A Year Later: August – October 2015 Purchase Review

Earlier this year, I started a new feature in which I review my purchases a year later to see how well (or not) they have worked out for me.  Most of the time, these purchase updates will encompass two or three months, and today I’m going to look back at the items I bought from August through October of last year. I definitely bought far too many items last August through October, so there will be a lot to cover in this update!

Good or bad purchase

How do you feel about the purchases you made a year ago?

I will share some basic numbers, let you know what I still own, and reflect on which purchases were good and bad and why. I’ll close this update by encapsulating the lessons I learned from reviewing the items I purchased a year ago.  I hope that reading this post will inspire you to take a look at your past purchases to see how well they’re serving you – or not.   Taking the time to do such a review can be quite eye-opening and is well worth doing.

The Basic Numbers – August through October 2015

Let’s start this analysis with a few basic numbers:

  • Clothing Items Bought: 24
  • Shoes and Accessories Bought: 12 (1 pair of shoes, 1 purse, 1 scarf, 9 jewelry pieces)
  • Total Items Bought August through October 2015: 36 (I told you it was too much!)
  • Items I Still Have: 26  
  • Items Returned: 2
  • Items Purged: 8

The photos below show all of my August through October 2015 clothing and accessory purchases.

new clothes - august through october 2015

There were the new clothes I bought in August through October 2015.

new accessories - august through october 2015

I bought – or was given – these accessory items a year ago.

What I Still Own

Before I explore which purchases were good and which were less than ideal, let’s look at what remains in my closet today.   As I mentioned above, I still have 26 of the 36 items I bought in August, September, and October 2015, which is almost three-quarters (72%) of my total purchases from those months.   Here’s a snapshot of the pieces that have stuck around:

august - october 2015 items I still have

I still have these 26 items from a year ago.

What I Returned and Why

Two of the items I bought during August through October 2015 were later returned for refunds:

Returned items - August through October 2015

I decided to return these two items to the store for refunds. 

Here are my reasons for returning those items:

  • Black shorts:  While I’d like to have a pair of shorts in my wardrobe, I decided these weren’t “it,” as they were too short and not very comfortable.
  • Magenta sweater: I loved this sweater, but it pilled considerably after just two short wears.  Since I had purchased it from Nordstrom and they have a great return policy, I was able to get my money back.  I’m sad, however, as I really liked the style, color, and fit of this piece.

What I Purged and Why

Eight of the items I acquired last August through October are no longer in my wardrobe – two tank tops, one skirt, one dress, one cardigan, one pair of earrings, and two necklaces:

august through october 2015 - purged items

I decided to let go of these eight pieces from a year ago.

Here are my thoughts as to why I no longer own these pieces:

  • Black and fuchsia tank tops: I purchased these tops from a low-cost retailer and they weren’t very good quality. Although I didn’t realize this would happen, when I had them shortened, the fabric “belled out” at the bottom and didn’t hold its shape. Sadly, I had to pass on both tanks after just one wear each.
  • Black pencil skirt: When I bought this skirt at a consignment store, I thought I could take in the too-large waist.  However, due to the construction of the waistband, such an alteration was not possible.  I didn’t want to wear it “as is,” so I re-consigned it unworn.
  • Black cardigan:   I should not have purchased this cardigan, as it was too small for me. The sleeves in particular were just too short (3/4 sleeves often end being 2/3 length on me).  I allowed myself to be dazzled by a fun design and a low resale price – bad…
  • Feather style earrings: I thought I liked these earrings, but every time I tried to wear them, they just didn’t seem right with my outfit. I think it’s because they were more of a “boho” style and that’s not a good match for my current style.
  • Multicolor maxi-dress: This was another resale purchase gone wrong (part of why I don’t shop secondhand all that often anymore).   I was impressed by finding the brand for a low price, but the colors were too warm for my complexion and the elastic waist was uncomfortable.
  • Long silver necklace: I thought I would like this necklace more than I did, but I always wished the chain was thicker and usually switched to a different necklace after putting it on.  I ended up sending it to a friend.
  • Star necklace: This was a gift from a friend, but it was just too delicate for me.  Fortunately, I was able to pass it on to another friend who is much more petite than I am and likes more delicate jewelry.

