Happy 2024 everyone. I’m back. Rested up, full of turkey, and with a head that is spinning from too much slow fashion research. Gad, I fell down some research rabbit holes these past few days. It’s all good, though, because I’m saving some of the ideas and information I found for future posts.

So let’s look at 2023. How did I do in 2023 in my quest to be a better, more ethical, and environmentally friendly shopper?

Before we do that, here’s a quick review of my slow fashion history as documented on my blog. I started this whole yearly confession thing back in 2016 when I first read about slow fashion as an antidote for fast fashion, and as a possible way to curb the effects of our rampant consumption of fashion in general on the environment. Back in 2016, I found a statistic that said the average American purchased 70 new items of clothing a year. I couldn’t find any Canadian data, but I assumed our habits were similar. And I remember thinking, wow, that’s a lot of shopping.

I reported in my first slow fashion yearly review that I had purchased 26 new pieces of apparel in 2016. Not bad compared to the overall stats. But still in need of improvement. Then over the ensuing years my “acquisition” numbers gradually decreased: to 25, then 20, then 17 in 2021, and finally 13 in 2022. You can read my 2022 report here, if you’re interested. Over the years I have made some progress in buying less. But I have made no progress in finding and buying sustainable brands. And I have not lived up to my aspiration to shop at consignment and thrift stores. I suck at that, people.

And in 2023, I even back slid in my efforts to acquire fewer new clothes. This past year my wardrobe grew by sixteen new pieces. Some were purchased, others were gifted. Not terrible. But more than the year before.

Let’s examine that total, shall we?

In the spring I bought black dress pants and a black tailored vest from Aritzia, and a pair of Levis 501 white (ish) jeans. I then splurged on a new pair of sunglasses. I say splurged because I already owned two pairs: one for good and one for sports. In the summer I was gifted three pieces from the clothing brand Grae Cove: a linen dress, a short-sleeved “camp shirt” and a long sleeved “pop-over” top. I will say that I made good use of these linen pieces during our hot summer. But, man oh man, do I regret not packing them for our fall trip to (still very hot) Portugal.

Later in the summer I shopped for our Portugal trip and purchased a black, quarter-zip sweatshirt from Aritzia, and from Uniqlo a black and white striped top, a pair of black jeans, and a lightweight, wine-coloured Merino sweater. I also bought a new pair of black Asics running shoes, for walking. Sadly, the tops and jeans were too heavy for the Portugal weather, so they did not get as much wear as I’d intended.

In September I splurged on a dark green silk shirt from Frame. And I also ordered a green tote bag from Everlane. I planned to wear the green bag and shirt with jeans and my fall blazers when we returned from Portugal in late October. Ha. Post-trip Covid put the kibosh to my plans to wear my fall blazers. By the time I was feeling well enough to go anywhere, winter coats were required. So my unworn planned outfits will have to wait for next year.

In late November an exploration of Uniqlo’s Heat Tech products much touted by some of my favourite YouTubers like Emma Hill saw me purchasing one piece: a turtleneck to layer under my ski clothes this winter. If we ever get snow, that is. And just before Christmas, I bought a black heavy cashmere turtleneck from Aritzia. I’ve been wearing it a ton lately with black boots, jeans, and one of my coats.

So. That amounts to 16 new pieces in my closet. None of them purchased second hand. None of them from the best sustainable brands. Clearly I have not been successful this year in my stated goals to buy less, and buy better. I am interpreting “better” not only with respect to price and quality, but also to mean brands which have a better reputation for sustainability. In teacher-speak, my slow fashion yearly review for 2023 says that I am in serious need of remedial work.

However, if I use Vivienne Westwood’s admonition to “Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.” which I quoted in last year’s post as the benchmark, I am doing slightly better. For the most part I do choose well. I made some mistakes this year, but partly because the weather severely messed me about. And I make my clothing purchases last. I am what Orsola de Castro calls a “clothes keeper.” If I grow tired of a piece and it still fits, I will store it instead of getting rid of it. Then I haul it out at a later date to revivify the selection of pieces in my closet of which I am now, in turn, growing weary.

That is my fashion super power, people. Recycling my closet and making new outfits from old pieces. Like recently, below, finding a few new ways to wear my black faux-leather pants which I have not been wearing enough. It’s so easy to start with a foundation of boots and pants, and then change up a sweater and coat. I’ve worn two of these three outfits so far this winter.

One of my clothes-keeping success stories are my navy dress pants, part of my old, old Max Mara summer of 2002 suit. I wear the suit in the summer with a tee shirt and sneakers, and wear the pants in the fall and early spring with my green Max Mara coat and a navy turtleneck or with my navy Vince V-neck sweater. That old suit was definitely a great buy. The jacket still fits, and I’ve had the pants altered because my middle is NOT the same as in 2002. More’s the pity. Ha.

Last winter in an attempt to find a new way to wear my faux-leather skirt I added a very old silk neckerchief, a cashmere crew neck sweater, my Paige denim jacket from 2014, an old Kate Spade bag also from 2014, and my new coat. This coat is so roomy that wearing a denim jacket under a winter coat is no longer an exercise in sausage stuffing. This became my favourite outfit last winter.

