Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 2014 Budget

See last month's budget post here!

$1800/year, can add in gift cards and ebay sales. I targeted $600 for November and the rest to be divided out monthly. See original here.
No more than 45 items total for the year- changed to 25 items. Items must correlate with my shopping strategy- updated to shopping questions.

Spent this month: $19.04 ebay after fees, $135.35 out of pocket
Totals: $597.42 out of pocket, $146.71 on gift cards, $219.11 on returns and eBay earnings.
$1202.58 left for the year out of pocket.

10 new items entered my closet this year so far total, including gifts. I can buy or recieve up to 15 more items this year.

What Came In:

Purse from Kohls, replaced my worn out grey bag. $69.39 with taxes. This was not selected after a lot of thought- it was a rushed purchase. I needed to replace my falling apart bag in time for an interview I had scheduled. This was the best option under $75 that was big enough to fit what I needed into it. I'm not a purse girl, and one day I'll get a really nice one but this one works and I like it against my work clothing and my hot pink spring trench coat. 8/10.

Tailor- $85

I had the tailor add darts to my colorblock dress for waist definition. What a difference! Before the dress was pretty but I never would have worn it because of the silhouette- too straight for me. It was around $35 (originally $160) so I wanted to risk the alteration. With the darts, I now have a classic, beautiful, fitted sheath dress!

I had my polkadot dress hemmed to the knee. This dress was mid-calf length and was my college graduation dress. With the hem to the top of my knee, I can now get some wear out of it!

I had the hem fixed (fell out) of my pinstripe editors, hemmed my rerock jeans and my dark grey jeans for flats, and hemmed my too-long black pants for heels. 

Again, similar to my February Budget post, getting these items tailored gave me more options (hello two summery dresses, jeans, and black trousers!) and made me feel like I do when I purchase new items- excited to wear them and happy to have them! 

This was the last of the items in my alterations bag, but I have two tops I may have taken in/hemmed depending on how I feel after wearing them again. They already had the straps shortened but aren't quite right yet. I may end up commiting an alterations mistake with them, but I already own them and have invested the $ and space, so another $10 each may not mean anything at this point regardless of the result.

All told, I was a little over my budget this month because of the tailoring. At first I was going to do only a few things but then got everything done instead. I'm $26.26 over for the month.

I'm $161.05 over for January-April all told from where I should be this month ($436.36). I'm certain I can make things balance out in the coming months. I am leaving November's budget of $600 in place because I plan to get a coat and winter boots, both fairly expensive items (though hopefully not that much)! Next month I plan to get a pair of low heels for my shorter trousers and a replacement pair of flats, both true needs at this point.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Editing the Rules

The Good News

I was amazed when I did my wardrobe count and found that, including everything I own, I have 78 clothing items, 68 accessories, and 18 pairs of shoes for a grand total of 164 items. I'm pretty darn excited about this and may get the number even smaller as time goes on! To toot my own horn, 78 items of clothing vs. 261 a few months ago is a drastic improvement- I let go of 70% of my clothing! I do feel bad about the sheer waste that these numbers imply, but I am determined to look forward and see how far I have come rather than look backwards and cry over spilled milk!

The Bad News

The funny thing is that even with a much smaller wardrobe, I still have unworn items- 42 out of the 164 as of March 31st this year, more than 25%. Worse, 63 of those worn have been only worn 1-2x, leaving only 59 items worn 3x or more (only a bit over 35%)! I do have to remind myself that seasonality does come into play, as my data is currently only based on January-March, and more unworn items like my dresses and sandals will be worn in the summer. But the overall picture, using data that is already 1/4 of the year, is that I have too much still! When I remember that my goal is to wear everything 10x or more each year, it really motivates me to be more discerning and to further purge the waste. Every item I purchase just adds to the problem in this perspective.

