No New Clothes For a Year — Sustainable Style Challenge Three Month Update

As some of you know, I started a self-imposed sustainable style challenge. I hashtagged it #nnc365, which means no new clothes for 365 days. I’m shy of 3 months in, and I have an essential update for you all. We took a trip to Los Angeles, and things did not go as planned. I bought some new things.

I Forgot My Bathing Suit For Our Beach Vacation

Our toddler had frequently been asking when we’d be going back to the beach ever since we got back from Hawaii in March. She kept building imaginary sandcastles on the dinner table almost every night; it was breaking my heart. So we decided to take a quick trip to California and hit our “local” beaches. The whole purpose of the trip was to hit the beach as much as possible. But guess who didn’t pack her bathing suit? Yep, it was me.

Key To Sustainable Style: Be Prepared

We arrived Tuesday evening, had dinner, hit up Target for swim diapers, and headed to the hotel. Wednesday morning, we were up bright and early with plans to have breakfast at one of LA’s excellent vegan spots and then head to the beach. I failed my challenge our first day at the beach. The weather was lovely, it was probably 10-15 degrees cooler than Las Vegas. I wore shorts, a white free people top, and espadrilles. Breakfast was great, but when we arrived at the beach, it started to get really warm. By the time we found and paid for parking, walked up and down the shops at Manhattan Beach looking for sand buckets and shovels, grabbed our beach things, and put sunscreen on; I was melting. My top had too much fabric, and it seemed to be insulating me.

If I Don’t Pay For The T-Shirt It Doesn’t Count, Right?

There was no way I was going to lay on the beach in this top that was cooking me like a baked potato wrapped in foil. So I told Marc I was going to buy a t-shirt to change into. I was disappointed in myself for not being better prepared. It didn’t occur to me that I wouldn’t have an opportunity to change before heading to the beach. I could have avoided this situation, but this is real life, and these things happen. I reminded Marc of my no new clothes challenge, and he replied, “Don’t worry, I’ll buy it for you and that way you don’t have to buy anything new or even mention it.” Yes, technically he paid for the shirt, but I still count it as a fail.

Why I Started This Sustainable Style Challenge

Going into this challenge, I wasn’t thinking of ways I could add loopholes or extra exceptions to be able to make purchases while still in the challenge. Having Marc pay for my shirt, sounded like (and was) a loophole. I told him I was still going to count it as a fail and mention it to you all because this is what happened and you should know. I put myself in this challenge after watching the True Cost documentary and seeing the struggle those making our clothes live with every day. Their struggles are fueled by our obsessive compulsion to buy fast fashion and mindlessly stuffing our closets. We’re unknowingly funding slave labor. I wanted out. I wanted to do everything within my power to stop contributing to that system as much as I possibly could, that’s why I started this #nnc365 challenge.

Make Every Purchase Count

But here I was, standing at the base of Manhattan Beach, looking up at a hill lined with boutiques. I decided that if I was going to buy a new shirt, it should at least be made in the USA and be something I would use for a long time to come. The first three stores I checked were no good. Then finally, I saw a Michael Stars sign on a boutique window. I know this brand makes all their garments in the USA. They grow their own Supima cotton, which is always made here in the US, and their design and manufacturing are also done here. This means they are paying employees fair wages and providing safe working conditions.

Key To Sustainable Style: Know Your Brands

I went into the boutique and picked out a white, long sleeve, Supima cotton, crew neck tee. Why did I choose long sleeve if I was melting in the top I was already wearing? Well, for a few reasons. Firstly, this new tee is made of Supima cotton. This type of cotton breathes well and quickly wicks away moisture, this makes it an excellent fabric for hot climates. Secondly, the long sleeves will be great for layering since fall weather is upon us and we have some cold weather trips coming up soon. Thirdly, Supima cotton is a strong, durable fiber, that gets softer to the touch with each wash. These are essential things to always keep in mind when shopping. I really thought about how this new purchase would live in my life. How I would wear it, how cost-effective would it be, how would it hold up over time.

Key to Sustainable Style While Traveling: Plan Your Outfits

Walking over to the pier in my new shirt, I realized leaving my bathing suit behind was going to be a problem since we planned on visiting the beach every day. The next morning, my denim shorts were still soaked from our beach day, and I didn’t know what I was going to wear. I looked through my suitcase and realized I was very ill-prepared for this beach vacation. In the madness of packing for myself, our toddler, the groceries we didn’t want to spoil if left behind, and other miscellaneous things we’d need. I forgot to pack useful beach wardrobe staples. I typically plan my outfits for trips like this and pack them in separate containers to ensure I have enough clothing and don’t forget any part of an outfit.

So on the third day, we headed to Nordstrom Rack for a bathing suit only to find that they had ZERO options because fall had just arrived and every summer piece was long gone. I checked the one tiny rack of athletic wear they had, opting for running shorts and a cute cropped sweater. I picked these items because I knew I’d wear them many times again.

Am I Giving Up On My Sustainable Style Challenge?

So yes, I bought some new things. Three pieces in total. It’s not what I wanted to do, and I was a bit disappointed in my self at first, but not anymore. Sustainable style, to me, is a lot like veganism. It’s impossible to live 100% sustainably in this modern world, just like it’s impossible to live a 100% vegan lifestyle. But the point of veganism is to cause the least amount of harm with your everyday choices. It’s also about educating yourself on the impact your choices make so that you can make better choices for yourself, others, and our planet. And sustainable style to me is the same. I’m still continuing my #nnc365 challenge. This mistake isn’t going to be an excuse to give up. The silver lining is that I’ll be able to anticipate future errors of this kind and catch them before they happen. Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise because we have a lot of traveling to do soon, but now I’ll be better prepared.




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