Oops! Someone went shopping...

Well well well. Just a few fine weeks ago, I wrote a review post.  I listed the (few) items I'd purchased (apart from gear) and reviewed successes and failures.

Then--ooops! I went shopping! Frustration at my summer dress situation and closet boredom hit -- and the results represent a distinct interference with at least one of my stated start-of-year goals, below. (Hangs head in embarrassment..)

In my defence, I haven't even received most of this stuff yet, so I may be making a lot of returns. But really. Right before NAS, too. What was I thinking?

Even if I keep all of this, I'm not over budget (because most of this was on significant sale) and I retired 16 items due to wear, fit, or other issues, but did I really need more stuff? Debatable.

Anyway. In Finds I show what's still on order for consideration, excepting a couple of much needed pairs of summer PJs.

Now let's look at my stated goals.

1. Continue to wear outfits that are: Modern, Classic, Vivid, Practical, and Playful.

I think I'm doing quite well with this. Some of my summer outfits feel softer (with the addition of olive and pale lilac wide crops) but the silver footwear and jewellery amps those up.

2. Spend time reflecting on how I can reconcile my “trendy” style persona with my ethical aspirations. Shopping for statement items (and even some essentials) via consignment is one way; patronizing local and/or ethically conscious designers for essentials is another. But what about wardrobe churn? I plan to set aside a weekend just to research, and another weekend to reflect on it and make some plans.

Ummmm. Not yet. Need to set aside that time.


In the meantime, I will continue my more-or-less intuitive style of shopping — editing out what’s worn or doesn’t fit or doesn’t please me and adding as I see fit, just observing my patterns without judgement.

Have been doing the intuitive shopping thing (obviously!) but need to think about how and whether it is working.

3. Revisit the idea of a work-from-home “uniform” that does not include jeans-- given my recent worn out pair! Looking at these Everlane pants (in Finds) - anyone know them?

Still shopping for and buying jeans. ;)  

4. Revamp/upgrade my gear. I got out of the habit of regular workouts for most of the year and want to inspire myself to get. back into them.

I did this in January during sales. Very helpful.

6. Have fun with fashion!! Continue to check out Vancouver's fab consignment stores. Play with colour (esp. RED) and generally have a good time.

My luck at consignment this season was nil. I did frequent the stores but found nothing I wanted or needed. I do keep my eye out for red everywhere, and I have been having some fun. :)

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.

29 Comments

  • Liesbeth replied 3 weeks ago

    Suz, the items look great and your rationalizations are convincing :). Yet if you truly feel you want to lessen the churn, maybe take a little break and do that reflection instead of shopping/trying on/...? No judgment here, just a suggestion.

  • rachylou replied 3 weeks ago

    Its been the opposite for me. I’ve been sorta questioning my lack of shopping, missing it. I haven’t been taken by any trendy desire because I can’t find any trends. That is, the trend is anything goes and, you know, slow fashion. I’m a little worried my wardrobe is gonna start looking tired...

  • Angie replied 3 weeks ago

    FWIW, a few things, sensible Suz:

    • LOVE the stuff that's on order, and the stuff you got already. 
    • You've been on this forum for 8 years and this is HOW and WHEN you shop for warm and hot weather! You wait until June, and purchase/refresh for Spring/Summer just before the NAS. It's your strategy, a predictable one year after year, and it works! You start shopping for the warm weather season when I stop - which is how I remember :)
    • I need to write a post on wardrobe churn. People are apologetic about high churn, and needn't be. Just like people are apologetic about large wardrobes, and needn't be. I support ALL size wardrobes and levels of churn as long as the wardrobe can be adequately and sufficiently stored, managed, worn - and sparks joy. (Remember that the whole used wardrobe item world would not exist without high levels of wardrobe churn). I'm AS impressed with a very large wardrobe as I am with very small wardrobe if it's dead right for the wearer's needs and wants. The right amount of wardrobe churn is a PERSONAL thing. Yours has been dead right for you, otherwise your style results and attitude towards your style would not be so stellar.
    • I thought long and hard about whether I want to continue adding items from Zara to my own wardrobe because their business model is based on rapid consumption which is harmful to our planet. But since Zara has been taking meaningful steps to become more sustainable and ethical -  (read here: https://goodonyou.eco/how-ethical-is-zara/ - I’m fine to purchase an item from them from time to time. I’ve always liked the fact that Inditex - (read here: http://static.inditex.com/annu.....es/people/- is almost entirely run by women. 76% of Inditex’s workforce is female, which is significant and impressive. THAT I want to support wholeheartedly.
    • I JUST got this dress this week, and love it. You might like it too. Got to wait to post it because of the arms and wrists...
  • Joyce B replied 3 weeks ago

    Those are very nice finds. They will be fab on you.
    I also think about wardrobe churn and churn of anything I bring home. Can it be recycled or repurposed? Will it be useful for me? Is it environmentally sound? Too many worries are helping me keep only what is excellent for me, at least I hope to get there.

