The Year Of Nothing New

Happy New Year everyone! We hope your festive season was wonderful and you’re bracing yourselves for whatever 2017 brings. Regular readers will know we don’t really do New Year Resolutions here at TWR, but this year I am breaking with tradition. This year I’m going to buy no NEW clothes.

No, I’ve not gone mad, but I AM a little mad (with retailers), suffering from Peak Stuff and ready to shake up my attitude to buying with some action.

Firstly, I’m fed up with retailers still not taking us grown up women seriously. There are a few wonderful exceptions, but Fashion still sees the 40 plus woman as novelty factor, we are in a world where an older model on the runway still makes the news. Next year we will have been writing The Women’s Room for TEN years and in a recent JD Williams report on women of 50+, 58% of us said we still felt the high street was just catering for the younger market. Get a move on, brands!

I was also pretty disgusted at the retailers we read about in 2017 who are abusing their staff. We have ALL the power as consumers, if we don’t like retailers who buy yachts instead of funding pension plans for their workers, then don’t buy from that brand. We all have plenty of clothes (ahem, more on this below).

And I’m bored with shops. This is extremely serious coming from me, because I LOVE shops, but retail is going through a weird moment, it doesn’t know if it should invest in making shops experience-driven (yes) or plough it all into web design and Instagram. Meanwhile, the chances of finding a range that is beautiful, modern and affordable for us grown ups moves even further down the job list.

But mostly I’m puzzled at my own behaviour, I still buy clothes even though I (clearly, see below for numbers) don’t really need them. I’ve got a wardrobe full of lovely things and yet I still buy more. What am I searching for? Am I addicted to acquiring? Am I buying because I’m bored even though when I start shopping in stores I end up getting cross with what I DON’T find? Is it filling a gap in my life that could be filled more creatively? As someone who studies consumer trends as a job, I need to find out more.

So while most of my family went to see Chelsea v Stoke on New Year’s Eve, I went recorded my entire wardrobe. Have you ever done this? I’m slightly embarrassed with the results but in the name of research I’m coming clean with you, so try not to judge! I own, in no particular order…

29 shirts, of which 17 are in regular action. A ridiculous 31 scarves (every colour option covered except useful navy) and 9 coats, of which half are sheepskin (Half. FFS). I have 36 dresses (I love a dress….) of which 2 are specifically ‘for funerals’ (cheerful) and 14 skirts which I pretty much never wear (recently bought vintage maxi kilt excepted). There are 26 pieces of knitwear, even though before Christmas I’d have sworn I had no wearable jumpers, but in comparison I only have 8 T shirts, which hints at daft purchasing.

I have 21 pairs of jeans, 5 of which I am too fat to squeeze into and 2 are kept for gardening. None are ‘skinnies’. There are 10 pairs of trousers and 26 jackets. Goodness knows what I was thinking buying 26 jackets, it’s not as if they wear out is it? Well, they certainly don’t if you have 26…Oh, and shoes, 54 pairs of shoes (I’m not even going to start on how many are from Grenson).

All these clothes are lovely, I buy only nice stuff and (weird maxi kilt excepted, again) most of it is stylish rather than on-trend-therefore-likely-to-date fashionable. I have enough stuff to last me my lifetime, let alone for just a year.  So for 2017 I’m going to start my research and buy no new clothes.

This will be hard, I am so wired-up to love buying things.

Possibly like you, I’ve been buying new clothes for so long  – despite not needing them – that it’s turned into something I just do. It’s going to be a hard habit to break, although as there’s not enough out there to tempt me and finding it’s becoming a bore, maybe not as hard as I think.

To make it a bit easier, I’m going to allow myself to ‘swap’ stuff on eBay, so sell something I currently own to fund buying something second hand on eBay or at a charity shop. I think this will stop me getting bored with my wardrobe and make the actual process of buying a lot more considered even, possibly, more interesting.

Luckily I have the blog to satisfy my interest in fashion, I will write about clothes we discover and love as usual, hopefully this will give me my fashion-fix, but I’ll be applying a new editing tool, the Tempter Alert, is it something good enough to tempt me to break my Nothing New rule?

I’ll be keeping you posted on how I get on with my year of Nothing New with regular posts on how it’s going. Anyone want to take bets on how long I last? My family doesn’t hold out much hope for me lasting past January but I am determined to succeed. And do join me if you fancy it, we could have our own whatsapp support group…!

 

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37 Comments

  • Monix says:

    Hello Amanda – is that you? Blink twice if you need us to come and rescue you.
    I do know what you mean about all the “stuff” one has (and quite frankly, I don’t think your numbers are that scary) but there is nothing that makes me feel as good as a new pair of (comfortable) shoes (or a jacket, or a scarf (31? Pah!).
    What about make up or a new perfume….?

