So I pulled together a list of all "coupon" items by category ("coupon" = new items):
3 totes and handbags (1 organic cotton canvas, 2 PU)
1 giant weekender backpack (which I counted as 10 coupons - canvas and synthetics)
5 dresses (some organic cotton or non-organic cotton; some synthetics)
1 pair of pants (cotton)
7 pair of shoes (including 1 accidentally leather pair I re-homed but counted - 5 coupons; some "eco" like the salvaged Tyvek or Reneu shoes)
The shoes include my last purchase of the year - Homer Jamals from Keep Company, a vegan company with monitored fair labor standards.
At times I struggled with the concept coupon value. Bags weren't listed at all. I chose to count them (25 points total). Some of my stuff was canvas where there would normally be leather factored into the coupon value. In fact, as the year progressed, a lot of the coupon values just seemed off - whether favorably or unfavorably - when compared to each other but it was still an interesting way to frame consumption.
In looking at this list, I'm struck by how many things were made with decent labor standards or have some type of "green" claim to them relevant to materials. All of the dresses and the pair of pants were US-made. All of the bags and shoes claim fair labor standards (except, interestingly, not the accidentally-purchased leather shoes). Organic cotton, salvaged Tyvek, salvaged tire rubber were some of the "green" materials.
Dresses and shoes were clearly the categories with the largest quantities. This doesn't surprise me as I have been in the market for dresses with longer hemlines that are more work-appropriate. (All of these were.) There were all US-made and I've worn all of them...except the Vaute Couture dress. By the time I picked it up, it was past the season for me to wear it but come spring, it will get it's debut.
I always struggle with shoes - I can never find shoes that are comfortable and work appropriate (tried: Neuaura flats, Reneu loafers - both are pinchy and are undergoing shoe-stretcher efforts currently; the same company produces both).
Or even just finding sneakers for weekend wear that aren't too sporty (tried: Kandals, Keep, Unstitched Utilities). Much less finding non-sweatshop canvas Ked-like sneakers I can wear without socks during the summer. I know, they seem like such simple things and yet I always feel like I can never find them and the footwear I do own is a remarkable drag to hoof around in unless it's sneakers.
I don't buy many used shoes now, although I still try to do so. I have in the past and it's really hit or miss to find the right size and style and not have the materials disintegrate on you within a few months. So I'm not surprised to see new shoes pop up here so many times. I can never tell how comfortable shoes will be until I wear them for a while so lately I've been trying to focus on brands I know (the rubber-bottomed Cri de Coeur shoes are a good example, although the rubber makes them hard to re-sole). Even brands people have recommended (the Reneu were recommended as comfortable) haven't been a success!
What I learned from the Wartime Wardrobe Challenge 2013:
- I am better about only buying items with decent labor standards than I thought.
- I focused on areas where I felt I had a "need", primarily, unless it was a used item (needs: dresses, shoes).
- I need to check and re-check the labels if there are non-vegan options next to vegan options and they look similar!
- I need to find a better way of figuring out if shoes work for me before I purchase them. (Ideas?)
- My uniform hallmarks are emerging and it would help me to keep them in mind before acquiring anything new.
- I need to get quicker about tailoring items so I can actually wear them. (I improved this year but I still have a pair of black pants that need to be hemmed.)
With that, here is my final tally:
Total Coupons Used in 2013: 145
Negative 79 out of (positive) 66