Just to get new readers up to speed: I began the Conscious Closet Challenge sponsored by grechenscloset.com midweek last week. I pared down to what I would’ve once called a minimalist closet last year but I’m ready to edit down even more. You can read more about it in my initial article here.
As I write, I have a huge stack of clothes to donate. I feel like this is a really great time to be working through my thoughts and feelings about clothing–and possessions–in general. This challenge didn’t exactly start this process but it was my incentive to actually sit down and create a list of Dos and Don’ts to follow. I think this topic will spin off in a number of directions but I wanted to just create a simple update of some things I’ve learned.
1. Stop Shopping Clearance
I pride myself on never paying full price but there’s a difference between shopping clearance and being financially smart when shopping. Between last year’s purge and this year’s edit, I found that almost everything unworn in my closet was a clearance acquisition. We itemize and deduct our donations on our taxes each year, which means I keep meticulous notes on donated items (their purchase price, brand, style, year, etc). Pages upon pages of my 2014 donations included clothing and accessories from Loft and J. Crew. Those $4.99 steals add up to several hundred dollars over the course of a few years (and I’m not even kidding about that number) fast. I will always look for coupon codes or wait for percentage off sales but the clearance rack is NOT my friend.
2. Just Buy Coveted Items
So let me explain. I have a solid track record of trying to buy cheap to quench a desire for something expensive. A case in point: I fell in love with the Helmut Lang Villous Jacket. It retails for $230 but can often be found off-season for $150. I wanted it. I loved it. I tried it on when I saw it in a store. I never bought it but instead went everywhere buying up cheap inspired-by styles. I have two versions of it from Modcloth; I bought one from JC Penney; I bought another from some other off-price place. In total, I spent about $300 on jackets inspired by the Villous. They just never did it for me. I wore them sometimes but just not very often. I finally bit the bullet and ordered the Villous during the late winter of 2014. That did it. I wear it constantly. I love it. It doesn’t just hang in my closet like the knockoffs. Had I just bought the damn thing when I decided it was a must-have, I literally would’ve saved $300. I do this much too often and it’s time to stop.
3. Purge/Buy For My Current Lifestyle
I have a habit of hanging on to clothing items because I once wore them non-stop. When I worked at Brown Shoe, tailored cardigans were a staple. Our dress code was business but the D2C department was creative. This meant that I could get away with denim trousers and a cardigan. On Friday, destructed denim and platform wedges worked with a cardigan. I had a million and wore a million. In the last three years or so, I haven’t worn a single cardigan (well, maybe an oversize Grandpa style occasionally). As of today…GONE. They served their purpose but they don’t fit into my life now. At the risk of going all KonMari (I wonder if she knows she’s a verb now…hmmm), they needed to go on to help others who could love them more.
Another example: the Mansur Gavriel Bucket Bag. I very briefly thought about getting on a waitlist for one. They’re so sleek and gorgeous. But…BUT…I live in Italy. Pickpockets are not just a possibility, they are life. I am constantly balancing a 2-year-old, a diaper bag and goodness knows what else. I can’t be bothered to watch my cinch-top handbag every second as we travel. $400 saved…period. If I have to worry about it (whatever “it” is, it isn’t worth my attention).
I know, I know. Maybe it doesn’t seem like much–3 realizations–while contemplating my whole adult wardrobe. I have to say, though, that these three areas have cost me more than I would even like to consider. Hey, it’s a place to start. I feel like this challenge has been really good for me. Maybe it can help others. Either way, I’m glad I took this next step.