Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Needs vs. Wants

So, getting past the 20th was a real challenge for me (my 'reward' coupons for my favorite store expired). I don't think I've ever been off the hook for not using them before. Baby steps here people! I didn't buy anything for myself and I'm thrilled and a little relieved. I don't know why I feel compelled to spend, as if it was the last sale or last coupon ever.

Something I did do though is spend $10.49 and $15 at etsy.com on some vintage children's books for my little girl- the exact books my mother used to read to me. I used eBay earnings to make the purchase and couldn't be happier- there is STUFF, and then, there is stuff that has a value that the price tag doesn't reflect. These books are like that to me- and clothes, no matter how much I enjoy them, don't compare. I'm still fighting my shopping demon- I have $25.49 less to go towards clothing for myself, and it stings a little. Being a minimalist rather than a maximalist will take time. I'm too used to having my cake and eating it too!

But back to my wardrobe- the things I keep finding that I actually need are not the things I like to shop for. I need a pair of replacement black flats and I need to replace my 'handbag' that also is a diaper bag and lunch bag in the way I use it. It's beginning to fall apart, same with the shoes. It's not been those things I've been pining away to buy! I need to focus on the real NEEDS more and less on the latest and greatest from my favorite stores!

One last revelation I've had deals with something that Debbie Roes calls 'benchwarmers'- items that you wear extremely infrequently (her definition I believe is less than 2x a year). I still have a lot of benchwarmers despite a smallish,  recently culled closet. I pulled out one of my benchwarmers on Sunday to wear- a pretty black open cardigan with chiffon and lace layers in the front. I love the style of it and always pick it first to keep in a cull. Well, now I know why it's a benchwarmer- it is too small for me. I've made this mistake too many times (buying things a size too small) and I feel like I finally have learned my (expensive) lesson. And again this morning- I tried to wear my black leather jacket (see worn here). It's also too small (I outgrew this one), which is why I never wear it. How many times have I tried something on, didn't like it/felt 'off', and just put it back in the closet instead of in the sell/donate pile? I always assumed I wasn't doing it right and would find the perfect outfit for it later. I need to start trusting my gut instinct, and asking myself WHY!

Sorry for the rambling/haphazard content of this post!

Anyone else have any recent revelations, or have anything to share?


  1. I am really enjoying the introspection and honesty in your recent posts, Meli! I'm glad that my "benchwarmer" concept is useful for you. Part of my reason for coming up with the term was to challenge myself (and later, others) to actually make a decision about such items. These pieces often languish in our closets for months or years, leading us to believe we have larger and better wardrobes than we really do. The fact that you tried on the cardigan and the jacket forced you to face the truth that both are too small for you. I have experienced similar things and I know the guilty feelings of realizing that something never worked and was a waste of money.

    You are making really good progress, but I know it's hard to go through what you're going through. You're pushing yourself and that will lead to a lot of growth, and growth can be painful while we're in the midst of it! Like you, I was also shopping for things that I liked to shop for instead of what I really needed. That led to a bloated wardrobe filled with many similar pieces. I bought the easy things like tops and my pants collection just got more and more shabby. I'm glad I'm focusing on my real wardrobe needs now, but shopping is definitely less fun. I'm trying to find more fun in other activities that will serve me better in the long run while focusing the shopping I do on getting what I really need. If you find those black flats and a new handbag, you will feel more satisfied with your wardrobe over the long-term. Keep up the great work!

  2. Thank you very much for reading Debbie! The honesty part is hard, firstly I have to be honest with myself. I've managed on 'autopilot' for so long I never noticed really what I was doing or the reasons behind it other than what was immediately on the surface. You've certainly made me take a deeper look!

    It's sad to admit that I've found my very large wardrobe to be so unsatisfactory in so many aspects. The things that work for me and fit well are in the minority- maybe 20% or less of the wardrobe I had last year. And that is post cull from last year. I probably had 350+ items of clothing in my wardrobe last year. Now I'm down to about 90 items of clothing (not counting scarves/necklaces/shoes/etc) and that number is constantly shrinking as I am honest with myself about the things I own, how they fit, and if they work for me. The bad part is the more I realize what the real situation is, the more of an impulse I feel to buy new things that do work for me. On the flip side, I recognize I don't NEED that much more and that I need to edit carefully rather than add new items with abandon. I WANT selection, but I know I don't NEED it and that it would compound my problem. I want to minimize and I still have the old 'maximalist' in there. Divided into two!

    Isn't it funny how we have things we LIKE to shop for, and things that we don't? Boring black flats, and a purse for a girl who is NOT a purse girl. I'd much rather buy tops too haha.

  3. I get it for sure. Sometimes the line between need and want can be murky.

    I am not a shoe or handbag gal myself, especially shoes, I have always hated to shop for them yet I do need them. In fact I need a pair of neutral sandals for this summer and I am dreading it a bit. And I need to replace my tall brown leather boots...

    It is a bit better now that I shop somewhat differently. I did a lot of thinking about the specific qualities I wanted in shoes and bags and try to stick to it. Then I hunt for the best quality shoes or bag at the best price [usually consignment]. It works ok. :) At least I am not barefoot, still a work in progress!

    1. I really like your idea with figuring out exact;y what you want and then hunting it down at the best quality/price. Definitely something I should practice, and not just with things I don't like buying!