Can she do it? Can she really stop shopping?

Can she do it? Can she really stop shopping?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Half Way Wrap Up: I've Made it 6 Months!

Half way baby! I've made it through six months of my no retail shopping challenge and I'm going strong.  I had a blip in May when I went a little over the single second hand trip budget, but I picked myself up, brushed the dust off, and kept going.  


The hardest part so far has been holding out on shoes.  I have very hard to fit feet and I'm used to buying pretty much any pair of shoes that fit.  For at least the entire year before this challenge I had been looking for a pair of round toe nude pumps.  I never managed to find a pair that fit my ski feet well and I still wish I had a pair.  They would be a good complement to the rest of my work wardrobe.

Shoes are also difficult because not all of them are workhorse items, but all of them take a beating.  I am an angry walker and as such I wear out the heel taps on my pumps and other heels very quickly.  I always get them fixed when this happens, but there is only so much wear and tear a pair of shoes can take before they just give out.  

I think if I were to lengthen this project in some way I would allow more shoe purchases.  Not unlimited, but I would somehow figure some shoes purchases in there. Though, I will say the nice thing about the challenge is that when a pair of shoes does wear out, like my black boots, I know that I can splurge on a quality pair because I haven't been blowing my money on cheap junk that fills my closet and may or may not be worn much. 


I've been thinking about this after seeing a cute pair of bright blue capris on sale in my Target circular for $18 the very same week I dyed my pants aqua.  I spent $14 dying the pants and a good chunk of my time.  I could have saved the time and effort and bought them for $4 more if not for the challenge.  

Now it seems like it would have been an even better decision to purchase the Target pants since my aqua capris only survived one wearing.  I got something on them while cooking and when I washed them the spots actually got worse.  On the right knee you can see what looks like a little blue archipelago. 

Closer up you can see that it's darker than the dye.  On the big spot I had used a stain stick and that spot looks the worst!  There's also another similar spot on the right hem. 

I think trying to remove the spots any more than I have will just cause the dye to fade and spots to stay.  This is an example of DIY being really good, but not infallible.  Industrial dye techniques and dyes are just better than what you can get at home.  I think I'm going to have to call it a day on these, I don't care to dye them black as I have two pairs of black capris already.  

And we all thought the neon webbing D-Ring belt project was mega cheap at $6, but sometimes even cheap DIY can't beat fast fashion.  According to J's Everyday Fashion she bought a fake leather pink neon belt for $2 at Forever 21.  Of course I can't link you to the belt because fast fashion is too fast and it's long gone online.  But I could have saved $4 and gotten the buckle look I wanted. 

However, most of the time not shopping retail saves me oodles of money, but sometimes shopping retail can save me some time and even rarer still, some money.  


I love to make things.  It makes me happy to make things.  Sometimes I have to go back and reread the inspiration behind this year long challenge so I can keep my eyes on the prize and not make things just to chase trends.  I want to keep making things I really like for myself, some of those items might be trendy, but I don't want to just use my DIY skills to attempt to replicate that which I cannot go out and buy.

I have felt a little bit like this blog is morphing into one of those "how to live a good life on less" blogs.  I like those blogs, I read some of them, but this blog is not one of those.  I plan to keep making things and sharing them with you, but I also plan to put a lot of thought into what I am making and why I am making it.

I just pinned a great maxi skirt pattern on Pinterest and I am thinking about making it in a bright coral, but is that just uber trendy or is that something I really want to make for me?  I'm not entirely sure.  This is going to take some thinking and reorienting over time.

But this whole no shopping challenge has been the catalyst for getting me back into sewing, which is fantastic.  I missed it so much, but I had also lapsed so much that I felt like I had a lot to get over to get back into it (a high energy of activation, to complete the science analogy).  I didn't want to make the same hasty mistakes I used to make over again, what if I had forgot techniques, what if I didn't make things as well as I had made them before?  Some of these issues kept me from sewing even longer.  I credit the challenge a lot, but also the proliferation of sewing and upcycling blogs.  Maybe I won't make a garment that is couture finished, but maybe I'll make something creative and get out of it not only the finished piece, but also the satisfaction of making something.  That satisfaction is what I had missed and what I instantly felt the minute I pinned together the bodice pieces of my peplum top, my first from scratch project in a long time. 


This is a difficult question to answer.  In a lot of way, yes, I feel like not spending time, mental energy, and physical energy shopping has allowed me to fit other things into life, things that are more satisfying.  However, I feel like I am still tuned into trends through Pinterest and just being out there seeing street fashion and that thrift shopping is allowing to feed the beast that is wanting more things.

