fashion

Lottie worked in magazines with a stacked social calendar. She didn't buy new clothes for 2 years.

Ordinarily I would have rolled my eyes at anyone who mentioned or participated in New Year's resolutions, but I’ve now had two which have had surprisingly positive results. 

The first, in 2018, was to “live more sustainably” which led me to create my own business, Banish

The second was to stop buying clothes for a year (which turned into two).

Watch: 7 eco-friendly habits that aren't so green... Post continues below.


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I know to stop sounds quite dramatic - I could have opted to shop sustainably or only buy secondhand. But when I did my research and found that the average Australian woman wears just one third of their wardrobe, I thought maybe if I just actually wore the other two thirds I wouldn’t need to hit the shops.

Let’s paint the scene: it’s 2018, pre-COVID. I'm working for one of Australia’s leading magazine publishers, have a full calendar of social occasions (birthdays, weddings etc) and a buzzing social life. 

I can’t wear activewear every day, like I have for most of 2021. 

Full disclosure - I wasn’t a huge fan of shopping before I took on this New Year's Resolution, but I would always wear something different to work. I was easily swayed into a bargain and would often troll online shopping sites mindlessly for hours. 

Step one was unsubscribing from all of the fashion brands in my inbox - out of sight, out of mind.

Then I cleansed: I looked into the depths of my cupboard at what I would actually wear and collected a garbage bag full of unwanted clothes. Every 10 minutes in Australia, 6,000kg of clothing is thrown in the bin.

So when I popped them in the trunk of my car and was ready to head to my local Vinnies, I thought I’d do a quick research into where the clothes we thoughtlessly discard go. 

Turns out only 10 to 20 per cent of the clothes donated actually make it to the shelves for resale. The rest end up in landfill or sent back to Ghana (this ABC report is worth a read.) 

So a second cull happened - everything that was A+ quality and had a good recognisable brand name went to Vinnies, the rest I sent to Upparel, an Australian textile recycler that shreds and turns clothing into couches and so much more.

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I was prepped, primed and ready. 

Honestly, I didn’t struggle to find outfits to wear each day. The best bit was that I actually started using most of my wardrobe. 

Pieces I would “save for special occasions,” often with the tags still intact, I wore on Fridays because making it through the week seemed special enough.

If I was feeling a bit bland about the outfit I put together, I would throw on some chunky, colourful earrings or a bright lippy and it was a whole new outfit.

In Winter, I paired my summer dresses with tights or tucked them into jeans to make a new outfit. 

When it came to special occasions and events, I wore a dress I wore in my first year of University, and for others I ventured into a girlfriend's wardrobe to borrow something of hers. 

When we were teenagers my best friend's wardrobes were an extension of my own, when we had arguably less money and less taste, so why did we stop sharing now? 

Listen to Mamamia's fashion podcast: What Are You Wearing. Post continues below.


Another huge pro to come out of this resolution was the amount of money I saved. 

As a nation, Australia is the second largest consumer of textiles in the world. For a country that prides itself on summer frocks and thongs, it just doesn’t make sense.

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On average a female in their mid-20s will drop $3,500 a year on clothing - every dollar I managed to keep in the bank.

I didn’t let any of my co-workers know because I wanted to see if anyone noticed. Nine months into my mini experiment I mentioned in passing that I hadn’t purchased anything that year, and their jaws hit the floor. Not a single person, who I saw five days a week, noticed my outfit repeating. It's proof that we should dress for ourselves and not for anyone else. 

After a year of not buying clothes I had made it, and smashed my goal! But in all honesty, I was so used to diving into the depths of my (and my friends') wardrobes that I didn’t have a huge drive to run straight to the stores on January 1st. 

I did however start op shopping for the odd occasion that I needed or wanted something I didn’t already have.

A couple of years on from my experiment and my approach to shopping and fashion has significantly shifted. 

I don’t know if it also has something to do with age, but I buy a majority of my clothes from op shops, and the others from sustainable brands (which do often cost more, but because I am buying far fewer pieces, I am able to spend a little more on high-quality pieces I will wear over and over again).

You don't need to take on a New Year’s resolution as bold as this one - I think you could gain the same understanding and perspective from doing just one month or a season without buying new. 

Feature Image: Instagram / @lottiedl

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