2016 By the Numbers: Budget, Purchases, and Purges

I hope you all liked Esther’s “story of recovery” that I published last week. I felt it was well worth interrupting my 2016 recap posts (see the first two HERE and HERE) to share such an inspiring story with you.  If you enjoyed reading about Esther’s journey and want to learn how others have been able to overcome their shopping and wardrobe management challenges, click here. What I love most about the recovery stories is how varied they are, as it illustrates that there’s no one right way to reach peace and freedom around shopping and our closets.

2016 clothing purchase and purge update

It’s time for my final “by the numbers” accountability update for 2016.   I already covered my wardrobe “all-stars” and “benchwarmers” earlier this month.  In today’s post, I’m going to look at the remaining numbers surrounding my wardrobe and shopping for last year:

  • My budget
  • My purchases
  • What I purged from my closet

Year-End Budget Report

After not sticking to my clothing budget for over ten years and struggling with overshopping for my entire adult life, I was able to come in under budget for the first three years of this blog (2013 – 2015).  I’m happy to report that I can add 2016 to that list as well!  Although I often cut things right down to the edge, I’ve been able to achieve something that just didn’t happen until I started “Recovering Shopaholic.”

The accountability and introspection this blog has provided have made a profound difference in both my awareness and my behavior – and I’m so grateful for that.  I’m also happy that I’ve been able to help some of you gain more knowledge about your shopping and wardrobe management behavior and achieve more of your goals in those areas (and I wish you more of the same!).

As a reminder, my 2016 budget for clothing and related purchases (shoes, accessories, alterations) for was $2500 (the same as for 2015 and down from $3000 in 2014).   When all was said and done at the close of the year, I had spent $2498.72.  I told you I cut it close, but I still did it and I’m proud of that.  However, because I spent too much during the summer months, I had to “white-knuckle” it toward the end of the year to make sure I still met my budget.

I would prefer to more evenly space out my spending throughout the year, which is one of my reasons for taking on an every–other-week shopping plan this year (see this post for more information).  I have actually purchased only one “out and about” item thus far – a pair of jeans, as I’ve been focusing on replenishing my lingerie and sleepwear capsules early in the year.

2016 Purchase Report

Below is a summary of what I purchased during 2016.  At the beginning of the year, I set an item limit for myself in regards to “out and about” clothing since this has been the only wardrobe area in which I’ve continued to buy too much.  I opted to limit my “out and about” purchases for the year to 36 items.  I ended up struggling with that benchmark as the year progressed, so I raised the bar to 45 items back in August.

Out and About Items

Fortunately, I was able to meet my revised item limit goal.  I ended 2016 having purchased 45 out and about garments, which was definitely too many but still a third or less than what I used to buy before starting the blog.  I also received 5 garments as gifts, which are not included in my item limit but are included in the tally and photos below.

Let’s look at how that number breaks down by category (items that I later returned – quite a few – are not included in the count):

  • Short-sleeved tops: 6
  • Long-sleeved tops: 14
  • Sleeveless tops: 4
  • Cardigans:(2 short, 5 long)
  • Blazers: 1
  • Vests: 2
  • Dresses: 1
  • Skirts: 4
  • Pants:(6 long, 2 cropped)
  • Jeans: 3

Here’s a bird’s eye view of all of those items:

New 2016 Out and About Clothes

These are the new “out and about” clothes that I added to my closet in 2016. 

In addition to those 50 out and about garments, I also added 6 new pairs of shoes to my wardrobe (shown below), three of which were gifts.  So to sum things up more succinctly, here’s what I bought – and was given – last year in terms of out and about wear:

  • Tops: 24  (including 5 gifts)
New 2016 Tops

I added these 24 tops to my closet in 2016 (5 of them were gifts). 

  • Bottoms/Dresses: 16
New 2016 Skirts and Dresses

I added one dress and four skirts to my wardrobe last year. 

New 2016 Pants

Pants are hard for me to find, so I was pleased to find these 11 pairs last year. 

  • Toppers: 10
New 2016 Toppers

I added these 10 toppers – cardigans, vests, and a jacket – to my closet last year. 

  • Shoes: 6  (including 3 gifts)
New 2016 Shoes

These are the shoes I added to my wardrobe in 2016, three of which were gifts. 

In retrospect, I think I added at least a third too many (and probably more than that) new “out and about” items to my wardrobe last year.  This is a big part of why my goal is to reduce the number by about half this year.  Because I also purged a lot of pieces last year (see below), my overall closet size has remained fairly steady, but I’d like to see my wardrobe gradually become smaller over time, mostly by means of attrition.  I think I’m ready to have a new lower closet set point now that I’ve been maintaining my wardrobe at roughly half of its pre-blog level for a while now.

I’m going to be a lot more deliberate about what I add this year and have been gradually compiling a revised shopping priorities list that I will review (and revise if necessary) each time I make a purchase.  Awareness is powerful, which is why taking the time to do these end-of-the-year reviews has been worthwhile for me – and hopefully helpful for you, too.  My progress has been too slow at times, but I do see growth in terms of making more successful purchases that better suit my lifestyle.  Of course, there is still a lot of room for improvement, but I am moving forward.

At-Home Items

I also bought 21 items specifically for wearing at home or for walks/workouts:

  • Short-sleeved tops: 11
  • Long-sleeved tops: 3
  • Toppers: 4
  • Pants/Shorts: 2
  • Slippers: 1

Here’s a picture of most of the items above (the shorts are not included):

New 2016 At-Home Items

These are 20 of the 21 at-home items that I bought last year.

I actually have a lot of crossover these days between my at-home and out and about wardrobes, especially when it comes to tops.  Many of my items now do “double duty” and thus are receiving a lot more use, as I spend the bulk of my time at home.  The items mentioned in this section are those that I only wear for walks, workouts, and when I am at home.

I need to fill in some gaps in my at-home wardrobe this year, but I don’t expect to buy more in this category than I did last year.  Rather, my plan is to have a larger percentage of my wardrobe be appropriate for most of my activities, so I’ll keep that goal in mind when I shop.  As long as a garment is comfortable and not too dressy, I can wear it at home as well as when I’m out and about.


I added more accessories to my wardrobe in 2016 than in the previous year for three main reasons:

  • Gifts: Many of my new jewelry pieces were gifts from family members or friends.
  • Gray Hair Transition – I purchased quite a few headbands, headscarves, and hats to help me get through the process of growing out my gray hair (I have passed the 9-month mark now – see the last update HERE).
  • Accessory Swap Event – When I attended the Texas meetup in late July, we had an accessory swap. I picked up quite a few items there, some that have become favorites and others that will likely be passed on this year. It’s good to entertain new accessory ideas, but sometimes they don’t end up working out.

Here are my new accessory numbers for 2016:

  • Earrings: 14  (6 gifts, 5 from the ECC exchange)
  • Necklaces:(1 gift, 1 from exchange)
  • Bracelets:(1 gift)
  • Rings: (gift)
  • Scarves:(1 gift, 1 from exchange)
  • Headbands/Headscarves: 17  (1 gift, 1 from exchange, too many overall!)
  • Hats: 6
  • Purses: 3

Here’s a look at some of my new accessories, but I don’t have photos of all of them:

2016 New Accessories

Here are some of the new accessories that I acquired last year, many as gifts. 

The total number of new accessories I added to my wardrobe in 2016 was 48, which is a very high number.  Granted, these items don’t take up much space in my home, but it’s still too much.  I intend to add very few new accessories this year and I’m sure I’ll do more downsizing as well. As I mentioned last month, I have been revisiting the “Love it, Wear it” Challenge that I did for the full year of 2015.  This challenge is helping me to better understand what I do and don’t wear and will inevitably lead to my letting go of more clothes, shoes, and accessories that no longer serve me.

There will be another meetup in April (here in San Diego!) and we’ll be doing the swap again, so I will likely round up everything that I don’t love and offer it up there (easy to do because I won’t have to pack any of it!).  I’ll probably do another KonMari session before that time so I can identify what does and doesn’t “spark joy” (see past wardrobe KonMari posts here – the ones on other topics are HERE).

2016 Purge Report

Now let’s look at the flip side of the equation, those items that left my closet during 2016.  This section is not quite as comprehensive as the previous one, as this post is already getting quite long and my purge records are not as detailed as those for my purchases.  I know that my actual purge numbers are higher than what I’ll share below, as I let go of some items that I didn’t track, including undergarments, sleepwear, workout clothes, and additional accessories that I didn’t make note of.  In terms of what I do have records for, here’s a recap of my 2016 purged items:

  • Clothes: 53
  • Shoes: 9
  • Accessories: 27
  • Total Items Purged: 89

Again, the actual number is probably larger than 89, but I’m only going to report on what I know for sure.

The Clothes

Here’s how it breaks down by item type, starting with the clothes:

  • Short-sleeved tops:  16
  • Long-sleeved tops: 5
  • Sleeveless tops:  7
  • Cardigans: 4
  • Blazers/Motos:  4
  • Coats: 1
  • Casual Jackets: 1
  • Vests: 1
  • Dresses: 3
  • Skirts: 7
  • Pants: 3
  • Jeans: 1

Many of the garments I purged were old and tired, but some of them were either ill-advised purchases or pieces that didn’t wash and wear well.  Short-sleeved tops have been particularly problematic for me in terms of not lasting anywhere close to the 30-plus wears advocated by the sustainable fashion initiative.  As a result, I solicited feedback from readers, which I compiled into a quality t-shirt resource post back in November.  Since I had exhausted the majority of my 2016 clothing budget months earlier and the weather has been cold, I have yet to try out the recommendations, but I plan to do so soon. I don’t need to replace all 16 t-shirts, but I do hope to find at least 5 or 6 that are comfortable, stay in place, and hold their shape after washing.  Fingers crossed!

