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How To Buy Less Clothing: A Practical Guide

No, *really* this time…

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Now don’t all rush off to go out and buy me a medal or anything, but I would just like to formally announce that it has been 48 days since I last purchased an item of clothing. I acknowledge that for some this might not be much of an achievement, others might be silently perspiring at the thought, but I have just cancelled my ASOS Premier delivery and I feel like I’m entering a new chapter here. So let’s talk about it.

I know that doing what I do means that buying less clothing is a tricky topic to navigate, but at the beginning of 2019 I set myself the rule of only buying one item a month, and so far I’ve stuck to it. I broke early in January (the 4th to be exact – oops!), but February I’ve gone completely cold-turkey, not feeling the need to buy one thing. I’ve been turning down gifted clothing items and the only other new items that have entered my wardrobe are pieces included as part of my ongoing Topshop* work, of which I always try my best to utilise old items from previous posts with the new. It’s a part of my job that I’m still grappling with and I’m not sure that my mechanics here are completely spot-on, but it’s a work in progress and the ultimate goal here is to buy less, be given less and ultimately show you lot more and more how to re-style the absolute hell out of what we already own.

So basically I’ve been buying very little over the past six months or so and there are a few methods and things that I’ve mulled over that have really helped me to apply this goal and actually stick to it this time. Fancy doing the same? Here’s my six step guide…

Unsubscribe and delete. It’s a classic, but it’s always mentioned because it works. I’ve removed myself from all mailing lists (even my beloved & Other Stories* one that I held onto for so long because I love the visual styling and shoots that they include), and deleted any shopping apps on my phone to stop myself scrolling through them. I think keeping an eye on my overall screen time on my phone in general has helped too. I try to keep it under the three hour mark each day, which gets eaten up very quickly! So wasting it tapping aimlessly though clothes I’m (hopefully!) never going to buy doesn’t seem like the best use of my precious minutes.

Switch up your mentality. When browsing through Instagram it’s very easy to spot your favourite ‘grammer wearing a particular piece and then feel the need to buy the exact same thing. I experience this thought approximately 47 times a day and it’s the reason why I bought 95% of the items in my wardrobe. It’s the modern day version of your friends rocking up to school one day wearing a GAP fleece jumper and then you begging your parents for one when you get home. We’ve been influencing each other way before the grim job title even existed. However, recently when entering the app I’ve still been saving my favourite photos, featuring items and outfits that I love, but instead of feeling the need to emulate them exactly I use them for inspiration next time I’m getting ready. Attempting to use what I already own and finding new ways to wear things in the process. We don’t all need to be twins, you know?

Double check your budget. When you actually look at the money you have be spending on clothing, it’s a cold hard reality for most of us that it could have been much better spent elsewhere; towards saving, holidaying, tuition funds, a whole host of other expenses. When I totted up how much I spent on clothing over 2018 I was a little bit sick in my mouth, so this year I wanted to change it up. BIG TIME. Not only are we desperately saving to one day be able to upgrade to a house, but we want to travel, I want to go and visit my sister who is travelling around Asia, we’d like to go on some holidays with our friends, and all of these things cost money and we all know that money is best spent on necessary expenses and experiences, right? So for 2019 I have a money budget for my one special piece and anything over that will have to be clawed back from other months. Do the maths and you too might vom a little.

Challenge yourself. It’s a pointer that I wheel out time and time again but giving yourself a challenge which can amp up your love for clothing that you already own, is always a good way to stop yourself buying new items all the darn time. I particularly enjoy the 10×10 challenge which I’ve just started dabbling in this year (check out my most recent video on it here). Take 10 items from your wardrobe, which you then turn into 10 outfits. It’s not only great for travel, especially if you’re doing the cabin bag-only thing, but you might just find a new favourite ensemble from completing it.

Set some ground rules. Sometimes when I’m struggling to stick to a goal I find that I have to be pretty rigid and tough on myself to actually get to the point where I’ll even entertain it, let alone see it through. What I say? I am basically the anti-rebel and I secretly love a rule. Aren’t I a HOOT? So this year’s rule was to only buy one item of clothing a month. And you know what? I bought a pair of jeans on 4th January and haven’t purchased anything since. February has been and gone in a flash and it quite honestly hasn’t even been on my mind. So set yourself a rule, make sure it’s realistic and see if you can stick to it. Your bank balance might even thank you for it.

Educate yourself. Ultimately I feel the biggest shifts in my attitude towards clothing shopping have come from doing my own research online into just how wasteful when we can all be when it comes to the constant cycling of purchasing items. I am not perfect – by any stretch of the imagination – but I am trying and ultimately I’ve bought less in the past six months than I have previously. Have a read of this post, download the Good On You app, find articles, podcasts and documentaries online. Be curious and read up. It might be the kick up the rear you need to move the goalposts when it comes to style and fashion and your buying habits around it.

Photos by Emma Croman

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