Reflections on buying no new clothes

Reflections on a year of buying no new clothes

What’s it like to buy no new clothes for a whole year? Gillian shares her experience and the lessons she’s learned along the way.

Well, my self-inflicted year of not buying new clothes has come to an end. Cue me fighting to get into the January sales to make up for lost time in replacing my wardrobe items and bag some sale bargains.

Well… not so much. In fact, not at all!

This year has really changed the way I view how I purchase clothes. I’m really not tempted to get back into the shops and still feel the buzz of finding even better bargains in charity shops! From how I feel about it at the moment, I still think that I will buy the bulk of my clothes from charity shops.

There are items of clothing that I think I will succumb to in the near future, that I didn’t need to buy last year. I went a whole year without buying any trousers, jeans or a winter coat. At the moment I feel my sewing skills need to improve, so that I might amend the fit of these types of items from a charity shop, to get the right fit. Or, I suppose I could be lucky and find just the thing when I’m browsing through the charity shop rails, which is all part of what keeps me interested and going back for more.

I’ve also enjoyed the creative challenge and building on my sewing skills – as well as saving loads of money into the bargain!

Darn it!

There are a couple of items that haven’t been in perfect condition once I’d got them home, or on closer inspection. As I had nothing to lose, I have practised darning holes on charity shop purchases. I’ve found a huge range of helpful tutorials online that I’ve tested out on existing clothes – for making alterations and mending hems for example.

Handle with care

Purchasing wools and other delicate fabrics that could do with a wash has opened my eyes to the best way of treating these materials and also the best ways to clean stains.

Not everything you buy second-hand is used

I was surprised how many unworn clothes there are in charity shops, which still have the original shops labels and tags in. You’d be amazed what you can find!

Buying better

I’m buying better quality clothes from charity shops that will probably last me longer than had I bought an equivalent item from a new shop. I’ve also gone for more classic cuts and styles.

Take your time

It can take time to look for second-hand clothes and find something that you like – but it can also be enjoyable and it's definitely more rewarding! Equally, you will likely buy unexpected things that you didn’t know you needed, but look good all the same. With a couple of weddings to attend last year, it took a little extra time and planning than usual. And I also had a baby bump to dress so learned to look for larger sizes and more flexible styles that I could adapt to work for me.

As well as taking more time to find the right clothes, you can’t always wear them straight off the peg – they will normally at least needs a wash before you can wear them.

Window shopping

Having walked through new clothes shops, I still enjoy them and like looking at clothes. Use shops for inspiration on how to customise other items of clothing you own or buy from charity shops.

Set some ground rules

I was happy with my rules, and found it helped to make the challenge more achieveable for me and to stick to it for the full year. For example, I decided to keep my existing clothes and underwear and shoes new, but everything else had to be second-hand. But be flexible and open-minded – if it doesn’t work, re-donate to a charity shop!

Try it, you might like it…

I have been sharing my experiences with a number of people around me. As a result, quite a few have started going into charity shops and have been pleasantly surprised at what they’ve found – and invariably bought something.

So go on, give it a go!