January through June 2015 Purchase Analysis

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I’m big on tracking, numbers, and statistics related to my wardrobe and shopping (see how I do my tracking here).  I think that tracking can be highly beneficial for recovering shopaholics, as well as anyone who wants to shop smarter and better utilize the wardrobe pieces they own.   I’ve been tracking how much I spend, what I wear, and how often I wear it since the beginning of 2011, and last year I added photos and an outfit journal to the mix.  Using these types of analysis can help us make fewer buying mistakes over time.

Shopping and wardrobe statistics

It can be helpful to periodically review and analyze our purchases.

Another thing that I find helpful is to review my purchases and see how they have worked out for me. In today’s post, I’m going to look at the items I brought into my closet from January through June of this year and see whether my new items have become wardrobe workhorses or closet benchwarmers.

It’s a bit too early to look at the pieces I purchased during July through October, as I don’t yet know whether those buys were smart or ill-advised. For one reason, many of those items are for fall (looking at you, Nordstrom Anniversary Sale purchases), and the cooler weather hasn’t even started yet where I live.   I will address what I’ve bought during the second half of the year in one of my end of the year wrap-up posts (check out what I called my best and worst purchases for 2014 – I don’t agree with all of those assessments now!).

The Basic Numbers – January through June 2015

Let’s start this analysis with a few basic numbers (doesn’t include undergarments and sleepwear):

  • Items Bought During January – June 2014: 38
  • Items I Still Have: 29  
  • Items Returned: 5
  • Items Purged: 4

The photo below shows all 38 of my January through June purchases.  I will delve into the other categories in the following sections.

Items bought January through June 2015

These are the 38 items bought from January through June 2015.

What I Still Own

Before I explore which purchases were good and which were less than ideal, let’s look at what I still have in my closet today.   As I mentioned above, I still have 29 of the 38 items I bought during the first half of 2015, which is roughly three-quarters (76% to be more exact).   Here’s a snapshot of those pieces that have stuck around:

January through June 2015 purchases I still have

These are the 29 January through June 2015 purchases that I still have.

Starting on a High Note – The Best

Let’s start on a high note and look at my best purchases of the year thus far.  The twenty-one items shown below – eighteen garments, two pairs of shoes, and one pair of earrings – are what I consider my best buys for the first half of 2015.  These items represent 55% of my purchases from January through June.

Good Buys - January through June 2015

These were my best buys from January through June 2015.

A Closer Look…

Here’s a closer look at these items (since I know those thumbnails can be difficult to see) – first the tops (11) and then everything else (10):

Early 2015 "Good Buys" - The Tops

Early 2015 “Good Buys” – The Tops

Early 2015 "Good Buys" - Everything Else

Early 2015 “Good Buys” – Everything Else

Instead of looking at these items one by one (which would be a bit tedious, even for me…), here are what I see as some of their common characteristics:

  • All garments are knit and casual in nature. They all suit my lifestyle and many can be worn at home. They are all in silhouettes that flatter my frame.
  • The two dresses and one skirt are all maxi length, a length that I’ve determined works well for both my style and my life. I like that I can wear maxis with flats and that they have a very casual vibe.
  • Seven items include some version of my signature stripes (mostly horizontal, but two verticals as well).
  • Both pairs of shoes are comfortable and easy to walk in (one is a pair of actual walking shoes).
  • With one exception (green and grey striped tee), the colors are all within my key color palette (black, white, jewel tones).
  • Everything is true to my personal style, which is classic, casual, and minimalist in nature (with some bits of edge thrown in – trying to amp that part up a bit in the latter parts of this year).

Most of the items pictured above have already been worn many times and I believe all 21 will be wardrobe workhorses for some time to come.   Last year, I designated just 9 of my 27 January through June purchases as good buys, which was one-third of my total buys.   I only agree with 7 of those assessments at this point (the other two items have left my closet), so the total would be even lower (26%).  Thus, my shopping success rate has approximately doubled over last year. It’s nice to see that my hard work on all of this is paying off!  It takes time and effort, but it’s definitely possible to become a smarter and more successful shopper.

The Flip Side – 2015 Shopping Mistakes

Of course, not all of my buys from the first half of this year were good ones.  Sadly, I have continued to make some shopping mistakes, but my failure rate has slowed down as I’ve become clearer of my personal style and stopped buying for a wished for or imagined lifestyle.

