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"I Stopped Buying Clothes For A Year – And Here's What I Learned"

Despite my better judgement, I admit that I am one of those people who make New Year’s resolutions and doesn’t normally stick to them but in 2018 one stuck. I decided to start my year by reducing my waste and ecological footprint not going without all together but my aim was to be more conscious of my impact and do my best to reduce it.  

One of the things that have been highlighted has been the impact of fashion on the environment. It takes 2,700L of water alone to create one tee and jeans consume a whopping 3,871L to produce.

But it isn’t just the water consumption we need to be mindful of women wear clothes an average of seven times before they are retired and as much as we’d love to imagine all of our clothes getting a second lease on life in reality majority end up in landfill. 

Plus from a budgeting perspective, Aussies spend a whopping $20.4 billion a year on fashion and for a single millennial like myself around $1,000 a year (at least).

So paired with these stats and a bulging wardrobe I set out to see if I could go without. 

I must caveat that before starting this challenge I wasn’t really a massive fan of shopping, after one or two stores my eyes glaze over and I resemble more of a zombie than Cher from Clueless.

My dislike for crowds and pesky sales assistants had transformed me into somewhat of an online shopping pro. So first things first I unsubscribed from all retail emails to minimise all temptations. What’s next? Well not much really. The best bit was not buying anything didn’t mean that I missed out on a thing. 

Sundays spent at the mall – gone.

The stress of a large afterpay balance – gone.

Hours trolling the internet for the perfect work outfit – gone.

The hassle of finding a new outfit for an upcoming social event – gone.

I didn’t make a big song and dance about my challenge as it was my own secret social experiment. So when I told my friends in July they were couldn’t believe it and when I led on to my colleagues who I see five days a week in November not one of them had even noticed #winning.

* I must admit that on my overseas summer holiday I did buy a dress, I made sure it was ethically produced but one dress can’t hurt… right?

The biggest takeaways and learnings for me:

Borrowing clothes from friends. Remember when you were a teenager and it was totally normal to borrow clothes from all of your friends? Why did we stop? If anything I am more responsible now (and will give it back) and our fashion taste is definitely better.

Mix ‘n’ match. I felt a bit like a Sims character at first. But do you know how many different combinations you can create from your wardrobe? I still don’t think I have hit my limit, pairing basics with colourful prints or a piece you haven’t worn in years – tah dah.

Accessories are a must. How do you change up your go-to black dress? Accessories. Pair it with earrings, a bold lip, different shoes and why not a different jacket? No one noticed me wearing the same skirt two days in a row.

Declutter. I did not one but three massive declutters of my wardrobe this year. I know it sounds ridiculous but if I wasn’t buying a thing and still not managing to wear an item well I don’t know when I ever will. 

Repair. As I was cycling through around 25 different items on repeat there was a bit of wear and tear. But before I threw them out I put my very basic sewing skills to the test. I managed to repair a few small holes and even reattached a wrap dress cord! And what I couldn’t I took to my local tailor. 

Create. My mum’s love language is gifting and knowing she couldn’t give me any presents I think crushed a small part of her soul. Her solution? Pulling out the 20-year-old singer and making this cute sundress for me. I absolutely love it (not to mention all of the compliments I got) and it has inspired me to look into making my own clothes.

So now it is finished and I must admit I am a bit relieved, but here we are 16 days into January and I still haven’t made a purchase… why? Well honestly apart from some socks and undies I really don’t need anything new right now. But when I do I’ll be spending more on an item that I know will last longer and that is ethically and sustainably produced.

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