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  • Writer's pictureLauren Sauer

Can't Shop, Won't Stop

I'm no stranger to fast fashion and poly-blends. Like most of my peers, much of my closet reps tags from Forever 21, H&M, and Target, and there's nothing wrong with that. But at some point when your shirts all cost less than $20 and your "good" jeans are from Old Navy, it's easy to fall into the trap of quantity over quality. Buy a new outfit, wear it three or four times before it starts pilling, get tired of it, need new clothes; lather, rinse, repeat.

When it comes to makeup, I have the same insatiable need to buy. While I buy way less than I did when I worked at Ulta, I can't help myself. I convince myself that I need this lipstick because it's half a shade more pink than the other 30,000 I own, and I need that highlighter because I'm bound to run out of the brand new one I have at some point, and it's just good practice to keep one on reserve. This comes from watching a lot of beauty videos on YouTube, and also from that millennial desire to always have the next best thing. The truth is I have plenty of makeup, multiple shades and colors for year-round use, but when I receive coupons for free gifts with purchase I seem to conveniently forget that.

And so I decided to break the chain and simply stop buying clothes and makeup in 2018.

For the record, I ran a poll on Twitter asking if you guys wanted me to go into detail about how and why I'm doing this, so this is for the 80-some percent of you that said yes. For the person who voted no, you can skip this post. So now onward with the logistics!

Section One: Why I'm Doing It

  1. I wanted to learn to value the things I own more.

  2. My cousin mentioned she wanted to take on the challenge (hi, Jill, sorry I'm stealing your thunder) and a social media influencer I follow successfully did it last year, so I know it's possible.

  3. To try new things and be experimental!

  4. To save money.

  5. Honestly, just to see if I can do it.

Section Two: Questions You Probably Have

Q: What if you run out of stuff?

A: In terms of makeup, I'll buy replacements when I'm truly out of something, but that shouldn't happen often. So far I've replaced my eyebrow gel and foundation, plus the boring stuff like skincare and makeup wipes. But the truth is, from years of obsessive buying, I'm well-stocked in most things, so that shouldn't be much of an issue.

Q: What about when your makeup expires?

A: Valid question, but I'm gross and don't follow expiration dates. Oops!

Q: What are you going to do for special events?

A: This is admittedly challenging. I, like most women, fall into the trap of "needing" a new outfit for every occasion. But ask yourself how many times you've bought a pretty dress for a specific night out, worn it once, and then let it hang in the back of your closet. If you shop smart and tend toward timeless pieces, you can re-wear the Christmas Party Dress of 2015 or the Family Member's Graduation Jumpsuit of last summer. And while being an outfit repeater isn't super glamorous, it can be kind of fun to shop the back of your closet. This year I'm going to three weddings (maybe more if any of my friends want to make a really rash decision) and wearing to each: The dress I bought myself for my 19th birthday, my prom dress (Yes, really. It's black tie!), and a hand-me-down from my mom. Making it work!

Q: Are you going to make any exceptions?

A: My answer for now is no, but if I absolutely have to have something new, I've decided that I'll allow myself to shop at thrift stores or hand-me-downs from family and friends. The goal is not to buy any new stuff. Ideally I want to totally work with what I have, but I'm only human after all.

Section Three: How I'm Doing It

Now, just saying I've resolved not to shop in 2018 doesn't mean much on its own. Actually doing it is the hard part, but I've managed so far! Granted, we're only two full months into the year, but I'm feeling good about it. I have a few tips and tricks if you want to try your hand at it, or if you're just curious about how I'm doing it.

[I should mention that one huge saving grace here is the fact that I work in an office with a super casual dress code. Like, "wear leggings and a sweatshirt if you want" casual. So having basically my entire closet available to me on work days is a huge asset and one of the reasons I feel capable of doing this. Just keep that in mind.]

For starters, I knew that I was falling into the old "I have nothing to wear!" trap because I couldn't see a lot of my clothes. I don't have a dresser and my clothes don't all live in one place, so it was easy to adopt the "Out of sight, out of mind" mentality when looking at the items I had hanging in my closet. I kept most of my clothes hung up in my closet, but a lot of more casual items lived in drawers under my bed or folded in a big pile, where they were often overlooked. To combat this, I bought two clear sets of drawers for my t-shirts, leggings, workout clothes, and other items that don't lend themselves well to hanging. I also re-arranged my closet: color coordinated, and then by type. For example, black tank tops, then black short-sleeved, black get it. This taught me that I own an alarming amount of black and gray, which once I got past feeling like Wednesday Addams, became a huge asset. When in doubt, neutrals always match and always took good.

Another thing that has been hugely helpful is unsubscribing from email lists. Up until recently, I got daily updates from Forever 21, Sephora, American Eagle, Victoria's get it. I woke up every morning to sales and coupon codes and deals that are too good to be true. "I'm smart," I would say to myself, "I know this is a marketing ploy to get me to buy things I don't need, and I know this sale only exists to sell the items that need to be cleared out before next season. This isn't practical. I see right through this...okay, proceed to checkout. Let me go grab my wallet." Removing myself from these lists has helped exponentially in not only not buying clothes, but decluttering my inbox. Granted, a few manage to still slip through the cracks (I'm convinced unsubscribing from a mailing list doesn't actually do anything half the time), but overall that temptation has dramatically dwindled.

Section Four: What I've Learned So Far

As I said, we're only 1/6 of the way through this year, but I feel positively about this challenge. Granted, I still go into my closet some mornings and feel bored and like I'm a cartoon character wearing the same outfit every single day, but I've learned a lot already. Not to sound fake-deep and make it sound like I'm some war hero or anything. I know it's not that serious.

I have learned, though, that no one really cares what you wear. Odds are no one's going to notice if you wear the same pair of jeans twice in one week, and no one will remember if you posted a picture wearing that top last month. In the best way possible, everyone's just focused on themselves. Your job is to just present yourself in a way that feels authentic and makes you feel your best.

Another thing I've learned is to break out of my clothing comfort zone every once in a while. When you're limited to the clothes you already own, eventually you'll have to don those pants you bought on a whim but never wore, or that sweater you can't go out in until you lose three pounds. Guess what?! Those pants are really cool and you look great in that sweater! We're all harder on ourselves than we need to be, and this challenge has been a good reminder of that. I'm definitely guilty of emotional buying, i.e. treating myself for every mood: Sad spending, celebratory spending, "It's raining, why not?" spending. Forcing myself to not just slap a band-aid in the form of a TJ Maxx receipt on everything has been good for me. When you're not constantly buying new things to distract from what's going on, you actually get to take some time to reflect on why you're sad or actually address and celebrate your accomplishments.

So that's where I'm at right now. I hope this was interesting and informative for you all, or at the very least not downright boring. Let me know if this is a topic you'd be interested in hearing more about, or if you have any thoughts on the matter at all.

Current state: Scouring Pinterest for ideas on how to make jeans and a T-shirt look super stylish.

Money saved: Probably a few hundred by now, but I've also gotten in the bad habit of having poke bowls delivered to my apartment, so who knows?

New development: I wore a blue cropped sweater to a party last night that's been hanging in my closet for months and it looked good!


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