Happy New Year! I hope that 2015 is off to a good start for all of you. It’s now been two years since I started “Recovering Shopaholic”! I extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who’s been accompanying me on my journey, whether you’re new or have been following my posts since January 2013.
Before I delve into my third year of blogging, I’d like to briefly pause to reflect upon year two. Since I started this blog on January 2, 2013, I have published over 200 posts on the topics of wardrobe management, personal style, shopping behavior and psychology, accountability, Project 333, and more! During 2014, 103 new posts went live and thousands of comments were made by dedicated readers.
In today’s post, I share the most popular posts of 2014, as well as my personal favorite posts. I also highlight the most visited outgoing links from the blog, many of which were also quite popular in 2013. Those who are new to “Recovering Shopaholic” will get a chance to check out the highlights of 2014, and longtime readers will have an opportunity to revisit some posts they enjoyed the first time around.
I also did a “best of” post for 2013, which you can check out HERE if you’re interested. If you’re looking for more inspiration, I invite you to visit my “Start Here” and “Recovery Tips” pages. Now let’s move on with the best of 2014…
The 12 Most Popular Posts
My 12 posts below received the most visitors of all of the articles I wrote during 2014. The most popular topics were personal style and wardrobe management, which doesn’t come as a surprise to me at all. In fact, it’s in line with the feedback I received on my first ever reader survey. Also popular were posts on Project 333 and shopping behavior and psychology. I will continue to write about all of these topics in 2015.
- Reader Question: Help with Paring Down a Large Wardrobe (March 24)– In response to a question from a reader, I share my advice for downsizing a packed closet. I ask some powerful questions and respond to common objections to letting things go. Check out the comments for lots of additional helpful suggestions from readers.
- What is Your Ideal Wardrobe Size? (March 27) – While there is no right wardrobe number for everyone, we can all reach an optimal closet size for our individual lifestyle needs. Using my life and wardrobe as an example, I outline a process through which you can determine the best wardrobe size for you.
- The Dark Side of Style Redefinition (July 10) – Sometimes redefining our style can lead to overshopping, which is what happened to me this past summer. I share my thoughts on this phenomenon, as well as the plan I devised to limit compulsive shopping while still working to transform my style statement.
- What is Your Closet Personality Type? (February 18) – Through her many years of wardrobe styling experience, Bridgette Raes has identified five primary closet personalities. In this post, I summarize all of them (you may also want to read this follow-up post in which Bridgette responds to readers’ questions).
- What I Wore in May 2014 and My Style Reflections (June 6) – There is value in looking at our favorite and less loved looks and exploring why things did or didn’t work. That’s exactly what I did in this post, and I also presented an updated shopping priorities list based upon what I learned.
- Project 333 – Round Two (January 6) – Last January, I decided to take on an abbreviated version of this minimalist wardrobe challenge. I outlined my reasons for doing so and what I opted to do differently from my first round. I also shared photos of my capsule wardrobe items.
- Virtual Styling Session with Bridgette Raes – Part Two (August 21) – The second part of this very popular series addressed my two biggest style problems, along with Bridgette’s advice for surmounting those issues and improving pants and skirt outfits that skewed corporate, boring, frumpy, or “churchy.”
- Project 333 Round Two Recap (March 6) – At the end of my two-month challenge term, I explored what I learned about my wardrobe and myself. I also highlighted the swaps I made and why, as well as my favorite outfits from my second month of dressing with my capsule wardrobe.
- How Many Basics Do We Really Need? (May 29) – In what ended up being one of my most commented on posts to date, I played “Devil’s Advocate” with the common wisdom that we should aim to have lots of basics in our closets. I’m not sure if there is a right answer to the “how many basics” question, but I definitely learned a lot from my exploration and through reading all of the insightful comments.
- What Else Do You Overbuy Besides Clothes? (March 31) – I mostly write about overshopping for clothes on this blog, but many of us also struggle with accumulating too many things in other categories. Attending a lecture presented by “The Minimalists” led me to consider which of my possessions were adding value to my life and spurred me to make some changes in my life in relation to my “stuff.”
- Virtual Styling Session with Bridgette Raes – Part One (August 19) – Deciding to work with style expert Bridgette Raes was one of the best decisions I made this year! In this initial post in the series, I answered some of Bridgette’s pre-session questions and showcased inspiration photos of looks I’d like to emulate.
- Outfit Restyling – Advice from Bridgette Raes (December 15) –This final post in the Bridgette Raes series shows how much I learned from working with this amazing (and funny!) I implemented Bridgette’s wonderful advice in re-styling problematic ensembles and improving upon favorite looks. Lots of before and after photos are included. I’m very happy with the end results!
