Did I succeed and reach year's end with only twelve clothing purchases across the year? Yes I did! I bought no clothes in December and so (with a little bit of creative counting urged on by my readers) I reached my goal for the year.
Across the year I've bought three pairs of shoes (Mary Janes that accommodate my heel inserts and that are already extremely worn; some Trippen sandals and glittery beaded slippers from Malaysia that need a particular occasion for wearing); two pairs of winter pants - beautiful fine wool Alistair Trung sale pants I've been wearing for 'best' and some indestructible heavy fabric grey pants I've just about lived in; a black Nicola Waite overdress that I wear either over pants or with thick tights (Nicola Waite makes such great clothes for larger women); three long-sleeved t-shirts for winter; a summer Marimekko oversized t-shirt that's currently my go-to favourite; and a grey Mandarina Duck handbag I've used almost every day since it was purchased. The final item is some earrings I bought on a visit to the Canberra Old Bus Depot Markets. I subsequently bought some additional earrings and a necklace while travelling but at the urging of my readers decided not to count these as they fall into the categories of both handcrafts and souvenirs.
So what have I learned from this challenge? Probably that it's good to have some external constraint on my clothing purchases - it's kept me honest to know that I need to publicly justify them. I've ended up with purchases that have been practical (as well as beautiful in some instances) and that - with the exception of the beaded slippers - have been well worn across the year. I'm surprised to find just how many of the items I've bought have been 'brand' items. As I wrote in an earlier post I've liked to think of myself as disregarding brand snobbery. I think I've now discovered that I just like to be selective about the brands I'm snobbish about!
I've enjoyed this challenge and what it has taught me; and I've enjoyed the comments it's elicited both within this blog and in person. I don't think the challenge can be continued indefinitely - my summer clothes in particular are just about falling apart and need rethinking. I don't think the challenge has brought a major change to my purchasing patterns; I've just been a bit more restrained. I've decided to keep an informal clothes-buying tally across 2012, but not on the blog, to see whether publicly acknowledging my purchases does make a significant difference to what I buy.
I was gloating about my success with this challenge to my daughter when she suggested that I should extend it for 2012 to an area of purchasing where I'd REALLY have difficulty exercising restraint - book buying. This brought me up short. Being careful about the books I buy would be much more difficult than taking care about clothes buying. I've thought and thought about this suggestion and have decided to set myself a 12 in 12 book challenge for the year. This will be really hard but just might make me thoughtful enough to use all the sensible alternatives there are to the indiscriminate book buying I currently practice. So, in 2012 I intend to
* use libraries. My local library is the excellent City of Sydney Library with its many convenient and interlinked branches, and I also have access to the library at the university where I work. I have no excuse for not using them.
* read currently unread books that I own. There are not many of these as I'm not a great browser of book shops unless I need something to read immediately. But I suspect I might find more of these than I think I own once I go searching.
* reread books I own. I have a great affection for nineteenth century literature and could engage in more systematic rereading. In particular, I'd like to reread some turn of the nineteenth century Arnold Bennett (a past favourite) to see what I now think of it.
* borrow books from friends. This really means making a strong resolution to return books I borrow from friends. In the past I've been reluctant to borrow books as I've not always been meticulous about returning them. This needs to change.
So, my 12 in 12: Books challenge begins now. Wish me the will-power and restraint I'll need to succeed!