A fashionista who thought nothing of buying three to four new outfits a month – virtually one a week – has quit impulse-buying for good after putting herself on a year-long shopping ban.
Mindful of money because of Covid-19, Jane Regan, 52 – the proud owner of 45 different skirts – decided to knock her weekly rummages through the racks of high street stores like Zara, H&M and M&S on the head for 12 months.
Jane said: “All the uncertainty around Covid and how it was going to impact everybody’s lives and jobs made me think about my spending.”
She added: “I really enjoy clothes – they’re one of life’s joys, and a way to express myself – so I was resistant at first to stop shopping, but as time has gone on, my mindset has completely changed.”
Stylish Jane relished adding to her wardrobe and admits she bought “a lot” – even though her buys were not “massively expensive”.
She is unsure exactly how much she was spending, as she enjoyed bargain-hunting, trawling through sales and even buying clothes in the supermarket.
She said: “I’d easily buy three to four new items a month. I wasn’t buying massively expensive things, but it’s easy to not spend much and still end up with lots of clothes.”
Then, last summer, in the midst of the pandemic, she started thinking about ways to manage her money better at the same time as educating herself about fashion waste.
And the more she read, the more determined she became to change.
Jane, a property manager who lives in Windsor, Berkshire, with her husband and sons, aged 12 and nine, said: “With children, people are a lot less wasteful with clothing. We hand things down or donate them to friends with babies.
“But as adults, most of the time we simply throw things away when they stop being useful.
“The issue of fashion waste and the impact fast fashion has on the planet has been hitting headlines a lot recently.
“While I primarily stopped shopping to help me save money, the more I read, the more I realised it would be kinder to the planet, too.”
The Ellen Macarthur Foundation estimates that the equivalent of $500 billion (£368 billion) is lost every year through clothing being barely worn and rarely recycled.
In the UK alone, around 350,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in landfill annually, according to Clothes Aid, rather than being recycled.
On August 1 last year, Jane officially embarked on her 365 day shopping ban.
Five months in, she is still going strong.
And she has learned how to restyle and repair clothes she already owns, so that they feel like an entirely new outfit.
She said: “I’ve had to change my mindset and teach myself that not shopping isn’t a deprivation – it can be fun.
“I’ve worn a lot more of the clothes in my wardrobe and worn them in different ways. I’ve even given things I was planning to throw out a new lease of life by changing how I wear them.
“For example, I’ve got a couple of dresses I wore to weddings, that I didn’t think I had much use for, but by wearing them back-to-front, I can change the neckline and make them look like a completely new garments.”
She added: “Now, the time I would be shopping is spent organising my wardrobe and trying out different combinations. I follow a lot of really inspiring women on Instagram who are great for styling tips.”
Jane admits there have been times when she has felt tested – particularly at the end of last year, when she was bombarded with Black Friday and Boxing Day sale advertisements – but she has resisted splashing out.
Since then, she has deleted all her shopping apps and unsubscribed from mailing lists.
To keep her on track, Jane has been posting her outfits to her specially set up Instagram page, A Year In My Wardrobe.
There, she has found an entire community of like-minded people who are also attempting what she calls a “clothes lockdown.”
Looking ahead, Jane cannot see herself going on a huge spree when her no-spend year comes to an end in August.
She said: “I definitely won’t return to my old habits. I can’t say I’ll never shop again, but the way I think about clothes has changed.
“I have been making a little wish list of things I want, and I will only buy them if they are still useful, practical and trendy when my year comes to an end.
“Having taken a step back from the spending, I no longer want to make impulse purchases. Now, everything must fulfil a role in my wardrobe and be something that I can wear with lots of things, to lots of places.”
“I have realised that, often, when we shop, it’s not about getting new clothes – it’s about something else. We might be stressed, or bored, or, in my case, wanting a creative outlet,” she concluded.
“I’ve managed to give my style a new lease of life, and have worn so many things I’d never have paired together if I didn’t have to.”