Why would you challenge yourself to not buy any luxury products for three months? Why did I? And, (you might exclaim in shock) how does one even cope?
These are some questions Christine Bosch, co-owner of bookshop Bosch&deJong in Rotterdam (which you should definitely visit), asked herself while doing the I-Buy-Nothing-Challenge. Launching the challenge about two months ago, Christine was the first to join and now she shares her ups and downs. We are very thankful, Christine, for your participation, support and story! This are her experiences so far.
Have you ever craved a new outfit, bought a lipstick in a colour you didn’t yet have, or just desperately, physically hád to own that blazer? I have! All of the above. I may not boast about this because I like to think of myself as a smart, conscious woman, (ahem) but when Nadia started her challenge I knew this was the moment to join her. For two months now, I have quashed these urges, and instead just didn’t. I did not buy new clothes, shoes, makeup, jewellery, luxury products of any kind, actually. Why? Why did I join Nadia in her ‘I-buy-nothing-challenge’? Let me explain.
I have enough stuff. Really, I do. I may think I need a new lipstick or -gloss in a significantly different shade (by which I mean slightly different, to the naked eye). I may be sure I have absolutely nothing to wear for this or that occasion. I may feel that a new pair of shoes would solve every problem I have, but of course I don’t need it. I do have enough to wear and, no, those shoes wouldn’t solve any problems, but only create the problem of where to stall another pair of shoes. I realise I may sound quite vain and materialistic, that might be the case, but think about it: don’t you feel happy when you’re dressed in exactly the way you feel? I love my eclectic look, but it requires a lot of new items constantly, to be able to dress to my taste.
So. It was time to challenge that need for new. In my case, new clothes especially. Whether that’s really new (I try to only buy sustainable and fair brands) or second-hand and vintage, or even swapping clothes! Because it’s not just about fighting consumerism a bit. For me, it may be even more about challenging myself to deal with not buying. Not renewing. Not looking for new impulses in my wardrobe, but taking a minute and looking at what I have. So I did. And it’s a challenge alright. Two weeks ago I came home with a beautiful bunch of flowers. Looking for a vase, I realised I had made a booboo: if flowers aren’t luxury products, what is?! I then cut my finger shortening the stems. I might not believe in Karma, but she’s a bitch anyway.
So we might all slip up from time to time. No, I didn’t try and return the flowers. But at the same time, I feel quite liberated. And weirdly grateful for my collection of dresses, trousers, skirts, tops, blazers, jewelry and hats. I have so much! I even feel a bit guilty about not being able to wear everything regularly, because of the sheer numbers: I would have to change outfits at least twice a day to start making a dent. Not that I’d mind. Why would you wear the same to work as to a dinner with friends, or going to the theater?
Maybe you don’t recognise this at all. Maybe you have already reached that state of Buddha-like immaterialism. Be careful not to float off! But maybe, if you would look closely, you would find you have the same with throw pillows, perfume, flowers, kitchenalia, books (Oh no she didn’t! Yes she did, because she has the books-thing too, mán is that difficult to beat when you own a bookshop. I only now realise taking books home is buying too and will have to return at least ten books I ‘bought’ in the last two months…), games or music. Even if you don’t plan on taking a break from buying, isn’t it an interesting way of thinking about luxury and possession?
I’m two months in, and I’m sure I’ll make it! It may be hard at times, and I may miss my retail-therapy, but I’ve found ways around that.
Here’s how you will too:
- Take a good look at your wardrobe, make sure everything is clean, and without stains, rips, or wear and tear. That way, when you are composing an outfit, you won’t be frustrated by things you suddenly can’t wear. Fix what you can fix* (or ask a friend, take it to a tailor, or a sewing/repair café). Organise everything so you will find what you want. Display accessories so you can easily pick one or two, with the added bonus that you can enjoy their beauty even when you are not wearing them. Things you never wear, you could put away for now and look at them later.**
*Things you can’t fix can be recycled, either in a clothing bin for making paper or to make new fabrics.
**If you really want to minimise your collection thoroughly, check out this article by Project 333 or this excellent blog by De Groene Meisjes (in Dutch).
- Think about why you are buying. Why will nothing in your closet do? Answer honestly, now! And take a good look at what you already have, in order to be able to answer (see previous step). Still sure you need something? Borrow something from a friend with good taste and similar size, or, if you really need something eye-popping, search for it at the brilliant, long-awaited, just (kick-)started fashion library Lena! Still not satisfied? You might want to consider regular therapy instead of the retail-kind… Nothing wrong with looking a bit closer at yourself, and not just in a mirror.
- Put away your summer clothes in October and switch them with your spring- and summer clothes in April. That way you’ll get an entirely new wardrobe two times a year. Not everything needs to be tucked away, obviously some t-shirts or dresses work perfectly with some layers in every season. But when you pick the stuff that’s too summery, too cold past October, or too wintery, and too hot past April (for the Southern hemisphere it works the other way round, obviously) and really put them away, then you’ll be surprised to see what you actually own. And when boxing something you haven’t worn all season, you may consider taking that piece to a clothing swap or Good Will…
- Did you put together a smashing outfit? Why just wear it once? Take a picture and save it on a (secret) Pinterest-board, in Google Keep or something similar, so you remember to repeat this look or get inspired to create a variation. Even if you never wear this combination again, it will be great to look back on it anyway, so you won’t forget how stylish you can be.
- Invite a friend to take a look at your wardrobe and have him or her pick out some outfits or pieces they think would suit you more than you know. They might be able to make some brilliant pairings.
- To be fair: I may have cheated quite a bit by getting a fabulous new haircut, which in fact makes my entire wardrobe feel like new: everything looks completely different now. I had already promised to hand over 30cm of my hair to a cause that makes wigs for children, so it seemed a bit brutal to back out. Instead I saved my karma ánd made my challenge a whole lot easier. So if you need a haircut anyway; this might be a way to start your challenge and look at your clothes in a new light.
Enjoy this challenge, I can only recommend it! For now I will be in my library, thinking about brilliant ideas on how to dress for a formal, extravagant evening with my brand-new pixie cut… without buying a new dress.