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Episode 103

How Can I Buy Less Clothing?

Do you want to buy less clothing? Break the fast fashion cycle? In this episode, Sarai and Haley share 7 simple tips to be more intentional about the clothes you add to your wardrobe, so you can feel good about everything you own.

There are many reasons why you might want to buy less clothing. For example, you might want to reduce the environmental footprint of clothing production, break the fast fashion cycle, or curb some psychological reasons for shopping. But you also might just be tired of buying clothes that don’t fit right. Or, you might want to buy fewer things to invest in pieces that will last.

Here are 7 simple tips to be more intentional about what clothing you add to your wardrobe, so you can feel good about everything you own.

Podcast Transcript

Sarai
I’m Sarai.

Haley
And I’m Haley.

Sarai
And this is Seamwork Radio. Welcome back to Seamwork Radio, where we share practical ideas for building a creative process so you can sew with intention and joy.

Today we’re talking about how to be more intentional about what clothing you add to your life so you can feel good about everything you own.

We’re going to cover the reasons you might want to buy less clothing, what common blocks people face in buying less, and seven concrete tips to help you think more deeply about what you buy and what you make. We also want to mention that if this idea of intentional sewing and creating a meaningful wardrobe really resonates with you, you’d probably really love our Design Your Wardrobe course, which is starting next week, actually August 22. So Design Your Wardrobe is a three week course that’s available to Seamwork members, and it walks you through a process that helps you design and sell a wardrobe for the next season. Sign ups are open now, so go to Seamwork.com/go/DYW if you want to learn more.

All right, so we’re going to start with our icebreaker for today, which comes from Seamwork member Saskia. And Saskia asks, what was your first make ever?

All right, Haley, what was your first make ever?

Haley
This is kind of bad because it was so long ago that I can’t remember. It was one of two skirts. I made two skirts back to back. One was a corduroy skirt, and it had a button closure, kind of like a double breasted moment. And it took me so many yards of corduroy because I kept on cutting the nap facing the wrong way. I don’t know what was going on with me, but I could not figure out the nap. I must have gone through, like, three and a half yards making, like, a very simple A-line skirt. And then the other thing I made around that time, which also could have been my first, was another skirt, but it was like, burgundy, and it had kind of fitted, and it had this kind of, like, angular yoke, and it also kind of gathered into the yoke. The design which I drafted was kind of bonkers and really challenging to sew with all of those corners and do not recommend. And I chose the wrong fabric, which always is the case. Not always, but often is the case with beginners. Those were my first two projects, one of which was my first make.

Sarai
I’m really impressed because those sounds pretty ambitious, especially the yoke.

Haley
Yeah. You know, when you’re like a beginner and you kind of don’t know what’s hard and what’s not, you’re like, it’s a seam. How hard can it be? Yeah, I’ve learned that seams can be hard. But, yeah, those were my first projects other than buying stuff from the thrift store and making my jeans fitted before they sold skinny jeans, things like that.

Sarai
Yeah, I’m impressed by the corduroy one, too, because I think as a beginner, I wouldn’t have even known that there is such a thing as nap and that it’ll look different if you cut it from the other side. And I don’t think I would have even recognized those problems.

Haley
I think it was my friend Rachel who had been sewing for a while, and I was like, why does my corduroy look two different colors? She’s like, dude, that’s called nap. You got to cut it all facing the same direction. I was like, okay, I’m going to recut it. I’m going to fix it. Like, five attempts later. Fixed it?

Sarai
Yeah. Well, my first make ever, I don’t know, I guess it depends on what you count as your first make, because I’ve been kind of doodling away with fabric since I was a little kid. But one thing I remember when I was little making was I took this piece of fabric. I don’t know where this piece of fabric came from. This is way before I knew how to use a sewing machine or anything. And I made this tube dress for my little sister to model, and it was like a piece of fabric that was wrapped around her body. And then I sewed up the sides so I had only one side seam. I was a little kid. I sewed it up so that it created a ruffle. So it was like, kind of ruched on the side and had a ruffle on the side. And then I took another piece of fabric that was like a sheer sort of like polyester organza or something like that. And I stitched that to the neckline so she could wrap that around her neck like a little scarf that would hold the dress up. That’s actually how it worked.

