No new clothes for 2014 – a round up

A year ago I set myself a challenge that, I’ll admit it, felt overwhelming. I pledged to buy no new clothes for myself for the whole of 2014. When the idea popped into my head, it seemed unthinkable. I desperately wanted a break from the fashion industry though, for a number of reasons. I argued with myself that I had lots of clothes – really, I should be up to the challenge! You can read the post outlining my thoughts at the time here.

Just over half way through the year, I blogged my progress in this post, and I confessed that I’d bought a new bra. I had a malfunctioning underwire and it needed replaced. I hadn’t thought through the issue of second-hand underwear at the start of the year, but I hastily decided that a new bra was probably okay…

I got through most of the year without having to mend much. (I posted my super-simple method for patching a pair of jeans here.) Apart from that, all I’ve had to do is stitch a few seams and sew on a couple of buttons. My hand-sewing is pretty messy, but that didn’t matter. I managed to work out what to do to extend the life of a few items of clothing that prior to this challenge I am ashamed to admit, I would have sent to the Rag Bag.

To summarise, my year of no new clothes has been easy. Choosing not to trail round ladies’ departments in shops has saved me time, and ducking out of buying clothes has saved me a small fortune. I was right in guessing that I had enough clothes to get me through the year. Being a stay at home parent, I can pretty much wear anything I want to during the day, and I found that having a selection of three of four outfits that I can wear on a night out was enough. If I’d planned ahead, I would have picked up a couple more pairs of thick black tights (I started with two and they are getting quite bobbly and holey – mostly hidden under boots!) and a decent pair of black leggings.This challenge, however, led me to be creative and I found a few fun alternatives, such as purple tights I’d worn once, that brightened up some otherwise non-descript outfits. I’m not necessarily a purple tights kind of a girl, but what the heck?

So what next?

It dawned on me towards the end of the year that I couldn’t go back to buying clothes as normal in 2015. A shopping spree in January could undo all my good work. I detest the way that clothes are commonly purchased in the UK – i.e. bought cheaply and disposed of quickly – the very same way that I used to buy my clothes! Now that I’ve had a year to reflect, I feel even more passionately that I don’t want to buy into the unethical practises that are rife throughout the fashion industry.

I have developed a few strategies for 2015 that I hope will help me to build on the work I have done so far to reject so called ‘fast fashion’ and to reduce my support for the unethical production of clothes:

  • I anticipate that I will need to replace some clothes this year. I aim to set a limit on how many items I purchase (I’m thinking six), and I will endeavour to buy them as ‘ethically’ as possible. To help me, I’ll use resources such as the Good Shopping Guide.
  • I will reduce how many new items of clothing I buy for my children (my 2014 challenge was only for me). I will therefore set a limit for the number of items I buy i.e. buying strictly what they need as opposed to random purchases that they will look lovely in. Let’s face it, small children look pretty cute in most things and it can be tempting to buy them more than is necessary.
  • I will try not to buy clothes as gifts. This will be especially hard when choosing a present for friends’ new babies, but I will do my best. I will also aim to avoid substituting unethical clothes with unethical toys!
  • I will make my New Year’s Resolution to build on my very limited knitting and sewing skills in 2015 – to the point that I can actually claim to have these skills! I am hoping that the sewing will allow me to do more sophisticated mends and maybe even make clothes (with UK sourced material) and one day I might be able to knit items such as socks, jumpers and baby gifts from suitably ethical wool – whatever that actually is…

Keep an eye on the blog for updates on how I’m getting on!

I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on my quest for sustainable clothes. Have I missed anything? Also, if you’re doing anything similar, or fancy setting yourself a ‘No new clothes’ New Year’s Resolution,  let me know – it’s good to have company 🙂

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28 thoughts on “No new clothes for 2014 – a round up

  1. To be honest, I’d barely notice that challenge for me – I think I bought one charity shop outfit, one charity shop pair of jeans and one new shirt (ethically sourced from local independent) in the entire year. I could do with some new undies though 😉

    Well done on you for making changes though, I think you’re quite inspirational.

    • Thanks for your comment. Good on you for your ethical shopping – unintentional or otherwise! My other half is the same. I’ve spent years trying to get him to go clothes shopping and update his look and now, rather embarrassingly, I’ve come round to his way of thinking!! 🙂

  2. Google “RTW fast” (RTW=Ready to wear) and it’s the term sewers use for giving up on clothing purchases. Many of them are accomplished sewers, but many are beginners, too… These days I make most of my clothes, and only buy a few. But my overall clothing consumption has gone way down. My next goal is making my own bras, but they’re tricky!

