My One Year Clothe Shopping Ban: Why + 7 Tips

How to do a clothe shopping ban
photo credit: Pinterest

In 2017, the reality hit me that not only did I have too much stuff, I had way too many clothes. When I started my simple living journey I knew that clothing would be my first things to declutter. What was interesting was that the more I decluttered, the more there was to declutter. Eventually, I realized that I had so many clothes. It just didn’t make any sense to me to have that many clothes especially since I barely wore them. That was when I started contemplating a one year clothe shopping ban.

Related Post: Things I Got Rid Of To Embrace Simple Living

I donated quite a lot of clothes and put boxes away to give out, still, there were too many clothes. Then I know it was time to reevaluate my need for clothes and question why I had so many clothes. Obviously, one of the many reasons why we accumulate so many clothing is because they’re cheap.  I’ll go into detail about this as I do monthly updates on this.

one year clothe shopping ban
Source: StitchFix

Though this post is coming in a little late; I’m currently in my third month of the one year clothe shopping ban which I also mentioned in my Simple living goals for 2018. Many people have assumed this to be quite intimidating so I thought I’d share how I plan to go about this without feeling deprived.

1. Work on my Fashion Style

One of the main reason why I shopped so much and owned many clothes was simply that I had no style. I couldn’t tell you if my style is boho chic, or classic, or modern. When you don’t have a clear sense of style, you end up buying just about anything you come across while you are at the store. I was buying clothes simply because they looked good on a mannequin. Finding my own fashion style means that I only buy clothing items that fit that style. So my challenge in 2018 is to identify my own personal style.

2. If it was $1000 or 4x the price, would I still buy it

When you walk into a store and clothes cost around $10-$20 bucks, it’s so easy to go ham on them. I remember how obsessed I used to be about those under $10 clothing items. The problem tho is that those clothes often are not the best quality clothing pieces and only last for a few wears and washes.

My biggest issue with cheap clothing isn’t just about the fact that its low quality but the fact that they’re often made in sweatshops. Learning about sweatshops and fast fashion which is a major disaster for clothing factory workers and the environment has been the major deterrent to my need to shop. So now, I ask myself this question: If that piece of clothing was worth $1000 or 4x the price would I still buy it? This question can be applied in other areas of your life as well. It really helps you reconsider what you buy and only buy what you need.

This question really also comes in handy for me as I am falling in love with second-hand shopping as my primary way of acquiring new clothes. It’s easy to binge buy when most of the clothes are $5 so this is my buying principle.

3. Wear every single piece of item I own at least once.

This was an important step for me while I was decluttering. Even though I have decluttered more than 70% of what I own, I still have ways to go. To declutter, I make sure I wear everything and look in the mirror to ensure it’s something I truly love and want to keep. It’s one thing to look at the items you own and assume you will wear them, it’s another to actually wear them and assess the emotions and feelings you get from them. So every single item in my closet must be worn before a new clothing item is brought in. If I wear it and don’t love it, It goes away. (If you need tips on dealing with the sentimental aspects of owning and letting go of things, let me know and I’ll do a post on that :))

4. Put things away and shop from the “away” pile

This is a great tactic that I found to work well in helping satisfy my need for new clothes. I currently have two large boxes of potential clothes that I will wear. When I get the urge for a new clothes, I “shop” from that pile and reinvent by already purchased clothes. I found this to be very helpful for me because I just enjoy the feeling of having new clothing. I actually forget I have some of the clothes in those boxes until I open them up.

5. Look at everything you gave away/donated and realize the true cost

Why you should embrace slow fashion
A collapsed clothing factory in Bangladesh- the 2ND largest supplier of clothing

I watched The True Cost documentary again as I was decluttering. Seeing everything I was giving away made me realize just how much money I had wasted, how my actions affected clothing factory workers and the effect of my waste on the environment. Over 1,000 People died in a clothing factory collapse yet the fashion world doesn’t even care. These were people’s daughters, sons, parents & friends whose only offense was working in an unsafe working environment to create millions of pieces to satisfied global clothing demands.

No more fast fashion
The aftermath of Bangladesh factory collapse

Did you know that only about 20% of donated clothes actually get sold in thrift stores? So even when you think you’re making a difference with donated clothes, that difference is minute compared to the impact of acquiring them in the first place. There are so many articles to read and see exactly what is going on in the textile industry. I share as many as I can on Instagram. You can read more about the environmental crisis industry is causing.

6. Do you really need more clothes? Check the emotions- are you using clothes to fill a void?

One key question I have been asking myself is whether I truly need more clothes. I am learning to remind myself that there is truly nothing therapeutic about clothing shopping. You don’t go on a shopping spree because you’re sad and upset or bored. I had to check these habits and find better ways to deal with my emotions rather than resolving shopping.

one year clothe shopping ban
Photo Credit: FancyThingsBlog

Moreso, You don’t shop simply because you don’t want to be caught repeating clothes. Whoever instituted that policy that we should only wear outfits once needs to be canceled *side eye my  Nigerians and the asoebi mentality*. Who cares if I repeat my clothes multiple times in a year? What’s the problem with that?

