The week between Christmas and New Years is a good time for reflection, don’t you think? And for the past couple of years I’ve spent some time doing just that during this week of metaphorical treading of water, this week of skiing and eating, reading and lolling, and listening to Hubby shout from the living room about a hockey goal, or not a goal.
This time last year, and the one before, I reflected on my wardrobe, and in particular on my shopping habits. I totted up my purchases for the previous year to see how I had measured up in my quest to become a more ethical shopper. I’d read an article in Bust Magazine that the average American shopper in 2013 purchased seventy items of apparel. Seventy. And I wanted to see how I stacked up. In 2016, I bought twenty-six new pieces of clothing, accessories, and footwear. And in 2017 that number was almost unchanged at twenty-five.
Out and about lately in navy and cream.

So how did I do in 2018? Well, call me boring and predictable, but I bought the exact same number of pieces as I did in 2017. My final count comes in at twenty-five. Again.

For spring and summer, I bought sixteen pieces. That’s a lot for me for one season, okay, not exactly one season, more like two, but you get my point. My major purchase was a new spring coat; my Moncler anorak is definitely an investment piece. I also bought three tee shirts (all white, oddly enough), a pair of white jeans, a pair of blue jeans, a light baseball jacket (also Moncler but marked way, way down), a crocheted sweater, a striped cotton shirt, a black sweatshirt, and a black linen dress (not shown). I bought three scarves (I’ve only shown one here), a new pair of red loafers, and a red bag (not shown). For my trip to Italy I bought two travel items: my black Longchamp travel purse (below), and a black Madewell tee shirt.
Some of my spring and summer purchases, plus two new pieces specifically for travel.
I may have purchased more than is usual for me this spring, but some of these new pieces helped to reinvigorate older items in my closet. The white crocheted sweater and Vince sleeveless tee made me want to wear these old, black draw-string pants again. And the sleeveless Vince tee and the Zara message tee made my older suits feel current. Plus my red loafers made a pretty basic navy and white palette a lot more fun.
New summer tops that helped to spruce up some older pieces.

Three new tops bought this year.

For fall and winter, I purchased seven pieces. I bought two cashmere turtlenecks: the charcoal Vince sweater, above, on sale in the Nordstrom Black Friday sale, and a navy one from Uniqlo. Two pairs of Rag and Bone cropped pants, one in the Black Friday sale. New burgundy loafers, marked way, way down. Plus a burgundy down vest, and a cream down jacket from Uniqlo.

Fall pieces were variations on a theme… burgundy.

The sweater and jacket from Uniqlo were last minute on-line purchases just before Christmas. As I said to Hubby, I don’t want to wear my good Max Mara coats everyday, all winter. In particular my fuchsia tweed has been in heavy rotation, when I’d prefer to keep it nice. And my old down coat from Zara is long and way too warm when temperatures are above -10°C. So I needed a new reasonably priced alternative, a not too heavy, errand-running, popping out to the library, or to the grocery store kind of jacket. The cream, down jacket from Uniqlo fit the bill. And since one can always use one more not too clingy, nor too bulky, cashmere turtleneck I ordered this navy one at the same time. I’m really pleased with my three Uniqlo purchases this year. And with my very first foray into on-line shopping when I didn’t already know the fit of the garments. I found the size charts on the Uniqlo website really helpful, and following the measurement guide ordered X-large in all three pieces. You can find the sweater and the jacket, here.

My new winter purchases from Uniqlo.

In reflection, I’m pretty happy with my purchases this year. I struggled at first styling that crocheted Vince sweater. And I think the red bag I bought is a mistake. After carrying it a few times, I find it too small, and the strap annoying in the extreme, too thin and twisty. So I’ll probably consign it at the first opportunity, something I rarely do. I generally keep bags for years and years.

Many of the pieces I bought are wardrobe basics, the white tees, the cashmere turtlenecks, and the jeans, both blue and white. A few of the pricier items were on sale, pieces I might have bought anyway, but was lucky to get at a very good price. A couple of items I expect to be investment pieces, like the Moncler anorak and Burberry scarf.

What I’m most pleased about with respect to my 2018 purchases is the way they meld with my favourite pieces from past years. How the new sleeveless, white Vince tee works with my old Max Mara suit; how my Eileen Fisher tee, and white crocheted sweater look great with my ten year old Burberry denim skirt, and three year old Stan Smith sneakers; or how my new Uniqlo burgundy vest makes my Max Mara fuchsia tweed coat warm enough to wear in the winter.