In addition to the items mentioned above, I also currently have 22 items in my “hidden holding zone.”  While some of those pieces will come back into rotation if and when I lose the rest of the weight I gained last year (thankfully, some of it is already gone), I expect that the majority will leave my home in the coming months. I didn’t include these items as part of my purge numbers, as they are technically still a part of my wardrobe, although I haven’t worn many of them in months.  They are in a sort of “way station” or purgatory at the moment, but I find that it’s effective to get rid of most things in stages.  I probably only bring 10-20% of the hidden holding zone items back into my closet, but having such a system for purging makes it easier for me to let things go (and it sometimes allows me to “rescue” pieces that still have a purpose in my wardrobe).

Shoes and Accessories

In terms of shoes, jewelry, and accessories, here’s what I purged last year:

  • Sandals: 5
  • Boots: 1
  • Flats: 2
  • Pumps:  1
  • Earrings: 9
  • Necklaces: 8
  • Pendant: 1
  • Bracelets: 5
  • Rings: 1
  • Scarves: 3

If you want to read more about my jewelry purge and my process, I invite you to check out my April post, “The KonMari Method in the Jewelry Box.”  You may also find this post helpful if you’re looking to pare down your jewelry collection.

Where the Purged Items Went

Just for grins, let’s look at where my purged clothes and shoes went (most of the accessory items were passed on to friends or to the Jewels for Hope charity, which raises money to fight juvenile diabetes):

  • Items consigned/sold: 28  (25 garments, 3 pairs of shoes)
  • Items donated: 33  (28 garments, 5 pairs of shoes)
  • Items trashed: 1  (a pair of shoes that was at least 10 years old)


So there you have it, full accountability on how much I spent last year, how many items I bought, and how many things I got rid of.   Yes, I wish I would have purchased less and not had to pass on items that hadn’t gotten 30 or more wears, but I continue to improve each year.   I hope to lower both my purchase and purge numbers considerably this year, as I’m now in a much better place with my wardrobe. I love and wear a much higher percentage of what I own and I don’t buy nearly as much for a lifestyle I no longer lead (or maybe never did!).

Like with Esther’s “one-a-day giveaway” process, my progress has been slow.  However, unlike her journey, my improvement hasn’t always been all that steady.  As I wrote about in August 2015, recovery is usually not a linear process.  For many of us, it occurs in stops and starts with setbacks along the way.  The important thing is to keep going and keep trying. I’m not proud of some of my shopping and wardrobe behavior and numbers over the four years since I started this blog, but I am proud that I haven’t given up – and I intend to keep striving and moving forward, fast or slow.

This is the last of my numbers-related recap posts, but I still have one more 2016 update to make – about how I did with my balance theme for the year.  I’ll share my thoughts on that topic shortly and also fill you in on what my 2017 theme is…  If you have yet to select a theme for this year, there’s still plenty of time to do so, as there are almost 11 months remaining in 2017 (but hasn’t this first month gone by fast?!).  This classic blog post from “Always Well Within” provides a great overview on how to discover the right word/theme for you.  If you’d like more step-by-step guidance, this free 5-day e-mail class takes you through a fun process to help you find your word.

Your Thoughts?

Now it’s time for you to share your thoughts and report on your accountability for 2016, if you’d like to do so.   Here are some questions to help spark your thoughts:

  • How did you do with your shopping and wardrobe last year?
  • Do you feel that you purchased an appropriate number of wardrobe items, or was it too much – or too little?
  • Did you end the year on a high note, or were you challenged with overshopping and other wardrobe-related issues?
  • What do you plan to do differently during 2017?
  • How many items do you see yourself buying this year?
  • What plans do you have in the way of wardrobe downsizing?

Feel free to share your wins, challenges, questions, and feedback in the comments section of this post.  I wish you all the best in 2017 – with your wardrobe, your shopping, and in all areas of your life!

33 thoughts on “2016 By the Numbers: Budget, Purchases, and Purges

  1. I spent far too much on perfume last year, so I have a firm limit of $500 this year. I bought hardly any clothing in 2016 except a few items in the after Christmas sales. Lately I’ve been stocking up on athletic wear as I am now doing yoga 5 days a week in addition to biking. I have been struggling a lot with depression and anxiety (which is part of my menopause symptoms) so I have been spending too much time online shopping, but feel like I am turning a corner and have felt better this week. I am doing a shopping fast for February and hope to extend it as long as I can as I truly don’t need anything at all. My theme for the year is Douceur, a French word that means softness/gentleness. I need to practice self-compassion as I go through this difficult transition period of my life and want to be more gentle and patient with others as well. May we all have a good 2017!

