The Happy Closet, Part 3 (my tips for buying less)

It’s been almost ten months now since I last purchased a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes or a bag or a piece of jewellery, and the exciting part is that I still have no desire or inclination whatsoever to actually buy anything. This has been seriously liberating and it’s also helped our family finances immensely.

I have not always been like this. In fact, ever since I started earning money back in my late teens, I’ve been guilty of spending way too much money on clothes and accessories, often racking up unnecessary credit card debt and sometimes making plain bad purchasing choices.

The funny thing is that I didn’t start out by consciously imposing a year-long spending freeze on myself. Instead, I just decided that I didn’t need to buy anything new and that it would be nice to stop spending money on clothes and other stuff that I didn’t need. From there on, I simply found that the more I didn’t buy anything, the more I didn’t want to buy anything. Eventually I discovered that I automatically stopped looking at clothes at the shops, and I even stopped logging onto online stores as well.

Honestly, I can’t tell you how nice it is to not have to feel nervous about receiving packages at home and having to explain to Rick why I needed yet another different pair of shoes or pants. You ladies with husbands know what I mean, right?

But most of all, I’ve loved feeling content with what I have. I love not looking at my wardrobe and thinking to myself that I need this and this and that to make my wardrobe ‘complete’. I love just being happy with the clothes and the other things that I have now.

It’s hard, though, especially when we’re bombarded every day with all the new things that we can and “should” (supposedly) buy. Here are some things that I’ve worked out along the way that have helped me to be happy with what I already have:

It’s actually socially acceptable to wear the same outfit.
You don’t need a new dress for every single event that you attend. Sounds like a no-brainer but when I was younger, I seriously used to think that I needed something new to wear for every special occasion. Uh uh. Turns out this was a self-concocted myth and when you think about it, quite egotistic of me to think that anyone would care that I was wearing the same thing more than once! I am no celebrity, after all. These days, I just wear the same outfit for 1-2 weeks in a row (unless of course they get really dirty). Saves washing, saves having to come up with something new every day, and so far, no-one has complained… (Edit: Rick has since read this post and would like me to clarify that I do change my ‘under things’ and that because I sit at my desk for a lot of the day, I do not get sweaty. Oh, and that I will wash my clothes more frequently in summer. Thank you husband, for upholding my reputation.)

‘Classics’ and ‘essentials’ are actually not essentials.
You know all those pieces that fashion magazines tell you that you ‘have’ to have? The ones that supposedly never go out of style? The little black dress, the white shirt, the black blazer, the grey shift dress, the leather jacket, the trench coat, the skinny jeans, the leather boots, the red heels…. I could go on and on. Well, I used to be totally convinced that I ‘had’ to have all those ‘essentials.’ In fact, I had a list of them, and would check each item off as I finally made such a purchase. (Sad, right?) It meant that I was always aspiring to ‘complete’ my wardrobe in a sense, and I was never content with what I already had. But quite frankly, these so-called ‘essentials’ are not essential at all. Sure, they may be among the more versatile items of clothing out there, but that doesn’t mean that you have to own one. Nor does it mean that it’s something that might actually suit your style! I’ll be the first to admit that I have a plethora of black dresses as they’re one of my staples, but in the last year, I’ve purged black blazers, leather jackets, trench coats from my closet because I finally worked out that I don’t like wearing them. The key is to work out what you like and make them work for you. Don’t be deceived that you really ‘must have’ all those ‘essentials.’

Pinterest can offer too many temptations.
I think Pinterest is a great way for cataloguing and sharing things with other people, but if you spend too much time on there, you can end up wanting too many things. And more often then not, they’re things that you don’t actually need.

You don’t need to sport a hundred different looks.
Every season, retailers and magazines bombard us with ‘the new looks’ for the season. And every day, fashion and lifestyle bloggers tantalise us with all the different outfits that they so creatively manage to pull together. It can be easy to be sucked into all this, and feel like we need to get into the new season looks or that we need to copy what all our favourite bloggers are doing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of some life/style bloggers and like reading what they have to post every day. A few in particular have really helped me to work out my own personal style. But now that I know what I like, I’ve become quite immune to all the other different looks and styles that I encounter online every day. I can read a post and be able to enjoy/admire it and not feel like I need to go out and buy similar pieces to recreate the same look. Which leads to my next point…

You need to just be you.
Just because something looks good on someone else, it doesn’t mean it will look good on you. (Trust me, I know.) And even if it does, it doesn’t actually mean you need to have the same thing. Let them be them, and you be you.

* * *

Do you have any similar tips to share?

p.s. Because it’s now spring here in Sydney, I’m going to start purging my closet once more. Who’s interested in purging along?

You can read all of The Happy Closet posts here.

(Linking up with Grace.)

