I recently issued the following challenge to myself: No buying clothes – of any kind – for two months.
Okay. Deep breaths, deep breaths.
Have you ever stopped to really consider your shopping profile? I did, and it was a little scary. Some facts I stopped denying realized:
- I am a sucker for sales (curse you, LOFT, and your 50% off storewide sales that you seem to be having every single week!). I will often buy things I don’t need because they’re on sale.
- I will often go shopping and buy myself something just to cheer me up after a bad day or if I’m in a foul mood.
- I (subconsciously?) often buy multiples of the same or similar item (see example; cable knit sweaters, anyone?).
- Even though I tell myself to use the debit card when clothes shopping, I often use my credit card, knowing that Dr. G. is unlikely to see the bill (hangs head in shame).
- I have the unfortunate (or fortunate?) luck of driving past an outlet mall every day on my way home. I can’t recall how many times I’ve told myself I’m just going to “run in and take a quick peek,” and then left with a bag or two.
- I can validate any purchase; I blame it on my career in public relations and my ability to spin anything.
Most of the clothes I buy are considered “work clothes,” but I only go into work four days a week, working from home on the fifth day. That means that approximately half the week I am in casual clothes: jeans, long sleeved Ts, fleeces and yoga pants.
Yet I can’t seem to resist buying yet another pair of black trousers or wool merino sweaters from Banana Republic, even though – with my work schedule – I’ll be lucky to wear the outfit, hmmm, maybe five times this this winter? In fact, I have several new sweaters that I think I’ve only worn to work once or twice so far because I try to rotate my outfits.
Anyway, it hit me just before Christmas that things were getting a little out of control because, truthfully, I don’t need anything. I admitted to myself what my husband has been saying for years: I have a lot of clothes. And I felt a mix of both embarrassment and shame.
Oh, and my closet looked like this.
I knew that if my “no shopping” mission was going to work, I needed a closet overhaul so I could take an inventory of what I had so I knew exactly what I had to work with.
I started by pulling everything out of the closet and sorting my clothes into four different piles: keep, donate, tailor and “hang on to.” Let me explain.
Keep and donate are pretty obvious, although my donate pile was divided into two: general donation and two old Ann Taylor pants suits (which are probably circa 2004?) that I might see if I can donate to Dress for Success. Anyone done that before?
Another note about the keep pile: I tried to look at my clothes with new eyes and think of ways to repurpose what I already had. For example, could I take that summer dress, add a cardigan, tights and boots, and turn it into a winter outfit? I found that to be the case with a few dresses, so I paired it on the hanger with the cardigan as a visual reminder. We’ll see if this works.
Shockingly, I didn’t have as much in my tailor pile as I expected. I think because if I was on the fence about something (maybe it was still kind of cute but totally didn’t fit and was really old), I just put it in the donate pile. But I did find these two dresses.
I don’t know what it is, because it’s not like I’m short (I’m 5’6), but so many dresses hit me in that awkward, matronly length: longer than knee-length but not quite a fun, retro tea-length. I tried these two dresses (worn a total of four times combined) on for Dr. G. and we both came to the same conclusion: if they were hemmed to knee length (and taken in a bit), they’d be pretty cute.
Plus every girl needs an old reliable LBD.
The “hanging on to” pile included the items that don’t really fit but, for some unknown reason, I still can’t bear to part with … at least not quite yet. So these will go into large Ziploc storage bag in the attic, with the hopes that I’ll revisit them again in a few months to make another decision.
Once I got through sorting, I put all my clothes back in the closet in a more intuitive order than I had before. Blazers, suits and dresses (the items I wear less frequently) on the far side of the closet, followed by skirts, cardigans, blouses and work pants on the near side. My jeans were piled on the shelf, along with my casual/weekend sweaters.
I dedicated an entire vertical hanging shelf to my gym clothes, which sounds crazy, but kind of makes sense when you think that you use certain gear for certain sports (e.g. padded bike shorts for spin class, running capris, etc.), and also need season-specific items, like running tights and long-sleeved shirts vs. running skirts and tanks.
The other hanging shelf included random items like my work sweaters, BU sweatshirts, short-sleeved Ts and swim suits.
In the end, I ended up with this.
(I also went through the items in my dresser – not pictured here – which contains my work shirts and casual weekend tops, pajamas and my all-important “comfies” that I change into the minute I get home from work.)
This whole exercise was a real eye-opener. Not only did it force me to get real about my spending habits, but it showed me that I have WAY many more clothes and outfits that I thought (and more than I need) and that, really, I don’t need anything. It also reminded me of some cute, functional items that I forgot about and can now re-introduce back into my wardrobe.
A few other observations:
- It’s really good to go through your clothes every now and then and, with a critical eye, determine what still fits and what does not. I’ve recently lost my post-Mimi baby weight but – in a total “What Not To Wear” moment – I didn’t really notice that I have been wearing things that don’t fit properly or are not flattering (trust me: no one looks good in pants with either a saggy crotch or rear).
- I noticed a scary amount of older clothes in my closet, items I haven’t worn in years. In fact, most were purchased pre-kids, meaning they are at least seven years old. Yikes. Even if they still fit, they were woefully out of style. To the donate pile they go!
And, most importantly, Operation Closet Redux gave Mimi more room to indulge her shoe obsession.
So there you have it. I’m giving myself two months but I’m hoping I can hold out for three, until the end of March. Wish me luck!
Tell me: Do you think you could go two months (or more) without buying clothes?