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.
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: 7 (2 short, 5 long)
- Blazers: 1
- Vests: 2
- Dresses: 1
- Skirts: 4
- Pants: 8 (6 long, 2 cropped)
- Jeans: 3
Here’s a bird’s eye view of all of those items:
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)
- Bottoms/Dresses: 16
- Toppers: 10
- Shoes: 6 (including 3 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.
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):
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: 2 (1 gift, 1 from exchange)
- Bracelets: 2 (1 gift)
- Rings: 1 (gift)
- Scarves: 3 (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:
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 all of my past KonMari posts 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.
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.
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!