In my last post, I reflected back on the capsule wardrobe challenge that I did in late 2018 and was pleased to learn that many of my capsule pieces remain in my wardrobe today. I also recapped my 2019 wardrobe goals and summarized how I did in fulfilling upon them (it was a “mixed bag”…).
Today, I’m going to share my 2020 wardrobe, shopping, and style goals. These goals are more in-depth than the ones I took on last year, which basically amounted to a single intention (reduce closet churn – I didn’t do so well with that) and a shopping list for priority items to buy (I bought two thirds of them). Some of the goals I highlight today are also part of my “20 for 2020” list, but I’m including them here as well so that all of my wardrobe-related goals for the year are in one place. I also want to expand upon those goals a bit here and provide additional information and clarification. Additionally, I include my style focus words for the year and my 2020 shopping priorities list.
Wardrobe-Related Goals from My “20 for 2020” List
As a reminder, here are the five wardrobe-related goals that I included in my “20 for 2020” list, with some additional information below each goal regarding why I chose it and how I believe it will help me this year:
1. Sell designated items on eBay or similar site.
In the first half of 2019, I made a number of purchasing mistakes. Unfortunately, I was unable to return many of these ill-advised items, as they were final sale buys at end-of-season sales or on Poshmark. For a long time, I brought my nicer castoffs to a local consignment store, but they have since narrowed down the scope of what they will accept and are now leaning more toward designer items. I also donate many of the items I purge, but in this case, I’m hoping to recoup some of my investment since I feel so terrible about overspending and the inherent waste involved.
I’m aware of the “sunk cost fallacy” and have fallen prey to it many times. I’ve hung on to clothes just because I spent a lot of money on them, even when I didn’t like them and never wore them. I’ve even tailored some of those lesser loved items in the hopes that I might like them better and wear them at long last (that usually didn’t work…). While I still do these types of things sometimes, I’ve mostly learned my lesson.
I’m not going to keep my 2019 shopping mistakes hanging in my closet, no matter what. In fact, I’ve already boxed most of them up so they’re ready to be shipped out when sold. Whatever I don’t manage to sell – either because the items weren’t of interest to potential buyers or if I procrastinate and never list them for sale in the first place, I will donate at the end of the year (if not sooner). Whatever money I make will go back into my husband’s and my checking account so we can use the funds for non-clothing-related expenses. I’m hoping this amount will be non-trivial, but I’m a bit of an eBay sales novice (I’ve mostly just bought things from that site), so we’ll see…
2. Pare down my “out and about” wardrobe to 118-137 items.
I’m tired of having an overly large wardrobe (for me – everyone is different in terms of what’s enough and what’s too much…), especially since I spend the bulk of my time at home. I want my “out and about” wardrobe to better match my actual lifestyle, which is casual and low-key. I only wear out and about clothing on roughly half of the days each week, if that. This year, I’m actually keeping track of when I get dressed in that sector of my wardrobe, as opposed to my at-home items. I’m doing this by marking a simple “X” on the calendar. January probably wasn’t representative of most months, as I was battling a cold and flu for a couple of weeks, but I only wore out and about outfits on nine days! So far for February, it’s six times, so my tally this month may be a bit higher, but I know that it’s not likely to exceed 50% in any given month.
My “half project” is going to end in just under three months, and my target was to reduce my wardrobe to half its size over the course of a year. That number, which includes all year-round out and about garments and shoes, was calculated to be 137 items (see the second half of this post to see how I came up with that benchmark). The number 118 came from my doing the “ideal wardrobe size” exercise, which takes into consideration one’s climate, activities, preferred way of dressing, and target number of wears per year. So my goal is to end this year with somewhere between 118 and 137 items in my “out and about” wardrobe. This will give me plenty to wear and will allow for a more streamlined, visually pleasing closet – and less wardrobe-related stress.
3. Complete two wardrobe/style-related workbooks.
I’ve found that my personal style has been evolving quite a bit in recent years. This is related to several factors, including going through menopause (and the associated body changes), my gray hair transition (which has changed some of my color preferences), increased self-awareness, and decreased caring about fashion trends and keeping up in that way. I have a number of wardrobe and style-related workbooks/courses at my disposal that I’ve never completed, even though I spent good money on some of them (others were free).
I enjoy the type of introspection and exploration involved in such workbooks and courses – and I generally benefit greatly from what I learn, but I often don’t make the time to do these types of activities. The time factor is why I opted to include the completion of two workbooks in my goals. I’ve already started working through some of the exercises in The Curated Closet and I’m finding this to be very helpful. My hope is that the more clarity I gain on my style preferences, the fewer shopping mistakes I will make. I don’t want to make a habit of having to sell items on eBay!
