The Happy Closet, Part 6 (on contentment & two years of no purchases)

The Happy Closet, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Goodness, it’s now almost two years since I last bought a piece of clothing or an accessory item. For these last twenty-two months, I don’t think I’ve browsed a single online clothing or accessory store, or any brick and mortar clothing shop for that matter.

It’s been so – liberating.

Two years ago, I was addicted to reading style blogs, pinning images and then browsing through sites like Zara, Lulu’s, Urban Outfitters, eBay and Etsy so that I could purchase items to replicate the looks that I liked. Even when I wasn’t online, I would be constantly pre-occupied with all the stuff that I wanted to buy. As embarrassing as it sounds, I wanted to look like my favourite bloggers, and it was honestly taking over my headspace. I hated feeling that way, and every time I spent any money on myself, I would be consumed with guilt that I was wasting away our family’s finances.

I distinctly remember when I took my list of ‘things I needed to buy (before I would be happy with my wardrobe)’ and just deleted it. It was such a huge step for me. Letting go of the things that I wanted to have meant that over time, I gradually learnt that I didn’t need those things to make me happy.

I didn’t need those clothes or those shoes or those bags to define myself as a person.

I didn’t need to look like my favourite blogger. After all, I’m not her. I am me.

Like I said in this post at the beginning of the year, learning contentment has been the biggest reward of this journey. To be free from the constant desire to want more, to be free from the whole mindset of having a wishlist, has been so good for me.

And this is the most amazing thing: Being content has actually made me a happier person.

By this, I don’t mean that I wake up every morning brimming with sunshine and laughter. (No, I’m afraid I’m still a bit of a grumpy mum in the mornings.)

Instead, being content has meant that I feel more at peace with myself, and who I am. I don’t spend all my time mulling over what I don’t have or trying to work out when I can buy the next thing on my wishlist. On the contrary, I get to spend my time thinking about and working on things that are truly important to me and my family.

And here’s another amazing thing: Being content with my closet has spilled over into other areas of life.

Apart from clothes, shoes and bags, I also harbour a natural weakness for home decor items and stationery products. However, since I stopped buying things for my closet, I found that it was also easy to stop buying everything else.

In fact, I can read blog after blog of pretty things these days and not feel the slightest desire to own any of it. And two weeks ago, when I was diligently reading through the latest IKEA catalogue that I’d borrowed from Rick’s mum, I was able to put it down without writing up a list of things that we ‘needed’ to buy for the house. This coming from the biggest IKEA fan girl in the southern hemisphere.

So where to from here?

I’m going to see out the end of this year. That will make it a full two years of no purchases.

Then I’m going to re-evaluate the contents of my closet. I know I said in my previous post that there wasn’t much to purge, but I’ve now decided that there is. Having spent another year of only wearing what I already have, I’ve been able to zero in on what I am naturally inclined to wear and what I am honestly unlikely to ever wear (or wear again).

Essentially, I’m going to force myself to be brutal and to cull, cull, cull. In particular, I’m going to try one strategy that I thought of the other day: Instead of going through my closet and taking out the things I think I won’t wear again, I’m going to lay everything on my bed and only put back into my closet the things that I plan to wear again.

From there, I need to replace a few of my wardrobe staples which have suffered a bit of wear and tear these last two years. And then, over the course of the year, I would like to give some proper thought into building a capsule wardrobe that works for me. I’ve been especially inspired by the idea of paring my wardrobe down to ten core items.

I have learnt to not want more; I would now like to aspire to owning less.

As I venture back into online and offline stores to replace some old favourites, it will be interesting to see what effect this has on me. Will I fall back into old habits? Or have I truly become more resilient?

I guess only time will tell, and I promise to keep you guys posted.

* * *

Other posts you might be interested in reading:
The Happy Closet, Part 5 (some thoughts on my recent purge)
The Happy Closet, Part 4 (on not buying anything for a year)
The Happy Closet, Part 3 (my tips on buying less)
The Happy Closet, Part 2 (the basic principles)

You can read all of The Happy Closet posts here.

34 comments

mel October 5, 2013 at 10:54 am

ooh I love the link, very classy :) I have a very bare wardrobe and love it, it just means I need to wash more often :) I love the idea of putting it all out on your bed and then only putting back in what you need. The only thing I have found with a very small wardrobe is that my clothes are wearing out but I have the rule, one in, one out :)

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Kristi October 5, 2013 at 11:48 am

awesome!! i went through a similar process, tho mine revolves around buffalo exchange and beacon’s closet…if i don’t sell them any clothes, I don’t get to buy any new ones. sometimes i miss shopping, but now if i buy retail i feel so fake and consumery… buying recycled feels like special treasures from the universe and it all has soul. interested to see where your journey takes you.

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Pink Ronnie October 6, 2013 at 6:50 am

There’s definitely something special about pre-loved clothing. :)
Lovely to have you here, Kristi.
Ronnie xo

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Bron October 5, 2013 at 12:34 pm

wow that is awesome…..aspiring to the less is more thing is not as easy as it sounds some times so well done you. xxxx

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Lucy October 5, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Oh how brilliant Ronnie!! Such a wonderful attitude of gratitude. I’ve been wanting to minimalise for so long but I then get frustrated when that can’t be achieved instantly… it turns out big clear outs take time! But you’ve inspired me to keep with this and find happiness external to ‘stuff’.

