All Dressed Up and No Place to Go: Non-essential Shopping

Here’s a fun question: what items do you think are wise to purchase, even if you don’t have a specific event or occasion to wear them to — and which items are best left for specific “I am going to wear this to X event” purchases? Even though we don’t belong to a gym with a pool, and we have no vacations planned, I recently bought a non-returnable swimsuit on deep discount, so it’s been on my mind.

For my own $.02:  in general, I prefer to “let clothes find me.”  I actually hate shopping with an agenda — if I need a new pair of jeans, or a white blouse, or a basic LBD, I have to steel myself for a long and trying shopping excursion (where, at the end, I always seem to pay through the nose for something I only vaguely like).  Instead, I prefer to buy things that I actually like (perhaps helped along by the fact that they’re deeply discounted), and that I suspect I might have a use for — some day.  Even now, while I hate having to “commit” to my post-baby body (which is a size or two larger than my pre-baby body), I’ve made some purchases and had to argue with myself in my head.  Here’s how the conversation goes:

Kat1: “Oooh, a pretty dress in a flattering shape, with colors that I love, on sale for $50!”

Kat2: “You don’t need this — you’ll definitely fit back into your old clothes by the time you need to get dressed up!”

Kat1: “But what if I’m not?”

Kat2: “Well it’ll be a great goal then!”

Kat1: “Uh huh.  Let’s just buy it and if we’re lucky enough to be smaller by then, then oh well! I’d rather have something nice in the closet that fits my current size.”

So it’s a bit bittersweet to be able to say that I’ve worn almost everything that I bought “just in case,” already. (Apparently I’m one of the women who doesn’t lose weight while breastfeeding.  Yay.) But every time it’s been time to dress up, I’ve been so happy that I had something that I knew worked in my closet — I haven’t had to make a single panicked trip to the stores where I end up paying 3x as much for something I only vaguely like.

Looking back, a number of my friends have made a policy of purchasing great dresses they came across, even if they had nowhere to wear it. One friend bought her wedding dress that way, years before she even met her husband. Another friend would buy evening gowns at thrift stores, with the mandate that well, she had a dress, now she had to find an event worthy of the dress.  (And you know what? She always did find a place to wear it.)

So, readers, how do you shop?  Are you like me (you let clothes find you and purchase without regard to whether you have someplace to wear it), or do you have another system (such as shopping with only specific events in mind)?  Do you generally purchase “outfits” when you buy separates, or do you just buy what you like and hope it will work together?  Are there any pieces of clothing (or outfits) that you will not purchase unless you have a specific event in mind?

Comments

  1. Diana Barry :

    I think I am about half and half. I also often find that when I am searching for a specific piece (eg my recent search for black loafers), it takes FOREVER (about five months in this case), or when I need a certain piece to wear to a certain event and need to get it on short notice (eg my brother’s wedding, 4 months postpartum), I end up spending more than I want.
    But I don’t buy things that I won’t use often (eg formal dresses, fun heels) unless I have a place to wear them to OR if they are under a price threshold ($25?).

    I usually keep a wish list of things on my to-do list (recent items from before pregnancy: brown t-shirt, white blazer; grey suit), and pick those up when I find one I like.

  2. It stinks not to lose weight breastfeeding! I also didn’t lose that much; actually I really dropped weight as soon as I stopped. Don’t let it hurry your weening though — those days were so precious, and I’m glad I let my little one nurse as long as she did!

    • Yeah, hold on to hope, Kat. I didn’t go back to my pre-baby size until I stopped breastfeeding, too. Hormones hit everyone differently.

      But in the meantime, heck yes to looking good RIGHT NOW. No need to be a sad frump while you wait to be back in a size.

      • Totally. I have sizes ranging from 2-10 to cover my transition from non-pregnant, to pregnant, to nursing, and now to non-nursing. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, there’s no point waiting until you’re a particular size to buy things because you likely will only be that size for a short time, too!

    • Me too, didn’t go back to pre-pregnancy weight/shape until after I fully weaned at 2 years. I got close, but those last 5-10 pounds really stuck around until I wasn’t nursing at all any more. But they dropped right off easily once we were done nursing, so yay for that!

