I Only Buy Six Items of Clothing per Season

Photo credit: StockSnap, CC0 Public Domain.

I’m into clothes. Like, really into clothes. I’m tempted to describe myself as an “avid shopper,” but that’s not it. I’m an obsessive shopper, is what I am. I see a thing I want, say a pair of overalls that Erin Boyle is modeling all nonchalant and amazing over on her blog, but they’re a) more than I have to spend at this particular moment, and/or b) sold out, so I tell myself they’re not the overalls for you. But now I’m fixated. I begin obsessively searching for the perfect, minimalist-chic, wear-everywhere black overalls. I look for them everywhere I go, periodically checking back on Erin’s Insta to be sure I really YEP NOPE I NEED THOSE.

Last fall, on an extended trip to NYC, my search took me to every single fucking boutique in Lower Manhattan and greater Williamsburg/Greenpoint, where I found, and bought, a stellar Japanese cotton jumper in indigo ($80) and a terrific pair of workman’s-y cotton canvas overalls in army green ($180), but no. black. overalls. I did find an overall dress thingee that was ideal except for the fact that it was a dress.

In April I finally found the perfect black overalls online, at a price I felt okay with at that particular moment, but when I tried them on they turned out not to be perfect. They just… weren’t. Also, I felt guilty about buying them because I also bought, thanks to a rec from my pal Celia, this great pair of white Dickie’s painter’s overalls. Back to the post office went the black overalls. I’m still trying to convince myself to stop looking for another pair.

Like I said, I’m an obsessive shopper.

I don’t have unlimited funds to spend on clothes. My sweetie and I are both freelancers, and lately his income has been more reliable than mine. I have no qualms about us living off what he makes, or spending small chunks of his earnings on our joint creative endeavors, but I do feel weird about spending “his” money on my wardrobe.

So, rather than holding myself to a monetary clothing budget, I’ve started budgeting the number of items I’m allowed to buy. In theory, this forces me to be choosy, and prevents me from making ridiculous spontaneous purchases, or, you know, buying too many pairs of overalls. My rule is no more than six items per season. I do stretch this rule quite a bit—workout clothes don’t count, a tote bag doesn’t count, the like-new Danskos I found at Crossroads ($22.50) didn’t count because, I don’t know, they’re waterproof? Maybe shoes shouldn’t count, period.

I keep a running list, like a dork, of what I’ve bought each Winter/Spring, Spring/Summer, and Fall/Winter. I don’t know why it feels dorky. I got the idea from Wide Eyed Legless, who is not dork at all; I love reading her annual clothing round-up. Though I’d love it even more if she disclosed what she paid for each item… Does she jump when a new line from Rachel Comey or Isabel Marant comes out, determined to get the “it” piece before it sells out, or (like me) does she wait and hope it’ll go on sale at the end of the season? Does she carefully plan each sartorial acquisition, or does she fall prey to OMIGOD I HAVE TO BUY THEM THEY’RE 90 PERCENT OFF compulsions? Does she ever second-guess herself when she’s standing in front of the mirror, trying on a new purchase, or (ugggh) get her size wrong on a final sale item??

I do a lot of resale shopping—Los Angeles is excellent for this, so many stylists and costume designers and rich ladies constantly unloading treasures—and I haunt eBay, often setting up alerts when there’s something I want but refuse to pay full price for. Rarely am I willing to pay full price. My latest fixation is a pair of Robert Clergerie platform sandals, which retail at $625. I’d be willing to pay half price, maybe, but no I wouldn’t. I’d really like to pay $80. I can justify $80. I’m still high on the Coclico boots I scored last fall for $75. I get this incredible hit of adrenaline when I find the perfect perfect thing at the perfect price. But I have to be careful. Part of the point of keeping a running list is to remind myself of what I have and what I need, and prevent myself from jumping every time I find a “bargain.” THERE ARE LOTS OF BARGAINS OUT THERE, PEOPLE.

With that, here are my clothing purchases from the past two seasons.

S/S 2017

  1. Dickies overalls ($45)
  2. Current/Elliott tee ($70)
  3. Vince jeans ($80)
  4. Yohji Yamamoto tank ($95)
  5. Isabel Marant tank ($45)
  6. Alexander Wang tank ($40)
  7. ATM tee ($125)

Whoops that’s seven items. For a grand total of… $500. Not bad. Does not include: one backpack/tote ($75), one pair of lounge pants ($49), or one pair of thought-they-would-be-perfect Black Crane carpenter’s pants ($135) I bought too small and quickly shipped off to a skinnier friend. I should have known better. It’s poor form to buy a non-returnable garment without being absolutely sure of your size.

The YY tank is the only purchase I have qualms about. I do like it, but it’s wildly impractical, and there’s this nagging voice in my head telling me I only bought it because it was $95 down from $600. Lesson learned. I hope. The ATM tee was a splurge—I paid full price—but I feel good about it. I’ve already worn it three times this week.

W/S 2017

  1. Creatures of Comfort dress ($90)
  2. CP Shades sweatshirt ($20)
  3. CP Shades button-down ($20)
  4. De Smet tee ($140)
  5. Isabel Marant tee ($30)
  6. Ann Demeulemeester coat ($280)

Six items, you guys! For a grand total of $580. Does not include: two pairs of yoga pants ($27), one pair like-new Adidas running shoes ($35), the Danskos, and also a pair of white Supergas I bought twice, once for $20 at Crossroads, and then again on eBay for $40 after I realized they were jammin’ but also a full size too small. (Yikes, is this a pattern? Yikes.)

The Ann D coat, scored at Wasteland, is my proudest purchase of the year. It took some deliberating. I tried it on, wore it around the store, and then left it on hold, telling myself if I really wanted it I’d be willing to drive back to Hollywood and get it. And I did! I was. I’d been searching for the perfect, grown-up, black wool coat for a couple of years. It is a thing of beauty, and I feel like a million bucks when I wear it.

Laramie Dennis is a director and writer based in LA.

Support The Billfold

The Billfold continues to exist thanks to support from our readers. Help us continue to do our work by making a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time-only contribution through PayPal.