Curated Closet

I’ve written before about how I would follow whatever trends were popular at the time – whether for fashion in general, or what the rest of the campus was wearing. The idea of a capsule wardrobe wasn’t at all on my radar in the early 2010s, and shopping was as much a hobby as a bonding activity, so my frequent clothing shopping would not have been something I would have questioned at the time. A decade later, I was learning about capsule wardrobes – but those, too, felt more aspiration-oriented than instructional, especially with the flat-lays on Instagram showing clothing and accessories that were not already in my closet nor within my budget.

Last year – 2021 – was the first time I really paid attention to the idea of a curated closet, as opposed to buying a string of trendy statement pieces and hoping for the best. In particular, the closing sale of Le Château – and the fact that I tracked it from the announcement in October 2020 to the actual closing around April 2021 – made it so I was looking at everything that was listed on the website for weeks at a time before making any purchases. I had already been thinking about doing a No Buy (in the flimsiest of ways), but there were also items that I didn’t have in my closet – like pant suits and blouses – that were plentiful on the website. I held off on making any purchases for a few months, mostly because I wanted the deeper discounts, but in part to not deal with the headache of purchasing clothing that fit the wrong way and then not being able to return it (this would have been around the same time that non-essential shopping was not allowed and malls were closed as a result).

The benefit of waiting out the cycle of sales (some sales were buy X number of items, get an additional percentage off – others were these specific categories are a deeper discount) was doing the math to figure out just how much I would save and that I was building the habit of waiting it out rather than leaning into an impulse purchase. On top of that, with the additional time, I was thinking about what I already owned (and actually wore) and what I could reasonably add to the rotation. This was one of the first times that I thought about what I was adding to my wardrobe in context to the rest of what I wore (or at least that season), rather than just buying because I thought it was cute and the discount was an impressive percent. I still bought a larger quantity over that half-year period than I would in one sitting, but it was items that all went together or were for specific events – such as a pant suit set and 1-2 tops that matched the colours in the tartan pattern, or a clutch that matched both something I already owned and an evening gown I was buying.

In comparison, my long-term habit of shopping was “if it looks good on me, I’ll buy it.” While still living in Montreal, it was a lot easier to spend the afternoon shopping, in person, which meant that I was seeing what the store wanted me to see rather than being able to look through items online with filters. I’m fortunate that I lived in a city that had a wide variety of options for clothing and that 90% of what I tried on would fit me (the biggest issue being pants were too short), but in trying everything on, I would form attachments to whatever fit well enough – I start with feeling the fabric (usually some poly-blend), then imagining events and outings that I’ll wear the item while trying it on, then end with walking out with a massive bag of fast fashion for under $100. When I moved for work, much of my online shopping would be done while heading to bed, aiming to have a “quick look,” but sometimes spending up to three hours hours finding a way to meet a shipping minimum – or trying to find every variation of an item.

By shopping as a hobby or for the thrill of the deal, I ended up with a wardrobe of hardly any basics – whether they were statement pieces or short-lived trends – which made it harder for me to feel inspired to put something together when I was overwhelmed by everything looking back at me from my closet. That isn’t to say that I would wear a neon yellow sequin skirt with an ostrich feather halter top for my Monday morning meetings, but when you only have patterns to work with, it can still be headache-inducing. Now, however, I lean into the fact that I have a handful of colours that I like to wear (navy blue, burgundy, forest green), some patterns and prints (stripes, tartan, floral, houndstooth), and I generally stick to the three-colour rule when planning an outfit. I also don’t feel like I need to buy as much when I know that my combinations are basically endless, especially if I’m being more thoughtful about trying out different outfit ideas.

