My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

In my last post, I reflected back on the capsule wardrobe challenge that I did in late 2018 and was pleased to learn that many of my capsule pieces remain in my wardrobe today. I also recapped my 2019 wardrobe goals and summarized how I did in fulfilling upon them (it was a “mixed bag”…).

Today, I’m going to share my 2020 wardrobe, shopping, and style goals. These goals are more in-depth than the ones I took on last year, which basically amounted to a single intention (reduce closet churn – I didn’t do so well with that) and a shopping list for priority items to buy (I bought two thirds of them). Some of the goals I highlight today are also part of my “20 for 2020” list, but I’m including them here as well so that all of my wardrobe-related goals for the year are in one place. I also want to expand upon those goals a bit here and provide additional information and clarification. Additionally, I include my style focus words for the year and my 2020 shopping priorities list.

2020 wardrobe, shopping, and style goals

It can be helpful to set yearly goals related to your wardrobe, shopping, and style. 

Wardrobe-Related Goals from My “20 for 2020” List

As a reminder, here are the five wardrobe-related goals that I included in my “20 for 2020” list, with some additional information below each goal regarding why I chose it and how I believe it will help me this year:

1. Sell designated items on eBay or similar site.

In the first half of 2019, I made a number of purchasing mistakes. Unfortunately, I was unable to return many of these ill-advised items, as they were final sale buys at end-of-season sales or on Poshmark. For a long time, I brought my nicer castoffs to a local consignment store, but they have since narrowed down the scope of what they will accept and are now leaning more toward designer items. I also donate many of the items I purge, but in this case, I’m hoping to recoup some of my investment since I feel so terrible about overspending and the inherent waste involved.

I’m aware of the “sunk cost fallacy” and have fallen prey to it many times. I’ve hung on to clothes just because I spent a lot of money on them, even when I didn’t like them and never wore them. I’ve even tailored some of those lesser loved items in the hopes that I might like them better and wear them at long last (that usually didn’t work…). While I still do these types of things sometimes, I’ve mostly learned my lesson.

I’m not going to keep my 2019 shopping mistakes hanging in my closet, no matter what. In fact, I’ve already boxed most of them up so they’re ready to be shipped out when sold. Whatever I don’t manage to sell – either because the items weren’t of interest to potential buyers or if I procrastinate and never list them for sale in the first place, I will donate at the end of the year (if not sooner). Whatever money I make will go back into my husband’s and my checking account so we can use the funds for non-clothing-related expenses. I’m hoping this amount will be non-trivial, but I’m a bit of an eBay sales novice (I’ve mostly just bought things from that site), so we’ll see…

2. Pare down my “out and about” wardrobe to 118-137 items.

I’m tired of having an overly large wardrobe (for me – everyone is different in terms of what’s enough and what’s too much…), especially since I spend the bulk of my time at home. I want my “out and about” wardrobe to better match my actual lifestyle, which is casual and low-key. I only wear out and about clothing on roughly half of the days each week, if that. This year, I’m actually keeping track of when I get dressed in that sector of my wardrobe, as opposed to my at-home items. I’m doing this by marking a simple “X” on the calendar. January probably wasn’t representative of most months, as I was battling a cold and flu for a couple of weeks, but I only wore out and about outfits on nine days!  So far for February, it’s six times, so my tally this month may be a bit higher, but I know that it’s not likely to exceed 50% in any given month.

My “half project” is going to end in just under three months, and my target was to reduce my wardrobe to half its size over the course of a year. That number, which includes all year-round out and about garments and shoes, was calculated to be 137 items (see the second half of this post to see how I came up with that benchmark). The number 118 came from my doing the “ideal wardrobe size” exercise, which takes into consideration one’s climate, activities, preferred way of dressing, and target number of wears per year. So my goal is to end this year with somewhere between 118 and 137 items in my “out and about” wardrobe. This will give me plenty to wear and will allow for a more streamlined, visually pleasing closet – and less wardrobe-related stress.

3. Complete two wardrobe/style-related workbooks.

I’ve found that my personal style has been evolving quite a bit in recent years. This is related to several factors, including going through menopause (and the associated body changes), my gray hair transition (which has changed some of my color preferences), increased self-awareness, and decreased caring about fashion trends and keeping up in that way. I have a number of wardrobe and style-related workbooks/courses at my disposal that I’ve never completed, even though I spent good money on some of them (others were free).