Changes for the Future

My goals no longer align with my current wardrobe. I originally gave myself permission to buy or receive gifts of a total of 45 items, with a budget of $1800 plus eBay sales for this year. I had set the item limit to be approximately half of what I bought in the year prior (I was too much a coward to total it up, so the number is an estimate). I had a bad year last year- I overspent wildly and haphazardly, bringing home sometimes a dozen of items in a month. Some items worked out well but I also had a lot of turnover, and quite a few things did not work out! My excuse in buying so many things was that I just had a baby and was updating my professional look. In truth I did need new sizes and I did need to up the formal factor in my professional wardrobe, but I still could have done much better both in what I bought and quantity!

Only adding 45 this year seemed very ambitious, but achievable, only 4 short months ago. Now, 45 items in perspective of my current wardrobe is a ridiculously large percentage of what I own- nearly 30%! I'm sick of turnover and I don't want to purge like this every year. I feel like this year will be the 'year of the great purge' for me, after last year's 'year of the great splurge'. In no way do I want this to become the norm for me. Let's hope next year is the 'year of balance'!

So, to keep things in check, I'm adjusting the item limit. I have brought in 10 pieces as of today (nearly 4 months in! 9 were purchased and one was a gift), and have 8 months to go. I've decided to set the bar at an ambitious 25, which is much better at about 15%. It's higher than what I'd like for next year, but enough of a challenge without seeming insurmountable. If I'm successful, I want to try 12-15 items next year, and hope to get to a point where I'm only replacing worn out items and adding perhaps 5 items a year to update my style. 

The Reality

Having only 15 items left that I can buy for the next 8 months only averages just under 2 a month. This will be difficult and will force me to be very choosy and use my shopping questions and shopping list! The shopaholic inside is cringing (but she's begun to take a backseat to my BRAIN in the last few months). Two items a month will be difficult- I am not saying that I cannot do 3 one month, one the next, but that the limit will be tough overall. I still struggle with the compulsion to shop, which is evident in my post-ban binge last month. That said, I may also need to rethink my budget strategy. I originally designated $600 of the $1800 to November for Black Friday sales, but if I am going to do so I need to keep purchasing to a minimum so I have a larger number allotment for November! I'm not sure I am ready to give up the idea of Black Friday shopping, so I need to think about this a bit longer.

Looking Forward

Lastly, it's amazing to think that project 333 is so close to my total (33x4= 132 for a year, so I'm over only by 32 items). I get that project 333 isn't really designed to be a whole new set of 33 items each season. The total number is probably closer to 33 + half that each new season, or approximately 82 items. But overall, I'm making progress! I'm not really ready just yet for project 333 but I never stop considering project 333 in some form or other. I'm currently debating a project 666 (6 months, 66 items) and if I would include just regular clothing and shoes or if I would go whole hog and include accessories and outerwear.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

March Wardrobe Wear

Since January 6th, I've been tracking what I wear. My goal is to wear everything I own (except specific formal wear) a minimum of 10x this year or purge it. Days that I don't leave my house are spent in lounge-wear, which doesn't count. I had 1 day I didn't leave the house in March. This is my progress so far (ending March 31st):

Tops: I have worn 18 of them, two of which has been purged since then and one downgraded, leaving 2 tops unworn thus far. The tops with the highest wear had been my white ruffled blouse and my green printed peplum top, both at 7x each.

Sweaters: All 6 have been worn, and the sweater with the highest wear is my white cable-knit sweater and purple cowl-neck sweaters at 4x so far.

Jackets/Blazers: My burgundy leather jacket is still at the top at 6x now.

Cardigans: I purged two that I wore 1x each. I've only worn 8 of the rest leaving 2 unworn. My black sparkle cardigan has been worn the most at 7x.

Camisoles and tanks: I downgraded a camisole to lounge-wear and purged another that I think I've only wore 1x in the 3 years I have had it. I have worn all 6 of what is left (typo last month). My white camisole has already been worn 15x.
Pants: I've worn 15 pairs so far, but have purged one pair. with my Rerock jeans ringing in at 16 wears, still on top!
Skirts: I have 4 skirts- I had 5 but purged one. I've worn all, with my leopard skirt still on top at 4x.
Dresses: So far I've worn 4 of my dresses. My blue zipper dress has been worn 3x- still on top!
 Necklaces: I have worn 20 so far! My blue stone, black, and my mint 3-strand necklaces have gotten the most wear at 6x each (black and mint repeats on top).
Bracelets: I have worn 7 so far. My black bracelet was worn the most at 5x, still on top!

