(quick) fashion question(s): have you stopped shopping?

i’ve asked this before, many many times…but as the recession digs in deeper i am becoming more and more curious. so i am checking in again with all of you.

have you stopped shopping?

or cut back on your shopping significantly?

or changed your shopping ways, in general?

at all?

if so, why? if not, why not?


why am i asking this?

lately, i have found myself turning away from buying new items at retail in a big way. i walk by lots of lovely stores (this is new york city after all!) but i cannot motivate myself to walk into any of them.

i feel like this lack of interest in shopping has a few sources in my psyche:

one: we just moved from san francisco to new york (back at the end of march), into a significantly more expensive abode than the one we had in san francisco. as such, i’m thinking about ways to save money, and buying lots of clothes kind of goes against that feeling that i need to budget.

two: this is related to one…i’m finding much more focused on all things interior, choosing to spend what disposable income we have on outfitting or embellishing the apartment rather than trying to stuff more clothes into my teensy closet.

three: i am unmoved by what’s on offer at the moment at most of the big retailers. either it’s too bland, or it doesn’t suit my style. for instance, those platform gladiator sandals. or the grunge “look”. i like what i have already, and i don’t see anything that i want to buy new, so why bother looking with any seriousness?

four: building upon three… i am fairly happy with what i already own, i don’t *NEED* anything. i’m “shopping my own closet” and all that.

six: i am too busy chasing a little baby girl (who is nearly a toddler!) around to think about clothes as much for the time being. also, my friend lisa thinks that my prolonged, severe state of sleep deprivation (see: little girl and her penchant for not sleeping) is contributing to my disinterest in current fashions or shopping. i told her…that getting sleep doesn’t mean i am going to somehow suddenly perk up and tow the current fashion party line (i.e., even if i manage to score some zzz, i’m not going to suddenly start sporting those terrible platform gladiator sandals!!).

five: i suppose i am feeling the current zeitgeist of not shopping, of cutting back, that just seems to be in the air these days. the feeling is palpable. it just hangs there in the air like a raincloud…


so, again, anyway:
do you feel it too, this current cultural movement away from shopping? is the recession affecting you (or your habits) at all? if so, how?


  1. Liz

    I’ve stopped buying clothes pretty much all together unless it’s something I really need (like the dress I bought to wear to my cousin’s wedding (which happened to be 50% off :)).

    My reason: I have rent and utilities to pay and the job I work at cut back my hours because they aren’t doing well. I also am having a hard time finding a replacement job because the job market sucks right now (especially in New Jersey (where I live)).

  2. Emily F.

    As a fellow New Yorker (with a very New York-sized closet), I have definitely changed my shopping habits, and not just because of budgetary reasons, although that definitely comes into play. But I’ve come to realize that shopping for me is so much about the thrill of the hunt–finding something I love for a price I’m willing to pay. This is why I’ve made a conscious decision to shop much less in retail stores and go thrifting instead. I’m at a point where I don’t NEED anything, so any shopping I do is extraneous anyway. It isn’t hard to find something I like at H&M–but going into a Salvation Army and finding a vintage piece for a low price is so much more satisfying! There are other reasons for my decision too–supporting charities instead of stores, environmental concerns, etc., but regardless of the reasons, I really enjoy it more!

  3. Ashe Mischief

    I know that I have really, REALLY cut back on my buying, especially compared to a year or two ago. I find that now when I buy things, I mull on them for AGES, even for basics like bras or for things I’ve wanted for a year.

    In many ways, it is recession based. My job isn’t quite like I had wanted or pays what I wanted. Getting out of debt & saving to move are my #1 priorities, so I find myself not spending much at all anymore. (Heck, my birthday was yesterday, and I felt bad buying myself a couple new pretty things!)

    I appreciate it though, because I feel I’m more conscious about what I’m buying, waiting longer to buy, and I think it makes me appreciate what I have more & be creative with it.

