Elizabeth Suzann linen harper tunic (gift from ES to review a few years ago) | size one size minus
Rag & Bone/JEAN Ankle cigarette jeans | size 28 (different colorway via Amazon Prime)
Mephisto Helen sandals (many many many years old)
I don’t want any “new” clothes. I’m really very (really) happy with my wardrobe right now. I don’t need anything today, or for the foreseeable future. Haha…seems like I always say that…
The problem is that for me, these last fourteen years, clothing has been content. It’s not like I’m seeking out things to buy only to write about them (sometimes I do, if I think it will be interesting, or helpful) but posting outfits and reviewing things I buy is what I do here. And I do love to try new things and designers. I love what I do. LOVE IT.
But right now, I feel like I’m chasing something I cannot find by buying more clothes. And honestly, I get a little disappointed in myself when I DO buy new clothes. First, because like I said, I didn’t usually need whatever it is I bought, and second, I’m trying to move beyond the idea that just because I want something AND can have it, I should just get it. That has been my lifelong struggle. It’s almost that the idea that I can have what I want to have is more important than the thing I want, or ANYTHING ELSE AT THE MOMENT. Which is the most disconcerting of all. I definitely get a high when I buy something I don’t really need, but want, then a high when I receive it, and an immediate low when I add it to my wardrobe (unless it’s something that I do really NEED AND WANT). Yeah, I know how that sounds.
For fuck’s sake, I’m 45 years old. I’m tired of acting like a toddler when it comes to “wanting” things.
Yes, I should enjoy the fruits of my labor, and what I have earned (but also have been lucky to have had support to accomplish, let’s be honest) over the years, but as Tania said recently in a comment ” how many ….. does one need?” If you want more whatevers, or need them, then fine, (who am I or anyone to say how many black dresses, or linen pants one needs??) but I neither WANT nor NEED any more of anything. It’s the recognition that I/you no longer need or want any more whatevers that’s important here.
What I really want is to enjoy and appreciate what I have. And I cannot do that when I’m constantly adding new things.
Of course, there’s the rub. It’s not all about clothes and wardrobe.
Yes, I still need to find a good therapist LOL
Anyway, all this is to say that I’m quietly going to be not buying anything this summer (June, July & August). It’s not a rule, and I’m not going to beat myself up if I do buy something, but for me, always, discipline = freedom (I heard that first from Jocko Willink on Tim Ferriss’ podcast and I haven’t stopped thinking about it). I know this about myself.
When I am generally disciplined, I feel more free. I don’t give myself a choice whether to go to Pure Barre 4-5 days a week, I just do it. I don’t eat things that make me feel bad. EVEN SOUR CANDIES, which are my favorite. I brush my teeth twice a day. I try to make habits out of the things that are good for me so I don’t have to think about them.
But I’ve never really done that with buying clothes. Yes, I tried several years ago, and really learned a lot about myself and my relationship with my wardrobe, and I’m not shopping or accumulating things in the same way I was before I wrote The Minimal Closet, but some of the same tendencies are still there.
So I am hoping that really trying to discipline myself to NOT buy things this summer will bring the shift I need. I need to work on feeling and moving on from the anxiety that I sometimes feel from not being able to acquire that which I really want. I will need to sit with it and FEEL it because I won’t be able to make it go away by buying the thing.
We’ll see if I can survive it LOL
Of course I can.
Shocking story: my morning routine consists of getting up, taking Dagny for a short walk, drinking hot lemon water, foam rolling, meditating (or just sitting for as long as I can, maybe 10 minutes), preparing my coffee, and taking it upstairs to work. And you know what the first thing I do is when I sit down with my coffee and open my computer??
Check out the new arrivals every day at Shopbop.
I kid you not, I have done this religiously for a decade. And it is easy because I have my browser set up to open several tabs when I launch it and Shopbop is one. I also earn credit at Shopbop every month to spend there, so I’m always looking for something to buy.
But I changed it yesterday so from now on instead of Shopbop, it opens Brain Pickings 🙂
Again, this is not a RULE, and I’m not going to obsess over NOT buying, I’m just going to make an effort not to buy any new clothes for three months. That’s it. I did order a skirt from Garmentory earlier this week that will arrive today, and a replacement pair of Vince blair sneakers, so you’ll see those as “new” over the summer. And my Elizabeth Suzann order of linen florence pants should be arriving late this month or early July. Speaking of ES, I will probably place an order in August for the clyde culottes to replace the ones I sold that were too big only because I’d like to have them for fall, and the wait time and all…
Mostly I’m looking forward to, ironically, thinking more about my wardrobe and what I choose to have in it, this summer. No, I will never NOT be thinking about clothes! But I am trying to shift that thinking again.
