassionate and careful about my purchases.] I did buy some underwear but I’m not tracking that as closely, except I am trying to do “1 in, 2 out” on those purchases so that eventually absolutely everything in my closet will be well organized and of the right amount. I did a pants/skirts purge, so now for the first time ALL my pants and skirts actually fit and are worn regularly. There are no more “I might fit into that again one day” or “but I spent so much money on that” lurkers. I still need to do some more purging on other wardrobe categories, but I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I have also decided to implement a stricter budget on myself – I have had a 2-item per month limit all year, which has worked well and will stay in place, but I have added a dollar amount of $60 per month. This amount will roll over, so if I spend nothing one month I’ll have $120 available the following month.

    • You are doing great, Sarah! Congrats on doing a pants/skirt purge and now having only those pieces you actually wear regularly in your closet. I also think it’s fabulous that you are being more careful with your purchases and staying away from impulse buys. Adding a dollar amount to your monthly limit is smart, too, and I like that you can carry it over in months when you don’t shop. I’d like to get better about carrying over my budget, too, especially since I’d like to buy fewer and higher quality pieces moving forward.

  12. Debbie, you have come along way and are finding your rhythm. After years of willy-nilly shopping it takes a while to find the right balance. When I transitioned (about 3 years ago) from a mostly work-place centered and dressier wardrobe, to a predominately casual wardrobe (like you are doing now) I needed to do a lot of style searching and buying and returning and thinking and planning and the process felt endless. But ultimately I did reach a place where came to know that my closet was in good enough shape to let go of the constant vigil and just live my life and see what happened next. I made notes of my wants and needs and fulfilled some of them and let others slide. But like you mentioned, figuring all of this out takes time and you have made great strides.

    I’m in another new transition where I’m discovering more and more that I need far less nicer “city-wear” and “out-and-about” clothing because my every-day life now centers on home and hearth, with long hours of writing, daily cooking (which I love) and long early morning walks, and my days are filled with sweet dogs and cats (and pet hair) and sweet babies and children, and an assortment of casually dressed family and friends. While I always want to look and feel my best, I’ve reached a happy place where I have a tiny capsule wardrobe suitable for going out and about, and a collection of stay home clothes I feel good about wearing. The jewelry I wear daily remains the same whether I stay home or leave the house; three silver bracelets (the ones I was wearing when we had lunch) and I have a small collection of favorite earrings and each day I choose a pair to wear according to my hearts desire. One important thing I came to understand after our lunch conversation is that I need to STOP saving that black EF silk t-shirt for good, and wear it on a regular basis because it is by far the best shirt for layering, and can and should be a workhorse in my wardrobe. Love having your friendship, and all of the readers here, helping to keep me accountable! Although I don’t shop much these days (did buy two shirts and a replacement winter coat in Sept/Oct) but I’m still fighting that urge to save some of my favorite (casual) pieces for “good.”

    • I love when you share your experience, Terra, as you are a few steps ahead of many of us with your wardrobe and shopping. It’s comforting to know that the challenges I’m experiencing are normal and part of the process. I am actually in a similar transition to you in terms of needing to cultivate a better collection of stay at home clothes. I’ve been in this place for a while but kept thinking things might change. If they do, I’ll face it then, but now I want to have more clothes that I can be comfortable in at home while still feeling attractive (and that I can also wear out of the house if I want/need to). I definitely think you should wear that silk EF t-shirt and I’m glad to hear that you wear your lovely silver bracelets at home as well as out. Saving things “for good” is a very common problem, but it’s also common to end up rarely wearing such things. It’s far better to wear and enjoy what we have, even if we’re just at home or engaging in very casual activities.

