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!