Full Life Reflections

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

So much has changed regarding the state of the world since I last posted. Although it feels trite and trivial to be writing about my wardrobe amidst so much pain, chaos, and unrest, I recognize that many people want to have other things to read about besides what’s going on in the news. While I’ve been reading a lot of news myself, I’ve often needed a break and found a dearth of new alternate content to peruse. We all need some balance in terms of the information we consume, so I’ll leave the commentary on national and world events to those who are far more qualified to weigh in on it than I am, and I’ll move forward with my standard content here on the blog.

holding positive thoughts for the world

Now more than ever, I’m holding positive thoughts for the world…

Sometimes when I’m struggling with anxiety (which is a common occurrence for me), I turn to wardrobe management as a way to distract myself and quell the “noise” inside of my brain. Since other people like to read my wardrobe musings, I’ll continue to share them here on the blog. I had thought this post would be related to personal style, but I’ll save that one for next time (hopefully next week), as I’d like to follow up on a few things from my last post.

Part of that post dealt with examining my closet “holding zone,” as well as what I’ve termed my “skinny box,” both of which I’ve recently combined in a single plastic storage bin.  After reviewing each individual item again and reading your comments, I’ve come to decisions on almost everything – and I’ve also decided to pass on some additional items. Today’s post recaps what I’ve opted to do – and why.

A Brief Review…

As a reminder, here are the items that were a part of my holding zone as of my last post. While all of these items fit my body, I wasn’t wearing any of them for one reason or another.

holding zone items - May 2020

As of last week, these were the items in my “holding zone.”

Additionally, I also had the following pieces stored away because they were too tight for my current figure:

skinny box items - May 2020

These were my “skinny box” items as of last week. 

As you can see, there’s a total of eleven items between these two categories. If you look back at my last post, you can read the reasons why these pieces had been set aside from my working wardrobe.

Holding Zone / Skinny Box Update

I thought that I’d likely wait a month or two before deciding upon the fate of the above items, but after re-reading my own words and considering some of the comments that were submitted by readers, I opted to revisit them earlier.

I tried everything on again and ended up choosing to pass on seven of the eleven holding zone/skinny box pieces, as shown below:

holding zone and skinny box purges - June 2020

I decide to pass on these seven holding zone/skinny box items recently.

I just didn’t feel good in any of these garments. The reasons varied, but the bottom line was the same. They weren’t in line with my personal style aesthetic and the way that I want to look and feel. I’ve also really come to understand how important fabrics are to me. I don’t like to wear anything that’s stiff or scratchy, or that doesn’t have any “give” to it. Here are a few quick notes about why I’m passing these seven items on:

  • The full-length black pants fit me well, but I didn’t feel good in the fabric.
  • The ruffled collar on the coat was too “ornate” for my personal tastes. I could have maybe seen myself wearing it for a more formal occasion, but such instances are exceedingly rare in my life.
  • The maxi skirt wasn’t quite maxi length on me, plus the waistband was too thick and loose.
  • The two pairs of cropped pants were baggy all over and a bit too short. I ultimately decided that it wasn’t worth trying to alter them because they would never be quite right.
  • The burgundy pants accentuated my proportionally larger hips and thighs such that I always felt the need to wear a longer top and/or topper with them to avoid feeling overly self-conscious.
  • The black and white skirt was too flared in silhouette for my current style preferences. I prefer straighter and/or asymmetrical fits these days.

So, as you can see, I had good reasons for letting all of these items go. I just needed to take the time to examine why I didn’t wear them, and that helped me to understand that I likely never would. I highly recommend that you do a similar exercise with the items in your closet that you’re not wearing.  It can be very enlightening and help to lighten the load of your closet clutter (if you have it).

I do feel remorse about these items, as none of them received more than a few wears. The skirt was a hand-me-down, so I don’t feel too bad about it, but the other items were purchases that I should have never made. But I can’t go back and change the past, and keeping ill-advised purchases in our closets won’t bring back our wasted dollars (or Euros or whatever…). I’ve far too often thrown good money after bad by altering garments to try to make them work for me. I almost did that with the cropped pants, but a reader’s comment (thanks, Sally!) made me reconsider. Here’s what she wrote:

“The 2 pairs of Lululemon dance studio crop pants in your holding zone are only 25”, which is why they are too short on you, and also the swift fabric is only 2-way stretch. I don’t recommend trying to get them altered.”