What bothers me somewhat is that it seems each year I add twenty-five new pieces to my closet. Just looking at 2017 and 2018, that’s fifty items. Fifty. That seems like a lot of shopping to me. I’m aware that I’ve fallen far short of my goal to become an “ethical shopper.” I haven’t done my due diligence in ascertaining whether items are ethically produced, and I could try harder to buy more thrifted pieces. On the other hand, I do generally try to avoid fast fashion; is Uniqlo considered fast fashion, do you think? And I try very hard to be a mindful shopper.

I think the point of ethical shopping is to be more mindful, to NOT become one of those people who buy seventy items every year. Those people who buy repeats because they don’t remember what is already in their closet, or who buy five cheap tops instead of one quality piece, who wear things once, and toss them. I know I’m not that shopper. But that number fifty still haunts me.

To assuage my guilty conscience, I can say that I still love and plan to wear almost everything I’ve purchased in the last three years. Except for a couple of tanks, and two tee shirts bought and worn (a lot) for travel, and which have now become gardening/camping shirts. And one Eileen Fisher tunic which I plan to give away. I can also say that I won’t need white tees for quite some time, unless they get ruined. Or cashmere turtlenecks. Or loafers. In fact I won’t really need anything else this winter. Or maybe even for spring 2019.

But… you knew there had to be a but… I am still pining for a long fall/winter skirt or dress to wear with my Akris leather jacket from many years ago, and my Stuart Weitzman brown suede knee-high boots. I haven’t had a winter skirt or dress since I retired and gave away most of my professional wardrobe.

Sheesh…. how pathetic am I? Here I am purportedly trying to curb my shopping habits, to be more mindful, to acquire less, and the words are barely out of my mouth, and I’m already planning what I need to buy next.

Ah well. Ethical shopping is hard. And I never said I was perfect. I’m just a work in progress, as we all are.

If I were perfect, I’d have nothing to reflect upon this week. And then I might be forced to watch hockey. Not that I hate hockey, or anything. I am Canadian after all.

So, my friends, now that my wardrobe reflections are complete, care to crunch your numbers for us? Do you know how many wardrobe acquisitions you made in 2018? Do the math. Be honest. We won’t judge.


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From the archives


Hard Winter Tales

We're in for a hard winter this year. Not in the old way. Not because the temperature will drop to -30° C. But in a new way because of COVID.

Finding My Fitness Groove. Without Yoga

When I retired I'd planned to become a yoga devotee. Ha. that didn't work. Now I'm trying to get into a fitness groove without yoga.

Dreaming of Oz

I’ve been dreaming of Australia this past week. I’m listening to Arthur Upfield’s novel The Widows of Broome on my i-pod. So, as I did housework, or pedaled my exercise bike, I listened to the lovely, gravelly tones of Peter Hosking read Upfield’s book. I do love an Australian accent, and Peter Hosking’s voice is wonderful. Sigh. If I ever actually see the man, I will undoubtedly be disappointed. His real life image could never match the picture I have of him in my head.    So, yeah, I’ve been dreaming of Australia, and of Broome in particular.       Cable ...

38 thoughts on “Reflections on 2018… Wardrobe Wise.”

  1. Too scared to count items, but my wardrobe is much smaller, and more cohesive, I seem to be able to put together an outfit more easily. I put this shown to reading several blogs like yours, so thank you.

  2. I've learned a lot from reading your blog over the past couple of years. I so admire your discipline and the cohesive approach you take to wardrobe-building. I've taken this to heart in shifting away from certain brands that seem like a good idea at the time but quickly tell the truth about the way they're made/what they're made of.

    Now 60, I've decided less is more and that I'm worthy of good quality clothes. That said, I bought much too much in 2018 and it's been interesting to reflect on why that was … my husband had a cardiac arrest in February which was stressful in the extreme – online shopping became a way of soothing myself during the long weeks of recovery. A family wedding in June led to a flurry of last-minute purchases to ensure I had the "right outfit" for all the satellite events surrounding the big day. A trip to France in October to celebrate my husband's mmiraculous recovery prompted me to buy several new "travel" pieces – all of which will work for a long time. All this to say, I dare not count the actual number of purchases I made in 2019. I guarantee the total would leave 50 in the dust. At the same time, I also performed a MAJOR cull of my wardrobe in 2019 and have pared my closet down to a very workable collection of good quality and attractive pieces.

