Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Plan for 2012, and five shopping rules

After I had crunched the 2011 shopping numbers, my initial reaction to fix the spending and the buying was this: Don't buy anything! Ever! Or at least for a year! Second reaction: Oh yeah, I tried that. Didn't work. So I went back to my Great American Apparel Diet posts to figure out what went wrong that time. Here's what went wrong: I like clothes. I like thrifting. I don't like punishing myself. The conclusion is that total denial is just not going to do the trick. So I figured that I had some options.

Option 1: Budgeting. I've tried budgeting before; I've given myself allowances for shopping and that sort of deal. The reason why budgets don't work is that I buy stuff that's cheap. Yes, I might spend less, but I keep accumulating stuff. $10 might pay for ten pieces of clothing, and as long as I keep doing that, the wardrobe chaos will be just as chaotic as it has always been.

Option 2 (and this is it): Limit volume. I've never tried this one before, and I was quite happy with myself for thinking of this, although I am sure it is nothing ground-breaking. Anyway, I'm going to give myself a volume allowance. I tried to think of a number that was stingy enough but not depressing, and I came up with 12. I am giving myself permission to buy 12 pieces of clothing in 2012; that's one a month. If you think 12 is a lot, well, it does sound like it's a piece of cake, doesn't it? That's part of the plan. Considering that my previous number was 90 though, going down to 12 is an intense cut. The key here is that 12 sounds generous: it gives me the freedom to dream.

Here's what I hope the 12 will do: if I want something, I have to be sure it is twelve-worthy. It's sort of like trying to pick your favourite twelve movies of all time: you'll take your time before committing to a definite list, because those twelve spots on the list are valuable, and you don't want to make mistakes. At the moment I feel like this could actually work. Every craving I've had in the past couple of weeks hasn't even come close to being twelve-worthy, and I have a good example: there hasn't been a single pair of Fluevogs on the sale site that would have made my imaginary list of 12. So far (and yes, it is early) I haven't been tempted to buy a single thing. Right now I think of The Twelve as if they were some long-lost lovers or kindred spirits whom I am waiting to come along.

So that's the plan: the plan of 12. And to make things more interesting, I have a list of five rules that go with the plan.

1. There will be no online buying. Like I mentioned in the shopping post, my online purchases are often flukes, they don't fit right, and it's mostly just money down the drain. Off with their heads!

2. No multiples. If I want/need something, I'll buy one, not four.

3. No unpractical things. No sequin suits. Nothing that needs dry cleaning.

4. No hasty buying. I must shop with a particular piece in mind.

5. I must keep asking myself if money is well spent. If I can think of other uses for the money, I probably shouldn't be spending it. When in doubt, don't.

There is one more aspect to all of this. One of my initial reactions to the whole shopping disaster was to do a major wardrobe purge to figure out what I wear and what I don't. I thought that I should just be happy with what I've got and to simplify my wardrobe before embarking on a new mission. And then I thought of all the times when closet purging has actually justified more buying. I have done this a lot: I'd drag a ton of clothes to the flea market, feel good about a roomier closet afterwards, and then I'd start to fill the space. A year later, I was back at the flea market, selling, and then I'd go back to buying. This was a real revelation, and as a consequence, I've decided against doing a wardrobe purge at this point. I need to feel uncomfortable with the amount of clothes I have for a little longer.

Here's to hoping that this works.

I am wearing a second hand sweater, Gap jeans and second hand boots.


stephanie said...

Great idea on 12. Good luck!

Cynthia said...

That's kind of what I'm doing this year. I'm thinking through a 5-piece wardrobe for each "season" (basically each quarter). That will put me at 20 pieces of clothing for the year, and even if I don't quite stick to it, if I can stick even close to it, that will be way more reasonable than I was last year.

I'm also working on, well, if something comes in, something else has to go. The denim skirt I just bought must replace one of the two denim skirts that I have that are not quite right for me, etc.

jesse.anne.o said...

Interesting idea. Do you have a budget for the 12 or is it just any 12 you want?

Robin said...

Sounds like a very well-balanced approach. I especially like the idea of not purging in order to "be uncomfortable with" the volume of clothes you have for now. A good incentive to not accumulate more!