And then my mom took pictures of her modeling. It like doing all these modeling poses in it. She must have been like, six or seven years old. Like, so adorable.

Haley
It’s giving mall glamor shots.

Sarai
Yeah. And my sister was a total tomboy, too, so it’s really funny. So it’s the first garment, so-called-garment that I can ever remember making. But then when I actually learned how to sew with a sewing machine, the first thing, I don’t know if I would consider it the first thing I made, because my grandmother really helped me, and she ended up doing a lot of the sewing on it. But she kind of showed me how to construct a garment, and she just ended up making a lot of it, I would say. So the one I made after that, I think I would consider. There are a couple of things I made after that that I’d consider, like my first independently made garments. One was just like a really simple, long, black A-line dress. It didn’t fit me at all. It totally squashed my boobs. So I ended up giving it to my mom and then like a little mini dress that was like an A-line mini dress that was made out of quilting cotton. Those are the two things that I made very early on. But I’m going to count that tube dress with a ruffle as my first because I just think it was adorable.

I got to see if I can dig up that picture of my sister.

Haley
I would love to see that.

Sarai
Was a great icebreaker. It was fun to think back about those things I made when I was a kid. So if you have an icebreaker for us for a future episode, you can share it. If you’re a member, just go to Seamwork.com/go/icebreakers and that will take you to our forum post where you can share an idea for an Icebreaker for a future episode.

So that brings us to our topic for today. So what we wanted to talk about is buying less clothing. And a lot of people begin sewing because they want to buy less clothing for one reason or another. There are a lot of different reasons that people might be interested in buying less clothing. So some of the reasons that we hear a lot are environmental impact. For one, clothing production obviously has a very large environmental footprint and a lot of people would like to lessen that by buying less of it. Some people are just tired of buying clothes that don’t fit well. That’s another big one that we hear. For a lot of us, it’s difficult to find clothing that fits our bodies well and the process can be kind of excruciating of finding that clothing.

So being able to make your own clothing and buy less clothing can help with that. Some people just feel like they have a lot of things, but not a lot of it that they really, really love. So buying less clothing can help facilitate maybe buying more things that you love without having a lot of stuff. Breaking the Fast Fashion Cycle in addition to the environmental impacts of fast fashion, there are a lot of humanitarian impacts and other impacts that people want to lessen and even personal impacts of buying fast fashion. So that’s a big thing that we hear when it comes to buying less clothing. And then last, another one we hear a lot is just people wanting to buy fewer things, but higher quality things. So being able to really suss out what is a high quality garment and focusing your spending budget on those things, whether that’s making those things or just buying higher quality pieces instead of buying a lot of lesser quality pieces, it’s another reason that people feel like buying less clothing would be helpful for them. So those are just some of the reasons that we often hear, and often it’s a combination of those reasons that makes people want to buy less clothing.

There are all kinds of reasons you might want to buy less clothing. It may not be a goal for you, that’s totally fine, too. But if it is a goal for you, we want to talk about it today and what you can do to facilitate that goal.

So another thing that I think we should mention is that people come to sewing a lot of the time because they want to buy less stuff. But sometimes, even after you start sewing, you find yourself buying just as much stuff, or you find yourself replacing your clothes shopping habits with fabric buying habits instead. Have you ever felt that way, Haley? Like, instead of buying clothing, now you’re just buying fabric?

Haley
Yeah, I’ve definitely gone through phases of that, and it’s something that I’ve observed as someone who used to work in a fabric store, especially kind of seeing that people were falling into similar traps that they were trying to escape when they turned to sewing.

Sarai
Yeah, I’ve definitely felt that way at times. I do feel like, for me, there’s an inverse relationship between how much I’m sewing, how much I’m actively sewing, and how much I’m buying. So I do feel like I buy less when I am actively sewing, but there are also times when, for whatever reason, I’m buying more than I need. There’s usually some underlying causes, and we’ll talk a little bit about it today. So today what we wanted to really explore is some concrete ways that you can bring more attention to your sewing and to your shopping. So you can have a closet full of clothes that you really cherish and you really wear a lot.

