Every year at this time I feel the need to lighten and brighten up my winter wardrobe. Like everyone everywhere, in the northern hemisphere that is, I get the itch for spring. But spring where I live is still far away. Even though we’ve had almost a week of glorious sunshine, the river is partially open, and some of the snow has melted, I must be realistic. It’s still only February. And real spring is many weeks away. A new sweater in a beautiful spring colour would no doubt perk me up. But this is the year of the “Rule of Five” for me. And since I have pledged to purchase only five new things all year…gulp… I’m being careful to not tempt myself to buy.

I’m still looking at the trends, perusing Pinterest, surfing the web, watching fashion shows, and all the normal things I do for my fashion fix in the middle of winter. But I have added a few twists to facilitate staying strong in the face of temptation. I call it “online not shopping.”

“Online not shopping” can, of course, also be described as looking for online inspiration and then shopping my closet. But with a slight difference this year.

For years, I have found marketing emails to be a good source of inspiration. So the first thing I did when I signed on to the “Rule of Five” in January was to unsubscribe from several of the brands which have been sending me regular marketing emails for ages. This sounds like a no-brainer. And of course it is. Marketing emails are designed to market products. D’uh. But I did not unsubscribe from every marketing email I receive. Only the ones from which I have ordered in the past and from which, knowing and trusting the sizing and the quality of the clothes as I do, I am more likely to order again.

So brands like Everlane where I have purchased tee shirts and cashmere sweaters I’m very happy with, and Uniqlo whose down jackets and vests, ultra-fine merino sweaters, and sweatshirts I have loved in the past had to go. Ditto Aritzia. This way I am less likely to be tempted. Once I have made up my potential shopping list and schedule for the year, more on that later, I’ll look at these sites. Right now, I don’t want to be tempted to buy.

What is left are subscriptions to a few websites, blogs, Instagram accounts, or substack publications of women whose style I like. And the marketing emails of a few favourite brands. These remaining marketing emails are limited to brands and sites which I love to look at but know I cannot afford, like Fabiana Filippi or Matches.com. Brands like Massimo Dutti whose emails have great editorial content but whose sizing I have found through experience to be not good for me. Massimo Dutti used to have a store in Ottawa where I loved to browse, but where I almost never found anything to fit. Or brands whose style aesthetic I adore but who ship from so far away that the shipping and duties would make a purchase unlikely. Like British brand Me+Em.

When I open my emails with my first cup of tea in the morning, I save images which really appeal into an “inspiration file.” And I use the images to give me ideas of what to do with the stuff that is already hanging in my closet or folded into my drawers.

Of course I can do the same thing by perusing Pinterest, scrolling through images and saving them to an “inspiration board.” That works great as well. But Pinterest is more intentional. I have to actually go looking there. While these other images from brands or accounts to which I subscribe just miraculously appear in my email inbox every morning. And I love that.

The trick is, though, to make sure the images inspire you to shop your own wardrobe and not click on a link and buy something new.

Me+Em is my current favourite brand inspiration source. That’s because the styling on their site and in their emails is so appealing to me. Their outfits are on trend and modern, but also classic. They use basics similar to my own in new ways. I want to dress this way. And usually I have the wherewithal in my closet to mimic the looks. Their style aesthetic matches my three style adjectives: classic, modern, minimal. And balances tailored or dressy pieces with really casual ones. I love to do this too.

I love the three images from Me+Em above. They inspired me to try some things. Like the turtleneck under a shirt idea. It’s a bit of a throwback to the dickies of the sixties, don’t you think? And conjures images of Howard Wolowitz in The Big Bang Theory. But I still like it. Also the oversized shirt worn open under a jacket. I was a bit iffy about this one, but I tried it nonetheless.

The two outfits below were not entirely successful. I tried my light-weight black Vince turtleneck under the blue and white striped shirt from Nordstrom, with my black Aritzia dress pants, a belt, and my old Cole Haan Chelsea boots. The shirt is very long and I didn’t like it under my black blazer because it hung below the hem of the jacket. It worked better with the charcoal Vince coat sweater. But this outfit was too dark and wintery for my current springy mood. The white Uniqlo jacket brightens up the look. But wow… that shirt has a lot of material to tuck in. Too much. I wouldn’t wear either outfit.