Sally was right! Now I realize that I need to aim for at least 27 inch inseams on my cropped pants, as well as 4-way stretch for sufficient comfort.  This is a very specific example, but it illustrates the point that if we learn our lesson from the pieces that don’t work for us, it’s not really wasted money. It’s like what Marie Kondo (of KonMari fame…) tells us to do:  thank our castoffs for the lesson and move on.

Lessons from my Castoffs

So what are the lessons I’ve learned from the above purged items? Here’s how I would classify them:

  1. Don’t settle in terms of length on pants, even with cropped pants. There is an optimal length for me for both full-length and cropped pants, and I should hold out until I find pants that fit that criterion, even if it means buying and returning lots of items.
  2. Stick with fabrics that have some “give” to them and feel soft and pliable to the touch. I don’t like stiff or scratchy fabrics and won’t wear such items, even if the color, style, and silhouette are in line with my preferences.
  3. Don’t buy pants that make me feel self-conscious about my lower half. If I have to wear a longer top or topper with the pants in order to feel attractive in them, I should pass them up and instead look for pants that will work with shorter tops and without a topper (it does get warm where I live, plus I want pieces that are more flexible and versatile).
  4. Be careful about the details on garments. I prefer simpler styles, so I should beware of extra features like ruffles, flounces, and the like, as I will always feel self-conscious and “off” when I wear them.
  5. Try to avoid side pockets on pants. I didn’t mention this above, but with my larger hips, I’ve found that side pockets often tend to bunch out and look unflattering on me. I often need to sew them closed, which isn’t always a successful alteration. It usually works, but there have been times when the line ended up looking “off.” It’s better for me to find pants without side pockets or with pockets that zip closed (like the two full-length pairs of pants pictured above, which didn’t work for other reasons).

Basically, the bottom line is not to settle. This is a lesson that I should have learned long ago! I think that because pants and skirts are so challenging for me to buy, I get weary of the buy-and-return process and end up saying, “This is good enough.” Well, it’s not… I’ve learned time and time again that I’m picky and so I need to remain picky during the purchasing process. When I’m not, I end up wasting money and feeling guilty and bad – and still having few bottoms to wear.  After all, it’s not what’s hanging in our closets that matters; it’s what we actually wear!

What I Kept and Why

I did decide to keep four of the items that were in my holding zone/skinny box:

remaining holding zone items - June 2020

These are the only items that remain in my holding zone/skinny box now. 

After trying these pieces on again, I decided to put the sleeveless blouse back in my closet. I think it’s a good piece, but it’s a matter of what I pair it with. I’m going to try to wear it this summer and hopefully will learn that I like it after all, as long as it’s combined with the right type of bottom garment. The same may be the case for the skirt, which currently fits me but I’m not so sure about the style. It’s still in the holding zone at the moment, but I’ll revisit it in a month or so.

As for the vest and pants, they remain a bit too small, but I would happily wear both of them if they fit me well now. I likely won’t be wearing jeans that much in the next few months due to the heat, so I’ll try these items on again in the fall and see what I think. The vest is also mostly a fall/winter item, so I’m okay with waiting a few months to decide on its fate. I’m still going to be on the lookout for a similar style in a size up (medium vs. small), but since I purchased the vest back in 2015, that may be hard to find. However, since it’s a classic style, I might be able to find a similar version from another brand once fall offerings are available online and in stores.

Additional Closet Purges Made

While I was considering the fate of my holding zone/skinny box items, I also decided to look at other pieces in my closet that I was on the fence about. I tried on a number of items and was honest with myself about how I looked and felt wearing them. As a result, I ended up throwing six additional pieces into my donation bag:

additional June 2020 purged items

I also purged these six items from my closet last week. 

Of these six pieces, just two were worn enough to achieve a good cost-per-wear:  the black parka and the striped skirt. The parka was worn literally hundreds of times (it was purchased in 2011), but it’s now too snug in the hips when zipped, especially when I’m sitting down. Since I purchased a new winter parka to replace it last fall, I’m ready to pass this one on. It was a good purchase and it served me well, so I have little guilt or remorse about it.

