How Long Could You Last Without Shopping For Clothes?

We’ve heard of diets where you consume no carbs. We’ve heard of diets where you refuse sugar and dairy. But this is the first diet we’ve heard of where a girl’s gotta drop, by far, the most delicious of all vices: shopping. Yes, shopping. Since September 2009, nearly 100 women have joined the Great American Apparel Diet, a “fashion fast” to slim down their closets and expand their wallets. There is one rule and one rule only: no shopping for new clothes for 12 whole months. Women on the Great American Apparel Diet hail from seven countries and 17 states, ranging in age from 19 to 60. (Men have expressed interest in the “shopping fast,” but apparently have not joined.) None of the women were ever out-of-control Lindsay Lohan-style pack rats; in an interview with Time, most women said they spent about $200 a month on new duds. Still, they all had different reasons for joining a “fashion fast”: some wanted to save money; others wanted to reduce their carbon footprint.

This unique “diet” means the ladies only wear the clothes in their closets and only spend money on new underwear, footwear and accessories. Gifts of new clothes from friends and family don’t count, but fasters are not allowed to specifically request new clothes as gifts.

Frankly, it sounds impossible.

I don’t mean to be glib here; I realize that the majority of the people on planet Earth are more concerned with clean water and healthy food than shopping and don’t have the disposable income to buy The Gap’s latest cords, anyway. But I think I speak for most Westernized women when I say shopping for clothes is often about more than just your outfit — it can really be about your whole psyche.

I know of what I speak: After I graduated from college in 2005, I moved back in with my parents in the suburbs. I used to drive to the Forever 21 at the mall at least once a week and buy myself party dresses that I’d just hang in my closet, tags still on, for that magical day in the future when I’d move to New York City and go to fabulous parties. I probably spent a few thousand dollars at Forever 21 (dresses, as well as coats, bags and shoes); I hid shopping bags, sneaking into my parents’ house, and took pains to hide all these dresses with the tags still on in my closet. This wasn’t healthy, but what can I say? Shopping made me feel good, like eating a chocolate cupcake, when everything else did not. And as plenty of women can attest, sometimes that’s all you need to get you through another week.

Eventually I did move to New York City and effectively stopped the Forever 21 splurges because I didn’t feel so desperately unhappy any more. But in the thick of it, I would find it damn hard to stop! So, hat’s off — old hats, of course — to the ladies on the Great American Apparel Diet. You are an inspiration to us all!

How long do you think you could go without shopping for new clothes? [Time]