Full Laundry, Fresh Style: the final analysis

Laundry pinterest

(Please excuse the strange blend of fonts – I tried but couldn’t fix it this morning and wanted to get this post up!)

It’s here at last, the end of my FLFS Challenge. If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about you can read my previous post with full explanation and background here but, in short, I have worked my way through my entire wardrobe, not laundering anything or buying anything new until I had worn everything in there!

I have a few key learning points and reflections from this challenge that I’d love to briefly share with you.

1. I have a lot of clothes. A LOT.

2. My shopping habits, albeit mainly from charity shops, had gotten way out of hand. I was in the habit of buying things that I liked but didn’t love and definitely didn’t need. As a result there were quite a few things that I didn’t wear that often but sat there taking up space.

3. I do have some items in my wardrobe that I truly love and want to wear more, but they were getting crowded out by all of the other stuff.

4. You CAN change your shopping habits, and going cold turkey is actually very refreshing and freeing.

5. I have a new appreciation of the clothes I already have. I’m about to do a mountain of ironing and when it all goes back into my wardrobe I will feel like the richest woman in the world, all with stuff I already own.

6. Instead of charity shops I’m going to try arranging clothes swaps as a way to bring new items into my wardrobe. I’m also going to rotate what’s in my wardrobe more often so that things feel new to me when I see them and so I’m therefore less tempted to but something new, just for a fresh change.

This has been a great challenge to do, helping me to see what I own in a new light, changing my habits of consumption and helping me to ask myself some important questions about what I buy, why I buy it and if there are other ways to think about that process.

If you’ve found yourself in an unhelpful shopping habit and need a bit of a wake-up call, why not give it a try – or something like it. If you do, I’d love to hear how you get on.

And if you’re nearby and fancy a clothes swap, I’m your girl.

Full Laundry, Fresh Style – Update

About a month ago I wrote a post about my new clothing regime: Full Laundry, Fresh Style, the basic idea of which was that I would do no more laundry until I had worn all of my clothes!

Laundry  pinterest

I am now five weeks into this scheme and so I thought I’d give you a little update.

Firstly, before you are too shocked by the fact that I have five weeks of clothes (and counting…) in my wardrobe and start judging me for my Imelda Marcos-like tendencies, let me point out that as I started at the end of summer I have been using both summer and autumn clothes during this time. There are definitely things that, once laundered, will not go back in the wardrobe but rather be tucked away again until next summer. Similarly there are a few things that are coming into the wardrobe now that’s it’s getting cooler which were away in a drawer since the start of spring. Also, there are obviously lots of items, particularly trousers and skirts, which have been worn more than once.

That being said – I do have a lot of clothes. What’s more, I don’t absolutely love them all.

And so my mind begins to turn to what I am learning from this process and what I might do differently at the end of it. Given that an estimated £140 million worth of used clothes goes to landfill in the UK every year (some of which has travelled via charity shops and hasn’t been sold), I don’t want to return to my default setting of sending things out the door in a donation bag and think that this lets me off the hook. However I do feel the need to simplify, at least a little. I think a clothes swap may be in order.

There have been a few wonderful benefits along the way.

  1. My default pair of jeans were in need of retiring to the ‘gardening clothes’ category and I wondered if I could make it through the challenge without going to buy another pair. Lo and behold, deep in the darkest recesses of my wardrobe was another pair of jeans that had, at one point or another, fallen out of favour but which were in perfectly good nick. They are the new default jeans.
  2. I really haven’t felt too bereft of visiting in my beloved charity shops. Because I’ve had more variety in the clothes I am wearing every day I therefore haven’t felt the need to add a little something new by shopping.
  3. I’m entering the skirt phase. I have quite a few skirts which I like but don’t wear often. Now that the summer trousers have all been worn and the jeans are in the wash, bring on the skirts!
  4. Hardly any laundry.

I think I can probably get another 2-3 weeks out of this plan if I can make things match and tie together ok. I’ll keep you posted!

Full Laundry Fresh Style

A couple of months ago I read an article about someone who was doing a decluttering of their wardrobe and they included a piece of advice that I’d read dozens of times before: go through what you have and if you haven’t worn it in a year then get rid of it. Give it to charity, sell it or throw it out. I’ve always been a little dubious about that idea but this time it really struck me – I actually think it’s nonsense.