I enjoy the type of introspection and exploration involved in such workbooks and courses – and I generally benefit greatly from what I learn, but I often don’t make the time to do these types of activities. The time factor is why I opted to include the completion of two workbooks in my goals. I’ve already started working through some of the exercises in The Curated Closet and I’m finding this to be very helpful. My hope is that the more clarity I gain on my style preferences, the fewer shopping mistakes I will make. I don’t want to make a habit of having to sell items on eBay!

4. Be comfortable physically and emotionally in all of my clothes.

This is probably my most important wardrobe-related goal. Let’s address physical comfort first. Of course, how this is defined will vary for all of us, as we each have different thresholds for what is and isn’t comfortable. As I have a number of health issues and sensitivities, I would say that my threshold for uncomfortable clothes is very low. I can’t tolerate tight pants unless they have a lot of stretch in them, and I also don’t like to wear stiff or scratchy fabrics. My plan is to purge any items that feel uncomfortable on my body and to not purchase anything that I don’t feel physically good in (no matter how much of a “deal” it might be).

The emotionally comfortable piece is a little trickier and it’s also very individual for each of us. In my case, I’m highly introverted, quite tall (5’10”), and extremely self-conscious. My self-consciousness has actually increased with age, as I’m having a difficult time accepting and embracing the aging process. The fact that I don’t look as slim, attractive, and youthful as I did even a few years ago is very hard for me to deal with. I struggle with feeling emotionally comfortable even more when I push myself to wear certain items just because they’re “stylish” and in an effort to fit in with other people.

I’ve decided that I’m not going to place “fitting in” above my own emotional comfort anymore. If this means that I mostly dress in a “uniform” that includes a lot of black pieces, that’s totally fine by me. I want to stop worrying about what others will think of what I’m wearing and instead dress to please myself. If I truly want to just get dressed and then forget about my clothes like I mentioned in this post (which I do!), then I have to wear what I like regardless of whether or not it’s “in” or is similar to what other women around me are wearing. I don’t think I’ll ever look like I should be on “What Not to Wear,” but the show is off the air anyway, so who cares?!  I just want to be happy in my clothes and not feel so self-conscious, so that’s what I’m primarily focused on for this year.

5. Stick to my clothing budget and “out and about” item limit (36 items).

When I wrote Recovering Shopaholic, I was able to stick to my yearly clothing budget for the first time in probably forever (I didn’t always have a budget, but I always spent too much!). I came in at or under my budget for each of the four years that I wrote that blog (2013-2016 – I stopped the blog in February 2017). Sadly, I have not adhered to my budget for the past three years. I didn’t go as completely off the rails as I did before Recovering Shopaholic, but I did spend too much and buy too many items, and that’s something I want to stop!

Accountability helped me to stay on target back in 2013-2016, so I’m going to try that tactic again this year. I’m not going to publish monthly accountability posts or share the nitty gritty statistics of how much I spend and what I buy, but I do plan to check in quarterly on my “20 for 2020” goals, including this one. I want to honor my commitment to my husband by not overspending my clothing budget, as well as my commitment to myself to continue working on my recovery from compulsive spending.

The item limit is not really related to my budget, as we all know it’s possible to buy a lot of items without spending all that much money. There are endless sales, not to mention “fast fashion” stores and secondhand shopping. The item limit is about decreasing my “closet churn” and improving my clothing sustainability. I want to have less and wear what I have more often. I’d also love to have the bulk of what’s in my wardrobe reach the “30 items” benchmark that I wrote about back in 2016.

As it turns out, 36 items is a good amount for me to buy each year, as it represents a third to a quarter of my ideal-sized wardrobe (118-137 items, as I wrote about above).  While I’d ultimately like to buy even less than that – and I hope that at least some closet pieces will last for longer than three or four years, I’m bound to still make some shopping mistakes and clothing quality has also been plummeting in recent years. I’ve found that tops in particular sometimes only last a season or two (especially knit tops) and need to be replaced more often than other wardrobe pieces.

While I do have some items from more than four years ago, the bulk of my wardrobe pieces were purchased during 2016-2019. Back in 2015, I wrote a post about wardrobe items that have stood the test of time. It would be interesting to do an update on that subject five years later, so that’s something I might do in the next month or two. Checking back on that post, I can see that most of the items I pictured that were purchased in 2011 or earlier are now gone, but I still have 12 of them, including the shirt I’m wearing as I type this!

