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A year with no shopping: here’s how it went

Back in 2021 I decided to try a so-called fashion focused low buy challenge under the hashtag #2020wehaveplenty. The challenge itself actually went okay, but by the end of the year I remember being quite shocked of how many pieces ended up finding their way to my wardrobe anyway. It became a total of 26 new items (read more here), which adds up to around 2 new pieces of clothing per month. I remember feeling a little overwhelmed by that. Because I didn’t feel like I was buying anything, really. As I wrote in my reflection post by the end of the year:

“Looking at the year as a whole, I probably didn’t feel that it was that much – but when I started tracking my purchases and writing them down at the end of the year, it dawned on me that this might just be a part of the problem. This lack of realisation or at least lacking a sense of when enough is enough. Especially when you consider the fact that we have all spent most of 2020 at home and may have had less opportunity to actually use our clothes as much as usual.”

After coming to that conclusion, I decided to take the challenge one step further: I decided to pursue not buying any new clothes at all in 2022. Yikes.

A no-buy became a low-buy

I took on the challenge with a new hashtag: #nothingnew2022. And even though I had the best intentions at the beginning of the year, I have to admit that hitting zero new clothes didn’t happen.

You see, regardless of whether you cultivate personal style and fashion as a way of expressing yourself, or you simply put clothes on your body for the sake of functionality, life is not static. And the things that happen in your life will undeniably bring new requirements for the clothes you have in your wardrobe. Your body, your lifestyle, even your taste changes throughout life. And I’ve simply made peace with the fact that it’s okay. Fashion and style is fantastic, it’s something I love, and I’m determined to find the methods where I can best combine my passion for style with sustainability. Not buying clothes at all was just not a solution I’d be able to sustain in the long run. My body has been in almost constant change since I became a mother 2 years ago, and this has brought new requirements for example for any jeans or trousers I have in my wardrobe.

Therefore, the challenge slowly developed to become a low-buy more than a no-buy. And this actually turned out to be quite a learning curve for me anyway. Because good habits only emerge when you find a method that is realistic to sustain. And that was what I wanted with the challenge in the first place: to evolve even better habits around my clothes, especially in relation to buying new pieces when you already have so many amazing items in your wardrobe worth celebrating (and wearing).

And if I ask myself, if I think the challenge was a success with just that in mind, I say heck yeah. I’ve learned so much about myself, my style and my spending habits (you can hear a bit more about that in the video below). I’ve spent so much quality time with my wardrobe this year that it’s made me much more clear on where I see my style evolving this year. I ‘ve had plenty of time to really think.

12 new pieces of clothing for 2022

Ayede boots (replacement for my old Acne Jensen boots)

Armed Angels full length jeans

Armed Angels dark blue jeans

New belt (black)

New belt (brown)

Everlane jeans x 2 (90s Cheeky and Way high sailor)

Levi’s jeans (Ribcage straight)

Sézane jumper

Le Pirol jumper (to replace a similar, worn out one from 2013)

The Curated handbag (to replace my vintage Chanel which has now been sold)

Beige pants (found in a local thrift store)

In 2022 I ended up buying 12 pieces of clothing, most of which were actually replacements for old clothes I already had (either worn out or something I could no longer fit like for example some of my jeans). That’s less than half of what I bought last year. And you know what? I’m really proud of myself! You have to say that out loud, right? I took the challenge a step further and managed to reduce my consumption even further – simply by actively deciding to spend more quality time with my existing wardrobe. Style it in new ways and fall in love with old favourites. Repair it and take care of it when needed. And still feel like the most well-dressed version of myself that I possibly could.

Like the year before, I have of course had a few individual brand collaborations/sponsorships through my work on for example YouTube, but even these have been at an absolute minimum in 2022. Some of the clothes I have received through these have been basic items such as sweatshirts or t-shirts. And then we have my brown Michael Kors bag, which I got as a birthday present back in May.

As mentioned before, I’ve had plenty of time to really think about where I want to go with my wardrobe and style this year, and that’s perhaps one of the most important things I learned through the challenge. Giving myself more time to really think before buying new. Many may prescribe a reflection period of a few weeks or a few months. But there have actually been things I have written on my wish list at the beginning of 2022, which I ended up deleting anyway here in 2023. Because something you fall in love with in that moment may not turn out to be quite right after all. And that is often the situation you’re left with after an impulse purchase (which perhaps should never have been made in the first place).

The local newspaper wrote a feature about me doing the challenge
(Title: Signe put her visa card on hold to save the climate)

Should you try a no buy/low buy?

If you’re left with the question of whether you should try a similar challenge, then it is both a yes and a no from here.

