One of my goals for the year is to shop less, particularly when it comes to clothing, but also in other areas where I’ve been prone to overspending or just buying stuff because it looked pretty or had a horse on it or something. There are a few reasons behind my decision, which I thought I’d go over here.
1. Owning Stuff is Stressfull
The pile of clothing there is probably about half of my entire wardrobe, a little over a year ago, when I did the first sweep with the #KonMarie system. That’s a lot of clothing, much of which I barely even remember owning (I sold most of it and donated the rest).
What I do remember is the feeling of stress I had about owning that much. There were constant thoughts of “oh, I haven’t worn that mint green mini skirt in a while, I should wear it soon. But when? I don’t even like it that much, I just got it because it was on sale at J.Crew Factory and I wanted a green skirt.”
There was also the issue of all that fitting into my tiny closet (which isn’t even deep enough to accommodate normal hangers, every thing in it is at a slight angle). When a closet is too full, it’s difficult to get things in and out, which just adds to the stress.
2. The Clothing Industry Isn’t Sustainable or Kind
Reason two why I’m shopping less: the clothing industry itself is awful. I mean, there’s no other way to describe it. There’s no reason for people to put their lives at risk going to work to sew garments for people who don’t even need, or in the long run, want, those garments.
Just last week, there was yet another fire at a garment factory, which injured four. The injury count is only so low because the fire started before most of the workers had arrived to start their shifts.
Of course, some companies do go out their way to be transparent or to put a strong focus on ethics. But, at the end of the day, most don’t. And I don’t want to participate in that.
I know this won’t solve the major problem of the industry, and that there are a lot of big issues wrapped up in it, and not shopping won’t necessarily change those things, as discussed in “The Myth of the Ethical Shopper,” but until the entire industry changes, shopping less is what I can do.
3. I Want to Make Better Choices About What I Own
Those aforementioned transparent and ethical companies might produce garments that are made in the US and might be willing to reveal who they work with and what their costs are, but they do so at a price. Better quality clothing just costs more. The trade off should be that it lasts longer and that you’re less likely to part with it or sell it for pennies on the dollar to ThredUP.
Of course, that means making a better decision before bringing it into my closet. I haven’t really developed a full set of criteria for this yet, but any items I own should spark joy, fit, and be well made. Seems simple enough.
4. I Have Other Financial Goals
One of my other goals for the year is to really pay down my student loans. So far, I’ve paid off the last of my last undergraduate loan, but still have a ways to go on my loans from grad. school.
Part of the reason for that is that I’ve been on the income based repayment plan since about 2009, and that has meant that my payments have been low enough and my interest high enough (yay for going to grad school pre-recession!) that I haven’t really made a dent in 7+ years. So, I’m shifting my focus from spending to getting rid of that debt.
I’m also interested in traveling more, evidenced by the traveling posts (Iceland and NYC) I’ve done lately. I’ve been studying French and hope to spend a few weeks there by the end of the year. Obviously, I can’t do that if I’m spending hundreds on clothing each month.
5. I’m Minimizing in Other Areas, Too
I thought that the desire to pare down would limit itself to my wardrobe, but it hasn’t. I’ve been reducing in other areas of my life, too. I’m cutting back on everything from possessions (I recently cleared out about a quarter of the stuff from my work room/study and it’s much better to work in it) to activities (I’m seriously reconsidering my commitment to things that don’t bring me joy, make me feel inadequate, or just cause stress).
As part of shopping less, I’ve been on a bit of a shopping ban in January and February. It’s been pretty easy, because I have the capsule to keep me covered in terms of clothing. I did buy a nice lamp, because it gets dark in the corner of the room I work around 5pm and I was dealing with eye strain. It’s made of marble and sparks joy and I can see now, so it was worth it.
I think the challenge might come around next month, when I pack away my heavier winter clothes and break out the spring items. There are a few things I have on my wishlist for spring, so I am hoping I’ll be able to keep myself in check and only buy what I need.