I know I wrote in my last post that I would be sharing more “lessons from my outfit journal” this week, but I realized that I had more I wanted to say about my wardrobe and my “Love it, Wear It” Challenge (LIWI). So the outfit photos and journal entries will have to wait until next week instead.
In today’s post, I’m going to reflect back on how my shopping and wardrobe management has progressed so far this year. One quarter of the year is behind us, so this is a good time to pause and reflect on what is and isn’t working for us. Having periodic check-ins with ourselves can help increase our self-awareness and enable us to build upon what we’ve learned and avoid making mistakes.
I’m going to share what I’ve purchased this year and what I’ve passed on, as well as how I feel about both of these groups of items. I’m also going to spend a bit of time looking at my jewelry and accessories and what has yet to be worn in 2015. It’s my hope that my reflections will help you make similar analyses with your own wardrobes so you can better achieve your wardrobe and shopping goals.
What Came Into My Wardrobe
Let’s start by looking at what came into my closet this year. Since the beginning of 2015, I have added 14 garments, three pairs of shoes, and two pieces of jewelry to my wardrobe. Here’s a snapshot of all of those items:
What do these items have in common? With the possible exception of the black, white, and yellow tunic (which can be dressed down with jeans), all of the pieces are quite casual in nature. This is a very good thing, as my lifestyle is definitely casual. In the past, I would purchase too many “dressy” items simply because I liked how they looked. I didn’t fully consider how appropriate such things would be for my life. I bought them because they were stylish and/or looked good on me, or simply because the price was right.
I wasted a lot of money on garments and accessories that I shouldn’t have bought in the first place. Many of these items hung in my closet and collected dust instead of being worn regularly. My track record was pretty bad when it came to my purchases. I won’t elaborate too much here, but you can look back at some of my previous posts for the cold, hard, and ugly truth (see this post for overall bad purchases from last year and this post for my abysmal track record with resale buys).
Fast forward to this year… I am finally learning from my mistakes and turning things around! Almost all of my 2015 purchases have been worn multiple times and are well suited to my lifestyle. There are only two new items that have not been worn yet (denim jacket and silver stretch bracelet), but those are both recent purchases that I will likely wear within the next couple of weeks. I’m not overly thrilled with a few of the items, but I’m very happy with everything else thus far.
Worst Purchases So Far in 2015
The three items are don’t love are the following (with reasons listed):
- Green print long-sleeved tee: I love the color and the print, but this tee is a bit fussy and doesn’t really stay in place well. I probably should have moved around more in the fitting room to be sure of its wearability. It’s always a good idea to try to simulate the movements you’ll be making in your clothes when you try them on. I still wear this top, but it’s not one of my favorites. Time will tell if it will get to stay in my LIWI closet.
- Grey short-sleeved tee: I bought this tee because I really loved the turquoise version I had purchased previously. Since it’s a workout tee, I thought it would be helpful for me to have two since I don’t do laundry all that often. However, I don’t love this shade of grey on my skin tone, as I feel it washes me out somewhat. I should have stuck with just one version of the tee since they didn’t have another color available that I loved. And often “one and done” (as Bridgette Raes says) is the best way to go instead of buying multiples.
- Turquoise print short-sleeved tee: I bought this tee online, so I didn’t really know how the fabric would feel and wear. I kept the tee because I loved the color and print, but I probably should have returned it instead. Like the green top mentioned above, it’s kind of fussy and doesn’t stay in place. It won’t work as a workout tee for that reason, which was my original intention when I purchased it. I’m wearing it at home instead and still like it, but I really wish it would stay in place better for working out.
Lessons from My Bad Purchases
I have learned three valuable lessons from the above less than stellar purchases:
- Move around as much as possible in the fitting room when trying things on. Try to imitate the type of movements you will be making in the clothes to make sure they will be appropriate for your activities.
- Don’t buy “multiples” unless you love the second (I’m trying to stick with a maximum of two like items these days) color as much as the first. It’s far better to buy just one than to have a second item that rarely makes its way out of your closet.
- If you buy something online and don’t absolutely love it when it arrives, return it! This is true even if you love the color, print, or style of an item. You need to love the item as a whole in order to keep it, not just certain facets of it.
In her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo mentions that some clothes (and other items) come into our lives for the sole purpose of teaching us valuable lessons. If we impart those lessons, then those clothes have fulfilled upon their purpose in our lives. We can then release them, thank them for the lessons they taught us, and move on without guilt. That is likely what I will end up doing with the three garments mentioned above, which is why I am writing about them here today.
What Left My Closet
Speaking of releasing items from my closet, I have let go of 26 garments, 7 pairs of shoes, 5 pieces of jewelry, and one purse so far this year. Some of these items were purchasing mistakes, others no longer were in line with my personal style, and still others had simply passed their prime. Here’s a photo of all of the pieces that have left my wardrobe thus far in 2015:
After taking a few moments to look at my 2015 cast-offs, here’s a summary of why I passed them on (some items appear in more than one category):
- 7 items were worn out and past their prime.
- 15 items were poor purchases that were rarely worn (0-2 times) and shouldn’t have been bought in the first place.
- 12 items were no longer my style or in colors I no longer like (but had been worn multiple times previously).
- 3 tops had sleeves that were too short (3/4 sleeves that were more like 2/3 sleeves).
- 3 pairs of shoes were uncomfortable.
I mostly feel bad about the second category, as it’s a big waste of money to buy things that are rarely or never worn. But if I take Marie Kondo’s approach and look for the lessons in each of the items, I know my guilt will lessen, plus I’ll be armed with useful information to help me avoid repeating my mistakes. So here goes:
- Black and grey striped pencil skirt: The fit wasn’t quite right, plus I shouldn’t have bought horizontal stripes for my lower half given that I’m self-conscious about my hips and thighs.
- Black trouser jeans: The fit was off on these, too. They were always a bit baggy in the hip area (which rarely happens for me) and should have been returned shortly after I received them in the mail.
- Burgundy twist-front top: Another garment with fit issues. The top was too baggy in the torso and the length was too long.
- Black and white striped maxi-dress: There was a flaw in this dress that I thought could be fixed via alterations. I was wrong, so I ended up throwing good money after bad L
- Charcoal maxi-skirt: Bought with “sales goggles” on… I’m not a fan of fold-over waists on skirts and pants, but didn’t really know that until after I wore this skirt twice and was very frustrated by it.
- Black Coach pumps: I bought these shoes years ago because many fashion experts (like Clinton and Stacy on “What Not to Wear”) said all women should have a pair of black pumps. The heel on these shoes was too high to be comfortable and the style was too dressy for my life.
- Denim jacket: I wrote about this in my last accountability update. I should have returned it because it had a strong chemical odor and the fabric was too stiff.
- Grey sporty ballet flats: These shoes always looked a bit “clompy” on my feet and the color was too light for my mostly dark-hued wardrobe. Fortunately, I passed them on to my mom, who will hopefully enjoy wearing them.
- Green open cardigan: I let myself be bedazzled by the color and soft fabric, but the cardigan wasn’t really flattering on me. It was too loose and the fabric looked droopy after just two wears.
- Grey print skirt: This was my most recent consignment store fail. I bought it because it was new with tags and made of silk. But it looked too dressy and matronly on me, so I re-consigned it without a single wear (at least it was still new with tags then).
- Embellished pewter pumps: Too dressy and old-fashioned looking. Not a match for my lifestyle. Sadly, I was smitten by the brand and color, but it was a bad choice to buy these shoes back in 2013.
- Long copper earrings: A bad purchase because I don’t really wear other metals besides silver. I let a salesperson and my friend talk me into buying these, but I never wore them and decided to pass them on last month.
- Gunmetal leaf earrings: I was trying to branch out with these, too, but I should have known that I don’t really have a “boho” style. I tried shortening these (or rather, I had my husband do it), but they still weren’t “me.” Another pair of earring passed on without having been worn…
- Silver stretch bangles: I liked the look of these, but they really weren’t practical for me because they were floppy on my wrists and I spend a lot of time on the computer. I tried to wear them a couple of times, but they just weren’t right for me.
- Polka dot cardigan: The sleeves were just plain too short on this cardigan and I should have recognized that when I tried it on in the store. I wore it twice, but every time I bent my arms, the sleeve would slide up over my elbow. Very uncomfortable!
Lessons from My 2015 Cast-offs
If I had to distill down the lessons from all of the above failures, here’s what they would be:
- Don’t buy anything – or return purchases made online – if the fit is off. This has been an ongoing issue for me. Alterations are great, but only for minor fit issues. I need to stick with only doing standard alterations and not try to do anything too complex. Perhaps writing this down again will finally knock it into my thick skull!
- Don’t buy anything because someone else tells me I should. It doesn’t matter if a fashion expert, salesperson, friend, or family member says something is a “must-have” or tells me it looks fabulous on me. I have to love it – and know that I will wear it!
- Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale or the price is low. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in buying things on sale or at consignment stores. Fortunately, I’m doing much better on both counts, but I need to remember the lesson.
I could write more, but those are the three main lessons I can see in my 2015 cast-offs. I definitely feel like I’m making those types of mistakes far less often in recent months, so perhaps I have finally taken the lessons to heart. I’m sure I will still make mistakes from time to time because, after all, I am human and we all have our failings. Sometimes we have to learn the same lesson over and over again before it gets fully integrated into our psyches.
My Jewelry and LIWI
I realized after posting my last LIWI update that I didn’t address how I’m doing with my jewelry, so I’m going to report on that here. I haven’t gotten rid of many jewelry pieces thus far in 2015, as I’ve been waiting to see what I do and don’t feel called to wear. In my March LIWI update, I shared how many jewelry pieces I’ve worn since January 1st, but I didn’t tell the other side of the story. Here’s an accounting of how many jewelry items I haven’t worn yet this year by category:
- Earrings not yet worn: 22 pairs
- Necklaces not yet worn: 17 (4 long, 13 short)
- Pendants not yet worn: 8 (I always forget about these, as they are stored in a different place)
- Bracelets not yet worn: 8
- Rings not yet worn: 11 (I always wear the same 3, but some of the others have sentimental value)
- Watches: 2 (one will be passed on, the other has sentimental value)
I know those numbers are high, but I’m proud of how much I’ve pared down my jewelry collection since I first took an inventory last year. I realize that I will need to cull more of my jewelry pieces in order to make things more manageable and only hold on to those pieces I love and wear. I think this will happen organically in the coming months.
However, I’m happy that I’m no longer adding new items on a regular basis like I used to. I only started tracking my accessory purchases last May and in that month alone, I bought four pairs of earrings and three scarves! From May through December last year, I bought 27 jewelry items, as well as 7 scarves and 1 belt. I would imagine that my totals for the entire year were quite a bit higher.
Since I have only added one pair of earrings and one bracelet to my collection so far this year, I’ve really slowed down my jewelry purchases this year. Tracking the pieces I’m wearing has really helped me to see that I don’t need more. My perception of “enough” is being altered tremendously by LIWI, which is a big part of why I decided to do the challenge in the first place. I think the challenge is working its magic on my closet and I look forward to seeing where I am with everything by the end of the year.
The Bottom Line
While I still have too many clothes and too many pieces of jewelry, I am happy with the progress I’ve made this year. Through LIWI, I’ve learned a lot about what I enjoy wearing and that information is informing my shopping. My 2015 purchases to date have been better utilized than the things I’ve bought in previous years. While it’s still early in the year, I feel that my mistake percentage is much lower than it was in 2014 and earlier, as I’ve been planning my purchases better and making smarter choices.
I still need to be careful about buying too much or making impulse buys. After all, it’s still relatively early in my recovery and I am still prone to overshopping, particularly during times of high stress. Knowing that I will need to be accountable to all of you every month helps to keep me honest and on track, but I also think I’ve changed in some important and significant ways.
I’m a different person than I was when I started this blog in January 2013. I still don’t have the full life that I desire, but I am no longer avoiding my issues and feelings by immersing myself in the process of shopping. I am feeling my pain and it’s often uncomfortable, but I know it’s part of the process. I am pleased with how far I’ve come and I’m encouraged to keep moving forward… one day at a time.
Now it’s time for you to share your thoughts, either on my quarterly update or on your own progress thus far in 2015.
- If you take the time to reflect on what you bought this year and/or what you’ve passed on, what patterns do you notice?
- What have you learned about yourself, your shopping patterns, and your wardrobe needs?
- What areas of growth have you determined for yourself moving forward?
I invite you to weigh in on the questions above, as well as on anything else you want to share.
One More Thing to Share…
Before you go, I wanted to share one more thing. I mentioned Bridgette Raes earlier. Every Friday on her blog, she features a “Fab Find.” Well today’s “Fab Find” was my book, “End Closet Chaos: Wardrobe Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic“!
I’m very grateful to Bridgette for helping me get the word out about my book. To read what she has to say about it, click here. If you want to learn more about both of my books, visit this page. Thanks to Bridgette and all of you for your support!
I wish you a wonderful weekend! I’ll be back early next week with my next installment of lessons from my outfit journal. I apologize for pushing that post out, but I thought it was important for me to write about my first quarter process. I just felt that I had left out some important pieces of information in my last post. The post would have been too long anyway, so I really needed to write this part two. I hope you enjoyed today’s post and have found it beneficial.