The Returns

Let’s first look at the lesser mistakes, those garments that I was able to return for refunds.   Of course, these are not the only returns I’ve made this year.   There were also other items that I bought and returned within a given month that didn’t appear in my monthly accountability updates.  I have not kept track of all of those returns, but many were online purchases that didn’t work out due to sizing issues and inaccurate web descriptions (which is bound to happen and difficult to completely avoid).

The five items shown below (13% of my purchases) were January through June buys that ended up being returned to the store of origin for a full refund:

Returns - January through June-2015

I returned these five items that I bought during January through June-2015.

I have since found better alternatives for all three items in the top row – longer black jeans (the first pair was a marginal length), a better fitting denim jacket with some stretch to it, and a grey tie-waist cardigan in a cooler tone and with longer sleeves.   The other two items were merely returned and never replaced, at least not yet. I don’t necessarily need a thick silver bracelet, but I would still like to find a pair of metallic flats to replace the ones I purged from my closet early in the year.   I just want to make sure to find the right ones rather than settling for shoes that I don’t love or which hurt my feet.

Purged or Soon to Be Purged Items

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to return all of my early 2015 shopping mistakes for refunds.  The seven items pictured below (18% of my purchases from the first half of the year) were either already consigned or donated or are slated for that fate shortly.

Bad Purchases - January through June 2015

My mistake purchases from January through June 2015 – not good but fewer than last year…

Although it’s nice to be able to consign some pieces, I’m usually only able to recoup 25% or less of my losses that way.   It’s far better never to buy the right things in the first place!  In order to avoid making more purchasing mistakes in the future, it’s useful to examine what the above poor buys had in common:

  • Four items were purchased online and had either color or fit issues with them. Sometimes colors look different on our computer screens than in real life and clothes are regularly pinned back on models to appear more fitted than they actually are.  Both issues can be frustrating, but if we are going to shop online, we have to be willing to make returns as necessary when things don’t work out as we had hoped.  This has been an expensive lesson for me to learn, but I hope I have finally learned it.
  • I had three of these items (two tops and the skirt) altered to try to make them work. I should have either returned them right away or cut my losses after I realized they wouldn’t work out (if I had already worn them) instead of throwing good money after bad.   Another costly lesson that I seem to have to learn time and time again.  Sigh… Have I finally gotten it now?  I pray I have.
  • Almost all of the items (except the maxi skirt) were part of my at-home / workout wardrobe. I’m used to being less picky with such items, but I need to hold them to the same high standards as everything else. After all, I wear those pieces more often than anything else.  Why shouldn’t I feel good about what I’m wearing all of the time?

I still have the skirt, pink tee, and walking shoes in my closet, but probably not for long.   I found a replacement for the skirt in September and I have plenty of other tees that I prefer, so those garments will be passed on shortly.   I replaced the black walking shoes back in June, but I always like to keep a spare pair around.  I didn’t do so early in the year and was left having to buy new walking shoes when one of the soles on the ones I was wearing split in half!  That led me to purchase the shoes shown above a bit hastily via eBay.  I thought they were the exact same pair as my old ones, but the toe-box felt somewhat constricting and I should have returned them.  If I’d had a back-up pair on hand (usually quite worn out but still wearable), I would have held out for shoes I knew would work instead of keeping the ones I had ordered.  Lesson learned, which is why I’m keeping the ones above even though they kind of hurt my feet.  Once I replace my current pair, I will donate them.

The Jury is Still Out…

Five of my January through June purchases (13%) have either not been worn at all or only a few times thus far:

Unsure purchases -January through June 2015

The jury is still out on these five purchases from January through June 2015.

I’m actually kind of surprised that some of these items are currently sitting in “benchwarmer” territory, as I really thought they would be worn regularly.   Below are my assessments for why the above items have not (yet and maybe not ever…) become wardrobe workhorses.

