A while back I mentioned the uniform project, a year of wearing a versatile black dress in 365 different ways. I almost bought the dress and then it went out of stock possibly never to be made again. I had hesitated because it was just a touch too short for work and also because shopping, even for one sustainable item, as a response to the project’s premise and as a means to consume less seemed the wrong tactic. But the idea is compelling.

Others have conducted versions of this experiment and written about it. I think the uniform project was preceded by a little grey dress project by someone else. A year without spending money on anything but life essentials. A year of growing your own food.

Last summer, knowing that I would spend a day shopping in London, I did no shopping for clothes for the month before we left. It’s harder than you would think. And while I love clothes, shoes and accessories, I’m not a big time shopper. But the girls will need some item or other and so I have three times the reason to go somewhere or be online. In the month that I decided not to shop I realized how many choices I had to make to delete the almost daily emails from J Crew and those 15% off plus free shipping and returns from Boden.

Don’t click. Don’t browse. Don’t read magazines. You’ll see something you think might be really great. And it might be. It’s the free shipping and returns that kill me. I shop and I unshop as a friend once observed.

It’s not just money you save, it’s mental energy. And closet space.

I was pretty moderate this fall. The big purchase was wool long johns and some sensible slip-on moccasins from LL Bean. I got a fake leopard opera jacket from Forever 21.

I skipped the sales after Christmas. Heading into January I thought I would have a go at holding off on clothes shopping until I actually, truly need something.

We are doing work on the house and so I can expend the consumer energy on light fixtures and flooring.

A friend who moved here from Dubai (and wins the biggest transition award) said her wardrobe lasted three years. We’re two-and-a-half years in so I should be able to eke things out a little longer.

I am keeping track of what gets worn. Hopefully this will help me pare things down, rediscover things that have been pushed into corners and appreciate more what I have and be happier with less.


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