Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sunk costs, Capsule Wardrobe Project 333, and a confession

Gorgeous jacket - Alexander McQueen
My tweed jacket isn't working.  I bought it on sale (I should have known better!), and every time I wear it I feel... meh.  Below par.  Not on my game.  Frumpy.  I think you get the picture...

So let's all think about this for a minute... my jacket is NOT the glorious Alexander McQueen pictured above, but let's say I paid $200 for the one that I have.  That money is SPENT.  GONE.  In economic parlance, we call that a sunk cost.

There are now two possible "equations" for my life with this jacket:

(1) negative $200 spent on jacket + negative feelings wearing jacket = double negative
(2) negative $200 spent on jacket + positive feeling wearing something else = neutral outcome

Piling onto a mistaken purchase by forcing yourself to wear that item accomplishes nothing but making a bad situation worse.  If there's any possibility that you can get some money back from your purchase (consignment, Craig's List etc.), go for it.  Or just donate your problem garment so that it becomes someone else's favorite.

Effective immediately, my tweed jacket is going to be replaced by a grey argyle cardigan in my Project 333.  I give myself permission to do this under the theory that the whole point of Project 333 is to learn what works best for me...

24 comments:

  1. I wonder if it would be worth getting your jacket re-tailored to suit you better?

    This only works of course if you like the fabric and if the current style is *almost* there. And if you can find a tailor who is both willing & able, I know I loathe & detest doing any kind of alterations.

    If not, set it free to grace someone else's closet and enjoy the fashion karma, because what goes around will surely come around.

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    1. I considered it, but it's just a bridge too far, and I'm not sure that I would ever be happy with it, no matter what kind of alterations were made. But you do bring up a really good option, and I'm SO glad you brought this idea to the discussion!
      have a great weekend,
      Janice

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    2. I sell a lot of items on ebay, I hope you recoup some of the cost!

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  2. Hi Janice, have you considered consigning it? There are some fabulous consignment shops in Northwest Indiana...great way to make some money off of those 'sunk costs' clothing articles. Are there any good consignment shops in Chicago or the 'burbs?

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  3. Congratulations on deciding to move on. My mom considered the occasional bad purchase to be part of the "cost of doing business". She was a home economist whose specialty was sewing, making her own and most of her children's clothes. She was acutely aware that she would not get the resources of time, money or materials back on a failed item of clothing. When I began making my own clothing and having failures, she encouraged me to get rid of the item and move on.

    I'm glad you posted this!

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  4. This is an interesting subject.I have a few of these type garments and I just cannot let go.Why is that?Project 333 is helping but I am feeling guilty about spending money and being wastefull.Thanks for helping me deal with this problem.

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  5. Where did you find a gray argyle? I have been looking.

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    1. Mine is 2 years old, from Pendleton. It's a garment that didn't make the cut for the winter 333 and I've missed it. The blazer SEEMED like the more logical choice...

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  6. I have given things away that don't work, mainly because I do not like to be reminded constantly of a purchasing mistake every time I enter my closet. Come to think of it, ever since I have avoided sales and specials like the plague, my purchases have been much smarter and I have been much happier with my selections.

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  7. I am curious...did you have that niggling feeling that it wasn't quite right when you purchased it? This is what I am trying to stop: going ahead and buying when the item is not quite right but I just want it to be right. Does that make sense ?

    Deb from vancouver

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    1. That makes perfect sense to me (unfortunately!). I can't tell you how much I have purchased, knowing the item is "not quite right" but wanting it to be. Of course it never is. I am doing better, but it takes a conscious effort. I remind myself that the "just right" item is out there, and it is worth waiting for.

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    2. YES!!! that's part of what's so mortifying about all of this - I KNEW from the outset that this wasn't going to be the blazer of my dreams (not that I dream about clothes). But I didn't listen to my instincts and my better judgment; I just figured that a black, white & grey tweed blazer would be the perfect garment for a woman with my existing wardrobe. Next time, gut reaction is going to be HEARD.

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  8. You know what, Janice? You're human! We all make mistakes. We have all been sucked into a purchase we think we'll love. And when we get it home, it just doesn't work. Occasionally, we do hit paydirt, but most of the time, not so much.