  • Black beaded bracelet: This was an impulse buy from a friend’s store.  I bought it to support my friend more than because I really loved it and couldn’t wait to wear it.   That said, I’m surprised I haven’t worn it yet because I do like it and feel it would mesh well with many of my outfits.  However, I already have two other black bracelets that I love and wear often, so perhaps this is just a lesser loved version and I would be “splitting my wears” by keeping it.   But I’m going to challenge myself to wear it soon to see how I feel about it.   Sometimes it takes wearing something to see if it was a good buy or a mistake.
  • Black straight-leg jeans: I bought these just before the warm weather started where I live and I had to take them to my tailor to be hemmed (story of my life –regular lengths are too short and talls are too long…).   Then it got hot here and I have rarely worn pants for months, as I favor dresses and skirts this time of year.   I believe I will wear these jeans regularly starting later this month when it gets cool here.
  • Black and grey striped maxi-skirt: This skirt was an impulse buy, bought from a boutique down the street on a day when I was stressed out and upset.   Although it includes my signature stripes, it was too flared and not as flattering as it could be. I got it taken in a little while ago, but now it needs to be ironed.  It’s been sheer laziness that has prevented me from wearing this skirt recently.  That said, since I’m not certain I love it and haven’t been motivated enough to iron it, I included it in the unsure category.  There’s still a decent chance that the altered skirt will be in the “good buys” category for the year.
  • Grey boots: This was the fourth pair of grey boots that I ordered beginning in late 2014. The boots were a Christmas present from my husband, but it took a while to find a pair that actually worked for me. I thought this pair fit the bill, but they don’t work well with many of my jeans.  The shaft is a bit too wide to wear with my straight-fit jeans and I haven’t been wearing the boot-cut pairs as much following my weight loss earlier in the year.  In addition, the heel is slightly too high to be comfortable enough for all day wear, especially since I started having hip and foot problems in the spring.  I hope that I’ll be able to wear these boots more this fall and winter, but my joint issues have yet to be resolved. I will try and see how it goes, but I think these boots are good with boot-cut jeans only, which limits their versatility.
  • Medium wash boot-cut jeans: I bought these jeans on sale online because my other boot-cut jeans had gotten too baggy after I lost weight.  I was able to get these for a low price in a size down from my other boot-cut jeans.  Unfortunately, however, the denim is not the same and there is little give and stretch to the fabric. Thus, they are not all that comfortable to wear. I really should have returned them, but sometimes it’s not that easy to tell how we’ll feel wearing our clothes until we spend some time in them.  I haven’t given up on these jeans yet, though. I will wear them again when the cool weather arrives, but I’m not all that hopeful that they’ll be as comfortable as my other jeans that are a size larger.  I still sometimes wear the larger jeans even though they are somewhat baggy, so maybe that’s what I’ll continue to do. My husband said they still look okay, if not totally form-fitting.

I can see issues with all of my “unsure” items – buying off season, buying for emotional rather than rational reasons, and settling for less than what I truly want. Buying off season can be risky, but sometimes we have to do it in order to get the pieces on our shopping priorities lists.  This is particularly an issue for those of us who live in climates that don’t fall in line with the retail calendar.   I’m not upset with myself for buying the black jeans. It really did take me a long time to find a good pair and I do believe I will wear them.   As for buying for emotional reasons and settling for less, those are issues I’m still struggling with and I’m sure will be the topics for future blog posts!

In Conclusion

The type of analysis I did in this post took a decent chunk of time to complete, but I believe it was time well spent.   Many of us often spend several hours or more trying to find the perfect item online or in a store.  So why not invest the same amount of time to review how well we did with our shopping over a period of several months?   Sure, analyzing your purchases isn’t as enjoyable as shopping, but it’s also not much fun to have a closet full of clothes you don’t wear or inflated credit card bills!

I highly recommend that you keep a running list (or photos – or both) of the pieces you buy, and that you pause to review your purchases at least twice per year.  Quarterly would be even better, as you might be able to identify unproductive buying patterns and turn them around before the year is over.   As you can see with my reports, I made some good buys and some mistakes, but I’ve been able to learn valuable lessons from both categories.   I’m sure I will learn even more if I continue to review my new closet acquisitions regularly, and I believe the same will be true for you, too.

Your Thoughts?

I hope you found this post both interesting and helpful.   Perhaps some of you are now motivated to do purchase analyses of your own.  Such in-depth probing is not the right path for everyone and may feel overly excessive to some, but I like to share my process with you in the hope that it might inspire you in some way.   As with everything else in life, I encourage you to take what feels right for you and leave the rest.   You can always revisit some of my ideas at a later time if they feel like a better fit then.

Now it’s your turn to share your thoughts.

  • Have you ever done a purchase analysis?
  • If so, what did you learn?
  • Are you inspired to do your first purchase analysis as a result of this post?
  • What other methods do you use for keeping yourself on track with your clothing, shoe, and accessory purchases?
  • How do you ensure that you make fewer mistakes when you shop?

