Lifestyle & Culture

Confessions of a Not So Anonymous Shopaholic

Girl with finger on lips to say shh in the mirror of a retail change room.

Lucy Egan confesses her love for clothes shopping and how she plans to counteract it in 2022.

When I was assigned this article on tips for saving money, I laughed. Not that I’m a compulsive spender, but the idea of advising people on how to save their money was a bit of a worry. I may not be a compulsive spender, but I am an impulsive spender, which, in some ways, is worse because it all adds up over time.

I’m also not exactly qualified to talk on this, as an English major with number dyslexia (it’s a thing!), but I am taking steps this year to help curb one of my biggest passions – clothes shopping- to have a lesser impact on my bank account and the Earth.

One of my 2022 resolutions/intentions, wis not to buy any NEW clothes for a year.

You might think, that’s new clothes, what about second-hand, repurposed and gifted clothes?

You could still spend as much money as you like on apps like Depop and visiting vintage/op shops- doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of not acquiring more clothing?

What difference is a year of not buying new clothes going to make to the rapid consumerist and disposable society we live in?

All of these good points and questions I also asked myself. But I knew that if I made it too hard or too unrealistic, I wouldn’t be able to follow through and create the habit. It would be too hard to go cold turkey, after living through two lockdowns and spending time trawling the net, planning new outfits (for when we finally escaped lockdown), searching sales, adding to cart, and waiting by the door for them to be delivered. I love thrifting but it was harder to do it in a pandemic landscape, so I turned to online shopping to fill the void.

Like most coping strategies, it got me through; but there was a flaw in the logic. Aside from the depressing thought (and reality) of the clothes being made cheaply and sold even more cheaply, being transported to my house (contributing to greenhouse gas emissions), and majority plastic packaging, it became short-term gratification for me.

It was a thrill to have new clothes to wear, try on, and “reward” myself with – but it was a temporary thrill, and in the back of my mind I had the phrase “the most sustainable clothes are the ones already in your wardrobe.” I would love to say that stopped me but it didn’t. I bought clothes in the Boxing Day sales, right up until the New Year.

I know I’m not alone, particularly in Western society, where new clothes are readily available, accessible, and socially acceptable. I’ve talked to my friends about how we buy our clothes and spend big on sales. Clothes are seen as a visual extension of your identity and we are encouraged to engage in purchasing them, with sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday that swell with popularity every year.

I don’t harbour any delusions about one person’s decision not to buy new clothes for a year (hopefully longer) changing the world but if it helps the planet and my wallet, it’s worth a shot.

NB: This is not to be confused with financial advice and is a personal opinion.

Feature Image: Phoebe Metcalfe, Yak Media Designer

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