Lots of people refer to January and February as ‘hard months’. However, I love their hibernating nature and edging myself into the New Year gently. I treat myself by doing all the things I rarely do during the rest of the year. For example, getting my hair cut (thankfully I have long hair, an understanding hairdresser and hair that doesn’t tend to split), lunching out (a very rare occurrence), going to the cinema (even rarer than lunchtime gallivanting) and generally easing my way into introducing new healthy habits to my routine, so far it’s been a teaspoon of aloe vera each day and a dab-a-day of umeboshi plum puree.
I also draw up my resolutions and determinations (and I really take my time to think about these). This might sound a little strict and indeed ‘hard’, but it’s actually quite pleasurable. For example, amongst my ‘determinations’ I draw up a list of things I want to buy during the year. It’s something I highly recommend to people who want to cut down on unthinking consumption.
If you have a defined ‘wish list’ of things then if whilst out-and-about you’re tempted by a quick buy, just think of your list (carry it around with you if needed, as a reminder). It’s easy to randomly spend here-and-there and not realize just how much you’re totting up.
Are you reading this thinking, ‘My list would be as long as my arms and legs combined’? I felt the same when I first tried this, but trust me, putting everything down on paper focuses the mind. I use ‘quality paper’ to make it seem ‘official’ (in actuality, the back of an old ‘comp’ slip, but it’s a creamy, thick, heavy-weighted one), and select a handful of things using the categories that mean something to me: ‘clothes’, ‘books’, ‘raw ingredients for beauty unguents’, plus a ‘single item’ kitchen splurge. Of course, it’s not just ‘things’ but ‘experiences’ too … For example, next week it's the cinema and A Bigger Splash (I’m a huge Tilda fan).
Food for thought? Fashion for thought is equally important. The clothing industry is, after all, the world’s second most polluting industry.
As a postscript to yesterday’s post it’s not just about how much (or how little) we each spend, but about the number of items too. Spending less doesn’t necessarily mean consuming less.*
*In full disclosure mode, my eight years of accounting show years ranging from buying 27 items to 96 items.
I stumbled across Becky Earley’s website last year and really enjoyed reading her personal blog. In a similar way, for the last eight years, like some kind of early modern housewife (I’ve read numerous numbers of their seventeenth-century wills and inventories…) I’ve kept a detailed account of the money I spend on clothes, including shoes, bags and underwear, in the tiniest of notebooks.
I buy a lot of clothes from jumble sales and then have the occasional splurge on expensive dresses. My yearly totals for the eight years range from over £1200 to under £200.* Looking back over the entries it’s the emotional impact of buying that interests me. My high from visiting a particularly good jumble sale can last a week or so, but I’m also aware that the years when I’ve spent more on clothes are the years when I’ve felt I deserved to do so. That said, some low-spending years were because I was totally, happily, wrapped up in other projects and clothing took a back seat.
Two photographs in particular from the blog bewitched me (both above). One, of Bridget Harvey’s visible mending because the jumper looks so beautiful with its proud flashes of colour (I’ve been inspired to mend with vigour) and the other, a photograph of Angelica Kitchen, a vegan restaurant in NYC. I’ve never visited but was inspired to buy their cookbook, and then, as a follow-on, the cookbook The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, by one of their former chefs (given to me as a Christmas present, and pictured here). The latter book (which is easy to adapt to vegan) I heartily recommend, in fact, I can’t stop dipping in and out of it, as do many others judging by the reviews.
*I felt almost shy about revealing these figures. This soon dropped away when a survey covered by The Independent in 2014 suggested the average UK woman spends £1200 a month (!) on clothes, the Daily Mail (urgh) suggested a figure of £4000 per year in 2012, and Good Housekeeping the lower figure of around £600 per year in 2013. Like all analysis, these figures depend upon when, who, why and where you’re asking…