An update on my unofficial clothes shopping ban

Oh hi, friends. It’s Thursday. Despite my best attempts to keep at a normal posting schedule, things keep getting in the way, and Tuesday posts are particularly taking a hit for some reason.

This week, which was supposed to be quiet, unexpectedly turned into a shitshow Monday night. It involved both me witnessing an attempted serious crime/spending the evening talking to the police (serious to the level of I wrote everything down afterwards so I can remember in case it goes to trial and I’m called in. ETA: I am fine though, don’t worry!) AND the arrival of both my youngest sibling and car troubles that started happening an hour before they arrived here (thank goodness the previous owners of my car bought it new and therefore I know they took care of it, plus I still get a free oil change once a twice a year from them, aka my parents!).

I got up early both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings to be at the mechanic right when they open before going to work, and you know how I write posts the night before they go up? I was too tired last night to stay up as late writing as I normally do, so I got up way too early in order to finish writing this on Thursday morning because I AM GOING TO PUBLISH A POST TODAY, DAMMIT.

Let’s talk about something that’s not attempted [serious crime what the fuck] or car issues, shall we?

The decluttering continues

I’m making progress on my June goals: last weekend I threw all of my sweaters and winter dresses into the laundry, moved my summer shirts front and center in my closet (finally), and am working on the never-ending project of paring down my closet. As I’m slowly washing loads (I’m constrained by how much I can fit on my drying rack, considering socks, underwear, and linens are about the only things I ever put in the dryer), I’m setting aside the shirts and sweaters I didn’t wear last year and putting them in the donation pile. I have way more clothes than one woman could ever need so this has been an ongoing project (instead of me taking a committed chunk of time out to do the decluttering in one fell swoop) for quite a while.

And yet, I just made a clothing purchase. Worse, it wasn’t even one I wanted to make!

Thoughts on dress codes and fast fashion (they’re tangentially related here!)

Growing up I never wore shorts to school because even back then my public school system was implementing one of those sexist dress codes that disproportionately polices girls’ bodies. Tall girl with very long arms and legs meant the only shorts that passed the dress code test (that were longer than my fingertips with my arms straight at my sides) weren’t ones I was going to show up wearing. Look, I may have been an irredeemable chorus nerd and all-around decidedly UNcool girl, but I still knew better than to show up in school wearing shorts that were 2/3 of the way to my knees. Pants it was.

That tall one is me. Those shorts are not dress code-approved.

All of the shorts I own now are way too short for my middle and high school dress codes, some more egregiously than others. It’s been YEARS but I still get a little “fuck you, I wear what I want” thrill when I put on a pair of shorts that would’ve gotten me sent to the office back in high school (read: any pair of shorts). But I’ve been thinking lately it’s time to buy a longer pair or two. Why? Because I work at a bar on weekends.

A few weeks ago when it first started getting hotter, we ladies checked with our supervisor, who says we’re allowed to wear shorts to work. Normally I don’t care, but for some reason it seems like I should probably wear something a bit longer than my current favorite shorts, which have a 3 inch inseam (aka they’re short). Perhaps it’s because my experience in the working world thus far has taught me that shorts (and dresses/skirts that show more thigh than is “professional”) are Not A Thing You Ever Wear if you’re a female-presenting person, so it feels weird to be buying shorts for a job, even though we all show up in work-branded t-shirts (which hilariously now comprise about half of my t-shirt collection). No business casual here!

Reading both Luxe’s and Britt’s blogs means I’m thinking a lot more these days about shifting my clothes-buying habits from cheap (on sale is key!!) fast fashion to fewer, higher-quality items. That’ll have to wait for another day because my requirements for work shorts are a) cheap, b) dark-colored, c) longer than a 3-inch inseam, and d) something I don’t care about since working behind a bar is messy enough (I inevitably get home covered in alcohol and/or simple syrup and/or citrus juice) that my clothes end up in the laundry basket right after I get home. I’ll be washing these shorts often for the next few months until it’s cool enough to wear jeans to work again. I’m not actually buying something I like here, so back to my drug fast fashion website of choice.

So I bought shorts for work. But with that purchase I also broke the unofficial clothes shopping ban I’d had going on.

Wait, there’s a shopping ban happening?

Surprise, right?!

A while back I made a clothing purchase and then decided I just wasn’t going to do that anymore. I didn’t mean to quit shopping for clothes cold turkey or anything, but my many, many months of starting to scrutinize my shopping habits (with clothes, cute + on sale is my kryptonite and has led to many a questionable purchase that I regret fairly soon after, especially because in the past if something has fit me even okay, not great, I went ahead and bought it) plus the fact that I do not need more clothes finally flipped a switch in my head.

A sampling of my work wardrobe. Lots of colors and patterns is kind of my thing, in case you hadn’t realized it yet

So I unsubscribed from emails and didn’t browse through sale items just for the hell of it—and I just stopped buying clothes.

I went back and just looked up when my last purchase was: November 2017. Aside from a pair of tennis shoes I bought back in January—ostensibly as another pair of walking shoes but really I kept them specifically for work because standing up for 6-hour shifts most weekends requires a pair of shoes with some support in them—I haven’t bought any clothes. Since I’m not counting the shoes since I kept those specifically my second job, that means I’ve been on an unofficial clothing ban for a bit over six months.

Woah, that’s awesome!