2020 Style Words and Color Palette

I’ve been selecting a word of the year for at least ten years now (this year’s word is “enough”), but I’ve never chosen a word or words to govern my style during a given year. I hadn’t really thought to do this, but after reading this You Look Fab post on “Your Word and Colour for 2020” and seeing a reader’s comment (on this blog) that she was planning to select several style words for this year, I decided to take the plunge.

I didn’t try to zero in on just one single style word because I actually liked the idea of having more of a “formula” to work with (what Imogen Lamport calls a “style recipe” and Pamela Luttrell terms her “foundational five style guide”). I also decided to embrace the concept of choosing a color for this year, which I will share below, along with my basic color palette.

Here are the five style words that I’ve chosen for 2020:

  1. Classic
  2. Simple
  3. Sophisticated
  4. Striking
  5. Comfortable

When I think about the outfits that I’ve worn that I’ve really liked, they can basically be described by the above style statement. I prefer a simple and classic look, but I also want my ensembles to be sophisticated and striking (that’s me being true to my Dressing Your Truth Type 4 self). And above all, as I mentioned in my wardrobe goals above, I want everything I wear to be both physically and emotionally comfortable (but not necessarily look like it is!).

If I ever wear something that looks too cutesy or fussy, I’m unhappy. Likewise, if an outfit is too ultra-casual, I don’t feel good in it. Even though wearing sneakers with everything is all the rage at the moment, I don’t feel good in that type of look, as it’s just not me. The same is true for the jeans and flip-flops uniform that is ever-present in Southern California. I’ve tried to wear things like that just to fit in, but I always feel “off” and even downright frumpy and unattractive.

Whenever I get dressed, I’m going to ask myself if what I’m wearing is classic, simple, sophisticated, striking, and comfortable. I want to stand out and be unique to some degree – that’s the striking part, but I want the overall feel of the outfit to be simple and classic. I like clean lines and minimalist details. I don’t like a lot of “bells and whistles” in my outfits, but I do like to wear bold colors and my signature stripes. I also like long, streamlined toppers (like dusters, vests, and coats) and uniform denim washes. When I tried to wear distressed or rolled jeans because they were trendy, I mostly didn’t repeat those looks. I’m not even going to try wearing things like that anymore and will instead just appreciate those looks on others who carry them well because it’s in line with their style formula.

The color theme that I have selected for 2020 is red.

I didn’t wear red for years because I didn’t like how it looked with my dyed auburn hair. I felt that it clashed with my hair (I feel that way about wearing gray items now…), so I eschewed red in favor of burgundy. I still love burgundy and it remains in my color palette, but I also love red these days. I love that it’s bright and bold and powerful. I prefer the bluer-toned reds over the more “tomato reds,” as they’re more flattering with my cool-toned skin and hair.

My goal is to add a handful of red pieces to my wardrobe in 2020. I’ve already purchased two red print scarves, a red top, a red sweater, and a striped cardigan that includes red. These pieces are shown below:

new 2020 red items

I have added these five red items to my wardrobe this year. 

I’d love to find a bold red topper and another red accessory (maybe a handbag or pair of shoes) to add to the mix. I don’t want to go overboard with red, but I’ve been happy incorporating red into my outfits since adding the above pieces to my closet. I feel more confident when I wear red, which is a big part of why I chose red as my color for the year.

The other colors in my main color palette are:

  • Black – This is my primary neutral and is included in almost all of my outfits.
  • Burgundy – I continue to love this shade, especially when it has more of a red undertone (as opposed to a brown one).
  • Cobalt and other blue shades – I still love cobalt, but some variations now seem a bit too bright for my coloring, so I’ve incorporated – or plan to incorporate – other cool blue tones into my palette. I like the idea of adding a couple of turquoise pieces to my wardrobe and I already own a few teal pieces that I like a lot.
teal items in my wardrobe

I have these four items in shades of teal in my closet. 

  • Fuchsia – I didn’t wear pink for years because it felt too “precious,” but I now enjoy some of the bolder and brighter pink shades. I bought the following pink items in 2018 and 2019 and feel great when I wear them:
my pink and fuchsia items

I added these four pink items to my wardrobe relatively recently.

  • Purple – I’ve found that I like purple a lot more, too, since my hair color change. I don’t have a lot of purple pieces in my wardrobe, but I do feel good when I wear them.
the purple items in my closet

Purple is now a key color in my palette – these are my purple items. 

