Shopping Priorities & Purchase Update – October 2016

A little over a month ago, I posted a long overdue update on my wardrobe and shopping goals for 2016.  That update covered my budget, item limit, frequency of wear, a basic overview of what I bought, and my goals for the remainder of the year.  I had also planned to review my progress with the shopping list I created back in February, but the post just got too long. As I feel that it will be helpful to look at my shopping priorities and how I have or haven’t addressed them, that will be the focus of today’s post.

shopping priorities update

How have you done with your shopping priorities for 2016?

A Cautionary Tale – Don’t Do What I Did

Before I delve into a discussion of my shopping list and what I’ve bought, I want to say a few things. First of all, I think that if we go through the trouble of creating a shopping priorities list, we really need to be reviewing it on at least a monthly basis.  That way, we’ll be much less likely to get off-track with our purchases.  Of course, it’s perfectly understandable that we may need to make some revisions to our list, as many things are subject to change in our lives, including our bodies, our lifestyles, and what we are and aren’t wearing.  I would never be one to advocate rigid adherence to what one planned many months ago.

Unfortunately, I have not gone back regularly to review the shopping focus lists for clothing, shoes, and accessories that I compiled at the beginning of the year.  Sure, I’ve looked at these lists a few times here and there, but I really should have kept these lists in my purse or on my phone where they could be front and center each and every time I go shopping.  In addition to that, I should have taken a few minutes each month to review and update my lists as needed.   Yes, it would have been nice to have included these reviews on the blog at least quarterly, but I definitely should have done them for myself and I plan to do that moving forward.

A New Approach for 2017

In fact, what I plan to do for next year is something that I discussed with Mo of MOderate Wardrobe last month that she wrote about in her most recent blog post.  Each year, she puts together a shopping list using a one-page template (shown in her post) and she crosses the items off the list as she makes her purchases throughout the year.   What she and I both plan to do in 2017 is only buy one new item every other week for a total of 27 pieces for the entire year.  Neither of us plans to include lounge wear, workout clothes (what she refers to as “gear”), sleepwear, and undergarments in that number (and I likely won’t include shoes and accessories, either), but of course these items will count toward our yearly clothing budgets.

This type of shopping plan will allow for more careful consideration of what we purchase and I think it will be a very beneficial way to approach buying.  I will still get to have a “shopping fix” on a regular basis, but I won’t be able to go “off the rails,” spend too much, and bring too many things into my closet at any given time.  I still feel that I have too many items and a primary reason for this is that I’ve continued to bring too much in.  Slowing down my purchasing will allow me to gradually downsize as things wear out or as my style evolves such that certain pieces no longer “spark joy.”   I’ll also be forced to be more deliberate about what I’m bringing in, which I believe will lead to a more workable wardrobe that better meets my needs.

I’m sure I will write more about this in the future, but I wanted to share this now in case some of you may want to do the same thing for 2017.  This way, you’ll have some time to review your closet and plan the purchases that will add the most “bang for your buck” next year.  I have yet to construct my shopping list, but I’ve been making some notes about what I see as wardrobe gaps and replacement needs.  I’m sure today’s update post will also assist me in making at least some preliminary choices.

Purchase Update – Clothing

When I created my shopping list back in early February, I decided to place a greater level of focus on my at-home wardrobe.  I did so because I saw that my closet was out of balance for the activities of my life.  I spend the bulk of my time at home, so I need to spend a larger chunk of my clothing budget on that section of my wardrobe.

At-Home Wardrobe

I’m pleased to report that I have purchased almost all of the items on my at-home wardrobe shopping list and many of them have become wardrobe workhorses!  Here is the list, as well as update notes on each item and photos in some cases:

  • “Athleisure” pants that are comfortable to wear at home but can also be worn to run errands, go on walks, or for casual activities.
athleisure pants

These are the “athleisure” pants I’ve purchased this year for my at-home wardrobe. 

Many of the above pants will be worn for “out and about” occasions as well as at home and for walks.  I will discuss some of them below under the out and about category.  They are mostly fairly recent purchases, but the pants at the top left have been around since February, have been worn many times, and are very comfortable.

  • Short-sleeved and long-sleeved tops for working out, walks, and wearing at home (such as pieces from Athleta or GapFit).
at-home tops

These at-home tops have all become wardrobe “workhorses.” 

I’m very pleased with the new tops I’ve bought this year for my at-home wardrobe.  They have all been worn many times and I feel comfortable and attractive while wearing them.

  • A new pair of walking shoes (my existing pair will need to be replaced this year).

I have not yet needed a new pair of walking shoes, as my existing pair is still going strong (I don’t walk as much or as far as I used to).  I will move this item to my 2017 list, as I know I will need a replacement pair sometime during the next year.

  • A lightweight jacket for the warmer months (my existing jacket for this purpose is over 6 years old and needs to be replaced).
at-home and workout toppers

I added these four toppers to my at-home wardrobe this year. 