38 comments

Kristin September 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm

So refreshing, Ronnie! It reminds me of the phrase “shop your own closet”. We all need to learn to do that more often. Just this season after after a long moratorium on clothes shopping, I went on a big shopping spree but then decided to return everything except for 2 pieces. It’s so right what you say about recycling the same outfits. We tend to wear our favorites again and again anyway, right!? And Pinterest…don’t get me started! So so true…

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Pink Ronnie September 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Totally agree with the favourites thing – they’re the ones we love wearing the most so why not just be content with wearing them all the time? :)
Good on you for returning everything but 2 items! That’s impressive.
Ronnie xo

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Martha Frances September 27, 2012 at 4:17 pm

YES on all these tips, inspirational! I experienced similar feelings after getting rid of literally 70% of my wardrobe in one day. I lost 25 lbs and changed from a business casual job to working at home. It was all donated and felt liberating. I kept everything I loved and was truly comfortable and really fit. While I haven’t stopped buying at all (thrift stores are my second homes), I am entirely more discerning in my choices. Simplicity is best. My policy with clothes now is if I buy something I donate something, so the wardrobe stays small. I really enjoy your blog!

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Pink Ronnie September 28, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Thanks Martha. It’s so nice to have you here! That’s awesome work purging 70% of your wardrobe! It is liberating when we can finally let go of clothes that no longer suit our body shape or lifestyle. It can be hard, but worth it.
Thanks for reading along!
Ronnie xo

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stephanie September 27, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Ronnie – my tip – one way of not purchasing is doing a swap. You know that adage – one man’d trash is another’s treasure. Get a group of friends together each bring some things no longer wanted and pick out something “new”!

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Pink Ronnie September 28, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Some of my friends are super stylish so that is a great idea! :)
Ronnie xo

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Cassie September 27, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I really needed to read this! I’ve been on a spending freeze for the last couple of months— self-imposed, because I felt that all too often I was stopping into my favorite store “just to see” what was on sale, and would always walk out with something. Just because I can afford to pick something up doesn’t mean I should. I’ll admit, I still do my fair share online browsing, which makes me want to run to the nearest Free People as soon as the month is over. (That was my designated end date.) But overall, it’s been really helpful to put clothes into perspective. They ARE just clothes. They don’t make your life better simply by buying them, because the newness always wears off. I think it’s AWESOME you’ve gone that long without buying any new clothes. Well done!

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Pink Ronnie September 28, 2012 at 2:07 pm

That’s a good point about the newness wearing off. I can’t tell you how many pieces of clothing I’ve bought in the past which I only wore once or twice (and sometimes never at all!). I’m only now realising that the most beautiful clothes I have are the ones that I actually wear a lot – whether it’s an old tee, a school jersey, or a second hand cardigan.
Ronnie xo

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eskimo*rose September 28, 2012 at 6:21 am

Its so admirable that you haven’t bought anything for nearly a year – I am guilty of sneeking in the odd few purchases here and there, I just love clothes! But my top tip would have to be having kids!! 1) You have less money as it has to spread across more and more people the more kids you have, which makes you curb your spending, 2) I didn’t want to waste money on pregnancy clothes that I’d only wear for a few months, this gets you out of the habit of buying, 3) the knock on effect is that you aren’t so clued up on what is new in the shops, and having the latest must have item. Nowadays I still LOVE to shop, but I’m more selective and I have changed the way I shop, I love thrift stores and vintage shops, the pieces are usually cheaper, unique and well made. It has also made me look at my clothes with fresh eyes, I love mixing them up and putting different things together, it makes you feel like you have a new outfit on even if they are things you’ve had for years!
xx

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Pink Ronnie September 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm

LOL, Emma. I totally know what you mean. That was one of the reasons I decided I didn’t need to spend anymore money on clothes! Funny, with Pete, I decided finally to invest in some quality maternity wear and what I’ve found is that they’re so well-made and so well-designed that I keep wearing those clothes even when I’m not pregnant!
Ronnie xo

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Housewife in Heels September 28, 2012 at 8:47 am

Thanks for this…. Yesterday, I signed the contract for a new house. If they accept, I may have to stop buying clothes and accessories….

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Pink Ronnie September 28, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Congratulations!!! How exciting for you. I’ll have to stay tuned in to your blog to see how it goes!?
Ronnie xo

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Charlotte September 28, 2012 at 9:37 am

You look like a cool rocker chick in these pictures!

These days, I just wear the same outfit for 1-2 weeks in a row

REALLY?! I don’t think I could ever do this. Do you sweat a lot? I feel like that is my problem, and makes my shirts smell. Also, I love variety too much – I don’t even like eating the same food two days in a row.

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Pink Ronnie September 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm

LOL, it’s slightly embarrassing to admit, but it’s definitely true. I guess I’m lucky in that I don’t sweat much so smell has never been a problem. It is quite convenient when it comes to not having to wash my clothes all the time. I love variety too, but nowadays, only Rick and the boys see me day in, day out anyway and I figure they’re not going to care! :)
Ronnie xo

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trishie September 28, 2012 at 11:52 am

Love these tips, Ronnie. I wish I had conviction like you to not purchase anything for 10 months! The longest I’ve gone is perhaps 3 months and then I chance upon a sale and…..oh well.

