Challenging yourself has been a big thing this past decade. And one of the most popular challenges stems from the guilt that a lot of us feel in regards to consumerism, and the detrimental effects our consuming habits have on the planet we live on.
The cat’s been out of the bag for decades, and nobody can deny that fashion industry is among the top 3 worst polluters in the world. So, with this knowledge pressing in the back of our minds a lot of us have embarked on a shopping strike.
In all honesty, I probably wouldn’t have but I didn’t have a choice; I couldn’t shop even if I wanted to. Throughout last year I was in such a financial rut that it resembled a personal bankruptcy; I could barely pay my monthly bills and had no savings or credit left to fall back on. I was as broke as can be.
Thankfully I’ve never been a big spender when it comes to clothes; I never did those H&M or Primark hauls, leaving the store with 3 bags full of clothes that easily end up hanging in the cupboard with price tags attached, never to be worn.
Instead I would only spend my money if some piece of clothing, or a pair of shoes, that really spoke to me. By this I mean that if I left the store, and the item was stuck in my head, I would turn around and get it. I’ve never regretted any of those purchases, because they happened relatively rarely and I still wear those clothes.
So, spending a year with no shopping perhaps wasn’t such a big deal for me as it may be for many others, but now that I have returned to the world of normal salaries, I’ve realized that my shopping habits have changed drastically.
Note that these are my views, how I felt and what I discovered. I’m not saying that anyone should do what I do, and I understand that fast fashion isn’t going anywhere. I do not wish to undermine anyone’s shopping habits or views.
What I learned from a year of no shopping
T-shirt | Tommy Hilfiger
Jeans | Stradivarius
Bag | PIHKA collection (get 10% off with code TERESA10)
Shoes | Tommy Hilfiger
1. I have everything I need
In all honesty, I would be brave enough to venture a guess that this, in fact, applies to every single one of us. We’re just so used to being able to go online or walk to the store, leave some money behind and instead walk out with an item or 5 in the bag.
But if you found yourself in the same situation as I did a year ago, all accounts empty and credit cards up to their limits full, you’d quickly realize that you don’t actually need any of the clothes you haul back home from the mall every week.
At the end of the day, we don’t need any more than a few key pieces, which we very likely already have in the closet. The capsule wardrobe is a good option to try out in case you find a shopping strike a bit exaggerated. Which brings me to the next point:
2. I realized the versatility of my wardrobe
I’m not going to lie, I do have a lot of clothes. But the thing is, I wear all of them. Living in a country where all 4 seasons are very prominent one has to have 4 different wardrobes anyway. But those wardrobes don’t necessarily have to include that many items.
For example, the possibilities of styling a pair of jeans are endless! I’ve got one pair of skinny jeans which I absolutely love and I’d pair them up with a classic white tee, a bardot neckline top, a blazer, a turtleneck, or for a festive occasion a glitter top with high heels added to the combo.
Another must-have piece that saves you many morning headaches of “I have nothing to wear!!” is a black, basic blazer. It brings structure and prestige to even the most basic of outfits.
The items that I found most versatile in terms of styling them over and over again, and on which I would suggest investing in, are:
- a good pair of jeans
- black blazer
- leopard top / skirt
- white T-shirt
- black stilettos
3. I learned the importance of quality
When you can’t get new clothes to replace the ones that break or shrink in the wash, you can’t help but start to properly love all those pieces still left in your closet. Most often those pieces were the ones I had spent a bit more money on.
Yes, tears and stains can happen to any garment, regardless of how much money you spent on them, but when the piece of clothing is made of quality fabric, the odds are it will last in your closet for much longer than that 5€ top.
When my shopping strike ended, I couldn’t even imagine going to H&M, Newyorker or any of the cheap, fast fashion stores. Instead, I directed my steps to Tommy Hilfiger’s store searching for that perfect white tee.
And I found the perfect one! I was a little bit apprehensive whether I’d be happy to pay 50€ for a T-shirt, but I didn’t have to! The shirt, that was made out of organic cotton(!), cost under 30€, which I think is a very reasonable price. I plan to wear that T-shirt for many years to come.
So, a big change has happened in my mindset towards more expensive but better quality fashion. Before I used to avoid brand stores in order to save money, but in fact now I realize that this frame of mind did not save me any money.
4. I saved an incomprehensible amount of money
Looking back at how I used to consume on fashion, and how I look at it all right now, the conclusion is clear:
Investing in more expensive (but not ridiculously expensive!) quality products maximum once a month saves me hundreds of euros per year, in comparison to how much I’d spend on fast fashion in a year’s time.
How can I afford to put 6 times more money on a brand T-shirt? By shopping much less than before and much more rarely. It all comes down to what I actually need, rather than what I want!
As concrete examples I can give you my Zara blazer, which is 10 years old and still killing it, or my Gabor leather ballerinas which are nearing their 8th Summer still in pristine condition.
Ballerinas are a great way to test the quality versus price-argument; proper leather ballerinas cost about 4 times more, but they last for years whereas I need to buy a new pair of those 20€ ballerinas every single year.
5. I became greatly aware of the negative impacts of fast fashion
This wasn’t just because I was on a shopping strike, but also because the affects of fast fashion are everywhere these days. You can’t really avoid the news of fatal accidents happening in fast fashion factories in poor countries, or the documentaries on the effects that fashion industry’s pollution have on the people living nearby these factories.
It’s a grim reality, but it’s a reality that we all need to be aware of. We’re all contributing to the problem and thus we are all also the answer to solving it! Let’s look on the bright side, because ultimately it’s US who have the power.
I hope I will be able to keep this more conscious consumerism up from now on. I think I will, though, because I really don’t need anything new at the moment. Plus buying that Tommy Hilfiger T-shirt and noticing the difference in quality has made me think that I’ll only opt for the premium stores from now on.
It remains to be seen whether I can keep this up or not.
Have you guys ever been on a ‘shopping strike?’ Or would you ever start one? I’d love to hear your views on the subject. ♥
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