Year End Review: 2021 Shopping Diary

January 10, 2022

babaa cardigan natural

Last spring, I wrote about how the pandemic and an international move had affected my wardrobe, and how I am working on slowly rebuilding my closet. My goal was to purchase less than 20 items this year, and for half of those items to be from small and/or ethical shops, or be used.

So, how am I doing? Back in April, I made a wish list of 19 items that I wanted to get in 2021. Of those, I purchased just 11 items, and spent 2/3 of the budget I set for myself. Five of the eleven items have been from small shops, and one additional item is from a company that I believe is fairly ethical (Prana). The most expensive item I’ve purchased this year was the sweater in the photo above. After a lot of dreaming and debating, I splurged on the gorgeous Babaa no 19 cardigan in July. It’s been a wonderful staple in my closet (paired above with a tank from Simply Merino and my trusty old Levi’s 711 jeans.

Narrowing down my closet and taking inventory has allowed me to really dial in exactly what I wanted to add to my wardrobe, and I’ve been super happy with my purchases because of that. If it wasn’t on the list, I had to stop and really evaluate whether I wanted to spend my budget on it or not. The Prana Cozy Up top above was a bit of a jump for me as far as a new color, but it’s quickly become a favorite piece. Of course, the weather has also dictated a few of my purchases. After a late summer rainstorm left me dripping in the hallway at preschool, my shoes squelching as I walked (oh yes), I realized I need some rain boots. But the abysmal summer (read: cold and rainy) meant I hadn’t purchased any sandals.

I’ve also realized that my car-free, apartment-dwelling-dog, life means I’m putting a lot more miles on my shoes than in years past. My shoes and boots are wearing out faster than I’d planned, so that is something I’ll need to take into account going forward. I desperately need to replace a couple pairs of shoes, but I’ve been indecisive about what will fit best in my closet. Last fall, I purchased a pair of Allbirds Mizzles, but I don’t find them to be as comfortable as my classic wool sneakers or my tree skippers, since the fabric is thicker and doesn’t breathe as well. Both my Tree Skippers and my Wool Runners are at the end of their life span, as are my Hausschule (slippers – a staple in German homes). While I can wait til next spring or summer to replace my Tree Skippers, I’ll need a new pair of casual sneakers quite soon. I had debated replacing my slippers, but instead mended the wool and will hopefully get another few months out of them.

Doc Marten’s were on my shopping wish list this fall, but I’ve been debating whether I need them. So, each time I’ve gotten ready to leave the house, I’ve asked myself if the shoes I’m wearing are the best choice (going for a run, absolutely, my running shoes are aces) or if something would be better (a little cold and rainy, maybe the docs would work better here) and that’s helped me dial in my wardrobe gaps as well.

I had planned a trip to Athens for December, and with it, I’d planned to purchase a pair of sandals or two, using up some of my remaining budget, at my favorite sandal maker in Athens. But the trip was cancelled and I didn’t end up buying anything else with the Christmas rush happening. I’m doing a no buy this month, and then in February, I’ll reevaluate my wardrobe again. I think I’ll even do a round up of all the things I bought in 2021, along with links, and then post my 2022 goals then.

I’d love to hear about your wardrobe staples, or if you have favorite cute but comfortable shoes!


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photo of the author, she has dark wavy hair, brown glasses, and red lipstick on. She is wearing a grey shirt.


Servus! I’m Emily and you’ve found my little corner of the internet, where I write about travel, intentionally living with less stuff, and living as a German-American family in Munich, Germany.  Want to know more?