Low Buy: My Rules and How I’ve Done So Far

My only purchase this year: a J.Crew sweater from Poshmark

I don’t know exactly what day in January I officially committed to doing the “Low Buy Challenge” but here we are, one week into February and I feel like I’ve done well so far.

In my last post I talked about why I was doing it, who inspired me, and what clothes I currently have in my Fall/Winter closet. (Spring/Summer items are packed away.) I think the next step is to discuss the rules I’ve created around when and if I add something.

  1. Wait. That’s right. Try it on in store or look at it on line, but don’t buy it today. Pin it on my Pinterest “Wish List” board. If I still really like it in a week or a month, I can get it.
  2. Ask myself if I need it (will it fill a hole in my wardrobe/I don’t already have something similar), Is it truly my style, will it get a lot of wear. Is it on my list?
  3. Try to buy second hand or get it from a friend.
  4. Shop sustainable brands. Consider spending a little bit more to support more responsible manufacturers, and invest in a quality item that will last longer.
  5. Don’t shop to avoid uncomfortable feelings or boredom. Find an alternative outlet.

Setting this goal for myself has been surprisingly freeing. I thought it would be harder. Some of the things I’ve done have made it easier. For one, at the beginning of the year I did massive email clean out. I unsubscribed from all unnecessary emails, especially clothing stores. I threw away coupons and sales flyers and any other enticement to buy stuff when I don’t need stuff! Another thing that helped is resisting the urge to get rid of a ton clothing I don’t wear. I know now that this can create a vacuum that makes me want to run out and get new stuff. If I think I should get rid of it, I put it away in my off season bins. If I still feel the same in the Spring, I’ll donate it. The third thing I did was spend less time looking at fashion blogs and social media in general. If I read posts, it’s from people who encourage slow fashion. This growing online community is like a support group and it really helps! Check out #2020wehaveplenty and #useless_lowbuy2020

The longer I go without buying clothes the more I feel like I don’t need to. I like the clothes I have. I don’t need new ones. Besides, I like knowing I have a stash of allowance money that keeps getting bigger. The more I have, the less I want to spend it.

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Low Buy Challenge

a new challenge
I’ve decided to make an effort to buy as few clothing items as possible this year. These last two years I did “A year of Shopping Responsibly” and then “New Wardrobe Additions” posts to help me be more accountable about what I purchase and to motivate me to be more selective about what I buy. It was a good exercise, and it really revealed that I shop too much. I recently watched the documentary, “The True Cost” and had to face some ugly truths. And how I was contributing to a big problem. Overconsumption is causing serious damage to the planet and the people who make our clothes. There are a lot of reasons to participate in “slow fashion” and it may seem like a real kill joy at first, but just like any form of minimalism, you get to decide how to do it and how much feels right for you. Any amount of change helps!

my inspiration 
My biggest motivator has been Signe from uselesswardrobe.dk. She introduced her “low buy” concept at the beginning of the year and I decided to jump on board. I’ve been following a lot of bloggers over the years who promote minimalism and capsule wardrobes—which I was attracted to because their beautiful simplicity—but am now embracing due to their social consciousness. Recently, I found myself following the Instagram stories of Jaana, from thismomsgonnasnap.com , on shopping addiction. I love that she had the guts to share her journey, and to call it what it is. There are so many others and I encourage you to check them out.

step one
I decided that the best place to start was to appreciate what I have. Above you’ll see a video of every item currently in my closet. Why did I try on all my clothes and take mirror selfies of them? Because I saw Signe do it and I wanted a record of everything I currently have. I knew it would really show me that I don’t need any more clothes. And, when and if I look for a new item, I won’t buy something I already have and I won’t buy things that don’t fit my style or my lifestyle. Signe also inspired me recently to try packing up all my off season clothing so what you see there is only Fall/Winter. And keep in mind, I’ve been through countless decluttering sessions including The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up and The Curated Closet. I regularly inventory my clothes and only have what I truly love and wear. I now know that I have, available to me, the following clothing:

SHOES – 19

That’s a lot! (God, that really is an enormous amount of items.) And it doesn’t include off-season clothes and it doesn’t include what I’ve donated. I’ve spent the last 10 or so years trying to ‘build the perfect wardrobe’ LOL. And now, and at my mature-ish age, I’ve amassed a collection. I’m fortunate that my size has stayed fairly consistent and that I have a certain allowance for clothes. I try to take good care of my garments. Going through the video I can see some things that I could let go of. I’m going to see what I wear as I go forward.

