How to Stop Buying Clothes You Don’t Need (Without Being Sad)

Giada Nizzoli

How to Stop Buying Clothes You Don’t Need (Without Being Sad)

It got out of hand, didn’t it? You kept adding one more £5 t-shirt to your cart and somehow spent hundreds on clothes by the end of the monthagain.

And the worst part? You only wear them a couple of times. In fact, you know you don’t need them. But you just can’t stop buying clothes.

We’ve been there, too! That’s how we know that, if you try to buy less clothes without a strategy, you’ll just make yourself miserable and it won’t work.

Instead, we’ll show you how to stop buying clothes you don’t need and be happier!

“Why am I always buying clothes?”

It’s not your fault! Media, notifications, socials… You’re always buying clothes because EVERYTHING around you is telling you to do that—and to see them as disposable. 

So, you do that and get a nice dopamine hit, expecting life to be perfect once you wear that dress.

But it won’t be, of course. The thrill of buying a new garment fades after just 4 wears

Graph from the book The World is on Fire But We're Still Buying Shoes

Photo:  The World is on Fire But We're Still Buying Shoes

But because you’ve been doing that for years, buying fast fashion has affected your brain. Now, you’re trapped in a vicious cycle: you NEED those dopamine hits.

We’ll help you break free! 

How to stop buying clothes all the time (and be happier)

Consumer who can't stop buying fast fashion clothes

Remind yourself of the benefits of quitting fast fashion

It’s hard to stop buying clothes if you haven’t got a strong motivation. So, find the biggest one for you.

Overall, when you learn how to avoid buying fast fashion:

Remove daily temptations

Online shopping

How can you learn how to stop buying clothes when you’re BOMBARDED with notifications and content telling you to do the opposite?

  • Unsubscribe from fast fashion newsletters
  • Delete shopping apps
  • Unfollow brands and influencers promoting overconsumption

Identify and manage your triggers

Consumer about to buy clothes they don't need

The main reason why you’re always buying clothes is that fast fashion has been keeping you trapped. 

BUT you might also use shopping as a coping mechanism or have triggers that get you to click ‘add to cart.’

Get to the bottom of them so that you can replace them with different behaviours.

For example, do you usually buy clothes…

  • as shopping therapy or to celebrate? Instead, treat/cheer yourself up with some self-care, coffee from your favourite cafe, or meeting up with a friend
  • out of boredom? Decide that, instead of buying clothes you don’t need, you’ll read a book, exercise, try a new hobby, etc.
  • you feel insecure and don’t like how you look? Remind yourself that it’s NOT something a new throwaway item will fix, and you’re already worthy. How about wearing your comfort/favourite garment instead? 
  • because you go shopping with friends? Suggest different ways to hang out or try some fun sustainable fashion activities 

And so on. 

A trigger could also be watching a show (and subconsciously believing you’ll “become” the main character once you buy a similar outfit) or hanging out with a specific friend.

Other tricks to learn how to stop buying clothes you never wear:

  • Get an accountability partner, and message them when you’re SO close to getting your credit card out
  • Decide you’re only going to buy that item if you still want it after 30 days
  • Try an affirmation (like “I am free from my fast fashion addiction” or “I already have an authentic wardrobe that makes me happy”)
  • Create a meaningful reminder (like a screenshot of that curve or a pretty Canva graphic with your affirmation) 

It’ll take some trial and error to find what works for you. But when you do (because you will), hold on to it.

Understand what clothes you actually like

Ethical dress in a signature style

This is such an exciting part of learning how to stop buying clothes you never wear!

Fast fashion has been pushing you to buy any kind of garment that “looks good.” But then, because it doesn’t really feel like “you”, you find excuses not to wear it.

Instead, create your own signature style.

When you only buy and wear garments that feel authentic? Stopping to buy fast fashion clothes won’t make you miserable.You’ll feel happier.

Declutter your wardrobe

A tidy selection of clothes

“What?! Getting rid of what I own when I’m already trying to stop buying new clothes?”

Hear us out!

We bet you only wear a small percentage of your wardrobe (10% according to How To Break Up With Fast Fashion) because:

  • It’s full of fast fashion clothes you bought on a whim and don’t really like
  • It’s so packed that… you can’t even SEE all of them!

Instead, after a declutter:

  • You’ll have clothes that match your style 
  • You’ll see all of them and wear different garments more often

Remember: wanting something ‘new’ doesn’t have to mean ‘buying it’

Friends swapping garments instead of buying new clothes they don't need

When you desperately want a new look:

  • Create a new outfit by remixing your clothes (we bet there are so many combinations you’ve never even considered!)
  • Rent a garment
  • Borrow or swap clothes with friends

Don’t give up on your clothes

Tools to fix your garments so that you can stop buying clothes you don't need

Tiny stain? Small rip? According to fast fashion, you should just bin that garment (and buy 5 new ones).

But that’s bad for the planet. You’d be contributing to 92 million tonnes of yearly textile waste.


Only buy clothes mindfully from now on

Sustainable blouse in a toffee colour

Learning how to stop buying clothes you don’t need is about breaking free from fast fashion. That doesn’t mean you’ll never purchase a new garment!

Just try and do so ethically:

  • Does it match your own style?
  • Will you wear it at least 30 times to justify its environmental footprint?
  • Was it made sustainably and to last? 

Plus, ethical garments cost more than fast fashion but:

  • You’ll save hundreds of pounds a year (if not a month) once you stop buying clothes you don’t need
  • It’s cheaper to buy fewer ethical clothes and re-wear them for years
  • On Project Cece, we brought hundreds of fairtrade brands in one place. This way, you can easily find ethical fashion for men and women. We also added filters to narrow down your choices (including Price)

It’ll take some time to get used to it, but we promise: learning how to stop buying clothes you don’t need will NOT make you miserable. You’ll feel in control, aligned with your values, and happier

You’ve got this!

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Project Cece is a platform that collects ethical fashion from vetted brands and shops in one place. Browse ethical fashion for women and men and find items that fit your style, budget and values!

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