Falling back into old habits

Ever since I started thinking a few weeks ago about logging onto my preferred fast fashion site and seeing what the shorts options are, I’ve been thinking about clothes a lot more lately. It’s so weird.

I notice cute clothes on women all the time, but in the last few weeks “oh that’s such a cute dress!” has been accompanied by “and I want it.” It’s summer, and despite the fact that it’s hot outside (and even when it’s not so hot out), the a/c is blasting everywhere indoors. It’s absolutely freezing at work, so every day I’m carrying a heavy cardigan in my bag along with my work shoes. Maybe I’m just in a mood where light and breezy summer dresses appeal to me—I just want to be outside in the sun instead of sitting at my desk and freezing. Is that too much to ask for?

Whatever the reason, I am weak and gave into some old impulses. Instead of limiting my browsing to the shorts section only, I decided to see what was in the sale section ?‍♀️.

In my defense the only thing that wasn’t shorts in that order were two dresses. I don’t know how much of the fact that it was only two other items has to do with me being at least better at squashing the shopping impulses now or that there weren’t that many good colors/patterns available (or styles. Look, conceptually I love the off-the-shoulder look that’s going around right now, but realtalk: what am I supposed to do with my bra straps? Especially because strapless bras are the absolute worst and I refuse to wear them more often than absolutely necessary).

Either way, yay only two dresses/extra things made it into the order, but boooo two extra things made it into the order because I couldn’t resist. Does it count if I decide they don’t fit me well enough or I don’t like them enough and send them back? I’m inclined to say yes. Because yes, I got a thrill out of picking those two dresses out of the sale section of the website.

Oh hey, there’s a shopping ban happening

But one purchase isn’t reason to call the whole thing a failure and go back to my former ways, buying things I DO NOT NEED just because they’re cute and on sale. Especially because this wasn’t an official shopping ban by any means. It just kind of…happened. Since I’ve gotten this far, it’s time to make it official: I’m on a clothes shopping ban for the next six months through the end of November.

I’m not doing any planning for this; I don’t have a list of approved items I can buy(and honestly I suspect I won’t be at risk of having something fall apart on me and having no other options. Because too many clothes) or any rules. It’s just an official extension of what I’ve been doing the past six months. If I do actually need something, I’ll approach it on a case-by-case basis, like with work shoes or shorts.

I figured this was probably going to happen at some point in the future, so apparently here we are. I am now officially on a clothes shopping ban!

16 Replies to “An update on my unofficial clothes shopping ban”

  1. Woohoo congrats on making it official haha I think you’ve got a very well-reasoned plan. Just get the things you need, because you need them, for the right reasons. Being work appropriate (whatever that means) is a good reason.

    1. And at this rate, I won’t even need to buy shorts because by the time I get back from all the traveling I’m doing, it won’t be so hot anymore! ?

  2. Sometimes you need stuff that you can just get dirty and not get mad. If it were me, I’d probably get a lower-quality item in that scenario, too.

    Another thing you can do is get rid of something when you buy something new.

    Excited to hear how your official-official shopping ban goes!

    1. Hah I need to go for more like a one in, three out situation when I buy new clothes ?

      So far going strong—just needed a pair of cheap flip flops to wear to the beach (I never wear flip flops for anything other than the beach or pool) and that was an allowable (and cheap) expense.

  3. Congrats on making it official! The exact reason why I still haven’t broken from my clothing ban, even though it’s already been 15 months, is that I’m afraid as soon as I let it slip just a little bit I’ll think about all the pretty things I want to buy. I never thought I was someone who needed hard and fast lines when it came to shopping, but I’m finding out that is definitely the case.

    1. Yeah, it’s kinda scary how slippery the slope is from “I’ll just look or think about this one thing” to “OMG I’M GONNA BUY ALL THE THINGS!” I have this problem in a number of areas (restaurants, anyone?) so there are a lot of things in life I just don’t do because a hard ban is better than getting myself in trouble. I need some more self control ?

  4. Yah! We can be shopping ban buddies (I know, I’m the worst). It’s interesting that you didn’t really notice you had been on one. I think we only normally notice our shopping habits when they start to change (in your case, when you started WANTING to buy stuff).

    Welcome to the shopping ban club!

  5. This inspired me to go back and look at the last time I spent money on clothes.. since July of last year! Seems like I have my own unofficial ban going on as well ? though it might get broken soon since I’ve lost a couple long held work shirts due to ripping at the elbows… maybe I can hold off until Christmas and get them as gifts to extend the streak! ?

    1. Hah you ready to make that ban official too? I’m still amazed at how I never knew work shirt elbows were so fragile! And yeah, hold out until Christmas and then you can extend the no clothes-buying indefinitely 😉

  6. The summer shopping bug has me bad, too. I have plenty of cool clothes, which is good because it gets to be 104 here sometimes, but any time I go into a store that has summer clothes, I want them because they look like they’d be so comfortable. Learning to say no has been a challenge. Props to you for six months, though!

    1. In my mind I know that new summer clothes aren’t going to make the awful humid weather less awful or humid or hot, but something about the idea of new clothes still makes me think this time it’ll be different. Nope, I’ve just gotta stay out of stores, both in person and online!

  7. Oh clothes…the love/hate relationship I have with this budget category is something Shakespeare couldn’t even write about!

    I am a clothes and shoes guy to my core and goodness I struggle here. I think creating a ban experiment may be something I need to do!

    1. I never thought I would, but here I am, so you should definitely try it out if you want to cut down!

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