It’s been a long time since I’ve done an update on my 2016 wardrobe and shopping goals. I used to do monthly accountability updates (you can see them all here), but after three-plus years of doing them, I simply got tired of the lengthy process of putting them together. However, even though I wasn’t going to keep doing blog posts about the topic, I should have continued to keep track for myself. As I shared in my last post, I neglected to track my purchases for over four months and that definitely impeded both my awareness and my progress. Now I could beat myself up about this – and I certainly have, but that wouldn’t ultimately serve me well. Instead what I need to do is determine where I am with my goals, recommit, and recalibrate if necessary.
In today’s post, which will be a long one, I will review the following goal categories and my current status:
- Item Limit
- Frequency of Wear
- What I Bought – Clothes, Shoes, Accessories
- Goals for the Remainder of 2016
This update will include some good points and some bad points. Before I delve deeper, let me just admit right here and now that I’ve bought more than I should have this year. I allowed the stress of my ongoing health issues, weight gain and body image issues, turning 50, and transitioning to gray hair to adversely affect me and I resorted to my longtime coping mechanism of shopping, at least for a period of time. Clearly, I still need to develop new and more productive ways of managing my stress (perhaps I need to review this list). However, it’s not all bad and all is not lost. I believe I can still end the year on a high note and I fully intend to do just that!
My clothing budget for 2016 is $2500, the same as last year’s budget. Like in 2015, I decided to work from a quarterly budget, but I opted to allocate my money based upon my traditional shopping patterns. This is how I worked it out when I designated my goals back in February:
- Quarter 1: $750
- Quarter 2: $375
- Quarter 3: $1000
- Quarter 4: $375
I ended the first quarter having spent $736.42 on clothing and related expenses, so I was right on target back then. Unfortunately, however, I did not stick to the budget I outlined for Quarter 2. As of the end of June, I had spent $1547.66 this year, which was way over budget. I basically spent about the same amount in the second quarter as I had in the first. Seeing that, I had to make some adjustments. I scrapped the quarterly budget idea and allocated the remainder of my 2016 budget by month, as follows:
- July: $400 (higher because of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale)
- August: $100
- September: $100
- October: $100
- November: $125
- December: $125
I finished July right on target and I am in the negative zone for August after having made several returns. As I still have a number of items with their tags still attached, I don’t intend to buy much more this year and I may even make some more returns. I’m definitely set for the current warm weather season, which lasts into November where I live. I don’t need much for the cooler weather, either, so I’m in a good place with my wardrobe. Whatever I do purchase will be targeted for true wardrobe needs, which I will go over in a follow-on post next week. I feel confident that I can end the year on budget for the fourth year in a row (after previously not sticking to a budget for ten years running).
Item Limit Report
I did not have an item limit last year and ended up buying too many things, even though I didn’t exceed my budget. I purchased 70 garments in 2015, most of which fell into the “out and about” category. I wanted to cut that number way down this year, so I chose to implement an item limit for 2016. Several members of my private Facebook group opted to purchase no more than 36 items this year (they called it “Team Mod”) and I elected to join them. However, since I hadn’t been overbuying in most wardrobe areas, I confined my item limit to “out and about” clothing only. My reasoning was that having a limit in place for that wardrobe category would push me to focus more on my shoes and at-home wardrobe, which was something I wanted to do.
This is where I really got myself into trouble over the past four months and especially in July. I became very nervous about my weight fluctuations (I’m still not sure why this has been happening to me) and worried that I wouldn’t have anything to wear, so I did quite a bit of shopping, particularly at resale stores. My hope was that I’d find some more forgiving garments that didn’t require me to stay within such a narrow weight range as my highly fitted jeans, tank tops, and the like. Luckily, I found some such items, but I went overboard in how much I bought. Some pieces didn’t work out, as is often the case with secondhand clothing, but many of them are still in my closet and are serving me well.
