I haven't done this in a while, but I bought a lot of things in 2016 because, well, I'm still stress shopping, so I decided to write it all down. It was slightly horrifying to make this list and find that there are things that I've yet to wear -- and it reinforced a truth I've known but avoided facing: I've more stuff in my wardrobe than time to wear them. And I should do something about it.
Here's a rough list of how OTT my shopping was in last year:
- Celine Sangle Seau bag
- Cotton On white denim high-waist shorts
- Cotton On white t-shirt
- Cotton On grey t-shirt
- Cotton On black cotton jersey sweat pants
- COS black leather sandals
- COS pink leather sneakers
- COS navy sheath dress with side slits
- COS raspberry viscose shift dress
- COS black wool gauze knit long sleeve t-shirt
- Onitzuka Tiger leather sneakers
- Onitzuka Tiger swirl print sneakers
- Jack Purcell leather sneakers
- Lisa Marie Fernandez short sleeved shirt dress
- Uniqlo U khaki pants
- Uniqlo U cream lambswool sweater
- Uniqlo U down scarf
- Uniqlo x Lemaire black sleeveless seersucker dress
- Uniqlo x Lemaire black short sleeve seersucker dress
- Uniqlo x Lemaire white short sleeve seersucker dress
- Uniqlo x Lemaire mustard yellow knit tank
- Uniqlo x Lemaire black knit tank
- Uniqlo white oversized cotton shirt
- Uniqlo burgundy merino wool sweater dress
- Uniqlo navy linen shirt dress
- Uniqlo blue and white gingham linen shirt dress
- Uniqlo burgundy sleeveless knit mock turtleneck top
- IDLF for Uniqlo navy wool peacoat
- IDLF for Uniqlo denim chore jacket
- IDLF for Uniqlo black wool collarless jacket
- Mango black viscose trousers
- Zara blue and white striped shirt with floral embroidery
- In Good Company marigold silk crepe top
- In Other Stories chambray short-sleeved top
- Levi's vintage 501s
- Jigsaw cream silk crepe sleeveless top
- Massimo Dutti beige sleeveless linen jacket
- Muji grey linen wide leg cropped trousers
- No 21 x Kartell rain boots
- Steven Alan sunnies with reflective lens
There's stuff in there that makes sense; they've become seamlessly integrated into my life - the t-shirts, the shorts, some of the dresses, the black trousers, the wonderful Celine bag that's just so easy to use. These are refined versions of things I love that either replaced stuff that had worn out, or added just the right amount of variety to my sartorial vocabulary.
But there are also things in there that I bought because simply because I wanted them, and not because they had a clear place in my life - the black wool jacket (wool? In Singapore? When will I learn?), the Lisa Marie Fernandez shirt dress which is just a little too much for everyday. These items are treasured and admired but I also know that I could have used the money more meaningfully.
Also, I clearly have some kind of Uniqlo addiction problem.
The problem with figuring out your style is that it sets off another type of buying -- you know what works for you and you become an expert at finding them just about everywhere. You start spotting the subtle and beautiful details that differentiate a new item from one already in your closet -- details that are invisible to everyone else but they delight you. Dressing to impress others make some shop more, but dressing to impress yourself can be just as bad, in my experience.
Finding "perfect" items also doesn't curb excessiveness significantly. Yes, the number of handbags I bought over a lifetime tapered off once I found a couple that worked for me. Yes, I haven't bought a watch (or even looked for one) since I bought a nice one about 6 years ago. Yes, I don't really buy jeans anymore because I've got them pretty much sorted. But perfection is far less singular than one might think. They're hard to find but they can be found regularly enough, with subtly seductive points of difference, for you to end up with 11 versions of the same navy dress, over time.
I'm not about to start a purge, because I love everything I bring home. But it's time I exercise more discipline; and remind myself to say no more often, no matter how perfect it is. I'm not going to impose a ban; rather I want to wear what I already own more often, and that means reminding myself to reach more deeply into my closet rather than sleepwalking and grabbing whatever is the most familiar.
Also, an interesting piece on purging one's wardrobe, and starting afresh. I can relate to excessively shopping to fill a void or make up for some other problem in life (in my case, it's from work-related stress). But I also think there's something cyclical about these things - you get rid of things that make no sense in your life, but you'll eventually find new things to obsess over that sets off a round of acquiring for wholly different reasons.
EDIT: Some more thoughts after I hit "publish". I had a think about what is considered excessive, and for me, it was just a matter of realising that on average, I was buying a new item of clothing nearly every week in 2016. It surprised me, especially when I also realised I'd worn some of them only a handful of times, or none at all. What's the point then?
At the same time, buying new clothes because I had a lousy day solved none of my problems - I was still tired, lacking sleep, and frustrated about work on some days. My purchases were great, but not that great.
And finally, while I don't buy expensive clothing generally, and am not in debt, I had to ask myself if there was anything else I would rather spend on, and the answer was a straightforward yes. I could buy myself a new armchair, if anything. I could give the money to my parents to fund a short vacation. I could fund a short vacation for myself, or put it towards an air ticket somewhere new. I could increase my regular donations to charity. I could buy a nicer birthday present for friends. Money doesn't buy happiness but it sure gets a lot done.