If I could impart any advice for someone who is in a similar situation, I’d say what worked best for me was assessing the following:
1) See what you like the most in what you already own – whether that’s colours, patterns, prints, cuts, or fabric. This is less to do with brands you like, and more what you like on your body.
2) When considering what you feel is missing, think about what’s influencing that: are you being swayed by what you’re seeing in advertisements or posts/videos online (more of an impulse, maybe), or is this a general item (a suit, a clutch, a pair of block heels) that you can use for something coming up (work on Monday, an experience/outing, a specific event) that can also be useful for future wears because it goes with other stuff in your closet?
3) Do I have something similar enough to it already? For example, I have three accordion midi skirts, in three different colours: one is green with white polka dots, one is black pleather, and the navy blue one from this month’s capsule is plain. While I love the way that midi accordion skirts look, I would need to find something completely different to warrant considering buying another one.
4) What else does the rest of this work with? While some items are event specific (like Halloween costumes), I try to think about what else this item will work with for what I already own. If the item already “passes” point 3, I want to consider why I might not have this item already (price, wasn’t in fashion, didn’t know it existed), and whether it will go well enough with the rest of what I wear. I struggle the most with this point for shoes/heels since you can argue that most shoes can fit with the rest of what you’re wearing if you just have confidence, which is how I’ve ended up with two pairs of heels that are the same colour but different shoe styles.
5) Lastly, I genuinely have to ask myself: do I like this as art or do I like this as clothing? I like to think that I appreciate fashion as an art form, but that doesn’t mean that I need to wear the art (at least, not all the time). I like to believe that clothing is about having your body covered enough for the temperature, art is to be observed, and fashion is the middle point between the two. Perhaps this is not as common an issue for others, I don’t know, but I definitely have bought items because they look nice but were virtually unwearable.

Hopefully this can be helpful to you, too, if you are looking for ways to slow down on your shopping, make the most of what you already have, or check in on yourself before buying something you might need 🙂

July Goals & Capsule Wardrobe

Clothing:

I don’t usually adhere to a capsule wardrobe – I think life is too unpredictable to follow a set of guidelines for clothing a month in advance – but while I’m away, I do the best to account for different possible activities and events. The clothing I brought with me for the month is being bolstered by having access to all of my around-the-house stuff, like sweatpants from high school and every college shirt I’ve kept. I’m treating the capsule wardrobe as more my “out and about” clothing, so that I have some amount of choice in what to wear – which also means that I won’t be tempted to buy something new over the summer.

First, this is everything excluding a belt, two pairs of earrings, two pairs of shoes, and whatever purses/bags I’m using. Side note, doing a flat lay of clothing which are mostly the same colour was a creative exercise, to say the least.

If I count the two pairs of shoes (not shown), I have 20 items that I’m working with for a month, which is more than enough, since I won’t be leaving the house every day – and there are plenty of combinations available. My final point about this is that I think some of the items that were left in the wardrobe that weren’t even considered should head to the Bye-Bye Bin if they aren’t worn by the end of August (or if I’m feeling particularly generous, the end of September).

Reading:

This month, I’m mostly reading from Libby and Hoopla, and I’m going to try to knock out some of the sampled/wishlist items that have been sitting in my to-be-read pile as of last October. I’ve already gone through two books in the last week, so I suspect that I’ll be able to give you a total count (maybe even reaching double digits!) in the end-of-the-month check in.

Using what I’ve got:

I’ve packed full sized toiletries with me for July since I had the room in my luggage (the shampoo and conditioner bottle absolutely were stored in a running shoe each for doubling up on storage space), so I can keep chipping away at using them up.

A topic of using what I’ve got that I haven’t really touched on yet includes my very old laptop (from 2013). I want to spend some time this month – roughly half an hour a day – going through all of my photos, documents, downloads, and other stuff to do a digital declutter of what I’m not using or have reason to keep. I know a new laptop is on the books for next year or the year after, but for now, I’m going to lighten the load a bit on how much is being stored – which will make the eventual transfer of everything be a bit easier.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m aiming for a post per week, and I’ll go for every Tuesday, but if festivities occur and I’m a bit behind, c’est la vie! Thanks for reading 🙂

Mid-Year Check-In

How is the No-Buy going since January?

Of all of my major categories – clothing, accessories, tea, body products, hobby stuff, and books – nothing new/new-to-me has been purchased or thrifted. I haven’t needed anything new in any category. Though there have been two clothing swaps so far this year, only one item (a plain black romper) of the seven I set aside has been kept. Barring books, I’ve been downsizing/decluttering or using up my stuff in the first half of the year (more on that below) – which I feel has helped with alleviating some decision fatigue along the way: I don’t have to worry about what products I’m using if I’m focusing on emptying something, I don’t need to make a choice about buying more stuff when I see an advertisement because the answer is already “I have enough,” and I don’t have the itch to buy a bunch of stuff in my down time. Lastly, for books, while I’ve been on target about not purchasing more, I’ve been looser with my expectations of needing to read only what I own versus what I have at the library, and I feel as though that’s made for a better reading experience overall. Oh, and my estimate that I could get through at least the first half of the year without needing to buy any new stuff was definitely spot on.