  • Kathie replied 3 weeks ago

    You found some great items- the striped Lafayette dress and the J Crew items are so very you! I'm nodding in sympathy about "frustration at my summer dress situation." My summer dresses take so much more wear, and I need to remind myself that it's ok to need to replace them, and be on the lookout for new ones.

  • SarahD8 replied 3 weeks ago

    Suz, this looks like a very tight collection of items that will mix and match well. I agree with Kathie about summer dresses -- I'm always on the lookout. I especially hope the red dress works out for you! And I think that plaid skirt could be a great way of bridging red with your blues. Fingers crossed!

    Isn't it interesting that it actually takes time set aside and effort to notice our shopping patterns and work through how to plan our shopping and our wardrobes? I know that for me it's easy to lose sight of this -- especially when I get busy at work. I look forward to hearing the results of your research and pondering.

    Angie, if you're reading, I wanted to say that I thought your response above was so interesting. Personally I would love to read a post on wardrobe churn. I think the reason a lot of people express guilt about churn is that we connect it to rapid consumption -- which you do note as a negative thing. So I would be really interested to understand more about how you separate those two issues. Although, as you point out, yes, as a secondhand shopper, I am grateful for others' wardrobe churn! :-)

  • nemosmom replied 3 weeks ago

    Suz, it sounds like your additions were thoughtful and well-executed, and they will bring some new energy to your wardrobe - I hope you don't beat yourself up over churn TOO much (says the pot, or am I the kettle?!). And buying jeans when you KNOW they work for you, and you KNOW you will wear them, in some cases until they cannot be worn anymore, is hardly wasteful, IMO.

  • Angie replied 3 weeks ago

    SarahD8, YES. Great point. FWIW, this is how I see it:

    If you pass on items in responsible ways - read my post : https://youlookfab.com/2019/01.....obe-items/ - wardrobe churn can be ethical and sustainable. It feeds great industries like the second hand clothing industry that you enjoy. Thrifters and consignment shoppers can forget that it's BECAUSE of wardrobe churn that they can shop that way :) The thrifting world would not exist without people who pass on wardrobe items BEFORE they look like schmutters. 

    Zara's business model hasn't changed because it continues to want you to consume rapidly and churn quickly. And they weren't interested in the ethics of it. But they are now, and are providing ways for you to purchase and churn more ethically and sustainably (read article I linked to). It's not a perfect system, but they're trying. If they closed shop right now in order to reduce their carbon footprint, millions would lose their jobs and suffer. THAT is undesirable too. Ethical and sustainable solutions are extremely complicated! You have to figure out how you can live in peace with how you purchase and churn, and run with it. 

    Also, we can purchase and churn more ethically. We don't need to purchase 10 items a week from Zara (which is what they would like). We can purchase one item a year....

  • Cardiff girl replied 3 weeks ago

    Very interesting post Suz,don’t feel bad about the jeans.You look fab in them and wear them so nothing to admonish yourself about.I find the question of wardrobe churn a very interesting and current topic.l used to feel that a charity shop donation was a good thing but there has been publicity in the U.K about how second hand clothes from Europe have been destroying local textile business in Africa so I am a bit conflicted as what the best thing to do is.l feel that mindful purchasing with minimal churn is probably the best way to go but it’s achieving that isn’t it!

  • Angie replied 3 weeks ago

    Cardiff girl, like I keep on saying: Ethical and sustainable fashion and style solutions are extremely complicated. Mind blowingly so. You have to figure out how you can live in peace with how you purchase and churn, and run with it. Mindful purchasing is key, so high five. 

  • Suz replied 3 weeks ago

    Thanks, all. I'll report on these items when they arrive. And Angie, that dress is already on my radar! I'm hoping to see it in person if I can. 

