Full Life Reflections

Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment in a chaotic world

It’s been a couple of months since I last checked in on the wardrobe “half project” that I kicked off back in May.  I have done a few updates since I started the challenge and in tandem with my last update, I also shared my ideal wardrobe size benchmarks based upon an exercise that I did back in August. In today’s post, I will share where I am with the “half project” now and what I plan to do with it moving forward.

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been posting very often in recent months. A lot has been going for me following my mother-in-law’s passing in early August and I have been feeling “blocked” in many aspects of life, including with my writing. I usually haven’t felt compelled to write and when I have endeavored to write a blog post, it seemed to take me infinitely longer than it did previously. It has often felt like rolling a large boulder up a hill, which only served to make me feel worse about myself and my life, as writing used to be something that I enjoyed doing and felt that I did well. I hope this is a temporary state of affairs, as I would like to get back to posting on a more regular basis. I have some ideas that I’m tossing around for 2020 that may help to get me more excited about blogging once again (fingers crossed…).

There Can Be Such a Thing as Too Much Number Crunching…

When I sat down to write an update on my half project, I started to compile information, photos, and statistics as per usual, but it just felt too hard and overwrought. I realized that in an attempt to simplify my wardrobe, I have instead made things more complicated. At first, I loved the idea of swapping things in and out of my “working wardrobe,” but then I just kind of lost track of it all. When attempting to put this post together, I realized that I wasn’t entirely sure what had been swapped in and out – and when!

from-complicated-to-simple

As my “Half Project” went on, I realized that I had made things too complicated for myself…

At first, I felt that I should double-down and figure everything out so that I could compile a realistic update to post today, but then I had a different thought. I remembered that my theme for the year is “freedom” and all of this navel-gazing and number crunching doesn’t feel very free. I also realized that any wardrobe challenges that I undertake should serve my needs and that the “half project” as it was written was no longer doing so.

Perhaps there was a good reason that no one elected to join me in the half project in the exact way I laid it out earlier this year. While a few readers took on a modified version of the challenge, I don’t recall anyone jumping in to adopt all of my rules. Maybe it was just too complicated all along, but that doesn’t mean that I should “throw the baby out with the bath water,” so to speak. I believe there are still lessons to be learned and benefits to be derived from the half project, but I don’t need to incorporate so much complexity that I end up pulling all of my hair out along the way. I think the best way to proceed at this point is to examine what my intended benefits were and look at how I might be able to experience them in a different way.

My Goals for the Challenge and My Wardrobe

What I was really looking for when I embarked upon the half project is what I still want today, a smaller and more manageable wardrobe that suits the needs of my lifestyle. I want less “churn” and fewer buying mistakes and I want to enjoy wearing my clothes and feel good in them. These goals are pretty much what I have wanted all along, as well as a few other objectives like sticking to a clothing budget and getting a good cost-per-wear out of my purchases.

While I have made progress with all of the above goals at times, I have also experienced many ups and downs with my wardrobe and shopping over the years. But as I write this in November 2019, almost seven years since I started Recovering Shopaholic, I’m tired of my struggles in these areas and I’m ready for them to be over! I don’t want to spend countless hours managing an overly large wardrobe. I don’t want to buy and return an abundance of clothing in search of the “right” pieces in order to chase the ever elusive goal of being “stylish.” I want to dress in a way that works for me, even if it’s not particularly “current” or aesthetically pleasing to the “cool kids.” I’m 53 years old and I don’t really care if I’m one of the cool kids anymore. I’m tired of chasing a goal that I never seem to be able to meet, so it’s time to pursue a new one!

What I really want now is to be physically and emotionally comfortable in what I’m wearing and to express my own version of “style” that makes me happy. As I wrote in my last post, I want to leave uncomfortable clothing in this decade and not bring it forward into 2020 and beyond. This includes clothing in which I feel overly self-conscious and like I’m trying to be someone I’m not. I want to feel free to be myself and to engage in the activities that bring me joy. I don’t want to waste precious energy feeling upset about what I’m wearing when I should be embracing life and enjoying what I’m doing. This is all a big part of the freedom that I have been striving for this year.

So, What about the Half Project?

