After my spring capsule wardrobe shopping trip, I found myself in a place of quite severe guilt and shame. I struggled to pull myself out of that place, and it was a second unplanned shopping trip a week later where I metaphorically threw my hands up in the air and said “what the hell, whatever goes” and shopped up a storm.
After that point, I’d done so much damage, I financially couldn’t have afforded one. more. thing! I felt the post shopping guilt and shame once again, however I finally felt like I had purchased everything I “needed” (not that I ever even needed anything in the first place). I’d scratched that shopping itch that I didn’t seem to fulfill the first time around. The thing is, that shopping itch wasn’t out of needing to fill a few more mindful gaps in my wardrobe. It was from longing to treat myself and purchase a few fun, unplanned items.
27 items and a lot of dwelling later, I finally let go of the guilt and started to allow myself to enjoy the new wardrobe. You can read more about my post shopping-ban shopping spree here.
The intention behind pursing pseudo-minimalism and living with a capsule wardrobe, for me personally, was to tackle my carelessness with money, overspending and never ending shopping habits. I had just accumulated so much stuff! And when I shopped, it was no longer for one or two items, I would tend to purchase a whole “set” of things that “go with each other”. I was pursuing an image, trying to live the high life that I really can’t afford, nor do I even want! And above all I had this strong desire to scale back in search of something more than accumulating “stuff”.
Living with a capsule wardrobe sure has made me more mindful. I’ve saved a heap of money, learned to go without constant shopping. I’ve become more intentional and seen benefits in all areas of my life including relationships, my career, time management, and my general happiness. The benefits of living with less and getting rid of the clutter are miraculous!
But one thing that clearly hasn’t changed is my frivolity! On my recent shopping trips I overspent. I’m over dwelling on it and I am fortunate enough to be able to quickly get past that financial setback. I decided to stop beating myself up, but it’s thank you to an insightful reader that I didn’t just bury my head in the sand and ignore some highlighted shopping habits of mine. I was ready to ignore the ‘insert large figure here’ too much that I spent and the enabling behaviours that came with it.
So it’s time to talk accountability. After all the purpose of this is to grow and develop over time. So by further analysing what I purchased and why, I’m hoping to come up with a better set of principles next time I shop.
I’ve decided to group all of the items that I purchased over that two week capsule rotation into two categories; the items I purchased that met my “gaps list” and the items that weren’t on the list. And then assess the why behind each purchase, particularly the unplanned, unintentional frivolous ones..
This is a long analysis which I don’t usually do. For those straight-to-the-point readers who don’t enjoy long blog posts (like me), skip the analysis of each item and head straight to the bottom, however for those who love detail I’ve included the analysis of each item below.
1. Corporate Blazer- I was after something with a long sleeve. Many blazers tend to fall short in arm length for me, possibly because I like my jackets fitted, I tend to choose a size down. This is a simple classic cut with full length sleeves and I stayed with my actual size for a “boyfriend” style fit. I wasn’t 100% with going the size “up”, and am actually still unsure but it seemed like a smart purchase and it fitted what I had visualised to fill this gap.
2. A Spring dress– I was after an easy casual dress that can be worn as a quick throw on for casual days. This one is perfect.
3. One to Two scarves to tie in my colour palette- These fit the brief, however being neutral toned, they don’t add much in the way of colour. I do love them though!
4. Work pants– I needed a full length pair as my other pair are worn to ruin. My other work pants are 7/8, also almost worn out, and my ankles get cold in those! I purchased one good quality full length pair and one replacement 7/8 pair which I tend to need to do once a year.
5. A work skirt- I loved my winter A-line wool skirt, and I was specifically after a similar one in a more spring/summer suitable fabric. This is gorgeous and one of my favourite new pieces!
6. Work flats- My others were worn to ruin. These pointed loafers were actually the first I saw, and the first item to break my shopping hiatus. It felt like an impulse purchase but I think it was just love at first sight. I love them and they are so comfortable!
7. Work basics– I purchased two long sleeve basic tops after much looking around, I settled on these colours as there weren’t many attractive spring colours to be found this season. They grew on me after much browsing.