Almost everything in my closet is in one of the colors above or a combination of two or more of them (mostly in stripe format). I don’t see myself adding any other colors to my palette this year, but I would like to add a few more pieces in purple, deep pink, and lighter shades of blue (if I come upon the right items). Since I’m minimizing my purchases in 2020, it’s helpful for me to consider my color palette earlier in the year so I don’t just buy all black like I can be prone to doing!

Shopping Priorities List

Now that I have laid out my goals and intentions for 2020 in regards to my wardrobe and style, all that’s left for me to do is list out my shopping priorities. I know that I probably won’t find all of the items on my list this year, as some of them may be difficult to locate, especially since I’m difficult to fit (I need tall sizes in many pieces, I’m curvier on the bottom, etc.). However, I plan to do my best to find these items, and having the list with me both at home and on my phone (in Google Docs) will help to keep me focused when I shop. I’ve done shopping priority lists quite a bit in the past, but I haven’t referred to them often enough and have ended up buying too many other things that weren’t on my list!

Below are the items I’d like to focus on buying this year, divided by category. Again, I don’t necessarily plan to buy everything on this list, but I do want to be more deliberate when I shop, which the list will help to facilitate. The bolded items are those of highest priority for me and I hope to buy all of those pieces at some point during the year. The rest are more like suggestions or directions to look in when shopping.

Tops (preferably “standalone” styles that don’t need a third piece):

  1. Turquoise short-sleeved top
  2. Red/black printed top/blouse (maybe also including white)
  3. Burgundy short-sleeved top
  4. Blouses in lighter/brighter colors (2-3)


  1. Black straight-leg pants/trousers (streamlined, but not too dressy)
  2. Black straight-leg jeans
  3. Dark-wash straight-leg jeans
  4. Bright/printed pants (2)

Dresses/Skirts/Tops for Skirts:

  1. Black midi skirt
  2. Red or red print dress or skirt
  3. Warmer dress for non-summer wear (I currently only wear dresses in summer)
  4. Tanks or short-sleeved tops to pair with skirts (2-3)

Toppers (some purchases may fulfill multiple categories on this list):

  1. Cobalt jacket (maybe moto style)
  2. Red topper
  3. Printed toppers (2)
  4. Roomy bright coat (that allows for layers when buttoned)
  5. Long vest in bright color or print (I have a black vest like this that I wear often)
  6. Non-cardigan toppers (2)


  1. Pewter/gray booties
  2. Silver/pewter peep-toe booties/shooties
  3. Printed booties (maybe snakeskin or black/white)
  4. Replacement black flat sandals (my old ones are quite worn out and don’t offer enough support)
  5. Maybe red shoes/booties


  1. Spirit of the Cat” necklace (this is something I’ve wanted for years!)
  2. Wrap or cuff silver/pewter bracelet
  3. Thick silver necklace – mid-length
  4. Red handbag?
  5. Large statement earrings (I have more than enough small and mid-sized earrings)

At-Home Items (this list will likely be expanded upon later):

  1. Black cropped lounge pants
  2. Black graphic tees (for workouts)
  3. Higher-quality workout pants (2)

If I only end up getting the bolded items, I will be satisfied, especially since some of those items were also on my 2019 shopping priorities list. I have already been searching for these items, so hopefully I’ll find a few winners soon.

I also have a “Do Not Buy” list (I have more than enough of all of these items!):

  1. Black cardigans (exception: replacement short black tie cardigan)
  2. Black cropped pants (exception: the lounge pants mentioned above)
  3. Black casual jackets (worn for walks/workouts)
  4. Black/white striped long-sleeved tees
  5. Blue/navy striped long-sleeved tees
  6. Black long-sleeved tees (a blouse would be okay)
  7. Black/white print short-sleeved tees
  8. Blue print short-sleeved tees
  9. Black or black print short-sleeved tops (for pants – okay to buy shorter ones for skirts)
  10. Black or black print sleeveless tops (for pants – okay to buy shorter ones for skirts)
  11. Skinny/tight pants that I feel I need to wear a longer top/topper with (I’m self-conscious of my hips/thighs)
  12. Turquoise earrings
  13. Blue stone/beaded earrings
  14. Medium-sized earrings (aim for larger, statement earrings if I buy any)

I hope that having this “do not buy” list will help to prevent the wardrobe repetition and “splitting my wears” that has been a longstanding experience for me. We’re often drawn to items that are like our closet favorites, but if I want to have a smaller and more streamlined wardrobe that still allows for variety, I need to stop buying such similar pieces!

