Tuesday, November 8, 2011

To Diet or Not to Diet

Back in August, I mentioned that I might go on a "clothing diet," stating both financial and moral reasons. Since then, I've informally stopped myself from buying new clothes other than a few pairs of tights & underwear (both replacements) & a little bit of jewelry while in Spain (souvenirs). Basically, no garments & certainly nothing expensive.

Fashion Store by August Macke, 1914
In the past, I toyed with the idea of signing up for Wardrobe Refashion (now closed), where you pledge to not buy any new clothes for a period of time. Refashion-ers were allowed and even encouraged to makeover old clothes or sew new items. Similarly, some fashion bloggers have participated in the Great American Apparel Diet, where you swear off buying clothes for a whole year.

A related concept is Kendi Everyday's 30x30 Remix Challenge, where each fashion blogger picks only 30 items from her wardrobe (including shoes and accessories) and wears only those things for 30 days. The idea is to see how much you can make from just a few things, to remind yourself (and others, since you're blogging it) that you don't need a ton of clothes to make stylish outfits.

And on Yahoo! Green, we've profiled the Uniform Project, where a woman took one little black dress and wore it every day for a whole year, just accessorizing it differently (there have been similar blog projects; this one was for charity). This also shows how you can make many looks out of one thing.

I could list a ton of reasons to take a break from buying more clothes ... It'd be a great way to save money. My closet and dresser drawers are already full. Most of the clothes available for me to buy are made by people (especially women) paid pitiful or no wages, working in inhumane conditions (find out the Slavery Footprint of your purchases, if you want to be horrified by what you buy). The environmental footprint of materials like cotton (growing cotton uses about 25% of the total pesticides used on the planet!), rayon (including bamboo, which requires serious chemical processing to become fabric), polyester (made of oil, duh), leather (not just made of cows, but the tanning process is chemically intensive), bleach, and most any dye is disgusting (fact: at least 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used around the world to turn raw materials into textiles).

That said, I love fashion. I enjoy looking good. Pretty clothes give my day a positive boost. New combinations of clothes and more flattering clothes and styles always make me happy. I'm ever on the lookout to upgrade my wardrobe because, unless an item was custom-made for me, most clothing is something of compromise. The fit might be off, the fabric might be not as high quality as I'd like, or the style could be lacking. And things do wear out or wear not-so-well (especially if they weren't made of the best quality to begin with).

Point being, no matter my knowledge of the pitfalls of capitalism, I choose to participate in it for my benefit. I acknowledge my hypocrisy! Perhaps a diet can assuage some of that, but I won't swear off shopping for good. That's a step too far.

I make no absolute promises as to how long this clothing diet will last. It's only been two months or so, & that's not exactly world-shattering. I sometimes go on binges where I buy a bunch of clothes one month then buy nothing for three, and other times, I buy a little bit of clothing every month for six months. Right now, I'm going to try to consciously limit myself at least as long as I can until something unrepairable needs replacing. And then I'll blog about that!


  1. Clothes diet, hmmm, I would fail at the first hurdle. That and buying fabric, NO cant do it. But wishing you lots of staying power

  2. Good luck! It'll be difficult, but well worth it.

  3. cheeky rose - Heh, not sure I could add fabric to the diet... tho' I do have a mighty large stash to work with already ;-)

    LovleAnjel - Thanks!

  4. Instead of going on a complete clothing diet, I've been frequenting consignment and thrift stores the past few years. I'll admit that I still purchase the "basics" (plain t-shirts, tank tops, underwear, tights) at big box stores - but the rest of my clothing comes from resale shops. It takes a little more work to find neat items, but it's so much nicer on the wallet! At least with resale shops, I feel like I'm supporting local businesses and recycling things that are no longer loved by their original owners!