My “No Shopping” Year and 5 Tips for Starting Your Own

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while now, I’m sure you already know my story. For those who don’t, here’s your tl;dr : November 2015 I watched The True Cost and could not stop thinking about it. January 2016 I started this blog to keep myself accountable and share my slow fashion journey. Part of that journey was having a “no shopping” year.

It was really just one simple rule that I set for myself. I was going to avoid buying any new clothing (including shoes, jewelry, outerwear, etc.) for the entire year. The only exceptions, of course, were items that I truly needed in order to continue my productive life. These items ended up being:

  • Several pairs of pantyhose for my work uniform
  • Shoes for work
  • Tall boots for the cold weather
  • I also had one spontaneous purchase of a band t-shirt at a concert during my first month, so I guess you can say that there was a bit of a transition period 😉

To be fair, I did also acquire a few pieces from Simone’s Rose in exchange for modelling her new collection, and a few other pieces from other ethical brands (Cambio Market, SeeMe, and Lacy Little Nothings) in return for featuring them on the blog. I also got some new-to-me pieces from when my best friend handed me two huge garbage bags worth of clothing to bring to a clothing swap I was helping organize, and I obviously went through them to sneak myself some free clothes before donating the rest to the swap!

Whether or not you see this as “cheating” is up to you, but I still think I achieved the main objective. In 2016 (with the exception of that one pair of boots I mentioned earlier), I spent $0 on fast fashion – on any fashion, really. I think that brings up a good point though: just because you gave up shopping, doesn’t mean you won’t happen upon some new-to-you clothes that year! I didn’t do any thrift shopping for the year either, mostly because I was too nervous to really dive into that whole aspect of ethical fashion yet, but a no-shopping year for you could mean no brand new clothing, but you might allow yourself to shop secondhand.

Want to have your own “no-shopping” year? Here are 5 tips that will help you get started:

1. Don’t expose yourself to ads (TV, radio, magazines, etc.).

It may seem kind of obvious, but actively avoiding ads as much as you can really does help with reducing your purchases. Even if the ads aren’t necessarily for clothing or fashion items, simply switching the radio station when the ads come on, watching less TV, and ignoring magazines will help draw you out of that state of consumerism and clear your mind.

2. Find other hobbies to fill your time, and other activities to do with friends.

Shopping has become a social activity, and I’ll admit that it is definitely fun to wander around, try things on, and get inspired, all while spending time with friends, but it’s not the only great social activity you could engage in. Challenge yourself to find new ways to spend time with the people you usually shop with, and new ways to spend your own time (though the occasional online browsing in your pj’s is totally acceptable, as long as you don’t put it in your cart!). You may even discover your new favourite hobby.

3. If you find yourself struggling, curb the urge by going to a thrift store or attending a clothing swap.

Just because you’re not shopping, doesn’t mean you have to completely remove yourself from the fashion and clothing world! Get your fix by visiting a thrift store or checking out a local clothing swap. Who knows, if you happen to come across something amazing that you’ve been searching for for a while, then maybe you’ll bend the rules for that perfect piece. After all, it’s not supporting fast fashion, and there’s nothing wrong with needing a bit of a transition period instead of quitting immediately.

4. Look at it as an opportunity to get to know yourself and your personal style.

Having a “no-shopping” year is a perfect opportunity to really learn about your personal style preferences. Notice which pieces you wear most often, and which ones only make the occasional appearance. You might find that you actually don’t like a certain colour or style on yourself. By pausing the influx of new items to your closet, you get to know what you have so much more intimately, which will undoubtedly lead to better style and a happier you!

5. Always remember why you are doing it.

For me, a no-shopping year was my personal protest against fast fashion and the human rights abuse that happens down their supply chains. Whenever I was struggling, I would remind myself of the sweatshops the clothing came from, of the child labour it likely took to make, and of how these large brands that I used to shop from so often were doing next to nothing to fix it. A little depressing, maybe, but it worked, and I felt way better afterwards knowing that I had avoided supporting such things. Other reasons that might motivate you to stay committed could be the environmental impact of mass clothing consumption, taking a step towards a more simple, minimal lifestyle, or even just to take a step back, breathe for a bit, and learn more about yourself.


Most importantly though, know that there is really no “failing” if you genuinely put in the effort. You’ll find that after the first couple of months, it stops being too much of a challenge and transforms into just a way of life. I may not have a “no-shopping life” forever, but taking a more extreme stance for a bit helps you reduce consumption and know when you truly need to buy something, or when something in particular remains a consistent “want” that you will get a lot of wear out of. I promise you one thing – you won’t regret it.

Have you ever done a no-shopping year? Are you going to try it? Let me know in the comments below!

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