Saturday, January 14, 2017

A review of my 2016 clothing purchases

So. This year I spent quite a lot of money, especially for a medical student with no income on the tails of a very, very expensive application cycle. However, I paid for everything then and now with the money I saved from part-timing in high school.

Winter accessories and new shoes

Anyhow, I figured I should make this post because one of my reasons for having a blog in the first place is to audit myself and keep an honest look at my lifestyle. I've always wanted to follow the five piece French wardrobe format, as you may be able to see from my seasonal wardrobe planning posts of yore, but moving to Boston shot that plan right down.

Shorts, old sweater, and the first flannel -- RIP, I hardly knew ye

I've included estimates of prices, which should be +/- $5 from what I really paid. Photos do not show all of the items listed, but the ones left out are easy to imagine. My purchases will be roughly categorized by function, with individual items listed in chronological order

  1. Fleece-lined leggings x 2 - January - $10
  2. L.L. Bean winter warmer coat, black - August - $90
  3. L.L. Bean duck boots, bison - August - $120
  4. L.L. Bean wool socks x 2 - October - $20
  5. Hat and scarf - October - $20
  6. Gloves - November - $115
  7. Smartwool baselayer, black - November - $60 (sale)
  8. Uniqlo heat-tech leggings, black - December - $20
Total - $355

This was the most expensive category by far, which is reasonable. Save my baby and toddler years in Chicago, I have never lived in a place with a winter, and thus needed to buy the necessary gear to not freeze to death. I tried to go as long as possible without wearing some of the heavy duty stuff just to see how far I could stretch my current wardrobe. So far, I've only worn my winter coat when the high of the day is below freezing and/or if there is wind. The boots I've only worn once so far after a larger snowfall. However, we still have three more months of winter, and I quickly learned that on those snowy, cold, icy, windy days, I put my money in the right place.

The Smartwool baselayer was a godsend. I wore it a ton in November under my leather jacket and it kept me warm. I'll wear it under my coat under extreme cold days henceforth. I need to buy more wool socks because some other wool socks my mother gave me are not warm enough. Hat, scarf, and gloves are necessary and so far warm enough. It hasn't been cold enough to layer the leggings under my jeans, but it will happen and I will be ready.

This was money I had to spend. Boston winter is no joke!

  1. Sperry boat shoes - March - $80
  2. Hiking boots - November - $85 (sale)
I wore the boat shoes almost every day from late March to early October and they are accordingly beaten up. They were expensive, but I like them a lot. I got the hiking boots after I went backpacking with my running shoes and got wrecked by lack of tread, lack of stability, and frostnip. I haven't gotten too many opportunities to test out the boots because it quickly got too cold and rainy to hike.

  1. Banana Republic Sloan trousers, black - January - $40 (sale)
  2. Thrifted blazer, black - April - $10
  3. GAP linen shorts, black - May - $15
  4. L.L. Bean scotch plaid flannel, blackwatch x 2 - October and November - $75 (sale)
  5. Uniqlo men's selvedge denim jeans - December - $50
Total - $185

The top two were impulse purchases: I knew I would need professional trousers and saw that there was a sale on Banana Republic and that was that. I've worn it to the hospital and will wear it to my clinical placements. The blazer was an emergency purchase for the conference I attended in April: the grad students miscommunicated the dress code and I had left my interview suit at my parents' house after the interview season ended. Goodwill came to the rescue: the cotton blazer came in handy for the Florida heat.

The shorts, flannel, and jeans have been worn regularly since their purchase. Regarding the L.L. Bean flannel: astute readers will recall that I lost my original shirt on a hike and replaced it during the Black Friday sale. Always hike wearing layers, but make sure they fit in your backpack.

  1. Casio F-91W watch - January - $10
  2. Thrifted scrubs x 2 - August and November - $20
I bought a watch. It tells time. I wear it daily. I wore it to the conference where I was among surgeons who wore watches three orders of magnitude more expensive. I wore it all summer and got a watch tan. I also wore it to (and washed it after) many gross anatomy labs. It has been on my hand and grazed the insides of many cadavers.

Total amount spent on clothing in 2016 - $735
Total number of items purchased in 2016 - 23

Excluding the leggings and socks and scrubs, that number becomes 14, which is pretty reasonable. I do want to be highly critical of my consumption, but I'm not an ascetic or a minimalist. In fact, I am actively trying to build a more professional, adult wardrobe suitable for a medical student. Because I wear most of my clothes for more than five years, whatever I purchase now should be appropriate for a resident in her mid-20s. However, I'm glad that some of the big ticket items are now out of the way: winter coat and boots, interview suit, and handbag.

If you made it this far, congratulations and thank you for reading!


  1. I would have so much trouble living in a winter like Boston's! If it's terrible weather out but you're going to hospital where you dress smartly, would you just change your clothes/shoes when you get there?

    1. Fortunately, the hospital is right next to the medical school building, and is also connected by a skyway and tunnels. I have a locker on campus and would not have to walk far in the cold (or exit a building at all) to get to my clinic placement!

  2. Looking back, I can't remember how I survived the Boston-area winters! I never really stocked up on cold weather gear and relied mostly on rainboots and thick socks for the really snowy or slushy days... I'm pretty well-stocked with winter gear now, with Bean boots and Heattech tights for layering under pants (or over thin tights under a skirt and under knee-high boots, when I run out of fleece lined tights between laundry days).

    1. It looks like 40s F all the way until February, but I am sure we'll get plenty of winter later. Hopefully all this gear will keep me warm.

  3. This is what you bought in the WHOLE year? That's really good! Maybe I should start doing this so that I think more about my purchases. -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

    1. Yes, this was the whole year. Sartorially suspended because of all the money I had to throw at the winter gear, but I did a great deal of (browser) window shopping and pinning.