Shopping Detox, Anyone? (part one)

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What exactly is a shopping detox?

These days, there’s a detox for everything – detox diets, detox teas, detox waters, detoxifying yoga poses, skin detoxes…you can even detox your third eye (like WTF?). It’s become a overused buzzword not just in the health and fitness industry, but now the fashion industry is on board with closet/wardrobe detoxes. The constant barrage to rapidly cleanse our bodies and lives has made the word lose a lot of its potency, but we promise you, a shopping detox is a good idea.

A shopping detox is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a specific time-frame where you don’t buy anything fashion related, including accessories and jewelry. Technically, you can still browse shopping sites and add pieces to your cart, but you can’t process the payment. Objectives can certainly vary, but generally speaking, the goal of a shopping detox is for you to assess what you buy and why you buy it. A shopping detox isn’t just about the outcome. At the risk of sounding excruciatingly cliché, it’s the journey that counts. It’s a challenge to hopefully make you realize that you don’t need to shop incessantly to have a covetable wardrobe and killer style, but not a gimmicky quick fix kind of thing.

Up until now, most people associated the word “Detox” with voluntary food deprivation, not fashion. Thus, we asked our friend Karly of Miss in the Midwest to clue us in on the concept of a shopping detox and the signs that it may be for you.

The goal

While the goal of a closet clean-out is mainly to streamline your closet so it’s easier to manage, a shopping detox is more geared towards potentially making smarter purchasing decisions in the future. It’s also one of the best strategies to jump-start the shift from mindlessly stuffing your closet with impulse buys and cheap trendy pieces, to thoughtfully curating a wardrobe that is specifically tailored to your personal style. “You will also be limited to only using the items currently in your closet for your daily outfits,” says Karly “so the process can potentially give your styling skills a creative boost.”

Here’s a crazy fact: you don’t actually have to have a shopping problem for a shopping detox to beneficial to you. Let’s say you’re incredibly disciplined and more of a few-times-a-year shopper. “One of your objectives could be to stop buying poor-quality, trend-based pieces and focus on selecting higher quality, versatile items that will be cohesive in your wardrobe,” says Karly. “Or you might just be over shopping and want to take a breather so you can analyze your closet and determine if the contents of your wardrobe truly fit your personal style concept. Or maybe you want to stop buying lots of little things and save up for something big, like a luxe designer piece. Either way, you’ll have the time to take a step back and give your current closet situation a thorough dissection.”

The rules

How long does the fast last? Well, that’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself, keeping in mind that the length of the detox depends on how out of control your shopping obsession is. A good starting point is a 30-day challenge (start here). But if you’re the over-ambitious type, try the length of a season, or 90 days. “I wouldn’t recommend anything over the six-month mark because even the most well-curated wardrobes need slight updates at least twice a year,” says Karly.

Okay, now that we know what a shopping detox is and the goal of embarking on one, let’s see if it’s right for you. Below you’ll find many reasons a shopping fast would be good for you. If you identify with one or more, then it’s definitely something you should seriously consider.

If none of your latest purchases make sense..

Analyze the pieces you’ve most recently added to your wardrobe. Are they pieces that improve the overall utility/usefulness of your wardrobe? Would your friends see these pieces in a store and be like, “Omg, that’s SO (insert your name)!” Are these pieces cohesive with the rest of your closet?

“When you add to your wardrobe, you should be adding strategically, or in other words, filling a gap,” says Karly. These are holes in the structure of your wardrobe that prevent it from functioning properly for your personal style and lifestyle. This can be an item category like a long-sleeve t-shirt, or more specific like a loose-fit nude layering top with thin straps. Holes commonly result from items that have been worn to death, damaged or misplaced. The higher quality the pieces you choose, the less chances of creating these kinds of gaps. Holes can also come from choosing the wrong kinds of pieces when shopping — pieces that aren’t your style, pieces that don’t go with anything existing in your closet, or pieces that are strictly seasonal trends.

So if many of your latest purchases don’t serve a specific purpose in your closet, don’t contribute the overall function of your wardrobe, or aren’t appropriate for the activities that make up your daily lifestyle, then it’s likely they don’t make sense and therefore are bad purchases. A shopping detox will help you realize any gaps, and when you resume shopping again you will have a better understanding of what to buy as well as what you can get rid of.

If you’ve done a closet detox and it’s still bulging..

A detox can be fun and make you feel like you’re minimizing your closet, getting rid of junk, getting more organized, you know, getting your shit together. It’s a liberating and inspiring process. But what if you go through the entire process step-by-step, and a month later you still don’t have a firm grasp of everything you own? It could be because of your constant shopping habit. Just like with a diet detox, a closet detox is a quick fix. If you don’t keep minimalist principles in mind when adding to your wardrobe — the idea of only having pieces in your closet that fit in line with your aesthetic preferences and are appropriate for the daily activities of your lifestyle — then you’re just going to end up with a bloated closet.

According to Karly, “A good rule of thumb for maintaining your wardrobe post cleanse is one piece in, one piece out”  But if you can’t even see to the end of your closet, then a shopping fast is a great way to jump start the minimizing process.

If lots of stuff in your closet still has tags..

It’s simple – clothes and accessories you don’t wear are a waste of money. There are a few reasons why you could have a collection of purchases in your closet that have never been worn, but we’ll explore those later 🙂

Get to know more about Karly here.