Halfway Through A Year Of No Shopping

July 17, 2018

The idea was planted as I chatted with a few coworkers before an all-agency meeting last December. One was talking about her upcoming new year’s resolution to stop buying fast fashion and buy more quality clothing pieces. This intrigued me. I’ve always admired capsule wardrobes. I had set some small-scale clothing goals in the past and found a fair amount of success with things like only five new pieces per season, one in/one out, etc. But I wanted to go further.

I was struggling to fit into my pre-baby clothes after having a baby in July 2017. The transition back into full-time work and full-time mom was difficult. Working out, sleeping and healthy eating weren’t high on my list of priorities, and I was noticing the effects.

Surprisingly, social media was fueling most of my insecurity and online shopping behavior. I spent a lot of time on my phone and on Instagram while I was nursing. I admired other people’s cute clothes and thought about how I would feel better if I just had those shoes or that sweater. More attractive. More fit. More comfortable in my own body. As you can imagine, Madewell, Gap and just about every other clothing retailer followed me around my digital house, promising the cute top I’d seen would be just as cute in my closet and they had a special deal just for me – an extra 15 percent off my purchase!

Spending so much time on social media began to make me feel “less than.” I constantly compared myself to other people. I knew the marketing messages flooding my newsfeed and inbox were all being created to make me want to buy, buy, buy, but it became impossible to escape from feelings of insecurity. I wanted more clothes, but I didn’t actually need anything, so I decided that I wasn’t going to buy clothes for myself a year. There would be a few exceptions – clothing given as a gift was within bounds, as well as replacing under garments, if needed. But otherwise, my closet was going on a yearlong diet.

And you know what, it has been my best resolution to date. And I’ve discovered some valuable things along the way.

I thought I would become more creative in how I dress by making more with less. In reality, it has done the opposite. I’m happily aware of how uniform my style is and how little I need in order to feel good about what I’m wearing. Once I stopped thinking about what I wanted, it became easier to appreciate what I already had and focus on the positives of how certain pieces made me feel while I was wearing them.

My closet’s diet also translated to a digital diet. I became ruthless on Instagram and cleared my feed of style influencers, retail ads and accounts where you could purchase clothing. And likewise with my Gmail account. Every “sales” announcement that came through my inbox could was discarded. It was freeing.

I’m only halfway through the year, but my commitment to the resolution has changed the way I shop and purchase things outside of my wardrobe. I’ve come to find that the more I purchased, the more I opened myself up to other things that I could purchase, creating a void that could never be filled or satisfied because I was focusing on material things.

I won’t say that I’ve saved a ton of money – I honestly haven’t kept track – but I’ve become discerning about where I spend my money and what’s worth saving for. I’ve learned what we truly need to be happy as a family and what feeds my own soul, and I can tell you it doesn’t come in a shopping bag.