  13. Debbie, it’s wonderful to see your progress each month,. I liked your comment about being able to wait until the right garment comes along. I’ve noticed the same thing lately. Having said that though, for some reason I’ve had the urge lot go out and “binge”, so to speak, by buying a whole lot of cheap, trendy clothes. So far I’ve resisted, but I have just enough money left in my budget for the last thing left on my list for this year- a pair of boots- and I don’t like my chances of buying nothing but those boots for the last two months of the year. I will give it my best shot though.

    • Noticing that desire to “binge” is an important first step, Kayla. Congrats on not acting on that urge as of yet. Would it be possible for you to buy your boots soon so you can make sure you get them? I know I’ve had to put off buying something I really wanted/needed because I ended up going on a binge of sorts. What I need most right now are pants, so I’m going to try to buy those first so I make sure I have them before the Black Friday, etc., sales come along. All we can do is our best, but I believe you can do it!

      • Yes, that’s an idea. I really want to find the right pair of boots, so perhaps busying myself searching for them could keep me occupied for a while and prevent me buying other things I don’t need. The sales don’t start until January where I am, but I imagine Black Friday would be a huge temptation. It’s great that you have a strategy in place to deal with it. Good luck for finding the pair a pants!

      • I forgot that you’re not in the US, Kayla. It’s good for you that you won’t have the added temptation! Best of luck to you in finding your boots! Thanks for the good wishes on the pants. Fingers crossed!

  14. Just yesterday I FINALLY got rid of a full length wool coat. I’d had it almost 4 years now? Never worn it. I didn’t even spend that much on it! I just knew it’s worth and something in me wanted to make it work or get what it was worth back (or a portion of it). Finally I just gave it to someone yesterday and said if you don’t want it, pass it on. Feels good. We know rationally that keeping these ‘sunk cost’ items around don’t do us any good but, man, it can be so hard to let go. So weird, since I released a much more $$ maxi dress for less than $10 back just a month ago. Why was the coat so much more of a struggle? I dunno.
    As for the yearly totals vs goals – I am at my budget’s limit right now. I had a wool coat on the list early in the year and took it back off several months ago when I realized I had too little left in the budget to allow for a proper search without bargain hunting myself into a corner and settling. Well, a coat I’d bookmarked for next year came on sale out of the blue, and I reworked it back into the budget. This took the place of a drape, wrap front convertible type sweater. I am now at 43 items and just under $2000 including gift monies put toward clothing ($250). I also don’t count athletic wear or undergarments in my item totals (but do figure the $$ into the overall budget), but do count accessories and shoes, etc. I have about $20 left for the year and, with a blazer at the seamstress’ right now getting sleeves shortened, that may get used up. I count return costs and alteration costs in my budget and each is around $100 for the year.
    I wanted a wool hat still and have my eye on a long stalked graphic sweatshirt. I may pounce on the sweatshirt and use Christmas money to cover it. Kinda cheating, but I’ve learned when something that’s long sold out pops up, I’d rather grab it than regret it.

    • Good to see you commenting here, Mo. I love your new blog! Congrats on getting rid of the wool coat. Coats are harder for me to purge from my wardrobe, as are shoes and jewelry. I’m not sure why, either, but I think it has to do with feeling certain things are classics or because I spent more money on them. With shoes, it’s because they’re hard for me to find with my fussy feet. I think it’s great that you were able to get the coat you wanted on sale. You’re doing well for the year!

      • Thanks! You’re doing great coming into the year end, as well. We may not have ended exactly, to the number, where we wanted, but progress is always to be celebrated and built upon.
        I’m excited to see how next year unfolds for us both!

      • Thanks, Mo! I agree that we should celebrate our progress even if we didn’t hit our original targets. I think we both have a lot to be proud of and I’m excited about next year, too!

  15. Wow, I can really see your progress in this post, Debbie! I think it’s great that both your purchasing and your purging have slowed down. And I can definitely see the influence of your sessions with Bridgette in those jewelry purchases, they do seem very different from anything you already own.