I invite you to share your practices and methods so we can all learn from each other.   I know my method isn’t the only way by any means. I’m open to learning new ways to start shopping smarter and making better purchases all around. That’s a big part of what this blog is all about!

26 thoughts on “January through June 2015 Purchase Analysis

  1. You are definately making progress and you should be proud of yourself. It made me analyse my purchases….I now realise what a lot of work you put in to do this. I just skimmed over mine so in the interests of accountability here goes. 39 items of clothing bought this year to date. I am not going to included accessories as you already know I am a hopeless when it comes to them, maybe next year. Of those 14 have not green worn. This is made up of 10 waiting for the weather to cooperate, 3 specialty clothing for occasions and 1 not worn during that season so probably a mistake. 12 things have been worn under 5 times but the majority being 3 or 4, those worn only once were for a special occasion. And to wrap up 13 things have been worn 5 times or more. And I’m starting to purge old clothes. Definately improvement for me.

    • Thank you, Di! I’m glad my post influenced you to analyze your purchases. Yes, it is a lot of work to do this, but it’s definitely worth the effort in my opinion. It seems like you have done very well with your purchases this year! The fact that you’ve worn most pieces at least 3 or 4 times is excellent. I didn’t include number of wears in the data I posted and I don’t think my numbers are as good as yours in that regard, but I think it’s great that both of us have improved so much. Congrats on your successful shopping and purging!

  2. Debbie, you are so inspiring! I’m so happy to see that you’re making progress! I hope you *really and truly* see that as well, and that you aren’t punishing yourself over mistakes.

    Regarding purchase analyses … no. I haven’t really done these, other than perhaps looking at a top and thinking, ‘wow, I wore that three out of five days as soon as I bought it, it was a good choice’. My occasional analyses are mental ones. But I think I’d like to start, in-writing for my own self, because I can see how very useful it would be – especially as I’d like to own fewer things altogether.

    As far as staying on track with shopping… I’ve done well with clothes this fall. Doing a fall capsule wardrobe, along the lines of Jess’ One Hundred Hangers site, has been very useful for making fewer purchases and mistakes altogether. For one thing… any new item has to fit in the existing capsule, or be something I need for a warmer weather capsule in the spring or summer. And for another… the item has to be something that won’t make a favorite item redundant, or split wears, unless it’s by choice. For example, I’m trying to prolong the life of my all-time favorite black skirt, so having a similar second skirt has been very useful.

    As far as shoes go… I’ve gotten marginally better, but only because I’ve realized there aren’t enough hours in the week to wear all of the shoes I have, and I’ve been curating them down to my favorites. Got a lot of favorites, though.

    • I’m so happy to inspire, Mary Beth! No, I am not punishing myself over my mistakes, as most of them were earlier in the year and I’m seeing my progress. If you opt to start doing purchase analyses, I would love to see what you learn from the process. It seems the capsule wardrobe philosophy has been beneficial for you and I can definitely see how the would help. When dressing with less, it’s more important not to have any redundancies. I learned that from my Project 333 stints. Perhaps I will have to try a capsule wardrobe again, as I have been inspired by Jessica’s posts, too. Best wishes for your continued success and with that impressive shoe wardrobe of yours!

  3. This is a great post! Lots of good ideas, plus it is really very encouraging to see such a high point appear when you’ve been struggling recently. Yes I do consider this a high point! All of your purchases were in line with your very specific style. Your “mistakes” were, as you mentioned, partly due to the challenges of online shopping. But I think you are developing much higher standards and demanding much more of each piece, so what you think of as a mistake today, you might happily have accepted and worn when you started this journey several years ago.
    I have never tracked purchases this closely, nor have I photographed anything but shoes (I use the pics to label them in my closet). All of the statistics would have been VERY beneficial in my years of lunch-hour and after-work shopping every single day.
    You may have answered this question in the past but my memory is not what it used to be: what decides whether something is worthy of alteration vs. “throwing good money after bad”?

    • I appreciate your comment about my “high point,” Katrina. I consider this a high point, too, and I can really see that my standards have increased, even since the beginning of the year. For me, statistics have been very beneficial. They are not for everyone, but I have learned things that have helped me to become a better shopper. In regards to alterations, I wrote a good post about that topic almost two years ago: https://recoveringshopaholic.com/the-dark-side-of-alterations/ It may be time for another post on this subject soon, as I continue to learn more about what to do and what not to do. In short, I think that if I love an item and an alteration would make something good better, then by all means, I should go for it. In contrast, if I am not really that into something but feel guilty about how much it costs and am trying to “rescue” it by means of tailoring, that’s when things often go awry. I can see that some examples would go a long way toward driving this point home, so I will do a post on this soon. Thanks for the post idea!