Items That Will Be Purged Soon

In addition to the items I’ve already let go of, there are three more garments that I still have but will be on their way out soon:

August through October 2015 items to be purged soon

I still have these items, but not for long…

I love the colors of the cobalt and purple tanks, but they are just too tight on me.  They were always on the snug side, but I was about ten pounds thinner last summer and they at least somewhat worked then.  Even so, I should have returned them after trying them on (I had ordered them online).  I struggled a lot with finding replacement tank tops last year, such that I end up settling for less than what I truly needed and wanted.  Lesson learned, I hope…

As for the dress, I wrote about it back in my July “KonMari in the Closet” post, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to let it go because it was a gift from my husband and it was expensive.  However, it’s too small for me now and I never really loved it even when it fit me well.  As one commenter mentioned following my KonMari post, the dress reflects the “churchy” vibe I used to have more than my current style.  I love the colors and the print, but the style is too prim and proper for me, plus the waistband comes up too high on my waist (a common problem given my height).  I do need to pass it on and I may even try to sell it on eBay.  My husband probably won’t even notice that it’s gone because he tends to be absent-minded, plus I have a lot of clothes.   I can’t help but feel guilty about it, though.

The Good Purchases

Of my purchases from August through October 2015, I consider 25% of them to have been very wise buys.  Here’s a look at my best purchases from a year ago:

best purchases - august through october 2015

These were my best purchases from August through October 2015. 

The nine items above have all served me well over the past year and I’m still happy with them now. I would still buy each of these items today if I saw them in a store.  All are in the defined colors of my palette and three include my signature stripes as well.  The earrings were a gift from my mom, but I have worn them many times, as their smaller size works perfectly when paired with a necklace. The scarf ties in the colors of my palette nicely and looks good with many of my clothes.  I wish all of my purchases from this time last year could be as good as the ones above!

Below are some selected outfits that feature my good purchases from August through October 2015:

Good outfits featuring August through October 2015 purchases

Good outfits featuring August through October 2015 purchases

On the Fence…

There are quite a few “on the fence” items in this review.  I’m being a lot stricter with my ratings this time around in the hope that I can better learn from my past shopping experiences.  I have identified seven items of clothing (29%) and seven accessories (58%!) that in hindsight, I’m not sure were good purchases to have made.  While it’s reasonable to expect that I would know for sure a year later, I can be a slow adopter of new styles and silhouettes.  As an example, my current favorite pair of jeans hung in my closet gathering dust for well over a year after I purchased them.  My eye had to adjust to a new look and that took me some time (and courage to wear something different than what I was used to).

Of course, it’s better to either wear things right away or return them, but there are occasions when a “benchwarmer” can later become a wardrobe workhorse.  This doesn’t happen all that often, though, so it’s good to at least analyze why we’re not wearing something often – or at all, which is what I do below.


Here’s a look at the seven clothing items that I’m on the fence about:

Uncertain clothing items from August through October 2015

I’m not sure about these seven clothing items from August through October 2015.

