Last year, while I was preparing one of my Spanish lessons, I opened a magazine and flickered through the pages to see if there was any interesting article I could use. Some students of mine had been to the Canary Islands the week before and had brought me fashion magazines to show me they really cared. I didn’t want to let them down. I wanted them to feel proud that they’d travelled and they were now trying to read magazines in a language they’ve only started learning a few months earlier.
That’s how I found that article. It was about a journalist who challenged herself not to buy any cloths for one year, 365 days. I was intrigued. The language was simple enough to be used in my classroom and the content was interesting. In fact, it was so interesting that I decided to accept the challenge myself.
The journalist followed such strict rule because she new somebody who did it and decided she could manage to do it herself as well. After the year was over, her perception of cloths and the clothing industry shifted, her shopping habits changed.
The month before I read that article, I had spent over 500€ in clothing, shoes and bags. I had just arrived to Italy after two almost shopping-free years in Australia and wanted to buy myself a gift. I bought a few, then realised that if I summed all these few presents up, that was not so inexpensive as planned. Not that I went to fine boutiques either, just some high street shops. That’s why in December 2016 I decided to stop shopping for a whole year, 12 months, 365 days – an eternity. A total madness.
It was very easy for the first few months, as I lived off the items I bought in the previous weeks. I had some new cosy jumpers and three pair of boots which helped me survive through the winter. Then, the spring arrived and it became more difficult to keep that promise I had made to myself. My mum bought me a couple of t-shirts
but I didn’t count that as cheating as that was a present. In May I bought a pair of underwear and decided that was not included in the challenge. It felt stupid not to buy pants when I needed them.
Summer and autumn were full of new trends and I had to glance at the shop windows without buying anything. It started to get seriously difficult, so I decided to adjust the challenge. With all the money I was saving, I decided I would buy myself a fairly expensive gift at the end of the year. A gift for my birthday and a gift for Christmas, to be fair. Having made that decision, I spent days and days on netaporter.com and beauty blogs to find that perfect gift and to repress my urge to shop straightaway instead.
That almost worked, until August sales arrived. During the previous months I figured I needed more colors and vibrant patterns in my wardrobe. I had lots of black trousers and jeans that I had been wearing for months and I was sick and tired of those ones. So I decided to go to Oxford St and break my vow. I bought two pairs of trousers, which I figured was the very thing I actually needed.
And then my birthday arrived and I bought myself a cardholder from Dolce and Gabbana. I absolutely love it, I use it every single day to carry my travel card and I know I’ve earned it. It has this beautiful print that is inspired by Sicilian slates, it has character and vibrant colors, it is made in good material and fits any bag or pocket.
I then bought a Burberry Classic Cashmere Scarf in Check and Hearts with these lovely hearts on it, which makes it playful and unique. The best thing is that now Burberry offers the chance to have your initials embroidered on most scarfs for free. There are several layouts and colors available, I chose to have my initials embroidered in golden thread. It is the warmest scarf I have in the wardrobe, I am using it often as the red hearts embellish all coats and jackets.
Now the year is finally over. I broke the vow once more one day as I had planned to go to the gym and forgot to bring my sportswear. I didn’t have one whole hour to go home, pick it up and then go to the gym, so I went to Primark and bought a pair of T-shirt and leggings and had a bloody good workout. It felt good to buy something I really needed for once.
I love cloths and I love going shopping, but this year I’ve learnt I have to understand what I really need, which items I do use, what my style is and that it is better to purchase some key items that match what I already have in my wardrobe rather than buy the first thing I like. This whole experience taught me one great lesson, that is to be in control, to be mindful when shopping as well. I need to be in control of what I want and what I like, not letting the shop windows or the price tags do the shopping for me. The marketing strategies of shops today are insane, but if you step back and think of who you are, what your style is and what you have in your wardrobe, you won’t lose money to buy things you’ll never use.
I am also more interested in pieces that are difficult to find. Once you stop to watch what high street shops display, you will see they all offer the same things. I think I will now shop more in unconventional places, whatever that means. I now know I have the items I need to survive a while year in my wardrobe, which means that whatever I’ll buy has to be special.
This challenge was unique and quite crazy as well, but I do encourage you to try and do it even for a couple of months
only. You’ll learn how to recognize the rush you feel in your brain when you see something nice and how to control it. You will start to be creative with what you have and give it more value. Finally, you will enjoy buying what you need even more.
Would you do something like that?