Below left is a variation to the above theme with my black cargo pants and sneakers. I wore this a lot when I was in Fredericton last spring. And the same light down jacket helped me find a way to wear the tan Aritzia dress pants, below right, in the winter. I’d mostly worn them in summer with flat black sandals and a black tank top.

Sometimes I recycle a whole outfit. Like below. An outfit from 2022 which I reprised this past year with a different bag and my new white jeans.

But, you know, I needn’t be patting myself on the back for my clever, creative slow-fashionista ways. Shopping my closet is not new for me. And the fact that it helps me be a more environmentally-friendly shopper is just coincidence. I’ve always done this with my clothes. And I’ve always loved doing it. Ever since I took control of my own wardrobe as a teenager when I was old enough to travel to town on the bus and shop by myself with my own money. Money I made from a part-time job selling hotdogs in the canteen at the Lady Beaverbrook Rink. Instead of Barbie clothes, I played with my own clothes, switched them up, swapped them with friends, or even added pieces from my sister’s or my mum’s closets when they weren’t looking. Back when I was fifteen and didn’t have a lot of money, new just meant different. Like Canadian blogger Erin Polowy says in this article: “There’s a lot of creativity that comes with constraint.”

I think we should all pretend we have no money like when we were fifteen. And use that impetus to get more creative with our clothes. Like Allison Bornstein says, “we don’t need more clothes; we need more ideas.” By the way I heard that quote in this video by Canadian YouTuber Christina Mychas.

But this slow fashion yearly review is not supposed to be about resting on my laurels. It’s supposed to be about fessing up with respect to last year, and planning how to do better next year. So, I’ve fessed up. Now what’s next?

In my reading this week, I came across an article by Lauren Indvik. Lauren is a fashion editor for the Financial Times. And her year end fashion column is about how she failed in her attempt to live up to the “Five Things Pledge” she made last January.

Let me explain.

In its 2022 report on sustainability and fashion, the Hot and Cool Institute, a “think tank researching the intersection of culture and climate,” outlined what a sustainable wardrobe would look like. A sustainable wardrobe is one that will help the world meet its attempts to keep the climate from warming more than 1.5 degrees C. In order to meet our climate targets, The Hot and Cool Institute says that people in “wealthy countries should be buying no more that five new items of apparel per year.” Hence the “Five Things Pledge.” You can read their full 2022 report entitled “Unfit, Unfair, Unfashionable” here, if you’re interested.

The “Five Things Pledge” means that one should buy no more than five new items of apparel (including footwear) over the course of the year. The pledge allows for new lingerie, new tights or socks, and all second hand purchases. The pledge also allows for borrowing, swapping, or renting clothes. You can read all the rules here, if you like.

So Lauren Indvik took the pledge this time last year, and in her December 28 article explains how she failed. Despite her best efforts, Lauren purchased 12 new pieces in 2023. In her defence, she did find out mid-year that she was pregnant, so I believe some leeway is allowed. Lauren says that she learned a lot this past year, and fundamentally changed her shopping habits: “second-hand fashion sites became the starting point for every shopping journey.”

But what struck me most about Lauren’s article, other than her honesty, is the fact that she believes “it’s important to try to live by one’s values, and bemoaning climate change while doing nothing to reduce my own impact feels wrong.” That and the fact that she signed up for the pledge again this year.

And that’s why I’m going to do it too. Or try to do it, anyway.

I know that signing on to a pledge to buy no more than five new things in a year will sometimes be a huge pain in the butt. And cause me way more work in the long run when it would be so much easier to just run out and buy whatever I want. If I could find it, that is. And that there really are no consequences if I break my pledge. I mean, who’s going to tell if I don’t? Not to mention the fact that my shopping, or lack of it, will make little difference to the increasingly urgent climate crisis. And it won’t cut down on the extreme overproduction of fast fashion mega-brands. Or stop anyone else from over-consumption. So why bother?

I don’t know, people.

Maybe it’s the fact that one source I read this past week said they found most “consumers’ spending habits do not align with their professed values.” Apparently we consumers say one thing about the need for change and do something different when it comes to our shopping. Maybe it’s that companies are getting away with rampant Greenwashing, and brands like H&M are merely giving the “illusion of commitment” to sustainability. And don’t get me started on all the clothes that end up in landfill somewhere every year; according to earth.org in the U.S. alone each person on average throws away 81.5 lbs. of clothing each year. And then there’s all that fast fashion that is bought, and worn once, and tossed. All I know is that at one point this past week in my research, and reading, and taking notes, I reached a kind of boiling point.

Maybe it was the latest edition of a fashion newsletter to which I (used to) subscribe, in which the writer listed everything she’d bought or was gifted this year. And as I scrolled down the list in amazement, I began to count, and ended up at 161 pieces. Jaysus. That’s a lot of stuff. Oh, I give her credit for honesty. Except it’s all there in her weekly posts anyway, if someone really wanted to add things up. I didn’t until I saw how long the list was.

