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Buy less than 12 items of clothing in 2011 challenge – end of year update

Posted by on Tuesday 3 January 2012 in anti-consumerism, frugal, less than 12 clothes challenge, low spend 11 | 10 comments

This morning I tweeted that I think it’s going to take me most of 2012 to catch up on all my leftover stuff from 2011 – and this is one of those things!

The Challenge

Last year, I set myself the challenge of buying no more than 12 items of clothing in 2011 – and I invited other people to join me. A good number of people signed up (or committed themselves to similar goals).

What I bought

I went until July (which was a full nine months since I’d bought any new clothes) before buying anything then raced up to 11 things by October!

I bought:

  • 1 x a woolly hoodie jumper from a charity shop
  • 4 x jeans from eBay (mostly replacements for old ones falling apart – I wear jeans all day, every day)
  • 1 x light cardigan from a high street store
  • 2 x t-shirts from Threadless
  • 2 x long-sleeved tops from a high street store
  • 1 x a cord jacket from a charity shop

I can’t tell you how many things I watched on eBay, or added to basket on other online shops, or considered at in-person shops – it was a LOT but I only bought those 11 things. By and large, I thought a lot more carefully about what I was buying because I didn’t want to go over my limit. That said: I still made impulse buys and mistakes. I love the cord jacket I got in October but that was a mistake: I’d spent most of the year trying to find the perfect spring/autumn jacket on eBay but then impulse bought the jacket at a charity shop even though it didn’t have a hood (which was a key thing for me) — I’ve been rained on so many times since then! The biggest mistake though was the Threadless t-shirts I bought in September – I’ve had t-shirts from there before and they’ve been decent quality; this batch though are awful — incorrectly sized, shoddy fabric, poor stitching = unwearable. It really annoys me that I wasted two of my quota on them! GRRR!

(The jacket, with the reason I keep getting rained on asleep in the background ;) )

Lessons learnt

  • Adding things to basket/my eBay watchlist and returning to buy them the next day (or later) is a really good way to beat impulse buy desires. I’ve rarely gone back to them the next morning.
  • I’m more likely to fall under the impulse spell at charity shops because of the “when it’s gone, it’s gone” thing.
  • Having a guide/quota rather than a “no new clothes” rule was better for me – I think I’d have got frustrated if I hadn’t been able to buy anything, although it turned out that I didn’t need many new items to feel like I had plenty of new things to wear.
  • Having a limited quota inspired me to make something rather than buy the equivalent – ok, so between NaNoWriMo and World of Warcraft, I haven’t quite finished it – but I’ve not missed not having it either, so it shows that I didn’t really need it in the first place (but I’ll like it when it is finished).
  • I don’t actually like clothes shopping any more. I think I was already in decline – I’ve not been able to stand clothes shops for a few years now – but now I have very, very little desire to go into them, and I can’t even be bothered looking around online shops for more than a few clicks.
  • To not buy from Threadless again, ever.

What next?

Rather than the “no more than 12 in 11” thing, Su was trying a World War 2 ration coupon style challenge. At the end of August, she didn’t think she’d make it through the year:

BUT, I’m not at all displeased about it, because the experience has taught me a lot. I can make clothes go on far longer than I did & I need very little. Actually, needing very little has been part of the reason why I’m not going to succeed in the challenge, I didn’t have enough clothing at the beginning, so now that everything is in tatters it needs replacing.

I feel exactly the same: compared to my clothes buying prime, I had already cut back quite a lot over the past few years and I think I’ve found this challenge pretty easy because I was already on that reducing slope. But because of that, like Su, most of my favourite t-shirts/tops (particularly the limited number that I can wear to drama – ie non-boobtastic stuff) were approaching end-of-life before I started the challenge. All the tops/cardigans/t-shirts I’ve bought this year have been to replace those – but it’s not quite been enough and I would really struggle if I stuck to a quota of 12 in 2012 (which is a shame as that’s a much better challenge name ;) ).

However, that’s not to say I’ll go all Paris Hilton over the next year – I couldn’t even if I wanted to because of my newly discovered hatred of shopping ;) I think I’ll replenish my wardrobe as-and-when over the next six months and see where I am in June (or thereabouts) – I might set a new quota for the second half of the year. And until then, I think I’ll have a strict “one thing in, one thing out” policy – it actually works as a pretty good buying deterrent for books and I imagine after a bit of general pruning, it’ll work the same way for clothes.

