The other night I was at a local Financial Blogger meet-up and got to talking with Michelle Jackson of The Shop My Closest Project. Michelle is one of those people who just draws you in with her good energy and enthusiasm! Turns out, the night I saw her just so happened to be the very last day of her year-long “Fashion Clothing Fast”. Kind of amazing, right? So, naturally, I had a humongous list of questions for her! Rather than talking her ear off all night with questions we set up an interview and she answered all my questions.
Interview with Michelle Jackson on Her Year-Long Clothing Fast…
And Then We Saved: What did you do and why did you decide to do it?
Michelle Jackson: I decided to do a year-long No Shopping Challenge. I specifically focused on my fashion spending because I felt like it was a little out of control. I also liked the idea of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. I absolutely love fashion so if I could give that up for a year, then I could handle anything!
ATWS: How did you choose the year-long timeframe?
MJ: I’m not sure why I decided on a year. It just felt like the right amount of time for this particular challenge.
ATWS: Did you prepare for your Clothing Fast? If so, how?
MJ: The only thing that I did to prepare was purchase a ton of underwear, and socks! I actually bought so many of both that I still have new items that I’m pulling out from last year.
ATWS: What did you think your Clothing Fast was going to be like and did it go the way you thought it would? Was it better or worse/harder or easier than you anticipated?
MJ: I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting. I thought I would experience extreme amounts of irritation throughout the year. I also thought that I would experience deep feelings of longing for certain items. Instead after the first couple of months I just got into “the zone.” I just wanted to succeed at this challenge because I needed to experience a “win” when I hadn’t experienced one in a long time.
ATWS: How much did you save by going on a Clothing Fast?
MJ: It's hard to say exactly but I’m pretty sure that I saved between $3,300-$4,000.
ATWS: Did you ever “slip up”?
MJ: I’m quite proud to say that I never slipped up! However, I did have a moment where I needed something new. Luckily, I had a friend who was giving away bags of clothes so I ended up getting some nice new sweaters during winter. I think if I hadn’t received those sweaters, I would have definitely purchased something.
ATWS: Did anything surprise you about not spending money on clothes?
MJ: I was surprised at the amount of time that was freed up by not shopping. I also was surprised at how annoyed I got by the size of my wardrobe. I found that I had too much stuff. So I gave away about ½ my wardrobe. I also found that the clothes I had been purchasing for years didn’t make me feel good about myself. They were my “I’m feeling stuck in life and am gaining weight” clothes.
Prior to the challenge I had really begun working on my life and exploring how my choices were making me feel about myself. By the end of the fast I hated most of my clothes and couldn’t wait to purchase clothes that reflected how good I was feeling about life in general. I wanted: color, fashionable items, classic items, and items that were ethically made.
ATWS: Was it hard to come up with outfits?
MJ: Not really. The only difficulty was dealing with how long winter lasted. So, I ended up cycling through my winter gear far longer than I would have liked.
ATWS: Was there anything that you were dreaming about buying throughout the year? If so, how did you deal with that desire to buy?
MJ: I really wanted to buy a cream-colored, cable-knit sweater. I wanted one so badly. I buy myself one every year and last year was the one year I didn’t. I dealt with it by sucking it up and dealing with it. What else could I do?
ATWS: So your Clothing Fast recently ended. What was the first thing you bought and how did it feel? Any guilt? (I know I experienced some after my Spending Fast.)
MJ: I had a list of items that I knew that I wanted. I ended up going to the Buffalo Exchange and purchasing some fantastic used clothes (about 20 pieces) some of my favorite items included: a lace tunic (my favorite), a grey cocktail dress from Goodwill, and FRYE boots (those were on sale). I didn’t feel guilty about shopping, but I did feel a little weird and nervous. I was afraid I'd spend too much and now I have a very strict process and budget for fashion shopping so it really has become a process of spending consciously.
ATWS: What has your Clothing Fast taught you? How will the experience change the way you shop and think about money going forward?
My Clothing Fast taught me that every single dollar you spend is important. I really didn’t think I was spending a lot until I did the Fast. I am also very committed to spending ethically, buying used, and supporting goods manufactured in the U.S.A.
ATWS: Would you recommend a Clothing Fast for others?
MJ: Yes. But, maybe not for a year ☺
ATWS: Alright, So what are your top 3 tips for having success with a Clothing Fast?
1. Have a clear “Why”. If you’re just doing it to do it, you probably won’t succeed.
2. Be content with what you have. If you’re not content, then you will crave items to fill whatever void that needs filling in your life.
3. Buy lots of underwear before you start. Seriously.
ATWS: Your story is really inspiring! What's next for you?
MJ: I keep toying with running a half marathon. But, the thought of running one exhausts me mentally. We’ll see. I’m crossing things off my list and that has been on it for a while.
Thank you Michelle!
What do you think? Do you need a Clothing Fast? What would be the hardest part of doing a Clothing Fast for you?
P.S. Looking to declutter and minimize? CLICK HERE to learn about the Fearless Minimalist Guide