Learnings from a Year Without Buying Clothes

(This was originally posted on my blog.)

By the end of 2016, I was feeling overwhelmed by my space, especially by my closet. For those who know me, you know that it’s not unusual to come to my house with a huge mountain of clothes piled next to my bed. I was exhausted every time I looked at my closet and felt uninspired.

At the same time, I was trying to find ways I could impact the world in a positive way. I had changed my diet to exclude less meat, I donated money when I could, but I wanted to do more.

Before Cyber Monday, I decided I would go into 2017 and not purchase any new clothes. I purchased some essential items on Cyber Monday like a high waisted pair of black pants, a denim jacket, and some workout gear.

I felt intimidated but I watched the Minimalism documentary for inspiration. I made a few rules for myself:

  1. Do not purchase any new clothes.
  2. Borrowing clothes is okay.
  3. It doesn’t count if someone else purchases clothes for me.

The beginning of 2017 was tough. I remember going shopping with some friends and browsing through the shops. When one of my girlfriends asked me if I wanted anything, I told her about my challenge for the year. “What?! That’s impossible,” she exclaimed.

Looking back, I have to say there were only a few moments when I felt like this challenge was impossible. There were also a few times when I broke my own rules.* However, I learned from these experiences and I’d love to share them with you!

1. Trick yourself by hiding your clothes.

I believe most people wear only 20% of their closet on a regular basis. You wear what is comfortable. I created a system to “trick” myself by hiding away half my clothes on the top shelf of my closet. Every month or so, I would pack away the clothes I wore most often and switch them for clothes hidden in the box. It was a great way to get that “rush” of wearing something new and it also forced me to try new outfit combinations! You’d be surprised how easy it is for you to forget what you own once it’s out of sight!

2. Borrow clothes from friends.

I’m #blessed that my closest girlfriends share the same clothing and shoe size. If I needed a pair of heels for a wedding, I would ask my friends and then go over to pick them up. For some, this might seem awkward but I encourage you to see it as a way to hang out with your friends. It might even strengthen some relationships and remember, your friends are always willing to help you out! Another fun tip is to host “clothing swap” parties!

3. Go to a tailor.

The high waisted black pair of pants I mentioned earlier? The zipper broke before I was leaving to Amsterdam and those were the only pants I wanted to pack. I rushed to a tailor to get them repaired but to be completely honest, it hurt to pay $20 to pay a $35 pair of pants from Uniqlo. It made me reflect on how I should invest in better quality clothes and also learn how to fix clothes myself.

4. Learn to pack light.

I used to be the type of person who would pack 15 outfits for a weekend getaway. Now, I’ve mastered how to pack for a two week trip with less than 10 articles of clothing. By focusing on what you currently own and challenging yourself to find new combinations, you’ll find the most versatile items in your closet. (Also means more suitcase space for snacks! 😍)

Some Thoughts…

As I write this, it is January 16, 2018. Yesterday, I went to the mall to browse through stores and I was surprised that I didn’t want to buy anything. I tried on some outfits but didn’t feel the shopaholic rush that I used to feel. It was both relaxing and stressful to walk through the mall. Unsure if I’ll continue this challenge for 2018. If I do, I’ll have to make a few alterations to my rules (perhaps being able to buy a new pair of running shoes and undergarments). I would love to take this challenge a step further and add different categories like beauty products or art supplies (lol).

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Would you do a challenge like this? Is this something you’ve done before?

* 2 times I broke my own rules. The first was going to Target to buy 2 bras for EDC. I wanted to hot glue fake flowers to them and I did not want to sacrifice one of my bras. I should have gone to a thrift store but I didn’t plan ahead so that’s on me. The second is when I bought a yukata from Japan. I see this as vacation purchase and it’s something I wear every day…so no regrets.

Product Manager during the day. Artist all day. Advocate for reading fiction and meditating. Ask me about why you should love BTS.