Why I’m worried that a year off shopping won’t change my habits

I have recently come to a realisation – as I posted on Instagram recently – that one of the things I’m currently concerned about is that a year completely off shopping is not necessarily going to change my long term shopping habits. I have a few reasons why this has been on my mind, and I thought it might be helpful to think them through a bit.

  1. I still haven’t had much of a clear out of what I have now, and I’m still no closer to working out what I want from my wardrobe, my style, any of it. The ‘I have nothing to wear’ thought has been there most mornings for the last couple of weeks, and I’m not sure how much that has to do with all my favourite clothes being stuck somewhere in the wash cycle (we’re terrible people) or whether it’s down to hot weather being my least favourite to dress for and therefore where I’ve always just made do. Add to that my irrational ‘shorts are not appropriate for work, even if I do work from home’ and I’m just a little bit stuck.
  2. I still spend an awful lot of time browsing my favourite shops online. I have a wishlist as long as my arm. It started with the perfect pair of boots at Boden, and now includes summer dresses, shirts, jeans… I could go on. Yes, I have not bought one single item on this wishlist (my only fabric related purchases are still those bras I bought back in the spring, which are now getting to big for me – hurrah for weightloss!) but I know that the potential is there, come January 1st, for me to run out into the sales and spend, spend, spend without giving it a second thought.
  3. I recently had a conversation with my mother – a dangerous start to a sentence – in which she suggested that if I managed it for one year then I may well decide to just keep going for a second year. And my immediate thought was ‘f that!’

So now what?

I’m entering August with a goal of finally refining my current wardrobe, letting go of all the things that are still just taking up space, that I haven’t wanted to wear even when my choices are more limited and it’s the perfect weather for them.

And then it will be time to work out what’s left and what that means.

And whilst January 1st is still 5 months away I perhaps don’t need to start worrying about what starting buying clothes again will look like for me just yet – but I might be closer to working that out.

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Oh, we’re half-way there

6 months! 6 Whole months!

Feeling so proud of myself right now.

June has been a busy one, mostly full of work, with a holiday in France that saw me taking my work with me.

I’ve joined a gym.

So, to the difficulties this month:

  1. The sales are on again – curse you sales, with your tempting offers of half-price clothing, making me seriously consider a ruffled shirt which I’d never in a million years contemplate at full price.
  2. It’s so hot. Where are my hot weather clothes? Oh look, there they are, in the suitcase I’m just getting round to unpacking after my holiday.
  3. I’ve joined a gym! Help – I need trainers, I need new leggings, I need a … never mind, it appears I do actually own all of these things already.

So, we seem now to be in the reverse situation of where we were a few months ago, where it was all about endless jumpers and just trying to stay warm to now wearing as little as possible and just trying to stay cool. It’s tempting to give up on clothes all together, and if I didn’t have to leave the house I might well do that. In reality though I’m rotating the same few pairs of lightweight trousers and fuss free camis, with the occasional sundress. Forecasts are that this will last another couple of weeks, so I’ll just have to keep up with the washing.

The gym – I realised a few months ago (around the end of endless jumper season) that I wasn’t happy with my body. Generally speaking I’m pretty proud of my body and the things it can do, but weight had been creeping on since I stopped breastfeeding last year, mostly because whilst I was breastfeeding I could get away with eating a lot, and when I stopped breastfeeding I carried on eating the same way. I’ve managed to lose a few kilos through diet alone, and have decided that now is the time to kick the exercise up a notch and make those life changes. I’ve struggled with maintaining weight losses before, partly because I tend to go for an all or nothing approach. This time round I’m making the changes more slowly, and really hope that because of that I can make it stick. Motivation is hard, I’m not going to lie.

But now is the time to celebrate – I’ve made it halfway through the year, only another 6 months to go – I shall do so by not buying that warehouse dress I’ve spotted, even though it’s pretty much my ideal summer dress…

Nothing new in my suitcase

Ah, summer holidays. Excuses for a frivolous new purchase that you know has limited uses. Round-ups of holiday capsules, what to pack, and those ‘easy items that take you from the beach to the bar’ are all over the place at the moment. Not here though, because I’m still not buying anything new this year (and also because it’s pretty rare that I have the kind of holiday that requires that kind of packing).

So, as I jet off to warmer climes this summer my packing list looks an awful lot like last years.