    Liesbeth -- that's good advice. In fact I didn't shop at all (apart from gear) from January-April or May. But neither did I do the reflection I'd planned to do then. Time to do it. 

    Angie's dead right -- I shop for warm weather as soon as she's stopped! So funny. Traditionally, that worked for me because I started buying when items went on sale and I could actually wear them in my Ontario climate. But in my new climate I think I ought to get with the shopping sooner, if I'm going to do it. Because May here can be a very warm month. 

    Re churn: I am so, so, so ambivalent! I'm sure I'm not alone about this. It is hard to reconcile a love of fashion and clothes with a concern for planetary resources. In the end I think we have to take it one step at at time and consider our consumption patterns altogether, along with other factors. And each person's answers will be unique to her particular situation. But fundamentally -- the more we buy, the more we create waste.

    And I do buy quite a lot of clothes. By some people's standards, my level of wardrobe churn is trivial. (I think of the woman in my city who brings her clothing to consignment after a single wear.) By other people's standards, my level of churn is significant. I retired at least 33 pieces in 2018; I've retired 16 so far in 2019. Typically, I retire about a third of my items each year. At the same time, I take good care of my clothes and I still own and wear items I bought in my first year of YLF. 

    Meanwhile, on an emotional level... On the one hand, I shopped vintage and second hand through most of my 20s; it was fun and creative but my wardrobe never fully worked for me. Then, throughout my 30s and 40s, I bought almost no clothes. This isn't an exaggeration. I had a wardrobe that would be considered tiny by the tightest minimalist.  A couple of pairs of jeans, four or five tops per season, a few skirts from Old Navy or Gap. Two pairs of shoes per season. 

    For decades, then, my love of fashion languished. I really didn't have the money for much clothing, and made do made do made do. I sort of missed the whole "fast fashion" boom and the mentality that fuelled it. So when I joined YLF I couldn't believe the size of some people's wardrobes! I say that without judgement. I wasn't judging. I was just astonished because my own frame of reference was so different. 

    The fact is, though, I was a person who loved clothes and fashion and I hadn't had a genuinely working wardrobe since childhood! I also had an increasingly complicated life with multiple roles. Getting dressed for anything was difficult. 

    It was only in my 50s that I had the financial means to make fashion purchases again. And it is a great source of fun and pleasure, and a part of me thinks, why not indulge myself a little? 

    But then I consider the cost to the planet.  As a matter of fact, I wear quite a few of my clothes hard enough to wear them out  (and that is after repairs and careful upkeep). And those I get rid of quickly before they are worn out go to good homes -- often my step-daughter. But even so...

    Angie, I think you're right that my 1/3 rotation is dead right for my feelings about my style. I like to inject a bit of new and a bit of trend every year and that keeps things fresh and makes me happy.

    But I guess the question is how important my feelings are in the great scheme of things. If following my feelings hurts no one and helps me, then I say go for it! But if following my feelings creates a disproportionate harm to others, then I do feel some guilt about it. The whole situation is so complicated! 

    If anybody has the perfect answer, let me know, okay? ;) 

  • Christina F. replied 3 weeks ago

    I am coming out of my semi-lurking to say that I 100% agree with Angie about churn. I'm trying to manage mine better but I'm balancing it with the fact that creating outfits is my artistic outlet, and I get bored easily. I am trying to bring my wardrobe size down a little; I did well with the colder months but summer is harder for me. There are some psychological issues involved--I'll cop to that.


    What I am trying to do is invest in higher quality items--for instance, some of my summer items from past years in a low quality rayon have shrunk after one season of wear. (Yes, I wash in cold water and don't put them in the dryer.) If I buy nicer items, in more natural fabrics, I can hopefully keep them longer and pass them on in decent shape instead of passing on items because they're ruined.

    From the POV of someone who works for an environmental org, I don't worry about churn as long as I pass my items on responsibly, as Angie says. Industries can't invest in sustainability if they're not making any money!

    Your items look really good! As you say, they may not all work. You do sometimes have to kiss a lot of frogs to find the winners, as I explain every time my husband frets about multiple packages. (Another sustainability issue-I really hate drop shipping, but that's a topic for another day.)

  • suntiger replied 3 weeks ago

    Yay to the skirt proportion shoutout from the other thread :) Lots of practice!
    It looks like a lot at once, but all very harmonious for you, and I think my churn rate is about same-no worries!

