April 2016 “Grab Bag” of Useful Links

It’s nearing the end of April, so it’s time for another installment of my “grab bag” of useful links (see previous editions here). Included below are links to articles I think you’ll enjoy on the subjects of shopping and shopping psychology, wardrobe management, style, and personal development.  I’m also sharing a few previous “Recovering Shopaholic” posts that you may have missed the first time around (or may choose to revisit now). 

This “grab bag” of useful links presents the perfect opportunity for you to sit back with your favorite hot beverage or glass of wine and enjoy some quiet time to read, learn, look within, and maybe even laugh a time or two.  As a reminder, I certainly do not expect you to click on all of the links in these posts.  Just explore the ones that most intrigue you.

balboa park san diego

An old car in the famous Balboa Park, a great place to visit and for photos! 

As in all useful links editions for the past year or so, the photo above is one of mine.   If you want to see more of my photos, you can check out my “photography interlude” blog posts or follow me on Instagram.

If you’d like, you can always go back to this post later via my Archives page.   While you’re on the site, you might also want to check out my Recovery Tips and Resources pages, as well as learn about my two books.  If you’re new to “Recovering Shopaholic,” I invite you to visit my Start Here page, which contains useful information about the blog, as well as links to some of my most compelling and helpful posts.  Okay, here are this month’s links:

On Shopping and Shopping Psychology

  • What Not to Buy” – I was a big fan of the “Minimal Closet” series from Grechen’s Closet and I wish she was still doing it, but here’s an article from that series that I haven’t shared before. Let’s say that you’ve managed to downsize your wardrobe to a level that feels good to you.  How do you keep it that way?  I’ve written about the importance of a “shopping priorities list,” but we also need to get in touch with what we don’t need to buy.   Creating a list of what not to buy can be just as helpful and I plan to do this very soon.
  • The Cost of Free” – There’s an old saying that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Well, the same thing can be said about those free items that retailers use to lure us to make purchases.  This post from Shopping Brake recounts a shopping experience in which a cosmetic sales associate tried to push a “free gift” on the blogger, who turned it down because free often comes with a price to either our time or our anonymity (or both).
  • Here’s Proof It Doesn’t Matter What Size Your Clothes Are” – If you’re anything like me, you have clothes in your closet in multiple sizes, all of which fit your current body. Sizing is so all over the map these days that your size within the same brand can even vary (which makes shopping online particularly frustrating!)Self.com offers some fit advice for finding the right size for you, regardless of the number that’s on the tag.

On Wardrobe Management

  • How to Purge Your Closet Without Losing Your Mind – Many of us are looking to downsize our wardrobes, but the process can be a stressful – not to mention time-consuming – one. This article on Yes and Yes includes some specific and helpful advice for approaching your closet purge.  Some of the suggestions you’ve probably heard before, but my favorite part is the two important questions to ask yourself before deciding to hang on to clothing that doesn’t fit your today body.  Also excellent is this:  “Items that feel great but look awful should be reserved for sick days.  Items that look great but feel awful should be ejected from your closet.” Amen to that!
  • Rebuilding Your Wardrobe on a Budget: What to Buy First” – I’m sad that posts on Into Mind are now few and far between, but we can still visit her fabulous archive for words of wisdom. This excellent post is from December 2014, but the advice is just as relevant today.  Sometimes our size, style, or lifestyle changes such that we basically need to start over again with our wardrobe.  If this happens, we generally don’t have the budget to do it all that once, so what do we do in the interim?   The recommendation is to put together a “wardrobe starter kit,” which can be done using a series of five steps.  Even if you’re not in a place of needing to overhaul your closet, I still think it’s helpful to take on steps one and two (and maybe even the other steps to plan for future purchases).
  • What Are You Holding Onto in Your Wardrobe and Why?” – Do you have a tendency to hold on to items you no longer wear – or maybe never did? According to Imogen Lamport of Inside Out Style, there are three main reasons why we do this.  One of these reasons is that certain garments or outfits remind us of something that is missing from our lives that we would like to recapture.  The key is to figure out what these pieces represent and to determine alternate ways to incorporate the missing elements into our lives.  Imogen reminds us that our wardrobes should be treated like our kitchens (I know that sounds strange, but it really makes good sense!).