Did I really need to buy four new toppers for my at-home/workout wardrobe?  No, I didn’t, and I actually wish I hadn’t purchased the second one, as I don’t love it as much as I thought I would.  I will likely wear that jacket and the purple robe primarily at home when it gets colder and use the other two options primarily for walks and when I’m out and about.  The black jacket is new, but the cobalt one has already been worn at least twenty times.  It’s perfect for cool evening walks.

  • New slippers for wearing at home (this is a fairly urgent need).
sheepskin slippers

I have worn these sheepskin slippers over 100 times!

I have worn these slippers many, many times since I purchased them in February.  Sadly, they aren’t all that durable, so I will need to add slippers to my 2017 shopping list as well.  I will aim to find a longer lasting option next year, as I wear slippers all day every day during cooler weather.

  • Replacement underwear (I am gradually purging those pairs that are worn out or stretched out).

I’ve purchased quite a few pairs of replacement underwear and am set for this wardrobe category for the time being. I will make sure to include replacement underwear on my shopping list every year, however, as I need to replenish my supply on a regular basis.

  • A few sleepwear tops and maybe another pair or two of bottoms as well.

I have not purchased new sleepwear items, but this need is becoming more urgent, especially pajama tops.  If I don’t end up buying new sleepwear pieces this year (I’ve mostly exhausted my 2016 budget), I will make sure to do so early in the New Year.

I’m very happy that I made this wardrobe category a priority this year, as I’m now much happier and comfortable in my clothes when I’m at home, out for walks, and at the gym.  I also like how some of the clothes above will do “double duty” for when I’m out and about as well. I feel that my at-home purchases have almost all been successful ones.

“Out and About” Clothes

I listed the following items as my “out and about” purchase priorities for 2016:

  • Pants other than black and denim (straight-leg, perhaps burgundy or cobalt)
new pants - not black or denim

My new pants that are neither black nor denim. 

The pants on the left and right were also shown in the at-home category, but I actually think I’ll wear them more for out and about occasions.  Although they are from an “athleisure” brand, they look polished enough to wear for most of the events of my life.  They are also far more comfortable than most of the other pants I own, which is great in light of my nerve pain and other health challenges. They are very recent acquisitions, but I love them and feel they will broaden my wardrobe horizons considerably, especially since all of my other pants are either black or denim.

  • Shorter, slimmer skirts (hitting no longer than mid-knee)

While I have certainly tried to find these types of skirts, I haven’t had much luck!  It seems as if most retailers are only selling maxis, minis, or corporate-style pencil skirts these days.  This item will remain on my list for 2017.

  • Bright colored and/or printed bottoms (skirts, pants)
colored and printed bottoms

These four bottom pieces are either colored or printed and will be quite versatile. 

I’m happy to have purchased four items that fall into this category. While it’s not obvious in the photo above, the pants towards the right are a black and white pattern rather than a charcoal grey.  These four new bottoms will expand my outfit possibilities, especially since they all look good with black and I have lots of black tops and toppers.

  • Alternate shape tops / toppers (i.e. tunics, asymmetrical tops, vests)
alternate shape tops and toppers

These eight alternate shape tops and toppers have upped my style quotient. 

I’m excited to have found so many great alternate-shaped tops this year and I feel they have helped to improve my overall style.  The cobalt and black tunic is now one of my favorite items in my closet.  I wish I would have selected more non-black options, but I think I’ll wear the black tops more often now that I have added some pants that aren’t either black or denim to my wardrobe. I want to add a few more asymmetrical pieces to my closet in 2017, as this look is very much in line with my current preferred style.

  • Tops with special details(those that stand alone and don’t need too many accessories or a topper to look “finished”)
special detail tops

These five tops don’t need layering or accessorizing in order to look good. 

All of the tops above were bought at resale shops during the past few months and none of them have been worn yet.  That isn’t too alarming to me, however, as they are all to be paired with pants and I’ve only been wearing skirts and dresses recently.  I do feel good about these items, though, as they are in line with my defined color palette (though the red is a bit of a “wild card”) style preferences. I will say, though, that I think I have enough cobalt garments in my wardrobe now!

  • Dresses and skirts to wear in cooler weather (long-sleeves, heavier weight)

No luck yet with this list item, but I do plan to try to get more wear out of my existing pieces by pairing them with warmer toppers and possibly tights.  I will keep this item on my list for 2017.

  • Sleeved tops to wear with skirts, as well as less fitted tops (no more fitted, ribbed tank tops)
sleeved tops for skirts

These three sleeved tops to wear with skirts give me new style options. 

The above are the sleeved tops I’ve been able to find thus far.  While the top in the middle is still fairly fitted, its ruching makes it a bit more forgiving.  These three tops were all purchased on consignment and the jury is still out on the second and third options. The top on the left, however, is already a favorite of mine.  It pairs well with several of my skirts and I’ve also layered it successfully over a maxi-dress.

  • Alternate toppers for pants/jeans beyond open cardigans and long coats (hip-length jackets)

I did buy two such items at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, but they’ve since been returned after I decided that I didn’t love the fit.  I will carry over this item to my 2017 list and try to get more specific about what I’d ultimately like to find in this category.

