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!

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!

Bye-Bye Bin & Wish List – January

I thought it would be best to explain the format of what’s going out and potentially coming into my home while doing my No Buy year.

The Bye-Bye Bin

I’ve been using this basket for about a year now to put things into that I think I won’t need or use, and see whether or not I fish them out again. I keep the bin out of view but easily accessible, so I’m not tempted to dive in just whenever and maybe keep more than what I intended. More often than not, when I’ve used the bin (or if there’s overflow, other spaces to tuck things away), what was put in does find its way to a new home. Sometimes that’s family and friends, other times it’s a quarterly clothing/product/stuff swap, or it’s donated. I don’t bother with reselling my stuff as I can’t be bothered to deal with the post office (as I’ve mentioned before), and I don’t want to have to learn about the unspoken rules of online selling platforms.

This might be a bit anti-climatic, but there’s nothing in the bin for the month of January. However, I did a massive declutter in December, so I do have that to show you:

With resetting everything – flipping my hangers, taking inventory, and still completing the tracking sheets – I feel as though I’m looking at my belongings with fresh eyes. Also, I got the declutter itch out of my system in December, and everything that did come home with me from the holidays were things that I had asked for or were consumable (whether chocolate or hand cream, it won’t be here forever), so they had a “home” assigned to them.

The Wish List

This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, but there isn’t anything currently on my wish list. The few items that I’m working toward emptying still have stock for me to get through, there aren’t any clothes or accessories that I need, and I have an abundance of craft supplies and books to entertain me. There also aren’t any experiences or activities that I would need to buy tickets to that are on the list (since I would want to think about which event/experience/activity I would want to prioritize).

That being said, I will still outline the format I’ll follow for when the wish list starts – since I want to be intentional about what goes on it, how long it stays, and when it gets bought or booted. The entry requirements for something being added to the wish list are going to start pretty low, which is “this caught my attention enough that I went to the website and it got added to a shopping cart.” From there, I would screenshot the item so I can see the product and price, and then type the store, item, and price into an google sheets page. I would then check in after two weeks, and see if I can remember what the item is without looking at the photo, and if I can’t, the entry and the photo can be deleted. If I can remember it, I’ll check again in another two weeks/after a month of it being on the list, and see if I have needed it in that time. If I haven’t been able to make do with what I already have, I’ll see if it’s something I can borrow, thrift, or add to a gift list.

This format is going to work for me since I’m coming from a place of abundance, both in volume of items and in mindset. For the sake of honesty, throughout January, I have clicked on ads on instagram from a place of curiosity to see how much something costs or who designed it, but it’s never gone beyond that point – more often than not, I wasn’t even looking to see if it was available in my size. I’ve already unsubscribed from any remaining emailing lists I was on for stores, I’ve blocked or muted accounts on instagram that are most tempting, and I haven’t even had the time this month to go to a website to see what they have (just to browse, as I used to do). I also don’t feel overwhelmed by the stuff that I have to the point that I’ve forgotten or lost things from having so much. I’m in the Goldilocks region of having stuff – not too much and not going without, again in volume and in mindset.

Later this week, I’ll be back with a post about psychology and shopping – the first instalment of many about how thoughts, feelings, and behaviours relate to shopping. Thanks for reading!

My Shopping Habits

Living somewhere with four distinct seasons means you need to dress for different temperatures. Living somewhere with four distinct seasons means you have many “opportunities” to shop throughout the year to “update” your wardrobe, whether by season, sales, or more frequently through the fast-fashion trend cycle. I would only shop sales (self-proclaimed bargain-hunter here!), which would result in more items coming in – even if I’m spending the same amount of money. Shopping online, I’d comb through each page of the website looking for hidden deals, seeing if there’s anything that I could add either to reach my free-shipping minimum or to treat myself. In person, I could spend a whole day at the mall, circling the same displays, trying clothes on, and walking out with an armload of bags. This would happen once a month, on average. I wouldn’t plan what I was buying, and when I did, I would leave the store or online transaction with at least twice as much in hand. My biggest trap was getting every variation of something, so I could have a “complete” selection to take from to dress myself – whether that’s eight pairs of shorts that are the same length but different colours, or wanting to get all the prints and solids of a dress. Especially when ordering online, I wasn’t paying attention to the quality of the items I was buying – whether the stitching was in an odd place for my body, things weren’t a great fit, or the garment would hang funny on my frame. I’m not yet well-versed in spotting quality garment-making, but I know what I don’t like and what I’m unwilling to tolerate being on my body.

