My 'Things to buy in 2017' list

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Let's start this post with, when did it become May?! (Am I alone in sometimes wanting to press the "freeze" button on life, momentarily step off the hurtling train of time, and spend an entire day with my favorite people on Earth eating waffles, wandering art museums, laughing at our own jokes, sipping fine wines, and not thinking about Retinoids and project plans? Sorry, I digress.)

Anyway, now 5 months into my "No New Things for a Year" challenge, I'd like to share what's on my want list for 2017 along with some key learnings:

1. The "Want List" hasn't grown

When I started this challenge in January, several of my friends asked for my list of the top things I wanted to invest in after the challenge was over. The above image that I so dutifully created with my dubious PhotoShop skills summarizes what was on that list back in January (and the links to these items are below if you're curious). The flats are something I've wanted to invest in for more than a year, and finally found a good consignment deal on them so they're checked off this list!

If you have feedback on this list, feel free to comment. (My friend Ashley says cut the bag and go with a more original pick. Still pondering that...)

2. The loopholes are dangerous

And I need to press re-set. Because, quite frankly, slowing the flow of new was the original intent but it's starting to feel like an easy addiction-transfer to "used" and I've taken a couple liberties with my loopholes that will be stopped going forward. But if I find that Dolce dress used on eBay, no promises people.

3. Resale value is tiny for almost everything

Resurrecting my eBay selling habit has reminded me how much we pay in retail markups, as well as what truly holds value. Classic designer pieces hold some value (~25% return on original price paid). Fast fashion - Banana Republic, Zara, and the like - don't. It's starting to make me think that not only do we need to think long and hard about value before spending, but also whether I will ever shop at a traditional "fast fashion" retailer again.

4. Anyone can be a luxury shopper 

Granted, there are some socioeconomic statuses where disposable income does not exist. This argument applies to anyone who currently participates in the consumer marketplace. Two of the designer pieces currently on rotation in my spring wardrobe (a vintage patent leather Gucci bag and a pair of Chanel ballet flats) were purchased used, for a tiny fraction of the price of new and the exact price of similar items at "fast fashion" retailers ($40 for the bag, $200 for the shoes). Added bonus is that they're way better quality, and timeless pieces that I'll use for years. The primary obstacle to shifting shopping behavior to this model is finding a way to get past the need to have it now, versus waiting for the right piece to pop up in the hunt.

5. Limitations have improved my personal style

This is obviously a very subjective statement based on how I feel about my own personal style, but this challenge has given me a way to structure my thinking about how to assess my wardrobe, build an outfit, and be objective about what I really love about a piece. It's helped my creativity flow, made me more adventuresome, and has also helped me get past some of my fears such as wearing vintage '90s turquoise silk Ann Taylor pants out in public.

Some of you have joined this challenge over the past several months, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this list and anything else you've taken away from it!
6 comments on "My 'Things to buy in 2017' list"
  1. Hi Coco!
    I follow you on IG and I love your blog too...I have stopped buying fast fashion for a few months now and I try to invest in better quality pieces. Last week I tried on a pair of GAP jeans and although they were really cute with their trendy frill at the bottom I have put them back on the rack. When I am in those fast fashion stores, the images of the documentary True Cost always come to my mind.
    I think that patience, as you said, is key. In April I got a pair of blue pants, a linen striped shirt (both from Maison Scotch which is a brand I REALLY love) and a good pair of pointed flats. The few pieces I get each month are like a treasure to me and I love them more than buying 100 pieces from Zara that I used to wear one time and then throw away or give them to my sister. By the way, I love your vintage '90s turquoise silk Ann Taylor pants.....SO CHIC!

    1. Hi Valeria! Thank you so much for your comment - so happy to hear that you're enjoying the blog and on the No New Things Challenge too. Just looked up Maison Scotch, their pieces are amazing!!!! So much better than a pair of made-in-Bangladesh Gap fringed jeans. You are so right about considering how one more expensive piece can take the role of hundreds of things that we buy and don't really use. When I get through this challenge, shoes will be investment pieces only for me - they make or break an outfit!

      And thank you on the pants - they were happy to finally come out of the back of the closet!! Have a great rest of the week :-)

  2. Hi, Colleen!

    My experiences are not that different from yours. While I did not have a "want" list going into this, I was looking forward to buying something "special" when the challenge was over. Well, almost five months in and I don't even seem to have an idea what that special item should be. I thought perhaps a great designer bag would be nice, but I find that my desire to buy is not as strong as it used to be. Where once I knew with certainty that I'll own a Chanel bag one day, I'm no longer so sure and I've actually started to question whether I NEED it in my life at all. This is major for me! I also don't want to turn any future purchase into a "reward" for what was a conscious decision to refrain from buying because after all, my personal reason for entering this challenge has been the need to curb my spending habits and buy less. If I do buy anything designer in the future it will most probably be used, which - as you've shown - can be done so well.

    The green silk pants are fabulous and fit you like a glove. If anything, you need to wear them more often!

    1. Hi, Ivanka! Thank you as always for reading and providing your thoughts. You are so right about the reward component of challenging yourself to buy less - future purchases should be conscious, thoughtful decisions that fill a void in our wardrobes, not a reward piece. One thing I've also been considering is WHY I want certain pieces, even when my need to buy has diminished. I keep going back to the question of "if I passed this along to my future daughter or granddaughter, would it be a treasure that they would love too?" and thinking that if it isn't a clear yes, it may not be a true investment buy. (For the record, I think a Chanel bag is a clear "yes" to that question... and could probably find a good consignment deal on a unique one, just sayin')

      Thank you on the pants! They were a lucky find from my favorite DC vintage shop from ages ago and I've never been able to bear giving them up!

  3. Hi Colleen!
    Sorry I have missed you on your blog for a while, I hope you are doing well :-)

    I love the green pants on you, fits so well, they are ageless.

    I must admit, I did not really participate the "no buying new things" practice, I love new clothes haha...but, I always think about it, and ask harder every time I buy something: do I really want it? And I try to have more creative ways to wear my older clothes.And I have been doing more thrifting and have found some really nice(both quality and price)pieces. I don't really have a list of things that I really want to get, in terms of designer pieces, personally I am not really into it,but I do love good quality bags and shoes. And honestly I feel I actually have alot of everything.

    My goal is simply to shop less and less. Perhaps one day I will be able to come here and tell you, I have not bought anything this whole month :)

    Always looking forward to your ideas, thoughts, keep them coming!


    1. Echo! Thank you so much for your thoughts - I missed getting your comments! Hope you had a wonderful vacation. You are so right about the need to think long and hard before buying, and to have a simple goal to buy less. Love hearing that, and I definitely think everyone has to land on what will work best for them.

      You thoughts on the designer pieces got me thinking about why I really want them, and how they fit into this challenge beyond being the "carrots" motivating me for January 2017! Thinking I need to do some research on how a designer or retailer manufactures their pieces and make that part of the standard, along with tenure in my wardrobe and quality, timelessness, etc.

      Anyway, thank you for reading and have a great week!