    • Great to hear from you here, Tara. I love your theme for the year and I wish you all the best with that and your quest to spend less on perfume and other things. It sounds like you have incorporated some great new habits into your life. I can relate to the depression and anxiety issues and menopause is surely at least part of it for me as well. I’m very glad to hear that you are feeling better and I hope that continues!

  2. Hi Debbie,

    Thought I over-shopped but you are buying almost one new item once a week. Try for one new item once a month -then you’ll really have to think about what you choose. You could even buy one new item once a month that is the price of the four items you would have bought.
    This way you’ll have higher quality pieces that you wear to death, which is the ideal. Anyway, don’t you find you always wear something all the time or hardly at all?
    There are only 365 days in the year and we rarely need more than three changes of outfits for seeing the same people. And you would have to see the same people three times in summer, three times in winter etc. So three ensembles for walking, three for shopping, three for lunch with friends… etc.
    You obviously make choices about your daily menu so you also need to make choices about clothes. I find I need to shop frequently but without buying anything so I can be very fussy about what I do buy. If it is not going to be worn to death, don’t buy it.
    Also your clothes are often very similar to each other. Remember Bridgette Raes – if always choose this, when would I wear that (similar item) ?
    Just enjoy trying stuff on, rate it out of 10 but don’t think you have to buy it. You obviously like shopping but consider it a process to work out your look. Not something where you have to buy something every time you go shopping. French women have great, very small wardrobes because they are very fussy and very frugal about how they choose their clothes.
    So, enjoy shopping but if necessary keep your wallet at home.
    Good luck!

      • I thought Michaela’s post was very helpful rather than judgemental in any negative way. I was wondering the same things — why buy so many things that look (to my eye anyway) identical, if the goal is to reduce the number of items one is buying. And (again, to me — YMMV of course) buying something new every week is a huge amount of shopping, and how can one possibly wear all that stuff enough to justify the cost of having bought it? I am baffled. This is not me saying Thou Shalt Not buy whatever you want to buy — far from it — it is just that for me, buying a new item every week would be a huge over-shopping issue if it were me. (I am not even sure I bought one item a month last year, let alone a week!). And even though I buy very little, I nevertheless have the feeling that I have too much to get enough wear out of each individual item so I’m wondering just how small a number of items per year one needs to buy in order to wear each item enough.

        Sometimes, reading the thoughts of someone whose perspective is quite different from one’s own makes it possible to suddenly see something that has previously seemed difficult. I thought Michaela’s post was making some very helpful suggestions for how to reduce one’s shopping if that is what one wants to do.

    • I agree with Wendy, Michaela’s post has some helpful points. Debbie herself said she wants to cut down on the ‘churn’, which I think is still an issue for her. However as her style is more settled this should slow down for next year. I don’t agree that it’s a bad idea to have a lot of similar items; first, in reality they may not be as similar as they appear on a monitor (the differences begin in the detail), and anyway, if they represent a style you love then there is really no harm.

    • To Michaela–I really appreciate your setting the numbers out as you did. The three outfits per occasion–also wonderful. Thanks for putting yourself “out there” with your comment.

  3. Even if you bought one thing every day, it’s nobody’s else’s business to judge and FYI, there are plenty of French women with bulging closets too these days, and plenty with shopping issues…

    This year, it’s all about completing what I started and freshening what I have.

    As for freshening what I have, I’m taking a fabric defuzzer (looks like an electric shaver with a cord) and refreshing some of my more pilled clothing. Has helped out some of my sweaters and some lounge pants, some of which now look almost new again. On the other hand, I nicked some of my thinner tshirts which now have holes that I had to patch. Still, overall not bad for $8 or so. I also found that my favorite jacket was getting these little pinholes everywhere, so I took some fusible interfacing (the stretchy jersey kind) and ironed tiny rounds of it where the pinholes were. Most of them disappeared, but some I still have to close up with a hand needle. Good as new!

    I did pat myself on the back for altering a navy coat I had almost given up on. Chopping off 4 inches from the bottom and shortening the sleeves so that they don’t dwarf my wrists really makes it look much better on me. Wish I had done it sooner. I also took a hand needle and fixed a down jacket that was starting to get a hole at the pocket due to the stress of the zipper being opened and closed all the time. I was thankful I could save that one, as it was expensive.

    Looking forward to my holding zone shrinking and putting some of my refreshed and updated clothes back into service.

    Also, I may look into sewing my own bags. Have always been intrigued by that.

