Wednesday, November 17, 2010


It's November. To many this means Thanksgiving, Black Friday sales, Christmas lists, shopping, shopping, and more shopping. To me, it's the end of year one of my clothing diet. I first came across the idea here (the Great American Apparel Diet site) but did not join in officially for fear of commitment. I liked retail therapy. I loved Forever 21. I liked being able to just pick up something mass produced and not have to rummage for stuff when I was looking for something in particular. I rummaged sometimes too but as a pastime, not based on need. After a couple months, though it was saddening at times when I would go shopping with my sister, I realized the clothing diet wasn't too bad and was actually saving me some dough so I stuck to it.

What is this clothing diet? I stopped buying new clothing, with the exclusion of underwear, swimwear and socks. I also allowed myself to buy accessories and shoes. I made one exception for Chinese New Year because you're supposed to wear something new, but then I ended up forgetting this new item (an awesome hoodie from Loyal Army) at my apartment when I went home for the New Year, so that was kind of a bust.

Why would I ever do such a thing? Environmental and financial reasons. I have never really been a shopaholic and I don't actually like going to the mall, but sometimes I would go shopping with my sister when she was on a hunt for something and I would be the one who ended up with a bunch of stuff while she left stores emptyhanded. Committing to a clothing diet has been a good way to control myself from buying things I don't actually need but just think are cute, saving me a good amount of money. Plus, why buy all this new stuff when there's plenty of pre-loved stuff out there waiting for a new home? People get tired of their clothes fast and ever-changing trends keep them going back to the malls and buying more. I like the idea that by buying pre-loved instead of new clothes, fewer raw materials are being harvested, less energy is being used for making and shipping the clothes, fewer clothes end up in the landfill, and the items you get instead end up being a little more unique. If I can help the environment just by doing this small action, then why not?

How do I cope? It was kind of hard, especially at first, and I would be sad when I left stores without anything in hand, like it was an unsuccessful shopping trip. Then I began coping by buying trinkets, like accessories, belts and purses. It's probably an equally terrible habit, but it would usually be one thing, just so I felt accomplished. It was stupid, I know.

I have occasionally rewarded myself if I'm really tempted to go shopping by buying Urban Outfitters' Urban Renewal stuff, which are pieces upcycled from vintage fabrics or clothes, or going to thrift shops or consignment shops. I love going to Crossroads. It's basically a lot of things you see in stores now anyway but cheaper! I make the occasional trip to Goodwill but it's hard to find things at the one back home. I think I have had better luck at Goodwill finding housewares and such for super cheap. There is also the $1 sale on Sundays at Jet Rag in the West Hollywood area, which is the best thing ever. True, there are plenty of items that are too giant, stained, fugly, or all of the above, but I actually bought a skirt there that fits perfectly for, guess what, a dollar. That paired with a top I got at Crossroads for $4 are pretty much my go-to outfit for when I need to ditch the jeans and t-shirt to look more professional. I also got a super long skirt that I wear as a tube dress. There were a few other things I bought from the Sunday sales at Jet Rag for upcycling but have not yet gotten around to it. Actually, funny story..I bought some ugly sweaters to take apart for a project and wore one of them as part of my Halloween costume and a lot of people actually liked it.. It's a really good place to find interesting patterns if you're into crafting because the stuff isn't as common and there are a lot of huge pieces of clothing, so plenty to work with. It's probably even cheaper than buying at a fabric store for the same amount of fabric in some cases.

BUT, I love love love going to flea markets. I really love the Melrose Trading Post. I feel like the people there price things pretty fairly and admission is only $2 ($1 with this coup!). Its only downfall is that it's a little bit smaller than some others, being restricted to the Fairfax High School parking lot. I have also been going to the Long Beach flea market at the Veterans Memorial Stadium but I like going there more for household items, decorations and furniture than clothes. Lots of good stuff there, though. In fact, I was able to find a crate with the Anheuser logo for $2. Whaaat? I know. I kept asking the vendor if that was right and he looked at me like I was stupid.

For now I want to keep going with my clothing diet as there has not really been anything that has gotten me to revert back to my Forever 21 shopping sprees. I'm pretty proud of myself for going this long though. It's been healthy for my wallet and the environment.

But probably not for my social life...

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