Earrings: I've worn 11 pairs of earrings. My heart earrings got the most wear at 14x, still on top.

Belts: I have worn 3, my grey pants one 3x.

Scarves: I have worn both 1x.

Coats & Outerwear: I have worn my winter hat and scarf 70x and 71x, my grey coat 72x, teal 1x (too tight still), and my white puffer 1x but have since purged it.

Shoes: I've worn 10 pairs so far, and my black pumps have gotten 31 wears so far! My black winter boots were part of an outfit 12 times so far but were worn almost daily outside, for a total of 68 wears. I wore my grey winter boots 1x and black flats for commute 1x. I expect the black flats to get worn into the ground (already almost are) as it gets warmer out and I use them to commute.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Updated Needs/Wants List

So my newest 'revelation' (which really is just common sense) is that, between my budget and item limit, I'm just not going to be able to check off every item on my list. This means that to get the most out of the remaining 3/4 of the year, I have to be very careful to keep this list updated and to prioritize my purchases so that I get the most out of what I buy.

I have a 45 item limit and a $1800 budget limit this year. I've decided now that 45 items is too high and am currently working to find a reasonable number. I already have added 9 items this year (1 was a gift). I just did a recent inventory and found my total number of items is pretty specatcularly low (for me). I have a total well under 150 counting accessories! Adding/replacing such a high number of items no longer makes sense- that's 1/3 or more of the total!


-Replace black flats.
-Replace tan flats.
-Mid-heel closed toe pumps in a neutral color so I can wear my in-between length pants.
-Replace my only purse/bag.

Nice to Have

-Replace my too-tight grey jeggings.
-Buy the white tiered tank when on sale or equivalent (sold out right now).
-Buy a couple work appropriate tops in prints or solids, no more black, white (see above stipulation), or black & white prints. Specifically teal, cobalt, green, coral, prints/florals, red, berry pink, purples.
-Buy a berry pink/raspberry cardigan.
-Buy a solid black skirt in pencil or a-line shape.
-Buy a work appropriate dress in a bright color or print.
-Buy a white/cream and a light grey blazer or jacket.
-Replace cobalt cardigan, black, and red-orange cardigan with upgrades.
-Replace purple cowl sweater and both surplice sweaters (poor quality).
-Buy gold-toned earrings.
-Buy necklace and earrings in coral and in red.

Future Season Needs (need to leave room in budget and item limit for fall):

Replace both grey and black winter boots- preferably sherpa or faux-fur lined, waterproof, and good traction sole for ice.
Buy a winter coat.

Wish List:

A pair of flat sandles.
Heeled cognac, grey, or brown leather boots.
A pair of booties.
A pair of non-neutral pumps.
A rhinestone style bib necklace.

Shopping Questions

This is a list of questions I need to ask myself before buying anything.  I wish I had been given this when I began shopping for my professional wardrobe! It's been a fun exercise and I intend to keep it (a shorter version) with me when shopping. It's also a good replacement for my Strategic Shopping post, as it's more detailed. I tried to encompass enough details so that the questions would hopefully work for others as well.

Can I afford this item?

This isn't about if there's money in the bank that I can use to cover your purchase. The obvious is that if I have to charge it and don't know exactly when I'll pay it back or sacrifice paying bills or even meals to buy it means I absolutely should not buy it. This is about stopping and thinking about the money I am spending- all of it. Purchase price, sales tax, shipping, alteration fees, return fees, and lost dollars on un-returnables. I also may be able to 'afford' it financially, but what am I sacrificing? Is it eating up every spare penny? Am I not saving/investing as much as I wish? Unable to take vacations or spend in other areas? What am I trading for that 25th (or 50th) top? Am I keeping to my budget, and is my budget realistic, reasonable, and most importantly a WISE use of my money? What about the time, energy, mental, physical, and even emotional costs? What about the impact on other people in my life, or even the ethical and environmental implications?

Does this color work with my wardrobe?