Let’s look at them one by one…

  • Black and white striped asymmetrical dress: I’m surprised that I haven’t worn this dress more often because it seems to tick all of the boxes for me – black and white, striped, asymmetrical, knit.  However, when I bought it last year, it was much too big for me and I’ve had to have several alterations done in order for it to fit me properly.  Even after all of that effort, though, the waist detailing hits me slightly above my natural waist, which isn’t ideal.  My weight is also higher than it was last summer, which affects both the fit and my opinion of many of my clothes.  I’ll likely keep this dress around through next summer and see what happens with my weight and the way I feel about this piece.
  • Black cropped cardigan: I bought this item as a replacement for my black tie-waist cardigan that I thought was getting “tired,” but I continue to wear the old cardigan more than this one.  However, I recently tried tying this cardigan in the front and I like it better worn that way.  I also like that the sleeves are full-length, whereas the sleeves of my older cardigan are three-quarter length.  I don’t know why I don’t reach for this one as much, but my hope is that the styling option of tying it will lead me to wear it more often.
  • Black draped vest:  This vest is short in length and only really looks good with skirts and dresses.  The problem is that the majority of my dresses as well as the tops I wear with skirts are sleeveless and the vest doesn’t look good without sleeves peeking out from under it.   The draped collar is also kind of fussy, which may well be the death knell for this garment.   I’m going to try to create a few outfits with it (I’ve only worn it once thus far!), but if I’m not wowed by any of them, out it goes.
  • Black sweater jacket: I actually love this topper, but I’ve had little occasion to wear it since I bought it last October.  I could have worn it, but it really only works with dresses and skirts and I’m not in the habit of wearing them once the weather turns colder.  This is something I’ve wanted to change and hopefully this is the year when I finally make it happen!   I have been trying this jacket on with various dress and skirt ensembles lately, but it’s been too hot to wear it.   The weather will cool down soon, though, and I plan to reach for this warmer topper to help extend the wear of some of my summery pieces a bit longer.
  • Black ribbed tank: This tank is quite tight, much like the cobalt and purple versions shown above.  They’re all from the same retailer and are the same size, but for some reason this one is not quite as snug, plus the fact that it’s black makes the visual effect more okay.  However, it’s not comfortable to wear and I’ve only worn it once this summer.  I think it’s time to move it on, especially since I pretty much always reach for my other black tank (shown under my “good purchases” above)
  • Green/blue print dress: I love this dress, but it doesn’t look all that great on me at my current weight.  It was very flattering on me last summer (see photo below), but not so much this year.  It’s still wearable, but I don’t feel fab in it.  I hope that I can drop some of my excess poundage that is likely a result of menopause and hypothyroid (I’m on medicine for that now, but it may need to be adjusted), so I’m going to keep the dress in my “hidden holding zone” for the time being.
  • Grey maxi-skirt: There’s nothing wrong with this skirt, but I reach for my other maxi-skirts far more often for some reason.  Perhaps it’s because a lot of my tops are either black or black print and thus pair better with black or a bright color.  I don’t have many tops that work well with this skirt, so I think that may be the issue.  As with the black vest above, I’m going to spend a bit of time creating outfits including the skirt to see how I feel about it.  If it feels too much like “forcing the issue,” l will either move it to my hidden holding zone to see if I miss it or pass it along.

Below are a few outfits that feature some of my “on the fence” clothing items (I don’t have outfit photos for all of them).  Of course, a picture doesn’t always tell the whole story and many of the photos are from last summer, but if you have thoughts about these pieces that may help me decide their fate, please share them (hopefully, conflicting opinions won’t make things harder for me!).

august through october 2015 - questionable items outfits

I’m unsure how I feel about the striped dress and black vest.

august through october 2015 - questionable items outfits

The black tank, print dress & grey skirt are on the fence for various reasons.


My track record for August through October 2015 accessory purchases isn’t very good.  Sadly, I either dislike or am on the fence about more than half of them. Here are the accessories that I’m uncertain about at this time:

august through october 2015 - questionable accessories

I’m not sure about these accessories from last August through October.

Below are my current thoughts about these items.

  • Black embellished purse: I bought this purse for those times when I don’t want to lug around a large bag.  It’s great in theory, but I haven’t been using it!   I actually don’t go out all that often and when I do, I’m generally in too much of a hurry to change my bag.  Perhaps I should store this purse in the trunk of my car to have available for times when I need to carry just a few things with me.  That may help me to use it more often, as I do love the look of it.
  • Brushed silver earrings: I liked these earrings a when I tried them on in the store, but every time I try pairing them with an outfit, I end up wearing another pair of earrings instead.  I’m not sure why, but they just look “off” with most of what I wear.  If I don’t wear them – or don’t like them when I do – by the end of the year, I’ll either give them to a friend or donate them.  In fact, I think I’m going to do my “Love it, Wear it” challenge (explained here – scroll down) again from now until the end of the year (and probably beyond) to better understand my clothing and accessory preferences.
  • Grey zipper detail sandals: I’m not entirely sure why I don’t reach for these sandals, but I think they look a bit too “clunky” with my knee-length dresses.   I actually removed the front elastic strap (which isn’t functionally necessary) recently and I think they look more streamlined now, but I’ve mostly been wearing maxi-skirts and dresses, which require either flats or very low heels.  I love the zipper detail on these shoes, but that feature actually leads them to be less comfortable than I’d hoped.   They may need to be broken in more, but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen or not.  I’m going to try pairing them with cropped pants now that I have a couple of pairs, as that may be a better combination.
  • Lapis beaded earrings: As you know, I love cobalt blue, so I thought I’d wear these earrings all the time.  That hasn’t happened and I think it’s because I like them better with skirts and dresses and I don’t have as much blue in my summer wardrobe.  I’m going to push myself to wear them two or three times before the end of the year to see how I feel about them. In theory, they should work well for me, but I’m not sure if that will be true in practice.
  • Multi-strand bracelet: I like the look of this bracelet, but I don’t wear it very often.  It’s definitely a statement piece, which may the issue since it’s kind of bulky to wear.  That said, I think I’m currently in a rut with my jewelry, as I tend to wear the same pieces over and over again. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but I have some great items that are mostly gathering dust. I still think I have too much jewelry (even though it’s only a third of what I used to have!), but doing “Love it, Wear it” will help me to narrow things down further.
  • Two silver and black necklaces: As you can see from the photo above, these necklaces are quite similar. I also have a third necklace that is silver with a black cord, so it’s a bit of overkill with that style!  I almost always reach for the older version as well, so I don’t think it was wise for me to buy the new ones.  However, I recently removed the pendant from the necklace on the left and placed it on a silver chain instead, so I think I’ll wear it more now.  As for the necklace on the right, it’s actually quite different from my older necklace and is an edgier look.  I just have to push myself to wear it!  If I still don’t find myself wearing it very often by the end of the year, I have a couple of friends who may be interested in it.

