Jump off the trend-mill, reset your shopping habits, and discover your personal style
I miss the rush. The tingling desire of wanting something and having the power to hand over my credit card and make it mine, all mine. Walking away with a bag full of beautifully wrapped clothing used to make me feel like I was winning at shopping (something stores want us to feel by the way).
But the thrill of rifling through sales racks, imagining compliments in fitting rooms, and spending money without limits was gradually wearing off, and I wasn’t sure why. This falling out with shopping began 4 years ago and at that time, I had no idea how the fast fashion consumption cycle worked, or what the impact of 52 micro-seasons was on the environment.
Back then, all I knew was that my closet was stuffed with clothes even though, most days, I could never find anything to wear. I had clothes with tags still attached, or that I’d only worn once, years ago. I was annoyed that the few pieces I loved most would fade or fall apart after a couple of washes, even those I invested decent money in.
It was unsettling to see the heaps of clothes I had accumulated. I started to get a sinking feeling deep each time I stepped into my closet.I felt especially judged when I tried to share my finds with friends and they gawked at the rows of hangers. Even worse, I began to notice articles on my social feeds about how fast fashion is destroying the planet. It made me realize that something definitely needed to shift.
Recognizing that my choices were not aligned with the values I wanted to embody in my day-to-day life, I became motivated to change my *ahem* shopaholic tendencies. My goal was to step into a neatly organized closet reflecting my true style and values.
To transform a life of impulse buying into that of a conscious consumer, here are the 6 action steps I took.
- Say “buy”-bye for 30 days.
We are bombarded by online ads and TV commercials encouraging us to spend money on clothes, shoes and jewellery. Further, the rise of fast fashion tempts us to buy often, buy cheap and buy more. Our sense of who we can be is intertwined with what we buy, and that’s important for companies looking to profit.
So give yourself a break! It’s much easier to stop impulse buying and forgo the latest trends by removing temptation and avoiding stores altogether. This goes for online shopping too. Use browser controls to block fast fashion sites if you need to.
- Don’t bow to the “fashion gods”.
Unfollow fashion bloggers and influencers on all your social media platforms. Unsubscribe from clothing brand emails and promotions. Cancel subscriptions to fashion magazines (I know some of you are old-school like that!).
There’s no need to keep up with the Kardashians. Seriously, say it out loud to yourself. Give yourself permission to take your finger off the pulse of the latest trends.
- Face your feels.
During the 30 days of non-buying, the desire to spend will come up. 100% guaranteed. In the past, there were no limits on your spending habits, but now you’ll need to cultivate the conscious practice of ‘confronting the urge.’
When you feel the need to splash out, pause and ask yourself these questions.
- Why do I feel an intense urge to spend money right now?
- Am I feeling stressed or pressured at this moment? If yes, by what?
- How did it feel to find and buy clothing I wanted?
- What do I miss most about spending? Why?
Feel free to jot answers in a notebook. This process of reflection will help you gain a razor-sharp understanding of what motivates your purchases. Typically, spending is a way to cope. You may notice the desire to spend is most intense when you feel worried, stressed or unhappy about something in your life.
- Shake up winning combos.
We tend to fall into patterns with our favourite wardrobe picks. You may find yourself always wearing a certain pencil skirt and blouse combination, or pairing the same ribbed tank-top with ripped jeans. But it’s time to discover the untapped possibilities hidden in your closet!
Mix and match 5 new outfits from the clothes you already own then lay each new look on your bed. Get creative and try pairing pieces you never imagined would work! While some combinations may fall flat, others will be winners you never knew you had. Have fun with this! Take some glamour shots, or put on a fashion show for a friend.
- Tune in to your style!
“Fashion” is all about wearing trends that are dictated by someone else. “Style” is the process of expressing who you are with what you’re wearing. By not conforming to the in thing, you can create your own thing. Consider this: does my clothing match my sense of who I am?
Grab a pencil and write a list of 20 words that captures your aesthetic. Or ask yourself how you would like to feel in the clothing you wear. Remember, this list of words doesn’t just have to be style or fashion-related.
Now, hone in on three words that best capture how you like to dress. Voila! You now have a broad definition of your sense of style. Use this information to shield yourself when you feel bombarded by trends that don’t actually reflect your personal style.
- Hide away seasonal clothing.
You know when you go on holiday and only take certain clothes with you? There’s a feeling of excitement when you arrive home and get to wear the clothes you left behind. Recreate that feeling of delight!
Depending on the time of year, put away your winter/fall or spring/summer clothes when they’re not in use. By hiding away seasonal clothes, you forget what you own.
When seasons change, make a ritual of unpacking the clothes you put away and welcoming them back into your closet. This recreates the feeling of getting something new, without putting a dent in your bank account. Plus, it allows you to have gratitude for the things you already own!
These are the 6 steps I took to kick-start the journey to revamp my closet and uncover my true style. I now embrace a ‘less is more’ philosophy and my closet consists of quality clothing that was ethically-made by companies using sustainable practices. I can finally look good while doing good!
So get excited about hitting pause on your spending because it is a powerful first step towards ditching all things fast-fashion…for yourself and for the planet!