On Style

  • Casual Spring Jackets and How to Style Them” – It’s springtime for those of us in the northern hemisphere, but I think this advice from Bridgette Raes could apply to those who are currently experiencing mild autumn weather as well. You know, the type of weather when a jacket is necessary but it’s too warm for a coat?   Included are five types of lightweight casual jackets and examples for how to style them.  I love all five ensembles shown and would wear them (although I would switch up the colors in outfit #4).
  • 12 Tips: How to Dress a Short Waist” – Are you short or long-waisted, or somewhere in between?  If you’re not sure, this article from You Look Fab  can help you figure it out.  If you find that you’re short-waisted like I am, read on for some excellent suggestions on how to balance out your silhouette.   I have incorporated some of these tips along the way, but I think I will try a few of them (5, 6, 10, 11, and 12) for the first time and increase my use of some of the others (2 and 9).  Lots of great ideas for those of us who feel like we’re “all arms and legs”!
  • What is the Correct Hem Length for Pants?” – There are more styles of pants than ever these days and it can be tough to know where their hems should fall in terms of our legs and our shoes. This comprehensive guide from 40+ Style can help you navigate today’s tricky pants landscape.   For the visual learners out there (I’m one of them…), there are lots of pictures included to drive the points home.  If you want more information, check out the follow-on post on what shoes to wear with different styles of pants.

On Other Topics

  • The Things We Are Prepared to Walk Away From– We’re all familiar with the theoretical situation in which our home is burning down and we have to figure out what we would save in mere moments. But what if we were to take this hypothetical question a bit further?  The Minimalists postulate that we should be prepared to walk away from almost everything in our lives – material possessions, ideas, habits, and even relationships – at a moment’s notice.  This may sound crass or insensitive, but they present a very convincing case for their argument.  This article made me think about how important it is to be deliberate and intentional and not ruled by fear when it comes to creating a fulfilling life.
  • Addicted to Distraction” – Do you ever have trouble focusing and find that you read the same passage over and over again without absorbing the information? The author of this New York Times article found himself doing just that, which horrified him as a lifelong reader. He realized that the many hours he spends on the Internet had decreased his concentration and focus, as has happened to many of us (I know it has happened to me…).   He shares his experience of doing a “digital detox” and how he continues to struggle with balance in regards to his online time. The story he ends the article with is both haunting and heartbreaking and serves as a reminder of what our obsession with the Internet could be costing us.
  • I Never Signed Up for This(video) – I first saw this TED talk by Darryle Pollack a while back, but I revisited it recently and decided to share it with you. I have long struggled with perfectionist tendencies and have shared this on the blog multiple times, perhaps most poignantly in this raw and honest post from November 2014.  I know all too well that perfection can be a prison in which we can trap ourselves. Ms. Pollack shares her thoughts on her own prison of perfection, as well as her experience with aging and chemotherapy and her journey toward self-acceptance.   This is a very touching video and is well worth the fifteen minutes you will spend watching it.

From the Archives

Each month, I share a few early “Recovering Shopaholic” posts that I think you might enjoy reading (you can see all of my posts on the Archives page).  The articles below were published in April 2013, 2014, or 2015. It was fun to revisit these posts today and I hope you enjoy them, too. If you resonate with what I have written, I’d love to get your thoughts.   I wish I could leave comments open on old posts, but I have to close things out after two weeks due to spam issues. Please feel free to share your views about the archived articles in the comments section of this post instead.