So I don’t know. Haley, overall, how much clothing do you buy? Do you buy a lot of clothing?

Haley
I try to buy a lot of second hand clothing. So with second hand, it kind of comes in waves because it’s like a famine or feast thing. Sometimes I feel like I can’t find anything for months and months, and then all of a sudden, I find, like, a few of the key pieces that I’ve been really searching for, but I definitely need to try to keep it to a minimum. I try not to have, like, shopping sprees where I just go and buy a whole bunch of things because some place is having a sale and it feels really good, but it goes in waves. And I think it depends on where I’m at in my life. I think when I’m in a place of transition in my life or maybe my lifestyle is changing a little bit, I’m more apt to buy more because I can’t sell at the rate I would like to in order to refresh my wardrobe so that it can keep up with my lifestyle.

Sarai
That’s really interesting. I think there’s kind of like a dual effect there in those periods of transition or when you’re really busy. Well, there’s a few things going on. Personally, I feel like when I’m in a period of transition, that’s when I sometimes do want more clothing because something about my life is changing. And I feel like maybe for practical reasons or maybe just because there’s a general sense of change, I do feel like I want to wear something that’s different sometimes, depending on what it is. But then you’re so busy that you don’t have time to sew, like you said. And then also, I think if you’re stressed out, for me, that’s a big trigger for shopping, because when I’m stressed out, I just want things that make me feel good, and it’s things that make me feel good or getting a package in the mail. It’s pretty fun. So I don’t think it actually reduces stress, but it feels good at the moment. So I think that’s really interesting that those things kind of converge.

Haley
How much clothing would you say that you buy?

Sarai
I’m like you. I go in waves. I think I buy less now because of where I live and the fact that I need really practical clothing right now in my life. I also don’t go to an office every day anymore, so I have a lot of clothing that I don’t really wear anymore, but that I really like. So that kind of discourages me from buying more of the things that I really like, like pretty dresses and stuff like that. Because right now I’m wearing overalls. That’s what I wear, like, probably a good of the time, and I just don’t feel like I need a lot of stuff right now. But on the other hand, I do find myself sometimes going through little periods where I’m like, oh, this shop. I like, is having a sale, and it’s a good time to pick up these things, and I end up buying more than I intended. I do try to buy either second hand most of the time or from small designers that I believe in, so I try not to buy, although I’m not going to lie, I definitely have stuff from big retailers and fast fashion too.

So I’m definitely not perfect in that regard, but I would say, like, 90% of the time I try to do that.

Haley
Do you think that you buy less because you sew?

Sarai
I definitely do. Like I was saying before, I think when I’m in a period where I’m doing a lot of sewing, that’s when I’m not buying as much clothing, because I don’t know, there’s something about like, it’s more fun to find a creative way to make it myself and to really think about what I want rather than just buying something. So I do think overall, I buy less because I sell. I don’t know if I necessarily buy less than the average woman or the average person my age or anything like that. I really don’t know because I know Americans buy a lot of clothing, and a lot of it is fast fashion. So I don’t know if I in comparison to other people, but definitely in comparison to, like if I compare times where I’m not doing a lot of sewing to times when I am doing a lot of sewing, then yes. What about you?

Haley
Yeah, I think that a lot of the times my sewing knowledge deters me from buying things because, especially when I’m shopping in person, I’m nitpicking a lot of details about it, whether it’s like the placement of the pocket or the size, or maybe it’s the quality in which it was sewn. I end up putting things back on the rack because I’m like, oh, gosh, I could sew that way better. This is going to fall apart, or the fabric is bad or whatever. So it definitely stopped. I think it stops me from buying as much as I would otherwise. I’ve sown my entire adult life, so it’s hard to say. Tthere was no adult version of Haley that didn’t sew. So I think it shapes the way I think about clothing pretty drastically.

Sarai
Yeah.

Haley
Are there things you prefer to buy rather than make?