Most Popular Guest Posts
In addition to the many posts I wrote last year, I was also very pleased to share the writing of fellow bloggers and readers who had valuable information to share with this community. Some of these posts have been extremely popular. Here’s the top five:
- How to Tell if a Garment is Well-Made (January 14) – Longtime reader and frequent commenter Dottie presented a wealth of useful tips for how to shop for quality clothing. Since garment manufacturing is not what it used to be, it’s good to know what to look so we can get the best quality possible for the money we have to spend.
- Building a Workable Wardrobe – Part One (February 24) – Dottie’s first post was so well-received that she offered to write a two-part series on how to cultivate a workable wardrobe. This first part focuses on key foundational concepts, including personal style, color palettes, body types, and garment silhouettes.
- What I Learned from the Five Piece French Wardrobe Experiment (September 5) – Erin DePew has authored several excellent guest posts for my blog. In this latest installment, she wrote about a style challenge she took on over the past year. She shared the pros and cons of the Five Piece French Wardrobe process, as well as the purchases she made along the way.
- Building a Workable Wardrobe – Part Two (February 27) – This second part of Dottie’s workable wardrobe series offers advice on developing a 3-tier wardrobe and shopping wisely. She also featured five garments that she purchased and why she bought them.
- A Small Wardrobe for Less Stress and More Happiness (May 15) – In this “Stories of Recovery” post, frequent reader and longtime Project 333 devotee Terra Trevor wrote about how that challenge helped her to cultivate a small wardrobe that works for her life. This inspiring post includes the powerful questions that Terra asks herself to decide what to keep and what to let go of in her closet, as well as what to purchase or leave in the store when shopping.
My Favorite Posts
Although I’m happy with all of my posts by the time I publish them, the ones I’m most proud of tend to be on the topics of behavior and psychology and cultivating a fuller life. I enjoy writing about all of the subjects I explore on the blog, but because I am not one to do a lot of self-disclosure in my “real life,” it feels refreshing for me to be so open on the blog.
I have definitely grown in many ways over the past year. I have learned a lot of things about myself and what I need in order to live that full life I’m working to trade my full closet for. I still have a long way to go, but the realizations I came to during 2014 are helping me to walk farther along the path toward the life I truly desire.
Here are my 12 favorite posts from 2014, listed in order from oldest to most recent. Many of these posts also generated the most comments and emails, so I must have struck a chord with a lot of you through my honesty. I will definitely continue to share myself, my process, and my learnings with you in 2015.
- Closing Out 2013: Reflections on Wardrobe, Shopping, and Style (January 2) – I like this post because I took the time to acknowledge my progress since starting the blog. I tend to be very hard on myself, so I’m happy that I wrote about the good as well as the things I still need to work on. This post was a nice way to start the year!
- A Hard Habit to Break (February 21) – In this post, I wrote about the reasons why it’s been so difficult for me to give up my compulsive shopping habit. This is the type of “bare my soul” writing that has really helped me to understand my limitations and work through them. These types of posts also seem to resonate a lot with readers, too, so it’s a win-win.
- 10 Signs that You’re a Recovering Shopaholic (March 20) – After a shopping trip in which I stayed present and didn’t get carried away by my emotions, I was inspired to write about the ways in which I’d changed since starting the blog. This writing morphed into a list that others can use as a benchmark of their own recovery from compulsive shopping. Readers added some other useful points of reference in the comments section, too.
- A Simple Shopping Rule – Buy Once! (June 17) – This post was inspired by comments from two readers on one of my previous articles. Those comments sparked an epiphany about my tendency to buy several sub-standard but lower priced versions of an item rather than simply buying the item (often higher priced) that I really want. This line really says it all: “Buy once, buy what you truly want, and buy the best you can afford.” Now I just need to do this all the time!
- On Relapse, Reasons, and Recommitting (August 5) – I experienced somewhat of a relapse of my shopping problem last summer. This post represents my coming clean and exploring the reasons for my backslide. I close by forgiving myself for my mistakes and renewing my commitment to my recovery.
- Doing Project 333 Without Even Trying (August 26) – When I first did Project 333 back in April 2013, it was tantamount to climbing Mount Everest. I struggled for days to select my wardrobe capsule items and couldn’t wait until the three months were over and I could access my full closet again. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had basically been following Project 333 last August! The fact that I was effortlessly dressing with less showed me just how far I’d come.
- My Outfit Journal Two Months In (September 3) – One of the best things I’ve done for my recovery was starting an outfit journal last summer. It has really helped me to better understand what is and isn’t working in terms of my wardrobe and style and has aided me in avoiding shopping mistakes. In this recap post, I enjoyed sharing what I learned during my first two months of keeping the journal.
- Life’s Too Short to Settle and Wear Things Out of Guilt! (October 9) – After a fun evening with my husband was marred by a sub-standard outfit, I came to the realization that I should never wear clothes that I don’t love! So often, we wear things just because we feel guilty for having bought them, but I don’t want to do that anymore. This post represented my declaration that I deserve to feel great in what I wear – we all do!
