My year without buying clothes

My year without buying clothes

I have a confession. I began this blog because I intended to go a year without buying clothes. The blog was going to keep me accountable. I even contemplated calling it ‘Far from the Country Road’, due to my slight addiction to Country Road clothes. I was on maternity leave with the littlest lad and not buying clothes seemed like an easy way to spend less. But then there was never a good time to start. I felt like I needed to buy certain things before I began a year without buying clothes. Like a camel trench coat.

While I was waiting for the right time to start my year without buying clothes, I wrote a few things about being a parent. A few of those things resonated with fellow mums (here, here and here). I’d became an accidental ‘mummy blogger’. The original purpose of my blog was lost.

The impromptu beginning

Flash forward to June 2017 and I was sucked into an Instagram induced spending spree. I was on maternity leave take 4 and my maternity leave payments had well and truly finished. So I set myself a silent challenge, I’d see if I could avoid buying myself any new clothes in July. That month passed with the odd temptation, but I resisted. I wondered how long I could keep going. I’m not a fashionista but I do like nice clothes. There’s something satisfying about buying and wearing new clothes.

Then it was September and we were off an a family holiday to Bali. A holiday often triggers a mini spending spree for me, I seem to like packing a few new clothes in my suitcase. It was still cold here in Canberra as we prepared to head off to steamy Bali. The new summer clothes arriving in stores were very tempting. Yet somehow I thought, if you can get past this hurdle, you’ll be over one of the toughest challenges. I stuck to my guns and resisted buying new clothes. With one exception. I did buy one new pair of bathers. In fairness, the only pair I had in my wardrobe I’d worn until I was 38+ weeks pregnant with the twins and they were stretched beyond recognition.

While there’s no denying I broke my own challenge, the ‘year without buying clothes’ thing did help to limit my spending. I spent a very long time looking at lovely, $200 swimmers, online. Given I barely swim these days, that seemed excessive. Instead I opted for a decent pair from Target. Maybe they weren’t as glamorous, but at the end of the day, that wasn’t important. Apart from that indiscretion, I’ve stuck to challenge.

What is allowed in a year without buying clothes?

There are some exceptions to my ‘buy no clothes for a year’ challenge. These things are allowed:

  • Shoes. But 6 months in and I’m yet to buy any.
  • I can sew my own clothes. I have made one dress (I pattern tested the Lou Box Dress from Sew DIY).
  • Underwear. Let’s be frank, my underwear is currently all about function rather than sex appeal.
  • A fancy ball gown. I’d need something to wear If I got invited to a swanky black-tie event!
  • Clothes as gifts.

I did receive a few new things for Christmas from Mr Wallace which I chose myself. While that’s a murky area, I’ve not purchased anything for myself. The new stuff (about 6 things) were all gifts.

It’s not only about saving

The idea of a year without buying new clothes began as a basic ‘spend less’ plan. It’s evolving beyond that. I’ve begun to realise how consumer driven our lives are. I wonder about the long term cost of fast fashion, to the environment, the economy and on personal level, my savings and the example I set for my children. I want my children to know that happiness doesn’t or shouldn’t come from things. Not only that, but how people dress, and wearing the newest, on trend clothes, isn’t a measure of worth. I need them to know that the kid in the playground with the newest Nikes (or whatever) is not better than them. Likewise the kid wearing sneakers from Kmart isn’t any less important or worthy.

Why are you telling us now?

It does seem odd that I’d tell you about a challenge I’ve set myself 6+ months after I’ve started. I guess I wanted to prove to myself that I could actually go an entire year without buying new clothes before I told you. Now it’s ‘on the internet’, I’m well and truly committed. But I still don’t have that camel trench coat!

I think at this point I’ll nail my own challenge. I’m stubborn, you see. If I’ve set myself a goal I’ll do my very best to achieve it! I do understand the absurdity of this challenge. It’s ridiculous to have to ‘challenge’ myself to go a year without buying new clothes. I’ve no doubt many people in the world would go much longer without new clothes, through circumstance rather than choice. It is indeed a luxury to have a wardrobe full of clothes and not actually need new clothes. A luxury afforded to very few.

Do you think you could go a year without buying clothes? If you are interested in giving it a shot, or even interested in buying less, Carly Findlay has a Facebook group that is encouraging people to ‘shop their wardrobe’ in 2018. Carly says “It’s aimed at reducing spending and waste, and putting together fun outfits from what we already have.” That’s something we all can do!