Sarai
Yeah, they definitely are. I think a lot of my more workwear things like jeans, overalls, stuff like that. I might make jeans someday, but it’s not really a huge priority for me. I have made underwear. I haven’t made a lot of it, though. To me, it’s just easier to buy, although there’s an appeal in making it, too. And I have made it before, so I prefer I don’t know. I just prefer to buy it rather than make it because there are things like I like to wear, like seamless underwear and things like that are not as easy to sew. Same with bras. I have made bras, and it’s fun. It’s like a really fun thing to do. But as far as the same thing, I tend to like things with few seams and things that are just a little bit harder to make on your own that needs specialty fabrics and things like that. So, yeah, those kinds of things I think I prefer to buy. I’m trying to think if there’s anything else. I think those are the big ones. I don’t really make a lot of T-shirts either, but I haven’t made T-shirts, but they’re the kind of things that are quite inexpensive to buy, and you can buy ethical versions pretty inexpensively as well, and environmentally friendly versions, so those kinds of things.

What about you?

Haley
I think we’re pretty similar. Bras and underwear, both things that I have made, but it can be kind of a pain to source all the fabrics and notions that I prefer. And then jeans mostly because I’m really picky with my denim, and I find it pretty challenging to find denim by the yard that I like. So often times I end up buying them. And I love jeans. I wear them often, but I tend to hold on to them for a long time. So I’m not, like, replacing them at like a really rapid rate. So every few years when I need to replace a pair of jeans, I just buy them. I love Levi’s.

Sarai
Yeah, I like Levi’s, too.

Haley
It’s kind of a tried and true for me.

Sarai
Yeah, I like Levi’s, and there’s some other American made jeans that I buy. And I, like you, I don’t really need them that often. So to me it’s worth the investment on those things. But I do try to buy things that are high quality and are going to last a long time.

Haley
We talked about a lot of reasons people want to buy less clothing. Which of those reasons do you think resonates with you the most?

Sarai
That’s a great question. Like a lot of people, I think it’s a combination of those reasons. I think for me, the biggest reason I want to buy less clothing is psychological. I think fast fashion sort of encourages this very acquisitive kind of consumerist, more and more mindset that I find to be for myself, really unhealthy and kind of self perpetuating. So I think breaking myself of that desire that’s kind of been ingrained in us, to have more stuff and to fill our lives with more stuff and to fill our emotional voids with more stuff, to me, that’s a really healthy practice. So I think that’s the biggest reason that I prefer to buy. I feel like I’ve gone through periods in my life where I was really stressed or really unhappy and I was buying a lot of stuff to make up for it. And I think training myself to find ways to be happy without that external stimulus is really good for me. So I think that’s my biggest reason. What about you?

Haley
Yeah, I would say that mine is also more psychological. I think that the fashion industry profits from you questioning your identity in a way and constantly pursuing a stronger sense of self by buying more and trying on different personas, in a way by the things that we wear. And the more that I disengage from that, the more I feel in tuned with myself, my true, authentic self.

Sarai
Yeah. And I think that’s probably one reason that people tend to buy less stuff and to really rely on things that are more tried and true as they get older. Because I think when you’re younger, that sort of search for identity really appeals to you. And I don’t think there’s anything necessarily wrong with that in itself. And that’s totally natural that when you’re younger, you’re kind of trying different things on and seeing where it takes you. But I think as you get older and you have a better sense of what you like, what you don’t like, who you are, what your values are, you are more comfortable with going with those things that have worked for you in the past.

Haley
Totally. And I think exploration, especially exploration and like, style is fun and a creative practice but I find that now when I’m experimenting a little bit with something new, it’s coming from like a place of creativity rather than a place of insecurity.

Sarai
Yeah, and I think that’s one of the great things about sewing, that it allows you to explore those things without necessarily you are buying stuff. Obviously you’re buying fabric, but to me, it’s psychologically. It feels very different, and there are more constraints on it. You just cannot sew as much stuff as you can buy, even if it’s your full time job sewing clothing for yourself, which I don’t know anybody who has that job. Even then, you could still, for the same amount of money, you could acquire way more clothing by just buying fast fashion. So I think that constraint really helps you to make decisions about what works for you and what doesn’t in a way that buying stuff doesn’t.

Haley
So, Sarai, what are some of the ways that you found for thinking critically about how much you buy?

