10 Learnings From Undertaking a Wardrobe Freeze

Posted by: House of Colour, April 22, 2024

By   Sarah Biancardi, House of Colour Ampthill & Flitwick

After being inspired by clients who visited my studio for consultations at varying stages of their own wardrobe freezes, on 1st January I committed to pressing pause on buying new/preloved (new to me) clothing for a full calendar year.

I regularly promote that understanding your seasonal colour palette and personal style facilitates a more mindful approach to shopping, reducing overall garment consumption and boosting self-esteem.  This year I was keen to push the boundaries of my own comfort zone and experience what can be achieved by only working with what I already have.

Here are my top ten learnings, one third of the way into the year:

1. You’ll experiment with your style more.

With no option to shop for gaps in my wardrobe, I’m filling them with pieces I already have - trying more new outfit combinations than ever before.  This has the added bonus of replicating the feel-good ‘buzz’ experienced when buying something new.

2. You’ll place greater value on what you already have.

Knowing that I have to make do with what I have today has made me take an even more considered approach to caring for my clothes to maximise their life span.

3. You’ll learn even more about your spending habits and behaviours.

I’m even more attuned to my spending triggers and am creating healthier ways to access a more sustainable dopamine ‘high’ by tuning into the underlying emotions behind an urge to buy.

4. You’ll be richer in time (not just money).

As an image consultant I’m not driven by fashion, however keeping abreast of evolving trends forms a key aspect of the behind the scenes work of running my business, including spending time looking at retailer brand websites, magazines and browsing shops to provide recommendations for clients.  Even so, I recognise the time I’m saving by not having a quick browse for something for my own wardrobe.  For someone who doesn’t have to engage with consumer sites or clothing stores as part of their work, the potential for time saving is huge.

5. You won’t miss the clothes you haven’t bought.

My experience of life isn’t diminished for not owning that top that’s been on my wish list for the last few months, or that must-have jacket that seems to pop up in every magazine and on socials.

10 Learnings From Undertaking a Wardrobe Freeze

6. You’ll plan for your gaps more effectively.

When you’re forced to make do, you’ll have the clarity to recognise what is a genuine gap in your wardrobe and which gaps can be filled with what you already have.  The distinction between need vs. want is clearer.

7. You’ll feel less critical of your body.

This one was unexpected. Not trying new clothing on and feeling occasional pang of disappointment by the fit is a surprising side effect; I’m only choosing clothing I already own and feel good in.

8. Already having a functioning capsule wardrobe makes a wardrobe freeze feel relatively effortless.

This is key - in principle, everything in my wardrobe can seamlessly mix and match because the colours and styles of my clothes work in harmony with my natural skin undertones, body architecture, personality and lifestyle.  If it weren’t for the prior investment and groundwork over the years to implement the guidance from my Colour & Style Analysis consultations, I’d have a disjointed wardrobe right now.  This would have created more styling challenges, less variation in my outfits and fewer outfit options during a wardrobe freeze.

9. You’ll challenge yourself to wear rarely worn items more frequently.

I’m scrutinising what is it that appeals to me most about the clothing I choose again and again and seeking out opportunities to wear pieces I wouldn’t normally choose.  My focus is enhanced as I plan for genuine wardrobe gaps.

10. You’ll make more mindful choices across other areas of your life.

Consumption and the planning of consumption can occupy valuable headspace, time and energy.  I thought I’d be feeling a pull to ‘add to cart’ by now. I haven’t yet, although I’m only 4 months in and haven’t had any major events or extreme weathers requiring specific dressing requirements.  I’m actively seeking out other ways I can make more sustainable choices.

So, would I so far recommend a wardrobe freeze?

A pause is always worthwhile, even just for a month or a few months if a year feels too daunting.  Anything that encourages you to be more reflective and considered about how you spend your time, money and energy is worthwhile.  I’m a strong believer that many people taking small, imperfect steps and pressing pause on their clothes shopping for a while would add up to a significant positive impact, which could be longer lasting than you might think - for the planet as well as your bank balance.


Image Credit: Sarah Biancardi and Stephanie Belton