  • Jenni NZ replied 3 weeks ago

    Churn bothers me, full stop. For me I struggle with still wanting to buy attractive new or new-to-me clothes both for fun and for some change, and wanting to properly “use up” the ones I already have. And I am still horrified at how the second-hand shops are heaving with clothing. It does not *look* sustainable. I am not convinced I will agree with a post that churn is a good thing....

  • Suz replied 3 weeks ago

    Jenni, I know...it's tough. 

    I think probably the best way to reconcile a love of variety/ change with a desire to "use up" clothing is to own a very small wardrobe -- clothes simply wear out if you wear them a lot. But then you are buying the majority of your clothes new every season. Which is its own form of churn. Not to mention, costly. I don't see an easy answer. 

  • Sal replied 3 weeks ago

    I love your new additions Suz - you have such a great eye, and of course your post was so eloquently written.  It sounds like you are getting there on many of your goals.  Consignment or thrift shopping is hit or miss - we have good and bad patches with it.  I remember a coat (or two) from last winter that were great scores.  

    I think I want a work from home uniform but I actually have decided I do not - I am fine with one day working in gear and the next in loungewear and the next in a dress and heels.......  As long as I can answer the door and be productive.

    In terms of churn I have also retired 15 items this year to date.....mostly because of wear, but a few because of boredom or being orphans.  By the end of the year I expect there to be 25 pieces retired.

    I share your goal of more red!!

  • Jenni NZ replied 3 weeks ago

    Thanks Suz I don’t think there is one. I am pondering quite a large edit of the items from 2010-2016 that haven’t been worn enough. I keep looking at my lists. I may give some of them up as a bad job, but then it makes me feel bad in a different way, sigh. I am so encouraged to know that many other forum members are working on the same issues, solidarity!

  • Suz replied 3 weeks ago

    Jenni, Sal, and all...I'm encouraged to know that even as careful a wardrobe planner as Jenn estimates that she gets 3 to 5 years from most items and this means retiring close to a third of her wardrobe per year. Most retirements due to wear, but a few due to "mistakes" or simple boredom. 

    Of course a person's overall numbers will affect things, but with a moderate sized wardrobe of between 100-150 items across seasons, this does seem to be about average, at least for forum members. (I think a small-to-moderate wardrobe is about 100-130 items if you live in a fairly temperate place and more like 150 if you live in a place of extreme climactic variation, because no matter what, in those circumstances, fewer of your clothes are cross seasonal and you need more season-specific items.) 

  • Runcarla replied 3 weeks ago

    Well, I totally understand shopping for dresses and other summer kit in June and July! I couldn't participate much in the dress challenge due to owning only 2 summer dresses, and the weather not cooperating. You are still new to the PNW, so it is understandable that you might not be familiar with the seasons or weather cycle.

  • Brooklyn replied 3 weeks ago

    Well done Suz. You are always so thoughtful with your approach to style. And so tactful in your contributions here. The new additions look good.

  • suntiger replied 3 weeks ago

    I think reducing churn comes from what we do here-plan, try, analyze, review. Each year we do this we get closer, in theory, and make less mistakes. Churn will always happen to some extent-things wear out, our bodies and needs change. We can mitigate it to a point with mindfulness, but our lives aren't static and no clothes last forever.

  • shevia replied 3 weeks ago

    Wow, what an interesting thread. Suz, my first reaction was to compliment how amusing your post was to read. A pleasure! (Ok I know you are a writer, but I do not take good writing for granted!)
    Then Angie's response. So thought provoking that I want to think about it more. Despite being a committed (obsessed?) second hand shopper, I am very against the idea that a purchase from Zara etc. should be guilt ridden. 
    I actually have more conflict about the new kind of "sustainable" blogger/instagrammer/shopper, that only shops at Everlane or wherever (not that I don't like Everlane). The crisis on this planet is not going to be solved this way - it needs to be addressed on a wide policy basis and although I am all for symbolic moves on the part of the individual, the issue is extremely complex, businesses like Zara, and industries like fashion, have huge economic impact on many people and as already stated above, it is very complicated. Minding our own intentions, without becoming rigid about them, may be the best we can do. And having fun - because otherwise what is the point?

  • ophelia replied 3 weeks ago

    Production needs to slow down to lessen environmental harm--production of clothing, leather goods, cosmetics, jewelry. Production won't slow until demand slows, and most people, in the US at least, are over-consuming.