If you tried the “12 in 2011” challenge (or similar), how did you do? Have you learnt any lessons that are worth passing on? Are you setting a clothes buying limit/no new clothes challenge for 2012?


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. martine

    I bought no clothes at all during 2010 and have easily stuck under a dozen items during 2011. I went through a stage when i first discovered ebay of buying lots of clothes (only second hand) but now like you I find clothes shopping/fashion very boring, have clothes that I really love and just wear those, some items of which are well over ten years old and still going strong. Even my trusty DMs are over ten years old … now they do finally need replacing:-)
    thanks for sharing

  2. Jan

    Having failed the clothing challenge, (scuppered by a wedding outfit, buying things whilst on holiday on the grounds that I can’t go back to Cornwall for that lovely waterproof coat if I go away and think about it, then discovering that I’d gone down two sizes in my winter trousers/jeans) I like the one in one out challenge-we do this with cookbooks and pans, so we know it feels right!

  3. min hus

    I’m a newbie to your blog, so didn’t know about your 2011 challenge until now. 12 items or less in 2012 sounds doable though, I’m in! I read recently that on average we buy 29 new items of clothing a year (was that in your book by chance?), which sounds incredibly high to me.

    I’ve found lately that I want new clothes because I’m bored with what’s in my closet, but I don’t need new clothes. When I “forbid” myself to buy anything new, I get a lot more creative and less picky about the clothes I already own.

  4. datacreata

    Thanks for your comment on my blog. I am going to try no more than 12 items including the walking gear I need and see how I get on. I know I will need some more boots and one pair of jeans, probably underwear and socks but the rest I have plenty of.

  5. bookstorebabe

    I was afraid to commit to this challenge, but did rather well! Bought 3 sweaters, 2 blouses, 2 skirts, one pair of jeans, one pair of shoes. And there may be a couple of things I’ve forgotten. I still ended up giving away a couple of things I bought, because I didn’t take the time to try them on, mistake. I won’t limit myself to a specific number in 2012, but will think before I buy. I purged a ton of things from the wardrobe, and need to do more. I kept too many ratty wear around the house clothes, made it hard to get to the decent stuff with that taking up valuable closet space. Goal for 2012 is to have both nice things to wear and a lot of empty closet space!

  6. louisa

    Hi Martine, I love clothes that last that long! The knickers I’m wearing today are as old as your DMs :)

    Hi Jan, I do something similar with books (two in, one out) and it does make me more conscious about book buying so fingers crossed it works with clothes too :)

    Hi min hus, I’ve not written (well, not published ;) ) a book so that stat’s not from me but I can believe it. I easily used to buy that a few years ago when I worked outside the house very day. I discovered that “less picky” thing over the last year but I also found that clearing out my wardrobe/drawers helped too — clearing out the “definite no” items made it easier to see what I do have/like.

    Hi datacreate, good luck with it! I’ll keep an eye out on your blog for updates :)

    Hi bookstorebabe, well done on your restraint over the last year and that sounds like a great goal for 2012! I have a tendency to keep too many “ratty house clothes” too. Let’s hope we both end this year with our wardrobes in a better state :)

  7. PipneyJane

    You’ve inspired me to do the 12-in-2012 challenge. I have far too many clothes, so wearing some out and not replacing them is probably a good idea. The biggest problem for me, I think, will be t-shirts. I tend to wear plain, fitted t-shirts under my suits for work and those are the things that are most likely to wear out. (I have a batch from H&M that are at least 7 years old and some of those are “going” under the sleeves.) I guess, if I get really desperate, I can always sew some.

    I got very lucky towards the end of last year – scored 3 like-new suits in two visits to charity shops. Actually, that’s something I’m debating with myself: can a suit be defined as one item of clothing?

    – Pam (down to 11 items since I unthinkingly bought a hat on New Year’s Day)

    • louisa

      Yes, I saw your 12-in-2012 goal on your blog the other day but didn’t have time to reply — I look forward to hearing about how you do :)

      I didn’t face the suit dilemma – my work wardrobe, like my play one, is jeans & t-shirts ;) – but if I did, I think I’d consider it one item if I always wore it as a complete suit but two items if I wore the trousers/skirt separately away from the suit too.

      Vest tops & t-shirts are one of the things I need to replenish now – 7 years is bloomin’ good going for a H&M top!

  8. Millie

    Inspired by you, I did decide to commit to buying less than 12 items of clothing this year. I hate clothes shopping so I don’t do that, but sometimes I see an item in a magazine or on a website and I buy it even though I don’t need it. I’m hoping to reign in that part of my spending this year!

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