  • Sue says:

    Happy New Year , Amanda! I’m not sure I’m on board with this, although I’m quite happy to support you, if you want to. Probably a good idea to start off loading things on eBay (my absolute favourite pastime, tbh) and clear the decks a bit?? I have toyed with the idea of not-shopping/acquiring things, but…I just enjoy getting stuff (and, like you, I try to buy only nice things). Life is quite difficult enough at the moment without an added challenge. Definitely agree that it is possible to choose your retailers and edit out the ones who don’t meet standards.

  • julia little says:

    A bold move A, we will support you! I agree, the high street is exhausting, confusing, and in the most, uninspiring. I guess we also have come to a point where we don’t need much more of anything, other than good health and a solid grasp of editing. As we move on from Hygge, maybe we should Syjunta (Swedish word for people who get together to sew, crochet, knit, embroider and socialise). Maybe re-work or re-love some pieces. You don’t have to be good at it, it can be a few small stitches….. I saw on Instagram that the lovely people at Fforest in Wales have put together “a gentle weekend in the farmhouse, hand sewing, walking in the woods and enjoying warm comforting food.” I’d definitely give up buying clothes for more of that!
    Oh, but never give up buying Grensons….! :)

  • Caroline says:

    Happy New Year and so pleased you are back. Sooo interested to read your article as I read an article about Michelle McGagh in yesterday’s STELLA mag. Her book THE NO SPEND YEAR: How I Spent Less and Lived More is published by Coronet on Thursday. Fascinating stuff and I’m off to buy a copy to rethink things…

  • Gill says:

    I so agree with you for the same reasons and had already made this decision. Good luck and a Happy New Year.

  • Harriet Forde says:

    I heartily endorse your sentiment….I found myself shopping again as ‘entertainment’ not through need. Only the long queue for the changing room made me stop!

    I have a wardrobe ‘make over’ in a month or so with the idea that somebody else blows some excitement into the clothes I already possess, I hope that will curb my addiction for a while. A support group might be needed however! Keep us posted ….

  • Jan says:

    What an interesting read. I was on the point of writing a comment for the previous post from The WR featuring a jacket and trousers from Joseph.
    http://www.thewomensroomblog.com/2017/01/09/a-beautiful-jacket-from-joseph/
    They were beautiful but coming in at over £700 for the two garments it would be way out of my price range. And then I read this post. I agree with many of the points in the post though I don’t entirely agree with your view that there aren’t enough clothes aimed at older women. Judging from the number you’ve managed to accrue in your wardrobe at least some retailers must be getting it right for you!
    I live in a rural area. The small town in which I live has no ‘new’ clothes shops. We have two charity shops and a super clothes agency. I could take a ten mile trip into the local city but there are fewer and fewer independent shops and most of the clothes shops are chains aimed at the under 30s. The clothes aren’t well made and most bear the ubiquitous ‘made in China’ label.
    Not so long ago it was fashionable to use the term ‘cost per wear’. Is that still used? I’m as guilty as the next woman of buying clothes I don’t need and then not even wearing them but these days most of mine come from charity shops or have been recycling via the local clothes agency where I can also take my own clothes to sell on.
    I enjoy looking at the latest trends and then seeing how I can adapt what I’ve got to reinvent my existing clothes. Unless you have spare rooms in your house to accommodate huge numbers of clothes they end up crammed into a wardrobe or cupboard space which isn’t good for the clothes and it becomes impossible to know what you’ve got or even find it should you want to wear it.
    I do find myself wondering where all the clothes that people buy go to because I so rarely see folk out and about wearing lovely clothes whether new or otherwise. Are they saving them for best now that the fashion is to wear your pyjamas including for supermarket shopping? Maybe it’s very different in metropolitan areas.

    Perhaps you could set yourself a target to wear your way through all the clothes you already have? A fashionista’s equivalent of Susan Hill’s book, ‘Howards End Is on the Landing’ and then you could donate the money you would’ve spent to a worthy cause.

  • sarah says:

    Welcome back with a very thoughtful post. I had come to many of the same conclusions, but living in the country like Jan, have less temptation. That said, I while away a shameful amount of time looking at fantasy clothes on the web.

