The Best of Recovering Shopaholic 2014

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.

Best of 2014

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.”
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.”
  11. 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.
  12. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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!

  1. The Ultimate Mix and Match Fashion Guide  (Bridgette Raes)
  2. Simple Wardrobe: 33 Things for More Happiness, Less Stress  (Fair Companies – video)
  3. How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe on a Budget  (Inside Out Style)
  4. Desperately Seeking Simple  (Une Femme d’un Certain Age)
  5. My Ten-Item Wardrobe Fall/Winter 2013  (The Daily Connoisseur)
  6. Project 333: My Clothes, Step by Step  (The Vivienne Files)
  7. Building a Remixable Wardrobe  (Putting Me Together)
  8. Building a Wardrobe from Scratch Series  (Putting Me Together)
  9. How to Determine Your Style  (
  10. Shop in Your Closet: You Don’t Need More Stuff  (Bridgette Raes)
  11. Minimal Closet: Wardrobe Reality & How to Purge  (Grechen’s Closet)
  12. 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.

Coming Attractions

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.

26 thoughts on “The Best of Recovering Shopaholic 2014

  1. Thanks for this gold mine of great links! I’m home sick, and have loved going through these one by one. Dottie’s guest post on determining a quality garment and the comments on that post helped me with a question I’ve often asked as i try to pare down my wardrobe and focus on quality over quantity: Where does one purchase true quality garments? I do have some background in sewing and can spot a matched print, etc. but I’m having trouble finding stores at any price point that offer true quality. I’m a frequent flyer at Nordstrom, but it seems like even their higher priced lines don’t offer much in the way of well-made garments. This is a topic I’d love to explore in more detail, if you find an occasion for another post. I’d love to hear from more readers (and guest experts) on the current brands that are worth buying. I used to buy a lot at Target (still like their Merona print cardigans) but quality is definitely on the decline. Debbie, I’m tall and proportioned just like you down to my fussy feet, so I’d love to hear which brands you’re finding satisfactory these days. As we all seek to buy less but buy smarter/better, this information would be very helpful. Thanks!

    • I’m a big fan of white house black market for dressy office clothing- generally it’s high quality though they do occasionally miss the mark. I am not tall however and they offer little in tall lengths in pants. Most brands are hit and miss for me, it’s a one by one item eval no matter where I shop.

      • Thanks for the suggestion, Meli! I remember when WHBM first opened in our area and my daughter reported this to me saying “There’s a new store you’re going to LOVE – they only have black and white clothes!” Since that’s my go-to combination, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I do have several WHBM tops and I love their jewelry, but their bottoms and dresses don’t usually fit me. I have better luck at LOFT with their “tall, curvy” fit, which is available on-line. My favorite thing about WHBM is that their fabrics usually have some sort of interesting texture, since they don’t really have color to work with. In an effort to shop less, I got off their mailing list; perhaps it’s time added them back to my shopping orbit. Thanks again for the suggestion!

    • Sorry to hear that you are sick, Texas Aggie Mom, but I’m glad my posts are giving you something to do while you recuperate. I hope you’re feeling much better today! Thank you for giving me a new post idea. I think it would be useful to share my go-to sources for quality items and ask others to contribute theirs. I could then compile all of the information and include it in a future post or as a page on the blog. Of course, people’s experiences will vary, but at least we will have more to go on. Sadly, some of the items in my wardrobe that have stood the test of time are from brands that are no longer as reliable. Another thing to consider is that brands can be good for some types of items and not others. For example, I’ve had good luck with my gear-type jackets from Eddie Bauer, but the basic tees that I use for workout and lounge wear are no longer very durable. They used to last for many, many washes and now not so much. I’m glad that Meli chimed in about WHBM for work wear. It’s true that they aren’t very good for tall sizes, but it’s good to know that Loft is a good source there. See, we’re already sharing valuable information! More to come…

    • I agree that the higher priced lines at Nordstrom are not worth the money. I have quite a few pieces from DVF, Theory, Vince, Joie, etc.. and I would only buy them on deep discount or on ebay. They are all unlined which I think is the big difference between higher quality and not. If you don’t feel comfortable buying designer items on ebay or consignment, the mall brands I like (and I find last a long time) are Banana Republic for season-less wool items (pencil skirts and jackets) and silk blouses and J Crew for merino wool or cotton sweaters. I don’t like J Crew sweaters that are mixed wool blends, they all pill like crazy. I also find that Loft items last a long time too. I have not had luck with WHBM and don’t like that dresses and pants are unlined and often made of stretchy material.

