Why I Stopped Shopping

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I love shopping. I place an importance on my clothes because dressing well gives me the confidence to tackle even my most challenging days. Part of this joy includes adding new pieces to my collection. So, during school breaks, I happily find myself in stores combing through racks of clothes. But, at the end of this winter break, with my savings  gone and suitcase bulging, I decided it was time for a change.

Thus, I am currently one month in to a shopping ban. The goal remains to not buy a single article of clothing until the end of spring break. For some, this goal would be laughably easy. But for someone who usually chooses to and enjoys spending her money on clothes and has come accustomed to adding one or two new pieces a month, this goal is reasonably difficult. I hope this challenge will shift my mindset towards shopping as a way to replace old essentials or periodically add modern pieces I will actually wear instead of just a casual pastime. I also want to restyle and re-fall in love with some of the forgotten clothes in my closet.

I am not alone in wanting to be a less excessive shopper. Fashion, as an industry, has been attempting to promote more sustainable practices as the environmental impacts of the fast fashion complex have been exposed. According to designer Eileen Fisher, the fashion industry is the world’s second largest polluter and is behind only oil. Brands can mass produce clothing because they know there are people who would buy these items, even if they do not need them. I was part of the excessiveness. I have enough clothes to sustain myself for much longer than I would ever need. I have enough clothes that I can only wear some of my favorite pieces a few times a season. I have enough clothes. On the individual level, I know my reduced shopping will help lower my footprint even if only by a marginal amount. However,  I am a firm believer that some action is better than none.

Additionally, I want to allocate my money in a different way. I want to be able to afford dinners with my friends, music festivals, or SV parties. I hope that during these months I will spend the money I would have wasted on  a shirt, on an experience I will remember instead, and not throw out in a few years.

So far, this test has been more fun than it has been challenging. When I feel bored with my closet, instead of scrolling through websites, I comb through my drawers. I expected to feel this boredom, but my response to it has changed. I realized that I bought all of my clothes for a reason. Each piece was once that brand new, exciting shirt or pair of pants I could not wait to wear. Admittedly, personal style does evolve and change over time, but I found for most items, I can restyle them in a way with which that excitement re-emerges. For me, this re-invention of old clothes is the epitome of what being fashionable is. It feels comforting to know that the confidence and happiness I thought came from shopping was always there in my closet. I just was not looking in the right place. I was just too consumed with what I wanted and not with what I had.