  • Amanda says:

    Woah! Well this has got you all going! How interesting that it has created such interesting and thoughtful comments.
    Jan, thanks for your thoughts and I think I’ll use your wonderfully written comment as a source of ideas for the next few months! Yes, I do think cost per wear is still very relevant, and as I look at my wardrobe, it is the expensive-but-quality items, much like that Joseph suit, that have lasted the longest and still look and feel great. And great idea to set myself a target to wear everything!
    Monika, yes it is me, I agree that new shoes make you feel good, but how long can I keep doing this? And are there better ways to reward yourself?
    Harriet, I’m definitely going to get a stylist in to review what I’ve got, give me some new ideas and see if I can wear it all better.
    Sue, i am the QUEEN of ebay selling, being a retailer at heart, I am already up around £100 since January 1.
    Gill- let me know how you get on and Caroline, already have that on my reading list!
    Julia, you are always a great source of strength and Sarah, I think I’ll be doing a lot of fantasy shopping this year!
    I’ll keep you all posted on my progress, if nothing else it will make great copy! Ax

  • Jones says:

    I’m not clothes buying for the year either. I love my wardrobe and want to make sure it’s being used well. I may buy accessories and possibly shoes – as I think they need to be current and comfy and this requires much shopping effort! I read a tip – Turn the hanger the other way every time you wear something and then see what ‘never came out to play’ at the end of the year. If I remember I may do this, too!

  • Amanda says:

    Jones, love the hanger tip! Ax

  • ElaineChicago says:

    Welcome back!! This is an excellent post and very thought provoking. I’ll admit that I’m somewhere in the middle of this. Sometimes I’ll browse through the local thrift shop and find something amazing and other times not. Things I don’t want anymore go to the thrift store for someone else to browse through. I’ve gotten to the point where I only purchase items that have been heavily discounted in the department stores. We have a lot of outlet stores in our area and I must check out some of them. I don’t care if it’s last year’s model or not as my stuff is just regular and doesn’t go out of style. I’ve had no trouble finding clothes for Grown Up Women that are still quite stylish!! I’ve found that the individual shops also have amazing choices not found in the department stores.

  • Yvonne says:

    Wonderful post Amanda. I wondered when someone in the UK blogging world, who as a body generally have strong opinions, would comment on particular owners of high street shops. I will not elaborate except to say that I would not, and could not, ever purchase from such stores. The numbers say it all on how much we own and then think we need more. I would have as many coats and jackets which is silly as spent all of my life except the last 6 months in Australia. Myself, I think I purchase from both addiction and boredom. Love your writing so look forward to your posts over 2017.

  • Sarah says:

    I have been thinking much the same thing. Better and less often has to be the way forward for me. Following Livia Firth on insta, the well being of manufacturing staff is something I’ve become much more aware of. Have nowhere near the number of clothes you do, but have more than enough for what I need, but I do love a dress… and was wondering how to get through this year without buying more – The ebay/swapping idea is great.

  • Amanda says:

    I am hugely boosted by your enthusiastic and thoughtful comments here, Sarah, thanks for reminding me about Livia Firth, we’re following her now, and Yvonne, I hope to keep you entertained through the year on this! I think we often forget how powerful we are as consumers, we hold the money, after all. Elaine Chicago, I’m with you on ‘heavily discounted’, having spent years in the industry I really find it hard to buy anything at full price, I know it’ll probably be in a sale soon! Ax

  • Jane says:

    Wow amanda next time M.A.D complains about the number of clothes I have, I’m going to make him read you post! 21 pairs of jeans is a LOT! I have three pairs.

    I might have to buy MORE stuff in 2017.

    J x

  • Becky says:

    I am so totally on board with this. I too had decided that this year needed much more considered purchasing than my usual approach. I am getting my knitting group involved in a no new clothing challenge, and I can’t wait ! Here in NZ the Op Shops are King and I love them, I shall be attempting to only buy clothes from Op Shops this year and then only if I really need something. What I really need to do is loose weight in order to wear all the fab clothes I already own, so, with this in mind, whenever I think to myself ‘oh I will just pop down the shops for a browse’ I go for a swim instead. So far so good, although I did find myself accidentally browsing navy puffa jackets on the Internet last night !!!

  • Hannah says:

    Also trying this! For six months at least until it’s my birthday in June when I may reward myself with something. Mainly doing it because I’ve likewise been questioning my own motivations when buying – usually when I’m stressed or extra busy I somehow think that another grey crewneck will help… I also need to save money (for a new kitchen!) and have way way more clothes than I possibly need, especially given that I tend to stick to grey jumper and jeans when not at work anyway.