Do these goals still work for me?

Absolutely. I’ve been able to see the forest for the trees of just how much stuff I have, and that there’s really no reason to have a mega stockpile for just one person (as in, I think it’s certainly reasonable for a large family to have the Costco bulk pack of toothpaste, but I’m still not even halfway through). I’ve found that restricting what’s coming in and focusing on what I have is helpful in learning more about what I actually like to have/use; black tea and other teas with more caffeine were great while getting my degree, but I don’t need the boost now that I work full-time.

Regarding tracking my progress, I find that blogging and using Instagram has been most helpful. The blogging is great to look back on where I’ve succeeded and what needs to change, while the online community I’ve found has been inspirational and motivational (though I’m not as active as I had been in the beginning). The clothing tracker, on the other hand, is good when I remember to actually complete it. I do still want to see the data on what I’m wearing and how frequently, but I find that it’s easy to have it slip away and I’m playing catch-up at the end of the week. I will continue use it, I just need to be more intentional and set aside the time to do so, rather than brush it off.

How am I doing with using up what I’ve got?

I feel like the best way to see how much I’ve used and what is currently in use of the stock pile is best executed by using the original inventory photos. Body products and tea are where I’ve got the most visible progress, and I’ve added red Xs over the items which have been fully used up (or decluttered or donated), and green circles over the items currently in use.

For body products, I’ve chosen to focus on finishing up the liquid soaps first, since they take up the most room and I prefer to not travel with them (I try to pack light and keep to a carry on, so bar soap is easier).

For tea, the vast majority of the tea pouches have found their way into the tins, BUT I still wanted to highlight just how much more space I have now that all the pouches have been emptied. I have a neat row of stacked tins of tea that are easily accessible, and the only other tea stuff I have on the shelf are the three pouches without a X or circle on it, and the box of drawstring teabags. I go through waves of drinking tea, where I’ll have four large cups (about 3L or so) in one sitting if I’m working from my laptop mainly, or maybe 1-2 if I have back to back tutoring sessions – and then I’ll not have any tea for a week and a half.

For the rest of my categories – particularly for hobby stuff or writing materials – seeing the progress is a bit harder. For the greeting cards, I don’t have many reasons to send or write cards (though I’m sure I could send them for the fun of it), but I’ve been using some here and there as I can. The sticker sheets are the hardest to empty, since some of the pages are mixed content and I’m less likely to use the other half of the stickers. Maybe I can do a sticker declutter at the end of the year for sheets that haven’t been used at all the whole year – whether the entire page is still intact, or it’s a sheet that I’ve skipped over continuously.

What choices have I been able to make/things I’ve been able to do by not buying anything in my no-buy categories?

Travel

Unsurprisingly, my selected luxuries have been able to get more attention as a result of having the for fun money and a specific line in my budget for travel. Regarding travel, I’ve been able to visit family and friends this year more than I thought I would. I’ve been traveling light – which has been helpful while trying to navigate the messy airport situations in Canada right now – and not worrying about leaving space for something to take home, since it was only postcards that I took back (or nothing at all for my more recent travel). I’ve also come to recognise that the people I’m visiting care more about seeing me than what I’m wearing (shocker, I know), and so long as I’m comfortable in what I’ve got on, I’m good to go.

Entertainment

I’ve been to museums this year, and I have two comedy shows to attend this summer, plus a ball later in the fall. I’m not worried about what trade-offs I’ll need to make to be able to attend, and I’m making choices based on my comfort and being able to be present for the events, rather than trying to juggle too many things all at once (namely, trying to squeeze in shopping, whether for myself or souvenirs for others). I’m also finding ways to include my friends in the events, so it’s a two-fer, in that I get to spend time with them and I get the experience of the event itself.

