Someone recently asked if I would share any takeaways from my year of not buying new. Like most, I set out with high hopes and ambitions for 2020. One of the goals I set was to not buy any new clothing for the entire year. For the most part, I was able to adhere to the goal, minus a few things that I purchased for maternity wear. Click here to see my previous post on shopping for maternity clothing.
Here are a few tips and takeaways I learned along the way:
- Avoid advertising. I recognize this is nearly impossible as we are targeted at nearly every turn; however, there are a few things you can do to help mitigate the situation.
- Unsubscribe from any brand that may tempt you with sales and marketing emails.
- Unfollow brands (and influencers) on social media who may tempt you to buy things you don’t need.
- Clear your web browser’s cache on a regular basis. We’ve all had that experience where we search for something one time and it follows us everywhere on the internet.
- Clean out your entire closet. Yes, literally take everything out of your closet and assess each piece of clothing, accessory, or shoe. Here are my four rules when deciding whether or not to keep an item:
- Does it fit me well? If a few minor alterations will make it fit, I recommend getting it tailored. If not, why am I holding on to it? Often, we hold on to clothing with the hope of one day fitting back into a certain size. If it has been more than a year, my recommendation is to donate or sell, unless you absolutely love the item.
- Do I wear it often? If not, is it special occasion wear or seasonal? If yes, do I wear it at least once or twice a year?
- Do I love it? If not, do I wear it often? Is it functional? There are some things in my wardrobe that I do not love (workout clothes being one) but they are highly functional.
- Does it have sentimental value? If yes, how would I feel parting with it?
Once you’ve evaluated every item in your closet, you’ll be able to properly assess what you need, or in most cases, do not need. If you identify items that you need, I recommend following this Buyerarchy of Needs created by Sarah Lazarovic.
- Find other ways to treat or reward yourself. We’ve all heard the expression “retail therapy” and research shows that buying things can have a dopamine effect, albeit short-term. If you’re having a rough day, week, or year (hello 2020) explore other ways to boost your mood. A few things I did:
- Coffee and/or pastry from my favorite local coffee shops
- Go for a long walk and listen to a podcast
- Get takeout from my favorite restaurants
- Take my son to get ice cream – it’s truly a joy to watch him eat it
- Get creative – I love photography, baking, and arranging florals
- Have someone hold you accountable. Part of the reason I made my goal known on social media was for accountability. I knew putting the information out there would require a serious commitment on my part. Who in your life can (gently) hold you accountable to your goal?
- If at first you don’t succeed, try again. This is not a zero-sum game – it is a journey, a lifestyle and mindset change. For me, it has been a refocusing on the things that I actually need verses what I’m told I need or must have. Consumerism reigns in the Western world, but it does not have to dominate our personal lives. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that the most valuable things in life are not material things.
I’ll admit that having zero social events to attend and working from home every day made it easier to not buy anything; however, I was often tempted when some of my favorite brands – who rarely have sales – started discounting items. One sale I did take advantage of was a Black Friday deal from Girlfriend Collective. I bought these maternity leggings and nursing bra. They’ve been my best pregnancy investment to date.
My plan is to continue this journey for as long as I can. I’ve become so accustomed to shopping secondhand that it actually feels novel if I purchase an item brand new. Unfortunately, secondhand maternity options are abysmal (trust me, I’ve searched everywhere) and I will likely purchase some new items to get me through this pregnancy.