A rather long hiatus – and a shift in shopping approach

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I realize I left this blog, pretty much unannounced, roughly 3 years ago. I felt like I was treading the same ground. Buying lists, and purchase plans, and closet analysis. It felt like the same theme just tweaked over and over. So I decided one day I’d had enough of repeating myself. I also found an online group to talk clothes with, which filled my need to still have a say about shopping and fashion. So I simply stopped blogging about it. During that time away I still was trying to track and control my wardrobe. For about another year and a half anyway.

Then, I started to just – let go. It started with my very old laptop finally dying, and all my outdated spreadsheets and templates with it. First I searched for comparable replacements. Eventually I decided I no longer needed such detailed tracking (obsessing?) about just every last clothing item I bought. I settled on a stock photo of an item, with the price paid in the caption underneath, and stored in a Windows folder. I am now, this year, also using a simple budget tracking app on my phone and just enter clothing items as they’re purchased. I have an easy running total for the year. And that is enough now. I can see at a glance what I have:tanks pic

And what I’m spending. Enough to stay accountable. Simple enough to not obsess.

budget (2)

Ends up, the more you focus on something, even if you are trying to change habits, the more you tend to engage in that very thing you may be trying to free yourself from. Late last fall, someone in the Facebook group I frequent and I decided we were going to do our own ‘no plan’ shopping plan. We’d both had enough of the rules, and self imposed guilt if we bought too soon or too much or whatever. This was only decided after the years of tweaking and refining on both our ends, to the point we finally ‘trusted’ ourselves more. 

I can’t say it’s worked out perfectly. But I have spent much less, on items I’m more likely to wear, and most importantly – obsessed a LOT less. I am not just buying everything and anything that catches my fancy. I’m still mindful of what I actually need or will wear. But after a bit of deliberation, I now just order something if I think I want it, and find out if it’s a winner or loser. No waiting X number of weeks until the next ‘allowed’ buy then returning, reordering, etc, dragging it out for weeks on end. I’ve had spurts where I’ve brought in too many items, like this very month at 5, but overall I’m being sensible. And ultimately, allowing myself the freedom to buy what I want when I want has tempered my constant desire for the next thing.

I was doing this to myself, the denial and waiting and anticipating only to find I often needed to return the latest object of my desire anyway. This was keeping shopping foremost in my thoughts. Even while I was not actively buying, I was planning to buy. It was taking up a lot of mental real estate despite me not actually buying and keeping a ton of clothing. By loosening the reins and the rules, I’ve gained more freedom from shopping. It’s not as big in my life. And that’s a step forward as far as I’m concerned. 

Footnote: I’m not sure how ‘back’ I am or in what capacity, but I kinda wanted to share my new direction and that I am indeed, still trying to keep a MOderate closet.  

Halfway Point

It has been months since I’ve posted.  I have been doing my bi-weekly shopping plan, and it’s been working just great.  I get ahead sometimes, but then catch back up to pace with a week or two off.  Mostly, though, I’m finding 2/3 of what I try needs to be returned.  This is mildly annoying but part and parcel (pun intended) of online shopping.

What I have had very little of, is new things that sit unworn in my wardrobe.  I have had a couple maybe not so great choices but most were home runs.  Maybe I’m being pickier knowing I can only have that ONE thing every couple weeks.  Maybe I’m homing in on what I truly need or will wear for my actual lifestyle.  Either way, I’m very happy with what I’ve bought this year.

At the halfway point, here is what I’ve bought, and returned:

halfway.JPG

The returns are higher than I’d like, but again, better to send it back than keep it and not wear it.  I’m a bit on autopilot with my shopping these days – in a good way.  Not much obsessing and when I do, I am now just getting the dang item.  Half the time it’s not as great as I hoped/thought it would be.  But then I’m freed up from searching and hunting and price comparisons for hours online.

I will always like clothes and like to shop, but I feel like it is settling in the proper priority spot in my life and that’s the real goal of moderation for me.  This means less focus, and less posts, about my process.  That’s only natural.  I will be sure to stop back at least for the 3/4 mark and of course year end.  But maybe not much more than that.  And that’s a good thing.  Really.

Shopping Plan 2017 – Update 2 Months in

I started my shopping year just after Black Friday.  I did this last year as well, but tried to ‘fudge’ the numbers to make them fit into my plan and this year decided to just face my reality.  I shop at year’s end.  There are good sales, I have gift money to spend, it happens.  That puts me 2 months in to my 2017 shopping year.  Let’s see how I’m doing.  Here is what I’ve purchased so far:

2017-feb

This first list is my yearly plan, which is based on frequency of buys.  Last year I found I had a few buying spurts that I needed to rein in.  So this year the rule of thumb is one item every other week.  If I get ahead of schedule, I need to wait out the next purchase.  Also, I don’t have to buy anything just because it’s been 2 weeks, rather I want to slow down the overall rate of purchases.  In this regard, I’m doing fine.

