I know it’s a new year and 2015 is yesterday’s news, but my inner stats nerd couldn’t let the year-end go by without a little number crunching. Don’t even pretend: you’re totally excited about all the sweet, sweet stats that this post is about to unload on you. You know it.

Because my tracking-obsessed self is still, well, obsessed with tracking irrelevant data, I have a lot of information to mine here. Why don’t we start with some big closet numbers? Currently, there are 164 items in my notional closet, plus 22 bags, plus – wait for it – 52 pairs of shoes.

(Truth time: did you think I would have more, or less, shoes than that? People always seem to be surprised by my shoe numbers – either because they’ve under- or over-estimated, which I think is hilarious.)

I say “notional” because my closet is a bit like Schrodinger’s cat: it both is, and isn’t.

I have an “overflow” area in my basement closet where, in addition to out-of-season outerwear and fancy dresses, I store my currently “out of size” and “out of style” clothes. The former category should be pretty self-explanatory; the latter refers to clothes that I don’t love much anymore, but which may get a second lease on life at a future time. I don’t count the clothes in these two categories (or my lounge wear, fwiw) into my closet total. Between them, there are easily another 30-50 pieces of clothing in there. If I was a KonMari devotee, I would purge these things from my life; I’ve actually been tempted, more than once … but then I remind myself that storing them doesn’t cost me anything, whereas re-purchasing clothes in another size – yet AGAIN – certainly would. Minimalism fail, but practicality win.

If you needed convincing, let’s take a quick look back over the last 2 years. After I gave birth to my daughter in 2013, I found myself a full 2 sizes bigger than I was pre-pregnancy. Not surprisingly, in 2014, I essentially ended up buying a whole new wardrobe (88 items, not including accessories like shoes and bags). Some of that – OK, a lot of that – was not purely need-driven; I just love clothes, and will always have more than strictly necessary because I consider personal style to be a form of self-expression, and a hobby to boot. Then, early in 2015, I lost a bunch of weight, and went back down to my pre-pregnancy size. But guess what? I had been too good of a purger in the interim, and a lot of my old clothes were long gone – either consigned, swapped, or donated. So, I went and bought a whole new wardrobe … again. And again, not all of that was need-driven (mostly just the pants, skirts, and some blazers), but I learned my lesson anyway. No more purging perfectly good J. Crew schoolboy blazers and pencil skirts, even if they are currently the wrong size. Although more kids are definitely not on the horizon, I expect that life will throw other curveballs my hips’ way.

OK, so what was the damage in 2015? Ah, the nitty gritty. Brace yo’ selves. I bought 91 new things last year, including 4 bags and 12 pairs of shoes (one of which I ended up giving away). That is a lot of stuff (but not as much as the previous year, hah). Looking back, it doesn’t seem like I bought that much, but it works out to almost 2 new things a week. Every single week. I … have no defence, really. Does “devotion to hobby” count?

Let’s look at some positives. In 2015, slightly more than half of my purchases were pre-loved. Only 42 items were bought in retail stores. I shopped almost exclusively secondhand in the latter part of the year, and going forward, I hope to continue that. I’ll never say “never” to retail shopping – because I have a gift card at Holt’s, and J. Crew will inevitably come out with some new cute floral print – but I actually prefer the treasure-hunt aspect of shopping secondhand.

And then there are the bargains.

The next number I’m about to lay on you is my second favourite of the lot – it makes me feel like such a baller. The total retail value of the stuff I bought last year adds up to a somewhat mind-boggling $23,512. Nope, I didn’t misplace that comma. I’m kinda compulsive about tracking down the MSRP of things I buy secondhand, so it’s a pretty good estimate. Before that number has you turning away from the screen with disgust, never to return to BCRL again, let me give you another number: $3,996. That’s what I actually paid for my 2015 purchases. If my math is correct, that’s about 17% of the retail cost … which means that I beat my 2014 score of 23% by a healthy margin. Bargain hunting achievement level unlocked!

