36 items of clothing, 9 pairs of shoes, 4 bags
Earlier this year I underwent a seven month shopping fast. I had a large wardrobe, and yet I felt like I had nothing to wear. I realised I had treated shopping like a hobby, which resulted in a lot of time and money wasted. I wanted to take a step back and think about the state of my wardrobe. My shopping fast was crucial in changing my shopping habits and developing the wardrobe I have now.
Like me, you might want to undergo a shopping fast of your own. A shopping fast can have any number of different purposes:
- You want to take the time to identify your true style.
- You want a better quality wardrobe.
- You want a more sustainable wardrobe.
- You want to minimise your belongings.
- You want to develop more mindful shopping behaviours.
- You want to be less compulsive when shopping.
- You want to learn to appreciate what you already have.
- You want to save some money.
- You want to focus less on the superficial.
- You want more time in your life.
This process does not necessarily have to apply to clothes shopping. You could apply it to any other sort of spending in your life. Do you want to cut down on the amount of bric-a-brac in your home? Spending too much cash on fancy coffees? Take these tips and adapt them to meet your needs. Similarly, if six or seven months seem too extreme to you, you could adapt this idea to go for a shorter period of time. If you’re interested, but daunted, start small.
Here are 12 tips on how to start and stay committed to a shopping fast.
- Record your journey. Writing down the trials and tribulations of your shopping fast will keep you motivated. You could start a journal or use an existing one, though I just used the Notes App on my phone. Using your phone is beneficial as you can update or check your progress anytime and anywhere, and possibly avoid breaking your fast in a weak moment.
- Identify your purpose for a shopping fast. What exactly do you want to achieve by not shopping? Feel free to borrow from the list above, though I’m sure you can think of other benefits specific to you.
- Set goals for your shopping fast. Write down a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-related (SMART) goal for your shopping fast. Some examples are; ‘I will stop shopping for shoes for three months’, or ‘I will only buy two processed food items per shopping trip for six weeks’.
- Identify your shopping triggers. This might sound a little melodramatic, but it is useful to be aware of why you compulsively do things you might regret later. I am the first to admit that distressing emotions triggered me to shop. Every relationship breakup resulted in a fancy new ill-fitting wardrobe.
- Find something to replace shopping. If something does trigger you to shop, it is useful to have a productive replacement activity for shopping. What is something you can do instead of shopping that makes you feel good? Maybe you can call a friend for a chat, engage in a creative activity, read a book. For me it was jogging. Write these activities down so you remember how to redirect your shopping urges.
- Fine-tune your attitude. In some social circles, stopping shopping activities might seem extreme, difficult, or downright crazy. It’s not. And don’t worry if other people think it is. Be true to your purpose and you will regret nothing.
- Let your loved ones know. Let people know what you are doing and why. This will help you avoid temptation in group situations. Perhaps you and your best friends can go to lunch on Saturday instead of hitting the mall. Maybe you can take your mother for a walk to the beach instead of the thrift store. You might end up inspiring someone else to implement a shopping fast of their own, and you can support each other in the process!
- Forgive yourself. If you slip up at any point and make a purchase, don’t beat yourself up. The very idea of committing to this challenge in the first place is what matters. If you need to, start again, and write down what caused you to slip up so you can avoid the same mistake in the future.
- Write down the benefits. There are so many benefits of trying to change a habit you are not happy with. Write them down. What is changing in your life? How does it make you feel when you look back at what you’ve achieved? What replacement activities are getting more priority and blossoming?
- Write down the money you’re saving. I had monitored my spending for a few years, and was aware of an uncomfortable average amount I was spending on clothing annually. It might be beneficial to figure out how much you’ve spent in the past, so you can revel in the amount you are saving when you take pause.
- Shop your wardrobe. It’s valuable to remind yourself that the reason you started the shopping fast in the first place was because of the pure abundance of things you already own. Make all your clothing visible by hanging it up. Try on all the existing items in your wardrobe. Match them with new things, wear them in new ways.
- Write a plan for when you return to shopping. Like me, you might realise that most of your wardrobe doesn’t suit you or your needs. This is an excellent time to write down the things you feel are missing. For me it was good quality, flexible basics that were suitable for work. As I worked through the shopping fast, I started a wish list of items that would suit those needs, a list of new rules for shopping, and a banned brands list. This also helped me get rid of the excess of things that I had. When I did return to shopping, it was very easy to follow the new rules, and as a result I now have a very small wardrobe that I genuinely enjoy.