The skirt was purchased in 2013 and was worn 24 times. No, it’s not up to the 30-wears benchmark, but it does have a cost-per-wear of $1.67, which isn’t bad at all. I haven’t worn it since 2017, but I kept it around because it had once been a favorite. I thought I wasn’t wearing it due to my menopausal weight gain – and that’s part of the issue, but I also don’t love the style as much as I once did. Maybe it was just more flattering on my slimmer figure, but I’m not feeling it anymore, so I’m letting it go.

The other four items were all purchasing mistakes. Three of them were low-cost thrift/consignment purchases, but the coat was a retail buy that I also had altered. I think I like the idea of some pieces more than the actual application of them, or maybe I like the way items look on other women and think I’ll feel the same when I wear them myself. The problem with the moto coat was that it only looked good when it was zipped closed, and that’s just not ideal or practical for me. I like to wear my coats open and keep them on indoors sometimes, as I tend to run cold. I think that I’ll steer away from asymmetrical closures from now on, unless they look good when worn open. I used to have an asymmetrical knit moto jacket that I wore all the time. I actually never wore it closed, but it looked great open. That’s the type of asymmetrical topper that works for me and it’s the only type I will buy moving forward.

Some brief notes about the other three pieces… The burgundy faux suede jacket was great in theory, but not in practice. It was too long in the front to look good with a skirt of dress, which is how I had hoped to wear it, and it was too short to pair with pants (the proportions looked off).  The stripes at the bottom of the maxi skirt made it difficult to pair with tops and also made it less flattering to wear (the stripes broke up the clean line). I think I would have liked a skirt that was striped from top to bottom rather than just in part like this one. The joggers were a bit too short, much like the cropped pants that I wrote about earlier in this post. I would have needed a tall size, but when one shops at secondhand stores, we get what we get! Wasted money is still wasted money even when something is cheap, which is a truth that I need to remember.

Some Thoughts on Resale Shopping

Even when all of the stores open up again, I don’t think that I’ll do much thrift or consignment buying. This is mostly because of the fragrance issue that I wrote about in my last post (thank you to those who offered tips and advice on that subject), but I also think it’s tough to be as discerning in that environment. Secondhand shopping offers a “treasure hunt” type of experience, which is great for those who need a lot of new pieces or who can be extremely mindful of what they purchase. For those who already have a closet full of clothes and only need to add very specific pieces, such shopping can be frustrating and a waste of time. It can be like looking for a needle in a haystack to try to find items on a short shopping priorities list in a resale shop. Additionally, secondhand shopping can be problematic for shopaholics who have low resistance to snapping up “good deals.” Those of us with compulsive shopping challenges may find it difficult to remember in the heat of the moment that just because something is low-priced, it doesn’t mean that we need to buy it!

The bottom line is that I want to buy very few pieces for the remainder of this year and I want to focus those purchases on my true wardrobe needs, which mostly center on my at-home capsule. That’s how I spend the majority of my time, so that’s where my clothing dollars should primarily go. If I can find good crossover pieces, all the better, as those will give me the biggest bang for my buck, so to speak. If I buy out-and-about only items, I want to stick to my list, which I outlined in my last post and will recap below:

Shopping Priorities List – June through December 2020:

  1. Turquoise short-sleeved top (amended to say “or topper,” as either would suit my needs)
  2. Burgundy short-sleeved top
  3. Black straight-leg jeans
  4. Red or red print dress
  5. Tanks or short-sleeved tops to pair with skirts – black, solid colors (2-3)
  6. Red topper
  7. Replacement black flat sandals

I think I may have found my red topper (just waiting for what should be the right size to arrive), but the rest of the items remain on my “to buy” list. I’m not in a huge hurry to find most of them, as I have plenty to wear. These items are mostly “wants” rather than true needs, with the possible exception of the black flat sandals (as my current pair is quite worn out).

Conclusion – and Your Thoughts

I didn’t think I would have so much to say about my wardrobe midway through 2020, but the shutdown and sheltering in place have given me more time and space to consider what’s in my closet and how it is or isn’t working for me.  In my next post, I’ll discuss what I’ve learned about my personal style this year and how that has impacted – and will continue to impact – my wardrobe and what I choose to wear. After that, I’ll likely switch back to non-wardrobe topics for a little while.

