I have done quite a few purchase updates on this blog over the years. I feel it’s helpful to look back at what we bought to see which items were successes and which were failures. When I first started doing such reviews, I did them a few months down the line. However, I’ve come to understand that such a time interval is not long enough for a true analysis in most cases. Thus, I started to review my purchases a year later beginning this year (see HERE and HERE). A full year gives us enough time to see what we are and aren’t wearing and how it’s working out for us.
Since I didn’t do too many purchase updates in the early days of the blog, I thought it would be fun and interesting to look back at some of my earlier purchases. I probably should have started with 2013 (the year I started “Recovering Shopaholic”), but I opted to look back at what I bought in 2014 for this post. I will share my shopping wins, failures, and a few pieces for which it’s not an easy call. I’ll also point out some patterns and lessons among the hits and misses that will help to guide my future purchases.
What I Bought in 2014 – A Basic Overview
Subtracting returns, I bought 51 “out and about” items over the course of 2014 (clothes and shoes – I will cover accessories below). These items can be broken down into the following categories:
- Tops: 13
- Toppers: 17
- Pants/Jeans: 5
- Skirts: 8
- Dresses: 4
- Shoes: 4
Here’s a quick look at all of my 2014 clothing and shoe purchases:
Where and How My Purchases Were Made
I thought it would be useful to look at my retail vs. resale purchases, as well as my online vs. in-store buys. I bought 37 of the items shown above from a retail store (73%) and 14 at a consignment or thrift store (27%). Fourteen of my purchases were made online (27% – this doesn’t count items that were returned) and the remaining 37 were done in a store (73%). The photos below show my retail items, as well as those pieces bought in a resale store.
What I Still Have
Out of the 51 “out and about” items I bought in 2014, only 22 remain in my closet (43%), as shown below:
Of the above items, just two (black velvet coat and black faux-wrap top) were purchased in resale stores! The majority of my 2014 resale acquisitions (12 pieces) were not good buys, which is why I dramatically curtailed that type of shopping last year. In late 2014, I did an extensive analysis of my resale shopping from 2012-2014 and the cold, hard facts scared me straight! Now I rarely shop in those types of stores and I am far more careful when I do. This type of shopping is risky at best, but I do still enjoy the “treasure hunt” aspect of it and the possibility of finding styles I love that aren’t currently trendy (and thus can be hard to find). I just tread lightly when I venture into consignment or thrift stores these days.
A full 29 of the garments I bought two years ago are gone and most of them were purged either later in 2014 or in 2015, having only been worn once or twice.
A few were culled this year after more wears (e.g. grey blazer, hound’s-tooth top, and red/grey Henley), but none of these items received anywhere near a normal level of usage. The issue in most instances was fit, although color factored into the equation as well. While I thought that both white and grey were good colors for me, I ended up feeling that they washed me out.
The Good News – My Best Buys of 2014
It wasn’t all bad with my 2014 shopping, though. Some of my current wardrobe “workhorses” were bought that year. Here are what I consider to be my best purchases from two years ago, 17 pieces in all:
Interestingly, some of these pieces did not become closet mainstays right off the bat. It took me a while to get on board with the slimmer fitting jeans, caged sandals, and sheer striped shirt, but now I love all three items. I don’t wear the sheer top or the velvet coat very often, but I’m still happy to have purchased them because I feel great whenever I put them on. The pants in the top row were originally supposed to be for “out and about” wear, but I have repurposed them for wearing at home because they are fairly loose and are comfortable for that purpose.
All of the items shown above are very true to my current style aesthetic and fit my narrow color palette. You can see a lot of black in there, as well as some cobalt and other jewel tones. There are three pairs of jeans in the mix, which is in line with my casual lifestyle. I believe that all 17 of my 2014 “all-star” purchases will be in my closet for at least a few more seasons or until they wear out.
What Didn’t Work and Why
Almost all of the 2014 purchases that didn’t work out are long gone from my closet, as mentioned and shown above. Just one questionable item remains (a black maxi-skirt), but it will likely be gone soon since I have recently purchased a replacement. Here are the 30 pieces that I consider my 2014 “misses”:
What do these items have in common? Almost all of them had one or more of the following three problems:
- Poor color (for me)
- A fit issue of some kind
- Style mismatch
These eight items were in colors that are no longer in my palette:
I’m moving away from grey and I now only wear white as part of a pattern. I love red, but the two red pieces above are more of a tomato red and I look better in a cherry tone of red.
Fit problems and “fussiness”
The 13 pieces below had some sort of fit issue:
Sadly, I tried to rescue a few of them through alterations (read more about this problem here), but it didn’t end up working out. Other items were just “fussy” and uncomfortable to wear for one reason or another. The hardest item to let go of was the hound’s-tooth top, as I really loved the look of it. Unfortunately, however, it would never stay in place and I had to re-adjust it anytime I moved around. I no longer want those types of clothes in my wardrobe, so the top has to go.
While clothing fit is something we can generally evaluate well in the fitting room, fussiness can be another issue altogether. It’s helpful to move around a bit when we try things on, but we can’t fully replicate our daily activities while confined to a small mirrored room. We just have to do the best we can and realize that some shopping mistakes are bound to happen no matter how careful we are. Granted, I hope that I won’t make as many mistakes in the future as I did back in 2014, and doing these types of purchase reviews can only help that cause. I also hope that by seeing and reading about my mistakes, you may be able to avoid such errors yourselves.
