Twelve months, No New Clothes

January 2021 was fairly enexceptional. Well, pandemic aside.

Perhaps it was the vast expanse of nothingness that gave me time to reflect on the ridiculous extent of my consumerism; particularly towards fashion, having stared at a redundant wardrobe of clothes and shoes for the best part of a year.

In the dark cold months of hibernation, we had also made the decision to try to move house. So, as soon as the Christmas decorations were down, operation declutter commenced.

Undoubtedly, this process highlighted the scale of the issue. Hoarded items decades old, throw away fast fashion that had not lasted the test of time, and ‘brand new with tags’ clobber, although all too often less of the ‘brand new’.

The mountains and sacks of ruthless castaways made their way to friends, to family, to eBay and to the charity shops, and I made a pact to myself that we would never end up here again.

If I had to make a change to my shopping habits, then I needed to go bold, set myself a target, and commit. So a whole calendar year of no new clothes became my goal.

There were some exceptional clauses. Underwear for one, because, well, underwear. The kids stuff was somewhat more of a necessity than a whim, and I allowed myself to make peace with any gifts I may be bought for birthdays etc.

Realistically, I knew deep down that buying clothes had become a prop; a quick boost when I needed a pick me up and a result of the constant noise all around me, telling me I needed ALL OF THE THINGS. I fell for it hook line and sinker, and often those instant gratification buys were the ones that left me feeling pretty rubbish afterwards.

One of my biggest drivers was to break free from the path I had been on for so many years. Fuelling the belief that to look good = the latest trends, often seasonal and cheaply made, with a throwaway attitude.

Of course, ethically, this no longer aligned with my environmental values, and it also felt untrue to the person I wanted to be – accepting of who I am and being my truest self.

Dabbling in the second hand clothes market had presented itself to me as an opportunity. A win for the planet, my purse and a feel good vibe akin to finding a five pound note on the floor.

Pre-loved shopping in all it’s forms had taken a firm place in my heart as a way to feel sparkly and unique, to wear my personality on the outside and to be a magpie to the gems of someone elses unwanted garments.

There is a whole community of pre-loved buyers and sellers who will sell you exactly what you have been looking for at a fraction of the price; often with charitable donations on profit and the most unbelievable of bargains to be had. Second hand shopping is so much fun. Simples.

My approaches have been two fold this past year – focused and random. Both bringing their own joys…

For a more focused shop, I know exactly what I am looking for. Midi dresses in spring for the summer ahead, chunky knit jumpers in autumn. Online searches for your size, colour and coveted item can generate jackpot far more often than you’d ever believe.

And then there is the finds that seem as though you were meant to be together – the calf length boots in exactly your size, a T shirt that speaks to you, or a skirt that you didn’t even know you needed until you laod eyes on it.

This year shopping second hand has been a true joy – browsing charity shops, squeaking with excitement at what I just found, and unbelievable moments when that little treasure just caught your eye… and it’s in your size.

There were of course failures. Three to be exact.

Look, I’m no saint and years of habits take time to break. In 2021 I did purchase, brand new, a pair of trainers (Sustainable, Nike), a vest top (Local small biz support) and a warm winter coat (Superdry, made from recycled bottles).

As you’ll see, I have spent alot of time thinking about these purchases and justifying them in my own head. Honestly, I had even decided to add 12 months on any time I bought a new item.

But, perhaps I need to cut myself some slack. I HAVE CHANGED my shopping habits beyond belief, Time limits or no timelimits, there is no going back to how I was. If we were working to any kind of rule here, forget 80:20, I’d be hitting more like 95:5 and for that I’m really proud.

Buying clothes is never going to stop in our liftime, but what we do have the power to change is our attitude towards what we buy, how often we buy, whether we really REALLY need it, and if there is a more sustainable option.

There is power in trying something new, and being part of a movement.

Give it some thought…


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