5 Reasons to do a Year Without Clothes Shopping Challenge

There are 5 great reasons to do a Year Without Clothes Shopping makeover challenge.  In short:

  1. Financial – you’ll save a bundle.  You’ll finally understand where your money has been going  and you’ll have more control over what you spend.  You’ll save thousands of dollars by not buying more.
  2. Practical – you’ll use more of what you already have.  Instead of wearing 10 – 20% of your current wardrobe, you’ll be inspired to wear closer to 100% of your existing items and you’ll be educated on how to curate a wardrobe where everything is worn and everything is loved.
  3. Emotional – you’ll feel lighter when you stop the cycle of buying more and more, and you’ll stop feeling the embarrassment and guilt that goes with unconscious over-shopping.  You’ll feel better about the shopping you choose to do, rather than feeling like the shopping is choosing you.
  4. Environmental — you’ll stop contributing to the over- and mis-use of finite and precious resources (of both the human and physical variety) by being more consicous about where your stuff comes from and by making better buying decisions.
  5. Creative – you’ll create space to express more of who you are, without the burden of continual shopping crowding your creativity.  You’ll learn how to be more creative in how you use what you already own.

Read more about each reason:

1. Financial

It’s hard to get an accurate figure of how much the “average woman” (whoever she is) spends on clothing each year.  Some say about $2000 a year.  In the course of this mysterious average woman’s lifetime, she’s expected to spend between $180,000 and $300,000 on clothes.

That’s a lot of cash going into clothes.  And shoes.  And handbags.  And earrings.

Imagine all the things you could do with your money if you weren’t spending so much of it on clothes, shoes, bags, and all the other accoutrement’s the fashion world lays at our feet.

Consider that instead of spending so much on clothes, you could:

  • Save for something. Like a deposit on a condo, house or Vesper. Or an overseas vacation. Or to attend that 2-week personal development workshop in Bali. Whatever it is, putting your money away to save for something you really want, that will have lasting value (even if it’s “just” in the memories) is one great way to re-divert those shopping funds.
  • Invest that money. There are more investment opportunities than you can poke a stick at, and I’m no investment expert so I wont be giving any advice on specific ways and methods of investing. But you get the general idea. Put that money to work for you on something that will yield a return (other than the momentary rush that comes with bringing home a new handbag).
  • Spend it on something that will enrich your life. Spend it on an evening class to learn French. Spend it on a Thai cooking course. Spend it on a white-water rafting weekend. Spend it on a watercolours-for-beginners retreat. Spend it on something that adds zest and depth to your life and makes you feel like you are truly living. Don’t spend your life – live it.

What you spend on clothes per week, month or year may have to do with these things:

  • The passion you have for the contact sport that shopping is for many women.  If you love clothes shopping, you’ll spend more.
  • The amount of disposable income you have or your attitude toward money.  If you love clothes shopping and have a higher disposable income, you’ll spend more.  If you love clothes shopping, don’t have a higher disposable income to spend on it and don’t understand credit, you’ll spend more.
  • The level of consciousness you currently have about your clothes shopping habits.  It may be time to tune in to what you’re spending, why, when and how much.

We cover this topic in-depth in Month 7 when you join the My Year Without Clothes Shopping program; it’s also covered in Week 4 of the Mini Course.

2. Practical

It’s true that most women wear only 20 – 30% of their wardrobe, which is just plum crazy as well as being a very frustrating state of affairs for those women.

Not going clothing shopping for a year offers an opportunity to get those numbers up.  For a start, you won’t be adding any new pieces to your wardrobe, so out of nothing more than necessity (or perhaps at times, desperation), you’ll find yourself reaching for things you haven’t worn for ages.

Not going clothing shopping for a year also encourages you to really look at what you’ve got.  Throughout the year, we inspire you to do a weekly wardrobe review (we call them wardrobe warrior sessions) to clear out the stuff that’s isn’t paying its rent in your precious wardrobe space.  This is a very cleansing and liberating process. It usually means you’ll have less to wear — all of which you love — which means you wear more of what’s left.

One of the ways to get more out of what you’ve got is to tune into shopping your wardrobe.  This means that every time you go into your wardrobe to get dressed, you create an ensemble for the day in a similar fashion as if you were shopping in a store.  Sure, it might be a small store, but it’s a perfect store for you.  It has everything you need, and nothing you don’t.  And it’s organised in a way that makes perfect sense for the space you have.

In addition to the practical components to shopping your wardrobe, there’s another upside as well – the  emotional element of shopping your wardrobe.

The emotional upside to shopping your wardrobe is that you feel you have an abundance of choice.  Many women feel they have “all these clothes but nothing I love to wear!” which is such a frustrating feeling to live with on an ongoing basis.

There is a better way.

