I did it! – update on the One Year Shopping Challenge

The beginning of August is significant in many ways, to me: the marker that the summer is half over and I need to Enjoy Every Second, the noticeable decrease in early morning daylight, the cessation of daily weeding because my vigorous perennials have spread everywhere, and this year, it marked the End Of The One Year Shopping Challenge.

I cannot believe I did it but I did it! I really and truly did it! And I have to say, now that it is over and I’m never embarking on something so stupid again, that it was easier than I thought it would be. That is, it was easier than I thought until I hit the Last Six Weeks mark, and then it was much, much harder. The final six weeks felt like six months, and I vowed once it was over that I would never, ever do such a thing again in my lifetime. At that point, I just wanted a new t-shirt that wasn’t washed and worn hundreds of times.

I am definitely not a “shopaholic,” nor do I overspend on clothing; the whole reason behind doing the challenge was to cultivate gratitude for all the beautiful clothes that I already have, and to bring those old quality items to the forefront, rather than buying new things. Believe me, my gratitude is cultivated. I discovered a few pieces that I didn’t enjoy wearing, and I discovered a few neglected pieces that I ended up wearing often.

I also learned a few valuable lessons:

Unsubscribe From Mailing Lists

We humans are very suggestible. So suggestible, in fact, that if you regularly receive emails from all your favourite clothing stores with tempting deals, you might find yourself desperately coveting something that you don’t need. Well, “need” is such a subjective word, isn’t it? Speaking for myself, I don’t really “need” anything. As my mother says, “Need does not come into play here.” But I guess that is the whole point! Receiving these emails is a bad idea, if you are trying to cultivate gratitude for the items already in your closet. 50% off! Online sale! Ends tonight! It’s enough to make you feel that if you don’t Act Immediately such a deal will Never Be Seen Again. Intellectually we all know this is not true, particularly for anyone who has ever received emails from the Gap. Emotionally, though, it’s harder to distance yourself. The best course of action is to not get those emails. Believe me, there will always be a chance to re-subscribe.

When Tempted, Check The Closet

“Shop my closet” may sound trite and silly, but I did it many times during this past year. Sometimes I would find myself wishing for something specific, but most of the time I could find a similar item already in my closet. Does that sound as ridiculous as it felt to write it out? Probably. How many long, drapey black cardigans does one woman need? If that woman is me, the answer is seven. Seven long, drapey black cardigans reside in my house and so the next time I feel I might need a new one, I will shop my closet instead. Same goes for cute black sandals, skinny jeans, any kind of sweater, and yoga wear.

Buy Quality

I am not a trendy dresser. In fact, on our recent road trip (we just got back! Did you miss me? Many road trip details to come) I noticed that girls are wearing LEVI’S RED TAB JEAN CUT-OFFS, CROP TOPS, SCRUNCHIES, AND IN TWO SIGNIFICANT CASES, FANNY PACKS. In other words, my youth is coming back to haunt me. I am not about to follow these trends, nor will I embark on the jumpsuit/ one piece shorts outfit style, and I will always eschew peasant blouses. None of these things suit me and, if I’m being honest here, they have probably never suited me. Do they suit anyone?

I digress. The point is I am not a trendy dresser, and so I like to buy clothes that last a long time. I have deflected comments about Lululemon prices, and I will tell you this: I have pieces from Lululemon dating from 2007 that are barely showing wear. You get, as they say, what you pay for. I like to keep my clothes for years, as evidenced by the sheer volume of Jacob sweaters I own, Jacob having gone out of business several years ago.

I was admiring a friend’s dress the other day; a beautiful classic black linen shift. She told me it was twenty years old and yet it looked brand new. Why should we ever be embarrassed about owning clothes that are decades old? It shows we buy quality, rather than disposable things, and it shows that we care well for those items.

Shop Mindfully

You might think that I exploded in a frenzy of shopping once the challenge was completed but I did not. I know! I was surprised too! But it turns out that I actually am trying to shop more mindfully. I mean, I did buy a few things – I am not made of stone, and hey, if the Gap IS offering 50% off long, drapey black cardigans…I kid! But I did buy a couple of plain t-shirts and light sweaters to replace the ones I discovered I hated, and I purchased a tank top that states Inhale Smoothies Exhale Love because I mean, why wouldn’t I? It is like that tank top was made specifically FOR me. But I vow, as you, dear readers, are my witness, that I will be mindful whilst shopping each day going forward. Hopefully. Remind me the next time I longingly admire a long, drapey black cardigan.


  1. bibliomama2 says

    Whoo-hoo! Showering you with biodegradable confetti. I a historically a horrible over-shopper, which is definitely related to my body image, but I’m getting better. I totally agree with shopping quality as well – I have multiple pieces of clothing that are as old or older than my children, and I’m okay with that. Good luck on holding the line on drapey black cardigans.

  2. I am SO susceptible to those emails. Especially to one particular store I can’t quit, where it is so easy to buy ten million things for under $100. But… they tend to be low quality, and/or I end up not liking them a few days later. I should just unsubscribe for good.

    Anyway: CONGRATS! Way to go!!!! And now it’s over!!!!!!!

  3. Congrats on the shopping challenge. That must be very satisfying.

    I know what you mean about August seeming like an entirely different part of summer. I have the back-to-school countdown in my head all the time in a mostly anticipatory, but partly bittersweet way.

  4. I am in awe that you did this. I have considered trying this, but it ends there. ‘considered’


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