And I’d like to wear more outfits like the one I’m wearing today: old with new, simple, easy and comfortable. Nothing special or fancy, just individual pieces and an outfit that feels like me. Like I said, what I really want is to enjoy and appreciate what I have.
note: I was going to do a recap of my wardrobe audit and 2018 wardrobe planning along with this post but I think I’ll wait until next week to do an update. Yes, I’m still doing well with paying off credit card debt and I’m not using money I don’t have to buy things, so that’s not what happened here. I just don’t want more stuff.
Karen @ sustainablefashionchat says
I’m so with you, Grechen! Sadly, I find that if I don’t have something on the way, I get antsy. I try not to admit it to myself, but I do. I started the year thinking I didn’t need to buy anything, and still ended up buying quite a few pieces in the first three months of 2018. I’ve deliberately tried to put the brakes on again, and have bought one thing since April, which is progress.
I actually just ordered some fabric today too. At the moment, I feel like, “Ok, I’m good.” But I know after the fabric arrives, and I’ve sewn it into a new garment, the antsiness will return. I guess I need to learn to just get used to the feeling and get comfortable with it.
You look super comfortable and happy in today’s outfit. Here’s to enjoying what we have!
Amy L says
I am really enjoying your thoughts on this. I’m going to try to follow the same lines this summer.
Love this outfit! Also: “just because I want something AND can have it, I should just get it. ” <- so true! I mean, not true, but the idea that this is wrong is true I guess. I struggle with guilt over buying stuff, but being mindful and spending time caring for what I have helps. Thumbing through the hangers of garments in my closet and thinking about how I like what I have. New for the sake of new is NOT what I want to be beholden to. Setting habits for yourself (like changing the browser tabs that open) is one of the easiest ways to curb the shopping and wanting. It sounds like you are getting to a good place with your own habits. I hope to get there too.
Grechen Reiter says
YES!!! me too!! i get antsy if i don’t have something on the way too!!! it’s that anticipation. having something to look forward to. something i can touch and feel…
we can work on this together LOL – what has worked for me for other things is just feeling the antsiness, acknowledging it, and then usually it will fade away. once i give it a “name” it loses power over me…
Grechen Reiter says
that was the hardest thing for me to realize, that very often i’m buying things because i want them and because i CAN. like i need to prove it to myself, or others? i didn’t quite understand that until i was writing this though, and it just came to me…it’s true though. but really tough to face about oneself!!
Maybe y’all need pen pals! Seriously! Waiting for something in the mail…
Cathy Tilton says
OMG I feel this so much! I’ve always filled emotional holes with food and shopping. With my health and eating changes, emotional eating really isn’t a thing anymore. And shopping….. well…. it gets less and less fulfilling. I’m trying to figure out what makes me fulfilled, and what do I want to put my energy into instead of mindless spending. I do get to shop a lot right now as I’m trying to find clothes to fit my changing body, but I don’t want to shop out of emotional need. So I feel you so much, friend!!
Ahhh, I’ve been thinking about this so much lately. I just started following Brown Kids on Instagram and listened to an interview Roe of BK did on Black Girl in Om, and it seriously got me thinking about my own relationship to things. Obviously it’s also resonating with others! Let’s keep the conversation going!
You get group therapy right here Grechen and you are just fine as is. ( according to Dr. Me ;c)
Life is short, if you want to browse shopbop every day and it is not keeping you from leading a productive life or putting you in debt then go right ahead my dear mother would have said.
Thank you for your kind insights and for keeping me from my work a few minutes each day.
Grechen Reiter says
haha, thanks dr. e 🙂
i will probably still browse shopbop every day (I did today) but later in the day, after i’ve done more of the things i need/want to do for my sanity/work LOL. i don’t necessarily want that to be my “coffee” routine anymore though, you know? i don’t like how it sets the tone for the day…
This is so timely for me! And not just because you gave me a shout out (I am wearing one of my many oversized linen dresses as I write this). My BF and I are still struggling to keep our apartment uncluttered since merging our households a year ago. We need better storage, he has a ton of stuff too yada yada buuuuuuttt…my clothes and accessories are EVERYWHERE. I have a perfectly good reach-in closet with a great organizational system, a nook with drawers/shelves and a whole dresser so there is no reason that I am overflowing other than I can’t stop shopping. I tend to shop when stressed or bored. So a difficult new work situation + change + limited social interaction means lots and lots of shopping. I also tend to buy too much when any lifestyle or weight change. Instead of buying just enough work clothes I tend to go overboard (it’s like my shopping juices get flowing and then can’t be stopped). There is a definite high when you arrive home to a package. I’m doing a shopping ban too, for June. We’ll see about the whole summer, one day at a time. I just did a massive clean out and bought a shoe cabinet storage so if I don’t buy anything new I should be able to keep our bedroom relatively uncluttered. I also packaged any items that needed to be returned, literally had a shopping junk corner of the bedroom. I think if I logged my time spent on shopping, returning and purging, it would likely be shocking what the opportunity cost is for all that time spent dealing with the wardrobe. I need to address my jewelry as well. I have so much jewelry that I no longer use. Best of luck to you on your summer challenge!
