It’s amazing how well my #lowbuy experiment has gone so far this year. I first heard about the idea from Signe at UseLessWardrobe.dk. The goal is to commit to a year of limiting clothing purchases, to buy second hand, sustainable or not at all. It has really changed the way I think about new purchases and how I spend money in general. Here’s everything I’ve added this year:
Leopard Sweater | J. Crew (used from Poshmark) $39
I bought this sweater over a year ago (full retail: $89.50) and decided I didn’t love the way it fit so I returned it. Then, in January, I found it on Poshmark and decided it was a good deal and would be a good addition to my wardrobe. I had been wanting a leopard sweater for a while. It turned out that the seller had machine-washed it (on gentle, but it was hand wash only) and had shrunk it. I decided to not make a big deal out of it. I kept it and never wore it. I’ve since donated it. Such a bummer, but it really reinforced the idea that buying clothes does not me happy.
High Heel Clog in Tan | Lotta from Stockholm $81
These clogs were a really good purchase. I already had one pair of clogs, low heel, in navy and wanted a higher heel in a lighter color. I waited a long time before finally decided to buy this second pair of clogs. I really adore clogs and wear them all the time. It feels good to choose something you love even though it isn’t necessarily trendy, and to learn what your true style is. This was my first time purchasing from Lotta and I would highly recommend them! #cloglife
High Rise Cheeky Strait Jeans | GAP $40
Another thing I had been wanting for a while is a pair of white jeans. I looked a a lot of options, ordered and returned one pair from Madewell and then tried these from the GAP and they were perfect. I am happy to see styles moving from skinny to strait. I love the silhouette of the high waist and wider, cropped leg. And they are so comfortable.
Striped Tee Dress | Old Navy $21
Okay, so, as soon as stores opened up, I went shopping with my daughter and although I had previously pinned this on my wish list board, it was kind of an impulse buy. Did I need another dress? No. Another navy colored dress? Definitely no. But I love it. And I reach for it all the time, which in my opinion is the best indication that something was a good choice.
The Haul | Nordstrom Rack $86
So, everything had been going great… then I went to Nordstrom Rack with a friend when they first opened back up. I grabbed a bunch of things, then learned I couldn’t try anything on, so I decided to just check out and try them on at home. I paid for my haul and then they stamped my receipt, “FINAL SALE.” I could have died. I had no idea they were having a clearance sale. I wasn’t paying attention. I was not happy. I didn’t feel excited that everything was 50% off. I just felt sad, like, I didn’t need any of this stuff and I don’t even want it in my closet. So, I accidentally added a Nike sports bra, a Calvin Klein bralette, 4 Madewell t-shirts, a white Madewell cardigan and a pair of camouflage pants! They all fit me fine and I will use them, but I wish I had never gone on that shopping trip.
That’s all. That’s what I added. I am amazed how little I bought, and more so, how little I wanted to buy! It has been such a transformation. (Granted, the pandemic was a big contributor to my not shopping)
I now know, that when I really focus on what I truly want, and what clothing is really me, it’s very minimal. I enjoy the good choices, and I enjoy what I already have.
A follower once told me, “As long as you repair the soles before it wears through to the wood, and take good care of the leather, they will last forever.” The fact that this person was Swedish just further convinced me. After wearing my Troentorp DaVinci clogs for about a year, I knew they would need to be resoled soon. Not wanting to be clog-less, I waited until I had a back-up pair. I purchased my Lotta from Stockholm High Heel Classic Clog pair in February, right before COVID-19 hit. At that point I didn’t go to the cobbler because I thought they were closed. I had actual real fear of dropping them off and the business closing down for months, or forever, with my beloved clogs trapped inside. When I finally did take them in to the oft-recommended Camody Shoe Service, I learned they had been open the entire time. Shoe repair, considered by many to be archaic or obsolete, was deemed “essential.”
Here’s the fun part. My $99 clogs cost $61 to resole. I didn’t have a choice. The repair man tried to dissuade me. I don’t think he had any idea how much a person could love a pair of clunky old shoes. Clearly he was unaware of the wildfire that was the hipster phenomenon of #cloglife. I left them with him, not at all confident he would return them to me the way I imagined. We agreed he would sand down the wood to remove the scuffs and marks but would not varnish them with shiny shellack. But what if he used some weird colored rubber? I did not feel sympatico with the gentleman but decided to trust him anyway. Two days later I retrieved them and was thrilled! They looked perfect. It still seems crazy to have paid so much but isn’t it better to repair and reuse? To commit yourself to the stewardship of a good pair of shoes?