    • Thanks so much for sharing, Jane, and good for you for all of the fixes you are implementing to help give some of your clothes new life. The coat in particular sounds like it was a great save. I love your focus for this year and I wish you the very best. Sewing your own bags sounds ambitious but I’m sure it would be very rewarding as well. As always, I appreciate your support.

  4. I always purchase too many things, but I did a little better in 2016. Refining and defining my style is my big project for the new year. I am trying to hone in on what my style really is. I recently filled a bag with my closet benchwarmers and just this week I came up with a color palette I think I can stick to. I am finally becoming honest with myself about what I really wear and letting go of all the “fantasy life” items. I always spend too much in January because all the spring catalogs come out and I want to get all the possible things I want before they sell out!

    • Congrats on doing better with your shopping in 2016, Lori, and for being more honest with yourself about your lifestyle and what you actually wear. That plus refining your style and color palette will surely serve you well and I wish you the very best. It has helped me a lot and I believe that as a result, I will finally be able to buy a lot less this year. Good luck to you!

    • Hi Lori! I did the same with letting go of my ‘imagined life’ and now I’m concentrating on filling holes I had because I neglected buying items for my real life! It is hard though, especially with all the temptation online. Good Luck! 🙂

  5. I agree that it’s nobody else’s business what you choose to buy, but this blog is specifically about helping people who are trying to curb their shopaholic tendencies, so, presumably, people reading this blog are hoping to get help in that respect rather than looking to be cheered on for over-shopping? So suggestions whose aim is clearly to help people shop less are surely welcome rather than constituting unwelcome ‘judgement’? At any rate, I think if you are a person who wants to shop less, and someone notices that you tend to buy the same, almost identical items over and over again, maybe it might be helpful to think about that — not because you SHOULD, but just because you WANT not to shop so much? And if someone also points out that you can’t possibly wear everything you are buying very much at all, given the sheer number of items you are buying, that might help someone somewhere pause and think maybe one item a month might be more consistent with the idea of actually wearing everything instead of just buying it and then bearing the cost of owning too much stuff?

  6. Hi Debbie. It’s been a long time since I visited your site. I started to get sick of thinking about my clothes all the time. It seemed ridiculous especially as we have so many refugees living in the villages around me as they transit through Europe. They have very little and it’s been a harsh winter. I have been involved with the local groups collecting clothes to give to them instead of purchasing more for myself. So, I stopped shopping for some months and gave a lot of things away.

    I feel I still have way too much. Instead of adding more, I have just been wearing what I own and really evaluating these clothes. I divided my wardrobe into 2 – the clothes I love, always reach for and would save in a house fire and the rest. Seeing them like this has helped to hone down what it really is about those things I love and it comes down to shape!!! The clothes in the second category are all things that that I bought because I loved the colour or the print or felt it would be a useful addition but the missing ingredient is they are not the right shape somehow. The pant that does not quite fit well around the crotch, the top that looks too boxy, the shoulder line that sits a bit too past my own, the the neckline that is a bit too high, the collared shirts with pockets that look too fussy on my frame. The clothes I put on and then take off or just don’t feel 100% right in.

    I’ve bought a few things in the January sales but not very much. I’m being much more fussy about the fabric, the shape and no more print, no matter how much I’m attracted to it – I have enough.

    • Good to see you commenting again, Carolyn, and thank you for sharing your insights. I’m getting tired of thinking about my clothes so often, too, which is part of why I’ve been posting less often (I’ve also been busy with other projects and pursuits). Like you, I sometimes feel silly worrying so much about clothes in the face of what’s going on in the world. Our wardrobe issues are surely “first world problems” but they can be a cause of a lot of angst for many. I applaud you for the positive changes you have made. I love your “divide your wardrobe into two parts” exercise. I have done something similar before (like with this post – https://recoveringshopaholic.com/favorite-100-items/, although I probably should have picked a smaller number than 100) and found it quite helpful. Great noticing about what the clothes in the second pile had in common! I think I will do the exercise again based upon what you wrote, as I know it won’t take much time and would be quite illuminating… It’s wonderful that you are buying less and being more selective. Best wishes to you moving forward!

  7. I bought more than I intended (41 items including accessories as opposed to the target of 36), and spent over my budget. Not a disaster, but still a long way to go. Like Carol above, I would like to think a lot less about clothes and particularly shopping, so this is my key aim for this year (style blogs etc are banned, but not this one of course!). I am aiming for a stable wardrobe, with a ‘refresh’ 2- 4 times a year; winter and summer sales, and then something in spring and autumn – just a few pieces each time. Your 24 (1 per fortnight) seems more than enough.
    One thing I have done is to relax a bit about benchwarmers. I reviewed my shoes, and released that about half are worn all the time, and the other half are special – either unusual, brightly coloured, delicate, etc – so rarely get worn. Rather than worrying about this, I’ve decided to accept that I like my shoes split like this. I then suddenly realised that I could apply that to all my clothes – and set up a table splitting ‘workhorses’ from ‘specials’. I think it works fine for me, and I can focus on particular qualities for the workhorses (comfortable, hardwearing, washes easily, versatile, etc) and just enjoy the others for what they are.

