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 🙂