Skip to main content
Fashion Journal

my clothing spending freeze of 2019 and what i’m doing for 2020…

my clothing spending freeze of 2019 and what i'm doing for 2020... / via oh joy!

my clothing spending freeze of 2019 and what i'm doing for 2020... / via oh joy!

Because of our on-going house project, last year, we cut out major travel and vacations from our family budget. And, I cut out about 90% of my clothing purchases. I went on a spending freeze and was on a mission to not buy any new clothes for myself.

The only exceptions were:
-Vintage clothes under $40
-Gifts I receive from friends or through work

Basically, no spending money on new clothes in 2019.

So, did I make it?

Mostly! I surprisingly did. Even when there were big sales or email blasts telling me about new collections and new styles, the me that would have normally checked it out right away deleted the emails and didn’t even look. The only times I broke my rule last year were to buy a few pieces for special occasions or for a family photo shoot. I maybe bought 4 pieces in 2019 that didn't fit these rules…not bad at all.

But the amount in which I saved from implementing this was something I’m super proud of. I barely drink alcohol, I have very minimal beauty or hair product needs, I don’t have a gym membership. So my extra spending money always went towards going out dinners with friends AND my favorite form of personal expression which is…fashion! I used to spend a lot of my free time searching and looking online for great pieces. I think because part of my job involves expressing myself creatively, I always justified purchases in that way. So this spending freeze was something I needed to really give myself the challenge to change that mindset. But also more realistically, I had to be able to put the money I was saving on clothes towards my family's house.

Here's what I learned from a year of not buying new clothes:

— I have less of a reaction to clothes. While I would see something and be able to get excited by it and think it was cute, I didn't have the same emotional reaction I used to have where I needed to have it.

— I was able to see something I really liked and loved and still walk away from it with no regret.

— I placed more value on the price of clothes. Because we have so many purchases that need to be made for our house, I could look at one dress and see that it was equivalent to the cost of a toilet (or some other very tangible home necessity).

— I wore more of my current pieces more and in new ways.

— It made it easier for me to purge things I’ve kept forever but didn’t need or wear. While I still love clothing, I just became less attached than I used to be.

So what’s my plan for 2020?

  1. I’m going to continue with the "no new clothes" thing. I like that I realized I didn't "need" and a lot of it was about "want". I don't know that I will stick to it for the entire year, as I hope to have a bit more breathing room financially once we are no longer building a house. But we will also have a new mortgage to pay, so I am still planning to stick to it somewhat and I just see it as me being a more conscienscious shopper going forward.
  2. I'll still let myself get vintage every once in a while (for a very special and unique piece). I love everything that vintage represents including all the stories behind the pieces and extending the life of existing clothes.
  3. I also decided that for this year I would try a clothing rental program. I have had friends do Rent the Runway and rave about it. So, I just signed up for Nuuly which I love so far. While you do pay a flat monthly fee to borrow clothes, I like that it allows for an ever-changing flow and it also allows me to not feel like I need to keep the pieces. How many times do you buy one thing for one event and never wear it again? I love this for pieces that I might not need to keep but can make fun additions to my wardrobe a few times before it needs to be returned.

Overall, I think I learned that if you really want to make a change in any area of your life, giving yourself rules to follow helps a lot. Rather than saying, "I won't ever spend money on clothes again" or "I'll never eat chocolate cake!", you can apply rules to it to limit yourself but also give yourself a little freedom so you're not going from one extreme end to another.

{Photo by Casey Brodley}


  1. I’m so intrigued with renting clothes. How do you feel about the price of it? Is it ever hard to give up pieces you really really like. If so, are you able to purchase any pieces you rent?

  2. I’ve rented clothes before and while it can be fun for awhile, eventually I felt like the monthly fee could be put to better use and ended my subscription. Hope you have fun with it!

  3. I just started so I don’t have any strong feelings yet! But most of them allow you to buy the pieces at a discounted price if you want to keep!

  4. It is so easy to get sucked into buying stuff because it’s on sale. Bravo for making it (mostly) thru a year of no clothing spending. I do a “spending fast” every other quarter (3 months of no unnecessary spending, 3 months ok). It had really helped with understanding needs vs wants.

  5. Thanks for this blog Joy! This has been one of my resolutions for 2020, trying not to buy new clothes. Both for financial reasons (I’m currently out of a job) and basically because I don’t need more… it just keeps accumulating. I desperately need to do a closet clean-out. Also, I can save the time of online shopping buying/returning clearing out my existing clothes!
    I do get my shopping fix by buying for my 3 kids (2 boys and a girl).
    Thanks again for an honest and refreshing post!

  6. Several years ago I made the decision to not purchase shoes or purses for one year … I quickly ran to TJ Maxx and bought the cute black Kate Spade purse before my year began 🙂 Like you, once the year was over, I didn’t feel the need to run to the shoe store. It’s been … gosh … 4 years now and I Have never gone back to my old spending habits. Perhaps it’s time to go on a healthy food only restriction -ha!

  7. Hi Cecily,
    Thanks for sharing! You would def. be surprised how many clothes we all already have and how good a a closet clean out feels!

  8. Ha yes! It’s the practice that makes it turn into a real change! I hear you on the food except I think I love food too much 😛

  9. Great progress! I’ve tried several rental clothes and stuck with Ann Taylor the longest due to my job and sizing. You have to find one that fits your needs and style, which I think Nuuly will for you (plus they have vintage!). I love rental clothes and at first wanted to buy everything, but that quickly went away after it became more routine. It’s a fantastic way to try new styles and save on wash/dry cleaning along with closet space. I love it and hope you enjoy!

  10. I’ve been renting with Nuuly since November and I love it so much! It fits with my habits of loving something and wearing it non stop for a month and then getting tired of it! I also love that I can try the trendy pieces without investing in them, I keep my owned wardrobe basic and all in the fun interesting pieces!

  11. Hi Maria,
    That is the problem is that I wasn’t keeping track of how much I was spending on clothes before! I had no clear budget!
    I know I saved a lot but I don’t have a sense of comparison because I did not track it before!

  12. I’ve been renting from Nuuly for a few months and I’m still on the fence. There’s a whole week in between for the returns process (a few days waiting for it to arrive and a few days for it to go back) and I’m not seeing any newer styles from Anthro or Free People…only clothes that left the sale racks a few months ago. But it has curbed my spending and I find it more sustainable.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Along