    • Thanks for sharing your progress and insights, Alice. It sounds like you did well with your shopping this past year, even if you did surpass your goal somewhat. As I mentioned above, I’d also like to think less about clothes and shopping this year and I have unsubscribed from style blogs as well. I still have a few favorite blogs bookmarked so I can visit them occasionally, but I no longer feel pressured to keep up on reading the posts. That has been freeing… Your goals for your wardrobe and shopping this year are quite sound and I also like your position on benchwarmers. However, I feel that your special pieces aren’t really what I had in mind when I conceived of the benchwarmer concept. I think that it’s perfectly fine to have special pieces that one loves but don’t see a lot of use. The problem is when we keep things we don’t wear AND don’t love out of a feeling of guilt or obligation. I’ve done that far too much and still do to some extent. It’s definitely an area of growth for me, as is shopping less and better, but I don’t hold on to as much as before. Best wishes with your goals this year!

  8. There were a few very similar comments above, so I thought it would be best to make a single reply here to address them and others that might potentially come in. I did not state or even imply that the amount I bought last year was optimal or even okay. In fact, I wrote at least three times that it was too much and I explicitly stated in this post and previous ones that I plan to buy a lot less this year (my one item every-other week shopping plan). It is not really my goal to be a wardrobe minimalist, but I do want to buy less and shop smarter.

    I do learn a lot from readers’ comments and I appreciate some of the suggestions above like having three outfits for each life occasion and shopping without buying to get a better sense of one’s preferences and the quality of items (which doesn’t always depend upon price). Goals like those and having less closet churn are valuable and well worth considering and doing. I appreciate the courage of those who shared about their own journeys and answered some of the questions I posed at the end. The main goal of this blog is to increase awareness and make positive changes, however small or gradual they may be.

  9. Well after reading these comments and musing on my own instant reaction (too much churn – no judging- I know you are working on it) I got inspired to have a look at how I was going and think about implementing a Mo style shopping list. It’s really interesting to go over my tracking and see what I’m wearing. While I don’t over spend I really have too many clothes and could easily not buy anything for the whole year but as most of us know it’s not just the needs, its the wants that are the problem. Weight fluctuations always make it difficult, lots of things that were great last year just aren’t this year, I don’t want to get rid off them but it means a big number of my clothes are packed away for the hopeful future. Strict time limit on that one I think. I think tracking is so useful, I found once I counted my day dresses, now at 17, I can look at pretty ones and say “no I have 17 ! that is more than enough” All these posts and comments make me think a lot more about what I buy and if it’s just ok I don’t buy it. I want great clothes, not just ok. And my numbers and amount of wears really drive home to me I have plenty. Action plan for this year when I’m tempted to shop, exercise instead 🙂 Hopefully that will help with the packed away ones. Also I have to agree price is not always a reflection of quality, I have had some great cheap clothes last heaps of wears, getting down to 30c per wear and more expensive stuff sometimes just doesn’t go the distance. Definitely this blog has made me think about clothing and shopping in a new a better way, thanks Debbie.

    • I’m so glad this blog has been helpful for you, Cathie! I agree that tracking can make a big impact on over-buying. Most people have little idea how much they have and how often (or not) they wear their clothes. It’s been a huge eye-opener for me, but of course there have been emotional issues driving my overshopping and those have been more challenging to address than the concrete, logical considerations. It sounds like you’re on the right track and I wish you the best of luck with your plan. Exercising is generally a much more productive activity than shopping!

  10. Lately, I have been thinking MORE about frivolous things in order not to explode from the turn of events in the U.S. and world at large. I know my limits as a too-sensitive older female. Not a shopaholic, I find the habits, thoughts of those who do shop more intriguing. It is a harmless escape to shop and fuss with clothes unless you are personally strapped financially. Once again I thank Debbie for good reading.

    • I understand what you’re saying, Helen, and I have also felt more compelled to focus on the frivolous as of late. Knowing that I’m highly sensitive helps me to take better care of myself, but I don’t want to completely bury my head in the sand. I think that with shopping, it’s a matter of degrees. Even if one has the money to shop and isn’t in debt (which is my situation), there is still the time and energy consideration to think about, as well as the waste of having things we don’t wear. I used to think it was mostly about the money, but it’s much deeper than that for those of us with compulsive shopping issues. I’m glad you enjoy the blog even though you’re not a shopaholic. It’s been a big surprise to me that my audience is wider than I initially anticipated, but I’m happy to have a wider reach if others find my posts helpful.