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Pink Ronnie September 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Thanks Trishie! Oh yes, sales. They’ve always been one of my biggest downfalls. I try to stay away from them nowadays because I know I’ll always end up with something that I usually regret buying afterwards… (mainly because I’m a bad impulse buyer in that I never make good decisions on the spot).
Ronnie xo

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Alison September 28, 2012 at 12:03 pm

I have multiple feelings about this post. One, go you. Being content with present circumstances is so important. Things, events and people don’t make you happy. You make you happy. I also like clothes. Not buying clothes but styling outfits and trying new things. I don’t think you were speaking against this but I guess I wanted to put that out there. I don’t think it’s for everyone but I’ve found that nice (not many or expensive) clothes make me feel good about how I look. More thoughts but I already am writing an epic comment here.

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Pink Ronnie September 28, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Hey Alison, thanks for sharing your thoughts! I totally get that nice clothes and nice outfits can make us feel good (it definitely does for me!). I guess this is more about my journey in learning to be content with what I have rather than constantly be on the search for more new things to add to my wardrobe. It’s something that I’ve struggled with (a lot) in the past and, now that I have a family, I guess I’m having to learn to put other priorities (people) before myself.
Please don’t stop sharing your thoughts here – I really appreciate all heartfelt and honest comments from my readers!
Ronnie xo

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Chantel September 28, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I’m so proud of you Ronnie! I am still developing my happy closet, still got a little purging to do but I am leaps and bounds closer than I was just a few months ago! Thanks for being an inspiration.

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Pink Ronnie September 28, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Good on you Chantel! I’m going to be downsizing a bit more this spring as well, so let’s keep purging together!
Ronnie xo

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Grace September 28, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Yes, yes! Thank you for this, it’s very timely for me! I’m an impulse shopper so this is a perfect reminder.
I started to clear out my wardrobe last night. Still so much to go through. But I am completely determined!
Thanks for sharing these tips, Ronnie x

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Pink Ronnie September 28, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Woohoo! Let’s do this, Grace.
Ronnie xo

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Geraldine Tan September 28, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Know exactly what you mean. That guilt when you have bought something – do I need another handbag? Strange as it may sound, I found blogging has reduced my spending – it’s as if everything I do want, I own in my very own virtual world :) x

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Pink Ronnie September 28, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Oh yes, I used to be obsessed with bags. Seriously, I love bags. Now I just use the same bag every day and I don’t think I’ve looked at another bag in months… (feeling very faithful to that bag).
Ronnie xo

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Mumabulous September 28, 2012 at 7:48 pm

I somewhat sheepishly admit that I bought a pale blue kaftan top today that I really did not need.
It takes alot of discipline to achieve what you have.

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Pink Ronnie September 29, 2012 at 9:18 pm

I’m familiar with the feeling! :)
Ronnie xo

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Caroline Hancox September 28, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Such a good idea! I am a spender – needs to be curbed!

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Pink Ronnie September 29, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Thanks Caroline! How have you been?
Ronnie xo

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vitaminA September 29, 2012 at 7:00 am

i love this post as it reminds me to be content with what i have and to love my closet (btw, i purged big time after reading your other post on this subject)! i too wear the same outfits week after week. i take my son to the playground everyday and everyday i wear the same shorts and striped shirt. lol. now if only i can simplify my son’s clothing!

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Pink Ronnie September 29, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Awesome Amy! It is so cool that I’m not the only one!
Ronnie xo

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Shoko October 1, 2012 at 11:50 am

Great advice. And I agree, Pinterest can be overwhelming with its endless options. Less is more!

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megan October 2, 2012 at 10:24 pm

i love this post, especially ‘classics and essentials are actually not essentials’ and ‘you need to just be you’. i’m a minimalist, and although one would think a minimalist may be immune to falling into the trap of purchasing unnecessary clothes, i went through a period of purchasing ‘essentials’ that i never ever wore because i figured that if i just had one each of the basic staple clothing items then i wouldn’t be in need of anything else. although this is true.. it’s not useful at all if you don’t actually LIKE wearing those staple items. i don’t like wearing skirts, so why did i feel the need to own at least one skirt? no. so i culled what was already a pretty meagre wardrobe, and i’m so much happier for it.

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Pink Ronnie October 2, 2012 at 10:34 pm

My sentiments exactly!!! Thanks for reading and commenting Megan!
Ronnie xo

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sarita October 12, 2012 at 4:22 pm

YES, I completely agree with your essentials-not-being-essentials” rule. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I ever “needed” a black blazer or grey slacks for any of my outfits in the past two years. Good post.

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Pink Ronnie October 13, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Thanks Sarita. Yeah, every time I put on a black blazer (when I still had one), I always ended up taking it off cause it just wasn’t me. Thanks for stopping by!
Ronnie xo

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I love hearing from you!

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