I’m officially beginning my blog with the help of Rick Cano at Design Works. For a few years I’ve been endeavoring to host a blog site and playing around with it in some form. I think the timing is great that I’m able to make this official start at the beginning 2018 (even if it is at the end of January). I’m doing it! And now to share with you as my first post, an “I did it!”
I made no new clothes purchases for one year. As some of you gasp, I can say that I too am pleased with myself. Although I will tell you, that as impossible as that mission sounds, it was very possible to execute. In fact, possibly one of the easiest things I’ve been able to do in the form of self-discipline. Certainly easier for me than resisting the cranberry bliss bars that I made over the holidays.
As I was nearing the year-end finish line I shared the big news with a couple of friends. One said, “What’s your take away?” I hadn’t thought about it, but I was glad she’d asked. It gave me an opportunity to consider the outcome of my project and the feelings I’d had along the way. In a nutshell, this is my takeaway:
I’m glad I did it, I learned a lot, and I recommend it. This wasn’t a New Year’s resolution. In fact, it didn’t enter my mind to do this until a friend at work mentioned that she was going to do it. I had never heard of such a thing, but was instantly impressed with the idea. Several thoughts whirled at once in my mind, but the first thing I considered was not how much money I would save (although that is a benefit) but how much time I would save.
I love fashion, but I don’t like to shop. So you wouldn’t consider that time would be an issue. But even not being a shopper, I would find myself frustrated at the amount of time I’d spent scouring Goodwill for the right piece of clothing for the right price. Right away you think I’m cheap. That’s not the case. I am cautious with how I spend my money, and I love fashion, so Goodwill has been a great resource in finding quality clothes (as well as not so quality) at good prices.
My mission of not buying clothes included not buying used clothes, at Goodwill or otherwise. I had two exceptions: functionality (I purchased 2 raincoats, three pairs of underwear, and one bra) and accessories. The raincoats were bad timing; I didn’t get the right coat the first time so had to get a second. Not a story worth repeating. Undergarments tend to get ignored in my effort to reduce expenses (kind of like the bedroom is the last to decorate). I love accessories but didn’t purchase a one. I have had a hard time justifying the expense since being single. I thought this would be the time that I would indulge a little in that area. But as the weeks and months passed and I discovered my ability to do without anything new, I began a streak I didn’t want to break.
About a month into my project, my daughter and I stumbled on to a documentary called The True Cost. https://truecostmovie.com/. I didn’t anticipate the depth of what we were going to watch. I have never watched any of the documentaries about beef or chicken that we hear about. I love meat and I can’t bear to face something that is most likely real. But, like not shopping for clothes for a year was easier than not eating my cranberry bliss bars, I watched The True Cost but still won’t watch a movie about meat!
I have always been a bargain shopper. I’ve been the person who bragged about the cost of an item before thanking a person giving me a compliment on my outfit. I loved sharing a deal with someone and wanted my friends to have the same deal available to them. But The True Cost changed that, and I have no regrets. Maybe it’s my age, but I am weary (sometimes downright disturbed) with the consumerism and greed I see so much of in our world.
This past summer I listened to a book (I love to do that while doing tasks at home) called The Life-Changing Magic of Tyding Up by Marie Kondo. The concept has many great points, but the one I couldn’t get past was looking at a piece of clothing and assessing whether I loved it or not. Most of my clothes would be tossed in the garbage if asked myself that question. I guess that’s her objective. But it’s when that little striped top that sits alone is combined with a pair of khaki capris that I can honestly say that I like it, a lot. I have few clothes if any that I love. Marie Kondo would toss my entire closet. But for this last year, all those lonesome sorry looking pieces were combined with others and saved me precious time not shopping for more.
I wouldn’t say I saved money, because not buying clothes freed me to spend it on things in my home about which I have stressed. For example, I bought new windows. Windows are a huge expense and I was able to source a person who gave me a big discount. The expense was still huge, but at least I found solace because I had eliminated any guilt from money I’d spent on clothing that I didn’t need.
And finally, I felt good that I didn’t contribute to an industry that abuses its workers in third world countries while their profits soar in the face of factory disasters and horrific working conditions.
A friend asked me if I was going to run out and buy something new as soon as January 1st arrived. The answer was no. I’ve established a new behavior. I don’t think I’ll have hard and fast rules, but I want to be more conscientious about my buying decisions. I will look to find clothes from retailers that are manufacturing more humanely. I’ve learned those retailers exist and there’s an effort by people like Livia Firth to encourage better practices. I do love fashion. I’m mesmerized by the models as they float down a runway wearing the beautiful works of art conjured up and created by the designers. I love Nordstrom. As much as I love fashion, I’ve purchased few items in my life at will like I would like. It’s my own hang up about spending money. But knowing the true cost might be the opportunity to spend a little more on a little less and I welcome that new perspective.