The holidays can be a tough time for a variety of reasons. Particularly for those of us trying to limit unnecessary consumption or compulsive purchases.
Sometimes it feels as if December is a month-long marathon of shopping. Every weekend approaching Christmas, the crowds get thicker, the parking lots more congested.
Seasonal sales call out to us in festive red banners, and we feel the ache to join the parade, to face the cold weather with a hot coffee in one hand and bags of successful bargains in the other. Everyone is buying – buying decorations, gifts for their loved ones, gifts for themselves.
Whatever your religious affiliation to the holiday may be, and whatever the greeting cards try to remind us (family, love, kindness, giving back to our community) – to most of society, the holidays are about the stuff.
So how can we resist the siren call of this festive season? Especially those of us who are trying to practice mindfulness when it comes to shopping?
I am no stranger to this struggle. Despite the fact that I’ve significantly paired down my wardrobe over the years, I am still just as susceptible to the wanting.
Striving for minimalism is countercultural in any capitalist society, and it gets even harder when the holidays roll around. After all, for most of us, shopping is part of the tradition, part of the nostalgia. And some of us aren’t ready to give that up.
But we’ve got some ideas to help you. You can look at our previous post on meaningful gifts that aren’t things here.
This post will focus on three ways you can resist the temptation to spend money on more clothes when you’re trying to trim down your existing wardrobe.
1. Spice Up Your Styling Skills
Why do we start drooling over Instagram photos of adorable outfits? Usually because we’re bored with our current wardrobe. Things get stagnant, the romance wears off, and we look for a shiny new distraction to excite us.
I recommend taking the “love the one you’re with” approach here, or rather, “love the closet that you have”. Even if it’s not perfect, or not quite where you’d like it to be. Show it some appreciation, and spark some excitement back into your existing clothes.
How do we do this? We get creative. We style things differently.
I like to put all my clothes on the floor, and look at them with a fresh pair of eyes. How can I make a new outfit that I’ve never made before? What two things have I never paired together? This takes time, yes, but you’ll need to keep yourself distracted every time you have an urge to drive to the mall.
Bonus points for taking those eccentric statement pieces to new levels.
I recently challenged myself to find multiple ways to style my least versatile item in my entire wardrobe – a plunge necked, red-and-pink striped 1970’s style Reformation jumpsuit. It’s one of my favorite pieces, and it makes me feel like a disco version of Michelle Pfeiffer.
But really, how many ways can you really wear something like that? After spending some time, I came up with five new outfits – a jumpsuit is great because it can be worn on its own, as a top, as a pair of pants, and as overalls.
Show your closet some love as you challenge yourself to new ideas.
2. Give Your Maybe Items Another Chance
As I continuously evaluate the items I want to keep, I have a pile of ever-growing “maybe I’ll get rid of this” items in the corner of my closet. I usually keep them there for a few weeks until I’ve made a decision.
Out of sight, out of mind usually works for me until I have enough items to justify a trip to my local thrift shop. And sometimes the pile is so old, I can’t even remember what’s in there.
Most of us have a “maybe” pile, or even a “get rid of” pile somewhere in our homes. Sometimes I’ll take a trip down memory lane when I can’t remember the contents of the pile, and I’ll find a nice surprise along the way.
It’s like a free shopping trip to your past life! Consider giving your items a proper send-off by wearing them one last time to a holiday party or family gathering.
Note: If the majority of your “maybe” items are off-season, consider option 1. Get creative! Try styling your warm weather clothes in combination with cold weather clothes to create new looks.
3. Have A Clothing Swap Party With Your Friends
Okay, so this one might be considered cheating, since you could still be adding to your closet. Unless it’s a borrow-swap, which is an awesome way to spice up your wardrobe with no strings attached.
You can even make a holiday-themed “I’m-not-buying-clothes” party out of it! Invite your friends over and have them bring any items they want to get rid of.
Play some music, try things on, and keep the things you fall in love with. All the unclaimed items are left with you at the end of the night. You can brighten someone else’s holiday by donating the items directly to a shelter or charity.
Yes, resisting the urge to drop major cash during the holidays is challenging. But you can do it, I promise.
If you’re feeling antsy, consider spending your time in a way that better reflects the mindset of the season: donating your time and energy to those in need, expressing gratitude through words and action, and practicing contentment in what you have.