  4. Sal

    Funny. I feel like I should be not-shopping, but am actually shopping more than ever. I finished a 6-month shopping ban in April (http://www.alreadypretty.com/search/label/shopping%20ban) and have had a hard time reining it in since then … although much of what I’ve been buying is longtime wishlist items now on clearance, basics, and dominant season stuff (winter needs). So I don’t feel guilty or weird about it. At least, not yet!

  5. Nadia Lewis

    It’s funny — when America was rich and booming, I was a poorpoor student up here in Canada. Now that America’s economy (and ours too to a lesser extent) is winding down, I’m out of school and in a job, richer than ever (well, rich for me at 33k). I feel as much an onlooker to this recession as I did to the economic boom.

    So for me, it’s the same story as before: DIY, thrifting, garage saling, sewing, knitting — slowly building a personalized wardrobe. Except now that I have some money, I can finally buy some investment pieces: jewelry, belts, shoes, etc. I feel very counter-zeitgeist right now, but I have to say that there are some great sales to be found!

  6. jesse.anne.o

    I have been wondering about the same thing recently. I walked into H&M for the first time in months and I usually have to talk myself out of buying something new, and cheaply made (and often poorly made, depending on the piece) and this time I was really just disgusted by 90% of the store.

    I think I still have some wardrobe holes but I have been consciously filling those instead of impulse/affinty-buying. I don’t know if it’s because I am a little more steady in what I want or I am just tired of dragging bags to resale every 4 months. I did just buy 4 skirts at American Apparel but only after I had 1 of theirs I wore on repeat over months and realized it would probably be a smart move.

    I’m also going through the same thing with my apartment so, even though that’s all coming out of savings, I feel like spending even more on clothing is just not that smart. (I still have a credit at Beacon’s Closet, also.)

    I think it’s a mix of things: knowing what I like and not seeing it anywhere new; focusing on spending $ on the apt and not my closet. (You’d think if I were that concerned with the rececession, I wouldn’t be spending $ on my apt, either, though.)

  7. sarai

    I don’t really buy much retail stuff anyway other than shoes, but I haven’t even been doing that lately. However, I have been shopping for sewing supplies: vintage patterns and especially lovely vintage fabric. I wonder if others who sew are the same? I’ve always felt far less guilty about buying fabric than about pre-fab clothes, even if the fabric just sits around for a long time!

  8. Kim

    I have always relied primarily on thrifting to enlarge my wardrobe, and that hasn’t changed. I do find myself seeking more basic items in thrift stores, in neutral colors and more classic shapes. Even a few dollars spent on a fun and unusual item seems a little silly to me now, as I am earning significantly less than I was in the past.

    I can also relate to not finding the current retail landscape very appealing.

  9. sarah

    Summer is never that exciting for me. I mean, I love the boho looks at the cape-cod j crew preppies, but really, this is Seattle. It’s all pretty darned impractical to invest in much of any kind of summer wardrobe.

    Still, I have done some shopping this summer, mostly replacements for things that were worn out (I was down to 1 pair of jeans that weren’t torn or blood/paint stained. I bought a pair on 50% off clearance. I was down to two bras and bought two more – again, on clearance.) I shelled out $50 to have two pairs of shoes resoled so I could wear them again.

    The only real splurges lately have been two gorgeous pairs of shoes at seriously reduced prices, $20 for a Viktor and Rolf dress that someone had never worn and that will go with EVERYTHING this fall, and then supplies for DIY reconstructions that I do like mad every summer. And wine, but we’re not counting that here, are we?

  10. madam0wl

    I’m going on 1.5 yrs of not buying any “new” clothing, for any of us. This coincides a little bit with how long I’ve been a stay-at-home mom too, as shopping is just plain difficult with kids. Plus the one salary budget is pretty tight. I used to go thrift shopping pretty regularly but haven’t had the chance to do a lot of that either. We do a weekly grocery shopping outing, but that is about it. And I’m trying to keep that cash only and as close to $100 as possible, but it is hard with three growing boys. Another change is doing more online commerce… I flirted briefly with buying vintage from etsy.com just recently, and have bought things like music, books, pet supplies online within the last few months, but definitely no big splurges, anywhere. And none in the foreseeable future, though I do need to get the boys some new shoes and maybe a few “school clothes” which I might try to find secondhand first.

