This is the post I have been dreading writing, which is part of why I have put it off for so long. As you will soon see, I shopped far too much during August and September – mostly during August – and bought a lot of new things, too many. Fortunately, the dust settled from my shopping “binge” weeks ago, but I now have to re-live it all here in this post. This isn’t an easy post for me to write, yet I have committed to being accountable here on the blog and I will honor that commitment.
For those who are new to the blog, these reports (which are usually done monthly) are where I share what came into and left my closet and how I did with my shopping budget. Sharing what I bought, what I culled, and how much I spent helps me to stay honest and on track with my wardrobe and shopping. It also contributes toward my being more deliberate, which is my theme for 2015.
Some Thoughts on Blogging and Accountability
Before I delve into the “meat” of this post, I want to say a few things. Back in September, I took what I called a “modified break” from blogging. As time went on, however, I came to understand that I didn’t really need a break from blogging. What I needed a break from was blogging about myself and my wardrobe. Frankly, I was just tired of it, particularly the intense scrutiny of me and my behavior. This came on the heels of quite a few negative comments on the blog, some of which I moderated and never made it through (but I still had to read). I have very rarely had to censor comments, but I will not tolerate sheer nastiness and mean-spiritedness toward me and my readers, which is what took place in late August.
When I started this blog, I thought that very few people would read it. I thought I would be lucky to get a hundred readers and I was thrilled when my first comments came in. I had hoped that my words could touch a small number of women who struggled with compulsive shopping like I did. I never expected my readers to number in the thousands or to receive dozens of comments on many of my posts. I have always been very open and honest in what I write, and I have used my real name (which is not at all common) from the very beginning. I have been praised for my honesty, but I have to admit that it was much easier to be so honest early on, back when I had just a small handful of readers. It gets a lot harder when one’s audience size increases and the critics start to filter in.
While being accountable for my actions related to my wardrobe and shopping has definitely been helpful for me, I have also grown weary of being criticized and at times raked over the coals by nameless, faceless people on the internet. Although the majority of commenters are respectful and encouraging, I often find myself anticipating what those who welcome the opportunity to criticize are going to say. I am a very sensitive person and always have been. It’s not that I’m not okay with being questioned. Many of the questions I have been asked by readers have helped me to learn and sometimes led to excellent follow-on posts. But I get tired of feeling like I have to defend myself over and over again, especially after I have already admitted that what I have done was not at all ideal. I feel that for some people, anything short of “I completely failed” and major acts of contrition will never be enough.
“Trial by Fire” and the Opinions of Others
You may say that I care too much about what others think – and you would be right. This has been a challenge for me for as long as I can remember and I still haven’t conquered it yet. Perhaps putting myself out there for the world to critique is my final “trial by fire” to overcome my attachment to the opinions of others. A friend once told me that if I am okay with myself and what I’m doing, others will be, too. That is probably true for most people, but there will always be those who delight in finding fault. Many times, I’m definitely not okay with what I have done, but I have flogged myself enough for it that I don’t need others to pile it on and add insult to injury.
I don’t know if I have expressed what I wanted to say well enough here, but I wanted to let you in on some of my thought processes. I never got tired of blogging or really needed a break from it. I just don’t know how much longer I want to write about myself and my wardrobe. I want to keep writing for sure and I still like many of the topics I write about, but I really do want to shift course a bit and that is something I am pondering as we near the end of 2015.
I don’t plan to shut down the blog, but I would like to take some of the focus off of myself and spend more time and energy on living my life rather than analyzing my wardrobe and shopping. My tagline is “trade your full closet for a full life” and my life is still a very far cry away from full. Something’s got to change and it’s not just about shopping less often and having a smaller wardrobe. I need to shift in other powerful ways and I’m hoping the blog will be able to shift with me and still be interesting to readers.
What Left My Closet
With all that said, let’s dive into my August and September accountability update. I always start these reports with what left my closet during the previous month (or in this case, months). I really didn’t do much culling during August and September, for several reasons. For one, it was still early on in the warm weather season, which doesn’t typically start where I live until sometime in July. I had also done the “KonMari Process” back in May and gotten rid of over 50 clothing and accessory items. Because I know that I have a closet “set point” that may propel me to want to buy more if I purge too much, I thought it would be good to wait a little while before I let go of more items.
A member of my private Facebook group said something that really resonated with me:
I think a constant cycle of clothing in and clothing out can be just as unhealthy as buying and accumulating. I think frequent culling or “one in, one out” rules can be harmful because we can end up thinking our purchases are not a problem when the overall number of garments stays the same.”
