The rewards of culling and selling...

I think the rewards of wardrobe culling and selling on eBay are not apparent until one sits down to calculate the total dollar amount of what has been sold.  A dollar here and $20 there may not seem like much, but before you know it that new purchase which made you feel a little bit guilty has basically paid for itself with eBay proceeds!

Towards the end of last year the sale proceeds of 13 dresses, a pair of pants, a pair of boots and a belt *almost* covered my purchase of two gorgeous jackets... an IRO cropped boucle jacket and an Etoile Isabel Marant tweed blazer:

Isabel Marant on the left and IRO on the right - both gorgeous, but neither lined!

What would you rather... 16 items that you no longer wear for various reasons, hanging around in your wardrobe taking up space and causing you frustration each morning you go to get dressed, or a couple of items that you have been lusting after?

Also just out of interest I calculated that my most recent eBay sales (up until this last week) *almost* covered my entire Net-a-Porter order made earlier this month.  I say *almost* because eBay and PayPal fees are a killer.

It's high Summer here in Oz, but I'm already hanging out for Winter to wear my new Winter woolies! 

To the cull pile!

So now it seems I'm even culling pieces of clothing off my body!  I wore this:

skirt to work today (for the record by Bettina Liano - whose designs I seldom like but this one caught my eye).  Before I even got to work I was cursing the damned thing.  I even half considered turning back at one point and changing into something else, as I struggled with the skirt:
  • twisting around my body causing one pocket to be sitting on my butt and the other on my tummy;
  • bunching up on my thighs;
  • rising up my waist to the point that it was almost sitting underneath my boobs; and
  • buttons at the back unfastening.
The moment I got home I ripped it off and chucked it on the cull pile.  Dramatic, I know, but I no longer have any patience for anything which is not comfortable or/and which does not flatter.

Sadly I often experience this problem with pencil skirts.  My grandmother (a very good dressmaker) once explained to me that it is because the waistband of most average skirts is cut straight across and not curved at the back.  Now to find some pencil skirts that are the perfect cut for me... on my wish list (which I'm working on).

My wardrobe today after months of culling

So tomorrow I go back to work after three weeks of holidays *sigh*.  At least now though dressing may be somewhat easier as I can see clearly what's inside my wardrobe (this makes me somewhat more happy about having to get up everyday).

All my jackets, blouses and tops (not including the casual cotton ones) are arranged on the top hanging rail.  The bottom rail is devoted to my skirts, both work and casual.  I even had room to move my short coats from the hallway closet onto the bottom rail.  I hope that by doing this I will not get into the habit of wearing the same coat or jacket day in and day out - I really think that sometimes outwear makes or breaks a great outfit.

The long hanging rails are devoted to my dresses and trousers (pictured above and below).  I have separated my casual dresses from my work dresses with my work pants and trousers.  My work dresses include those that are a little more "out there" and that are only suitable to be worn to the office on Fridays.

Also I am happy to report that a couple of pairs of pants which were getting too tight - now fit again!  My next big feat will be to do up my Isabel Marant cropped pants (which I never got to wear before I woke up one day a size bigger - damn weight, it really does creep up on you) and my beloved Nudie High Kais in blue rinse denim which I miss wearing.  No cheese for me until then.

In case you have not been reading my blog since the beginning - this is what my wardrobe looked like at the beginning of the whole process:

It was a disorganised mess - no wonder I had "nothing to wear".

The most important thing that this process has helped me to do, is to figure out the gaps in my wardrobe and to identify those things that I clearly love/loved that need replacing and upgrading.  More on that in the coming weeks as I plan my wish lists and US shopping list.

On knowing what's you no matter what the trends

 "It's easy to feel like you've got nothing to wear, but it's also a signal of identity problems.  If you've got a well-developed sense of identity, you tend to know what's you no matter what the trends. Nothing I buy ever looks new, because I have my look down, and it's classic" - Anjelica Huston.

Quoted in article by Merle Ginsberg "I've got nothing to Wear. No, Really." Harper's Bazaar (US) September 2006.
Photograph by Bob Richardson, Image Source.

The Cull Diary - out with obscurity!

Another day, another cull and I can finally say that my clothing and shoe cull is complete for the time being.

There has been some wardrobe side swapping going on in this household in the last 24 hours - and whilst everything was out of the closet, I thought why not revisit the contents?  I'm glad I did because I was on culling fire!

This is what I managed to cull on this occasion:

More culled clothes!