  11. Cindy Is Crafty

    I have stopped shopping in retail stores completely. I realized the other day I have not been in a store for other than bras in over two years. I shop exclusively in thrift and consignment stores. I find trendy items and those that are still new with the price tags attached.

  12. Mimi

    I have also stopped shopping in retail stores for the most part. Jeans, which I need, will be an exception because it’s difficult for me to find them in thrift stores (especially in those without changing stalls). I’ve realized that all my favorite and most enduring garments are thrifted or vintage finds, and everything else is an impulse buy. It’s not so much the recession, as it is a burning desire for a Wii and some actual necessities in home improvement.

  13. dearilou

    I’ve always been cheap/thrifty when it comes to my shopping, but now I have more important things to buy. Like groceries. When I do buy clothes I buy them at thrift stores (underwear excluded.) I look for quality pieces that are not trendy. It isn’t just about the recession, it is about sustainability too. I don’t want to be wasteful, so I’ll buy something great that someone else didn’t want.

  14. Franca

    I’m similar to Nadia Lewis – when the economy was booming, I was a student and then in an entry level job that paid peanuts. Now that its all economic downturn and recession, I have gone through a series of promotions and am earning decent amounts. Most of my friends are similar, we’re at that age where our careers are developing quickly, but we just feel out of kilter with the world around us.

    Having more cash has impacted on my spending – its not so much that I buy more retail (I have been shopping mainly at charity shops for years now) but the things I do buy new have been more expensive. For example, I bought a pair of camper shoes full price recently, I would NEVER have done that a couple of years ago.

    I do completely feel that zeigeist thing you’re talking about, it feels wrong to be spending money when people are losing their jobs and houses. Also, I am a worrier and have therefore decided to put myself on a shopping ban from now until christmas and throw all available money at the mortgage instead, just in case.

  15. jennine

    hmm…this has been in my mind all evening… yes, absolutely. they’ve changed because i had unhealthy shopping habits in the past, and also because i decided to change my career, and i’ve not made much money for the last year, so buying has become a luxury. even thrifting isn’t something i can do all the time like i used to.

    i’m not sure if it has anything to do with the recession… perhaps in good times, i would have the same issues. there are things i want to buy, but i cant… but unlike what i previously thought, it’s not the end of the world that i don’t have the most current wardrobe ever.

  16. Becky

    I don’t think I’ve cut back at all – personally I don’t feel particularly affected by the recession, as I’m a mere student whose only income is pocket money & the odd Ebay sales, haha. The big purchases are still being made. πŸ™‚

    Also I completely agree that it seems like many of the retail stores are running out of ideas and filling the racks with dull & uninteresting pieces. I used to be able to walk into H&M and pick up 10 things I loved, now I haven’t bought anything from them for many months (except a couple of plain tanks which fit badly!).

  17. Pingback: Not Buying It… How has the rescession affected your fashion blog? | Independent Fashion Bloggers
  18. Casey

    I’ve been thinking about this very topic a lot recently. I’ve been going through my wardrobe, examining what I have (and need to purchase to fill the ever-enlarging gaps), and realized I haven’t really shopped at all this year! I think the last thing I bought was a jacket at F21. It’s a lightweight bomber style, perfect for the temperate fall/winter weather here in FL. Something I *needed*. Otherwise, my shopping–even thrifting–has been minimal to nil. Mostly because we’re living on one, military income. I’m not going to gloss over and say it isn’t tight and nail-biting at times, because it is. So my pre-marriage shopping obsession has taken a backseat right now while I focus on trying to help us save as much as possible (without being draconian! lol).

    I also have taken into consideration asking myself this before making a clothing-based purchase: do I really need to add this to my wardrobe? What other (at least 3) items will it go with? Does buying this prevent us (husband and self) from enjoying a joint activity/outing that we’d rather do? Nine times out of ten, for one of the above reasons I end up putting something back and walking out empty handed. I think I can count all my 2009 retail purchases on one hand right now! lol.

