Elsie’s 2019 Fashion Challenge (6-Month Update)

(Wearing a dress, bag and sunnies I already had on our trip to Oaxaca, Mexico this spring. Shoes are c/o local brand Able)

There are two things I want to cover in today’s six-month update: one is the tough things about this challenge (it’s definitely getting more difficult as the months go by) and what I’ve learned! I still have not cheated even one time and have stuck to all the rules I set here.

What’s been tough
I set this challenge knowing it would be tough at times. I knew it would save a LOT of money over the course of a year and I knew it was something I would be personally proud of. I hoped I would even learn how “easy” it is to buy pre-owned clothing. And yes, ALL of these things have been true! Six months in, I am still so glad I took on this challenge!

OK, so you want to hear about the things that AREN’T great?

I miss being able to shop quickly and at convenience (I MISS RETURNING THINGS). I’ve been planning what I want to pack for our China trip. It’s a two-week trip with two little kids and will be really hot in some of the cities we’re traveling to. I know if I’m not careful I will wear yoga pants or a pair of cutoff shorts the entire trip. That wouldn’t be the worst thing, I just remember how gross I felt on our last trip after wearing the same outfits for two weeks. I want to pack a mix of comfortable clothing that still makes me feel cute when I NEED that (it happens on such a long trip). I was thinking easy dresses with Converse, some sandals … stuff along those lines. It would be SO MUCH easier to just order 10 dresses off ASOS right now (and send five of them back …). I miss convenience shopping. That said, I’ve been buying a bunch of $30 dresses on Poshmark from brands like Free People and Madewell, so although it’s more time consuming, I am still getting great options!

The other thing I miss is impulse purchasing. I know that’s probably a “bad” thing to miss and overall I AM glad it’s not an option right now. But when people I follow post a cute little top from here or a pair of great sandals from there I really like shopping that way and I miss it.

I also have really missed doing capsule wardrobe, even though I am still doing it (sort of) since I’m living minimally and shopping carefully. I missed the part where you make a mood board and shop for the whole seasons. It’s just really inspiring! I think it might be something I want to go back to next year—we will see!

(Wearing a pre-owned dress from Free People)

What I’ve learned
Shopping used really saves a LOT of money. I have bought so many pieces from great brands for under $30. And when it comes, it always looks and feels new—sometimes it even still has the tags attached.

Shopping pre-owned takes a lot of time. It does. I enjoy that when I have the time to treat it like a hobby and it can be slightly annoying when I have something really specific I want to shop for. Although I will say I bought all my clothing for our big Palm Springs trip and our big China trip pre-owned. So as long as you give yourself time (last minute shopping doesn’t really work on this plan), it works great!

Rewearing is a habit. I used to rewear maybe 20% of my closet on a regular basis. Now I rewear 70% of it on a regular basis. I think a big part of that was purging stuff I wasn’t wearing, but another big part is just not having new clothes all the time. I’ve ended up with 4-5 outfits I fall back on for dress up occasions and then tons of basics to mix the rest of the time and it feels really functional. Less waste for sure!

And my biggest takeaway so far …

I LOVE not thinking about clothing. It’s been one of the most busy seasons in my professional life and I was also focused on enjoying my last months with just one kid. I really didn’t shop hardly at all, and I loved it!

I used to browse clothing online almost every night. Now I take a look maybe once a week (mainly on Poshmark, but I also find good stuff on eBay and Etsy when I’m shopping vintage). I have really enjoyed NOT looking at what’s new in all my favorite shops. I haven’t even stepped foot in Madewell yet this year (I do miss that though!). Overall, I am just really enjoying not thinking about clothing.

I have plenty of clothes. When a special occasion like our anniversary comes up, I always have something to wear, even though I didn’t buy anything new for the occasion.

I will always love fashion, but I also am really appreciating a more minimal approach. It’s less to think about.

(Wearing my white Big Bud jumpsuit that I have worn countless times. Feels good to fall back on the same outfits rather than worrying about adding more.)