What I Learned

I like to close out these purchase updates with a few lessons I learned through looking back on what I bought a year ago.   Here’s what I see as the key lessons from my August through October 2015 purchases:

  1. Don’t “split your wears.” There were a few instances of my buying pieces that were similar to what I already owned (e.g. black cardigans, silver necklace with black cord).   When we have two items in our closets that meet the same need, we basically halve the number of potential wears of each item.  This can also lead to boredom and more shopping!  If you find yourself picking out the same types of items all the time, read what stylist Bridgette Raes has to say about this phenomenon and heed her sound advice (clearly, I need to do the same!).
  2. Don’t stray over to the “dark side of alterations.” I’m a big fan of alterations, but I sometimes try too hard to make something work for me. This has been an ongoing issue, such that I’ve written about it a number of times (including HERE and HERE).  While I don’t try to remake garments too often anymore, I still attempt risky tailoring procedures (e.g. the striped dress and the two embellished tank tops).   I need to stop doing this and just stick to simple“tweaks” that are basically fail-proof, such as hemming and taking in waists and side seams an inch or two.   Don’t be too ambitious with your tailoring or engage in last-ditch efforts to save pieces rather than passing them on.  This may amount to “throwing good money after bad,” which is never a good idea!
  3. Don’t buy too many things at once. When you’re shopping a lot, it’s harder to be discerning and fully comprehend what will and won’t work for you.  As you can see, my track record for the months I covered in this review wasn’t too good, and I know that my overshopping played a large role in my low success percentage.  This is a big part of why I have opted for the every other week plan I wrote about in my last post. With that approach, I’ll be integrating new pieces into my wardrobe more gradually and can better assess what is and isn’t working and why, as well as figure out which new items will add the most versatility to what I already have.   If you’d like to join me in this plan, the more the merrier!  Some of us will be doing it together and will check in regularly on our progress.
  4. When in doubt, return things! Many items can be returned for refunds if we get them home and determine that they won’t work as well as we’d thought.  It’s a good idea to try things on again at home as soon as possible to check them out in your own mirror and without your “sales goggles” on.  I’ve often found that items I thought were fabulous in the store just didn’t make the grade at home.  Try your new items on with the pieces you would wear them with and evaluate their fit, style, color, and comfort.   I think I would have returned at least a few of my bad and “on the fence” purchases had I always taken the time to do this step (however, I wouldn’t have been able to return my resale purchases, which accounted for 8 of my 25 bad/questionable items).  It’s also helpful to set reminders on your computer or phone so you’re aware of return deadlines and don’t miss the boat on getting your money back.

Why Review Your Purchases

For those of us who are working to overcome compulsive shopping and “closet chaos,” I firmly believe that the time we take to track and analyze our wardrobes is time well spent. Although you may not photograph all of your pieces like I do and or remember exactly when you bought something, you probably have a good idea of how long something has been in your closet.   Guess if you have to, but look at what you bought roughly a year ago and see how you feel about it today.   The following questions can help you evaluate each of your past purchases:

  • Do you still love it? Did you ever?
  • Is it being worn regularly? Why or why not?
  • Would you buy it today?

After pondering each item individually, see if there are any patterns evident among your past buys.  What lessons can you learn from the purchases you made a year ago?

