THE BLOG

Why I Took Up the 'No New Clothes for a Year' Challenge

02/10/2015 09:28 | Updated 01 October 2016

In January 2015, after the usual excessiveness of Christmas, I made a bold decision to take a 'no new clothes for a year' challenge. Some years ago, when I first launched my blog, I committed to ending my constant cycle of buying trend led clothes from high street shops and instead to focus on buying high quality clothing that would last made by brands with a commitment to ethics and sustainability. Whilst this worked well for me and over the last few years, I have filled my wardrobe with beautifully crafted and unique and individual pieces, I still felt that I was struggling with the concept of only buying what I really need. My wardrobe was stuffed to bursting point with a colourful array of clothes both new and second hand, bought with the belief that my shopping was really making a difference in the world by supporting the ethical brands and charity shops that I shopped at.

The 'no new clothes for a year' challenge was a logical progression for me, giving me a chance to completely step off the fashion conveyor belt and take stock of what I have actually got in my wardrobe and what I actually really 'need' to buy.

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Once my year is up, I will happily go back to buying from my favourite ethical and sustainable fashion brands as they not only create beautiful clothes, but are working for change in the fashion industry and a better standard of living for those working in it. I will also continue to support charities like Oxfam by buying second hand clothes from charity shops. But I hope to have created much more clarity on what I really need to buy. I have found in the past that even charity shopping can become quite addictive, it is easy to buy things because they seem like an amazing bargain or find, only to leave them sat in the wardrobe for years unworn.

So how has it been? I am quite surprised to say that it has been pretty easy although I still have three months to go. I had imagined that the year would be a flurry of sartorial activity with me upcycling and making do and mending every spare moment. It hasn't exactly turned out like that!

At the same time as starting the 'no new clothes for a year challenge', I also enrolled myself in a year long diploma course. By the time I finish working, spending time with family and completing the seemingly endless assignments for my course, I have had very little time to think about clothes at all. The pile of 'to mend clothes' has been slowly increasing, perhaps just another reminder of how excessive the number of clothes that I own is.

There have been a few moments of creativity though, the eighties fancy dress outfit that I put together for a recent party featuring a vintage tracksuit jacket, that has now become a permanent addition to my wardrobe and the dress that I hadn't worn for ages and I found suited me much better with the sleeves removed.

The real upside for me though, has been the freedom from the need to buy clothes. Instead of spending my valuable time and money buying clothes, I have used it to enjoy myself. Meals out with my family, walks in the countryside and camping trips near the sea are so much more fun than clothes shopping.

I hope to end my 'no new clothes' year with a big clear out of my wardrobe to move forward with a more realistic view of what I actually need, allowing me to focus even more on the important stuff in life.