On average, I paid a hair under $44 per item last year. Not bad, considering that about 60% of my purchases retailed for over $100 (with half of those being over $300 a pop). But if you deduct my bag purchases, which accounted for $1,550 of my total spending, then the average is just $28 per item – for brands like Theory, Marc Jacobs, Ted Baker, Prada, Stuart Weitzman, MaxMara, Tods, Nanette Lepore, Tibi, and more.

I don’t want to beat you over the head with it … but secondhand shopping is the best. And that is really the only moral to this entire post.

My closet bucket list for 2016? I’m tempted to challenge myself to reach the “15% or less of retail value” threshold, but that may be pushing my bargain hunting limits. As long as I can stay under 20%, I’ll be happy. There are a few “holy grail” items I’d like to thrift (a Burberry trench and a new pair of Manolos among them), and one or two bags to stalk on eBay (once the Canadian dollar recovers from its tragic freefall, hopefully), but otherwise I’ll be happy to just keep on keeping on. I’d like to think that I will be buying fewer things in 2016 … but, truthfully, that probably won’t happen. There are just too many cute things out there in thrift- and consignment-land, and I’m saving my willpower for more important “no’s”. Yeah, that’s it.

Have you got a closet bucket list? A shopping challenge (or ban) in your future? Share all the details in the comments.

24 Comments on Wadrobe Analytics Bonanza, 2015 Edition

  1. I love this post! 2015 was the year I “grew up” and did a total closet rehaul and started hunting for a more classic closet. I spent a ton but I literally started from scratch and over 50% of my shopping was second hand, so I don’t feel bad. Also my closet now has much less pieces than it did before but I’m happier with what’s in my closet. So for 2016 I will do much less shopping that will be centered on specific pieces. On my list are a neutral colored cross body bag, replace my current black blazer, find a suitable navy blazer (I’ve been searching a while and haven’t found the one) and as I live in Houston where it’s summer 6-8 months of the year, I really need a few more light weight dresses and work appropriate tops. Can’t wait to see what you find in 2016!

  2. I love how you did the math on everything and were so scientific in the break down of how much you have, need, don’t need and saved.

    It’s more fun that way!

  3. I’ve had no pregnancies, but some size shifting over the last few years (including shoes!). That was the culprit of the majority of my closet in 2015. Well that and my style shifting. My goal for 2016 is not a shopping ban but to stick to my list except for size changes. My list includes: summer pants and probably 1-2 skirts, possibly a pair of shorts or two if the ones I bought in 2015 no longer fit, sleeveless tops (up to 10) and sleeveless dresses (up to 5), and a pair of sandals. This list is much shorter than what I bought in 2015 so we will see how it goes… I am less of a hobby shopper than you and more of a practical one, but I did quite enjoy your stats 🙂

    I brought myself to donate a ton of old clothes in 2015 including the remaining clothes from elementary and high school. I’ve kept a ton of my “old size” clothes but I leant some of the designer jeans to my mom who lost weight and can fit into them now. I’m slowly working on donating the “old size” clothes that I would never wear again even if they did fit…

  4. This is incredible!! I always love getting into the nitty gritty of other people’s wardrobes – I’m so nosy. Congratulations on your incredible percentage – I’m so impressed!

  5. I love reading your stats! It makes me realize I should start keeping track of what I buy each year…I tell myself I don’t shop much since I never go to the mall but I am a thrifting addict so in reality, I probably purchase more than I realize. This year I am challenging myself to stop the mindless purchases. I have a list of wardrobe holes that I need to fill, so unless something is on that list, I shouldn’t be buying it. And also, your shoe number sounds about what I would have expected for you. I used to have around 60 pairs, but I’ve recently been able to whittle my shoe collection down to 20 (not counting workout shoes or flip flops), and it’s impossible to get it much lower than that without sacrificing some shoes that I love dearly!

    • I think tracking is fun, but I’m a numbers nerd. It’s definitely eye-opening in terms of shopping habits. I rarely give much thought to the quantity of my thrift purchases, because they cost comparatively little and don’t directly contribute to pollution, but I’ve started to be more discerning. Even if something is nice, and fits well, and is a good deal, I won’t buy it unless it really sparks joy. Otherwise, my closet will become unmanageable!

