I recently saw an interesting blog post from one of my favourites: Lawfully Chic. The post highlighted a campaign aimed at helping people make more thoughtful purchasing choices. I haven't felt compelled to follow through the idea of having a month off clothes shopping on this occasion, but it has made me more aware of what I do/don't buy.
Personally, I'm a big fan of 'found fashion' - belts from my Mum's drawers; jeans, work trousers and sweatshirts from my Dad's; dresses from cousins and the odd shirt from my husband. Add a little 'vintage' and a lot of charity shop thrift and you basically have the full measure of my wardrobe, plus a few highstreet staples to balance out the general pick and mix approach. Given my clothes habits, I don't actually buy new items that frequently. Even so, there have been a couple of distinct periods when I've felt the need to limit my purchasing or purge myself of excess baggage.
Once was about three years ago at university when I reached the stage of being unable to walk past a charity shop without investing some of the government's graciously given money on another top/bag/jacket. The purchases had stopped being gems of discovery; I could no longer honestly say "one man's junk is another man's treasure" and truly believe that it applied to the goods in my hand. At that point nothing but an all-out fashion-fast, in the form of a pact made with my then-boyfriend (now husband) would do. After 2 months of non-spending I was cured.
The other occasion was more a phase than specific experience, and I'm only just coming out the other side. As part of my degree, I left the UK and lived in Germany for an academic year. On my return for holidays, and eventually for good, it dawned on me how many clothes I hadn't seen, worn or missed over the course of my time away. I began a donating frenzy with the kind of ruthless clarity made possible by protracted absence and disassociation. The exercise intensified at the end of my degree. That summer was the summer of our wedding and the beginning of a whole new chapter in everything. The clothes I took with me were the ones that felt like they bridged the gap between where I was coming from and where I was going - either stylistically or sentimentally.
The joy of shedding clothes makes me think of snakes shedding their skin: there can be something uncomfortable and slightly horrifying about it, but the end result is a freedom to maneuver more easily. Being more creative in clothing choices and more intentional about the outcome of dressing decisions is hugely satisfying, if fashion is your thing, and it's interesting how having less to choose from can often make that personal style evolution more achievable.