No Shopping for a Year


Feb 23, 2006
My favorite part:

“'So? You’ll be a guy for a year,' said my friend Rob Bragin, who shrugged when I told him about my experiment."
Dressing-Room Dropout


Published: December 3, 2006
We’ve all made rash decisions. We’ve all made stupid decisions. On July 19, 2005, I made a rash and stupid decision. I was regarding a pair of Rock and Republic jeans in a boutique when a saleswoman approached and asked, “Do you need anything?” “No,” I said. And then it hit me how deeply I meant it. I had a full closet at home that included at least six pairs of jeans. So I issued a challenge to myself: could I go a year without shopping for clothes or even entering a clothing store? And here’s the rash and stupid part: I accepted the challenge.
“So? You’ll be a guy for a year,” said my friend Rob Bragin, who shrugged when I told him about my experiment. Women had stronger reactions. “My stomach turned when you said that,” said my friend Robin Schiff. My sister-in-law, Sharalyn Lehman, turned red and said, “That’s horrible.” And my editor taunted, “You’ll never make it.”
The first month was the hardest. Breaking the habit required constant vigilance. Then the second month was the hardest because the stores were showing the new fall clothes. Then every month was “the hardest.” November was the hardest because I had a wedding in Washington and spent the night freezing in a Michael Kors beaded tank and a flimsy Vivienne Tam skirt. December was the hardest because of the Christmas displays. January was the hardest because of the Christmas sales. February was the hardest because it had been seven months since I’d bought anything. March was the hardest because it had 31 days.
So I made it. Yep, I set an arbitrary challenge for myself and whined for a year until I declared a Pyrrhic victory. But I did learn some things.
Oprah hates me. In her 2005 season opener, Oprah exhorted her audience to “Shop, shop, shop, shop, shop!” Why would Oprah torment me? Society relentlessly urges us to consume. Tempting postcards from local stores and e-mail messages from national chains filled my mailboxes, both real and virtual. About halfway through the year, it got personal. I received a phone call from Ethel Schon, who runs Fashion Therapy, my favorite neighborhood resale boutique. “I just got some gorgeous things in your little size,” she said. I groaned and told her I couldn’t come in because I’d given up shopping for the year. She gasped, “What have you taken up — heroin?”
Mirrors are the best mirrors. One day, I realized that popping into stores is a good way to check yourself out in their full-length mirrors. I realized this when I tried to catch my fuzzy reflection in a store window.
I did need something! Always have a nice pair of dressy black pants that are up to date. My choices were an old pair of high-waisted Giorgio Armani or a slightly lower-waisted BCBG with zippers at the ankles. Neither is a good choice.
You can learn to deeply hate a shirt. If you wear the same Three Dots cashmere V-neck black shirt over and over, you will get horribly sick of it. Digging deep in your bureau, you may find a light-blue Velvet V-neck top, and, gleefully, you’ll wear it over and over. Then soon you will get horribly sick of that, too.
Why are they selling clothes at a doughnut shop? Clothing seems to be sold everywhere nowadays. At yoga studios. The car wash. Restaurants. Museum gift shops. Even the Nintendo World store in Rockefeller Plaza, where I absent-mindedly checked the price of a white polo shirt with a lime-green Nintendog logo before I realized what I was doing.
Everything old is kinda new again. At the tail end of my abstinence, skinny jeans came into vogue. I rooted around and found a couple of cigarette pants from who knows when. Good enough. And I didn’t mind missing the baby-doll-top resurgence of 2006.
My sister-in-law is wonderful. Everyone close to me knew I had banned shopping for a year, but only my sister-in-law made a point of giving me two adorable shirts for my birthday and two more when I was recovering from gallbladder surgery. (It was worth losing the body part!) My flesh-and-blood sister said she thought it would be “cheating” to give me clothing as a gift. Uh, it would have been fine.
“That’s not my style ... or is it?” I think my diet made me a less picky eater. By the end of the year, I was oohing over every outfit in a store window. Isn’t that cowgirl skirt cute? I’d think, although I’ve never worn a cowgirl skirt in my life. When my year was finally up, my first stop was a D&G boutique. My heart was pounding as I flipped through the rack. A short, fitted jacket in burnt orange caught my eye. My first thought was, I don’t wear orange. My next thought was, What the hell? I tried it on, and it fit perfectly. The color was even flattering. So now I wear orange.
You know, I've thought about doing something like this, at least for 6 months or so. I just have so much clothing and only buy new stuff because I get bored of the old stuff. It's not a very good reason, obviously! I think my dad's getting me a BR giftcard for Christmas, and if he does, I may go on clothing ban and just use the giftcard if something really necessary comes up. Of course, I haven't been a very good gal on bag ban, I don't know if clothing will go better!


Jun 26, 2006
i couldn't possibly do it!!

I get turned off clothes/shoes sometimes b/c i do have alot of stuff, and lately there hasn't been much that i was in love with and had to have.

But knowing me...if i ban becomes all i can think just better to let it happen naturally..


Jun 8, 2006
Wow - an interesting read and that takes a lot of determination to make it through a year!

I'm thinking of doing the same thing except with purses/bags which are even harder for me than clothes. I think I am almost at the point of clothes "gluttony" and my closet is exploding and I really really don't need to shop. So it makes things a bit easier and plus I'm finding that avoiding the malls is helping me avoid new clothes shopping.

For me, purses and bags are more difficult because while I do have a sufficient amount - I'm not feeling like I'm at the point of gluttony and there are so many different styles, fabrics, leathers, and colours to be had that I can run off a list in my head in the span of 30 seconds that is capable of making me go broke just as quickly.

As well next year I'll be writing a large designation exam in September with results coming out in December, so I figure it'd be a great way to motivate myself to stay on track. No purses for the year so that when 2007 is finally over - my exam results will be released and then... what better way to celebrate than to indulge in a gorgeous bag to celebrate two accomplishments in 2007 - passing my exam and making it a year without buying a single bag. Although I guess some people might find it perverse that my reward is the very thing I've been trying to cut out for a year...


Apr 24, 2006
honestly it can be may seem sucky however.

the reason I say it can be done. In traditional Judaism, for a full year after you lose a parent, there are restrictions on what you can do: cutting your hair, buying new clothes, going to celebrations.

SO while it is a challenge, I think when you are compelled by soemthing greater than yourself, it makes the task and the challenge all the more managable.


latest obsession :
Nov 18, 2005
ahhhh a year!!!!!!!!!! that is incredible. she didn't mention all the money she saved! hahahaha. i might try that but maybe 6 months??? it definitely is challenging and god knows i need to learn discipline!


Jan 25, 2006
That really must be tough! I am trying to give up shopping for a month so when I go on vacation I can go WILD and shop till I drop, literally! I don't think I would be able to handle it! What a stronge woman!! I liked the part, "I groaned and told her I couldn’t come in because I’d given up shopping for the year. She gasped, “What have you taken up — heroin?” ":roflmfao: I mean really, what can detour a woman from shoppin!!:??