How do I think I will live after this year is over? 
Biggest takeaway: I know for SURE I will shop used clothing for the rest of my life. I can see doing in maybe 50% or 70% of the time from here on out. It’s so easy and rewarding.

I can see now that there are certain things that are easier to buy new (like jeans or clothing for a specific event) and things that are perfectly easy to shop pre-owned (like dresses and high-end or designer items). I plan to do a mix of both, but keep it heavy on buying used things. Like I said above, I miss capsule wardrobe so I want to bring that back in some way next year—maybe kind of a mini wardrobe refresh each season.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on shopping pre-owned and if this is something you would even try!

xx – Elsie

  • I’ve started shopping secondhand this year also and I agree with all of this! It’s so hard to even look at retail again once you see Poshmark prices that I doubt I’ll ever go back to buying mostly new! I agree about the amount of time it takes. But I am amazed at how often I can find exactly what I’m looking for if I’m just willing to do the Poshmark treasure hunt!

  • This totally resonates with me. I really fight the urge to buy a boatload of new clothes before a trip. It’s so easy to coordinate pieces and return things that don’t work. I’d miss the impulse shopping, too. You look amazing though. Such pretty dresses!

  • What about all those matching clothes and matching pijamas with Nova and the new baby? Are they used?

  • I understand the thrill of buying new, I like shopping too. But for me it’s a rare thing to do. The concept of having to wear new stuff all the time is strange to me. Does it come with blogging, that people get bored with the same clothes all over? I buy a few new pieces every year, some new, some secondhand, and that’s enough. I guess I’m glad I don’t feel that kind of pressure of having to shop all the time. I have to buy new clothes for my toddler aged son regularly though, all second-hand without a doubt.

  • I think you’ve been looking very relatable and well put together for a young mother …it’s been my favorite season of the wardrobes you’ve shared 🙂

  • When I read about this challenge, I had to join in. I only have purchased one new shirt on a vacation (mainly because I forgot I was not buying new things!) It has been hard at times, but it has made me open my eyes how much clothing I was buying. Thank you for the update, I am struggling in the same areas! I wish you luck for the next six months!

  • I love shopping on poshmark, i think its now my go-to for clothes shopping (i even browse new stuff in stores and make a mental note to look it up on poshmark later on) I’d love to see a tour of your closet/wardrobe and your most favorite pieces to wear (i know its hard to link to things when youre not buying from shops, but I still would love to have a run down of your outfits when you post so I know what brands you are wearing/loving) 🙂

  • I have bought used and it just isn’t something I love doing- the fit is often off, and I don’t end up wearing it. I actually really hate buying online. As a tactile person- I want to feeel the clothes before I buy.
    I am obsessed with capsule wardrobes, and those are my favorite posts you do. More jumpsuits! 🙏🏻

  • It’s great to hear that you’re sticking with it and generally loving it! Consumerism is such an issue for our mindsets, our wallets, and our planet so I think it’s great you’re trying this challenge and inspiring others to do the same.

    I want to say that it’s totally possible to have a capsule wardrobe and not buy new clothes, or only buy secondhand. I actually see that as aligning perfectly with the ideals of a capsule wardrobe, simplicity and mindfulness, and buying tons of new pieces each season with the excuse of doing it for a capsule wardrobe really goes against the spirit of that. It’s really fun to have a capsule wardrobe and put some of your favorite clothes away for a season, then take them out a few months later and feel like you’ve got new clothes again! I hope you’ll consider keeping up with your challenge next year while you go back to capsule wardrobes, or even do that the second half of this year!

  • I love this. I’ve kinda been forced to do this because of a huge income cut so these are some great things for me to remember. I saw on your original post that someone asked about shoes. I think I have enough to get by for a while. Just wondering if you have stuck by that?

  • Have you ever tried tradesy? I know you can return stuff on their site, but there are some limitations. I’ve sold a bunch of stuff on there, so may be worth checking out.