Well, thanks for indulging me in this exercise. I do it only to convince myself: I have enough. I am enough. I’m looking forward to exploring this subject in further depth. Topics like: sustainable brands, buying second hand, putting outfits together with what I have, avoiding impulsive purchases, shopping from a list, etc. I hope you’ll join me!

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New Wardrobe Additions: December

Tissue Turtleneck: J.Crew | Jeans: Lucky Mid Rise Ava Super Skinny Jean | Clogs: Troentorp Da Vinci in Dark Blue


I’m wrapping up my series on new clothing purchases with the last month in 2019. I’ll be creating some new content for 2020 — things like responsible consumption, second hand shopping and styling old clothes in new ways. Here’s what I added in December:


Madewell beanie — $22
I am in love with this hat. It’s so soft, and of course I totally have a thing for dark forrest-y blue-greens. It’s cozy and warm. If you’re looking for the warmest hat, I recommend this  wind-resistant fleece-lined one from LL Bean

Lucky Brand Jeans black skinnies — $60
These were sort of an impulse-y buy. One day I realized I didn’t have a pair of black skinny jeans and I needed some. I went over to Banana Republic, and then Lucky, and found the perfect pair. You know you’ve made a good choice when you wear them immediately and then for like 4 days in a row.

#cloglife #lowbuy2020

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Most Popular Outfit Searches

Google released its “2019 Year in Search” covered in the CNN article here which listed the most Googled outfit related searches. So, what are they, and do I care?

Egirl/Eboy is basically 80s punk with a little 90s grunge mixed in. How cute are these kids with their tartan, ripped jeans, fishnets, studded belts, chains and heavy eyeliner? I want to make them a mix tape with the Cure, Minor Threat, Siouxsie & the Banshees and Soundgarden. and  WHAT I WOULD BUY: GAP Plaid Pants

Soft Girl is the same as above, but with pastels. Same high-waisted pants with heavy cinched belt, also too-short skirts and too-short tops. WHAT I WOULD BUY: Asos Overalls

source: @samramic

Biker Shorts is pretty self-explanatory, but must include oversized tee, really big sneakers or combat boots. Bonus points for a blazer and/or fanny pack. WHAT I WOULD BUY: Free People Bike Shorts

VSCO Girl is so hard to define because it’s always evolving and so varied by season and location. May include: cowry shell necklace, crop top, ripped jeans, VANS. Beach-y and relaxed with a heavy dose of privilege. WHAT I WOULD BUY: Santa Cruz Tee

source: m.imgur.com

Dickies are actually really cool. The retro, masculine, can-I-check-your-oil look is edgy yet accessible. Look good with converse or VANS. They come in lots of unexpected colors as well as boiler suit versions. Balancing them out with softer elements, like a feminine tee, make for a great outfit. WHAT I WOULD BUY: Madewell x Dickies Twill Pants

source: @fashion_jackson

White Jeans also seems like a no brainer. Popular pairings: more white or tans or other neutrals. Extra credit for a brown leather tote bag. WHAT I WOULD WEAR: Sézane Brut Sexy in Ecru

source: stylevu.com

Fila is just Fila. I like that so many fitness brands never seem to go out of style. I’m not sure I need to explain this, basically, if you have a Fila sweatshirt (or really any fitness brand), wear it. WHAT I WOULD BUY: Hanami Logo Sweatshirt

source: thekatiquette.com

Champion is the same as Fila. (BTW, I just want to applaud the marketing departments that are keeping these brands relevant and profitable.) And I want to say, I love seeing how you don’t have to have a lot of money to be on trend. And that you don’t need to follow trends. Just find what you like and wear it! WHAT I WOULD BUY: Champion Joggers

source: livelovesara.com

Leather pants are great as long as you can afford them and aren’t against leather. Faux is also an option. I’m not a big fan of “leather” leggings that don’t look like pants. But whatever your preference, all you need to add is a tee shirt, a cozy sweater and literally any shoes. WHAT I WOULD BUY: Emerson Fry Vegan Leggings


What types of outfits do you search for?


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Short, Black & Pointy

How I describe the perfect boots. They weren’t easy to find. I looked and looked. I finally chose the Madewell ones but they did not have a pointed toe! I thought I was okay with that, but it turns out I wasn’t. So I sent them back. The final-final choice was the Cole Haan pair, from Nordstrom rack and I got my usual 8.5 size and then conceded that I needed the 9. Now I am happy. (Photo above shows the first purchase on the left and the second on the right.)