On the other hand, this outfit, below, made me very happy. I swapped the blue and white shirt for my icy blue Everlane tee shirt. The tee shirt is cropped and loose fitting with a crew neck. The fabric is sturdy enough to work with a turtleneck underneath. And short enough to require only a few inches to be tucked in at the front.

This look is a keeper.

I’d never considered wearing a tee shirt like a sweater. But here we are. I wanted something light blue and this was what I had. The darker blue, classic Paige jean jacket works really well with the black and the light blue. I surprised myself with this outfit. I love it. And I feel rejuvenated in it. And if the temperature plummets, I can still throw a coat over the whole ensemble.

I can still throw a coat on over this if it’s cold.

Below is an outfit I posted on Instagram and which I wore to run errands last week. I was inspired by the images from Me+Em above. Particularly the shirt worn unbuttoned and open. But instead of under a jacket, I wore it under my fuchsia tweed Max Mara coat. The pink men’s shirt from Gap which I bought on my first thrifting foray makes me happy. And satisfies my longing for spring colours. I’m wearing it with the same black Vince turtleneck that I wore above, my heavy black cargo pants from Aritzia, and my black Stuart Weitzman ankle boots.

I love this outfit, particularly the contrasts which work together instead of against each other. The pink is feminine but obviously the cut of the shirt is not. The tweed coat is a bit dressy, but still quite a minimalist and tailored style. I like how the baggy cargoes and my old slouchy messenger bag make the whole outfit more casual and less fussy.

Wearing my new thrifted pink shirt.

I saw the outfit below in an email from Me+Em a week or so ago. I love everything about this image. Including the fact that I have similar pieces.

Here is my take on this look. I’m wearing a striped long-sleeve tee shirt from A.L.C. bought back in 2015. Camel dress pants from Aritzia from 2020. I had them hemmed and taken in a bit at the waist by a lovely tailor I’ve found. The black belt is from Nordstrom. The pearl earrings are from the eighties. And the black and rhinestone brooch is vintage.

My take on a look from Me+Em.

Here’s what I love about this outfit. The combination of black and tan and white. The casual bits (Paige jean jacket and Vejas sneakers) working well with the more classic bits (dress pants and pearl earrings). I added the black brooch to bring more black into the look. Plus I just like to wear a vintage brooch on my denim jacket. I contemplated wearing black boots. But the black and white Vejas sneakers were better, more casual with the dressy pants, with the white balancing the white of the tee shirt. And my hair. I also love the proportions: wide-leg trousers with a short, fairly fitted jacket.

I’m happy about this look. And the sunny day.

So that’s me all happy and rejuvenated, even though spring is still a long way off. I found some online inspiration, rummaged in my closet, came up with a few outfits which I like, and which lightened up my winter wardrobe. And I did not shop, with the exception of that pink thrifted shirt. A perfect example of “online not shopping.”

I feel bad to be using Me+Em images and not shopping from their line. I truly wish that one day I could shop at Me+Em. I do love their clothes. At least I think I do since I’ve never seen them in person. Perhaps this requires a shopping field trip to London. Ha. Wouldn’t that be wonderful. Next year, perhaps.

I’m really cautious ordering from unknown brands online. I first ordered online from Everlane after I’d watched Emma Hill wearing several of their pieces in her videos. A video gives a much better view of pieces than a static photo. Plus I consulted a friend who had ordered a sweater from them. Same with Uniqlo. I knew a blogger friend who had the same piece I wanted and so I contacted her first. I’ve had really good luck with the quality and fit of both these brands, as well as the shipping costs.

But I’ve been stung before with shipping issues and duty. When I ordered a top and a sweater from COS a couple of years ago, I was astonished to hear from customs of the amount owing before the pieces could be delivered. Now, despite how much I love the brand, my COS shopping is limited to visiting their store when I’m in Montreal.

