Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Lisa of Semi-Material World.
Unless you were raised by Arctic wolves or live in a dark northern place like Sweden, Norway, or Minnesota, it’s hard to imagine what fashion promises to a Canadian in the bleakness of January. Let me paint you a picture: Toronto in January is, to put it mildly, not a pretty sight.
Days consistently range down to the minus twenties (that’s -4 degrees Fahrenheit to you Americans) with a windchill that makes the frigid air cut like tiny, terrible knives through any part of your body not covered by a parka.
The optimistic, sparkling, luminous decorations of December have long since been packed away; everyone’s sick of saying “Happy New Year” and all that’s really left is to skulk miserably along the dark icy sidewalks, hood up, waiting out the two long months before spring returns. It’s cold, it’s dreary, and it’s totally fashion-unfriendly – and this is the climate in which the clothing sales of January seduce.
I’ll come clean here: in years past, I’ve been a total sucker for the January sale. You see, when the wind is so bitter that just leaving the house to get toilet paper feels like a major commitment, the call of the mall can be pretty powerful. Add onto the appeal of a warm, coat-free environment the enticement of new clothing on sale and it’s a recipe for some serious laying down of cash and credit cards. But this year, I cruised through the first month of the year with nary a purchase. Not a 70% off tank top; not a pair of end-of-winter boots; nothing. And for this reason alone, Project 333 deserves a large chunk of credit.
3 Ways wearing only 33 items of clothing help me avoid the seductive call of the January sale?
- I realized that I already have everything I want. Drastically reducing my wardrobe to only its most essential components for 3 months has allowed me a unique opportunity: to peek into my closet and drawers at the items I’m not currently wearing, take stock, and appreciate each item for what it is. I can see now that I have tons of great clothes, enough clothes for every occasion, just enough.
- Reducing my clothing to 33 items has made me appreciate lack of choice. Prior to participating in Project 333, getting dressed was a bit of a drag. Yep, I was one of those women, gazing bleary-eyed into her closet for countless minutes every morning, digging haplessly through the overstuffed shirt drawer to find something cute and clean to wear. (“But I have nothing!” I would moan inwardly. “If only I had [fill in blank], my wardrobe would be perfect!” Oy.) One of the most obvious side effects of participating in Project 333 has been the relief of not having to choose. Actually, getting dressed in the morning has gotten positively breezy. No more bleary-eyed closet staring! No more digging for one of six virtually identical tops! In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz eloquently articulates the notion that too much choice (in consumer products, services, and so on) can negatively impact our psychological well-being. I’m with him.
- Pardon my bluntness, but going into a store where the merchandise is clearly (and desperately) priced to sell really illuminates it for what it is: unethically-produced crap of questionable quality. I work in downtown Toronto, quite close to a strip with a high density of designer boutiques (Gucci, Prada, Burberry, Chanel et al.) interspersed with slightly less expensive but still not cheap stores like Nine West, Coach, and Banana Republic. Last week, I decided to experiment a bit and troll around the shops at lunchtime – just to see, slightly perversely, if I would be tempted by the retailers’ winter’s-almost-over, we-need-to-move-this-stock-out deep discounts. Maybe it was the fact that I’d already realized I have enough cute things to wear; maybe it was my newfound ability to dress in 60 seconds flat. Whatever the reason, I was pleasantly surprised to find that nothing appealed to me. The racks of fall clothing looked so disheveled, so random, so cheap and sad – and I strolled back to work without even a small compulsion to buy anything.
I know, I know. It’s a minor accomplishment, to have made it through January without buying any new clothes, but I’ll call it what it is for me personally – a tiny little triumph. What’s next – buying nothing new for spring? For summer? That wedding I’m invited to in May? Something sexy for a Valentine’s Day date with my hubbo? I think I’ll go have a look in my closet to see what I’ve already got – then I’ll get back to you.
Read more from Lisa at her blog, Semi-Material World.