Evaluating my clothing purchases
One of the biggest issues in fashion is over-consumption. Fast fashion’s rock bottom prices and light-speed trend cycles make it all too easy to buy, buy, buy, at the expense of people and planet. This over-consumption is obviously not spread equally across the globe, or even within countries, but many of us fall into the habit of buying more than we need to. However, I think it’s important to acknowledge that this is a systemic issue, and ultimately it’s systemic change that will get us the results we want. As individual consumers, it’s not necessarily that easy to step out of this system.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t make efforts to hold ourselves to account. One of my (now belated) 30 Before 30 goals was to cut down my wardrobe. This has been a far more gradual, less radical process than I was expecting. I pictured myself having one massive clear-out – chucking half my wardrobe and being left with the perfect minimalist capsule wardrobe. This has not been the case at all. I have however found myself thinking a lot more strategically about what I wear – how often I wear a piece, how it makes me feel, whether it fits with my other clothes, etc. I thought I could do a ‘no buy’ year – something I realise was a little too ambitious. I’ll write a full post about my clear-out (or rather not-quite clear-out) at some point. But for now, and with all this in mind, I’m taking a look back at what found its way into my wardrobe so far this year. For each piece, I’ll consider whether it was a good purchase, whether I actually wear it, has it has become a new favourite, and so on. I’ve included prices for full transparency, as well as sizes. I feel a bit weird about both of these, especially the latter. But I think it’s worth including, as I’ll reflect on how pieces fit me, and I think you’ll get a good sense of how all over the place sizes and shapes can be for women’s clothing. In terms of the price, it’s noteworthy that I rarely buy pieces that aren’t on sale. If I’m really going to evaluate a purchase, I think I need to be honest with myself about how much I’m spending on clothes, and whether what I buy works out as a decent investment.
I’ve also rated each piece for how much I’ve worn it, on a three level scale:
- Great – Worn loads, and it’s made it into my regular rotation. A worthwhile investment.
- Fair – Not a piece I wear every day, but still something I get a good amount of wear out of. A reasonable investment.
- Poor – Either I hardly ever wear it of I’ve never worn it. Not a good investment.
So, let’s take a look! Did I make good purchases? Do I wear them? Have I found some new favourites? Read on for answers!
No clothes bought in January! Clearly I was still trying to stick to that no purchases ambition at this point.
Speedo Women’s Retro Logo Medallist swimsuit
At first I thought I would exclude sportswear from this round-up, but I actually spend quite a lot of time in work-out gear. So a summary probably wouldn’t be very representative if I didn’t include it! Learning to swim was one of my big 30 Before 30 goals, and while I’m not quite there, I’m certainly putting in the effort.
The name/branding on this couldn’t be less appropriate for me; I crawl along in my beginner’s lessons making what often feels like little progress. However, this is a really comfy swimsuit and I have no complaints about its performance (only my own!). I wanted something relatively plain, but not too ‘serious’, and I think this hits the mark nicely. It’s got quite a low back, but doesn’t feel either too ‘sporty’ or ‘revealing’, so I think, especially with the fun logo colours, I could wear it casually too. This piece is definitely earning its place in my closet.
Dharma Bums 7/8 legging
The main reason I wanted to buy these was a recurring one in women’s clothing: it has pockets! Women’s running gear often has tiny little pockets you can barely fit keys in, let alone a phone. I’ve got a couple of pairs of 3/4 length leggings with big pockets on the sides, but with cooler weather on the way I wanted something a bit longer. The material these are made of feels a bit weird – it’s quite tight and oddly thin/revealing, but it is soft. It’s made of recycled plastic bottles, which is a big plus point, and one of the things that attracted me to this brand. They haven’t become my favourite pair, but they’re doing solid duty, and basically ticking all the boxes I needed them to.
Dharma Bums Motion bike short
Basically as above – I wanted more gym kit with pockets. I find it really hard to regulate my temperature when I’m running, so having plenty of coverage options is helpful. Also as above, these feel weirdly tight, but fit pretty well and generally do the job. Not my favourite pair, but a decent choice, and filling a gap in my wardrobe.
February totals: $129.99; 3 items.
Witchery Linen Muscle top black
Launching into my ‘minimalist’ phase with a big order from Witchery (doubtless prompted by a sale!). I’ve got really into big, boxy sleeveless tops since I’ve been in Australia. I think they’re just super comfy and versatile for the hot days and changeable weather. This one quickly became a firm favourite, and it’s seen a lot of use. It doesn’t get quite so many outings now it’s colder, as the linen is more of a warm season fabric. But it’ll certainly be making regular appearances again when the weather cheers up.