4. Be comfortable physically and emotionally in all of my clothes.
This is probably my most important wardrobe-related goal. Let’s address physical comfort first. Of course, how this is defined will vary for all of us, as we each have different thresholds for what is and isn’t comfortable. As I have a number of health issues and sensitivities, I would say that my threshold for uncomfortable clothes is very low. I can’t tolerate tight pants unless they have a lot of stretch in them, and I also don’t like to wear stiff or scratchy fabrics. My plan is to purge any items that feel uncomfortable on my body and to not purchase anything that I don’t feel physically good in (no matter how much of a “deal” it might be).
The emotionally comfortable piece is a little trickier and it’s also very individual for each of us. In my case, I’m highly introverted, quite tall (5’10”), and extremely self-conscious. My self-consciousness has actually increased with age, as I’m having a difficult time accepting and embracing the aging process. The fact that I don’t look as slim, attractive, and youthful as I did even a few years ago is very hard for me to deal with. I struggle with feeling emotionally comfortable even more when I push myself to wear certain items just because they’re “stylish” and in an effort to fit in with other people.
I’ve decided that I’m not going to place “fitting in” above my own emotional comfort anymore. If this means that I mostly dress in a “uniform” that includes a lot of black pieces, that’s totally fine by me. I want to stop worrying about what others will think of what I’m wearing and instead dress to please myself. If I truly want to just get dressed and then forget about my clothes like I mentioned in this post (which I do!), then I have to wear what I like regardless of whether or not it’s “in” or is similar to what other women around me are wearing. I don’t think I’ll ever look like I should be on “What Not to Wear,” but the show is off the air anyway, so who cares?! I just want to be happy in my clothes and not feel so self-conscious, so that’s what I’m primarily focused on for this year.
5. Stick to my clothing budget and “out and about” item limit (36 items).
When I wrote Recovering Shopaholic, I was able to stick to my yearly clothing budget for the first time in probably forever (I didn’t always have a budget, but I always spent too much!). I came in at or under my budget for each of the four years that I wrote that blog (2013-2016 – I stopped the blog in February 2017). Sadly, I have not adhered to my budget for the past three years. I didn’t go as completely off the rails as I did before Recovering Shopaholic, but I did spend too much and buy too many items, and that’s something I want to stop!
Accountability helped me to stay on target back in 2013-2016, so I’m going to try that tactic again this year. I’m not going to publish monthly accountability posts or share the nitty gritty statistics of how much I spend and what I buy, but I do plan to check in quarterly on my “20 for 2020” goals, including this one. I want to honor my commitment to my husband by not overspending my clothing budget, as well as my commitment to myself to continue working on my recovery from compulsive spending.
The item limit is not really related to my budget, as we all know it’s possible to buy a lot of items without spending all that much money. There are endless sales, not to mention “fast fashion” stores and secondhand shopping. The item limit is about decreasing my “closet churn” and improving my clothing sustainability. I want to have less and wear what I have more often. I’d also love to have the bulk of what’s in my wardrobe reach the “30 items” benchmark that I wrote about back in 2016.
As it turns out, 36 items is a good amount for me to buy each year, as it represents a third to a quarter of my ideal-sized wardrobe (118-137 items, as I wrote about above). While I’d ultimately like to buy even less than that – and I hope that at least some closet pieces will last for longer than three or four years, I’m bound to still make some shopping mistakes and clothing quality has also been plummeting in recent years. I’ve found that tops in particular sometimes only last a season or two (especially knit tops) and need to be replaced more often than other wardrobe pieces.
While I do have some items from more than four years ago, the bulk of my wardrobe pieces were purchased during 2016-2019. Back in 2015, I wrote a post about wardrobe items that have stood the test of time. It would be interesting to do an update on that subject five years later, so that’s something I might do in the next month or two. Checking back on that post, I can see that most of the items I pictured that were purchased in 2011 or earlier are now gone, but I still have 12 of them, including the shirt I’m wearing as I type this!
2020 Style Words and Color Palette
I’ve been selecting a word of the year for at least ten years now (this year’s word is “enough”), but I’ve never chosen a word or words to govern my style during a given year. I hadn’t really thought to do this, but after reading this You Look Fab post on “Your Word and Colour for 2020” and seeing a reader’s comment (on this blog) that she was planning to select several style words for this year, I decided to take the plunge.
