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How Dry January Helped Me Build My Personal Style

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Since transitioning from shopping at the mall to thrift stores, I’ve rejoiced in the fact that lower prices mean more frequent shopping trips. However, I soon realized that my thrifting habits were accumulating expenses faster than expected.

As I embarked on my annual tradition of freshening up and organizing my closet for the new year, I found myself facing a daunting reality: my closet had reached capacity. I’d also come across several pieces with tags still on, or that I had forgotten about altogether. That’s when I knew it was time for change. 

This past January, I decided to participate in “Dry January” — but with a twist. I made it my goal to make it a dry month for my wallet and not spend a cent on any new article of clothing, pair of shoes, or accessories. 

Now, I recognize how absurd this may seem to some of you who do have a grip on your shopping habits, but I think we can all agree that the new year offers a chance to reflect, make changes, and set new goals. With that in mind, I decided to kill two birds with one stone by both addressing a fashion goal and a weakness.

Goal: Curate a personal style. 

Weakness: Cut back on my overconsumption, and in turn, save money.  

In not spending any more money on clothes, I’ve been forced to begin “cooking with my clothes,” a phrase coined by one of my all-time favorite TikTok fashion gurus, @pigmami. 

In short, it involves not just using the clothes I already own, but using them in ways I never have before — AKA coming up with new recipes for the pieces themselves. For example, pairing together unorthodox colors or patterns and using my plethora of accessories instead of my everyday staples. 

So far, this approach has proven successful in enhancing my everyday dressing experience in many ways. I’ve found myself wearing more color and wacky patterns than ever before, discovering a newfound love for belts, practically having a different outfit every day, and putting together some of my new all-time favorite outfits. 

Because of this, I now understand that clothes are meant to be worn, re-worn, and worn again — especially if I’m attempting to establish a signature style. So yes, it’s true. I’ve come out of this an outfit repeater… and a proud one at that!

It’s also revealed and changed my perspective on the things I look for when I’m shopping. I used to believe that it was a mistake to gravitate toward similar items I already owned. However, I’ve come to understand that when I consider buying these types of clothes, it’s typically because I’ve worn and cherished those pieces due to their color or silhouette. They’re items that make me feel good and that I know I’ll wear again. So now, I’ve concluded that investing in sure things is more worthwhile than buying pieces I might only wear occasionally.

Looking ahead I know it’s not feasible to expect myself to be able to resist the lure of a new pair of jeans or a funky new top, which is why I’m implementing the following rules on my first shopping trip post-January.

Am I paying attention to the fabric? 

Once I self-imposed this rule, I went through my closet and came to realize the abundance of clothing I owned made from poor-quality fabrics like polyester, nylon, acrylic, and viscose. These fabrics simply don’t last long and are horrible for the environment. 

The worst part is that, upon reflecting on the prices of some of these items, I now realize it was nowhere near worth the money. From now on, high percentages of cotton, linen, and wool are the only fabrics I’ll deem worthy of purchasing. 

Quality over quantity

I know sometimes the best quality clothing is expensive, which is why my first stop will still be the thrifts. In the past, I’ve found incredible quality clothing for absurdly cheap, but of course, that isn’t always the case. 

I’ve also decided that if I have to pay a bit more for something that will last a lot longer, it’s worth it because I’ll spend less in the long run. 

Sitting on something before purchasing it

I often find that what I perceive as falling in love with a piece of clothing is merely a fleeting desire. Meaning, I come home with it and while it seemed so great in the store, I now realize that it was simply the thrill of the purchase and the idea of it rather than the piece itself. 

So now I’m adopting a new strategy: sleeping on it. If I’m drawn to an item, I’ll snap a picture, head home, and give it some time — maybe a few days or even weeks. If it’s still living rent-free in my brain by the end of that set time, I’ll go back and happily purchase it because I’ll know it was true love. More often than not, I think I’ll find that the second I leave the store, I’ll forget all about the piece and life will go on. 

Would I be able to style it with what I already have?

Sometimes I buy a piece and come home to find that I’ll need a new pair of shoes or pants to go with it before I actually consider wearing it. Before I know it, I’m back to square one where the piece is doomed to either never see the light of day again or require more money trying to find extras that make the item look good.

Here’s to finding the joy in the clothing I’ve collected up until now, and to a year of making mindful purchases for the sake of my closet… and my wallet. 

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Camila Fraser is an international affairs major who's a language enthusiast, fluent in three languages. She has a passion for exploring new cultures and loves traveling to broaden her horizons. When she's not jet-setting, you'll find her nose deep in a book, scouring thrift stores for hidden gems, or binge-watching the latest thing on tv.