When I started this blog in January 2018, I didn’t think that I would write much about clothing and shopping, but those subjects continue to be top of mind for me and seem to be popular with readers as well. I think I needed a break from such topics when Full Life Reflections began, but I came back around to enjoying writing about them as time went by. I probably didn’t need to switch to a completely different blog, but it felt like the right choice for me at the time. Hindsight is always 20/20! Regardless of the name of the blog, though, it’s still me writing about my life journey, whether it’s about clothes, technology, life balance, relationships, or whatever else I feel compelled to explore (see my full post archive here).

As always, thank you for accompanying me on the ride, and I welcome any feedback you have to offer regarding this post, whether it be about my wardrobe or your own. Here are a few questions to help prompt your thoughts, but feel free to weigh in however you’d like:

  • Do you maintain a “holding zone” for items you’re not sure whether to keep or pass on?
  • What types of items are you usually on the fence about purging from your closet?
  • Do you keep a list of the items you pass on and why? If so, how has this practice been helpful for you?
  • What are your most common purchasing mistakes? What have you learned from these shopping errors?
  • Conversely, what types of items are you generally successful in buying?
  • What types of items – or clothing details – do you feel you should you never buy again?
  • Do you shop in resale stores? Why or why not?

18 thoughts on “Following Up on My Holding Zone – and More Closet Purges

  1. Jenn says:

    Wow. What you said about turning to wardrobe management to distract yourself and quell brain noise resonated with me. I also tend to over-shop for the same reasons.

    I am a tracker of many things. My wardrobe management methods are especially extensive… or excessive. I log my out-and-about items on the Stylebook app and the outfits I’ve worn—down to the earrings. I also maintain a listing of my clothes and accessories and my likes and dislikes about each item. For years, I’ve kept a spreadsheet that lists every item, date purchased, price paid, number of times worn, and date last worn. My cost per wear ratio is approaching 38%, which is at least 10% higher than in recent years.

    A lesson I’ve learned recently: Unless a T-shirt is in an interesting color or pattern or an essential layer, I won’t enjoy wearing it.

    I’m currently not maintaining a “holding zone.” If something no longer works for my out-and-about wardrobe, I’ll downgrade it to lounge or workout wear, or get rid of it.

    The items I have trouble deciding what to do with are those that I don’t wear in my everyday life, such as clothes for funerals or special events. It’s hard for me to evaluate them when I’m not dressing for such events. Fortunately, I don’t have a lot of these types of items.

    I keep a list of items I’ve donated, but I’m not currently noting my reasons for passing things on. However, I do feel I’m considering those reasons and learning from them.

    One of my common purchasing mistakes is buying multiples of one style. I just realized gladiators are out of style. A few years ago, I found a pair I loved and bought three other similar pairs in different colors. I’m donating those three pairs and keeping the one I loved (to heck with what’s in fashion). Otherwise, I’m pretty successful with my sandal purchases.

    I rarely buy resale. However, I recently purchased a short trench from threadUP, which I have not worn, but I know that I will. I’m a super picky shopper (but still make my share of mistakes). I tend to order online and return a large percentage of those purchases.

    I’m really looking forward to reading your thoughts on personal style and am hoping to gain more clarity on my own. I do feel I’ve experienced some helpful epiphanies and inspiration from my own recent online class.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I have a tendency to overshop as a distraction, too, Jenn, but I used to do that mostly in the stores. I don’t love and embrace online shopping nearly as much, and that’s mostly what we have these days! I used to track almost as extensively as you do, but I’ve moved away from a lot of it over the past couple of years. I may or may not go back to it. When you said that your cost-per-wear ratio is approaching 38%, what exactly do you mean? That 38% of your items have reached your desired cost-per-wear?

      Good realization about t-shirts. I feel much the same, unless the t-shirt has special details or if I wear interesting jewelry or a scarf with it. And it’s great that you don’t need a holding zone. Formal items can definitely be challenging. I don’t know how well I would be able to navigate a funeral or special event if that came up, as I’ve mostly gotten rid of all such items in my closet (primarily for fit reasons).

