The Mid-year Wardrobe Assessment


The past few weeks have been pretty intense for me - work has been insane, there has been bouts of illnesses in the house and we've been traveling across state lines and international borders. I've only recently gotten around to separating my spring cleaning clothing piles into those I need to donate and those I need to take to consignment. That being said, I think it's only apt that I go through the things I've learned so far, my progress in fulfilling my New Year's resolution and what I will try to achieve for the rest of this year.

In the beginning of the year I wrote about buying less and living a little simpler. I think for the most part, I've stuck to the resolution, except that I gaffed on several very expensive items and I'm hitting myself on the head about it. For some reason, it had never been a big deal in the past because I was never quite as experimental about my dress sense. If anything, running this blog has made me more prone to obsessing about things I want because I see them sitting so prettily on other people, if you know what I mean (and I think you do). This year, I have started shopping at La Garconne a bit more, I've bought more handmade items and I haven't tried anything on in person as much before buying. All those have turned out to be relatively disastrous undertakings.

Five things I've learned so far:
  1. Invest in a good tailor as per this post.
  2. Whimsy and girlish does not work on me. Nothing flowery, summery, frou-frou, loud or drapey - I look simultaneously idiotic, matronly, and with child.
  3. Floppy does not work on me and by that I mean things that are obviously over three sizes too big and not just 'relaxed'.
  4. My uniform works. I keep forgetting that I have, had, a uniform for a reason - they've never failed me and it's easy. 
  5. Never buy anything you can't return, even if it costs much less. 
The running consensus on a lot of blogs that promote a less conspicuous approach to buying is that online shopping is a vice and the only way to stop the insanity is to turn off the computer (or shut the laptop) and stop obsessing. My method of dealing with the obsession to browse and buy is to clean the house, harass the dog, then read a book. I am still intent on making sure I finish twenty Cary Grant movies by the end of the year (I haven't seen one, not even one, blasphemy!). I'm also intent on reading at least ten books from the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels of the Twentieth Century list, and by list I mean the Critics' list. The Readers' list is a right joke because seriously, who the heck votes for 'Atlas Shrugged' as the Best Novel last century (blasphemy!)?

Anyway, sorry for going off on a tangent, but my point is that I've made mistakes even though I am trying to be more conscientious when purchasing clothes. In fact, I am beginning to suspect that I end up spending so much more because I fret and overthink until it eats away at me and I feel like I just have to have a particular item. Most of the time, unfortunately, the very things I fret about turn out to be enormous disappointments.

I think for the most part, I'm pretty done with shopping for a bit - I'm still very keen on getting the J.W. Hulme Linwood bag because I've been pining over one for a while (my PS1 is a disaster and the Clare Vivier messenger bag just doesn't compare), I will probably buy a couple of cashmere sweaters (gray and black) before year's end and maybe some new lingerie. But at the moment, I am trying my best to stay away from sites that peddle sartorial pleasures and instead focus my energy into finishing this dratted PhD and saving for the honeymoon next year.

15 comments:

  1. Starting a remix helped me a lot. It reinforced the fact that my closet already has everything I need and prevented me from buying the next shiny new thing that I saw in style blogs. Good luck on your new spending allowance!

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  2. I love the honesty in this post and think that your rules make a whole lot of sense. Experimenting with expensive clothes, thinking they are "investments" when they turn out not to be, has to be the most expensive habit of all, and I have certainly been there. And the online browsing, reading blogs, etc, truly does only make you covet even more. Of the things that I've obsessed over, only a small portion end up being true gems. Many times, I just move on to the next obsession, which is just really sad to realize. Do you think you will continue to blog? Do you think there is any way truly to have a blog focused on reducing and simplifying that doesn't lead to consumption?

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  3. So true. Glad to know I'm not the only one who does this. I think so often this part of the process remains hidden in the blogging world. I'm still in the wait-and-see mode to find out if several items that I think reflect my taste and approach actually end up as true investments.

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  4. you took the words right out of my mouth. I never seem to learn that the blogging world is an outlet for fantasy and not my reality. I am also aiming for a minimalist, functional and well-loved small wardrobe that fits my lifestyle and many times I get side tracked by attractive fashion blogs. I tallied up my online wardrobe spending this year and almost passed out from the amount I wasted on disappointing items. I try to hide them by donating, giving and selling but the credit card bills brings them all back in one giant sum. I think I'll take your advice and shut the computer down for awhile, well...at least till the end of the summer.

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  5. Man, sorry to hear the PS1 hasn't been good (I sort of get what you mean about the Clare Vivier bag). Why don't you like it?

    I've decided the same thing about flouncy ingenue dresses. I kind of look like a giantess in them. Good luck with not shopping online! It takes a lot of willpower, but I am sure it can be done.