I feel that I purchased too many “out and about” items this year and wasn’t selective enough about my purchases.  I also neglected to buy a few important list items, especially the warmer dress and skirt options that I know I’ll be wanting in short order.  I hope that by using a shopping list template like the one on MOderate Wardrobe and spacing out my purchases to just one every other week, I’ll do better at fulfilling my 2017 wardrobe priorities.

Purchase Update – Shoes

While I indicated that shoes would be a big part of my buying focus for 2016, I didn’t end up buying many pairs of shoes.  This was in large part due to poor planning and buying too many “out and about” clothing items.  Here’s what I indicated were my shoe priorities for the year:

  1. Non-black ankle boots(either burgundy or cobalt)
  2. Black peep-toe wedges (to replace my existing pair – low heel, comfortable)
  3. Metallic flats or low heels (closed toe or peep-toe, to replace two pairs that I have passed on)
  4. Printed flats or low heels  (closed toe, perhaps in black/white print or grey-toned leopard print)
  5. Printed sandals  (wedge style, perhaps in a black/white print)
  6. Bright colored sandals  (casual style in a jewel tone)
  7. Metallic sandals (around 2” heels, replacement for my existing pair in a more modern style)

Below are the shoes that I bought this year which fit into the categories highlighted above:

shoes from 2016 priority list

I bought these three shoes that were on my 2016 priority list.

I’m very pleased with the burgundy boots and metallic sandals and have worn both many times.  The blue wedge sandals were bought just a few weeks ago on clearance and I’m not yet sure how successful a purchase they’ll end up being.  I like the style and the shoes are comfortable, but the blue may be a bit too light for my wardrobe.  I’ve tried pairing them with a few outfits but ultimately changed into a different pair of shoes.  I’m not used to wearing colored shoes, though, and I think I often aim for too “matchy-matchy” a pairing.  I need to experiment with included these shoes in various outfits and I hope I’ll find myself liking at least some of the resulting looks.

I definitely need to replace my black peep-toe wedges soon and I’d like to find a pair of printed shoes at some point, too (but I’m not sure that I will aim for two pairs).   I may or may not keep the metallic flats/low heels on my list.  I need to outline my shoe priorities for 2017, but I know that I’d definitely like to find a pair of black peep-toe booties, as well as metallic or cobalt boots.  I will narrow the list down to 5 or fewer pairs of shoes, but shoes will remain a priority, especially since I’ve been letting go of old pairs of shoes and have a few more that I plan on passing on.

Purchase Update – Accessories

I didn’t plan to buy many accessories this year and I haven’t done so.  Back in February, this is what I saw myself buying in this category:

  • 5 inch black belt to wear with jeans
  • Bright-colored purse (preferably cobalt or burgundy, but I am also open to other jewel tones such as purple or emerald)
  • Black wide cuff bracelet

The only one of those items that I bought was the bright-colored purse.  What I actually did was purchase a white purse at a consignment shop and have it dyed cobalt blue.  I also found a nice black bag from the same brand at the same store:

new 2016 purses

I bought these two purses this summer at a consignment store. 

I’m not one to change out my purses all that often, but I do like to swap them every month or two, so it’s nice to have two new options.  I need to let go of a few old purses that I no longer love and use, but I don’t feel that I have much “closet chaos” related to my handbags.

I haven’t prioritized buying the black belt or cuff bracelet, as I don’t tuck my shirts in and I’m happy with the black bracelets that I have.  These items may or may not be on my 2017 list.  I’ve mostly focused my accessory buying around hats and scarves in line with my gray hair transition.  Both items are helping me get through the rough times as I wait for my hair to grow and am dealing with two-toned hair.   Here are some of the hats and scarves that I’ve bought this year (two hats and several scarves aren’t shown).

new hats and scarves

These are some of the new hats and scarves I’ve bought this year. 

Regarding my 2016 jewelry purchases, here’s what I had to say back in February:

In terms of jewelry, any purchases that I make should be very strategic and well thought out, not impulse buys!   I need to make sure that any jewelry pieces I buy are different from what I already have.  Any new colored earrings should be dark blue, purple, red, or burgundy. Additional long necklaces should be in another metal besides silver or include some stones or beads in the colors within my palette. I shouldn’t buy more short necklaces unless they are different in style from what I currently have and also nclude color.  Any new bracelets should be modern in style (not too “delicate”) and include color.”

I have made very few actual jewelry purchases, but I did receive a number of pieces as gifts and through the swap event at the July Texas meetup.  The only items below that I bought for myself were the purple beaded earrings and the small corkscrew earrings in the middle of the second image. I may not keep all of the items from the swap, but I do think the black earrings will look nice with my soon to be silver hair.  The gifts are pretty much all winners, though, especially the multi-color wrap bracelet.

ECC meetup swap jewelry

I got these jewelry pieces at the July meetup group accessory swap.

jewelry gifts and purchases

All of these items except the earrings in the middle were gifts. 

purple beaded earrings

I bought these purple beaded earrings early in the year.

I don’t think I will buy many jewelry pieces next year, I’m going to make sure what I do purchase adheres to the specifications mentioned above, as I feel those are still excellent guidelines for me to follow.   Instead of highlighting what not to buy, though, I will identify a few items to be on the lookout for while I’m shopping.


