365 Days Without Buying Clothes: A Revolutionary Challenge And Its Surprising Results

January 10, 2017

At the beginning of 2016, I created an insane challenge for myself: go 365 days without buying clothes (although technically, it was 366 since it was a leap year. Bonus points.). As I’ve said before, I’m not a new year’s resolutions kind of person, and I don’t generally create challenges like this for myself. I like myself the way I am, and unless God makes it clear as day, I don’t see a need for big changes in my life. So why did I go 365 days without buying clothes? How did I do it? What did I learn? Keep reading for those answers!

Could you go an entire YEAR without buying ANY clothes? I did, and the results surprised me. Come read about how I survived 365 days without buying clothes.

*disclaimer: I did actually buy one pair of pants, but only because I was 21 weeks pregnant and literally could not wear my regular pants anymore.*

Why Did I Go 365 Days Without Buying Clothes?

I chose this challenge for myself for two main reasons: frugality and space. I was at a point in my life where I was making more than enough money each month, but I also knew that after Caleb and I got married in March, I would be quitting my job in May. We would then become a single income family, and I would need to be even wiser with the budget. I didn’t spend *too* much money on clothes each month, but I knew that if I could go a whole year without buying clothes, I would break those few bad habits that I did have. The second reason was actual physical space. My dresser was full and my closet was becoming quite cramped, and I really didn’t want to part with the clothes that I already had! Therefore, my logical choice was to just not buy any more clothes.

I went 365 days without buying ANY clothes! Why? How? Should you do the same? Click To Tweet

How Did I Do It?

I’m not going to pretend like this challenge was the hardest thing I’ll ever take on (it wasn’t), but it also wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I’m not a shopper; I get tired easily and nothing seems to fit right, so I thought I would breeze through this year. But this challenge did its job: it challenged me. By June, I was ready for some new tank tops, or maybe a different pair of shorts. When we went on vacation, surely I *needed* a long-sleeve shirt with the town logo on it. And once I was pregnant, though not yet showing? I needed all the cute maternity clothes!!!! So how did I fight this?

I’ll be honest, it was a mixture of accountability and straight up telling myself no. My husband knew that I had committed myself to this, so he was a big support! He wouldn’t tell me no, flat out, but he would remind of the reasons I had started this and would encourage me to finish it. That was a big help, but honestly, I just had to tell myself no a lot, which is really hard! Haha!

365 Days Without Buying Clothes
Even for our engagement pictures, I simply picked out clothes that I already owned and loved!

What Did I Learn?

I learned so much during this challenge, but it all comes down to 3 main points.

  1. It feels good to have less. Though it wasn’t part of my challenge, I ended up cleaning out some of my clothes this year, and since I didn’t buy any new ones, I now have a lot fewer clothes. And you know what? It feels really good. I know that I have what I need, but I’m not living in clutter, and that is a freeing feeling.
  2. I feel better about myself when I practice self-control. Have you ever experienced buyer’s regret? I have, pretty much every time I buy new clothes. After this challenge, I’m convinced that the reason I experienced this is because I was ignoring my self-control. My heart was telling me to control my purchases, but I ignored that, and I was left with a feeling of “oh no”. But when I told myself no and chose to be in control, my heart was a lot happier (even if I didn’t get that cute pair of pants) and I felt better about myself.
  3. I don’t actually need more clothes. I used to easily rationalize my purchases, because I was a teacher and needed new dress clothes, or I didn’t have enough running clothes to last me between washes, or I didn’t own much of a specific color. But after this challenge, I’ve realized that I really don’t need more clothes. Sure, sometimes it’s nice to get a new shirt, and there’s no need to wear pants with a huge rip in them when I can afford a new pair. But need? Absolutely not. I have plenty, and just because I don’t always like what I have doesn’t mean it’s not sufficient.
I have plenty & just because I don't like what I have doesn't mean it's not sufficient. Click To Tweet

Why Should You Take This Challenge?

This challenge really changed me. It gave me a new outlook on my possessions and caused me to stop and think about all the things I buy, not just clothes. Why do I think you should take this challenge? Because we get stuck in our comfort zones and we need to be challenged in order to grow. And this? It will change the way you see yourself. It will make you more content with what you have. It will build your self-control and, consequently, your self-esteem. And, practically speaking, it will free up your budget.

I highly encourage you to take this challenge! If you don’t think you can make it a year, start with a smaller time frame! Maybe go 2 months without buying clothes, and see how you feel after that. Whether you’re a minimalist, a shopaholic, or somewhere in between like me, this challenge is sure to push you out of your comfort zone and create a new appreciation for what you have. Be sure to come back and let me know how it went for you and maybe something new that you learned! 🙂

365 Days Without Buying Clothes
Plus, when you don’t buy clothes, you have more money to buy ICE CREAM!

Now it’s your turn. Have you ever a done a challenge like this? Could you go 365 days without buying clothes? On a scale of 1 to 10, how crazy do you think I am? 😉

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50 Comments

  • Laura

    January 10, 2017 at 9:57 am

    This is great!!!

