For me, clothes are important. When I select an outfit from my wardrobe in the morning, it needs to ‘feel’ right. Some of my clothes fit better than others, and some are more…well, complementary. I have days when I can carry off a bright colour, or a tight fit, and other days when I just need my long sleeved black t-shirt and my favourite jeans.
Despite how highly I regard clothes, since 1st January I haven’t bought any for myself. None. Not even when holes have appeared, nor when I’ve been invited to special occasions.
The reason for this is that I pledged not to buy any new clothes for myself for the whole of 2014. This post outlines the reasons why, but basically I wanted some time off from contributing to the unethical practices that are involved in the production and supply of much of today’s fashion. I wanted to use my year to explore other options for sourcing clothes, so that when I’m finally allowed to hit the shops again, it can be with a clearer conscience, and better sense of what I actually would use – as opposed to hastily selecting what takes my fancy.
For months now, I’ve been meaning to write a post to update on my progress but I haven’t got around to it. In my defence, because this challenge involves not doing something, there isn’t actually terribly much to report!
However, last month Zoe from Eco Thrifty Living got in touch with a few sustainable bloggers to say that she was doing a slow fashion challenge and asking us if we would like to join in in some way. Her post about it is here. Because my challenge fits in nicely (how could my fashion be any slower?), now is a good time to post my findings on life without new clothes.
So, what can I actually report? In all honesty, I’ve got only good things to say about this challenge. Admittedly, I was fairly sure that I had more than enough clothes to see me through the year, and cover most eventualities, but so far it’s been a skoosh*!
The best thing so far is that I have saved lots of time and stress. The time I spend in the ladies’ department in clothes shops is now zero. Although I’m partial to a bit of window shopping, I’ve discovered that when you’re actually not allowed to buy anything it’s best to keep away! I no longer squander my precious time browsing – plus it’s vastly reduced the time my kids are able to hide themselves in rails of clothes! Admittedly I am depriving them of heaps of fun, but I don’t miss those moments of heart-stopping terror when I can’t hear the giggles and wonder where they’ve gone!
No longer do I waste energy pondering over what I’ll wear to special occasions. No more squeezing shopping trips into a busy schedule for me! Now, I simply delve into my wardrobe, knowing that whatever I’m going to be wearing is already in there!
Obviously not buying clothes has saved me money. I’m not sure how much, but a good way to tell would probably be to add up my Hobbycraft receipts! (Buying craft materials for card making is my new guilty pleasure…) In the past though, buying clothes was my main personal indulgence, so cutting out clothes has definitely freed up some cash.
Lastly, a small but, to me, significant advantage of this challenge has been that it’s reduced the waste I generate from packaging. If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that I’m gearing up for Plastic Free July (as is Zoe) so not having to refuse plastic carrier bags, coat hangers, tags or labels is making things easier for me as next month rapidly approaches.
After listing the advantages of a challenge, I’d normally outline the disadvantages (and sometimes I don’t hold back!) but the only thing that springs to mind here is that quite a few of my socks have holes in them. A year ago, I’d have stuck them in the Rag Bag and bought some new ones, but what I’m actually going to do is get out my needle and thread and mend them. I’ll do this with all my socks (even when my year is over) until they are beyond repair and, then I’ll just keep wearing out all of the socks that fit me in the house! Although having to mend is an inconvenience, the whole point of what I’m doing is to make the most of what I have thus avoiding the waste, pollution and exploitation that happens within the clothes industry. Mending is therefore a good thing!
Part of Zoe’s slow fashion challenge is to create new clothes and looks from things that you already own. I haven’t done this yet, but perhaps I should… I have to admit that I am bored with some of my clothes – I can’t blame that on my challenge because I have plenty of clothes to rotate. I have simply been guilty of making poor purchasing decisions. One stripy t-shirt in my wardrobe is fine, but I have at least four, none of which is a particularly good fit. While taking responsibility for my carelessness, I also blame the fact that fashion is so inexpensive on the high street. I have often bought things I don’t love or that aren’t a perfect fit because, if they transpire to have been a mistake, it hasn’t been at great cost to me.
I have thrown together a few new outfits by combining stuff in my wardrobe and I’m happy to report that I’ve had a buzz from mixing things up. Maybe I should get experimental with accessories, or personalise some of the clothes I don’t especially like by…er…I dunno, sewing on some ribbon?! Or maybe not…
Anyway, no doubt I’ll do a round-up of my own challenge at the end of the year. However, if you would like to read more about slow fashion then there is of course a hash tag #slowfashion (I lurve Twitter!) Do also please check out the others who are joining in with Zoe’s challenge – Emma blogs at Mommyemu and has written this post (at least) on the subject, Nancy blogs at Mummingatmumra and has written this post, The Green Family blog at Myzerowaste and have made this video about their efforts and @sathlondonshona has pledged to wear a combination of only 5 items plus one pair of shoes for the whole of June, and advised me two nights ago that she is going strong.
If you want to join in officially, then read Zoe’s post and please tweet or leave her a comment. If you want to join in unofficially, choose whatever works for you! As well as saving the planet, this is a great opportunity to socialise through social media #fun 🙂
*A Scottish word, loosely translated as easy peasy