I didn’t try to zero in on just one single style word because I actually liked the idea of having more of a “formula” to work with (what Imogen Lamport calls a “style recipe” and Pamela Luttrell terms her “foundational five style guide”). I also decided to embrace the concept of choosing a color for this year, which I will share below, along with my basic color palette.
Here are the five style words that I’ve chosen for 2020:
When I think about the outfits that I’ve worn that I’ve really liked, they can basically be described by the above style statement. I prefer a simple and classic look, but I also want my ensembles to be sophisticated and striking (that’s me being true to my Dressing Your Truth Type 4 self). And above all, as I mentioned in my wardrobe goals above, I want everything I wear to be both physically and emotionally comfortable (but not necessarily look like it is!).
If I ever wear something that looks too cutesy or fussy, I’m unhappy. Likewise, if an outfit is too ultra-casual, I don’t feel good in it. Even though wearing sneakers with everything is all the rage at the moment, I don’t feel good in that type of look, as it’s just not me. The same is true for the jeans and flip-flops uniform that is ever-present in Southern California. I’ve tried to wear things like that just to fit in, but I always feel “off” and even downright frumpy and unattractive.
Whenever I get dressed, I’m going to ask myself if what I’m wearing is classic, simple, sophisticated, striking, and comfortable. I want to stand out and be unique to some degree – that’s the striking part, but I want the overall feel of the outfit to be simple and classic. I like clean lines and minimalist details. I don’t like a lot of “bells and whistles” in my outfits, but I do like to wear bold colors and my signature stripes. I also like long, streamlined toppers (like dusters, vests, and coats) and uniform denim washes. When I tried to wear distressed or rolled jeans because they were trendy, I mostly didn’t repeat those looks. I’m not even going to try wearing things like that anymore and will instead just appreciate those looks on others who carry them well because it’s in line with their style formula.
The color theme that I have selected for 2020 is red.
I didn’t wear red for years because I didn’t like how it looked with my dyed auburn hair. I felt that it clashed with my hair (I feel that way about wearing gray items now…), so I eschewed red in favor of burgundy. I still love burgundy and it remains in my color palette, but I also love red these days. I love that it’s bright and bold and powerful. I prefer the bluer-toned reds over the more “tomato reds,” as they’re more flattering with my cool-toned skin and hair.
My goal is to add a handful of red pieces to my wardrobe in 2020. I’ve already purchased two red print scarves, a red top, a red sweater, and a striped cardigan that includes red. These pieces are shown below:
I’d love to find a bold red topper and another red accessory (maybe a handbag or pair of shoes) to add to the mix. I don’t want to go overboard with red, but I’ve been happy incorporating red into my outfits since adding the above pieces to my closet. I feel more confident when I wear red, which is a big part of why I chose red as my color for the year.
The other colors in my main color palette are:
- Black – This is my primary neutral and is included in almost all of my outfits.
- Burgundy – I continue to love this shade, especially when it has more of a red undertone (as opposed to a brown one).
- Cobalt and other blue shades – I still love cobalt, but some variations now seem a bit too bright for my coloring, so I’ve incorporated – or plan to incorporate – other cool blue tones into my palette. I like the idea of adding a couple of turquoise pieces to my wardrobe and I already own a few teal pieces that I like a lot.
- Fuchsia – I didn’t wear pink for years because it felt too “precious,” but I now enjoy some of the bolder and brighter pink shades. I bought the following pink items in 2018 and 2019 and feel great when I wear them:
- Purple – I’ve found that I like purple a lot more, too, since my hair color change. I don’t have a lot of purple pieces in my wardrobe, but I do feel good when I wear them.
Almost everything in my closet is in one of the colors above or a combination of two or more of them (mostly in stripe format). I don’t see myself adding any other colors to my palette this year, but I would like to add a few more pieces in purple, deep pink, and lighter shades of blue (if I come upon the right items). Since I’m minimizing my purchases in 2020, it’s helpful for me to consider my color palette earlier in the year so I don’t just buy all black like I can be prone to doing!
Shopping Priorities List
Now that I have laid out my goals and intentions for 2020 in regards to my wardrobe and style, all that’s left for me to do is list out my shopping priorities. I know that I probably won’t find all of the items on my list this year, as some of them may be difficult to locate, especially since I’m difficult to fit (I need tall sizes in many pieces, I’m curvier on the bottom, etc.). However, I plan to do my best to find these items, and having the list with me both at home and on my phone (in Google Docs) will help to keep me focused when I shop. I’ve done shopping priority lists quite a bit in the past, but I haven’t referred to them often enough and have ended up buying too many other things that weren’t on my list!
