No new clothes – learning to love the clothes I have and realising I actually don’t need more.

Full wardrobe
Full wardrobe
Full wardrobe ( and I don’t just have the one)

I have always been a bit of a shopaholic and a bargain hunter when it comes to clothes.

A few years ago I spent a year not buying new clothes – there’s a little about it on my separate (now discontinued)   blog

That time my challenge was to only buy second hand clothing for a year.  Excluded from this were shoes and underwear, and things bought with birthday gift vouchers.  As I went through the year I found I couldn’t get leggings second hand so allowed these new (loosely under the underwear category since I tend to layer them under dresses).

Actually the challenge was far easier than I expected and by the end of the year I had amassed loads of “new to me” clothing, along with far more new shoes and underwear than I possibly actually needed.  And I felt good because I had spent lots in charity shops. Although I went back to buying some new clothes, I continued to get well over 50% second hand.

Back in September last year I signed up for zero waste week and shortly after decided that perhaps it was time for a new clothes related challenge.  This time I was not just going to not buy new clothes, but not buy, or acquire, any additional clothes, shoes or underwear, whether new or pre-owned ( with one exception – see below).  Because this was a tougher challenge ( certainly one my husband thought I had 0% chance of sticking to), I set a more modest timescale – until Christmas, and set myself one exception which was a pair of specialist shoes needed for an arthritic toe as the old pair had started giving me blisters.

Actually I had only bought one item of clothing since July – a second hand dress which turned out not to fit and was donated back to charity.  So effectively my challenge began in July.

Allowing myself an exception for shoes in advance was perhaps not such a great idea as I quickly ordered a pair online (mistake to browse ebay after a glass of wine – I should know better) .  In the end I didn’t keep them – my old boots turned out to just need breaking in again for the winter and soon became comfortable again, and the new shoes didn’t really fit so after a few weeks I listed them back on ebay and sold them on.

Christmas came and went.  My only challenge really was a Christmas do at work which required a posh outfit.  I already had a gorgeous black satin fishtail wiggle skirt from Coast in the cupboard, picked up in a charity shop a few years earlier and never worn as I had struggled to find any shoes to go with it that I could actually walk in (I’m usually in either summer Birkenstocks or clumpy MBT boots).  A friend came up trumps with a pair of flat pointy court shoes she’d picked up in a charity shop which she lent me for the evening.  And my auntie lent me a lovely black lace top and a silver scarf (since we had a black/white/silver theme).  My auntie is a bit skinnier than me so the top was a bit on the tight side but altogether I was really happy with the outfit and I could even walk (and dance) in the shoes which friend now has on standby for me to borrow again should the need arise. And I had a lovely evening.

So, I made it until Christmas, and do you know what, I still couldn’t really think of anything I needed or even particularly wanted by way of clothing.  I unexpectedly received a gift voucher from work for long service and really struggled to spend it. After buying some things to help with my zero waste journey such as lush deodorant bars and storage tins, a loofah, a soap dish and replacing a really scratched wok with a hopefully longer lasting enamelled one,  I could only think of looking for clothes for the remainder  (I was limited to a specific shopping centre) but really wasn’t inspired by anything so aside from a nightdress ( as I had got rid of 2 just before starting zero waste – as my mending efforts had failed)  I bought some “functional” items – a thermal underdress, a pair of leggings and a couple of pairs of bamboo socks.  Aside from those I have still not acquired anything new, or even second hand.

At the start of this I shared my challenge with the folk over at the  Zero Waste Heroes Facebook Group to give me some motivation.  Someone commented that I would learn to really love the clothes I had.  I wasn’t sure, I thought I might get bored , but actually they were spot on.  I have culled quite a few things I wasn’t so keen on ( to charity shop) and most of my wardrobe is now things I really like (including the purple woollen dress in my post from a few years back).

