30 days without shopping. When I saw StyleBook promoting a fashion challenge to shop your closet rather than purchasing more, I found it scary, yet very appealing. On the tail wings of several shopping binges, which happened in just my first few posts here on Designing From My Closet, I needed something to reset my brain. I was searching for something. I was wanting to fill a void. And shopping had always been there for me as a friend.
2014 was a year full of highs and lows. With my own business not taking off the way I expected, my mom health declining as she battles dementia, the death of my 14 year old dog that I had since 4 months, coming to the realization that I was comparing myself to everyone else, completing several new designs that I am so proud of, getting closer to my husband of 19 years, and beginning this blog are just a few of the major events that took place.
My closet was literally bursting at the seams full of items ranging from high quality to cheap finds. I began reading fashion blogs back in 2013 and truly succumbed to being influenced by some of my favorite bloggers. Their personal style was so them and so they looked so confident, in turn, I wanted that confidence for myself. It baffles me now looking back because I had such a strong sense of what my personal style was for my home, yet I had none in my fashion style. Interior design is not only my profession, it is my passion. Being surrounded by what you love is such a comfort. It takes you to a place that connects to your soul and speaks to your spirit.
Let me also tell you that I realized that my clothing shopping addiction had absolutely NOTHING to do with clothes. It was a search for myself. My personality is rather quiet and reserved. I do however love to be bold with my colors and am drawn to pattern. Although it was not a requirement of the challenge, I decided for myself to document what I was wearing everyday with a picture. Within a week I realized how helpful this was going to be. Here is what cemented the truth for me to continue…if I do not have a wardrobe style plan, how can I shop for what I want? I was tired of spending money on random items, just as I discovered years ago when it came to my home design, which is why I preach on the importance of having a design plan to my clients.
As I continued, there were more valuable lessons. Delving into the mental part of a shopping addiction was the hardest and I believe that is something I am still working on. Taking a step back made me analyze past behaviors and childhood traits that had been passed down. Shopping gave me a high that was like none other and that really bugged me. I came across this quote that read “What consumes your mind, controls your life.” My mind was consumed with that next purchase to look like “insert fashion blogger name here” rather than focus on what was hurting me. I was making excuses to go to the mall and was embarrassed once again to admit to my husband I was having a binge. It was just as bad as when I admitted to him about my addiction years ago. This was it, there has be a better way. The shame was so overpowering.
To top it all off, I didn’t like what I saw when I was taking these pictures. There were a few that I liked, but it was far from the image I was wanting to project. It was like wasted money. This was my lifeline. This is how I survived 30 days with no shopping. I needed to apply my interior design philosophy to my clothing. I needed a plan. If I was going to spend money, I want it to be on something that reflects who I am, not someone else.
This 30 days gave me a chance to figure out who I am today. Being an independent designer gives me leeway with what I can wear, so I was not sure what was holding me back. Then I realized one of my biggest issues was that my favorite retailers rarely carried what I considered my style in my size. I had been settling for what was the next best thing. I was also wearing items that were my style several years ago. With my 30’s coming to an end, I am finding an inner voice that comes from being a strong woman. I am by no means a loud person, but I do have a voice that I want to have heard. It is like having a re-birth into being myself. My personal style as I now call “Vintage Bohemian” is not exactly what is pictured here in these 30 images. It is going to take a while to curate a look that is mine and mine alone.
The truth of the matter is that when the 30 days was over, I realized I had much more work to do. Although I had not purchased anything new, my closet was still just as full as it was before. So I did an initial closet clean out to rid myself of the bulk. I decided to take this as a step-by-step approach knowing that this would not be the first time I would do some editing. My first time through in December was quite relieving.
My Closet Clean-Out Tips:
- I made note cards on the bed labeled “Donate”, “Sell”, “Out of Season”, & “Too Small”.
- Having a section for clothes that no longer fit was my emotional buffer to actually remove those smaller items out of my closet, but not let them go just yet. To qualify they had to be something really special. They may go bye-bye later, but for now, they are getting tucked away in a cupboard.
- For the first major round, I was quick and decisive. If I did not love it and did not reflect my style, it was gone. If I waffled, it stayed. If I was unsure if it fit, it stayed (for now).
- Deciding between donate and sell was decided upon wear and currency. I think for someone to purchase a previously owned item, they need to be like new condition and relevant to current styles. I decided to sell my items on Poshmark (under user name j9design). Items like basic tank tops and shirts were donated. Of course, if there are any major stains, rips, or extensive wear, it really needs to just be trashed or turned into a rag. Even people shopping at thrift shops don’t want old raggedy things.
- Be prepared to pair down in stages, not all at once.
As you can tell, my entire queen size bed was covered. I felt like I could breathe a little easier, I felt like my closet could breathe a little easier. While I have done some shopping since the end of my 30 days in November, it has not been very frequent and the purchases have been more deliberate. I can’t say that I have been cured of my shopping addiction, but I feel like I have faced things that I have not before with the emotional side of things.