I wasn’t consciously focusing on avoiding repeating an outfit, though I know from experience that I could go from August to early November without the same outfit being worn twice, since 2018. The definition of “outfit” has changed since 2020, where previously it meant I had enough clothing to wear something different for 100 days or so, with only accessories and shoes being repeated. Now, however, that would be more about the combination of what I’m wearing: maybe I’ve worn this top with these shorts a few weeks ago, but now the top is paired with a skirt and a cardigan as the fall weather sets in. The volume of clothing and accessories that I have – both per season and in total – means that I can likely go a full year without wearing the exact outfit twice. I don’t need to be able to do that; I don’t have any desire to be consumed by thoughts of whether this turtleneck and skirt combo has been done with these boots and earrings.

“these were next to each other, so I got them both,”

In December’s digital declutter, I rewatched my old haul vlogs that still live on my laptop. I realised that nothing from those videos is still in my closet. Well, I do still have the same bedding and towels (mostly) that I bought to move on campus as a first year, but nothing else is in my possession. 19-year-old me and 27-year-old me don’t have the same taste (nor the same body), and much of what was purchased was in my university colours, which aren’t in my wardrobe in any significant way now. Having sat with this for a bit, and after another rewatch, what stood out to me now was the language that I was using to talk about the purchases: “these were next to each other, so I got them both,” “this matches everything else in my closet, so of course, I had to get it,” “I think this will look good in case I need a backup,” and probably most relatable, “it was cute, so I needed it.” I’ll be honest and say that some of the basics (tank tops, in this case) have been forgotten to time, though everything else that was purchased was well loved – some pieces even staying in rotation all four years of my degree and even after I’d finished university – so it wasn’t as though they were bought and then dumped a month later, at the very least.

It’s been about a year and a half since I’ve really scaled back my shopping for clothing, but there are shopping patterns that creep back in when I’m not being intentional. I still get a rush from getting a discount percent-point that would look great on a report card, and when I was looking for turtlenecks while thrifting last fall, I felt the urge to get them in every colour available. For about two weeks, thrifting caught my attention – the combination of inexpensive prices, a wide variety to browse (the men’s section had looser fits for turtlenecks), and the unpredictable nature of whether I’d find what I’m looking for. I thought this would be better for me, after all, since it’s not adding to the demand for new clothing, it’s extending the life of an existing garment, and I’m helping the local economy by shopping in-store (as opposed to going through apps). However, while walking from one thrift store chain to another – out to purchase only the specifics on my list – I caught myself thinking, “well, if I don’t find a houndstooth skirt today, I can always come back in a few weeks, and maybe see if they have a few more colours of turtlenecks as well.” At that moment, I had five turtleneck shirts that I’d thrifted across three shops, and another on the way as a birthday gift (please note, I’m using the turtleneck throughout as an example of how pervasive the desire can be for me about a specific item or style of clothing).

I took some time over the rest of the week to comb through my following list and unfollow any accounts that were more aspirational than inspirational

What was equally concerning was that I’d moved the target of my behaviour – shopping for sets or varieties of things – to a different location with lower price points, meaning that I would still be bringing in more “new” rather than making do what what I had already. Part of this came from learning about capsule wardrobe accounts on Instagram, and frequently seeing neutrals and basics all over my feed and explore page meant that I felt like I couldn’t replicate these looks and be just as fancy/classy/put together as the women – or sometimes just clothes! – in the posts. I was using them less for inspiration to use what I already had, and more saw it as a checklist for my next thrift hunt. I took some time over the rest of the week to comb through my following list and unfollow any accounts that were more aspirational than inspirational, and anything that I wanted for clothing or shoes, I left on a wishlist for my birthday. Full honesty, I forgot about what precise pair of shoes I’d added to the wishlist (but knew they’d been purchased), which was a lesson in the difference between a need and a want. If I had to go shoeless in the interim, I’d definitely have those shoes in mind – but I was fine choosing from the 10 other pairs that I could comfortably wear for work in the weeks that passed. I don’t regret now having the shoes – they add a touch of polish to my workwear without having to wear heels – but I certainly could have gone without to no consequence.

