End of Summer Shop – intentional vs. unplanned

This weekend is the last of summer and I just now finished up my seasonal shop.  I spent a good amount of time and energy in acquiring swimwear.  The other buys were actually quite unintentional and things I just stumbled upon happily.  They might be some of my better buys this year, so I am giving thought to the happy accident vs hunting down of a listed item.

The swimwear was a toss up between a designer style that I really liked vs better fit of a bargain priced suit.  Not until I was in the moment of changing after work into the designer bottom yesterday to go to a water slide did I make the choice that it would indeed go back.  I’d had a return slated for 4 weeks but was hemming and hawing.  Part of my thought process actually went like, “if I have the complete set, resale will be better on eBay someday.”   Well, spending $60 on something I’m not comfortable in now to maybe recoup some money later is obviously silly thinking.  I mean, I even ordered 2 sizes in this bottom and the larger size did not offer more coverage.  It’s just too skimpy.  Period.  End of story.  Move on!

swim separates

swimwear capsule 2016

Since making that decision, I went back and reordered a suit I’d first returned as maybe being too tacky.  I think the mesh along with the bright red color was what had me questioning it.  I went with the white version this time and think that will keep the ‘sexy’ down and make it more wearable.  Reordered just the top in red, to go with my black board shorts.  Again, enough balance to counter the possible too sexy vibe.

I know this sounds like a lot of back and forth and it was.  I don’t like to spend so much time and energy on shopping for things.  But swimsuits are hard even when you can try them on in store.  Ordering them online makes it all the much more involved.  Can’t fake bad fit with a bikini!  That said, I’m glad it’s done and I look forward to a month or so of little to no shopping.

The other items I got I stumbled upon at both Ross and TJ Maxx.  The blush and cobalt tanks from TJ Maxx were actually on my list (I’d been hunting online but not found the ‘ones’) and the wrap dress at Ross was truly an impulse buy in every sense.  I think sometimes just grabbing what appeals to you across the room can be a good thing.  As long as it is not the default shopping mode you engage in, that is!  Often times I find I get so focused in finding the _____ that I become a worse shopper.  I end up funneling my search through, say, color first instead of seeing the garment as a whole – its texture or drape.

I’ve done this with a red dress for several years now.  I have tried three, none of which I ever wore.  The most recent I returned right away, as the color was off.  It has me wondering why I think I ‘need’ a red dress anyway.  I like the color on me.  But beyond that . . . I don’t have a good answer.  Maybe just a red topper over a black dress would be fine.  Or better.  Maybe I have to let go a little of the gaps I think I need to plug in my wardrobe and just be more open to finding items a bit more serendipitously.

After all, this unplanned for wrap dress is a world better than any of the red dresses I’ve been hunting down!

Calvin Klein wrap $21

Off Balance – yet again

Or, the saga of working three jobs. Yes, I have no one but myself to blame – and I am in the process of getting back into a reasonable routine.  But in the meanwhile I’ve let the blog posts slip onto the back burner.

I am still steadily shopping off my list.  Had a bit of a back and forth returns saga with sizing swimsuits recently.  I have a red dress on order right now to hopefully replace one I bought last year that was an ‘almost’ that I never wore.  Also a yoga tank that might be long enough to stay down without tugging.  But moreover I’m trying to get my career track back in the right direction.

I tried a retail job, branching out from food and beverage.  I didn’t really like it but I stuck with it as the job I ‘should’ have with benefits.  Fast forward a year and a half and I’ve taken on a second food and beverage job in addition to the golf course, and finally gave notice at the grocery last week.  It’s been a hard couple of months transitioning between all the jobs but I knew when I took on the 3rd that I’d give up the grocery eventually. And for those concerned, I do still have health insurance, so that’s all good😉

I tried something new and gave it a good try, but it’s okay to say, “that’s not me, this is what I prefer.”  In the end, be true to yourself.  Once I’m back to a few days off each week and a regular schedule, I’ll have the time to wear more of my clothing again.  At the moment it’s uniform to loungewear, to bed, back to uniform.  Rinse, repeat.

So that is why I’ve been so scarce here.  I am still plugging away slowly at my list, trying to be patient and get just the right _____ that I need.  Sometimes I get caught up in the returns merry go round, but it is better than settling for second best and then needing to upgrade that item anyway.   I think clothes shopping is in its proper place in my life at the moment.  Sure, I think about it more than most, but I’m keeping on track and within $50 of my yearly budget at the moment.  I’m looking forward to a great fall, back on track with the kind of work I enjoy and a schedule that gives me more time to live my life!

