A year without buying clothes: what I learned

P1020813One of my goals for this year was not to buy any clothes. This time last year I was thinking a lot about simplifying my life and minimising spending, so the decision made a lot of sense. I did say I would continue to make clothes, and that I might be willing to buy one special vintage piece if I happened to come across one.  The goal wasn’t simply to forbid myself from anything, but instead to learn to be more conscious of what I spend money on, and to think more carefully about how I source my wardrobe. For the past few years I’ve done my clothes shopping exclusively at charity shops, but I wondered if I spent less money I might instead be able to afford a few key ethically produced pieces each year. I already have loads of clothes in good condition, so I was fairly sure I wouldn’t need any more this year.

The year’s almost over, and I have surprised myself by actually managing to achieve my goal. I was given one beautiful vintage dress and made a couple of tops (and botched a dress or two, oops). The experience was much easier than anticipated, too. So what did I learn?

  • The high street is way less interesting if you’re not buying clothes. I don’t really do high street shopping, but I do enjoy looking at the window displays. I’d never realised how fashion -focused they are, though. Looking was still fun, but knowing I couldn’t buy anything definitely detracts. This is probably only true for shops that are normally within my budget; I still loved window shopping in outrageously priced shops (and there are plenty of those where I live).
  • If you’re going into charity shops, walk straight past the clothes. Why torture yourself? Inevitably there will be something beautiful. The only time I was seriously tempted to buy something this year was when I saw a dress in a charity shop window; I actually worked myself up to go in, but it was already gone by then. I think that says it all, really!
  • People don’t really notice if you wear the same clothes. I have a few favourite pieces that I love and wear on a regular basis, and my colleagues still compliment them even if they saw them 2 weeks before. I’ve never had anyone comment on seeing clothes multiple times, or even give me funny looks.
  • My wardrobe is surprisingly non-seasonal. I wore the same pieces throughout the whole year, with the exception of jumpers. Cardis came out every season, though. I think this speaks of my utilitarian nature.
  • If I don’t spend my money on clothes, I’ll spend it on something else. This year I went to 4 gigs (which isn’t a lot, but more than I’ve been to for the past few years), went on holiday, and bought a house. I’m not saying all that money came from money I would otherwise have spent on clothes, but I certainly felt more confident spending that kind of money knowing I had been saving and wouldn’t want to spend it on anything else.
  • I can easily live without new clothes every few months & still feel confident about what I’m wearing & how I look.

Maybe I’ll end up rushing out & buying lots of clothes in 2016, but I don’t anticipate it. Above all, I have learned to change the way I look at clothes in shops. I don’t think I’ll be as easily swayed in the future. I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone, but I think the year was really good for me.

 

7 thoughts on “A year without buying clothes: what I learned”

  1. I’ve been thinking recently about my clothes buying habits, because I realised how much of my most-worn items are years old. I don’t think I’ll say no new clothes at all, but I want to get better at only picking things I know will be worn and loved for years.

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    1. That’s exactly it; it’s so easy to lose track of what you get (though I know you’re doing the Buyer’s Archive, which helps with that). I’m sure you’ll find some good things to replace any that are falling apart (though maybe you’re better at being willing to part with things than I am). For me, an extra reason not to buy anything was to work on my sewing skills.

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  2. I challenged myself to a spending ban in 2015. I would allow myself to buy notions for sewing projects, but not clothes, shoes or accessories. Since getting to the end of the year, and being technically able to spend once again, I’ve been surprised at how little interests me.

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  3. Jenni,

    I’m glad you learned so much from your pledge. I myself have been doing the something similar for about 5 or six years now. I must say though, in my case, I must have my clothing in regular rotation. because my people notice. They are a very observant group, and I never get anything by them. (Birds of a feather I suppose?)

    I’m glad you can, though! It must be very liberating in a way. And, lovely blog by the way. 😊

    ~A

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