I Stopped Buying Clothes - An Update

Two months ago I challenged myself to put a halt to my shopping habits and not buy clothes for as long as possible. It has been an interesting experience so far; I have learned a lot about self control. Many of you may say that this challenge isn't really a challenge at all - surely you just don't buy things. However, this statement is much harder to obey when we are surrounded by shops and brands constantly pushing for us to consume and buy the latest products, keeping up with the Jones's (ironically) or simply maintaining a trendy wardrobe.

Collage made by Ella Jones - Images from Pinterest

Whenever I have talked about my challenge to others, one of the first things they say is: "but you have so many clothes that you don't even need to buy anymore." Which to an extent is extremely true, therefore this challenge hasn't been a struggle. I technically have enough clothes to survive - we all do - but it is whether I could control my desire for new items, and restrict my clothing spending to nothing.

Before I get into what I have been doing to limit my temptations to buy unnecessarily, it is important that I say I have not 100% succeeded thus far in the challenge. As a matter of fact, I purchased 4 items of clothing. I know, you are shouting at your screen, "YOU FAILED!" If we want to be strict, I have failed and purchased: a ring from Topshop, some cat ears for my Halloween costume from New Look and 2 tops from a charity shop (one of which I intend to sell.) The two high-street purchases I have no proper reasoning for buying them. If I had to make excuses (which I have been doing) then I would argue that a ring isn't actually a piece of clothing, and that the cat ears were necessary and I will most likely be using them for Halloween every year until I die (dressing up as a leopard/cat is the only time I will accept dressing up - fancy-dress events aren't my favourite but I have to compromise sometimes.) The 2 tops from a charity shop I feel that I don't have to make excuses for - the purchase was not from a fast fashion brand, so it isn't supporting the fast fashion industry, which was partly the reason for my start in this challenge, but at the end of the day I still bought them.

Changing my challenge's T&Cs:
These purchases have caused me to consider changing my challenge to not buying any new items of clothing from brands such as Topshop, New Look, Zara, H&M, Urban Outfitters etc... This pointed to me to question what my point of the challenge was, to which I have decided is to not buy clothing that is brand new. Something I have realised is that cutting out consumer habits is difficult. I love buying clothes and changing up my style, though I should consider narrowing my options to only being sustainable and good for the planet! Therefore this limits my options to: vintage shops, charity shops and Depop.

Except this made me think, should I have to CHALLENGE myself to adjust my shopping habits to be conscious, or should I just incorporate this into my everyday lifestyle and not even reach for fast fashion as an option. I felt that during this past few months, I would feel guilty buying from fast-fashion and have much less guilt buying in a charity shop - it is easier to justify the latter. 

When I decided to change my clothing buying habits, it becomes almost natural to avoid fast-fashion shops altogether. If you are not relying on purchasing new clothes for your happiness, your desire to even walk into the shop is non-existent, resulting in your desire to buy new items being eliminated also. How can we possibly stop buying clothes if we are consistently walking into shops? Trust me it is much easier to resist when you don't even have thing to resist against.

Social media is a problem...
The whole point of fast-fashion brand's Instagram profiles is to make you want to buy their clothing, to click on their website, to consider buying. Advertisements have a way of getting into your brain to make you feel that you need something, when in fact that feeling is confused with wanting. By unfollowing every brand I followed on Instagram, my feed has become unsurprisingly less like a marketplace. The Instagram algorithm (most hated thing on the internet to date) seems to prioritise these brands to the top of your feed, constantly pushing you to buy, buy, buy - and keep up with the latest trends. Unfollow them, it's as simple as that.

My advice to you:
If you are considering challenging yourself to limit your spending on clothing, one thing I have learnt is that you have to limit the opportunities you give yourself to buy. It is understandable that shopping has become an enjoyable activity for many people - the shops are designed to be a consumers haven, they are nicely presented for a reason. These days, I don't 100% avoid these shops, as it is nice to window-shop and look at what is trending (except I take note of clothes I like, then buy similar items on Depop or search for things in charity shops.) Something that often goes straight over people's heads is that their buying patterns are controllable - you just have to come out of the unconscious customer mind-set and take the time to really consider what you are purchasing.

Ultimately, I am challenging you to be more mindful. Let's say you spot a really nice jumper in Topshop that you are in LOVE with - instead of immediately buying it, go try it on in the changing rooms, think of 5 outfits you can make with it, when will you where it? How many times will you wear it in it's lifetime? Remove the 'impulse' feeling from buying new clothes and make it an actual decision that you have to consider - it will change the way you spend your money.

The future of my challenge:
I will still be limiting my clothing consumption- only to buying vintage, on Depop or in charity shops. It will be more of a lifestyle change than a challenge. I've concluded that buying clothes is (sadly) something I enjoy doing, so it is counterproductive on my happiness to stop buying clothes all together. So I will be limiting the locations I can buy clothes from. Excluding fast-fashion brands from my options, I am hoping will make my consumption feel less destructive of the planet.

Have you ever considered changing your buying habits? Or halting your excessive buying habits at all?


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