      The mistake of buying multiples is one I’ve made countless times, too. I have done that more with clothes than shoes, but I’ve done it there as well. I’m glad your online style class has lead to some epiphanies. There is so much to learn in that arena! I will share some of my recent aha moments, but I know the learning will be ongoing.

      1. Jenn says:

        Here’s what I meant by my cost-per-wear ratio: My goal is to wear a $25.00 top at least 25 different days. So, in addition to showing a column for the item’s price on my spreadsheet, I have a column in which I add $1.00 for each time the item is worn. For instance, if I’ve worn my $25,00 top five times, the amount in the other column will show $5.00. Another column that does the math for me will show the percentage (in this case 20%). Once I reach 100%, I stop adding additional wears for that item. All my totals and overall percentage appear at the bottom. I came up with this method two decades ago and could easily tweak it to show an actual cost per wear. I do handle special occasion items a bit differently.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Thank you so much for explaining this, Jenn! I really appreciate it. I’m impressed at how closely you track your wardrobe. So it looks like you’re aiming for $1.00 or less cost-per-wear, which is what I aimed for, too (when I used to track wears). I don’t think my percentage was ever a good as yours, though, and I think it’s probably still not. Interestingly, some items probably have a CPW in the pennies, but others are much higher than I’d be happy with. I think that becoming clearer and clearer about our personal style AND shopping and dressing for the actual lives we lead will help a lot. I would handle special occasions differently, too. Those types of items don’t see nearly as many wears for most of us, but they are still important for those times when we need them.

  2. Gail says:

    There definitely is a place for your clothing posts, Debbie. Many of us need the relief focusing on issues other than the U.S. and world events that are so distressing. Sometimes I cannot even read fiction. I can always, so far, read your writing and listen to music at least.So keep on and thanks!
    We have a bag of giveaways in our closet, but normally it is taken promptly to Goodwill. That is not a possibility with immunity suppression and isolation. I do not keep lists to track. items since I have so few items. I am completely happy now with my wardrobe of just under 30 items and will replace as needed or if an occasion requires.
    I have trouble with swimsuits and even pants. Only extremely comfortable shoes work, too. I used to try and try to wear normal cute shoes. Now I have given up. I buy all second hand save for shoes, underwear, pajamas, swimsuits,purses (they last years and I keep only one at a time). With Covid I have cleaned out everything, which for me means I have given up a handful of kitchen things and a half handful of clothes. If I give more clothing away I will not have enough because there is no shopping in my life–even groceries are delivered. So one in, one out must remain keep in. I tend to over declutter if anything, so I am not your typical reader, I guess.I find this whole ownership thing fascinating. I still don’t understand why people are all so different on this, but I am very interested.
    Do you feel good after you give away or at least bag up things you have determined you do not want?
    Best of health–physical and emotional–to you and the readers, Debbie and all. I am glad we have this distraction.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad my writing helps to give you some escape from all of the chaos in the world, Gail. That’s great that you do so well with secondhand shopping, although I’m sure it will be different for a while. I think a lot of people have used this time to pare down their possessions. Since you were already doing so well with your clothes, it seems the kitchen is where you focused and made great progress. I think you’re not my only reader who is a clothing minimalist. I’ve gotten comments and emails from more than a few 🙂 I’m happy for anyone to read my blog who feels they can benefit from it in some way. Yes, I definitely feel good when I get rid of things! It can feel like a weight is being lifted off of my shoulders. We were able to take some castoffs to a donation center recently and that was a big relief. Wishing you the best of health, too! This is certainly a very challenging time…

  3. Katrina B says:

    It’s great to see a post from you on any topic! When there are stressful events beyond our control it’s comforting to think about clothes, reorganize closets, make lists, all of which are things we *can* control.

    I think you win the prize for having the smallest “holding zone” of anyone, ever. This is probably the best measure of how well curated your wardrobe is. My holding zone is just my seemingly endless pile of alterations and repairs. Because I don’t have a lot of free time and because I HATE doing alterations, things can sit in that pile for years. This is not always good since my preferences sometimes change. I recently did all the gray alterations (if you sew you know that you do everything in one color thread and then rethread the machine for the next color group) and I re-hemmed a pair of light gray linen pants that I’d purchased at least 4 years ago. Back then I was wearing linen pants all the time, but when I wore the newly hemmed pair last week, I discovered that I can’t stand linen pants now. So those poor pants sat unused for years, plus I wasted a bunch of time sewing them. Hopefully I have learned these lessons: first, fix it now, and second, if it’s been sitting there for more than a year, make sure I really like it before doing the sewing.