She raised a very good point and I will probably write more about this later. But for now, I will say that I’ve often gotten rid of things so I could buy more and feel less guilty about it. After I saw that comment, I decided to just “sit with” my wardrobe size for a while, even though I was accumulating too much with all of the buying I was doing during July through September. I don’t want to give myself a false sense of security by getting rid of things and maintaining a fairly stable wardrobe size as a result. In addition, I don’t want to purge just for the sake of purging. I want to keep things that work for me even if I have too many clothes from shopping too much.
Now that some time has passed of my living with a larger closet, I do intend to do more culling before the end of the year. I will likely do another round of the “KonMari Method” to streamline the process. As the warm season has progressed (we have another month or so left), I’ve gotten a much better sense of what wardrobe pieces work for me and which ones should be passed on. I especially want to pare down my jacket and shoe collections, as I know I have too many of each. But I will look at all areas of my closet to decide what should stay and what should go. Stay tuned…
During August and September, I removed just one item of clothing and two pieces of jewelry from my wardrobe:
- 1 jacket
- 2 pairs of earrings
Here’s a look at the items I opted to pass on:
Why I Culled These Items
In addition to posting photos of what left my closet, I also list why I decided to release those pieces. I feel that pinpointing our reasons for purging closet (and jewelry) items can help us notice patterns and avoid future mistakes.
My reasons for letting go of the items above are as follows:
- Two-toned earrings – While I used to like these earrings, I just didn’t find myself reaching for them this year. I think it’s because I have other similar earrings that I prefer. I would only be “splitting my wears” if I kept this pair and there’s no reason to do that if I’m happy with the other earrings I have that serve the same purpose.
- Silver chain earrings – I bought these earrings at a consignment store last year because that style of earring was “in” and I thought they looked kind of edgy. I wore them a few times but didn’t seem to want to wear them this year, so I passed them on.
- Grey sporty jacket with black trim – I really loved the way this jacket looked, but it wasn’t comfortable to wear. The arms were a bit too tight and I have tendonitis in my elbows. When I bent my arms in the jacket, my tendonitis hurt. I kept it for so long because it’s such a cute style, but I finally had to concede that it was just never going to work for me. My arms aren’t going to get better unless I stop spending time at the computer and I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I sometimes minimize the time, but I don’t ever fully heal and I want to only wear jackets with lots of room and “give” in the arms.
What Came Into My Closet
This is where I tell you to get a cup of coffee or a glass of wine because this section is going to be long… Heck, I wish I could have a glass of wine (can’t due to migraines) while writing this section because it will be laborious for me for sure! I’m actually going to structure this part of the update a little bit differently to make it easier for me to write and for you to read.
Yes, I bought a lot over the past two months. Part of the reason was because I waded back into the pool of consignment shopping and part of it had to do with emotional shopping and wanting to escape some difficult things in my life. In addition, my birthday was in August and I received both birthday gifts and birthday money that I used to buy clothes and accessories.
No matter the reasons, it’s not good that I accumulated so much during August and September and I wish I hadn’t. That said, I think I made far better choices than I have in the past and the majority of the new items are things I love and that are serving me well thus far. Although I wasn’t able to curtail my recent shopping, the lessons I’ve learned about my wardrobe and style have led me to shop smarter and I’m grateful for that.
During August and September, I added 29 new items to my wardrobe (18 garments and 11 accessories). Of these, 9 items (5 garments and 4 pairs of earrings) were either birthday presents or purchased with birthday money. Here’s what I bought:
- 2 cardigans
- 1 vest
- 6 tank tops
- 5 dresses
- 3 skirts
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 pair of sandals
- 1 purse
- 1 scarf
- 3 necklaces
- 4 pairs of earrings
- 1 bracelet
Why I Added These Items to My Wardrobe
I normally go through the new items one by one and write about why I bought them, but I’m going to do it by category this time to streamline the process a bit.
I bought the following 6 tank tops during August:
I had purged three of my tank tops in July and wanted to replace them with the same or similar colors. Most of my tank tops are five or more years old at this point and are getting worn out. I didn’t intend to buy six new tank tops, but I think that two of them are not going to work out. The black and fuchsia embellished tanks came from JC Penney’s, a place where I don’t usually shop. I was desperate to find fitted tanks and these seemed to fit the bill. However, they were still too long despite being petite sizes, so I took them to my tailor to be shortened. That resulted in the hem flaring out and the tanks not fitting well at the bottom. I think the fabric was too thin and flimsy to withstand the alterations.