So where does this all leave me in terms of the half project? Well, I still want to pare my wardrobe down to a more manageable level and I have already made excellent progress in this regard. I still want to end up with roughly half of what I started with by the time the end of April rolls around, if not sooner. If I can also reach the ideal wardrobe size benchmarks that I calculated, so much the better. I believe that a wardrobe of that size is both reasonable and doable for me, but I don’t necessarily need to follow a complicated set of rules in order to get there. In order to make things simpler and easier for myself, I’m only going to hold on to a few of the challenge rules I set in May.

Below are the rules I have decided to embrace for the remainder of the half project:

New purchases must be worn within a month or be returned.

I originally specified a two-week limit, but I think a month is more realistic since I only get dressed in out-and-about clothes about half of the time. In any event, I haven’t been adhering to this rule and I think it has been to my detriment. I should only be purchasing for the current season and for defined wardrobe needs, of which I don’t have many! There’s no reason why I should be buying anything that I don’t wear pretty much right away, as I already have so many clothes. If I’m going to add something to my closet, it needs to earn its keep by being incorporated into outfits right off the bat (and hopefully become a wardrobe “workhorse”).

At the end of the year, I can only hold on to 10 “skinny box” items & 10 holding zone items.

I’m doing pretty well with this now, as I currently have 15 items in the skinny box (things that I still love but don’t quite fit me at the moment) and 22 items in the holding zone, which is now also a box the same size as the skinny box, as shown below.

skinny box

I use boxes of this size (roughly 18″ x 24″) to house my “skinny box” and holding zone items.

I am keeping both boxes in my garage but am reviewing them on a semi-regular basis (around every two months). I previously had my holding zone in another closet in my home, but I have decided that I only want to have clothes in my master bedroom closet and the coat closet. Having clothes scattered throughout my house was stressful and ran counter to my goal of experiencing freedom with my wardrobe. I feel much better now that there aren’t clothes in my home office or the guest room.

Limit “out-and-about” item purchases.

Although I did manage not to buy any new out-and-about items for the first two months of the challenge as planned, I didn’t stick to my monthly two item limit after that. In fact, I did downright abysmally with this rule. Granted, I was under a lot of stress, but I’m never going to achieve my wardrobe goals if I keep buying so many new things. It will just be a lot of “churn” and that’s stressful and wasteful and not something I want to keep doing!

I’m going to raise my monthly item limit from two to three items and I’m going to try to actually stick with it this time around. This new item limit would result in my purchasing 36 out-and-about items per year, which I think is a reasonable number for me. This would lead to my replacing roughly a quarter to a third of my wardrobe each year if I maintain my target wardrobe size of 118-137 items (see this post for how I came up with those numbers). Of course, some items would last longer than three or four years, but others (I’m looking at you, t-shirts…) may only hang around for a year or so before they need to be replaced.

Those are really the only rules I need at this point. I’m not going to do the swaps anymore, as they became unwieldy. If something isn’t working for me, it should probably just be passed on, but I also have the option of putting it in the skinny box (if it doesn’t currently fit me) or the holding zone for a period of time. By the end of the challenge, my plan is to just use one box for all such items, which will be sufficient since I will only have a maximum of ten of each.

Where Things Stand Now

I currently have 157 out-and-about items in my closet (this doesn’t include my skinny box and holding zone), so I still have a ways to go before I reach my goal of 118-137 items. Since fall temperatures only just arrived where I live (yeah, I know that’s pretty strange…), I haven’t had a chance to truly evaluate my cool weather wardrobe as of yet. I suspect that I will end up purging quite a few items as I determine what is and isn’t working for me this season, as that’s what happened back in June and July when I started wearing my warm weather items. I also think that some of my out-and-about tops will get downgraded to at-home wear as well since they are becoming worn out.

If I can keep myself from buying too many new pieces (which is a big IF given my track record…), I see myself being able to reach my half project goal before the year of the challenge is complete. I may incorporate some mini-challenges along the way to keep things interesting and to help me better understand my wardrobe needs. I’m considering doing a capsule challenge and some introspective exercises, as well as cultivating some “uniforms” that I enjoy wearing. I was kind of against uniforms for a while because I had grown bored with the ones I had, but I have come back around to seeing the utility of them. I don’t think I will ever maintain a closet full of black turtlenecks and jeans a la Steve Jobs, but I no longer require the level of variety that I used to in order to be happy with my wardrobe.

