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?