  6. This is pretty impressive, all these stats you have! Do you track all your purchases on an Excel spreadsheet? Would you be able to do a blog post about what you do for this? I find it fascinating and might want to try, although I wouldn’t remember what I’ve paid for many things in my closet.

  7. Hi Adina, love the stats post ! I hadn’t thought of comparing and tracking retail prices with my second hand finds… my number would have to be like yours. Side note, I found an alligator Bally bag recently… anyway, you sweet tease, a shoe post next ? We can compare Ferragamos ; )

    • Hahaha! I don’t have that many, honestly. I did a shoe inventory a while back, and I don’t think too, too much has changed since then.

  8. This is incredible. Way to go! I wish I had a knack for secondhand shopping, but the minute I walk into a disorganized store, I panic and walk right back out. And eBay terrifies me!! But seriously – so impressive!

    • I totally get that, but I think it’s something you can acclimatize to. It helps to just focus on a few categories of things, and ignore the rest so you don’t get overwhelmed as quickly.

      I love eBay but the currency exchange rate being what it is, I have to stay away right now 🙁 Jealous of all you guys south of the border – there are so many good deals to be had. And you guys have ThredUp too!

  9. I enjoy wardrobe analytics! I did my own at the end of the year – unfortunately I don’t keep record of sale prices vs. regular prices but how often I wear the clothes. Having a spreadsheet is a helpful way to track what I’ve spent on things, when I’m wearing what and what I should get rid of. Already have a pile going for the annual swap!

    • It does totally help! For example, I totally don’t feel bad now for “splurging” on certain things (e.g. like paying full price for a black cardigan) because I can see how much wear I’ve gotten out of that item in the past.

  10. Wow, super impressive! I pride myself on getting good deals but have never thought to run numbers. I plan to work on a budget this year. I’m also a lover of thrifting and bargain-hunting, so a goal for me is to make time for it. On the other end, I hope to be mindful of my purchases so I don’t end up bringing home things that never actually work their way into an outfit. My closet cohesion leaves much to be desired and I’m still filling in holes left by much-loved and worn items in need of replacing. For example, great dark denim and a plain black fitted stretch cotton top. Another thing I need to do is actually cart off the few bags of nice unwanted clothing I’ve been meaning to consign for… oh, several months? Maybe an entire year? They’re living in the pantry and have been untouched since I moved them. I need to make an appointment and get them out the door. While I’m there, maybe some thrifting! Happy hunting in 2016!

    • I love playing with useless trivia and numbers, so this is something I enjoy but I also think it’s helpful for all kinds of purposes, as I mentioned in this post and some of my other comments. Give it a try! It doesn’t take a lot of time. It will help with getting better use out of your closet, identifying closet holes and more!

  11. My inner stat nerd is wild about this post and all of the facts and figures you shared. I never thought to track MSRP vs actual purchase price. The stats on the clothing in my closet rivals yours but I’ve got more shoes … over 80, many of which I shared in my recent 31 Day Footwear Challenge posts.

    • I like tracking MSRP because I take a weird delight in finding bargains, but it’s not necessarily a useful statistic otherwise. It does show how much clothes “depreciate”, even if you never take the tags off – they’re worse than cars for that. So I always shake my head when people talk about clothes as “investments”. The ROE would be miniscule or non-existent if people really sat down and worked out the numbers – and that’s assuming that you count the intangible “good first impression” as a benefit.

  12. Your totals on what you were able to buy second hand are absolutely inspiring!

    Now that I’m self-employed, my 2016 wardrobe challenge will be to find professional looking clothes that I actually like. Let me explain, when I worked in an office, basically, my “office clothes” were things that I would never wear in my home life. My challenge is to find things that I like wearing to work events/gigs and when I’m out and about.

  13. I <3 analytics 😀

    I have to echo the comment above in that I'd love to see a post on your shoe collection. I cringe and shake my head a little when I think about how many shoes I have and how many more pairs I would like to add to the collection. I appreciate knowing I'm not alone in my shoe love 😉