    • Yeah, everybody is different. I actually lost a ton of weight during the 2 years I was nursing, and I even was smaller than my pre-pregnancy size. I ended up having to buy a bunch of new clothes, but then when I stopped breastfeeding my weight crept back to where it was when I got pregnant (which seems to be my body’s “set-point”), so I had to buy new clothes all over again. :/ Buying a whole new wardrobe bigger or smaller kind of sucks, but doing it twice sucks twice as much…

    • Baby weight :

      As you can tell by my handle, I’m still trying to lose the last 10 pounds 14 months later. Keep up the breastfeeding. I also found that my waist is larger post-baby, so I’ve had fun buying an entire new wardrobe! Baby plus new clothes! Yea!

  3. Threadjack:

    How does one shop for dresses that would fit both post-pregnancy me and me-after-breastfeeding?

    It is a bigger challenge to fit into my old clothes when breastfeeding, than when pregnant.

    I used to wear leggings and thigh-high knit tops/empire waist dresses when pregnant, but now I cant wear my empire-waist dresses because my boobs have become 2-3 sizes bigger.

    • Diana Barry :

      I just wore nursing tops ad nauseum until I stopped nursing (this was a long time, my kids nursed for 22 months each, although at 15 months or so they didn’t nurse during the day any more). Knit tops are your friends, and also nursing camis to wear under dresses. I just gave up on wearing my “small” tops until my b**bs returned to normal size.

      • anon in DC :

        When you say your nursed your kids until they were 22 months, does that mean they were asking for milk? And was it from a bottle? Apologies if that is too personal but I’m in TTC mode and pondering whether or not I’ll nurse.

        • Diana Barry :

          No, they didn’t really ask*. I would just feed them (not bottle)** before/after naptime, when they got up in the morning, and at bedtime. Eventually they dropped the naptime feedings, and then at 18-19 months they dropped the bedtime feeding. #1 dropped the morning feeding at 22 months by herself; I dropped the morning feeding at that point with #2 bc I was pregnant and my b**bs were sensitive.

          * note – we called milk “ba-ba” so it wasn’t obvious if they did ask, and I don’t remember that they ever did at inappropriate times e.g. during the day and/or in public places.

          **This was on weekends, obv the nanny gave them bottles when I was at work. At 12 months the nanny started giving them sippy cups instead of bottles and transitioning in cow’s milk, mixed with pumped milk for a little while.

          • Diana Barry :

            Oh, also, I forgot – I stopped pumping at work at about 15 months, when they dropped the naptime feedings.

        • Research, Not Law :

          I know you didn’t ask me, but my experience may also interest you since I nursed until 19 months. My daughter learned the sign for milk at 10 months. She learned to ask for it “na-na” (nurse) at some point, probably in the 12-15 month range. She very much placed her requests, particularly on weekends when I was readily available. While she’d take a bottle, she rarely used one because I returned to work when she was 7 months old and eating a fair amount of solid foods. I also hate pumping. I would nurse her before I left, over lunch, and when I returned (and bedtime). At 12 months, I dropped the lunchtime feeding and she’d get milk in a cup.

          Baby#2 is due any day. I’ll be returning to work at 12 weeks this time, so I’ll have to pump. I’m hoping to be able to do something similar starting when they are 6 mo old, although I may be pumping a bottle a day until 12 mo if nursing at lunch doesn’t work.

        • Anon for this :

          I nursed until my first was 3.5 and my second was four (with some overlap in there when I nursed both of them.) They did ask, and I nursed in public a lot and got good at doing it discreetly.

          It was easier to get them to nap and to sleep at night if they nursed down, plus I come from a family very comfortable with extended breastfeeding, so it was/is a cultural norm for me. I’m sure some people found it appalling, but my kids are normal and healthy and it was a perfectly fine choice for us.

    • That is tough! I couldn’t tell you what would be best professionally since the job I had then was very casual. The best realization I had was to always wear a supportive (built in bra type) fitted tank top under EVERYTHING — my 36 DDs went to 38DDDs while nursing and it seemed like any time I had to nurse discreetly, even with a nursing shirt, my belly would get exposed. I ended up completely skipping the nursing clothes and by using the tank-top trick, I could even wear things like turtlenecks since I didn’t have to worry about keeping my lower half covered. Lift the top shirt out, yank the tanktop under my boob, and bam. I know now there are even spanx which don’t cover the breast area — these seem like they’d be ideal for nursing moms.

