Lessons learned from 11 months on a shopping diet.

Dec 22, 2017


As the year is coming to an end, looking back on what has been, is traditionally part of the deal. Since I spent the biggest part of 2017 (starting from february , that is) on a shopping diet, it seems only logical to evaluate how much of my intention I managed to make true, and how the experience has been for me. Exited to find out how I did and what I learned ?

What did I buy?

Let's start with the confession time: I did have several relapses during my cold shopping turkey. It started with a pair of extra trainers to wear to work. Then I bought an outfit for my sister's wedding, but this was an exception I had allowed myself to make from the start, so, no biggie. Early june followed my big birthday splurge, which included two tops and a pair of black jeans from &Other Stories, a striped wrap shirt from H&M and a pair of statement earrings.

So far, so okay, but come september, I have to admit I really started slacking: I bought another pair of earrings, a new yoga outfit and a red sweater, because I had left my sweater at the hotel while while visiting Salzburg and Austrian weather can be quite unpredictable.

In October I tried to crack the whip again, but in November I started craving new stuff again and I totally dove into the vintage shopping experience. I bought a pink silk pussy bow blouse, the polka dot dress I'm wearing in the picture, a grey pinstripe blazer and an awesome lammy coat. Oh, and on Black friday I simply couldn't resist the 15% off at Howlin'.

Wow, seeing it all lined up like that... I mean that is a hella lot of shopping for a year of not shopping, right?! So, where did that go so wrong?

What were the difficulties?

First of all, resisting the pull of highstreet shops was harder than I had thought. I follow a lot of fashionable folks on Instagram and Pinterest, and being constantly confronted with new fashion trends and must-have items, often got me tempted to browse around the web for affordable alternatives. I mean, I can tell you that a lot more of things made it to my imaginary shopping basket than what I actually ended up buying. And that while this shopstop was inspired by an aversion of the fast fashion industry that exploits so many workers and is one of the most polluting industry of the planet. I was constantly torn between the fashion-victim-me and the conscious-human-me.

I even ordered a pair of white ankle boots from Topshop at one point, but returned them without even trying them on, because I already regetretted the purchase by the time they arrived. In the end I actually got quite fed up with myself. Was it really so important to parttake in every trend that I spotted?

I also feel quite guilty about the yoga outfit from H&M, certainly because their are quite a lot of sustainable, eco-friendly alternatives on the market. I just got got tricked by the trendy design and the cheap price once again (which is in no relation to the true cost, of course).

I am not, however going to beat myself up about the Howlin' sweater, the vintage pieces or the earrings I bought at Curiosa&co (which is a store dedicated to small, independant designers). These items were consciously bought, supporting businesses that are in line with the values that I hold high, and representative for the pattern of cosumption I would like to stick to in the future.

What were the benefits?

Buying less new stuff did make me see that I have a lot of great stuff hanging in my closet. Most of my clothes are still in great shape and can last for years if I treat them right. I was also pleased to see that many pieces that I bought last year or the year before, can still feel very on trend. Starting from an item that is having a moment and that you hapen to have hanging in your closet, like my vintage houndstooth blazer for instance, and building your outfit from there, is really all you need to feel like you're wearing a look-du-jour.

On the other hand it also became clear as crystal which items I am still really lacking. Like a comfortable yet chic dress and ankle length, lightweight fabric pants for summer. And sturdy boots and jeans that cover my ankles for winter. This is great because now I start shopping very focused come January, which will guard me from buying stuff that I don't need.

How to move on from here?

I'm afraid I am not yet completely freed from all my highstreet demons. Like right now, I can not promise that I'll never shop at &Other Stories again. They do offer great quality and durability (but their ethics are of course highly questionable) and always seem to have exactly what I want, opposed to sustainable fashion brands that often get me feeling like "meh...". Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of great eco-fashion labels out there, but they are often expensive, or they ship from America, which involves high shipment costs, import duties and tricky return policies.

Maybe I'm just not motivated enough to go the extra mile to buy what I believe in. Maybe buying less and choosing well is already a great place to start. So I decided to set the following rule for myself: If I want something, I have to look for a vintage option first, if I don't find one, I'll go perusing eco- and ethical fashion stores, and as a last resort I'm allowed to buy from the regular fashion circuit.

Another thing I'm very excited to get into next year are capsule wardrobes. I started following a lot more conscious fashion blogs during the course of the year, and ladies like Lo from Capsule Closet or Caroline from Unfancy really got me all warmed up for the idea. So stay tuned, darlings!