The Great American Apparel Diet

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading this article and thinking that this was a bandwagon I should really get on. And so I’m on.

The women featured in the article decided to forgo clothing purchases for a year. They call it the Great American Apparel Diet.

On one hand, it seems radical. Not buy clothing for a whole year? Isn’t that what people in this country do for fun? What about keeping up with fashion? What about that irresistible bargain?

On the other hand, it seems so obvious. I have a closet and a bureau full of clothes. What else could I possibly need?

It’s been easy. I really don’t need anything. Travel always reminds me of this: I spend weeks with nothing more than what I carry on my back, and it’s plenty. It’s only when I spend a long chunk of time back in the States that I start getting sucked into mindless shopping. In fact, I find that the mindset of not buying clothing has extended to other things. I’ve heaped more items of clothing on my pile to swap or give away. If I haven’t worn an item in a while, and I don’t feel a great attachment to it, I don’t need it. It’s something that I shouldn’t have bought in the first place – that I bought on a whim, or because I thought I might need it, or because it seemed like a bargain. And so it can go away and leave room for the things I actually like and wear.

And when I’m in stores now, I’ve realized how bizarre the shopping mindset is.  Shopping for things you need is one thing.  But shopping as recreation is a bizarre idea. Why would we make stuff just to get people to buy it, and why would we buy stuff that we don’t need, and why do we have this whole cycle of buying and discarding, buying and discarding?

I’ve decided that, if I discover I need something, I’ll allow myself to buy clothing at Goodwill. The money goes to a good cause, and I’m fine with supporting the market for used clothing. For me, the point is not the self-deprivation (so to speak); it’s breaking the habits of shopping for no particular reason and accumulating things I don’t need. It’s about withdrawing my support from the big chain stores that encourage our wasteful habits. I’m determined to think about what I actually need before purchasing anything. And posting it here is my commitment to you all that I’ll stick to it.

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