The ups and downs of attempting to go a whole year without buying any new clothes...

...without becoming a naturist, as the title suggests

Sunday, 16 January 2011

January: A very quiet month

I can safely say that so far this year, I have spent absolutely nothing on clothes, shoes or accessories. What's more I haven't felt the need to at all. Am I the only person who didn't buy anything in the ubiquitous sales?

I have been massively enjoying my Christmas socks and pyjamas and I finally parted with a truly worn out wool cardigan which I had been clinging on to on account of the fact that we are renting a FREEZING cold house and it was my warmest top. But I have taken up layering others and feel much better about myself now I'm not constantly wearing a big, bobbly mess of wool. So now there's even more space in the cupboard!

Due to the comforting warmth of having a laptop on my lap, I have been researching the ethical background of some big companies this month. My thinking is that once I start buying clothes again; I want to invest in a few, quality things which will last (although I will obviously carry on trying to find things from second-hand shops rather than new). So I am going to research the few shops that I really like, and see just how ethical they are. I have started with Marks and Spencer, which is invaluable for stocking up on decent underwear and plain t-shirts etc. Their credentials seem pretty good. I didn't know that the 'Plan A' project was so broad; with the company attempting to change some surprising aspects of production as well as the more obvious 're-use hangers' and 'reduce packaging' efforts. I had read that a few months ago it was discovered that M&S shared a factory with the dreaded Primark. While I'm unsure of the truth behind this, through reading the Plan A documentation, I noticed that they have set up several 'model factories' to promote ethical manufacturing. I also like the fact that they attempt to include a few fair trade and/or organic pieces in many of their ranges. 

Clearly M&S are not the perfect ethical store; no 'supermarket' style store ever will be, but compared to the others at the top, M&S are definitely making the most effort to promote better manufacturing procedures, more sustainable sourcing of materials and ethical trade. This I like, and I will continue to support the company; attempting to buy as much as I can from their fair trade and organic lines. I hope that you will too, as the more people who show an interest, the more likely they are to improve the choice of such products.

Still left to review then, are: Fat Face, White Stuff and Esprit. In the mean time, I'd be really interested to know if anyone else has any opinions or information on any of the shops/companies... I am hoping I won't discover that they are all owned by some horrendous multi-national; but I wouldn't be at all surprised. 

Off to put some more layers on then...

Saturday, 1 January 2011

A new year, the half way mark and a summary so far...

Phew, finally I am up to date and can stop writing in the past! Now everything from my note-book is here and I am really enjoying blogging. I have learnt that I waffle even more than I originally thought, and that some people are massively critical; but mostly I have just enjoyed writing for myself, rather than for work.

Although I have made sure that I have recorded everything I have bought or been given so far, I have no idea how much I have actually spent, so here is a summary of the first six months!

Given new:
top (for birthday)
top - didn't fit - £27 Fat Face voucher (for birthday)
pyjamas (Christmas)
4 x socks (Christmas)
pair of tights (Christmas)
black long sleeved t-shirt (Christmas)
CAT boots (Christmas)
3 x bras (late Christmas present)

Given second hand:
trousers (free from charity shop)

Bought new (£139.31):
Dress £62
Wedding dress £27
Bra £18
5 x pants £6
3 x tights £5
3 x leggings £21.31

Bought second hand (£43):
Skirt £3
Skirt £5 (but had to re-charity)
Skirt £5 (but had to re-charity)
Top £4
T-shirt £3
Skirt £5
Top £1
Cardigan £1
Trousers £2
Dress £7
T-shirt £2
Skirt £3
Jumper to felt £2

£182 spent on clothes in six months. Not bad. This is not the most exciting post of the year but I, at least, have found it really interesting. To be honest it's made me think that I probably didn't even need to buy some of the second hand things. Maybe during the next six months there will be even more savings; I certainly want to make more...

December - Getting Crafty

***Merry Christmas and a Happy Frugal New Year!***

I was slightly anxious about what I might have to write in this entry, anticipating that in all of the Christmas madness I might have resorted to the easy option of high-street shops to get presents. Happily I can say that, although I did have to pay a short visit to a shopping mall *shudder*, the majority of my presents were either hand-made, recycled or useful in some way! Several people received my handmade jewellery or cards ( which I make as a hobby anyway. I gave others gifts that I, or my family, had been given in the past and were new and unopened, but would suit someone else much better. Originally I felt torn - it was an amazing way to recycle, and I knew that some of the recipients would approve - but was it really just a bit cheap? So, in my usual style, I set about some conscience easing and googled 'regift' to see whether it was being slated by others! To my surprise, I found a website devoted to it! (

Other presents included razors, vouchers and a laptop, which most of the family clubbed together to buy for people who decided they would rather receive one gift which they needed, rather than many gifts, which they perhaps didn't need.

I bought R a pair of Jeans from Howies; he's wanted them for ages and will wear them until they disintegrate, so I don't feel bad. I also spent £17 of the closely guarded Fat Face voucher on some lovely wrist-warmers for a friend.

In terms of presents I was given, R has replaced my ancient CAT boots (with a huge hole in each heel) with a new and totally lovely pair, so that I have dry and snuggly feet for 2011. I feel it has been far too long without a shoe picture, so here they are!!

I also got some bits and pieces for the kitchen, a moonstone ring, a few pairs of really lovely socks and thick tights (the kind I couldn't usually justify buying for myself), a pair of pyjamas and a black long-sleeved t-shirt. My mum kept up the make-it-yourself theme and knitted me a hot water bottle cover, which I love!