What I will be packing:

Tankinis – one in red (4 years old), one in black (last years), both from Bravissimo, purposefully simple

Shorts – a pair of Dorothy Perkins black denim (at least 2 years old)

Shirts, Tops & T-shirts – whichever happen to be clean, all at least 1 year old, in assorted shades of black, grey and blue

Trousers – last summers Hush favourites, and some Indian ones I bought 3 years ago

Jeans – I’ll probably travel in my favourite M&S boyfriend jeans that I struggle to find a replacement for that are as comfortable

Dresses – that polka dot Fat Face t-shirt dress that I can’t stop wearing, a colourful Warehouse dress and the Gap playsuit that I found so comfortable whilst I was away last year (it has long sleeves, perfect for sight seeing days)

1 sunhat – found in Tuscany last year

1 pair of sandals – el naturalista, bought last summer and the best sandals I’ve ever owned

1 pair of flip-flops – accessorize, bought god knows how long ago

 

I’ve also promised myself that I’ll be packing my sports kit and actually making myself do some exercise whilst away this year…

And meanwhile, I’m thankful for having been able to lose the half a stone that is making it possible for me to blithely slip in to last summer’s swimwear without issue – that has made my life a lot easier!

And I confess that I’ve been living vicariously, having done some holiday shopping for both my daughter and my husband.

We made it to May

As I type the rain is pouring down outside, and I am longing for a break from this weather. I am still in jeans, long sleeves and have a scarf wrapped round my neck for good measure. There is, after all, still a slight chill in the air.

The thing that makes this hardest is that we’ve had our first taste of warm weather, and we’ve remembered what it feels like to have sun on bare skin.

On the hottest day so far this year I was headed to another job interview, and the weather really threw me. I ended up wearing exactly the same as I had for the previous interview, despite the 12-13 degrees difference in temperature, and I was fine.

So April is over, and with it has gone my daughter’s second birthday and accompanying trip to the zoo.

There have been little hints of excitement about being able to get the summer clothes out, to wear the brilliant brightly coloured warehouse dress that I bought on a whim in the sales 2 years ago, and didn’t realise how brilliant it was until last summer. It came into it’s own in the Italian hills. I’ve been opting for lighter layers, touches of embroidery, a little bit more colour. And waterproofs. And rain boots.

Enough of this.

In a little over a month I’m off for a week to the South of France. There’d better be sun.

 

April stats: Money spent on clothes: £0

Money spent on decent bras: £126 + postage (4 of them, including a new sports bra – big boobs aren’t cheap)

Days of sunshine: 4

Days of rain/cold: All the others

Purchase guilt

A few weeks ago, fed up with my bra situation, I found myself browsing the Bravissimo website.

And a few days later, after pressing the order button for two new bras, I felt an immediate rush of guilt. Like I had broken my rules. Except I hadn’t, because bras was something I explicitly said I would spend money on, if I had to.

So where did the guilt come from?

I think it was partly because I wasn’t convinced that I really had to spend that money. And because it was the first time that the question had come up. Also, I hadn’t necessarily gone for basics, I’d gone for things that were really quite lovely, and I was wondering if I’d found some kind of loophole that would leave me up to my ears in bras by the end of the year…

As it turns out, the bras were more necessary than I’d initially realised, because, when they finally arrived, they didn’t fit. Instead of just sending them back, or trying to guesstimate what the problem was and exchange for a different size, I decided to get myself to my local store and get them fitted properly. This is such an invaluable service, because properly fitting bras, especially once you get to the larger cup sizes, can make all the difference in the world to how you feel about yourself, and how the rest of your clothes fit.

Of the two bras that I bought one of them was of the kind that either works or doesn’t, and for me it didn’t, even once I was in the right size. And for the other, the recommendation is to go up a cup size, as it runs small. I then tried on a few more things for good measure, and managed to walk away with two bras that I was very happy with.

Now though, I’m faced with the issue that I actually probably need more bras – because two isn’t really enough. And I do find myself wondering (with a holiday looming in the next few weeks) where swimwear fits in with these rules. What on earth have I started?

Month 3: Check out the will power

When I started this at the beginning of January I thought that I’d try and make this blog a weekly thing. I had all sorts of ideas for content, some of which I still really hope I can get working over the coming months. The changing of the light should help with that, as I might finally be able to get some better pictures.

Unfortunately life has been getting in the way the last couple of months, I’ve been dealing with some major anxiety, and so I’ve had to settle yet again for my monthly ramble/accountability post.

So, shall we get on with it?