I should have 2-5 'neutral' or core colors that make up at least 50% of my wardrobe (white, beige, tan, camel, brown, chocolate brown, black, light grey, dark grey, navy, olive, etc) and 2-8 accent colors (can include neutrals but make up a smaller % and are my best/most flattering colors). Buying an item that doesn't go with my wardrobe color choices or isn't a flattering color (no matter how much I like it or how pretty it is) means it won't get worn!

Is this item too similar to something I already have? 

'Splitting' the wears of an item is usually not a good idea. If it's a replacement, then I must dispose of the other like item immediately or not purchase it at all. If I 'need' two of the same because I wear it so often- branch out a little bit! Wearing the same thing over and over isn't always best. It makes sense to have similar basics in different colors (camisoles or pants for instance) but no-one needs every color a cardigan comes in! Buying back-ups for when an item wears out is also silly and misguided. For example, my black pumps- when they wore out, I was very sad and wished I had purchased a back up pair. Had I, the current black pumps I have would never have been found- and they are more comfortable and stylish than the last pair! If I choose a quality item, by the time it wears out the style may out of date or not as flattering anymore. Branch out- no-one wants to look exactly the same year after year when so much (both physically, culturally, life-style, and even mentally) changes over time. Take a chance, and I may find something I like even better later!

Does it go with items I already have, or does it require me to purchase 'add ons'? 

If purchasing something requires purchasing other things to 'go' with it, it's most likely not an appropriate purchase. Anything I buy should 'go' with at least 3 other things I own, and I should be able to create at least 3 different outfits with it. That doesn't mean I can't try new things- but I must be careful about how I do so. I don't want to buy things that require other new things without careful consideration of the total cost, not 'this dress is such a steal at $30! I need a new $50 pair of shoes and a new $30 jacket to go with it, I'll take it! That $100 dress is too expensive though.' This is an easy way to create 'wardrobe orphans' that go with nothing and never get worn.

Does this item suit the style I have or am developing? 

Not everything has to be exactly my 'style'. Trying new things is a good thing! But I need to be aware that when my style words are classy, elegant, with a touch of sexy and edge, then items that are bohemian for instance are probably not going to go well. I must focus on my goals, not buying items to try out every new trend and silhouette. It's okay to forgo what is popular at the moment and to stick to classic, tried, and true. I need to be careful when trying out new things, but do try those that make sense and call to me!

Will I wear this item frequently enough to justify purchasing it? 

Buying something for a special occasion or as a 'reward' is particularly tricky. I should never reward myself with clothing, no matter what. As for special occasions-I most likely already have something that will work well for that special occasion, so don't use excuses to justify purchases. I don't need a new dress for every birthday! I also want to get the most out of what I buy- buying five cheap $10 tops that I wear once or twice each isn't worth as much as a $50 top I wear 10+ times a year! Also, spending $100 on a fantastic swimsuit I'll only use a couple times a year is another type of spending mistake.

Does this item fit properly? 

Fit is the most important aspect to consider. If it doesn't fit, it isn't worth purchasing. I should never buy sizes up or down 'in case' I lose weight. If it's a bit too small, I need to stop thinking I'll lose weight and then fit in it!  I must buy for the body I have now (and don't shop/try things on when I haven't eaten anything all day)! Address weight changes as they happen. Does it need alterations? Minor alterations are ok- but I need to figure in the expense when I buy it. I should never try to 'save' poorly fitting garments, and get my purchases altered immediately or don't buy them at all. They do me no good in the alterations bag for months or longer.

Does it flatter my body? 

Is it comfortable, and does it stay put or is it fussy? Try it walking, sitting, moving. Try it on with what I would pair it with. It's hard to prevent purchasing items that I like in theory but end up hating because of the smaller issues. Fit is one important part, but the other is the shape, style, and fabric. I need to be better about testing items out  before buying or wearing them a full day and then can no longer return them. Spending two seconds in the mirror is not enough consideration! I'm too guilty of getting new things, ecstatically putting them on, twirling around for a minute or two, and taking it off and either immediately keeping or returning. That is not enough time to really consider the purchase the way I should.

Is the garment well made? 