One thing I want to note is the timetable for online purchases isn’t as smooth as A) I bought it B) I wear it C) I’m done.  The cardigan from Modcloth still isn’t here, for instance.  It is on a 3rd exchange.  I’m debating how I want to deal with such time lags due to returns and exchanges. (It shows one wear because I did try it out for an afternoon and then realized the sizing was off and exchanged for another size).  Anyway, it’s more a skewing of how it looks like I’m not wearing something for months, when in reality I just don’t have it to wear!

others-2017

This second chart shows my basics and gear, not included in the every other week plan.  Last year I incorporated all buys into one long list, as I realized a lot of my shopping was for these ‘extras’.  Why would I go back to separating them?  Well, I flushed out that category pretty well last year and now am in a place of just replacing as needed.  Also, these items are for home or workout so they are not assimilated into my regular wardrobe.  They go into the gear/basics drawer and don’t get figured into ‘outfits’.  (I want to note that the moto leggings are intended for workouts, but I know I also want to incorporate them into some athleisure outfits, so they went into the main shopping plan.)

These purchases are largely driven by need, not want, and so they aren’t an impulse issue for me.  Bra worn out?  Get a new one.  Sweatpants were 15 years old with too low a rise, and hand me downs to begin with (yes, true story). Buy a new soft pair for yourself.  Cold toes, buy some socks.  You know.

I do think that I want to slow down even these ‘needs’ purchases.  It could be that I simply reviewed my lounge attire and found the need to upgrade at just the same time that I joined a gym’s boot camp class and found need for some gear upgrade.  But going forth I’d like to keep these buys from coming in chunks and space them out more as well. Maybe one to two a month, as needed, if needed.  Thinking on that still.

Lastly, here is my Shopping List for 2017 and how it’s coming along:

list-feb

I have purchased 5 items from my list.  The hoodie dress has not arrived, and it may go back, making for 4 list purchases.  As mentioned, I have several gear and basics purchases racked up already and am easing off there.  Overall I feel good about my shopping so far.  I am making careful choices, and returning where something is not quite right.  It makes for a bit of a merry go round, but in the end, what stays ends up getting worn.

I am in the depths of winter right now, and we had tons of snow.  This has meant little more than work, working out, and staying home for me.  Not a lot of opportunity to dress up in outfits and go run about town.  Heck, couldn’t even leave the house for days on end, but that’s another story.  Consequently,  my regular wardrobe has not been utilized much and I can see a period of little buying while I get back in there and start putting some looks together again. I think buying pauses are natural, and I look forward to one (or more) during my year’s plan.

I believe this plan will work well for me.  I’ve got a good base wardrobe and just need some replacements and updates here and there.  But I don’t need a lot of stuff anymore.  I don’t feel restricted too severely and it’s hitting that sweet spot for me so far. Will it continue to satisfy once seasons change and the new pretties come out to be perused?  I hope so.  Stay tuned!

Great Cost Per Wear, or a Casualty of Casual?

I was looking back on 2016 purchases on my spreadsheet and the CPW of the items.  Great news!  I did better this year than ever before.  Many items over 10 times worn, some above that.  Only a handful under 2 (swimsuits, yoga wear, and dresses that were only season appropriate).  This should be cause for celebration, right?  Sort of.

On the one hand, I’m buying more for my actual lifestyle, and therefore items are getting a lot of use.  This is great.  But unfortunately I’m sliding into more casual than I’d like.  My most recent buys were jogger sweatpants, an asymmetrical sweatshirt, and a striped tee.  Recent gift for Christmas a grommet hoodie.  All very casual items.  Which, in and of itself, isn’t bad in any way.  But I find I’m getting lazier with outfits.  I’m throwing on jeans and a tee and heading out the door.  It’s fine, but it’s not inspired in any way.

Part of the issue is that I really do live a casual lifestyle.  Work is in a restaurant and greasy floors and salsa spills are a reality.  I can only do so much with work outfits.  And that is fine.  I do what I can.  Life outside of work is in a very outdoorsy, active town that also tends towards casual wear.  Not a lot of sidewalks, for instance.  Mountainous terrain.  Not really the place for heels.