Does anything need to be adjusted for the second half of the year?

For now, I think I need to give myself a bit of breathing room, creatively, and scale down to one post a week. Beyond that, I believe that the system I’ve figured out for myself works on good days, meh days, and bad days – I haven’t purchased anything, and at most, my clothing tracker is set aside when I’m too tired to complete it. However, if you feel like there’s something that could help me, please do let me know – suggestions are always welcome 🙂

June in Review

This month was much more all-over-the-place than predicted, so I’m doing a review for this month today, and then a mid-year check-in for the 1st of July.

Clothing:

I wanted to think about what I would need according to what I’m wearing, but considering that I spent most weekends in not-my-regular-clothing, I don’t know that this month was the best time to test out how often I thought about having a pair of shoes that work well with navy blue outfits. I can confidently say, however, that the slip is not at all a necessity for now. Even with dressing up (semi-formal) and down (sweatpants from high school), there’s only one dress that I have where it would be helpful to wear under it, and I’m not planning to wear it any time soon. I do want to consider whether or not a navy shoe (flats, sneakers, or boot, but not heels) would still be worth it – and I think it will be easier to figure that out over the month of July since I’m doing a bit of a capsule wardrobe (which will be addressed next week!).

I did, however, have a chance to look over some of the bye-bye bin items that I’d been on the fence about and brought them to a secondhand shop that one of my university friends own. The pieces are all cute, but aren’t the right fit for me – the stripey dress doesn’t sit right (from a clothing swap), the floral dress makes me look like I’m from the 1880s (impulse online buy last year), I’ve worn the red wedges once and they don’t go with the rest of my closet (also an impulse buy, but from 2019), and the headband is cute but doesn’t match anything I wear.

Books:

This month certainly got away from me for reading, but that’s not the end of the world since I’ve spent the majority of the month meeting up with friend and family. I’ll return to the books when I have the time, since I have more “in-person” events and gatherings planned for the summer. What I’ve read so far has captured my attention and has been interesting, but reading while visiting with people I haven’t seen in 2+ years was not the priority.

Using What I’ve Got:

So, I got no prep done for the incoming journal thus far, but I’m setting aside the day tomorrow to work on it. Between packing and travel, work, and keeping myself going through a busy spot, there wasn’t the creative motivation (nor time) to really dig in and figure out what I want my new planner to look like. I still want to take the time to make it look cute and use up what I have, so that I have a base structure figured out, and then I can add a bit of flair as I go.

Overall, I had ideas that would have worked out had there been a bit less busy-ness, but considering it was for mostly good reasons – and not at all due to procrastination – I’m not worried about it. As I mentioned above, I’ll do a mid-year review on the 1st, and then July goals will follow on the 4th. Thanks for reading!

Milestones & No Buy Reflection

This past weekend, I attended convocation for my graduate certificate, with my parents in tow and friends who were receiving their Bachelor’s degrees. I hadn’t been back to the campus since 2019 (the certificate was done online), and the wave of nostalgia was real and alive. I used to set aside part of my semesterly visit to the campus to stop by the bookstore and buy more school “merch,” whether t-shirts, water bottles, rugby jerseys (it’s a whole thing), or winter wear, something new was coming home with me.

The school has a strong culture of “hand it down to the next generation,” so much of my decluttering of school shirts – particularly those with slogans that only make sense on campus – has gone back to people who will use it. Though, much of that culture stems from having bought so much in the first place.

This time around, the only new item I left with was a frame for my certificate. More accurately, my parents bought it as a gift, so I made no new purchases over this weekend. But it was interesting to see how many opportunities there were for buying something along the way: the bookstore is usually closed on Sundays and has reduced hours on Friday and Saturday, yet was open the whole weekend (understandably so, especially for anyone who hasn’t been back to the campus in two years); tables were set up in the convocation venue to purchase degree and grad photo frames, stuffed mascots in grad gear, and class rings; there were tables on both floors by the main entries to purchase flowers; and the sports complex had their team gear store open as well. I understand that part of this has to do with tradition (we give flowers as congratulations, but why?), but much of it felt like enabled impulse purchases. I can’t even remember if we’d bought anything at my 2018 ceremony (same university), not in the sense that I think we left empty-handed, but more so that if we had bought things, I have no recollection of it.