Lucy xo | We Resolve Blog

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Eve October 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm

This literally made me sit up on my bed after reading. It’s late and my son is fast asleep next to me… But I felt like applauding you for your integrity and how you write to inspire not just me, but got many other women ( and men) who would be so grateful of what you just shared. Amen to being content and being able to ‘have less’ which is so much more! Thanks again for sharing. I feel inspired and challenged. X

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Pink Ronnie October 6, 2013 at 6:54 am

Hi Eve,
Thank you so much for your encouraging words! I really appreciated reading them. Thanks for reading here.
Ronnie xo

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Corina Nika October 5, 2013 at 4:05 pm

This has been such a wonderful, like you said, liberating and honest post. I know i am at that place and haven’t been buying anything for like ever. I know i have like suppressed feelings since i never could treat myself because well, money was never enough!

I always say how much i would love to be able to live somewhere where i could grow my own food, and have no internet connection nothing. It feels so.. liberating! You are such an inspiration, so glad you have you here

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Fiona October 5, 2013 at 6:07 pm

I think the contentment you’ve discovered on your no shopping journey must be the greatest prize of all. I love how you write that you don’t want to be like your favourite blogger, you want to be yourself. That sounds like a journey I’d like to go on, to be content with myself and what I have. Good luck gritting the shops again! Hugs xoxo

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Elizabeth October 5, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Wow, this is incredible! I rarely by clothing, but two years is quite an accomplishment. I think that the practice of self-control tends to bring out the best in us. Whatever our vices are, when we practice controlling them, I believe–as you said–that is pills over into other parts of our lives.

I would love to see more of what happens with your closet when the two year mark is up! Love the idea of a “capsule wardrobe” and would love to see what yours looks like!

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juni October 5, 2013 at 11:53 pm

Ronnie, this is so inspiring! Wow two years without buying anything new for your wardrobe, hats off to you. It sounds like it has had some really lovely results :) Over the last two years or so, I’ve been trying very hard to cut down on shopping for clothes, shoes, accessories. It took me a while to admit that I wasn’t buying things because I needed them, and like you I was pretty obsessed with what I wore and what else I wanted to buy… While I haven’t gone two years without buying anything new, it’s definitely been a liberating journey as well. I should seriously consider putting a complete stop to clothes shopping :)

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Julie October 6, 2013 at 12:25 am

I am coming up to two years without buying any clothes as well. I cheat a little and will sew myself clothes, but it has to be from fabric from my fabric stash. On Wednesday I broke my buy nothing for a year ( http://iliska-dreams.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/papa-smurf-made-me-do-it.html). The only purchases I have made have been_ food, gifts, stuff for the garden, and anything that Jarvis needed because of growth and change of seasons. Even with him I have attempted to either make or purchase second hand.

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Pink Ronnie October 6, 2013 at 6:55 am

Sewing! That’s one skill that I wish I had!!!
Ronnie xo

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Ali October 6, 2013 at 5:50 am

i loved the way that you pull everything out and only add what you will wear back into your wardrobe again. I’m possibly about to move, and know that when i do my wardrobe will be taking a cut. :) thanks for sharing the link – I am interested in Jennifer’s book!

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Saki October 6, 2013 at 6:00 am

This truly inspirational :) I needed this. Thank you.

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Korien October 6, 2013 at 6:19 am

Thanks for this series Ronnie. Even though I am not a bog clothes/accessories buyer there are other areas of my spending where “contentment” has not yet taken root.

One question about the capsule wardrobe: in one of your previous posts you said “The happy closet looks different for everybody.” Is the inspiration from Jennifer’s capsule wardrobe about the concept or the items? If about the concept, I think great. But if it is about the items, then couldn’t there be the chance that it because another “list” to tick off? I ask because when I first heard of capsule wardrobes, the items became “must-haves” and a lot of them were not me at all. Since I have let it go in favour of what I like wearing etc.

Nevetheless, I love Franca (from her blog Oranges and Apples – sorry I don’t know how to put links in the comments!) post about building a capsule wardrobe around three colours. While I still love wearing black and white, black has become problematic because of a white cat, so I’ve started adding colour. As long as it is somewhere between blue and red (preferably purple!) I know it will work with everything else in my closet.

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Pink Ronnie October 6, 2013 at 6:44 am

Hi Korien,
Thanks for your message! I definitely meant the concept of only having ten core items rather than the items Jennifer chose for herself. I’ve edited my post to reflect this – thanks for pointing it out! The last thing I want is to reinforce the idea of having another list of ‘must-haves.’ My ten core items will look VERY different to Jennifer’s.
Ronnie xo

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Sophie October 6, 2013 at 9:52 am

Well done to you Ronnie! That is so inspirational! My eyes started dancing around yesterday on a shopping trip to Westfields until I turned over many of the price tags upon which I put all the dresses back! What they charge is unbelievable especially when I am quite capable of making clothes myself… I’m kind of thinking that may be a challenge for me to embark on – No more buying nut making and only when I need it! I’ll have to go back and read up on your journey!

