Why I vowed never to buy any new apparel for half a year - and failed miserably

30 December, 2020
“Are you nuts? You’re not going to be capable to do that,” says my friend Anna as we work out in her living room.

It’s been 10 weeks since we each gave birth to your daughters, and we’re fighting to regain our statistics, mainly so we are able to embrace one of autumn’s hippest tendencies - high-waisted jeans. It’s a look that’s been offered to us by the fashion bloggers we carry out on Instagram.

I’ve just told Anna that I plan to go on a six-month problem of consuming zero new attire, and her response is among incredulous scepticism.

That was one year ago. And even though some might not view this sort of abstinence as a hard activity, it’s one I’m perpetually failing at.

For me, a retail center is a dangerous abyss of temptation, filled up with high-street and high-end sinkholes. Mannequins bait me with their neat nonchalance and covetable, new-season enticements. E-commerce can be an even deadlier snare.

Though I’ve vowed repeatedly to buy no new clothes over the past year, I have not yet managed to get through a single month of the task. A pastel rainbow-striped Gucci handbag from the brand’s pre-autumn plan, which featured a hedgehog, seduced me like no suitor ever could. As did a silk pyjama fit by Dubai label Wear The House, emblazoned with bold, floral postage stamps.

Upon being nearly introduced to Acid Banana, a UK brand that has a waiting set of customers looking for its kitschy jewellery manufactured from repurposed vintage Chanel buttons, I stayed up late to ensure I’d be online when its latest items launched. Though my favourite necklace sold-out within minutes, I didn’t hesitate before choosing an alternative design.

My wardrobe now contains a small number of trending, knitted sweater vests - the sort my grandmother has been dressed in for many years - despite getting thoroughly impractical found in a desert climate. In that case, there’s the excessive amount of high-waisted “mum jeans” I’ve purchased, despite the fact that the mass of the year possesses been void of public gatherings and outings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For the most part, my hip and legs have remained happily housed in leggings and drawstring jogging bottoms, with the brand new denims collecting a coating of dust over their baby blue, stone grey, salmon pink and lilac hues.

Covid-19 may, actually, have already been a catalyst for my overindulgent shopping habits, Dr Saliha Afridi, clinical psychologist and managing director of The LightHouse Arabia, informs me. “It isn't a surprise if you ask me that some persons may have chosen ‘retail therapy’ through the pandemic to alleviate their low feeling,” she says.

Admittedly privileged from my real estate in Dubai, I can’t say that I’ve been particularly glum in the last couple of months. But Afridi raises another stage: “Many persons are used to extra cash - they possess budgeted for going out, traveling, and day-to-day spending. On the other hand, because people’s way of living spending came to a halt during Covid, they could have decided to invest it on searching for items.”

Some fashion enthusiasts have were able to avoid catching the shopping bug in this tumultuous time, however. I’m in awe to discover that Fadila Patel, style blogger and founder of BTF, a branding and style consultancy, possesses refrained from shopping for fashion because of this entire year.

“We have been in lockdown for over fifty percent the year, most stores have been closed or perhaps restricted and several online looking sites had delivery restrictions. So, it had been easier than it sounds,” says Patel, who splits her time taken between Doha and London.

“2020 possesses definitely been an eyesight opener. We had been all pressured to pause and re-evaluate how exactly we were living. For me, it had been realising how consumption had turn into a commodity - I had a wardrobe full of clothes but nowhere to put them on.”

Around the world, eco-friendly motions are calling for less consumption and even more minimalist methods to fashion. But simply because altruistic as I’d prefer to be, my very own recurring concern stems certainly not from a saintly desire to align with sustainability, boycott fast fashion suppliers or even save money. I’m motivated, rather, by a pressing have to exercise self-control in terms of shopping - because I appear to possess lost it.

Afridi explains the inner goings-on of my shopaholic tendencies. “Neurologically, while a person shops or purchases items, dopamine, the enjoyment chemical, is released in to the human brain. This same chemical is involved with all addictive behaviour.

“If shopping is performed to an extreme, where a person is experiencing economical and relationship problems due to their behaviour, in that case it has moved in to the ‘shopping addiction’ space,” she explains. “It is a sort of escapism.” Although I’m hooked to an level that’s certainly unhealthy, I’m not yet classified as an addict.

Nevertheless, being consumed by fashion has transformed me - and for the worse. I used to state a prayer every evening before sleeping, invoking a feeling of interior peace and otherworldliness. Now, I scroll through the new-in page of my Asos, Shopbop and Mytheresa apps, ensnared by worldly allurements. I’m obviously inflicted with a store shopping obsession, if certainly not addiction.