Karenina said...

Wow, you are very determined! I don't think I could do twelve...for me it would probably have to be closer to 40, which sounds awful (!) but is about 10 pieces per season and includes accessories like shoes and bags. Right now I am waaaay above that, so cutting back to just 40 would be good; perhaps I'll try it. I think for now I am going to try budgeting and being more thoughtful about what I buy. And I'd like to stop "frittering" money on unecessry cosmetics, undergarment and nail polish. Those are real budget busters for me.

I really wish you luck in this endeavour, I will be reading to see how it goes!

eyeliah said...

very interesting plan!
I get things for free all the time at clothing swap which is hard to say no to. I always actually get rid of many items right away as I realize they don't work for me. I need to purge a few things right now, too many dressy shirts that never get worn.

P.S. for your 90 items, I got my wardrobe down to 99 so I can get the perspective on just how much that is!

Life with Kaishon said...

I am so glad Shey sent me over to visit today : ) Although I am not a cool dresser in the slightest (just imagine all black everything every day to hide my beasty-ness) I do love others gorgeous clothing choices. So nice to meet you : ) Good luck with your challenge.

Carolyn said...

A truly excellent plan! I'm really looking forward to seeing what are your 12-worthy items... and I love the colour of your jumper! It matches that beautiful bouquet so well!
I was going to limit myself too; to no more than two or three per month. Hmmm, doesn't sound so good now compared to your plans?!

poppykettle said...

Totes inspired by your sound logic - and the capitalisation of 'The Twelve'. If you continue to vet potential purchases in this manner, perhaps they will be the 12 best buys yet?

Clare said...

This is a fantastic idea. For 2011 my idea was to buy nothing new. I did ok except two pairs of Levi's off eBay after my favorite jeans got a hole in an unwearable, unfixable spot. But 12 pieces for the year... I don't think I could do it.

Anonymous said...

Really nice, thoughtful post, honey. Sounds as though you have a plan that will work! I'll help you...perhaps we could buy more things for ME...could that possibly make you happy with not buying as many for yourself??? I am willing to try this new plan, please let me know... :) oxox, CR

Sunjo said...

Twelve sounds so hard! Good luck! I'm aiming for more like 24 :() I think my hardest thing with a low number would be passing up bargains. I love thrifting just like you do and it would seem impossible to walk home empty handed. Good plan not to purge your closet though. Whenever I give stuff away I just get more. You should do a clothing swap with some friends, totally satisfies the need for new stuff and gets rid of things you don't need. xo

itsmidnight said...

Oh I am shamed! I too wrote all purchases down in 2011. Appalling. I vowed to only do thrift or Ebay this year but the Land's End email caught my eye.

I planned on only buying the $7 items but ended up getting 3 cardis, 3 funnelnecks and 3 long-sleeved crews. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN???
What is wrong with me seriously.

I am so happy that you're blogging again and wait with bated breath to see how the 12 pieces works out. I pray you do better than me. Karen

Gray Skies said...

I love the idea of limiting the volume of clothes I buy this year. I bought WAY too much last year, and even though a lot of it was thrifted, it's still unreasonable how much of my closet is comprised of clothes that I've owned for less than 6 months. I would like to truly invest in pieces this year, so I may have to steal your idea of only buying 12 things this year!

Teeny said...

Well. That just made things very interesting Waves. I'm smiling, and looking forward to reading more on this.

Anonymous said...

I like your plan! It will encourage a high degree of mindfulness! I don't think that I could do the GAAD. I've already spent a few of my 2012 dollars at the thrift, but every time I do that I think it sets me back on the higher-end items I think I want, but perhaps I will decide the higher-end stuff isn't me. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

12 (picture eyes bugging out)! I like where you are coming from but may feel more comfortable with Cynthia's approach. As it is I have never done a close watch of a year of purchases like you have just done, so I'll probably just start there. Best of luck, and thanks for your thoughtful posts!

Gotta Get Something said...

Yikes! I think it is always good to have rules when shopping... But your comment "If you think 12 is a lot.." seems odd. 12 items in a WHOLE YEAR? I don't think I could do it!