A Year Without Retail Fashion: The Nothing New Challenge

ambience - neutrals in the closet - defining my style

September marks three-quarters through my Nothing New project! This week I’m talking shop with BodhiLuxe Magazine about how I’ve nearly gone a year away from retail fashion, along with some tips to jump start your own shopping fast:


Via BodhiLuxe: Could you go a full year without buying brand new clothes? Queen of dressing Jess Hunt set herself this very challenge at the start of the year. Read on to find out what sparked the idea, how she’s getting on, and how to get started if you want to give it a go yourself!

The ‘nothing new’ idea sprang up this April when I realised I’d already gone since New Year’s Eve without making a single retail clothing purchase…

It was tax season, and my finances illustrated just how much of of my annual budget I’d spent on clothes the year before.

I’d also been editing my wardrobe and defining my personal style, and I noticed a lot of newer purchases ended up in a donation bin because I was buying for the wrong reasons – something was on sale or maybe I was buying because of the brand name.

My closet was living proof of the Pareto Principle: I tended to wear 20% of what I owned, 80% of the time.

I thought that by spending a whole year away from the shops I could improve that ratio, and started posting about it online to hold myself accountable to the idea.

Privately I made a few guidelines:

  • I’d be allowed to shop freely for used clothing
  • I could accept retail Christmas and birthday gifts from family and friends
  • I could forgo the charity shops for personal items such as underwear and socks

defining my style - breton stripes - neturals - metallics - in natural fibres

There was a very close call with a beautiful pair of minimal black sandals this summer…

I was in love with the sandals and had searched for weeks on end to find a used pair. My mum must have a sixth sense as, the same day I considered breaking down to buy them new, she called to remind me I’d never told her what I wanted for my birthday.

I was finally able to retire my old summer sandals, which were so badly falling apart that the cobbler laughed when I asked if he could repair them!

Shopping in person has been easy to give up, as I know there’s no reason to walk in the door of a boutique or shopping centre until 2015…

That’s been quite freeing, to lay aside such an expensive and time consuming hobby. It’s also meant more time on holiday for sightseeing and cultural activities, since shopping is no longer part of the vacation equation.

I am absolutely a woman tempted when I stumble across a really good online clearance or when a big discount at a favourite store hits my email, but I also now understand sales as my biggest weakness.

I’d been buying a lot of clothes because they were a great deal, but maybe they were not the best fit with the rest of my wardrobe.

thrift finds that fit my style - purchased during the year without retail

Today I have so much more respect for what I own and for the environment around me…

Committing to becoming a more thoughtful shopper has held me accountable to a broader philosophy of conserving where I can, repairing what I have, and consuming less throughout my life.

When something breaks now, my natural reaction is to fix it – whether it’s mending a few stitches on a blouse or looking online for a tutorial to repair a broken camera lens!

There’s also an aspect of self-respect baked in

Taking better care of my things and buying less naturally leads to more time and money to take better care of myself. Last month I gave up my office parking permit and am e-biking and car sharing to work.

I’m also eating more healthily and have revamped my supplements routine. I’ve taken a stern look at my beauty bag, too, and am in the process of greening that routine.

It takes time to research more natural and sustainable habits, but knowing you’re matching your beliefs and day-to-day actions is such a peaceful, fulfilling investment.

Before (Aug 2013)…

Peek in my closet August 2013

& after (Sep 2014)…

Peek in my closet September 2014

Peek in my closet 2 - September 2014

Considering a shopping fast? Before you do anything, take a very critical eye to each piece of clothing inside your wardrobe doors…

Identifying what works well, letting go of poor purchases, and noting similarities in items I tend to wear to bits or stuff to the back of a shelf, really helped me develop a uniform guide to the styles, cuts, hues, and materials that fit my lifestyle, colouring, and personal taste.

Taking time to conduct a wardrobe audit will also leave you with a tidy list of gaps, surpluses, and a pattern of bad buys – very handy when you’re out shopping and unsure if something should go home with you.

It also helps to know how to sew! For me, there’s a certain sense of pride in mending things, and it can be a lot of fun to take on small projects such as sewing sweater headbands to give to friends throughout the festive season.

Above all, don’t beat yourself up about missteps and be honest about what doesn’t work…

It’s natural for your style to change as you evolve, whether you’re moving to a new city, growing your career, or picking up a new hobby. The more ‘maybes’ you hang onto, the less room there is for those special pieces that leave you saying, ‘yes!’.

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