Earlier this year, Ally and I took on the #87daysofvintage challenge. For 87 days, we committed to shop only used and vintage items and not to buy any new clothing or shoes (with the exception of intimates and speciality items). While our challenge ended months ago, with the end of the year approaching, it feels appropriate to finally discuss our experience and takeaways.
The #87daysofvintage Challenge
A Very Belated Followup
Did you last all 87 days of the challenge?
Elysia: I did! I actually moved right around the time we started the challenge so money felt a lot tighter so the impulse to shop was definitely diminished. I did buy climbing shoes when I finally bust through my old pair and accepted that they were damaging my feet. (I’ve got the bunions to show for it!)
Ally: If you don’t count a sports bra and a pair workout shorts, then yes! I will admit that I tried to get the urge out of my system by having a mini splurge before the challenge started.
What was the hardest part?
Elysia: The sales. Nordstrom’s anniversary sale was probably the hardest for me. I deleted almost all of the email promotions so I wouldn’t feel too remorseful over the deals I was missing.
Ally: Definitely the sales! When Barney’s had their end of the year sale, I cried a little on the inside. I did this thing where I kept putting items in my shopping cart and then closing Chrome.
What was the nicest part of the challenge?
Elysia: It was kind of a relief. I am addicted to email. I feel this compulsive need to click through every email that hits my inbox. Not being able to shop meant that I could simply delete most emails. I actually still clicked through select emails from my favorite retailers. Realizing which retailers I still cared about helped me unsubscribe or reduce email frequency for retailers I was no longer interested in.
Ally: Digging through my closet and my mom’s old trunks and finding super unique items that had been unworn for some time. It was like growing my closet without buying anything.
What were the biggest takeaways from the challenge?
Elysia: I need to invest in better basics. Not shopping made me realize what items I actually need to invest in and which pieces I could really do away with. I’ve been cleaning my closet since the move. I’ve shopped since the challenge ended, but I feel like my style has grown. Best of all, the challenge has curbed a lot of impulse shopping.
Ally: I got smarter about working with color and patterns. Before the challenge, I felt most comfortable wearing mostly black, greys and white. You’ll be hard-pressed to find too many vintage pieces that are basic, so I had to learn how to incorporate them into my daily wear.
How have your shopping habits changed?
Elysia: Again, a lot less impulse shopping. My style has also grown. I now look for elevated basics in more neutral colors. I’ve still got a few fast fashion retailers that I can’t help but love, but in general, I’ve grown to love brands with a cause — brands with an ethical, conscious, and/or sustainable ethos, brands that are transparent, and brands that give back. And this isn’t limited to clothes and shoes alone. Also, if you might have noticed from our holiday gift guide, I’ve been very much a fan of supporting small, especially local, shops and brands.
Ally: I started paying more attention to material, durability and overall sustainability. If I am to buy anything, I want it to last. Buying fast fashion and pieces made of material that either don’t break down easily or aren’t recyclable are still parts of the problem. I recently learned that polyester can be recycled to near virgin-like qualities. And of course, recycled cotton is environmentally conscious as much as it is comfortable.
To summarize the challenge into one word, I would say that it was absolutely liberating. By not shopping, I gained back so much time and money to pursue other interests and investments.
Finally, because no end-of-year post would seem complete without out it, our goals for 2016 are to:
- Shop less, shop better
- Discover more sustainable, do-good brands
- Support independent shops and brands
Have you tried a sustainable shopping challenge? How was your experience?