So, my challenge has extended to cover 9 months, and I have to say that it has really changed my attitude towards buying new clothes.  I found that:

1)  I already owned way too many clothes

2)  I could donate some and still have more than enough

3)  Asking whether I need something really helps, and has extended way beyond clothing

4)  Because this attitude has extended beyond just clothing I have saved an average of £250 per month on my personal spending.  Considering I was mainly buying cheap second hand clothing to start with that is a phenomenal amount!

Going forward I will continue to ask myself how much clothing I really need and when I do need something be sure it is something I really love, and which fits me really well.  I like the recycling element of buying second hand so will continue to do this but where I do need new I am going to focus more on buying such new items from ethical companies – it may cost more, but I will be buying fewer items.

I have been invited to a charity clothes swap party next week (arranged by the good friend who kindly lent me her shoes).  So I am going to have a day off, at least, from not acquiring anything new to me.  But I am determined that I will bring home fewer items than I donate to the swap.  More about that in a future post.

I am still sorting out items to swap but so far have picked out 2 coats, a pair of velvet trousers (freshly dry cleaned and embarrassingly still unworn from the last clothes swap a couple of years ago) and a skirt to go:

Starting to gather items for the clothes swap
Starting to gather items for the clothes swap

What is your approach to buying new clothes and how often do you clothes shop?

You can now follow me on Facebook and Twitter using the links at the top.

Post featured on  Thrifty Thursday



11 thoughts on “No new clothes – learning to love the clothes I have and realising I actually don’t need more.

  1. Well done! I’ve been trying to do the same thing and find I still don’t wear half the clothes in my fairly small wardrobe. You’ve inspired me to do another cull.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Many years ago I had a shopping for clothes/shoes habit; it was bad. Luckily, I grew up and evolved. Now shopping is actually quite irritating to me and I do not go often. The last things I bought were in March: an athletic top, and a denim dress. I wear both constantly. I have recently been reading more of these fashion blogs; in the sense of “who made my clothes and what impact does this have”. One blog suggested if you don’t wear something at least thirty times you should give it away. I definitely have a self-chat before I buy clothes to see if I truly need the item or if I am just attracted to the look of it. Good for you to challenge yourself!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I absolutely love this post. I am a huge advocate for sustainable and ethical fashion, so to see other zero waste bloggers taking that concept into their wardrobe is wonderful. I have also been challenging myself to purchase only second hand when I need something. You bring to light a great question when shopping, “Do I really NEED this?” I think that is what most women struggle with because we have been trained to not where the same outfit twice, or that every season we need to stock up on a whole new wardrobe. While, I personally have not purchase new summer clothes in many years, this year I plan to get my summer pieces from second hand shops only.

    Keep up the good work. It’s inspiring to see!


    Liked by 1 person

  4. I very rarely buy new clothes these days. I just don’t see the point as the are all overpriced and generally you get better makes and quality clothing in charity shops for half the price as the high street stores.
    You’ve done really well with your challenge, thank you for sharing on #ThriftyThursday

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I just wanted to say, I love this post! Well done. I wish more people would aim for similar goals as well. I stopped buying new clothes mostly because I couldn’t afford them, but also because I don’t need them. Now I do most of my shopping at thrift stores and most of what I get has been for specific purposes like work or needing some specific gear for hiking. When I do buy something, I always try to get rid of/donate something else to keep my closet at an equilibrium.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post and well done! I only clothes shop when what I have is really unacceptable to wear out of the house and I keep my wardrobe small because I don’t enjoy putting away laundry 🙂 Fortunately (I guess) I have never enjoyed shopping. I keep a “good” outfit for weddings/funerals and such but otherwise am lucky that I can wear tshirt and cords most days. Recently, I have gotten it into my head that when an item needs replacing I would like to DIY the replacement. I am starting with knitting a pair of socks and sewing a skirt. I hope we can all be more conscious of who is making our clothes and how they are treated, as well as the environmental impact of our clothing choices. Enjoy your clothing swap!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s