I would say that overall, I have been moderately successful at adhering to my shopping priorities list for 2016 (I give myself about a B-minus).  However, because I didn’t consult my list frequently enough, I missed out on buying a few key items in favor of either too many pieces in other categories or things that I didn’t really need.

As previously mentioned, I would be well served to review my shopping list on a monthly basis so I can refine my priorities as necessary and course-correct to make sure I’m buying the things I need most for my closet and lifestyle.  I also need to make sure that I don’t buy things on impulse and that I purchase more moderately to stay within my clothing budget and item limits and avoid “closet bloat.”

Your Thoughts?

Now I’d like to hear from you regarding your shopping priorities for the year.  Here are a few questions to spark your thoughts:

  • What were your shopping priorities for 2016?
  • Did you purchase the items you needed most for your wardrobe gaps and lifestyle needs?
  • What would you like to add to your closet between now and the end of the year? How about for next year?
  • What changes would you like to make to how you do your shopping?

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 a purchase review of items I bought a year ago.

Useful Links

As I mentioned in my last post, rather than publishing a “grab bag” of useful links for September (see previous editions here), I will be closing my late September and early October posts with a few links.  Here are some articles for you to dive into this weekend:

37 thoughts on “Shopping Priorities & Purchase Update – October 2016

  1. I am going to stop buying shoes online. I’ve had a damaged toenail and have come to the conclusion that I need a half a size bigger shoe, but only in some brands/styles. I need to try the darn things on before I buy them. I have given away too many pairs of hardly worn shoes that weren’t comfortable, even ones that I tried on before buying. Shoes are a big ticket item and it kills me to buy them, wear them a few times and then decide they aren’t working for me.

    My son gave me a pair of Ugg slippers and I really like them. If you replace your slippers check them out. They are expensive but since you’ve worn out a pair already I think you’d get your monies worth out of them.

    • I know what you mean about shoes, Rose. I’ve had a lot of issues with comfort and not necessarily knowing in advance how things will work out, too. I try to wear them around the house as well as walk around the store, but it isn’t always a good representation for real life. I have had some luck with buying shoes online, but that hasn’t been the rule. Shoes will always be challenging for me to buy, so I feel your pain there…

      I have had Ugg slippers in the past and was very happy with them. They ARE more expensive, but I think they are worth it. I didn’t want to spend as much when I bought my latest pair, but it was pretty silly of me because I DO wear my slippers all of the time!

  2. I agree on the Uggs – expensive but durable. I also like the idea of one item every other week, will try that out for 2017.

    • Yes, Uggs are good slippers, Tara, and that will likely be what my next pair will be. How great that you will join me on the one item every other week plan next year! I will be challenging, I’m sure, but I think it will lead to better shopping success for us.

      • I love my Ugg slippers. They are by far the most comfortable and durable. I like to check out Nordstrom rack, they usually have the same slippers but for cheaper. Or zappos! If you know your size, you can order there and even look up a coupon code 🙂

  3. Thanks for the shout out! I do adjust my list as I go, and I think it’s smart to keep tabs on it regularly. What I start with in January rarely ends up the same come the end of the year.
    Right now I have a cocoon or maxi cardigan, and a velvet jacket on my toppers list. Maybe in a few months, I’ll change my mind and something else will take precedence. The part that helps me most is knowing I only have 4 slots, so I better make wise choices with them 😉
    I did not get everything on my priority this year, either. As long as we don’t stray too far and find ourselves shopping for a lot of off list things we really don’t need in lieu of the well thought through items we do. There is certainly a place for serendipitous finds but if we’re honest those should probably only be a few a year. Not every month lol.
    Best of luck with next year’s plan! I know it won’t always be easy, and I’ll have to tell myself no more often, but I think I’ll be happier with what I end up buying.

    • I’m always happy to share your posts, Mo, as there is a lot of wisdom there! It’s good to hear that you also change your mind on your shopping priorities as the year progresses. I have never used the type of shopping list as you have with the limited slots in each category, but I can see how that would be very helpful in terms of prioritizing. I agree with you that the serendipitous finds (like that term…) should really only be a few per year. That’s enough to allow for some surprises without going too far off the rails. I’m glad that we will be doing the new plan together and it looks like we have at least a handful of people joining us. The accountability and sharing the experience will be helpful!

  4. Thanks for another great write up! I think you have made good observations and have good plan for next year. I agree about checking your list often. I found that I did that this year and it really helped to focus on buying what I really needed and wanted. I agree with Mo to when she says her list can change through the year. I found a few things I originally wanted changed for something else. Or the type/style changed. All the best!

    • Thanks, Ruth. Yeah, not checking my list often and not limiting myself enough led to my shopping not going as well as I’d hoped. Still, a B-minus isn’t too bad considering that I was at the D-F level for so many years (buying FAR too much and MANY bad buys). I hope to improve to maybe a B+ this next year and I think that the plan that Mo and I are doing will help a lot!

