In light of my previous post on ‘investing in your wardrobe’, I’ve started to take stock of my mindless spending and excessive consumption and be accountable for what I’m buying, where I’m buying it from and how much of it is I’m buying.
How many of us have been consumed with unrelenting guilt after a shopping trip? Or dread to see our credit card statement after another binge on cheap, disposable fashion? Who takes longer than five seconds to decide on what to wear in the morning, simply because you have too much choice in front of you and too many things that clash, rather than complement? And who else has difficulty in literally closing their wardrobe doors shut because it’s crammed with oodles of gratuitous things?
I know I’d be the first to put my hand up, and I haven’t even begun to think about my contribution to landfill. Even drinking Nespresso coffee makes me feel unethical.
With all this in mind, I’ve decided to finally draw a line in the sand and set myself a number of challenges which may possibly involve getting rid of 80% of the things currently in my wardrobe. Even the mere thought of this terrifies the shit out of me.
So without further ado, the challenges I have set for myself for the upcoming autumn/winter (and hopefully beyond) are:
- Limit myself to five (and only five) purchases per season. This includes shoes and handbags.
- Limit myself to one new makeup item per season (this excludes stocking up on anything that I run out of). This should be relatively easier to action as I rarely buy cosmetics unless I’ve hit pan.
- Before every purchase, spend at least four weeks mulling over it. Impulse purchases stop here!
- Do not step foot into any chain stores for an entire season.
- Cull my shoe collection to 10 pairs from the current number of 60-70.
- Divide my wardrobe into two piles: clothes I have owned for at least two years (as well as things that I will honestly see myself wearing for the next five years); and donate or eBay the rest. As simple and as difficult as that.
- Incorporating the same piece of clothing into my outfit at least three times a week, whether it be a pair of shoes, a jacket or a pair of trousers. Handbags don’t count!
- And/or pull out five different pieces of clothing that I haven’t gotten much wear out of, and wear them to work in varying outfits over the course of one week. I’m hoping this will make choosing an outfit much quicker in the morning.
- Repeating an outfit at least once a week.
I’m sure I could think of more to torture myself with, but I think I’ll stop here before I start counting my chickens.
For someone who, on average, buys roughly five new things over the course of 2-3 weeks, I think my biggest challenge will be limiting myself to five new things over a 3-month period. There was a time in my life (I think when I started working professionally a few years ago) when all I wore were ‘investment pieces’, snubbing everything that wasn’t silk, cotton or leather. I began to appreciate a perfectly tailored pair of pants, the billowy silk of a blouse, the calf leather from a pair of red-soled shoes.
But somewhere along the line, I got married, had my wedding, and was finally free to spend my money on something other than chair covers and bridal cars. I decided I wanted to have options; to have twenty different jackets to choose from and triple that amount of shoes, even if I only had the opportunity to wear those shoes once every few months. I equated having ‘nothing to wear’ with ‘so little to work with’, and the only way I knew out was to buy cheap things (often on a whim) and lots of them. A girl needs options, right? I would buy clothes that didn’t 100% fit me simply because it had a red sale sticker on it; and I’d convince myself that I really needed something because it looked amazing on somebody else.
Ironically, I’ve discovered that too much choice can be a dangerous thing, and that in my pursuit of expressing my personality, I’ve ended up looking like every other girl out there. Plus, I buy so many clothes, and so often, that before I can seek enjoyment in wearing something, I’m already moving onto the next. I feel so awful when I think about it, and how many years it has taken me to realise this: I am nowhere near as rich enough to afford cheap clothes.
But I’m really looking forward to the challenge, as well as the prospect of curating a closet full of carefully edited clothes that allow me to put an outfit together in my sleep.
So, folks, I’m off to rehab as of autumn. Wish me luck because I’m going to really need it!