Around the same time I bought my second pair of clogs, I made a purchase from Nordstrom: a pair of white Classic Dr. Scholl’s. My mom wore these when I was a kid and I had at least one pair back then and I’d been thinking about getting a pair for a long time. The only question was, “What color?” I decided on white. A few days later, a Nordstrom box arrived in the mail, (my new Dr. Scholl’s!) as well as a box from my mom. “What is this box from my mom?”, I wondered. An identical used pair of Dr. Scholl’s. I am not kidding. I had mentioned that I wanted them and she said she might have some and I forgot all about the conversation. The new ones are the photo on the left. The used ones (only a few years old, not form the 70s or anything) are on the right. Same color. Same size. Came on the same day. Like the universe was telling me, “You don’t need to buy new stuff. There’s plenty of perfectly good stuff already out there.” It was freaky. But so cool. Such an affirmation of my commitment to #lowbuy. I sent the Nordstrom ones back.
This year has been a complete 180 on shopping for me. The less I buy new clothes, the less I want them. I have been so completely content with what I have. And more and more I am really clear on what I like. Having less and maintaining a minimal, curated closet is so satisfying.
How I got started with clogs
By the way, if you need to adjust your Dr. Scholl’s buckles, this video is a life saver!
To learn more about the Low Buy Challenge, check out Signe’s site.
My only purchase this year: a J.Crew sweater from Poshmark
I don’t know exactly what day in January I officially committed to doing the “Low Buy Challenge” but here we are, one week into February and I feel like I’ve done well so far.
In my last post I talked about why I was doing it, who inspired me, and what clothes I currently have in my Fall/Winter closet. (Spring/Summer items are packed away.) I think the next step is to discuss the rules I’ve created around when and if I add something.
- Wait. That’s right. Try it on in store or look at it on line, but don’t buy it today. Pin it on my Pinterest “Wish List” board. If I still really like it in a week or a month, I can get it.
- Ask myself if I need it. Will it fill a hole in my wardrobe? Do I already have something similar? Is it truly my style? Will it get a lot of wear? Is it on my list?
- Try to buy second hand or get it from a friend.
- Shop sustainable brands. Consider spending a little bit more to support more responsible manufacturers, and invest in a quality item that will last longer.
- Don’t shop to avoid uncomfortable feelings or boredom. Find an alternative outlet.
Setting this goal for myself has been surprisingly freeing. I thought it would be harder. Some of the things I’ve done have made it easier. For one, at the beginning of the year I did massive email clean out. I unsubscribed from all unnecessary emails, especially clothing stores. I threw away coupons and sales flyers and any other enticement to buy stuff (when I don’t need stuff!) Another thing that helped: resisting the urge to get rid of clothing I don’t wear. I know now that this can create a vacuum that makes me want to run out and get new items. If I think I should get rid of it, I put it away in my off season bins. If I still feel the same in the Spring, I’ll donate it. The third thing I did was spend less time looking at fashion blogs and social media in general. If I read posts, it’s from people who encourage slow fashion. This growing online community is like a support group and it really helps! Check out #2020wehaveplenty and #useless_lowbuy2020
The longer I go without buying clothes the more I feel like I don’t need to. I like the clothes I have. I don’t need new ones. Besides, I like knowing I have a stash of allowance money that keeps getting bigger. The more I have, the less I want to spend it.
a new challenge
I’ve decided to make an effort to buy as few clothing items as possible this year. These last two years I did “A year of Shopping Responsibly” and then “New Wardrobe Additions” posts to help me be more accountable about what I purchase and to motivate me to be more selective about what I buy. It was a good exercise, and it really revealed that I shop too much. I recently watched the documentary, “The True Cost” and had to face some ugly truths. And how I was contributing to a big problem. Overconsumption is causing serious damage to the planet and the people who make our clothes. There are a lot of reasons to participate in “slow fashion” and it may seem like a real kill joy at first, but just like any form of minimalism, you get to decide how to do it and how much feels right for you. Any amount of change helps!