  5. A really helpful post.Many thanks. Your paua shell earrings look like they have a Maori design on them! Are they from New Zealand?

    • I’m glad you liked the post, Fiona! I’m not sure where the earrings are from because they were a gift from my mom (and she probably doesn’t know, either, but I will ask her), but it would be cool if they were from New Zealand given my affinity for your lovely country! I agree that it looks like a Maori design.

  6. Thank you for this really interesting post. I will join you on the ’26 items’ goal for 2017. I had hoped for this for 2016, but am currently at about 36, including accessories, and still several weeks till the end of the year.

    One item/fortnight ought to be enough, and you are correct it will focus the mind on purchasing what will really count. I like to think of it in terms of outfits, it’s around 2 completely new outfits every 3 months, which if well chosen would make a huge difference to a wardrobe. It would be fun to plan the two outfits. In reality I would buy pieces separately, and some items may be to fill individual gaps, but planning outfits may help me to focus on issues of style – what is my ideal – rather than buying unrelated pieces. So basically a template, just as you are suggesting, but perhaps laid out in a different way.

    • Glad you’re going to join in on next year’s plan, Alice! I know you bought more than you wanted to this year, but 36 items including accessories is still pretty good. It’s quite a bit better than I did! I like your idea of planning purchases in terms of outfits rather than separates. I don’t do that enough at all, which can lead to a sense of disjointedness in one’s wardrobe. I do try to consider what I would wear a new purchase with, but going the step beyond would be helpful I think.

  7. I shop frequently enough that I just buy as I need things. My biggest problem as always is impulsive purchases and keeping a physical list for me doesn’t stop me from buying something in the spur of the moment. I don’t have items I really need this year. Since I did do a fairly large clean out recently, I’ve added around 10 new items to my fall/winter wardrobe and I certainly will not need more. I’m trying to cross over my going out clothes to lounge wear, like you, had an imbalanced ratio of the two which did not make sense for my lifestyle. I basically only need one outfit for so-called going out that does not include children’s activites and running arrands. I rarely get the chance to go out for night events. 95% of my wardrobe should just be worn everyday and I think what I recently bought is comfortable, durable and nice enough to be worn at home, go out with the kids, run arrands and to have lunch in nice restaurant, then be able to throw them in the wash if something gets soiled without being too precious about it. The truth is, I really hate having to change to ‘look nicer’ . I’m an ‘same outfit from day to night’ kind of gal – I don’t like accessories (jewelry, scarfs), the only thing I like to do to doll myself up is put on some lipstick. I hope I can stick with what I have and not get too tempted as time goes on….

    • Having a physical shopping list doesn’t stop me from making impulse buys either, Wendy, but it does help to keep me more on track with my purchases (but of course I need to actually REVIEW the list!). It’s good that you feel you are all set for your fall/winter wardrobe with 10 purchases and that you’re doing better at dressing for your real life. I like your idea of wearing the same outfit from day to night, but I don’t do that often enough. It sometimes feels like a bit of a production for me to go out to do an errand and I would like this to change. I don’t want to have any impediments to getting out of the house more often! I wish you the best of luck moving forward! It seems you are on a good track now.

  8. Ugg slippers are great, but I found they fit my feet weird (and I have owned several pairs of Uggs over the years, so this is just a slipper thing for me). If you want something a little less expensive, try the LL Bean Wicked Good line of slippers and moccasins. They run from $40-$70, but LL Bean is running a 20% off $50+ sale thru Tuesday. LL Bean makes quality products, and has an extremely generous return policy (if at any point you are unsatisfied with something, you can return/exchange).

    • I haven’t tried LL Bean slippers before, Melissa, but I like what you had to say about them. A good return policy is very important to me, especially when it comes to my feet. The price point seems very reasonable even without the sale. Thanks for the recommendation!

  9. Hi, Debbie,

    I don’t comment often, but want to share an observation: When it comes to skirts, you have moved towards maxi skirts and away from the shorter ones. I know that your original idea awhile back was to avoid the church-y vibe by going above the knee with your skirts. However, you have found an alternative solution since then and maxi skirts are now changing the shape of tops you lean towards. I am afraid that even if you find above-the-knee casual skirts that you like, those will just lead to yet another change in the shapes of tops and another round of chain-reaction shopping or push you back towards a churchier vibe. Please consider removing the above-the-knee skirts from the list of items you are actively going to shop for at least for one or two rounds of seasons until you tire of maxi skirts.

    I am suggesting this because I recently eliminated one shape of pants from my repertoire and love the side effects in what shoes and tops I can just not even worry about any more.

    • Great point. I stopped wearing short and pencil skirts ‘cos I hate any kind of heel. I wasn’t about to buy heeled shoes just for those. Now I wear ballet shoes or oxfords and pants. No need to buy heels at all.

      Similarly, I now have only five colors in my wardrobe – white black, navy, grey, plum/burgundy. Everything goes with everything. And only silver accessories. Fewer decisions to make.

