Renewed Collective

What I learnt from my year of the ‘No New Clothes’ challenge

At the start of 2022 I made a decision to participate in a ‘No New Clothes’ challenge for the entire year. I have previously taken part in the Slow Fashion Movement campaign for 3 months of the year, where you purchase no new clothes for 3 months straight. But I wanted to experiment and take it further. Challenge myself and do something that goes against society’s normal expectations.

Let’s recap why I started this challenge

If you haven’t read my first post about this challenge, you can read it here. I watched ‘The True Cost’ documentary and it completely changed my view of the world of fashion. We just see the final product hanging in the stores and decide to buy it based on whether it suits our fashion tastes, or helps us keep up with the latest trends. We should all realise that we can never keep up with all the trends, nor should we. 

We all have different body types and not every trend is going to look good on us, or even feel comfortable in. What a boring world if we all wore the same thing. We all have our own unique style and that should be celebrated. And we should never wear anything that we don’t feel comfortable in. 

Ever worn an uncomfortable piece of clothing out and spent the whole time fidgeting and self-conscious? Yep I’ve been there and you don’t end up enjoying yourself. It’s time to get rid of those clothes and stop buying them in the first place. If you’re buying clothes in a store, you should always be trying them on. My policy is if it’s not a hell yes! Then I shouldn’t buy it. If I’m unsure, it’s a no and I won’t buy it because it won’t become a treasured part of my wardrobe. 

What I found out during the challenge

You definitely don’t need as many clothes as you think you do! Rediscovering my wardrobe was fun and made me look at clothes differently. I was able to refine my style and work out what I loved to wear. What was comfortable and suited my body. I also surprisingly donated or sold quite a few pieces that I just wasn’t going to wear anymore. 

I’d be lying if I wasn’t tempted. Fortunately moving to a small seaside town with only 2 small clothes shops helped make the whole process easier. But with so much of our lives spend online these days, the distractions and temptations are endless. After unfollowing most of the fashion brands on social media it became easier. 

But then came the sales. Mid year sales, Black Friday/Green Friday, Cyber Monday, then the Boxing Day sales which now seem to start a month before Christmas. But it’s time to change our mindset. If we don’t need it, then we are still spending money on the item, whether its 20% or 50% off. 

'No New Clothes' Challenge

Alternatives to buying new clothes

Here are some of the things that I did during the year that helped me;

  • Re-learnt how to use my sewing machine. I was taught in high school but it has been along time since then. So when my mum came to visit I got her to teach me again. This enabled me to alter some of clothes that I hadn’t really been wearing but wanted to. A pair of pants that were too long, a pair of shorts that weren’t the right length for my short legs, and a dress that had become misshapen at the top so I converted it into a long skirt. These pieces of clothing now fit me perfectly and get worn all the time. Plus I got to spend some quality time with my Mum! Win-win situation all round.
  • Borrow items from friends or family. Need a dress or item of clothing for a one-off event? If you are fortunate enough to have friends or a family member that are a similar size to you, this is a wonderful option. You get to wear something that you’ve never worn before, and the item gets more use. This is also a great option for jewellery, shoes or even winter gear that you might need for a holiday. Snow gear can be quite expensive and if you don’t live somewhere you would use it every year, borrowing it is a wonderful option. I also discovered my husbands wardrobe to be quite beneficial, including a jumper he received for his birthday that he didn’t particularly like, so I claimed it. Nice and baggy, comfortable to wear around the house. 
  • Making a list of the items you truly need or want. I started a list around halfway through the year as it came to the point were I wanted or needed some items. The benefit of this I found was the space it gave me to really think about the decisions of these purchases. After awhile I would look back at the list and realise that I didn’t really need that piece of clothing. Some of them though I did. In particular was a new pair of Winter pyjamas and a beautiful skirt from sustainable brand Indigo Luna. My birthday is at the end of October, so I asked for these as gifts. It worked out perfectly as I could tell my family exactly what I wanted, and they didn’t have to try and come up with something that I might not use. 
  • Buying secondhand. With so many unwanted clothes going to charity shops, these can be a treasure trove of quality, unworn items. I didn’t venture into too many secondhand shops, but did browse eBay when I felt the need to add to my wardrobe. eBay can be a great place for secondhand items. This is where I sold quite a few items earlier in the year with great success. I only bought 2 secondhand items on here, a new pair of denim shorts and some jeans. The shorts were fantastic and have become a staple in my wardrobe. The jeans didn’t quite fit and were resold on for someone else to enjoy. My best tip for buying online is to buy from brands you already know and love. This ensures you know the right size for you. Remember if you get the item and it doesn’t quite fit right or it’s uncomfortable, don’t just leave it in your closet! Do something with it and let it have a chance to be worn and enjoyed. You can always resell it or perhaps you have a friend or family member that might be able to wear it. 

Is there an end to growth?

We live in a world where growth is the main objective. The economy must grow year on year and we ‘should’ be accumulating more and more things to make us look successful. We work to buy things and treat ourselves for working so hard. It’s a vicious cycle that most of us can’t get past. What if we stopped and got off the hamster wheel. If we didn’t upgrade that phone as soon as you’ve paid off the plan. What if we didn’t buy a new dress every time we had a new event. What’s the worst that could happen if we wore the same item to more than one event. Someone makes a comment? I promise you the majority of the people wouldn’t even realise you are wearing the same thing. 

Progress over perfection 

Yes, this ‘No New Clothes’ challenge might seem extreme to some, but sometimes we have to challenge ourselves to get out of our comfort zone. It’s about making small changes that make a difference over time. I also want to create awareness of the damage the fashion industry is doing to not only our environment, but those working within it. 

While most of us just see the clothes hanging in the store, who are the people who are making them? What conditions are they working in? It’s time to take a closer look at who we are buying from and the effect it is having. 

It’s time to start buying from brands who are transparent about every step of manufacturing process. Who provide their workers with living wages and safe working conditions. Materials that are non-toxic and ethically sourced. Who are committed to sustainability practices that support local communities and our environment. 

I really enjoyed this challenge and learnt a lot from it. It has taught me to be more conscious of my choices and in this fast paced world we now live in, to slow down and take a breath. We don’t have to make decisions in an instant and we’re allowed to take our time. We have time and we are allowed to use it however we wish. 

I hope this has inspired you in some way. Whether that’s to undertake your own ‘No New Clothes’ challenge, purchase secondhand or perhaps borrow something from your friend. My only wish is that you be mindful of your choices and enjoy what we already have. Reducing our consumption is truly the only sustainable way forward.

Much love,


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