Come Monday morning (when I go back to work *sigh*), 1 cardigan, 2 coats, 3 skirts, 5 jackets, 10 dresses and 11 tops and blouses that I DON'T wear, will not be getting in the way of me selecting those clothes that I DO want to wear, or hope that I can make work.  That's a further 32 pieces culled from my wardrobe!  This brings my cull tally since starting this blog to 192 items!

I have also archived a number of items (which are not included in the tally) and moved all my evening/party dresses into the wardrobe in the spare room.  I do not want these pieces that are seldom worn (in the case of party dresses) or those that can't be worn (in the case of those pieces that are slightly too small, but which I still love) obscuring those that pieces that can and should be worn.

Accessories - handbags, belts and "jewels" are next.

Additions from Net-a-Porter - My first purchases of 2012

My first purchases of the year arrived on Monday... and I am delighted with all my selections.

I systematically reduced the contents of my shopping cart from close to 20 items to just 4 items (yeah, I know I'm talking as it if it's some great feat).

NIXON watch, a DAY Birger et Mikkelsen top and a Chinti & Parker skirt

Isabel Marant Dickers in anthracite

The NIXON 42-20 Chrono stainless steel watch has been saved to my Net-a-Porter wishlist since the day it arrived.  I resisted temptation when it was reduced by 30% , but my will power crumbled when I saw that it was reduced to 70% off its original price.  I really love its chunkiness.  It will be a nice statement accessory.  The last time I got a new watch was for my 21st birthday (a long time ago) but I have been hanging out for a more casual watch for ages now. I've looked, but no watch has ever grabbed me (not including the unaffordable ones that do) until this one.  A gold toned watch is next on my list.

The beautifully beaded striped top by Day Birger et Mikkelsen just caught my eye.  I have a few events coming up and I think this will look great with my black Country Road jeggings (which I only wear with long tops and lucky this top is).  It's quite a heavy top and looks to be really made well.  My only other experience with this brand is a dress I once bought, which although well made was quite loose and sack-y.  Never fear though, my money was not wasted... the dress is currently doing the rounds as a maternity dress amongst one group of my girlfriends - already well used and enjoyed by two!  One day it will be my turn to wear it once more :)

The Chinti & Parker skirt is something that I NEED.  Apart from the Witchery maxi I mentioned in this post, dressing casually this Summer has been challenging for me - there's always jeans, but I've discovered they get hot.  I looked into buying some shorts a few weeks back, but given that at the best of times (i.e. when I was skinnier) shorts did not sit right on me, I gave up.  When I saw this skirt at a bargain price, I decided to give it a whirl.  I'm glad I did because it is very cute.  I sized up so that is less tube-y and mini like and more pencil skirt like.

Last but not least, the Isabel Marant Dickers in anthracite, bought because I love my taupe ones.  I am hoping that the anthracite colour will be easier to "corporatise" so to speak as the faded black will not stand out so much as the lighter boot, which lends itself to more causal outfits (correct me if I am wrong... I am all ears).  In my mind I can see myself wearing these boots with black, grey and navy blue pants and with black opaques with some of my work dresses.  Here's hoping my vision holds true.
Images source: Net-a-Porter

I would now really love to exercise some self control and and refrain from serious shopping* until I arrive in New York City (in less than 2 months now!).  I wonder if I can do that?

* with the exception of using up a couple of vouchers which are due to expire in the coming weeks, but my rule with respect to using these vouchers is to limit my spend to around the value of the vouchers**.

** I seem to have a lot of these fine print disclaimers.  Must stop doing this!

My 2012 shopping philosophy

Sorting out my drawers, overflowing with tops, reminded me of when I was in high school, and of what one particular friend of mine used to do...

Every second Thursday my friend would receive $20.00 pocket money and on that same day after school she would drag me to the shopping mall for 'late night shopping' to help her buy yet another bad quality long sleeve top.  I asked her on one occasion why she didn't save her money to instead buy something of better quality or even something a little more expensive, like a jacket or something? She just shrugged and said she wanted to enjoy buying something NOW.

Judging from this memory, it seems that I was a smart lass back in the day to even suggest such a thing and although I have never spent my entire fortnightly paycheck on cheap thrills, something clearly went astray as 6 months ago I was faced with a wardrobe full of clothes but nothing to wear.

Surely but slowly I am now culling my way through all my superfluous 'stuff' and figuring out what works and what doesn't.  I am finding though that a lot doesn't work anymore, but this being partly due to the fact that I am at a different point of my life now. Saturday nights now involve snuggling up to my boyfriend and cats to watch a movie or one of our favourite macabre TV shows, or dinner and wine with friends.  Neither occasion calls for a thigh length tuxedo dress.