Much of how my family celebrated was experience-based – we chose the nicer hotel for comfort (and its spa), we knew which restaurants we’d enjoy most in the area and went back to them, I got a bunch of photos in grad gear – rather than me receiving physical gifts. To be clear, I’m not judging anyone who left campus this weekend with the fanciest frames for their photo and degree, a new alumni shirt, and a handful of other school spirit items that can remind them of their shortened time on campus – I get it, fully.

What I want to question – reflect, muddle, whatever – is why we associate milestones with stuff. I’ll be honest and say that even before the no-buy, I was a big fan of practical gifts or consumable items. Perhaps that comes from a place of privilege that I have all my necessities (or make do with reasonable alternatives) and I have the spare money to cover needs and wants as they come up. I get that “traditional” gifts for milestones – cookware for a wedding, a full toolbox for your first apartment (maybe that’s just my family, though), driving lessons or a car at 16, etc. – are reflective of the next chapter the person is going into (a baby shower is definitely helpful for the family’s first baby, but much of it can be reused amongst cousins and younger siblings, no?). I understand, too, that we’re all looking for reasons to celebrate after making it through 2+ years of the pandemic, but “stuff” was still available through online ordering.

I know that different traditions and cultures will approach celebrating milestones in different ways, and my perspective is a reflection of what is culturally common for me versus what I’m questioning. I guess what I’m trying to get at is that were I not on a no-buy this year, I would have set aside an entire portion of my budget just for this past weekend. Knowing my past shopping habits, I would have likely bought anything that said “Alumni” on it, home décor items for my apartment, and anything else “cute” from the bookstore. I didn’t buy new clothing, jewelry, shoes, accessories, or make up for the weekend, which is a 180-degree difference from my first convocation. “Shopping” my own closet also meant that I could wear anything fancy that has been waiting to be worn, and I wouldn’t have to worry about something arriving on time via shipping.

I think this post it more like a guided reflection than anything else – look at what I’m doing differently, what do I still want to ponder – so there might not be much of a “point” to it, but it’s been rattling around in my brain for a week. Thanks for reading!

June Goals

So, here we are at the mid-point of the year, and I still have no bought anything from the no-buy list. My approach still seems to be working, so let’s dive in on the goals:

Clothing:

I mentioned in my May review that there are two things that have been on my mind for a while – navy blue shoes and a slip – and I want to see if, by the end of the month, there are enough instances where either could have been used to warrant adding it to the wishlist properly. I’ll be honest, with how high my arch is for both feet, I don’t know that I would feel comfortable buying second hand shoes, but I’ll worry about that as I get closer to the end of the month. For the slip, I want to do more research on if there’s anywhere within in Canada that makes them/look into what I want specifically from the garment before thinking of purchasing it.

Books:

June is a bit of a travel heavy month (a different city each weekend, for different reasons), so I want to rely on e-books for while on the road, and then have a physical book to read while I’m at home. I’m currently reading “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki as an e-book through Hoopla, and my physical book is “Scottish Customs, from the Cradle to the Grave,” by Margaret Bennett. I bought the Scottish customs book back in 2020 from the National Museum of Scotland, and it’s definitely about time that I get started on it.

Using what I’ve Got:

I still do my agenda according to an academic year, since I take classes here and there and my work cycle follows it as well. With that in mind, I got my new agenda for Christmas (how’s that for planning ahead?), and I want it to be ready to go come July – rather than planning in July – which would include writing in major functions throughout the year, when my holiday weekends are, deadlines to keep track of for applying to grad school, and anything fun along the way. I want to make the best use of the planner stickers I have, especially with being able to plan things out more cohesively throughout the year, rather than feeling like I’m scrambling to keep up with myself each week.

Other than that, I’ll be moving to a weekly schedule for the time being – and I’m still figuring out next week’s topic, so stay tuned 🙂

May in Review & Empties + More!

This month both dragged on and got away from me, somehow, but the busy is not over yet.

