Back in June I set myself the challenge of abstaining from buying any new clothes for at least 3 months, and let me tell you… it’s been some kind of existential journey.
I don’t think you truly realise how long 3 months is until you are restraining yourself from doing something in that time. Three months is essentially a quarter of a year, which is a pretty big amount of time to go without anything new, particularly for a clothes whore like myself.
So, after packing up half of my wardrobe at the beginning of the summer and donating it to charity (and then discovering so many clothes I had forgotten I had), my challenge began and I was feeling pretty optimistic.
My first step was to avoid any ‘clothes triggers’ which meant unfollowing all of the clothing shops I follow on social media, as well as any fashion bloggers who always make me want to buy new things. A big part of this challenge was accepting that, actually, I’m not a fashion blogger, and nor do I want to be. Do I really want to make a living promoting charcoal toothpaste on Instagram and being paid for advertising products I probably wouldn’t use in real life? No thanks hun. I’m a lover of clothes, but I would rather use my blog to write about interesting things in an engaging way (clothes is a part of that, but certainly not the defining aspect).
Once I’d established I wasn’t a fashion blogger who needed 16 new outfits a week on Instagram just to make enough money to live, I then started to think about why I buy so many clothes, and why so much of what I buy becomes obsolete within a month.
I noticed that I was always drawn to colourful and expensive things. Though there’s nothing wrong with colourful and expensive things, I was only wearing these things a handful of times (if that) before they were relegated to the back of my closest. Take this Miss Selfridge dress for example. I was obsessed with this dress, and waited months for the £120 price tag to be reduced to £60 before I bought it. As much I loved and obsessed over this dress, I’ve worn it literally once in 4 months, because it’s the kind of dress that can only be worn to an occasion like a wedding. If I had instead opted to buy a simpler dress at half the price tag, I would have probably worn this a lot more. I’ve definitely learnt to consider what items will go with and how often they will be worn before making a purchase – some things are pretty one off pieces (and you definitely need a few of those in your life), but what will last is classic, neutral clothes that don’t clash with the rest of your wardrobe!
When you are trying to buy clothes, you’ll find you notice what other people are wearing even more than before. Sometimes, I would look at peoples outfit with envy because I missed that feeling of debuting a brand-new outfit, but it also made me consider what similar clothes I already owned. It sounds strange, but once you have an idea of a new outfit you want after spotting it on someone else or while browsing Pinterest, you will actually probably find you have similar pieces already, and it’s just a case of finding clothes to match, or wearing that item with something completely new.
I’ve literally had this New Look bodysuit for years, and I’ve always worn it with shorts or a skirt. But I realised it can also be a super casual top that’s perfect as daywear, so just matching it with light jeans and a leather jacket made it feel new and exciting.
In 3 months, I’ve also established that the urgency I sometimes feel to buy new clothes has absolutely nothing to do with the clothes itself, but actually my mood. When I’m stressed, annoyed or feeling inadequate, getting something new has always been my ‘go to’ reaction, but I’ve found that 30 minutes of my exercise bike or a quick walk will soon numb that need to spend money. This also means I don’t get that guilt after making an impulse purchase, and instead I feel proud because I managed to avoid it.
I will be honest. I didn’t quite manage 3 months without any new clothes, but I’ve definitely become more mindful about my spending, and also learnt the difference between want and need. I’ve learnt that just because the industry tries to tell you what’s in fashion, you don’t necessarily need to buy something similar just to feel satisfied that you’re trendy. Make do with what you have, save for those items that will actually bring something different but also consistent to your wardrobe, and always wear whatever the hell you want, always.
My main big purchase over the last few months has been this jacket from Asos (now OOS). I think everyone knows what I mean when I say that sometimes you just see an item of clothing and it feels like you. There is just something about this piece that represents everything you are, everything you want to be.
It has taken me a while to solidify what exactly my style is, but I think after these 3 months having taken a step back from fashion, I finally know. My style is series 2 casual Rachel Green with a little bit of the series 10 professional thrown in. My style is a little bit of a western edge to everything I wear, whether it’s my boots or my jacket or my hat. My style is effortless but with one eye-catching detail, whether it’s my glittery shoes or cat t-shirt. Essentially, I’m a 90s gal in 2017 with a soft spot for turtle necks and leather.