How I Bought No Clothes For Over A Year [Clothing Ban]

I have bought no clothing for over a year now and I’m happier about it. Let’s dive into my one-year clothing ban and what you can learn from that!

It has been a while since I’ve discovered the minimalist movement. I am very grateful to have encountered that over the last few years, radically changing my perspective. 

I have embraced minimalism fully, where I’ve gotten so sick of all the stuff that I’ve radically decluttered and sold a lot of my stuff.

One of the main reasons to start this clothing ban is to simplify my life

When I have a room full of stuff, I somehow can’t focus. I get distracted by the things in the room and it takes away from my concentration. 

I am still surprised at how relieved I felt when I donated a lot of my stuff. It’s so much better to have less stuff to care about. What a relief!!

From that came many other things, like my clothing ban. As of September 2018, I didn’t buy any new clothes, shoes, accessories, make-up, or anything similar. My clothing ban is greatly inspired by Angela from Tread Lightly Retire Early, who is over 2.5 years in her clothing ban and whose lifestyle and environmental consciousness impact many.

In this article, I will share with you why I’ve chosen a clothing ban, what I’ve learned from it, and lastly I will share my tips on how to let your clothes last longer.

My Clothing & Shopping Ban

I’ve been an avid shopper since I was 13 years old. I was very much influenced by what others would think of me, meaning I would buy the branded jeans for $150 and the branded sweater for $80.

I’ve amassed a lot of clothing between the time I started high school and the time I started university. When I was in university I was still trying to please people, but I didn’t spend too much money on my appearance anymore. 

Not so much new clothing, new accessories, or new shoes as I would buy before. Yes, I would still buy new things, but the scale was much smaller.  

After my decluttering, there were still a lot of clothes left. Because I value both the environment and my wallet, I decided I should wear out everything I have first before buying anything new. 

Things I Learned

1. There Is Little That You Really Need

What I’ve realized is that nothing I will ever buy makes me a better person, more likable, or more satisfied in the long run. 

This is a huge change in mindset for me!

When I started my clothing ban, it was just about not buying new clothes. I had enough to wear, so why bother spending time and money buying new things?

After I realized that there is little that I really need, my clothing ban has influenced my buying behavior in other parts of my life. I didn’t buy any accessories, shoes, or make-up over the past year. 

I’ve realized that I don’t need to buy new things to be happy, which is a great feeling of freedom.

At the moment I’m trying to be creative when I need something, but I often find that it’s just as easy to use another item instead of getting something new. 

It’s easier to buy the things that you want and get rid of them later – but why would you buy them in the first place if you don’t need them? Recycling and reusing items is great, but the best thing is to stop buying in the first place. 

Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world, as it is consuming MORE energy than the shipping and aviation industry combined. If we want to stop this, it’s incredibly important to stop buying things we don’t need. 

The things that you actually need in life aren’t things, the things you need are passion projects you work on (like the blog) and the people you spend your time with. 

2. Set Yourself Up For Success

It is great if you want to build up self-discipline by not spending money. 

BUT, it’s a lot easier if you’re setting yourself up for success. What I did is unsubscribe from all marketing emails, unfollow any brands I followed on social media, and most importantly: ignore the sales. 

This is again the Radical approach, but it certainly helps with building the habit. It’s a way to keep buying things out of sight, out of mind. 

Recognize your patterns and break them. I was a boredom shopper. Whenever I didn’t know what to do on weekends, I’d go shopping. It’s so easy to buy things to set your mind onto something else. 

When you’re starting something like a clothing ban, you are forced to break your old habits and create new ones. 

It’s about finding a replacement for your old behavior in something else. For me, it was not going shopping on the weekends, but going for a long walk or go work out. It was a healthier and more fulfilling replacement for me, that was free and didn’t involve buying more things. 

3. You Get Used To Advertising

During my studies, I’ve learned a lot about behavioral finance, marketing psychology, and the irrational buying behavior we all have. 

When you’re committing to something like a clothing ban or a no-buy challenge, you become ‘immune’ to advertising. There’s no single ad that gives you the urge to buy anymore. 

How freeing is that!

4. You Save A LOT Of Money & Time

If you’re buying out of habit, it can add up over time. You get a $20 thing here and a $10 there. It’s not a big deal at the moment, but it can add up to thousands of dollars over the course of a year – over time it can even lead to lifestyle inflation

I mean, what else could you possibly spend that money on? Hmmm, I know something. What about Financial Independence or Retire Early?

If you’re working towards Financial Independence, you know it: time is more important than money

So in addition to costing a lot of money, shopping costs a lot of time. You’re not thinking about the 30 minutes here or 20 minutes there, but this adds up over time. This can total again to thousands of minutes over an entire year. 

Clothes In A Closet Stock

There are many other things you could spend your time on!

If you’re eliminating the non-essential shopping, you free up a LOT of time for things that give you joy. 

5. Finding Your Enough

In the beginning, I felt this FOMO (fear of missing out). But once I got over the initial hurdle, I got involved in more productive activities. I didn’t distract myself from shopping as much as I would have in the past.

The less I was shopping, the less I actually wanted to buy new things. I realized that I have a closet full of good clothes that fit me well, so there wasn’t a need to buy anything new. 

As more time passed, I became happier with the things I already had. 

What I currently have in my closet is everything I need. Limiting myself in not buying new things, makes me grateful for every item of clothing I do have in my closet. 

Instead of me feeling limited by the fact that I couldn’t add any new clothes, I felt freedom. Freedom to spend as little time as possible thinking about what to wear. I mean, there’s a reason why people choose to wear the same clothes every day

I no longer feel drained and stressed when I’m standing in front of my closet, deciding what to wear. I pick one of my work outfits and I go to work. What an amazing feeling that is!