Conclusion / Your Thoughts?

So those are my wardrobe, shopping, and style goals for the year. My plan is to do quarterly updates on how I’m doing with these goals, and I will refer back to this post when I do those updates. My first update will be in early April, at the beginning of the second quarter of the year. It’s my hope that being detailed and accountable with my goals will help to increase the likelihood that I will actually achieve them. I will also do a “half project” update again soon, as I’m now in the final quarter for that challenge and want to make sure that I’m on track to finish strongly.

Now I’d love to hear from you. Here are a few questions to spark your thoughts, but as always, I welcome your sharing insights – and questions – about anything you’d like related to this post.

  • What are your wardrobe, shopping, and style goals for this year?
  • Have you selected style words – or a style color – for 2020?
  • What’s on your 2020 shopping priority list – and why?
  • How many clothing/wardrobe purchases do you think are reasonable for a given year?
  • How long do most of the pieces in your wardrobe last? Does it vary by item type?
  • What percentage of your wardrobe do you think you replace each year?

I look forward to reading what you have to say! I’m not sure what my next post will be about, but I have a few ideas, so I’ll just see what I feel like writing about… I’m always open to topic suggestions, too. Over the year, I’ve gotten many of my best ideas from readers’ comments and questions!

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18 thoughts on “2020 Wardrobe, Shopping, and Style Goals

  1. Tara C says:

    This was the sentence that resonated with me the most:

    I want to honor my commitment to my husband by not overspending my clothing budget, as well as my commitment to myself to continue working on my recovery from compulsive spending.

    I am trying to do the very same thing, with my own personal issue of perfume buying. I am starting a no-buy April 1st (I’ve already put the brakes on but that’s my hard stop date) and plan for it to last a minimum of six months, preferably one year. After that point I’d like to keep acquisitions down to one per quarter, and get rid of one for every one I buy. I’ve been working through Russell Brand’s book Recovery: Freedom from our Addictions and finding it very helpful. He also did a series of 12 videos as well which I enjoyed.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      It sounds like you have a good plan in place regarding your perfume spending, Tara. It seems like “one in, one out” will work well there, as you’ll really need to think about whether something you’re considering buying would be better than all of the perfumes you already have. And one perfume per quarter sounds reasonable for someone who loves and appreciates fragrance as much as you do. I hadn’t heard of Russell Brand’s book, but it sounds very interesting, as do the videos. I I just found his web page and plan to watch the videos soon and maybe read the book a bit later (I have a bit of a book backlog). I have an “addictive personality” and have struggled with other issues besides shopping, but shopping has been my main one in recent years.

  2. Jenn says:

    Like you, Debbie, I enjoyed the Midlife Chic article (thanks, Sally!). I read, took notes, and am working on exercises from the posts there covering the steps to create a capsule wardrobe. I’ve also recently read “The Year of Less,” watched a vlog or two on “low-buys” (by Style Apotheca), and collected various other snippets of inspiration/advice (many of which I learned of here.)

    My husband and I are heading to a warmer part of the country next week. I always like to have a project of sorts to think about while away from home. While there, I plan to devise my own wardrobe/shopping challenge, which will include trying a wardrobe capsule when I return. I also intend to read Courtney Carver’s new book—coming out on March 3th—called “Project 333: The Minimalist Fashion Challenge That Proves Less Really is So Much More.” I read about the project in her book, “Soulful Simplicity,” but look forward to learning more and gaining inspiration from others’ experiences that are reportedly covered in the new book.

    Being comfortable physically and emotionally in all your clothes is a great goal to shoot for. I find that when I feel that way (not often enough!), that’s when I really don’t care what others think about what I’m wearing.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Sally provides a lot of very useful resources, Jenn (as do you!), and I’m grateful to you for that. I haven’t read the earlier Midlife Chic posts yet, but I plan to do so. I’ve been curious about “The Year of Less,” but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet (there are always SO many books to read, aren’t there?). “Soulful Simplicity” was great and I pre-ordered the Project 333 book and look forward to reading it when it arrives. I also have tickets to see Courtney when she comes to San Diego in April. I’m not sure when you started following me, but I have done Project 333 probably 5 times at this point. I’ve written about it on this blog, but I did more detailed accounts of my experience on “Recovering Shopaholic.” You can see all of my Project 333 posts on that blog via this link: If you want to follow along with my weekly account of the first time I did that challenge back in 2013, here’s the first post: I’ve learned SO much from the times I’ve done Project 333 and I hope you will, too.