So my challenge has always been to buck the societal norms a little but still not look completely out of place.  I think I zeroed in so much at year’s end on items I could wear the most often that I lost sight of putting that little zip into my look. I recently realized while studying an inspiration look I’d torn out of a magazine, that the juxtaposition was what really made it stand out.  This is what I’ve been lacking.  Balancing boyish with feminine details, and drapey with a fitted tailored item.  Contrasting textures and styles.  I intend to refocus on creating more interesting looks, even the most casual ones.

marie-claire-inspiration

In the end, this should only make for even better CPW spread across my whole closet.  I’ll be pulling more dressy tops to go with the everyday jeans, upping their meager CPW.  Putting on an actual jacket instead of an easy hoodie or flannel shirt jacket.  And grabbing the not oft worn vests, and funkier shoes (when conditions are possible – not on snow days like now).

Sure, wearing your jogger sweats, hoodies, and jeans and tees into the ground makes for great CPW, but maybe not the most fashionable ‘look’.  I will still be concentrating on buying things I will actually wear, but I don’t want to lose sight of the style part of the equation.  Good cost per wear does not have to, and shouldn’t, come at the price of looking put together and stylish.  I can have both!   And intend to.

Shopping List 2016 at year’s end

It may not be the end of the calendar year, but it is the end of my shopping year.  I’ve spent my budget (plus about $50 over – oops) and so I’m done.   I’m super happy with how my year’s shopping ended up, despite my late summer mini binge that had me worried for a bit.

Here is what I bought off my list (in blue):

end-of-year

I got some faux Uggs last minute on a good sale, and will instead wait for next year for the sneakers. The jeans I’d ordered ended up being keepers, so that slot is filled.  I did not get a coat or a pair of shorts, but I did overbuy in my dresses category. Everything else felt just about right.  I am cutting back even a bit more next year, with just about one less of every category, but feel ready for that.  I’m in a good place with not many true wardrobe gaps.

I am glad I started listing the basics and gear in with everything else.  It helped me to not view them as sideline items that don’t really count.  They do count.  Maybe more than the other items given my lifestyle and job uniform needs.

My list looks different at the end of year than the beginning.  It changes with my whims and what’s out in the stores.  But that’s fine.  As long as my amount (allotted spaces) stays under control I’m good.  My issue has always been too much stuff, not too much money spent.

One thing I have noticed about this year’s more lifestyle driven purchases is that I am getting a lot more wear out of what I have bought.  In past years I got a lot of ‘pretties’ that I’d wear once or twice by the time the year was up.  This year most things are over 3 wears, and many up  to a dozen.  Awesome!

Budget Breakdown 2016

Seems it’s that time of year again, as I did this post almost to the day last year.  Guess I’m on an internal clock of sorts lol.

https://moderatewardrobe.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/checking-in-on-the-budget-breakdown/

I got to tallying.  This time I included every last thing.  Socks, work shoes, whatever.  Most of my under $10 items are basics like underwear and under layers.  Only one dress and one white tee shirt came in under the $10 mark.  2 items were purged, one of them being $8 plastic sandals that were terrible, and the other a $22 pair of jogger pants that shrank the first wash 😦

  • Under $10 – 7 items for a $49 total
  • $10 to $25 – 13 items for a $204 total
  • $26 to $50 – 15 items for a $533 total
  • $51 to $100 – 8 items for a $506 total
  • over $100 – 1 item for $110 total

I should note that gifts are also included in these amounts, namely 2 cashmere sweaters from last Christmas’s gift money.  Even though it’s not my money, it is money I am allocating toward clothing.  My last purchase of the year is the only one over $100 and it hasn’t arrived in the mail yet, so it may end up going back.  If so, I’m still shopping in a relatively mid to low range – under $100, mostly around $30 or so.   I thought I was spending at a higher price point this year but the numbers don’t bear that out.

Next year is the year of limiting the number of purchases, and not the budget.  That said, I will not be going out buying whatever catches my eye willy nilly, with no care as to cost.  But I really have been wanting to get over the bargain mindset for years now.

Perhaps my spending parameters will look more like this:

  • 6 items under $25
  • 10 items between $25 and $75
  • 10 items over $75

That would be up to $150 in low end purchases, around $500 in mid range, and $750 to maybe a cool grand in the higher range.  About the same expenditure, just spread out differently.  Ideally, the stricter limit on number of items will finally allow me the mental room to spend more per item, and bring up the overall quality of my wardrobe.  That’s the hope!

 

List Update Fall 2016

I am nearing the end of the shopping year and down to the last crumbs of my budget.  I have $100 left.  I got carried away late summer, as I talked about already.  That left me with 3 high priority purchases for the rest of the year – jeans, sneakers, and a sweater.  I got the sweater and decided to make room for a dress I want for an upcoming vacation at the end of this month.  I may or may not be able to purchase both the jeans and the sneakers with the remaining $100.  I’m fine with only getting one or the other.  The rest can wait until 2017 shopping season.

