Sunday, June 28, 2015

Guest Post: The Last Shopping Trip

Etleva was a friend of mine from the Azores. She is a mother of two, an educated and articulate military spouse, a working woman, and a very sophisticated lady who loves our Earth and loved style. 

When she shared with me that she had given up shopping for a year, I was honestly, completely flabbergasted. I have never been a big shopper, but Etleva was the epitome of style to me. She was always put together with nice clothes and beautiful jewelry. I asked her to tell me more, and she shared the following blog post. It really parallels with my family's attempt to live a slower life, less dependent on "things" to make us happy. But for me to say I'm not shopping does not compare with someone like Etleva to say she isn't shopping. Read on to hear why she made this change. 

January 9th was the last time I went shopping for clothing this year. It has been over five months since that shopping trip at Marshalls and I can honestly say that I have yet to justify purchasing 2 of the 3 clothing pieces that I bought that day. All I can think of is, they were cute and on sale. I am probably not alone on this one… And so, a few days after my last clothes shopping trip in January, as I was looking at my closet, frustrated because I could not find a decent outfit for the day, I wondered… my closet is bursting with tops, skirts, pants, dresses, and everything else you can think of a woman’s closet having. My daughter’s closet is full of my clothing – mostly with out-of-season clothing. The hallway closet is full of outerwear – jackets, coats, etc. There is clothing – my clothing – in tubs – clothing that I have not worn in years but I might. (You know what I’m talking about...

So much clothing and yet I could not decide on a decent outfit to wear to work… thus, I decided that I was NOT going to go shopping for any clothing (including shoes, jewelry, accessories, etc.) for myself this year. I also decided to trim my wardrobe, which I did in March.

I was born and raised in Albania. We had very little in terms of material things back then, and yet I feel that we did not miss out because we did not have a closetful of stuff or tubs upon tubs of toys. We had little, and we took care of what we had so it lasted longer. I remember having one – only one – pair of cold weather shoes and one – only one – pair of summer sandals. There was no time wasted wondering which pair to wear. There was no time wasted wondering which coat to wear. This leads me to an article that my husband sent me after I told him that I would not purchase any more clothing this year. The article stated that successful people wear the same outfit all the time. And when you think about it you might have already noticed that Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Elizabeth Holmes, Mark Zuckerberg, et al. do in fact wear the same outfit day after day after day…

Now, I don’t care to be that kind of successful but they are on to something – something that I want to make use of, too. Think about it – it is simple, decision-free, thus no waste of time, and it saves money…

Now, as I mentioned, I am not there yet. I still like my colorful summer dresses, and I am keeping them, but I am not adding more to my collection no matter the price. Why? Because I have seen so many benefits to not shopping!