First off, goal review:

Clothing: Everything from the summer bin has made it onto hangers or into drawers, and that’s a win for me. Rather than going through every item and adding it to the tracker book, I thought it would make more sense to add items as I wear them – which will make the book more chaotic, but I also feel like it’s a better use of my time to focus on what I’m actually wearing. Approaching it this way, I think, will also let me flag the items that don’t get worn, since I won’t be flipping through pages on pages to find what I’ve only worn once.

Books: My reading has been quite off and on this month – while I was able to finish the O’Keeffe book in no time, I felt like I needed a break overall from the topic of art history and from the format of the books (I’m not saying that the artists’ lives coming to an end was wearing on me, but most of my non-fiction doesn’t end on end-of-life topics). I’m going to choose one book at a time for now, and I’ll say what’s next in Thursday’s post for June goals.

Using what I’ve got: The cards were a hit with the students – they thought it was a lot of fun to be “invited” to the activity, so it was definitely a “good” use of the item.

Onto Empties:

This month, there was more “refill the tin” for tea, and then the rest of it was regular, “these have been emptied out.” I’m on the fence about how much of everything I still have left: should I be pleased that my prediction in January that I won’t need anything at least until June was correct, or should I do a deeper reflection on the consumerist habits that got me to this stockpile in the first place?

The “More”:

I have two points to address, first about the wish-list, and then about scheduling for posts.

  1. Wish list: Though there isn’t anything “new” that has caught my eye and met the parameters set in January, I have been ignoring the fact that I’ve had a small list of items that I’ve been cycling through considering and ignoring over the last few years. For the most part, these would be counted as “basics,” like a slip to wear under a dress, or items that fit well with the rest of my wardrobe, like a pair of navy flats or lace-up shoes – considering how much navy blue I wear and that I like my looks to be monochromatic. On the one hand, these are thoughts that have come up again and again – I think the slip has been on my mind for at least 5 years – so maybe they’re worth getting/asking for as gifts, but on the other hand, I’ve gone this long without them, so how much do I really “need” them? I dunno, it’s a wishlist, not a needs list, so I’m a bit stumped at the moment.
  2. Scheduling: I think for the months of June and July, I’ll keep it to one post a week. I’m going to combine outgoing and upcoming monthly goals into one post, and pair empties and bye-bye bin as another, so that I can still have two other posts on different topics. As for August, I’ll be working in a live-in language learning accelerated course, so I think I’ll take the month off for posting. This may change if I have time over the summer to plunk down and type out a handful of extra posts and just schedule them, but I also want to give myself the freedom to not work and be more present. Either way, we shall see.

I’m Not Buying It

While a lot of what has gone into my continuous efforts to have a successful No Buy have been internal factors (will power, avoiding temptation, motivation), there’s been one major external factor that I wasn’t fully expecting back in January: the rate of inflation.

Canadian shoppers are somewhat in a less great position for purchasing power, since anything imported will cost more, and the Canadian dollar is not as strong as the American dollar. Even for some things that are made in Canada, to buy new will still be fairly expensive. Granted, I’m no economist, and my observations are strictly based on what I’ve seen while in different provinces.

Anyhow, what I’ve been thinking about for a while (last two months or so) is that there’s no way I can justify spending X amount of money on clothing when the prices have jumped so much – regardless of my no-buy status. I’m not picking on one store or another in making this post, but to see the cost of a recycled material dress of a basic cut and style go from $39 to $49 is ghastly. Ghastly but helpful (to me), as I’m much less willing to throw that kind of money around. Perhaps this is the same as how it’s easy to spend $3-$5 a day on a coffee and treat on the way to work, but if you were shown the total amount for a month, you might be less inclined to spend it. Which, for the record, you absolutely should be allowed to treat yourself, things are tough enough as it is, you don’t need to deprive yourself of simple joys.

Before I go any further, I do want to address that I am fortunate enough to not technically be impacted by the change in prices for clothing. I haven’t bought any new clothing in a year, and my last time thrifting was in October 2021 – and despite my trickle of decluttering, I’m certainly not wanting for options to dress myself. I realise fully that this may not be the case for someone who has children, whose body is changing, or can only justify buying clothing when items are falling apart.