  4. I love these analysis posts. They speak to the math geek in me! I also posted my accountability on the Facebook group, but here is a pared-down version.

    I adddd 13 pair of shoes through 11/1. I have worn 68 pair a total of 305 times. I have worn the new 13 pair 28% of the time. All but 2 of them have been worn 4 or more times. Of the 2 benchwarmers, I am surprised about one pair and really do love them. I need to wear them more often. The other pair was an impulse buy to try to take part in a trend. They are not very comfortable and are a bit unstable when I walk. They’re sandals and put away. They will stick around until next spring when I will make a decision. The rest of my new shoes were good buys!

    I have added 45 clothing items through 11/2. Of the 45 items added, I’ve worn them an average of 3 times since receiving and everything has been worn at least once. Only one item has been purged. It was the wrong color and shape for me. Of the 174 items I have worn so far this year a total of 491 times, I’ve worn my new stuff 35% of the time.

    I don’t bother tracking what I return because I shop exclusively on-line snd returns are just part of that process.

    • My hat is off to you for your superb analysis skills, Barb! You are definitely a “math geek,” even more so that I am. I didn’t specifically factor in how many times I wore the new items, but that was definitely in my mind in terms of which purchases were successful. You are doing quite well with your purchases this year and you understand well why the few items that didn’t work fell into that category. I like that you track what percentage of the items you wear are the new pieces. I am wondering what method you use for your tracking, as I could probably use an upgrade (how I do it is still pretty low tech). I don’t usually track returns, either. I just included items that had been shown in my accountability updates. Within months, there are usually at least a few returns due to shopping online.

  5. I have not done and really don’t want to put the time and energy into a purchase analysis. But I definitely see why it might be helpful. I think I keep my purchasing in check or make fewer mistakes by sticking to a capsule wardrobe, really analyzing the quality of the item and considering where it’s being purchased from (i.e. Is this is a fast fashion chain?). This year I’ve had a real breakthrough regarding my shopping habits. I just got tired of it! It was a beautiful day, and I was shopping for stuff I didn’t need. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted better for my money, myself, my time and habits. It’s hard to explain. I think a lightbulb just went off in my head and I just said, ” that’s it. Enough is enough. No more.”

    • If you instinctively know that you are doing well with your shopping, Stacy, then it’s probably not necessary for you to do a formal purchase analysis. The methods you use and the questions you ask yourself seem to be serving you quite well. It seems that you had a wonderful epiphany this year about shopping. How wonderful for you! I know it’s hard to explain, but sometimes that’s how things work. I haven’t had such an epiphany yet and maybe I won’t. Mine has been more of a gradual progression, with quite a few ups and downs along the way. I’m just happy to be spending less time and energy on the process of shopping, even if I am still spending about the same amount of money and buying a similar number of items. You seem to be in a very good place and I’m happy for you!

  6. I like numbers too!. I’ve always recorded what I buy, and about 18 months ago did a wardrobe audit for the first time (and now track throws as well as purchases). However I don’t track wears, just note down outfits I like for future reference. For Jan-June there were 23 buys, including 10 shoes/scarves/hats, 13 garments. I still have all of them, as I very rarely return things. The number was a lot higher than I had planned. At the moment I still like most of them, probably about 4 or 5 I regret buying, in that they were not really essential and/or do not reflect the style I’m aiming for. If I had avoided those 5 I would be far happier with this record.
    BTW I like your ‘classic, casual, and minimalist’ style mantra, I can see this would be useful to reflect on when making wardrobe decisions – did you ever do a post on this?

    • You seem to be doing very well with your purchases, Alice, even if you have bought more than you had planned. I think it’s normal to have a few regrets in the mix, but you are happy with most of the items, which is wonderful. I like that you jot down outfits that you like. I have been doing the same and find that it’s now easier to get dressed, especially when I am in a hurry. I haven’t done a full post on my style mantra, but I have touched upon that topic in a number of posts. In my purchase analysis a year ago, I used those same words, but I think I have been growing into them more. I still would like to add a bit more “edge” here and there, but I’m becoming more and more happy with my style as time goes on.