    I haven’t kept a list of items passed on or the reasons, but it seems like a good idea, especially now that I have everything photographed and spreadsheeted. I think most of my problem garments have been comfort-related, and I tend to retain a strong sensory memory of the problem. Now when I have the “ooooh so pretty” response to something in a store or online, I immediately look at fabric content and construction details. These factors, like polyester content or elastic in the neckline or a belted waist, are usually enough to completely cancel out my interest in the garment.

    In addition, I am still tempted by garments that are not my style, like wide gathered skirts, drapey soft T-shirts, and loose jackets. I should not buy these! But they always look so nice on the models! Fortunately my style is finally very clearly defined, and I have the best success with garments in fairly narrow categories: fitted bottoms and slightly structured tops and toppers. My closet is filled with clothes I actually wear so I think I have been pretty good about staying within those categories for the last couple of years.

    I too am giving up the thrift/consignment shopping, which is sad because I felt it was a good way to enjoy novelty with less environmental impact (and financial impact). Unless chemical sensitivity becomes widely recognized and understood in the resale market, I think I’ll have to stick with sewing my own or purchasing the occasional new item.

    I hope you and your family are staying healthy and enjoying the summer as much as it is possible to do these days..

    1. Julia says:

      Oh dear yes, that alterations pile…. I am ashamed to say I still have a huge pile and some of the things I had completely forgotten about. In the past, I would grit my teeth and do the alterations, which like you I absolutely hate, but only last week I decided that if I wasn’t 100% happy with the garment, it was not worth the effort and out it would go.

      I am very short and sew most of my clothes, but sometimes I am so desperate to buy something rather than sew, I make the mistake of thinking “well, a couple of inches here and a couple of inches there, and it will be fine” – which it rarely is. So I am determined not to fall into that trap ever again!

      1. Debbie Roes says:

        I have fallen prey to wanting to almost completely remake items through alterations, too, Julia, except I take my pieces to the tailor. I’ve thrown a lot of good money after bad on such schemes, but hopefully I’ve learned my lesson now. It’s challenging for those of us who are hard to fit for whatever reason, but I guess we just need to be pickier when we shop. It’s great that you sew most of your clothes. I wish I would have learned that skill when I was younger, but I know there’s still time!

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      My holding zone used to be very large, Katrina, so I’m quite pleased to have pared it down to where it is now. I’m sure it will vary in size, but I intend to keep it contained in one plastic storage bin. I think that if I were doing my own alterations, I’d have a large pile, too. I’ve often thought that I should learn to sew to help save some money, but I’m not sure where I would put a sewing machine in my home.

      How great that you have all of your clothes photographed and cataloged now! A lot of my problem garments have been comfort-related, too (that’s probably my biggest problem after fit issues). It’s common to be dazzled by pretty things and not pay close enough attention to fabric quality, but that’s SO important! I can also be tempted by items that aren’t my style, especially if they look great on others. I’m learning my lesson there now, fortunately. I’m continuing to work on my style, as I will share in my next post, but I’ve made a lot of progress.

      Yes, it’s sad about our not being able to do thrift/consignment shopping due to chemical sensitivity. I really wish they wouldn’t spray everything, but so much would already smell like laundry detergent even before that. Sigh… I probably SHOULD learn to sew, for a variety of reasons. It could still happen. Wishing you health and happiness this summer, too! I have gotten used to the way things are now, but I sure do hope it doesn’t have to stay this way for too long.

