Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Learning to Shop Again

Over the last several years I cut way back on personal shopping. The main reason for this was a lack of funds. The other reason is that I generally don't like to shop. But really, it was because I didn't have a lot of money. Other than one year in which I was earning a great salary, since 2005 I have either been in law school (and therefore trying to cut costs wherever I could to avoid taking out more in loans), supporting multiple people on one salary, or unemployed. 

Because of this, I have become extremely conservative in how I view money. Specifically, if it's not food or something for B and me together, I usually feel guilty spending money on it. This isn't to say it's stopped me completely from shopping, as I've certainly spent money on myself in the last 6 years, but I've really cut down on what I do buy for myself (maybe this is why I'm so willing to buy good food and wine? It's one of my few indulgence areas). This is good in that we were able to stretch out our savings when my unemployment stint stretched longer than either of us had anticipated. But it's also bad because it means that clothes-wise, just about everything I own is several years old (or way older. For example, during our last move when I was going through my clothes I found a shirt I'd worn in middle school. WTH, me? Of course then I found another shirt I'd worn in middle school that was super baggy and comfortable. I kept that one as a sleep shirt). Or my clothes don't fit properly. Or they are definitely wearing (or already worn) out. 

I was reading Nodakademic's post awhile back about ruthlessly cutting her wardrobe and I really need to do that too. I'm just afraid that I won't have anything to wear! Although, when Gretchen Rubin did the same thing in her Happiness Project (more on my thoughts about that book soon - I finished it last week and loved it!), she noted that she actually enjoyed picking out clothes more when there were fewer of them because she liked everything in her closet rather than feeling meh about much of her wardrobe.

Now that I'm employed again I've realized that there are certain items that I would like to update or purchase for my wardrobe, but I've also realized that I'm tired of buying cheap things that wear out in several months (or look crappy after just one washing). So I want to buy nicer pieces that will last (people generally use the word "invest" when talking about buying nicer clothes, but given that I do not anticipate making money off of clothes ever, I don't think the term "invest" is really appropriate. I can't remember where I read that, but I totally agree with that sentiment). 

I want a nice pair of flats and I'm looking really strongly at Tieks. As much as I love shoes, I've never bought a pair that cost more than $100, and I kind of can't believe that I'm thinking about it, but I have really sensitive feet and all of the flats that I've purchased tear them up. These are supposed to be super comfortable and should last me for awhile. And since my commute now includes at least 10 minutes of walking on either side of my bus ride, I really need shoes that are comfortable and won't rip my feet to shreds. Also since I'm likely to be doing more traveling with this job, I'd really like flats that are both professional looking (and cute!) and allow me to be on my feet for long periods at a time if necessary.

Other things that I'd like to get include a nice waterproof jacket with a hood (see, e.g. walk time as part of my commute now. I live in Seattle. It's about damn time I have a hood attached to my jacket so I'll stop complaining given that I refuse to carry an umbrella). And maybe I can score a deal since I'll be looking for a winter type jacket as we're heading into summer (if summer EVER comes to the NW). My job now also allows me to wear casual clothes every day, so I'd like to get a few more nice tops to wear with jeans (plus another pair of jeans, but I wait for Gap sales to buy them because as much as I like them, I refuse to pay full price for them).

Clearly I can't purchase all of these things at once (we do have a lot of other areas including building back our savings account and paying down debt that our money needs to go towards at the moment). Plus, given that the days are slowly but surely getting nicer around here, the jacket is probably lowest on my priority list, while the shoes are at the top.

I also think that no matter what I do need to severely clear out my closet. I did this when we moved from Portland to Seattle and got rid of at least 3 garbage bags full of clothes, but my closet still feels stuffed with things that I NEVER wear. I've hung on to them for far too long as it is. If there's still a price tag on something and I haven't worn it yet, it's gotta go. If it doesn't fit anymore, it's gotta go. I need to remember that nothing is a good deal if I'm not going to wear it, and I cannot buy clothes thinking that I will lose weight and they will fit. If I lose weight, then I can buy a new pair of pants! In fact, I think that will be a nice reward for actually losing the 15 pounds I'd like to shed - pants purchased in 2011 rather than the ones I've been hanging onto for the last several years.


  1. You might want to look at Tory Burch flats. They are super comfortable, very cute, and they are "professional" looking. You can get them on sale sometimes and then they are cheaper than the Tieks flats. I don't know if you have a GAP outlet by you, but I buy the "long and lean" dark jeans from the outlet and they are way cheaper at the outlet. Check out Burton for a rain jacket...they are a little expensive, but they are AWESOME.

  2. Thank you! These are great suggestions! My only hesitation on the Tory Burch flats (because I love them too) is that a coworker just got a pair and they gave her bad blisters - and I have the most sensitive feet of anyone I've ever met, so that worries me... but yes on the Gap outlet too! Need to remember to utilize that more.

  3. I saw a pair of Born shoes (google it) at Macy's. These flats looked adorable and had some serious padding in them. They felt like house shoes but were actually shoes and looked cute too which seems to be hard pull off for some reason. The sandals aren't my style but the flats look perfect. I too am focusing on decluttering my closet and making good choices about what I buy. Quality classic pieces and not cheapos b/c the price is right but that will look awful in a year.

  4. You should check into Mootsie-Tootsies too. A friend of mine worked at a Nordstrom outlet & was on her feet all day and says all the women in her dept swear by them. They're relatively reasonably priced too.

  5. I love my born flats. I walk about 2 miles a day as part of my commute and chose to stand at my desk and they are great. I also tried a pair of Me Too flats and my feet were in heaven.

    I have a great trench raincoat from Northface that is awesome. I've had it for two years and wear it everyday for about 9 months of the year and it's still going strong.


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