NO CLOTHES SHOPPING FOR A YEAR CHALLENGE
Have you ever thought about under taking a no clothes shopping for a year challenge? This is exactly what one of my lovely clients ‘Michelle Jones’ decided to do. Michelle is seven months into her challenge and here is her story.
1.What prompted this year without clothes shopping challenge?
- Throughout 2017 I listened to several TEDx talks about the ‘minimalistic’ approach to belongings and also decluttering one’s wardrobe and building up a ‘core’ collection of items for each season and from there how many outfits could be made up from the ‘core’ collection. By core items the speakers referred to the absolute minimum to build an essential wardrobe for each season so that all the clothes for that season were visible in the wardrobe. Items not relevant to the season were moved to another wardrobe or packed away in boxes. The reason for this was to make it easy to decide what to wear. Once the ‘core’items had been selected then there were some additional items that you wore infrequently, for example rain jacket and evening wear. Then there were ‘complementary core items’ which included scarves, t-shirts, jumpers, bags, jewellery and accessories. The combination of these items with the ‘core’ collection increased the number of outfits.
- Another reason for the ‘No Clothes Shopping for a Year Challenge‘ was because I already had some outfits that I had bought but never worn because the hem needed to be shortened. Additionally some other clothes needed to be altered and I didn’t want to buy any more new clothes until I had altered these.
- I had a wardrobe full of clothes and wanted to work out different combinations to get more outfits.
- It was a challenge to me to see if I could last the year.
- Philosophically I believe that our society is becoming very materialistic and that advertising influences us to keep buying even though we can do without the new item. In 2012 and 2017 I visited Myanmar (Burma) and I was influenced by the gentleness of the people I met and their happiness despite their lack of items which in Western Society we consider essential.
2.What guidelines did you set yourself?
I could buy accessories, for example handbags, shoes, and scarves to complement my wardrobe and in this way get more outfits. As I can sew very well if I wanted new clothes then I would use my resourcefulness and buy the fabric and sew the item. However so far I have not had the time to sew anything.
3. Describe your shopping habits prior to this challenge.
Usually I waited until the Christmas and the mid-year sales to buy clothes and then would buy items that I already had the right colour accessories for or would complement other items in my wardrobe. Every now and then I would buy some items not on sale that I ‘loved’ and always gave me a special feeling whenever I wore them. I also bought clothes that I didn’t particulary like which were bought in a hurry because I thought I did not have enough clothes to wear to work. This was because I had not taken the time the previous evening to work out an outfit to wear the following day. When I woke up in the morning I would just stare at my clothes and think “What will I wear today?” and be in a hurry to select an outfit.
4. What concerns did you have in regard to not shopping for a year?
I was concerned that I would not last the year. In fact, in March I couldn’t resist buying two beautiful outfits at full price. This was an impulse buy because as yet I have not worn either outfit. As I bought these on 12/03/2018 I now need to wait the full year until 12/03/2019 before I can buy new clothes. If I ended this challenge on the original date 31/12/18 then I would not have finished the one year challenge.
5. What are you finding challenging?
- My biggest challenge is not to buy any clothes. I love fabrics and new styles and I have to avoid going into dress shops in case I am tempted to buy something.
- I also watch several current affairs programs on television and am constantly reminded what the latest fashions are because the current female presenters wear them. It is a challenge to override the urge to buy similar styled outfits or prints.
- It’s been difficult and yet at the same time rewarding that I have stuck it out so far. After I did the ‘Work Your Wardrobe’ workshop with Individually You I was very aware that I needed more neutrals, brown and cream in my wardrobe to maximise my numbers of outfits. However because of the challenge I have to wait until the end of it to buy them.
- At present I need a pair of dark blue jeans because my other pairs have faded and the challenge is not to buy a new pair. A new pair would enable me to have more outfits for a Friday work day because my work has a policy of ‘Friday Jeans Day.’ The next challenge is to find the time to sew the jeans. I would selct a simple skinny leg style without pockets and then wear tops that end under my hip line as that length is most flattering for me.
6. What has changed for you?
- I’m giving more thought on how to combine clothes to get different outfits and how to change one outfit with different accessories.
- When I recently bought a scarf I gave great thought to the colour and selected the scarf so the colours would complement several outfits in my wardrobe to give them a different look.
- I’m more comfortable wearing styles in public that I only wore at home, for example wearing very fitted clothes and shorter hemlines which flatter my figure. Wearing the fitted style in public increased the number of outfits for work.
- I now take time the night before to select the outfit that I will wear to work the next day and also iron it and clean the shoes that go with the outfit so it will be ready for the next day.
- I’m more aware of what looks great on someone. I ask myself why and then see if I might get the similar outfit with what I have in my wardrobe.
- I’ve changed hair dressers and now have a modern hairstyle that suits me better.
7. What are you learning about yourself?
- I have perserverance to stick things out. Even though I bought the 2 impulse items two and half months into the challenge(mid-March) I have shown resilience by not buying anything since then which is now 7 months later (mid October).
- I understand my wardrobe better and so far have been pleasantly surprised that I am getting a larger number of different outfits even though I haven’t bought any new clothes.
- Just because I am not buying clothes I can still learn more about my wardrobe hence I enrolled in Individually You’s ‘Work Your Wardrobe’ workshop.
- I’ve learnt that ‘less is more’ and it’s taking me less time to manage my wardrobe.
- I’ve learnt to manage my time better and the value of setting time aside to continue the work of decluttering my wardrobe to have my ‘core’ items for each season.
- This one year challenge has reminded me of the role of clothes in one’s life and how we can use them to ‘ power dress’ and the big part they play in non-verbal communication when people first meet and form an opinion about someone.
Thank you ‘Michelle’ for sharing your ‘No Clothes Shopping for a Year Challenge’ story. You are an inspiration. Your persistence and resilence is to be admired. You have really got me thinking but I know I wouldn’t set myself a year long challenge but possibly one or 2 months. The question would be which months would I choose. Look forward to hearing from you after your ‘No Clothes Shopping for Year Challenge’ ends.