Many of us spend several hours or more trying to find the perfect item online or in a store.  So why not invest a little time to review how well you did with your shopping after a year or more has passed?   Analyzing your purchases may not be as enjoyable as shopping, but in the long run it can save you from having a closet full of clothes you don’t wear and a stack of credit card bills!  Try this exercise and I bet you’ll be glad you did.

Your Thoughts?

I hope you found this post both interesting and helpful.  I also hope it has motivated some of you to do purchase reviews of your own.  Now it’s your turn to offer your thoughts and insights.

  • Have you ever done a review of your past purchases? If so, what did you learn? 
  • How do you feel about the clothes, shoes, and accessories you bought a year ago? How many have become wardrobe workhorses versus “benchwarmers”? 
  • How many of your August through October 2015 purchases would you buy again today?
  • How do you ensure that you make fewer mistakes when you shop?

I invite you to share your practices and methods so we can all learn from each other.

Some Weekend Reading

I wish you all a wonderful weekend!   Here are a few quick links to articles you might enjoy reading:

22 thoughts on “A Year Later: August – October 2015 Purchase Review

  1. I think you’ve hit on a brilliant strategy with these lookbacks. Now I plan to take a look at my own year ago acquisitions later this afternoon.

    I’m not good at picking out what you *don’t* look good in, since I think your good looks overpower any doubtful items. But I do have one observation: that print dress, though pretty, does not seem to share the vibe of the rest of your wardrobe. I think this means you’ve achieved great success at changing the too-prim look you had once lamented.

    • I’m happy to inspire you to review your past purchases, Vildy! It really helps me a lot, even if it can be depressing sometimes… You’re right that the print dress (well really both of them) doesn’t share the vibe of the rest of my wardrobe. Good observation! Yes, I do believe I have changed the former too-prim look. Occasionally, I will wear something that harkens back to that, but I learn from it and figure out how to change things up so it’s more reflective of how I want to dress today.

  2. I really like the print dress on you — it is actually my favorite look of all the pics (but maybe that is just my style…). I would save it as a special occasion item rather than purge and buy again later.

    • I like that dress too. I”m good with holding onto it for awhile. Pounds don’t always go away from the places they got added on once you hit mid-life, so if a year goes by and it’s still not fitting then it can go.

    • I love the print dress on you, too. It is very flattering! It’s worth keeping until you see where your weight levels off.

    • Thanks for your kind words about the print dress, SC, Ginger, and Barbara. I do like how it looks on me in the picture even if it’s not really in line with my current vibe, as Vildy astutely observed above. I plan to keep it until next summer and see how I feel about it over time. It’s in my “hidden holding zone” at present and we’ll see if I reach for it and how I feel about it if and when I do.

  3. As always a thought provoking post. I gained some weight over the summer, have now lost some of it and have no idea what fits anymore. Getting dressed in the morning for work can be an interesting experience.

    • Yeah, weight changes make things interesting for sure, Ruthie, whether they are up or down (or up and down, as has been the case for me in recent years!). It can be helpful to take a few hours to try things on and see what works right now. I did that yesterday (after I published this post) and I have even made some new determinations about things I wrote about. Best wishes with both your weight and your wardrobe. I can empathize with the challenges in both areas!

  4. is the grey skirt too heavy? it looks like a fall weight in the pics, maybe it would be better when it’s cool? with a moto jacket to make it harder? i think the black tank and the print dress look amazing. the dress in particular is banging! i’m wondering if your hair is part of it? i feel like your hair cut covers some of the detail of the dress and tank (the neck line) that shows off your face and collar bones so well! you have a picture earlier with your hair pulled to the side and i feel like it just showcases your face and collarbones! i know your hair is a tricky thing for you, but your style has been changing, maybe your hair should too? as i’ve aged my style has changed a lot, but i feel that a new hair cut just revitalizes me and makes me feel powerful, especially when it draws attention to my face (though that’s less an issue as i get more comfortable with my body). and it can make my whole wardrobe feel new, because i feel new and shiny! also, that red striped skirt is killer!

    as far as the tips, splitting wears and buying too much at a time is a serious issue! i often find myself wearing just one of a thing, after buy 3 because i think i love the style or cut so much, but it’s really just that item that is perfect, and i need to accept it! also remembering the life i actually lead, instead of the fantasy life i think i want to lead keeps me in perspective! i love reading your thought process, your honesty and commitment to change are so helpful and refreshing!