My biggest motivator has been Signe from uselesswardrobe.dk. She introduced her “low buy” concept at the beginning of the year and I decided to jump on board. I’ve been following a lot of bloggers over the years who promote minimalism and capsule wardrobes—which I was attracted to because their beautiful simplicity—but am now embracing due to their social consciousness. Recently, I found myself following the Instagram stories of Jaana, from thismomsgonnasnap.com , on shopping addiction. I love that she had the guts to share her journey, and to call it what it is. There are so many others and I encourage you to check them out.
I decided that the best place to start was to appreciate what I have. Above you’ll see a video of every item currently in my closet. Why did I try on all my clothes and take mirror selfies of them? Because I saw Signe do it and I wanted a record of everything I currently have. I knew it would really show me that I don’t need any more clothes. And, when and if I look for a new item, I won’t buy something I already have and I won’t buy things that don’t fit my style or my lifestyle. Signe also inspired me recently to try packing up all my off season clothing so what you see there is only Fall/Winter. And keep in mind, I’ve been through countless decluttering sessions including The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up and The Curated Closet. I regularly inventory my clothes and only have what I truly love and wear. I now know that I have, available to me, the following clothing:
PANTS/SKIRTS – 14
TEE-SHIRTS – 24
SHIRTS – 9
SWEATERS – 13
JACKETS, ETC. – 3
SPECIAL OCCASION – 19
SHOES – 19
That’s a lot! (God, that really is an enormous amount of items.) And it doesn’t include off-season clothes and it doesn’t include what I’ve donated. I’ve spent the last 10 or so years trying to ‘build the perfect wardrobe’ LOL. And now, and at my mature-ish age, I’ve amassed a collection. I’m fortunate that my size has stayed fairly consistent and that I have a certain allowance for clothes. I try to take good care of my garments. Going through the video I can see some things that I could let go of. I’m going to see what I wear as I go forward.
Well, thanks for indulging me in this exercise. I do it only to convince myself: I have enough. I am enough. I’m looking forward to exploring this subject in further depth. Topics like: sustainable brands, buying second hand, putting outfits together with what I have, avoiding impulsive purchases, shopping from a list, etc. I hope you’ll join me!
Tissue Turtleneck: J.Crew | Jeans: Lucky Mid Rise Ava Super Skinny Jean | Clogs: Troentorp Da Vinci in Dark Blue
I’m wrapping up my series on new clothing purchases with the last month in 2019. I’ll be creating some new content for 2020 — things like responsible consumption, second hand shopping and styling old clothes in new ways. Here’s what I added in December:
Madewell beanie — $22
I am in love with this hat. It’s so soft, and of course I totally have a thing for dark forrest-y blue-greens. It’s cozy and warm. If you’re looking for the warmest hat, I recommend this wind-resistant fleece-lined one from LL Bean
Lucky Brand Jeans black skinnies — $60
These were sort of an impulse-y buy. One day I realized I didn’t have a pair of black skinny jeans and I needed some. I went over to Banana Republic, and then Lucky, and found the perfect pair. You know you’ve made a good choice when you wear them immediately and then for like 4 days in a row.
okay, okay…I know. It’s bad. But I found the perfect winter (investment) coat.
GAP Long Sleeved Tee in White — $12
I love GAP’s featherweight tees. I’ve been needing a basic white shirt for layering…
Madewell Tee in White — $17
Couldn’t pass up this adorable vintage looking tee. (top photo)
Cole Haan Chelsea Boots — $80
I’ve been on an endless hunt for some pointy toe, low heel boots. Originally, I settled on this pair from Madewell, which were pricey and not very pointy. My lovely friend Annie had given me a gift card to Nordstrom so I returned the first pair and got these. (top photo)
& Other Stories Peacoat — $245
A huge splurge! I lived with this coat handing in my closet for a while before suddenly wearing it on a fancy night out. I did not regret it. It is so warm (100% wool) and enveloping. I believe it will be a staple for years to come. I managed to sell my old black wool coat on Poshmark to make room. (bottom photo)
GAP workout leggings — 2 pair $67
I needed long leggings and I found 2 great pair at GAP. One black and one striped. Great deal! (middle photo)
COS Sparkle Socks — $9
Oh, I almost forgot, I also got a pair of sparkly socks from COS (high end sister store to H&M). I wanted so many things in the store but decided to wait…