Friday, 30 December 2016

My Year Of Not Buying New Clothes

At the beginning of 2016,spurred on by some major life changes I decided to stop buying fast fashion.
For many people this doesn't sound like such a big deal, but as a style blogger and clothes obsessive I can only compare it to when I decided to quit smoking-I knew it would be good in the long term but I dreaded the withdrawal.
Keeping up with trends, scratching the style itch had become so much a part of my life I worried that I would somehow lose my identity (and be really badly dressed) if I stopped being a "dedicated follower of fashion" Regardless of this slight sinking feeling, I also recognised that wearing outfits created in poor working conditions, that were ultimately ending up in landfills was in complete opposition to my changing values so a switch had to be made.
I'm nothing if not a realist and from the offset realised that buying nothing wouldn't work. Instead I decided to buy as much second hand clothing as possible, to only buy new clothes that were created in a more ethical sustainable way and of course rework as much of my existing wardrobe as I could.
This pink skull bag is one of my best Charity shop finds. £1.75

The most obvious challenge I faced when I started exploring the world of charity shop and vintage clothing was my dress size. As a plus size 18-20 I was already familiar with a high street that rarely if ever stocked much that would fit over my head so I was fairly sceptical when I first set off on my chazza quest.

This black pinafore was on my "want list" and although it was originally faded a quick wash with some Dylon and a customised patch and it felt like new and has been worn to death.

I'm not going to tell you that every charity shop I entered was bursting with clothes in my size, it really varied. Some of the bigger more switched on charity stores like Oxfam are amazing (the Brighton one is just ridiculous) whilst some would contain a few bobbly Primark jumpers. As with all second hand clothing hauls you just have to dig deep to find treasure.

This entire outfit was from a local Help the Aged store.

I quickly realised I needed a strategy when shopping in thrift stores. Working with my existing wardrobe I created a list on my phone which reminded me what I was after. A camouflage jacket, a denim mini skirt, a good quality long sleeved black top. Becoming more focused meant I made fewer mistakes and also gave me room to root out some real gems.

This F & F dress was one of my first pre loved buys of 2016 and remains a real favourite.

 Whats really interesting when you start clothes shopping in this way is how patient you become. I still devour fashion blogs and magazines and try and incorporate current trends into my wardrobe each season but its in a much less frenetic way. I know that it might take me three months to find a black and white striped Breton tee-shirt to indulge my Justine from Elastica fantasy or that a soft non wool non bobbly cardigan in moss green might elude me for a while, but oh when those items land at your feet (and in some charity shops they quite literally might be in a crumpled pile on the floor) how victorious you feel.

This tee-shirt may have belonged to Marcel Marceau

Embracing "Slow fashion" has taken me back to my late teens/early twenties where lack of funds, lack of online and lack of sizes meant that each item in my wardrobe was quite important. I can still remember each and every item of clothing I owned at university and how precious they were, how they helped me shape my outward identity. I hadn't realised that there was actually something rather nice about having a smaller but more well loved closet. I had swallowed the lie that "more was better" but as I discovered this year for me at least that isn't the case.

This dress was faded and unloved but still a great shape- a quick redye and it was as new-something I wouldn't have dreamt of doing a year ago.
Buying less clothing also reinvigorated my old love of customising and personalising clothes. This year has seen me screen print jackets, dye dresses, sew on patches and actually repair and mend items. Its easy to feel that buying lots of clothes is what makes you stand out and be individual but yet again, in a surprising turn of events I found this to be untrue.
This jacket was screen printed with a hand drawn design my Nicky to breathe new life into it-having totally fallen out of love with it, it then became the main thing I wore last summer.
I look back to 18 months ago when my clothes rail groaned under the weight of items worn maybe once or twice and feel slightly stunned at how causally I tossed things aside. On a psychological level I think the sheer amount of clothes I owned often left me feeling a bit empty, slightly joyless. Sure everything was "nice" but rather like a small child on Christmas day ripping open a present only to shout "next",  the fact that something new would be replacing my latest acquisition in mere weeks made it impossible for me to really fall in love with anything. 
Now when I spy a dress featuring a beautiful embroidered collar or a Punky Green and black jumper I get an immense feeling of happiness. A genuine ripple of excitement that deliveries from Asos never created.

Proving that in charity shops you really do need to rifle-this camouflage jacket was hanging with the men's jackets-it fits perfectly and was exactly what I was after.

 But what about fashion? Did all this searching for items, reworking existing clothes rather than buying what I really wanted new affect my style mojo? Well at first it did sure. It took a while for me to find my fashion feet.