  4. Lori says:

    I always enjoy your posts about clothing. It is helpful to discover similarities in shopping patterns or attitudes or mistakes when making purchases so I can reflect on why I over shop. I do keep a holding zone for clothes that don’t quite fit. I have gained a lot during menopause and I keep hoping that I will be able to fit into these items again. They will probably not appeal to e if I can ever get back into them! I am usually on the fence about purging anything that cost me a lot of money that I just don’t wear. I feel so guilty and try to tell myself that I will find an occasion to wear them(but I know this just isn’t true) I don’t keep a list of the items I pass on, but I do have a mental list. My most common purchasing mistake is settling for things that are not quite right. I have purchased countless black pants over the years (because every fashion list tells us we need them) and always find something not quite right about nearly every pair. I have kept a few and, of course, they just sit in my closet never to be worn!! I never seem to have the right top or shoes or topper…you get the idea. I am always searching for the unicorn of comfort, style and suitability. I seem to have success with toppers. I guess I have too many of them because they make me feel secure and comfortable. I have lots of body image issues and love to hide in them. The items I should never buy again are black pants and skirts or anything with fussy details or crazy prints. I think I want my clothing to be quiet. I will also never be buying shoes with heels higher than 1 inch because of an ankle injury that seems to flare up constantly. I shopped in resale stores when I was much younger, but I just get creeped out putting on clothing that has been on someone else’s body. Egad, just writing this is really making me think. I am going to spend the afternoon in my closet trying to figure it all out.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I feel your pain about menopause, Lori. I have found that now that it’s four plus years later, I’ve been able to drop some of the weight I gained, but not as much as I’d like – yet. I struggle to let go of expensive items, too, which is why I have a pile of things I’m planning to sell. After months of procrastination, I finally started working on that project this week.

      It sounds like you’ve come to some powerful realizations about your shopping mistakes. It’s definitely time well spent to determine why items haven’t worked for you. As you read from this post, I have settled for a number of items that weren’t quite right, too. Like you, I also have too many toppers, also due to body image issues. We have a lot in common, it seems! “Quiet” clothing appeals to me, too. You have written a lot of realizations that will serve you well for future shopping. Writing them all down somewhere (maybe on your phone, if it’s always with you) can help you to avoid future mistakes. Maybe create a “do not buy” list. I’ve done that for the blog, but I need to keep it on my phone, too!

  5. Tara C says:

    I have a large amount of pants in three different sizes because I wear my pants very fitted and a weight gain/loss of a couple of pounds causes me to shift sizes. I learned the hard way years ago not to give away good pants that didn’t quite fit, then I experienced a weight shift and regretted it. I have not bought any pants in about ten years, I just rotate my stock. Pretty much everything I buy is classic styles/cuts that don’t go out of fashion.

    Things I dither about getting rid of are styles I like but don’t fit my actual lifestyle, or things I paid a lot for, or even really expensive things I got a great deal on.

    No wardrobe tracking at all, but I normally remember things I bought that didn’t work and why. My worst mistake is always buying too many of things I like. I’m good at buying underwear I really like – that’s a category in which it’s beneficial to buy several of something that really works well for you.

    I love big blousy tops but then feel like they look like a sack when wearing them. Since I’m small, fitted things look better on me, but I like loose clothing, so it’s a dilemma. I have no patience to shop in resale shops, can’t be bothered digging through racks and racks of stuff, especially when you’re looking for something specific.

    I did a big cleanout of my bathroom and kitchen during the lockdown, tossed a ton of old cosmetics, a big box of teacups & coffee cups. Working on whittling down the dishes more, plus books. I feel bad about having wasted the money, but better to let it go for someone else to enjoy than have it cluttering up my home.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      That’s wonderful that you haven’t had to buy pants for ten years, Tara! I keep pants as long as I can see myself wearing them again, so I have two or three sizes around most of the time, too. I’m not small like you, but since I gain weight in my lower half, it doesn’t take a lot for me to need a bigger size, unless there’s a lot of stretch in a pair of pants. I tend to dither (great word…) on the same sorts of items as you do and also tend to buy too many of things that I like (the old “If one is good, then three is great!” fallacy). Yes, we have to consider our size and shape in terms of what we wear. One issue for me is that shorter jackets are often too short on me and just look “off,” which is too bad because I love the look on others.

      Great job with all of the cleanouts you’ve done during the lockdown! I have found that my guilty feelings tend to dissipate fairly quickly once I get the items out of my house. I would have to tally up all of the money that I’ve wasted over the years, but it does feel good to pass things on and know that others will be able to enjoy what I either never embraced or what I’ve grown tired of.