P.S. I’m a grumpy morning mama too! Until I’ve had my coffee that is :)

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rooth October 7, 2013 at 1:35 am

It’s so freaking awesome that you were able to stick to your guns and do this. I’ve been obsessively online window shopping for fall clothing, having moved to a colder location. I think you’re right about paring down the closet to the absolute essentials – there are definitely things in there that don’t get worn enough and it’s just more stuff

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Sarah Ann Noel October 7, 2013 at 2:26 am

I really love this, Ronnie, and your take on contentment. I’ve struggled with my closet for the past three years as my body has changed so drastically over the course of two pregnancies and nursing. I’m just feeling myself again and trying to be very intentional about my closet!

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Pink Ronnie October 7, 2013 at 2:30 am

Hi Sarah,
I can totally relate and had thought of writing about that in my next post in the series…
Ronnie xo

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Jane Y. October 7, 2013 at 4:03 pm

ronnie. i love this post. my husband and have a monthly budget and give ourselves allowances. i bought stuff but i learned not to splurge and think and re-think what i actually needed. but our allowances has gone down significantly after i quit my job in july. it killed me that i couldn’t buy the things i wanted. but recently i decluttered my home and purged my closet. we got rid of so many things (oh! why did we buy them in the first place!) — i think i still have the urge to buy but it’s gotten much better. i buy a pair of shoes or a shirt every two or three months. for the home, i’ve turned to being a minimalists and finding things at a flea market or a thrift shop. all this has gotten my creative side of the brain to think more – how to better pair outfits, decorate the home and diys. so i’m enjoying this very much. :)

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Court | love court xoxo October 7, 2013 at 5:28 pm

WOW! That’s such a great accomplishment. I can’t imagine how good you feel not caring about trends. As I am getting older, I have found my style has changed drastically- away from trends and more towards functional basics (leggings, leather boots, sweaters, oversized tshirts + black shift dresses). It has been nice to not think about what is “in style”, but I also find myself constantly wanting to buy clothing just to get my closet to a point where I feel it reflects the older me. I can’t wait until it is complete + I can officially stay away from online shopping.

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Kaylan October 7, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Your thoughts and reflections on clothing has been one of the most powerful things I’ve read from a blog, seriously. It’s very liberating to read and something I think many people are afraid to talk about or say….clothing is an issue of pride for many I believe, me included, and something I would like to be “unleashed” from for sure. Thank you.

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Pink Ronnie October 9, 2013 at 8:26 am

Wow, thanks Kaylan, that means a lot to me.
Ronnie xo

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Jessica (Coco/Mingo) October 7, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Such an awesome post, Ronnie!! And I totally agree with you! It’s funny because you’d think that living in NYC with its plethora of clothing stores would make me buy more – but actually, I haven’t really gone clothing shopping in a really long time! (shopping is actually an inconvenience for me here!!) It is liberating not giving in to the latest trends and this has led my style back to “classic + casual” which I love!! And being surrounded by trend-setters and hipsters here in Brooklyn oddly makes me love my casual style even more! It’s liberating and I’m finding myself because I don’t have to express myself through my clothes which I used to do. I’m so glad you feel the same way! xo

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cinback October 7, 2013 at 8:22 pm

My hat goes off to you! I’m not sure I could do it. Several months ago I bought a book about paring down all items that you own (including clothes) to just 100 items. I didn’t even finish reading the book. It seems way too hard. As much as I don’t want to be ruled by my clothes or possessions, I just don’t think having fewer clothes will make me more content. I work as a professional outside of the home and I get very bored of wearing the same outfits over and over. Not only that, but my local climate is so wishy that I could wear four different jackets in one day!

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cinback October 7, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Anyway, all that to say, I am truly challenged by you. I admire you…

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catherine October 8, 2013 at 7:43 pm

“To be free from the constant desire to want more, to be free from the whole mindset of having a wishlist, has been so good for me.”

So beyond inspiring, Ronnie. Thanks for sharing, as always. I loved reading this little gem. I think I need a lot LESS in my life. In fact, I really don’t “need” anything more than what we already have (which is probably too much). Thank you for the reminder. xo, C

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Jemima October 9, 2013 at 3:55 am

This is such a great post! I’ve recently been trying to teach myself how to be more responsible with money (which as a 20-something is pretty difficult) and I’ve also had a massive financial set back so inspiration to do something like this myself is much needed!

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Emily Patterson December 30, 2013 at 9:19 pm

This is a wonderfully liberating post. As someone that is trying to break their own cycle with consumption, I am curious– how long did it take for the feeling of “want” to dissolve away? Were there any times you had to fight it, and if so, what did you think about to help get over it?

Thanks :)

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Pink Ronnie December 30, 2013 at 11:36 pm

I think it took a few months at least. After that, it wasn’t really hard at all. I think once you stop buying and once you stop ‘looking’ to buy, you start to see things in a different light…
Ronnie xo

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