When it’s sharp I’m not making any specific headway in my challenge, I have a extra drastic step, and delete the shopping apps that persistently eat up my money and time. I’d check them within the car, while holding out at the microwave as my foodstuff reheats, and even while queuing at the cashier during parallel shopping outings. Scrolling through the new-in internet pages was therapeutic, ritualistic and furnished a method to pass enough time for a millennial like me who feels unproductive if certainly not tuned in and multitasking.

Then, there’s Instagram. The majority of my buys will be fuelled by this app, which presents brand-new, beautiful reasons to shop daily.

A phone, today, is “a portal to one thousand other areas,” writes Jenny Odell, writer of How To Do Little or nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy. “However the villain right here is definitely not the internet, and even the idea of social media; it is the invasive logic of professional social press and its monetary incentive to maintain us in a successful state of anxiety, envy and distraction,” she explains.

I experience this first-hand when an image of fashion blogger Monica Chang pops up in my Instagram feed, sucking me back to the treacherous quagmire of luxury fashion. Slung across Chang’s torso is definitely a cross-body tote offering Louis Vuitton’s iconic emblem print - it’s essentially three bags in one, all linked with gold links and chains, suspended by a utilitarian strap in pastel pink. A further a quarter-hour of intensive analysis informs me that bag is named the Multi Pochette Accessoires. There are a lot more than 1,000 posts using its hashtag, and I start to see the “It handbag” in all its glory on manner bloggers - female and male - across the globe.

A couple of days later, I strut in to the Louis Vuitton shop. The tote isn’t on display, so I sit in another of the plush seats as a sales associate comes over - however when the brand of the tote rolls off of my tongue, he scoffs.

“You won’t find that anywhere,” he informs me smugly. “It’s a blogger craze. Makes everyone crazy. As if you.” I leave the store sense disheartened. I acquired officially been “influenced” by Instagram, ironically at a time when persons worldwide are staying cautioned to save their money, and not spend it, least of most on frivolous products which may be decked in custom logos, but are highly impractical.

“The quantity of social media use has increased through the pandemic,” Afridi says. “The algorithms are in a way that if you like a specific item or an influencer, it will feed you even more of the same kind of content. Soon, your online universe becomes infused with ideas of items a person could have and should have. Provided that most of the people are spending various hours a day time on some social media platform, it is not surprising that social media has become the latest go-to for sellers to have a captive audience.”

Patel says that even though she maintains a dynamic social media presence, she's managed to evade the shopping traps that lie looking forward to vulnerable victimize Instagram. “I never allow influencers tempt me into anything,” she says. “Trends are short lived, sometimes it’s easier to view them from the convenience of your house, in your lockdown pyjamas, and it doesn’t expense a thing.”

Instead, she urges me to look at my belongings with a fresh group of eyes, and seek out the enchanting, butterflies-in-my-stomach thoughts that resulted in those original swipes of the credit rating card.

“Reworking my closet and restyling pieces that I hadn’t previously worn provides helped me get over the temptation. Seeing my attire collection from a fresh perspective and dealing with what I have has produced me fall in love with pieces yet again,” she says.

“The decision to avoid consuming was definitely more circumstantial than inspiring, but one thing I have learnt whilst not consuming is that whenever I eventually do, I will be more conscious since it will be a luxury.”

It’s nearing midnight and I can’t sleep. I grab my phone and begin scrolling through Instagram, before quickly switching to Twitter as I realise the latter is definitely less inclined to tempt me into extra cash as of this hour. “Dear God, make sure you preserve me from the midnight online shopping itch, Ameen,” I type, before sending the tweet out into the everlasting expanse of the web. When I wake up the next morning, I’m relieved to have certainly not received any notifications from the lender. I made it during the night - but will I make it through 29 considerably more, and then a further five months?

Certainly my decision to head out cold-turkey in fashion expenditure was as rash mainly because my late-night “increase cart” clicks. When I first embarked upon this journey, I naively believed that I would manage to tolerate the impulse to shop, for an interval of six months straight. However now, on the cusp of a new year, one filled with uncertainties, guarantees of vaccines, conceivable prolongments of travel constraints and total prescriptions of precaution, I’m throwing in the towel. Vogue, temporal as it might be, is a way to obtain joy, and indulging in it can even be an take action of self-care, provided that it’s in moderation.

Enlightened by my debate with Afridi, inspired by the self-restraint of Patel, disgusted simply by the sway social mass media has over myself and cautious with the avalanche that might eventuate if I try stuffing any longer clothing into my closet, I’m entering the brand new year with a fresh approach. A FRESH Year seems like nearly as good a time as any to revisit a vow, which time, it’s to become more conscious consumer, who will now think twice - no, thrice - before accumulating more fashion.

Perhaps, like Patel, I can shift my focus, embrace the infinite cases of inspiration provided by Instagram and celebrate the possibilities posed simply by the pieces I already own.