As my three month shopping cleanse winds down I’ve begun to reflect on what, if anything, I’ve learned. There’s one lesson that stands out to me the most:
I’m terrible at chronicling my habits, challenges, and desires. I posted about them here and there, but the meat of my cleanse happened offline – and stayed there. Doh! On the bright side, even though I may not have shared everything as it happened, I can still share the results. So, besides discovering one of my weaknesses as a blogger, here are some other things I got out of my shopping cleanse:
More money. The most obvious benefit of not shopping is saving money. I do try to maintain a budget, but I’m very guilty of over-budgeting for clothing. As I said at the very beginning – I budget to cover my costs so I can spend money and save what’s left over, instead of saving then spending. Over the course of the cleanse I started making more money at work, and I also received a yearly bonus. I credit my refusal to shop with the amount of money I was able to save. I finally invested in a Roth IRA! To be honest, it’s possible that I’ll blow a good portion of the surplus that’s in my checking account (I am going on vacation in a few weeks, after all) but I’m ok with that because most of my surplus is now in external savings accounts. That’s the whole point – save the money and then put it where I can’t get to it! And what’s more important than what’s in my checking account right now is the next thing I gained from the cleanse.
More patience. Before I stopped shopping I bought pretty much anything I liked, as long as I had the cash. I was within budget, but without strategy or long-term vision. So I was constantly buying yet constantly wanting. That’s partly why fashion is so fun for me – because I fall in love with so many different things and feel like I can make everything mine – but it’s even more fun when you get to play with pieces that are right for you. Once I stopped shopping and started shopping my closet – really shopping my closet – I became more aware not just of what I had, but what I wanted to look like. I online window shop on a regular basis, possibly 5-6 days a week. Over the course of my cleanse I noticed that I liked just as many things but no longer wanted to buy it all. I could appreciate pieces for what they were but I was ready to hold out for what was right for me. This might be the win with the most longevity, or it could be the next.
More shoes. Without being able to buy clothing, the power of accessories hit me like a ton of bricks. Changing your shoes and adding a belt can totally transform an outfit. It changes the silhouette, the color scheme, the entire vibe of an ensemble. And I learned first-hand that wearing a heel instantly makes an outfit more chic. Shoes, belts, bags, jewelry, scarves, even sunglasses – they’re all great devices to use to alter your look and explore new trends and ideas about how you want to dress. Lucky for me I had the, er, foresight, to allow myself to buy accessories in phase III of my shopping cleanse. So far this month I’ve bought 1 necklace, 2 pairs of earrings, and 6 pairs of shoes. Remember that part above about blowing through my surplus? Yeah… But I’m really excited to wear everything and my wardrobe already feels fresher.
My shopping cleanse isn’t over yet so it’s possible that I’ll learn something else in the next couple of weeks. And I’m going to do my best not to acquire any more shoes. Or else I might have to go on a shoe cleanse! And finally, I leave you with some of my favorite outfits that I photographed during the cleanse.
1) Dress/Asos, leggings/Express, booties/Madden Girl, necklace/Banana Republic.
2) Tank/Gap, top/Anthropologie, skirt/Anthropologie, leggings/Kohls, boots/Aldo, neckace/custom made.
3) Dress/Susanna Monaco, sweater/Anthropologie, belt/Club Monaco, tights? Booties/Madden Girl. (Photo by Lauren Frausto)
4) Top/Banana Republic, skirt/bought in Tokyo, ballet flats/bought in Paris.
5) Top/Club Monaco, skirt/Mission Statement, belt/BCBG, shoes/Toms.
6) Top/bought in Tokyo, jeans/Peoples Republic, ballet flats/Loeffler Randall, belt/from a sweater bought in Tokyo, necklaces/BCBG.