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  6. i hate to post an enabling comment on a post like this, but lucky has a 50% discount on the linwood bag right now: http://www.luckymag.com/blogs/luckyrightnow/2011/07/jw-hulme-co-deal-of-the-day

    [sorry]

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  7. @Wrapped in Firs
    I wish I could do a remix but I think I'd be pretty boring - I hardly have 30 pieces of clothing, top and bottom combined and I'm usually always in the samish things anyway. But glad to hear it's working for you! =)

    @S
    I hope to continue to blog - I want to see if it can be done i.e. consume less and still managing to impart some kind of style wisdom. When I started this blog, I was hoping for it to be more a lifestyle blog so I wouldn't get boxed in. But the funny thing is that people come here mostly to read about the fashion part. I think it's doable, but it takes a LOT of smart writing and loads of self-discipline.

    @Quinn
    I'm beginning to reevaluate the term "investment" especially when it comes to clothing. Is it really possible to invest in clothes? I've never done a cost-per-wear calculation, but unless it's a pair or shoes or a bag, I don't think anything I own has really made any real "returns" for the price I paid.

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  8. @Wendy
    Wendy, you are so right. Many bloggers seem to be living in a fantasy world which I actually find quite insulting and nauseating. The blogs that I frequent don't do that as much, but there are the occasional ones where they seem to be buying something new every single day and you have a hoard of girls that think that's the way life should be. It's frankly a little disturbing. And thank you for visiting my blog!


    @V
    The PS1 is saggy, the buckles had the enamel paint chipped after two months, and the medium bag won't even hold a camera and all my bare bones minimum without looking like a floppy grocery store sack. Oh, I'll still shop online *wink* but maybe I'll see how long I can hold out until I crack.

    @joyce
    Joyce, thank god the code is for the mini Linwood and only in pretty funky colors. I'm getting the regular sized Linwood in black and I was already enabled by a $100 off coupon.

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  9. Love this post - it's organised my jumble of thoughts perfectly into coherence.

    About shopping online - I dislike buying things online because the touch and feel of fabric is so important to me and online shopping can't never replicate that. And the uniform thing - I couldn't agree more and it's saved me whenever I go a little weak-kneed at something I know I'm not going to wear much.

    I enjoy blogging and reading people's blogs but a little part of me is spurred on to shop by reading blogs because you see lovely things all the time looking great on people and that gives you all sorts of ideas to shop. The irony is that my favourite blogs are about shopping wisely, haha.

    Going by your post and the comments, I think one good thing is that we're all aware of the effect reading blogs are having on our consumption habits, and for me, that's a step in mastering my impulses.

    That said, I want to say you shouldn't beat yourself too much over this - I think we're all a little hard on ourselves when we feel like we've fallen short of an ideal. I feel like an idiot every time I see a particular sweater in my closet but I think I should let go, and let live.

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  10. well, I sure do hope that you continue to blog and am really looking forward to seeing the insights you gain while reducing your consumption. I always have this as a goal, yet somehow I often feel like my love of fashion and love of talking about it is in contention with this goal. It becomes even worse when you no longer are financially responsible for only yourself ... the guilt of spending the money on clothes vs contributing more to your child's college fund, if you know what I mean. Anyway, you've inspired me to step away from a sweater I've been obsessing over. Too bad I have things in the mail on the way to me already :/ Btw, I have to admit that I like the variety in the reader's list a bit more, but I did a few weeks ago download Sons and Lovers on my Kindle. Maybe I should digitally crack that open when I finish the chore that is Cold Mountain

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  11. that is really disappointing about the PS1, is there any guarantee on it? or refund policy? I think I have read more bad reviews than good reviews of it, pity as it is a really good design.
    I have been in the same place style wise where you are right now, its such a relief to just let go of all the things you think might look good on you, and focus on real life. Regarding some of the comments, I think its pretty dangerous to think of clothing as an 'investment', I have grown to really dislike the whole idea. It just seems like a way to trap women into spending a lot of money on something, when really very few fashion items can actually maintain their value or be sold for a profit. I also agree with you about the idea that some blogs make the whole style situation worse, but I just try to remember that however easy some bloggers lives look, it is probably not that way at all in reality.

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  12. @lin

    Unfortunately for me, I really like the convenience of online shopping since I'm usually a grouch and can't really be bothered with niceties and I feel really pressured when I'm in an actual store. If anything, I think the internet has made shopping both easier and more stimulating, and I'm also exposed to more avenues where I can be uninhibited when buying.

    Anyway, I am going to take your advice and not beat myself too hard over the head. I'm going to sell a few of the annoying items (albeit at a deeply reduced rate) and learn an expensive lesson =)

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  13. I understand your hesitation about the word "investment." the first times I used it in this way, I felt a bit funny. I'll be interested in how you work out your idea of this word.

    I guess I use it loosely, to designate the clothes that will end up giving a lot of pleasure and functionality in my life.

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  14. love the Cary Grant resolution. I suggest: Philadelphia Story, Grass is Greener, Charade.

    Those are my three favorites, anyway.

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  15. A good tailor is an essential. When I think of the things that look good on me, often they were tweaked by a tailor. The best way is to find through word of mouth.

    Also like chrisbean I recommend Charade. It is the 1st Audrey Hepburn movie I ever saw as a child. And Houseboat is pretty cute too, but I would watch any of his Hitchcocks before that.

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