  2. Yesterday I was laying in the dentist chair thinking about the outfit I had on: a classic grey cashmere cardigan from 1991 layered over a new grey heather rayon spandex tunic top, and ponte leggings with boots. My cardigan is 24 yrs old and in excellent condition. My ponte leggings and boots are in their 3rd winter season and going strong. I began thinking about the quality of the clothing that is available to purchase just in the past few years and realized that my new tunic top is not going to last as long as I would expect it to for the price I paid. Yet my tunic top is from a respected designer whose clothing is quite lauded.

    I then realized I am just tired of shopping. And its not because I don’t like to shop. I am tired of going into the stores and seeing little besides junk. The other day I went into Nordstrom for the first time in months. I looked around at the flimsy overpriced clothing and said to myself, “who would even want to wear this stuff?”

    And more importantly, I realized I didn’t want anything else to wear beyond what I already have.

    Debbie, you often talk about looking for something to replace shopping. It then suddenly occurred to me in the dentist’s chair that I could put the same kind of energy towards investing and learning more about the stock market, to benefit my future and educate myself. So that is one of my intentions for this year instead of shopping.

    • How great to hear of a 24 year old cardi – I keep things for ages, and have a lovely tweed coat which is even older (not sure but 25+). It would be really difficult to find such a good quality coat now that I could afford.
      Debbie, I’m looking forward to the rest of you 2014 wrap-ups. I was too busy over the break to look back over the year, but will try to assemble some stats this weekend.

    • It’s really sad about the decline in quality of clothing. In part this is due to a decline in materials (cheaper cotton, etc.) and due to manufacturing processes. Notice how skimpy today’s cashmere is compared to the cashmere available even 10 years ago? The recent trend to “fast fashion” (i.e., buying a lot of cheap stuff and wearing it once or twice) may have “disguised” this decline in quality for a while. (I’m not into fast fashion, so the decline has been painfully obvious to me for years.) Fortunately I have a wardrobe of lovely clothes — but I know I can’t replace them almost at any price with stuff of similar quality without taking out a loan. I am a big advocate of speaking up about shoddy merchandise. I recently purchased an expensive underwire bra and, in less than one month, the underwire poked out and stabbed me. Painful! I took it back to the store, asked to speak to the dept. manager about the poor quality, and wrote a letter to the manufacturer. This may not result in better quality but I think if we all did our bit and voiced our disappointment there might be movement. I for one would be willing to pay more for quality. Instead of buying a $20 t-shirt that will conk out after a few wearings, I’d be happy to pay $40-50 for one that will last 4-5 years; after all, it’s really less expensive to pay more for clothes that last longer. I too have a lot of “vintage” clothes (10-80 years old) that I wear on a regular basis. I dread the day that I have to replace something like a cashmere cardigan. Vintage cashmere is something definitely worth buying — IF you can find it and afford to pay for it.

      • Dottie, I have a vintage hot pink Dalton cashmere cardigan that dates from the early 1950’s. It is in perfect condition, and I bought it at a thrift store when I was 18. I don’t wear it often, its a real statement piece, but it is so luxurious!

        I know what you mean about today’s cashmere. It is just short of being transparent. I don’t understand how they can call it two-ply. My 25 year old two-ply sweaters have much more loft and you cannot see through them.

        I have however, discovered that Isaac Mizrahi makes very nice quality cashmere sweaters–like the old style, and they are not as expensive on QVC as you would find in a department store for something of lesser quality. I purchased one of his cashmere cable cardigans in a beautiful green color, and love that it has never pilled–this is its second year of wearing. I also checked out and they have some nice cashmere sweaters in a similar price range.

    • I love that you have a cardigan that’s 24 years old, Deby! I doubt anything one buys now will last anywhere close to that long. Some of my garments from 2 or 3 years ago are already looking sad and I don’t even wear many of my clothes all that often.

      I am feeling tired of shopping, too, for the same reasons that you mention. I love your idea for a new hobby and I wish you all the best with it! I definitely want to find some new hobbies myself. I have a few, but nothing that has been as compelling as shopping once was for me. Maybe it will be a few new things instead of just one. I’m going to keep exploring and see what I find.

      Alice, how wonderful that you have a 25+ year-0ld coat. I’m not sure what the oldest thing in my closet is. I’m thinking 7 or 8 years, but I’ll have to confirm when I finish updating my 2014 clothing spreadsheet. I have jewelry that’s in the 20 year old range, but not clothing.

      Dottie, I agree that we should speak up about shoddy workmanship. I’ve gotten much better about that as of late. I haven’t tried to buy cashmere in a long time, but I will keep Deby’s tip for Isaac Mizrahi (and Everlane) in mind for future reference. I can’t wear most wool, but I think that good quality cashmere won’t irritate my skin like other wool does.