I don't want all the effort I put into selecting a purchase to be a waste of time when, after the first wash, it has a hole or fell apart. I need to do better at checking it over and look for signs of poor quality in the stitching or fabric. And even if I like an item, letting it go when I can tell it's poorly made. I've been guilty of doing the opposite in the paste. I need to do a wrinkle release test and do an elasticity bounce-back test. I must choose quality over price, and always take items that turned out to be poor quality back to the store. Stores won't improve quality without feedback and loss of sales!

Is this item appropriate for my lifestyle and my age? 

Buying items for imaginary situations and lifestyles is a waste of money. If I never go to the beach, I don't need beach cover-ups, no matter how nice the idea is and how pretty the magazine picture is. I need to stop convincing myself that if I buy this item, I'll find more opportunities to wear it! If I never go to fancy places, I don't need another cocktail dress no matter how pretty it is or how great I look in it. I'm a grown woman, buying juniors items probably isn't going to do me any favors- they're cut for a different body type. If I rarely wear casual clothes, why would I buy more?

Do I have the space for this item?

If I already have more tops than I can wear, I need to try and address that problem first before I buy more tops. If I can't see or remember what I own, and have to cram my new purchases in among everything else I have, I really should stop and work on that problem first before buying more and adding to the problem. No person needs a different garment for every day of the year. I'm very guilty of all of these behaviors in the past!

Do I need this?

Is this item purchased to fill a real, perceived, or emotional need? Is it on my list? Purchases must align with my pre-determined list of 'needs'. This list must have a lot of thought put into it to make sure everything on it is sincerely something that will fit well into my wardrobe, will get a lot of wear, and is a specific need. I should never leave anything open-ended. Another top for variety isn't good enough. A printed lightweight blouse to wear under blazers with trousers to work- that is specific. The point is to avoid impulse purchases and bad decisions when I'm shopping, especially out of sadness, anger, or boredom! It's no longer about the joy of the hunt, or finding 'bargains' or new things to try. No more emotional pick-me-ups or self-esteem boosters. I need to be practical about my shopping, and not shop with just my heart.

Is this a wise use of my item limit?

I limited my purchases this year 45 or less items total (though I'm considering lowering it- this number no longer makes sense, more on that later). To stick to my item limit, I can't buy everything on my 'need' list. I have many, many items I want to replace and a few I want to add. I need to prioritize my shopping list and stop shopping for fun. If I am going to be successful, I have to start shopping smarter.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Wardrobe Status

I've promised to post my progress a few times and finally got around to fullfling my promise! I had a few moments of pride in writing this post- not only because of where I am versus where I was, but because I could list almost everything (save 2-3 clothing items and the jewelry) from memory and only had to check my closet at the very end!

I have purged additional items this month already, so here is how my wardrobe stands right now:

Blazers and Jackets- 5
I have a classic black blazer, a dark grey shrunken blazer, and leather/faux leather jackets in dark teal, burgundy, and black. Looking in the future for a light grey and white/cream blazer or jacket.

Work Dresses- 6
I have sheath dresses in black, cobalt blue, and dusky blue, a blue cowl neck jersey dress, and two dresses in my alterations bag- a white colorblocked shift dress and a polka dot halter sundress. Looking to add a fun printed dress or bright colored dress.

Fancy Dresses- 4
I have a red lace sheath dress, a sequin mini dress, a bodycon tiered emerald dress, an an ikat printed sheath dress that's too short for work but is really nice for weddings.

Skirts- 4
I have a teal and a black and white colorblock pencil skirt, a watercolor floral and a leopard printed full/a-line skirt.

Work Trousers- 11 total

High heels length- 4
I have a dark grey pinstripe, thick wool herringbone, and black skinny/straight fit trousers and one mid-grey wider striped flare trousers.

Mid heels length- 3
Cobalt blue, black shiny, chocolate brown, and concrete colored trousers.

Flats length- 3
Light tan, mid-grey, and black trousers.

It looks like I have the same but I have not- I actually let one go. I miscounted last time because it was set aside for alterations.