Here are all the ones I found in my search, so if you’re in the market, I hope this helps.

  1. Cole Haan $130
  2. Madewell $188
  3. Marc Fisher $180
  4. Franco Sarto $170
  5. & Other Stories $150
  6. Marc Fisher $100
  7. Everlane $225
  8. J. Crew $258
  9. J. Crew $228


My original inspiration: my daughter, at age 7, looking like a tiny Anine Bing, right? So fierce. Note the baby doll carrier. Kills me. She picked those boots out herself!
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Warm Socks, Strong Coffee & Good Books

So, it’s winter(ish). And that means I’m cozying up alone with books. Here’s the journey where my introversion has taken me.


Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love
by Jonathan Van Ness

I got this book for my birthday. I love Queer Eye and so I knew I’d enjoy this. I’m also a sucker for a story of a checkered past. So, yeah. By the time I finished the book, I felt such a strong feeling that Jonathan and I were friends and should chat everyday. Side note: check out Gay of Thrones.


Cinnamon and Gunpowder
by Eli Brown

I started off slow with this one but was glad I stuck it out. It was really good. What’s it like to be a chef kidnapped by pirates? You’re about to find out. Pirates, trade wars, gourmet food prep … could be a current TV show … only it’s 100 years ago.


Where the Crawdads Sing
by Delia Owens

I’m proud to say I got this book from the library (and by “got” I mean had it downloaded and then had to wait to have it renewed through my Libby app). This book was so beautiful! The imagery! The mood. I just wanted to BE there. I was there. Creative and original. Highly recommend.


Love Anyway
by Jeremy Courtney

I was invited to meet this author and be a part of a making a difference in war-torn places. The evening was amazing and I’m so glad I went. Taking a close up look at the wars in the middle east is not something I frequently or willingly do. The refugee crisis and ever widening violence in this world is just too painful for me to look at. So, reading this was a big step. And it was so worth it.


Have you read any of these books? It’s always interesting to step back and look at what themes I’ve been immersing myself in. Growing up gay in the midwest. Getting kidnapped by pirates. Surviving poverty, abuse and rejection. Facing the worst atrocities as well as your own crisis of faith. Sort of connected. Sometimes our trials and suffering lead to great accomplishments. Sometimes our attempts to escape lead us right back to where we were. But, hopefully our experiences will shape us into something useful and something we can be proud of.

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New Wardrobe Additions: November

okay, okay…I know. It’s bad. But I found the perfect winter (investment) coat.

GAP Long Sleeved Tee in White — $12
I love GAP’s featherweight tees. I’ve been needing a basic white shirt for layering…

Madewell Tee in White — $17
Couldn’t pass up this adorable vintage looking tee. (top photo)

Cole Haan Chelsea Boots — $80
I’ve been on an endless hunt for some pointy toe, low heel boots. Originally, I settled on this pair from Madewell, which were pricey and not very pointy. My lovely friend Annie had given me a gift card to Nordstrom so I returned the first pair and got these. (top photo)

& Other Stories Peacoat — $245
A huge splurge! I lived with this coat handing in my closet for a while before suddenly wearing it on a fancy night out. I did not regret it. It is so warm (100% wool) and enveloping. I believe it will be a staple for years to come. I managed to sell my old black wool coat on Poshmark to make room. (bottom photo)

GAP workout leggings — 2 pair $67
I needed long leggings and I found 2 great pair at GAP. One black and one striped. Great deal! (middle photo)

COS Sparkle Socks — $9
Oh, I almost forgot, I also got a pair of sparkly socks from COS (high end sister store to H&M). I wanted so many things in the store but decided to wait…

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New Wardrobe Additions: October


(A little over budget, but it was my birthday…)

Gold heart stud earrings $40 — I’ve been wanting a pair of small studs. I found these at a local store, Dandelion.

J. Crew d’orsay flats (similar) $35 — These have been on my wishlist for a very long time. Found them secondhand on Poshmark. (middle photo) I did buy these Aldo shoes first but then realized they weren’t what I wanted so I returned them.

Anthropologie belt $48 — I found this perfect thin brown belt with gold buckle while visiting family in DC. (top photo) In my belt search, I tried this Madewell belt

J. Crew rain jacket $40 — Also found on my trip to DC. I have worn it SO MUCH. (middle photo)

J. Crew slim perfect t-shirt $22 — Bought this in black and in white but only kept the black one. (bottom photo)

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All the Coats I Own

As I consider getting a new coat this year, let me reflect on the (old) coats I already have.

