2016: i bought and bought and bought


I haven't done this in a while, but I bought a lot of things in 2016 because, well, I'm still stress shopping, so I decided to write it all down. It was slightly horrifying to make this list and find that there are things that I've yet to wear -- and it reinforced a truth I've known but avoided facing: I've more stuff in my wardrobe than time to wear them. And I should do something about it.

Here's a rough list of how OTT my shopping was in last year:
  1. Celine Sangle Seau bag
  2. Cotton On white denim high-waist shorts
  3. Cotton On white t-shirt
  4. Cotton On grey t-shirt
  5. Cotton On black cotton jersey sweat pants
  6. COS black leather sandals
  7. COS pink leather sneakers
  8. COS navy sheath dress with side slits
  9. COS raspberry viscose shift dress
  10. COS black wool gauze knit long sleeve t-shirt
  11. Onitzuka Tiger leather sneakers
  12. Onitzuka Tiger swirl print sneakers
  13. Jack Purcell leather sneakers
  14. Lisa Marie Fernandez short sleeved shirt dress
  15. Uniqlo U khaki pants
  16. Uniqlo U cream lambswool sweater
  17. Uniqlo U down scarf
  18. Uniqlo x Lemaire black sleeveless seersucker dress
  19. Uniqlo x Lemaire black short sleeve seersucker dress
  20. Uniqlo x Lemaire white short sleeve seersucker dress
  21. Uniqlo x Lemaire mustard yellow knit tank
  22. Uniqlo x Lemaire black knit tank
  23. Uniqlo white oversized cotton shirt
  24. Uniqlo burgundy merino wool sweater dress
  25. Uniqlo navy linen shirt dress
  26. Uniqlo blue and white gingham linen shirt dress
  27. Uniqlo burgundy sleeveless knit mock turtleneck top
  28. IDLF for Uniqlo navy wool peacoat
  29. IDLF for Uniqlo denim chore jacket
  30. IDLF for Uniqlo black wool collarless jacket
  31. Mango black viscose trousers
  32. Zara blue and white striped shirt with floral embroidery
  33. In Good Company marigold silk crepe top
  34. In Other Stories chambray short-sleeved top
  35. Levi's vintage 501s
  36. Jigsaw cream silk crepe sleeveless top
  37. Massimo Dutti beige sleeveless linen jacket
  38. Muji grey linen wide leg cropped trousers
  39. No 21 x Kartell rain boots
  40. Steven Alan sunnies with reflective lens
And these are only the things I remember off the top of my head; I'm willing to wager there are things I forgot I bought lurking in my closet somewhere.

There's stuff in there that makes sense; they've become seamlessly integrated into my life - the t-shirts, the shorts, some of the dresses, the black trousers, the wonderful Celine bag that's just so easy to use. These are refined versions of things I love that either replaced stuff that had worn out, or added just the right amount of variety to my sartorial vocabulary.

But there are also things in there that I bought because simply because I wanted them, and not because they had a clear place in my life - the black wool jacket (wool? In Singapore? When will I learn?), the Lisa Marie Fernandez shirt dress which is just a little too much for everyday. These items are treasured and admired but I also know that I could have used the money more meaningfully.

Also, I clearly have some kind of Uniqlo addiction problem.

The problem with figuring out your style is that it sets off another type of buying -- you know what works for you and you become an expert at finding them just about everywhere. You start spotting the subtle and beautiful details that differentiate a new item from one already in your closet -- details that are invisible to everyone else but they delight you. Dressing to impress others make some shop more, but dressing to impress yourself can be just as bad, in my experience.

Finding "perfect" items also doesn't curb excessiveness significantly. Yes, the number of handbags I bought over a lifetime tapered off once I found a couple that worked for me. Yes, I haven't bought a watch (or even looked for one) since I bought a nice one about 6 years ago. Yes, I don't really buy jeans anymore because I've got them pretty much sorted. But perfection is far less singular than one might think. They're hard to find but they can be found regularly enough, with subtly seductive points of difference, for you to end up with 11 versions of the same navy dress, over time.

I'm not about to start a purge, because I love everything I bring home. But it's time I exercise more discipline; and remind myself to say no more often, no matter how perfect it is. I'm not going to impose a ban; rather I want to wear what I already own more often, and that means reminding myself to reach more deeply into my closet rather than sleepwalking and grabbing whatever is the most familiar.

Also, an interesting piece on purging one's wardrobe, and starting afresh. I can relate to excessively shopping to fill a void or make up for some other problem in life (in my case, it's from work-related stress). But I also think there's something cyclical about these things - you get rid of things that make no sense in your life, but you'll eventually find new things to obsess over that sets off a round of acquiring for wholly different reasons.

EDIT: Some more thoughts after I hit "publish". I had a think about what is considered excessive, and for me, it was just a matter of realising that on average, I was buying a new item of clothing nearly every week in 2016. It surprised me, especially when I also realised I'd worn some of them only a handful of times, or none at all. What's the point then?

At the same time, buying new clothes because I had a lousy day solved none of my problems - I was still tired, lacking sleep, and frustrated about work on some days. My purchases were great, but not that great.

And finally, while I don't buy expensive clothing generally, and am not in debt, I had to ask myself if there was anything else I would rather spend on, and the answer was a straightforward yes. I could buy myself a new armchair, if anything. I could give the money to my parents to fund a short vacation. I could fund a short vacation for myself, or put it towards an air ticket somewhere new. I could increase my regular donations to charity. I could buy a nicer birthday present for friends. Money doesn't buy happiness but it sure gets a lot done.


Shutterbug K said…
1. How are the COS footwear holding up/comfort?
2. Massimo Dutti--could you explain their target audience? In my local mall, they look like a cross between Ralph Lauren/Banana Republic as far as aesthetic but with far more approachable prices than RL. I think the main reason I'm confused af is their store layout at my mall (which is partitioned into mini-alcoves.) Are they more of a Brooks Brothers/traditional classic brand? or they have fun pieces too?
3. your Levi's tailoring is still my benchmark for fit. lovely, lovely jeans that ought to be posted more :D
lin said…
shutterbug k: The COS shoes are great; the sandals are especially wonderful because of the thick and well-cushioned sole and the straps don't cut me in weird places. I'd always had a problem finding comfy sandals The sneakers are comfortable and well made too, but the pink has faded a bit in places where it rubs more -- reminding me why blush pink is such a high maintenance colour for leather.

Massimo Dutti seems to me very "Euro-preppy" - much less boring than BR in my opinion but still on the conservative side. I love their tailored jackets and have an ancient grey one that I'm still toting around for work. They also do a nice job with colour and print so there's a bit of a boho feel about the clothing. I think of it as very "Spanish" because that's how a lot of the women I saw in Madrid dressed when I visited some years back - sophisticated, not too trendy, polished, but with a bit of bohemian vibe.

Archana said…
I think I stole your title "They came home : " to use for my purchase catalogs. I was reading your blog way before I started mine. Would have subconsciously used the words and realized it much later.

I have a problem similar to yours. Buying similar things with that one extra/different detail that is visible to no others. And I dont regret it either. I know it will get used and would have bought it after a lot of contemplation.

Great post. You write so well and people obviously love your blog ( I get traffic from yours). I wonder why you don't blog more ....
Eileen said…
I miss your wardrobe and shopping posts and this long one made up for it. Last year, most of my disposal income went into the house so I bought relatively less. Now that things have settled, I feel set free to go shopping, perhaps to make up for 2016. In general, looking at things (not necessary needing to buy) relieves stress.

I find some of the sweats at Cotton On decent. Recently bought 2 pairs which are cropped and cuffed at the ankles. Uniqlo's cutting for clothes doesn't seem to work very well on me, though you look very good in their clothes. I started to explore Madewell and The Great for tops and so far so good.

Hope to read more of your posts in 2017 and happy new year to you and family!
Anonymous said…
Long time reader - love your writing and glimpses into your life through your clothing choices. How do you like your Onitsuka leather sneakers? Are they hard to maintain? Love your Uniqlo choices - esp the linen dresses!
Anonymous said…
On the Uniqlo addiction problem - SAME. Especially the IDLF, Lemaire stuff, and now I'm eyeing a Liberty London shirtdress that I do not really need right now, but good grief, I keep pretend-clicking on it online. Love your blog and thoughts on buying. Please keep writing!
Ammu said…
Great, thoughtful post. I find that I tend to shop much more on vacation than on a day-to-day basis, even though I live in a city obsessed with shopping. I suspect it's because I am more relaxed on holiday but also because I worry that if I don't snap up XYZ now, I will regret it when I get home. That doesn't always work out!
Having said that, the only item I truly regret buying last year was a pair of ATP leather sandals from Net-a-Porter -- it was a considered purchase but the Made-in-Italy workmanship turned out to be terrible. The vacation purchases are mostly good -- maybe because I bought most of it on sale and wore it at once, incorporating it into my wardrobe immediately and easily.
Ah, stress shopping, I know it well! Last April I started an outfit spreadsheet to force myself to wear everything in my closet, instead of reaching for the same things. It's helped a lot, and there are still so many pieces I haven't worn! I'll keep going with it, maybe even set a restriction to not buy anything until I've worn all of my clothes at least once...
lin said…
Archana: The answer to why I don't blog is easy -- a lack of time! And sometimes I sit for a thought for too long and then I forget it

Eileen: Happy new year to you too! Incidentally this year I want to tighten my belt to go travelling, so I think that's going to help keep my shopping to a minimum.

Anon: The Onitzuka leather sneakers are actually quite easy going - any scuffing doesn;t show up that clearly, surprisingly. The pink COS sneakers are much trickier to deal with, because any dirt or scuff marks look terribly conspicuous.

Anon: So glad someone gets it!

Ammu: I feel that sense of urgency on vacation when it comes to brands I can't find easily back home, or when the exchange and pricing makes everything feel like a steal.

koko: i had this idea that taking outfit photos would nudge me towards shaking things up a bit and going for the things I haven't been wearing, but it doesn't really work

Anonymous said…
I have bought gorgeous linen dresses on this website ! Check it out : http://www.makersofdesign.com/women/linen-fashion.html
MC Bontemps said…
A late response in case you're still there.

No intention of enabling an addiction (albeit a very modest and harmless one surely) but Uniqlo did hit some stuff out of the ballpark last year. In particular :

The IDLF worker jacket - the original is one of those functional classics, not as well-known as it might be as most folks would default to an American-style denim jacket when in search of a blue cotton jacket. Well, IDLF has clearly taken up their cause, since a version seems to have been included in each of her seasonal collections with Uniqlo. Good for her ! I love mine for travel, when I can stash my documents and cash in the inner pocket and button up, especially useful if we need to pass through an insalubrious neighbourhood with luggage in tow.

The Lemaire seersucker dresses - yours look great on you, I think mine look great on me, and the strength of the design is that we are achieving this greatness while wearing them in entirely different ways. I have the v-neck in white and in red (the latter bought after I wore and loved the former). I wear them unbelted on weekends and look like I might own an art gallery or make interesting ceramics (neither is true). They are surprisingly comfortable on a warm day as the volume stands away from the body, so that you're touched by fabric only at the shoulders. The red one in particular gets a lot of admiring comments, a real reminder of the power of this colour which I seldom wear, at least not in this big tent-y statement-making way.

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