Could You Go a Year Without New Clothes or Cosmetics?

4 years ago

[How many of you made resolutions to spend less or consume less in 2014? Morra's done it twice -- read on for her plan for how to go without new clothes and cosmetics and check out the link to BlogHer News Section Editor Grace Hwang Lynch's own similar experiment. - Rita]

In a year's time, I will not buy myself any new items of clothing. Nor will I buy any discretionary cosmetics or skin care items. Want to join me?

This is my second time around. Rachelle Mee Chapman inspired me to go a full year without buying any new clothes, which I did from Nov.26 2009- Nov. 26, 2010. When I did the year, it was incredible. Very frustrating at times (made less frustrating because I was pregnant for 9 months of the year and had no desire to wear anything except a nightgown), but truly life-changing. I didn't fear my credit card bill at the end of the month. It was liberating, because I love clothes and I had to learn to let the yearning go and love what I have. When I shopped with friends or my mom, I could focus on them and not think about my own desires. It forced me to think about quality, about stitching, about mending and caring for my clothes like my mom taught me to. It changed me so profoundly I now find myself handling items in stores and muttering aloud things like, “They just don’t make quality anymore.”

Credit Image: Postcards from you on Flickr

In 2011, I lost the 70 pounds gained w/baby no. 2 and if I do say so myself, I look awesome. I look so good I have bought a haul of new stuff, and I can wear my favorite pieces from ten, five or a couple years ago. But I find myself dreading the credit card bill again. And I find I discount what I own, all the pieces I have already invested in. I just want new, and more. So now, I have enough, and I’m going to take the year off from buying.

Still, I need to look good. I have clients, I do a lot of public speaking, I go on television, I pitch Fortune 500 companies. I am quite vain, and I love designer. This exercise is not about me renouncing beauty, it’s about knowing when you have enough. I’m going to try to look great using what I have. And if I’m in a meeting with you, and I look ratty, you need to tell me!

I love fashion. What I’m not okay with is not being mindful. I’m not okay with running into a discount store and snapping up things that aren’t great just because they’re designer. I’m not okay with my tendency to indulge in eBay and flash sites just because I am having a crap day. I’m not okay with the shopping equivalent of binge eating. I want to be the fabulous French woman, indulging in a tiny bit of rich gourmet and feeling satisfied. I want a small, thoughtful, quality wardrobe. As my friend Penn says, “Buy once, buy good.” Penn hand washes her lovely Hanro camisoles, and they last forever.

To get there, I first need to get to know what I have. Then, I need to identify the holes. Here are my ground rules -- and you should feel free to amend them for yourself:

  • I won't buy any new clothing items for myself, unless I need underwear, bras or t-shirts. Or I randomly get invited to the White House or something like that.

  • No accessories or jewelry, either -- I have edited my closet, make-up, and work wardrobe to a place where I feel I have what I need.

  • Gifts/hand me downs/swaps are fine to accept.

  • Tailoring/mending existing clothes is fine and encouraged.

  • I'm also going to add a new challenge this year, which is no new MAKEUP and skin care. Basic moisturizing and cleaning refills are good, but nothing else. No impulse buys.

I’ll be shopping in my closet to create new stuff. I’m a terrible stylist, so maybe some tips on accessorizing would be great, too. And I’ll do the same. Are you in?

If you need more inspiration, check out Grace Hwang Lynch's blog on her (almost) year without shopping. Grace explains her decision to forego shopping for a year: "While I wasn't in debt, I knew that the money (and the time) I was spending on clothes was preventing me from investing in myself in other ways."

The first few months were painful. I constantly thought about clothes and realized how I had turned to the mall as a place to pass time, while my kids were at school or when I needed a break in the evenings. By the fall, I realized how much I had saved and how much my lifestyle had changed. With the money I saved by not buying clothes, I was able to upgrade to a new dSLR camera that I previously thought I could not afford. I do have to acknowledge that I look a little frumpier than I did before, but most of my wardrobe is entirely sufficient for my life, since I work at home and spend lots of time with kids. Also, I have a list of items I'd like to buy in the upcoming year, but they are things I've thought about for a long time, and I will look carefully to find the right items that will last.

How's that for mindfulness?


Morra Aarons-Mele