they came home with me

Columbia Flower Market, London, 2011

A quarter of the year is almost over, and I thought it was a good time to sum up life on the shopping front this year so far.

Partly because I’m determined to set aside more money for other purposes, not shopping is noticeably easier this year. I suppose it’s much easier to resist spending on something when you have a concrete, alternative goal to work towards.

It also feels like my interest in adding on to my wardrobe has waned. I often look at things and think, “Nice, but I don’t really need that, it reminds me of my XXX.” Or “Hmm nice, but it’s just a novelty.” I got pretty excited about the Massimo Dutti spring collection, full of great, practical pieces that aren’t too expensive, but after letting the idea of buying a few pieces marinate in my mind, I moved on.

Only a weakness for a particular navy linen-blend blazer remains, and there’s always the sales for that. More often than not, everything I fall for goes on sale - which factors heavily into my budgeting.

I did buy things – that shirt in January, a navy bikini this month. One is a luxury, the other, a luxurious necessity – anyone who’s ever had to shop for a well-made swimsuit that makes you feel like a goddess should know the importance of not letting it pass when you see it (more on this in a separate post).

I also bought a scarf from the Orla Kiely + Uniqlo collection – it is my office wrap, a wonderful bit of cheer to my standard-issue grey desk and black chair. I would upholster a chair in it, if I had enough fabric.

See how “not much shopping” still works out to one item a month anyway?

But I take heart in a few things:

1) A dear friend announced her wedding in December in New Zealand, a dreamy summer wedding to be held by a lake. I immediately felt excited about a couple of dresses I have that I can bring out for an airing. I want to feel this excited about my clothes, always.

2) A friend is selling clothes at a flea market this weekend and asked if I had anything I wanted to let go of. After a 30-minute survey of my wardrobe, I was happy to find that 80 per cent of my clothes are worn regularly. For instance, I have ten shirts, and I've worn all of them in the two months, most of them more than once. I have nine pairs of jeans and I've worn all of them regularly for the few years (easy when you wear them five days out of seven). I have three striped tops and wear them all at least once a month. Two pairs of shorts - they take turns to get worn almost every weekend. All my 10 pairs of shoes are well-worn and have their place. I do have clothes I haven't wear much of course, but I'm just waiting for their moment in the sun again.

It's not a small wardrobe but it's one I get a lot of use out of. Knowing my wardrobe is working for me makes me less inclined to want more.

3) I haven't had a "I don't have anything to wear" moment in a year at least. Sometime last year, I realised I could sleep in more - because I spend very little time getting dressed.

I don't mean all this in self-congratulatory way (only slightly); the point of writing these three points down is a reminder to myself: if I am this happy with my things, surely I don't need to acquire a new thing every month?

Here's to going from one new item of clothing every month to none.


I like number 3, it's great when you get to that point where you can literally be effortless. ;P
lin said…
Pret a Porter P: I used to yearn for this, and it surprised me to realise that I've been managing this more often than not!
The Waves said…
Posts like these make me feel like there's hope for me in the horizon! I feel like I wear the same stuff all the time at the moment (which actually feels nice), but my wardrobe is a total mess, with a ton of stuff I never wear. I'm culling slowly, painstakingly slowly, to make sure I don't make the mistakes I've made before (culling too aggressively, then buying way too much stuff). When the whole process feels overwhelming, I look at blogs like yours, and feel like it's all leading to a more balanced, peaceful way to feel about clothing. So thank you for being an inspiration!
petrichore said…
Wow, it sounds like you are really achieving your goal of having only things that you love and wear regularly in your closet! Isn't that a nice feeling, when you are standing in front of your closet and everything you see makes you happy at the thought of wearing it?

minima/maxima, a blog about minimalist style
LN said…
I love that you are at this place of contentment with your wardrobe - you just don't hear of it that often. It inspires me to be careful about my purchases and I hope to get my wardrobe to this place in the next 3-4 years. That sounds like a long time but I don't see it happening in the next 2 years while I'm in school.