My style aesthetic has changed a lot since 2014, mostly as a result of my work with Bridgette Raes, my outfit journal, and my “Love it, Wear it” Challenge (LIWI). Consequently, some items that I may have liked a lot two years ago do not garner my favor in 2016, including these seven garments:
I no longer like flared midi skirts and I’m also moving away from knit blazers and open cardigans (although I still have a few that I like). The black jacket at the top left was something I should have never bought, but I was dazzled by the designer label. I didn’t love the wide lapel and I thought I would replace the tan buttons, but I ultimately decided that would be too much work for a jacket I was only lukewarm about. It’s always important to remember that it doesn’t matter who designed a piece if it’s not in line with our style, is in a color we don’t like, or doesn’t suit our body or lifestyle.
A Few Items Perched on the Fence…
Finally, there are a few 2014 acquisitions that I’m not sure were good or bad purchases:
Since there are just four such items, I will go through them one by one and share my thoughts.
- Black knit moto jacket: This jacket is great in theory, but there are two issues with it that have led me not to wear it very often. For one, it needs to be worn closed, as it doesn’t look good open. I almost always prefer to wear my jackets open, so that’s part of why I haven’t reached for this one much. Also, while the vibe of this jacket is perfect for jeans, it’s too short to look good styled that way. It looks better worn with skirts and dresses, but the past two summers were very hot and I rarely needed a topper. So I’m not sure if it’s worth keeping this jacket. I may wait until the end of this summer to see if I wear it.
- Black mixed media jacket: I love the look of this jacket and have taken lots of photos of outfits in which I could wear it, but then I never actually wear those ensembles! I think it may be because I haven’t really embraced the look of a jacket that is shorter than the top it’s covering. I like the look on other people, but I haven’t worn it myself. I feel that I really need to “bite the bullet” and just wear this jacket because it fits me perfectly and has the sort of edgy vibe I want to incorporate into my style.
- Blue sandals: I got these sandals because Bridgette Raes convinced me that colored shoes would be versatile in my wardrobe (here’s a post where she talks about this). However, I don’t seem to want to wear colored shoes, as I always reach for my black and metallic pairs. Maybe if these shoes were cobalt instead of turquoise… I’m not sure what to do with them and also feel guilty because they were a gift from my mom and I haven’t worn them much. Just like with the black moto jacket, I’ll probably see if I wear the shoes this summer and then decide upon their fate.
- Cobalt cardigan: I bought this cardigan as a topper for skirts and dresses, but it’s really too long to wear that way because the proportions end up looking “off.” I wore it with pants recently and liked the look, but the ¾ sleeves are borderline short on me. I’m going to wear it one or two more times to see what I think. If this cobalt cardigan ends up being a miss due to the sleeve length, I will definitely pick up another one, as I can see a cobalt cardigan of this length being a wardrobe staple to wear with pants.
I really shouldn’t be on the fence about anything I bought two years ago, so I’m going to make decisions on the above items very soon. It was helpful to collect my thoughts about these pieces and share them here. I don’t see all four of them sticking around until the end of the year, but I do hope the mixed media jacket will make its way around to being a closet favorite.
About Those Accessories
I don’t have photos of all of the individual accessories I purchased back in 2014, but I did write about them on the blog in my accountability updates. I bought 36 accessories that year, broken down into the following categories:
- 13 pairs of earrings
- 8 bracelets
- 5 necklaces
- 7 scarves
- 1 belt
- 1 purse
- 1 watch
Of these 36 pieces, I still have just 15 of them (42%):
- 9 pairs of earrings
- 1 necklace
- 3 scarves
- 1 watch
- 1 belt
Here’s a breakdown of the accessory items that I purged:
- 4 pairs of earrings
- 8 bracelets
- 4 necklaces
- 4 scarves
It’s a good thing that I have cut way down on my accessory purchases, as I definitely made some bad buys back in 2014. Many of my accessory failures were impulse buys at resale stores or sales items from retail establishments. I particularly fared poorly when it came to bracelets and necklaces! I think a big reason for my poor accessory buys in 2014 was that I had an item limit for my purchases but did not include accessories in that number. Consequently, I used accessory buying as a way to get my “shopping fix” and wasn’t very smart about what I bought.
One of the best things I did to improve upon my accessory purchases was my “Love it, Wear it” Challenge last year. That challenge showed me what I did and didn’t wear and really helped me to learn what types of pieces I should and shouldn’t buy. It also taught me that I don’t need nearly as many accessories as I thought I did. I now more happily wear the same pieces over and over again and don’t crave the same level of variety that I once did. Even though I have an item limit in place this year (see my 2016 wardrobe and shopping goals) that does not include accessories, I have purchased very few. Now if I can just get to the same place with my “out and about” clothes! In time, I’m sure I will, as long as I continue working on it. The same is true for you…
This post ended up being longer than I thought it would, but you know how I love my statistics! I feel it was helpful for me to write about my 2014 purchases, what did and didn’t work, and why. I’ll go back and review what I bought in 2013 shortly and I’m sure my numbers for that year will be worse than what I shared today.
Of course, a purchase could still have been a success but no longer be in one’s closet. Some items do wear out after multiple uses or we may move on from a given style even after wearing it a lot for a time. It will be interesting to see what I think about my 2013 purchases long after the fact. I will also continue to review my 2015 purchases a year later and will write about my May and June 2015 buys in the next week or two.
Now I’d like to hear from you. I know that not all of you track things to the degree that I do, but you probably have some thoughts about the items you bought two years ago.
- How many of your 2014 purchases are still in your closet?
- What do your purchasing successes and mistakes have in common?
- What advice do you have for those who are looking to increase their buying success percentages?
- What questions do you have for me and your fellow readers on these topics?
I invite you to share your thoughts on the above questions, as well as whatever else you want to say about this post. I hope you have a wonderful weekend! I’ll be back soon with more essays about shopping, wardrobe management, personal style, and living a fuller and more meaningful life.