Sarai
Well, that brings us into some of the tips that we wanted to share today. There are a number of things that have helped me to buy less clothing, and I’m by no means perfect about this, but there are definitely some ways of thinking and some questions that I ask myself and some practices that I have that have helped to be a lot more intentional about what I’m buying and even what I’m making.

So we have seven tips for you today, and the first one is just to question why you shop. So this kind of goes back to what I was just talking about, about some of the reasons I found in the past that I’ve gone through these periods of doing a lot of shopping. And what helps me in those situations is just stepping back and being a little bit more mindful about the reason that I’m shopping right now. It might be that you actually need a new garment. There might be a very good reason, or it might just be something that you enjoy doing at the moment, but there could also be other reasons behind it. So I think just exploring those and some of those reasons might be one, just getting wrapped up in trends.

For example, for me personally, I feel like the more time I spend looking at clothing online and seeing all the trends and seeing all this new stuff coming out, the more I do that, the more it makes me want to buy, because I see these new ideas and I see like, oh, this looks so cute, I could do this with it. And the more I look at that stuff, the more I feel this urge to buy more things to keep. Not I don’t know, I don’t feel like it’s consciously trying to keep up with the trends, but there’s kind of a subconscious component to it. It’s sort of what you were talking about, Haley, of trying on these new things, these new identities or new ways of dressing. So I don’t think it’s a totally bad thing, but I just think it’s something to be aware of. And I even find it when I’m looking for inspiration for my sewing that if I get too deep into looking at clothing and window shopping for clothing, even if my intention is not to buy, it really makes me a lot more sensitive to those trends. So that’s one reason you might find yourself shopping a lot.

Boredom is another reason. Maybe you’re just bored. It could be stress. Like I mentioned before, I definitely have gone through periods where I shot because I’m stressed. It could be just this kind of ingrained desire for more in acquiring more stuff. I recently read this really interesting book all about dopamine. It’s called The Molecule of More. We’ll link it in the show notes if you’re interested in this stuff. But it’s a really powerful force, and there’s a lot of talk about dopamine these days when it comes to things like social media and social media addiction. But it influences our lives in so many ways. And I think the desire to acquire more stuff and to have more things and to seek out those things is a big function of dopamine in our brains. And that’s extremely powerful because dopamine is one of the things that helps keep us alive. So it’s a powerful urge to have more stuff and acquire more stuff. So just being aware of that and what’s going on, and the fact that the more you do that, the more you acquire, the more you look for more stuff, the stronger that impulse can be.

So it’s just something to be aware of. And I think just questioning generally why you shop, how it makes you feel, what the underlying feelings are, what your real reasoning behind it is, can be super helpful as a first step. So that’s sort of a mindset thing. The next tip after you’ve kind of examined your why behind shopping is finding a wardrobe planning method that works for you. So not all of us are into planning out our wardrobes, but if you are, finding something that feels really practical and realistic for you can be really helpful. I think wardrobe planning, to some extent, even if it’s in small ways, can be really powerful for helping us to think more critically about what we’re allowing into our lives and what we’re buying and consuming. But it doesn’t have to be a huge involved process. It can be if you enjoy that. I personally, I do enjoy from time to time doing like a big design exercise and really figuring out what I want to make and what I want to have, and that can be really fun. But we don’t always have time for that, right? So if that’s not something that’s realistic for you, you could do something really simple like we have a previous episode on the rule of three outfits.

That’s a really simple method for planning out your wardrobe. So you can use tools like that or just do like some really light planning to help you think a little bit more about what you want to make and about what you want to buy. So that’s the second one is finding a wardrobe planning method that’s realistic and that works for you. The third one is to come up with criteria that your clothing has to meet. So maybe there’s some specific things that you really need out of your clothing. And if you could just think about those and even write those down, that can be really helpful for filtering what you buy or what you make, either one. So things like cost per wear, maybe you only want to buy things that you know are going to have a very low cost per wear. So when I say cost per wear, that just means the price divided by how many times you think you’ll wear it or how many wears you’ll get out of it. So if it’s something that’s very expensive, for example, but it’s really high quality and you think you’re going to wear it at least once or twice a week, maybe the cost per wear is actually really low compared to something that’s cheaper, but you’re not going to wear it very often.