Casual pants- 6 total
Black velvet leggings, grey and dark denim jeggings, dark grey bootcut jeans, dark denim skinnies, denim trousers

Tops- 17

Work- 11
White ruffle blouse, white ruffle tiered tank, white with black geometric print ruffled blouse, black and white leopard print blouse, geometric print black and white tie neck, black and white polka dot print tie neck, black ruffled blouse, black slim tiered tank, coral printed shell, cobalt flutter sleeve top, blue printed blouse, 

Work/Casual- 3
White peasant blouse, green chain print peplum, coral dolman sleeve top.

Casual- 3

Teal plaid button up, multi floral print hankerchief hem top, and grey plaid button up.

I've downgraded the following to outdoor clothing, which I don't 'count' in my wardrobe:

Navy print tank, green ruffle tank, burgundy ruffle henley tee, black oversized tee, coral ruffle tank, and denim shorts. These were added to a hoody and a pair of bootcut jeans already in this category, so 8 total if I was to count. I've never counted lounge/pajama wear and it's also low- 

Black, red surplice, blue v-neck, black flutter sleeve, white boatneck, purple cowl neck sweaters.

Camis and Tanks- 6
White, black, purple, teal lace v-neck camis, white tank, purple lace straight cami.

Cardigans- 10
Blue, teal, teal print, burgundy, red, black, black and white leopard print, purple, black and white colorblock cardigans, dusky blue open cardigan.

That's a total of 75 clothing items!!! Holy cow! And the funny thing is that I still have unworn items so far (been counting for 3 months now, attempting to wear everything at least 10 times this year). Crazy, right?

Shoes- 18 total

Flats- 4
2 purple leopard flats (1 I keep in my desk at work), 1 black, 1 tan.

Mid heel- 2
Green wedges and silver sandles

High heel- 7
Black, burgundy pumps, black cutout booties, black, white&gold sandles, black, brown gladiators.

Boots- 5
Brown, grey, black winter boots, black, brown leather boots.

Necklaces- 26

Bracelets- 10

Earrings- 21

Belts- 7

Scarves- 3
Navy and green print, paisly print lightweight scarves, and black ombre scarf winter.

Hats-1 winter hat

Coats- 3
Teal, dark grey winter coats, 1 coral lightweight trench.

March Clutter Count

The purpose of these posts is to remind myself that I do have enough, and to be mindful of what I bring into my home. I also want to see my progress! I don't list food/consumables or everyday necessary things like toilet paper.

I bought a lot of clothes for my daughter this month. She doesn't need any more I believe, and I may have gone too overboard. This is an area where I often overbuy, so I must really keep myself in line here out.


Spring/summer clothes for my daughter (3 outfit sets, 1 dress, 3 tops, 1 pair pants)
A bookcase for my daughter's room
2 Space Bags (Used to store the clothing my daughter grows out of)

Not Pictured:
More Spring/summer clothes for my daughter (1 outfit set, 3 tops, 1 pair of pants)
Dark teal faux-leather jacket, color block skirt, pair of earrings, printed top, black top, and black leather jacket for me (see budget post)
Replacement shoes for my daughter
Replacement eyelash curler for me
License plate holder and nails for husband
3 replacement tupperware sets in different sizes
Running pants, top, shoes for me
My daughter was given a giant stuffed rabbit from her uncle
My daughter also has a bag of assorted toy favors from a birthday party

Note: I forgot to put in January that I bought space bags.


I sorted out my daughters clothes and have a bag set to give away and another to give back to someone. I also have set aside what I want to save of what is too small for her now as usual. 

I trashed a lot of stuff this month. I re-sorted the bathroom with fresh eyes and was able to let go of a number of items that escaped me last time, including 2 curling irons (I do not ever curl my hair- I don't even know if they work), over-stretched hair ties, products I was given and never used/liked, etc. I also sorted out a lot of things in my bedroom. I have two bags of things to donate.

I have a lot of clutter still, but the one I don't know what to do with is the baby stuff. I'm saving it for when I hopefully have another one in a few years, but in the meantime it's just all stacked in my daughter's unused bedroom. It's a little overwhelming and I'm not sure how to organize it. 

I did let go of an old expired car seat I was given, breast pump parts to a broken pump, and a hand pump that I will never use again!