I don’t know how often I will do updates on the half project, but I suspect I will check in a few more times before it’s all said and done. I’m kind of sad that the whole swap aspect of the challenge has gone by the wayside, as it seemed like such a great idea at the outset. It would probably work better with a much smaller wardrobe than mine or with fewer swaps overall. I originally intended to do just five per month, but I ended up needing to do more in order to best evaluate what I have and what was and wasn’t working for me (I am an emotional and fickle dresser). I had the best of intentions, but sometimes we have to give something a go before we know if it will work or not. It doesn’t really matter, though, as what’s important is the end result rather than how we arrive there. I still feel encouraged that I will reach my goals, albeit in a different way.

Conclusion and Your Thoughts?

I welcome your thoughts on what I shared today and I’d love to hear about how you’re doing with your wardrobe goals for 2019 and what you’d like to do differently in 2020. What wardrobe size works best for you? How many clothing items do you purchase in a year – or how many would you like to buy if you’re currently buying too many or too few? I invite you to answer any of these questions or to share whatever you’d like in relations to today’s post.

I hope to do at least a few more posts before the end of the year. I can’t believe the end of the year is so close! If I don’t do another post before Thanksgiving (I want to, but we’ll see…), I wish all of my American readers a wonderful holiday. I hope you enjoy time with family and friends. Last year, we enjoyed a Thanksgiving celebration with my mother-in-law in our new home and this year, it’s just my husband and me, but I’m extremely grateful for him and for all of the many other blessings in my life. Thank you for reading this post and for your support!

Happy Thanksgiving!

21 thoughts on “Wardrobe “Half Project” November Update

  1. Terra says:

    I have learned is “Simple Isn’t Easy.” Well, you already know about my struggles on this journey to get where I am now, finally happy with a small wardrobe, less buying, way less buying of things I only wear when I go out into the world… and the thing is (at least for me) is it’s impossible to have a one, two or three a month items limit and all sorts of other shopping rules that control but still allow for shopping bliss and end up with a wearable, functioning wardrobe. Some months we might need, actually need lots of things and other months we might not need anything, so there is no reason to go looking. Since I’m a serial hole finder when it comes to my wardrobe and shopping (if there is a hole or a need in my wardrobe I am so quick to want to fill it) I’d have had to learn to do without, or make do and sometimes the perceived need goes away. But if I find myself still wanting it six months later, then I explore deeper and either buy it, or left the thought leave my mind. Something that helps me is I allow one “wild card” item into my wardrobe each season. Something fun and unnecessary. Everything else must have a job and earn its keep in my closet. But, remember, I struggled for about ten years before landing where I am now. Seems to me that you are getting very close to finding your way through this maze. Holding you in the light as you inch closer to the top of this mountain.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, Terra. Yes, it’s SO true that simple isn’t easy! Good point about the monthly item limit… Maybe I would be better off with a YEARLY limit than a monthly one. I want to do that with my clothing budget, too, as I find that having money to spend each month makes me want to actually go out and spend it (aka my “reason to go looking” is just because I have the money, not due to a real need – this would be like going to the grocery store just because I have money in my what – what folly!).

      I would like to get to the point where item limits are unnecessary (I think I will always have some sort of budget), where I only buy where there is either a big defined need or when I find that diamond in the rough “wild card” item (which would be rare because I would no longer be dazzled by random pretty things). It seems like have pretty long “power pauses,” which likely serves you very well. You’re right that “perceived needs” are often not actual needs. I hope you’re right that I’m getting close to finding my way out of the wardrobe madness maze. Thank you for your support and for holding me in the light! Hope to join you on the top of that mountain soon.

  2. Samantha says:

    Hi Debbie, isn’t there another way to slow down the churn than by focusing on rules and limits? Which I fear you’ll want to transgress, as would only be natural imo.

    I’m thinking of some kind of motivation that would be in harmony with your desire for freedom, such as the need for space perhaps, or what seems to be a desire to stop counting so much.