My next task with respect to my “Rule of Five” adventure is to plan out my shopping schedule for the year. How many pieces I hope to limit myself to each season. And before that I’ll have to do a wardrobe edit and look at what my needs and wants are. Try to identify what I want to look for when I am exploring the consignment and thrift shops. And what I absolutely want to buy new.

I’ll have to do all that before I leave for New Brunswick in mid-March. Two of my favourite independent stores are in Fredericton. I don’t want to be tempted to impulse buy. I’ll need a spring online not shopping plan to keep myself strong. And a spring not online not shopping plan. Which means, I guess, that I need a spring not shopping plan… period. Ha.

How are you faring with your spring shopping, online or otherwise, my friends? Or with your spring, online or otherwise, not shopping?

P.S. There are a few affiliated links in this post. They link to some of the staples in my closet: tee shirts, sweaters, and a jacket and vest. If you make a purchase after clicking my link I will earn a commission which helps to pay for the blog.

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From the archives

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45 thoughts on “Online Not Shopping for Spring”

  1. funny you should mention me and em.. last time i commented i was congratulating myself for not having bought anything for ages but i succumbed to a black silk shirt in the me and em sale. its plain black heavy silk and was half price so i couldnt resist and will wear it forever. the quality is great. its replacing a black silk shirt my daughter washed…..
    me and em ship to australia for free and have free returns. surprising they dont ship to canada for free too.

    1. I explored the Me+Em site last spring when I almost ordered a sweater from them. They might ship for free for orders over a certain amount, but I couldn’t find that out without going through the process of making the order. And their costs do not include duties. I have to contact customs to find that out. I think the possible palaver if I don’t like the item or it doesn’t fit put me off. I dithered for so long over that sweater I didn’t want it in the end. Ha.

  2. So I’m all in with the “Rule of 5” and because of my love of thrifting I think I shouldn’t have too hard a time with it. Although before I read the earlier blog I did order a new navy cardigan that I know I will have for many years to come. When I switch out my closet for spring/summer I will have a hard look at what I will keep and what needs to go. Can’t wait for Spring and even though we have had an unusually mild winter they are calling for a heavy snowfall tomorrow so I guess that closet swap will have to wait awhile yet. Sigh!

    1. We have had years where we get a ton of snow in March. I’m not counting on spring until May. Spring sweaters under my down coat might be in order here for a while. Ha.

  3. The light is changing here . It’s a little frosty this morning but you can feel spring around the corner . It’s tempting to add a few summery items into the wardrobe mix but I’m using my ‘spring’ energy to ruthlessly clear out what I have . I got down to the good stuff a while ago but weight loss over the last couple of years means even the good stuff that I love isn’t flattering now . Alterations won’t work for many items . I don’t want to give the time or energy to selling & feel I’ve had my money’s worth already , so off to OXFAM it goes . They sell good things for a decent price , often on line . Plus they let us know how much our donations have raised & we can claim tax relief . A little bonus is that I’m finding a few things fitting better than they did & feel that I’ve gained something new . So I’ve no shopping plans right now – perhaps I’ll manage your five items . I think you’ve put together some great outfits there & I love the way you analyse what works & what doesn’t . I sort of know what works for me but can’t usually say why .

    1. The light IS changing. Each morning now, I’m taking my tea and my book into the sun room. Watching the river open up a bit and the snow recede ever so slightly is heartening. I’ve not consigned many things in the past few years. I keep thinking that the Salvation Army store needs nice things too. 🙂 Although I stopped donating to some sites where the mountain of bags in the drop off area makes me think my lovely sweaters will never make it out on the shop floor.