  11. Congratulations on meeting your budget Debbie. Also on successfully updating your style. I spent a bit more than I intended last year after cutting my budget by 25% for the third year running (probably too far). I can see that now I need to enjoy the items I have for a while, to ‘shop my wardrobe’, and not to be constantly on the lookout for updates and replacements. I know I will want to buy some fresh items this year, but am going to try not to buy items that are ‘nearly right’ because I know I have other things that will do until I find the item that is absolutely right and will give me more pleasure. If we are not overspending or harming other people I think we ought to enjoy our wardrobes, shopping and wearing our clothes rather than feel guilty or be criticized. I won’t be downsizing my wardrobe as the items in it are still useful and it would be wasteful to pursue minimalism. I think my focus for 2017 will be mindful shopping.

    • I applaud your honesty Debbie!
      There were some lessons learned last year and reading your blog and comments helped me to admit having the addiction.
      As much as it is very painful to look into my wardrobes like Lynn i will not be downsizing my wardrobe in a hurry as I have done in the past just to feel better (less pain).
      I live in Sydney and we have far fewer consignment shops so the financial loss is part of the pain. I needed to stop reading certain blogs to get a break from the constant search for something new. I also subscribed to 6 week program with Jill Chivers and learned a few things. 2 overseas trips ended up being more about shopping and made me think more about the true nature of my addiction – no longer I can call it passion for fashion!
      It was depressing to get to basics about style because with the frequent avalanches I lost my style! It was a very difficult year realising that I no longer derive joy from new things!
      One major step in a right direction was to buy a small rack and select a few items for a week. It took pressure from looking for something to wear in my wardrobe every day and less confusion, less guilt and also not trying things on and getting depressed because they don’t fit.
      Every time I put moratorium on shopping just like many addicts I blew it. But my selftalk started to change after using some tools for dealing with addiction(12 steps)
      Happy to say that in January I bought only one item, a hat I got to wear as I want to protect my coloured hair from the harsh sun.
      I also have a better financial plan for this year, after a lot of soul searching about what I really, really, really, really want. For me it’s travel and having funds to do it as much as I like. It’s no longer ok to blow 1ok on c,s,h,j per year. How important is having so much variety to choose from or is the variety and volume too overwhelming? My partner is very supportive and gives me positive comments about my style and wardrobe. I am very critical of myself and being more kind and tolerant is part of my recovery process.
      I will keep in touch more in future.

      • Helen, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experience here. I think that you and Lynn are on the right track about not downsizing for the sake of downsizing. I have done that and it’s often led me to go out and buy MORE. I think that we should wear what we have and evaluate if it still works for us in terms of fit and style (and lifestyle), but sometimes we can get rid of things as a way to give ourselves a “pass” to do more shopping (like, “See! I got rid of so much. I deserve to buy a few new things.”).

        I’m a big fan of Jill Chivers and I interviewed her for a post and she also wrote an excellent guest post on the value of a shopping hiatus. Here are those links in case you haven’t seen them:



        I like what you wrote about variety. I think the need for variety varies, but it can definitely get to a place of overwhelm such that it’s counterproductive. I have found that I dress BETTER with fewer items. I still have too much, but I think the key for me is to buy less rather than to do a lot of closet decluttering. I will periodically do a KonMari, but it will mostly be buying less and attrition that helps me get my closet down to a level that is more optimal for me.

        Best wishes to you with your goals for this year. I hope that you can learn to be kinder toward yourself. That is a big area of growth for me, too.

    • Thank you, Lynn. I appreciate your acknowledging what went well for me last year, as it seemed like others ONLY focused in on my buying too much (which I freely admitted was the case). I also appreciate your sharing your goals and insights. I think your goal to wait to buy until you find what’s absolutely right is a worthy pursuit. I find that when I buy the nearly right, I keep looking and often end up buying multiple in a category when I really only needed ONE. Shopping your wardrobe is also very helpful and something I’m focusing on as well. If I don’t look around too much at what’s out there, I’m better able to look at what I already have and see that I have enough. As soon as I go to the stores, search much online, or read a bunch of style blogs, I feel a lack that is much more imagined than real. I wish you the best of luck!

  12. Hi Debbie,
    Kudos as always for sharing! I am still in my fashion and accessories mindful shopping/shopping ban. It has now been 45 days. I did exclude items that help keep me warm from the shopping ban such as warm slippers, long underwear, and another set of microfleece pajamas. I just finished reading the Minimalist’s book “Everything that Remains” and found it to be quite interesting. ( He talks about shopping being a “twitch” that you don’t notice until you stop for a while.) Although I have given myself permission to buy a new sweater or accessory, I haven’t seen anything that I can’t live without so far.

    I will say that having a shopping ban as an experiment really makes you notice the times that you want to shop or just mindlessly buy stuff. It has been great for stopping the flow of unnecessary items into my closet. (I do like the three outfits approach – that is what my mother did.) I do have to find other activities that give me pleasure. I am definitely reading more and am considering taking some sort of fun course at night offered by the town.