    • I second Ellie’s suggestion on eliminating one silhouette/item style that has not been working for you. Shirts with collars and jeans are two item types of clothing I’ve completely stopped buying this year after years of experimenting with different silhouettes and fabrics. I love the idea of collared shirts with rolled sleeves but I find they make me feel more masculine than I would like no matter how feminine the shape and fabric may be. It wasn’t until I tried crewneck buttonup shirts that I realized that it was the folded collar that I could not deal with. With jeans, it’s more of a comfort issue. I’ve never found 100% cotton denim soft enough for my liking. I basically only like pull on trousers with elastic waistbands. I have one pair of wool pants, one wool skirt and a pair of denim shorts that have a fixed waistband with a button and zipper closure, the rest of my bottoms are all pull on style! For the skinny denim look that I love, I found jeggings to be my saviour – the comfort of leggings and the look of skinny jeans. They are my work horses for cooler weather bottoms.

    • Lovely post Debbie, very thoughtful, well organized and insightful.

      I also agree that it is a good idea to hold back and not purchase what you described as Shorter, slimmer skirts (hitting no longer than mid-knee). Wear the skirts you already have. You own a lovely collection of maxi skirts and maxi dresses. The maxi trend will likely be around for a while and thereafter you can continue to wear the skirts you love best by allowing them to become one of your signature styles. (This is what I often do). Later on and after you have worn your skirts for a couple of seasons you might want to begin seeking out another shorter styles. But it will likely require also purchasing new tops, toppers and probably shoes. No reason to open that can of worms sooner than necessary.

      As for me – I was able to stay true to my goal and purchased only 12 new items for out-and-about-wear in 2016, and what other items I added are for at-home wear. Like you, I’m a stay-at-home writer and need a larger casual wardrobe, and much less for out-and-about-wear. My other goal for the past three years has been to own a wardrobe where the majority of my tops and bottoms can be interchangeable. Doing this has been exceptionally rewarding. Not easy and does require much thought and planning, but the results are well worth the extra effort. My plan and goal for next year is to again buy as little as possible. I will continue to replace workhorse items that wear out and add one or two new pieces each season. For the next year or two I do not want to grow my wardrobe, only maintain it.

    • I appreciate all of the feedback here, Ellie, Nutrivore, Wendy, and Terra. You all made good points against having the shorter skirts on my shopping list for 2017. Maybe I shouldn’t try to force the issue, especially since the maxis are working well for me and I don’t really need a lot of summer pieces anyway. I was a bit worried that maxis may be on their way out, but I still saw a lot of them in the stores even if the trend seems to be waning. I know I can still get a few years wear out of what I have and I like that I can wear flat shoes with the maxis (more comfortable and no church vibe!). I do have shoes I can wear with shorter skirts, as I wear them with the mid-length dresses I have, but I might have to purchase alternate tops. Since I’m going to have a shorter shopping list, I will leave off the mid-length skirts. If I find something fabulous, I may end up buying it, but it won’t be a focus.

      Nutrivore – Narrowing my color palette has helped me considerably, too. It’s easier to get dressed and easier to shop!

      Wendy – I feel the same way about shirts with collars. I never wear them, but like other types of tops with buttons (I have quite a few Henleys, for example). I also find that most jeans are not comfortable enough for me and they are definitely not wear all day long pieces. I’m going to aim to have all new pants I buy be very high comfort pieces that will allow for some weight fluctuations, too (I have been having a lot of water retention issues lately). I remember you mentioning jeggings before, but I haven’t tried them before. I usually don’t like tight pants, but those could be different.

      Terra – Great job with meeting your 12 items for 2016 goal! I really admire your wardrobe minimalism and your thoughtful way of buying and dressing. I’m impressed that you can mix most of your tops and bottoms. I’m wondering how you have managed to accomplish this. Do you usually tuck in your tops? I always feel like I have to have different length tops for pants and skirts. Maybe if I focused on dresses rather than skirts, that could make things easier for me, as my tops would only need to work with pants. Not that I would get rid of my existing tops for skirts and my skirts, but it’s something to think about. I don’t want to grow my wardrobe, either. In fact, I would still like to downsize, as I have too much. My hope is that my new plan will help with that.

      • Debbie, the only “bottom pieces” I currently own are four pair of jeans (two dark wash, one medium wash and one white) and five skirts (two print, one stripe, one black and one gray) and all of the tops I wear with my skirts can be worn with my jeans. I own eleven sweaters/jackets/toppers and all of these can also be worn with all of my skirts and my jeans. It makes packing for travel easy. I have eight long sleeve tops but only two work with my skirts, but that’s ok because if it is cold I mostly wear jeans anyway. The one category in my wardrobe that does not work with both my jeans and skirts is my shirts. I have casual seven shirts that I only wear when I’m wearing jeans.

        It is important to note that my social life and business life is casual, and the weather is not extreme where I live, so I can easily thrive with a smaller wardrobe. But it was hard to teach myself to live with less.

        It has also required a lot of effort and discipline to get my wardrobe organized and into its current shape, but it makes everything so much easier for me, including laundry, getting dressed each day and especially packing for trips. Whereas before my closet was a mixed bag of lovely pieces that only went with certain items and with lots of orphans. And now there is harmony in my closet which makes me feel calm, and with the added bonus that somehow with less I’m better dressed and can easily create outfits for all of my needs, and I couldn’t do that back in my heavy shopping days.

