Hi, I’m Josie and I am addicted to clothes. I am a self proclaimed maximalist, scoffing at the notion of minimalism. I laugh hysterically at the thought of a wardrobe of a meer 20 items. I buy now. I wear now. I have 2 boxes of jackets under my bed. I have vintage that I am too sentimental to throw away even they don’t fit me very well anymore (I blame delicious Pret baguettes). I have a ‘I’ll return it if it doesn’t fit me‘ mantra and then forget to send the items back. I am a hoarder and I spend too much on things I don’t need.
I need an intervention.
In a desperate scramble to reach a savings goal and reign in the spending, I put myself on a spending ban. Not a single penny can be spent on clothes for the 31 days of August.
When I said to my friends what I was partaking in, I was was met with, ‘You? are you sure?’ and ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’. Part of me was then even more determined, after all, if you can’t back the underdog, what are we even doing here.
I kicked off the month properly clearing out my existing wardrobe. Going through each item, every drawer, every filled box under the bed. I sorted all the pieces it into piles: to definitely keep, to sell and give away. 6 or so hours later, I had 2 huge black bags ready to go to a charity shop, a cherry picked bag full of bits to sell and a streamlined wardrobe filled with clothes that I will actually wear and love.
Then, the time consuming process of depopping and ebaying. I really wish the things would just be sold instantly, but the reality is that they really do linger for weeks until someone takes the bait of a fuschia skirt from the mid 80s. But eventually, one by one, the items sold. Goodbye year 13 prom dress, farewell River Island clutch bag from 2012, adios to the forgotten burgundy suede boots.
In a heady state of frugal pride, beaming at my bank balance, that’s when the fatal email landed in my inbox : ‘Don’t miss out! 20% off E V E R Y T H I N G’ it shouted. Flurries of ‘ooo what are you gonna gets’ and ‘have you seen the emails’ echoed across the office. I was tempted. ASOS HOW DARE YOU TARGET ME AT MY WEAKEST.
I pinged over a few of wishlist items over to my friend in an email headed ‘I live vicariously through you, do me proud’. I had done it, the 20% off 24 hours were eventually over, and I resisted. It highlighted how much of a sucker I am for a deal, endlessly purchasing ‘a bargain’ that I had never even intended on buying in the first place. Granted, these item could have be returned if they didn’t fit the bill, but realistically how often do we justify a purchase for a mere £4.50 discount and not really love the clothes.
It was about this time when I purchased Elle Magazine’s September Edition, it was all about everyone’s favourite buzzword of the moment : sustainability. Buying well and not often, ethically minded styling and recycling wherever you can. It was all I was after, a real honest talk about excessive consumption in our wardrobes, bathroom cabinets and makeup bags. It was the encouragement and refocus I needed to see this month out.
The second half of the month was a lot of trips away with work (read : living out of a suitcase) and night shifts that broke up my weekly schedule. It meant that I wasn’t spending 40 minutes on the morning commute scrolling Topshop’s New In offering, or watching haul after haul on youtube. It seems so obvious, but if you’re not looking, you’re not buying. How had it taken me 23 years to work that out.
I mean, that’s the society that we live in; constantly surrounded by sponsored posted on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, routine emails from every accidental newsletter sign up, haul videos, trends and ‘must haves’. It’s a dangerous territory when you realise that you’re not truly controlling your spending.
The 31st of August rolled around, not a single new item was added to my wardrobe. It was a sense of achievement. What shocked me more was that I made £130 quid on Ebay and Depop.
A month on not spending has made me realise that a lot of the things that I may have initially wanted were a fad come 7 days later when something else has inspired me. I’ve been added more and more to my Pinterest Wishlist to keep tabs on the bits and pieces that catch my eye, then I can evaluate whether its a genuine piece I need or one of those items that’ll be just nice to have.
Going forward, I’m having one day a month (obviously after pay day) to buy the things I want to try and have lusted after for the previous month. It’s the fine balancing act between filling gaps in my wardrobe and my greed for nice things but most importantly not sending my bank balance overboard with ‘small purchases’ that add up by the end of the month.
It’s all one big spending learning curve.
Imagery : Daniel Evans