A blog about style, minimalism & self-improvement

Why I won't buy anything new until 2017

| On
Friday, January 01, 2016

All my life, I've been an impulse shopper. For me, shopping is gratifying in that it instantly fulfills the desire to have something new and fresh. I've allowed it to be a form of stress relief, escapism, even exercise. Until I read 'All Marketers Are Liars,' there was a place somewhere deep down in my subconscious that believed the things I was buying would make me a cooler, more attractive person.

Instead of considering what I really needed in my wardrobe and having the restraint to search for the perfect piece, I shopped recreationally. My mind was the perfect prey for the thousands of blogs that bait readers with inspiration then infect them with a need to 'like it to know it' and ultimately buy things that will end up in a Goodwill bag within a year or two.

The problem with mindless shopping

It goes without saying that mindless shopping is an extremely expensive habit that wastes precious time and money. It's also wasteful for the environment, insensitive to life outside the first world, ungrateful to how truly blessed we are to live in such excess, etc. (I could go on for hours.) The biggest problem for me is that it chips away at my ability to make significant investments in what really matters in life (see travel, real estate, continuing education). Paradoxically, it also hampers my ability to build a timeless wardrobe of pieces that I'll truly hold on to forever and pass on to my future daughter or niece to love, like an amazing Gucci bag or a beautiful Dolce & Gabbana dress. (Let's be real, you will not be saving a 'But first, coffee' tee shirt for your progeny…)

Why eliminating new things will solve it

Over the past year, I've slowly been dialing back and attempting to live more minimally, but it's been an iterative process. I've donated an enormous amount of clothing, but haven't entirely stopped the flow of "new" into my closet: even as I write this, I still possess items that I rarely wore but refused to donate out of respect to the price I paid. In short, I realized that I need a more extreme approach to get the results I want.

They say style cannot be bought, but I've never really tested that theory. Resisting the urge to buy new things and live with my existing wardrobe for 365 days will give me the chance. The 'no new things' constraint will force me to wear what I own, allow four full seasons to consider what I really need to buy, and build up my savings to invest in those items in 2017. If you're interested in joining me in this year-long "no new things" wardrobe challenge, here's how I plan to go about it:

#1 Eliminate traditional retail shopping entirely for a full year

I recognize that protecting my disposable income from the (incredibly convincing) marketers of my favorite retailers and refusing to succumb to even the best sale will be an enormous challenge to my will power. But these are the forums where I spend mindlessly, and avoiding them entirely is necessary for me to break the habit.

#2 Make exceptions only for things that cannot be purchased second-hand

This would include gifts for other people (e.g., weddings, baby shower registries, etc.), workout clothing, socks, tights, etc. It also allows for the occasional vintage, thrift, or eBay find that do not count as new

#3 Document all of your temptations

In a journal, I'll note the things that I find myself wanting for during the season. It's going to be a long list... it's Day One and there's already two items jotted down.

#4 Reinvest the time saved from shopping

For me, that means that when I feel like I need to relieve stress, I'll go to Bikram, swim laps or take my dog on a long walk. Saturday afternoons will be spent exploring museums and art galleries with my friends. Urges to buy will be channeled into sharpening up skills I've been wanting to develop (photography, Photoshop) and I'll complete the wine education course I've had on my bucket list.

#5  Develop a list of wardrobe investments for 2017

At the end of each season, I'll go back through my notes from step #3 above and consider what items I'd wear for many seasons and spend time researching the designer options worthy of the investment. At the end of the year, I'll figure out what to budget, look through the list of 'timeless buys' for each season, and make my shopping list for 2017.

It's not going to be easy, but it will help me to be more thoughtful about how I spend my money and force me to be more creative in how I style myself every day. This "no new things for a year" experimental method for developing timeless style in a world of fast fashion is also great fodder for this blog, and I'm excited to share outfits-of-my-old-clothes and thoughts on this challenge for the next year!
18 comments on "Why I won't buy anything new until 2017"
  1. This is wonderful Colleen! I so admire you doing this. while I am reading your post I could totally see myself---someone who shops mindlessly so often, someone who holds on to stuff I don't even wear or need, they are packed away in boxes but I refused to donate them for whatever reasons, in the mean time I am buying yet more new things. I love your list of how to achieve the goal you set and will consult it very often from now on. I must admit I still can not say I will not shop for a whole year, but I will start by not buying so much. I will give myself a list of few things every month and consider it carefully.
    You are my great example,someone I will often look up to and feel encouraged from.
    Thank you!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Echo, thank you so much for your very nice compliment - I'm so happy you're finding encouragement in the posts, and your comments and support are encouraging me to keep writing them :-) The monthly/seasonal shopping lists are really helpful, keep me posted on what's making it on your list. I needed a more drastic approach to break my habits + save for some big things in 2017... anyway, happy new year and here's to a productive 2016!