Linking up with Kylie for #IBOT

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash

18 thoughts on “My year without buying clothes

  1. Great challenge Claire! I challenged myself not to buy anything new (though second hand shopping and new underwear and makeup etc was fine) for a year when my first was a baby. I’d been reading about the ethics of our consumption and was horrified at the living conditions of people producing the things we buy but I love your point that a person’s worth isn’t defined by the clothes they wear. All the best with the next six months!

  2. Good on you. I am not a huge shopper (for clothes- books and art supplies are another thing) so don’t think I need to challenge myself but I definitely work now to resist urges to buy “just because”. So if I need a new swimsuit or shorts I go for it (but don’t spend huge amounts and have an amazing consignment shop I score at sometimes) I like the idea of a second hand only challenge- that would make me feel creatively challenged all while saving money and helping the environment.

  3. I probably couldn’t. But that’s because I don’t like and value clothes much, so I tend to wear them until they wear out and don’t have a replacement (which results in “must buy pants now so I have something to wear to work-itis”.
    I pretty much live in $6 Target singlets, even at work. So comfy.

    1. If only more people were like you Vanessa! Then there wouldn’t be such a fast fashion industry. I reckon there’s very few people who actually wear their clothes until they are worn out.

  4. This is great for me to read today because I wanted to share some blogs that will help people with their fashion resolutions for 2018. I would love to NOT buy new clothes… but I find something new and will think about it and want it. My rule is I have to sell something or donate something for it to make space. I’ve become more conscious of how often my wardrobe is constantly evolving and changing and how it has become part of the fast fashion movement. I wrote about it last week as I reflected on how old my clothes are (on the styled by bec blog). I look forward to reading your endeavours throughout the year.

    1. Strangely I don’t tend to shop on holiday, probably because I’m always laden with kids and it’s not fun for anyone!

  5. I really like your point about fast fashion and it’s impact on the environment. In fact, I was only thinking about this the other day when I read that fast fashion in some cases is not cheaper to buy than donated/recycled fashion you get at places like Vinnies. I must admit to buying fast fashion and have realised I have to change my buying habits. I’m not sure I could go a year without buying clothes at this stage because I plan to lose my baby weight but, I am definitely prepared to buy less even though I don’t buy much anyway. It may be a matter of looking in my wardrobe and getting a bit creative by creating new outfits with what I have.

    1. It’s a bit frightening really. I agree that not buying as much should be a motivation to get creative with what is in your wardrobe. I guess that’s the idea behind #shopyourwardrobe!

  6. Well done so far on your challenge! As a fellow sewer, I’m still trying reconcile how me-made clothing is much different from fast fashion when it comes to environmental and social costs (how was my substantial fabric stash produced?). I’ve also been a long time op shopper and have definitely noticed the difference in the availability of good quality clothing at Vinnies, Salvos etc. I’ve been wearing a mix of me-made tops (all Tessuti Mandy Boat or Grainline Hemlock tees) and secondhand pants/jeans for the last 3 years, which have sort of become my ‘uniform’ (+ layers as needed in Canberra!).
    I’m 9 months into maternity leave and have been lucky that my uniform seems to work for pregnancy and breastfeeding! I really don’t enjoy shopping, so I think I’ve found my happy medium – some me-made using secondhand fabric + op shop additions only when absolutely necessary (except maternity bras, no way could I find anything suitable secondhand). Now to find some time to actually sew! I’m encouraged by your efficiency as a busy mum!

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Jeanie. I agree that even sewing your own clothes has some question marks over it. I wonder if there is a store that we could source ethically made fabric from? I might look into it! Time to sew is indeed a real challenge. But you’ve reminded me that I should try another Mandy Boat tee!

  7. Good on you! It’s a great idea. I don’t often buy new clothes, so I think I could almost give it a shot. I think I would be a bit like you though – I just need to buy a few things before I go a year without lol. #teamIBOT

  8. I’m so impressed! I know we talked about this on IG but I reckon I could really do with doing this challenge but for the girls! I hardly ever buy clothes for myself except for basics when my standard black singlets get holes in them, but I could buy clothes for the girls every day of the week and twice on Sundays and it’s ridiculous, they have sooooo many!

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