A number of the modules in My Year Without Clothes Shopping touch on these practical yet powerful elements. Months 2 and 11 explore making the most out of what you already have. Month 5 has five (5) bumper tutorials covering colour and style. Month 3 is all about personality dressing.  Month 9 offers alternatives to “new new” shopping. Month 10 covers organising what you have. You’ll want to be there for all of that amazing content.

We also cover this in less detail in weeks 2, 3, 5 and 6 of the Mini Course.

3. Emotional

Shopping is not ‘just shopping’ for many women.  Shopping can come with a lot of emotions.  Why women shop is not a one-answer question, but we know that it includes emotions.  I was talking to two women recently, both of whom hate clothing shopping.  The reason?  They don’t like their bodies and  hate to see their bodies in changing room mirrors.  Other women have told me that there is a lot of guilt associated with spending money on themselves.

When I got back from San Francisco in late November 2009, my bags swollen from the injection of $1000 worth of unneeded, ‘justification’ purchases of clothes and accessories, I felt a confusing array of emotions.  I was delighted at having such gorgeous new things to wear.  I felt a gnawing sense of dread at where the money would come from to pay for them.  I felt a smidge of self-loathing at having been so weak and unconscoius about my shopping habits to have purchased these things in the first place, when I knew neither the need nor the means to pay for them existed.  I felt a growing sense that my buying behaviour may hold some deeper issues that I wasn’t aware of yet (and really needed to be).

It was this experience that really kicked my unconscious into sending me this unignorable message: how about we take a year off from clothes shopping?

Clothes shopping for many women is usually about more than just the need to cover up our nakedness. There is often an unexpected thread of emotions running through shopping for clothes.

Professor Karen Pine from the University of Hertfordshire discusses the relationship between emotions and shopping in her work, Sheconomics.

And we explore the emotional and psychological reasons for shopping in Months 4 and 8 of the My Year Without Clothes Shopping program, and in Week 1 of the Mini Course.

4. Ethical and environmental considerations

Dyes, pesticides, and child and slave labour are costing us all more than the resources that come out of our wallets.  The International Labor Organisation estimates that over 200 million children are working in sweatshops with many workers earning as little as 25 cents an hour.

Not everyone is agin sweatshops though — the benefit to us as consumers, proponents of cheap labour tell us, is that these workers are getting a job (better than not having one at all) and that we, the consumers, are getting cheaper products.

I don’t know how long it takes to make a pair of brand name sneakers, but at $.25/hour for labor and at an average retail price of around $100, you don’t need a finance degree from the London School of Economics to work out there’s a hefty profit in there somewhere for someone.

There is a growing movement to “buy green” when clothing shopping, and we’re not talking about the colour of the clothes here.  Dyes and pesticides that are used in clothing production are harmful to the environment, to the workers making the clothing and to the wearers of these clothes.

These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ethical and environmental implications of buying fast fashion and not thinking enough about what, when and how we buy.  We need to tune in to where our clothes are coming from and the choices we have in purchasing, caring for and disposing of our clothes, in ways that make us feel good about those choices.

We explore this in-depth in Month 9 of the My Year Without Clothes Shopping program and more briefly in Week 6 of the Mini Course.

5. Creative

Shopping is a contact sport for many women, me included.  I used to be great at it – well that’s what happens when you combine an unrestrained passion with lots of practice!  At the height of my shopping prowess,  I could have represented Australia in the shopping Olympics.  It was my favourite hobby and something I had become very, very good at.

But when you stand back and look at the bigger picture, it’s rather a sad state of affairs to consider all that creative energy going into shopping, and becoming a better shopper. That’s how I started to look at my own clothes shopping habits – they had begun to make no sense to me, and it seemed to be way out of proportion in my life: if I wasn’t shopping, I was thinking about shopping.

Taking a year away from clothes shopping forced me to be more creative with the wardrobe that I have.  I became more playful with my clothes, more appreciative of them.  I stopped ‘saving’ certain clothes for ‘good’ – I started wearing those gorgeous jackets, boots and necklaces, even if it was just down to pick up the groceries or out for a casual coffee.

Taking a year out from clothes shopping also challenged me to put my brain and body to a better use than being a clothes shopping champion.  My life is so much richer now.  I feel more connected to my life, and more connected to other people.

And since healing myself from a compulsion to shop, when I’m travelling (the danger zone for me, as this is when I used to do much of my shopping), I enjoy the sights and sounds of that place more, rather than shopping my way through the experience.

I’m living more of my life, rather than spending my life.

Your life is too important to be spent.  You are too important to do anything other than live every moment of your life.  And I’m here to share with you that living your life is not an experience to be found in a shopping mall.

Months 2, 3, 6 and 11 of My Year Without Clothes Shopping explore these creative aspects in depth, which are also covered (but in less detail) in Weeks 2 and 3 of the Mini Course.

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