Is there anything cuter than a striped jumper? Another Oxfam find worn with a cord M & S skirt via ebay

 I would sometimes see an item of clothing and covet it so much and know realistically that it was unlikely I would find something similar  and it would slightly bum me out. I felt like my decision to stop inhaling new clothes like Michelle Pfeiffer snorting coke in Scarface must mean my days as a fashion blogger were over. How could I possibly be relevant if I was no longer working with brands, no longer being sent samples, no longer attending previews of new collections.
I feel like an ice cream in this dress-only £4 from a Hospice shop


Slowly though I realised that if you replace the word fashion to style you give yourself permission to slow the hell down a bit. To see your wardrobe as an ongoing project. Full of cherished items which with the addition of some accessories or one or two new additions grows only more wonderful.

This pink dress by Oxfam is so pretty-I feel quite ethereal in it
 I also love that I now own some outfits that are totally unique to me. A 1980s blue dress with Russian inspired ribbon detailing, a Kate Bushesque pink frock which may or may not have been a nightie but with the addition of  a belt is just boho perfection. Clothes that feel unique and special.


If this dress could talk-I'm sure it seen some stuff

I really feel like I have found the right balance now when it comes to fashion. I still want to evolve my looks with the seasons but I'm happy that I do this in a slower more considered way.

Pastel Goth Realness provided by a jumble sale skirt and braces

I understand that  some readers of my blog may miss being able to go and buy similar items but, there are plenty of amazing bloggers out there who provide great fashion content fresh from the catwalks. Instead I hope to offer ideas and inspiration and  show that you don't always need lots of money or access to the latest trends to put together some great looks.
Here is to another year of slow fashion. 


   

Brand New "Dead Curvy" Design  over at  Nicky Rockets


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22 comments:

  1. You did significantly better than me Pere, I'm in awe. Love some of your chazza finds. My best one this year was after admiring a woman in a beautiful dress at a party, I found the exact same one three days later in British Heart Foundation. I was SO made up.

    My downfall has been internet shopping which I fell back into when I was really ill earlier this year. So my pledge for 2017 is to not internet shop and pay for anything I do buy in bricks and mortar stores with cash. Ive written up my end of year thoughts in two blog posts on www.wearingmywardrobein2016.wordpress.com

    Happy New Year lovely xxx


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    1. Oh its so hard isn't it-I have nearly had the "shopping mist" descend a few times believe me. Also its important we acknowledge we are human and just doing our best-at least we are trying. have loved your secondhand outfits last year.

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  2. Loving your style. Also love that you embrace colour and patterns! So many bloggers just in black I get most of my clothes from eBay second hand, I need to shop online (work and kids means I rarely get to hunt round charity shops) but this is in my budget and a way of recycling. Happy to help someone with a few quid for something they don't want anymore. Still buy some things new, like leggings. I do find your posts inspirational so please keep posting! Happy New Year :)

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    1. Thanks Pootle-I do love embracing pattern and colour so much. Yes I know what you mean about not having time to scour charity shops. Mind you aside from the charitable side ebay also helps keep stuff out of landfills so I'm a big fan x

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  3. You have inspired me to undertake this for 2017, although there will be an exception for staples which I can't buy secondhand (such as leggings). I have a lot of clothes, but it doesn't make me happy and so many of them aren't me - they are things I have bought because I was so grateful that something existed in my size that I bought it regardless.

    I am going to start 2017 with a good clear out and then I am going to look through my photos and see what I wore most frequently, and what I liked the best and work from there. I am already pretty up on the mending side of things, but I would like to get to grips with proper alterations.

    Thank you for being an inspiration, I have been a follower for a long time, and really admire the way you have changed direction. A Happy new year to you all!

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    1. Hi Kitty-so glad I have inspired you to try this. yes I also tend to look through photos to see which outfits I love (and wear the most) and then try and buy similar. I agree that leggings and underwear need to be new ha ha-I draw the line at second hand pants.

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  4. I've really loved watching you reinvent and inject some vigour into clothes this year. I really admire how you've restricted yourself and re-found love & excitement in dressing everyday.

    I definitely need to cut back on my tendency to splurge on (and then dispose of) new fashions. Although I won't be going entirely second-hand, I think I will take some of your tips on board with personalising items and making a list of items I want and buying nothing but those.

    Happy New Year!

