If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen my January clothing purchase report. Compared to the rousing success of my “no news clothes” policy last year, it was bleak. While I can count the fact that I spent more money on secondhand clothing than I spent on new clothing as a success, a flip-side failure is that I bought the same number of secondhand and new items. Whoops.

But monitoring what I’m doing is the point! My 2020 Clothing Purchase Tracker is staring at me when I browse online (if I’m at my desk), making me think twice about any purchases. Seeing my spending totals is helping me identify where I spend mindlessly and where I should be redirecting funds.

And January definitely could have been much worse, which brings me to what I consider my biggest “Buy Less Success” of January.

Earlier this month (which I know is February but the planning/spending was done in January), my husband and I attended a black tie event. While I own more cocktail dresses than I will probably ever need, I don’t own anything that’s black tie-level formal. My reflex was to splurge on a gown–something fabulous and probably vintage (secondhand first!), but instead, I set a budget and started scrolling through designer clothing and accessories rental site, Rent the Runway.

The Dress

With a promo code, I was able to order my first choice gown in two sizes as well as a backup gown in one size for a total of $44. Because the event was in San Francisco, I went to their brick and mortar store in Union Square to try on and select the best of the three the day before the event. I also returned the dress to the same store the day after the event. (My understanding is that shipping to/from Rent the Runway is very easy; I just didn’t want to have to pack a gown in my carry-on.)
Total: $44

The Accessories

Shoes: A friend of mine has an Imelda Marcos-sized shoe selection and–lucky me–wears the same size I do. I went over to her place after work one day to try a bunch of her shoes on. I ended up borrowing three pairs and then made a game-time decision while packing to take a pair I already owned.
Total: $0

Jewelry: Since I didn’t have the dress in my possession until the day before the event, I packed some jewelry options that I thought would work. I did find myself browsing for jewelry the day leading up to the event, but reminded myself that I 1) already had pieces that would work and 2) wanted to see how inexpensively I could do this.
Total: $0

Purse: I threw a pretty clutch into my suitcase just before leaving the house. It basically just held my phone, which was used to take some makeshift photo booth pictures (above).
Total: $0

Hair & Makeup

Hair: My hair is short and easy to style, so I didn’t bother spending any dough on it.
Total: $0

Makeup: I don’t wear much makeup and I don’t really know how to create an evening look using makeup. So, I made an appointment for a “glam look” with the Nordstrom beauty counter. It’s free and there is NO pressure to buy anything, but the stylists do appreciate it because they give you their time and talent and they get a commission on purchases. I bought some stuff that wasn’t specifically for the event, but hey, this is starting to sound braggy, so I’ll count it.
Total: $28

Grand total: $72
I probably wouldn’t have been able to buy a gown at that price! And if I had, I would have told myself that I would wear it again, but then never actually do it.

So there you have it: a sustainable fashion/money saving success! I always get the bug to buy new things whenever I have an event or a trip, and I think having the option to rent or borrow can seriously change my spending habits.

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