  • I’ve been doing this right along with you! Along I did break and buy a $2 Goonies t-shirt. I couldn’t not buy it – it was $2! I don’t know if I have saved a lot of money, I seem to justify my thrifting more because I’m not buying anything new.

  • Cool that you are doing this challenge, my challenge was to stop shopping clothes all together because I just moved and I noticed how many clothes I have. Also I worked at an office for more than a year with just a couple of basics and it worked, nobody noticed (I usually work from home). So I’m just thinking that we do have enough clothes just the industry is pushing us continuously to buy more clothes that we don’t need…. so I’m done with that.

  • I love that you’re doing this challenge. Personally, though, I look forward to your upcoming capsule wardrobe posts each season, and I always end up purchasing a few of the items. I have always gone thrift store shopping, and I think I always will, but I like pairing my thrift store purchases with a few new purchases each season. Again, I love that you’re doing this, but I also love those amazing capsule wardrobe posts each season! This challenge of yours has definitely made me look at what I really and truly want to purchase versus what I just think is cute and don’t necessarily need!

  • I started reading a lot more about fast fashion and over consumption and have started shoping mostly used and looking for more ethical brands for new BUT overall just buying waaaay less and really wearing and using my clothes for their full life. Your challenge really got me thinking about it all more and it sorta just spiraled from there. I love TbredUp bc most items can be returned!

  • Have you tried ThredUP for secondhand? I like that you can bundle purchases over a week, and all their info is uniform, and you can return (with a restocking fee) – but they’ve been less good recently with offering the actual dimensions. Still a big fan. Also you can get a code from a current user and get $20 off!

  • So I just took a pulse on where I’m at with my version of a fashion challenge and I completely agree about convenience, time, all of that. Shopping predominantly preowned has to be a hobby, and spending less time online shopping/browsing is liberating. Definitely for events it is tough, maybe not always possible, and planning is a must! One thing I’ve learned is that there are so many more ways I can combine items I already own to put a new spin on it. That’s been really fun and also a learning process. I am right there with you April Winn Vaughn! I get more satisfaction from caring for items I already have and only buying to replace worn out items than shopping for new items. I want quality pieces that I will have for decades, not things I have to replace every season.

  • Nova always looks adorable, but that last photo in the bell bottoms and beret…maybe the most precious kiddo outfit OF ALL TIME. I have two boys, and while I wouldn’t change a thing about that, I do have to swoon over all the sweet little girl clothing!

  • Hi Elsie!
    Congrats on your new baby girl!
    After reading your post on not buying new clothes i decided to do the same and i have not bought anything new. I have bought all pre-owned from Thred Up and Ebay. I have found a lot of cute things that i know i will be able to wear day after day, They are all timeless pieces not to trendy.
    I agree with you it is hard not to shop for a new dress just because, I try to avoid all the sale alerts that pop up when I am online but overall I have saved a lot of money and I have found it has been worth it.

    Thank you for the inspiration! No regrets! 😉

  • I’m so glad you’re doing this challenge. Discussing sustainability and over consumption when it comes to fashion is so important and your posts do so in a way that is really approachable and welcoming. Bravo!
    I dropped fast fashion completely about five years ago and it feels great. I sporadically take classes at my local sewing studio and once I’ve mastered a pattern in class it’s so easy to go home and make the pattern again and again using different fabrics. The pieces that I’ve made are so much more special to me than anything I ever purchased at a store.

  • It’s nice to see the influence of this concept reaching people who otherwise didn’t give their clothing purchasing habits much thought. I admire your wish to make a change and reduce your impact. Maybe I’m just not your target audience, because I don’t have the resources to NOT rewear my entire closet. It’s never been an option for me with my income, and I can only justify buying something new to replace something worn out. I get that this blog is from your perspective which involves your income/resources. The tone of these posts is kind of alienating to me, so I will probably scroll past them in the future.

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