Rudey's Room

Lessons from My Year-Long Shopping Ban



I faced the dresses, skirts, and shirts hanging in my closet and did not feel fresh.

I don’t want to wear that dress – again!

Only two more weeks, I reassured myself as I pulled a flowered-dress off the hanger and tossed on my favorite tan cardigan that had multiple tiny holes in the arm pits.

You got this. 

The end was near and pride to finish was what kept me slugging through to the end.

I stuck it out.

In bold are my hopes from my original piece on the shopping ban and following the colon is what happened.

  • Focus on Needs Versus Wants: Asking Do I really need this? Do I really want this? works. I’m fine with a want if it completes a look, is unique, or for a special occasion. If I an afford it, why not? I keep a running to-buy list in the notes of my iPhone. I jot down items as I realize I need them or they wear out. My to-buy list helps me to know what I really want/need and reminds me to get what I really want, even if it means waiting.
  • Hone in Your Style: I have a look unique to me. It doesn’t have a set name, like Bohemian, but my eye easily spots a look that sings me. I no longer fear becoming a walking what not to wear, so I’ll keep collecting signature pieces that fit my look.  
  • Find Your Inner French Girl: Asking myself do you love it? was big. This attitude may not stop me from throwing the just okay shirt, the good enough jeans into my cart, but it will stop from adding them to my wardrobe. Last week, I bought a pair of emerald green eyelet shorts at Target for $8.80 on sale and a versatile summer dress (using the Cartwheel app, I saved 20 percent). I brought them home to try on and wasn’t in love – they looked like my style, but once on didn’t fit right. Before I may have tried to work with it – I mean, $8.80 is a steal – but this time I returned them. Yes, it’s less efficient, but in the end it’s more because you’ll find signature pieces that stick.
  • Follow the Top 10 Rule: Does that shirt add a pop to your step? Do you walk a little taller, smile a little brighter when you’re wearing that dress?  If so, you landed on a keeper. I’m putting together a list for the fall – by shopping my closet first and taking inventory for needs/wants. I’ll check back on this once I plan out my fall shopping list.
  • Buy Better: I’ll continue to buy my tanks and t’s at Target. I’m forever a T.J. girl, which I do think is perfect for buying better at a discounted price. I’ll throw down a few extra bones if it feels like a classic item I’ll keep through a few seasons or years. For trendy pieces, I’ll hit up Forever 21 and H&M. I am a girl looking for a deal and there’s no denying that.
  • Have an In and Out Policy: I plan to use this policy seasonly and if I buy something new, I may get rid of something old. It’s less of a must and more of a consideration to donate or throw away an item. An in and out policy forces me to look at every piece of clothing and make decisions about what I love and what can be replaced. It’s with this policy that I also love my maybes box. It’s here that I house the clothes I’m just not sure I am ready to bid adieu. If I miss the Hawaiian print tunic, I can pull it out of the maybes box and try it again. If not, then at the end of the season, I’ll donate or throw it away. I just pillaged through this box and am donating most of the items I stored this year.

The big question: Did I buy anything?


I didn’t buy much in the course of a school year, but here’s what I did buy:

  • A bracelet in Greece – a silver meander charm with an evil eye. It was $12 and a souvenir, so I called it worth it. (Although, get this. I lost it on vacation in Florida in April).
  • A pair of grey jeans and striped t-short (40 percent off) at the Gap. I used a gift card I received from a student, so it cost me nothing.
  • Three pair of tights at Kohl’s (with Kohl’s cash and a 30 percent discount). Nude nylons, black tights and a polka dots replaced three pairs with holes in the them.
  • Foundation makeup. I’m pushing 40, so I need a few swoops of creme under my eyes. Again I used Kohl’s cash.
  • My mascara ran dry. I stopped by Ulta and there was a makeup demo by Two Faced, so I got a free makeover. I bought this mascara and this eyeshadow palette (I was also out of my shadows). I ended up not liking the mascara and bought another tube of my favorite – this old school original. The better-than-sex one kept dropping little black dots under my eyes all day and I looked like a raccoon.
  • My hair product ran out, so I replenished this one.
  • Sunglasses. I misplaced two pair this year and being blue-eyed, I needed a pair. I bought fake Ray Bans with my Target Red Card. This girl loses too many to spend more than $16.99. And those broke on vacation. But no fear, I dabbed a little super glue on the corner and voila.
  • I returned a sweater my husband bought me for Christmas from Anthro and bought a pair of peep-toed white pumps for $12 at DSW, black ankle-booties to replace my aging pair, and this backpack, which I LOVE. It’s functional, stylish, and fits everything.

I bought a few things – mostly needs – and if it wasn’t, I was simply working le Système D.

Would I do it again?

Not for a year. Maybe for a season or go on a two-month diet. I plan, however, to follow the above guidelines for shopping. The ban pushed me to take a hard look at my needs versus wants, my shopping habits, my likes, and take inventory of the gaps in my wardrobe.



(That’s me in 3rd grade. I was in a Madonna phase.)


2 Responses to “Lessons from My Year-Long Shopping Ban”

  1. brynnharrington

    I love the “do I LOVE it?” test. I have way too many things in my closet that I like, but don’t love. Going to try to put this rule into effect in my own life. Once I can stop wearing pregnancy tents, that is. 🙂


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