What I forgot to say with all my rambling is how much I can truly relate to everything you wrote in this post. Thank you for articulating what I feel as well.
Karen @ sustainablefashionchat says
Yes, let’s work on it together! Sadly, the longest stretch I’ve gone in the past three years without something on the way was maybe 2-3 months. And during that time, I was spending lots of hours knitting something for myself. So that was taking the place of the ‘something on the way’ feeling.
I’ve tried a few mental tricks: posting my outfits every day, so I can browse back through them as if I’m ‘shopping’ and then pick one to wear, having a list of all my items, so I can browse through those… They kind of work. Probably the best thing to do would be to totally disconnect from the fashion chat — blogs, insta, etc. but I don’t want to do that. It’s fun! So we’ll find the balance. I’m sure we will!
I can so relate! I’ve had this conversation in my head many times with a variety of outcomes. Although I have not been able to manifest the motto “discipline = freedom” when it comes to my wardrobe in practice perfectly just yet, I think it is a great guide.
For me, “buying to affirm that I can” is a form of self-care. When this type of self-care was no longer adaptive, I tried to find other material ways of caring for myself. Not an easy thing to do if you do not include food as an option. As I learned what I loved and what I thought I liked because of my respect for other’s opinions, I started curating my wardrobe instead of growing it. Curating my clothing like a usable art. Clothing was always a form of entertainment to me. It filled the hunger for beauty, form, and pleasing aesthetics. And these things are just like food. You ingest them and after some time get hungry again. I call it “visual hunger”. Several months ago my tendency to curate and the need for visual “entertainment” clashed. My “art gallery” capacity was full but my visual hunger came back regularly. My desire for orderly and functional closet clashed with my love for the art of clothing. Randomly, I came across a saying about how Parisian women buy two or three full outfits every season and this is how they stay current, fashionable and on a budget. This way allows for a relatively small and orderly wardrobe that I get to fully restock twice or three times a year. This year, after committing to not shop for the first 6 months of the year, I spent 80% of my annual budget on ES exclusively. I bought 13 pieces which make over 10 outfits. I have been almost exclusively wearing ES pieces and it is lovely. It feels like the uniform that I personally curated. I know I will eventually fall out of love with some of the pieces but it will be ok because I get to buy a mini-wardrobe (2-3 full outfits) for the winter anyway.
I’m going through an “I hate almost everything in my closet” mode. I’m changing my silhouette from long over lean to wide and cropped. So I’m doing a lot of rethinking and experimenting. I’m not getting everything right yet so some of my purchases feel wasteful. I have enough clothing that I don’t really need to buy any more items – but the clothing I have is not expressing who I am or what I’m interested in right now. That’s my push and pull. My style is evolving and my purchasing is not keeping up with that. The guilt of getting rid of perfectly good clothing just because I don’t like them anymore seems difficult for me right now. I’m rambling.
Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 says
This is a great plan! Good for you. I also get frustrated and buy too much too often. Excited to see how that goes!
Grechen you’re a beautiful soul. Thanks for sharing your genuine thoughts. I love knowing your for real morning routine involved checking shop bop, mine involved checking new sale items at bhldn for about the year before and after my wedding (just couldn’t help myself, all the pretty things and simultaneously wanting a deal)… And the discipline is freedom quote is new to me, thanks for sharing it, I think it makes sense, I wonder where I can apply that in my life.
I’ve been looking at this issue myself. I’ve become aware that when I don’t feel good on the inside, I try hard to find ways to feel better on the outside by buying clothes, jewelry, make-up, etc. Like I’ve heard and known for years, it’s an inside job. So…
My problem starts with the browsing. Like you I am FULLY content with my wardrobe. I keep a Notes page on my iPhone with details of recent outfits as well as new outfit combos (including shoes and bags) so I rarely run into the “nothing to wear” glut. But I love going online, ostensibly to get outfit ideas (which I do) but then I get tempted by things I don’t own! And yes, I can so relate to the high of buying and receiving the item and then the low when fitting it into my wardrobe. Sigh, first world problems indeed.
