Saturday, 7 September 2019

Why I'm not doing 'No Shop September' | Fashion

I've been asked a few times if I'm doing No Shop September, something that's been well advertised on social media and I know lots of you are taking the opportunity to take a month off shopping, perhaps to save money or just to force yourself to work the clothes you have.


I do think it's a great initiative and it's an approach that works well for lots of people. For me though, I've never got on with anything that starts with 'No'...no sugar, no alcohol, no cake...NO! Blanket denial of anything always sets me up for failure. The last time I did a month of not shopping, I had a list of what I wanted to buy ready for day 1 of the next month. I pretty much ended up spending twice as much as usual. 

Additionally for a blogger, September is a busy month of AW19 previews and features and I'm fully booked up for boutique try-ons this month so even if I wanted to do a better job at no-shop than I did before, it's the wrong time of year.

The thing is that I've found - just like diet and exercise - small daily changes are more effective at driving better long term behaviour. So I thought it would be useful to share the small daily changes I have made to my shopping habits over the past year that have made a positive difference to my wardrobe.

First change was to stop shopping in the main 'pile it high and sell it fast' shops - Primark, Peacocks, Matalan, Tesco, H&M etc. The problem with these stores is that we are all guilty of going in and buying stuff that we don't need because it's only '£X (insert ridiculous cheap price)'. We don't go through the process of thinking about how it will fit in our wardrobe, how we will style it, do we have something similar already. Instead we say 'awk sure it's so cheap, you couldn't go wrong'.

The trouble with these items is that invariably, they're rubbish quality and end up in a charity bag within months. Just flick through the rails in your local charity shop and see how much Primark & H&M stock there is.

Hands up though, I've fallen off the wagon once, when we sheltered from the rain in Primark in Derry and I ended up buying a dress merchandised beautifully near the entrance. It's a lovely dress that several prominent bloggers also have and look amazing in too but it's nasty polyester and sticks to your legs....I've worn it twice and I will wear it more often to assuage my guilt but it reminded me about the trade off. The lesson learned (reminded) is don't even go in....once you're through those doors, you're in trouble!

Second change is that I buy more pre-loved than ever - thanks in part to having DejaVu on my doorstep. This amazing Belfast preloved shop always has something fabulous that is a fraction of RRP and it's run by Ruth, who has become a good friend in recent years...I'm in there that often!

A more recent change is that I decided to stop going into Zara, Stradivarius, Topshop & Miss Selfridge and I unsubscribed from ASOS emails. These brands are a step up from the ones above but have deteriorated in terms of quality recently. It's not a surprise to me that Philip Green is chalking up massive losses this week. There are the odd gems to be found but much like the cheaper shops, I find when I shop there, I don't consider the investment enough. I tend to get sucked in by items I've seen on instagram and I'm not asking the questions - does the style/colour suit me, do I have something similar already, will I actually wear it much?
I still shop (a little too much) but the main change to my shopping habits over the past 12 months is that I'm buying better quality items in smaller shops. I'm almost always buying in the sales or at times of discount but because even on sale, the items are still more expensive than the likes of H&M, I'm thinking twice about buying. I'm planning outfits, making sure the item fits me perfectly and only handing over my cash when I'm sure it's something that my wardrobe can use many times over the long term. I don't always get it right but I am getting better.

Now I've not ruled high street out entirely but I go into fewer places. Most of what I've bought in the past year (other than from boutiques) has come from M&S & Mango. Just because I like what I see there and the quality is better.

These small changes have reduced the quantity I'm buying but the measure of success for me is that I'm selling or giving away way less than I used to and keeping and wearing more of what I buy. I'm focussed on buying good key pieces for my wardrobe & making sure it's either supporting a local business and/or it's an investment item that I know I'll wear lots and lots. Going forward, I'll continue to buy preloved but one change for 2019/20 is that I'll buy it in a more strategic way - keeping a list of the building blocks that I need to replace or add each season instead of  'going in for a nosy'!

The nature of this job means I'm constantly surrounded by new items to buy and wear - new season drops, press launches, gifted items from brand collaborations. I will always have temptation in front of me and need to keep abreast of what's 'new in' to inform my blog activity and help answer queries and questions I get on a daily basis. But I will keep plugging away - paring back on collaborations, being more discerning about whom I work with & where I buy, and promoting positive behaviours as much as I can in my content. There may be more wagon falls....we're all human and retail is my weakness but writing this out will help make me stronger in this regard. I know someone will pull me up on it if nothing else!

If you are doing the no-shop initiative, I hope you find it a really amazing and enlightening experience and please share your experience, good and bad. If you're not doing it but want to do something small, my one tip would be to stay out of the stores that are making the least effort to reduce consumption. That small change will make a big difference in the long term if enough of us do it.

Ax

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4 comments

  1. I really need to change my shopping habits like you have and look for quality over quantity! I'm an impulse buyer and this makes it harder to do - also easily swayed by the 'influencers!!😂....for this reason I 'needed' to take stock, step back and commit to no new clothes for a month ( especially as I had a shock when I tallied up my spend so far this year!!). Going ok so far as I'm staying away from shops and online sites!!
    Have long given up with Primark - the nasty polyester fabrics are no help to my lovely hot flushes and the cuts of their clothes are very unfriendly to my womanly curves!!😉😂

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  2. I love your blog Avril and am always impressed by how considered your approach is and how authentic you are. You are a beacon of common sense and 'realness' in the ever more ridiculous Instagram world!

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  3. Oh I agree. I'm slowly making improvements to my shopping habits and as a result my wardrobe. It makes sense on so many levels- to my bank balance, to the environment, and it makes it easier finding something to wear! There does seem to be a shift in peoples behaviour towards quality over quantity.

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  4. I've not heard of No Shop September, I'm such a rubbish blogger in my own little workwear bubble, ha ha! At the same time, I don't need to try a 'no shop' as I barely buy anything now, most of this years tiny amount of purchases have been old Boden bits from eBay for a fraction of the RRP and they've all been workhorses so far. I unsubscribed from all the retailers emails years ago and I do not miss them at all. I don't follow any influencers on IG either so my finger is as far from the pulse as possible but trends isn't my thing so it doesn't matter. At any rate it all helps me consume far less which is a winner!

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I love reading your comments and will reply as soon as I can if you have a specific question. If for any reason, you are unable to leave a comment, just drop me an email at avril@alifetostyle.com or leave a comment on the A Life to Style Facebook Page! Thank you xx

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