As you may know, I decided to do a short-term New Year’s Resolution – I would stop shopping for new clothes, starting in the beginning of my spring semester at college – January 4th, 2011 – to the end, May 1st, 2011. Effectively, four months. No shopping online, or in stores (or yard sales, or estate sales…). I wouldn’t accept gifts of clothing from my mother, and I abstained from purchasing shoes and accessories as well. The only clothing I purchased were to represent an event (I have a shirt from my university’s production of The Vagina Monologues), things I actually needed (didn’t happen), or replacements for things I already had.
I’m a big proponent of detoxes – my first one was in high school, when I spent far too much time watching Vh1 programming than necessary (Even though those countdown shows and decade retrospectives were quite entertaining). I cut myself off of television for a week and while it was difficult to entertain myself for the first few days, I quickly realized that I was missing far less than I thought.
Quitting something cold turkey is difficult, but for some habits, it is a serious way for you to face your dependence head on . Having an established end date gives you something to look forward to, but often times, by the time you’re finished, you won’t miss the habit as much as you thought you would and you may even be better off without it.
So, how did I do?
I still haven’t bought anything and I am going on five months.
Now, before I go overboard with the self-congratulation, let me admit that it is partly because I’m having the same problem as before: I have far too much clothing and I have no idea what to do with it all! Now that I’ve moved back home, the problem has gotten even worse. I have cramped drawers that are already occupied with clothes, plus all the dirty clothing I brought from school, washed and (eventually) sorted into their proper places.
At this point I have donated three full trash bags to charity but I am still running out of space. Worst part? I haven’t even unpacked most of my clothes from school yet! We’ll see how this all works out, but in the words of Tim Gunn:
This concerns me. (Also, what happened to Andrae?)
However, before I rain all over my achievement like Eeyore’s cloud, let me just say, for someone who loves online shopping as much as I do, this was no small task. So if you’re considering doing a shopping detox, here are some tips!
- Start with what you have.
This seems really obvious, but the first step is going through the clothing you have in your closet and drawers. If you truly feel like your wardrobe is offending your sensibilities, make a day of stuffing it into garbage bags and hauling it over to your nearest charity. You’ll feel their weight lifted off your shoulders, I guarantee you. The most obvious place is Goodwill (the anti-gay controversy surrounding the Salvation Army leaves a bad taste in my mouth), although there are plenty of local organizations that would love your gently used wares.
In this cleaning process, you’ll probably be shocked at the clothing you forgot you owned (sometimes in a bad way, but I won’t judge).
- Repurpose and Remix!
Just because you haven’t worn a certain dress in ages doesn’t mean a simple rehemming, or strategic placement of accessories won’t make an old outfit seem brand new again.
One of my favorite fashion blogs, Kendi Everyday, runs a regular challenge called 30×30 Remix: where you take 30 items from your closet and use them to make 30 outfits, for 30 days. (Abstaining from shopping is optional, but I think it is a nice touch) Her next one is coming up this month, so feel free to jump in and try it!
- It’s okay to window shop!
I struggled at first with the feelings of clothing jealousy, especially in the opening stages of my detox. I would shamelessly covet the striped sailor blouse my friend wore to the cafeteria, the buttoned denim skirt I’d see walking past the art building, the fashionable looks I’d see on blogs and on the street in Pittsburgh.
And of course, I’d feel a pang of longing when my favorite stores announced sales and coupon promotions in my inbox; one of the websites I frequent has a whole feature dedicated to this! However, if you don’t really need something, you’ll be saving more by not buying it all than whatever the coupon is offering. (Unless, of course, they’re giving you something for free…)
The point is, it’s okay. It’s okay to ogle cute things and sigh enviously that they aren’t populating your closet. You just can’t let it dominate you, or else the detox will be miserable. Besides, you’d be surprised what kinds of inspiration you can use from street style and fashion blogs to give you new ideas to try on what you own.
- Realize the difference between “want” and “(sorta) need”
Unless you’re lacking a clothing staple like a work suit, or weather appropriate clothing, chances are you don’t need most things. The need is often proportionate to the trendiness of the item.
Going on a detox is excellent for deducing what you truly want (thus, sorta need) and is an impulse buy. While a fantastic one-time deal may have to pass you by, most things will still be around once the detox is over. If you find yourself still head over heels, go for it. Chances are, however, you’ll have forgotten all about it in no time flat.
With that said, don’t be shy, go out and try it yourself! And if you aren’t detoxing off of shopping like I was, what about things like television, gluten, facebook, soda, avoiding workouts, caffeine, or …self-doubt?
You never know…