      • No, I don’t tuck my tops with skirts or with jeans. I do a half- tuck with shirts and jeans, but with my knit tops I aim for a length that is flattering on me and looks good with both skirts and jeans. Again, I have a few (6) long sleeve tops that are a bit longer that I only wear with jeans.

      • Thanks for this clarification, Terra. I appreciate your sharing about some of your numbers and how you wear your clothes. I would love to get to the point where I can mix and match more of my tops with skirts and pants. Perhaps I’m too picky about proportions, but I like shorter tops/toppers with skirts and longer tops/toppers with pants, and I’m short-waisted. Maybe I can find a happy medium for at least some of the tops so at least I can perhaps do better with packing for travel (or I can just pack dresses along with pants and tops). It DOES take a lot of effort and discipline to build a working wardrobe, but I can tell by what you have shared that it really pays off. I already feel A LOT better about my wardrobe than I used to, but I feel like I still have kind of a long way to go.

  10. Debbie,
    Have you considered home slippers from L.L.Bean? They have a lifelong warranty. If something comes apart after a year 9or even after a longer time frame), they will replace it for free. Not that you should ask for a replacement, but that’s why their products are better quality to begin with.

    As for my shopping priorities, I intend to buy no clothing or accessories for the next year or two because I don’t need any. If I do buy the odd thing at a thrift or consignment store, it’s because it unique/handmade/of impeccable quality. A $20 vintage Coach thick leather bag in a beautiful minimalist style is a recent, but rare example. I pop into the thrift store if I go there to make a donation. Usually, I leave empty handed.

    If I need something, I don’t go to the stores. I look for exactly what I need online (from a store with a good return policy in case I don’t like it) , read the reviews and buy it.

    • Melissa mentioned the LL Bean slippers above, Nutrivore, and they are definitely something I will consider now based on what both of you have said. My mom has ordered quite a few items from LL Bean, but I’m not super familiar with them. I like the lifelong warranty – so few retailers offer anything close to that these days!

      How great that you feel you don’t need any new clothing or accessories. That’s a good place to be in! It feels good to take donations to a thrift store and not buy anything. I always used to leave with at least a few items (same with when I took things to consignment shops), but not anymore and I’m proud of myself for that. I have been doing a lot more online shopping lately, too. I do have to return quite a bit even if I read the reviews (which I always do), but I tend to go less crazy with buying and I’m better able to find what I want because I have the entire Internet at my disposal. It does take patience, but then again so does wandering through an entire mall and not finding anything that even closely matches what I need/want. Plus, the latter is SO frustrating!

  11. 26 items + every other week seems like a good strategy to further reduce the number of out and about purchases. I can’t remember if for this year’s 36 item challenge you had a plan to space out purchases over the year, but if I am remembering correctly, you had bought more in the beginning of the year and were unhappy about it. I mention it because the I’m struck by the built-in timing aspect of the 1 item every other week strategy, which could prove to be a really smart way to stay consistent over the year and not over-purchase at any given time.

    Out of curiosity, is the 26 items limited to out and about items because other areas of your wardrobe- ie accessories, pjs, workout gear, etc are in good shape and less prone to overbuying?

    I hope that it is successful- it’s certainly an impressive plan and a mark of how far you have come in the last few years! I’m always really impressed by your goal setting and I think you have been so creative in using different strategies to reach your wardrobe and personal goals.

    Since your last update, I’ve continued along in my quest to sew my own clothes and have made a few knit t-shirts, a woven blouse, and a woven tank top. I’m wearing one knit shirt and the blouse frequently. The other knit shirt is wonky in the neckline and sticks out in a weird way that drives me nuts, so I think I’ll try to recut it or repurpose the fabric. The tank top is a bit small across the back, so I’ve altered the pattern and will try again. I purchased 1 sewing pattern for the blouse, which was great because I finally used up fabric I’d had for a year. I also bought a couple yards knit fabric to make more t-shirts- I’ll perfect those necklines, yet! I’m working away on jeans(trying to beat the arrival of cold weather)- all my RTW pants are getting stretched out beyond redemption!

    • Yes, I did buy too many items early in the year, cm. I bought too much in February and that got me off track early on. I love the idea of the every other week purchases because I still get to shop pretty often, but I have to be quite thoughtful about what I’m buying. I used to overbuy in pretty much ALL categories – clothing, shoes, and accessories, but lately it’s just clothing that is a problem. I don’t overbuy shoes and accessories anymore, so that’s why I didn’t include those items in my limit for this year and likely won’t for next year, either (I haven’t decided yet – I will likely sit down and write what I see myself needing and see what the number is). I don’t plan to include sleepwear, undergarments, and workout wear in my 26 items, but other clothes will all count.

      I appreciate your kind words about my progress! I do feel that I have come a long way, although I also get frustrated with myself for my setbacks. I know that’s part of the process, though, and as long as we keep trying, we will move forward. I feel encouraged by my new plan, but also a bit nervous. It’s a lot less than I’ve ever bought in one year, but it will be good for me to challenge myself in this way and I feel it will lead me to make better choices.

