January is the time of year when we think about our goals and commitments for the year ahead, and for many people this year, one of their goals is to buy less or no new clothing. Is that yours too?
Music to my ears.
When I did my first year of saying no to new back in 2014, I was surprised and delighted about how it helped to develop my own sense of style, and for me, it rekindled that love and enjoyment of being creative with clothes and having fun putting outfits together. I loved it so much, I wrote In the Jumble and shifted my personal styling business even more towards helping others define a style they love by finding treasure in second hand shops.
So, if you're starting the New Year with the intention of buying less or no new clothes and you haven't tried it before, here's five tips to help get you started:
1. You Do You
Don't feel that you have to buy everything secondhand, because you might never get going. Decide from the outset what kind of things you're willing to explore hunting for in charity shops, what you already have plenty of in the wardrobe, and what is imperative for you to buy new as and when they need replacing (such as underwear, swimwear, etc). By creating your own list, you'll feel more confident in your year ahead knowing you have the rules in place that work for you. If you're not quite ready to fully commit to no new clothes, then perhaps try secondhand first; if you want or need something new, look for it second hand first and if it's just not available then finding it new becomes the last resort rather than the first.
2. Be Clear On What You Like And What Suits You
One of the courses I teach online is around colour. Wearing colours that suit us can have a magical effect on how we feel, but can also dramatically increase our chances of creating a wardrobe where clothes go effortlessly together. If you can understand the colours, shapes and styles of clothes that suit you and (more importantly) you like to wear, you've got far more chance of wearing more of what you already own more often, and less chance of buying things that don't get worn. A great tip is at the end of each day before you get undressed, just ask yourself - have I enjoyed wearing this outfit today? What do I love about this outfit? Are there commonalities with the other clothes I love and this outfit? If you've really enjoyed wearing it, take a selfie on your phone so you don't forget your favourite creations - it makes planning what to wear so much easier when you have some tried and tested favourites.
3. Have A Wardrobe Clear Out
At the start of the year when you're self imposing limits on new clothes, having a clear out of your current wardrobe might sound counter-intuitive. Having seen inside so many wardrobes, I can say with some confidence that many of us just have too many clothes, and most of us only regularly wear about 20% of them. And when it comes to choosing what to wear and enjoying making that choice, too many clothes isn't always a good thing. Often items get missed or overlooked, because they're buried deep in the wardrobe or are hidden under other items on a hanger.
Start by packing away all the clothes that are not of this season, so if you're in winter, pack up the beach wear and summer linens, and in summer, pack away the chunky jumpers and thermals. You won't need those clothes just yet, and they're getting in the way of seeing what you can wear now. In Spring or Autumn when they come out again, it's like an exciting new wardrobe when you switch things over. If you have clothes hanging that need laundering, repair or alteration, getting that sorted means you'll have useable things to put back on the hangers, and anything that doesn't currently fit or you've fallen out of love with could be donated, recycled, or stored away. When you can freely slide your hangers along the rails, that's when you've got the most chance of seeing what you own and can easily plan what to wear today.
4. Challenge Yourself To Create New Outfits From Your Wardrobe
In Sustainable Style Studio our 12 week online course, one of the things I love the most is seeing the results of our outfit creation challenge. Participants tell me over and over how they had never thought to put this skirt with that cardigan, or could that dress really work with those shoes? We are creatures of habit, and once we decide what works we tend to stick with it. But in not buying new clothes, part of the fun and creativity in the year ahead will be making new outfits out of what you already have. Pick a quiet morning and have fun styling up your wardrobe. Start with laying a pair of trousers or a skirt on the bed and see if you can find at least 3 tops to go with it. Then try at least 2 different pairs of shoes, and one accessory such as a necklace or bag. In no time, the creative juices will be flowing and you'll find you've created an outfit you've never tried before. If you like the creation, take a photo and use it to re-create the outfit the following week.
5. Shop Second Hand
Our clothes communicate to the outside world our image of ourselves, and even if we're committing to no new clothes, having a fresh supply of items into your wardrobe that feel new is important to our self image and feelings of progress and development.
So, although we might need new things in the wardrobe regularly (or new outfits), they only have to be new to you. There are lots of ways you can bring in new (to you) clothing to your life, from borrowing, hiring, swapping, to hunting and buying clothes from preloved sources. You can shop online on sites such as Oxfam, eBay and Thrift, or in person in your local charity shops, dress agencies, car boot sales and jumbles. If you're clear about what you like and what suits you, and know where the gaps are in your wardrobe, shopping second hand can really feel like treasure hunting as you explore places to find your new additions.
Experimenting with a few different approaches will help you to find your favourite, but if you've never done it before, a look on eBay at your favourite brand and size will give you a good idea of the range and quality of clothes you can pick up at a fraction of their original cost.
If you're pledging to buy less or no new clothes this year, I'd love to hear from you. Pop a comment below or join us on Facebook as we regularly share our charity shop finds and treasures!