Transparancy P.3: Shopping Challenge Update – 12 Items in 12 Months

In an effort to continue to be transparent, I thought it was time to post an eight month update on my plan to only shop for 12 clothing items and 12 accessories in 2017. Spoiler alert: much failing is about to be discussed.

Let’s begin by reviewing the original list I posted in December, 2016:

1 Sweater (1)
2 Cashmere cardigans (2)
3 Chanel jacket (1)
4 Silk button up and/or silk shirts (2) (Cuyana)
5 Fancy dress (1) (updated from 2 to 1)
6 Canada Goose parka/coat (1) (Saks)
7 ??? (4)

1 Slippers for winter (1)
2 Flats (1)
3 Espadrilles (1) (Chanel)
4 Necklace  (1)
5 Cashmere/alpaca wool gloves (1)
6 Bag for work to help give Evelyne a bit of a rest (1)
7 Cashmere scarf  (1)
8 Hermes Chiffon or slik scarf  (1)
9 Cashmere/alpaca socks  (2)
10 Ring  (1) (Hermes)
11 ?  (1)

One quick note. Early on, I wondered how I should count items I bought and got rid of (i.e., donated or consigned)? On the face of it, the idea was to literally only shop for 12 clothing items. By that metric I failed this goal VERY early into the year. As you’ll see, I reached a higher purchase number some time in February, about two months in.

Now, the whole point of that challenge was to try to maintain a minimalist collection by adding 12 items to my closet in 2017. I also attempted to try to limit my overall purchases. By that metric… I also failed, but not as spectacularly. Though, with four months left to go to the year, it’s unclear as of now just by how much I will miss the mark.

Now, let’s review what I actually shopped for, and where my closet stands today.

Actually Purchased:

1 Sweater (1)  – Haven’t purchased one yet.
2 Cashmere cardigans (2) – One purchased: used Brora cardigan. Waiting for a magical Chanel one to pop up.
3 Chanel jacket (1) – Yes, got a black Chanel jacket I look forward to using during Fall.
4 Silk button up and/or silk shirts (2) (Cuyana) – See comment 1 below. Status: Failed.
5 Fancy dress (1) (updated from 2 to 1) See comment 2 below.
6 Canada Goose parka/coat (1) (Saks) – Yes, purchased and heavily used in January. 
7 ??? (4) – See comment 3 below.

Comment 1: Shirt Edition

Some time in January, I ordered three silk shirts from Grana. That’s one above the limited mentioned above, but at the time I felt like I was building my summer wardrobe and thought it would be one of the ??? items I bought. Of those four items… none remain in my collection. Spring came around and I realized I really didn’t like the cut and feel of the shirts, and promptly donated them.

Some time later I needed to add a few more 3/4 shirts to my wardrobe, having destroyed a few after about two years of weekly wear. When I started the challenge, I called these replacement items. As such, I won’t add these to my count.

My H&M t-shirt in action.
So, what have I purchased in this category that actually did end up in my collection? One Pact v-neck shirt I realized I can’t wear due to it’s very low cut, so it became lounge-wear. In that same order I got a black scoop neck shirt, and this turned out to be love at first sight. Pact didn’t have any white scoop neck shirts at the time, so I then purchased two white T-shirts from H&M, out of which one is a lounge shirt and one is worn out of the house. In July I ordered three black and one white Pact scoop neck shirts, after my beloved H&M and Cuayna t-shirts (both worn well over two years) finally gave up on me. I’ll count only two shirts as new, as two of those were replacements for heavily rotated shirts. Either way,  I love the scoop neck Pact shirts, and recommend checking them out if you need a few t-shirts.

Pact scoop neck t-shirt in action.
Total purchased: 13 shirts

Total New Items Actually Added To Collection: 4 shirts (2 loungewear shirts, and 4 replacement shirts not included in this count)

Comment 2: Dress Edition

I feel in love with DvF dresses and bought four of them within a month of beginning the challenge. That would be two too many had I stuck to my count, but I figured they would be great to wear to work and I needed a refresh. Sadly, these magical dresses are beautiful to wear, but show so much cleavage. So much. I have now consigned all four since I can’t imagine even wearing them, even when on vacation in another country.

Instead, I ordered three UNIQLO bra dresses (discussed and linked here), and have worn them continuously since. On my birthday, Amour Vert was having a sale with further reductions on their sale items, and since I’ve wanted to try one of their clothing I decided picked up another dress (this one, but with long sleeves), which is making it’s way to me. I can’t return it, but time will tell if it really stays with me.

Total purchased: 8 dresses

Total New Items Actually Added To Collection: 3 dresses (one pending arrival – status unknown)

Comment 3: ??? Edition

As Spring rolled around, I took a renewed interest in maxi skirts.  I decided to order two maxi skirts, and have been rotating one of them very regularly into my normal wear. Years ago, I noticed that elementary teachers seem to love wearing maxi skirts and wondered why. I don’t anymore. Comfort is king, even if overall the look of it isn’t super thrilling.

