It sounds rather ridiculous doesn't it? No new clothes for an entire two years - surely not? Well that's what I did, in part to try to save as much money as I possibly could, but it's honestly been eye opening. As someone who has loved clothes for as long as I can possibly remember, this was far from a walk in the park, but the experience will probably influence my shopping decisions in the future.

Before I jump in to the things this time has taught me, a few points I think are relevant:

  • Firstly, as a previous regular clothing shopper, I already own quite a lot of clothes, so I do appreciate that doing this was probably easier for myself than perhaps for someone who owns far less.
  • On the flipside of that though, not much of those clothes actually fitted me when I started the no buy as I'd gained weight; equally this probably helped me in a way as I was reluctant to buy much in a larger size.
  • I was also proactively saving money at the time as I hope to buy a house in the not so distant future.
  • Doing a previous low buy / no buy of cosmetics had already begun to influence my spending habits 
  • The last year of my clothing no buy was spent in some form of lockdown due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. This probably helped me not to spend as I saw no point buying anything new when I had nowhere to wear it to.


Lesson No.1: We Need Far Less Clothes Than We Think

Research tells us that we wear a very small proportion of what we own. The average Brit has 152 items in their wardrobe, but around 57 of them, are never worn.

I have to say this was my experience. On the whole I wore a very small proportion of my wardrobe over the two year period - admittedly I would have worn more if they had all fitted me but I was quite shocked at just how little I actually needed.

Lesson No.2: No One Even Noticed

So often in the past I've hit the shops because I didnt want to wear something I had worn previously, but I recently attended a training day for work and one of my colleagues was being incredibly complimentary of my outfit. She loved my Blazer, really liked the scarf I'd styled it with and thought my shoes were really cute. But I was wearing the EXACT same outfit I'd worn at a similar event just 3 months earlier. It was then I realised that people notice so much less than you think and now if someone was to say to me ' Oh didn't you wear that before?', I'd be confident enough to say 'Yes I love this dress so any opportunity I have, I really like to wear it'. 

Also, if someone gives you a hard time for wearing the same thing twice, I'd recommend shopping for new friends rather than clothes!

Lesson No.3: I Saved Money

I'm not entirely sure how much money I saved over the time period as I didn't track my fashion spending prior, but I think it would be fair to say I saved at least £500-1000 per year. 

The average person in the UK apparently spends £1000 per year on new clothes and the average American shopper buys 70 new items of clothing each year - that's one every four to five days! When you consider that it's easy to see where big savings could be made for an awful lot of people.

Lesson No.4: Trends Are A Total Waste Of Money

I've been relatively lucky in this category as not all trends suit me that much and I tend to favour classic styles anyway (although I'm sure I bought a few trend led pieces in my twenties!), but sitting back over the last two years, it's really highlighted just how wasteful trends can be from a financial perspective - that must have piece will likely be languishing on an influencers depop in just six months time, not to mention how much of it is destined for the landfill.

Lesson No.5: I Wasn't Less Happy

I wasn't any more happy on balance either (although a growing savings account probably added some element of happiness), but it certainly illustrated that owning more clothes wont necessarily make me happier. 

Like most people, I too experience that wonderful feeling when you've just purchased something you love, you cant wait to show a friend etc. But that happiness is so fleeting. True levels of happiness for me did not seem to be influenced by not buying anything.

'The average person in the UK apparently spends £1000 per year on new clothes and the average American shopper buys 70 new items of clothing each year - that's one every four to five days!'

So am I now never going to buy new clothes again now? 

No. I absolutely love clothes, and even though I am aiming to be more mindful of my purchasing in the future, I will probably always own more than I truly need, because in truth we need very little.

But it has forced me to question the amount of clothes I own, and frankly how ridiculous this is. I've already begun massively decluttering in other areas and I intend to do so with my wardrobe too at some point.

I'm also much more conscious of what I actually wear, what I like, and the shapes and cuts that suit me. I know I can look at a garment, appreciate it, admire the craftmanship, and still leave it in the store. I aim to buy classic styles that are good quality, that I aim to see myself wearing for years to come.

I don't buy much anyway, but I aim to buy less fast fashion - 50% of it is usually disposed of with 3 years, so it's terrible for the environment, but I've also found that often it isn't great quality and doesn't last very long or wash well. Many people will argue that fast fashion can just be donated when you don't want it, but that's not exactly guilt free. Poor quality used items tend not to sell in charity shops either, many cannot be recycled due to the fabric composition, so they ultimately end up in landfill anyway. That's not to say all fast fashion, or high street clothing is all bad; I have several dresses from River Island that are over 10 years old now and still in great condition, but that's probably the exception rather than the rule.

From now on I only want to buy items I absolutely love and know without any doubt I will wear, over and over again. I'd rather focus on buying quality rather than quantity and if that means spending a little more per garment sometimes, then that's ok, as if you factor in price per wear, if it's something you love and wear a lot, it could be comparable to several cheaper items you don't like as much.