Tag Archives: Wardrobe

My year without buying clothes

30 Sep

In the middle of last year I realised that I had too many clothes and couldn’t close my wardrobe or really fit anything in any more. The internet suggested several approaches to dealing with this problem, which yes, is a very first-world problem. One of them was quite clever, and suggested changing your hangers all to hang one way and then whenever you wear an item you put the hanger back the other way. That way, after a few months you can see which things you haven’t been wearing and you can get rid of them. That seemed like a really good idea, but I was at a stage where I had too many hangers already and couldn’t see the direction all that well.

That idea did get me thinking though about whether or not I needed these things at all, so that was helpful. Then, I started reading some articles about people who decided not to buy any clothing for one year. It began with this article in The Guardian by Rebecca Smithers. I read a few more articles by people who had completed the challenge, and got really interested in the psychological effects they wrote about. To start with, they said that it had made them wear clothes they forgot they had, rediscover old favourites and relive past events or memories revived by a particular jumper or dress. That sounded quite nice.

The second thing they pointed out was the obvious fact that they spent less money. A few of them said that the easiest way to avoid tempting sales or impulse clothing buys was to avoid big shopping centres, which allowed them to save even more money because they weren’t tempted by anything they saw. They went on to say that as a flow-on of that, they had more time on their hands and found they had more time for friends, reading, gardening, baking and other hobbies. It all sounded good to me!

The third theme I noticed from these blogs and articles was that it had made people re-evaluate their approach to modern life, as they found that they didn’t need new clothes if they patched up old ones, or wore different garments together to make a new style. They found this spilled over into other aspects of their lives, like fixing furniture that was broken or in disrepair rather than replacing.

I put a much higher value on clothes during my year of not buying any, and you always value something you've made more than something you've bought

I put a much higher value on clothes during my year of not buying any, and you always value something you’ve made more than something you’ve bought

I could do that!

I thought I might give it a go. At the time I made that decision, I really didn’t know if I could do it. I was really nervous. Looking back, I think that is completely ridiculous. I can’t believe I actually felt nervous at the thought of twelve months without buying clothes! I made a few escape clauses: I could buy underwear, and an outfit for an event like a wedding if I didn’t have anything suitable, because I didn’t want to bring down the tone of someone else’s event.

One of the main reasons for wanting to do it was that I thought it might force me into making more of my own clothing. If I wanted a particular type of outfit, I could make one if I didn’t own anything like it already.

I set my start date for mid-September, because that was when I came back from overseas. The first few months were really difficult, and I found I was so tempted by websites and walking through shops. I stuck to it though and eventually banned myself from websites like ModCloth, and from walking through department stores and even looking at shop windows. That really helped, and after that I really didn’t think about it.

I started making some clothes for work, and of course, half-way through the twelve months I set about my challenge to become the Homemade Bride!

After looking through my wardrobe, I started putting out clothing to charity shops. At first it was a bag full here, a bag full there, but eventually I think I got rid of about half of the clothes I started out with. I really didn’t miss them. I realised that the garments that were a higher quality were the ones that still looked good after years of being at the back of the wardrobe, and they came out for an airing. I wore a jacket I hadn’t worn in ages, and colleagues and friends started complementing it and saying they liked the style and hadn’t seen anything like it for a while. Good quality at the time of purchase stays good quality!

End of the challenge

Yesterday, I bought clothing for the first time in a year. It was really hard! I refused to buy anything that wasn’t good quality material, or that I couldn’t make myself with a bit of effort. That basically left things made of jersey (I can’t sew stretch) like t-shirts and singlets, and a shirt that goes over a tank top. I bought about five items, and it seemed like the biggest binge!

I might buy the occasional piece of clothing, but only if I need it and can’t make it.