    There is a great local event in March – Fashion ReBoot – when lots of local stylish women resell their overstocked wardrobes. I will allow that as it’s all second hand plus I will sell some stuff there too. I have zero willpower though so will need some other treats to get through the long winter weeks – I’m thinking nice make-up/skincare may fill the gaping hole left by No. New. Clothes. I know, I’m shallow…Roll on March…

  • Amanda says:

    J, I’ve basically been keeping the high street afloat…Also I don’t throw much away, which is lucky since I’m going to be selling quite a lot of it on ebay! Becky, puffa jacket browsing is fine! I’m doing the same thing by researching stuff for the blog and work, but we don’t have to buy! Ax

  • Amanda says:

    Hannah! The ReBoot idea is terrific! Might this be worth a blog post? Let me know details if you think it is. And I had thought about putting in a Half Way prize too, I think I might need it to keep myself motivated…Let me know how you get on!
    Ax

  • Hannah says:

    Yes – have a look at #fash_reboot on IG (it’s partly run by @erica_davies whom you may know from the-edited.com) – I have nothing to do with organising it BTW, just think it’s a great solution to #peakstuff

    Though to be honest, Instagram is not your friend when it comes to not buying! I thought Katherine Ormerod’s post on New Year Same You was good on the skewed perspective IG gives you (http://www.workworkwork.co/2016/12/20/work-work-work-new-year-style/).

    To be honest, even knowing that other people are thinking the same way is motivating me.

  • Katy F says:

    This is such a good idea. I too have lots of clothes and now in my mid 40s feel totally uninspired by the offerings of my local town and all that the internet can offer. I feel patronised and horrified in equal measure at the retail world. I do not need anymore stuff, this includes skincare and make up. I shall join you. It seems you have started a support group! Happy new year.

  • Erin says:

    This is such a good idea Amanda. We are all over “stuffed”, you are spot on with this. Whilst, I’ve def cut back, but not stopped. Being slightly out of the industry, helps.
    I am very impressed with you stopping! I also don’t think your numbers are ridiculous, I have some mates whose wardrobes are like stores, and mine isn’t far off. You inspire me to do a count, not sure I could go cold turkey as you are. Keep it up, I will be routing for you. X

  • Amanda says:

    Katy, welcome to the support group! And Erin, thanks for the kind and supporting words and let me know what the count looks like! Ax

  • Lin says:

    Dear Amanda and Girls
    Way ahead of you. I was a big shopper. But because I’ve been ill (getting better) and haven’t been going out (so don’t need new clothes, there’s no pressure and not shopping so not getting tempted) I haven’t bought a thing since August. Well not strictly true, one velvet trouser suit to get through the festive season and two cashmere scarves and a hat. That’s it. I swear. Oh and a few pairs of ear rings which in my mind don’t count because they’re such small items.
    It’s so liberating. And my bank balance is so happy. Am routing for you all.

  • Chee Mee Hu says:

    Thank you so much for your post. As someone who has been inspired, driven, thrilled by fashion since I can remember, I too am amazed that the lure of shopping is gone. It is the confluence of the sad state of global politics, the intense realization of the impact of each and every purchase, the ecological impact of excess, the shamefullness of it all. I am inspired by those promoting mindfulness, those proponents of slow-fashion. It’s fine to love fashion. It’s fine to be energized by a lovely lapel or a gorgeous lace dress. But let’s balance our love for fashion with an awareness that there is a consequence for every decision tha we make as consumers. Each one of use bears a responsibility for the state of the world.

  • Nicola says:

    Hi all
    On 4th January I came to the same conclusion as the wonderful post – if I sell something on eBay I can use the profits to buy another garment on eBay – otherwise no purchases at all in 2017. Oh, I might just have to put a pack of new knickers on my birthday list to save me a year of broken knicker elastic….
    I love your blog – keep inspiring us!
    Nicola

  • Faye says:

    Couldn’t agree more. I was given a voucher for my 40th last summer for And Other Stories – I can’t spend it. I think their clothes have taken a real nose dive especially in quality, something that I think becomes more important as you get older. However, I’ve also noticed this in other shops particularly Zara and Cos. The fabric seems to be thinner and cheaper – could this be an early effect of Brexit and the state of the pound? Possibly the shape of things to come.

  • Michele says:

    Amanda, you have inspired me to do the same this year. Living and working in London generally equals huge temptation every time I step out the door, but over the past couple of years I have been increasingly bored by clothing stores and labels to the extent that I too have grown more disheartened by shopping and clothes shops in general. I probably now visit just a handful and hardly ever find anything I like – quality is a big factor too. So, with my eldest son going off to uni this year meaning that I am having to rein in my spending anyway, I am going to look again at my wardrobe and wear what I have. Who knows, I might even knit a jumper?! And the Fashion ReBoot event sounds perfect!