      • Research, Not Law :

        This is mainly what I did, except that I usually wore a nursing bra with a regular cami for daytime. Works great – but obviously not for dresses.

    • Wrap dresses? You can wear a cami underneath to cover any excess cleavage. I’d also suggest long, drapey cardigans with a cami over your leggings.

      • Research, Not Law :

        Wrap dress, wrap dress, wrap dress. It’s by far the best option for style, function, and flatter.

        Deep cowl necks work well on the larger breasts, too, but it needs to be really deep if you’re going to nurse in it. Anything that buttons-up the front, like a shirt dress or henley-top, will work too. You can leave them unbuttoned with a cami under.

        • Just remember to re-button the button up shirts after pumping/ feeding at lunchtime. I have had a few near misses but caught it before anyone else saw – br3astfeeding must desensitize you to having everything hanging out and I just didn’t notice.

    • Not sure if this is the answer you are looking for but I have not worn a single dress since giving birth 16 months ago. Between pumping at work for a year and continued nursing on demand, I have not been able to wear dresses at all. I wear tanks/camis with a top.

  4. Styling question: I bought this drape neck top in Roasted Hazel (brown) from Ann Taylor but cant seem to find anything to wear it with. My usual set of black and grey pants/skirt seem to make it very severe. I accessorized with a turquoise necklace but that doesn’t brighten it up enough. And with the cowl neck I end up wearing a black cami underneath and still adjusting the draping all day. Too late to return, sigh.
    Link: http://tinyurl.com/6ljbwmd

    • I might stick with a gray pant or skirt, but then add a brightly colored (turquoise? purple? blue? red?) or printed cardigan. The cardigan would lessen the severity. Alternatively, I could see that it looking nice with winter white on the bottom, or one of those brightly-colored pencil skirt that people are linking all the time.

      If you want a cheerful accessory, I’d look to earrings or bracelets instead of necklaces. I think the draped neckline has enough going on.

    • Anonymous :

      Burgundy pants, cream cami. Kelly green pants, nude cami. Navy skirt, cream cami, cream skinny belt.

    • hellskitchen :

      I’d go for a lighter bottom – an ivory or cream skirt or pants. Or a deep red for winter. If you wear it with black, I’d suggest going with black accessories too which will make it look sharper… black cami, a jet black necklace, preferably with rhinestones or some sequins to add just a bit of sparkle.

  5. I almost never shop with a specific item in mind (for many of the reasons Kat stated), but limit my purchases as follows:

    1. Must either create its own outfit (e.g., work dress) or work with at least 3 other items in my closet. This helps prevent closet orphans (patterned skirts, in particular, used to be the worst offenders for me).

    2. Except for rare exceptions (recently, classic Ferragamo heels that just never go on sale, and J.Crew suit that never makes it to more than 25-30% off), must be marked down significantly. I’ve seen too many retail sales cycles to pay full price (or a significant % of full price) for almost anything, esp. with (I believe) many retailers inflating the initial price so they have a better starting place for markdowns. Yes, sometimes I don’t end up being able to buy a piece that I admired at full price, but … so what? I never REALLY “need” any of it, and there are plenty of other options out there.

    3. For event outfits (like bridal/baby shower dresses, or c*cktail dresses), I force myself to stick to only owning a handful at one time. I just don’t need them frequently enough to have closet space and wardrobe budget tied up in them.

    • Research, Not Law :

      I have similar rules, which have served me well.

    • Yeah, this.

    • I like the three things rule, altough I fear that I’m such a shopaholic and have so many things that everything I find will work with three things!

      Lately I have been questioning my purchase habits in purchasing only things on sale/lower-cost items. I wonder if I should purchase less low-cost items and instead save up for 3-4 higher quality pieces per year. However, I struggle with the fact that even if I drop some serious $$ on a fantastic pair of shoes, they will still eventually wear out. Or a purse. It will inevitable get a pen stain on it or look worn.

  6. Magdeline :

    For me, these items are dresses. As a result, I have tons and tons of fabulous dresses! I style them with pumps & a blazer for work, strappy heels for going out, and ballet flats for shopping on the weekend. Ponte dresses are great for this purpose.

    • Agreed – I always seem to justify buying work-appropriate dresses. They’re so easy to pack for conferences and I live in them when I have to commute in the summer time.