    Thanks for this timely reminder about reflecting and goal-setting. Looking ahead, my intention is to cut way, way back on purchases and to learn from the triggers that set the shopping frenzies in motion. We'll see …

    Happy 2019!

    1. Maybe you just had a closet "needy" year, Lia. I remember when my sister had to attend her step-sons wedding in Newport Rhode Island, lots of "events", some of them on yachts, and she was so stressed and ready to be intimidated by what everyone else was wearing. We visited Liz at Nordstrom and she bought her dress for the wedding, plus several other outfits. They looked fabulous on her, and many of them she has restyled for other "events" through the years. Still, it can be annoying when you have lots of outfits for events, and nothing to wear to the mall. Ha.
      Having been through open-heart surgery with my husband, I understand the stress of that time for you last year. And my husband did not go into cardiac arrest. That must have been scary. So glad he's recovered!

  3. I faithfully record all my clothing and beauty purchases each year but I haven't totted it up yet. I will! I admire your common sense approach, buying things you need, that will go with other items in your wardrobe. I need to learn from your approach.

    1. I have a very common sense approach when it comes to what I want or need… just not when it comes to cost. If I love something, I'll buy it, no matter how much it costs, within reason, of course. The trouble is that "reasonable cost" has moved up and up over the years. Ha.

  4. This winter I have enjoyed wearing heavier cotton or light woolen shift-style dresses (teamed with heavier denier black, grey, and russet coloured tights) that make me feel happier and warmer in this chilly Victorian cottage. My jeans and cords just didn’t keep me warm enough. It’s a great time of year to wear dresses with black boots or ballet style pumps in the house. I am not a keen shopper but have started to try on more clothes so to remind myself what does and does not suit me. I was surprised and delighted to find I suit a certain style of dress now that fabrics are made with different combination of fabrics. I choose clothes that have a certain percentage of elastane which has made such a difference to wearing cotton and woolen clothing as it enables a close fit as well as good shape retention. Don’t you think that has made such a difference to how we dress now ? No more fussing about looking wrinkled as soon as you sit down or clothes going out of shape after a few washes. I started the year off well after reading your Jan 2018 blog about mindful shopping but lost the plot in October when I discovered these dresses and tunics plus four lovely light tunics from Sedona whilst on a US holiday. So, not including necessities such as underwear, I have reached 30. I promise to do better next year. There are still lots of favourite pieces that are decades old but still look great.

    1. Bet you'll be wearing those woolen dresses, for years, though, Heather. My plan for after the holidays is to go on the hunt for a dress. I've only been casually looking up to now. It's amazing how hard it is to find dresses.

    1. Ah. I didn't include jewellry in my total. Mostly because these past few years I mostly buy jewellry as a memento of a trip. The navy earrings I have on with my new navy sweater were purchased in Peru. I bought a lovely necklace at the glassblowers' store in Murano, this past fall. But I haven't worn it yet.

  5. First of all, I think you did very well this year. Your purchases were almost all tailored styles that won't date and are of good quality. Having retired at the beginning of this year, my wardrobe has gone through somewhat of a transition. I don't have an accurate count but think my purchases are below 25 (including a scarf or three). This included a Barbour jacket bought in London (January sales), as well as a very lightweight down coat, a cashmere pullover and long cardigan bought for a trip to UK/IRE in just over a week. Two pairs of shoes–if you include ones I ordered today (Aquatalia loafers at a huge reduction), but they won't come until after Jan 1–so maybe I will count that towards next year.:) I think there will be fewer purchases in 2019 as I have a pretty decent amount of clothing for my post-retirement lifestyle. Will only replace items that are past redemption.

    I do appreciate your comment about avoiding fast fashion. What I find disheartening is the drop in quality of clothing from stores that have been bought out by private equity firms in the past few years. Much of the clothing appears not to be up to previous standards. Expecting folks to pay $79 and $89 (US) for things like t-shirts or sweaters of inferior fabric demonstrates the greed of PE firms. But let's face it, they'll likely bleed out whatever profits they can in the short term before closing the stores anyway. Okay. Rant over.

    1. Feel free to rant away, my friend! I hear you. I don't mind paying for quality pieces, but I do mind very much paying quality prices for cheaply made items.