  7. Really enjoyed this post & found it very uplifting. You’re making huge progress & this is quite the success. I hope you’ve given your back a little pat as I know you’re quick to judge yourself for your perceived fails!

    My comment echoes Stacy in that I have purchased in a very intentional way and have very few mistakes. I choose to stick to favourite styles, fabrics & brands and all my new items fit seemlessly into my existing wardrobe. I absolutely believe tracking and shopping mindfully is keeping the shopaholic at bay. I do still buy multiples as If I find the perfect item in black, it’s a given that I will also buy it in brown,camel & wine. By sticking to a rather strict colour palette capsule I’m finally enjoying the process of wearing my clothes as opposed to the never ending quest to acquire the perfect wardrobe/life!

    • Thanks, Sharon. Yes, I did pat myself metaphorically on the back for my success. I’m not being hard on myself about the mistakes, as they were mostly earlier in the year and I did learn from them. I’m getting better and better at making good choices, but I know they won’t all be winners and that’s okay. Big congrats on your intentional shopping! How wonderful to feel that your new purchases are seamlessly fitting into your wardrobe. I still buy multiples sometimes, too, but I usually try to keep it to just two pieces. Having a strict color palette is helpful in many ways, including cutting down on the multiples. Your last sentence really speaks to how far you’ve come – good for you!

  8. Hi Debbie!

    Your analysis posts are really interesting, and your progress is definitely noticeable!

    When you mentioned that you had tried to alter three pieces, and they still didn’t turn out, it made me wonder what your success rate with altering has been? How many of the items in your working wardrobe were improved by alterations and ended up being favourites (maybe excluding pants that were hemmed)?

    • Thanks for noticing my progress, Sam. As I responded to Katrina above, I addressed the subject of alterations success close to two years ago: https://recoveringshopaholic.com/the-dark-side-of-alterations/ Since that time, my success rate has gone up for sure, but I haven’t kept any actual statistics on it. Perhaps I will do a follow-up post and look at my purchases from this year that I have altered and how it worked out for me. I sometimes alter pieces I’ve had for a while as well as the new ones, as I am very picky about how my clothes fit. I’m also preferring shorter lengths on skirts and dresses, so I have shortened a few this year and have been happier with them. I still make mistakes with alterations, but fewer than before. I agree that this would make a good post topic and I appreciate you and Katrina asking the question.

  9. I agree with the others that you are making great progress and your style has really come together. I am tracking wears this year and just did my first purchase analysis for the month of September because I wanted to give myself time to wear what I bought. If you are interested it is at http://boomergirlsguide.blogspot.com/2015/11/evaluation-september-wardrobe-purchases.html and you will see that I am doing a lot of consignment store shopping as I experiment with a different color palette and refine my style.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Juhli, and for sharing your recent purchase analysis post. I really liked your post and I’m impressed with how well you’ve done with your consignment shopping. I like that you did the analysis after some time had elapsed so you could see if you are really wearing the new items. You’re doing great and I see cohesion in your new purchases. What’s funny is that I used to have a beaded bracelet much like the one you’re not sure will work for you. My friend bought it for me, but it just wasn’t “me.” I hope you will be happier with it than I was. Time will tell… Overall, you’re doing great!

    • Thank you, Jane! This is why I like to do statistics. Either way, they really do tell us a lot. I’m glad the numbers are pointing in my favor now.

  10. Thank you for all this information! I’m curious about your alteration philosophy. I was intrigued to see that you altered two tops and the skirt, since they all look “casual” and thus, I would think, harder to alter then more structured clothes, and also perhaps not as expensive as dressier wears. Do you have a price point below which alternation is not worth it? Could you also share some of your alteration success stories? We often hear about “throwing good money after bad” in trying to alter clothes that don’t work, but I imagine you’ve had successes with this method as well. Are certain garnets more likely to be altered successfully, and does that factor into your decision-making process?

