I’ve never been inclined to try out a juice cleanse, elimination diet or honestly a detox of any sort. (I’ll stick to solid food, thank you very much.) But when it comes to pruning and refreshing my style habits? I’m game to try just about anything: not wearing black for months at a time, swapping out all blue jeans for trousers—hell, even wearing bike shorts to work.
So after about three months of heavy spending—a time period during which I acquired lots of new work clothes, nearly every bathing suit I set my eyes on and a rainbow of pretty sundresses—my credit card was begging for a break. For once in my life, I listened to its plea and decided to try on this so-called “fiscally responsible” hat. And that’s how my self-inflicted monthlong shopping ban was born. Yes, I wanted to do this in an attempt to save money, but I also wanted to put myself to the test: Was I so deeply obsessed with buying clothes that I seriously couldn’t give it up for one month?
Thirty days might not seem like a long time, but for a fashion editor who literally shops for a living, it’s actually a whole eternity. When I brought up the idea of this break to my editor, she suggested I take a look at Ann Patchett’s essay on her year without shopping. Her experiment lasted an entire year (and then she chose to extend it longer) and seemed to be very, very strict. But I really appreciated what she gleaned from putting a pause on swiping her credit card. “The things we buy and buy and buy are like a thick coat of Vaseline smeared on glass: We can see some shapes out there, light and dark, but in our constant craving for what we may still want, we miss life’s details,” she wrote.
“OK, that’s definitely an epiphany to work toward,” I thought. And with that, it was time to begin my experiment.