And then I began to wonder if I made my living from blogging, and had a need for all kinds of clothes that I don’t need in my current life for events I won’t ever attend, and if I had access to free stuff all the time from brands I love … I wonder if I’d be any better.

Maybe that was the point at which I decided to stop resting on my laurels. And try to be better. And I always work best if I have a specific goal. Especially if it’s a number. So why not five? Why not join Lauren and lots of other women in signing onto the Five Things Pledge?

Anyone else want to join me? You can read all about “The Rule of Five”, find out the dos and don’ts, and even sign up for a helpful newsletter here, if you like.

Anyway. That’s what I plan to do. Try to limit myself to five new things this year. Only five. Oh my. Oh… salty epithet inserted here… that will be tough.

I will of course report back on my progress. Shall we say quarterly?

And if anyone wants to join me and take the pledge, and maybe wants to be part of those quarterly reports, let me know in the comments. Like our grey hair journey, I’d love it if we could support each other in our quest to be better, slower, more sustainable shoppers.

Now it’s your turn, friends. What what was your 2023 shopping like? Or do you keep track?

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67 thoughts on “Slow Fashion Yearly Review 2023”

  1. Hi Sue, I read this with great interest having spent the last week reading everything I could find about the ‘Rule of Five’. I’ve set this as my intention for this year – so I’ll be following your updates closely! After a ‘buy nothing’ year in 2022 I fell into a big hole last year and bought way too much cheap & cheerful stuff that I liked rather than needed. I definitely aspire to be much more like you carefully deciding whats needed and then sourcing it in a considered way. Here’s to much less, & for me, better quality items! I’m looking forward to reading more in the coming weeks.

    1. I love your description (cheap and cheerful.) In an effort to cut back financially but still indulge my urge to spend on clothing, I’ve bought cheap and cheerful….mostly for warm weather clothing. I don’t wear them all nor do I really have space. Cheap and Cheerful have to go!!!!!

    2. One thing I read in Lauren Indvik’s article is that she feels no guilt about spending more for each of her pieces since she buys so few. And since it’s mostly about keeping clothes out of landfills, that works out well. Because a number of consignment places won’t take fast fashion items any more. Good luck to you…and to me… in reaching our goals. 🙂

  2. Sue…I enjoy how you analyze your clothing purchases. I, myself, really stumbled in 2023! I failed to keep records after August! What’s up with that!? I just discovered that after I read your post. I had totally blanked! I usually keep yearly clothing and skincare lists and was astonished to see the cursor blinking after an empty August. I am going to complete that list!
    I also follow C. Mychas and agree that we need more ideas for putting together outfits. I watched her YouTube video and got a kick out of how she put some of her pieces together.
    I am very intrigued by the Five Things Pledge and will be reading the link to find out the details.
    Thank you for prodding your readers to think more intentionally/responsibly about our fashion choices and purchases. I really appreciate it.

    1. I’m going to try the 333 challenge in a video or post soon. I just saw it yesterday on IG… 3 tops, 3 bottoms, 3 pairs of footwear and see how many outfits you can make. Sounds like fun. Whatever works to keep us interested in what we already own is good, I think.

  3. I feel like I should be apologizing for our October weather here in Portugal and how it busted your packing plans! That heat dome was persistent! And then it followed me to the eastern Mediterranean, where I bought too many linen pieces in Greece. (In my defense, it was hot, and since it was the end of October, everything was 30-50% off as it was the end of the season on the Greek islands). But now I’m outfitted for next summer.

    So I’ll take the pledge along with you. Let’s see what we can do.

  4. There are a lot of articles eschewing fast fashion & advocating giving more thought to our purchases , particularly in The Guardian here in the UK . This is one of the latest that I found interesting.
    https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2023/dec/06/darn-it-five-writers-try-to-banish-their-fast-fashion-guilt
    Any sensible person would agree for all sorts of reasons & I buy far less than I used to . Mainly because my lifestyle now doesn’t require a massive wardrobe, plus I like what I have more than most of the current items on offer . So I’m definitely within fifteen new items a year . I’m no angel though ,if I see something I love & it fits in my life I will usually buy it . But I’m not going to feel guilty as there’s a much bigger picture here . One fashion writer worrying about our consumption of fashion had five children . I commented that large families were really not helping the planet & my comment was removed . Another UK blogger waxed lyrical about finding a cashmere woolie in a charity shop for half the price of a takeaway coffee . When I pointed out that the local charity where I used to volunteer cost over a thousand pounds a day to run & asked her to think of paying more , my comment was not printed . There’s an awful lot of lip service going on in the fashion media now . Whilst I agree with giving serious thought to our purchases , we should really assess our whole lifestyles – but that’s another story . Anything we do as individuals is to be applauded & you certainly counteract those bloggers who are endlessly consuming stuff . You are such a good example of shopping our wardrobes .

