ethical fashion personal

Taking a retail recess

December 4, 2017

This season–especially during my fall 10×10 challenge–I’ve started realizing that I have a lot of clothes.  An overwhelming amount.  While my focus has been on building a long-term high-quality wardrobe over the past few years, I’ve been less attentive to practicing restraint.  While I haven’t been bringing home “hauls” of fast fashion since I started capsule-ing, the few items I’ve purchased each season have really added up.  I went back and looked at what I purchased during my first year of capsule wardrobes–a whopping 26 items, and the killer is that most of those didn’t survive in my closet beyond a year.  My choices got better in following capsules, but I managed to form a (structured) habit of purchasing things each season, despite my original intention to just fill gaps.  Black Friday weekend, full of tempting sales, felt really overwhelming as well, as if I “should” have been more prepared and organized for shopping.  Panicked thoughts of “what do I need?” ran through my head, even though the answer was probably “nothing.”

I’ll admit, I’ve started to look ahead to a winter capsule already…and I don’t really see any gaps in my closet.  Sure, I’d like a new pair of black jeans and some sexy boots, but do I need anything?  Not really.  I’m thinking it might be time to take a step back and enjoy all the pieces that I’ve amassed over the years–to take a retail recess.

Now, I’m already aware of the pitfalls awaiting me.  It seems whenever I make a restriction on myself, it immediately backfires, and I learned from Laura that when something isn’t working, it’s worth dropping.  And Alicia‘s notes on her shopping ban are also enlightening in a foreboding kind of way.  So I’m going to take this shopping break as a loose guideline–as I do with my shopping “rules.”  I’m still open to letting my closet breathe, and I expect I may add some holiday gifts to my wardrobe, but I’m not actively seeking out new pieces to add, whereas normally around this time I’d be strategizing away for the next season.

Instead, I’ll be directing my energy to these things:

  • Making inspiration boards

Mood boards always make me excited for what to wear, usually because I can find a color theme or style vibe.  It’s also a good way get styling ideas for pieces I already have.

  • Mending, cleaning, and maintaining my closet

I’m going to allocate a bit of my budget to getting some pieces to the tailor or dry-cleaner.  I’m also overdue on washing my sneakers, and treating my Birks.  I’m hoping these worthy little projects will reignite some love for my clothes.

  • Compiling a visual list of my entire wardrobe

I’m hoping to create a Total Capsule layout of everything I own, so I can really assess how much I have.  Making visual round-ups has always been super helpful to me, and I think this will drive home exactly how much clothing I have.  I’m also hoping to do a good organizing session with my physical closet, so I’m able to better see and reach what I have on a daily basis.

  • Selling and donating things I don’t need

I’m also going to continue to edit and get rid of things that I don’t wear.  I like to keep my closet clutter-free, and I’ll give any pieces that are still in good shape a chance at a better home on eBay.

  • Practice some beauty stuff

This is a real “we’ll see” endeavor, because I am so bad at makeup.  But I will try using some new products, and I always love indulging in a face mask–been enjoying this weird one lately.  I figure this might be a nice self-care type of distraction.

I’m hoping that by taking a shopping break, I can:  exercise my styling skills as I would in a 10×10 challenge (but in a broader way), cultivate a sense of contentment with all the curating work I’ve already done, and better assess any real needs moving forward.

As always, I’ll continue to share responsible shopping resources on this blog, but it’ll be purely “window shopping” for me.  I hope to also share more on this exercise in restraint here, too.  Have you ever taken a retail recess?  Any tips for fighting the impulse to shop?

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  • Reply Karin Rambo December 4, 2017 at 2:31 PM

    I did a shopping fast for a year about 8 years ago and it was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever done! I’ve been feeling the same way lately and I think I’ll be doing the same thing for a few months. It’s amazing how fast things add up isn’t it?

    Also, I learned a lot about makeup from watching Lisa Eldridge videos on YouTube. I feel like a nerd admitting that, but oh well! Haha!

    • Reply Lo December 5, 2017 at 9:36 AM

      Yes, they add up so much! And dude I love YouTube videos, especially when they come with a soothing foreign accent. Thanks for the tip! <3

  • Reply Ophelia December 4, 2017 at 3:16 PM

    This is a great observation–bravo for reflecting on this. I feel like a lot of fashion bloggers just BUY BUY BUY (even ethical ones) or, at least, are always showcasing new stuff.

