Back in January, book three – ‘How to Break Up with Fast Fashion’ by Lauren Bravo– prompted me to dump the High street.
I’m now four months into my shop free year, I haven’t bought anything since Friday the 20th of December a faux fur coat from Asda that looks like a 70s TV show detective skinned a muppet. I love it, did I need it? No, I already had a faux fur coat sat hanging in the wardrobe at home, I just needed to buy something, anything.
When I picked up Lauren Bravo’s book I smugly thought “I haven’t bought anything this year”….it was January the 18th. So now we’re sat in April, how am I doing? Well, alright actually, helped slightly by a global pandemic, I don’t need to buy anything because I’m not going anywhere for the foreseeable.
To be honest, before all this, I hadn’t found it the wrench I expected it to be. I’d dutifully followed the tips set out in the book, I’d identified my shopping triggers (mood and boredom mostly). I haven’t wandered through the Arndale aimlessly after work or along any high street. I’ve unsubscribed to brands. Stopped following my go to shops on social media so I can’t mindlessly spend during a TV ad break. I’ve stopped following Holly Willoughby on Instagram (hers is the wardrobe I covet the most) and I seem to have learnt that I can like something without having to buy it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still drawn to pictures and adverts of dresses like a magpie, I just haven’t bought anything.
There is one thing in the guide that I have been putting off….having a good clear out.
Yesterday, it was finally time.
No more excuses, I was going in.
Everything was pulled out of the wardrobes, all the drawers emptied, shoes gathered from each hiding place.
Christ, seeing years of spending and squirrelling clothes into the house laid out in my bedroom was pretty sickening. How had I bought so much crap? Why I had bought so much crap? Why was I holding on to so much crap? Dear Reader, there was a lot of crap.
Staring at it all, knowing it’d take a good few hours to sort through, knowing I’d need to be brutal, not knowing where to start and knowing I’d be getting rid of a lot of clothes, I started to feel a little bit anxious. I know it sounds ridiculous. I love clothes, clothes are part of my armour. If I feel comfortable in what I’m wearing, if a dress or skirt makes me feel confident then I can fake it. It might sound shallow but let’s be honest a lot of us do it, clothes make us feel good, it’s literally what the fashion industry is built on, it’s the message that is hammered out every day – ‘Imagine how good this jacket/skirt/dress will make you feel’. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to be brutal enough, there are memories attached to my clothes, I’m also a hoarder I still have the dress I wore for my 21st birthday for crying out loud.
I had a great afternoon! I found clothes I’d forgotten I’d bought, I tried clothes on – including my first ballgown, it still fits and I pranced about in it for over an hour. I rediscovered clothes I loved that had got lost in the recesses of an overly full wardrobe, I’d never stopped loving them I just couldn’t see them.
I also found a lot of duplicates. Who needs two pair of suede boots? Who needs two gold dresses? What about three black jump suits or 11 coats? Well, me apparently. I’ve also acquired a number of hats including 2 berets, I’ve never worn a beret in my life.
Then there were the clothes that just weren’t me and no matter how much I want them to be me, they never will be. There’s the navy-blue dress that looks like an M&S uniform, I’ve worn it a few times but seeing it laid out among my brighter more colourful clothes I have no idea why bought it. It’s not my usual style, there’s no pattern, there’s no colour, it’s just boring. I can only imagine it was an impulse buy in a bid to be seen as more professional or something ridiculous like that; it went in straight in the bag. There was the long Japanese style dress that I have never worn, I can’t fit my boobs in it, I have curves and I’m not 6ft, it’s not made for me and that’s okay, I can like it (and I really do) I don’t have to have it. I finally gave in and got rid of the red tartan dress; it’s just not meant to be. There were the pieces I had loved, but didn’t want anymore, the blue denim dress with flowers round the neckline – I’d adored it the year I bought it, I felt great in it. I wore it once last year, it wouldn’t see the light of day this year, maybe someone else can love it this summer. Same goes for the faux fur gilet, I haven’t worn it in more than 10 years, it’s safe to say I’m not going to again despite living in it at one point.
In the past clear outs have seen me go straight online, ordering all sorts to replace what I’ve just got rid of. At the end of this one I don’t have that need. I’ve got a few pieces that need repairs, I don’t need to get rid of something because a button has fallen off or the seam has come loose, I should just stop being lazy and sew it back on.
I feel lighter having waded through the material mountain, it’s in good nick, I’ll sell some of it, charity the rest. I know I’m only four months in but a break from shopping has done me and my bank balance the world of good. I don’t need to buy clothes after a stressful day and I’ve got more of an idea of what I like and what my style is, it’s bold, it’s bright, it’s colourful patterns – I should stick to them and stay away from the navy-blue office dresses.
Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm