A self-confessed shopaholic tries to give up buying clothes for a month

What happens when a self-confessed shopaholic tries to give up buying clothes for a month? Roisín Burke gives it her best shot, with mixed results

Picture: Roisín creates three different looks using her existing wardrobe, with the lace cream top key in each outfit. Far left, she pairs it with a midi skirt, slipper shoes and handbag, all from Zara.

Centre left, Roisín combines the cream top with a black oversized blazer from Mango and smart black suit pants from H&M, the boots are from Zara.

Centre right, Roisín teams the cream top with frilly Bermuda shorts from Zara for a night out.

Far right: She models her bargain buy vintage dress she picked up for just €5. All pictures Denis Minihane

Giving up clothes shopping for a month is not something I wanted to do.

There are few things in life that can come close to my love of fashion.

From perusing vintage boutiques to bagging a bargain in a charity shop or meandering through racks of the latest fashion on high street, it makes me feel good.

Skinny jeans and skirts, mom jeans and crop tops, high waisted denims and dungarees; I have a packed wardrobe and I love experimenting with styles.

That said, it is an expensive habit. Very expensive.

It is not uncommon for me, in my late 20s, to be caught short at the end of the month and have to call in a favour from my mother or my friends.

It is a sad state of affairs and one I have tried to tackle on a number of occasions, but without success.

My New Year’s resolution had been to start managing my finances better, but three months later, I had over €500 worth of new clothes and owed hundreds to various individuals.

It was fair to say my new-found resolve had not been a success.

A self-confessed shopaholic tries to give up buying clothes for a month

But with my 29th birthday coming up, I decided it was time to get serious and so I vowed to give up clothes shopping for a month.

Unfortunately, things started badly. Three days into the month I broke the bet for a vintage bottle-green polka-dotted dress for €5.

I have no regrets. It was worth it.

But I wasn’t giving up. One illustrious purchase would not derail my objective. I may have lost this one battle — but I would win the war!

The next few days went well, until I was having a bad day. I got into the most pedantic argument with the fella I was seeing.

The insults were flying so I made myself a rum and coke and opened up some shopping apps on my phone to browse while waiting for snarky retorts to my snotty messages.

As the row escalated, my virtual shopping basket began to fill up in an attempt to anaesthetise the altercation.

Down €60 with a large shipment of new clothes en route from Europe, I had a revelation.

“I’m a mess,” I declared to my housemates, rum and coke in one hand, phone in the other.

No one disputed me.

The next day I had a think about my shopping addiction. It’s a weird thing to be addicted to. It doesn’t seem serious like drink, drugs or gambling, but an addiction is an addiction and if you can’t prevent yourself from acting a certain way, despite wanting to, then there is an issue.

I was extremely surprised to find it as hard as I did to desist from the odd impulsive purchase.

When I stopped shopping I suddenly realised how much of my life revolved around that particular hobby.

Wandering the shops with a few buddies after a coffee catch-up was a standard Saturday and online shopping while in a queue, on a bus or even while watching TV was second nature.

A self-confessed shopaholic tries to give up buying clothes for a month

After giving myself a bit of a scare by googling things like the signs and symptoms of a shopping addiction and the five stages of recovery, I once again resolved to give up clothes shopping.

The first weekend I spent not shopping happened naturally enough.

I was hanging out with a few of the lads and we seemed to go from cafe to restaurant to pub, without so much as a glance at a clothes shop window.

But the following Saturday, I had a hankering to buy clothes. I met the girls and as usual we had a look at the latest lines in the shops.

Despite adequate temptation, I managed to escape the clutches of consumerism unscathed. Everyone was impressed.

That night I decided to do an inventory of my wardrobe. I ripped out everything and went through it piece by piece, putting things together in outfits and organising them into different sections and compartments of my storage space.

It felt awesome. I wasn’t shopping, but the creative element of organising my clothes into different collections, gave me the same feeling as wandering Brown Thomas on payday and I also found a few things lurking at the bottom of drawers that I had completely forgotten I owned.

It was like having new clothes!

Now that my wardrobe was organised (and colour-coded), I was much more aware of what I already had and mixing and matching different looks was easier.

The weekend after involved another shopping trip with some mates and this time a pair of deep blue suit pants caught my fancy.

It took all my willpower to leave the shop without the trousers, but when I went home I found them online and tormented myself some more.

It was tough going and made worse by the ease of accessibility. I could buy them from my phone with just a few taps, and while I didn’t, the thought of buying them was not far from my mind.

Thankfully, I happened to have a birthday this month and my mother gifted me the deep blue suit pants.

My life was, once again, complete.

You would think that after three weeks, and with just seven days to go, I would have been able to desist from further breaches of my resolve, but unfortunately, that was not the case.

With less than a week to go, I went shopping with some friends and I didn’t hold back.

I bought a green T-shirt, a light summer string top, a floral dress and a white shirt.

I didn’t even feel bad about it.

I think it is fair to say, that my attempt to stop shopping for fashion was not quite the success I had imagined it would be.

However, on a more positive note, a breakthrough was definitely made. I spent a lot less than usual and at the end of the month I owed no one money and had a healthy bank balance, which was a good feeling.

Vogue is still my bible, but budgeting is the new black.

How to look good for less

Vintage markets and charity shops are great places to pick up unusual, character-rich clothes and jewellery at a bargain price.

Take your time: Never shop in a rush, or you will impulse buy something you’ll never wear again. Give yourself time to have a good root around and bring a buddy, a second opinion is vital.

Go through your wardrobe and organise everything into outfits. Most of us have a great selection of clothes already, but are often too busy to put a new look together. If your clothes are already matched up, you can effortlessly have a different style every day.


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