By Luisa Kearney
From May 2017, I stopped shopping for fashion for a whole year to see how difficult it would be for me, a fashion blogger and stylist at Online Personal Stylist, to do so. I called it my Ethical Style Project and decided to document my journey for my readers. The time still isn’t up, but here’s what I’ve learned so far.
The Benefits of Not Shopping
Obviously, the main benefit of not shopping for a year is the cash savings. I’ve got plenty more money in the bank, and hope to take a little holiday with it soon.
Another benefit is that I’ve learned you can still be extremely stylish without constantly buying new apparel – it just takes a bit of creativity. For example, I learned how to repair and update clothing that I already owned by mastering techniques such as darning, embroidery, knitting, and other sewing methods.
I realised there are so many ways in which you can transform items from your existing wardrobe: I’ve been busy making DIY Christian Louboutin-style red sole heels, and have transformed regular dining room table placemats into stylish handbags. I’ve made clutch bags from cardboard and faux felt and distressed jeans myself to create on-trend frayed denim. I’ve made my own custom slogan t-shirts and turned an old pair of leggings into a stylish long-sleeved top. The list is still growing…and I’m loving the feeling of being my own fashion ‘designer’.
The Biggest Challenge
Initially it was difficult – not because I wanted to shop, but because I was worried about the social aspects. Where I live, shopping malls are great places to get a cup of coffee, meet with friends, and spend weekends absentmindedly strolling. But after just a week or two into the challenge, everything became easier. As with any new lifestyle change, it is important to find fun and creative replacement activities so you don’t get bored and revert to your old ways.
My Top Tips For Doing This Yourself
With a little skill and creativity, you can easily recreate the new, on-trend garments and accessories that you see in stores using existing items in your wardrobe. One-shoulder tops, cross-body bags, embellished platform trainers – they’re all easy to create by revamping simple items that you probably already own!
Here are some of my top tip for anyone who wants to drastically reduce the amount of shopping they do, but still remain stylish:
- Become familiar with basic sewing skills. You’d be surprised at just how many items of clothing you can save by stitching up holes and defects, which will elongate the life of your garments. Plus, sewing on sequins, beads, badges, patches, lace inserts, etc. onto a plain garment can completely transform its appearance.
- Stop listening to advice in the media about what you should wear. Fashion magazines and daytime TV programmes are always trying to get you to buy popular new trends and colours, but you should never feel obliged to follow suit. In fact, 80% of what you wear should be fashion that suits you and that you enjoy wearing. The remaining 20% is made up of clothing and accessories that you love too much to care whether or not they are practical or tailored to suit your body shape and skin tone.
- Instead of buying new clothes, swapping your old clothes for something ‘new’.
- Surprisingly, since I stopped shopping for a year, I’ve received more outfit related compliments whilst wearing my DIY fashion pieces compared to when I go out wearing expensive, designer goods! This just goes to show how handmade items can be stylish and unique.
- You don’t need a degree in fashion design to upcycle old clothes and turn them into something new and exciting! You can do wonders with fabric markers, double-sided fabric adhesive, iron-on transfers, brooches, and the ability to stitch a simple straight line.
- Take away key design elements of clothing you like in stores and incorporate them into items you already have. For example, if you love a puffy, 70’s style blouse sleeve, take a long-sleeved top you have with open sleeves and sew a buttoned cuff on them to get that puffed effect.
- Check out YouTube for tutorials on how to transform your clothing, such as this one on how to fray denim, or this one on how to crop a sweater.
In May when the challenge ends, I’m pretty sure I won’t be in any rush to go on a major shopping spree. If and when I do need to buy new clothes in the future, I plan to shop (as before) from ethical brands, in thrift stores, and of course, I will continue to improve and rework what I already have in my wardrobe. I’m really glad I did this, and if anyone reading this would like to know how I made my ‘Louboutin’ style shoes or tee shirt (above) or has any special requests for DIY fashion and style tutorials they’d like to see, feel free to get in touch with me here, any time.