    • Thanks for your comments and thought-provoking questions, Cassie. The grey skirt isn’t really fall weight, but it perhaps FEELS more fall than summer. I will try it with a moto jacket. I am in transition with my hair, as you may have read about in earlier posts – growing out my gray… I will likely cut it more in line with that, but still keep it long enough to pull back. I did wear my hair up with the printed dress before and you may well be right that it looks better that way. I suspect there will be a lot of evolution of my hairstyle over the next few years.

      You are SO right about accepting one great item and wearing it into the ground rather than feeling the need to buy 3 or more of them. I think we should at least wait a while to see if our perceived “need” even ends up being real, as it may not. Keeping our REAL lives in mind is paramount as well and will lead to better purchases for sure. I’m glad you liked my post and got something out of it!

  5. OOO, review time. I find this most helpful so I will join in. I don’t always review but you’re inspiring me and I usually learn or confirm something I already knew.

    aug-oct 2015

    I bought/acquired 20 items. Unfortunately I have to report that two wear lost/suspected stolen. So I’ll just analyze the rest. (stolen favorite was a cashmere poncho for use at work, that I replaced with a cheap poly-cotten one that cost 1/10th of the original- sigh)

    Of the 18 items item that I got to evaluate:
    1 skirt
    2 shoes
    1 pair forest walking/training pants
    1 cashmere sweater
    2 blouses
    1 scarf
    1 winter wool coat (white)
    4 pairs of gloves
    1 pair jammies
    2 gift bracelets
    1 red leather jacket
    1 pair jeans

    I think the easiest category is the things I kept and am using and very happy with…that is 15 of the 18 items. I had planned for purchase of the red leather jacket, gloves, jammies, scarf, and shoes, training pants (10 items). The purchases where well thought through, I had figured how I wanted to wear them beforehand and then the only work was finding the perfect item. Of course, most are accessories and easy to find. But the red leather jacket took work and kept me busy…and away from impulse buying that season.

    The other items I am happy with are more impulse buys which I’ll look at in detail.
    The white wool coat was hanging in my tailors shop as a high quality coat that had never been worn by the owner- and was for sale. I tried it and bought it. It did still cost a bit, it is a label brand, and high quality but was maybe a touch out of style. I wore it several times over the winter and noticed that the buttons, white, annoyed me. I switched them to black metal over the summer and noticed I was much happier wearing it already now. GOOD impulse buy.

    One of the two blouses was an H&M trend buy. It is a deep forest silky green peasant blouse. Totally a trend item last fall and I fell for the styling in the advertisements and let myself buy it after a try on, wait two days, and go back and try it again cycle. (my way of controlling impulses). I have been very very happy with it and have easily used it below my target CPW in one year.

    The cashmere sweater was an impulse purchase that I got when I went to the cashemere shop to buy my poncho. It was just soo cool, a black sweater with white piping, and totally my style. I love it still and used it plenty last winter. It upped my reuse of many jeans and slacks that I had tired of and I look forward to bringing it back this winter. I guess once in awhile I just KNOW that something is for me. But that is a rarity I think.

    One gift bracelet was a nice fit to my summer style and I used it plenty this summer. I am glad my freind got it for me, although I wasn’t expecting it and was a little less than enthused when I first saw it. A lesson that maybe some freinds know your style better than you do.

    The last item that I loved, and was impulse, was the skirt. I had a lovely fall morning to myself and was exploring a small town and ended up in a cute boutique selling french imports. I fell completely for a mid length skirt that was very similar in style and length to one I had just purged after many years. The colors were black, burgundy and white. The pattern, style and colors felt right and after trying it twice in the store, I let myself splurge. Agian, it just felt right and I have not regretted. I am so happy to get to use it again this year.

    That sums up the 15 items I bought and love still.

    But there are 3 that did not make the grade:
    1 gift bracelet – well, not all freinds know your style. But I did trade the bracelet to another friend who loved it. So all worked out!

    1 jeans and 1 blouse. For both of these items I would say I was blinded by trends. The blouse is a white lace blouse which was a huge trend last summer and I bought the blouse at the end of summer on sale thinking I had finally found my version and feeling left out all summer. But despite trying hard all summer to wear it, my daughter finally pointed out that it is just not me. So here I was trying to follow a trend and not following my style. The jeans were also a trend was winter, brocade. I bought them because I love brocade but they were a light gold, and not the most flattering cut. I so wanted to participate that I bought them and wore them anyway (light color not flattering on my pear hips) and finally had to admit after three wears that I felt frumpy and unattractive every time. Neither of these items hit CPW before I had to admit that they were losses.

