It’s time for my final monthly accountability update for 2014. As long-time readers know, 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. This update will also include a year-end wrap-up in terms of my budget and item limit. Other goals – including wardrobe “all-stars” and “benchwarmers” – will be covering in future posts.
What Left My Wardrobe and Why
I always start these reports with what left my closet during the previous month. During December, I purged just two items from my wardrobe:
- Black lace sweatshirt (returned to store)
- White cardigan (slated for donation or consignment)
I’m sure I could have let go of more items, but I was too focused on other things last month to do any deliberate purging. I was also happy with all of the items I ended up wearing, so none of those garments were placed in my donate/consign bag. I have already designated quite a few things to pass on during January, however, so I’ll have much more to say in this section of my next accountability update.
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 from my wardrobe. I feel that pinpointing our reasons for purging closet items can help us notice patterns and avoid future mistakes. Here’s what I let go of and why:
- Black lace sweatshirt: I bought this sweatshirt in early November, but still hadn’t worn it as December was drawing to a close. Although you can’t really see this in the photo, the fabric under the lace is olive-toned, not black, which cuts down on the versatility of the garment. Since my wardrobe is mostly cool-toned, the warmer olive color doesn’t really coordinate well with the rest of my clothing. If the sweatshirt had been all black, I’m sure it would still be in my closet and would already have been worn at least once or twice.
- White cardigan: I bought this cardigan back in the summer after I had noticed that my wardrobe was too dark. I thought that adding a few white pieces to my closet would brighten up my outfits, but I soon learned that I don’t look good in stark white. I love white as part of patterns (especially my beloved black and white striped items), but by itself, it doesn’t suit me. I only wore this cardigan once! Fortunately, it wasn’t very expensive, but it still represents wasted dollars. I briefly considered dyeing it a darker color, but after I saw that it was a cotton/synthetic blend, I opted not to risk it (I’ve read that natural fibers work best for dyeing). No more stark white clothing for me!
What Came Into My Closet
I actually didn’t shop for myself at all during December, believe it or not! I did a bit of Christmas shopping for other people, but completely stayed away from the mall. That wasn’t just to avoid temptation, however. Surprisingly, I just wasn’t interested in shopping. That doesn’t mean I’m fully recovered and no longer need to write this blog, as there were two main issues at play:
- The weather had only recently shifted (I’m not trying to shove that in the faces of those who live in very cold areas!) and I was “rediscovering” my cooler weather wardrobe. Since I had only just started to wear those clothes, I did not yet know what – if anything – I needed to add to my closet. In fact, I still haven’t really identified any true cold-weather wardrobe needs, barring new workout wear and undergarments and maybe some tall boots to wear with skirts and dresses.
- I was focused on finishing up my second book, “End Closet Chaos: Wardrobe Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic” (read more here), which occupied a very large slice of my time. As is the case with most projects, it took more time and energy than I thought it would, so I didn’t have much free time for shopping.
Even though I didn’t shop during December, I still added a handful of pieces to my closet. I received some Christmas presents, plus one item that I had ordered during December arrived and I decided to keep it (a few others went back to the stores). Here’s what entered my wardrobe last month:
- 1 casual jacket (mostly for walks, workouts, or wearing at home)
- 1 pair of boots
- 1 watch
- 1 necklace
- 1 bracelet
- 1 pair of earrings
Everything above was a Christmas present, with the exception of the casual jacket. The boots and watch were gifts from my husband and the other items were given to me by my mother (I don’t exchange gifts with anyone else in my family or with any friends).
Here are photos of my December closet additions:
Thoughts on The New Items
While almost all of the items above were gifts, I actually selected the majority of them. Only the bracelet and earrings were complete surprises. This is the section in which I usually share why I added my new pieces to my wardrobe, but today’s edition will be a bit different. For the items I selected, I share my reasons for doing so. For the other items, I offer my thoughts on how I see them being utilized – or not.
- Navy casual fleece-lined jacket: I have another navy casual jacket that was my most worn item last year! It is really showing signs of wear, though, so I opted to purchase another similar jacket to fill in the gap. The new jacket is a bit heavier weight and a longer length, but is also quite casual and will serve the same purchase. The old jacket isn’t ready to be purged just yet, so I will likely wear both of them for a while.
- Grey low-heeled boots: In my December outfit journal, I wrote several times under “what would you change?” that I would wear grey boots with a given ensemble. Thus, I asked my husband for a pair of grey boots for Christmas. Now, instead of wearing black boots most of the time on colder days, I will switch things up and sometimes wear the new grey boots. This is an example of how I plan to shop this year: buying things I’ve identified I either need or really want (more than just a passing desire) or are replacement items (like the navy jacket).