Also, I relate with you about having something else to save for that causes you to rethink clothing purchases. We are looking into a major purchase and it has brought spending into a healthy perspective.
Maria said…
I'm still working towards this... This gives me something to aspire towards.

Would you know, by any chance, which flea market your friend was talking about? I'm looking for a way to get rid of my stuff, most of which i've already donated/recycled, but there are a few pieces that I just can't let go in that way...
Eileen said…
I think I have shown some improvement in this respect..haha so this post resonates with me.

I know you have a casual work environment but I feel you have an elegance about the way you dress (and communicate) that is inspiring. Self-control and self-awareness are definitely qualities worth emulating.

Jia you, Jia you!
Jess said…
"Partly because I’m determined to set aside more money for other purposes, not shopping is noticeably easier this year. I suppose it’s much easier to resist spending on something when you have a concrete, alternative goal to work towards."

So incredibly true. I've had to travel a fair amount recently to attend overseas conferences for my PhD, and even though my university/institute/supervisor covers the airfares, accommodation, meals and incidentals, I still always wanted to have a good amount of spending money so that I could really make the most of my travels and visit as many amazing sights, museums, galleries, restaurants, etc. as possible when I got the chance. So I was travelling every 6 months or so and was always really good at saving up in between trips and not squandering my money on nice but not really necessary additions to my wardrobe. But now that I'm coming towards the end of my PhD and all my university travel funds are exhausted, I don't have a distinct goal to work towards like an overseas trip and my efforts at saving have been, hmm, rather unimpressive, unfortunately. Having a concrete goal really helps, but I'm going to have to try to get into the mindset of saving even if the goal is only vague and nominal.

But I'm also happy to say that I haven't had an "I don't have anything to wear" moment in ages either. I'm at the point with my wardrobe where I actually really look forward to wearing most of the items, and hopefully I can use that sense of satisfaction to help me continue to save rather than spend as well.
lin said…
The Waves: I hope I didn't sound like I have it figured out, I've only figured SOME of it out. I find reading blogs quite useful actually because the experience of others informs my own experience, and it's nice to be able to share my own story to add to that conversation.

I think culling aggressively is a big trap for people! I've felt the urge myself but eventually I realised it was an easy way out and it would just lead me to want to fill that space.

petrichore: I love that feeling. Haha. I've learnt that clothes that give me a pang of guilt and I want to put out of sight are definitely a questionable presence. But rather than throwing it out, I prefer to keep it around for a while to understand why it was a mistake, so that I know better the next time!

LN: I always o declare contentment, and then fall for something! Like that Margaret Howell shirt. I'm trying to quell that.

My wardrobe was at its most confused when I went from being a student to working full-time - your lifestyle and its demands suddenly change. I think that's the time one has to be extra careful about shopping - because it pays to settle in a bit before making big wardrobe investments.

Maria: It was the Tanglin one, at Tanglin Mall. I went down for a look and business is good! It's organised by the mall itself, so you register with them. It usually comes down to balloting cos it's quite popular.

Eileen: Thank you, you are far, far too kind.

Jess: "Hopefully I can use that sense of satisfaction to help me continue to save rather than spend as well" - I couldn't say it better.

I also tend to save best when I'm saving for a holiday, haha. Which isn't very long-term, as savings go.
miss sophie said…
so true, and what a nice feeling to have about your wardrobe. other than a few special purchases mostly over the holidays/sale season, i haven't really felt the urge to shop all that much lately either. sticking to a travel wardrobe diet is in fact good for the budget! :)
Anonymous said…
Work is taking me into a lot of really beautiful shops. So far I'm not tempted. I attribute that to my Love it And Leave it approach, which I am starting to get the hang of.
This was an excellent post: a state of closet contentment that I aspire to reach.

I'm not quite there yet. I just started a blog, even, to try to sort out my wardrobe and cull the shopping urges.

A question for you-- will your blog focus shift in relation to your disinterest in the "shopping front"?

Popular Posts