How Changing My Shopping Habits Changed My Life
I used to shop for fun. I visited stores “just because” or when I got home, I would hop online to browse my favorite online stores or peruse any catalogs that came in the mail. This year is different. In January I made a list. I have limited myself to buying only 18 items —no more. This includes everything from clothing to shoes to bags to jewelry. This is the first time I’ve put a number cap on my clothes. For some of you, this may sound like a lot or items, for others a handful. I don’t know how many items I used to buy, but limiting myself has done a great deal of good. When I outlined my list at the beginning of the year, I noted gaps in my wardrobe that I wanted or needed to fill. The list of items has shifted some as I’ve evaluated my desires and chosen pieces that align with how I intend to spend my time. For example, I chose wellies instead of adorable espadrilles since I will be spending much more time in the garden and already have sandals that will do the trick.
The beauty of limiting how much I can buy is that I no longer feel an irresistible pull to shop when I see pretty clothes. Limiting what I can buy has largely erased my desire for clothing that does not serve a true need. I am also no longer buying things to feel pretty. This is huge for me. I used to dress to feel beautiful. Now, I dress in a way that accentuates that beauty that I realize I have. I recognize my own beauty and the beauty of the garments I have. My new favorite phrase? “That’s pretty, but I don’t need it.”
My biggest lessons from this process so far have been: 1. Just because a garment is pretty does not mean you need it (to feel or be pretty). 2. Just because you saw your favorite Instagram influencer or a person you admire wear it does not mean you need it (to be or feel included or a part of their community). 3. Just because seven people you know have one does not mean you need one, too.
I encourage to you change your relationship with your clothes. Dress in a way that accentuates parts of you that you find beautiful. Dress in a way that you enjoy, that feels like you. Focus on cultivating style or pieces you enjoy wearing (and will enjoy wearing two years from now). Buy clothes when you need them, and examine your definition of “need”. Instead of shopping for fun, walk or read or paint or draw or watch or make. When you go shopping make it fun but not your hobby or pastime.
A much richer life lies beyond the storefront or online shop.
Your transition to shopping slow will by no means be flawless (mine sure hasn’t been), but the effort is worth it. The confidence that comes when you are no longer so heavily pulled by ads is measurable. Instead of feeling that you don’t have enough or aren’t beautiful enough you can focus on more meaningful life fulfilling things —hiking through forests, beaches, and deserts, and enjoying family, and friendship.