Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Vicky Sowerby's 'Make Do Not Spend'

When was the last time you went clothes shopping or had a little on-line spree after work?  Could you go a whole year without buying any new clothes?

That is exactly what the fabulous Vicky Sowerby has been doing since December 2010. Vicky set herself two year long challenges to raise money for Oldham Cancer Support Centre.  
1.       To not buy any new clothes – including shoes, bags and accessories of any sort
2.       To wear a different outfit every day for the year

You can follow Vicky's challenge outfit by outfit, and find out how you can help her raise money as she nears the last couple of months of her amazing challenge at her blog - Sewabee (Where she also shares her craft and sewing tips, including how to give new life to clothes you already have). 

I thought that Vicky would be the ideal person to feature as a guest blogger and offer some advice on how to make better use of the items that we already have, especially as so many of us are feeling the financial pinch. She kindly agreed, and has written her own guide on how to survive without shopping...

Five things I've learnt through my Make Do Not Spend Challenge

By Vicky Sowerby

With less than seven weeks to go before my challenge comes to an end it seems an ideal time to reflect on the past ten months and whether I have learnt anything from my year of abstinence. 

Here are the top five things I've learnt:

I was always a girl who bought something new for a night out and on rare occasions I didn't I would be stood by my wardrobe full of clothes moaning 'I've got nothing to wear!'.
This year I've realised that just by being creative and altering the accessories you wear, you  can come up with really different outfits using the same dress. My favourite accessories to ring the changes with are belts, shoes and head scarves. This has been essential for me not only in order to maximise my outfit options but also because I love some of my dresses so much that the thought of only wearing them once would send me into a cold sweat!


Over the past three years I have built up my sewing skills and without the concession of buying material and being able to sew my own clothes I doubt I would have even embarked on this challenge. 
Using my own skills to augment my wardrobe means I am able to have something really different for those special occasions. One of my favourite outfits of the year has to be my liquorice all sorts dress and matching headband for Ascot Ladies Day at our local hotel.

Don't be a slave to fashion
I don't think I've ever been a complete slave to fashion but over the years I've got better at knowing what suits me and incorporating the trends I like into my existing wardrobe. Not being able to buy the latest trends this year has proved to me that you don't need to have the most recent clothes to make you feel good.
Some of the dresses in my wardrobe I've had for over ten years and I still feel special in them thought they're not necessarily 'on trend'.

Retail Therapy
As well as buying new clothes for nights out and special occasions, I've also used shopping as therapy in the past (does anyone else do that?) There used to be nothing better than popping into River Island and picking up that new dress/top/etc. after a bad week at work. 
This year has been very difficult for me, especially since July, when my Dad sadly passed away. 
I really feel that the link between shopping and feeling good has been broken; after all if I can get through this year without retail therapy I can get through anything.

This year I've really noticed a link between clothes and memories. Anyone who's read my blog will see that I have a real thing about cherries and this all stems from memories of my Granny. 
On the day before my Dad died, I wore a dress that I had worn for my cousin's wedding. Not only did this remind me of an amazing day with my Dad, but I also remembered my many shopping trips with him, especially buying that particular dress.
The thought of throwing out many of my clothes fills me with dread as they have so many memories attached.



Overall, I really think that this year has taught me to appreciate the clothes I have already and to make the most of them.
I plan to have a blow out on 2nd December, the day after my challenge ends. But after this I think I'll be much more discerning in my purchases. I'm going to try and steer clear of mass produced clothes and opt instead for vintage and second hand clothes but watch this space....

Big Thanks to Vicky being a guest blogger for Nikki Nakki Lou

You can make a donation at Vicky’s Just Giving page www.justgiving.com/makedonotspend

Vicky takes a picture every day and writes a blog tracking her outfits. You can find her blog at www.sewabee.co.uk

All Images courtesy of Vicky at Sewabee.co.uk