I’ve been conducting an experiment for myself this year, analyzing my relationship with shopping and clothing consumption. My spending on clothes is not extreme compared to others, but I felt the inner stirrings at the beginning of the year to look closer at my habits around shopping because, for me, it felt as though the clothes purchases had gotten out of hand. I had every intention not to purchase any clothes in 2022, but as I took daily outfit pictures on Instagram, I wasn’t liking what I saw reflected back to me on my grid.
As a yoga studio owner and someone who teaches yoga almost daily, it’s hard not to fall into the habit of wearing yoga pants and flowy cardigan-style wraps, along with the studio-branded t-shirt. I realized my clothing didn’t really represent who I wanted to present to the world. Yes, I teach yoga classes and have private personal training clients, but I also coach people throughout the week, and many of those folks are managing directors and division heads within a company. I had the hope of cultivating a more elevated fashion style for myself.
It seems superficial to even think about all of this because bigger problems beyond what I wear are happening in the world. I know that. But how we present ourselves does matter, especially when you are running your own business. People make a decision about you in seven seconds. And though we like to believe that we aren’t judging a book by its cover, you and I both know we totally are! First impressions for most people are visual, and in those seven seconds, are you representing the best version of yourself?
All this is to say; I bought some clothes throughout the year. I don’t consider this a failure. But rather an adjustment to my own goal. The shift that took place for me with clothes shopping was that I was more mindful. I was intentional about what I purchased, keeping items only if I saw a need in my wardrobe or if they filled a gap that was missing. For example, I purchased several summer dresses. I didn’t have any and being the age I am, pre-menopause, I felt the need to have looser clothes during the humid Maryland summer weather.
In the past, I would only shop the sales rack, which would mean that I wouldn’t purchase what I truly wanted but would make a purchase because it was a great deal, or I’d save even more money if I bought two. I have learned through this experiment to let go of that shopping habit. Instead, I thoughtfully considered colors vs. patterns, brands I wanted to support, how often I’d wear the item and if I could sneak it into other seasons by adding leggings or a sweater.
As I became more mindful about my purchases, I saw how the same behavior around clothes shopping was trickling out into other aspects of my life. I did the same thing at the grocery store. I was a sucker for deals, coerced towards the Buy One Get One sign. This would result in a pantry stocked with food that either no one in the house wants to eat or it takes too long to get through, and folks get bored with eating it.
So I’ve allowed the new habit of being more mindful with clothes shopping to influence my grocery store behaviors by buying what we need, not necessarily buying only on sale. Asking myself what we will use the ingredient for in this week’s meal plan.
I’m not sure yet if I will continue this experiment into 2023. I don’t think I will set out to complete a “no buy year,” but maybe limit the number of items coming into my closet so that I can continue the practice of being intentional about my purchases. I enjoy the reflection and the growth that pushing my personal boundaries exposes me to. What about you? Are you contemplating changing your shopping habits in the new year?