Needs, Wants – Can’t We Have Some Fun?

The other day I wrestled with online shopping to fill a void of time.  I did need some things, but mostly I was feeling anxious and restless and was using the searching and hunting to assuage my unease.  I did not buy anything at that time but instead went online to a Facebook group I belong to End Closet Chaos.  It helps sometimes to just get it off your chest lol.

I was looking at shift dresses I’d had in and out of my carts for a couple months.  The heat is here and what is more perfect that a light, airy dress to beat it?  But I work 6 days a week right now and have no time to wear a $200 shift, even a $60 one, to warrant such a purchase.

But I do need, and have also been looking on and off for, tanks.  A casual relaxed fit for my summer social activities and also wearable to my new job, and a black workout one for yoga.  So, I turned my search to the true need of the moment – tanks.  Put some in a cart.  And then walked away.  Went to my shift at work and left them there.

While I was at work, one of them went off sale.  This is an online site where sales are a daily thing honestly.  I decided I could do without that particular black tank and started searching for a different one.  Noticed the new sale (see, there is always a sale going there!) included . . . . shift dresses.   At this point I told myself, “hey, self, you want a shift and you know it’s a want, not a need.  You need tanks.  You can have both this way.”  I ended up with 2 tanks as planned, and a $8 shift just for fun.  Felt totally fine with this choice, not as if I’d ‘caved’.

twist shift dress $8

When I think it through, I’m happy if I focus 80% of my shopping on what I need and have fun with the other 20%.  Used to be the opposite was how I spent my clothing budget.  Maybe the shift won’t work out.  Or maybe I will only have 2 or 3 occasions to wear it this year with my crazy schedule.  I can deal with that on deep sale, not so much the $198 version that first caught my eye.  That would be a large part of my budget spent toward a frivolous item and I’d never get reasonable CPW from it.  I still want to have fun with my wardrobe and occasionally buy something I simply want, but not at the expense of filling those needs first.

The Bare Minimum

There is a lot of talk about how little we can/should get away with buying and still have what we need.  A year shopping ban is popular on one site.  Some extremes like the lady who wore the same dress for a whole year.  I got to thinking how it would be a great experiment to only buy one item a month next year.

And then I started to wonder about the basics.  How does one not shop for a whole year but have a bra that’s still in good shape?  Socks that aren’t holey in the heels?  For me, uniform pants that have not faded from black to a dull grey?   What do we really, truly NEED every year, no matter what?   Even if I turned off all enticements through pictures and blogs and magazines, I still need those basics to get out the door every day.  Mine are likely different than yours.  Here is what I’ve come up with:

  • 7 pack of ankle socks for work
  • bra
  • undies
  • black uniform pants
  • work shoes
  • running shoes (every other year)
  • sports bra (every other year)
  • layer top(s) for both lounge/sleep and under uniform

Those are just the base needs.  Now if I add in likely replacement needs for the normal wear of my closet I also have:

  • replacement tee(s)
  • jeans
  • leggings
  • sweater(s)

I am already at a dozen with no ‘fun’ shopping for a new trend or silhouette I’d like to try.  Hmmm.  Some of you may be into shoes – that adds even more to the list.  (I have enough shoes to get me by for a couple years, truth be told, since I wear Danskos to my job and only pull out the rest for ‘fun’ outside of work.)  Now if you like handbags, you’ve got another category.  And on and on.

So, I approach these big plans of limited yearly purchases with a bit of skepticism.  They sound awesome and life simplifying, but just don’t pan out that way when I start to look at my needs.  Realistically I will likely always be buying a couple things a month on average.  And that’s okay!

Have you tried one a month?  Or the 5 piece French wardrobe?  Something similar?  Did you find your needs didn’t fit into the box?

Checking In – What I’ve Bought So Far

Almost halfway through the year, it’s about time I get to listing what I’ve purchased!  I used to keep a running total of the ‘out and about’ clothes I wear to get dressed up to go move about in the world.  I had a separate list, below that main one, of basics and gear and layer or lounge pieces.  This year I decided to put them all together.  Truth be told, I was buying just as much of the little extras I wasn’t counting in my item total.  And quite honestly, with my lifestyle, I spend far more time wearing the ‘extras’ than I do the going out clothes.  So, no more demotion to second stage for them!  They’re part of the group now.😉

Here is what I have purchased as of the end of May:

2016 budget June2016 so far

Two items have been purged.  One (the blue jogger pants) shrunk, and the other (jelly sandals) were just terrible quality and I never even wore them.  They were an impulse $8 buy online that just didn’t work out.  Win some, lose some.  Also in my totals are three gifts.  The cashmere sweaters were bought with Christmas money and my red Toms were ordered with a birthday gift card.  For now, I am including these dollar amounts in my yearly total even though it was not technically my money spent on them.  I still see it as money I allocated toward a clothing purchase.