  • Time saved from browsing online. I used to spend so much time browsing online for shoes and clothes, though I had no intention on purchasing anything. Or I would go to a site to look for a pair of boots and end up spending two hours browsing for coats. Such a waste of time that I could have used playing with the kids or watching an episode of The Gilmore Girls! Now, since I don’t shop, I don’t spend time online browsing.
  • Time saved going shopping. At least every other week, I would be heading to a store. Not because I needed to purchase anything, but because I wanted to see if I could purchase anything. You know ... a cute top, or anything that caught my eye.
  • Money savings. This is a big one. I didn’t realize how $20 here and $100 there (my bill was often $100 or more) can accumulate to $200 a paycheck on clothing (that I don’t need.) That money is better spent on quality food – I am a big proponent of quality ingredients for quality home cooked meals – or piano lessons (which I would love), or saved for a family vacation!
  • Changed perception. For the longest time I considered clothes shopping as “therapy." ME time! I took pleasure, though fleeting, in adding pieces to my wardrobe. I think, and that is just my perception, that we are conditioned by the retail corporations mainly, to think of shopping as “therapy." These are clever people, y’all, who make use of some clever, conniving, and creative marketing tools that all of us are susceptible to. I have realized that reading a good book (probably borrowed from the library for additional savings), or going for a long walk in your neighborhood, talking to a good friend over a meal or tea/coffee, drawing with your kid, etc., can be as therapeutic and even better than going shopping.
  • Minimize waste.  I am a big fan of minimizing our waste, and let’s not go into how much Americans waste compared with other western countries, because that would be a very, very long post. So for this post, I would like to state that not going shopping equals to less packaging, less plastic bags, less gas use, etc. You get the point. Less waste makes me happy.
  • Less frustration/disappointment. There is this phenomenon called “Paradox of Choice” that goes something like this: when you are faced with too many choices (the number of tops in your closet, number of salad dressing bottled on the super market’s shelf, number of items in a menu, etc.), you tend to become overwhelmed and paralyzed to the point where you don’t make a decision at all. Or if you do make a decision, be it a good one or not, you tend to immediately regret it because of all the other options you had that you did not choose. Sounds familiar? It happens in the mornings when you get dressed and on the way to work you think, “Bummer, I should have worn the other black pants!”, or when you are in the fitting room deciding which of the 10 tops you will purchase because you don’t want to bust your budget, and then, as soon as you check out you immediately regret your choice. I have been there on several occasions… not so therapeutic after all, huh?!
  • Setting a good example for my children. I want my children to know that life can be beautiful and fulfilling without too many material things. That spending time with the people you love and making memories is more important than accumulating things. That, as customers, we direct the market, and if we choose to spend less of our hard earned money on unnecessary material things we would have more to spend on education, quality food, charities, savings, etc. I know that I am often a dreamer, but I am also a doer. Learning starts at home and I want to be a good example for my kids to learn from.

So, this is my decision and so far on my fifth month, I have not been tempted. My husband has been a great supporter, and I am very grateful for that. I told a few people about my decision to not shop and some are skeptical and some are supportive, but mostly skeptical and that is okay. I am not doing this to impress anyone. I am doing it to simplify my life.

I absolutely loved what Etleva decided and was mulling over in my own mind how I could do the same thing. I am not a shopper, but I do have more clothes than I need and don't like most of what I have. How could I simplify my selection. After a lot of thinking and praying and wondering, I decided to go to a "micro closet." You can read what I did by clicking below:

My 12-Item Wardrobe

Here are some other articles that I have found which parallel Etleva's line of thinking:

Can you go 30 days without buying anything new


Tommie and Christina said...

I like the idea. I read "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" last year where I was introduced to the "idea" of access. During our transition we lived 8 months out of 2 suitcases and everything was more simple. Now we have all our things and I am continually frustrated over the abundance. I am thankful for everything! However, I need to work on finding the happy medium. Cutting out shopping would be a good start. I find myself getting bored so we make a run to Target and of course always find something. Good read and great food for thought!

TAV said...

Love this. I totally identify with this (but my cheapness has something to do with it) as I feel that we just have so much stuff and there is so much waste in our households. I was so mad to have to get a few maternity clothes but did a lot of thrift shopping and rarely (including baby stuff) buy anything new. I would love to try to not buy anything for a year :) !!

Dana said...

I am totally one of the limited wardrobe type people. in fact my 4 kids call it my mom-iform! I wear dress pants (not fancy just khakis, grey or black) and a solid color shirt EVERY SINGLE DAY! In the summer the pants will be capris or shorts if I am home, in the winter the shirts will be sweaters. Wasn't going for a simple, no decision making issues style, i just hate shopping for clothes and want to go from bed to out the door in under 15 minutes a day for maximum sleep time! I own a pair sneakers, 2 pairs of sandals, 2 pairs of loafers. I replace them as necessary but I never have to think "what am I going to wear!?!" Grab the shoes that fit the function and the color that matches (brown or black). Easy!
As the mom of 4 kiddos I have enough other decisions to make daily than to ever spend an extra second on my wardrobe....too bad I can't extend that to dressing my kids! Loved to dress them in cute, matching things with shoes to match every outfit from birth! Though now that they are 8-19 years old that isn't something I get to do anymore either!

Roma Amiot said...

I am the same, Now this inspires me evenmore! Thank you for sharing!