  3. It’s interesting to see what kind of posts are popular. I had some time on my hands yesterday and so read over some of the old posts. It’s a real testament to you (and your guest posters) that there is much to be gained from your posts even on second and subsequent readings.
    As for the comments above about quality, I couldn’t agree more. I know this was discussed in the summer when many of us were looking for quality t-shirts, but I’ve really felt it again this winter. I was looking for a “chunky” sweater in 100% wool, but even relatively expensive sweaters now have a high percentage of synthetic fibers. I eventually found something affordable in cashmere on sale (although it is too early know if the quality of the cashmere I bought is up to par) , but as Deby said, the fun of shopping has gone. It has become a disheartening exercise. I need to think of something to replace it too.

    • The Everlane brand just came out with chunky wool sweaters. I think they sold out quickly but they tend to restock regularly. Lots of people love that brand but I have never purchased their clothes. I think their clothes are made in the US and of high-quality fabrics/fibers.

      • I’ve heard good things about Everlane, but as I’m not in the US and they don’t accept returns on international orders, purchasing from them is too risky 😦 J Crew has low shipping charges and free returns from my country so I order from them from time to time. One of the few wool sweaters I found this time was from there, and although unfortunately it didn’t suit me, I’m grateful to have relatively easy access to at least one US retailer. I’d kill to live near a Nordstrom!

      • I just had my first Everlane experience today, and it was so good I wanted to share it. As recommended by commenters on this site and also Grechen Reiter’s site, I wanted to add a silk blouse as a new direction for 2015. The ones from Everlane seem to be affordable and highly recommended, so I checked out their site and found all the colors I wanted were out of stock. I emailed customer service, expecting the standard mechanized reply from an automaton. I did get that automatic acknowledgement immediately, but within 12 hours (about the time the sun came up in New York!) I also had a detailed, lengthy personal reply from Andrew in Customer Service. He not only sent me detailed info on their sizing with recommendations, he also sent me links to the shirts I wanted that apparently were pulled from their site when they got down to a low quantity, but were still in existence in some magical closet there. I have ordered two styles, and will be happy to report back on the quality, but if customer service is any indication, these guys will have me as a long-term customer. I signed up for early access to several of the new spring items, which may be their way of playing on our Fear of Missing Out, but if I can get some quality pieces at a good price with superior customer service, count me in. So of course this means my fledgling efforts at not shopping have already failed, but hopefully this was a good decision. I had identified a silk blouse in a flattering color as a missing “staple” after reading George Brescia’s book about wardrobe and at least this wasn’t a totally unplanned purchase. I may even return whichever one is my least favorite, but if they both work and are versatile, maybe they both earn a spot in my new and improved closet. Stay tuned…

    • Men’s cashmere, while starting to decline in quality, is still a good buy. Men are less likely to accept poor quality because they buy infrequently and expect their clothes to last. We should be so smart.

      • Testing this theory this week; I just ordered both a men’s and women’s v-neck cashmere sweater from Macy’s. The men’s was almost twice the price, so quality had better be very obviously better or I’ll have to stick with the women’s. I got one from their Charter Club brand last year when they hit $20 around Eastertime, and like it very much so far. Hoping the men’s version is even better! Thanks for another great suggestion, Dottie!

    • I love the discussion here about cashmere. I think we can all benefit from each other’s experiences and I’m definitely going to do a post about brand recommendations for quality clothing. I will refer back to the comments here and add some of my own observations. I really appreciate how much everyone is sharing!

      Kayla, thank you for your kind words about my blog posts standing the test of time. It has always been my hope that my posts would be helpful over time, as well as when I first publish them. I know a lot of bloggers post more often than I do, but I would rather do fewer posts and have them be of higher quality. Now I just need to do the same with my clothing purchases! That’s a goal, too, but I’m still working on it…

  4. Totally agree about the decline in quality. I used to depend on Talbot’s but I bought a cotton tank there in 2013 that developed a hole after I wore it once and washed as directed. It wasn’t cheap either. Also that year I bought a Talbot’s 100% cashmere open cardigan and it started pilling after only a few wears. As for Everlane, last year I bought 3 of the U-neck tees and even with minimal wear and washing as directed, they’re falling apart at the neck seam. I’ve noticed decline even in my husband’s tees. The material is thinner and rougher. While I do like a lot of the clothes at WHBM I recently bought and returned a pointelle sweater. It had a couple of picks that I noticed in the store but the SA had a handy gadget and fixed them in front of me. By the time I got home it had developed 2 more picks just sitting in the shopping bag with the receipt. I don’t want to be scared to wear my clothes! I think it would be fantastic if maybe we could share our thoughts on different retailers in one place here on the blog.

    • I hate to read this about Everlane because they are supposed to be founded on sourcing better quality (and charge more for it). I have never ordered from them because their sizing looks a little large for me. I love the way WHBM fits on me but the price is high for the materials. The best low cost, high quality for me is Loft but I still buy almost everything from ebay (Linda’s Stuff is the best seller – shipping is free and you can return) or designer consignment like The Real I don’t ever buy pants online as fit can be strange and I tailor a lot but the fabrics are so much better if I buy used designer.

