I love having new clothes. I don’t really follow trends, but I enjoy getting creative with colours, layers, and styles. When I have a little extra money in my account it’s usually spent on a cheeky new top, or a pair of jeans. A birthday, or a night out with the girls is always a great excuse to buy something new, and it’s so satisfying when you find something that fits in just the right way. I’ve always felt like how I looked on the outside was an extension of who I was, it never bothered me what other people thought of what I wore, but I wanted it to reflect my personality as much as it could.
But recently it’s occurred to me how much I spend on clothes, how much space they take up in my wardrobe, and how much time I spend searching for the right outfit. It occurred to me how much I was wasting – my money, my space, my time.
Not only this, but I started to wonder about where my clothes were coming from – who made them? How did this t-shirt come to be in my local New Look? It dawned on me how much pain my clothes can cause – growing the materials, were they grown on a Fairtrade plantation? Making the garments, were they made in a sweatshop? Was there child labour involved? Which country did it come from? How much pollution was involved in getting it to the UK? The chances are that every single piece of clothing I own has slave labour involved in its journey.
Then what? I would own it for a year or two, then throw it away. Granted, I always tried to give my clothes to a local charity shop, but I just used the space in my wardrobe as an excuse to buy something new, rarely satisfied with what I already owned.
So this year I decided to make some changes.
- I was going to stop buying new clothes, if I wanted a new outfit I would have to buy it from a charity shop, make it, or borrow from a friend.
- I was going to have a clear out of my wardrobe every three months.
- I was going to give an entire bag of clothes to charity every time I had a clear out.
It’s now been four months in, so how am I getting on?
I’m loving it.
I thought that it would limit my creative options, but it’s increased them. I have to mix up my items a bit more to get a different look out of them – I’m creating some of my favourite outfits just by putting a little more imagination in.
I love going through charity shops. It’s so satisfying to find something special, it reminds me of treasure hunts as a kid.
So much space. My wardrobe suddenly feels like it can breathe again. I’m loving having a more minimalist look.
Throwing away clothes is so therapeutic. It gives me the chance to say ‘I’ve moved on from who I was when I bought that, I’m a new person now.’ It’s great.
Giving to charity is always a good thing. I’m not in a position at the moment where I can afford to give financially so being able to give something else is really helpful.
It’s saving me money. I never spent masses on clothes, but even I can notice the difference in my account.
There have been a couple of tough days, (especially now dungarees are back in fashion – oh how I’d like some) but overall it’s been a lot easier than I thought it would be, and definitely something I’d recommend to others.
Like the idea but not the year?
There are different ways you could cut down on your consumerism, you don’t have to do a whole year without clothes to prove your point.
Have a go at charity shop shopping one day and see how you get on, if you enjoy it, or find some treasures, then it could be something you try again, and again – keep going.
Speak up about ethical fashion – write to your favourite stores and ask what they’re doing to improve their working standards, where they source their materials, how they’re reducing their carbon footprint.
Buy ethical clothing – It can be difficult to find items that are Fairtrade, but stores are only going to stock them if we buy them. M&S have a Fairtrade selection, and H&M are working hard to provide more sustainable fashion.