    My son and I had to donate our two chests of drawers last summer because our cat kept getting inside them at night (she’d already got herself trapped behind a drawer once). The reason I’d bought them in the first place was because I couldn’t manage the amount of hand-me-downs from my stepmother… which is how I found your previous blog. I did gradually streamline but had got used to having a larger wardrobe and it all was quite a struggle. Anyway, when the chests of drawers were gone we were so relieved that our cat would be safer that no amount of clothes could compete with that. Plus we have more space, which does make me feel freer.

    I hope you find enjoyment in writing again soon, or in taking photos. Take care

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, Samantha. I understand the fear around your cat, as one of my cats got trapped in our dresser once. It took a long time for us to find out where she was. We turned the house upside down until finally my husband found her curled up inside of one of the drawers. She got in because I had left a drawer open for a little while, so I’m careful to never do that anymore, but if she could get in and get trapped on her own, I would have gotten rid of the dresser, too, and just dealt with less space. I’m glad your cat is safe and that you have been able to streamline your wardrobe such that you are okay with not having the dresser anymore.

      I wish I didn’t feel the need to focus on rules or limits, either. I think that if I felt more of a sense of purpose and enjoyment in life – and if I felt more secure in myself, I would focus less on clothing and shop less as well. That’s a tall order, though! I do hope that I’m on the verge of some sort of breakthrough. I do want to get back into taking photos and writing more often. I do journal fairly regularly, but that’s mostly for release. I miss sharing my thoughts with people more often, but I often am not sure what I want to say… Maybe that’s just the grief and it will pass. I hope so.

  3. Mo says:

    I was coming around to a less rules bound shopping plan for my coming year, as well. I have done all the number crunching and item limits and everything else. It helped, a lot at first, and then it was just busy work I continued to do once I got to the place I wanted to be. I’m not perfect, but I think I can trust myself to not go crazy if I let down my guard.
    I ‘allowed’ myself to order quite a few things at once this month instead of the usual $100 to $200 at a time until the credit was back in my account. It made me kind of anxious to see the balance 3 times what I am comfortable with, but in the end, I got to try all the things I’d been looking at, decide what worked and didn’t, and be done with it. All in a week or two’s time instead of all month long. Less obsession, less time consuming, and a more content feeling about what I did keep. I’m going to explore this for as long as it works, and I don’t find myself buying buying buying. I will keep track of the cost of new purchases, and keep a pic of the new item in my digital closet, but that’s as far as the tracking will go.
    I found the 5 items per season plan I used this year a good guideline, but I also found myself using loopholes. Not counting things bought with earnings from Poshmark sales, for instance. I’d rather just account for everything and if that makes 6 one season and 7 another, well no big deal, right? I know what is too much and what is reasonable. Time to trust myself to choose.
    Here’s to more freedom and fun with our wardrobes!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I get what you’re saying about the number crunching becoming “busy work,” Mo. I used to enjoy it, but not so much anymore, which is a big part of why I stopped tracking my wears. I think I got what I needed to get out of it and I feel freer now since I just wear my clothes and don’t worry about how often things are being worn. But with purchases, it’s a bit trickier, as I really need to cut down and am not quite sure how to get there.

      I like the idea of “bursts” of shopping rather than buying, buying, buying all the time. That way, we get to “rest” and focus more on what we have rather than what’s “out there.” I have often thought about doing the seasonal shopping concept, but I haven’t actually done it, perhaps due to a lack of self-trust and disciple. I think it’s better to think in seasons/quarter or even yearly may work better than going month to month. It’s easier to track monthly spending in a software program, but I think it’s normal to buy more some months than others. I’d love to get to the point where there are months that I don’t buy anything and not because I’m “white-knuckling” it because of some sort of ban or because I have exceeded my budget (as is often the case toward the end of the year).

      You seem to shop pretty reasonably, so it makes sense to trust yourself more. I know what is too much and what’s reasonable, too, and I know I haven’t been reasonable much of the time. But I still need to trust myself more because I can do the right thing and often have. I definitely want more freedom and fun with my wardrobe! I hope you, me, and everyone else reading this has more of BOTH in 2020.