    I have been beating myself up about both of these bad purchases for awhile now. but looking at the total for all of aug-oct, I see that actually I did pretty good. So to the lesson learned

    1. A list, a plan, is a good thing. Keep making lists and plans based on study of my needs and also allowing wants that are well analyzed on how it will be worn.
    2. Allow a little wiggle room for items that hit my heart, ones that are so true to my style, budget, and lifestyle that they can really work – even when impulse buys. Funnily, this worked best for higher cost items neither of which are trend items. These are classics.
    3. Keep up with my regular routine for Trends of 1. try, 2. think about it, 3. go back to buy. It worked for the one purchase last year and the two cases where I bought trend items without using this tehcnique, are the fails. On the other hand. I do believe we need to be able to try trends to see if they fit us. So the I will keep trends to lower cost items until I know the trend actually suits me.

    That about sums it up. Thanks again for inspiring a little analysis and giving us a forum to share.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your detailed analysis of your purchases from last August through October, Jayne! It seems like you did much better with what you bought those months than I did. Only three mistakes is not bad at all, especially since one was a gift and out of your control. You learned some important lessons from your analysis, too. I like your routine for trying out trends. Good noticing that when you don’t use this process, you often end up with purchase failures. I can tell that your wardrobe planning has really paid off for you, but I agree with you that having a little wiggle room for “heart pieces” is a good way to go, too. Congratulations on your excellent shopping and great noticing!

  6. Yes I review regularly and would general say that my purchases are generally 35% good, 30 % ok, 25% poor, and the good and ok account for 80% of my budget. Looking at Aug to Oct 15 all except one were good or ok, so a good couple of months. The mistakes are generally inexpensive experimental items, often second hand, which can be great buys, but are often mistakes and although they are individually inexpensive the cost mounts up so I need reduce the number. To make fewer mistakes when I shop I decide what the first three occasions and outfits I will wear the item will be, what I have already that I could wear instead, and whether this is actually that much better, or necessary if I have something ok already. I plan complete outfits for different activities and work out how many I need and how many I have. Mistakes tend to happen when I get bored with my own style and when I buy oddments, rather than planning complete outfits and identifying what is actually missing to complete them. I like the print dress on you too, and maybe it’s worth taking the dress from your husband to a tailor and asking if they can restyle it to fit and suit you better.

    • Thanks for sharing your numbers and useful tips, Lynn. Your percentages are similar to what mine usually are, but I think my numbers were lower this time around. I often make mistakes with secondhand pieces, too, which is why I have stopped buying so many such items. I still like the “diamonds in the rough” I find that way sometimes, but like you, I need to minimize them because the money does add up. I love your suggestions for avoiding shopping mistakes. Thinking of the first three occasions and outfits for a potential purchase could help to save us from buying on impulse. Interesting idea to restyle the dress from my husband. I did think about maybe making it into a skirt, but that may be too much work. My tailor is always very honest with me, but sometimes I have neglected to listen to her! If she says it would be too difficult or risky, I will pass it on.

  7. Another great article! I’m just coming around to the idea of documenting and reviewing my purchases. I can see how useful an exercise this is.

    With regards to your on-the-fence items:

    I love that black vest for you, and I think you should try it with sleeveless items, including that black tank, which I also love on you. You have fabulous arms, so why not give us all free tickets to the gun show? 😀 😀 😀

    I don’t care for the striped dress. I can’t tell if it’s the cut of the garment, the weight of the fabric, or the lay of the striped pattern, but it has this strangely box-like effect, and seems like it can’t quite commit to being fully avant-garde, which would make it deliberately strange, and therefore, interesting. This dress seems sort of wishy-washy.

    I think though, that you have the stature to pull off interesting geometric or origami-type shapes and ideas in your clothing. So maybe keep that in mind if you decide you want something edgier in your wardrobe.

    I like the grey skirt, and I think you’ve styled it well in the photo, with the burgundy sleeveless top.

