Let's Do a Fashion Fast: My Process and What I Learned

Ah, fashion, shopping, fun! Well, it's all fun to me at least. And I know a whole slew of other people that like it as much (or even more) than myself. Most Friday nights, you used to be able find me at Nordstrom Rack or at the Von Maur sales racks (or the Von Maur sale shoe ROOM!) browsing through all the fashion beauty. I didn't always buy something. I mostly just truly loved looking at all the merchandise. Fashion is art to me (as an artist did design it!). Shopping was like going to the art gallery to look at wearable art. And I really liked that. 

Now I am on what I call a Fashion Fast. Today is April 27th, 2018 and I have not shopped since mid January 2018. Yep. Three months. I did it and am still doing it. My main drive for the Fashion Fast is holding onto my money so I can transition into a new career path.

I was making decent money at my job before quitting in January 2018, and could buy pretty much whatever clothes or shoes I wanted. (Well, I held back from buying the Louis Vuitton bag I really wanted, but the Tory Burch on-sale tote was a good alternative). I also live with my husband, so our dual income household (with no children too) allowed me to shop often. I shopped for myself and for others and it was enjoyable to me. 

No matter how much income I had though, I still shopped sales racks (primarily for the last 18 years) because my smart husband taught me how to do that after he worked as a retail manager and saw first-hand huge markups on clothes and shoes. He taught me to always wait for things to go on sale. He even taught me how to shop thrift stores. We've picked up quite a few great items at numerous peddler's malls and Goodwill stores.

Even with shopping sales racks, the money spent adds up. I never got into any financial trouble through shopping, but I still know that we all sometimes buy things we don't need. Maybe I learned through Rebecca Bloomwood (AKA The "Shopaholic" from one of my all-time favorite book series by Sophie Kinsella) that buying excessively can really put one into financial crisis, and I never wanted to put myself in that position.

Before I quit my job, I had a serious budgeting talk with my husband. With us just living on his salary, we budgeted for our house payment, food, typical household bills and a few extras, but buying unnecessary clothes and shoes were not in our budget. I agreed not to shop while I wasn't working. I quit my job to work on my art, write, prepare for travel and the sale of my home, among numerous other things. I decided all those things were 100% worth not being able to shop for while.

Not only was this a way to save money, but maybe it was also a life lesson I needed to learn. A lesson to stop shopping so often and find other things to do instead. I've shopped since I can remember. Every year for my birthday, my Nani (grandmother) would take me to Bacon's (a former Louisville, KY based department store) and let me pick out anything I wanted. This was the only time she ever used a credit card. She did not like shopping at all but endured it for me because I truly loved it. This is where I got really good at shopping. I was very respectful of her money (she never set a limit, but I was careful not to spend too much) and figured out how to buy only a few items that all coordinated with each other. At a very young age, I was able to get way more bang for the buck by figuring out how to pair separates together in many ways. Now that was a great fashion lesson to learn so young!

So, here we are three months in and I am super proud of myself for doing a Fashion Fast. I also think I have learned yet another life lesson. I was smart to shop sale items, but was shopping too often. While shopping is fun, I don't have to do it so much. I spend more time writing and creating art now instead of time browsing the sales.

I've also learned that you have to have a reason to do a Fast like this. It could be because you have too many clothes, need to save some money, or just want to train yourself to stop shopping so often. I was fortunate to be granted reasons, and took full advantage of the opportunity.

Maybe others are thinking it may be time for a Fashion Fast as well and have saved up enough willpower to finally do it too. Maybe my experience can help. Here's what my process ended up looking like:

  • For the first two months, I didn't set foot in any of my favorite stores. Well, I did go to Target, but steered clear of the clothing sections.
  • I stopped following many of my favorite stores on social media and stopped reading my fashion magazines so I wouldn't be tempted to buy anything.
  • I did an inventory of my closet and donated what I hadn't worn in a while. This was a practice I did on a bi-monthly basis prior to the Fast, but I really purged this time.
  • As the third month rolled in, I started to see what items I really loved the most. I love leggings with billowy shirts and jackets and because I figured out how to make this style work in all scenarios (even the office), I know I could continue to wear that no matter what environment I settle into next. I've figured that style that is kind of my life "uniform" and I should stick with it.
  • Because of doing the inventory, I've also figured out what I will need to transition into the next season. My crop leggings from last summer have holes in the seams and my white tennis shoes are uncomfortable. Those are two staple items I've been reaching for lately, so they will need to be replaced soon. When the time is right, I'll add those into my closet. 
  • I still allowed myself to buy a couple of makeup items during my shopping Fast (makeup purchases are another shopping weakness!), but they only replaced items that I ran out of. Example: I bought a new brow pomade because I ran out of my old one. I bought it from Sephora, so it was more pricey than a drugstore brand, but I knew it was high quality, and sometimes high quality items that LAST are worth buying over cheap items that don't (another shopping lesson I've learned over time that also applies to clothing and other items).
  • I'll be able to buy some items again soon, but I'll use a list I've created to buy the items I need. Underwear is at the top of the list. Too much information for you? Oh well. It's true. Underwear always seems to be last on my list no matter how bad I need it. My mom is the same way. :)

What have I learned from my Fashion Fast? I've learned I am stronger than I thought I was. My husband told me he didn't think I could do it. Well, I've proved him wrong. I have had to explain to him that I may have done a Fashion Fast, but it doesn't mean I won't shop ever again. I have learned (am am still learning) how to shop even smarter. I'll never be perfect at shopping, but at least I've learned another lesson to help me make future purchases.

A true test to what I've learned? I went into Von Maur with my husband last night and looked at some cute shoes, but didn't pause long to browse. I continued past them while on the way to the eyeglasses shop (new prescription meant new glasses were needed=a justified purchase to make during my Fast, determined by me), my only reason for being at the mall. Oh, and on the way out of the mall, I stopped by an underwear department to price some new undies for when the time comes. I gotta buy some underwear soon! However, no purchases were made. I am still purging my shopping habits and held true to my word. I can do this. You can too!

Always remember this: There are no set rules for making purchases during your life. There are plenty of how-to financial books that will tell you what is "right" and what is "wrong", but only you can determine what works best for you. Never beat yourself up if you are trying to save money but slip off the path. Just learn from your mistake and carry on!

 Art by Carolyn J. Braden

Art by Carolyn J. Braden