I’m also at a point in tracking my clothing that still nothing has reached 30 total wears (including my running shoes!), so it’s not like I need anything new. Even though we’re 5 months into the year, I still haven’t reached a justifiable point of needing something for clothing – and I think that slow pace of consumption (the opposite of an impulse buy for me) has made it all the more visible how much more expensive something is since the last item I bought in person was under $10 (and under $40 online). Had I still been buying when the same type of dress went from $39 to $42 to $47 to $49, I don’t think it would strike me as as much of a jump.

I feel like I have some more digging to do on the topic, particularly in light of where the low prices are coming from that I would previously be drawn to (as in, who is being cheated out of a fair living wage along the way), and what else I can learn about and the decisions I make to reduce my need for buying more – including learning what a quality garment looks like and where to find them once needed.

Later this week, we’ll have a look at my empties for the month – and next week I’ll be having a check in on my May goals. Thanks for reading!

May Bye-Bye Bin Deep Dive

It feels a bit early to post about what’s leaving my home in the sorta-middle of the month, but I have a clothing/product swap coming up, and I wanted to get photos of what’s on its way out. There are also two items – a black bodysuit and a bottle of body wash – that have found new homes already and won’t be in the post.

For these 17 items, two were pulled from the summer bin during the season flip, and nine were pulled from my various drawers – all of which have not been worn this year. The scrunchies, pillow cases, and jewelry were pieces that I’d been on the fence about for a bit (as in, each time I looked for something else in their storage spot and saw them, I’d go “hmmm…”) and figure now’s as good a time as any with the upcoming swap. Also, I want to note that the clothing is kept bundled up not for disrespecting the clothing, but more so that I understand that a solid chunk of my readership belong to the no/low buy community and I don’t want to have the items incite desires to shop.

I have a few things to highlight for the “why” of a piece being decluttered, which I’m doing for my own sake for rereading in the future and for the sake of making sure I’m equally intentional about what leaves as what comes in.

  1. The impulse buy: The grey shorts and matching tank top set in the top middle was part of an impulse order, and these items were specifically added to meet the minimum to get free shipping. But get this, the store had run out of my size, so I sized up, placed a second order, received it, and realised I wasn’t likely to wear it with it being the wrong size. I’ve worn the shorts and tank top as a set a few times on really warm nights as pjs (I wasn’t planning to wear this set out of the house, mind you) – but my thought process behind purchasing them was “this is cute,” rather than “this fulfills a need I have within my closet.” This was purchased last summer, so just about a year ago – though, if nothing else – it shows the progress I’ve made in mindset.
  2. The attempted upcycle: The striped shirt to the right of the grey set and the blue and grey dress under it are next. Both are basics from Old Navy (a striped shirt and a swing dress), and both managed to get stained from one art project or another. I thought tie dye and bleach dying would be the way to spiffy them back up, buuuuut I took a “just do whatever” approach rather than planning out what it was supposed to look like, so I ended up with pieces I didn’t love (mind you, now that I think about it, I’ve never liked how my tie dyed pieces look…). Are they still wearable? Absolutely – there’s nothing structurally wrong with either piece, but I certainly wouldn’t wear them in public, and I already have enough “wear around the house for cleaning only” clothing that I don’t need more.
  3. The collection completer: The tan shorts in the bottom left are also from Old Navy, whose shorts fit me well enough for the most part (inseam is usually the kicker for me, I’m 67% leg and quite tall). The shorts I bought in 2019 include a bunch of neutrals – olive, navy, black, grey – and one striped pair. Being as pale as I am, buying anything tan online is a complete gamble as to whether it will entirely blend in with my skin. I’ve referenced this in an instagram post before (referring to a shade of pink for leggings that would leave me looking undressed), and it’s not a serious issue by any means, but, again, this was an instance of my motivation for purchasing the item being something other than meeting a need I have for my wardrobe. For the record, the “need” I justified in purchasing these shorts was, “I want a full set.”
  4. The swap find: While I fit in “straight” sizes for clothing, finding items that fits properly from thrifting and clothing swaps is not always successful (which is no different than trying on clothing in a store, just to be clear!). The Adidas running shorts were found last year from a clothing swap between friends, and I’ve since found shorts that fit me better and cover me more – so to a new home they shall go.