    I’m actually on month three of no clothes completely by mistake.. between not letting myself shop for myself in november-december (birthday and christmas = don’t buy your wish list!) and being broke in January… I haven’t purchased so much as a pair of socks for my closet.

    You really do have all you need, though I applaud you for not shopping for maternity stuff, depending on how quickly you start to show I know that can be tough!

    I really like this idea.. maybe I’ll see how long I can go (probably good for my wallet!)

    xxox
    Laura @ http://www.cookwineandthinker.com

    1. Abbey

      January 10, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      Thanks, Laura! Haha well sometimes even when we do things by mistake, they turn out good! 🙂 I’m starting to get to the point where I am having to get a few more maternity items, but I was given some by friends, so that’s been nice! 🙂 I’m excited to see how this will go for you!

  • Abby @ WinsteadWandering

    January 10, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Wow! I’m not sure I could it, but you’ve definitely inspired me to think about taking on a shorter challenge. I think I could last a few months.

    1. Abbey

      January 10, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      That’s great, Abby! 🙂 I think even a shorter challenge would make a big difference!

  • Kristin

    January 10, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    I definitely think I would have to do a shorter challenge- especially since I am working towards big weight loss and will *hopefully* need a different size soon. But I need to do something like this for sure. Maybe even just no buying clothes until I go down two sizes, or something like that!

    1. Abbey

      January 12, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      That’s an awesome plan, Kristin! Definitely adapt it to work for you! You can do this! 🙂

  • Mihaela Echols

    January 10, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    This is so great! I’m definitely pinning for others to read this! We don’t need as much as we think we do.

    1. Abbey

      January 12, 2017 at 12:29 pm

      Thank you so much, Mihaela! That is so true! 🙂

  • Sarah Ross-Koves

    January 10, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    That is an amazing challenge. I could probably stand to do it, but I just don’t know that I want to. I am pretty sure from about 2004-2008 I did just this as my wardrobe was pretty stagnant. Good for you.

    1. Abbey

      January 12, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      Thank you, Sarah! It’s definitely something you’ve got to be interested in before you jump in head first. 🙂

  • Rachel

    January 10, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    This is such an awesome idea! I’m not really a clothes person, but maybe I could reverse it a little bit and work to part with something (not just clothing) every day for a year. Talk about decluttering!

    1. Abbey

      January 12, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      That sounds like a great plan, Rachel! Way to make it work for you! 🙂

  • Beth

    January 10, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    That is a pretty big accomplishment, congratulations for sticking to your goal! I feel like I probably did that (or at least close to a year) when my kids were small, but not consciously. I simply had enough clothes and was too busy/frugal to get more. I wish I had your will power!

    1. Abbey

      January 12, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      Haha I totally understand that! Thanks so much, Beth! 🙂

  • Amanda | Maple Alps

    January 10, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    What a challenge!! Loved reading your lessons. I cleaned out my closet last year have been decreasing my amount of clothing ever since, so I definitely resonated with this!

    1. Abbey

      January 12, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      Thanks so much, Amanda! 🙂 Doesn’t it feel great??

  • Angie Scheie

    January 10, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    I’m so impressed that you did this! I KNOW it would benefit me because not only is our budget tight but our new place is TINY!! I’ll have to pray about it. I adore shopping, and fashion is a part of my blog. Sigh. choices. Thanks for the inspo!

    1. Abbey

      January 12, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      Those sound like some great reasons to try it out, Angie! Definitely pray about it, and thanks for checking it out! 🙂

  • Megan

    January 11, 2017 at 1:24 am

    That is amazing! I love clothes far too much and probably should stop buying more. To be fair I mostly shop at thrift stores so I get really good bargains! (But that is exactly the sort of thing a shopaholic would say right? :P)

    1. Abbey

      January 12, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      Hahah well that definitely makes it better, Megan! Thanks, girl! 🙂

  • Kelsie

    January 11, 2017 at 9:18 am

    You’re awesome! Even for engagement pics- I’m not a big spender but I would have splurged on a new outfit!

    1. Abbey

      January 12, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      Thanks, Kelsie! That was definitely a challenge! 🙂

  • Rose

    January 11, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    You set such a great challenge for yourself! Congrats on sticking it out and accomplishing your goal! I would definitely benefit from a clothing spending freeze, as it’s so rare that I NEED new clothes these days.

    1. Abbey

      January 12, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      Thanks, Rose! 🙂 I found it super helpful to evaluate what I really needed!

