On July 1 2017 I set myself a challenge to not buy any new clothes for a year. I’m on day 326, my 11th month without buying any clothes. There’s been a hand full of times when I considered buying new clothes. I wanted a new outfit for a job interview, but I looked at my work clothes and realised there were plenty of very acceptable outfits.
The end of the challenge is in sight. I’m wondering how much longer I could go without buying new clothes!
Here are the 11 things I’ve learned from not buying clothes for 11 months
1. No one cares what you wear
You know what you wore yesterday, but you’re probably the only one that remembers! The people who you see at school drop off, the supermarket, work, the cafe, they don’t notice what you wear. You could wear the same outfit three days in a row and unless you make money from your appearance, I’m guessing not a single person would notice.
2. You can wear the same dress twice
I’ve often fallen into the trap that I need a new outfit for each event I attend. Clearly, that’s wrong! The girl’s were baptised during this challenge and turned one! If it weren’t for the challenge I suspect I would’ve been dress shopping. Instead I shopped my wardrobe and found a dress I love but that I had worn less than five times. If it’s good enough for the Duchess of Cambridge, it’s good enough for me, right?
3. The high of buying new clothes is short
There’s no denying that buying new clothes gives you a rush, but it’s a seven second high. You might have a funky new jacket, but you also have less money in your wallet (or more debt on your credit card).
4. Avoid temptation online
An email lands in your inbox, the store is having a sale, with free delivery if you spend a certain amount. Before you know you’re adding items to your virtual cart. Because you don’t touch the clothes, it’s almost like you’re not spending real money. It’s a seamless, almost abstract, yet expensive hobby.
To avoid that temptation, I’ve unsubscribed from many store emails. The ones I haven’t unsubscribed from I tend to delete without opening them, which makes me wonder what the point is!
5. Don’t shop!
Obviously it’s impossible to avoid shopping completely. Kids still need clothes, you have to buy gifts. But it is relatively easy to avoid the walk through the women’s section in David Jones. You just need to plan ahead a little. You don’t need to go into Country Road, Witchery, Cue or Seed. If you do, because you’re looking for other people in your life, put your blinkers on, go in with a plan and get out. Do not let your eyes dart to the sale or new arrivals racks.
6. Exceptions are necessary
When I set myself the challenge to buy no new clothes for a year, I allowed some minor exceptions. Those exceptions included shoes and underwear. The only things I have purchased is one pair of stockings and a pair of black heels, both for a job interview. Those purchases were a matter of necessity. The shoes at least will be something I get plenty of wear from.
7. You become more creative with what you’ve got
I’m genuinely surprised that I am not utterly sick of my wardrobe. Perhaps that is because when you can’t buy new things you shake things up with what you’ve got. You try different outfit combinations. Accessorise more.
8. It’s really not hard
It might sound impossible, the task of not buying new clothes for a year. It’s truly not hard. Perhaps the most difficult part is biting the bullet and making the commitment to not shop.
As Ann Patchett said in the New York Times –
It doesn’t take so long for a craving to subside, be it for Winstons or gin or cupcakes. Once I got the hang of giving shopping up, it wasn’t much of a trick. The trickier part was living with the startling abundance that had become glaringly obvious when I stopped trying to get more. Once I could see what I already had, and what actually mattered, I was left with a feeling that was somewhere between sickened and humbled.
9. The desire will pass
Imagine you’re scrolling through Instagram and you see someone wearing a gorgeous new jacket, or a beautiful dress. A feeling that you must have that item takes over. But if you really want something, challenge yourself to wait a while. Delay the gratification. The chances are the desire to buy the new thing will pass.
10. Who makes your clothes is important
My year without buying clothes has made me assess what I will do when I allow myself to buy clothes again. I’ve come to realise the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion. I’ll be steering myself away from fast fashion and thinking about my clothing purchases, from both a need and a consumption perspective.
11. You’ll learn the difference between need and want
When you have the ability or means to buy new clothes, you see the latest style of jeans or boots and need it. When you’ve stopped buying clothes for a year, your mind shift changes. It’s like an awakening. If your favourite cardigan gets a hole in the sleeve, you might want a new one. But immediately you realise you don’t need a new one. You can wear it with the hole, or fix it. There’s something strangely liberating about that. You’re no longer controlled by what you think you want.
That’s what I’ve learned from not buying clothes for 11 months. I still have plenty of clothes. And I appreciate there’s a massive distinction between not buying things and not being able to buy things.
Have you ever done a self-imposed shopping ban? Is there anything you learned from not buying clothes?
Linking up with Kylie for #IBOT