  7. I very rarely shop for things I need. If I have a reasonable expectation that I’ll use an item in the foreseeable future, I’ll buy it. For example, when Barrie Pace went out of business I snagged a Tadashi gown on deep, deep discount and final sale. I didn’t have an event to wear it to at the time, but within a year and a half I’ve worn it to a wedding and a charity ball. Living in DC, I knew I’d have a ball or formal to wear it to sooner or later, and it was a bonus when my cousin decided to have a black tie wedding. I recently did the same with a c-cktail dress on deep discount at Talbot’s, and within a month had gotten tickets to the symphony and an invitation to a semi-formal wedding. And I can always use a new work dress or pair of trousers; even if I have 5 or 6 already, eventually one will wear out and I’ll throw the new one into the rotation. Having said that, I’m not a big shopper, and this method could be dangerous for someone who really likes to buy new clothes.

    OTOH, if it’s something I can’t reasonably anticipate using, I don’t buy it no matter how much I love it. Sadly, falling into this category are jeans and nice l!ngerie.

    • Nearly all of my work clothes are bought on sale using this reasoning. If I see a blazer or a pair of slacks on sale I snap it up. Especially interesting blazers that work well as separates in my ‘standard’ colors – ie – navy, grey, deep purple or black. I find its nearly impossible to find a nice blazer when I truly ‘need’ one so I stalk the fall/spring sale sections for them.

    • Woods-comma-Elle :

      I love that you used legal jargon in everyday life with the insertion of ‘reasonable expectation’ in the context of clothes use.

      Snaps for Bluejay!

    • A long time ago when I was admiring something in a shop but said I didn’t have anyplace to wear it, the shop owner said that I was the only person who could decide whether there “was a place for it in my wardrobe.” I always try to keep that in mind when I see something I love that I wasn’t planning on buying: if it’s the kind of thing that I know I’ll use, even though I don’t know exactly when, I go ahead and get it. And the times I’ve bought things where there really wasn’t a place for it in my wardrobe, I’ve ended up regretting it.

    • The one thing to keep in mind when impulse shopping, or any sort of non-essential shopping, is your current lifestyle!!! I’m changing careers and for a while found myself gravitating towards clothes which would have fit my old lifestyle involving lots of social events of varying formality levels, but not my new one (graduate school!), which is much more casual. I’ve had to think long and hard about my personal style and how that fits with my current lifestyle. Mode of transit is also important – I’ve lived several different places, and commuted by: car, subway, bicycle, and walking. Each different means of getting to work altered the way I dressed.

      • In tune with that, though, you have to bear in mind your future lifestyle. I’m currently at uni – so very casual – but in less than a year I’ll be going to placement interviews, and then I’ll be in a business environment for a year. My view is that it’s always worth keeping an eye out for well-fitting basics.

  8. karenpadi :

    I probably don’t buy enough clothes and I tend to wear each piece until it dies. My mom once instructed me that if I find something I like, I should buy it in every color. Most of my shopping is with friends and for more of a social activity. Plus, I actually buy things then. I can shop alone all day and find nothing, then go to the same stores the next day with a friend and drop a few hundred dollars on things I absolutely love.

    So, for me, if I find any slacks, tops, or jackets suitable for work and that I like, I buy it. I’ll also buy shoes for work and purses (I can never find a purse I like) under the same theory. For suits and evening dresses, if I have one that fits, I don’t keep my radar on even if I don’t know when I’ll be wearing it. But if I don’t, I do allow serendipity to lead me when I happen to be at the mall. When I have a boyfriend, I am much more likely to find/buy a pretty dress or a s*xy top.

    Jewelry is my poison. If I find something I love, I tend to buy it and worry about my jewelry budget later. Oops. But then, I might go for a year or more and not buy any jewelry. So it kind of evens out. Plus, my taste in jewelry has changed over the years so I have a fairly balanced collection of small and plain and big and bling-y.

    I tend to make designated trips for jeans (I have a friend I buy jeans with) and underwear (I feel weird shopping for those with other people).