  • Rachel

    January 11, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    This is a really great challenge! I feel like it’d be super tough to do it for a full year! I know I want to downsize my wardrobe though!

    1. Abbey

      January 12, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      Thank you, Rachel! 🙂 It was definitely tough at times! That’s a great goal!

  • Robin

    January 11, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    I’m not committing to a whole year just yet, but I am doing my best to not shop this year unless I truly need something. I get to the point sometimes where I don’t want to look at my credit card statements because I’ll have to confront the honest truth of how much I spend on one category in aggregate, whether it be clothes or groceries… and that’s when it’s time for a change. This year, I’m challenging myself to not buy clothes unless I need something, and to appreciate the full closet I already have!

    1. Abbey

      January 12, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      That is AWESOME, Robin! 🙂 Way to go! That’s a great attitude to have, that you only need what you actually NEED!

  • Julie Rybarczyk

    January 11, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    Wow! Very impressive. Way to hang in there and complete your challenge! You are an inspiration!

    1. Abbey

      January 12, 2017 at 12:23 pm

      Thank you so much, Julie! 🙂

  • Alison @ Puppies & Pretties

    January 11, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    Wow! I’m impressed you went a whole year. My goal this year is to as little shopping as possible. I really need to learn how to appreciate what I already have (like you said). This gives me some more motivation to do it!

    1. Abbey

      January 12, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      Thank you, Alison! 🙂 That’s a great goal! You can definitely accomplish that!

  • Audrey

    January 11, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    OH MY WORD. How did you do this?! I shop wayyy too much. You go girl!

    1. Abbey

      January 12, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Haha thank you, Audrey! Lots of self-control and telling myself no! And staying out of stores! 🙂

  • michelle

    January 11, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    Totally awesome! And great pics by the way!

    1. Abbey

      January 12, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Thank you, and thank you, Michelle! 🙂

  • Carrie Willard

    January 12, 2017 at 6:09 am

    I have a minimalist wardrobe and love it – I didn’t stop buying clothes because last year I lost weight after my 7th kid, and nothing fit anymore. A good problem to have! But I love these challenges because I think most of us have too many (cheap quality) clothes that we don’t truly like. Better to buy fewer things of true quality that look/feel great.

    1. Abbey

      January 12, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      Definitely a good problem, Carrie! That’s a great perspective, and something I hadn’t thought of before! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Lorin @ My Story Defined

    January 16, 2017 at 1:03 am

    This is awesome! I am all about hand-me-downs. Not sure of the last time I bought clothes. If I don’t have to spend money then I won’t.

    1. Abbey

      January 16, 2017 at 6:01 pm

      Thanks, Lorin! That’s a great attitude! I like hand-me-downs, too! 🙂

  • Adriana Renee

    January 16, 2017 at 10:33 am

    This is such an interesting challenge! I might have to try this with another aspect of my life!

    1. Abbey

      January 16, 2017 at 6:02 pm

      Thanks, Adriana! It would be interesting to see what else you could apply it to! 🙂

  • Carolyn

    January 16, 2017 at 10:46 am

    awesome! I’m trying to start a more minimal lifestyle and it’s no joke! i think nothing of stopping in a store for a new pair of yoga pants or a replacement sweater, and then somehow end up with clothes that won’t fit in my dresser. I should definitely think about giving this one a go 🙂

    1. Abbey

      January 16, 2017 at 6:03 pm

      Thanks, Carolyn! It was a challenge, definitely! I understand that struggle well! Haha

  • Ashley LaMar

    January 16, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    I feel like this is one challenge I could do easily and feel ok with doing. I rarely buy clothes for myself anyway but it’s good to see people being more intentional about their purchases.

    1. Abbey

      January 17, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      Definitely, Ashley! It’s certainly going to challenge some people more than others! 🙂

  • Victoria

    January 16, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    Hahaha, more money to buy ice cream! I love this, and I’m super impressed. I think the most I’ve gone is 6 months. I really cut back in 2016 on my clothing spend, and I’m really proud of it. I also try and do clothing swaps to get rid of unwanted items and bring in some gently used, new loves!

    1. Abbey

      January 17, 2017 at 1:00 pm

      Haha it’s true! 😉 Thanks, Victoria! That’s great that you were able to cut back! Always a good feeling! And clothes swaps are AWESOME!

  • Jennifer Ostroski

    January 17, 2017 at 1:46 am

    I am so jealous! I don’t shop for clothes often, but enough to know that going a whole year would be super tough! In fact, I never even thought of not buying clothes for a year. It’s a great idea for a challenge! I’d love to track what I spend in one year, then try going without the next and see what the difference is.

    1. Abbey

      January 17, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      Thanks, Jennifer! I LOVE your idea of tracking what you spend and then analyzing it to see where you can save! That’s a brilliant thought! 🙂

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