Last year I did what is known as a ‘depth year’, which basically means not buying new things but instead going deeper into what you already own. People usually pick an area to focus on during a depth year such as books, clothes, make-up, tools, stationery; whatever they tend to overspend on or have more than enough of.
I chose clothes for my depth year. I’ve never been a fashion conscious super shopper but clothes were definitely the thing I would buy for a ‘pick-me-up’ and I had accumulated more than I needed or had space for.
You choose your own rules for your depth year so my rules were:
Start the year by going through all clothes and donating/recycling any that don’t fit/suit anymore.
Only buy new clothes as replacement for necessary staples.
‘One in, one out’ system in the wardrobe.
Repair all clothes at least once before taking to clothing bank.
Wear all clothes owned, what’s not worn gets donated (excluding ‘dressy dresses’ and very seasonal clothes)
When shopping for replacement items look for Fair trade, eco friendly fabrics.
Look in charity shops before buying new, especially for non essential items.
No fast fashion panic buys as a confidence boost before going out.
No ‘retail therapy’ buys to cheer myself up (there are many other ways I can cheer myself up if needed).
What I discovered from my depth year:
My wardrobe edit at the start of the year was not thorough enough and I need to do it again and be stricter with myself this time.
Other people don’t notice very much what you’re wearing. I might have known that I was wearing the same thing I wore last time I saw them but everyone else is busy worrying about their own appearance and not noticing mine. If other people did notice, it wasn’t an awful thing.
I owned several pairs of jeans at the start of the year and they all got holes/ripped seams at some point which I mended at least once before throwing them away and not replacing them straight away meant I wore other things more, getting more monies worth out of each piece of clothing. I didn’t replace every pair as I realised I don’t actually need that many.
Having less clothes in general means wearing garments more often. This helped me figure out which brands wash well, are the most hard wearing, last longer and are therefore better value for money.
Clothes shopping became a challenge in a new and exciting way.
I looked forward to buying a new item, guilt free because I knew I really needed it.
Finding 100% natural fibres or fair trade clothing is not easy, but more high street shops are doing more of this kind of thing now due to demand. It felt good that my choices were helping to drive that positive change.
Dressing to socialise was a challenge and I had to confront some confidence issues that would normally have been glossed over by buying a new top to feel good in. This part I admit was not easy and I did find going out feeling dressed a bit out of my comfort zone was not a great feeling but it forced me to get over myself and realise that I was going out to meet friends and have a nice time with them, it wasn’t about how I look or feel about my appearance, it was about connections with others, fun and good times. My depth year helped me to focus on what is really important to me.
True friends couldn’t care less what you’re wearing or how you look.
I like wearing dresses but tend to wear jeans most of the time because of my lifestyle and the type of work that some of my jobs involve, but having less clothes to choose from has impressed upon me that it is still important to me to make the most of the times when I get to dress in a more expressive way and in my own individual style.
I had held on to a lot of stuff ‘just in case’ but keeping a pair of jeans I used to feel good wearing, just in case I ever fit in them again was giving me a sense of failure rather than motivation. Ironically, getting rid of them and letting go of those pressures and expectations and replacing them with trying to accept myself as I am has put me in a much better place to approach getting healthier from.
Only owning clothes that fit and suit me now, in this moment is a more mindful and present way of being.
I feel good and a great sense of control when I walk away from what would have previously been an impulse buy.
What feels like a totally necessary and life changing garment will usually be totally forgotten about as soon as I leave the shop.
I have saved money.
I have lost the urge to shop for fun. Shopping is still fun but I don’t feel an unhealthy need to spend to feel better. What is fun about shopping now is going with a friend and hunting the charity shops for treasure.
Buying a few decent, well made, good quality pieces that suit me are better value in the long run than lots of cheap, poor quality, short lived fashion items. (Better for the environment too). I’d now rather save up and look forward to getting one thing that I will really enjoy than buy a new item every time I go out.
Will I be carrying on the depth year into 2020?
Yes I’ll certainly keep to the rule of replacing staple items on a one in one out basis. I’ll also be repairing garments to get more wear from them before throwing them away. I have already treated myself to a couple of dresses in the January sale and I know I’ll love wearing them but will continue to avoid those panic buys to boost my confidence as I know in the long run, not being able to rely on those will build my resilience and force me to dig deeper into how to feel better about myself. Reiki and mindfulness have helped a lot already and I’m grateful to have those tools on this long and winding journey of self discovery and acceptance.
If you’re interested in doing a depth year of your own there’s lots of ideas online about it but remember you do it for your own reasons and to your own rules. I’d love to hear how it goes for you.