  6. Compared to your count of 25 new garments purchased in 2018, my 2018 number is much higher! I don't even want to know my number. BUT you've inspired me with this post to actually catalog all my 2019 purchases and see if that can curb my enthusiasm.

    We did have in common during 2018 shopping at Uniqlo for the first time. I've been pleased with most of my Uniqlo purchases — especially some Ines de Fressange "inspired" basic pullover sweaters or jumpers I think the Brits call them, an ultralight packable jacket, a raincoat, amd a heavy, wooly scarf/shawl. I did buy two wrinkle-resistant blouses at Uniqlo that turned out not to be very wrinkle-resistant, but I can use a wet towel and the dryer to reduce that hassle.

    The good news is that most of my 2018 clothing purchases came from my favorite Springfield, Missouri, high-end consignment boutique — The Review Shoppe. I can't say enough good things about that place. Unfortunately, the clothes there are very tempting in terms of quality and prices (gently worn St. John pieces are available for 10% or less of their original prices).

    Confession time: My biggest challenge is ever letting go of anything. As a result, my closet really needs to be purged. I wish you'd do a post one day soon about the "letting go" process — when is it time for something to go? How much regret is involved? How do you actually say goodbye to a piece you may not wear very often, but something about it says, "You know you really love me!"

    Happy New Year, Sue. I hope we both have a 2019 that brings us much peace and joy.

    Ann in Missouri

    1. Gad, I wish I knew a consignment shop that had merchandise like that! Sometimes I despair of shops where everything comes from Zara, or worse…Tanjay. As I said to Stu one day when I'd been on an unsuccessful thrift shop shopping adventure… if I wouldn't wear it new, I'd for sure never wear it used!
      P.S. That's a great idea for a post, by the way…. how and when to say good-bye to those well-loved pieces.
      P.P.S. Hope you have a lovely 2019, Ann.

  7. You inspired me! I think I come out at 17. Still waiting to see if I've forgotten anything. It's so interesting for me to see what I did buy though. I think I might piggyback off this post for one of my own:). Thank you.

  8. Well, I come up with about 42 pieces, and about five of them I regret. They're either not as comfortable as I expected, so I wear them less, or I ended up not liking them as much as I thought I would. I expect to buy less this year, as I am realizing more and more that I need less clothing since I retired. This year I bought less than I have in the past, and that trend seems to be continuing.

    I must confess I'm not counting shoes or boots, as I have had some foot problems and had to purge many of my favorites and sell them on consignment or donate them. 🙁 So I figure I played for free on the total count this year – or maybe even went backward.

    1. Doesn't it feel good to just look at your closet and say "What was I thinking?" Took me years to do that. I'd always try to justify my purchase to myself, and then try to wear the items out of guilt. Admitting and consigning is so much more freeing!

  9. I was inspired,too, last year ,after reading your post.I was never buying a lot of clothes,but several years ago have decided to be even more conscious
    I've written and followed all my purchases (not only clothes),so,my number for 2017 was 21
    This year starting from January-it is 20.
    It is easy,because I have a good and thoughtful fondation and usually know what I need or want. I've counted the turtleneck I've bought last week (and didn't get so far) and red leather gloves (replacement for a pair I've lost this winter)it was serendipity,spotting them two days ago,passing by…
    I love all of your clothes,old and new-we have some similar things
    If I could only buy Uniqlo (they don't ship here,even Vienna has no flagship store-so,my son has to buy it online and send to me)
    All the best in 2019.
    P. S. Can we have a book post soon :-)?

    1. You are a savvy shopper, Dottoressa. For someone who loves clothes to have purchased only 20 items is restraint indeed. Happy New Year to you too.
      P.S. I've been thinking about a book post. Still researching at the moment:)

  10. Having taken the tip from your previous posts on the subject I have been keeping a list of clothing purchases during the year. For me this idea has really honed my thinking on purchasing but it's always a balance between what is needed and what I feel will give a boost to the closet and not get bored. As I make quite a few of my clothes, and have made a conscious effort to buy carefully, then I have purchased/made 18 new items this year. However, it has been good to look back on some of my purchases/makes and to see what works and what doesn't and use this information during 2019. Only at the end of 2019 will I know whether I have been successful or not!

    1. I think that boost to avoid boredom is a need, Christy. I wish I could sew. Arggg. Even thinking about it makes be break out in a sweat! Purchasing only 18 items seems like a very successful year.