7. Capsule wardrobe- 3 Types = 4 months- that’s enough clothes for a year.

In order for me to find my personal style and do so minimally, I have decided to do a capsule wardrobe. The capsule wardrobe is something I have been very interested in and this is the perfect opportunity for me to give it a try. If it works for me, then I will totally consider doing it for the rest of my life. It really saves you a whole lot of time. Since we have 4 seasons here, I’ll have one capsule for Summer/Spring and another for Fall/Winter. Whatever I don’t use in these months will be donated.

The whole idea here isn’t just to stop shopping but to figure out my style and reduce how much clothes I accumulate over time. I’m not saying this will be easy, I already have some struggles with minimalism but it’s something that can be done and I am dedicated to it.

Let me know what your thoughts are! Are you due for a shopping ban? would you consider one even for a short period?

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  • Wow! this was so well written and hit home run with me. I went through a declutter process a little over a year ago and it was so therapeutical. Love and light!

  • You’re spot on with the not knowing your personal style thing Asakemi! I was the same and now that I’ve figured out my style and how I like to dress, I tailor my shopping to it. Doesn’t mean that I don’t branch out and try new things but I generally shop less for clothes now. I also apply the ‘would I buy it if it was four times the price’ trick to sale items. I ask myself if I would buy something if it was full price. Doesn’t always work but it has saved me from unnecessary spending in the past!

    The true cost of fast fashion is so scary and it’s something that only really came to my attention last year and it’s something I’m trying to become more mindful of when buying clothes.

    Great post and good luck with your shopping ban 🙂
    Coco Bella Blog

  • I live in a onesie apartment, where the wardrobe is seriously about 1m2 so I’m pretty restricted. I don’t buy new clothing that often, if I buy it’s mostly because something got a hole in it… or because it’s really pretty and has the vibe of who I want to be – I know it’s corny, because I can’t actually wear some of the garments where I live, it’s more for the future to when I move to warmer latitudes haha. Still, I have accumulated some over the course of 7 yrs that it now shows and I don’t know what to do about it or where to put it! lol So I find these tips helpful! Especially the #4 about shopping from your box! Because I shop so rarely, I do have sentimental feelings to most garments because they were picked for a reason, and in most cases they did cost 10x more than an H&M sweater, but I also have some that I bought at 2 for 1 sale, that I really love too!
    One thing that helped me shop less clothing and go for quality than quantity was to stop reading fashion magazines. Boy did they influence me to want this and that! I may have turned to another addiction, beauty, but at least I get more use out of a face serum I bought on sale than a jumper. 🙂

    I also keep a list of things I want, whether it’s fashion, beauty or electronics with their price point and what I’m willing to pay. I revise it regularly, and it keeps me on point on what is a fleeting want, a true want and what I really need. Because it doesn’t have to be about shopping less, it can be about shopping smart 😉

    Great article xx

  • Everything you’re saying about the current fast fashion, throwaway culture is so true. We all need to go back to the roots, reassess our shopping habits, and realize that style is not about always buying the latest, trendiest items. I don’t do specific clothes shopping bans, because I think I’m quite intentional with my purchases, but I do regular beauty shopping bans, because this is the areas I still shop too much. A one month-long shopping ban always rearranges my priorities and is such a good way to break bad habits. Good luck on your shopping ban, will be interesting to read about your experiences

    • I agree! I am learning to be more intentional with cloth shopping rather than just shop aimlessly. For me this one year break will primarily help me reassess everything, define my own style that way when I am open to shopping, I have a clear goal on what I will be looking out for in the store. For beauty, I find that I’m also quite intentional with that. Even now that I have a blog, it’s tempting to just want to buy a product just to review but then I ask myself, What happens after that?

  • wow…that’s a lot to do. I actually don’t like my wardrobe filled with clothes I don’t wear. Almost every month, I check my wardrobe and remove clothes I don’t wear or won’t wear again and sell or donate. I am not sure if I can pull through with not buying clothes for a year but I will love to do it for like 3 months tho. This factory thing is so bad,I watched a documentary once about factories in India. Their workers are under paid and not in good conditions and I think the cloth brands need to look into this situation. I love this post?

  • What an interesting post, I just had to click because I was like ‘how can someone not buy clothes for a whole year’ lol! I definitely should take these things into consideration as I am someone who does a lot of these bad habits, shopping when I’m sad for example. Then again, I do more of window shopping because I lowkey hate spending money and making hasty, on the spot decisions. Thrift shopping all the way though! I can’t even fathom how many clothes you had that you wanted to get rid of. Even I’m getting tired of my clothing because I don’t wear about 80% of my wardrobe and it’s really irritating. I want to make room for my new style, but I don’t want to give the clothes away (did that last year) this time I want to sell them so I can become the true chic I want to be. Sigh, so many things to think about. Good luck on your journey!