My slow fashion year 2019 in review

It’s a tradition now, to summarise my slow fashion year. I started this tradition the first year of my no-shopping challenge and while doing so I also made a wardrobe audit i.e. calculated all the clothes in my wardrobe and put them into an excel sheet. Since then, I have a very good overview of what I own and keep track of how much is added to and leaves the wardrobe each year. But my wardrobe statistics do not stop there, in fact this was just the beginning. The second year without shopping I started keeping track of how much time I spent mending clothes each month as well as how much money I spend at the dry cleaner (paying for mending and cleaning) and also at the shoemaker.

As if this was not enough, during 2018 I also started using the app Cladwell, inspired by slow fashion guru Elizabeth Cline. This app took my wardrobe statistics to another level as I now know how many times I wear each item in my wardrobe, which colors I wear more and which combinations of clothes I wear the most. I log my outfits, as on the picture, in the app daily and check my statistics unnecessarily often (so proud that I wear 98% of my wardrobe!).

Do you need all of these statistics and apps to do slow fashion or for a year no-shopping? Of course not. It’s absolutely not necessary. I didn’t start this way either. But on the other hand, if like me, you are the type that enjoys numbers and statistics, or also admired Alicia Silverstone’s computerized wardrobe in Clueless in your teenage years, then go ahead and do a wardrobe audit and/or use a wardrobe app that keeps track of the wardrobe and suggests outfits for you. Slow fashion should be fun and stress free. Not shopping reduces stress and saves time for me. The app helps me to get creative with what I own and to come up with outfits I didn’t think of before.

So what did I learn from all these numbers and tracking, what happened in my wardrobe during 2019? On the inflow side, I made two items. I sewed an Ogden cami in some silk fabric I bought and a Twiggy dress from a torn Laura Ashley duvet and dyed it with onion skins. I didn’t knit anything for myself, quite an achievement for an avid knitter. I was gifted some stockings from family members who know that this is always welcome as I don’t shop but wear a lot of stockings. I inherited four items from my mom. New this year is that I bought a bit of underwear for myself, choosing more sustainable alternatives such as Swedish Stockings. As I noted at the beginning of this year, it’s silly to ask others to buy for me just to keep the no-shopping record. Moreover, this year, like previous ones, I overestimated the need to buy clothing and apart from underwear, I’ve kept the no-shopping habit. In total, 28 items were added to the wardrobe, which is similar to last year.

On the outflow side, 38 items left the wardrobe, 8 more than last year. I sold a few items (on tradera, on commission at second hand stores and Vestiaire Collective) and gave a few to family members. I recycled some (mainly stockings in Swedish Stockings recycling program). I wore out and threw away 25 items (always after already mending), which is also similar to last year. I unravelled two knitwear, using this tutorial, and recovered the yarn so I can use it to knit with. In total, I am finally under 540 items, at 538, in my wardrobe, which feels like an achievement. At this rate, I will wear out my wardrobe in 54 years’ time, by the age of 90.

In the mending department, I spent approximately 3h mending during the whole year. It’s half the time I spent mending last year. This is very much a sign that my mending pile is now of a reasonable size. When I got interested in slow fashion, I had years of accumulated mending needs, i.e. lots of clothing in the wardrobe that needed mending in some measure. These past two years, it’s seemed as if mending is never ending. At some point, I decided to prioritize clothes in season when mending, as a season could go by and I couldn’t wear certain items because they were stuck in the endless mending pile. But, finally, things have changed and I’m up to date. I only have three or four items waiting to be mended, also an achievement.

As for outsourcing of mending and cleaning, I have spent 3800 SEK at the dry cleaner, also less than last year. A big part of those 3800 SEK went to changing the lining of a 1980s coat I once inherited from my mom. Basically, I could have bought a new cheap coat at the same price but chose to hand in the old one to get a new lining. It’s a decent coat, made in England, you couldn’t get that today for the 1600 SEK I spent on the lining. In terms of shoe repair, I only spent 500 SEK which is also less than last year.

To summarise, my friends, things are looking good. I am getting closer to a manageable size wardrobe that I might even wear out during my lifetime. I’m getting closer to a number of items that might actually fit in my cabinet and drawers. I wear most of my clothes on a regular basis. I spend very little money and time on the wardrobe. When I do spend time on it, it’s because I enjoy sewing/knitting things for myself. And, to tell the truth, I have been looking forward to writing this review of my wardrobe/slow fashion year for months. It’s one of my favorite end-of-the-year things to do. So big thanks to you people who read and ask how my no-shopping commitment is going, as I love to tell.

Happy new 2020 to you all!

4 Replies to “My slow fashion year 2019 in review”

  1. Hi! New reader here. Congrats on your slow fashion progress! Out of curiosity, how did you calculate the durability of your entire wardrobe? I have almost 300 items (I also have an Excel sheet!), but don’t want to unload anything on the secondhand market as long as I like wearing it. What has worked for me has been to wear a subsection of my wardrobe for a while (sort of like a capsule wardrobe, but more fluid), and wear out portions like that. Very little wears out though, because I have mostly natural fibers. Following your blog now! 🙂

    1. Thank you! And I’m glad I’m not the only one with the Excel-approach 🙂 Same here, I avoid giving away to secondhand for sustainability reasons, otherwise it would be a piece of cake to reduce the wardrobe!

      I calculate how many items were added to the wardrobe and subtract the number of items that left the wardrobe during a year, this year that resulted in (minus) ten pieces. Then I divide the total number of items in the wardrobe (538 for me) on this number and get the number of years I have to keep going at this rate (minus 10 a year) to wear out the entire wardrobe. 538 items/10 items per year = 53,8 years. So for me, if I reduce the wardrobe with ten items a year, I will wear out the wardrobe in 54 years, by the age of 90 🙂

      Hope this makes sense!

      1. Gotcha. Maybe the wear and tear of the items will increase exponentially, though? And considering possible bodily and style changes, it is hard to plan so many years in advance. Not that I’m thinking you are actually going through with it, I guess it just puts having a big wardrobe in perspective. Its longevity is a very helpful thought when trying not to shop, thank you for reminding me!

        1. I’m not sure about exponentiality. It is true that I have a higher turn over of clothes after three years of not shopping, but on the other hand I do add things to the wardrobe (stuff I get from people and, now, buying underwear), so I’m not sure the tear will accelerate that much, i.e. beyond -10 items a year. In any case, as you say, there will times when the wardrobe simply won’t fit and the style doesn’t work for my age. In fact, that has already happened and I’ve, so far, sold those items even if I don’t get so much for it, just to make sure there’s somebody on the other side that will take care of it. So I would expect things to stay similar to how it’s now, but we’ll see!

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