Monday, 10 April 2017

Lessons Learnt: No Shopping

Today I want to talk a little bit about how I accidentally stopped shopping for clothes for over a year—until March 4. Before then, the last time I had to actually pay for a new piece of clothing was in January 2016, when I made my first ever purchase at Book of Deer. It is so fitting that this clothing line that I've lusted over for so long should be the last one in a while. That being said, I did acquire a hand-me-down clothing item from a swap with a friend. Also, I managed to finally slip into an item that's been sitting in my wardrobe for too long. But last month, unfortunately, I had to break the streak and buy a pair of boots, because the shoes I was wearing at the time deteriorated. However, it still stands that I haven't gone and paid for a clothing item for a year. It's a bit funny, really, since I never vowed to do so, and many external factors—such as finances—also contribute to this outcome, but I did learn a few things in the process. Here they are.

There's Always Something to Wear

Often we face the bulging mess that is our wardrobe and, somehow, still manage to declare that we have nothing to wear, when, in fact, we actually own too much. Unless you're rendered homeless in some way, chances are you actually do have something to wear. This is one of the reasons I managed not to go shopping: because I have enough. You guys see it on the blog; I still manage to pull off various outfits using pretty much the same items for a whole year. It may seem quite boring, but clothes are meant to be worn several times and outfits are meant to be repeated. When it comes down to it, there is literally always something to wear.

Easy to Plan

Having very limited number of clothes makes it very easy for me to remember what I own and plan my outfits ahead of time. If I'm feeling a little bit creative or dedicated, I could probably even sketch it out. Of course, the clothes I have are still a lot for one person—I'm still surprised to find several items I don't remember in my wardrobe. Still, it's much, much easier than when my wardrobe was double or triple its current size, which means planning outfits takes less time now. I can really channel my time into creating something more impactful and important—like work or this blog or whathaveyou. Not only a time-saver, having a smaller wardrobe has reduced my stress levels considerably.

No Money, No Cry

One of the reasons I stopped shopping was money problems. I don't know if I ever talked about this on the blog but my budget is very, very tight at the moment. So much so that shopping for clothes literally fell to the bottom of my priority list right now. And, you know what, it doesn't bother me. I used to spend hours scrolling through online stores and closet sales, contemplating what to get—even when I don't need any new item at all. Now I can literally skim through any listings and be absolutely okay with not purchasing anything. Instead, I could use the money—and time—for other more crucial stuff. Probably for the first time ever, I find that even when I don't buy the things I thought I wanted, the world doesn't come crashing down.

Alternative Consumerism

Okay, so you may want a new clothing item. So did I! But there are definitely other ways to acquire new clothes without having to break the bank and raid retail stores. For example, you can swap with your friends. Why not exchange clothes that you both no longer like from your wardrobe? One person's trash could be another person's treasure. Or you can DIY an old item to give it an entirely new look. If you can't do it yourself, you can go to a tailor with your idea. It could be a little pricey, of course, depending on what you have in mind—or where you live—but you at least won't contribute to the clothes being discarded into landfills. Or, best idea, you can look for hand-me-downs from your parents, grandparents or older siblings. They might have a little something that don't fit them anymore. Who knows? It could be your new favourite thing!

Finding Myself

As cheesy as this sounds, on a psychological level, I think the whole no-shopping thing really help me figure out who I am and what kind of relationship I want to have with my clothes. What we wear says a lot about the kind of person we want to be—even if we're not particularly interested in fashion. The fact that I don't get to shop—which later turns into not wanting to shop—really forces me to look at the things I own and figure out what they possibly say about me. Not just in the way the clothes look, but how I treat them—do I wear them often? Do I care for them right? I admit, I've purchased clothes that weren't right for me in the past, so this whole experience feels a lot like detoxifying my wardrobe and it pretty much has the same effect. Never before, I believe, have I ever felt a stronger sense of self.

Aside from the physical act of putting clothing items in a cart and paying for them, I also unsubscribed to all newsletters from online stores. This has also reduced my stress level considerably. Without having to mark all my emails as read—because I just can't stand having unopened emails in my inbox—I feel much, much less distracted from doing things higher on my priority list. I've also stopped window shopping, both online and offline, for the same reason. This, of course, didn't happen overnight—I used to still wander about town just walking into and out of stores—but once I realise I stopped doing that, I also notice how much lighter my heart feels. And, yes, I was once a retail-therapy enthusiast, but I do feel there are less destructive and insensitive ways to relieve one's frustration than consumerism. Why don't you give it a try?

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