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How to survive without fashion

Updated: Aug 11, 2021

I'm halfway through my year without buying clothes. My self imposed ban includes everything from shoes, to underwear and accessories. Why you ask?

Well, firstly to save money and secondly (and perhaps more importantly) to save the environment. And finally.... just to see if I can.

Regardless of the motivation, if you're considering a reduction in your clothing consumption, I've put together 10 handy survival tips.

  1. First up, tell everyone about your plan. It will make you accountable. If you do cave in and buy that new leather jacket, you'll be having to hide it from everyone all winter. That kinda defeats the purpose of buying it in the first place, right? Making a public announcement not only keeps you honest, it also means you'll have friends on hand in a moment of temptation, who can talk you out of impromptu purchases.

  2. Unsubscribe from every single clothes retailer who has your email address. If there's a sale on, you don't want to know about it. Believe me. Unsubscribe now!

  3. Avoid temptation. Give shops a wide berth whenever possible. Sending someone else to gather life sustaining necessities such as food is a good option.

  4. Take care of what you already have. Get your shoes re-soled so they last the distance. Fabric shoes will look new again after a quick turn in the washing machine. To keep your clothes looking fresh, hang them up straight away, only wash them if needed and avoid using the clothes dryer. Attend to any small rips and stains before they become irreversible.

  5. Rediscover that long lost love. Reach back into the far recesses of your wardrobe and rediscover those once favourite pieces that you still can't bear to part with. Team them up with something more current or perhaps get them altered to suit the current season trend. Use it or lose it.

  6. Beg, borrow and steal.....I mean, swap. Beg, borrow and swap. Do you have an upcoming important occasion and nothing to wear? Borrow a dress from a friend or organise a clothes swap. One woman's trash can be another woman's treasure.

  7. Go to a safe place. Discover retail-free environments like libraries, parks, beaches and public art galleries. You probably remember such places from your childhood, in the days before you owned credit cards.

  8. Find something worth saving for. Have you been yearning for a beautiful artwork, a designer couch or an expensive piece of jewellery? Put aside the money you would usually spend on clothes and you'll soon be able to reward yourself with something long lasting that will bring you joy for many years to come.

  9. Encourage your friends to embrace a minimalist lifestyle. Let them know that they can drop off unwanted clothes at your place. Just because you're not buying clothes, doesn't mean you can't accept them as gifts right?

  10. Finally, find inspiration. Inspiration can come in many forms including reading motivational books, practicing yoga or joining the slow fashion movement. Mine comes from the fashion icon, Franca Sozzani, now deceased. As the editor of Italian Vogue she was known for purposely wearing things out of season and was famously quoted as saying:

I know a lot of people who buy fashion.

I know, perhaps, only two people who have style.

An amended version of this post was published on the Australian MoneyMagazine on 20 February 2019.

About the author

Leah Mariani is a financial professional turned artist and mother of two. She has her own blog and creates artwork about fashion, feminism and family. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram @leahmarianiartspace.

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