So that could be one criterion that you could use if that’s important to you. Or it could be criteria that’s based on your lifestyle. It has to fit your lifestyle and be wearable with whatever lifestyle you have. Or maybe it has to go with a certain number of things that you already own. Like maybe you have to be able to construct a few different outfits out of it and not just wear it with only one other thing that you own that could be a criteria for you. And that can also help with if you can kind of pre-imagine how you would wear this thing, that can actually help you to wear it more, I think, because you already have some ideas about what it would go with. Or maybe it’s the care of the garment. So maybe it’s things that don’t need to be dry cleaned, for example, or things that don’t need to be hand washed, if that’s something that’s important to you. So it’s different for everybody. Everybody has different criteria for their clothing, but it’s helpful just to kind of go through them and think about what they are for you so you don’t end up buying things that you’re not happy with or that you don’t actually get to use.

So our Design Your Wardrobe process really helps with this. This is actually an exercise that’s a part of that is listing your criteria and then using that to filter what you’re going to make for the next season. So if that’s something that you’re interested in, we’ll link to design your wardrobe. I mentioned it earlier, but we’ll link to it in the show notes if you want to learn more about that program.

So that’s the third tip is coming up with some criteria. The fourth one is to declutter. I think that decluttering and getting rid of stuff really helps you to buy less because I think for one thing, you recognize how little you actually need. You recognize that you have all this stuff, and there are certain things that you don’t really actually use, and you don’t really need to have them in your life. And it just also brings clarity to what you really wear and what you really like. And I think for me, that really discourages me from acquiring a lot of stuff. It feels really good to declutter. It feels really good to get rid of a lot of things. And once you do that, you’re kind of like, I’m not going to want to fill up my closet again after that, and I don’t want to go through this whole process again.

So to me, just having, like, regular decluttering helps me to I need to do a decluttering right now.

Haley, I think you should come over and help me declutter because so much clothing that I don’t wear right now. I know I’ve mentioned this a million times. I have so many pairs of shoes, and I do not wear them anymore at all. I don’t know how many times a year I’m going to wear high heels, like, maybe once. So to get rid of stuff but it’s hard when you really like your clothing and it’s really cute and it fits you and it looks good on you, but it doesn’t fit your lifestyle. It doesn’t fit, like, my criteria now.

Haley
Yeah.

Sarai
Is it difficult?

Haley
I did a big closet clean out at the beginning of this year, and I made three piles. I made a pile of things that I wear all the time, a pile of things that I love but I don’t wear, and then a pile of things that were like, obvious things to get rid of. And then I put my pile of love but don’t wear away. Like, I hid them all underneath my bed for a couple of months, and when I took them out, it gave me a little bit more clarity on the things that sparked a lot more joy when I took them out, where I was like, oh, yes, I love this. I’m totally going to wear it this week. And then the things where I was like, it’s good for another version of Hailey that doesn’t currently exist, so It’s easier to get rid of.

Sarai
What helps me is giving it to somebody that I know will use it and like it. So like naked lady parties. I think that’s like, my favorite way of getting rid of stuff because people I can see that somebody else actually wants it and will use it, and that makes it so much easier for me to get rid of. We’ve done them at work, at the office, and it’s so fun to see somebody come into work wearing something that I used to have and giving it a new life. It’s really cool. And it cuts down on waste, which is really nice that’s the fourth tip is to do some regular decluttering. I really feel like that helps me to buy less stuff.

That’s one of my biggest tips, I would say number five, is to come up with some outfit formulas. I really love doing this. One thing that I do, and I know Haley does, too, is to take pictures of outfits that you really like when you wear them so that you have kind of an idea of how you could put things together, maybe things that are already in your closet that you could put together into similar outfits.

I find that really helpful and just kind of creating those uniforms of things that you feel good in and that you really like. It just helps me to think about what I actually wear, what I actually love, and cuts down on those kind of impulse or trend purchases, which they might be fun to do every once in a while, but if you really have a good sense of what you feel good in, I think it just really cuts down on those impulse purchases.