8. Casual flats– My espadrilles from last season are on the wear out path. I purchased these cute white plain sneakers, something I forgot to add to my gaps list but was in the back of my mind to purchase.
9. A casual tee- Something again I forgot to put on my gaps list, but it was in my mind to purchase a cute casual tee if I find one. This has had lots of wear already.
So that’s all the sensible stuff that met my shopping list. The items that bring me most joy are the pointed loafers, the cigarette full length pants and the skirt. I adore them! The pants and skirt in particular were part of my second shopping trip and are very good quality items!
So the items I purchased that weren’t on the list. Hmm.. it’s quite a few!
1. The longline side split tunic– Saw it, tried it on, loved it, bought it. Somewhere in the back of my mind I had told myself to keep my eye out for a cute tunic however I never worked it into my capsule wardrobe gap list. It’s had three wears already, it’s cashmere and will last, and has been worn both casual and to work.
2. The v neck poly tee- I forgot about this on my pervious shopping admission post! This fits in a gorgeous cut and is made from a work appropriate poly sheen fabric. It was a must have for work for summer. It could be considered as part of the shopping for “gaps list”, but I made the mistake of never stipulating how many work basics I was actually set out to purchase. So I’ve counted this one as and unplanned purchase.
3. The A line cutaway corporate top- Frivolous purchase with my friend by my side. The purchase pile in this store became 7 items long with the sales woman giving me all sorts of things to try on that she thought I would like, there were clothes everywhere! I don’t tend to wear structured tops to work. My friend was cheering me on in the change rooms which was lots of fun, there was 25% off and I was already in a “whatever goes” mood. I also thought it would be good to try a different “look” that I haven’t tried before. I do love it.
4. The wide leg pants- Purchased at the same store as above. I had been eyeing these off for weeks however chose not to purchase due to the hefty price. Also concerns they are too dressed up and too much of a statement for my work environment, as they do have a slit up the back of the calf. I must admit, they look amazing on, and with 25% off, this and the work skirt was going to be my treat for the night. One treat turned into 7! I adore these pants and can’t wait to wear them however I have many “going out for tea” outfits lined up, I am concerned they won’t get the wear they deserve. I’m hoping come summer they will be great for work and I can pull off the split up the back as flesh will be a little more common when the sun is out.
5. The sleeveless pocket front black shirt- Same store as mentioned above. I never buy shirts because I don’t have the energy to iron! This one is made of a soft sheer wash and wear fabric, the shop lady explained its an exclusive fabric that dries non creased. I’ve always wanted a shirt for work. At this point I hadn’t purchased any work basics and this fit the bill.
6. The lace reversible bomber jacket– Same store as above, again. I love this! It’s super cute, went well with all the pieces I was trying on, is on trend, I fell in love with it and it was an in-the-moment purchase.
7. Cape blazer- A completely non essential purchase that once again was in the moment. Looks amazing on. I am concerned it’s too dressed up for my work environment. I love wearing jeans, heels and a blazer on weekends and am hoping it will work for nights out. If I was to return one item it would be this however I do adore the way it looks. So I’ve chosen to keep it and see if I end up learning a lesson from it! I do recall the past few years wishing had a spring jacket for jeans and skirts so this will hopefully be a winner!
8. Houndsooth tights– My lucky last purchase that ended my spree! They were comfy and cheap. I love houndsooth and had wanted some in my winter capsule but couldn’t find them.
9. The tan midi skirt- I loved this colour and fabric and really just wanted something in it. The skirt looks great on, however I was trying to purchase it as a skirt for work. When I got home I realised that due to the softness of the fabric, it only goes with crop tops and it’s probably an item that should be saved for outings rather than work. I considered taking it back. But I do really like it, so it stays. As spring pans out, I wonder if I can find something to make it work for the office?
10. The black mod skirt– So it was decided the tan midi skirt didn’t work for the office. This was my next pursuit. I really like it, it’s a great staple and classic pieces, very similar to another old favourite of mine that I save for evenings out. I thought this was a smart purchase that fitted the gap description. But later I found the work skirt mentioned above that I adore. I could’ve returned this, but I still feel like it’s a smart piece to own.
11. Heels and purse- totally frivolous mindless purchases that I felt would tie a few outfits together together. I dipped into money I shouldn’t have for these. I do love them, and have used the clutch a heap already.