      Delete
  2. Hi Colleen, I am looking forward to read about your experience and thoughts. And I am happy to report that I have the book "all marketers are liars" on my next reading list.
    It will help me further more! Thank you again.
    Happy Monday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You will love the book, and will probably never buy Fiji Water again! Thanks Echo, have a great rest of the week / weekend :)

      Delete
    2. Great! and I am proud to say I don't ever buy any type of bottle water, except for when I absolutely need to(i.e. for hiking)
      have a good day dear !

      Delete
    3. That is so good, and impactful. I need to do the same b/c I'm not great about bottled water, especially sparkling water. Need to get a good reusable bottle and a DIY soda maker! Have a great week!

      Delete
  3. Hi, Colleen! I, too, admire your resolve. For me, the catalyst for changing my shopping habits as well as adopting new shopping philosophy was the documentary "The True Cost." I'm so glad I found your blog where my inner thoughts about the subject are put to eloquent writing - clearly, I'm not alone in being dissatisfied with quantity over quality. Thank you for letting us follow along on your noble endeavor.








    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Ivanka! (Is this my favorite Ivanka V from IG?!) Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments and the documentary suggestion. I looked it up (http://truecostmovie.com/) and will add to my Netflix - sounds like it will be right up my alley. I really appreciate you reading and supporting my little blog - it is so important to find like-minded friends (even virtually!) who understand what you're trying to do! Hope to hear more of your thoughts on sloooow fashion in the future :)

      Delete
    2. Yep, one and the same :)

      I've been thinking very hard about this since I posted my comment yesterday, and decided that I'd like to try to do without shopping for new clothes for awhile. I'm still trying to figure this out for myself, and I'm not putting any deadline on this (too afraid of binge shopping after the deadline is over) but you got me inspired and I think I'm ready for the challenge. Maybe I'll just start and see where it takes me.

      I'll have to look up "All Marketers Are Liars." Thanks for the suggestion!

      Delete
    3. That is a good point about binge shopping... that's what happens to me when I give things up for Lent. However, just being more mindful about it helped me before I landed on my extremist approach. Maybe do 4 or 6 weeks (til the end of winter) and experiment with styling what you already have before buying for spring - you've got such great pieces already! Keep me posted on how it goes, would love to see more of your outfits. (P.S. Watched the trailer for True Cost and am already sad-slash-disturbed about what the industry is doing to third world workers...)

      Delete
  4. So scary but I LOVE IT! It's insane how much time and money we all spend thinking about clothes, purchasing them and then NEVER wearing them. The time and money you save alone will make the whole process worth it for you, not to mention the way you'll grow from not being tied down by materialistic things. Good luck to you! XXX

    Rhea | www.cateyechronicles.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rhea, thanks so much for reading and for your comment! It is so insane how much of our limited resources go into shopping. So far so good just two weeks in, but I know it will get harder as time goes by.

      Delete
  5. I'm really enjoying this discussion, Colleen! Using our creativity to enjoy more of what we have, spend less money, and look better. Thanks for the inspiration. I look forward to going on this journey with you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jill, thanks so much for reading and for your comment! So glad you'll be joining the bandwagon - we're still a small crowd, but growing! Looking forward to hearing more of your creative styling ideas!

      Delete
  6. Hello!
    It's interesting - as I've been more mindfully looking at what I actually wear in my wardrobe, I notice that I wear way more dresses than I think I do. Yet, I am guilty of going out and mindlessly buying dresses; even if at consignment stores. I like the idea of pausing and writing down observations, and researching for future purchases. Brain research is suggesting that planning for future travel trips the same joy/happiness parts of the brain that are engaged when traveling. If the brain circuits are similar to travel planning, this process will likely bring joy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Erin, thank you so much for reading and for leaving this thoughtful comment. It's so funny about how when you start paying attention, you realize how you (mindlessly) follow certain patterns. It's been less than three weeks of no new things for me, and I've realized how many varieties of black pants I own... it's actually embarrassing!Hopefully you are right about brain circuits favoring future planning for wardrobe investments, will pay attention to that going forward. Would love to hear more of your thoughts on mindful shopping in the future, it's helpful to know I'm not the only one who struggles with it.

      Delete
  7. Hello Colleen, Congratulations on your successful combinations. I also stopped the mindless shopping in 2015 which lead me to refashioning and now designing and sewing my own clothing. I look forward to following along your journey.
    Best wishes.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Elizabeth, thank you so much for your comment! (And I see we are connected on Instagram as well, I really appreciate you stopping by and checking out my little blog!) I would love to hear more of your thoughts on how you stopped your mindless shopping habit and see some examples of how you've refashioned pieces to include in a future post!

    ReplyDelete