My No-Spend January Has Changed the Way I Shop Forever

This month at Who What Wear UK, we're fully focused on fashion that makes you happy, so we're handing it over to our long-serving super-stylish columnist Emma Thatcher of A Style Album, who has rediscovered a love for her wardrobe in a rather unexpected way. Over to you, Em…

Instead of Dry January, I’ve just completed No-Spend January. Yep, the "longest" month of all, and I decided to go cold turkey with my shopping habits. When I say no spending, I’m talking purely about clothes; I realised that my spending on new clothes was out of control. I’m doing major renovations in my home this year, so the extra money I save I’ll put towards that, but the main reason for doing this was to look at my shopping patterns.

I’d see someone looking stylish on Instagram, and unlike in the past where you’d have to hunt down the said piece, you can now more often than not swipe up, be taken to the exact item and check out via PayPal, all in the space of one minute. My new purchase would be winging it’s way to me before I even realised what I was doing.

I know I blog about fashion and style—and I’m as much an enabler as I’m enabled—but for me, it meant I was accumulating far too many new items. So much so that I was finding it even harder to get dressed in the morning. And after the initial buzz of making a new purchase, the feeling of waste was overwhelming. I also found that I was going off things pretty quickly. I’m a big fan of the high street, and my budget doesn’t allow for designer pieces every week/month, but I found that I was buying things on the high street because I didn’t have to overthink about the £25 it cost me. I’d then wear it once or twice, and the love would disappear, whereas my designer pieces have longevity.

I have high street pieces in my wardrobe that have stood the test of time, so in the future, I’m going to be making much more considered purchases, whether they are high end or high street.

Instagram is by far my most significant influence. Of course, I had a few wobbles—I forgot myself once and clicked through to buy a gorgeous green midi dress on ASOS. Luckily it wasn’t yet in stock, but it made me realise how instant and easy it is to act like this. Another time I’d seen the perfect white tee on H&M's feed. I resisted but later had an argument with my husband and my first reaction was to go on H&M and purchase the tee. I made it all the way to check out before I stopped, proving that shopping is often emotionally driven. I fell in love with the Balenciaga Triple S trainers, and again to my benefit they were (and still are) sold out everywhere, so I had no option but to drool. I made a list, and every time I was tempted to buy something, I added to it.

At the end of the month, I looked over the list and found that there are only four out of the 12 things that I still really want. So I’m going to be carrying this on every month; making no purchases until the first day of the following month. Hopefully, it will change my wardrobe and make sure the pieces I buy to add to it are things I genuinely love and will treasure for a long time, instead of being quick fixes. Now I’m counting down the hours until I can finally buy the Sandy Liang jacket I fell in love with on day 27 of 31 during my No-Spend January.

Head over to A Style Album to see more of Em's experiment—and to find out the pieces that didn't make it onto her shortlist.