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.

6 thoughts on “I Shopped My List.

  1. Debbie Roes says:

    I loved this post, Cristina! Good for you for sticking to your shopping list and adhering to the budget you set for yourself. I also think it’s great that you found alternate ways to wear the more summery tops during the cooler months. I need to do more of that myself!

    I enjoy reading your blog and feel like we are on a very similar journey. I just posted today about my different type of shopping trip yesterday. It’s far more fulfilling to shop with purpose and for what we really need.

    I wish you continued success and I’ll definitely be reading your updates!

    • Cristina says:

      Thanks! I’d just finished reading your post when I received this comment. My first thought about your trip was, “ugh, that’s no fun!” and then I saw you said basically the same thing. 🙂 The Half-Yearly sale is usually so dangerous for me but going in with a budget made it manageable and not nearly as exciting. It was nice to not have the crazy adrenaline rush!

  2. nupe says:

    Yeah! Yeah! and Yeah! Three cheers for you! Yeah on knowing and FINDING your look. For knowing and having known the right shoes all along (Just like Dorothy, she had it in her all along), and yahoo on feeling like “hundreds” bucks over budget but only $85 over!

    My hat is off to you, I can’t find anything in a department store. I know what you mean about the sheer mass of clothing in the dressing room and how that seems like a chore!

    On a slightly related note, I have a similar thought about clothes thinking more about price per piece or price per wear. I am already a fabric snob. But looking at the total budget is still hard for me, because finding the “awesome” sale is arbitrary and I DON”T HAVE THE TIME to go to the store that many times anymore, to catch the sale! (not yelling at you!)

  3. nupe says:

    I hope you don’t mind. I don’t have my own blog. Just going to write here that I did not succumb to the recent Vera Bradley sale! Yeah for me. I don’t need to buy 2 dozen gifts for work people this year. I already have teacher’s gifts (envirosax I think was my plan and I still remember that). I didn’t buy boots at the amazon sale, but did buy a number of shoes this week. 1) frye shearlings because I love frye and I love shearling and I really wanted the color combo and I found it on sale in my size. not because I need new boots but now I can contemplate donating an older pair 2) aquatalia boots, suede, weatherproof!, casual, faux fur lined, and so comfy. very practical for everyday as they have a minimal heel. and because my other boots in a similar color are in the repair shop and may be there for a while, and because it just got so cold! and bought at an incredible price! And I decided to replace old running shoes that I used for spin and gym. I bought merrell cross training shoes (barefoot style) and I bought spin shoes. And I bought another pair of barefoot merrell casual shoes in a neutral color, the same style I already had, but in a fashion color, before the style was discontinued (last year’s style) and disappeared. Whew. And with my bunion, I was so happy to find all these shoes fit it and my feet comfortable. When I look back, it’s like wow, 5 pairs in one week. I also gave three pairs of shoes to a friend, sold 2 pair on FB and will be donating my old gym shoes to the third world. So net negative!

    • Cristina says:

      It was VERY hard to resist that Amazon shoe sale! I had things in my cart and almost pulled the trigger. A couple of days later, the discount was still showing up in my cart, but I still made it through unscathed. Phew! Then days later I ordered a pair of shoes, go figure. I have (and love) the same pair in suede and wanted something more durable for winter. They didn’t work out so they’re going back. I keep trying on boots though my mind says, enough already! I have enough to get me through winter and look on-trend. Today I have renewed strength. Who knows what tomorrow will bring…

    • Cristina says:

      By the way, Fryes and Merrells are perpetually on my list! If I find them for the right price at the right time, I will pounce. Today’s mucky weather made me want Merrell moc-type shoes ASAP. I love their barefoot shoes, and they make a moc-style barefoot shoe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *