Closet Chronicals

Lessons Learned From Shopping Failures: Part 1

In the last two years my wardrobe has gone through considerable changes, and throughout the process I’ve learned a few lessons that I’d like to share in a series of posts.

I hope the lessons I share will help you create a curated collection that you love, and hope that you share your lessons too.

Today’s lesson: Major life transitions and your closet. Let’s discuss.

Lesson #1: Avoid Losing Your Style During Transitional Times By Following Trends Blindly & Maximizing Your Purchases

I thought that I needed such a radical change of clothing when I started working post college that I ended up buying so many items all at once.  Instead of becoming an adult, though, I lost my personal style and lowered my standards.

I read various fashion blogs and thought I could just dress like the women who write trendy blogs and seem to have a never-ending resolving collection.

Seriously. I actually bought a plaid shirt based on the fact so many bloggers seemed to wear them, but then felt like a lumberjack when I attempted to wear my shirt. Looking at these blogs I thought I should just wear whatever they did, because they seemed to be professional adults and I wasn’t one yet.

Truth be told, I am was never cool or trendy, and all attempts to wear whatever was popular in blogs made me feel uncomfortable in my own clothes.  Worse still, I attempted to maximize my budget by really going for cheap items as long as it meant I could buy plenty of them all at once. I ended up getting cheaply made clothes that weren’t likely last. And sure enough, they didn’t.

So, what should  you do during big transitional moments?

I highly recommend avoiding the urge to stretch/maximize your budget (i.e., buy as many items as you can with your available funds). Forget the idea of buying everything you need at once, and focus on the daily staples that you are truly likely to wear daily.

Agh, I hate when writers suggest “invest in a few good things!”, but never actually state that these good things are whatever you think might be a staple in your closet. And what is a closet staple anyway?

In my case, a staple would have been a good white button-up, a fitted blazer, and a nice pair of black dress pants. Those are the basic components I can mix with my existing basics. For examples, I like how easily professional looking button-ups can be when worn with skinny black pants. I like how I can elevate a simple t-shirt with a nice blazer and a pair of tailored black pants.

Uniforms 1
My staples: skinny black pants and a button-up. While these pants have been a closet staple for two years now, I recently discarded this H&M shirt in anticipation of an upgrade.

Those are my staples, for my own profession. Yours might be different based on your own work environment. Maybe you need a great pair of flattering jeans. Maybe shift dresses would work better for you. Maybe it’s all heels and pencil skirts from now on. The important thing is to not simply rush into making lots of purchases without figuring out what you actually have and what you actually need.

My suggestion is to figure out which items you can purchase to elevate existing items in you collection. Chances are you do have a few items you love that can actually be worn to work with minor upgrades. The upgrades are a part of your staples, and I suggest buying them in whatever way fits your budget- thrift or buy new. When you have those upgrades nailed down you won’t feel like you need to rush into making purchases, and then can focus on long term needs or upgrading existing items.

Discarding, June 2015. This is what happened after a year-long purchasing marathon.

See Part 2 of this post here, and a post about my plan to avoid shopping failure in the future here.

What have you learned from your shopping misadventures? Please share below. 


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