  • Jenni NZ replied 3 weeks ago

    Hear hear Ophelia. I think it is in the whole Western world anyway, and increasingly in the fast-growing economies like China ( remember the crazy what-is-it-called-again?- um, “falling star”? meme? ). I cannot criticise anyone, because after 27 years of being pretty frugal, moderate sized house etc, we went and built a brand new big house last year and have chosen to mainly buy all new furniture. That’s a lot of consumption right there. Sorry, Suz, for something of a thread hijack! I do really enjoy your writing as well, like Shevia :)

  • kkards replied 3 weeks ago

    other things to think about.....fashion employees  3,384,100,000 people...it is a global industry with trade across multiple nations....the garment industry has, across time, given many immigrants (at least in the US) and poorer nations their 1st economic leg up...
    https://fashionunited.com/glob.....tatistics/

    not saying that we don't over consume, or that everything that the fashion industry does it good for people or the world we live in...just reminding us that not everything has an easy answer...

    and i leave us with one additional question....when you visit here, how old is the device you are using?

  • RobinF replied 3 weeks ago

    This thread is a perfect example of why I love this forum. I read each post and there is something to think about, whether agree or disagree. So many thoughtful and intelligent discussions!

    I am kind of middle of the road regarding churn. I think if I am more picky about what I buy then I won't have as much waste. But it's hard to feel that I can make a difference. I know it has to start somewhere.

    Love the new pieces Suz! 

  • Jules replied 3 weeks ago

    I find the retailer cycles are ever faster. When I first found youlookfab I learned a lesson about shopping much earlier for spring/summer to get the best selection, and it was super helpful. This year I could see early on that light neutrals like natural linen would be a trend I wanted to follow. But before that the Gap etc released a bunch of boho patterned, colourful stuff... I was surprised I wasn’t seeing what I expected/wanted but picked up a couple of pieces I liked (rejected others because the look felt tired!). Now the Gap and also Joe Fresh have recently released their high summer stuff, with light coloured linen & cotton everywhere. So I’m buying again. Despite our cool spring which has meant very little opportunity to wear this stuff I’ve been buying for months at this point! So your shopping pattern of waiting until this time of year seems a lot more rational, actually :)
    Obviously the intent of constant releases is to keep us shopping all the time and it’s working on me. I need to do some reflection and planning myself, and change my habits. Looking forward to my usual summer break from shopping.

  • Janet replied 3 weeks ago

    Thanks for sparking a good conversation, Suz. Going back to your original post, I am also an intuitive shopper, and I sometimes hate the idea of “churn” but I often get tired of things after a couple of years even if I haven’t worn them a ton. Meanwhile there are other things I can wear over and over and never tire of them, but it’s not always predictable which items are which. I agree with suntiger that the analysis we tend to do here can really help with the churn thing, but it can also feed it when we succumb to the whims of the forum and jump on purchasing things because we see them here, only to realize they may not have been right for us. I’ve been guilty of that but am getting better.

    I also don’t care to do much pre-season shopping. Sometimes it works for me, but just as often it doesn’t. I’ll be looking at NAS but with a very critical eye. Especially since the items in that sale often go on an even better sale before we reach wearing season. I’m not the NAS fan I used to be.

    I’ve done some gear revamping this year too — two new lap swimming suits even though my old one is still serviceable. New running capris to replace my 8 (!) year old Lululemon’s that are actually still very much intact BUT are so old that they now retain a funky smell that no longer comes out in the wash. Those went in the trash last week. A new short sleeve running shirt for days that are not so hot when I want to cover my shoulders (my two old ones are now six years old), and another tank top for yoga and Peloton-ing in my basement. Oh, and another sports bra. It adds up. But I’m sweating through a full workout outfit nearly every day, so in order to keep doing laundry only once a week, I need a full capsule that covers running/walking, bicycling, and swimming. But I don’t count gear purchases as real wardrobe purchases, so I do not factor those into my shopping goals. I’d honestly consider them more health expenses than wardrobe. :-)

  • Bijou replied 3 weeks ago

    Suz, you have made some great purchases and given your retirement of items, this refresh does not seem excessive. Wardrobe churn and size is definitely an individual choice. You and other forum members make some very good points about ethical consumption. My number one concern is that employees are well treated as I hate the idea that I am contributing to sweat shop working conditions.

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