New “Out and About” Items
Here’s an overview of my 2016 “out and about” item purchases (not including returns) by month:
- January: 3
- February: 5
- March: 1
- April: 3
- May: 5
- June: 8
- July: 11
- August: nothing thus far, but I have a pair of pants on order
Here’s a quick look at these items (lots of black and cobalt in the mix and a bit of red/burgundy/fuchsia/purple, too):
Revised 2016 Item Limit
My total number of “out and about” purchases to date is 36, which was my goal for the year. If I buy no other items in this category (and don’t keep the pants I have on order), I can still make my limit for the year. But with over four months left, I’m feeling a bit nervous about it. I haven’t done very well with shopping “bans” in the past, as they generally lead me to binge both before and after the timeframe of the ban, much like going on a diet does with my eating. I tend to fare much better with moderation rather than “all or nothing” propositions (see this great article on the difference between “moderators” and “abstainers”). For those of you who find you do well with shopping abstinence or would like to try it and see, I recommend that you read Jill Chivers’ excellent guest post on this topic, “How a Shopping Hiatus Can Help.”
With all that said, I’ve decided aim for two “out and about” purchases per month for September through December. Therefore, including the pants I should be receiving any day now, my new “out and about” item limit for 2016 will be 45. Even though that’s still a high number, it’s probably fewer items than I’ve bought in any year since at least my late twenties. With the exception of 2011, I didn’t track my purchases before I started the blog, but I’d guess that the average number of new items I bought each year was in the 150-200 range. My lowest number since starting “Recovering Shopaholic” was 53, in 2014, so buying 45 items this year would be a 9% reduction from that. At least I’m headed in the right direction, but I’d eventually like to aim for an average of about two new items per month or 24 per year.
New Shoes and Accessories
In addition to the “out and about” clothing items mentioned above, I also added four pairs of shoes (three of which were gifts), two purses, three hats, three scarves (two of which are headscarves), three headbands, and 13 jewelry pieces (most of which I received in an accessory swap during my July Texas trip or as birthday gifts) to my wardrobe, as shown below.
I likely won’t keep all of the jewelry pieces, but many of them feel like good additions to my collection. I used to buy many new
accessories each month, but I no longer have the desire to do so. I’m mostly happy wearing and loving what I have, which I feel is a direct result of my “Love It, Wear It” Challenge (LIWI) from last year (see my accessory wrap-up post here).
New At-Home Items
One of the main reasons for limiting my “out and about” clothing acquisitions was that I wanted to focus more on my at-home wardrobe, which makes sense since I spend most of my time at home. As I wrote about last year, I used to spend the bulk of my clothing budget and attention span on my “out and about” wardrobe while wearing boring and sub-standard garments at home. As a result, I often felt frumpy and unattractive when in my apartment, out on walks, and at the gym. Reading Terra Trevor’s excellent guest post, “The Clothes We Wear at Home,” made me re-think that approach and I gradually started upgrading my lounge items, workout clothes, and sleepwear. Doing this has made a positive difference in my attitude, self-esteem, and body image at home.
This year, I did not limit the number of at-home items I could purchase, although all clothing and related purchases I make factor into my yearly budget of $2500. I feel very happy with the items I’ve added to my at-home wardrobe this year. Most of them have already been worn a number of times and have a low cost per wear. As I type this, I’m wearing my new black and white striped tee and black knit Capri pants, which is a fairly standard lounge wear ensemble for me. I feel that I’ve struck a good balance in that I’m both physically comfortable and like the way I look in what I wear at home now. I will continue to improve upon this area of my wardrobe over time.
Here’s a look at the new at-home items I have added to my wardrobe in 2016 thus far:
Frequency of Wear
Earlier this year, I set some targets for how often I’d like to wear my clothing pieces and shoes:
- Wear 2/3 of my clothes and shoes 5 or more times.
- Wear 1/3 of my clothes and shoes (a sub-section of the group above) 8 or more times.
- Aim for at least 30 “ultra all-stars” (items worn 12+ times), double my number from 2015.
- Aim for a single digit “benchwarmer” number (items worn only once or not at all).