I suppose the point of listing my presents is to make it clear that I wasn't given an entire wardrobe full of clothes for Christmas! And I certainly didn't buy anything in the sales!

I have bought quite a few things for myself this month; all second hand. At the start of December I had some excellent finds at a car-boot sale in Bristol, I got a black top (£1), a black wrap-over cardigan (£1) and a pair of tie-up trousers (£2). Had to buy some leggings as my one remaining pair had become thinner than tights, so got two pairs of black and one brown from Joe Browns for £23, but got £1.69 cashback on Quidco (my favourite website of 2010!) 

I also satisfied a 'shopping urge' by finding a Uttam butterfly dress on ebay for £7, which I have wanted for years.

At one of the many Christmas markets which I took my jewellery to, I bought a lovely GAP t-shirt, a brown patterned skirt for work and a brown woollen jumper for £7. The jumper is to felt and make into (hopefully) wrist-warmers and a skirt. I've never felted anything before, but have been told I just need to wash it on a hot wash with wool detergent until it has shrunk roughly 30-40% (must remember to measure it first!) Does anyone have any felting tips? I will let you know how it goes.

This is the next phase of the project... if you can't find what you want: make it. I've got lots of projects either planned or part-completed at the moment; felting the jumper is the first, then I plan to decorate the wrist warmers with some crochet flowers (I was also given a crochet book for Christmas and have practised by making a little hat for my friend's new baby). I'm hoping that being able to crochet will also enable me to 'tweak' charity shop finds to make them a bit more individual. I have been knitting for over a year now, but am still just making large squares to make a blanket and practise as many stitches as possible. Hopefully this year I will knit something 'real'! I'm also going to try to dye more things. I've got two white/cream bedding sets which were handed down to us a couple of years ago when we moved into our first flat. White is not a good colour. My refusal to use anything but Ecover washing liquid means that sometimes I don't exactly get the Daz effect with my whites (and no, I am not willing to compromise) so I am going to dye one purple to look at the effect. If it turns out fine I will do the other set and some white towels we have; who knows, I might even get creative with colours and effects! Again, I will report back on the progress!

So, watch this space for knitted, crocheted, felted and colourful creations... 

November - Cold Turkey

After last month's shambolic attempt at not buying anything new, I can happily announce that for the rest of October and the whole of November I spent absolutely, totally, NOTHING on clothes! 

It is also worth noting that I really didn't enjoy shopping last month. I found it totally exhausting and was racked with guilt, even when I bought the pants I desperately needed!

I was given a grey, woollen jumper by an aunt as it doesn't fit her any more and have informed my brother's girlfriend that she is not to get rid of any clothes without passing them in my direction first!

Turns out that planning an eco-friendly, low cost wedding is a lot of fun, and not as hard as I thought it might be. The most tiring part is fending off the hoards of well-meaning friends and family who are trying to push me into traditional dress shops and entice me with chair covers, catering and professional make-up. No thanks!

Much more info to come on the wedding as and when I get myself a bit more organised!

All in all a very successful six weeks, now we just need to start thinking about Christmas...

October - How do you define cheating?

I have mixed feelings about this month; in a way I feel like I have already failed, but when I think about it more, the amount I have spent on clothes this month is probably half of what most people spend every month.

As I've already mentioned, I don't really enjoy shopping, so when my partner decided that he felt like wandering round some Bristol shops one Saturday, I wasn't massively excited! In hindsight, I shouldn't have gone; it was a disaster! I had been struggling a little bit with clothes for work; feeling more and more that everyone else has a different outfit for every day of the term. It encouraged me to dig out some scarves and belts etc. that I hadn't worn for ages, just to try to make my repetitive clothes repertoire more exciting! But I was still managing to go to work clothed and clean!

All of my work clothes in the past have come from Esprit, and I always see something I like when I go in there, so it was probably a stupid decision to go in. But I like to think I have self control...

I ended up buying a woollen tunic/shift dress; identical to one I already have, but in a different material. I know, I know, it was new, I have failed. But here I go with a load of waffley justification...

It was £62 and very good quality. The one I already have has lasted me three years (and is still perfectly fine). That's only around £20 per year, which is very good... and much better to buy one dress to last all three than to buy one new one every year... don't you think? Someone please agree with me!!

So my conscience is eased slightly by this: I didn't spend £60 in Primark, buying things which would only last a few months and then need replacing and, in doing so, fund any of their horrendous schemes. And yes, I'm sure that someone can find some unethical 'dirt' on Esprit as well, but at least their clothes last, and so I need less clothes, less often.

Anyway, I could rant about that for quite a while, but I'm sure you're already bored, so I'll save that for another time and give you my list of other, legitimate purchases this month:
New bra (threw away three) £18 from La Senza
Pack of 5 pants (threw lots away) £6 from M&S
Pack of three black tights (laddered all the others) £5 from ASDA 
Navy blue skirt for work (GAP) £5 from Oxfam

And another, not legitimate and probably not remotely justifiable one... I bought a wedding dress for £27 in Cult Clothing. Not what you're picturing when you read 'wedding dress'; just a white, lacy tunic dress to wear, with tights and boots to the registry office part of our wedding in May. Not bad I suppose, considering that that is likely to be the least ethical part of the whole thing!

So, £123 spent in October, £118 of it on new clothes. Very mixed feelings about that. Definitely a low point of the year I feel.

So come on, admit it; who is thinking 'well I'm not going to read this any more, she's totally failed already'? 

Must do better next month...