Here is what my list looks like for the year:

2016-shopping-list

 

As you can see,  I overbought in the dresses category and under purchased sweaters.  It should come as no surprise that I now need sweaters more than anything else lol.  This is why I have a list to start with, so I don’t get too lopsided in any one category.  I need to watch my dresses category more closely, as I historically like to buy them more than I do actually wear them.  Next year I have room for only 2.

I didn’t get a coat or shorts, which is fine.  I have plenty of both.  Accessories also got little to no attention this year.  That does not surprise me.  I can use the same bag for up to 3 years straight without a care.  I have plenty of jewelry considering my wear rates (maybe once a week I’ll put on a necklace or bracelet).

What I did get a lot of was basics and active wear.  I hadn’t tended to this category much and it showed.  I now feel that I’m up to date with all categories and am looking forward to a balanced year next year of replacements and updating across the board.

 

Speaking of next year, here is what I have right now in my head.  Things often change as the seasons roll out and what I thought I wanted gets replaced with a newer choice.

2017

I’m excited for 2017.  I think my closet is in a very balanced place and I’m ready for a metered out pace of updating to keep things current.  Just enough to keep injecting a little fun and some trends.

This fall went off the rails a little bit but I’m course correcting and all is good.  I won’t buy much of anything for the next 2 months but I have enough to get by.  I won’t make this same mistake next year, though!

I Have $200 and 3 Months To Go

Or, how I got ahead of my budget by summer’s end.  I was on track all year at $125 per month spending.  Then getting some peeptoe booties in July and the swimsuit ordering caper that lasted into August set my budget back.  I was only into next month’s spending at that point, but late August and September continued to see me ordering many fall items on my list.  Here’s the gory details:

oops-summer

Now I am left with $200 (instead of the $375 I should have at this point) and 3 items I still really want off my list.  Namely, slip on sneakers, jeans, and a sweater.  Ideally, I can slow my roll and buy just one of each of these items a month, up to the end of my shopping year.  First that means waiting until October to purchase the sneakers.  I have 2 pair in mind and slowing down is actually helping me to make a careful decision between them.  At first I wanted the shiny silver Vans.  But then my BF pointed out that I have plenty of silver shoes (he’s right).  So I went back to the wine colored Dr. Scholl’s that caught my eye.  They just scream fall, lol.  BUT, they would not be so great for work because you can’t wipe spills off flannel fabric.  I may end up buying the wine ones this year ($50) and the silver at the start of next ($70).

 

As for the jeans, I don’t have a specific pair in mind, but know that I need more to rotate in for my job.  Now that I don’t have to wear black uniform pants I found that really only 2 pair of jeans are work worthy.  That is, comfortable enough to run around the restaurant in.  A third pair is definitely in order.  I imagine I will spend up to $100 for whatever pair I decide on.  I also think this will be an in-person purchase.  I have ordered jeans online before and it takes a lot of trying on and returning to get the right fit.  This time around I want to go to brick and mortar stores even if that means paying more.

Lastly, I have a few sweaters on my shopping list but know that I can only afford to buy one with my remaining budget.  Either ombre/dip dye or an asymmetric if I’m forced to make a choice.  I have enough ‘regular’ sweaters to get by.  I have my eye on a Vince dip dye on eBay but it’s a bit more $$$ than I have budget for.  Might have to wait until the jeans and shoes are bought to see what I really have left to spend.  It’s hard to see what I like and know I want, but wait on it to see if I can budget for it.  But it’s good for me.  Right??

Basically, I got carried away the last 2 months and am going to have to pay the proverbial price for it to get back on track to finish out the year. I think I can do it, though.  I’m excited to try anyway.  I know realistically I don’t need anything for the remainder of the year.  But we know it’s not just about what we need when it comes to clothes shopping!

Athleisure Capsule

I had been meaning to attend to this since the start of the year.  Other things took priority, but now I’m focused on flushing it out.  Last week I got some Skechers, mostly for work at the Mexican rotisserie, but they also could cross over into athleisure apparel.  I bought some Athleta tights yesterday and Sanctuary joggers today.  Both should arrive soon.

In addition to these new items, I have the following already in my closet.  I just need to get in there and get mixing and matching!

I also have plenty of true ‘gear’ items, for running and yoga, which I may or may not decide to mix into the capsule.  PrAna, Adidas, Reebok, Nike, and the like.  The above are more a nod to the idea of sporty wear without being true technical fabric, sweat-it-out, gear.

Not listed, but obvious (I hope!) are the t-shirts and tanks to layer with/under everything.
I’m not really sure how it will pan out, but I’m eager to try.  I don’t want to feel or look like I literally just got done running or left yoga class.  But I like the idea of a casual sporty look that will be super comfy to boot!

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