Basically, I was looking to double my statistics from last year in the top three goals and halve my number of benchwarmers, which was pretty ambitious. The “elephant in the room” with these goals is that in order to meet them, I need to have a lot less “closet churn” than I’ve had in the past. At this point, it’s probably unlikely that I will achieve all of the above objectives, but I believe I’ll fare much better than I did last year (see my 2015 wardrobe “all-star” and “benchwarmer” reports). I would be happy to end the year having worn half of my wardrobe pieces at least 5 times and a quarter of them 8 times or more.
With just over four months left in the year, let’s look at how I’m doing thus far. It was definitely helpful for me to tally up the numbers, as they are quite sobering. I wish I would have taken the time to do this a few months ago, as it may have stopped me from buying so many new things, especially in the warm weather category that doesn’t traditionally see as much wear. As of today, I have 45 items in my closet that have been worn five or more times and 42 items that I’ve worn three to four times. It’s fairly likely that all 87 of these pieces will reach the 5 or more wear range and many of them will end up falling into the 8 or more wears category.
Most Worn Items
The items that I have worn most often are jackets/coats, short-sleeved tops, and long-sleeved tops. Shown below are the 22 items that I have worn 8 or more times so far this year.
With the exception of the jeans, all of the garments in this group are part of my at-home wardrobe, so it makes good sense for me to focus my future buying in that area. I don’t track the pants I wear at home (I did for about six months a few years ago and the numbers were very high), but those five or so items would for sure be included in the 8 or more wears category, as would most of my purses and watches and many of my earrings and bracelets.
As I mentioned previously, I expect the 8 or more wears category to grow a lot larger before the year is through, but I’m not sure if it will be one third of my wardrobe or not. However, since I ended 2015 with just 30 items that fit into this category, I know my number for this year will be considerably higher and I’m happy about that. In addition, my five or more wears number for 2015 was just 51 and I’m currently at 45 with a third of the year left to go. I feel very confident that I will significantly exceed my 2015 number in that category as well. I’m making progress for sure. Although it isn’t as rapid as I would like, I have to give myself credit for the positive changes I have made thus far in 2016.
The above is the good news, but of course there’s a flip side to the equation as well: the potential wardrobe “benchwarmers.” For the considerations of this post, I’m only going to look at those items that have been in my closet since 2015 and earlier, as I’ve purchased quite a few new pieces over the past few months that I have yet to wear or have only worn once. Hopefully, the new items will either find their way into my working wardrobe soon or will be returned for refunds if possible (some of them were resale purchases).
Many of my pre-2016 items that I’ve worn just once or not at all fall into my summer wardrobe. While I know that summer is winding down for many of you, there are still two-plus months of warm weather left where I live, so it’s likely that a lot of those items will be worn. Still, I’ve learned that although I really love summer clothes, they just don’t see all that much wear, as that season lasts for only about a third of the year. I need to keep the size of that portion of my wardrobe in line with the reality of my life.
Below are the pre-2016 items that I have yet to wear this year. Some of these pieces will be worn soon, while others will surely be purged from my wardrobe before the end of the year. I’m actually surprised that a few of them are in this category because I like them a lot, but others either don’t fit me well at this time (due to the dreaded weight gain) or don’t suit my current style.
Summer items feature heavily among the “worn once” category. As mentioned above, I simply have too many summer pieces for them all to be worn regularly. I need to just keep my favorites around and seriously limit how many new acquisitions I bring in. I see myself wearing some of these items at least a few more times before the cooler weather arrives, but others will likely be passed on shortly.
My original goal was to end the year having only a single digit number of wardrobe benchwarmers, in contrast to my 22 such items for 2015. Probably the only way for me to meet this goal would be to get rid of quite a few items, which I may opt to do. I think I’ll do the “KonMari Method” in my closet again (read about my last stint here) before the close of 2016 and really be ruthless about the “sparks joy” question, as well as the practicality of what I will actually wear moving forward. I’m going to revise my benchwarmer target to 15 or less and hopefully will be able to meet that goal.
