Bans, Budgets, and Cutting Myself Off

“To be really mediæval one should have no body. To be really modern one should have no soul. To be really Greek one should have no clothes.”
― Oscar Wilde

What’s your relationship with shopping and consumption, kittens? I’m curious because I’m in the process of resetting mine, and that’s primarily what we’re going to be chatting about this week.

Towards the end of last year I did the first of three shopping bans as part of my 101/1001 project. The self imposed rules were simple: regular expenses, utilities, and things for the house were permitted, but all personal purchases (with the exception of toiletries or replacing an item if damaged beyond repair–RIP cheap, shredded tights, hello Heist) were verboten. I’m not a massive clotheshorse or a major spendthrift, but I’m also not immune to consumer culture and its emotional traps, hence my goal to push the pause button on self-centered consumption at least once a year.

Rather sneakily, and perhaps not fully in the spirit of the challenge, as previously mentioned, I timed it so that the first ban would end in time for Black Friday. My motives were partly altruistic (Christmas shopping for other people) but not entirely. However, after three months of not buying anything for myself…it turned out that I didn’t want much.

 photo Spitalfields3_zps4d7aa667.jpg

One of the things I started doing last summer and during my first shopping ban was to start and keep a “To Buy” list. If I spotted an item I like, a trend I wanted to try, or a piece that appealed to me, I wrote it down rather than whipping out a card/cash or trying to justify buying it. I sat on the idea for a while. Shock surprise, it often turned out that a trend played itself out in a matter of days or weeks, the appeal of a piece faded, or…I just didn’t think about it again until I consulted my list and remembered, “Oh yeah, I did see that. Guess it wasn’t as memorable as I thought.”

By the time my self-imposed strictures lifted, I took a look at my list and asked myself what I really wanted. The answer was a handful of shirts/sweaters that would be good enough for work but also dress up my casual clothes (an ongoing project), a bag to replace my day-to-day one that was ripped and stained, one new accessory, and one trend piece (a velvet blazer)–plus beauty buys. So counting Black Friday and excluding Christmas presents, my end of year personal shopping comprised the following:

Glossier/Pestle & Mortar – skincare and not really part of my ban, but I’m counting it for the sake of full disclosure (discount codes)

Sephora – makeup (Black Friday deal)

Everlane – two shirts and a sweater (discount code)

Nepheliad – a pair of earrings (discount code)

Brora – two sweaters (Black Friday deal)

282 Portobello Road vintage – a blazer and a coat (discounts from shop seller, and the coat was my Christmas present from Jeff)

Portobello Road vintage seller – a bag (haggled down price)

And that’s it. I decided that was going to be the total of my fall/winter shopping for this year and I’m considering my wardrobe updated for two seasons. Almost on the heels of one shopping ban I dove straight into another and the list above will represent everything personal I purchase for six months total…if I don’t screw up. The timing of this second ban also isn’t entirely altruistic because I’m publicly documenting my spending this month and don’t want to be disgraced in your eyes; I consider your oversight a way to keep me honest, kittens.

Your turn: talk to me about how you spend and why. Do you have regular luxuries you allow yourself? Are you tightening your belt, and if so, how? I’m very nosy, but genuinely want to know!

6 thoughts on “Bans, Budgets, and Cutting Myself Off”

  1. When money is tight, it’s a lot easier to not buy! 🙂

    My greatest weakness is anything for the house, so am trying hard not to buy 2 orange velvet pillow covers right now (total of $60.)

    Recent buys — 2 prs of warm leggings/a sweater/a pr of earrings (total of $110), personalized stationery, and Christmas presents only for Jose; plus Xmas cards and tree for us.

    Very luckily, I bought all the winter clothing I need in better-earning years, so am all set for coats/hats/boots, etc.

    Living in a snoozy suburb, where to buy anything means driving somewhere with that intent or going into NYC, makes it a lot easier to not spend on anything amusing. Staying out of our local (upscale, pricy) mall is easy enough and when I shop online I routinely leave the cart full and don’t purchase.

    I think making a list is smart. If you enjoy style and fashion, as we both do, it’s tough! I’d love to be out buying more clothes, shoes and accessories but my loathing of debt keeps me from doing so. If I haven’t earned the $, I am not spending it.

    1. Hard truth, but true nonetheless.

      Regarding clothing, which we do both love, one of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is the difference between being stylish and being fashionable. Some of the most stylish women (and men!) in the world don’t look as if they shop constantly. Instead they’ve found a “look” that works for them, accomplishes the specific purposes they require of their self presentation, and generally is exquisitely put together. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that some of the most editorial publications, sites, and platforms in the world, are often headed by individuals who don’t necessarily follow all of the fashions they present, but have curated their own style very well.

      1. Exactly. The only way to look great (on a fixed budget) is to decide what you want to present and plan around that — I splurge on cashmere, great shoes and the best jewelry and accessories I can afford, which I keep in very good condition for a long time. It saves a lot of time and energy, and money, to not be chasing down every passing fad and trend, so many of which are really weird and unattractive — or suit only girls who are 5 foot 10 and weigh maybe 120 at most.

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