Challenges encountered this month

Dressing for a job interview:

  • This is the kind of thing that used to send me scrambling, panicked for M&S. I’ve never really been great at dressing for interviews, and my current job involves a lot of working from home in what is a remarkably casual industry at the best of times. The job I was going for – not so much. Thankfully, I still had my good shirt panic bought for my last job interview, 3 years ago, and still in good condition, and a pair of smart black trousers. And a suit I bought in 2010 (and was considering getting rid of last year, glad I didn’t!) provided me with a jacket. I ended up feeling pretty well put together. Unfortunately the interview didn’t go that well, but that’s life.

The weather:

  • Snow, snow, more snow, rain. A very brief glimpse of sunshine (but still cold). There are spring bulbs almost out in the garden, and a long weekend starting tomorrow, but my feet are still firmly booted. Looking forward to being able to pack up the socks soon. Today, for some variety, I am wearing one of my husband’s jumpers instead of one of my own. I think everyone is agreed that we are done with winter, so can we just move on now please?

It’s sales season again:

  • I haven’t unsubscribed from the mailing lists for my favourite shops so I’ve had a few of those sales and offers emails recently. Through the post too. And the shops are full of lovely spring fashion encouraging us to get outside and enjoy life… and it becomes increasingly clear that it is not the clothes that are captivating but the lifestyle they’re being sold with, and the smiles and bodies of those modelling them.
  • I had a good long conversation with my older sister earlier this month about body image issues and how it feels when you do not match the image in your head and the image in the advertising. It is something that we both struggle with at times, and we acknowledge that we have in the past bought clothes that we think will get us closer to that image, and forget that it is not the clothes that make the happiness.

A highlight:

Dublin

  • Yes, there were some mild toddler behaviour issues, there was work stuff hanging over me and I’d had my interview the day before, but it felt really good to get away for a few days. And to drink wine and chat with old friends that had not been seen for too long. We went to the Natural History Museum (fondly known as the Dead Zoo) ate pancakes and let the toddler get to know her godmother (who, it seems, is a firm favourite).Clotheswise not much to report – except I packed successfully, wore everything I packed and did not regret a single choice I made. We came home with a cuddly Easter Bunny, who is now accompanying the toddler everywhere – they’re both at nursery right now.

Money spent on clothes: still £0.

That’s 3 months done. Only another 9 to go.

2 months – still going

February was a hard month.

There was a lot of rain, a lot of cold, a lot of having to get dressed with attention to the weather rather than fun choices. A lot of wearing the same jumper 3 days in a row because it’s the warmest thing going. Also a lot of other stuff going on – work, mostly – bringing some extra stresses with it, and a decision cross roads that might have bigger impacts down the road.

But, in terms of the challenge, I’ve managed to stick to it.

Yes, I have found myself idly browsing warm winter coats, and new jumpers. Yes, I’ve found myself checking out the new spring clothes in the shops, dreaming of warmer days. But, even when a really tough work week coincided with payday I managed to hold firm and find my comfort elsewhere.

The February round up

  1. I kicked off last month with a 10×10 as I suggested I might, and had intended to do a round up of how it went, my choices and things mid-month, but that was just when things got busy. Briefly though, it was something I enjoyed doing, and I do think I learned a lot from doing it. Interestingly the outfits that I least enjoyed wearing were ones closest to how I dress normally – the ones where I literally pulled on jeans and a jumper and called the job done. The outfits I most enjoyed were the ones where I was thinking a bit more outside the box, and hadn’t anticipated. My heroes in those 10 days were a blue button down shirt and my Hush Stella jumper. The 2nd got a lot of wear as it is so cosy – which I ended up needing. And the 1st I found was one of those things that transformed the way I thought about something else – providing extra polish and smartness worn under jumpers and, in my favourite outfit of the whole 10 days, with the collar and cuffs peeking out from under a long-sleeved dress. On the whole the challenge definitely forced me to think about how I wear my clothes, and layering my shirts has been something that I’ve carried over into the rest of the month.
  2. I ‘ve started writing a list of things I might want to buy in the future. There’s not a whole lot on it (though a decent, smart winter coat is probably heading towards the top of the list this week) and the things that are going on it are the basics that I’ve been pondering for a long time – a good white shirt, a black blazer.
  3. Money spent on clothes £0; money spent on coffee £lots.

Looking ahead to March

The next couple of weeks don’t look hugely promising in terms of the weather, though we’ll see an improvement from ‘feeling like -11’ to ‘feeling like -1,’ so it looks like the knitwear can’t be packed away just yet. Hopefully we’ll start seeing a bit more warmth towards the end of the month though. Work-wise things have calmed down a little bit again, though it always has the potential to get busy quickly.

Personally I’m most looking forward to a weekend we’ve got coming up visiting friends in Dublin.