My Clothing Inventory
The dictionary defines frugality as “characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources.” The key to frugality isn’t simply scoring the lowest price or the best deal when acquiring new things; it also includes making good use of the things that we already own.
To help me achieve my goal of not shopping for the next month, I decided to put together an inventory of my entire wardrobe (including clothing, shoes & accessories), on the theory that if I know which pieces I already own, I can avoid that panicky feeling of “I have NOTHING to wear” that makes me rush out and buy new stuff. Using Microsoft Word, I created a table with 6 columns (with the following headings: Tops, Bottoms, Jackets, Sweaters, Dresses and Accessories) and then proceeded to list every single item of clothing that I own (with the exception of the bag of Indian saris and salwar kameezes that lives in the top of my closet…despite their beauty, I don’t wear those pieces enough to consider them part of my normal wardrobe!)
I was shocked by what I found. Nearly 80 pairs of shoes, all told. 26 tank tops. 34 “casual” dresses, and 12 “fancy” ones. 19 jackets and coats. 34 scarves, which I rarely, if ever wear. And that’s not the half of it. How had this happened?
For much of my adult life, I subsisted on a bare-bones clothing diet that mainly consisted of hand-me-downs from K and our Mom and clearance items from Target, Marshall’s and Ross Dress for Less. Looking stylish just was not important to me, and I was proud of the fact that—unlike many of my female peers here in Los Angeles—I could not be seduced by designer labels. My standard 1990s-era wardrobe through high school and college (Birkenstocks, baggy jeans and a baggy sweater) transitioned into slightly tighter, slightly cuter stuff as I went through law school and the first few years of my working life, but I was never known for my fashion sense. I clearly remember sitting smugly through a conversation with some of my female law firm colleagues about designer purses a few years back; as they debated the merits of Louis Vuitton vs. Prada, I gripped the handle of the $12 Liz Claiborne bag I’d scored at Ross Dress For Less with pride.
Then, about four years ago, I woke up. At my husband’s encouragement, a stylish friend took me on an “educational” shopping trip to the Beverly Center (a la What Not to Wear) where I learned why women are willing to pay nearly $200 for a pair of JBrand jeans and blew a significant portion of my Christmas bonus. I started actually reading women’s magazines for fashion advice. I discovered the consignment store near my office where I found beautiful BCBG cocktail dresses for $2 apiece. My mom and I became regular connoisseurs of the Saturday Sale in the downtown LA garment district, where we found incredible designer clothing for bargain-basement prices. While I never once paid full price for anything (preferring to shop mainly at thrift stores, sample sales and discount stores), I lost any sense of moderation when it came to my clothing acquisitions. If a saw a cute piece at a decent price, I bought it—without giving much thought to how it would work with the other items in my closet.
I was making up for lost time…perhaps subconsciously, I thought that by acquiring loads of beautiful clothing now, I’d be able to erase the years of my life from ages 15-30 that I’d spent as a fashion frump. But enough is enough! I don’t need to keep shopping endlessly, like the “weapon of massive consumption” that Lily Allen sings about. In the last few years, I’ve put a lot of my time and energy into acquiring this stuff; now it’s time to get proper use out of what I own. (And it helps to remember that despite my sartorial ineptitude, I was doing a lot of other cool stuff with my time…like learning Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese and Hindi and traveling the world.)
So here goes; with my clothing inventory in hand, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to make it through the next month dressed well, and more importantly, without feeling the need to shop.
-posted by P