    • My mom and I also have a policy of “if we see it and we like it, we buy it.” We started this rule when I was about 10 years old and we were looking for a dress for me to wear to some family event. We saw a dress at the department store that we really liked, but weren’t sure so we didn’t buy it. Then a week later when we decided it was the best thing out there, they were sold out in my size and we had to order it from another store (this was the days before online shopping). This was a huge hassle, so now we just buy things we like, within a reasonable price range, of course (we’re both bargain shoppers). I’d rather have the occasional item in my closet that doesn’t fit well or doesn’t get worn much than regret not buying something great.

      The other thing I do is keep a running wish list on my phone. I add to it as I think of things I need, but also sit down periodically and think about things I will need for the next season. For example, I recently looked in my dresser and realized I will need a handful of short sleeved shirts this year because I purged several in the fall. This helps keep me focused when I’m out on a shopping spree.

      I also attend my company’s annual holiday party, so I’m always on the lookout for a c*cktail dress I can wear to that. Bonus points if I get it on sale!

      BTW, is anyone else itching to wear her spring and summer dresses? And sandals? I keep looking longingly at these items in my closet but sadly it’s still only February…

  9. busy&happy :

    I love letting clothes find me. It took me several years, but once I finally figured out my ‘style uniform’, I’ve learned to grab those items that fit perfectly and will come in handy later on.

    A few summers ago I built a perfect outfit for a friend’s quickie garden wedding out of a beautiful silk dress I found at a closing sale three years earlier, a pair of silver sandals I bought the summer before (becasue they’re never in the stores when you want them) and a vintage handbag that I had bought on a whim and had been saving for at least five years. It might’ve been a while coming, but that outfit was worth the wait!

  10. I rarely end up liking/wearing clothes that I buy because I was looking for something specific. I have had similar experiences with artwork for my home! I have to let it come to me. This weekend, I bought a summer maxi dress and I have nowhere in particular to wear it, but it looked soooo good on me, I couldn’t resist. I have now determined that I will find places to wear it! I can justify more money on work clothes because I wear them so much. Harder to justify other clothes and I don’t go out much.

    Speaking of things I don’t need, I tried on these boots yesterday and I’m still obsessing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmpQof03-L4

  11. Totally second the “if you find a dress you love, even if you have no occasion, you should buy it advice.” From a karma standpoint, once i buy the fabulous dress, fabulous occasions seem to pop up, and this really destresses me when I am in shower/wedding season–I have options.

    Semi-related threadjack–at what point did you admit to yourself that you were forevermore going to be a few sizes bigger than you used to be? For instance, I was once a ripped college athlete, size 6-8 at 5′ 11″, and, well, ten years on, my body is not the same. But I have some amazing clothes…how do you let go? It’s just not realistic for me to work out 25 hours per week on the work and life schedule I have, so isn’t it just wishful thinking to believe I might someday be a size 8 again, and those clothes would be in style?

    • job hunting :

      It’s 10 years ago, so even if you are that size I doubt you would feel fab in those clothes. I have clothes that fit me from high school, but they make me feel like I am in high school. Maybe keep a few favorites and donate the rest to make room for your new, more grown-up clothes?

      • Diana Barry :

        Ditto. Maybe keep the evening wear just in case, but get rid of everything else – the pants won’t look right even if they do fit you in the future. :)

      • Research, Not Law :

        Agree. My weight fluctuates within a range quite a bit, so I do keep clothes that don’t fit. I get rid of them when they aren’t something that I would wear even if they did fit.

        Not sure how old you are or what phase of life, but one thing to consider – particularly for pants and fitted skirts – is that your hips will widen as you approach 30, whether you have children or not. That came as a shocker to me. I couldn’t fit into clothes I’d had in college even when I was 10-15 lbs lighter.

        • Sigh, my hips are just starting to spread – it is hard to let go – especially of the great jeans I bought in Europe!!! Once completing graduate school, and (hopefully) getting a job, I plan on having a serious wardrobe review and planning event, where I try on everything, see what works and what doesn’t. Then sell/donate/toss the stuff that doesn’t fit, is too old or not my style anymore, and make a list of basics depending on what job I get and where I will be living.

    • Totes McGotes :

      Hold on to them as long as you feel you need to, and give them away when you’re ready. When I got to that point I had a clothing swap with my friends, so it was more fun and less sad to ooh and aah over how slim I used to be, and I knew the clothes I’d had some really great times in were going to good homes. That said, don’t be ashamed if there’s one or two things you want to keep for sentimental reasons, even if you would never wear them again no matter what size you were. I had this totally sl*tty plaid pleated jumper from the 90s that I gave to Goodwill, and in retrospect, that’s the one solitary thing I wish I’d kept, just to laugh at now and then.