  11. I'm pretty sure I could count the number of retail items I purchased this year on one hand. Secondhand? That's another story. I find with my Etsy store my wardrobe is constantly evolving. My situation is quite unique though so I feel I can't really participate in this challenge.

    One thing I have learned through my adventure of reselling is I'm able to let go of things faster than before. This may have something to do with the copious amounts of inventory in my house or the fact that I've started looking at clothing differently. I now view clothing as a commodity and work. I still get a thrill when I find amazing pieces or items I really like but I know the amount of work that is behind creating and maintaining a relevant resale store.

    Happy New Year!


    1. I don't know how you do it, Suzanne. What a feat of organization, and it's not like buying for a regular store… you have to choose each piece individually. I'd be interested in hearing about the process of how you run an Etsy shop. Do you bring home garments, than have to wash or clean them? Do they get stored in a dedicated place? You must spend a lot of time packaging and mailing? Okay… I'll stop. Have a Happy and productive New Year.. with lots of exciting finds!

  12. Shopping for clothing is a lovely experience for me and while I did not keep track of all the items purchased I can report that I returned as many items as I kept…much better than keeping everything that was loved! My style is classic and based on black and white…more black in the winter and more white in the summer. Many times one other colour is added for additional interest. All of the garments bought in 2018 are tailored pieces that will be worn for as many years as possible so future shopping trips will likely be of the 'window shopping' variety. I did count jewellery purchases in my total as well as shoes, boots, undergarments, tights, etc. and know the grand total was over 100 pieces…obviously there is room for improvement when looking at such a high number. Good thing a new year provides impetus to improve! With best wishes for a healthy and memorably joyful 2019…Cheers, Alayne

    1. Ah well, you see I didn't count underwear or jewellry. So my own count would be higher that 25 if I did. Still it's not really about the number, just about mindful shopping. I just happen to like numbers;)

  13. Hmmmm. Quite an illuminating exercise! Well, first off, let me say that I love your look #11. But you look fantastic in each and every outfit!

    As for 2018, I lost a lot of weight earlier in the year and thus bought three new (much) smaller jeans on sale. (Smaller size of jeans I’ve worn for years.) In the past two months (my move, my back and shoulder more screwed up again, consoling myself with (sigh) food and only periodically able to exercise), I put much of the weight back on. (Grrrr.) Bought two more (new) jeans in year end sales in my “big” size.

    Sheesh. (What was I thinking overeating like that? I know better!)

    I also nabbed two warm cashmere sweaters on sale (the heat is a little schitzo in this apartment and I’ve been chilled to the bone), one sale raincoat (so I can walk on rainy days), and three pair of shoes (all on sale – but the lastthing I need!!!).

    Huh. Altogether, not terrible. And when I tally up the cost, not bad at all. But I sure want back into my size 6 and size 4 jeans!

    1. Yeah, that #11 might be my favourite outfit of the year. Not influenced at all by the fact that Emma Thompson wore a blue suit and white sneakers to accept her DBE from the Queen. Do you think she copied me? Ha.

  14. Wow, I love your style!!! Those plaid cropped pants – drooling!

    Honestly I believe I bought less than 10 items this year. I had a good long chat with myself, crunched numbers, and came to the conclusion I had to seriously cut my spending if I was going to survive! So I did just that. I bought a couple of things from Poshmark, but I sold a ton more than I bought. And although I'm drooling over some of your looks, really what I need is to drop 20 lbs so I feel good in my closet full of clothes once more, rather than buy anything new.

    Happy New Year!

    1. Thanks, Debbie. Feeling good in what you already own is a very worthy goal, I think. Sometimes I will buy something small to update a favourite and make me love it again.

  15. Too often this year I shopped due to stress. I need to find a new outlet for stress, especially since my small college town has only a couple of stores anyone over 25 could use. A few of the items I love, but a few are also misses, especially since it has been so warm (hot today over 80F) that they aren't wearable.

  16. Mostly it's been crewneck T-shirts… about 10, I think.
    As for the rest, one pair of Levi denim jeans, one pair of black slacks, one burnt orange cashmere/merino turtleneck from Woolovers and a navy V-neck sweater from Ansett that layers pretty well over my collection of turtlenecks 🙂

    1. Oh that burnt orange sweater sounds lovely. Love that colour. I go through a lot of tee shirts. After lots of washes they move from top status, meaning good enough to wear into town, to wearing around the house, to camping and canoeing. I'm always replenishing my good ones and moving the others down the line.

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