I Almost Screwed Up

I have to admit that it can be hard at times. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. 

Especially in the beginning when you’re getting used to the situation, it’s hard to not buy new things when it’s still a habit. 

I forgot several times that I was having a clothing ban while I was in the city center. I ALMOST bought something, only to remember last minute that it was my decision not to buy anything this year. 

Other times when it’s hard to not buy new things is when you are going for a holiday or vacation. I’m currently traveling for four months in a mini-retirement, meaning that I was checking what things I wanted to pack. 

I didn’t buy a bikini in the last three years, so I wanted to replace my perfectly fine bikini with a new ‘fashionable’ item. I decided against it, as I had a perfectly fine bikini. 

Again, it’s all about being content with what you have and being aware of the impact that buying new things has on the environment. 

It is my decision to not buy anything. I could if I wanted to but honestly, I don’t feel the need. 

How To Make Your Clothes Last Longer

One important thing if you want your wardrobe to last longer, is to make your clothes last longer. Treat them with care, that will help a LOT. Give them the love they need!

1. Wash Less Often

No, I’m not talking about wearing your clothes if they smell! 

Some things need a wash after one time of wearing, other things you can wear for days before they begin to smell. Honestly, I wash my pants a lot less compared to my shirts. 

I wash something if it’s dirty or it smells. 

2. Hang-Dry Your Clothes – Always!

I’ve never had a dryer in my life. I hang dry my clothes always, and I find that makes them lost a lot longer. 

Whenever I’m traveling I’m bringing my laundry to a place where they wash, dry, and fold your clothes. While this is a great service and they’re done within three hours, I often find my clothes given back with holes or stretched fabric. 

Try it yourself and hang dry your clothes, it isn’t a lot more work and it makes your clothes last a whole lot longer. On top of that, you will reduce your energy bill greatly when you stop using the dryer!

3. Wear Chill Clothes At Home

Whenever I come home from work, I get out of my work clothes as soon as possible. I LOVE the feeling of getting into my joggings and my sweatshirt, so much more relaxed!

Another pro of that approach is that you can possibly wear your clothes again since you only wear them for a limited part during the day. 

4. Wash On Cold

If you’re wanting to reduce your electricity bill, wash on cold. I never wash hotter than 30 Celcius, which makes my clothes perfectly clean and smell fresh. 

Washing on cold will also preserve the colors in the clothes, making them last longer. 

5. Wash Dark Clothing Inside Out

I would say 60% of my wardrobe had dark colors. Perhaps even more. 

The point is, if you wash dark clothing inside out, the color will last longer. 

The same for t-shirts – if you’re washing them inside out you will prevent the print on the shirt from fading. 

6. Learn Basic Mending

Many people throw clothes away when my button falls off or a small hole forms. Don’t be that person!

I have to admit that I’m still learning it, but whenever I visit my parents I’ll ask them to help me with fixing my clothes. I’m getting better and better, perhaps one day I’ll be able to do it independently like a real adult – who knows! 

Moving Forward

This clothing ban was such a positive experience for me. I spend less attention on my clothes, I dress a lot quicker, and my clothing takes up little space. 

One of the things that I would love to do in the future is to shop second-hand and sustainably. While I think I don’t need any new clothing for some time, I do want to go into it sustainably when I will. 

Shoes are something that I will need fairly quickly, work shoes to be specific. I have an office job (yay..) and worn-out shoes are not acceptable.

You know I love a challenge, so let’s see how long I can make this clothing ban last and when I will need new shoes.

Did you ever do a clothing or shopping ban? If not, are you planning on taking on the challenge?

How I bought no clothes for over a year & lessons from my clothing ban

8 thoughts on “How I Bought No Clothes For Over A Year [Clothing Ban]”

  1. Wow! That’s really amazing and it takes real commitment to your goals to do something like that. We really do spend a lot of time shopping and buying things we don’t really need.

  2. I love this article and the additional insights you offered about caring for the clothes (along with psychological battles). I play games in my head about shopping all of the time (especially for myself). I haven’t bought clothes for myself for at least two years (partly because I don’t have time to shop with my toddler). I’m happy if we get out of the store with what he needs. Also, I decided I don’t want to buy clothes until I’m done having children and past a phase where they get snot, spit, throw-up, or food on me.

    I’ve realized I have pleanty of clothes to make it a loooong time. Still, I want to redo my wardrobe a bit once I make it to the five year mark of not buying clothes. I want to get a bunch of vintage looks for when I play live music. Also, vintage might just become my thing.

  3. That’s too kind, thank you! If you want to spend less time (and money) shopping, I would highly recommend starting with a no spend week or month. I know you’re not a big fan of no-spend days, but for me personally a no-spend month has made all the difference!

  4. Two years of no shopping, that’s great! I have to admit snot, spit, and throw-up are all very valid reasons for NOT spending a fortune

    If you’re redoing your wardrobe after five years you will probably know exactly what you’re wearing and what you’re not wearing, making it very easy to change those clothes for vintage items. And you’ll rock your live music vintage looks I’m sure!

  5. Impressive and inspiring! I didn’t know that about washing dark clothes inside out – good tip! You are so right about saving time too. I didn’t realize how much time I spent shopping for things. Summer is coming up though and I’m wondering if I’ll be able to squeeze another year out of my swimsuit that I don’t like very much :/

  6. I know right, shopping takes so much time and I have to admit that there is no activity I dread more than fitting pants or swimsuits. Just the fact that I need to untie my shoes is too much lol! Thanks for stopping by Amelia and fingers crossed that you can last with your swimsuit for another year

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