    But, I do need to get back to thrifting; I miss it, and now need to replace several “staples” that have simply worn out after years of wear and tear. I found there is a Goodwill outlet store within driving distance, and I’m eager to go dig through that! πŸ˜‰

  19. eyeliah

    Yes I have stopped! I get most items from swaps these days. Or if I do need to buy or clothes it’s the thrift. and for household stuff I try craigslist.

  20. Annie Butterfly

    I haven’t stopped shopping, but like Tricia said, I am unmoved by what’s on offer in most of the stores right now. I find that as I move into my mid-thirties I am no longer interested in purchasing low quality fashion items, but am more likely to invest in a quality item that will last for years.
    I’ll still pick up secondhand finds on eBay, or splash out on the occasional jacket or pair of jeans, but other than that I am mostly satisfied with what I already own. I have enough ingredients in my wardrobe for literally hundreds of fresh outfits, so I am not tempted by shopping malls right now.
    So my reasons for slowing down on the shopping front have less to do with the financial crisis and more to do with my own personal taste changing.

  21. julie

    yes,i am not shopping the way i used to. one daughter off to college in the fall &one daughter in middle school means i reuse &repurpose&recycle just about everything for me & the house these days. i have always been a big thrifter/junker, but i haven’t been thrifting in ages. today i spent close to $175 @ marshall’s & tj maxx on dorm bedding & towels!have to say my oldest is great @ grabbing a cute dress from h & m or forever 21 or marshall’s & then stepping it up with junked vintage jewelry,scarves & purses.

  22. Dana

    I have definitely stopped shopping for clothes. I am usually a pretty regular shopper, and most of my friends/family/anyone-who-has-ever-been-in-my-room-and-seen-my-closet says I have the most clothes out of anyone they know.
    However, I just recently graduated from college, can’t find a job in the horrible market, and have no money to be spending on clothes. The most recent purchase I made was a pair of shoes from Target over a month ago, and the only reason I got them was because they are red plaid and perfect for fall and too cheap to pass up.
    I do agree about nothing in current fashion in the chain stores really sparking my interest as well. I’ve been liking a lot of things from J Crew lately, but without a job and my savings going fast, it’s just too expensive.
    Man, now I really want to go shopping…

  23. ambika

    Buying a house has made shopping for clothes more unappealing than I ever thought possible. Except shoes, I guess. It’s always the shoes.

    Whenever I do feel a gap in my closet (a short sleeve cardigan, for example) I’ve been determined to do the thrift thing first.

    & in all honesty, I’ve tried to do that with all of the home decor, too. Sometimes it’s hard to be patient and wait for the perfect thing to pop up on craigslist but it’s so worth it.

  24. Marijke/LeFiffy

    I hear you.
    It’s pretty unusual for me but it happens that I could spend some money on clothes but I don’t.
    I focus on fleamarkets and garnments under 5 Euros. Anything else doesn’t feel right. Why spend 100 Euros on a jeans when I can have a similar one for 3 Euros?!
    I’ll keep on wearing the ones I own but I I’m sick to see empire waists in shops. I want to move on.

    We’re planning to become parents as well, so I keep on sorting things out, a thing I did only once a decade and only very unwillingly but this is different now. I want to have space for a little nest and I’m more than willing to say goodbye to stuff I haven’t worn in years.

  25. SwanDiamondRose

    i love these answers. i have to still to read them all but i’m really curious as to what is going on too. i live in Vancouver and stores don’t really look like they are doing that well. sales on from the beginning of the season. some don’t even look to have brought new stock in. and i’m really just a big thrifter, but that’s often how i wreck my budget. too many little purchases. so i want to stop my tiny purchses. if i think a good long time before getting a more substantial item, i figure that’s ok. i find a key accesory like new shoes, can make all your things work together all over again. i am, and i ALWAYS say this, trying to be innovative with what i have. i have piles of neat finds that go unworn. it’s confusing.