  4. Claire says:

    Maybe you and the blog can “hibernate” and rest up a bit. Freedom and fun for 2020 sounds good. I agree you have a lot going on and can cut yourself a huge break. The move, the grief, the body changes, current affairs etc… it all takes a long time and lot of effort to process, especially for us highly sensitive types. I’m just focused on trying to make it through the winter. Sometimes I can only wear very limited things b/c my skin is so freaking sensitive and cant stand being touched. It makes for weird wardrobe management. I’m glad i kept all the old pants i did, between those and a few new ones i’ve been able to clothe my lower half, yay. i was not able to shop at all for several months, then i did some rare online ordering on nordstrom rack and found several good cotton graphic tees. They’re from a sleepwear brand (pj salvage) but i wear them out of the house too. My line between sleep/lounge/at-home wear and out and about wear has become quite blurry. Those two venn diagrams are almost one now! And it’s fine. I mean, it’s not ideal but goalposts change when you can hardly wear shoes (or walk). I buy what I want when I want (within budget) when i can, it’s practical and works well enough. I hope you can work out your “good enough” place of closet bliss and peace! Just keep being kind to yourself. xo

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, it can be hard to cope as a highly sensitive type, Claire. I’m not the best at cutting myself some slack, but I’m trying to be kinder to myself these days. I’m also trying to incorporate more fun and ease (that could be another good word…) into my life. I may have to look into the PJ Salvage graphic tees, as I struggle with clothes feeling super uncomfortable, too. You have a good attitude and approach toward what you wear. A lot of sleepwear and lounge wear looks like “regular clothes.” With athleisure being popular, the lines have definitely blurred. But in your case, you need to just wear what works for you since you have so many health challenges. When the goalposts change, we have to adjust accordingly. I wish better health – and more fun – for you in 2020! Thank you for your support and kindness.

      1. Claire says:

        I love “ease” as a quality to incorporate more of. I have actually been using it a lot lately. With anything that seems the least bit hard, anything at all (which is basically everything), I’m like, “What would make this easier?” And easier, and easier, and I keep going til it’s easy enough to actually do it. No guilt or second guessing that it won’t be good enough, the goal is to just be able to do something approximating the task in front of me. I have slowly worked my way into this mindset as a way to fight perfectionistic tendencies. You could also think of it as, “How can i be kinder to myself around this issue?” which seems very related. I’ve also had the quality of “levity” on my mind recently…

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          I love your thoughts on “ease,” Claire! Asking “what would make this easier?” is a wonderful and thought-provoking question. I feel like I have subconsciously been asking myself the opposite question for much of my life, but ENOUGH of that! Your question about kindness is excellent, too. I could definitely stand to ask myself THAT question, as I’m pretty darn mean to myself much of the time! I’m glad you are incorporating more ease and self-kindness into your life. Down with guilt, constant second-guessing, and exhausting perfectionism!

  5. Jenn says:

    I can so relate to you, Debbie. I tend to make a lot of “rules” and do a lot of number crunching when trying to meet my goals as well. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t. But in terms of over-shopping, I haven’t found a solution.

    One thing I know for sure is I need to take a more thoughtful approach. I’m going through the exercises in The Curated Closet (more deliberately this time) in hopes I can get some clarity on who I am—style-wise. I tend to be so impulsive with shopping, and as a result, I make a lot of mistakes.

    At times of stress, I often order several items, and then I have to decide on what to keep, what to take back, package everything up and go to UPS, the Fed Ex box, and the Post Office—all places I visited today. Thereby, adding more stress, taking valuable time from my day, and making me feel like crap about myself. I’d like to think I’m smarter than that.

    This year, I’ve purchased no more than two items for every three I’ve consigned, donated, or pitched. So my wardrobe has gotten smaller, but overall, it’s not a better wardrobe! Nor has this system eliminated my impulsive purchases—which often turn out to be mistakes. It has not eliminated the “churn.”

    I sense you enjoy shopping, as do I. It’s a way to be creative and express myself—which I love. But the way I go about it has to change.

    I’m so grateful for your blogs and the comments from your readers. Have you considered finding an accountability partner when it comes to writing? I’ve found they can be quite helpful.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Interesting that you’re going through the exercise in The Curated Closet, Jenn, as I was thinking about doing that, too! I have done some of them in the past, but I never actually went through and did the whole thing. I hope you find it helpful and I hope you report back on what you learn. Your shopping experience sounds much like mine, especially during times of stress. That’s great that your wardrobe has gotten smaller, but I know firsthand how frustrating it is to feel like you keep making mistakes. I think buying less and being more introspective (as in doing the Curated Closet exercises) are important steps in the right direction. I thought I’d have it all figured out by now, but alas, I do not… As for writing, I can see how having an accountability partner could be helpful. A lot of us are better at honoring our commitments to others than to ourselves.