    Regarding the print dress, and the dress from your husband…. so many wonderful style writers tell all of us, ‘Dress for the body you have now”. If the dress your husband gave you is too small, or it fits, but you feel self-conscious (and not in an exhilerated, happy way), donate it, or give it to a friend. A gift is (usually) intended to convey love, appreciation, well-wishes, and happy thoughts for the recipient – not guilt or obligation (usually). Why not borrow a page from Marie Kondo or Flylady, and thank the dress for the happiness it gave you, in the form of having a loving, caring spouse who wanted to show you that love? And then donate. Or, as Flylady would say, ‘bless someone else with that dress, by releasing it from your home’

    • I appreciate your feedback, Mary Beth. I hadn’t thought to pair the black vest with the black tank, but I will give it a try. Thank you for the compliment about my arms. 🙂 I tried the striped dress on again yesterday and I think it looks better on me now than in the picture on the left. It was actually taken in since that time (and I’m a bit heavier). I’m going to try wearing it and see if I like it then. I definitely want to wear more of the geometric / origami-type shapes you referenced and this is on my radar screen for next year.

      The one print dress (in the last photo above) still fits, but I would like it better with less weight on my frame. I think it’s feasible for me to fit into that one again, but probably not the one from my husband, plus I feel that style is too “prim” for me. I liked Lynn’s suggestion to restyle it, but I also like your input related to KonMari/Flylady. You’re right that the gift was about love, not guilty or obligation. I don’t think my husband would want me to feel bad, but he would want me to learn from the experience, which I feel I have.

  8. Last year I did quite well, just 8 items bought, and all but one have been well worn. However I got a shock when I compared the total with this year’s figures – 16 so far for Aug-October. I was aware I had bought more, but the comparison made me realise just how much! A very useful exercise, I am glad I noted this so can put a brake on things in the period leading up to the winter sales (I always like to buy things then)

    • Congrats on your great success rate with last year’s items, Alice! I’m glad the exercise helped you to see how well you did last year and also realize that you want to slow down your current shopping. It’s good that you will prepare for the time when you like to do more shopping during the winter sales.

  9. Hi Debbie,
    I really like the dress from your husband on you. The abstract print and colors are very modern and the lines of the dress are very flattering on you. Still if it is too small, I am sure he would not want you to be uncomfortable. Maybe you both could look for a new one together? I see what you mean about the cobalt earrings – they look a little “earth mother” to me. (Not that I don’t rock that look on occasion!) Maybe with your dark hair, they don’t provide enough contrast? Maybe a bolder or brighter piece in silver and lapis? Then again, once your hair goes gray, they might look great. I tend to give my scarves and costume jewelry to the senior center in town since they have a little store. I figure that someone can enjoy them. I think other things look better on you than the striped dress and black vest but if you feel great in them, keep rocking them! I guess I am hesitant about wearing large prints away from my face since I like the focus of my outfit to be on or near my face. (I do like the striped dress with the bright pink topper. I think the bright color balances the stripes.) I can’t tell what the gray zipper sandals look like up close but they do seem to have more of a casual feel. Didn’t you have some sandals dyed blue? How did those come out?

    I forgot to mention that I do have another question that I am asking myself when I buy things now, “Do I like this item better than similar items that I have now?” Unless I am replacing something or buying a multiple of something that would make my life easier, this question helps keep me from buying more of the same just to have something new. (I still have a place for new for the sake of new but I balance this kind of purchase with other kinds of purchases.)

    • The printed dress shown is not the one from my husband, Maggie. That one was actually purchased at a consignment store. I still like it, but it doesn’t fit me as well as I’d like at present. I’m going to hang on to it and hopefully it will work better soon. The one from my husband likely won’t ever work for a variety of reasons, but I’ve been afraid to tell him (but I’m sure I will soon). Good points about the cobalt earrings. Maybe I will hang onto them and see how they work with my lighter hair. I like your idea of passing on accessories to your local senior center. I’m sure others DO end up enjoying them.

      Yes, I did dye some sandals not long ago. They were already blue but were a paler color. I dyed them (rather, I had them dyed) to more of a cobalt/teal color and like them a lot better now! It’s great when things like that work out! I like the question you ask yourself when buying things and feel it would be very helpful, especially since I do tend to buy things that are more of the same. Thanks for sharing that, as well as your other feedback.

  10. Aside from reviewing the clothes you bought and don’t wear them, keep track of how much you spent on those items. That can be a shocker and change one’s shopping habits.

    • That’s a good suggestion, Carol! I do keep track of how much I spend when they come in, but I don’t look at that number when things go out. I will give it a try and see if it helps me to buy less and shop smarter.

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