      I was nodding along with your last two sentences. Yes, when I’m comfortable both physically and emotionally in my clothes, I stop thinking so much (or at all) about the opinions of others. I hope that both of us will have MORE such experiences this year!

  3. Dori says:

    I hope my shopping of clothes,shoes and bags to be around 0 for this year. I work in an office(casual dressing) and I don’t mind wearing weekly the same things(5-7 outfits is ok for work,for me).
    My resolution came due to a high number of clothes bought/donated in the last few years, so I hope to wear out some of the clothes I have and buy more thoughtfully in the future. I use to enter a second hand store and if the colors,composition was what I liked, I bought it.So, lots of pieces that do not fit my style or make me look funny.
    Slowing down, I hope to start using visual boards to know what I need, what styles I should only look at.
    What I’m curious about is the subject: wear out of clothes.I read somewhere about clothes getting holes in 3-4 months and somebody stopped due to this a shopping ban.
    Around 80% of my clothes are second hand but they don’t seem to wear out so fast.(not fast fashion most of them, but not high class either)
    So I’m curious about wear…is 100 wears achievable for most of the clothes?Or 50?

    1. Tara C says:

      I find my clothes last at least 50 wears, probably much more. I buy good quality stuff and don’t over-wash things. It is not necessary for me to wash something after wearing it once because I rarely sweat, so usually I wear a top or pants several times before washing it, which helps things last longer. Normally I only throw something away if it gets badly stained. My goal is also 0 clothes and shoes this year, I have enough to last me for years and I no longer care about fashion.

      1. Debbie Roes says:

        Impressive goal, Tara – good for you! I feel like even though my target number of buys is a stretch for me, it’s A LOT compared to some people here. I guess we’re all on our own path. I hope to lower the number in coming years, as I don’t really NEED a whole lot. I just have to stop making mistakes with what I buy and show more restraint. Easier said than done, but I think I’m on a better track now.

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      Good for you for taking on the ambitious goal of buying NO new clothes, shoes, and bags this year, Dori. Best wishes to you! I love the idea of using visual boards to keep track of only what you need. I have done something similar in the past and it helped a lot, so I may do that again this year since I’m buying less (even though it still will be relatively a lot).

      Clothes can definitely last 50 or 100 wears or even more. I have some items that I’ve worn HUNDREDS of times, including jeans, shoes, and jackets/coats. Like Tara, I don’t wash my clothes after every time I wear them, unless of course they need it (like on very hot days). I also wash everything in cold water using a mild detergent and I hang the bulk of it up to dry. That has helped me to get more wears out of many of my clothes. Even so, I wear a lot of knit pieces and the newer ones don’t tend to last as long as some that I bought a few years ago or more. Quality has declined for a lot of items, sadly, but good quality can still be found. There was a guest post on Recovering Shopaholic on this topic that you might find helpful:

  4. Katrina says:

    Great post! That red is a beautiful addition to your jewel-tone closet. It’s interesting how gray hair completely changes some people’s colors, but not others. Your cool skin is still perfect for those deep colors, and if anything your gray hair has made the look more striking. When my hair was bright golden blonde (dyed) I could wear my Spring colors well, but now my hair is the overall cool taupe created when gray layers over brown. Finding colors that work with cool hair and warm skin will be something of a challenge.

    I don’t have any official goals for the year except I will continue the search for those gray jeans. Since my years-long shopping pause, I no longer feel the urge to get a new wardrobe for each season or to go shopping as a hobby or stress-reliever, so I don’t need to put restrictions on myself. I am so relieved to be out of debt finally but my fear of it happening again is a sort of built-in inhibitor. My closet outflow has dropped to almost zero – one bag of clothes donated in 6 months – so that’s another good indicator that things are under control. For now…

    When I went through a stack of style guides a few years ago, I saw that they all suggested, in different ways, to come up with words or ideas to describe one’s style. After some serious introspection, what I came up with was completely different from what I had thought (I thought I was a free-spirited bohemian.) My words are Comfort, Modesty, Confidence, and Creativity. Comfort is physical, because I just can’t function if something itches or there’s anything tight around my waist. Modesty is more of an emotional comfort, where I don’t draw attention to myself in any way that makes me nervous. It’s not about covering up “sexy” parts, more of a holistic impression of how my clothes look on me. Confidence probably doesn’t need to be a separate word because it follows from Comfort and Modesty, but it’s a good question to ask myself after I get dressed: does this make me feel confident? Creativity in my case is not about wearing hand painted caftans or colorful jewelry, just that my style is distinguishable from everyone else’s.