  6. Gail says:

    I am remembering your words on “setpoint,” Debbie. Could you be close to that? I wonder if you would now be able to just glide along, shopping when you felt you wanted to get something new, but not going overboard. (One new thing can be more gratifying than 6.) If a special occasion comes around and you have nothing you like to wear, go for it then. And if you put on something and it feels not right–charity.
    I am still working with my small–under 40 all in–closet, but it doesn’t feel like work. My things is kitchen and cleaning gear. I keep thinking if I get a better mop, it will be easier. Ha! My 73 year-old back says they’re all a pain, literally. But I keep trying to make it easier. The kitchen stuff–I just love the dishes etc. They are like toys to me. I am by no means cluttered,but I am bound to take my own wardrobe advice and apply to housekeeping/cooking!
    Debbie, you sound more content to be you these days. Good wishes for the upcoming holidays and forever. Remember you are helping and delighting many with your honest,considered words.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I think I am close to my closet setpoint, Gail, but I have been trying to gradually lower it. I have been somewhat successful in this effort, as I do have fewer items than I did previously, but I would still like to get to a lower number. I can see how one new thing can be more gratifying than six, especially when one takes the time to consider what they truly need (or even just want). I like your point about kitchen items and cleaning gear being for you like what clothes are for me. We all have our “things,” don’t we? I used to struggle with too much in MANY areas, but now it’s just clothes. Clothes are the last (but very stubborn!) vestige of my overbuying issues. I hope that I can finally become a more moderate and successful clothing shopper in 2020. Thank you for your kind words and I wish you all the best for the holidays, too!

  7. Katrina says:

    You are definitely going through some challenges and changes this year! I can absolutely understand how the emotional turmoil would create blocks both in writing and in doing other things that you would usually do. The writing thing might also mean that you want to write, but just not on the blog right now. Maybe another book is in the works, or maybe you want to branch into another medium… I’m sure it will come to you.

    It is great that you realized the Half Project as originally planned was no longer serving your needs and that you could simply change the rules. You seem more optimistic and forgiving of yourself. I feel that when you assess your year of “freedom,” you will see how much has changed since the beginning of the year.

    Now to actually answer your questions. 🙂

    I still prefer my smallish wardrobe that I had before I went back to work in June – everything fit me, I had all my favorite colors, and almost everything fit into a small section of the closet so I could see it all together. At last count it was approximately 60 items, not including shoes or coats.

    However, since I did have to work, I had to have business clothes, and as we discussed, I wasn’t thrilled about it. I bought the bare minimum to get me through each week and I have yet to solve the cost/durability issues. Thankfully, I’ll probably only be doing office work about 5 months a year, so I will pack up those clothes and hide them for the other 7 months so they don’t aggravate me. But here’s a miracle – while I was working, I never was tempted to go shopping for fun or to relieve stress! I’m not about to say I’m “cured” but I think it’s possible that after living with such a small wardrobe and buying almost nothing for so many years, I have a new set point.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I appreciate your encouragement about my writing, Katrina. I think I will always want to write, but the form that it takes may shift and evolve. Still trying to figure that out! I hope you’re right that I see a lot of evolution for myself in terms of my freedom theme. Thanks for answering the questions I posed in the post. I can imagine it was challenging to put together a business wardrobe when you’re not that excited about that type of clothing. I would be much the same… I’m glad you figured it out and are now able to put those clothes away for a while. Wonderful news about not using shopping as a hobby or stress reliever while you were working! Yeah, I would hesitate to use the word “cured,” too, as shopping issues can rear their ugly head in stressful situations, but you have made wonderful progress and should definitely be proud. Maybe you DO have a new set point now and that’s a good thing!

  8. cbgraham12 says:

    Firstly, I want to extend my condolences about your mother-in-law’s passing. Second, I see SO many parallels to my life that my heart leapt when I read this installment. What really resonated: “What I really want now is to be physically and emotionally comfortable in what I’m wearing and to express my own version of “style” that makes me happy….This includes clothing in which I feel overly self-conscious and like I’m trying to be someone I’m not.” Oh my goodness, I’ve felt this way so much during my life, despite knowing exactly what fits me well – at various sizes – and when I’m trying to hard. I’m nearly 56 years old and am realizing how short life is and how little a difference it makes if I’m wearing the latest trendy jean style (which takes tons of time to find in a size 14) or my trusted Levi’s for $39.99 at JCPenney! I started a new job a month ago – back in an office in a professional setting – and I’ve gone off the rails with shopping, believing I need these new things. Sure, I needed a couple professional pants and dresses (I worked in a university during the past decade and dressed business-casual and more trendily) but not the amount of items I’ve purchased. And it’s stress shopping, really, because the job is hard and I’m quite stressed at home. I’d been doing so well too…..

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for your condolences and for your reflections on my post. It does sound like we have a lot of parallels! You’re so right that it makes very little difference whether or not we’re wearing the latest trendy jean style (not to slight anyone who enjoys doing so). I can understand how starting a new job would send you down the rabbit hole of overshopping, though. We usually think we need a lot more than we actually do (this pretty much applies to ALL types of clothing) and stress just exacerbates the entire situation. I know it can be super frustrating to feel like you’ve taken steps backwards, but that happens to almost everyone in some area of their lives. Shopping is many of our Achilles Heels, so that’s where we’ll see the difficulties. If there are things you can return, that could be a good idea, but otherwise, just try to look forward and not backwards. We can’t change the past, but we can decide what we do and don’t want moving forward. And yes, we may make more mistakes again. That’s the way life works. Sometimes it takes a long time and lots of fits and starts to get to where we want to go. Just try to be kind to yourself, as it sounds like you’re dealing with multiple challenges. I hope the stress abates for you soon. Remember to breathe…

  9. Mia says:

    This is my first time commenting on one of your posts since I found your blogs through Recovering Shopaholic about a week ago). I think I probably don’t fit the stereotypical reader as I am in my early 20s, finished college half a year ago and just recently entered the full-time workforce this fall. I’m new to the whole “adulthood” thing and one of my big focuses this first year of being independent is laying the groundwork for good habits with regards to, well, everything, but specifically in finances and spending habits. In the last year or two I have become increasingly concerned with environmental sustainability, and I actually found your blog via your “30 Wears” post on Recovering Shopaholic. It really made me think about my own consumerism habits and led me to taking a wardrobe inventory. Counting everything except underwear, I was shocked to see that I have over 300 items!! I always had considered myself relatively good about strictly buying things that I am 100% confident I will wear, but with the amount of things I own, it’s going to be pretty difficult to wear everything in a given year, especially since I live in a 4-season climate. (Although I grew up in north county San Diego!!)

    I decided to implement the hanger trick for the next year to get some more concrete data on what I’m actually wearing. I think it’s too early for me to decide on my “ideal” wardrobe size or attempt a half wardrobe project, but this has provided me with a BIG deterrent from doing any more shopping in the next couple months, now that I have the hard data of exactly what I already have. Even just tallying up my clothes led to finding some pieces that I realized I haven’t worn in ages and donating them.

    I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to continuing to read your blog.

    1. cbgraham12 says:

      Oh, Mia, I’m so happy that you found Debbie’s blog at this point in your life. You will encounter many challenges in your adulthood and having sound tools for managing what can become an addiction is something I wish I’d had 30 years ago. It is SO easy to justify a large wardrobe – especially if one has a four-season climate – so best to you as you enter this exciting time of your life.

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      Welcome, Mia, and thanks for your comment! I’m so glad you found my blogs and that you have found my writing helpful. You’re right that you don’t exactly fit my standard reader profile, but I have had women in their 20’s comment before. I agree with cbgraham12 that it’s great that you’re heading down the path of simplifying your wardrobe at this point in your life. I wish I had started this journey years ago, too. Of course, it’s never too late, but wonderful to be questioning things and taking positive steps now. Doing a closet inventory and starting the hanger trick are good ways to start. Awareness is always helpful, as most people have no idea how much they have or how often they wear things. It can be enlightening to get this information. Good for you for passing some unworn/unloved items on for donation! Wishing you the best of luck with everything and I hope you will comment again and let us know how you’re doing!

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