    C x
    CurvyGirlThin.com

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    1. Hi Charli so glad this has inspired you. Yes I find making the lists on my phone stops me from either buying too much of the same stuff ( a bad habit) or buying something which wont go with anything else. It also forces you to curate your wardrobe which is quite good fun (and you often find things you have forgotten)

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  5. I love this! I am a manager of a beautiful charity shop and we get loads of varied sizes I was going to try and do a year of new outfits from charity shops but I think I may do a month to try and raise some money for our cause. Have you read about the lady that did do a year though she was amazing and raised 64k x

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    1. Hi Kitty-ooh what an amazing job. Do you get first dibs on any of the stuff ha ha love the idea of doing a month of second hand to raise money-that's great. Yes I remember that woman-loved her outfits-think I follow her on instagram. So inspiring.

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  6. Oh wow, thank you so much for this post, it's really great to hear the joy you've got from this change and it's really inspiring me to give something similar a go. I also worry about the environment and human impact of fast fashion, and while I don't have a huge wardrobe and frequent new buys, I would like to take more time to find clothes I love that have a more positive impact on the world. So thanks again for the guidance and amazing photos (my favourite is the black-and-white striped T, looks amazing with your gorgeous pink hair!).

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    1. Hi Harriet so glad you enjoyed this. Yes it has really reinvigorated my love for clothes again which is lovely. I am loving black and white stripes at the moment and have been luck,y to find a few in charity shops-the pink hair is definitely making me take more edgy style choices as well-isn't it funny how anew hair colour can do that.

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  7. Charity shops are ace - I found the more I went into them, the easier it became to pick out things I wanted. And, of course, it's best to go in without looking for anything specific.

    I know what you mean about clothes feeling more special when you've had to work to find them.

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    1. Hi Mim yes I too have found that the more I've shopped at Charity shops the more stealthy I have become ha ha-love when you go into one and realise its a gold mine. It gives me a proper rush.

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  8. Isn't it hypocritical of you to post this when you often mention Primark and shopping there? You mentioned buying Harry Potter items for your daughter there and they are one of the worst offenders for what equates to slave labour in a developing world.

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    1. Hi Amity ooh I think hypocritical is a bit harsh, that told me. One thing I have never said is that I lead a blameless eco existence. The Harry Potter stuff you mention was actually from about three years ago and which I used to prop a craft project I made this year (which is I guess what you are referring to) however I'm not going to try and convince you I'm perfect-gosh far from it. I'm simply trying my best to be slightly less of a consumer and more thoughtful with my purchasing power and sharing the process along the way. I like to think I offer an example of someone who hasn't quite got it all worked out but is still giving it a go. You sound like you really know your stuff-would love a link to your blog or YT channel as I'm always trying to learn more. Thanks.

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    2. Reading that back, it sounded like I was having a go and I wasn't - I think it's awesome that you are living a more eco-conscious life and upcycling your existing clothes. I liked the article you did on functional embroidery a lot!

      You don't need to convince me of anything - I am far from perfect myself and I am sure there is the odd item of clothing in my wardrobe that has an ethically or environmentally dubious past, but I think the key thing is to be conscious of these things and not go into it blindly - always ask questions and take nothing for granted, which seems to be your view too.

      I don't actually have a blog or YT, nobody wants to hear my rambling rants ;)

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  9. Very inspiring P, love it. Some of my best loved items are from charity shops lately. Definitely going to be looking for more items after this inspiring post

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    1. Thanks Kellie-its weird because I used to always shop at chazzas but as we know it is time consuming and you do forget how good they can be. By putting myself on a bit of anew clothes ban it forced me to go and now I have fallen back in love with them. Some can be truly scabby but you find the odd gem (like the Brighton one I mentioned) which was magic-like Mister Ben's shop.

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  10. I love this post! I had similar aspirations as you after starting the Marie Kondo declutter in March. I did get rid of a huge amount of stuff (something like 30+ bin bags to the charity shop alone) and a few clothes sales got rid of several more bags of clothes. I own far less than I did, but I'm still buying loads. :/

    I loved what you said about swapping fashion for style and going for the slow burn. I remember when I was really poor and I'd tie dye or bleach things myself, DIY things, even have a bodge at sewing something. I rarely do now. I need to put myself on a serious no buy. xx

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    1. I remember you doing that declutter-you did so well. yes for me with my vaguely compulsive shopping behaviour I had to turn it into a ban/challenge and then publicly state it as it was the only way. Now its become a new habit and aside from undies and shoes I don't really buy much new at all. Its really helped sort out my conflicted feelings about my place as a fashion blogger too. What is it the kids say "don't hate the player, hate the game" well i kind of changed the game and now its full of vaguely smelly chazza clothes which I rock ha ha

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