Here are 10 tips and things I learned along the way on how I survived 30 days with no shopping:
1: Commit to Yourself
You are the only one who can hold yourself responsible for not shopping. Making a commitment to yourself is one of the strongest bonds we have. You are stronger than you realize.
2: Shop Your Closet
If you have an overflowing closet like me, this should not be a problem. I feel like many woman have this issue. Finding new and creative ways to wear what you already have can be invigorating. This can also make you realize that you may not like some things in your closet and focus on which items you are gravitating towards (a cue into what your current personal style is!) And for goodness sake, wear those pieces that still have price tags on them!
3: Find Your Motivation
What are you wanting to get from this? What is your goal? The end-game? For me, my motivation was to stop wasting money and to stop being so obsessive about clothes/jewelry/shoes. Since I am at the beginning stages of building my own business, I do not have the expendable income I used to have. With all that I was spending, why did I not have this fabulous wardrobe? And why in the world am I spending so much time thinking about this stuff? I really have a life outside of my wardrobe.
4: Why so much?
Being an advocate of Goodwill of Orange County, I often shop & donate (yes, that is where the donate pile went to from the closet clean out). There is a crazy amount of inexpensive clothing or as I call it “throw-away” clothes on a lot of those racks. While they serve as a easy way to cover the body and more likely than not, fill an emotional void that is quickly in need of filling again, it made me really think about what I owned myself. I had more clothing in there than I could possibly wear. Some “fast fashion”, some not. I probably could have a new outfit every day of the year and never have a repeat. I pinned an article titled We Buy An Obscene Amount of Clothes. Here’s What It’s Doing To Secondhand Stores that really got my attention.
Sidenote: This is still an issue I am working on and will continue to be a part of my self-improvement. The question of why do I have so much is still a question I have not personally answered.
5: What do you REALLY want to look like?
Take this time to be introspective on your outfits. Stand in front of the mirror and see what kind of emotions it evokes. Is this who you are NOW? For me, so many of my clothes were things that I used to love. They were also looks inspired by outfits I had seen on Pinterest and my favorite blogs that reflected the personality of the original wearer, not mine. I took a personal approach and took a look at my interior design preferences to find my Vintage Bohemian look that I like so much.
6: Create a personal shopping list on Pinterest
One of my biggest issues, especially being Plus size, I felt limited in what I was finding in physical stores. I then started looking online and made my very first clothing purchase via the internet! It was like there was a whole new world out there. I began a Pinterest board for items that interested me and now I have already curated a huge amount of clothing that I have all in one spot. It is like having a personalized online store all for me! This also made me begin my quest for finding Vintage Bohemian clothing in my size which then led to me having a series I am calling Anthropologie Style Plus Size Clothing. So far I have done one post, but I plan on doing these every season.
7: Have a funeral for you old clothes
Even after my closet clean out, I found that there were pieces that I was passing over. I wondered why, so I took a whole week of specifically wearing these items to figure out the reason. After putting them on and wearing them all day (even if I did not really like it) I found that the reason these did not get taken out during the December closet clean out was because they came from a certain time in my life. It was a time when I discovered an Outlet mall near my house when I lived in Kansas City. Before then, I was even more limited to the brands and stores I was shopping. As I wore these items, I knew it was the last time and I had a good time saying goodbye to this time of my life as I face a new an exciting one. In essence, I was having a funeral for them.
8: Document your progress
Taking selfies of each outfit REALLY helps. This is where I made the realization that I love skirts and dresses. And that I really like my hair down and curly. I thought that looking in the mirror allowed me to visually see how I looked, but the images made me SEE myself. (for those of you who saw Avatar, you know what I am talking about)
9: Create a monthly budget
Going all whilly-nilly with my money was not serving me well. I also had a tremendous amount of guilt when I would spend even $10 because I did not feel like I deserved it if I did not make a good income that month. It was a wonderful discussion that I had with my husband as we went through the monthly bills and came up with my “personal” budget. I now can plan what I am going to purchase from my Pinterest shopping list board without guilt. And I also know that these items are going to make me get closer to my personal style. I am also not afraid to spend my entire budget on one piece. I mean why not get that item that is EVERYTHING!
10: Be honest with yourself & your loved ones
This is a toughy. Being honest with yourself can sometimes be difficult. When I finally admitted to myself years ago that I had a shopping addiction it made me feel relieved. It took me several weeks to share the news with my husband who was very receptive. When I began the shopping challenge, I had to be honest with myself to stick to it, even when it was hard. Let loved ones know what you are doing so they can encourage you along the way. Who knows, they may want to join you!
So there you have it. Surviving 30 Days Without Shopping. I hope that this can help some of you that are going through the same issues that I am. While I realize that I am NOT an expert in this area and still struggle with shopping and shopping addiction. I do however recognize that it is nice to know that other women deal with these issues and that can relate to the emotions that go along with this.
Today’s Postivity Note
“Buy Less, Choose Well” -Vivian Westwood
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