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No Buying Clothes for a Year: Did I Make It?

My new running shoes!

My new running shoes!

At the beginning of the year, I made a pledge to myself, no buying any new clothes or shoes in 2013. After paying off our credit cards for good at the end of last year, I think it was my way of giving the middle finger to consumerism. I also thought it would provide a good idea of what I actually needed and didn’t need in a wardrobe. When you buy new stuff all the time, it’s easy to lose track of the clothes you do have. Well it’s December, so did I make it a full 12 months without buying clothes?

Not Exactly

I did not buy any clothes during the first part of the year with two exceptions.

1) I had $30 in Old Navy e-gift cards that would have expired this past summer. I bought some work out pants and two dresses that came out to $31.60, so I spent $1.60. I could have come under, but it would have meant not maxing out the gift cards, and I hate not taking  free money.

2)There was a Ralph Lauren Outlet about an hour away from us. Jim has bought most of his work shirts there for years. They went out of business at the end of the summer and had a huge sale. I normally don’t buy clothes there, but they had an awesome pair of jeans marked down from $79.99 to $24.99. I have a pair of RL jeans from 10+ years ago that have held up well, and I liked the style, so I bought them. However, I used an Amex gift card that I got from work. I’m not sure if that counts against me or not.

Half Marathon Training

When I decided to do a half marathon next February, I had to up the amount of running I was doing. My running shoes were purchased in December of 2011, and after one week of my new training program, I knew they were not going to make it. My feet and ankles felt like crap.

I asked Jim to get me new running shoes for Christmas but to give them to me in November. I also only had 2 pairs of running socks that didn’t have holes, so we got four pairs of those as well. The running store threw in a free jersey type T-shirt that normally cost $30, so there’s that. We spent $145 on my “gift” that I have been running with pain free feet for a month now. I think that was well worth it.

Black Friday Ruined it All

We had a very untraditional Thanksgiving this year. We were planning on speding the holiday in Denver at Jim’s grandparents. The family dinner is always there, but Gradma broke her hip the week before Thanksgiving, so dinner was canceled.

Since we already had plans to go and the Friday after Thanksgiving was Jim’s birthday, we went to Denver anyway. We visited with Grandma and had dinner at Steak and Shake (one of the few places open on Thanksgiving!) The next day Jim wanted to go to the outlet mall on Black Friday because they had a North Face store. If you knew my husband, you’d know he lives in North Face fleece pullovers. He wears one almost every day, and he is a brand snob.

North Face was so crowded it gave me a headache, so I went over to the Gap outlet. I was determined to just look around, but then I saw it, my favorite sweater in the world. It was like sun rays were shining down upon the sweater display. I bought a brown one at this same store maybe 3 or 4 years ago, and I’ve worn it out. They had every color you could imagine, in my size. Even more crazy was that they were on sale for $12.99!

I had about a 5 minute internal debate with myself. I knew I was going to buy work clothes in January. My old standbys are barely standing by at this point. I have some dressy or occasional use clothes (my hockey jersey), but like most people, I have a basic few items that I wear most of the time. I probably have maybe 7 mix and match outfits that I wear for work plus my collection of work out clothes, jeans, sweatshirts, and yoga pants. Many of them are looking pretty shabby. Anyway, I knew I needed some work clothes, and I would be buying them soon. The question was whether I wanted to take advantage of this price or wait a month to finish my challenge.

Loser or Winner?

I caved. Possibly, I could find similar deals after Christmas, but we only go to Denver about once a year, and who knows what the selection might be then? I bought two of my favorite sweaters plus a similar cardigan. I also got a pair of gray pants, a pair of khaki pants, and a skirt. My total to the Gap was just over $85. Since I already broke the dam, I picked up a Nike pullover hoodie for $20.

So no, I did not make it 12 months without buying new clothes or shoes, but I do think this challenge has taught me quite a bit about shopping. If I absolutely don’t want to spend money, I need to stay out of all stores. However, if I need something and find it on sale for a good price, it makes sense to take advantage.

Will I Buy More Clothes in 2014?

Probably. I won’t impose any more challenges, but I think I can certainly get by with shopping two or three times a year and only when I need something. That’s a long way from how I used to be, and although I didn’t complete this challenge, I am pretty proud of myself. I’ve also cleaned out a ton of stuff I wasn’t wearing to either sell or donate. I’ve made much more in clothing sales than I’ve spent this year. I’m glad I did the challenge.

Would you ever try to not buy clothes for a whole year? Does going in stores make you want to spend money?


