A year without shopping: how I learned to have a less emotional and more lasting relationship with clothes

When Liadán Hynes realized she owned 40 floral dresses, she knew it was time for a change. This stack of dresses – many of which were nearly identical – was only part of what was in her bulging wardrobe; there were 27 pairs of jeans and more. So she challenged herself not to buy clothes, shoes or accessories for a year, and wrote about the experience in a monthly article on Independent.ie and Life magazine.

Initially, Liadán saw the Year of Living Lightly project as a way to better embrace a sustainable lifestyle and perhaps save some extra money. However, as the project progressed – in addition to getting expert advice on everything from decluttering what she had to embracing the circular economy – she discovered more about her emotional connection with what she buys and what she wears.

Her journey began in February 2020. As a former fashion buyer turned fashion writer, Liadán had amassed a huge clothing collection. However, most of them remained unworn in her wardrobe, as she continued to buy new things, feeling that she had nothing to wear. She spoke to psychotherapist Sarah Crosby, author of 5 Minute Therapy, about the disproportionate emphasis on objects and how to separate want from want.

In March, Liadán interviewed professional decluttering Emma Gleeson, author of Stuff Happens!, about the cycle, in which so many of us are, of buying, making a big void, then buying more to fill the space. Instead, Emma encourages the practice of “conscious materialism”.

After three months, Liadán decided to “shop her wardrobe” and wear more of what she already had. She sought advice from psychologist Dr Nicola McGlade on how to ditch her lock-in uniform of leggings and sweaters and get excited about clothes again. And Lauren Bravo, author of How To Break Up With Fashion, explained how she uses sentimentality to replace the “hit” of novelty.

In June, a household disaster forced Liadán to put all her clothes in black bags – and finally had to deal with the amount of clothes she still had. Speaking to psychotherapist Ejiro Ogbevoen, she realized that her wardrobe had become a time capsule, filled with clothes suitable for the chapters of her life that are now closed.

“The charity shop becomes almost like a dumping ground for a lot of people,” said Pat Kane, eco-educator and founder of sustainable store reuzi.ie in Liadán in July. From second-hand clothes to swap shops, she shared tips on better ways to repatriate old items, while Rag Order Dublin’s Karen O’Mahony talked about upgrading clothes into a fresh look.

It was time to consider the financial impact of her purchases in October, and Liadán spoke to financial planner Paula Leitch and Instagrammer Emer Farrell of @onefootinthesave about a new approach to what she earns and the how she spends it.

Nine months into her challenge, Liadán was craving something new to wear and nearly broke her no-buy rule. Instead, she learned that a swap shop could solve her problem of finding vacation clothes and could also give new purpose to her own seldom-worn items.

As Christmas approaches, Liadán explored why we keep some of our most expensive and expensive clothes “good” and rarely, if ever, wear them. Stylist Irene O’Brien shared her experiences of making every day a chance to dress up, while fashion journalist Niamh O’Donoghue shared how clothes have helped her have a more positive relationship with her body shape , which is affected by spinal deformity.

For her penultimate column, in January 2022, Liadán spoke with Dr. Dion Terrelonge, an applied psychologist and fashion psychology researcher, about shopping addictions and how to take a step back from culture. transportation. “Once something becomes yours and you’ve paid for it, you peak, because the object takes on new meaning now that it belongs to you. From that point on, your happiness hormones plummet,” Dr. Terrelongue revealed.

After passing the 12-month mark and completing her challenge, in the series’ latest episode, Liadán laid out the 10 things she learned from her shopping-free year. She also reflects on how her year of Living Lightly forever changed her approach to clothing and shopping.

About Renee Williams

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