    1. I hear you, Wendy. It is a whole lifestyle thing. One good result of Lauren Indvik’s experience that she outlined in her article is that she and her husband now use shopping second-hand first as a strategy for buying everything from kids clothes to household items. For a young family I think that is so good. You are already a conscious shopper, I know. And I didn’t mean to sound as if I expected everyone to jump on board with the five things. On another note Stu is quite pleased with himself because he has been a conscious shopper from way back…as the bits of rope and board that he keeps in the shed in case he needs them for something can attest. Ha. Funny story there, actually. Back in the eighties I threw a pair of old leather boots away. Only to find that Stu had liberated them from the garbage and used parts of the leather to line the bottoms of the bags he used to pack stuff for canoe camping. And he patched an old pair of ski boots too. He was ahead of his time. Ha.
      P.S. That was a really good article. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. In the five buy or no buy years do undergarments, pj’s, workout wear, etc count? At this point, I’m not limiting my purchases, but using a sharp eye to discern what I’m buying. I’ve already bought two items: a pair of dark brown corduroys and a pair of boots that I’ve had my eye on for two years. For winter I could use a Barbour like coat. We have mild winters. I know I’ll need linen pants/joggers for the summer. I always need t shirts for the summer. Mine from years past are thread bare. This year I am going to stick to a list. I’ve thought about having a holding board on Pinterest, checking it once a month to assess and then buy. Like others have said I’m not liking much of what is out there and I can rarely find replacements or fill in holes. What I am buying are doubles of what I truly love because those things are hard to find.

    1. Lingerie, tights and socks are not counted in the five things. I am assuming the nightwear is lingerie? When it becomes hard to keep to the five is when basic pieces like tee shirts wear out. Not to mention finding replacements for good quality pieces when they wear out.

  6. I’ve also been reading about The Rule of Five this past week and have found it all very interesting. I think it’s a terrific pledge to take, I’m definitely on board.
    You’ve done very well keeping your purchases down, I think you’re a thoughtful shopper and that the keeping track of it all, as you’ve done, is more than half the battle. Your pieces from this year would have been less if you hadn’t been gifted items, I’m guessing they are not things you would have purchased. You went on a vacation to Portugal, I have always shopped more than I should before travel, part of the planning process I guess.
    I tried to buy nothing in 2023 after shopping quite a bit in 2021-2022. I had lost weight and started collecting pre-owned pieces from Ralph Lauren Collection and Dolce&Gabbana to fill out my wardrobe again, the pre-owned designer deals during the pandemic were amazing. I sold or donated the too-big items in my wardrobe so I didn’t feel too guilty about it.
    I wasn’t quite successful with Buy Nothing in 2023 but it was good to be mindful. I’m super excited about The Rule of Five but I’m going to include pre-owned pieces in that number or I could easily go crazy. Also gifts, my husband often buys me a scarf or accessory for holidays so I’ll have to include that in the five as well.
    By the way if you’re looking for pre-owned, I recommend The Real Real, you will pay duty and tax on your items (I am also a Canadian) but there are some terrific pre-loved designer finds, amazing value.
    Thanks for sharing all of this, I love your blog.

    1. Ironically, I purchased a cheap striped long-sleeved tee for our trip when I already own a good one, thinking that I’d be wearing it all the time and it would wear out from washing. Ha. I probably wore it three times. If I hadn’t been gifted those pieces I probably would have purchased the dress only, since I was looking for a linen dress anyway. I have been on the Real Real site but not doing any serious looking, just browsing. I will have to change that.

  7. I love your recap and inventory process of purchases every year. In my book, you are a very elegant lady and thoughtful about shopping,with a curated closet that I like very,very much.
    Even our conversation here is an excellent way to start to be mindful and think about things we do( or not do). My friends can’t understand why I don’t buy something I like,if I can
    I’ve been always buying with planning ahead,thinking about what I have already,taking my clothes to the seamstress to adjust them ( in various directions :)) when they don’t fit at the moment,because I love my clothes.There were a very few things that I’ve bought impulsive (although they were on my list for some time)
    I try to be better every year ( counting pieces of clothing I’ve bought) and am quite satisfied with 2023.( although I’ve bought the silver skirt :)!)and maybe could be better in 2024.as well. Highly support Five Things Pledge,but,similar to Lauren,I think that 9(-/+) is more realistic for me this year. I could cheat,but I didn’t buy new bathing suits last year ( maybe longer) and old ones don’t look good any more,I’m going to buy them as I swim a lot- so, this is two already.Yes,it is important for me to live in sync with my values and to have my thoughts,words and deeds in balance
    Dottoressa

  8. I did fail this year but in my defence I lost weight and the bottoms in my totes were mainly skinnies, which are no longer the style. I bought two jeans and three trousers. As to tops, I fared better. I bought two new sweaters in late fall. Going back to summer, I recall buying one dress that I wore several times. In the footwear department, I bought one pair of hiking boots and a pair of Asics, both replacements for worn pairs. Oh, and a new bathing suit for a cruise last February. I’m going to get myself a little notebook and keep track of purchases and prices for 2024. I kept track of restaurant bills in 2009 and scaled back on dining out when I saw how much we were spending. I also added up the cost of buying coffee for both of us while out and then bought a Keurig. I still buy the odd one while out & about.