Witchery Staple cotton crew pure white
A key trend in my minimalist phase (which, realistically, I’m still in) was my desire for simple t-shirts. I seemed to think I needed loads of these basic ‘staples’ to see me through both the working week and casual weekend ‘fits (as you’ll see with later entries!). This one has done just that, and although I struggle to tell it apart from my other white Ts, it’s still a nice comfy fit and soft material. So it’s a winner.
Witchery Crew rib tee black
Another simple staple! This one isn’t quite as nice a material – the elastic rib isn’t as breathable. It’s also on the pricier end of what I’d pay for something so simple. But it fits really nicely and lends a bit of sleekness to plainer outfits, and I get a tonne of use out of it. So another good investment.
Witchery Bailey headband black
Not technically a piece of clothing, but I thought it was worth including accessories too. I’m growing my hair out, and was starting to get a bit bored of it. Hence in came the hair pieces! I’ve not worn this all that much, but it does add a nice touch to finish off a look. Not an everyday piece, but good to have for when the mood takes me.
Size: One size
Witchery Staple cotton crew black
Exactly as the white one above! If anything though I get even more use out of the black version, and it layers better in the winter. So this one probably just nudges the white into second place.
Witchery Lily maxi scrunchie amazon green
Another example of the hair boredom phase, and something I thought would brighten up a plain ponytail. In reality, it isn’t a particularly strong tie, so isn’t quite equal to my thick hair, and I’ve only worn is a few times. Despite this, I love the colour and the way it brings out the red in my hair. So I still think there’s a time and a place for this, and I should make more effort to reach for it.
Size: One size
Witchery Crew rib tee aquamarine
I clearly had no problem buying things in multiples when I put this order through! This is the same as the black t-shirt earlier. As with the staple tees, I probably get more use out of the black, but this is a great go-to I wear basically every week, so still a great investment.
Witchery Bind detail racer black
You can tell I was deep in minimalist influencer Instagram with this one. Is there a single skinny white influencer lady who doesn’t own this ‘classic’ minimalist piece. Well, I’m not sure it’s quite for me sadly. I basically like it, and am making great strides towards not hating my shoulders (I used to worry they were too wide, and that I had ‘rugby player’ shoulders – now that wouldn’t bother me!), but I think this style looks best on women with a smaller cup size than me. My Ds generally require a bit of support, which means that with this top either you’ll get bra straps on show or you have to go for an uncomfy strapless bra. So it’s mostly saved for days when I can get away with nothing underneath, or alternatively use it as a layering piece with other tops/shirts/dresses.
Salvaged Outfitters Vintage 90s Linen ‘Miss Shop’ button-up white blouse
There are millions of re-sellers on Instagram, but my Australian fave is Salvaged Outfitters. Nadia has a great eye, and seems to always find pieces that’ll slot perfectly into your wardrobe. Other purchases I’ve made from her in the past include the vintage Country Road belt I wear all the time. This shirt has become a real favourite. I’d been after a nice long linen shirt of a while, and liked the wide collar and cuff details on this one. Perfect for layering, it’s become one of my most versatile pieces, and always makes me feel good. Thanks Nadia!
Kookai Finley white cuffed tee
Another white T-shirt! Apparently I thought I needed another one. Nothing particularly special about this one, but I like the sleeve details, and I get a decent amount of use out of it. Sometimes it’s good to just have something you have throw on without thinking about it.
Kookai Maisie Belts – black and tan
Two very bad purchases! I needed new belts as my old black one was starting to look pretty tattered. I got these in the wrong size, foolishly settling for the XS/S size, misled by their size guide and that lingering feeling that smaller is better (which is obviously not the case!). I actually had to add an extra hole to the black one (which there wasn’t much space for!), and I haven’t even taken the brown one out of the packaging. The black works ok as as a waist belt, and I can just about get it to fit with jeans/trousers on the largest proper hole. But overall it makes me feel stupid and guilty. I shouldn’t have let that old prejudice rule my purchases. So these are certainly not favourites.
Price: $25 each
French Connection vintage wash cap
Not, as you might imagine, a cap for washing, but a washed denim baseball cap. Definitely a must for Australia, even dreary old Melbourne. I’ve got a few caps, but I was on the lookout for a slightly more reserved one I could use with any outfit. So this caught my eye, and I’m pleased to say it’s earning its place even in winter!
Size: One size
French Connection ombre fringed scarf
If you’ve read any of my fashion related posts you’ll realise I find it hard to resist anything green. On top of that I think I was inspired by Lucy Moon and her gorgeous chunky scarf (which you probably won’t see in any of her recent videos as it’s warm in the Northern hemisphere now!). In an ideal world this scarf would be slightly wider (and less fluffy!) but I still love it, and it’s quickly become a go-to piece. Both for going out and for keeping me warm in my freezing home office!