12. The sleeveless waistcoat- I almost put this in the gap filling list because I would’ve been happy to purchase more than one corporate blazer/jacket, but again I never stipulated how many prices of outerwear needed for work. This was a last minute “what the hell” purchase however I’ve worn it a few times already and turns out to be one of my fave purchases.
13. The striped Tee- I already had two casual tees. This was half price, and the same style as my favourite go-to casual tee shirts. Probably didn’t need it however purchased due to its perceived wearability.
14. The cropped roll neck- I purchased this purely on a whim to go with the tan midi skirt. I’ve worn it twice already with other outfits.
The frivolous items that have some guilt attached:
- The Tan Midi Skirt- I knew from early on this piece didn’t fit the bill. I decided to keep it, still knowing it wasn’t a really affordable piece but purely because I loved the colour and style. I am now just hoping I get the opportunity to wear it enough. I will feel wonderful wearing it and look forward to wearing it.
- The wide leg black pants- Again, I adore these but they are a dressed up style which I have enough of in my wardrobe.
- The Alice McCall skirt- ( not pictured above as I purchased this some weeks ago, on this post) I love this however it was expensive, impulsive and difficult to style for a variety of looks as it is a bold piece.
- The cape blazer- It was expensive, and I am concerned about it’s wearability. I love it and swooned when I saw another woman wearing it in the store. I just feel it’s too dressed up for my workplace.
- The A line cutaway office top- Not something I usually wear, it was expensive and unplanned
Okay, so what have I learned from analysing each purchase and what was planned, and what wasn’t?
- My first mistake- I never actually made a shopping list. I had identified some shopping gaps in my mind, in addition to a heap of other ideas anditems that that I had floating in my mind that told myself I would purchase if I found (such as a nice tunic and a casual printed tee). But I never put pen to paper with a shopping list.
- Mistake 2- I never made or set a budget.
- Mistake 3- I didn’t stop to assess how many items I need. Now I’m not about chasing numbers when it comes to capsule wardrobing, it’s all about what feels right for you. I have found that 40 items is a good place for me. In hindsight, I should’ve counted how many tops, how many pants etc I needed. Once again, I think I did so in my mind, but never put pen to paper.
And some other things I’ve learned…
Sometimes I overdo it when purchasing items to go with other items, and to mix and match. However to make a wardrobe work, it is important to allow a few additional pieces to bring the capsule together and make new styles work and become wearable. Something I need to consider and even budget for next time.
Room for some frivolity and fun is much needed! I felt so stuffy and highly strung putting pressure on myself to stick to such rigid “rules” and shop so specifically. Allowing some leeway and assigning a budget for unplanned items that spark that love at first sight feeling, will ensure you don’t feel like you’ve failed if you make a few unplanned purchases within reason. And allowing this helps your style evolve and keeps your wardrobe expressive and fun, exactly what it should be!
Shopping alone is best for me. However I probably never would have had the confidence to try on all those things in a high quality store had my friend not been with me. Others’ encouragement has pro’s and cons, and again a budget would have helped. If I had told my dear friend I had a set amount to spend she would have supported me with that, but I was up for anything that shopping trip! It’s important to remember that when a friend tells you wholeheartedly “that looks amazing on you” and “yeah, you gotta buy that, you can’t not!”, that friend is speaking without knowledge of other purchases you have planned, with little concept of the rest of your wardrobe, or your budget and financial position. Friends can be unintentional enablers, and it’s easy to lose all sense of accountability because someone else tells you that you look smashing in that skirt! Our choices are our own and no one else’s, but shopaholics will find any excuse to buy something we shouldn’t!
My biggest issue is clearly that “what the hell” attitude. Once the damage is done, I definitely revert to an all or nothing approach and go all out despite the consequences. This is my biggest downfall with my shopping behaviour. I think this is closely tied to me not setting a budget, and I think subconsciously I didn’t set myself boundaries as a matter of habit and enabling behaviour.
I’ve decided not to return anything further that I purchased. I will enjoy my new wardrobe, and the guilt is faded. But I will reflect, and soon talk about what I will do differently next time I shop for my capsule wardrobe.