Including $30 in return postage and $25 in alterations, I have spent $622 for the year so far.  This equates to $125/month, which is alarmingly right on track for the $1500 I envisioned spending for the year.

I thought I was pretty much set for clothes this year and just looking to update and refresh in general.  I’m seeing that, although that might be the case, wardrobe upkeep still means buying regularly.  For me, at least.  With what I know now about my wear rates, and desire for variety – I realize my buying rates will continue at about a 3 item per month average.  This allows for a basic of some sort most every month, with the other items being a new trend and a replacement or upgrade for a garment that is wearing out.  This seems like a reasonable and sustainable plan for me.

That’s where I’m at for 2016 so far.  How’s your shopping plan panning out?  On track?  If not, do you have a method in place to get back on track?  Or maybe your plan just needs adjusting to your reality.  ;)


I realize I’ve been missing in action for 2 full months now!!  This was completely unintentional but also makes sense, in that I don’t want to post just for the sake of posting.  I wait until I have something I feel I want to share or say.  I have been busy trying to sort out life.  Job issues, changing dynamics in friendships and my relationship, altering some long standing habits – big stuff.  The clothing has taken a backseat.

I have still been keeping with my list to shop, and am on track with budget for the year so far as well.  I just have been seeking moderation in so much more than my closet.  Guess I’m dealing with midlife stuff.  I tend to coast along in the comfort zone, whatever that may be, rather than make changes that can sometimes be difficult.  This year I have taken more of a driver’s seat in my own life.  It’s different.  And others don’t always react well when YOU are changing and they aren’t.  But it’s important, and good for the soul, to take charge of your own destiny (as much as any of us has control that is lol).

Getting back to the closet . . . Lately I found myself purchasing basics and gear, or althleisure oriented, items.  This is great, since I’ve historically bought the ‘going out’ looks but spend most of my time dressing for the other categories in my life.  Better to be buying for the categories most worn, if not most fun to shop for.  Though, I  must admit, I am finding the athleisure/gear kinda fun.  Why not look cute playing tennis or riding your bike to the beach?  This also ties in a bit to some of my life changes.  I would rather spend my off time being active outside having fun than sitting in a bar or eating out.  Not that I don’t love a good happy hour with snacks now and again!  But I want to experience life, not just sit through it.  Luckily, most of my friends like to do both. I’m hoping for an awesome summer filled with days of fun in the sun.

Changes to my work schedule will allow for that.  Last year I had stretches of 2 and 3 weeks straight of work, missing out on fun times others were having.   Not this year.  I had to do some finagling, dealing with insurance,  and long discussions with my BF but I have arranged to do part time at both jobs so that I can have normal days off and live more of a full life.  This makes me happy.  That I made the choice.  I did the legwork of dealing with the insurance red tape.  I confronted the boss(es) and told them what I was, and wasn’t, available for.  I took an active role.  It’s my life.  I get to decide how to live it.🙂

I promise I’ll be back with a shopping and closet inventory update.  It’s 1/3 the way through the year and a perfect time to take stock.  Until then, know that I’m still seeking moderation in my shopping, but also in my life as a whole.


Mountain Town Casual – Updated

A little over a year ago I posted about simple, day in the life, outfits I wear. https://moderatewardrobe.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/mountain-town-casual/

Just a couple days ago I found myself in basically a newer version of the flannel look from the old post.  I’d purged the shirt a few months back for just being too short. Been on the hunt for a replacement pretty much ever since.  Found Old Navy’s boyfriend flannel but it sold out before I could buy it.  Reappeared last week on eBay.  Swoop.  The jeans were purged, as mentioned, just after the photo was taken. The newer dark wash ones are my go to these days.  Still have the blue boots, but wore my newer, plum version for a shot of color.


Old Navy BF flannel

I like the newer version so much more.  Fit is the main reason.  I need to remember it is THE most important factor. Proportion is worth paying attention to as well.  That little bit of length in the shirt makes a big difference.

“Flannel and Jeans – part Deux”.  Lol.