For the past couple years or so I have been striving to live more minimally. I am in no way a full on follower of minimalist movement (not because I don’t like it, it’s just hard for me), but I do try to limit the amount of “things” that I owe. Although, I bet my brother would disagree with that statement. Still, I do strive to do my best to live with less. I find when it comes to my clothing I feel better and more prepared when I don’t have a lot of things, and everything that I have fits me well and goes well together. A closet overflowing with items is seriously anxiety evoking for me.
Back in the early days of September 2015 I started thinking about switching my summer wardrobe over to fall/winter. Normally I would pack my summer clothes up and bring all my fall/winter clothes out. I would take everything, put it into my closet and go from there. This time around I decided to do something different. I started with trying to figure out a color scheme, an arbitrary number of items I would want to have and then work within those parameters I narrowed down what I would ideally want in my closet. I tried taking into account what I prefer to wear and what I already have. It did take quite a bit of effort and time, and one day I will share what I came up with, but this post is about something that the process eventually lead me to.
Over the fall and early December I couldn’t help but question all my wants and potential purchases from clothing stores. I wondered what I really needed and whether the item(s) I thought I so desperately needed were actually important. Spoiler, unless you don’t have anything to wear, they are not important. That gray sweater I am eyeing is not going to make me happy. I questioned the quality and fit of the items I saw in stores, as well as their prices. The final straw came when I read “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of the Cheap Fashion” by Elizabeth L. Cline. It is a great read, and although I am a big proponent of questioning everything you read and see, the book aligned with something I felt for a while – I did not like the constant internal pressure to buy things. Yet, there was a dissonance since I loved clothes!
After I’ve had some time to digest the information and my own feelings on the subject, I think I’ve finally come to an interesting challenge I was considering. The challenge scared me as I wasn’t sure I could follow through, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt sure that I need to give it a good try. So shortly after in January 2016 I have decided to not buy any clothes for a whole year. Feels pretty big and scary! What? No clothes shopping? For a year??
Now, there are some exclusions and rules that will have to apply here:
- Everything I wear will be something I either already own or I make myself. This is key, if I want/need something new this coming year, I need to make it. That goes for everything – lingerie, workout clothes, jeans, dresses, t-shirts, everything.
- I am allowed to buy the following items – socks, tights, stockings, shoes, accessories. But only when I truly need them. That will involve some kind of evaluation process that I didn’t think through yet. I just don’t want to end up buying a ton of things I don’t need just because they are the things I am allowed to buy.
- I am allowed to buy fabric – but only after I’ve looked through my stash to see if there was something suitable. In other words I need to shop my stash first. I can already see this will be a challenge of it’s own.
I think that if I utterly fail at making certain items I still have plenty of clothes at home that should carry me through the year. I have no doubts about my dresses, tops and coats. I have been making those items for a few years and I mostly wear what I made when it comes to those categories. But I’ve never tried making jeans, workout clothes, lingerie and trousers until this challenge. My thoughts were that if I run into troubles, be it my skills or the lack of suitable fabrics, I have more than enough right now.
I am definitely nervous about this challenge and am worried about certain aspects. I am worried that my “slight” shopping addiction would turn to fabrics and I will end up with a fabric stash bigger than I, or my home, can handle. I am worried that I will end up without a pair of black workout capris halfway through the year since it is hard to find a suitable fabric and I’ve been utterly spoilt by Lululemon (this is definitely a first world problem and part of me doesn’t even feel bad for myself!). I am also worried about my sweaters. I love good quality sweaters and it is very hard to find good quality knit fabric to make my own.
However, all my worries aside, I think I should have what it takes to get through a whole year of not buying clothes. As much as this challenge is about not shopping, it is also about learning in the process. I am very excited about all the things I will take away from it! I will be posting updates and my thoughts throughout the process on the blog, I haven’t figured out the format or the schedule of updates and that is something I will think about in the coming couple weeks. In the meantime, wish me luck!
Anya, this is very inspiring! I actually set the same goal for myself this year for exactly the same reasons but was not brave enough to announce it to the world. I do believe I can do it, but it is going to be a challenge for me. I will particularly miss thrift store shopping, but every time I go, I end up coming home with at least 5 new things and my closet is overflowing. I also think I was holding back on announcing this because I am a little ashamed that one year without shopping is such a challenge for me. I love clothes, I love style and shopping and fabrics and it is going to be hard to stay away from stores. Since I started sewing like a maniac last Summer I have been feeling pulled in a lot of different directions, wanting to make so many things and yet feeling like my fabric stash and clothing collection is closing in on me. I hope this goal will help me to focus on my sewing practice and along with that I am doing the Wardrobe Architect from Colette and ‘shopping my stash’ as well. I am curious to check out the book you referenced, I recently watched ‘The True Cost’ documentary and it was scary and humbling to see the impacts of consumer fashion. The benefit of being a sewer is it is easier to opt out of that ‘fast fashion’ cycle by making quality garments that can stand the test of time.
I am sure we can do this goal! Can’t wait to follow along with your progress this year 🙂
No way! That’s amazing. Great minds think alike? 🙂 I was actually very nervous announcing it to the world too! Even though I sew and do try to make most of my clothes, I am like you and I love shopping, feeling the fabrics, seeing the styles and, not going to lie, the instant gratification of owning something you really liked in the store…
I don’t think there is anything to be ashamed of! I think it is a challenge for a lot of us and we are not alone in this. What about allowing yourself a certain amount to spend? I find I have way too much and I end up buying the same version of an item just because the color is slightly off or something, that’s why I went all in! Oh boy…
I am very scared that I may not pull it off, or end up concentrating on buying all the stuff that I am “allowed” to buy and will end up drowning in fabric or shoes.
I really want to do Wardrobe Architect as well! I have been thinking about it for a while and somehow I just never follow through. I think it may be a good idea to do it this year, just so I don’t end up making a whole bunch of clothes I don’t wear. I find I do that as well.
I will definitely check out the documentary you referenced! It sounds very interesting. The book I read had a very similar effect on me as the documentary seemed to have on you. I completely agree, it is so much easier to opt out of fast fashion when you can make quality clothes that fit and last.
I am sure we can do this!