What happens to your wardrobe when you don’t shop for a year

I’m over halfway through my year without shopping, and I’m really quite pleased with my decision.  I’m finally addressing the fact that I have a too many clothes, and not enough good (as in, wearable) clothes.

I’m still working on the great purge, and generally feeling pretty good about how everything is going.  I’ve been reading the The Wardrobe Architect, and I’ve also been working on some of the exercises by Into-Mind.  It’s really reassuring to know I’m not the first one who has fallen into these pitfalls!

From Into-Mind… does this look familiar or what?  No seriously, this is actually my wardrobe.

My life has been transitioning for the last 1.5 years from “grad student” to “actual working professional” and my clothes no longer fit my lifestyle. I suspect this is a common thing for people who finish college/university and go on into their first career. I’m more or less in the same boat – I’m in my first job after grad school. Add to that the fact that I’m in my early 30s and BOOM! It’s a perfect style disaster.

I’m finding that dressing “in your 30s” is terribly difficult, particularly for the following reasons:

  • Mentally I still feel about 25.
  • I’m still flatting (roommates, for my US readers) – so my lifestyle is that of a 25 year old.
  • Not married.  No kids.  No pets.
  • I have pretty nice legs, so I can still pull off short skirts and dresses…  but they’re no longer really work appropriate.
  • I like bright colours.
  • I’m naturally attracted to statement pieces, particularly retro and novelty prints.
  • I have a serious penchant for Dr. Martens and Converse All Stars.  Also, threadless t-shirts.  So.  Many.  Threadless.  T-shirts.

Yet these days technically I’m an academic, so should have some semblance of professional dress…  But my workplace doesn’t have a dress code and I can pretty much wear whatever I want.  Which is totally awesome, mind you, but also quite dangerous to someone like myself who isn’t naturally attracted to professional clothing (is anyone really thrilled by “work” clothing?).

I think naturally I have a more whimsical style of dress.  But lately most of my week is being taken up with my study – on those days I pretty much have to wear jeans or trousers.  I’ve almost been making a uniform out of jeans and oversized tops.  Mondays and Fridays are now my “fun” dress days where I can actually wear some of my skirts and dresses.

I’m getting better and better about clearing out my closet.  I’ve been trying to be really ruthless – even if it’s something that I love – if it hasn’t been worn in the last year, it needs to go.  And actually, the more stuff I decide to get rid of, the more stuff I feel I can get rid of.

I’m both struggling and succeeding with the shopping ban.  The ban is good because financially I’m in a much better place at the moment, and I’ve settled into a “I just can’t buy anything” rhythm, which is both practical and a little depressing, but ultimately a sound decision.  Sure, I’d love a new pair of jeans.  But instead I’m wearing my old jeans into the ground.  I’m certainly getting a lot of use out of my favourite clothing items, which is a good thing, right?  The ban continues to filter into the rest of my life as well as I would really like a new pair of eyeglasses (mine have a ginormous scratch, and even though eyeglasses are really cheap at Zenni.com, I’m reasonably blind so they’d still be a decent expense), and also a bottle of perfume (I’m an adult woman who doesn’t have a perfume…  I know).  But instead, I’m trying to get by without these things for as long as possible as they aren’t really needs.

Are you on a strict budget at the moment?  Or do you allow yourself a little more leeway for shopping?


9 thoughts on “What happens to your wardrobe when you don’t shop for a year

    • Oh, thank you! 😀 I’m still very uncertain as to where I’m going to end up style-wise these days. I really love the idea of a minimalist, capsule wardrobe but I also hate the idea of limiting myself to a certain style or look every day. *sigh* I want to come up with a plan as to where I want to be – wardrobe and style wise – in the near future. But it’s actually really hard!

      • A big scratch in my glasses would definitely give me a headache! I was going to recommend zenni but you’re just so onto it with the online shopping! I got mine for about… $40NZD?

  1. This is such an excellent post! I too am trying to curb my spending. Not really for financial reasons although that is a bonus, more because I don’t want to be drowning in STUFF.
    I’ve managed to kick the clothes buying habit but now I like to kick back after work and aimlessly browse cheap $1 make up on ebay… I mean at least an extravagant spree will only set me back $15 but it doesn’t solve the drowning in stuff problem but at least makeup is small.
    I feel like its this hunter-gatherer instinct. At the moment I’m learning about mycology and I’ve been going for long walks and taking photos of pretty mushrooms that I find. It’s satisfying my hunter-gatherer vibes and it’s free.

    As for the ‘dressing your age’ thing. My mother in law once told me you should always dress 10 years younger than your actual age. I really like this tip! I’m 29 and always get ID’d at countdown lol and usually people think I’m about 21-24 yrs old.

  2. Oh and sorry not sorry in recommending this to you buuuuut…..

    You can get those arabian perfume rollerballs on ebay like Al-Rehab for like $8 with shipping…. I mean if you just wanted ONE it’s not going to break the bank. Choco-musk by al-rehab smells like a sexy chocolate cake.

  3. This is such an interesting post. I really struggled with the whole “dressing professionally” thing too and only this past year and half have I really started to feel like I nailed it/like it. (Hmmm…. I should remember to post more work outfits….though it is summer so school is out now….). I see you said you weren’t sure you were into a capsule wardrobe. I’m considering doing a capsule wardrobe jut for work. I thought it would be annoying, but I actually really rather liked having a sort of set “uniform” or style that made getting ready in the morning much easier, but I still had all the diversity in my non-work outfits. Oh! A blog called the Memorandum focusses on work style. I don’t always love everything she does, but she might be worth checking out. Some outfits are pretty cute. The whole “dress your age” thing is also hard because things are more fluid now. If things work for your life though, that is in many ways more important. Why are dresses off limits to 30-somthings, btw?

    The not shopping must be so hard! Especially as you work to try and winnow down things.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Thank you! Yes, I think a work capsule would be really helpful for me. I find it hard because I don’t have any sort of dress code for work – I think a few rules might actually make things easier, believe it or not! But then I also find I don’t wear a lot of my clothes – they just don’t fit my lifestyle anymore, and I just need to accept, purge and move on. 😀

      Yes, I do follow Memorandum once in a while, but a lot of her pieces are way to high end for me – I’m much more budget! LOL.

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