I added some histograms to my closet spreadsheet, and realized that not only was this year my largest consumption-to-date-by-item, but also my largest by cost as well. In other words, I spent a LOT of money this calendar year. This really shocked me, especially the enormity of it (practically twice what I spent last year, which was a lot and included some big investment pieces). I immediately got to work trying to stack up some items for donation/consignment, but that was a stop gap to resolve the problem.
In some effort to understand why I spent more, I thought it would be useful to evaluate the ways in which I spent money, what could have been better or worse, and maybe some steps forward:
The Special Occasion Items
Honestly, I spent $1k on outfits to wear to weddings. Almost half of it was on a very covetous pair of Maryam Nassir Zadeh sandals that I would absolutely buy again, but the other half were on dresses that I don’t plan on repeating, even though I am planning on consigning and trying to recoup some of those costs.
I know a lot of people recommend rental services, but I don’t love the selection of popular ones and don’t like taking the risk of getting something that doesn’t fit well. I also know so many awkward situations where multiple people wore the same rented outfit, and like to feel like my outfit choice at a special occasion isn’t being compared point-by-point to anyone else. Also, as I discussed in my post on cleaning, the industry of rental services is very harmful to the environment, and I would hate to contribute to that. I think I’d rather get a high-quality outfit from theRealReal that is easily resold.
In many ways, the Indian traditional clothes are inherently easier on planning and the wallet; it’s so easy to borrow and adapt from other family members, and I think Indian women are constantly sharing and gifting jewelry and other accessories. You can also feel pretty confident no one is going to have the same outfit on, since saris and other Indian garments are so unique!
Scarcity Instagram Shops
I feel like these shops are my white whale – the “comment with zip, first to post gets it” shops that sell vintage or secondhand, curated firehoses of gorgeous, slightly discounted, frequently sold out items. I spent a LOT of money on these shops, and I’m not sure I would do it again (or on all the things I did it on). I know that from a cost perspective, it’s better that I bought these things secondhand than spending that money on new things, but it still feels like an excess I should walk back in the future. In addition to shopping generally lol.
I spent more than I usually do on a few items, that are probably worth drilling into in more detail. I ordered this list in “most confident about this purchase” to least.
You may also note that some of these prices are lower than list price – if I don’t mention it explicitly, I either got it on sale or secondhand! None of these items were Full Price, because I’m #thrifty and also because I actively try to be efficient with my investment items.
- Ilana Kohn Boyd Jeans ($238) – these are the greatest pants I currently own. I regret nothing about them, except that I bent down aggressively at the grocery store splitting one of the pleats (easily mended!). They are a little higher than my usual “high-end denim” budget, but I’ve already given them quite a bit of use and really enjoy them.
- Aritzia Babaton Quincey Jacket ($215) – I bought this as a more lightweight for-the-office layer, i.e. something you wear because you are freezing but it is 100 degrees outside and need to plausibly transition between both environments repeatedly. This is the most frequently worn of my splurge-y items, probably because it’s more of a necessity than a “splurge” indicates, but it still falls on the right hand side of my cost histograms (both the year-to-date and all-time ones)! so is worth addressing.
- Marni Eclipse Sneaker ($343) – I really did not think these shoes were my style, but I also thought they were really cool. So when I saw they were on sale at Need Supply, and I knew I had some cushion because of my internship to buy a treat for myself, I kind of went for it not knowing what would happen. These shoes are so fun and interesting that I think I hold myself back from wearing them just to take care of them better. But every time I do pair them with an outfit I really love them – also they are sneakers, so they are very comfortable. I wore them with black socks and enjoyed the look, so I look froward to carrying these into winter as well…
- Ilana Kohn Gary Jumpsuit ($212) – I came up with a cute rule last year that I would buy myself an expensive jumpsuit to treat myself for every paper I get accepted. This is cute except the fact that there are three jumpsuits on this list and another lurking in the lower-price-point items, so I guess I abstracted that rule to become two jumpsuits per paper acceptance, which is ridiculous so maybe I didn’t abide by the rule at all. Anyway, the Gary Jumpsuit is amazing and comfy and perfect. I loved wearing it on super hot, sweaty days. It was perfect for vacations, where I could roll it up into a packing cube and know that it would get use on my laziest, most laid-back days. I wore it in the desert and I wore it by the pool and I wore it to brunch, which is really all you can ask of a summer garment.