I don’t know that I’ll do as deep a dive for each bye-bye bin post in the future, but if there are pieces that fit these patterns, I think it would be worth it.

Next week I’ll be back with my empties for the month on Monday and a goal reflection on Thursday. Thanks for reading 🙂

Changes I’ve Noticed

So there’s been positive changes that I’ve been documenting so far – haven’t bought any clothing this year! haven’t spent money without being aware of my budget! haven’t bought from any of my other no-buy categories! – but I need to be realistic about “areas of improvement” that I’m noticing as I’ve gone past the 6-month mark of not buying any clothing (if we count from the soft start in November).

For one, I’m still on my phone more than I would like to be. In 2022, that’s a bit of a nebulous statement since we use our phones for so much, but I mean it in the sense that I’m not being intentional about my phone use. Watching youtube videos to clear out my “watch later” playlist, reading an e-book, or listening to a podcast while out for a walk or doing chores don’t fit into unintentional use – I’m setting out to do something and my phone happens to be a tool to complete part of the task. Where I end up losing track of time is generally through social media, particularly Instagram’s explore page – made worse by having both my personal and my Lady with Less account to scroll through. I want to highlight that I’m not saying I feel like I’m wasting time taking in content from fellow no-buy, mending, and outfit repeat accounts – you’re actually all so inspiring, just saying – but specifically the explore page is where I can lose more than an hour of my day (minimum). I know there are ways of having your screen-time limited within the app, but if I’m already in the middle of reading or watching something, I usually just hit “ignore” and go back to whatever content was on-screen.

Which leads in nicely to my next point: getting enough/better sleep. I already have a weird sleep schedule for working second shift and being on call during the night, and I’ve strongly identified with being a night owl for most of my life (I was maybe 8 the first time I stayed up until midnight outside of New Year’s Eve to satiate my curiosity of what happens when the alarm clock goes from 11:59 pm to 12 am on a normal day). Some nights, I’m falling asleep by the time midnight rolls around, but there are others where 2 am comes and goes and then I’m fighting against the melodious squawking of the early birds greeting a new day. If I’m able to follow my routine to a T, particularly that I fit in some time to read before bed, rather than scrolling, my sleep is significantly better. Pardon the tangent, but I want to point out a win: this time last year, my endless scrolling wouldn’t have been nearly as aimless and at the whim of the algorithm, but I was instead surprised by the sudden light of the rising sun after losing 2-3 hours to going through every page of the stores I spent the most money on. So, while there’s growth in that I’m no longer midnight shopping, stores would run out of content eventually, while the explore page does not.

Finally, sugar. My skin gets worse, my body hurts more, and I don’t feel great (overall) when I backslide into snack-y comfort food for meals on end as opposed to something more balanced. I didn’t study nutrition in university, but I know my body well enough at this point to recognise what my patterns are – and what reactions correlate to my actions. I generally don’t buy anything sugary of my own (I am a Montrealer, so I will always have at least some maple syrup at home), but my workplace has a generous snack supply that we can take from as we please. If I’m not getting enough sleep over a few days and things are quiet at work, I’ll grab something to munch on, since the kitchen is right by my desk. It’s almost like no one part of my life exists in a vacuum and everything is connected (pardon the sarcasm).

For me, it’s reached a point where saying, “I need to be more intentional about XYZ” has almost lost its meaning since I’m going through things too quickly (real talk, I haven’t used my planner in three weeks and have instead relied on daily post-its around my monitor screen). I need to give myself that time and work through what’s working and what isn’t, and make small adjustments rather than sweeping statements about massive change. I also realise that the focus of this blog is about the no buy, but I feel as though the no buy touches so many areas of my life that there’s grounds to bring up other areas that I want to work on as well.

To close with another win, in all of my endless scrolling, I’ve still been seeing ads for the clothing stores I like. I don’t have them blocked for the sake of knowing I can see them without losing the plot, and the unexpected benefit has been that I’ve seen spring/summer items over the last two months, and I feel nothing. It all is just the same florals and pastels that I have something similar to in my closet, and the cuts of the sleeves and skirt lengths on the dresses are the same, too. So, if nothing else, this check in coinciding with switching in my spring/summer clothing has highlighted how little I need more clothing.