'I’m plus-size and didn’t buy clothes for one whole year. Here’s what I learnt.'

In 2021, I had a realisation. I was, for the first time in my life, buying way too many clothes.

It was a peculiar learning. Mostly because this problem had never actually been a problem before. 

Growing up, I was usually a few sizes too big for the clothes the cool kids were wearing. The only outfits that worked were from either thrift stores or plus-size shops that definitely did not cater for a wardrobe that belonged to a moody teenager. 

Then, suddenly and almost without warning, the world of fast fashion offered me access to a new lifestyle. 

I could be fashionable, trendy and fat? I almost didn't believe it; until I made my first transaction. A box showed up a few days later, filled with dresses and shirts that looked like something my cool friends would want to wear. 

I no longer had to dig through bargain bins to find good quality mum jeans anymore – I could just buy a sh*t pair online without even needing to leave my house!

Watch: How to improve your daughter's body image. Post continues after video. 

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But after a while, my wardrobe began to overflow. I couldn't keep track of what I owned, and I felt, in short, incredibly stressed. 

It was then I knew that I had to make a change. So I decided to stop buying new clothes altogether. 


Here's exactly what I learnt after a year without buying any fashion.

1. My wardrobe is startingly... full of clothes. 

Surprisingly, fast fashion has a way of giving you an infinite amount of options. 

I didn't need a new pair of pants to go with my unworn top because... I had about 15 pairs I hadn't worn yet. 

This was a lesson I learnt incredibly early on. 

2. The amount of double-ups of clothing I own is embarrassing. 

I have a confession. I was never really an obsessive shopper. Whilst a new world was indeed opened up to me when fast fashion became more inclusive, I didn't ever really go out of my budget. 

But when I went through my closet – around this time last year – I was unpleasantly surprised when I found three shirts that were... exactly the same. I had no idea I even owned them and I felt ashamed for being so unaware of where exactly my money was going. 

Upon undergoing this challenge, I made use of every shirt I owned. Every pair of pants. Every skirt and blazer. There was not one thing that went unworn by me. And it felt good to have a wardrobe that provided me with everything I needed. There was no use in buying more clothes online.  

3. Fast fashion is so... sh*t.

I know, I know. Everybody is aware that fast fashion is terrible. It's unethical, horrible for the environment, and not long-lasting in the slightest. 

But when I forced myself to re-wear the wardrobe I had – without topping it up with a few extra bits and pieces every few weeks – it was surprising how quickly things degraded. 

Some shirts would only work for me two or three times before a thread came loose. A pair of pants would rip while I was out of the house. The quality was horrifyingly bad. As a result, I felt guilty for not pouring my money into sustainable brands. 


The garments I was buying were low quality and made in a speedy production line. They were likely made in poor working conditions, with little to no quality or time put into them. 

The few excellent pieces I own were purchased through sustainable brands with a goal to be long-lasting, and they – thankfully – saved my skin during this experiment. 

4. Out of everything in my wardrobe, my proudest pieces of clothing are from the op shop. 

Back in high school, my friends and I used to trek an hour out of the suburbs to visit the thrift store that had the best sales. 

You could buy a bag of clothes for $8. Every time I went, with my Woolies shopping bags and debit card in hand, I'd scuttle back home on the train surrounded by mounds of clothes I planned to crop and dye. 

I'd rip up tops and cut the sleeves off once-were business shirts to feed the insecurities that festered within me. I didn't want to be the fat, unfashionable friend. I wanted to be cool. I wanted to be respected. I couldn't quite shake off the fat part, so I tried my hardest to at least dress cute. 

Sometimes, I failed miserably. On other days, what I wore even made me do a double take in the mirror. 

Admittedly, not many clothes I once revered and wore weekly made it into my 20s. But the few garments I do still have from my op shop days are highly valued. 

Listen to What Are You Wearing, Mamamia's fashion podcast hosted by Tamara Davis and Deni Todorovič. Post continues after audio.

5. Shopping filled a hole in me, but it wasn't sustainable.

The times when I would usually make a purchase worth hundreds of dollars, would be in the middle of the night, on a day I had decided I hated myself.

The best 'self-love gifts' were purchased during my worst moments. When I removed the ability to buy clothes for myself, I realised just how unsustainable these 'self-love gifts' were. 


Buying clothes definitely did help – temporarily. They definitely felt good to have – in the moment. They certainly weren't wise purchases – at 2am.

My point is, I had to learn a lot when I took away my coping mechanism. I felt worse at first, and then a lot better months down the track. 

Instead of spending on clothes, I now keep a journal (which I use VERY often). I sometimes watch TikToks when I feel like sobbing, and I go to my friends to blow off steam. 

Quick fixes are temporary and I am very glad I learnt that before I started spending even MORE money. 

6. I'm definitely no minimalist... yet. 

Minimalism is the antithesis to consumerism and considering how sh*t fast fashion is, I've come to realise it might be the lifestyle choice I should really be taking up. Seeing as minimalism is all about learning to live with fewer things and finding value in other non-materialistic aspects of life. 

After quitting shopping for a year, I learnt to truly appreciate and respect what I already had. I felt good re-wearing old clothes. I felt accomplished when I spent money on something that filled my cup (like a book or a nice dinner with friends) instead of garments. 

I'm definitely not saying I'm a minimalist, but it is a lifestyle I'm certainly a lot more interested in than I was one year ago. 

And the challenge of shedding most of the material things I own is one I find myself willing to undergo as the days go by.

Who knows? Maybe in a year's time, I'll have a new story to tell you all.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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