Btw I recently ordered the linen Harper tunic you have on (deliberated over black vs navy and finally went for black). Can’t believe I it took me so long but I have the wool long sleeve one and the Harper dress in black silk so I tried to resist this one. I have credit from returning the silk Parabola top (the shape was really weird on me, almost didn’t feel like Elizabeth Suzann!) so decided to go for this classic piece instead. (I appreciate her innovating of new designs but nothing beats her signature items!) I was going to save some credit for the Alannis collab re-release (slated for May but no word still!) but decided to stay with her classic hits and maybe go for the silk Florence pants which should “complete” my ES collection for now. It’s just that when summer hits, all I want to wear is Elizabeth Suzann!
I get this same antsy feeling. These past two weeks, I’ve ordered a lot of expensive stuff: four pairs of shoes, three tops, a pair of pants, and a pair of jeans. Some of these things–this is my first pair of jeans in a few years–were to fill in gaps in my wardrobe. But, the tops were simply because *I wanted them* and because I’ve been feeling at loose ends (which always leads to unnecessary purchases). Sigh. I think it’s time to put myself on a shopping intermission. I may try to join you in this summer ban on shopping.
Grechen Reiter says
yes. the browsing. i get into the most trouble with instagram. i follow “regular” people, not bloggers, but I see so many cute outfits, etc., I want to copy that i am tempted to seek out and buy all the things!!
i really love the harper tunic, but it’s not easy for me to wear all that often since it requires a very specific bottom to look even remotely “good” on me. i just can’t do long/oversized on top of anything but slim. glad you finally did it LOL
Grechen Reiter says
ha. yes, it’s always an inside job.
Grechen Reiter says
thank you kat!
it’s only been a couple of days, but i’m really finding that not checking shop bop first thing when i sit down is helping a lot, mostly just to set the tone for the way i want my day to be, you know? eventually, when i need a distraction, i check the new arrivals anyway, but not doing it first thing makes a big difference!!
Grechen Reiter says
oh man, i get this too. i go through this every couple of years i think, and that’s okay! part of what i learned writing my minimal closet essays is that my style or way I want to express myself will NOT stay the same year over year, and i no longer WANT it to. (wouldn’t that be boring??) i used to think I wanted to create a perfectly curated wardrobe that i could live the rest of my life in and be done shopping…hahahaha!!!
it just means that we, you and i, care a lot about the impact and projection we leave on the world and the people we interact with. at least i’m going to try and reframe it that way 😉
And i too used to struggle with “getting rid of perfectly good clothing” but now i just accept it as part of my process. (it helps that i have slowre though, i won’t lie LOL) i try and buy high quality pieces that I can sell if i need/want to. i don’t worry about getting back anywhere close to what i pay for something, i just want it to be in excellent condition so someone else can hopefully find a place for it in their wardrobe. Someone will appreciate your perfectly good clothing if you don’t. That’s okay!!
I started something in 2018 as an experiment to combat this same experience of buying things for the sake of buying things or because I wanted them, but didn’t need them. It usually left me feeling down about spending money on stuff that I ultimately didn’t end up loving. Anyways…what I did at the end of 2017, is I looked at my closet and made a list of all of the items that I truly felt that I needed. Those items where I was always thinking “geeez…if I just had XXX then I could really complete several outfits”. Much to my surprise, my list of needs was pretty short! Less than 10 items! So I made the list on my iphone with cute little bubbles next to them to physically check off as I made the purchase. I also included a freebie item in case I found something that I just couldn’t pass up. While I haven’t added anything new to my list this year, I have reserved the right to add something to the list if it’s been thoroughly thought out or something in my life has changed (like a new office job) that requires new pieces to my wardrobe. And I have a running list of items I might want to consider putting on my 2019 list.
To make a long story short…the list has completely changed my perspective on shopping. If I know that I am only going to buy two sweaters for the year, it makes the purchase of those two sweaters very intentional. I don’t want to settle on something that is good enough (which I definitely did in the past). It’s made finding these items 10x more rewarding and it’s also made me feel much better about spending a little more money on the few items that I do buy because I know that the purchase was thought out and not made on a whim. When I find myself swooning over something that isn’t on my list, I stop and ask myself “why isn’t in on my list?”. More often than not, it’s because the item is not something I need and I need to remind myself of this. I tend, for example, to swoon over jumpsuits and overalls (and I still might add a pair of overalls to my list for 2019), but the reality is that I don’t like getting half naked in the bathroom every time i have to pee (ughhh jumpsuits), they are a little too trendy for my work, and I don’t think I would wear them enough on the weekends to really get my moneys worth.
It’s been a great experiment, and one that I plan to continue each year. I also have a list for my husband and the process has made me far more intentional with what I’m buying for my kids and whether or not they REALLY need the quantity of clothes that they have (it’s easy to get carried away when kids clothes are on sale!).