    • OOOh, thanks for the RTW tip, I’d never heard it but I suspect I might stumble on lots of interesting things now that you’ve enlightened me 🙂 I envy you being able to make most of your own clothes – I bet you care for them better when you’ve invested so much time and effort in them. Good luck with the bras!

      • Don’t envy – it’s not as hard as it seems. Start with something simple, buy the recommended fabric and follow the instructions. And you’ve certainly got the determination to stick with it. The great thing for me is that I can make clothes that suit me, fit me, in the fabrics and colours I like. Which means that on average (some disasters are inevitable but don’t let them put you off) they get a lot more wear than the stuff I buy!

  3. I am sure you read moral fibres blog but thought I would mention it just in case you have not across Wendy – she regularly posts about ethical fashion brands. Dressing children is interesting, how many clothes is enough? My 4 yr old has 7 trousers & tops passed down, my gut reaction was that is was enough , but 3 months in and I have never found his drawers empty (probably as I wash most days!). Looking forward to following your journey this coming year- Happy New Year:) Vicky

    • I do read Wendy’s Moral Fibres blog but I must revisit as it’s a great source of info on ethical fashion that isn’t that hard to come by otherwise.

      I haven’t worked out how many clothes to limit my kids to but they have far too many things (partly because I buy too much and partly because they receive excessive presents from others). Good to know you are getting by on 7 trousers and tops. I wash most days too – I look forward to the day that my washing machine isn’t constantly on…. Happy new year to you too. Thanks for reading and love your etsy shop by the way 🙂

  4. Well done! You made it! In the last two plus years ive stopped buying new clothes too. I have has a few second hand clothes but have gone off buying much at all and ive obly bought about four new things in that time. Its such a relief to do so little shopping!

  5. I’m not sure I could give up clothes shopping for good. We did venture into town yesterday and I bought a new (!) pair of black trousers which felt very odd as most of my purchases are second-hand. I did find it rather odd just wandering around department stores and first-hand shops, rather than the usual charity shop/vintage stores. Made me realise how ‘uniform’ first-hand clothes are – there’s nothing distinctive.

    • That’s a really good point. Everything is similar and I’ve often found myself in similar clothing combos to others when I’m out and no one even comments because we all do it! I’m looking forward to (hopefully) adapting clothes this year to make things a bit different. I may even venture into some charity shops when I have a bit more time on my hands. Good on you for going mostly vintage 🙂

  6. My 2014 resolution was not to buy any clothes at all. I had a full wardrobe and thought I could do with what I had. Spring, summer and autumn: all went well. I re-purposed a couple of items (old work dress turned into a tunic) and Had to mend some underwear but that was it. I succumbed to a new coat in October but only because I was fed up of wearing drab brown. Winter has been more difficult and I bought a sweater in a charity shop. I have a voucher to spend which may go on another new sweater but otherwise, am planning not to buy more new clothes in 2015. Hope that you too have enjoyed the liberation and creativity. Thanks for your blog and best wishes for more of the same in 2015.

    • Well done in your challenge. Lovely to know there are others out there doing it too. As you say, it’s liberating. I might dip into the world of charity shopping too – sounds fun and more interesting than uniform high st shops. Here’s to a great and ethical 2015!

  7. Well done! Like you I rarely buy new and I have fewer clothes, primarily from 2nd hand shops. I do draw the line at 2nd hand undies and shoes though! Both will always be new!

  8. Pingback: 2014 New Year’s Resolutions – how I got on | westywrites

  9. Congratulations on the completion of your challenge, and on doing so well. I’ve unintentionally being living your challenge for years, and it’s surprisingly easy, as you’ve discovered, once you get over the mental hurdle of not needing a new outfit for each occasion.

    I occasionally have to hit the shops for my kids when they grow unexpectedly (my eldest seems to need new shoes weekly), but the best thing I did was let it be known that I’m not embarrassed or ashamed to accept second hand clothes for them. We pass them on when the time comes, and so the cycle continues. Kids generally outgrow their clothes before they destroy them, and don’t need to look like fashion models whilst digging holes in the garden.

    It’s nice to see how you challenge hasn’t been a one year wonder. You’ll not look back, I’m sure!

  10. I did this for 2013, buying only from charity shops. I loved it and haven’t returned to old high street shopping habits. I am supporting cottage industries as much as possible and still finding great stuff in charity shops. I am sure I will continue in 2015 so I am with you all the way.

  11. Pingback: Shirt to skirt for Zero Waste Week | westywrites

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