About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. I don’t know if I could ever take on a challenge like that. Although if you look in my closet you will see that I am long due for some new clothes. I may not shop for clothes regularly like I used to but if there’s a great deal I will think about it.

  2. I still call the challenge a success! It brought mindfulness to your mall expeditions, which was probably more the goal than the “12 months” anyhow =)

  3. I definitely would never do this challenge, so kudos to you for giving it a try! I think you did very well all things considered. Going to stores does sometimes make me want to purchase things, but sometimes I get annoyed at unorganized displays and employees bugging me/trying to be helpful, so I end up not buying anything.

  4. I would still consider this a win.

    “I’ve made much more in clothing sales than I’ve spent this year.” <—This made it a win.

    It makes more sense to buy when you're already planning on buying and when there's a sale. Besides, you balanced it out by selling clothing as well. Great job! 🙂

  5. I’m not crazy about shopping especially for clothing! However I do work in an office and looking professional is important so I do shop a few times a year to add professional pieces to my wardrobe.

    • I agree about looking professional. You wouldn’t want to do business with someone who looks shabby. First impressions certainly count.

  6. You did a terrific job, Kim!! And I totally would’ve jumped on the Gap sale too – you can’t beat those kinds of prices! We did a “no clothes unless it’s absolutely necessary” challenge for 2013, and we did pretty well. We really didn’t buy anything unless it was a true need. That is, until we lost the kitty. Then a had a bit of a breakdown moment and bought new Christmas clothes for our kids for this year. We just all needed some spoiling, you know?

  7. Ha, the term “broke the dam” describes me quite often too. 🙂 Once the rule is broken, look out! Avalanche!

  8. I’m amazed you spent that little. There is great value in achieving a goal but I’ve found there are many more benefits that come from what we learn during the journey. Sounds like this challenge impacted you greatly. Nice going!

  9. I still think it was a success overall, especially that you got to learn more about yourself and what might drive you to buy something. I didn’t buy a whole lot for myself, working at home helps a lot :), but we had to buy a bunch of stuff for the kids this year. I think I could do it, but would be much more difficult is I was actually working in an office.

    • Not working as much certainly helped in the need for professional clothing. I can wear my old sweats with holes around the house and no one cares.

  10. “Since I already broke the dam, I picked up a Nike pullover hoodie for $20.” Is that like “breaking the seal” when you’re drinking? 🙂 I don’t put any of those kinds of restrictions on myself, but then again if you’re paying off debt maybe it’s not a bad idea. But I do have to stay out of stores completely or else I could potentially go crazy. If you don’t physically “see” the deal it’s like it never existed.

  11. Wow. I am REALLY impressed! 11 months of spending only $1.60 on clothes is awesome! I couldn’t go a year without buying clothes, but you’re absolutely right about staying out of stores if you don’t want to spend. What I don’t know is not going to hurt me. Bravo on making it 11 months!

  12. It still seems like it was a huge success to me. You weren’t buying clothes mindlessly and took advantage of great steals, rather than just because you could. It is true that when we limit our exposure to stores, it’s a whole lot easier to avoid spending money we either don’t have or buying things we don’t need. 🙂 Have a great weekend!

  13. I won a $500 gift card to an outlet store where I bought most of my work clothes. For a couple of years I was using it when I’d need something. The last time in they told me that I had to use the rest of it or it would expire (a condition which they didn’t tell me about up front, but it was $500 of free stuff so I didn’t get too upset about it). I have enough pants and dress shirts to ‘go shopping’ when a current one wears out, so I’m good there for a couple of years. But I’ll still need all the rest of the stuff when it comes to clothes.

  14. Before the challenge, were you a shopping grazer or a shopping binger? If you were a grazer, it looks like you’ve successfully changed your behavior. I’m a binger myself. I only go shopping 2-3 times per year so I don’t think it’s a problem for us. Even when I really want to buy clothes, I don’t often find things I like (on me), so I guess I’m picky.

  15. I don’t really buy clothes but my wife does. Whenever we got out of state she always looks for stores we don’t have like Zara’s and H&M. She’s gotten better but still room for improvement.

  16. I think you did a great job! I don’t do the self-imposed spending bans on clothing, but I don’t buy a lot of clothing. I have a very minimalistic wardrobe so I only buy when I need something new. I also stick to basics and rarely buy anything trendy, and then just wear it till it falls apart 🙂

  17. Sorry to hear about grandma’s hip. I hope I still have my grandma in my 40s…
    You did awesome with the clothes, well done!

  18. Even though you technically didn’t “succeed”, I still think you did just fantastic when it comes to cutting out spending for clothing. I may have to impose a similar challenge to myself soon…

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