While this self-imposed ban enabled me to save money, I wouldn’t necessarily say this was the primary motivator. More importantly, it was an opportunity for me to explore contented living: being satisfied, complete, and fine with what I already own.
By not buying any clothes (except for the J. Crew skirt with a gift card), I had to examine why it is that new clothes have made me so happy–and dare I say, fulfilled–in the past. Thanks to this ban, my self-worth has become increasingly divorced from my physical appearance, which is an interesting departure for me. In the past, I was quite concerned with new clothes, especially the feeling of buying something new and people’s reaction to new. Over the past few months this has caused those sentiments to wane. As with most of arenas of life, I find that living frugally, minimally, and consciously has ripple benefits that far exceed the monetary rewards.
Here’s what this exercise in restraint taught me about myself, my clothes and the consumer world as a whole!
I rid my closet of the unnecessary
I have plenty of clothes, shoes and accessories and voluntarily chose to clear some of it out of my closet. Some clothes just sit in your closet and never get picked because of this, that or the other thing, but you still can’t let them go. Throughout my shopping ban, I was so sick of going to look for something to wear and not picking the same things over and over again, that I decided to clear those items out of my closet for good. I am tired of telling myself I’ll wear it sometime and actively knowing that I would never wear it.
I buy new things so I can have new things
I had a wedding last month. I wore a cobalt blue dress that I have worn once before, for three hours, with a completely different group of people. And yet I desperately wanted something new. I had a specific vision in my mind of how I would look. It didn’t match this dress and that irked me to no end. It probably irked me more because I almost always give in to the desire to buy the new dress, so like a mosquito bite that couldn’t be scratched, it itched even worse. I don’t love that feeling, and I’d like to be more careful about falling into the shiny ball trap in the future, with or without my shopping ban in place.
Bottom line: I love clothes, shoes and accessories.
I use them as a form of self expression. They make me feel comfortable and content. I find shopping for them soothing. Are they a vice? Sure, at a time when I should be saving or spending on things we truly need, they’re a vice. But in a world where Madewell and J. Crew reign supreme, I shouldn’t become enthralled with anything that they offer.
Tips and Tricks
Once I came up with idea and decided to go forth with it, I did not look back. I didn’t get into protracted debates over whether I would or would not buy anything because it wasn’t even an option. I set a concrete and attainable goal and all I did was stick with it. I then began to see the community that has been built on shopping bans. There were so many bloggers and Instagrammers who vowed not to shop and who were doing it for much longer than me. So I began to see how others are doing it! The one piece of advice (that I figured out the hard way) was, don’t check your emails or go on your favorite store’s sites. It’s poking a sleeping beast that really don’t need to be woken. I also had people to keep me accountable, checking in every so often to see if I was “really doing it”. And well, I really did it!!
Overall, I loved the experience from proving to myself that I could go without to realizing I don’t need to shop every week. I love that I physically couldn’t shop because it sure made Target trips cheaper. But as they say “old habit die hard”, I’ll probably ending spending $500 at Gap this pay day. Just kidding, but seriously I’m might celebrate by shopping a bit. As I said before there are things I want and there are things I “need”.
This entire journey forced me to give up all the things we are taught to want in life: the newest and greatest of this, that or the other. I exchanged them for basic necessities and, after 3 months of not being able to buy anything new, I’ve realized I have all I could ever need. This new mindset has not only saved me money, it’s expanded my capacity to care for others and to find gratitude in the simplest things.
If you want to do a shopping ban, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my initial post setting the rules and regulations I set for my ban! Comment below I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!