After the alteration fail of the two embellished tanks, I purchased the black tank at the top right, as well as the purple one at the bottom right (I know the two bright tanks at the bottom left and right look quite similar, but the colors are actually cobalt and purple). The one at the top left was an impulse consignment buy, but I have worn it twice already and love it. Other than the two tanks in the middle, I am happy with the other tanks and have worn them multiple times. I don’t plan to buy any more tops at JC Penney’s. Luckily, they were inexpensive, but I still hate to throw money away.
I added these three toppers to my wardrobe:
Yes, they are all black and it’s hard to see the details in the photos. The cardigan on the left is cropped and can be worn open or tied, the vest in the middle has a drape collar, and the cardigan on the right has green thread detailing. The cardigan on the left is a replacement for my original tie-waist cardigan, which is getting worn out after several years of frequent wear. I have worn it at least twice and am happy with it. The vest had to be altered and has yet to be worn, but I believe I will like wearing it (I haven’t been layering much at all due to the heat). The cardigan on the right should have been left in the store (it was a consignment buy), as I don’t really need it. It’s cute, but kind of redundant since I have the other black cardigans, as well as black jackets. I don’t need so many black toppers, even though black is pretty much my favorite color.
The Skirts and Shorts
I bought three skirts and one pair of shorts over the past two months:
Would you believe that I had no shorts until recently? I have gotten along just fine without them, as I primarily wear skirts and dresses when it’s hot. But I saw a pair of black shorts at the Nordstrom end of season sales and decided to buy them. I have yet to wear them, but I may hold on to them in case an occasion comes along which calls for shorts, but a very kind reader and Facebook group member recently sent me three pairs of shorts that no longer fit her after weight loss. I may opt to keep a pair or two of those instead, but they are a longer length and I’m not sure they are flattering on me. If I do keep them, I will show them in my next accountability update.
The skirts were all consignment store purchases. The two maxi-skirts have already been worn and I really like them. I already had a grey maxi-skirt, but it is too voluminous and I like the new one better. I will likely pass the original one on soon. The black pencil skirt at the left has yet to be worn and needs a minor alteration. It is a better shape and length than my other black skirts, but may be a bit too formal. It’s a stretchy material, so it’s not too corporate, and is very high quality (made in Italy and probably back in the days when clothing was made better overall). It is not the ideal skirt for me, but it does fit well and I hope I will wear and love it. Since it was a consignment buy, it cannot be returned, so I’m hoping it’s going to work for me.
Yes, I got five new dresses during August and September and they are all prints:
Four of the five were consignment purchases (only the one on the bottom right was not) and they have all been worn at least once. I did not need to buy five dresses (in fairness, two were birthday gifts), but I really do love them all. They are all knee length except the maxi at bottom left, and the one at the top left is asymmetrical with the shortest part hitting at mid-knee.
In case you are wondering, I have not ventured into a consignment store for weeks now. I originally went into such stores with the objective of finding a few specific items, but I looked all around and ended up with things that weren’t on my list. When I used to do a lot of secondhand shopping, I always enjoyed the “treasure hunt” aspect of it, but that can lead to a lot of unplanned purchases that may be misses instead of hits. I think my track record has definitely improved, but I want to minimize my purchases for the remainder of the year, so a lot of consignment shopping isn’t a good idea.
And finally, here is a look at the accessories I added to my wardrobe in August and September:
Before the past two months, I had bought very few accessories this year. The shoes were purchased in early August and have been worn several times. They were a replacement for two existing pairs of sandals that will likely be culled when I do my next “closet audit.” The purse and scarf were bought at a local boutique when I went shopping with a friend in September. I think they were both good buys. The purse is much smaller than the rest of my bags and fills a wardrobe hole. It’s good for outings when I don’t want to carry a large bag and has already been used. The scarf incorporates three colors from my core palette and I know I will wear it once the weather cools down.
All of the earrings were either gifts or purchased with birthday money. They all came from my favorite store in Lake Tahoe. The ones on the right were a gift from my mom, so I didn’t pick them out. They are similar to another pair I have, but the other pair also includes black and is less versatile. The other pairs are different from what I already own and I love them. The third pair includes lapis lazuli, which is one of my favorite stones and I didn’t already have any earrings with that stone.