    • phillygirlruns :

      after my first year with my firm, i gained about 20lbs, and never got rid of my suits. i finally buckled down about 6 months ago and am now back into the same size i was. it’s been about 2.5-3 years since i could wear that stuff, and i was delighted to go through my closet, trying that stuff on…but i have to get rid of it. three years of sitting in a closet collecting dust has not been good to those clothes, and they’re fairly cheap, since i bought them as a newly-minted attorney who hadn’t had income in years. what looked passable on me (or what i thought looked passable) when i was 26 is not looking passable on me at 30. so…just get rid of it. maybe hang onto one pair of pants as a tester, but don’t plan to wear it.

    • Hey – just remember how much more interesting you are now. I was better looking in college, which is good because any sensible person would have been bored stiff by 10 minutes conversation with me.

    • I am going through this right now, and it’s no fun. But those clothes gotta get out of my closet because they’re making me feel bad. I am comforted by the fact that very few items will look right 10 years on — something classic like a sheath dress., maybe. But 90 percent will just look dated.

      In terms of shopping: The dangerous thing for those of us who have are compulsive shoppers is to say, “Oh, this is beautiful and I am sure I will wear it someday.” You buy it and never wear it and feel bad about the waste of money and also about the boring life you are leading. (The cherry on top is to try to wear the fancy dress you bought on impulse in 2007 and find that you can’t zip it anymore. )

      So my rule is that I can buy whatever I want … at the thrift store. Everything else is subject to a cost-per-wear analysis — usually one dollar per wear. But at the thrift store, I buy all kinds of crazy patterned skirts and formal dresses and summer dresses because the worst that happens is I blow five bucks on something I don’t wear. And then it goes back to the thrift store.

    • I recently had this same issue, multiplied — fantastic expensive work clothes/suits, post-baby body, and quit my job. After about 2 years of gathering dust in my closet, I sold a large amount of my old suits on ebay.

      In my ebay postings, I wrote that I am/was a lawyer, now with a different job and no longer need the office clothes. I wound up selling a large number of pieces to newly-minted attorneys, three of whom wrote very sweet notes to me. It was really encouraging and bittersweet — I’ve moved on to a different life, but these new Corporettes got themselves some great clothes for very cheap.

      And, with the ebay money, I bought some new clothes. Of course.

    • I’ve recently been purging all my unworn/non-fiting clothes and shoes. When I get to something that I’m having a hard time getting rid of, I ask myself, “If I die today, will anybody want this?” If the answer is no, get rid of it. If the answer is yes, give it to that person now. I’ve gotten rid of about 75 pairs of shoes over the last year this way.

  12. I tend to impulse-purchase items that are likely to get a higher rotation in my closet. I can always use another t-shirt, work dress, or cardigan. I’ll get plenty of wear out of those and won’t regret the purchase. But an item that may only get worn a handful of times, unless its on super-deep discount, I’m much less likely to buy it. I guess it’s kind of a cost-per-wear analysis.
    A good example of this is from this last weekend. I went to the local Dillards clearance center with a friend (which for you Tampa ladies, is in University Mall near USF). I had no problem dropping $50 on a work-appropriate sheath dress that I’ll probably wear a couple times a month with cardigans and blazers, but balked at spending $25 on a seersucker summer dress that I don’t see myself wearing more than couple times a year to parties or such.

    • I’m more or less the same – if I go looking for a work dress, I’m usually disappointed but if I scan the racks on a visit to Loehmann’s on a whim, I find a piece that I wear to death.

      I will snap up super cheap classic formal wear/formal accesories when I see them – I had a long taffetta skirt hang in my closet for 3 years before I needed it. But all I had to add was a classic blouse and heels and I was good to go.

  13. job hunting :

    I tend to only buy things I need, and even then, only if they are less than full price. This is problematic as it means my wardrobe is full of basics, but when it comes to dressing up and going out I am stuck. My fiance bought me a dress recently, which is now the only dress I own that I actually like. Yay! I think I need to get better at finding a balance, but sadly my life does not require me to have lots of gorgeous fancy dresses and glittery heels. Actually, the only heels I own are black and brown pumps. This should probably be remedied.