J. CREW PEA COAT — Hello old friend. This was a good investment. I think I actually got in used on eBay. Had it for years. It’s stadium cloth and very warm. The only issue is it is short and when we get into winter here in PA, my butt needs to be covered. Also, I’ve had to resew the buttons back on 100 times. I’d love to trade it for a black version that’s longer/oversized (mentioned in my & Other Stories Try-on post.) But I have a renewed appreciation for it now and will definitely keep it. poshmark

J. CREW PUFFER COAT — This was my favorite coat for a while. It’s actually not black but charcoal. It’s super warm, super cute, goes with everything. It has a detachable  hood. I ended up getting another puffer, again, so my booty isn’t cold. See below. everlane

J. CREW DUFFLE COAT — I have been neglecting this coat lately. I keep thinking I need a coat that’s a light color, but I have this “pink lady.” It seemed enormous to me when I got it, (again, used on eBay) but after trying on a bunch of coats recently, I realize it’s not. It’s actually quite fitted. And cute. Also stadium cloth and very warm. Luckily, it is, at this moment, not in need of dry cleaning. Word to the wise: light coats are high maintenance. new version

UNIQLO X INES DE LA FRESSANGE TOP COAT — This coat also suddenly seems so minimal and fitted. I’m not sure it was a good choice. It looks like a proper menswear style wool coat, very classic. But it’s very thin (as in not warm) so I just don’t wear it that much. If you live somewhere with mild winters, I’d recommend. new version

UNIQLO LONG PUFFER — I got this last year. I wore it almost every day of the winter, as well as into the “Spring”. Ah, Pennsylvania… It’s lightweight but so toasty and it can be packed very small. Every East Coast girl needs a coat like this. I assumed I would one day get the Northface version, but this one is great. new version

ROXY SKI JACKET — Although it’s a ski jacket, which I need, I wear it as a regular everyday coat. It’s warm, it’s waterproof and the pattern is very cool. It’s a good option when my whole outfit is black and I need some color. A gift from my sister, who has an almost identical one with feathers instead of leaves. similar

That is it. Six fall/winter coats.

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& Other Stories Coat Try-ons

Here we are again. It’s Fall and I’m wondering, “Do I need another coat?” I’ve been browsing. A lot. So, late one night I ordered THREE from & Other Stories, which has free shipping and free returns. The first coat style I’ve been on the hunt for is…

THE OVERSIZED PEA COAT. I have a short navy blue pea coat but see a lot that are longer and black (with black buttons). They just look so understated and chic. More European street-style, less preppy. This was probably my favorite of the 3 and I feel pretty certain I need it. It’s boxy and sculptural, very modern. The shell is 100% wool, in a boucle (nubby) texture. I tried it in a size 6 and it seemed right. Here’s the link for it as well as 2 other options. & OTHER STORIES $249 | ZARA $130 | UNIQLO $60

The second coat style I’ve been obsessing about for a while (and I know this is just being fueled by media and commercialism and whatnot) is…

THE CAMEL COAT. They are everywhere, have been everywhere, on social media and the trend only seems to be picking up speed. I love how they look with black or monotone outfits. My hesitation, though, has been that I generally don’t look good in shades of tan. And, that a coat like that would be an investment. I instantly thought I needed to size down. I got it in a 6. The shoulder seams weren’t where they should be an, I know, it’s oversized but it just seemed tent-like. Not a fan of the easily-wrinkled or noticeably wrinkled look and really don’t think I can pull off the color. It’s a no-go for me. Here’s the link to it though as well as the Everlane one I think I need to try and a very affordable option from H&M. & OTHER STORIES $249 | EVERLANE $298 | H&M $129

Lastly, I’ve been asking myself, would I ever, maybe consider the ubiquitous trend…

THE TEDDY COAT. I don’t love being like everyone else. I don’t love the brown color ones. And I don’t feel great about something made of polyester. But, cosy. I couldn’t stop laughing when I first put it on. SO BIG. Pretty crazy. I wanted to fall in love with it partly because it was on sale and almost sold out. At this moment, they only have it in a 10. (And this size 6 when I most certainly return it.) Really torn but I think I really can’t pull off this look. Link to it as well as the Madewell one I tried on recently and a cheap Popsugar one I tried on at Kohl’s that sort of faux fur. & OTHER STORIES $107 | MADEWELL $168 | KOHLS $78

That’s it. Three coats I want but don’t need. I’ve got to make a decision.

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