    For me, a reasonable number of annual purchases would be 2 – 3 new items, plus replacements of old worn out ones. That’s why last year I got so perturbed about having to buy work clothes – that was about 12 items I hadn’t planned for and didn’t really want. For people with more interesting lives, i.e. they work, socialize, or even just leave the house once in a while, a much larger number might be reasonable. It really depends on your lifestyle, as well as how big a part fashion plays in your life. Elizabeth Cline (The Conscious Closet) talks about Style Seekers and Traditionalists and their differing needs for novelty. That would also have a big impact on how many garments one might reasonably buy in a year.

    My clothes last forever, according to me. Other people might think I need to replace the whole lot! I still have jeans from the 90s, although admittedly I only wear them around the house. I have jackets and cardigans that are at least 15 years old, and some nice pants and skirts that are probably 10. Tops of course have to be washed most often and therefore don’t last as long, but I still manage to get several years out of button-front shirts and good quality T shirts. It’s those lovely soft rayon knits that just don’t hold up well, even though I love them.

    It’s interesting how the minimalism and conscious fashion trends, as well as blogs like yours, have made us all think about what and why we buy. We may each have a completely different idea of “reasonable”, but these days it’s likely a thoroughly researched and justified number.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, I was lucky, Katrina, in that I already wore the color palette that’s generally recommended for women with gray hair, but I have needed (or maybe just wanted…) to tone down the intensity somewhat. It’s definitely more difficult for those with a warmer skin tone. My hair is kind of like that cool taupe, too, as I still have more brown in there than I thought I would. Good luck in finding those gray jeans! It can be hard to find a very specific item like that, especially if the fit you prefer is not in line with current trends (that’s a lot of my issue with finding jeans, as well as my height).

      It sounds like your wardrobe is in very good order and you’re not experiencing much churn at all these days. I hope to be able to say that myself soon… I like your four style words and your explanation for each. Confidence would be a good one for me, too, as I struggle a lot with insecurity (which is probably the root of my self-consciousness). I love what you wrote about creativity, too. I don’t want to look like everyone else, either, which is part of why I don’t care that much about trends (and it’s also exhausting to try to keep up with it all, unless one really enjoys doing so).

      So many of you here buy very few items each year, which is wonderful. A large number of purchases isn’t really reasonable for my life, either, and I know my target number is still quite high. But if I set a much lower target, I feel like it might be setting myself up for failure. I will be ELATED if (I want to say WHEN) I stick to my benchmark for the year. I think I’m somewhere in between a Style Seeker and a Traditionalists. I do seem to like a lot of novelty, but it’s motivated by more than just liking new things. My issue is that I place too much of my self-esteem on what I look like. Insecurity and low self-esteem (and poor body image) have motivated the bulk of my overshopping.

      Wonderful that you still have jeans from the 90s that you like and wear. It really only matters that YOU like your clothes. I agree with you that the rayon knits (and modal, too, which I think is like rayon) don’t hold up well. Yes, there are many different ideas for what’s “reasonable” and not really for any of us to judge another. I do think it’s helpful to be mindful and deliberate with what we buy. I’ve improved in that regard, but this has all been a long road for me. I’m glad that I have so many supportive readers and that the critics and trolls didn’t follow me from my last blog.

      1. Maureen says:

        I definitely agree that it’s good to set achievable goals! Last year I bought 32 items of clothing, so I think 36 sounds very reasonable. Most people can’t get away with buying zero clothing for an entire year, especially if a lot of your old clothes don’t fit anymore (which is the case for me). Also, I noticed that Katrina said she plans to buy 2-3 items *plus* replacements for worn-out items, whereas you count all replacements as part of your goal of 36 — so your number really isn’t as high as it might seem.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Thank you for saying this, Maureen. Yes, Katrina did distinguish between the replacements and other items. I’m sure a large number of the items I buy will be replacements for items that have worn out (as in the case of pants and knit tops), no longer fit (or don’t fit how I’d like), or no longer fit my style preferences. As I mentioned in my post and in comments, I will be very happy to end the year with only 36 out and about clothing/shoe purchases. Next year, I hope to buy fewer items, but I mostly just hope to buy a lot less this year than I did in the past few years AND to make fewer mistakes. Yes, my number may be high to some people here, but we are all on our own path. I’m sure there are some women who read and don’t comment who buy a lot more – and they may be okay with that. I appreciate your sharing your perspective here.

