resisting the urge to consume


blouse in production
{blouse in production.}

It all started earlier this year, around the end of February (according to my receipts) that I decided it was time I made a change in my spending habits. I will admit, I love clothing. I love to figure out my "style" and wear clothes that express my personality. It's a bit of a hobby and it's also part of my job, so it's something I think about a lot. I'm not much of an artist in the sense of paintings. I barely know what "good" art is. I see what I like and I may not have a deep explanation behind why I love it, except that it makes me feel wonderful when I look at it. But I am getting off topic now. Ehem... (It's the art show I went to last night that is trying to sabotage the topic of this post; do forgive me.) Back to what I was saying... Clothing in a sense is my "art." It's my way of expressing myself while painting is a way other artists express themselves. So it can be really hard to resist buying stuff that I think will help express my personality. I know, that may sound ridiculous to some people, but I really do get excited about it. However, I started to see myself spending money on stuff I thought I "needed" when in reality, it was just something to make me feel good for the time being. I quickly realized that I wasn't feeling any better two weeks later when I was figuring out my spending habits. It's not that I've ever spent a lot of money on any one thing either. It could be little things like going to a thrift store and purchasing clothing. But it all adds up.

So I made a mental decision that I would refrain from buying anything clothing related, with a few exceptions. The gist of it is that I would stop buying clothing online or go shopping for clothes. I never was very happy with my purchases either, mostly because I don't have the money to spend on items I really would like. I have purchased some things like a pair of rad 1940s heels for super cheap that I couldn't resist at an antique store or a black slip to wear under one of the vintage dresses I got a few years ago. But other than little things, I stopped buying clothing. Instead what I have been doing is buying fabric, but even then I really hesitate until I know it's something I need or that I know I'll use before the end of the year. Part of the reason I decided to stop buying clothing was to encourage myself to make my own clothing. I know not everyone can make their own clothes, but this is something I'm good at, so why not use my talents?

Since then I have been wearing a lot of the same clothing over and over again, but I wear them different ways so it feels like I have a new outfit. And you know what? It feels great. Instead of going out to buy shorts (which I really don't like anyway) I wore skirts and dresses all summer. And when I felt like wearing shorts, I made some that I liked. I've begun making my own jeans and trousers. I'm actually happy with the way they look and fit! I've got two pairs of jeans I purchased last year that I wear on and off, but in my book two pairs is just fine. If I want more, then I have to set aside some time and make them myself. Not only does this help me appreciate the time it takes to put a garment together, but it also helps perfect my skills as a seamstress.

Another thing I did was to get rid of clothing that I knew I would never wear. For some reason I kept thinking that maybe someday, down the road, I will need said item for some random reason. But had I worn said item in the last year? No. Out the door it went and into the lovely hands of Salvation Army (or Goodwill, I can't remember). Hurrah for more closet space! Hurrah for less stuff! Getting rid of stuff is totally freeing for me. It's sort of the feeling I had when I totaled my car and didn't have the insurance to pay for it. I thought to myself "one more thing I don't really need." And that helped me put it all into perspective. (Until now where I'm like... "gahhh why don't I have a car?!!") But honestly, I feel like the more you get rid of, the less you have to think about. And that is the whole idea behind not purchasing things. I even have gone so far as to not buy shampoo. I wash my hair instead with a mix of baking soda and water and it actually works! Then again, that also has to do with the fact that my hair looks like a fuzzy plush toy when I shampoo my hair. And the fact that there is a ton of crap in shampoo that just looks plain scary! And heck, I'm pretty sure baking soda is better for our environment than a bottle of shampoo. (No offense to anyone who shampoos their hair, I seriously am not judging here!)

So back to the topic. The feeling of resisting the urge to purchase stuff has made me feel better about myself and it has encouraged me to be more creative with what I have. I'm not saying I'm "cured" of the spending urge, because there are still times when I will purchase a book or a DVD and then think "oh man...did I actually need this? No? Drat." So this is ongoing for me, but I am trying. And so far, I'm feelin' pretty darn good about it.


  1. Owning "things" stresses me out. The more I own, the unhappier I feel in my life. I am constantly getting rid of stuff. Most of the crap in our house belongs to Jim. He's not quite ready to embrace the minimalist lifestyle. :)

    Actually, Jim thinks I am weird because when I see people who have lost all of their possessions to a natural disaster, my first thought isn't really how tragic. It's, "Wow, how liberating. You are free of all of that stuff."

    I mean, I do feel badly for them but I am secretly envious.


  2. i love your blog. it's so poetic and this last image of your garment in progress, is really lovely. it definitely has that 19th century feel, yet modern... if that makes any sense.

  3. i like your approach. i am in some kind of the same process, even though i feel that i cannot yet totally refrain from buying clothes. i have started to make more of my own, and i am improving my sewing skills (which are far from good, or even perfect). in the meantime, i am also just discovering my own style and getting some kind of consistency into it, so it is hard to not buy any clothes at all.

    but, i am giving away quite a lot of stuff, and i feel that i am getting better in my decisions what i really need in my closet and therefore will buy, and what i do not need and therefore will not buy.
    so, to get to the point, what i actually wanted to say was that i found your post very inspiring especially in that it encourages me to improve my sewing skills and reuse more of my clothing as well as combine it differently. thank you so much for that!

  4. I agree with you!! Getting rid of excess always makes me feel better,too! And I'm a great lover of not buying something pretty is oh so hard, sometimes!!

    I've been only getting vintage and goodwill things if at all as of late...of course that's still buying! ;) tee hee I'm horrible!

    I'm intrigued by your shampoo recipe.....we use natural brands without 'so much' scary stuff....but I really like the idea of baking soda! So, it works well!? I'll have to try it! :)

  5. I need to learn how to do this!(Not buy clothes so often!) At least now I know it's possible. ;)

  6. I'm with ya girl- since I started my Total Money Makeover, I've been looking for ways to get rid of excess and save money on things I have to have. I started making my own laundry soap from Dawn dish soap, baking soda and water, and it works!

  7. You are so right! I've been trying to cut back on spending, since I can only work part-time and I'm in school full-time. I've been really good about buying clothes only at the Goodwill, or sometimes (read: once every few months or so) at the mall or online if its a)affordable and b)something I actually NEED. Like, a specific colored something, or something for a special occasion (and of course, only if I haven't found that special something at the Goodwill yet). It actually makes me feel really good because its like treasure hunting - you find something that's really special, that no one else has, and its affordable!

    I've also been on a super-purging kick lately... partly because it just plain feels good to de-clutter, and also because I've lost a lot of weight in the past few months since I went vegan. Either way, I have gotten rid of lots of clothes and needless 'stuff'. What a good feeling!

    PS - I'm having a "blard sale" (blog-yard sale) sometime in the next week to help get rid of more junk. You should swing by and check it out - maybe you'd like to try a blard sale too? I'm trying to get some fellow bloggers to jump on board and turn it into a community blard sale! I'm thinking this could be fun....