    1. Hang onto your skinnies, though. I did mine and have been wearing them tucked into my boots. I highly recommend a little notebook. I have several now. That’s how I can go back and look at previous years. Sometimes it’s good to see how much I bought ten years ago… and how much of it I still have. Or don’t have.

      1. I donated my skinnies already. I doubt I’ll go back to them. I live on Vancover Island where we rarely get snow, so no need for knee high boots or Sorels (boots you need to tuck). I just feel that now I’m 70, I’m over tightly fitting pants, much preferring straight leg. It’s not really age related but more my style has evolved. .

  9. I have bought ‘less than five’ in 2023, BUT I sew, so have added to my fabric stash – no regrets there. I did shop at Aritzia for the first time and am very pleased with my purchases – coat and vest – and their wonderful service (the coat was a ‘special order’. On another subject, we did finally sell our place at the Lake (got lucky in a difficult market) and look forward to our April move to Ottawa…just in time for the tulips! As always, I really enjoy your posts and learn much.

    1. I like Aritzia. I wish they supported bloggers because I can wholeheartedly recommend them for many things. Including the fact that they are still offering pieces that I bought several years ago. They don’t change up their entire inventory every month like a lot of brands. You should be proud of yourself, Miriam. I wish I could sew.

  10. Sue I enjoy your writing and you look polished in your wardrobe.

    My comment is very similar to Wendy’s. It’s complicated. I don’t buy much (bought a rare impulse piece in Paris this fall) and come close to about five new pieces annually. This is pretty good considering that I’m still working and two of the items in 2023 were suit pieces made by a tailor I know, with Harris Tweed (the narrow kind) that was new to me but probably twenty years old. The others were a parka made with recycled materials by a small studio in Montreal, a pair of shoes made in Napoli and an English toggle coat bought in the end of year sales to replace a loved older one on its last legs. At the same time, I sew and knit and have some plans for next year. I bought two pieces of fabric this year and was gifted a couple more. These are new.

    On the other hand, this is in the context of a day-to-day lifestyle that is very low carbon with one major exception. I have no children and no car by choice. My big issue is that I fly at least once every two months for work and for family. It’s tricky. Every life is tricky. This is not to say that buying only five pieces (particularly if one really doesn’t need anything) isn’t a worthy goal. It’s to say that context matters. I try to make the best choices I can, but I don’t know about making a pledge like this. Have fun with it all the same.

    1. Thanks, Stephanie. Like I said to Wendy, it was not my intention to make readers feel they need to sign on. Everyone is different and we all lead complex lives. I know you are very intentional with your clothes. I imagine that Harris tweed suit is a real keeper… for decades. 🙂

      1. As I’ve been mulling over this five items plan this week it has grown on me as an interesting framework. I think we can all benefit from working within constraints. I’ve always found that to be true. What my goal for 2024 is I think to acquire only things I truly love. I do feel that way about my Harris Tweed jacket, made with pride by my elderly tailor friend in Italy.

  11. I bought more last year also. I bought 12 items, including 3 pairs of shoes. 2 items were 2nd hand, 1 robe, and one wallet, so I subtracted those bringing me to 8. There were two impulse buys that I have not worn as much as I expected. And since I went a little wild on shoes in 2023, I shouldn’t be needing any this year, except maybe replacing sneakers. I hope to do 5 or less purchases this year. Right now I don’t have anything I think I need, and only 2 or 3 “wants” that are carryovers from prior years. Like you, I keep my clothes, so even if what I buy may not be designated as “sustainable”, I think that my use can be sustainable.

    1. Orsola de Castro says that any item can be made more sustainable it we take care of it, and hang onto it. I remember a year back in the early 2000s when I bought three pairs of boots in one season and felt like such a spendthrift. I still have and wear all three pairs. Ha.

  12. Welcome back Sue, and Happy New Year! Good to see you looking and sounding well. And hello to your beautiful pink and green coats!
    I don’t keep a rigorous list of purchases but I know I’ve bought more this year than previously. Last winter I bought 2 cashmere jumpers and 2 merino ones to replace items that had become threadbare. I used visible mending to repair some other jumpers for wearing at home. I acquired a pair of navy loose cotton trousers to give me a hot weather, full-length trouser option. I also bought 3 pairs of summer sandals, one black, one tan and metallic plaited slides and donated the 3 pairs of good condition sandals. I finally accepted that I can’t walk in any kind of heeled shoes, even if the heel is low, block-shaped or wedge. My feet/legs hurt too much. My purchases were all made of natural fibres and the shoes are leather, bought at post-Christmas sales. I know I could have purchased less, say 2 new jumpers not 4. Lots of room for improvement! But I’ve worn everything I’ve purchased, so that’s something.