Size: One size
French Connection vintage wash long-sleeve t-shirt black
Yes, it’s *yet* another black t-shirt. But in my defence, this one is long-sleeved. I love the boxy, boyish fit of this – it makes me feel totally comfy, and the sleeves are just that bit too long, so I can pull them over my hands. Perfect – love at first wear!
Price: $11.97 (a steal!)
French Connection sueded convertible backpack black
I’m going to include this as it is a purchase I made, but unfortunately they were unable to fulfil it, so I was refunded. My quest for a slightly smarter, chicer work backpack continues!
Size: One size
French Connection Canvas holdall black
This is a piece I’d been on the look out for; I wanted something a bit more casual than my little suitcase for short breaks. It turned out to be much bigger than I expected – it actually has much more space than my suitcase. Add to that the fact that I haven’t actually used it yet, and I’m not sure this was my best purchase. However, I’ve got some trips coming up, so hopefully I’ll be able to give it a fair short before making a final judgement.
Size: One size
March Totals: $481.06; 16 items.
Levi’s Jive High-Waisted
This was another purchase where I just got the sizing all wrong. Not entirely from self-delusion this time though. I wanted something between my Levi’s Loose Taper jeans and a classic skinny jean with a good high waist. This seemed like the style to go for. My loose tapers are Size 28, and have ended up being pretty roomy around my waist. So I thought I’d go a tiny bit smaller. Boy, was I wrong! Perhaps if I had a chance to wear them in a bit they’d stretch to a good size, but as it stands I could not get them up past my thighs! It takes a lot to get me to return clothes – I’ll usually try to make them work. But I know these were a total lost cause, so back they went.
Size: 27W x 30L
April totals: This ended up being zero on all fronts, as I returned the only thing I purchased!
Witchery Staple Cotton Crew Malachite
Yes, I know, another t-shirt! But we know I’m a fool for green. This is comfy and cheerful, and adds a nice splash of colour on days when it’s all too easy for me to wear only black. I’m looking forward to pairing it with shorts on hot summer days.
Witchery Refined Racer Dark Cacao
Not an obvious colour for me, and apparently I hadn’t learned my lesson from the earlier racer. But I love the thin neckline details on this, and although it’s not getting much use right now in winter (despite working as a layering piece under shirts), I can see myself turning to it a lot in the summer. And it was less than 10 bucks!
Ecco Anine Squared Women’s Laced Shoes, Vetiver
A really unusual name for what is essentially ‘light green’ – vetiver is a type of fragrant grass like lemon or citronella. I actually found these through Instagram. You know you often get editorial shots in Instagram ads and can then never find the actual item on the store? I was afraid this was going to happen with these – I fell for them instantly, but the page opened to a generic sale selection. But four pages through the search results and there they were! Ecco isn’t a brand I’d normally think to look at – I associate them with my dad, who wore Ecco shoes almost every day! But I’d been on the look out for a pair of shoes I could dress up or down, just a bit more casual than brogues but still fairly smart. I love the shape of these shoes, they sit really well with tights. They come in European sizes which I find are pretty consistent for my funny feet, and indeed they do fit really well. I wear them all the time – almost as much as my sneakers, and I’m sorely tempted to buy them in black too. An unexpected example of Instagram ads paying off!
May totals: $199.87; 3 items.
Cargo Crew Women’s Taylor pleat pant black
A slightly weirder Instagram ad example. I saw this company advertised with the tagline ‘the modern uniform’. I thought they meant this in a kind of cool, classic everyday wear way. But no, this company actually specialises in uniforms for restaurants and cafes! However I still liked the look of the pieces, so I decided to go for it. These trousers seemed pretty close in style to my favourite Uniqlo pair, and I’ve been looking for some in black. The material isn’t as nice (no cotton linen blend here) but they’ve got a nice high waist, and sit very comfortably. They’re a bit big round the waist/tummy, but leave a lot of room for tucking in thick jumpers on these cold days, so I can’t complain.
Cargo Crew Women’s Riviera striped t-shirt, black and white
Despite owning a million Breton tees, I still didn’t own a black one. A combination of the two things that appeared most on this list, a black t and a white t, it’s an easy staple that I’m already reaching for all the time. Can’t beat that for value!
Cargo Crew Silk Lavalliere Bow tie
Definitely more in uniform territory – this was literally part of my exam uniform at uni (‘sub fusc’). But it’s kind of a classic look for a reason, and although I haven’t worn it yet, I can already picture some outfits I’ll be using it in.
