One year without buying clothes

Last year I challenged myself to stop buying clothes. I’m not a fashionista or anything like that and I’m sure I own less clothes than the average woman, but my wardrobe always felt too full. I normally only bought a couple of new items each season, but because I keep my clothes for years, storage space was running out. Besides, I felt I really didn’t need any more clothes. After all, I only have one body so I can only wear one outfit at a time!

Last time I bought something because I felt like it, was February last year. I got a couple of shirts and a couple of stay-at-home pants at H&M (if you want to know, the shirts are still like new and I love them and the pants are full of pilling, but to be fair I basically wore them almost every day). It was after leaving the store that I felt I had bought clothes I didn’t really need; after all, I had other shirts I could wear on weekends and other old pants I could wear at home. That was when I decided that I would try to avoid buying clothes for one full year and reduce my participation in the environmental impact of the clothing industry (the second most polluting industry in the world!).

Here I am, over a year later. To be precise, 15 months. Did I keep my word? I’d like to think I did. Since February 2019 I haven’t bought any clothes for myself, with the exception of a nursing bra because one of the two I had broke in a way that was non-repairable. So we can consider I made it, right? I only bought something that I really needed.

The other day, having hot pot with my friends. The tshirt I’m wearing is from Uniqlo and it was bought in 2013.


Was it hard, not buying anything for over a year? To be honest, not at all. But that might be because of my special circumstances. As I work from home, my outfits from Monday to Friday are old tshirts and sport pants. I only wear my “going out” clothes on weekends, so they stay in a great condition for a long time. I think the average age of my current clothes is around 5-6 years! Besides, this past year I didn’t have much time to go shopping, as taking a toddler to peruse a clothes store is not the best of plans. I’m not a big fan of buying clothes online in case they don’t fit well or the material doesn’t feel nice to the touch. So yep, for me it was quite easy not buying anything! I just didn’t have any chances or temptations!

I remembered this topic the other day because an Instagram account I follow posted about fast fashion brands and how bad they are for the environment. One of the problems they mentioned was that clothing from these brands (you all know what the usual suspects are) is of a very poor quality which deteriorates badly after a few washes and people throw them away after only a few wears. I’ve read statements like this before and they always surprise me. Most, if not all, of my clothes are from fast fashion brands (mostly Gap, Uniqlo and H&M) and, as I mentioned above, my wardrobe has an average age of 5-6 years. Last Sunday I was wearing a skirt I bought in 2010 and a tshirt I bought in 2013. Both are still fine and totally wearable (not the latest fashion I guess, but I’ve never given a crap about that). Incidentally, my favourite summer shoes have been mine since 2012 and, after fitting them with new soles last year, they are as good as new (they are great quality Italian leather shoes, though). I have no idea why I can wear fast fashion garments for years while other people throw them away in months, is it because I’ve never used a tumble dryer?

In my head, this black tshirt is still new, but I bought it in 2014. It’s from Baby A’s tshirt and jeans are second hand.


I did buy some clothes for Baby A. these past months, though. But not too many! Around 80% of his clothes are second hand, thanks to some friends who gave me a lot of hand me downs. Baby A. will wear “inherited” clothes until he’s at least 6, I have so many! Also, when he needs something, before buying directly I first ask in a Suzhou mums’ WeChat group in case someone is selling the garment I need. In Suzhou, buying second hand children’s clothes is easy… For adults, not so much! I only know of one charity shop that sells second hand clothing, and unfortunately my size is not exactly standard in China.


How’s your relationship with clothes? Do you constantly renew your wardrobe or do you stick to your oldies like I do?