    1. With respect to mending… I just found some YouTube videos that show how to refurbish scuffed and scratched leather boots. I am going to have a go at my old Chelsea boots. And the videos on mending knitwear make me (almost) wish I had some sweaters with moth holes to work on. Ha.

  13. Apparently I succeeded at keeping the Five Things Pledge in 2023 in spite of not knowing that such a thing existed! I bought 17 items including clothing, accessories, and footwear, but only 5 of them were new. All the rest were second-hand.

    Following your example, I’ve been keeping track since the beginning of 2018 and writing a review on my blog at the end of each year. The 2023 post appeared on December 29 if you’re interested in taking a look. I did give you credit for the idea.

    1. I read your 2023 post, Elaine. You did really well. I am going to try hard to be a better thrifter this year. And St uas volunteered to come with me. He loves thrift stores. Gulp. Shopping with my husband is something I never do. We’ll see how much patience he has. Ha.

    2. Hi Sue … I look forward to this yearly post and you’ve encouraged me to be a more thoughtful and considered shopper over the many years that we’ve been friends.
      I’ve tried to consider “ need” more when I look at an item I love and consider buying.
      I also think more about what I have already in my wardrobe.
      I’m not sure I’ll manage to stick to 5 items but I’m definitely going to try and definitely buy as little as possible.
      I plan on keeping a list of purchases on my phone as a way of encouraging me to think more carefully about what and why I’m buying …
      My “Swiss wardrobe” … is a reminder to me, as I pack each year, just how little I actually need. I realise that apart from a couple of replacements for items I pretty much take the same things each year … with the addition of a knitted dress, last year and this year which has been handy on a couple of occasions.
      Thanks again Sue and to all the ladies who’ve commented here … it’s so interesting and helpful to read everyone’s thoughts on this.
      Rosie xx

      1. I love your Swiss wardrobe. All those burgundy-ish colours…as I recall. I am planning to wear my knitted dresses more this winter. With hats. I’ve decide to NOT feel silly when I wear hats. I rarely do except when I walking or skiing. And I have a grey tweed Scottish cap that I bought for my stepfather in 2005 when Stu and I were in Scotland. He never wore it because Mum said he thought it was too good to get dirty. When he passed away I brought it home with me. Think I’ll wear it with my long grey knitted dress. Might look cut.

  14. Happy New Year to you, Sue and friends! You always have such interesting things to talk about. I have never kept a yearly record of things I purchase for myself, but, by golly, I am going to start now. Thank you so much for all your ideas and stories. I look forward to reading them in the coming year.

    1. I love my book of lists. It’s become almost like a survey of my life… my history in my closet inventories and shopping lists. My oldest book goes back to 2000.

  15. I wish I had your coat wardrobe! Of course here in KY our winters are not so bad, I have gotten along in the same black quilted Lands End jacket for 6 years. And the two piece layered very warm coat from LE that I have had for 20 years. It’s hardly ever worn. So I need no new gloves, hats, scarves, heavy sweaters, I just don’t wear them..
    Last year I bought 2 pairs of Levi jeans because of weight loss, and a couple of shirts. I honestly don’t care if my at home jeans are big on me, and some of my shirts are so so old. And I bought a cashmere sweater in black. I was gifted two pairs of shoes.
    This year I have already bought a rain jacket, also LE, to wear to France in June. I am trying very hard to NOT buy new clothes for that trip, but to take casual dresses, ankle pants, and shirts I already own, with a good blazer for dressing up and a jean jacket for dressing down. I truly believe the only thing I need for that trip is new comfortable sandals without a heel. That is not to say the Longchamps store is safe from me!!
    We can only try. We have only one life.

    1. My coat wardrobe goes back years. I plan to wear my maxi-length dress coat more this year. I bought it back in the late nineties. And it’s still in perfect condition. Mostly because I bought it in case I needed a dress coat and wore my more casual pea coat most days to work. I wore that camel pea coat for years and then passed it over to my sister who also wore it for years. Coats in our family just keep on keeping on. Ha.

  16. I spent some time reviewing the Rule of Five and the parameter’s associated with items allowed. I decided to adopt the group mentality and took the pledge. I kept track of my purchases up until July of last year when life started to speed up and tracking fell to the bottom of the list. Accountability is important so I’m glad we are doing this collectively it seems. I appreciate your review of your year and thoughtful consideration of your spending habits. I have been in sweat pants/shirts and two piece lounge outfits since becoming ill in October. Two months of soft clothing has certainly made me question if I need even a fourth of my wardrobe. I’m retired and honestly these lounge sets are awesome.

    1. I wear sweat pants and turtlenecks daily in the winter, and sweat pants or shorts and tee shirts in the spring and summer. Not exactly “lounge wear” but close. I don’t even consider them as part of my “real” clothes. The ones I deign to wear in public. But I’d not be too quick to do a big purge, Kat. Especially if your needs have changed from being ill. Maybe pack some of them away and bring them out when it’s possible you might want to wear them again. And make up your mind then. If some of your wardrobe makes you feel not good about yourself… not fitting, not comfortable etc then purge those things by all means. It’s just that sometimes when we want to replace a purged item we find that the quality of stuff out there cannot compare.