Size: One size
Cargo Crew pin spot neck scarf
I’ve been getting into neck scarves as a way to enliven outfits a bit recently. They’re just a nice, relatively simple accessory. Given my seemingly undying love of polka dot, this was an obvious selection! Actual wear as yet to be determined, but again, I can see some outfits this will fit with nicely, so I look forward to working it into my rotation.
Size: One size
Cargo Crew Frankie Neck Scarf Black
As above really! It’s nice to have a new way to wear my two favourite prints: polka dots and gingham. Stay tuned for some full outfits featuring these pieces.
Size: One size
Sportscraft Priya Pyjama Top, thyme
I have a bit of a history with wearing pyjamas as daywear. But not in that cool-girl underwear as outerwear way – more leaning into the inherent comfiness of nightwear. This top is no exception. I love the waffle knit, and it’s a nice, nearly-cropped length that sits well with high-waisted bottoms. Another useful piece for breaking the black jumper monotony of my winter wardrobe. It did arrive with a tiny hole in the shoulder, but as it’s pretty easy to fix I can’t really mark it down for that.
Sportscraft Katie Blouse Mocha/White
This claims to be ‘mocha’ but is clearly yellow. Gingham and polka dot are definitely fighting for supremacy in my wardrobe at the moment. There’s just something so inherently cheerful about yellow gingham that I find hard to resist. This cute top is surprisingly un-see through, and I love the shape of the sleeves. The neckline is really versatile, and it’s a piece I’ve already worn in lots of different ways. One of my favourite ways is to layer it under my black pinafore dress – a perfect witchy cottage core look. I haven’t had it for long, but this top has already become a firm favourite.
Sportscraft Katie Dress Mocha/white
Wow, repetition really does seem to be a theme in this list. I know it’s probably a little bit questionable to get two versions of the same thing, but I just really like this dress! It’s a great length for me, I love the slightly unusual collar, and, like me favourite blue summer dress, it has an opening at the back. Perfect for when the temperatures start rising. In the winter, the collar helps it stand out under layers, and the long length sits nicely over tights. Not the most obvious transitional piece, but I actually think it works really well. It’s already made its ways into my regular rotation.
Sportscraft Devon Top, Khaki
As noted above, I’ve become a real fan of sleeveless, boxy tanks since moving to Australia. I bought this thinking it would be one to add to my collection for the summer, but surprisingly I’ve already found myself reaching for it. I’ve actually had a good amount of use from it as a layering piece. I’ve got a long-sleeved, skin-tight Kookai t-shirt that I bought from The Closet last year and don’t really wear. My new favourite thing is to pair these two pieces together. The Devon top over the t-shirt has a great 90s/2000s boyish feel to it, and putting them together with my cream linen Uniqlo trousers stops it feeling too retro. I know I’ll get a tonne of use out of this top in the summer, and I’m really pleased to have found a different new way to wear it, and get decent use in the autumn/winter months too.
June totals: $262.66; 9 items
6 Month totals: $1073.58; 31 items (totals excluding items returned or not fulfilled).
Wow, that is a big number! And what’s worse is that I’ve bought more clothes since then! Putting together this list has been something of an eye-opener for me if I’m honest. I guess if I had stopped and thought about it I would have realised that it would be a large amount, but I’m still slightly shocked that I’ve manged to spend that much. Shock and spending are two things that shouldn’t ever go together. What’s perhaps even more surprising is that I can actually justify almost all of these purchases. When you look back across them, there aren’t that many that I’d say I’m not getting use out of. I think this really highlights the difficulty of genuinely down-sizing your wardrobe. It’s actually pretty easy to argue why you should keep things, or why you need them in the first place.
I’m honestly not that sure what to do with this information now I have it, but I think it’s just an important reminder that even with the best of intentions, it’s possible to over-consume, and being vaguely aware of this isn’t enough to overcome existing habits. As I look ahead to the second half of the year, I’m going to really have to try hard and train myself to resist the urge to purchase, even when I can see that I would wear something. In the grand scheme this is probably not that much money to spend on clothes, or that many items to buy. But the grand scheme isn’t a good comparison point: I need to consider what I want to achieve with my wardrobe, and what impact I want to have on the world around me. I can’t help but think there are probably much better things, personally and in the wider world, that I could have spent that amount of money on. I realise that it is an immensely privileged position to be able to put this much money aside for clothes, and it must be said that it is not necessarily a particularly financially responsible approach.
I’ll definitely be repeating this exercise at the end of the year, and hopefully that will result in a much shorter post!
If you made it to the end of this mammoth post, congratulations! Thank you so much for reading. I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on this – what were your favourite pieces, which surprised you, which would never win you over? I’m also keen to hear your own experiences and reflections on cutting down your wardrobe. How have you learnt to hold yourself accountable when it comes to buying clothes? Please share any tips, resources or recommendations in a comment below!