  • Sometimes Cheap is Really More Expensive– We all love to get good deals on the items we buy, but our low-priced items can end up costing us more in the long run if they don’t stand the test of time. I share my “tale of four purses” to illustrate the case that it’s often better to pay more for the wardrobe items we buy. Of course, a higher price tag doesn’t necessarily guarantee higher quality, but the old adage that we get what we pay for makes good sense in most situations.   I’m gradually moving toward buying fewer, better quality pieces, but old habits die hard!  It helped me to re-read my own words in preparation for this post.
  • Creating a Shopping Priorities List – Why and How– As I mentioned above, it’s a good idea to create and maintain a shopping priorities list to help target our shopping. I begin this post with a personal story that illustrates the value of having such a list.   I then go on to highlight the three main considerations in putting together a shopping list, and close with a list of my shopping priorities at that time.  Revisiting this post reminds me of how important it is to review and update our lists.  Although my essay was written two years ago, I have not bought some of the items on my list.  That’s okay, as my priorities have changed; thus, my list has changed as well.  Reviewing our lists at least quarterly can help ensure that they are current and in line with our lifestyle needs and style desires.
  • Is Shopping Your Only Hobby?– When I saw this comment on a forum in reference to another blogger, it hit a little too close to home for me: “Seriously, it’s just clothes.  How empty must your life be if your only hobby is shopping?”   At the time, shopping was my main hobby and my life did feel empty.  Of course, hobbies are not the only facet of a full life, but they can be fulfilling and help to increase our happiness.   My resulting introspection from seeing the comment led me to develop the photography hobby I so deeply enjoy, as well as a few other evolving interests and pastimes.  If you’d like some ideas for new hobbies to explore, be sure to check out this follow-up post.


I hope you enjoyed this installment of useful links.  Feel free to comment on any of the topics from this post and/or share links to articles that you’ve enjoyed recently.  If you have questions for me or suggestions for future posts, please share them in the comments section or contact me directly via email or social media.

Have a wonderful weekend!  I’ll be back soon with my April accountability update (see previous editions here), an update on using the “KonMari Method” in more areas of my home (see how I applied it to my jewelry box here), and more posts on smart shopping, wardrobe management, personal style, and more.

7 thoughts on “April 2016 “Grab Bag” of Useful Links

  1. Thanks again for another great set of links.

    I wanted to make a comment on cheap being really more expensive. Strangely, I’ve sometimes found that the cheapest option is sometimes the best, or at least for my purposes. Has anyone else ever experienced this?

    Some examples in my life:
    1. Found these JC Penny shirts I liked. Thick cotton. Currently stylish? No. Nice and comfy? Yes.
    2. After seeing ridiculous number of good reviews on a super cheap generic vitamin, took the plunge and was pleasantly surprised. I do feel like I get less sick taking these than when I was taking my super-expensive organic ones!
    3. Found a brand of washable purses that I like. Nobody in my family likes them except me, but I love how lightweight they are. And washable! And $30!

    Granted I don’t always get lucky and find a cheap product I love, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised on occasion.

    • I think it’s definitely possible to find great items that are inexpensive, Jane. Paying attention to reviews like you did for the vitamins can help in that effort and knowing what types of items work for you, as in the other two examples, makes a difference, too. In the case of the shirts, I think that non-trendy pieces can sometimes be of better quality, as they aren’t necessarily being produced in a “fast fashion” way. I have sometimes had bad luck with expensive items as well as cheap ones. There is no hard and fast rule, but in the case of the purses I wrote about in the article, there were clues there that they cheap ones wouldn’t last. I just didn’t know to look for them at the time, as I was too focused on quantity and getting a “deal.”

      • That’s a great point, Debbie. I agree that in the case of your purses, more expensive was the way to go. That Brighton purse lasted a long time and looked stylish the entire time. I’ve never been to a Brighton store, but if I ever see one, I plan on checking it out. I wish the cheaper version was always the better one, but that’s definitely not the case here.

  2. In the same vein, I love Target tees and cardigans and find them so reasonably priced; only expensive (SAS and the like) shoes work for me, but at least they last years. Some food at Walmart is identical–name brands are name brands–and cheaper, but Whole Foods and other high-end chains have produce and specialty products worth paying for.
    I love Penney’s and Kohls–very basic,which is my style–if you could call anything of mine a style!

    • I’m sure you have a style, Helen. We all do, even if it’s not on the cutting edge of fashion! Good points about liking some expensive items and some less pricey things. We all have to find what works best for us and it’s good to be open to wherever we may find it. If we can find low-priced products that are still good quality and work well for us, then that’s a win-win!

  3. The article about trying on different sizes was good. The author looked much better in the size 10 than the size 6. You don’t look trimmer in clothes that are too tight.

    • I wholeheartedly agree, Ginger! It’s good not to be too “wedded” to wearing a particular size, as clothing varies so widely. Fit should be far more important than the number on the tag and both too tight and too baggy can be unflattering.

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