    • Thanks so much, Sarah. I agree that Bridgette’s influence was at play with my jewelry purchases. I truly didn’t realize how much duplication I had with jewelry until my session with her. She really helped me a lot – in many ways!

  16. Yay, you found black jeans 🙂 I love your necklace and earring set. It’s beautiful!
    I bought a grey print short sleeve peasant top, a 3/4 sleeve black and white tunic, a gold/black sparkly top, a black short sleeve top that I got last month and forgot to include, and a long moon necklace. I spent 224.04 so that puts me 66.30 under budget for the year so far. I think my item total for clothing, jewelry, shoes, etc. is 70 items for the year. That’s much more that I wanted to buy, but I’m grateful that I haven’t overspent.

    • Thanks, Tonya! I’m very happy that I finally found black jeans, too. It paid off to be persistent, as well as picky. I’m happy with the necklace and earrings, too. Your new items sound nice. I’m intrigued by the moon necklace. For years, I collected celestial jewelry and still have some favorite pieces left over. Congrats on continuing to be under budget! The item limit has been harder for me, too, as I’ve continued to make mistakes. I think we will improve in that area every year. We both should be proud of our progress!

  17. Debbie, it’s very impressive that you bought so few this month while you are practicing Bridgette’s advice and evolving your style. You are definitely treading very cautiously which to me is a huge improvement! The items you got look very much your style and practical. Due to season change I shopped and returned a lot last month which is annoying. I hate returning things because for one thing I feel guilty for wasting so much of myself and other people’s time, and secondly it puts a pressure on me to find time to do return(and not buying other items while I am there). I am already stuck with a shirt that just passed their short return window recently. To curb the excessive return I decided to analyzed my return and came up with a “Not to Buy” list with pictures of returned item attached for future reference. Will need to see how this helps. Do you have any suggestions for this issue?

    • Thanks for you kind words on my progress, Meghan. I’m gradually learning to shop smarter and buy things that are for my life and style. I have struggled a lot with returns, too, and sometimes still end up returning quite a bit. I think your “not to buy” list will be helpful to you. I may have to try that one myself! I have written about avoiding returns in the past, but perhaps I need to revisit that topic. Below are some links to previous posts, but I’d say my top tips are to shop with a list, use the “power pause” (take a break to regroup before buying anything), try things on with things you’d wear them with (e.g. if you’re shopping for shoes to wear with skirts, wear a skirt when you shop), and try things on again right after you get home. The last tip may still lead to a necessary return, but at least you’ll be able to do it right away. As for being tempted to buy more when you return, I avoid that by going with my husband or doing it when I’m on my way somewhere and have a very limited time window. Hope that helps a bit! Here are a couple of links:



  18. Beautiful new necklace and earrings. I think they will work very well with your wardrobe. I find reviewing why things are entering and leaving a wardrobe so helpful. It helps keep one’s goals top of mind and prevents from mindlessly making and keeping purchases that too often end up as orphans.

    • I’ve found the reviews very helpful, too, Lisa. In fact, when I’ve been writing my accountability posts, sometimes I’ve realized that I shouldn’t have bought something because my reasons just didn’t make sense! In most cases, I’m able to do a return, especially now that I’ve curtailed my consignment shopping.

  19. Hello Debbie!! It’s been a hard several weeks for me. I had a kidney infection that never went away completely and came back worse weeks later plus other things..Suffice to say that I have spent little time on blogging or reading and am just catching up!

    I posted my September budget part II and hope to post October’s budget early next week. I bought a few things this past month but am very pleased with what I got. A wrap dress, bracelet, earrings, jeans, and a layering tank. November’s purchases are also already taken care of- a Jacket, necklace, and bracelet. I’m looking for a nice pair of pumps for holiday parties and perhaps a nice replacement coat if it’s the right one but I’m in no rush at the moment.

    • Ugh I posted too quickly!! I enjoyed your post and am impressed with how much you have improved in every way!!! I love your new purchases, they make so much sense for you!!

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