- The Things Shopping Won’t Fix (October 21) – Those of us who overshop are often trying to address common life challenges through our maladaptive behavior. In this post, I outline six such issues and share my personal experiences with each. At this point, I still don’t know how to fix the problems I’m wrestling with, but I now realize that shopping isn’t going to do it. That’s a powerful step in the right direction, even if I still feel lost.
- Who Are You Dressing For? (November 7) – For many years, I dressed to please others or to avoid criticism and ridicule. I wore what I thought I should wear instead of what I really wanted to wear. I recently realized that I lost myself a bit in the process and now want to discover my own style and dress more for myself. Writing this post helped me to realize that my opinion not only matters, but it’s the one that matters most. I feel that I turned an important corner through the feelings I expressed and the next post (#11 on my list) really helped me get to the next level.
- We Don’t Have to Try So Hard (November 21) – This was the most powerful post I wrote all year (2018 update: it has now been moved to my new blog, Full Life Reflections). It was extremely hard for me to write and even harder to publish, but it helped me a lot to put these thoughts out into the world. I share the feelings evoked through listening to the song “Try” and what the words of that song mean to me. As I approach the big 5-0, I’m finally ready to let go of the emotional bondage of appearance obsession and self-flagellation. I have a lot of work to do before I’m truly free, but this post helped me to advance along that path.
- End of Year Un-Bucket List (December 2) – Instead of writing a recap of my 2014 goals and feeling bad about the ones I didn’t accomplish, I opted to write about what did go well over the course of the year (2018 update: this post has now been moved to my new blog, Full Life Reflections). This shift in focus and perspective enabled me to feel good about the year instead of beating myself up for what didn’t go as planned. I highly recommend the process of writing an “un-bucket list,” especially if you’re prone to negativity toward yourself. It made a big difference for me!
Most Popular Links from 2014
Here are the 12 most popular outgoing links from “Recovering Shopaholic” in 2014. A full two-thirds of them are repeats from last year! The rankings may have changed, but some of this content is truly evergreen. If you haven’t checked out this useful information before, you may want to take a look now. It has been my pleasure to share helpful content written by other bloggers, and this is some of the best of the best. I will probably re-visit many of these articles myself!
- The Ultimate Mix and Match Fashion Guide (Bridgette Raes)
- Simple Wardrobe: 33 Things for More Happiness, Less Stress (Fair Companies – video)
- How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe on a Budget (Inside Out Style)
- Desperately Seeking Simple (Une Femme d’un Certain Age)
- My Ten-Item Wardrobe Fall/Winter 2013 (The Daily Connoisseur)
- Project 333: My Clothes, Step by Step (The Vivienne Files)
- Building a Remixable Wardrobe (Putting Me Together)
- Building a Wardrobe from Scratch Series (Putting Me Together)
- How to Determine Your Style (debbieroes.com)
- Shop in Your Closet: You Don’t Need More Stuff (Bridgette Raes)
- Minimal Closet: Wardrobe Reality & How to Purge (Grechen’s Closet)
- Deciding to Live with Less and Other Minimalist Lessons Learned from Fire (Terra Trevor)
A Few Timely Links Before You Go…
The New Year is often a time when we look at our lives and resolve to make powerful changes. If this is something you’re up to, the links below can help you in the process. Although we’re already about a week into 2015, it’s not too late to reflect back on 2014 and look at what went well and what we’d like to transform. Writing a letter to yourself to be read at the end of the year and selecting a word/theme to guide your path in 2015 are two very helpful practices that I’ve taken on myself. I also share a wonderful self-paced e-course that can assist you in reducing stress and experiencing more calm in your life.
- One Powerful Word: A Simple Approach to New Year’s Resolutions – I shared this post last year and it bears sharing again! Instead of creating a long list of changes you want to make in the coming year, how about choosing a one-word theme to guide you instead? I couldn’t limit myself to one word for 2014, so I selected two, but this year I plan to narrow it down to a single theme. I’ll be sharing that theme in a blog post soon, but first I have to choose it!
- Living with Ease: The Mindful Way to Dissolve Stress – Sandra from “Always Well Within” created this powerful course back in 2013 and I participated in her first live session. I found it enlightening, informative, very helpful, and well worth the cost. Her self-study version of the course is available at 50% off (just $18.50!) from now until January 9th and I highly recommend it! In the interest of full disclosure, I’m an affiliate for her program, but I only promote things that I truly believe in.
I’ll be back soon with some more 2014 wrap-up posts, as well as more information about my new book, “End Closet Chaos: Wardrobe Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic,” and the new wardrobe challenge I’m taking on this year. In the meantime, I welcome your comments about this post or anything else you’d like to share.