  6. Krissie says:

    I actually exhale and relax when I come to this blog Debbie, it feels like an oasis of thinking about other things other than the news in the world. And even though we cant always solve the worlds problems, we can focus on what we can rein in like our wardrobes and things at home. I don’t keep any records of any clothing – ie what comes in or what goes out or what Im holding at the moment. I think I work in the chaos theory!! But it works for me. I used to keep track – for one year only what I spent that year on clothing but even that bored me and the result wasn’t helpful. I do tend to have a bad habit of liking cheap clothes and because of that buy at least ine item everytime I go into this particular store, that’s something I’m not happy about but the cheap prices are so tempting. I do wear those clothes and a few are even some of my favourite items of clothing.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad this blog is an oasis for you, Krissie. I do think we all need areas of our lives that are free from discussion and thoughts about world events. This is especially important for those of us who struggle with anxiety. I agree that it’s good to focus on the areas of our lives that we can control, including our homes and our wardrobes. I don’t think there is an ideal way to manage one’s wardrobe, as we are all different, and what works for us can shift over time. For example, tracking wears played an important role in my recovery (which is still ongoing), but then it started to feel like it was hindering me more than helping me (too much “navel-gazing” and too time-consuming). I think you’re not alone in liking “cheap” clothes and getting a deal. If you’re wearing the items you buy and some are even favorites, then it may not be a problem for you. The issue comes in when we buy a lot and don’t wear most of it, which has definitely been an issue for me. If “chaos theory” is working for you, then carry on 🙂

  7. Wendy says:

    When I look back at all the items I’ve donated over the past 5 years, there are only 6 or 7 items I wish I still had but most (and there was a lot!) were mistakes. I never kept a holding zone and if I waffle back and forth a lot on an item, I usually end up donating it. I am very picky about jeans and sweaters and if they don’t tick all the boxes for me I don’t keep them. Unfortunately I do have to wear them out before I can determine if they are right and that does not allow me to return the item if they are not ok, even only after a few wears. So there’s been a lot of coming and going with jeans and sweaters.

    My main problem with jeans is that most waist bands are too tight when I sit down and I can’t seem to find a pair of slimmer cut jeans that fit comfortably at my lower waist and slim enough in the legs. I can’t do skinny jeans anymore, as this is one type of pant that has never worked for me and believe me when I tell you I have tried 30 pairs. All of them were just a big waste. I have two pairs of baggy style jeans with elastic waist bands that I am happy with. They would not work for dressier occasions but I don’t see any those coming up the foreseeable future.

    Sweaters have also been difficult to find. I am usually attracted to more oversized and thicker knits but these types only work if worn without a coat. I am down to a few slimmer cashmere ones that can be easily worn with a coat but I purged a lot the past year before I reached to this point. Now I’m looking for cardigans, as I don’t have any, one thicker one to be worn as outerwear and a thin one that can be layered.

    My most successful buys are dresses. I buy very few and I generally stick to similar styles and fabrics that have worked on me before. I bought this one style by one brand that has been worn consistently. A few months ago, I was able to find two more in different pattern fabrics on ebay so I’m set for summer dresses.

    There are no good resale shops in the city where I live so I usually have to resort to ebay. I have to stick to items with brands and cuts that I already own and want more of when purchasing second hand online, I don’t have much luck with finding ‘gems’ that don’t require major alterations.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I don’t miss most of the items I’ve donated, either, Wendy. Like you, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I agree with you that we can’t always know at the time of purchase whether or not something will work for us. I’ve become more discerning, but some things do need to be worn out and about before we can make a determination about their suitability for our lives. I think it’s good to be picky, like you are about jeans and sweaters. I think it’s often when we’re not picky enough that we have more problems. I agree that jeans are often a lot less comfortable when we sit down, and I can’t do skinny jeans, either. It’s great that you found some jeans and sweaters that work well for you, and that you’re successful in buying dresses. I like the “one and done” aspect of dresses, which is a big part of why I’ve been moving away from skirts and more toward dresses. Shopping on eBay can be challenging, but when we know which brands and cuts work for our bodies, it can be a good resource. We’re both learning and are doing better. I know it’s been a long and hard road for you, just as it has been for me, but we’re getting there!

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