  4. Très chère Sue ,
    Vous avez entièrement raison ,il faut réfléchir avant d’engager de nouveaux achats .
    Je vais déménager sous peu car j’ai fait aménager ma maison de vacances en résidence principale ,a la campagne.
    C’est un vrai bonheur pour moi .
    Mais il va falloir me débarrasser de tout ce qui encombre mon dressing et mon esprit .
    Je possède une garde robe impressionnante qui ne correspond plus a la femme que je suis désormais.
    Mon statut a changé depuis que je suis a la retraite et je n’ai plus l’occasion de porter des tenues très habillées.
    Je vais éliminer tout ce qui ne me correspond plus ,même des produits peu portes et très coûteux .
    Je vais me sentir légère.
    Cet amoncellement de vêtements pendus sur des portants m’étouffe .
    J’ai parfois la sensation qu’un monstre se cache derrière la porte du dressing .
    Vous avez beaucoup de chance d’être grande et d’avoir une silhouette longiligne !
    Je suis petite et menue .Comme une petite souris .Avec un caractère de lion !!Et je ne suis pas très inventive en matière de mode .En fait ,je n’ose pas ..
    C’est en vous regardant que je prends conscience que des éléments de ma garde robe peuvent fonctionner autrement !
    Cela m’amuse beaucoup !
    Je vais profiter de ce que je possède déjà été que je redécouvre !
    Je les avais oubliés au profit de nouveaux achats .
    Merci pour vos conseils et la manière dont vous inspirez une nouvelle manière de vivre la mode et la féminité.

    1. I agree that sometimes too many things in a wardrobe can hide the really good stuff that you don’t notice. I find that my eye is drawn to things I don’t wear enough and then I feel guilty. Having a big purge before you move is a great idea. Hope you enjoy living in your country house, Celia.

  5. I like Me and Em too, except the prices do not like me, but you are right they make for great inspiration. Now for your outfit inspiration. Pink is your color. The pink coat looks wonderful on you! And throwing a jean jacket on makes everything seem much “cooler”.

    1. I wouldn’t mind the prices, which I know are hefty, if I could feel the goods and try things on. If I love something I don’t mind it being expensive. But I’m so leery of ordering online before I know the brand well.

  6. Thanks, Sue…. I’ve been needing some inspo. and you always provide it. That tweed jacket and pink shirt look brilliant on you, they shout Springtime!

  7. Like others, I like the pink on you. That’s definitely one of your colours. The final outfit is a steady classic.

    I find the opposite to you, in that I keep all of the marketing emails and if I like something and think of buying it but am in the “no buying/wait” frame of mind, which I have been for the last few years, something akin to meditation occurs. I watch the item pass by and maybe I see it over a few months…and then I forget all about it. At some point, if I see similar, I realize how fleeting inspiration can be. Often I’ll see the item and recall that I thought of buying it but that it no longer felt very exciting to me.

    Maybe that’s how I stopped shopping. I’m not sure. I reached a point at which I realized that very few items would give much true satisfaction, so I stuck to waiting for the coup de foudre that occurs with something truly special.

    1. I’m so pleased with the colour of that pink shirt. Ironic, isn’t it, that I found it at Value Village after about ten seconds? I’m with you on the fact that waiting can often still my urge to buy. And after my customs and duty experience with COS, I am even more cautious.

  8. I haven’t had a real urge to buy. It’s cold here but the sun is shining. S the urge for spring clothing hasn’t truly been an issue so far.
    I’ve been focusing on things I need for my home rather than my closet. I have still allowed myself to shop…. To touch fabrics, examine displays and ruminate about how to style items that appeal to me. That is satisfying so far and I walk away empty handed. I really need so little. I keep reminding myself f that.
    The only thing that I have done is take divvies to a very very old Jean jacket removing the collar and the bottom trim. It’s a little funky for traditional me but it looked good with a turtleneck and a collared shirt I wore this week.

    1. I’m going to look for a denim jacket at a thrift store so I can do the same. You and the vest I saw on the Me+Em site have inspired me. I may turn into an “upcycler” yet. 🙂

  9. I’ve not bought anything in January or February, new or thrifted. Feeling quite proud of myself. How did I accomplish this great feat? I stayed out of the stores. Ha!
    I haven’t even considered my spring wardrobe. The weather is not cooperating. A few warm days will have me pulling my lighter weight clothes from the back of the closet to the front and a real good going over to see what I still like, that feels current.
    Enjoy your time in NB and tell us what are your two favourite stores in Fredericton.

  10. Love how you shop your closet and make your outfits work like your inspiration photos. Aaahhhh….shipping duties and customs…such a nightmare. Sent my cousin a handbag for Christmas from Tennessee to Ontario. The emails and fees back and forth took all the fun out of everything. Happy to say my cousin loves her Patricia Nash handbag…once she finally received it. Now off to shop my closet….what have I not worn together before…or back to bed and read a good book. I think the book wins…jeans and a pullover sweater will do for today.