  17. As a 68 yr old crone I have no longer need a huge wardrobe..I do want to look nice when I go out of the house and occasionally add updates and make use of Mama’s silk scarf collection, amazing how well they age! But cashmere is my addiction….Even then I consider how/where the garment will fit into my wardrobe, how sustainably sourced are they, the usual provenance research. Buying previously loved items led me to a couple spectacular Poshmark finds! I have plans for old unwearable cashmere too. There is a woman in Orleans who recycles into mitts and hats and uses the profits to support charities.

    I find it interesting that the two Canadian fashion’ bloggers I follow are both heavily into slow fashion, thrifting, restyling of older clothing or well considered purchases. Both have great personal style too. Of the three American blogs I follow one considers having a four year old sweater akin to hoarding probably because soooo much is gifted to her and her blog is a link dump anyway..( these bloggers are >65)
    The other while being a master of recycling and reusing does link up with Amazon, known purveyors of fast fashion of questionable quality ( not all of it but a lot)
    The third is just a walking ad for her supporting retailers and is on my ‘give her the hook list 2024’! The power of incentivizing can be ruinous…
    I like that my Canadian bloggers as well as a Franco/British blogger are ‘reading the room’ and expanding on what constitutes avoiding fast fashion. It can mean recycling jewelry, thrifting, reusing or just really considering a purchase before handing over a piece of the pension.
    We often get too hung up on the importance of fashion and forget about style. It’s admirable that you’ve taken an older pair of trousers and had them ‘rebuilt’ for you, that’s style!!!

    1. Funny how silk scarves age so well… and they always fit. Ha. I almost packed those “rebuilt” dress pants for our trip to Portugal and then thought about what I’d do if I ruined them while travelling. I would be bereft after hanging onto them for all these years… if one can be bereft about the loss of a piece of clothing, that is.

  18. Shopping thrift and consignment stores is great, and feels like more of an adventure than a visit to the mall. In December I bought an Oleanna sweater at My Sisters Closet (supporting BWSS), an item I’d wanted for years. Would love to hear about other people’s favourite places.

    1. Aaahhhh, your green Max Mara coat….if only! Ok, I am done. Recycle, reuse and make due was always the theme in my Grandmother’s home, where I was raised. Married, starting out a bit hard and the children and catastrophic illness. We persevered, but now, even in my late 60’s I want to have fun, enjoy my clothes and life. Yes, still on a budget, not thinking about the planet…already did that not knowing that’s what I was doing. So 2023, bought what I could, and this year the same. Not going anywhere fancy, road trip down to Texas next month…but got a new dress and on the hunt for new shoes. I really do need shoes, my everyday pair have a hole in the bottom….wear them ’til they fall apart. I learned well from my Grandmother.

      1. I hear you, Heather. I think you should feel as if you can have fun and enjoy your clothes. Absolutely. We none of us know what others have had to do to make ends meet in their lives. As the child of a mum who had four kids and no husband for years, who loved clothes and could not afford to shop, I understand. There will be no judgement here. xo

    2. Me too, Annie. In the next few weeks I’m going to check out a few shops in Ottawa that I have never been to… as well as perusing some of the on-line consignment shops of which I’ve heard.

      1. Sue, Would love to hear your reviews of consignment shops. I used to be a big vintage shopper, well into my thirties (mostly in Toronto and Montreal, but also when I lived in Australia and in Vancouver). I mostly stopped doing this as fast fashion gained steam and started to gum up the works, and also as I had more money as I advanced in my career of course. My partner also has an aversion to second-hand clothing, so I never got into the habit of doing it in Italy. He always finds vintage shops very sad, as the clothing makes him think of people who have passed on. (On the other hand, he’s a guy who buys quality and has thirty-year old sweaters in his wardrobe, so he already IS a vintage guy and takes care of his clothes. He does buy new things from time to time, but he easily goes a year or two buying nothing. Last year he bought exactly two linen shirts and a new parka to replace a fifteen year-old parka he still wears. And that’s it.)

        1. That’s my plan, Stephanie. I’ve started researching consignment and vintage stores. I’ve come up with a short list of five or six. Hoping to draft my walking buddies into accompanying me for another perspective. I realize that I am not the ideal thrift shopper because I hardly ever just buy what I see unless it’s on my “list.” Plus I can get a bit uppity when and if I see mostly brands that I wouldn’t buy new let alone used. I’m hoping that the shift away from fast fashion that consignment stores are making will have changed this a bit. It will be interesting to see and talk to owners to see if they turn away fast fashion pieces. I’m sad that the big Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show seems to be no more. The smaller versions don’t seem to have the same vibe.

          1. I hear you! I have never been to the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show but I receive their emails. The last vintage pieces I purchased locally I purchased from the place on Flora Street, but that was at least twenty-five years ago. I grew up vintage shopping on Queen Street West in Toronto, back in the day when the quality of the finds was amazing. Likewise, when I moved to Washington DC for my first professional job in the Clinton era, my first consignment store find was a Christian Dior suit! (Which stupidly, I did not keep. Kicking self.) Likewise, I appreciated the funkiness of the vintage shops in Montreal, when I was there as a student. I spent hours trying on funky coats and dresses.