Design Your Wardrobe actually really helps with this, too, because we have a whole process in there for coming up with looks that you then break down into individual pieces that you then sew for the next season. So it’s a way to create kind of these coordinated outfits based on these formulas, which I find really helpful. But just even taking pictures of things that you already have, you already like to give you some idea of variations you could do, is really helpful for cutting down on unnecessary clothing that you don’t want.

My next tip is to make a wish list. So it sounds kind of counterintuitive because it sounds like making a list of things you want might encourage you to do more shopping, but I actually find the opposite.

So the way I do it is I have a Pinterest board that is a wish list, and then it has sub boards for different types of articles of clothing that I want. And these could be things that I want to buy, or they could be things that I want to make. So I have, for example, earlier this year, I had a pair of flat espadrille sandals on there, and so, as I was just kind of, like, browsing around, or if I saw a pair that I really like, I could add them to that board. Or if I saw an outfit that involved the kind of espadrilles I wanted to buy, I could pin it there so I would have an idea of how I would wear it, which I find really helpful. So this list is, like I said, it’s things like maybe shoes that I want to buy that I think would be practical, and then things that I might want to make. And because I have different variations of that thing on there, it gives me a chance to really think critically about what details I want on it, what color I want, how I would wear it, all those kinds of things.

And really gets me thinking a lot more before buying. And sometimes, occasionally I’ll decide that I don’t want it after all, and that, you know, maybe it sounded if I have it on there long enough, it sounded great six months ago, but now I’m thinking I probably wouldn’t wear it. Or maybe I think I already have something that’s pretty similar to that, that I could wear instead. So just giving myself that time to really think about how I would use it is really, really helpful. And then it just feels more like a treasure hunt, like you’re looking for this one specific perfect thing to buy, or you’re planning the perfect thing to make instead of seeing it in a store, seeing it on sale, and just grabbing it because it seems like a good buy or whatever. So that’s really, really helpful for me. If you want to take it a step further, you could even place a limit on the number of things that are on your wish list. Like, maybe your wish list is only ten items, and it’s something you work off of for maybe even years. Maybe it’s a wish list of five items, maybe it’s 20 items, whatever works for you.

Mine probably has, like, I don’t know, 15 things on it, but I’m not buying things off of it very often. It’s a long term thing for me. So that’s one thing that I have found really helpful. And then what I do is once I decide that I want to make one of those things on the list, I already have kind of a mood board of ideas all ready that I’ve acquired over a long period of time. And then from there, I can take maybe my top three or two things that I want to make and make an actual mood board out of them and sketch out what I want and what details I want to put in it, and what color and what fabric, maybe add a fabric swatch so I can really do more involved planning from there. But I already have some ideas going, so I really like that because I like collecting ideas over a long period of time. It really helps me to feel more creative when it gets to the actual making part. And you can use Pinterest for this. You can make it analog. You can do whatever works best for you.

You could use a tool like Evernote or Notion or there’s a lot of different ways you can do it but for now I’m using Pinterest.

So that was tip number six is to make a wish list and then my final tip, tip number seven, is just to think about what makes you really cherish a piece of clothing. So we talked about criteria for pieces of clothing, so that’s sort of in the category of before you buy. So kind of making a list of what does this piece of clothing have to meet, but really thinking about what makes you feel good about a piece of clothing and how it makes you feel, I think is really helpful. One of the things that I’ve really discovered over the years is that the way I feel about a particular piece of clothing and the value that I give to that piece of clothing is very important to me. So if it’s something that I bought because it was cheap or because I just needed something right away and I don’t really give it a lot of value, I don’t really feel like it’s that valuable. I feel like it’s kind of a throwaway item. I don’t feel as good when I wear it.

Whereas if it’s something that I spent time thinking about, maybe I invested in or maybe I invested a lot of time in terms of making it, I really thought about what details it was going to have or even like what practical applications I needed it for. Whenever I have really put that time and put that effort and put that intention into a piece of clothing, whether it’s something I buy or something I make, it ends up lasting a lot longer for me in my closet, it ends up being worn a lot more and I feel better when I wear it. So just kind of being mindful about the feeling you have around a piece of clothing and the value you give to it I think can be really, really helpful in cutting down on some of that unnecessary and more wasteful purchasing. So those are my seven tips. That’s what I found really useful in my own journey to reduce the amount of clothing I own and not just reduce it, but really feel better about what I own and what I wear and the practice of buying and making.
Do you want to recap those for us, Hailey?

