Thursday, January 9, 2014

Oh Those Clothes...

The clothing dilemma. It haunts me. I am not doing well in this department, despite the fact that it was the impetus for my minimalizing.

About four years ago I got heavily into fashion, and as a result, spent more money on clothes than I ever had before. I wanted to be stylish and up to date in what I wore. Call it a midlife crisis. Also, as my kids got older and cost less money (no more daycare, etc.), I had more disposable income. So I started buying from higher end retailers like Talbots and Macy's (yes, that is high end to me), and I would order with abandon when Talbots had one of its outlet clearance sales. I got many pieces of clothing for under $20. My argument was that you couldn't really be picky, but hey, you got quality and a name brand, right? Never mind the fact that they were final sale, and many of the items I got just never fit me properly or were too bulky or whatever. They were Talbots and they were cheap.

Even when I started my new job 1-1/2 years ago, I felt even more justified in my spending because I was now working in a "corporate" environment. I felt important. Women wore skirts and nice pants and even suits. The guys all wore ties. I HAD to keep up. Also, I work with a blithering idiot, so I rewarded myself to lunchtime trips to TJ Maxx (right across the street from the office) two or three times a week because "I deserved it."

Fast forward a year and we're looking at college costs for my son. He's applied to mostly private schools (or out-of-state state schools) which may cost $40,000-$50,000 per year. I'll write more about that in another post, but suffice to say that I could no longer spend like I was. In August, my husband and I had a serious conversation about reigning all of our spending, and by that time, I had given enough thought to minimalism that I was up for the challenge.

I won't say that I haven't spent money on clothes. I have. But I have been filling gaps in my closet and bought things that were only white, black, or gray to get me through the winter. Those are the colors that EVERYBODY wears at work and they are easy. I didn't have enough in my closet, so I limited myself to classic pieces that would go with everything.

This endeavor has been successful, but I kind of fell off the wagon this past weekend. I am a big fan of the Jockey Person to Person line because their clothes are crazy high quality and made for women. Their blouses and pants are cut for the regular woman's body and I love them. However, I won't buy them full price, because that's just a bit out of my price range. So I buy a few pieces during their semiannual sale, and on Sunday, I went to my rep's house to try something on for size and to place an order for three items that I very carefully selected, after much thought and consideration. Still, I ended up buying four additional pieces of her sample items too. Granted, they are deeply discounted because a bunch of women like myself have tried them on countless times, but I don't really need any of them.

And yet, and yet, I WANT them. They are basic pieces that will go with everything I have and they will last me for years. I treat all of my clothes with kid gloves now, and I can get three or four seasons out of an Old Navy t-shirt that cost me $2.99.

I need to give myself a little credit here though. The way I've purchased my clothes has changed -- I only pay in cash, try everyting on, make sure it all goes with everything else, and are higher in quality. I no longer buy clothes because they were a good deal. Because we all know that if you don't need them, then they're no deal at all.

Anyway, today I wore another three pieces from my selection for Project333, so even though they aren't catalogued yet as such, they are still part of the experiment. When I finally move things around in my closet, I'll post a picture.

What is your philosophy on clothing purchases? If you changed your spending habits, how long did it take before you stopped really wanting to buy, buy, buy?


  1. I always thought I was rather good at clearing out my wardrobe every year. And then as I started this journey I got a shock. I still had a whole load of stuff in my wardrobe that I never wore and never would wear but was keeping for some reason that I have yet to fathom. The bags that came out of our bedroom were enormous and they shamed me and made me realise just how much money I had wasted on impulse purchases or purchases that I thought I had to make and thus never liked.

    Then I did my first project 333. Wake up call number two.

    I bought some woollens whilst we were in Italy because (a) they were beautiful, (b) they were half the price compared to the UK and most important (c) I needed to replace some that had finally given up the ghost. Also both the clearout and Project 333 had made me realise that quite a bit of my wardrobe didn't really match my body or my lifestyle.

    Now I have a relatively hard and fast one in one out. I am prepared to make exceptions, but only in extremis.

    1. Hi One Pair of Shoes! So glad you stopped by my blog. I'm going to check yours out after I write this.

      I too used to think I was quite good at clearing out my closet at the end of the season, but then with my unchecked spending the last few years, I would pull clothes out each season and think "There are enough days in the summer for me to wear everything I have." Then I'd promise to stop buying, but I never did.

      I actually wrote this a few days before I chose my Project 333 clothes, but I have been sticking with it and I am loving it. I am amazed at the benefits I've seen so far. I'll do a post about that soon.

      Anyway, people like you are an inspiration to me. Thanks for stopping by!

    2. Eek I did a total wardrobe inventory today. I have so much crap in my wardrobe and that's after the great declutter. I'm going to record everything I wear this month and have a good look at wardrobe usage.

  2. I took a look at the line and was impressed, wish (maybe better not) that I knew someone who sold this line, very pretty. My obsession is whitehouseblackmarket and ditto, love sales

    1. My boss loves WHBM and I bought a few clothes from there last summer when I was trying to impress her by mirroring her. I don't love the way they fit. They run just a tad too small on me. So I've deleted them from my email and no longer are tempted by sales.

  3. I have a similar story to you! I've always loved fashion but in 2009 I became a bit obsessed. Two things collided like a perfect storm - I was unhappy with my life and I simultaneously discovered fashion blogs. I started obsessing over trends (most of which did not suit me at all, as I'm older than most fashion bloggers.) I spent a ridiculous amount of money on clothes that didn't really suit me at all.

    That was one of the hardest parts of starting Project 333 - letting go of all these barely used items that I've paid very good money for. So far, I'm finding dressing with less ok, but looking back the process of letting go was so difficult. It actually took me several years of thinking about it to take the plunge!

    1. Oh those fashion blogs! Don't even get me started. I ALMOST started one of them because I wanted free clothes. Thank goodness I didn't.

      I was aware of Project 333 for at least a year but thought I could never do it. I'd love to get down to the 33 items, but I just had to start slow. I'm glad that you're giving it a go!