Below are the items I’d like to focus on buying this year, divided by category. Again, I don’t necessarily plan to buy everything on this list, but I do want to be more deliberate when I shop, which the list will help to facilitate. The bolded items are those of highest priority for me and I hope to buy all of those pieces at some point during the year. The rest are more like suggestions or directions to look in when shopping.
Tops (preferably “standalone” styles that don’t need a third piece):
- Turquoise short-sleeved top
- Red/black printed top/blouse (maybe also including white)
- Burgundy short-sleeved top
- Blouses in lighter/brighter colors (2-3)
- Black straight-leg pants/trousers (streamlined, but not too dressy)
- Black straight-leg jeans
- Dark-wash straight-leg jeans
- Bright/printed pants (2)
Dresses/Skirts/Tops for Skirts:
- Black midi skirt
- Red or red print dress or skirt
- Warmer dress for non-summer wear (I currently only wear dresses in summer)
- Tanks or short-sleeved tops to pair with skirts (2-3)
Toppers (some purchases may fulfill multiple categories on this list):
- Cobalt jacket (maybe moto style)
- Red topper
- Printed toppers (2)
- Roomy bright coat (that allows for layers when buttoned)
- Long vest in bright color or print (I have a black vest like this that I wear often)
- Non-cardigan toppers (2)
- Pewter/gray booties
- Silver/pewter peep-toe booties/shooties
- Printed booties (maybe snakeskin or black/white)
- Replacement black flat sandals (my old ones are quite worn out and don’t offer enough support)
- Maybe red shoes/booties
- “Spirit of the Cat” necklace (this is something I’ve wanted for years!)
- Wrap or cuff silver/pewter bracelet
- Thick silver necklace – mid-length
- Red handbag?
- Large statement earrings (I have more than enough small and mid-sized earrings)
At-Home Items (this list will likely be expanded upon later):
- Black cropped lounge pants
- Black graphic tees (for workouts)
- Higher-quality workout pants (2)
If I only end up getting the bolded items, I will be satisfied, especially since some of those items were also on my 2019 shopping priorities list. I have already been searching for these items, so hopefully I’ll find a few winners soon.
I also have a “Do Not Buy” list (I have more than enough of all of these items!):
- Black cardigans (exception: replacement short black tie cardigan)
- Black cropped pants (exception: the lounge pants mentioned above)
- Black casual jackets (worn for walks/workouts)
- Black/white striped long-sleeved tees
- Blue/navy striped long-sleeved tees
- Black long-sleeved tees (a blouse would be okay)
- Black/white print short-sleeved tees
- Blue print short-sleeved tees
- Black or black print short-sleeved tops (for pants – okay to buy shorter ones for skirts)
- Black or black print sleeveless tops (for pants – okay to buy shorter ones for skirts)
- Skinny/tight pants that I feel I need to wear a longer top/topper with (I’m self-conscious of my hips/thighs)
- Turquoise earrings
- Blue stone/beaded earrings
- Medium-sized earrings (aim for larger, statement earrings if I buy any)
I hope that having this “do not buy” list will help to prevent the wardrobe repetition and “splitting my wears” that has been a longstanding experience for me. We’re often drawn to items that are like our closet favorites, but if I want to have a smaller and more streamlined wardrobe that still allows for variety, I need to stop buying such similar pieces!
Conclusion / Your Thoughts?
So those are my wardrobe, shopping, and style goals for the year. My plan is to do quarterly updates on how I’m doing with these goals, and I will refer back to this post when I do those updates. My first update will be in early April, at the beginning of the second quarter of the year. It’s my hope that being detailed and accountable with my goals will help to increase the likelihood that I will actually achieve them. I will also do a “half project” update again soon, as I’m now in the final quarter for that challenge and want to make sure that I’m on track to finish strongly.
Now I’d love to hear from you. Here are a few questions to spark your thoughts, but as always, I welcome your sharing insights – and questions – about anything you’d like related to this post.
- What are your wardrobe, shopping, and style goals for this year?
- Have you selected style words – or a style color – for 2020?
- What’s on your 2020 shopping priority list – and why?
- How many clothing/wardrobe purchases do you think are reasonable for a given year?
- How long do most of the pieces in your wardrobe last? Does it vary by item type?
- What percentage of your wardrobe do you think you replace each year?
I look forward to reading what you have to say! I’m not sure what my next post will be about, but I have a few ideas, so I’ll just see what I feel like writing about… I’m always open to topic suggestions, too. Over the year, I’ve gotten many of my best ideas from readers’ comments and questions!