I Shopped My List.

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.

Struggling, and a Possible Trigger.

I’m struggling today. Actually, I did most of the struggling yesterday and I think I know why. I woke up feeling bone-tired after a particularly heavy workout the day before. There’s no caffeine in the world that can pull me out of that. I started to think about shopping, trying to figure out if I could sneak out during my usual work hours and just make up the time later. I couldn’t get the math to work in order for me to go out, but my shopping brain was on eleven all day. I started to think about other days I’ve felt that same tiredness, and realized those are the days when I really want to go out and shop. It seems a strange connection, because I would think I’d just want to crawl into bed or read on the couch…but no, I want to hit the mall when I’m exhausted. I suspect it’s because shopping energizes me and does not require me to think complex thoughts. From now on, I’m going to keep an eye on this trigger.

Last night, I stayed up two hours later than usual (for that, I blame that coffee that I used to try to wake my weary bones). I ended up tossing and turning all night long, waking at least once an hour to think about how I could go shopping in the morning. The answer was, I couldn’t and shouldn’t! But that didn’t stop me from waking.

I made a firm decision this morning that I would not put off work to go shopping, but would possibly go after work when I picked up my son. I tried all day to resolve to not go at all, but in the end, I was not as strong as I wanted to be. I went to one store that I knew would have the one thing I was looking for, and I bought it. I’ve added that cost to my running total (the “big” November shopping budget I mentioned in recent posts) and checked that item off my wishlist. It doesn’t feel great, but at least I stuck to my plan. The leggings, however, feel fantastic. My weary bones will love them!

I also keep thinking about shopping at the Big Sale next week, again sticking to my list and budget. The bad news is that I started planning in secret, thinking about how to do it so that no one would know. You know, my old shopping MO. I have no idea why! After a couple of days, I realized I didn’t need to shop in secret and told my husband about my plan to go to that sale. I go to it every November, it’s no surprise. The monumental difference this year is that I actually have a (real!) budget and a list of items that I want to shop for. That’s HUGE!

However, I worry that I might put my sales goggles on and buy something just because of the price. I asked my husband if it would be a better idea for me to go this weekend and get the items at full-price, because if I really want/need them, then that’s what I’d be willing to do, right? If they happened to be included in the sale, I could get a price adjustment in a few days. In the end, he and I both think I can handle the sale. (OK, it’s weird to have typed that out.)

Now to make it through the weekend without more shopping! I have a 1.5-hour chunk of time on Sundays where I have time to kill, and until now, TJ Maxx was always my destination. Today I thought about maybe going to the gym instead. I do all my workouts at home but I do miss the rower! That’s a good plan.