2020 – The year of 20 new items

Zoë Burt decided to buy just 20 items this year, now as it is half time she has drawn a balance of the first six months and shared it with us.

I have become ever more aware of the implications of fast fashion on our planet and an innate sense of greed for the number of clothes I can end up buying and owning. 

I remember from being a child, an annual pre-season routing of shedding clothes that no longer fit or we no longer wore in order to distribute them to the local charity shops. (Read now: “How to declutter sustainably”)

I appreciate the privilege that I had to do this and often found myself feeling that I had spent money on clothes that were made and yet I’d barely worn them, for a range of rather trite reasons.

I can offer a host of excuses and explanations as to why I buy too many clothes and I’m sure you can all relate to most. 

I needed new professional clothes to update my student look; shoes often smell and become ratty; my summer clothes rarely get a refresh and tank tops from when I was 17 no longer fly so well; jeans become shapeless and ripped and whoever thought wet look leggings was a good idea needs a serious rain check. 

But what if you really could limit these? 

Having become ever more aware of it, I decided that 2020 was the year where I would aim to buy 20 new items. 

I had just a few caveats: underwear (within reason!!) didn’t count, as darning laddered tights come with a time commodity and some knickers have just seen their best days. 

Presents were also excluded, as I felt it was unfair to place my restrictions on others. 

As a small human, I often find myself blessed with bags of clothes that no longer fit others- so donations and trading items with friends were also excluded. 

At the beginning of March, lockdown came into Milan and I was told by my work to leave, having only a few hours to pack a bag for an unknown length of time in an undecided location. 

The phrase ‘capsule wardrobe’ took on a whole new meaning. I opted for the more casual end of my work clothes, still thinking I would be working from the UK and allowing room for some jeans/ blouse combinations. When lockdown also took hold in the UK, my wardrobe shrunk again, as I moved in with my boyfriend and his parents, so as to avoid moving between houses. 

With a small pocket of clothes suitable for the cold weather plus the clothes I had (deliberately) left at home aged 18, I was sporting an interesting look.

To date, however, I have bought two new items 

– a blue spotty dress and a sports bra from one of our favourite sustainable brands, girlfriend collective. 

The dress- a cancelled flight due to a storm meant that I was stranded in London with no work clothes for the following day, which demanded a speedy trip to Wimbeldon’s TK Maxx. The sports bra came from the impulse of home workouts that was about the only event worth getting changed for during lockdown.

Without the opportunity to browse shops or really have occasions in which I required many new clothes, I coped well for 3 months without feeling too deprived. 

Upon returning to Milan, a shopping capital of the world, and a huge change in climate to 30+ degrees has got me aching for new flowery dresses, t-shirts and flip flops. 

Apart from the emergency dress, I have been forced to apply a wish list.

Rather than simply buying things, I ponder, research and add to a mental, and physical, clothes wish list. (Read now our tips on how to create a wishlist

I have found a few things have dropped off, such as a belt, after we found some old leather belts, repurposed it and the new one was no longer required. 

I have also found that when I am no longer thinking about it, it’s probably a sign that I don’t really need it. Someone had commented that December would be difficult if I had already reached my nineteen quota mark. 

As the sixth month slips by and I’m only two items into my 20, I’m feeling quietly hopeful for my Christmas party outfits.

Zoë lives in Milan, but is originally from Northern England, in the Yorkshire dales. She studied languages, but is now working in finance in Milan. She is an outdoors enthusiast - climbing, cycling, running, skiing, surfing, you name it! Blogging since solo travels aged 18, now running a blog with Emily Collins focused on discovering outdoors adventures in the local area around Milan. But she is also very into cooking, trying to find new sustainable recipes using local ingredients, trying to eat less red meat.

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