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.