365 days and no new clothes? Challenge Accepted

Towards the end of 2017, I read this New York Times article where the author details her Year of No Shopping. She felt she had too many physical possessions and a friend’s recent experiment led her to try it herself. Her situation resonated with me. When she charged readers to make their own New Years Resolutions, I figured why not!

My rule: no shopping for clothes. I wanted to keep it simple and clothes seemed like the easiest thing to track. Also, it was the one thing that I felt I had way too much of.

How did I do in 2018? For the most part, I succeeded. My two lapses were Nike sneakers (for the group fitness class I teach) and a group Halloween costume.

How could I not want to be part of a group Peik Lin costume??

Here’s what I learned:

  • I still have wayyyy too many clothes, enough to last two months without doing laundry. I tacked demand, not supply.
  • I didn’t actually save money; I just spent it elsewhere, like on a new video game system and more board games. My shelf overfloweth (100+ and counting…).
  • I did save time — no more browsing at Uniqlo or hunting for something I had to have or just killing an afternoon in Soho. And I didn’t need to fight the urge to buy something I didn’t need.
  • Now I know what I like and I don’t like, and why. Lined athletic shorts are more convenient than unlined shorts that require compression shorts. Neutral-colored bottoms match any shirt. Patterned, mono-colored button downs are great for going out.
  • Quality and traditional style trump fast fashion. I found myself wearing the same rotation of simple items that matched the season.
  • I stopped accepting free things unless I had a hand in making them or planned to wear them right away. No junkpile on my nightstand. Hooray!

But how do I apply what I learned to this new year? It’s time for No Clothes Shopping, Level 2. My plan:

  • If I don’t wear something within a year, get rid of it. When I recently moved, I donated three big IKEA bags of clothes. A good start. It’s going to be toughest to let go of my college t-shirts. So many memories there. I’ve thought about making them into a quilt or wearing them to the gym as potential conversation starters.
  • If I do buy clothes, have a purpose in mind — and stay away from fast fashion. Halloween is an okay excuse but I’m going to think twice before buying anything just because it looks cute.
  • Buy when I need, not when I want. The more extreme version would be to get rid of something before allowing myself to buy something. Not sure if I can commit to that yet, but that’s the ideal.
  • Cut back on shopping, period. For example, I have too many board games to even think about playing. It’s time to stop collecting and start retiring the ones I don’t love.

My year of no clothes shopping was enlightening. It helped me reflect not just on how much time and money I’ve wasted on clothes, but how I might change all my shopping habits. If you’re like me and have thought that you have too many physical possessions, curbing your shopping habit before dealing with your actual supply might be a refreshing way to start. It can also help you understand your relationship with clothes, what you like, and ultimately what works best for you. Thanks for reading!