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

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

Monday, 4 July 2011

July - The Year is Up

So here we are, exactly 12 months on from the point where I sat down and decided to attempt a year without new clothes.

And wow, what a lot of unexpected changes there have been in my life in those 12 months!

So, I cannot admit that I stuck totally, 100% to my rules; I didn't. But what I can say, is that I spent £295.31 on new clothes in the past year. Which I have to say; I think is pretty impressive considering the circumstances. The breakdown of it is:

£114 two work dresses and wedding dress
£118.31 underwear - including leggings
£19 work shoes
£44 maternity tops

I can safely say that without being pregnant, I wouldn't have needed £44 worth of maternity tops, and certainly wouldn't have spent over £100 on underwear, seeing as most of the cost was due to stupidly overpriced maternity leggings and two bras which I wouldn't have otherwise had to buy. With that taken into account, I would only have spent about £150 during the whole year. 

I have mixed emotions about the 'year without clothes'. It has, without doubt, confirmed my view that people are crazy to spend hundreds of pounds every couple of Saturdays on things which will not last/go out of fashion/sit in their wardrobe, never quite fitting 'that' occasion. It just isn't necessary. I am only now coming up to an occasion where I genuinely don't have something suitable to wear; and that is simply because I have expanded to the point where I can't fit into anything which I would feel comfortable wearing to the church wedding that we have to go to in two weeks time. I can honestly say that during the year, there was not a single point where I needed something that I didn't have. I wore many of the clothes that had been sitting in the cupboard for months, unworn; some I felt awful in, so they were sent to charity, and in others I discovered new outfits which I had owned all along.

I did feel slightly disappointed that I couldn't give it a 'fair' go, and that being pregnant had 'mucked up my test' so to speak. But after some thought, I realised that in nearly every year there will be an event which requires specific clothes which you do not already own and perhaps cannot easily buy second hand. Whether that be a skiing holiday, travelling abroad in an extremely hot country, taking up a new sport that requires a kit; while you can get some things second hand, who wants someone's second hand long johns, football socks or cricket box!?

So perhaps this year has been more representative than I first thought. Which means that no... it isn't possible to be totally reliant on charity/second hand shops for clothing. You do need new underwear, and there will be times where you need something in a short time scale that just isn't available on ebay or in your local second hand shops. But I have worked, all year, as a well presented secondary school teacher. I have not lived in torn jeans and stained t-shirts. I have reached 30 weeks in my pregnancy. And I have done all this despite spending just less than £300 on new clothes and shoes.

But what is it that I am suggesting here? That everyone attempts to go a year with a budget of £300? Some people's initial response to that is that it would be an excellent first step to sorting out Britain's financial issues. But then clearly it would not. Imagine the scores of clothing chains which would collapse if Britain's clothes-shopaholics were to resign themselves to a £25 monthly spend. 

Nor am I naive enough to believe that, armed with their annual allowance of £300, the majority of the public would go to ethically minded companies, selling high quality products and purchase a selection of well made, coordinating garments to see them through the seasons. Rather they would be streaming into Primark to see just how many different items they could manage to afford with their meagre budget. That is certainly not what I want to promote.

There was never meant to be a moral, or a message, or even really a lesson as a result of this year (though I have learnt a few). But I feel that now I am here, at the end of the process, I do want to pass on some kind of message. Only I'm not entirely sure what it is. I suppose, in my unmistakeably un-succinct way, it is this:

Second hand shops have some amazing clothes, if only you are prepared to spend time finding them. Look again at your wardrobe; there will be combinations of things which you never considered before, but will now fall in love with. You might even discover that you have a talent for re-designing some of them with a bit of creativity and a needle and thread. Don't be too proud to tell well-dressed friends that you would love their cast-offs; even if you get one top from a whole bag, then you're winning. You do not need to spend several hundreds of pounds on new clothes every year; but make sure that what you do spend is spent wisely; with regard to where it is spent and what it is spent on. 

And that is the end of my year; on a personal note it has been therapeutic, not only to avoid spending money on unnecessary things, but also to keep this record of it. I hope that some of you have enjoyed reading it. I would love to hear your opinions; whether they be that actually spending £300 on clothes in one year is totally extravagant for you or that there is no way that you could go to an even wearing an outfit that you had been seen in before.

For me now, it is off to ebay to find something to wear to this wedding. 

Do you really think I would spend all that money buying something new which I won't be able to wear in another few weeks?! No chance...

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