    Anyway, there is a certain satisfaction in knowing that you are frequently wearing the items in your wardrobe. I have a certain look for the moment and had to buy a dozen things last fall (usually from Ebay) to create my current “uniform.” It has worked out pretty well. I have worn the same pair of brown Goretex boots every day, and the world hasn’t stopped turning.

    As always, people’s comments always give me food for thought – thanks to all!

    • I appreciate your weighing in here, Maggie. Congrats on doing so well with your mindful shopping / shopping ban. It makes sense to exclude the items you need to keep warm. Great noticing about the times you want to shop and doing other pleasurable activities instead. I need to do more photography again, as I have cut back on it due to health issues and cold weather (for here – I don’t usually need super warm clothes, but it’s been colder here lately).

      I loved “Everything that Remains” and your comment makes me think that perhaps I should read it again because it’s been a few years. Yes, shopping can be a “twitch,” as can things like checking our phones or social media (I have been working on those things, too).

      That’s wonderful that you’re wearing what you have more often and have cultivated a uniform that works well for you. I liked your comment about how the world hasn’t stopped turning. Best wishes to you moving forward!

  13. I’m a little late in reading this post but thanks for posting this Debbie! I always appreciate how in-depth these recaps are and the insights that are gathered from them. I am thankful that you are willing to “bare your soul” so to speak. It takes great courage to share this much with the world! Thanks for your honesty!

    • No worries about the comment being late, Heidie. I appreciate your kind words and I’m glad my posts have been helpful for you. It was easy to bare my soul in the beginning with very few readers, but it’s definitely gotten harder with a wider audience. Those who seem to only want to criticize can get me down sometimes, especially if they share absolutely nothing about their own journey and struggles, but I try not to let it get to me too much. It’s comments like yours that have kept me going for four years. Thank you.

  14. Hi Debbie,

    I for one will be very sad to see the end of this blog. I have enjoyed every moment of your journey, and have learned several things about myself and my own shopaholic behaviors.
    I started a “Year Without Clothes Shopping” September 23rd. An odd day, I know. I meant to start it October 1st, then realized I hadn’t shopped in over a week, and back-dated my start date. Until that point, I shopped several times a week, frequenting my favorite stores’ websites to see what new (and oftentimes duplicate) gems I could uncover. I completed Project 333 several times, I did your LIWI challenge, I was up for all of the “games”, but I equate minimalism with poverty, and I am having a hard time getting past that. Plus, I love color, so I could not limit myself to two neutrals plus two-three accent colors. I have come to accept my limitations, lol.

    As far as “churn” or “splitting your wears” go, if I had to describe my perfect outfit, it would be a white top, navy bottom, plus a topper (could be nearly any color other than beige, black, or brown). I love white tops! I just saw a capsule (5 pieces = 10 outfits) with one white top that was worn 7 times. I’m sorry, but I will not wear the same white top seven out of ten days just to lay claim to being a minimalist. (I wore a new white top yesterday. I bought it last summer, but just cut the tags off as I was putting it on. I had a department meeting first thing in the morning, and the first thing I did was spill my cup of coffee down the front of my brand-spanking-new white top. Good thing I didn’t need to be able to wear it six more days!)

    All that being said, I am a fan of mindful shopping. I am going to not shop for a year, and then evaluate what I have, what works, what needs to be updated and/or replaced. I record what I wear every day, and one of these days I may even transfer the information to a spreadsheet.

    So, in my rambling way, I want you to know that I deeply appreciate your blog and your unfailing honesty. I cheer your successes, and applaud your honesty when you fall short of what you had hoped/planned. We may be the silent majority, but I feel safe in saying the vast majority of your followers are rooting for you and will support you in whatever direction you take this blog.

  15. I appreciate your taking the time to come and share your thoughts and experience with me. I’m very happy that my blog has been helpful to you. I’m grateful to have received a lot more support here than criticism and I know there are many out there who don’t comment but still enjoy reading and benefit from what I share here.

    Like you, I have struggled with the concept of minimalism as well and I don’t think it’s for everyone. Even those who do want to embrace a more minimalist life and wardrobe can define it in a way that works for them. It doesn’t have to mean having only ONE white shirt, for example. I feel much the same as you there. If you wear white tops all the time, why not have a few? But to each their own… I think that mindful shopping is really the key and shopping less or having a hiatus can help with that. I wish you the VERY best with your year without clothes shopping! I’m wondering if you’ve read the guest post that Jill Chivers wrote on this blog about the value of a hiatus. She includes a lot of wonderful tips and suggestions there that could benefit you and others: https://recoveringshopaholic.com/how-a-shopping-hiatus-can-help/

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