Haley
Yeah, let’s go through them one more time. So tip number one is to question the reason behind why you shop and really explore that so that you can dig into it a little bit more. Maybe it’s trends, maybe it’s boredom, maybe you’re just chasing that dopamine, but understanding the why will definitely help you to kind of taper that need. Tip number two is to find a wardrobe planning method that works for you. Maybe it’s something big like design your wardrobe, maybe it’s something a little bit more small, but be realistic about it and find what works for you in your timeline and schedule. Tip three is to come up with a criteria that your clothing needs to meet. This can be based on lifestyle or cost per wear, as long as it’s something that’s going to fit you and your particular lifestyle and ultimately help you wear the things that you make or buy. Tip number four, and perhaps our favorite tip, is to declutter so that you know what you have and have a little bit more clarity on the things that you wear and it really is just inspires you to buy less.

Tip five is to come up with outfit formulas so that you have these kind of tried and true uniforms that you know you reach for time and time again. This can be really helpful for decision making. Tip number six is to make a wish list of things. This will help you buy things less impulsively and bring a little bit more intention to the things that you sell and you buy. And tip number seven is to think about what really makes you cherish a piece of clothing and how you feel about it, and kind of getting a little bit more introspective about how your feelings upon making or buying it impact your feelings upon wearing it in your day to day life. These are some really awesome tips. I feel like my biggest takeaway in this conversation today is that cultivating a stronger sense of personal style and kind of alongside of that. Your identity for me is such a key to me buying less because I’m not seeking in an outward way, I’m seeking more inward. What would you say is your biggest takeaway from this discussion, Sarai?

Sarai
Yeah, I would say mine is similar that as I get older, I’m more secure in who I am and I’m more comfortable with having less stuff and not using my stuff and my clothing as a way to compensate for other things that are going on in my life. I think that’s a natural evolution for a lot of people, and it’s something that I’m really grateful for as I get older. But at the same time, I think it’s something that we all in our society need to stay mindful of because there’s a lot of pressure on us to consume more and more and to feed into our insecurities by buying more things. And I think sewing can be a really great antidote to that because it allows you to explore and play and have fun with your clothing and with your identity without necessarily buying as much stuff.

Haley
Yeah, definitely.

If you want to learn more about this, we have a couple of recommendations for you. We have the Rule of Three Outfits podcast episode that we mentioned earlier. We’ll link this in the show notes. Sarah also mentioned the book The Molecule of More, which we can also link. And Sarai and I are also working on some really fun wardrobe planning videos for our YouTube channel.

So if you don’t already subscribe to our YouTube channel. Make sure to subscribe. You can find us at YouTube.com/seamworkvideo. And you’ll see some of those videos with Sarai and I coming soon.

The other thing that we want to talk a little bit more about before we go today is Design Your Wardrobe. When you sign up for scene work, you get access to our super popular Design Your Wardrobe course. This course walks you through a process of designing a collection of projects for a season, and right now, we’re gearing up for the fall season of Designer Wardrobe. It’s available as a self guided program year round, but twice a year, we run it as a group course, and it’s really fun to do it all together.

So if you want to participate in that, I definitely recommend signing up now. You can learn more at seamwork.com/go/designyourdrobe. And if you want a little taste of what’s included, you can get our free sewing planner at Seamwork.com/go/free-planner. And that’s a cool little PDF sewing planner that has some of the elements that we love about design your wardrobe.

And if you liked this episode, if you could leave us a review, it helps us to know that you like what we’re doing, and also, it helps other people to find us. Here we have a review, “always an uplifting, well organized, to the point podcast with helpful information that is both technical and strategic in nature. Haley and Sarai’s episodes are like having sewing mentors over for lunch. I especially love the episode on fabric. A lot of great insider information. Chef’s Kiss.” Oh, my gosh. That is such a sweet review

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