  5. Gail says:

    Mostly, I replace worn out items or ones that no longer fit as they did years ago. Maybe 6 per year including shoes. My clothes seem to last long in spite of having only a small wardrobe. Using Project 333 guidelines, I now have 35 items. I think most things last 5 or 6 years, but some only 3-4.
    I think comfortable and quiet are my words, and I have worn only navy and other blues, gray, black&white in combination, and a bit of black.
    I would like a longer dress for occasions, maybe a fourth pair of shoes, a back-up gym sweatshirt for when mine is not clean, and a spare swimsuit ( shopping nightmare) for swimming in our complex’s pool with the grandkids.
    Even though I do not like to have more clothes than this, I do like figuring out my clothing and love reading your clothes plans and the comments.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      It’s wonderful that your clothes last so long, Gail. I’ve found that my older items have done better than my more recent purchases. Everything that I’m wearing at the moment is 4-5 years old , but some of the 2018 items are already looking not so great. I take good care of what I have, but the quality has been declining for a lot of things – sigh… Comfortable and Quiet are good words and your color palette of neutrals works well for a smaller wardrobe. A lot of the minimalist style bloggers have very tight color palettes and wear mostly neutrals. Good luck with finding the items on your list for this year. Yes, shopping for swimsuits is not much fun, but I’m sure you have a lot of fun swimming with the grandkids (my mom definitely does – my brother has two kids and my mom lives near them).

  6. Gail says:

    I am trying to figure out why it is so interesting to her other people’s answers to your questions. Any ideas? Voyeurism of an innocent variety? Anyone?

    One thought I am having is that those of us who have fewer clothes and say they last long maybe just don’t look as closely or critically, or have looser standards. Maybe my faded shirt would bother someone else and they’d get rid of it rather than wearing it for another couple of years. More than that, I think others would not think it is enjoyable and comforting to use the same purse day in and day out till it no longer functions. Comfort can mean to some of us being familiar and cozy with our often-worn clothes, somewhat like the comfort of old friends or family members we have known so well and trusted. I dislike the feeling of wearing new clothes. (There is also the laziness factor: it is easier to keep wearing older clothes and fewer clothes.)
    I do enjoy reading about others and their wardrobes and find it all fascinating. Thanks, Debbie and readers who write in.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I definitely think it’s true that people have different standards for what constitutes “worn out,” Gail, as well as “comfort” can mean different things to all of us (as you mentioned). There is also a wide variation in clothing quality and if many of the pieces you own have been around for a while, they are likely of higher quality (the shirt that I was wearing when I wrote the post was from 2009 and still looks good despite well over a hundred wears). I’m definitely picky about my clothes, but I do have tried and true favorites that have been around for a while. Like you, I tend to carry my purses over and over again and don’t change them out all that often. I’ve gotten that way with shoes, too (I HAVE over 20 pairs, but wear the same few each season over and over). Now if I can just get that way about clothes… I like to read about other people’s wardrobes, too, and I’m glad my posts don’t bore those of you who are happy with having a smaller wardrobe. I think some of us just have a natural curiosity about other people and like to learn about all sorts of things.

  7. Kelly Morgen says:

    Hi, Debbie! Thank you so much for linking back to my website… I would be really honored to make you a Spirit of the Cat! I love your goals here and totally agree about not buying anything you don’t LOVE. I’ve saved so much money these past two years by stopping all purchases I didn’t one hundred percent fall in love with. Great policy to have in general, and I hope you go for the cat! 😀

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      It’s great to see you commenting here, Kelly! I met you years ago at an art and wine show in the San Francisco Bay Area and have always thought that you do beautiful work. It’s about time that I own one of your pieces after being a fan for so many years, so I will be in touch soon about ordering a Spirit of the Cat pendant.

      Good for you for stopping all purchases that you don’t completely love. We should all do that! I’m doing a lot better with that myself, but I sometimes still falter at times, especially with hard to buy items like pants. But I know I would hundred percent love the cat pendant, though. I just have to figure out what color I want 🙂

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