- Silver watch with blue face: I haven’t purchased a new watch in several years and I wear the three I have all the time. Since I already had watches in pewter, black, and two-toned silver/gold and because I wear silver accessories almost exclusively, I knew that I would get a lot of use out of a silver watch. The blue face makes me love this watch even more, as cobalt blue is my favorite color. I have already worn the new watch numerous times.
- Silver pendant with multiple colored stones: When my mom was visiting back in September, we went shopping together and purchased Christmas presents for each other. I really liked this necklace because it includes so many different colored stones, many of which correspond to the colors in my current palette. I see myself wearing this pendant more during the warmer months, but I’m going to challenge myself to wear it year-round.
- Orange/yellow/white stretch beaded bracelet: My mom found this bracelet for me at the Coldwater Creek close-out sale. While I like the colors, they aren’t really in my palette, plus the bracelet is too large for my wrist. I’m going to have to pass this one on. I don’t feel too bad about it because my mom told me it only cost $5 (she’s not too good at keeping secrets…).
- Silver earrings with onyx stones: My mom bought these earrings at one of my favorite jewelry stores in Northern California and I love them. As you know, I wear a lot of black, so silver/black earrings are quite versatile for me. I actually didn’t already have any earrings like these (although I do have silver/black earrings). They’re lightweight, a good size, and I’ve already enjoyed wearing them. I believe they will be worn a lot in the coming year.
With the exception of the stretch bracelet, I feel that all of my December acquisitions were good additions to my wardrobe. Yes, I am working to pare down my jewelry collection, but I’ve already identified more items to pass on than were brought in last month. I will share my cast-offs in my January accountability update.
2014 Item Limit Update
When I originally laid out my shopping and wardrobe goals for the year last January, I decided to purchase only half the number of items I bought in 2013. Although I initially set an item limit of 38 for 2014, I opted to raise it to 53 back in August. The revised number still represented a 30% reduction over my 2013 acquisitions but was more doable for me than my initial item limit.
As of the end of November, I had purchased 54 qualifying items (workout/lounge clothing, accessories, undergarments, and gifts don’t count), which exceeded my limit by one item. However, since I returned the black lace sweatshirt and none of my December additions counted toward the total (the jacket is for workout/lounge and all other items were gifts), I actually met my item limit! It is a bit of a hollow victory, though, as I had so many exclusions. I do feel it was helpful to limit my shopping by items as well as budget, however, and I’m happy that I brought fewer items into my wardrobe in 2014 than in the previous year.
I don’t plan to have an item limit for 2015, but I will continue to share everything that comes into my closet throughout the year. I will also keep a running tally of how many pieces I bring in so I can stay both accountable and aware of my shopping behavior. I plan to acquire far fewer items overall, but I’m going to see if I can do that without having to live by a lot of rules. I will share what my actual rules are in a future post (I’m still working it out), but I seriously doubt that a defined item limit will be part of the picture. It’s time to see if I can trust myself and all I’ve learned about my wardrobe, my style, and my shopping habits. The proof will be in the pudding, as the old saying goes!
December / Year-End Budget Report
My budget for clothing and related purchases (shoes, accessories, alterations) for 2014 was $3000, which worked out to $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 December, I made quite a few returns, mostly for items that were never mentioned on the blog. I often order things online that don’t end up working out and are immediately returned. This was more the case than usual during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday time frame. In fact, the only item that I kept from those orders was the navy casual jacket shown above. I returned two pairs of pants, two skirts, and four shirts, so my track record wasn’t very good! Such is the nature with online shopping, though. You win some, and you lose some (and sometimes you lose a lot more than you win!).
The good news, however, is that my expenditures for December came in at -$201.14. Consequently, I ended the year under budget by almost $200! I spent a total of $2811.04 on clothing, shoes, accessories, and alterations in 2014, which was under my $3000 budget by $188.96.
I’m very happy that I met my clothing budget for the second year in a row, especially since I failed to do so for at least ten years prior. However, I feel like I wasted a lot of money on bad purchases and ill-advised alterations. I really think that if I could just shop more wisely, I would spend far less and get by with half the number of new items – or less. After all, I did write a book about smart shopping. Perhaps I need to re-read it and start taking my own advice more often!
I do think I’m in a much better place now and will finally start to see more of the fruits of my hard recovery work this year. Stay tuned… I promise to continue sharing it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
What I Wore
For the past year and a half, I’ve been keeping track of the garments and shoes I wear each month and 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 December, I wore 21 garments and 4 pairs of shoes, which is even lower than my November numbers. While I continue to spend a lot of time in lounge wear (most of which is not included in my number), I also had far more repeat wears last month. I wore one pair of jeans six times and one pair of black pants five times, while one pair of black boots got worn eight times!
The above numbers may not seem all that high to some of you, but I am not exactly known for my repeat wears. I’m not sure if I’m just being lazy or if my repeat wears are indicative of real growth. In all honesty, it’s probably a combination of the two. While the cooler weather did spark a bit of a lackadaisical attitude, I also want to give myself some credit.
I’m no longer as obsessed about what I wear and have been focusing more on other aspects of my life, which is ultimately what I want to do. I want to look nice and feel good in what I’m wearing, but I don’t want that to be the primary focus of my life. And in December, it wasn’t, so I’m going to pat myself on the back for this positive change. I still have a lot of work to do on building a fuller life, but dialing back my wardrobe obsession is a definite step in the right direction!
Here’s a photo of the items I wore during December 2014:
The colors are pretty consistent with what I wore during other month’s last year, but there’s actually less black in the mix. I enjoyed wearing blue, green, purple, red, and grey in addition to black, and all of my outfits were rated at an “8” or higher. I was very casual most of the time, but it was fun to dress things up a bit more for a holiday party and Christmas brunch (when I wore red and green – when else can one do that?).
Five tops were only worn at home: the two short-sleeved print Henleys, the green and grey striped waffle top, a purple long-sleeved crew-neck (which I’m wearing as I type this), and a purple/blue print long-sleeved crew-neck (not shown). Most of these tops were previously worn outside the house, but have been downgraded because they’re a bit “tired.” I don’t want to look like a slob at home, but I don’t feel the need to be as polished as I am when I am out and about. I like being able to give some of my clothes an extended life by downgrading them to lounge, workout, or sleep wear. If they start looking tattered, stained, or threadbare, however, I let them go. I believe it’s important to feel good in what we wear, even if the only ones who see us are our pets!
You might notice that there are three pairs of black boots in the photo above and that they are all quite similar. The styles and heel heights vary somewhat, but there’s no way that I would purchase such similar shoes today. In my defense, one pair (third row, second from right) used to be brown, but I dyed them black because they weren’t being worn (see this post for before/after photos). After the transformation, the boots were worn so often that they will likely be passed on before too long. Another pair (second pair in row two) was rarely worn last year, but I rediscovered them (that sounds like I am like Imelda Marcos in my closet, but I’m not nearly that bad!) at the end of the year and have been wearing them quite regularly since that time.
Yes, there is redundancy in my black boot collection and I’m no doubt “splitting my wears,” but I’m okay with it for the time-being. My guess is that two pairs will be gone by the end of 2015 and will be replaced with one new pair, if at all. I can see the utility of having one pair of heeled black boots and one pair of flat black boots, but even so, I’d like them to be different in some other important way. I really do want to have a smaller, more functional wardrobe, which is why I’ve taken on my new closet challenge. I look forward to having good things to report as the year progresses.
Conclusion and Your Thoughts
Last month, I mentioned that I don’t really enjoy writing these accountability updates. I probably shouldn’t have written that, but it was what I was feeling at the time. It may not be as fun to compile these posts as it is with others, but I know it’s valuable for both myself and others. I plan to continue my accountability updates through 2015, but hopefully they won’t be as lengthy because I won’t be buying and purging at as high a rate.
In addition to sharing what came into my closet each month and what left, I will also give an update on my new wardrobe challenge, which really needs a catchy name. I’ll noodle on that a bit, but if you have any ideas for what I can call it, please send them along. Each month, I’ll let you know how many pieces are in my “working wardrobe” and feature a photo of what my closet looks like.
I’ll also continue to report on my budget (which may go down this year) and how many items I’ve purchased, including accessories. If any of you want to share your accountability when I do mine, I welcome it. I have felt less alone and more a part of a team since some of you started chiming in with your numbers. Let’s keep that going in 2015!
In that spirit, here are a few questions to spark off sharing today:
- How did you do with your shopping and wardrobe during December?
- Did you end the month – and year – on a high note, or were you challenged with overshopping and other issues?
- What do you plan to do differently during 2015?
Please let me and your fellow readers know how we can support you in honoring your goals and commitments. Feel free to share your wins, challenges, and questions in the comments section of this post. I also welcome any feedback you have on what I reported today.
I thank you for reading, and for the support – and tough love – you’ve given me along the way. I’m in a much better place today because I haven’t been on this path alone. Even if you never comment or send me email, I know you’re there and that means a great deal to me. I wish you all the best in 2015 – with your wardrobe, your shopping, and in all areas of life!