One Year. One Closet. One Year of Purchases.
As you may know by now, I’m a big fan of practicing what I preach. So, for both personal and professional reasons, I decided to challenge myself to a little game in 2019.
I tracked ALL of my clothing purchases. For each purchase, I notated what it was, where it was purchased, what it cost and most importantly WHY I felt I was purchasing it.
This exercise had two intentions. First, I thought it would bring even more mindfulness to my choices. Second, I thought it would be fun to see how much it impacted my decision making and how much I actually purchased and spent. Yep, this is my idea of a fun game.
Based on my consumption values, I buy almost exclusively second hand—clothing, household, you name it. What that has meant, over the years, is that I buy what I find (that I like), when I find it, knowing I can’t just go back and get it later. I don’t think I have shopped excessively, as a result, but I do feel that it made me feel less intentional about purchases.
For example, I couldn’t necessarily pursue a particular color or style item. My choices were dictated by what was available. So, part of this experiment was that I wanted to become more intentional about the individual choices I made, even though I was still buying second-hand. Could I target certain items? Would I buy less? Would I be overall more intentional about the choices?
Before I share the results of this little experiment, let me back up and tell you what I did to prepare.
Have you heard of capsule wardrobes? It’s a bit of a trendy thing where you strip down your closet to 30-40 items each season, with the intention of owning less (hopefully higher quality, more ethically made) and pairing it together in multiple combinations. Think Garanimals for adults.
Well, I didn’t want to go full capsule or anything. But I did think it would be helpful to apply similar principles. Less. Simple. Interchangeable.
I also applied my own methodology, which included making a list of the different types of activities I do: exercise, seeing clients, speaking, date night, etc. This helps to base your clothing on your actual life. Because one of the things I’ve noticed with clients (and myself) is that we often own clothes for a life we don’t have—or no longer have.
In my case, I owned more clothes than were needed for each category of my actual life—like not enough clothes for seeing clients, but way too many date night outfits. (and honestly, we are more likely to cook dinner at home on a date night, so really that outfit should just be an apron. Well, I mean not JUST an apron. Ok, anyway…)
So, out went the excessive fancy clothes, making space for a few more practical choices. This prep work helped lay the foundation for shopping. I began the year knowing that there were a few gaps in my wardrobe that needed filling.
I purchased 42 items, over the course of the year.
This included all clothing and accessories. It was more than I would have estimated, which is funny, because it didn’t seem like I was actually buying that much. That makes me wonder if I bought more or less than other years. Also important to note is that I didn’t happen to need any “essentials,” such as underwear and base layers this year.
So, here’s the breakdown, in case you are curious. I’ll even give you the reasons for purchase that I notated and some additional commentary. Since I am not a fashion blogger, it’s a little funny to share this much detail. But, I think it does a good job of illustrating my overall philosophies of conscious consumerism and intentional closets.
Then, apparently, I didn’t buy anything more until JUNE. That’s a really long stretch, which is impressive.
July was apparently the big shopping month. The biggest reason was that the consignment shop had one of their two major clearance sales, so I took advantage of 50-75% off prices, which you will note.
Did someone say GARAGE SALE SEASON?
So, there you have it!
Overall, the experiment was incredibly successful. I was far more mindful with what I purchased and it was, indeed, a lot of fun to track.
Things I learned:
- It was easier to find specific items, that were still second hand, than I thought. It shouldn’t surprise me, because I teach this stuff, but having a clear vision and intention of what I wanted made it easier to spot things. Beyond that, I probably also got lucky a few times.
- I don’t think I shop excessively, but I recognize that, prior to this, I still did some level of recreational shopping. I realize that most of that recreational shopping was inspired by a desire for creative expression. Now, I am using that energy elsewhere.
- It’s incredibly difficult for me to buy basic items. First of all, you rarely run into a plain black top at a consignment store. Mostly you run into the more unique items that people didn’t end up wearing very often. So I had to really actively look for some basics to supplement some of the other items that I already had.
- It actually seemed rather shocking how many items I bought, considering it didn’t seem like I did that much shopping.
- Throughout the year, I’ve continue to clean out my wardrobe, because I felt like it continued to get more intentional. In general, I feel less inclined to go clothing shopping now. I find myself very fond of the things I purchased this past year and how they go with the things that I already own.
- I find myself wearing more of my clothes than I ever have before. They say that you only wear about 25% of your wardrobe. I think my percentage is up from that.
- Though second hand petite sizing is pretty limited, I still benefit from size privilege, as there are many options available that fit me relatively well.
- I bought a lot of clothes in my brand colors. I guess I know what I like.
Total cost for 42 items?
Now, remember, bargains were not a goal, but I am an experienced secondhand shopper: $259.50
That’s an average of $6 per item. Not too shabby, Shehata. It was those damn $29 jeans that hiked up my average. I may even try this little experiment again this year…Want to join me?