I've thought a few times about cutting out the thrift shopping all together.  I think it is detrimental in that it allows me to go through all the shopping motions- mentally bookmarking what I want, hunting for it, trying things on, getting excited about things, and coming home with new purchases.   However, thrifting also allows me to get materials for my DIY projects and to keep from the madness that is going cold turkey.  Thrifting also takes unwanted goods and finds them a new home, keeping less waste from ending up in landfills. Though it also seems that our love of fast fashion is overwhelming thrift stores and that they have a ton of unsold merchandise.  But I am still for giving items a new home before turning them all into car seat stuffing or insulation. 

Check out my spending totals so far and see my June second hand purchases after the jump. 



I picked up three items at Frugalista, as mentioned in Monday's post.  I got a pair of white skinny jeans that fit like whoa.  These were $17.  I also got a navy knit J Crew dress that was $13. 

Because it's so dark here is the detail at the neckline and bust.  I live for these dresses in the summer, just a nice easy to wear cotton jersey.  It's also easy to pack as it doesn't really wrinkle. 

I talked a little bit in Monday's post about wanting to use some of my second hand purchases as an opportunity to try to add different things to my wardrobe.  Skinny jeans and knit dresses are not different things for me.  But this baby doll cotton gauze J Crew blouse, which was $9, is totally different for me.  For tops I am all about the knits.  They just work better for my large shoulders, normal waist, and super long arms. 

I bought these padded animal print hangers at the thrift store years ago, five for a dollar!

Here is the adorable circular eyelet close up.  After wearing this beauty the other day I have to wonder why this is my first time buying a bohemian, gauzy tank top.  This thing is like wearing an AC unit.  The cotton is so light and it's so blousy that it's just a supremely cool top.  It is a different enough shape that I still have to figure out how to really wear it, but so far I am smitten and happy I took a chance on something new for me.  And a $9 chance at that.

So my total at Frugalista was $39, which is right up against my ceiling.  The items there are both consignment and donation, so they do have higher quality items, hence the higher prices.  I am happy to go back even with the higher prices because I know they have a large selection and that there are quality items in there.  I only made one second hand trip this month, I am trying to slow down a little and honestly there is nothing I really need.  I am contemplating dying the white jeans mint, that was the real desire to go to a second shop this month, but after the aqua pants downfall I am just not sure. 


Dear readers, I have a secret to share with you.  I don't think it will come as a surprise, since I don't live in Deleware, but when I report to you what I spent on items at the second hand store I don't include the tax.  I don't consider this to be all evasive.  When I am in the store going through my items and budgeting I am considering the cost of the clothes only, any tax that goes over my allowance is, in fact, money out of my pocket, but not enough to concern me if it puts me over the $40 limit. Also, the tax is not the cost of the clothes, it is the cost of purchasing the clothes.

Without further ado here is the total amount of money I have spent on second hand items, minus tax (assuming the DC tax rate of 6% because even though I spend all of my working days in Maryland I have no idea what the tax is and items were purchased in both jurisdictions), though this is inclusive of an item or two of housewares I accidentally didn't breakout from the thrift store purchases. 
Total through 6 months= $152.22

I have to admit this isn't something I had been tracking as I went.  I compiled this number for this post specifically.  And although this is not far off from what I would have spent in a single month on clothing last year, (on the low end of that because really, who am I kidding?) I am kind of surprised by it.  It's not a small number.  But then, when I break that down to an average per month cost I am actually kind of impressed with myself. 

Rate of second hand spending per month= $25.37

Seriously, $25 per month on clothing isn't bad at all.  It's well below the possible $80/month I had initially budgeted to spend on second hand clothing.  I don't intend to up my second hand spending though, for reasons mentioned above.  I did not include craft costs because in the rules I gave myself leeway with that and this blog isn't about keeping hobby spending down.  Though really I haven't spent all that much on craft supplies this year.


Six months completed almost within the rules.
Six successful second hand trips, five within the $40 spending limit (One went over by $5 but the month was under $80). 
Two successful public swaps, one private.
Workhorse items- bought new metallic flip flops with a gift card, boot replacement postponed 'til fall.  

It's been a good six months so far and I am enjoying the challenge and the time and sanity and money it has returned to my life.  How do you think I'm doing so far?  Is anyone thinking about joining me for the last six months?  Or do you have suggestions on some of the many topics listed above?  Let me know, I would love to hear from you, especially now at this half way point. 


  1. Lightweight woven tops are definitely akin to air conditioning if you're used to wearing knits in the summer. I used to feel boxy if I didn't have my waist totally defined all the time, but once I realized how nice the light breezy top feels I totally didn't care. =)

    You're doing really great!

    1. I don't know how I got into the knits only camp to begin with, but I'm starting to see the light on the other side. I'm moving toward the middle ground.

      Thanks Em! I'm trying pretty hard, though honestly, it's not that bad.