      • Re WHBM: I’ve found that shopping sale, with the frequent $20 off $80 coupon = very reasonable prices, as long as I can wait! As to quality, I’m surprised about the unlined comments. Excepting wrap dresses, all the dresses I ‘ve purchased are lined. I don’t purchase tees but I love their dresses (except that awful convertible dress), blouses, skirts, jeans, cardigans, and jackets. But I may be lucky because I’m drawn to the higher-quality stuff to begin with as I don’t dress very casual or try every item they have. I read the description and reviews before ordering.

      • You are correct that most of the dresses are lined at WHBM (with leopard fabric!) and they do sew in the lining which is better than brands like J Crew that just semi-attach the lining. All of the pants I have tried on have been unlined. Thank you for pointing out my mistake. I was still thinking about the Nordstrom brands I mentioned. I have owned many DVF dresses and only one has ever been lined. I own a few Theory dresses and pants and none are lined (jackets are). Same with Vince.

    • This is such a great discussion here! Yes, Kim, I will definitely do a post about where to find good quality clothing and I will include the input that has been given here as well as my own thoughts. Then others can add their feedback to the post, too. I would love to leave comments open indefinitely so others can share more over time, but I had such a horrible spam problem that I had to close comments on posts after 2 weeks. But people will be able to email me and I can post addendums to the post or a second edition. It’s not ideal, but it is a decent compromise. I know we all struggle with finding quality clothing and getting the most for our money, so I would love to help make things easier for everyone. I love when blog post ideas evolve organically from the comments!

  5. Congratulation on your second “birthday”!
    Enjoyed this post as always, I had missed some of these posts!

    I was wondering if you’d be interested in making a post about your favorite clothes, not just what you bought in 2014? I think it’d be interesting to see if all of your fav are from after you started your recovery and work on your style or if some of them are still clothes you bought before. I know it’s something that’s “intriguing” me (intriguing sounds like a strong word.. let’s say I’m curious) because you showed your favorite items from what you bought in 2014, but what about your all-time favorites?

    I wish you a Happy New Year, and look forward to read you!

    • Thanks for the congrats, Cedrique. I’m glad you liked this post and I thank you for the future post idea. I have written about my favorites before (including this post:, but an update and a more comprehensive post is a good idea. Of course, favorites evolve over time and I wouldn’t necessarily include all of the items from the earlier post in my list today. I would actually be interested myself to learn when my favorites were purchased. I think it would be a good mix, but it will be fun to learn for sure and share the information in a post.

  6. Debbie, thank you for this post with a wealth of thoughtful links.

    Like Deby and a number of others, I now seldom shop. However, about six years ago I shopped frequently due to the fact that I worked downtown near Nordstrom, WHBM, and a host of other stores, back when the economy was booming, and excellent quality was the norm for a number of upper priced outstanding designers. But my lifestyle has changed. Now that I’m working from home, and I no longer need the amount of clothes that I once did, and I have no reason or desire to shop.

    Also, I no longer enjoy shopping. It takes a lot of effort to go downtown when I do need to purchase clothing, and the decline in quality, and the fact that petite sizes are usually not available, along with the poor styes currently dominating, means that go home empty handed. Instead of the fun that it used to be, shopping is now downright depressing. So I’m perfectly happy not shopping unless I have a true need, and then it takes a lot of work to find what I need. Then even though I am super careful about caring for my clothing (either hand wash, or wash on delicate in the machine, cold water, and I never use the dryer) these days I’m finding that most things begin to die a fast death after only a dozen wearings. My husband now sends everything to the dry cleaner, but his shirts are showing signs of wear due to poor quality material. Whereas in the past his shirts lasted for a number of years.

    I’d love to read more about brands of clothing that you and your readers are finding to be of better quality in today’s market. Perhaps we can all be the change we want to see take place.

    • My lifestyle has changed much like yours has, Terra, as you know. For awhile, though, my shopping didn’t catch up to my lifestyle changes, which led to a lot of clothing waste. I kept shopping even after I not longer enjoyed it very much, simply because it was a habit and used to give me the type of escape or “rush” that I needed emotionally. I now want to face my issues and find other ways of feeling happy, excited, and fulfilled. Tall order, but that’s part of what this blog is about.

      As to the quality issue, we all feel much that same, as I’ve seen from the comments on this and other posts. But you’re right in that we can help each other and make things easier by sharing our knowledge. I would be happy to help facilitate that sharing and will write a post on brands for quality clothing (and shoes and accessories) soon. Of course, opinions will likely vary and some brands are good for certain items and not others, but we’ll all be wiser for the information exchange and it will hopefully make shopping easier. It definitely can’t hurt!

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