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About a year ago, I decided to embark on an experiment. A style blogger-friend of mine proposed a challenge where participants would only buy clothing per month after donating an article first.

Sounds simple enough, right? I thought I’d take it a step further (in my true all or nothing fashion), and decided I would go a whole year without buying clothes.

And WOW, did I learn a lot about myself.

From stress dreams where I break my own rule and impulse-buy a $5 H&M t-shirt, to seemingly ‘random’ shopping cravings where I’d find myself cruising the aisles at the co-op, it’s been an adventure.

Here are 3 surprising reasons we buy clothes, gleaned from my year of clothing minimalism.

It’s Laundry Day

Reason number one: I need to buy clothes because I have nothing to wear…

Ah, yes. It’s because they’re all in my laundry bin. Keeping up on my laundry turned into a MUST during this past year, and taking care of the clothes I already have by keeping them clean and folded kept me on track.

Self-care Craving

Another reason I often felt the urge to buy clothing was a lack of self-care. It would happen slowly- I’d get busy with work, then skip my appointments, and bury myself in my computer. After days and days of this hamster-like behavior, I’d climb out of my wheel and notice how terrible I felt. This is when I felt some of my strongest shopping urges.

Clothes and shopping in general are one of the ways we show ourselves we matter- and instead of perusing my favorite boutique, I’d find myself at the co-op stalking the seasonal produce. It was a healthy trade-off, I think.

We buy ideas, not clothes

This last reason I had the urge to buy clothing kind of surprised me. There were (and still are) days when I’d peek into my closet, and see NOTHING that represented ‘me’ today.

Given the nature of my work, I’m always knee-deep in personal development and change. It’s no wonder my clothes no longer spoke to me- a lot of change can happen in a year!

Our clothes we wear are fantastic tools for personal expression (much like our hair and makeup routines), and sometimes buying a new outfit, is kind of like buying the idea of who we will be when we wear it.

I’m looking forward to catching my closet up to my new life this February. And noticing the reasons I get clothing cravings will help me be more intentional and mindful with my shopping choices. Some of my top buying priorities this year are:

  • supporting my favorite local and small businesses
  • reducing/avoiding fast fashion
  • prioritizing the need. (Do I need a new pair of jeans? Or just a day out of the office and in my bed?)

Have you ever taken a minimalist year? Leave a comment below to tell me about it!