This year in building my ideal wardrobe, I have decided to take a leaf out of my 16 year old self's book, and withstand purchasing filler items and instead apply my money towards staples and beautiful pieces, or at least things I need or KNOW will work for me.

What's in the box?

My shopping philosophy will be to:
  • predominantly shop from a defined wish list of things I need and want (something I've never done);
  • think through the long term value of each item before opening my wallet to purchase;
  • if possible place an item on hold for a night or two to have a think about said item or to only shop in stores which allow (unworn) merchandise to be returned (and when I say returned, I mean refunded - non of this credit note nonsense);
  • consider an item's cohesiveness with respect to the rest of my wardrobe before buying it - if it doesn't go - don't buy it; and
  • do my best not to fall into the but-it's-only-x-amount-of-dollars trap - in the course of a month or two but-it's-only-x-amount-of-dollars adds up to hundreds of dollars.
So what's in the box? In the box are my first purchases for the New Year.  All will be revealed soon.

The Cull Diary - Chest of Drawers and Tallboy

I am starting to feel like the cull will never end...

On Saturday afternoon we had a BBQ to attend and on Sunday afternoon I had to go to a baby shower - both outings resulted in about three outfit changes each.  I am finding it extremely difficult to dress for very casual situations when the heat and humidity creeps up, plus I can't find anything in a hurry - ever.  Things really need their own place around here...

As I frantically searched for my white over-sized tee (which seemed ideal for the weather), out of sheer frustration I ended up dumping the ENTIRE contents of my tallboy and chest of draws on the bed in the spare bedroom (I found the top by the way).

This is what faced me on Monday morning:

BEFORE the cull, plus one of my kitties :)

On Monday afternoon and evening I roughly sorted the clothes into 4 piles:

Piles during the culling process

On Tuesday morning, afternoon and evening, in between doing other (more important) tasks around the house, I carefully sorted each pile and started the additional "rubbish pile" (which I have not photographed).

In the end this is the result of my cull:

The results of my cull

I'm surprised that my "keep pile" is quite large still, but I'm keeping in mind that this pile comprises all of my Summer and Winter knits, tops and tanks etc and that there are a many items in this pile that are well loved and on the cusp of needing replacement soon anyway.  Also on this pile is my entire collection of layering tops and seamless tanks and singlets, which I technically class to be underwear.

I also moved the majority of my white tanks (as they were looking very tired) to the "pyjama pile" and my two green hoodies (which I *hate* by the way, but have nothing else to wear for the moment) to the "active wear pile" (which I did not photograph). 

Here are the cull stats from this round of culling:

Items to be donated to charity - 22
Items to be sold - 24
Items thrown out - 4

Total items culled today - 50!

Cull tally since starting this blog: 160 items!!!  
(Including the two pairs of jeans I culled the other day.) 

The perfect jeans

I love almost everything there is to love about a good pair of jeans.

What I don't like is that I can't wear my jeans to work (with the exception of casual Fridays once a month).

Mysteriously I can find jeans that I end up loving to death, but trousers and pants just languish around in my wardrobe unworn... I want to find pants that fit like jeans.

My Jeans from top to bottom - Ksubi, Nudie, Country Road and Country Road.

This morning I undertook a mini cull and the jeans pictured above are the ones that are staying for now.

I am looking to upgrade both Country Road pairs as they are not PERFECT (but comfy nonetheless).

Culled from my wardrobe were a pair of Witchery black skinnies (loved to death) and a pair of Morrissey beige straight leg jeans (which I planned to wear cuffed, but they are too low-rise).

Waiting in the wings for when I am a size skinnier are two pairs of the most perfect Paper Denim & Cloth jeans and a pair of Nudie jeans like my black in a blue rinse.

What I wore to a picnic dinner by the beach

We have now lived beach side for close to 11 months, but yesterday was the first time that we grabbed the picnic rug and ate dinner overlooking the water. What's wrong with us!?!

Sheer Silk Top - Kain
Seamless Tank - Country Road (layered underneath Kain top)
Jeans - Ksubi (worn cuffed)
Sunglasses - Michael Kors
Bag - SABA
Animal Print Loafers - Witchery

The cull diary - the BIG shoe cull (Part 2 - the results)

It took the whole day, with a bike ride and cooking dinner in between to break things up a little, but I got there in the end and finished my shoe cull!