    • Anonymous :

      This is me, too. In particular, my wardrobe is sadly lacking in going-out tops, which I actually could use. I’m really good about shopping for basics and buying multiples (in the same color or different colors) of things that fit well and that I know I’ll wear over and over again. (The Gap Perfect Trouser is a prime example). I dislike shopping and get frustrated out in dept. stores/boutique, so that just adds to my tendency to buy the same things over and over again — online! — from the same retailers. I do try jeans on in person, though, as the fit can vary so much from pair to pair, let alone cut to cut.

      I currently have one LBD and one jewel-toned c*cktail dress in ponte and between those two dresses have been able to get through most everything I need in the way of special event dressing year-round. A big taffeta ball skirt is on my “would be nice to have” list (I go to the symphony and opera a lot) but I’ve never actually gone shopping for one. Hopefully one day one will drop in my lap!

    • anon prof :

      I only own black shoes (and a pair of tennis shoes). At least it makes my life simple. I may break down soon and buy something else to go with cute navy Jason Wu for Target dress!

  14. Woods-comma-Elle :

    I hate shopping for specific things, as I find that I then can’t look at anything else and get frustrated. Shopping for just one specific thing isn’t as quite as bad as shopping for several specific things, the latter of which inevitably results in me buying none of the required items.

    • I hate when I “need” something right then more than anything. Because of course that’s the day that I feel really fat in everything I put on, or they don’t have my size, or whatever.

      Of course, when I don’t “need” something, I can frequently talk myself out of it.

      And this is why shopping is like torture sometimes. Gah.

      • Woods-comma-Elle :

        Yes I totally agree with this.

        And this is the reason why, despite my previous one becoming unwearable a few years back, I still don’t own a black suit.

      • Whenever I am shopping for something specific, I find perfect versions of whatever it is I don’t need. There is no better way for me to find a gorgeous evening dress than to go shopping for a pair of jeans. Of course, then when I go back to get the evening dress, it’s gone.

  15. The day I realized I only truly loved and wore my impulse buys was the day i gave up conscientious, piece-specific shopping and decided to just go with it. If it’s an item that you don’t have that many of, the odds are pretty high that you will find somewhere to wear it sooner or later! As a consequence i have a lot less clothes than i used to but I have more things i wear a lot and really like.

  16. I let a lot of clothes find me. I go through pretty severe hot and cold spells with shopping, and because trying to shop on a cold day usually ends with an epic meltdown, I have to make the most of the hot spells.

    The one thing I can’t let find me though, are shoes. I need to shop for those with a specific purpose in mind. Otherwise I end up with a closet full of adorable randos that don’t go with anything (hot pink pointy slingbacks, I’m looking at you). Plus, then I feel guilty about having too many shoes I don’t wear, so I talk myself out of buying ones that I actually need.

    • I also go through hot and cold spells and I honestly think its that some seasons, the cuts that are particularly “in” flatter my figure and other seasons they don’t. And if I’m with it enough to recognize that, then I can stock up when that’s happening.

  17. MissJackson :

    I let clothes find me, and rarely go “on the hunt” for a specific item. I buy most of my work clothes this way — if I see a pencil skirt, silk blouse, sweater, suit, or work appropriate dress that I like at a good price point, I buy. I actually think it’s fun to try to make an outfit out of new + old.

    I also try to identify holes in my wardrobe — rarely are these immediate needs, so I don’t really think about it as going “on the hunt” for the items — it’s just things to be especailly on the lookout for. For me, that’s less frustrating, and I know I’ll find what I’m looking for eventually (right now: black riding boots which must be wide calf + wide toe box and/or wide width).

    The only exception is that when I need jeans, I make a special shopping trip. That trip is usually in the top 3 worst experiences of the year, though.

    • I’m the same. If I go looking for a specific item, I can almost never find something that works, but if I stay open-minded every time I shop, things seem to work out. I won’t buy clothes for work unless I can create at least two outfits with them, though.

      Mostly, though, I keep a running list of wardrobe holes. Recent ones have been “warm, colored cardigan,” “solid-colored flats that will work with both black and navy,” and “any pair of work pants that are not solid gray or navy.” Unless it’s a really special piece, I try not to buy anything that isn’t on the list; but at the same time, I’ve gotten some of my most-worn casual clothing as impulse buys. So I try to be flexible, within the (narrow) constraints of my budget.