Comfort during the summer heat calls for maxi skirts. This one Pima cotton skirt is from Peruvian Connection.
I also realized I needed jeans. I donated one pair, and ordered two new ones. One is 3/4, so I don’t wear it so often. The other one is a pair I intend to donate, since I don’t like the fit of it, but that was essentially a replacement for the jeans I donated. I then ordered another pair of jeans, and immediately returned it. This has been a pretty continual process for me. I’ve bought and returned about three pairs so far.

Oh, pants. You haven’t been kind to me in the past few months. Black work pants have been quite the saga this year. Earlier in the year I did buy a pair that I kept, which was an addition rather than a replacement. I now totally hate that pair, as it shows quite the “muffin top” every time I try it on. Couple this with the need to replace two pairs of work pants that are falling apart on me, and all of a sudden this quest has become a priority.  So far, I have purchased and promptly returned three four  pairs of black pants from various places. I guess I may try Everlane next…

Total purchased: 4 items

Total New Items Actually Added To Collection: 3 items

Well. Now let’s consider the second category, where I think I actually did really well.

1 Slippers for winter (1) – Yes, in a fit of desperation due to cold cold feet, I grabbed a pair at Whole Foods and have been pretty pleased with them.
2 Flats (1) – Yes, I ordered handmade flats from Etsy and have worn then quite a bit.
3 Espadrilles (1) (Chanel) – No, but that might change when I travel this October. 
4 Necklace  (1) – Yes, I bought a Hermes necklace and have worn it literally daily since. 
5 Cashmere/alpaca wool gloves (1)  No, but I got used Brora wrist warmers at some point. 
6 Bag for work to help give Evelyne a bit of a rest (1) – Yes, but I bought two bags! One Hermes tote bag ended up being unusable for work, so I ended up purchasing an Hermes Trim bag as well. 
7 Cashmere scarf  (1) – No
8 Hermes Chiffon or slik scarf  (1) – No
9 Cashmere/alpaca socks  (2) – No 
10 Ring  (1) (Hermes) – No, but I have some ideas about replacing my wedding band.
11 ?  (1) – Let’s call this the Tote bag I bought, and ended up making into my mailbag. 

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 3.42.25 PM
Been thinking about shoes recently. These are some of the pairs I’ve been thinking about moving forward into Fall, Winter, and Spring/Summer 2018.

To Sum Up

As challenges go, I failed the clothing one spectacularly and have chipped away at my accessory list. I bought 25 new items of clothing, but really added only 13 to my daily wardrobe. Clothing wise, I think the reasons for my inability to stick to my plan seem to fall neatly into two categories:

1. Items purchased, but quickly disliked and then donated/consigned. I really should have tried to actually wear the items I bought around the house before committing to keeping them. I think I also kept too many items that seemed like a bargain because they were on sale or because they were inexpensive. That is such a rookie shopping mistake. Regardless, I seem to be pivoting to keeping nothing as I try to avoid buying things that are less than perfect. Not great either.

2. Items I didn’t realize I would want or need. I should have left more room for the unexpected, but I also should have accounted for clothing I might need to wear around the house or for workouts. For example, I overestimated my summer collection, so when Spring finally arrived I suddenly noticed I had nothing appropriate for work, and then promptly needed to add new things. I also wanted to change things up a bit, so I bought skirts. These weren’t on my radar at all, but that’s the point of adding ??? to the list, right?

Perhaps I was being overly optimistic about what I thought I wanted to buy, and about the state of my wardrobe. 12 clothing items in a year might be a challenge too… challenging for me. Creating a list of what I wanted ahead of time did help, but maybe I need to make a list per season instead of one for a full year.

Accessories seem to have worked out, I am guessing because I haven’t nailed down clothing and wanted to use my budget for clothing over accessories.

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 3.43.03 PM
I will need to save up my budget to purchase any VCA jewelry, while the Hermes rings are possible replacements for my matchy Farandole ring/earring/necklace situation.
Looking at my current shopping list for the remainder of the year, I have focused heavily on shoes, jewelry (maybe!), a nice dress, replacement work pants, and a replacement pair of jeans. I still haven’t added a sweater and a cardigan to my wardrobe, as noted in my original list. These might have to wait. I’ve also been considering upgrading my winter 3/4 Supima cotton shirts to silk/wool shirts by Oscalito, as it gets quite chilly here.

So, with 4 months left to go, I now estimate I’ll end up with around 20 or more new items this year. That’s a big improvement over past years, but I feel like there’s still progress to be made. I’ll write a final update of my purchases for 2017 in January of 2018.


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