No New Clothes Challenge in Europe

November marks the beginning of the sixth or seventh month of the No New Clothes Challenge at our house.  It’s a little surprising to think that I can’t even remember when I stopped going into clothing stores.  But not buying clothes has become such a habit now.

I’m learning that going without new clothes certainly doesn’t mean we don’t have anything to wear.  In fact, time after time, we keep reaching for the exact same sweaters and pants anyway.  Half of the clothes in the little dresser that we share aren’t even being touched, and I wonder if I can even remember what’s in the back of Martin’s pile or if he can remember the back of mine.

hamburg square

By avoiding the purchase of new clothes, I feel like our priorities have shifted in a lot of ways.  We seem to be wanting less in general.

I was a little worried at first.  As a whole, Europeans have far more fashion sense than I do.  I worried about getting caught up in how beautiful the scarves girls wore were or how adorable their autumn coats looked.  I fully expected to have to create some sort of system where I’d take small steps in accepting that I don’t dress like a European.  No purchase could probably change that about me.  I’d still be the only person in a bright coat in a sea of black clothes.


Sometimes I feel silly in my coat.  Does it have “American!” written all over it, even if it’s a German coat?  I’ve discovered that standing out has its advantages.  Every time I bike down six-lane streets, I find myself more and more thankful that cars will see me better.  When I’m trying to meet up with people, they can spot me from a mile away when I climb off the subway.  Plus Martin never loses track of where I am when we run errands together.

I have had to walk into a department store to buy Martin a pair of gloves, but otherwise?  This challenge has eliminated an entire expense for now.  The desire for more is gone.  We find ourselves celebrating what we have instead of feeling frustrated by what we don’t.

A friend of mine always says, “When I die, I want people to remember me for my character, because it’s not like I am going to be able to take all this stuff with me anyway!”

Do you have experiences in going without?  Have any triumphs or attempts you’d like to share?  We only meant to go the summer with no clothes.  Sometimes challenging yourself creates completely new habits.

Catch the rest of the No New Clothes series here, here, and here.  Happy not shopping!

(Images from Hamburg, Germany during a recent visit)