Thoughts on Benchwarmers, Shopping, and Lifestyle Needs
Seeing all of the potential benchwarmers from 2015 and earlier makes me wish I’d taken more time to shop my closet before running out to buy so many new pieces. There are some beloved items in the photos above which haven’t been being worn because I have heeded the siren call of the new. Sometimes I feel like I will never learn… But that’s why I do posts like this, to analyze my wardrobe and my behavior to increase awareness and start making better choices. I’m in a much better place with my wardrobe and shopping than before I started this blog, but I still have a long way to go before I’m where I want to be. I need to shop less and buy in line with my actual lifestyle needs instead of reaching for what looks exciting but has no real place in my wardrobe.
I’m going to write a post about this sometime soon, but I want to share a few quick thoughts here. I have come to understand that I often buy clothes because I want to have the type of life that those clothes would be used for. I want to be someone who goes out and about most days and has a lot of fun events to attend. If my life were like my July Texas trip, with lots of lunches, dinners, meetings, and events, my wardrobe might be perfect as it is. But that is not my day-to-day life at all and I shouldn’t delude myself that it is or will be anytime soon.
My most worn items are from my at-home wardrobe because the majority of my life is spent at home. When I go out, it’s mostly for health-related appointments, to run a few brief errands, or to go on a short walk near my home. Save the infrequent movies and meals out, that is my life and that’s what I should be shopping for. If I did that, most of my clothes would be worn at least eight times per year and I would have few or no benchwarmers. I’m 50 years old and I need to face the facts and live according to them.
Conclusion and Goals for the Rest of the Year
In the remaining months of the year, I’m going to continue to focus on wearing the clothes, shoes, and accessories I love most, much like I did with my LIWI challenge last year. While I may push myself to try to wear my potential “benchwarmers” to see how I feel about them, I will get them out of my closet if I find I’m not happy with them once I put them on. It would be great for those items to end up in someone else’s wardrobe who would wear them regularly, plus once they’re gone I won’t feel guilty anymore for having them.
I’ve been told by many women that a great thing about being over 50 is that we start to care less about the opinions of others and start to follow our own internal voices more. I really hope that’s true because as I wrote this post, I worried incessantly about how it would be received. I worried that you would all judge me, be disappointed by my having shopped too much and that I still own too many clothes, and think that I hadn’t changed nearly enough in the almost four years that I’ve been writing this blog. Of course, some of you probably do think that, but the bottom line is that’s what I think about myself much of the time. While I still have issues, as I wrote about in this June post, I have made good progress and should give myself credit for the positives instead of perpetually flogging myself for my shortcomings.
Throughout this post, I have highlighted my goals for the remainder of 2016, but I will briefly encapsulate them here as well for the sake of clarity:
- Stick to my monthly budgets for August through December and come in under my $2500 clothing budget for the year.
- Aim for two maximum “out and about” monthly item purchases for September through December and meet my revised 2016 item limit for that category of 45.
- End the year having worn half or more of my clothes and shoes 5 plus times and at least a quarter of them 8 times or more.
- Have 15 or fewer wardrobe “benchwarmers” at the end of 2016.
There’s one area that I covered in my 2016 wardrobe and shopping goals post that I didn’t update here. Because today’s post had already gotten so long, I’m going to cover my shopping priorities in a separate installment. In that update, I’ll look at the focus areas that I outlined in February for clothing, shoes, and accessories and see how I’m doing in terms of the purchases I’ve made. Stay tuned for that post to go live sometime next week.
Now I’d like to hear from you related to your wardrobe and shopping goals for the year. Here are a few questions to spark your thoughts:
- What were your wardrobe and shopping goals for 2016? How do you feel you’re doing with those goals?
- Did you set a clothing budget for yourself? Are you on target for that budget? If not, what adjustments do you need to make in order to meet your goal?
- Do you have an item limit in place for your 2016 purchases? If so, what is included within that limit? Do you feel that you’ll meet that limit or are revisions in order?
- Do you track how often you wear your clothing, shoes, and accessories? How many times per year (or month) do you want to be wearing the various pieces in your wardrobe?
I invite you to share your comments on the above, as well as any other thoughts you have about this post.
Have a wonderful weekend! I’ll be back soon with my August “grab bag” of useful links (see previous editions here). Also stay tuned for the second part of this wardrobe and shopping goals update, in which I’ll bring you up-to-date on how I’m doing with my 2016 shopping priorities (as outlined at the end of this post).