            I know of an “it” fashion woman who shops vintage in Italy quite a bit and I’ve wanted to try that, but as aforementioned my partner’s face says it all when I suggest it…And this is a guy who still owns the hand-tailored camel coat that his father, who was a doctor in the south of Italy, had made in the 1960s or 1970s by a top tailor in Milan, which was a big deal in the day…

  19. This annual post causes me to look at my purchases every year and I appreciate that. I’ve purchased waaay less in the past few years, but I’m not at five yet. I commend you for continuing to work toward it. In 2023, I bought 17 things. I looked back at some of my lists from years back and that’s a huge shift for me, but I’m not working anymore, and my life is pretty casual. What helps me lately is asking myself where I plan to wear something before I buy it. Thus most of my purchases were jeans, tees and Athleta workout wear. And of course, one pair of great black pants. So I’m good there for a few years. Ha!

    1. That is a great question to ask before buying, Laurel. This year I will need to really love something, and to have a place to wear it, to allow it to become one of my five.

  20. While I admire your principles I won’t put a number limit on what I buy. As others have remarked it’s complicated.
    The first and most pressing reason is that because of a health issue I have suddenly dropped two sizes. Most of my tops are fine, it’s all in proportions and adjusting what to wear with what. Pants are more problematic. A few I can alter but most including all my jeans have had to go to the op shop. Also my shopping habits are different, not as strategic as yours. Some seasons the shapes and colours don’t appeal and I buy nothing. Other seasons I’ll buy, making several new outfits to integrate with what I have. The third reason is that in the last twenty or so years,the local clothing industry in Australia has begun to re establish itself after being almost wiped out several generations ago by a mixture of government policies and global forces. The industry is still small and fragile but after a long period when most clothing came from overseas, it’s good to be able to buy local and have profits go back into our community.

    1. It is complicated, Lilibet. And I don’t expect readers to jump onboard. Everyone has their own constraints, and goals. I think supporting the local fashion industry is very worthy. I remember shopping in Melbourne when we were there and asking in stores for the Australian designers or brands. It was the same when I visited book stores, I wanted to support the local culture. It’s amazing what fun conversations can be started when one asks the question.

  21. I’m going to investigate The Rule of Five. At my age of 83, I no longer buy green bananas and don’t want to fill a closet. My life style as changed tremendously also. I’ve donated quite a lot and now find myself with odds and ends that don’t necessarily go together. I need to engage in a “trying on session,” which tries my nerves. It’s why I rarely go shopping in person and has resulted in quite a few online purchase disasters. I hope everyone who has responded will report back. Maybe we need a once a month “check in” post?

    1. I’ll do my best to check in regularly. Trying on sessions can be exhausting. That’s why I try to split mine up. Like last month when I put on my black faux-leather trousers and black ankle boots and only looked for various tops to go with them.

    2. My grandfather started saying that at around 75 and he lived well into his 90s. 🙂 We encouraged him to broaden his mindset, but I think it was mostly in his case about a need to be grumpy to mask his truly tender nature.

  22. Thank you, Sue, for an interesting read. After retiring, I purged my closet of work wear and decided to buy nothing new for a year while I figured out my post-work clothing needs. I found my existing wardrobe fit my 3 style words pretty well and bought only a couple of things. This year, my priority is to replace some ratty looking Ts for summer so I think 5 garments is achievable. Any thoughts on “perfect” white T for an older body?

    1. That was a good strategy, Shaza. Once I retired I’d often when shopping gravitate to my old habits and tastes, then try something on and find that it would have been good for “working Sue” but not at all suitable for “retired Sue.” The perfect white tee? Hmmm. Might be a post in there.

  23. I became a whole food plant based foodie to support animal welfare, my health and the planet. Now I will take this challenge to help the planet and live more congruently with my stated values. Thank you so much for your example and direction in this journey.

  24. I’ll take the pledge! I have everything I can possibly need, I’m a keeper and I’ll retire next year, it should be easy;-)
    Have a wonderful year!

  25. Hi Sue … I’ve just realised that I’ve somehow commented further up the comments section just below your reply to Elaine! 🙄
    Sorry …I hope you see it
    Rosie xx

  26. 2023 was the year i decided i could only buy second hand clothing (less pedantic about shoes) , which was bad timing because i spent six months of it travelling in europe! by and large though i did stick to it. i bought one brand new dress from Cos in London but other than that everything else was second hand. i am trying to do it again this year but we will see

    1. That’s very impressive, Noreen. My problem about buying second hand is that I never see anything I want and in vintage never in my size because so much is such small sizes. I’m game to try harder this year. Although I will give myself license to buy a new dress for my niece’s wedding, if I can’t find something in consignment shops. I’d love to own a COS dress. I really like their style aesthetic.

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