    1. I hear you, Heather. When I ordered from COS at first they said our address did not exist. Their “map ap” couldn’t find it. It is a rural address, but I would have thought the 911 number would register. So I asked that the order be delivered to my Mum’s address since I was heading down there for a couple of weeks. And then I received a text from the delivery company that I had to pay over $50.00 for customs fees before they would deliver my items. Gad. That put me off ordering from overseas.

  11. Love that you are sticking to your guns on the 5 pieces. And so appreciate using marketing emails for inspo and shopping from your closet. I am going to do a project this week by making up outfits from my closet and taking a picture of them so I have inspo ready to go when I go out.

  12. Only 5 purchases this year? gosh, I am already ahead of you, even though some are from Ebay! and it is spring here already and soon to be warm enough for shorts and tee shirts! in Florida of course!

  13. I love the way you analyze what works for you and what doesn’t and why. I especially like the last two outfits; the pink shirt/jacket combo and the Me+Em inspired outfit. I do love a striped t-shirt!

    Like you, I get tired of my winter wardrobe by this time of year and begin to yearn for spring. I usually try to find a couple of new to me items in our local thrift stores to tide me over. I recently purchased a t-shirt that I can wear now, but also in the spring, and a long tunic/shirt that I haven’t actually worn yet. It’s been through the laundry and is waiting to be ironed.

  14. In 2023 I decided to change my shopping habits because I was purchasing several items a month. I set off to purchase as little as possiblae in 2023. Well I ended up purchasing two pair of PJ’s that I really needed in April and then in Dec. I bought two pairs of very good shoes for Birthday & Christmas gifts!! I’m now out of the shopping mode and feeling much happier!! I’m not needing to spend like before!! I’m very satisfied with what I own currently. I play with what I have more often to build different outfits and I’m completely content!! Nice place to be!! I want to purchase some brown linen pieces this year but that’s really it!! I think this would take my wardrobe far!!

    1. Congratulations, Natalie. You are doing amazingly well. The closure of a few of my favourite bricks and mortar stores here in Ottawa has helped me curb my habit. Nothing like browsing through stuff I’d never wear to make me a more ethical consumer. Ha.

  15. *Love* the new outfits! They’re so stylish and you, all rolled into one. I obviously need to work on the inspiration end more (although Paris gave me a couple of ideas – the people you see just walking around…). I’m headed to Madrid this week – curious to see what kind of style I’ll see there.

    1. I love watching people on the streets when we travel. Not so much in North America but in places where the women dress differently. I remember being so inspired by what the women wore in Rome when we were there. Have fun in Madrid.

  16. Not sure if I can keep it to 5 for the year, but so far, I have purchased 1 thrift store sweater, cashmere no less, and want to try for nothing in March. I have been deleting and unsubscribing to many incoming emails lately to reduce the temptation. I have sent a couple bags off to our local thrift shop, so why do I need to fill back up. I must just stay out of shops and change my mindset. I have a date set to meet a friend for skincare deep diving and chatting, which is something we are both looking to streamline as well. Now that is a whole other way to get into trouble, but fun.
    My goodness, I do love the pink tweed and pink shirt.
    I am truely enjoying following along with you on this and the comments as well.

  17. I think there needs to be a quarterly celebration of the 5 per year goal. So end of March which happens to be Easter should be the first celebration. My celebration will be a trip to thrift where I may or may not buy anything. I love the post of non-shopping you are doing. Your outfits are classic and creative.