    • Research, Not Law :

      I do this, too. I’m not usually on a dire search for a particular item, but I have a few in mind. Mine right now are wrap tops and cute/comfortable flats.

      The exception is jeans and non-work pants. ::shudder:: It’s easier for me to have one terrible day and get it over with.

    • MissJackson – being of wide calf and toebox, if it’s not feasible to go for Duo boots (price, shipping, and the fact they only sell in-store in 3 locations in the UK!), I heartily recommend checking out Enzo Angolino (sp?). I picked up a pair of black, flat riding boots last season at Nordstrom Rack for ~ $100 and I love them. I’ve tried on other pairs by EA, and a surprising number of them fit. I’ve also had luck with a fair number of Clarks’ styles recently, and I just recently picked up a gorgeous pair of brown Via Spiga riding boots at Nordstrom Rack on clearance this past weekend.

  18. I’m a pretty opportunistic shopper myself, which works well. I buy the pretty lingerie when it goes on sale and grab dresses, blouses, and skirts on flash sale sites when I see something amazing. I have a list of questions I run through:

    1. Does it (or will it) look good on me?
    2. Do I like it?
    3. Will I have occasion to wear it?
    4. Will I actually wear it?

    The last one ends up being key. Weirdly, there seem to be a lot of things that meet the first three criterion, but not the fourth (e.g. I never want to wear things that are teal no matter how great they look on me, and I’m just not comfortable in short skirts).

    I usually have a hard time finding a particular item I need at the time I need it and often end up settling for an “almost.” The exceptions are jeans (I just go to Bloomingdales, try on all the 7′s until I find the two cuts that fit my body and buy one of them) and formal dresses/cocktail dresses (I always find something suitable at Macy’s–huge selection).

  19. Anonymous :

    Kat, I did not lose all of the “baby weight” while breast feeding either. Still, I liked my body and the extra pounds fell away once my kiddo was weaned. I say go for the post-baby clothes. You deserve something nice to wear now (you’re literally building a baby!) — and you never know when you may have an opportunity to wear them again.

  20. When I was 24 and visiting my boyfriend who lived in another town, I was shopping at Nordstrom Rack and found a gorgeous black velvet cocktail dress marked down to some ungodly low price. And it fit me! I took it home and hung it in the back of my closet.

    The following Christmas I was single again and invited to a holiday party with a friend and her husband. Being an introvert, I was inclined to stay at home with a good book, but my sister said “Just go, it will give you a chance to wear that black dress!”

    I went — and met the man who became my husband. This year we will celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary. And although I’m several sizes larger than that dress, it still hangs in the back of my closet!

  21. Anne Shirley :

    I try not to buy special occasion clothes just in case, because inevitably when they do come around I want to buy something new. But ordinary clothes that could potentially be worn like a swimsuit I buy when I see them. And if the shoe is comfortable and cute it comes home.

  22. Accountress :

    I’m a firm believer in shopping kismet for clothes *on sale* that I don’t need. If I try it on, and I love it, but I don’t need it, I put it back on the rack. The next time I’m in that store, if it’s still there and in my size, I buy it.

    If I’m looking for something specific, and I find something that I like and fits properly, I buy it. It’s a lot more difficult to get quality things in the plus sizes- you’ve got to bite the bullet sometimes.

  23. Does anyone on or around long island know of any charity or volunteer opportunities coming up for health fairs, fire departments etc. hydrating people, speaking or taking blood pressure etc.?? Please post or email me. Much appreciated!!

  24. I’m still nursing at 16 months and haven’t come close to losing the baby weight yet. I actually gained back some at about a year, when we decreased the amount of nursing and started switching to milk during the day.

  25. I have come to realize that a great blazer or cardigan is the essential item in a wardrobe and therefore the one that I am more prone to buying on a whim.

    My pants, skirts and many dresses are navy, grey, black or tan.

    Most of my shirts are knits that keep me warm but don’t get in the way and generally in neutral colors too.

    So the great fitting colorful topper gives the interest and finishes the look. It can be formal, it can be fun and many can be dressed up or down, so they fit into the weekend look as well. The rest of the wardrobe is easy.

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