The bracelet was an inexpensive consignment store buy that I have yet to wear. I like the way it looks, but it may be fussy. I love all three of the necklaces and believe they will see a lot of wear in the coming months. I probably didn’t need to buy two that are kind of similar. I often don’t think of potential duplication when I buy things. I just see something that I am drawn to and buy it. The two top necklaces are both silver with black cord, but I do see distinctions between them and I like them both. If I had it to do over again, I would probably just get one of them, but I have them both now (they can’t be returned) and intend to wear them.
Checking in on Previous Purchases
Earlier this year, I added a new section to my accountability updates in which I check in on the previous month’s purchases. I have decided to remove that section from these updates, as I think it often takes a bit longer than a month to determine whether or not a purchase is a good one. Instead, I’m going to do periodic purchase analyses (either quarterly or every six months) to check in on prior acquisitions. I will be doing such an analysis for the first half of 2015 shortly.
August / September Budget Report
My clothing budget for 2015 is $2500 (down from $3000 last year). I was originally going to have just an annual budget this year (I maintained monthly budgets during 2013 and 2014), but decided to change to quarterly limits after spending too much money during February.
My quarterly budget is $625. During August and September, I spent a total of $139.30 on clothing and related purchases, after returns (I had a few returns of Nordstrom Anniversary Sale items that didn’t work out for me). This does not include birthday presents or items bought with birthday money or consignment store credits (this amounted to about $200 the past two months). Yes, I should probably include consignment credits in my budget, but I haven’t been doing so up until this point and it’s usually not much money anyway. Next year, I may opt to include those funds in my budget allocation.
As of September 30th, I spent $2170.83 to date in 2015, which exceeded my third quarter budget by close to $300 ($295.83)! I definitely shopped too much during the third quarter and will plan to allocate more funds for that quarter next year since it is often a bigger shopping time for me. Because I overspent my third quarter budget, my fourth quarter budget is now dramatically reduced. I can only spend $329.17 for the rest of the year if I want to meet my 2015 budget of $2500.
I’m okay with my fourth quarter budget being smaller, as I feel like my cool weather wardrobe is in pretty good shape after my earlier 2015 purchases and what I bought at NAS. I don’t think I will need to buy anything new in order to be ready for the cooler season, which really doesn’t start where I live until sometime in November. Plus, since I bought so much over the past three months, I need to tone my shopping down and focus on wearing what I have. I don’t need much at this point anyway, especially given my casual lifestyle and my not very active social life. I could probably easily get by with half of what I own for the activities in which I engage. But my emotional desire for new things often defies logic and common sense. I haven’t needed the wardrobe size I’ve had for the majority of my life.
As of last month, I started to report on the number of items I’ve added to and purged from my wardrobe. Here’s a summary as of the end of September:
- Items Added: 78 (59 garments, 5 pairs of shoes, 1 scarf, 12 pieces of jewelry)
- Items Returned: 5 (3 garments, 1 pair of shoes, 1 piece of jewelry – note that if I buy and return something within the same month, it isn’t included in my accountability updates)
- New 2015 Items Purged: 5 (4 tops and one bracelet that I lost last month)
- New 2015 Purchases Remaining: 69 (includes the 29 new items that I added in August and September)
The numbers above do not include the total number of items that I have purged this year, which is much greater than five. I will compile that information and share it in a separate post later this year. The numbers above only pertain to items that I have acquired during 2015.
I have said it before and I will say it again, I am continuing to buy too much (but still far less than before I started the blog – see here for details). Part of this is because I have continued to make a fair number of purchasing mistakes, particularly earlier in the year. Part of it is because I have been working a lot on refining my style and cultivating a workable wardrobe, but I know I didn’t need to buy so much in order to make that happen, especially if I shopped wisely. The remainder of the equation for my buying too much has to do with my continued emotional issues which lead me to shop for the wrong reasons. This is an area I need to focus on more in the coming months, as even if I stop shopping so much, I will probably still engage in alternate compulsive behaviors unless I address the root of my issues. I have tried before, but clearly I still have a lot of work to do there.
So that’s it for my August and September accountability update. Now it’s your turn to chime in:
- How did you do with your shopping and wardrobe during August and September?
- What successes and/or challenges did you experience?
I invite you to share your wins, setbacks, and any questions you may have for me or others in this community. Some of you have opted to share your accountability updates each month, too, which is great. There is strength in numbers and in declaring our truth on a forum such as this one. We’re here to encourage and support each other, so please feel free to ask for help if you need it. I wish you all the best for the rest of October and throughout the remainder of 2015!