- Vintage Boiler Suit ($196) – I bought this jumpsuit from the Rose Bowl Flea Market when I visited LA. I was skeptical, but at this point in my life had zero jumpsuits and dreamed about them all the time. And this one fit! And it was so comfortable! The reasons this jumpsuit isn’t lower on the list are 1) I get compliments from everyone I see, whenever I wear it (this is actually true of me in any jumpsuit, so I should probably rethink my frequency of wearing them) and 2) it served as the basis of my excellent Ghostbusters costume, so I can’t really complain. The fact that I can make this fashion and fun probably is worth the splurge.
- Isabel Marant Elton Wool Coat ($309) – When I moved to Seattle, without any jackets because my understanding of Seattle was just the movie 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, I quickly realized I had made a misstep by not bringing any winter coats. I rectified this by acquiring two amazing secondhand coats — a Marc Jacobs structured trenchcoat I still wear lovingly, and a short, black wool toggle coat from Gap, which fit all my hopes and dreams. Eventually, I realized that a cropped-length winter coat was doing nobody any favors in the winter, and sent my beloved toggle coat off onto the next chapter of its secondhand journey. Somehow, daydreaming through Instagram and promotional emails, I decided that the appropriate replacement for that coat would be… a bright red oversize designer coat, conveniently on sale 40% off! I will never be this financially solvent and young again, I thought to myself while buying the second-most expensive coat I have ever bought. That second, there, that’s important, because the success of my marginally-more-expensive-but-also-full-price-and-also-Jay-Z-approved Stutterheim jacket paved the way for this one. I have to be honest – I’ve only worn it twice since buying, once today, when it was snowing, and once a few days ago, when I thought it would be cold. So I don’t really know if this was a worthwhile purchase, yet, but jackets get very good value-for-the-price according to my spreadsheet, so I feel comforted.
- Jesse Kamm Sailor Pants (white) ($295) – the ICONIC Kamm pant. I actually got the (lower on this list) light blue pair first, and because I never wore them I somehow thought the solution was to buy another pair? That wasn’t good logic but I don’t actually regret anything because this pair fits so much better, came uncropped and allowed me to revel in the gorgeous length, and now allows me to think in great detail about how to style white pants year round. They are very similar to a pair of side-zip cullottes I got in India, but again, I regret nothing.
- Miranda Bennett Yellow Silk Jumpsuit ($312) – This was an impulse buy during a Miranda Bennett sample sale. It’s a gorgeous fabric, I get tons of compliments on it, but I can’t help but think it makes me look a little like a yellow bunny? It is a little intense for me, but it’s such a gorgeous fabric I can’t bear to let it go. I wonder if a belt might help?
- Jesse Kamm Sailor Pants (blue) ($295) – Let’s be honest. These pants are TOO SMALL. They are the same number size as my white Kamm pants, but have the magical quality of only being able to buttoned up fully when I am totally depleted and dehydrated right when I wake up, and then every ensuing bathroom trip becomes an intense drama that ends with my insides squished into themselves and also trying to suck in to make the pants look even more flattering. None of this horror happens with my white Kamm pants, which I imagined going biking in the last time I wore them (an UNFATHOMABLE occurrence in these blue ones). I’m going to sell them.
Fast Fashion and Continuous Refreshes
One downside of the meticulous-ness of my wardrobe entry is that it doesn’t do a good job capturing the ebb and flow of items, nor the life cycle of my wardrobe’s value and style and costs. For instance, clothes that I bought that aren’t a great fit, physically or for my body or livestyle, tend to move on in a few months. One benefit of this kind of aggressive “AHH how did I spend so much money?!” is that it motivates me to get some of these items out the door faster, but it’s good to keep in mind that this will happen naturally – it’s not that I only bought 7 things in 2012, but only seven items made it this far. Overall, although I’ve spent more, I’ve significantly reduced the amount of fast fashion and cheap, poorly constituted or constructed clothing, which is a costly enterprise in general. Going forward, it’s worth keeping in mind that spending more on better made clothes likely also means I should walk back my intensity to consume and purchase. I didn’t do a great job this year, but next year I can try and reduce my overall consumption while maintaining these good habits for secondhand and vintage, and I’m also hoping to integrate more sewing and mending into my lifestyle so that will help too!