    I’m going to take a retail holiday too! I’m guilty of it too.

    “I have enough”—that’s my mantra. And it’s true! I have MORE than enough.
    But it’s also good to remind myself that “I can only wear one pair of pants/shoes/top at a time”.

    • Reply Lo December 5, 2017 at 9:38 AM

      It’s really easy to fall into the trap of feeling like I need new stuff “for the blog,” but I actually really appreciate other blogger who outfit-repeat. I am still obsessed with new, shiny things, of course, but will try to keep it in a context of “you don’t NEED to buy this.” I love that mantra, so true!

  • Reply Mary December 4, 2017 at 6:34 PM

    This is great inspiration! Three are so many things that I love but really do not need.

    After the election last year I deleted Facebook from my phone (needed a politics break) and replaced it with eBay. It’s a pleasant phone distraction but probably encourages me to buy more.

    Anyway, I’m hoping to cut back too, looking forward to your updates!

    • Reply Lo December 5, 2017 at 9:40 AM

      Thank you! I can totally relate to needing a bit of escapism sometimes, which is why I know I’ll need some activities in place to distract me from my favorite distraction (shopping).

  • Reply Paige December 4, 2017 at 8:33 PM

    I love this post. I’m planning to take a closer look at my winter wardrobe, but I have a feeling I’m in the same boat, especially since I’ve added more this fall than I originally intended. I also think your ‘alternative’ activities sound just about perfect for rekindling a spark with your current wardrobe and I may just use those same strategies and follow suit. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Reply Lo December 5, 2017 at 9:42 AM

      Thank you, Paige! I’m finding myself looking forward to a couple of pieces I haven’t worn in a while but already own, so that in itself is exciting. It’s nice to look at this as a break I’m giving myself from work, because as much as I love shopping, it is still work! Good luck with your winter wardrobe!

  • Reply Nimue December 5, 2017 at 7:57 AM

    Oh I hear you! I have tried to make the past year a year without shopping. And while I certainly bought less than I would normally do, the temptation to make “exceptions” was huge and I have to admit I caved quite often. As you say, we often convince ourselves that we need all this stuff, when actually we really don’t. And just consuming consciously isn’t gonna cut it. We really do have to consume less as well. Anyway, I hope you’ll do a better job at it than I, and you actually got me motivated to finish the last weeks of this year without buying anything but presents (for other people, that is! ;)) Good luck!

    • Reply Lo December 5, 2017 at 9:35 AM

      Wow, a year seems like a pretty big undertaking! Did you have any particular mantras or strategies that worked well? I think you’re totally right that forming habits of consuming less overall is the goal.

  • Reply Jayde December 5, 2017 at 11:42 PM

    Loved this post Lo! I agree that every new season you feel like you have to buy at least a couple of new things for your capsule to refresh it. But if it is just for the sake of having something new it is probably for the wrong reason. And I felt the same with black Friday too! No matter where I turned it was being advertised and hyped up. But I was quite proud that instead of splurging on clothes I don’t need (like the old me would have done), I invested in a GoPro that was heavily discounted – it’s something I’ve been wanting to get for over a year now and I could have easily spent the same amount of money on clothes if I’d let myself. But now I have something I can use to capture my travel memories for years to come!

    Jayde x

    • Reply Lo December 6, 2017 at 9:56 AM

      Thanks, Jayde! I think having something intentional you’re watching for is a great way to shop sales, and the Go Pro sounds like a killer purchase. I just didn’t have anything I was specifically needing, so it was a signal to me that the impulse to shop was probably not a healthy one haha!

  • Reply Rosabella December 7, 2017 at 4:53 AM

    I lived in the US for three years, and after I went back to live in South America I have gone on a long-term shopping “fast”, since online shopping is not as good here and I don’t have much time to go to stores anymore. Which means that instead of shopping bans/fasts, I actually do shopping periods, moments when I take stock of what I have, need and want, and then go shopping. Mostly when me or someone I know is travelling to the US. I am also focusing on avoiding cheaply made clothing with non-quality materials. The one disadvantage I found to this approach is that you have to plan ahead – what do you do when online shopping is not really an option, and your favourite black pants tear? Of course they will go straight to the tailor -tailoring and fixing stuff here is very affordable- but it also signals that I will need to get another pair, so that when the first pair wears out beyond repair, I already have a nice pair to use…

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