    • Wow, three people asked about alterations! Clearly, I need to do another post on this topic, especially since my last post on the topic (this one, mentioned above as well: https://recoveringshopaholic.com/the-dark-side-of-alterations/) was almost two years ago. In short, I don’t have a price point at which alterations aren’t worth it because I feel that if I love something and a tweak will make it a wardrobe workhorse, it’s worth it to me. I keep learning about what does and doesn’t work with alterations. I wrote about my two inexpensive tank tops that got “wonky” when I shortened them (see this post: https://recoveringshopaholic.com/august-and-september-2015-accountability-update/), but I have shortened MANY other tops and it’s worked perfectly fine. I sometimes attempt a tricky alteration and it pays off (did that with a skirt recently – will definitely feature that one in my alterations post), but other times it falls flat. I have to decide whether or not the risk is worth it and that can be hard to define sometimes. The “throwing good money after bad” issue is an important one. If we don’t love something and just feel guilty about having spent the money, it’s highly unlikely that tailoring can fix that issue. I definitely have examples for everything I briefly discussed here, so I know I can do a post (or even a series) on alteration successes and failures. Stay tuned…

  11. Hi Debbie, you do seem to be moving in the right direction, and I think I am too due to tracking. I bought 28 items, which is everything except underwear. The ballet slippers were and emergency purchase for a shoe disaster on a day out and were immediately passed on to my daughter. 2 items were discarded unworn- very inexpensive impulse items just to see if the style worked- it didn’t. A thick long cardigan hasn’t been worn yet as it was bought in the winter sale for this winter. 16 have been really good buys, worn a lot and feel great. They have helped to define what my current style is. The remaining items I have worn, and most have been useful, but with hindsight I probably would not have bought them. A couple of inexpensive scarves bought mainly because it was colder than expected and I hadn’t taken one. A couple of long sleeved tops in warmer brighter colors which don’t feel quite right on, a dress which rides up when sitting down but I can wear under a skirt in future, a pair of second hand jeans which need taking in on the waist but otherwise fit well, a bright turquoise bag, which is great occasionally but not as practical or versatile as black or navy. I’m still hunting the perfect navy skirt that will go with my existing tops so I can wear them more. I thought I found one, but it only goes with 2-3, and creases.
    From my tracking I can see what outfits I actually wear how often and what for. I can see that I have enough outfits for the various activities, but I also know that I will want some change to freshen things up. I am going to try identifying 3-4 items per season that will update my wardrobe, and create new looks. I’ll keep a separate list of basics I need to replace, but this shouldn’t be many next year. I suspect I’ll also need a few wildcards for unplanned unexpected items- maybe 6? I will not buy ‘just in case’ I will not buy ‘nearly right’ and I will not buy duplicates.

    • Thanks so much for such a detailed and informative comment, Lynn. You have definitely learned a lot by tracking your purchases and what did and didn’t work about them. It seems the bulk of what you bought WAS useful for you, so that’s good, and you have a tangible plan for future shopping. Your last sentence really says a lot. Buying “just in case,” “nearly right,” and duplicates has been a big part of my problem, too. We can go a long way toward shopping smarter by just avoiding those three issues. Best of luck to you!

  12. I think you are doing great! I’m at a crossroads with my approach to my wardrobe right now. I’m feeling it’s time to get less stringent and follow my heart more. A few really standout items last week on vacation made me realize a handful of key pieces should take the place of 10 ‘for variety’. Which leads me towards having less items each year, but worn more often, and then simply new looks every couple of years, instead of adding, curating, extending the life. Honestly the true meaning of Love It, Wear It – and then set it free when it’s done it’s duty and move on.
    I’ve bought 28 items including a bag, belt, hat, shoes, so far this year. Excluding uniform items or basics like camis and running gear. 2 have been purged already, and a 3rd is going to be since it shrank (boo, I loved those track pants). I think fully half of the buys are going to be worn quite regularly. Several are occasion wear I never expected to get a great CPW on (leather skirt, jewel cuffed jeans).
    I expect to buy only 3 or 4 more items this year, if I can find the right ones. Otherwise, it can wait until next year. Pretty much on track for the 30ish amount of things I wanted to cap my purchases at. Next year ought to be less, barring a change of career or other life altering event.

    • Thanks for sharing so openly, Mo. I always love your comments, as I know you think deeply about these issues just like I do. I think that there definitely comes a time to be less about rules and more about love when it comes to our shopping. You are farther along than I am in terms of smart shopping and wardrobe curation. I can see myself maybe being where you are a year from now. I would like to be less about the rules, but I feel they help me as I am digging myself out of the hole I got into with overshopping and tons of shopping mistakes. You have done very well this year and have pretty much stuck to your plan. Good for you! Your plan for the rest of the year and next year seems quite feasible. I think 30 new items per year is a good number, especially if there are very few mistakes in the mix. I hope to be able to stick to a number more like that for 2016.

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