    The fact is, I think you, more than most of us, are much more likely to buy something knowing it'll work. And most of the time, it does. I'd say to chalk this one up to the Great Poopy Buy that Seems Like a Good Deal devil and move on.

    You have been such an incredibly fashionista to me...and have really helped me rethink the economics of my purchases much more solidly through than I ever would have. So...to do the math:

    $1000 that I would have blown buying things I don't need over the past year.
    $0 that I haven't, thanks to you.

    So, in the grand scheme of the style vs. cost universe you've made ME come out ahead.

    PS: You know something? If you would consider donating, rather than selling, I know there are many, many women's organizations around the country who help outfit women for job interviews...women who otherwise would not have a suitable suit or jacket to wear to one. I think that donation would give you a really wonderful feeling. You might not have loved the jacket, but I'll bet there is something who will...and who may well feel beautiful, possibly for the very first time ever, in it.

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  9. Janice, I love the math in your confession. I keep waiting for my body somehow to change--to lengthen, to slim,to get more perky, to get younger-- so the mistaken but too-expensive-to-give-to-Goodwill items crammed into the back of closets will look better in the mirror or just be more me than meh. What freedom to say to oneself every day, "Don't just keep holding on to your mistakes. Let go."

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  10. I can so identify with this! I took bags of these kinds of purchases (collected over the years) to Goodwill. Someone else will love them - I never will! And, since I found your blog, I'm going back through the closet again - cause I didn't get rid of everything the first time. It's a process. But I am getting better now about not making purchases that I know aren't right.

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  11. Janice,
    Donating it to a place like Dress for Success will bring you plenty of positive feelings!
    I'm saying this from personal experience.

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  12. This is one of my favorites of all your excellent posts.

    I can never seem to find a blazer jacket that I can feel good in. In most cases I feel like a football player because so many of them are boxy and padded. I am short 5' 4" and could lose about 10 or 15 pounds. It is hard for me to buy most jackets and coats too, they feel so bulky.

    It is hard to admit to some bad clothing choices. My budget is tight and it is hard to spend money on something that doesn't work. I beat myself up every time when my decision to add something new to my wardrobe isn't right.

    I agree to your suggestion about move it out and move on.

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  13. $200, meh; wanna hear about the Montana leather jacket that made me look like a Hells Angel crossed with a linebacker?

    Please donate this to an organization like Windfall, who help low-income women get career outfits for going back to work. Feeling of helping woman who never dreamed of wearing a jacket like this? Priceless.

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  14. Love this post. Here's a suggestion, for future reference perhaps? I leave the tags on everything I buy until the day I wear the item. By that time, my mood has changed, the light has changed, my perception has changed, and often, my home mirror reflects back a different image than the one I saw in the store! What's up with that?!? LOL! Anyway, b/c the item still has tags, I can either return my mistakes or get a better price on eBay or at consignment stores b/c the item is NWT.

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  15. We have the sixth sense of knowing what isn't working. Bad clothes are like bad hair; they can wreck the whole day and make you feel bad about yourself. "Clothes make the woman." Where did I hear that. If you're not comfortable and you feel self-conscious about what you look like, it can sink your attitude and certainly your confidence. In my continuing, often-brutal purging of my closets, drawers and cupboards...this is a day I never thought would happen...I'm noting good workmanship and good fabric...BUT, if I don't love it? It gets tossed. Otherwise, I'll never wear it. It's just the way it is. Clothes are emotional.

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  16. As an owner of a consignment shop I definitely say you should get rid of it and get rid of the guilt as well. There is never a good reason to hang onto boo-boos and let them clutter up your closet.

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  17. I so agree with everyone else! What a great post.

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  18. If you don't like it, you won't like it if a tailor changes it. You still will feel 'meh' in it. Sometimes one makes a mistake. One can be angry for a while, but not too long (not good for the face nor those around you), one can decide to give it to --mmh--a redhead maybe? Or give it away, heavy heart, empty purse - than learn from it ("Did I buy it because it was such a low price? Didn't I listen to that little voice in the back of my head that chirped 'meh' and was shouted down with 'But it's a special brand!")

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