      I’m in awe of you for sewing your own clothes! It seems like this effort has mostly been a success thus far. I’m sure that sewing jeans can’t be easy, but I wish you the best of luck with that project and all of your other sewing projects. I wonder if sewing could be a good hobby for me. Something to consider…

  12. That’s a really good point- that 26/ every other week allows for regular, but still thoughtful shopping. Maybe that frequency is/will be an important part of the sustainability of that strategy. It strikes me as a great approach for Moderators (as opposed to abstainers) because it is quite structured.

    Thanks for your kind words as well, Debbie. I’m loving making my own clothes. The jeans are challenging, mostly in getting the right fit! Fortunately I’m using a pattern from Closet Case Files and the instructions are very good. There’s also an online sew along. After years of sewing failures, I finally realized a good pattern is worth every cent!

    Ohhh, I’d be so curious as to why or why not you’d want to consider sewing as a hobby. I like it for a lot of reasons and I’m always interested in how and why other folks like it.

    • You’re right that the every other week purchase plan is a good approach for Moderators, of which I am one. I don’t do well with “bans,” I’ve learned. I still struggle with moderation, too, but I feel that has a better chance of being a sustainable strategy for me.

      As for sewing, part of why it appeals to me is that I’m not very easy to fit, plus there are times when I’m not at all happy with the current trends and what’s in the stores. I would like the additional options that sewing would afford me and I also feel it would be a fun creative outlet (I’m a huge fan of “Project Runway,” but I don’t think I’m anywhere near as creative as some of them!). My hesitation for taking up this hobby mostly has to do with space, as I live in a small apartment, but I also know it would be time-consuming and that it would take a long time (and quite a few mistakes) in order to get good at it. That said, the benefits could very well outweigh my concerns. It sounds like your hard work and patience have paid off, which is wonderful!

      • As an abstainer, I would have a terrible time with that particular strategy. Hence just not shopping and sewing everything (for the most part) instead.

        I totally relate- fit was a big factor in why I got into it. I gained some weight and suddenly it became impossibly hard to find quality stuff that fit me and my budget. I can understand the space factor- it was a problem for me previously, too. It’s easy for it to be an items beget items hobby as well. It is also definitely can be time consuming, depending on what you are making. It’s hard to say how long it’d take to get good at it, but it probably does depend somewhat on how you approach it. Some people really pick it up quickly. My learning curve was particularly slow because I was scattershot, naively thought I could draft my own patterns, and irregular about actually sewing. Oh well!

      • You know, sometimes I think mistakes are the most important part of creativity. Socially and often personally, mistakes are treated so harshly, but it’s how you learn. And I guess what I like about sewing and photography, for that matter, is that it’s a safe space to make giant, terrible mistakes- I can get away from my inner critic. If I screw up, it doesn’t really matter. I just try it again, no judgement.

  13. You might want to consider Abeo Slippers by the Walking Company. I have several pairs of Abeo inserts that I move around between my shoes and boots. The inserts that I use are for a high arch but available over the counter. They are between comfort inserts and orthotic inserts. I haven’t bought Abeo slippers yet but they are on my list. You can always ask your readers for suggestions on any item. (By the way, I do remember you saying a while ago that skinny jeans are not comfortable for you with your health issues so just keep rocking whatever look you like!)

    • I forgot to add that I am asking myself the question from Bridgette Raes poses to herself, “Would I wear this today?” This one question has really changed my perspective on shopping in the last month. I am working more at school and still studying so I just don’t have the energy to create an interesting outfit four days a week anymore. I have gone to bootcut jeans, a GapFit Breathe long-sleeved tee in a bright color, and a v neck cashmere sweater on top. Everything is comfortable, I can take off a layer to adjust for temperature at school, and I don’t have to fuss with any of it. (I have even taken to wearing a colored sports bra underneath so I don’t have to deal with the feeling of an underwire bra.) Now if I buy anything, I want to be able to wear it during the week and on the weekend. I also have discovered Heattech long underwear from Uniqlo which I wear under my jeans if I feel cold. I also wear my spouses running socks both in wool and in synthetics because they are so comfortable. For underwear, I like Jockey comfies.

      • I always love Bridgette’s tips and I thank you for reminding me of this one, Maggie! In SO many instances, I think the answer would be “no,” as I am often drawn to things that don’t suit my lifestyle at all. It sounds like you have found an outfit formula that works very well for your life. I’ve heard about those Heattech long underwear and they are definitely something I will consider if I travel to someplace cold (I don’t need them where I live). I wear Jockey underwear, but I haven’t tried the comfies. Thanks for the tips and best wishes with school!

    • Thanks so much for this suggestion, Maggie. I have a high arch, too, so maybe the inserts you mentioned would help me, too. I haven’t tried the Abeo slippers, but I will check them out the next time I visit the Walking Company. It’s not urgent for me to replace my current slippers, but it’s something I’d like to do relatively soon.

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