Why haven’t you worn those clothes for a year? Is it because they genuinely no longer fit or you’ve completely worn them out? Or is it more likely that you’ve just become bored with them at some stage and bought more stuff? And as you’ve bought more stuff the closet gets even more full and those boring item goes right to the back – isn’t that right? Finally we arrive at the stage where we think ‘I’ve got too much – I need to declutter!’ We may feel good getting rid of stuff at the time but most of us know that we’re just making room for more. And in a year or two we’ll put together a new outfit and think “oh I need a green cardigan to go with this – I used to have one of those but I gave it away – now I’ll have to buy a new one.”

We seem to have become conditioned to believe that joy is only to be found in the new, therefore if you’ve had it for a while and no longer use it, you are within your right to say goodbye. This completely ignores the fact that, at one time, you liked this item enough to buy it and (hopefully) wear it. (Although there is a frightening statistic that the average British woman hoards £285 of clothes they will never wear.) If we actually looked into our wardrobes a little more closely, would we rediscover items that we could still very happily wear, rather than always reaching for the same things or thinking that we need something new? If we tuck things away for a while and then bring them out afresh will it feel like we have something new, when really it was ours all along and we’d simply forgotten about it? Livia Firth, eco campaigner (and wife of Colin), takes great joy in highlighting the things she wears that she’s had for many, many years with the hashtag #sustainablewardrobe .

I love clothes, and I love to shop. However I also care about the ethics of my wardrobe and so I do quite a bit of my purchasing in charity shops. This has led me to take on an attitude that all my shopping is guilt free and so I’ll merrily carry on. I have also been under the impression that if I bought something and didn’t like it, I could simply pop it back into a charity shop bag where it would benefit someone else. The whole cycle was a beautiful eco-shoppers dream – until I watched the film The True Cost. I thoroughly recommend that you get a copy (or it’s available on Netflix I believe) and let yourself be challenged by the state of the garment industry. This is an issue that I’ve been passionate about for a while but the film has reinvigorated that interest and has brought some fresh perspectives. For example, the clothes that I send off to a charity shop will not necessarily be bought by someone else. And if they’re not purchased they will be shipped to a developing country where they will flood their markets with very cheap clothes, or they will be put into landfill and leak toxic fumes into the atmosphere. Suddenly my theoretically righteous shopping habits became a bit more suspect.

I do often look into my wardrobe at things I haven’t worn in quite some time and think that I should get them out and figure what to put them with – but then I reach for the same 40% of my wardrobe day after day, week after week. So what to do with all the clothes that I have that I haven’t worn in ages? Finally this past weekend I came up with a plan : don’t do laundry! If the things that I always reach for stay in the washing basket then I’ll be forced to dig deeper and deeper into my closet and wear the things I actually own.

This is my plan, (which I started last Sunday) : I have emptied my washing and ironing baskets and have all of my clothes at my disposal, and aside from washing necessary undergarments etc, I will not do any more laundry until I have worked my way through my entire wardrobe. Let me be clear – I’m talking normal clothes. I’m not going to run out of stuff to wear and then turn up to the office in a bridesmaid dress because that’s the only thing left!

I’m hoping to gain something valuable from this experience. I would like to rediscover joy and gratitude in how abundantly blessed I already am. I hope to exercise fresh creativity in putting together new combinations of clothes I may never have tried before. I love to be creative in this way and recognise that it’s sometimes laziness that stops me making the most of what I have. I think there are rich pickings in my wardrobe just waiting to be discovered anew. I will also, hopefully, prove to myself that I can stop shopping – at least for quite a while!*

Plus, no laundry! BONUS. (I appreciate that I am heading for one almighty laundry mountain at the end of all this, but hey, for now my washing machine will enjoy the rest.) I’m calling this little experiment Full Laundry, Fresh Style and you are very welcome to join me if you feel the need to re-explore your own wardrobe. If I find any clothes combinations along the way that I’m particularly proud of I’ll let you know and I’ll keep you posted in a couple of weeks time with how I’m getting on. For now I’m off to decide what to wear tomorrow…

*I feel I must confess: between the time of writing this and posting it I did actually buy one more garment – but it was a case of serious wardrobe malfunction!! A very full floaty skirt and a windy day made it highly likely that I would spend an entire afternoon flashing my underwear around the city of Edinburgh and, y’know, I’m just not that kind of girl. So to save my blushes I bought a quick charity shop garment to continue on my way in all modesty – but that’s me done now, I promise!