What I Learned From Not Purchasing Clothes For One Year

Not purchasing clothes for one year might not be a big deal for you, but it is a HUGE deal for me! I’ll admit. I. love. clothes. And I love clothes to a fault. After returning home from Guatemala in October 2014, I took one look at my closet, and just wanted to cry. It was spilling over with clothes. So many more clothes than I would ever need or likely even wear. I could practically clothe Guatemala with the amount of clothes in my closet.

After serving in my church’s street ministry for the last 4 years and being in poverty-stricken country, it hit me like a tons of bricks; I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. Oh sure, I could pass out clothing, socks and shoes on a weekend. But on Monday, I could surely stop by Banana Republic and pick up a couple of new dresses, whether I needed them or not. There wasn’t a trip through San Marcos, TX that I didn’t stop.

And don’t get me started on the ridiculous GAP outlet coupons I’d find in my inbox. This, undoubtedly, assured me at least 10–15 new pieces of clothing for hardly anything.

As I looked in my closets, fumbling through my clothes, a pattern began to emerge. Rack after rack AFTER RACK of BRAND NEW CLOTHES with the tags still on them. Remember when the Jason Wu for Target line came out back in 2012? I was IN LINE before the doors opened and bought every piece he created. And guess how many pieces I’ve worn? Three. THREE!!! There were about 10–12 pieces in the total line, so the remainder sit in my closet, unworn and, in eBay lingo, ‘NWT.’ (Let me know if you’d like to buy any pieces.)

And then a conviction came over me. Could I go ONE WHOLE YEAR and not buy a single piece of clothing? I had my doubts. I really, really love clothes! (Have I already said that?!)

Once you are truly disheartened with yourself and a bad habit, you vow to make a change. And that’s exactly what I did. I embarked 2015 and labeled it the “Year of No Clothing Purchases.” I expected to fail, therefore I didn’t blast this all over social media, but did tell my parents, sister and a few close friends in order to have some accountability.

I did pretty well the first half of the year. Truth is, my schedule is different every day and I usually see different customers most weeks. Therefore, I can mostly wear the same outfits, cycling accessories, shoes and combinations.

But then, it happened…a “black tie affair” work related event! Usually these happen once a year or so, so I’ve worn most of my “black tie” dresses in the past and HEAVEN FORBID wearing something I’ve worn before. I panicked. Here it was June, I made it 6 months without buying a stitch of clothing and I was about to have to purchase a new dress. I was devastated.

In a last ditch effort, I scavenged my closet for any trace of a “black tie” dress that would suffice.

Low and behold, I FOUND a little black dress, NWT, squished between other dresses in my closet. I honestly could not remember buying it, but I knew it had to be 3–4 years old as I completely recycled my wardrobe after my divorce in 2011. But would it even fit? I must have ordered it online as I had never tried it on. And HALLELUJAH! I squeezed in the dress. Juuuuusssst barely.

Again, the ridiculousness of my habit was front and center and I was more determined than ever to finish the year without purchasing new clothes.

Then fall rolled around, and the “Year of No Clothing Purchases” was really no big deal anymore. It wasn’t hard to delete coupons from my email. It wasn’t hard to drive right past my favorite stores. A new normal began to set in for me. Throughout 2015, I also began to slowly clean out my closets (still more to go) using the “two year rule.” If it hasn’t been worn in two years, it’s donated. I mean, because does anyone really need 8 pair of khaki pants?! What in the world?!

(On a side note, my mom was cleaning out closets at her house over the fall, and found a sack of clothes from Banana Republic, of course, NWT. The receipt in the bag was dated 2012. I didn’t even remember buying them, but apparently had left them there because I had no room in my suitcase to take them home. I mean, seriously?! *sigh*)

As the calendar rolled over to January 1, 2016, I completed my one year clothing sabbatical and did not spend a dime on clothes. What did I lose? NOTHING! What did I gain? SO MUCH PERSPECTIVE. I think this also goes hand in hand with getting older. Somewhere along the way, you (I) start to care less and less about what other people think. You seek out friendships based on genuine love; those who adore you for YOU and never judge. Of course, I still want to look cute and put together, but no longer feel the need to purchase new clothes every month. In my journey towards simplicity, I am learning that less is MORE. Less clothes equals less hassle, less space needed to house them, and less decisions to make! Less things, less space, less hassle, less decisions…I think I see a new habit forming!

In addition, my one year moratorium on purchasing new clothes allowed me additional cash flow to donate, invest and/or save. More on this to come in future posts, but it’s true you can’t outgive God. And it’s INCREDIBLY important to save and invest.

As I post this, it is January 30th, 2016 and I have no desire to go out and shop. (I stopped in Ross this week just to test my stamina, and I didn’t buy a stitch of clothing! In fact, I didn’t really enjoy being in there.) Granted I’m certain I will purchase new clothing again, but my purchases will be much more thought out and NECESSARY, rather than because I simply want.

So as for me? I want simplicity. I want less. My “Year of No Clothes Purchases” exemplifies both. I’m excited to see what additional convictions the Lord lays on my heart, to make me a better me AND to make me more like Him.

If you’d like to read more about the benefits of owning fewer clothes, here is a post from one of my favorite blogs! A Practical Guide to Owning Fewer Clothes

What about you? Could you go an entire year and not purchase any clothes? It’s a freeing experience to break a bad habit! Are you up for the challenge? Tell me in the comments below.

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