I clearly have a lot of thoughts about my relationship to shopping, so I’ll pause this here for now, but I will absolutely be coming back to this topic in the future.

Clothing Inventory Reflection

The Plan:

Over the next half-week, I want to go through all of my clothing and accessories to both: 1) tally how much I have, both by category and in total, and 2) put together a detailed inventory of what the item is, where it’s from (store/brand), new or thrifted, and what year I bought or received it. I suspect this will take longer than the 3 days I’ve given myself to get this post out (editor’s note: it’s Thursday, and I’m only half done), but I don’t want to rush myself, get frustrated, and then leave the project half done. I want to do this for the sake of diving in deep on my biggest purchase categories, and maybe also get reacquainted with pieces I forgot I loved.

Thoughts while Sorting:

Know who has 75 shirts and tops?
Me.
Know who wears 75 shirts and tops throughout the year?
Me, kind of, but also not really.
My biggest category of clothing is tops by far, and living where we have four distinct seasons means that I’m going to need a variety of sleeve lengths so I’m not uncomfortable in any weather. To be clear, the total of 75 does not include heavier sweaters, hoodies, or crewnecks, but does have most combinations of collars/neck styles and sleeve lengths you can think of. It’s taking me the better part of a day (about 5 hours) to go through everything I have hanging in my closet, and I’ve reached a point of activity-fatigue from writing out everything. There’s no external force pushing me to be this thorough with my tracking, but I do want to have an itemized inventory to be able to track each time I’ve worn something so I have more than just the hanger being flipped over after the first wear. I’m looking for data that’s more robust.

Where I’m hesitant:

I do have a lot of clothing, and it fills different purposes:
1) work clothing
2) fitness
3) casual, but still put together
4) running errands
5) wow, it sure is cold out
6) this will be covered in paint or dye, or will get dirty
7) I wear this once a year to a specific event, so I still need it for that specific event, and
8) these clothes have cycled out of every other category and are now worn to bed/lounge-wear.
I don’t think that I need to toss a bunch of stuff – which would defeat the purpose of approaching this with intent – and that if the item can continue to serve the purpose it serves, it can stay. I’m not sure what to do with sentimental shirts from events that I do still wear. I don’t have a solution for this yet – which is okay! – but I’ll be sure to mention it when I think of something.

After the fact:

My biggest takeaway from this experience, so far, is that the busiest year of my life, 2019, is the year that I have the least specific memory of when things were bought or gifted. That’s not to say that I expect myself to have an encyclopedic knowledge of every item that I own (which would be exhausting), but the number of question marks placed next to items bought that year is telling.
This was the year that I was absolutely doing too much (have you ever attended a concert in another city, then flew out to a third city the following morning to attend a wedding that afternoon? 2019-me has, and 2022-me is exhausted just typing it out), and how I was consuming was exactly what fast fashion cycles were made for – especially since a solid pile of that clothing is no longer in my possession. On a positive note, I did find that about 25 items* were from 2017 or earlier (the oldest clothing article was from 2011 or earlier, and my oldest pair of earrings is from 2005), and likely have each been worn more than 30 times. I feel that having revisited everything has given me a better understanding of what I’m working with – ya know, the difference between “this is clothing in a closet” and “this is my functional and intentional wardrobe.”

The numbers (aka, what you came here for):

Here’s how I decided to categorize all of my clothing, not counting undergarments or winter gear, presented in descending order:
– Tops: 75
– Earrings: 65
– Bottoms: 39
– Shoes: 35
– Sweaters: 22
– Scrunchies: 21
– Dresses: 20
– Athletic wear: 16
– Bags/purses: 14
– Formal wear/gowns: 11
– Skirts: 9
– Jackets/coats: 7
For a total of 334 items living in my closet and jewellery boxes.

What I’m working on next:

Next up on the blog will my first instalment of Fun for Free on Monday, and then working on my yarn stash. Oh, and finishing my written inventory of the other half of my clothing. If you’re interested in seeing what I’m up to in between blog posts, my instagram account is @ladywithless. Thanks for reading!

* individual entries are not done yet, so that number might be higher for items that I don’t wear for work