You need to find the version of these challenges that seems most realistic to you. And most importantly, start by asking yourself why you want to do it. Because if you do it to punish yourself for your current spending habits, it’s not going to evolve into being a healthy, longterm habit. The better style and shopping habits are the true essence of the challenge. You might end up in a burnout before you even get started. So if you’ve given it a shot with these challenges and you feel like you’re failing time and time again, I just want to send some good energy in your direction! You are doing the best you can and you should be proud of yourself for even trying. And maybe a complete shopping ban is just not for you. Maybe there are other methods on the road to better, more conscious style habits that work better for you.

Before you throw yourself into a low buy (perhaps again), find out what your success criteria are. Is it to buy less new clothes, and maybe shop more second-hand? Spend more time with your wardrobe? Make peace with yourself and your style – maybe even your body? Make better, more considered choices when buying new clothes? Set goals that are realistic for you. My good friend and YouTube colleague Christina Mychas, for example, is running a no-buy January this year, and that might be a more gentle way to get started.

I honestly couldn’t have asked for more in terms of #nothingnew22. Even though it didn’t result in zero pieces of new clothes, and even though I honestly felt a little burnt out especially towards the end of the year (mostly because I’m longing to inject more colours into my wardrobe), I learned SO much about myself and my consumption and that in itself has great value to me. And I am convinced that I will take everything I have learned with me going forward and can actively use it to become a better consumer. Not just of clothes actually, but in general. If you want to hear a little more about where I see my style developing going forward, then watch the video below. One thing I’ll definitely note down is that I’ll try to limit myself to around 10 new items for my wardrobe this year, depending on what life brings of course.

So, let me hear… did you take part in the challenge and how did it go?

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The Comments

  • Rachael
    6. January 2023

    Thank you for your honest account of a no/low buy approach. I love fashion, and enjoy how it makes me feel when I am wearing clothes I love, but I very much plan to be a conscious purchaser this year and only but things I love and will last. Your corner of social media really helps me with this mindset, so thank you!

  • Angela
    6. January 2023

    Love this! I am on a no-buy january, and one of my why’s is to appreciate my existing wardrobe more by taking daily ootd pics and noting my thoughts on each outfit. I have so far spent $1 on a used book and $50 on a guided museum tour. For a moment i wondered if that meant i broke my no-buy, but upon reflection i feel that i have adhered to the spirit of my no-buy (because i didnt spend on clothing) while also honoring a different 2023 goal (to consume more art). Thank you for pointing out that each journey is different and thats ok!

  • Anne
    9. January 2023

    Hi Signe,

    Thank you for your honest blogpost. I discovered capsule wardrobes through your youtube videos, which i still adore.

    I also did a no-buy year in 2022 on clothes because i backpacked around the world. I BOUGHt a bikini, a ski jacket and a scarf because i really needed these items. I realized after this year of wearing the same outfits over and over that i used to have a distorted vision of “what is enough”. now i know that i actually don’t need that many clothes. I also realised that i used to buy new clothes to impress other people or to be “on trend” but i also have let go of that after seeing a lot of poverty around the word.

  • Ingemo lund
    18. January 2023

    Hej Signe!
    I have aPacking list from you ”ten days in south italy . Can you PLEASE write a new for Spring in I taly 2023 o
    For 8-20 days by Fly to rom and sigseeing bu bus to Sorrento and Capri .
    Then i will be very glad!

  • Angel Marks
    20. January 2023

    I read a book abou 15 years ago. It was a “no spend” it InCludes ANYTHING eXcepy basic expenses. No movies, dinners, CONCERTS, movies, CLOTHES. She coUlDn’t do it, but learned wha is “ESSENTIAL” and what is Not.

  • Gayle conley
    22. January 2023

    I am an 81 year old, as my friends call ME a “fashionista”.since my early years growing up I have enjoyed clothes,accessoriea and FASHION.Money was limited, as An only child of a single mother. The bright side was she was a talented seamstress, who went to work, as a secretary/accountant in a large department store. She was petite, attractive, IMMACULATELY groomed and though petite clothes were not marketed then (think the 50’s)
    She TAILORED her clothes to fit.
    She also sewed for me. I began singing at age 7 and therefore appearing in pubic needed costumes and appropriate clothes for PERFORMING. Am still singing, now MOSTLY in choirs.
    I too took up sewing as a teen and became quite knowledgeable about fabrics, fit ANNo FASHION
    You can see how this “hobby”easily developed into closets of clothes, over the YEARS.now I am far more selective, do not sew except usually for GRAndgirls or to alter or change a purchased outfit. Now being the age that i am, have been honing down on outfits that are more classic, but still have a ageless style to them i read with interest your challenge and have been following that plan for a rew years. Must say with covid, it was not hard. Most of us did not do much socializing nor travelling which cut down on the clothes expenditures. I have a daughter and grandaughter who are following in my footsteps, may be in the genes! My Grandmother also was a TALENTED seamstress on her TREDDLE ” singer”.will follow with interest your column to which i have subscribed.