3 Months of NOT Buying Clothing, Shoes, and Accessories

January through March of this year I decided to do a bit of a shopping detox. I chose not to buy any clothing, shoes, or accessories for those three months. I was inspired by multiple friends doing similar things and I believe that many of them were inspired by Cait Flanders and her book (about not shopping for a YEAR). I haven’t read her book yet, though it’s on my list. But I didn’t let that stop me from setting my own mini detox challenge, and I thought I’d share with you how it went.

What was the goal?

Obviously there could be a LOT of reasons to do something like this, like saving money. But my goals were mainly to:
-Waste less time. I think I shop online as a form of avoiding other tasks (some people browse Facebook, I browse online stores).
-Identify items I might actually need. I had a theory that constant shopping meant I was never being very intentional, which I wanted to change.
-Appreciate and USE what I already have.
-Bonus points if I saved money, of course.

Probably the number one thing friends asked me about the experiment is, "Was it hard?" Which for me, I’d say yes and no. I think just like any detox, or times when you’re trying to change habits, there are moments where you mess up (or almost mess up) because you are simply in a habit and turn on that cruise control setting in your brain. And this definitely happened to me. I had multiple times, especially the first month, where I almost clicked over to a shopping site but then remembered my challenge. There was also one time I had pulled into a store parking lot, thinking I’d just kill a few minutes between two errands, and then realized I had no reason to go in the store because I was not shopping that month. Probably the toughest moment though was when a small business I follow online (they mostly sell T-shirts and apparel) was having a really great sale for Valentine’s and I REALLY wanted to buy this sweatshirt they have. I started to justify it in my mind thinking, "They’re a small business … I should support small businesses" and "I know their sourcing is environmentally friendly and I love that so I should support them." And I do think these are two awesome reasons for me to buy from them normally, but I reminded myself it was only three months and it’s not like I don’t own a few good sweatshirts already.

So those were the hard parts. But I was also surprised how easy it was in some ways. This probably goes without saying, but as a 32-year-old woman who has not grown substantially in many years I have a pretty full wardrobe as far as having everything I NEED. I have always been fascinated by fashion, ever since I was in high school and buying Teen Vogue and trying to make similar outfits out of thrift store finds. I still love fashion! But in terms of items that I truly am in need of, well, I rarely have any. I did realize toward the beginning of month three that most of my bras were wearing out (I only have 2-3 I wear everyday and then two sports bras for working out). So I decided that would be the first thing I bought after I was done with my challenge.

Towards the end of March, I hosted a giant clothing exchange with my friends. I’ve done this for three years now and it’s always a lot of fun! It’s mostly a good excuse to clean out your closet and drink wine with friends, but it’s a bonus if you end up getting a few items that you love from it. And every year I get something (usually a few things) that I end up wearing a ton and love. This year, I was surprised to see that even though I hadn’t bought anything new in months, I still had plenty of items to swap at my annual clothing exchange. I guess this could make me feel a little embarrassed, but instead I’m choosing to thank the universe and just be super thankful for all I have—clothing and friends wise.

(Did that just get cheesy? Sorry, not sorry.)

Did I learn anything?

Yes! To be honest, it’s kind of hard to put it into words, but I really think even this small shopping detox helped to reshape my inner expectations a little. I feel like I appreciate more of what I have, I don’t feel as much "pressure" to shop (which is probably mostly self induced/just a habit I was in), and I think I better identify items I need but don’t always feel like I have to replace them right that second. I am more focused on shopping from businesses that are small, inspiring, and doing right by our planet. So although I don’t know if this experiment completely changed my life, I do think it had a super positive impact on me.

Five stars, would recommend.

Have you guys ever tried something like this? Just curious what you found out. Thanks for letting me share. xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photo edited with A Color Story Desktop.

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