Here is a picture of the CULLED shoes:
The culled shoes - 27 pairs!

The reasons for culling each pair of shoes varies... too small, too big, too unstable, worn out or out of style - are the common reasons, but one pair of shoes I culled because I fell down the stairs in them. As a result I'm a little hesitant when I wear them now - I probably should just get rid of them.

Here is what my shoe collection looks like after the big shoe cull:

All my shoes - AFTER shot
Having undertaken this exercise I am considering not keeping my designer shoes in their original boxes.  I think that there is more potential that the shoes will be worn more often if they are out in the open.

Here are the close up shots of each of the bookcases:

Post-cull contents of bookcase No. 1 - shoe count: 8 pairs

Post-cull contents of bookcase No. 2 - shoe count: 17 pairs

Post cull contents of bookcase No. 3 - shoe count: 19 pairs
I have manged to whittle down my shoes from 71 pairs down to 44 pairs, noting that there is a pair on their way to me from Net-a-Porter that I purchased last night - which will take my shoe tally to 45 pairs.

ETA: plus my Country Road biker boots... which are on their last legs, which will take my shoe tally to 46 pairs.

The Twilight Zone
Potential future cull candidates - colour coded!
There are a number of pairs which survived this particular cull... but they are future cull candidates - either not worn often enough or needing replacement soon.

RED - too high (I'm eager to try Insolia Inserts to see whether they will make these shoes more wearable).
BLUE - whether these shoes stay or go depends on how often I wear them over the coming months.  The brown and grey boots were purchased for a good price at the end of last Winter - they remain untested! 
YELLOW - slightly too small. Most probably the brown wedges I will give to my Mum when I find a suitable replacement. My silver MJ Maddies I will keep because I like looking at them and they are my first ever designer shoe purchase.
GREEN - these shoes are well worn and most likely to be replaced in the coming year... hopefully if I am lucky I will find some nice pairs in the US!

Cull tally since starting this blog: 108 items!

The cull diary - the BIG shoe cull and I ask the question "just how many pairs of shoes does one woman need"? (Part 1)

Just how many pairs of shoes does one woman need?

According to some online resources, a woman could get by with as little as three pairs, but there are a vast array of sites which are more generous in their offerings listing the 5 or even 10 pairs of shoes every woman needs or must own.  The contents of some of these lists however is a little dubious, with one list taking up 2 out of the 5 precious spots with one pair of sneakers and one pair of hiking boots!  The two could be combined if you ask me...  Another site which lists 10 pairs every woman must own includes one pair of black flats and one pair of ballet flats - again I think the two can be combined, leaving a spot free for a different style for greater variety.

If it were up to me to to come up with the ultimate list of shoes each and every woman must own it would look like this (be prepared to die of boredom):
  1. Sneakers
  2. Ballet flats
  3. Sandals
  4. Ankle boots
  5. Tall boots
  6. Dress/work shoes
  7. Evening shoes
Note that I have not specified heel types or colours, as I think that these specifications would depend on the woman's height and also on the contents of the woman's closet.  

So what's in my current collection I hear you ask?

This (not including my workout sneakers, flip flops and house slippers):

All my shoes - the BEFORE shot

Yes I know, I own a lot of shoes... but I wasn't born yesterday! This is a result of many years of shoe shopping and recycling (selling my shoes on eBay only to buy new shoes). Many of the shoes have not been worn in a long time and others are really on their last legs - hence a big shoe cull beckons.

Here are some close up shots of each one my IKEA Billy bookcases (in case you were wondering what I store my shoes in). Note that all my designer shoes are ordinarily stored in their original boxes and shoe bags and the long boots live in the hallway closet, but for the purpose of this exercise I have displayed them in the one spot out of their boxes.

Contents of IKEA Billy bookcase No. 1 - shoe count: 19 pairs

Contents of IKEA Billy bookcase No.2 - shoe count: 24 pairs

Contents of IKEA Billy bookcase No.3 - shoe count: 24 pairs
I have not photographed 3 pairs that have been residing in a green bag since we moved into our place (clearly the first cull candidates), which means that the grand total of shoes that I own before the cull is 70 pairs... a nice even number... hmmm.

Stay tuned for the results of my shoe cull and the AFTER shots.

ETA: make that 71 pairs... I found a pair hiding under the bed.
ETA: make that 72 pairs... I forgot about my Country Road biker boots which were hiding in my boyfriend's side of the closet.