  • Ali Garnett says:

    Such a good post! Lots to identify with, and lots of questions. Is it the fashion version of the mid-life crisis? Why is your (and my) wardrobe excess weighted to dresses and jackets? Is the mid-life change of shape or taste so profound as to discount most of what’s sold? Or is this a wider, inevitable stage in the evolution of shopping, after it became a leisure activity in the ’80s? Is it fundamentally a lack of company that drives us out of our homes, looking for human interaction?

    I’ve always made clothes, so I’ve experienced the difference between the satisfaction of a purchase and that of a crafted item. But most of my favourite patterns of the last 20 years no longer fit well, so it’s not just ready-made clothing that’s for the young.
    I live in a small town where the charity shops are so plentiful and so well stocked I can go looking for a specific thing and usually get it. The wide range available second hand means it’s always more interesting to browse Sue Ryder than Next. And I’d rather alter an item that’s had a life already since any new thing I buy needs alteration anyway.

    I wish you all the best in your resolution, and am keenly interested in how it plays out. I love the suggestion for ‘Syjunta’, for ‘stitch & bitch’ groups that include all kinds of stitch, which could be extended to stitching and swapping combined, like the ‘ReFashion’ event in Oxford, next on in March. I suspect that whatever the activity, it’s all about the company in the end.

  • Jill Springbett says:

    For the same sorts of reasons, I too had already decided not to buy any new clothes this year unless:
    A. Something essential is broken or lost so needs replacing, or
    B. I knit it, so buy yarn (but I already have a mass of yarn to knit up)

    It will be interesting to see how we all get on.

  • Sharon Whiting says:

    Hi Amanda, I really support you in this and while I may not be joining you I will be continuing the tradition of ‘swishing’ that has sprung up amongst a few of my friends here in Brighton. I know swishing has been around for a while and we’ve had some successful events involving lots of people (with a charitable donation being the only cash that changes hands) but it has now filtered down to a few of us who meet regularly, taking a bag of things along to swap whenever we get together. We know each other so well that we generally have a pretty good idea of what will suit who before we go along……..I still buy the things I really fall in love with (as you know!) but this way I buy less and love the recycling element of my ‘swished’ items! See you really soon I hope Sharon xx

  • Sarah Peel says:

    What a wonderful post and sentiment, I have thoroughly enjoyed everyone’s comments too. You know you could always join a #handmadeeveryday challenge when you are really feeling it. Making your own clothes certainly makes your choices considered! I have the same problem with cookery books, there are ones I’ve never even bent the spine on and yet I still want more beauty and inspiration and promise.
    Good luck, can’t wait to see what breaks you, Sarahx

  • amanda says:

    Sarah, I am seriously considering more home made, both sewing and knitting projects seems a good idea, Sharon, Swishing has GOT to be written about, I think I need to start a group. Jill, Lin and Faye, thanks for your support and Ali, a clothing mid life crisis is definitely another subject worth writing about. Michelle and Nicola, happy to have you on board, I’ll let you know when I start my Swishing club! Chee, you are so right, it’s all about balance, something we learn as we get older maybe? I’m so inspired by everyone’s comments and am now super determined to succeed and hopefully write some interesting blog posts on the subject throughout the year. Ax

  • Melanie says:

    First time posting for me (I am a new follower of the blog via Mason-Dixon Knitting). Your post really resonates with me. For the last several seasons I have been filled with shame whenever I turn my closet over for the seasons. The rods were crammed with clothes that were lovely, seldom worn and added to whenever the mood struck. And I still often felt like I didn’t have just the right thing to wear. I have been motivated by my own disgust with myself and influenced by those in the slow fashion movement. I’m a knitter, and have enjoyed making things for myself that I actually wear, and am about to start sewing again, in order to control the quality and provenance of the items I wear. I have let go of a lot of clothes that don’t “bring me joy” and find myself happily wearing just a few items in different combinations and I feel great about it. I haven’t sworn off buying more clothes, but I am much more careful about what I buy. Now I ask myself if I can make three different outfits with the piece (if it’s a separate, not a dress!). I’ve also started asking myself–Am I willing to be responsible for this item? Meaning, will I treat it well and/or make sure it has a good home after I no longer want it? That has slowed me down considerably. My clothing expenditures are half what they were last year. I think the difference went into yarn! Thanks for your post. It obviously struck a chord.

  • Louise says:

    I think you will succeed!

  • Ann says:

    I am relieved to see minimalism has taken hold of the younger generations, who previously seemed to be bordering on following in the consumerist greed insanity of their elders.
    I’m on a minimum of one year buying vacation from clothes and cosmetics–which has followed the model of frantic fast fashion. I’m sick of it all.
    Buying bans are also quite the new trend among the younguns.

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