  18. Brava Sue! Lovely outfits, as well as inspirations!
    I love Me+Em,beautiful things,but didn’t buy anything there
    So far,I’m quite satisfied,haven’t buy anything yet,I’m even not tempted,but I need a pair of sneakers ( yes,need!) and at least one white pristine t- shirt,so let’s see what the future brings
    Dottoressa

  19. It’s nice to be back reading your posts after months of being away. Work kept me too busy to keep up and I stopped trying in the fall. With a little free time on my hands, I’m gradually catching up with my favorite bloggers.
    I noticed on Instagram that you had a 5-piece purchase plan and that you were visiting thrift shops. I love vintage wear and will enjoy reading about your journey. The pink shirt looks so good in the outfit with the pink coat. What a terrific combination. Old Gap clothes can be so solid. I have a very old Gap tee shirt that is now relegated to yard work, but it is well made and has held up for years. One thing that I like about it is the cotton label sewn into the back that has zero itch. I cannot abide tags with their itchy edges or plastic threads.
    Back to your outfits, I also like the striped shirt with the denim jacket and beige slacks, with sneaks. Nice balance of casual and a little more formal. Question about the Vejas – I have a canvas pair that I like. I’ve been tempted to get the style you are wearing for a couple of years, but every time I read the comments, several people say that the tongue is too long, uncomfortable and awkward. I see you wearing them often, so I assume that you don’t have a problem with them. Is that true? I have gone to a couple local stores for a try on and they are always out of stock.
    I ordered a pair of leather sneakers to wear with slacks or dresses, but had to return them. I didn’t care for the look of them when they arrived. I have had my eye on a pair of dark blue suede Adidas (on sale), but I haven’t pulled the trigger.
    I hope to shop my closet for spring and summer outfits soon.

    1. Welcome back, Dottie. With respect to my Vejas sneakers, I haven’t noticed that the tongue is long. I find mine really comfortable. I wear orthotics in my shoes so maybe that makes a difference. And I usually wear socks in them or sockettes. So maybe that makes a difference. I like them because they have a solid sole and I wore them all over Portugal last fall. It’s hard to tell, until you try them on, what they look like. So many sneakers I’ve seen on social media look ridiculous on me…in my opinion. I think the shape of our ankles and the shape of the shoe have to work for us.

  20. Spring is such a dangerous time for me for online shopping as by this time of the year I am fed up with winter fashion.

    I too love ME+EM for inspiration. Their clothing has beautiful clean lines and appears to be great quality. I was in London last September and I walked past a ME+EM store but did not go in – which I regret now! The ME+EM website is delightful to look at and I have been saving some of their photos to Pinterest for some Spring inspiration.

  21. I love the pink shirt with the tweed jacket. It has a timeless look about it.
    We are at the other end of the weather scale with the days drawing in and the temperatures starting to drop. I have to confess I’ve only just finished unpacking my summer clothes as summer had a bit of a slow start although it warmed up in the last few weeks.
    Like you I’m trying to restrict the number of items I buy as I seem to have so many clothes but many don’t suit my lifestyle since I retired. I really need to follow your lead and clear out what I don’t wear anymore and donate it to local charities. Perhaps then I might be able to see what I can make use of.
    I have been pretty good over summer, only buying two pairs of linen shorts and a linen and cotton sleeveless top. Today I replaced my rather worn out jeans ready for winter and succumbed to a deep rose pink linen blouse – both items I will get much more use out of than skirts or dresses.
    In the past I have ordered some clothing from places in USA as the range is so much wider than here but it isn’t easy as many American retailers don’t recognize any other countries and the exchange rate is not really in my favour! Luckily Uniqlo is in Australia so I have ordered a few things from them and get them delivered to my daughter who lives there and she either posts them to me or brings them over on a visit or I collect if I go over. I’m afraid I have a bit of a fondness for their v-necked pima cotton tee-shirts.
    Perhaps you need to produce tees emblazoned with ” Only 5 a year” promote the cause?

    1. That’s a great idea, Kenzie. And maybe it would invite questions from strangers…”Five what?” Ha. I too like the quality of Uniqlo basics. I was very impressed with the merino sweater I bought and I’ll get a lot of wear out of it this spring. Over the winter I’ve been reaching more for my chunky cashmere ones. But that’s why we have seasons…imo… so we need more types of sweaters. Ha.

  22. Loved this post! You provided great inspiration as I too am looking to really wear everything in my closet. I find it hard to find really good inspiration on Pinterest and agree that looking at websites can be very helpful.

    On another note, have you done a 3-3-3 challenge?

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