  26. simply.femme

    I bought my first house four years ago and quite frankly didn’t buy many new clothes for the first three years because of all the house stuff and the adjustment to my budget. (I managed the apartment building where I lived and paid little rent and, although I put amount of money that would go to a mortgage in a savings account to use as a down payment, I knew it was there if I spent too much one month…)This past year, I turned my attention back to my wardrobe (not that it really needed anything) and spent quite a bit. But now I feel the tide turning. While the recession hasn’t affected me personally, I think others’ experiences and just the general news have made me feel I need to really examine what I spend money on…so of course, now I’m turning back to the house. I am trying to really use the clothes I have.

  27. ana

    I stopped shopping a while ago. I couldn’t find a job in the middle of this financial crisis, so I started my own business (a knitwear label). So I don’t have much money.

    But the less I shop the less I’m interested in new clothes. Buying something trendy means the next season i won’t wear it (= waste money). So if i buy something are basics. That’s why i decided to design clothes you can always wear, they aren’t basics but not “last trend” either.

    And because now I think things twice before buying I realize I can pass. Even if it’s cheap i think: “another scarf? mmm”

    I prefer to spend money on restaurants, cinema, etc.

    Maybe i need to think twice about my business too… πŸ™‚

  28. Ira

    I’m buying much less than before, simply because I don’t feel like it anymore. I used to have a really big “craving” for new clothes, but now I’ve lost interest. Maybe it’s the fact that I have a lot of stuff, but I just feel that buying things gives you a false feel of purpose and hapiness and that one should focus on other things.

  29. Kristina

    My shopping has always been heavy on thrift and vintage, with some good pieces picked up when traveling (Built by Wendy, Penelope’s), or the occasional on-sale pair of Fryes at Shopbop. But between the recession and an upcoming move from Orlando, FL to Seattle, WA planned for the end of summer, my last-summer-in-FL wardrobe was pretty much created with one trip to community thrift and one trip to Ross. Before I hit Seattle (which will also mean temporary unemployment), I plan on picking up a good, wear everyday pair of jeans, since mine are pretty much busted, and repairing a few pairs of boots that I have worn to pieces.

    These cutbacks are allowing me to really survey my wardrobe and find the holes, and the excesses (I filled three boxes for my yard sale so far, even though I have always felt my closet is really well curated). Also, when you do get a new piece, it feels soooo special. I recently thrifted a pair of red 80s low-heeled pumps with a polka dot shoe clip. I think they were like $4, but I was so excited to wear them. Maybe it is silly, but it feels like joy in simple things.

  30. jesse.anne.o

    After I posted that, I bought 2 tank tops and a sundress from H&M (totally fine and basic cotton) and a bunch of stuff from some stoop sales – 50% of which don’t fit me!

  31. miss fitz

    i’m shopping slightly more than usual. but “usual” was nonexistent. the deals are so good that my thrifty self is happy with the value available lately. and i got married so there were some things i had planned to shop for – i was pleased at the deals out there.

    but my distaste for conspicuous consumption remains the same – steady and strong.

  32. Drisana

    I have spent less money on clothing, but not precisely because of the recession. Perhaps I would stop buying clothes, but I am 14 and still growing. Recently, when I was cleaning out my closet, I realised that a lot of the items I had were impractical fads. The few things that I decided to keep have stood the test of time in my wardrobe. I find that, by not squandering my budget on fad items and unneccessary things, I don’t feel so regretful about spending on classics ($100 for a little black dress, as opposed to $250 worth of multicoloured bottoms and tops which couldn’t really be mixed and matched.)

  33. Kutusha

    In my case living off of a scholarship is hard buying “new” clothes at the mall I usually go to flea markets or thrift stores, although, when I lived with my parents I used to shop at boutiques all the time.
    The upside is that now I live with my boyfriend, whom I’ve been with for almost 4 years, and last month he inherated his granparent’s house after his grandpa past away (No I’m not happy his granpa died) I’m happy because now we have a house with a garden and three huuuge closets and all the clothes there now belong to us. Of course they’ll need some alterations but still.
    I love your blog.