I have a list of the last few items I’d like to add to my wardrobe to get me through the winter. I’ve been strictly adhering to the list, which has actually not taken as much willpower as I’d thought. Shopping has become more of a fun mission and I’m paying more attention to the actual item than to the (reduced!) price tag. It’s also helped me avoid duplicates or nearly-likes. One thing I’ve learned over the past year is that I don’t want a closet full of duplicates!
As you know, I set aside an actual dollar figure to finish getting those items. It was an arbitrary number, not based on the typical price of the items I was hoping to find. It was an experiment to see the effect it would have on my shopping. See, I’ve never shopped with a number before. Or rather, I have, but not in an effective way. In my head, I always thought $30 to $50 per item (not including shoes) sounded good. Bonus if it was less, needed justification if it was more. BUT there was no limit to the number of items in that price range. See the problem?
This experiment was intended to allow myself to purchase a much smaller quantity of higher-priced items IF they were the right items for me. For the first time ever, I went to the expensive side of the department store to browse with the intent to buy. I went there at the start of my shopping trip and very much liked the experience. There were fewer options and everything was clearly laid out. It looked like a really great closet that I’d love to have; a mix of basics and pizazz, and nearly everything can be worn together. I tried on many things, but nothing met my list requirements.
As I made my way around the store, I moved to denser areas and found it harder to concentrate on what I was really looking for. I grabbed hanger after hanger until I couldn’t hold any more. My dressing room was full… of what? It was a mess and it was hard to go through. I didn’t even try on half the items because I looked at them with a clear head and said NO immediately. I also found myself looking at price tags… it would be good enough at this price, but not that price…
NO! That’s definitely the wrong kind of thinking for me at this point in my (un)shopping life. I needed to crack down, and I did. But I also compromised: what I thought I was looking for was not what I found, but what I found was actually what I was looking for.
Let me explain.
There’s a look that I am drawn to lately, but have had no idea how to shop for it. So, that was not my mission on this trip. My goal was to find long tops that I can wear in the winter. I found long tops that I could wear in the summer, and as hard as I tried, I could not leave them behind. I tried something else instead, something I’ve never done: I asked a sales associate for ideas on how to wear those tops in the winter. I thought the only way was to wear a cardigan on top, but that’s been my look for years and I’m bored with it. The SA surprised me by saying to wear something under the tops. He scoured the racks for me and gave me several options. I started trying some combinations…and saw the exact look that I’ve been drawn to. Right there, in the mirror. Aha! Now I know how to do it and what to look for!
I had focus again. I was able to strictly limit what I purchasing, and left behind many “almost” items. I still had a few items left on my list and had room in the budget for another shopping trip, which I scheduled for a few days later. During that time, my list grew to include some basic shoes to replace a couple of old pairs that I’ve been trying to wear with no luck. I had to increase my budget accordingly, since my original figure had not accounted for shoes. The next shopping trip was fruitful; I found the shoes, which amazingly enough were two exact pairs I’d seen and tried a couple of months ago but didn’t buy because I wanted to make my old shoes work. I’d kicked myself ever since, because the need for updated shoes kept reappearing. I snapped up those new pairs and had another in my cart but eventually, very grudgingly, put them back. They don’t appear on my list and my wardrobe is just fine without them. I’m glad I left them, because they would be causing my angst right now if they were in my closet!
My original list included long sweaters, which I found in droves. It took me all morning to carefully select only three. Good news, mostly! The bad news is that I did overspend. I went over my original, arbitrary budget by $85. What? That’s it? In my head, seeing the totals at the cash register but not adding anything up, I would’ve said I’d overspent by like $300. That’s what it felt like! But I’ve been keeping a note on my desk with my purchases since I picked my budget. I’ve made three shopping trips, and for each trip, I looked at the list to see how much I had left that I could use up that day. The last trip total was much more than I had available, but I am returning some items and also picked up some things for my kids, and my new shoes, which were on a separate budget. Taking those things out of the equation, I really, truly am only $85 over!
THIS IS HUGE. And satisfying. I feel peaceful about this whole experience. There is nothing in my closet that I regret or feel like I need to hide. I feel no shame, anxiety, or doubt. I feel like things have fallen into place. Or rather, that I had empty slots and I put the right things into the right spots, the right way.
Now… my wishlist of fun clothing additions is getting longer! I’ll tackle that another day.