Month 1 Reflections on #20in2020

In case you missed it, I’m limiting myself to 20 clothing purchases for the year. And now I’ve survived the first month of the challenge! I took in one item this month, but I was tempted…a lot. Here was my pick, what I expect for the next month, and other thoughts on replacing shopping with other activities!

What I bought:

The first thing on my 2020 wishlist was the Brass straight pontes. I wear my regular pontes twice a week and thought a slightly different style would add some variety. I didn’t plan to buy them right away but they went on sale about 4 days into the challenge! I felt nervous to make a purchase so early, but it saved me $25, so it just made sense. And, I totally love them! They are as comfy as the originals but with an added (literal) flare. Total cost: $70.

What I browsed:

Ohhh what my purchase list does not reveal. I had the browsing bug this month, hard. I love to look at stuff online (I’m gonna list it but not link it if you are also trying to curb your online browsing!), including:

  • Kotn flannels: This is on my wishlist currently, but I just wasn’t sure if I really needed it.
  • The entire Brass clearance sale: Soooo many tempting items, but I stuck to what was on my list. The questions that helped me to stay accountable here were “Do I have something like it?” and “Is it actually a color I would wear?” I don’t own a ton of gray or navy and that’s because I don’t like them as much as black and warm tan tones!
  • NotPerfectLinen: At this point, you may be thinking “wow, you were on an ethical brand bender this month” which is part of the point of this challenge for me–I’m hoping by limiting my intake I can shop mostly ethically this year (secondhand first as well). But this led to me doing a lot of research on ethical brands I like this month, which led to browsing. I will probably place a NPL order closer to summer!
  • Jumpsuits: This is also on my future “maybe” list–I’m looking for a sleeveless jumpsuit that I can layer tees under. I also tried this cute Madewell option, but it was wool. Being honest with myself, I prefer jumpsuits for summer.

I also purchased two things that don’t “count” toward my 20 items, but I think are worth noting: a pair of blue light-blocking glasses (at the pleading of my optometrist but also I love cute glasses so I was like “yes add to cart”) and some socks. What I learned from my excitement about buying both of these things is that I love spending money so much I will find any excuse to do it. Oh? I can’t buy shirts this month? Socks it is! I would beat myself up over these purchases but I think they were overall good choices for me. But I hope the awareness carries forward so next time I find myself browsing for something practical I can remember that I may not actually need it and am more likely replacing the shopping urge with a new category.

My shopping replacements:

The other thing I tried to do this month is replace old shopping habits with new habits, especially reading! I read three books: This is How you Lose the Time War (if you like post-apocalyptic), Ghosted (light beach reading that takes a turn I did not expect!!!! I’m screaming!!!), and The Friend (beautiful, about grief, if you can’t read things where the dog suffers you will be ok).

I also realized that shopping scratches the “creative” itch for me, so I tried to find other ways to feel creative (including planning this entire month of outfits, haha), rearranging our house, and letter writing.

And one big purchase:

I BOUGHT A CAR! A car has been on my to-buy list for about six months now, but I don’t really like cars, so it was hard to suck it up and go spend that much money. My car purchase has me thinking a lot, I will say, about mental health and money. One thing to know about me is that driving scares the sh*t out of me. And, for a long time, a factor involved in this was that I drove a 20+ year old car. The car was reliable, and sort of a point of pride, but it also caused me a fair amount of headaches (what if it doesn’t start this morning? what if I get in a crash and it doesn’t have all the cool new safety technology around?).

Having a newer car has been HUGELY BENEFICIAL for my peace of mind so far. Which makes me think about all of the money stresses I had as a grad student–going from grad student to faculty member is an eye-opening experience of whiplash between food stamp-eligible and definitely-not-food-stamp-eligible. Having enough money to buy your way out of problem is a huge privilege–whether that be a new car that works better of money for preventative care. I don’t know where I’m going with all of this except that I am keeping a note of things that freaked me out as a grad student that I hope to be able to consider and change as a faculty member for our grad students.

What’s next:

My wishlist for February is pretty empty at the moment, which is good. I’m trying to especially limit winter shopping, because my winter wardrobe has been adequate this year, and the summer heat overwhelmed me last year. The only “need” I currently have is a black belt, so we will see if anything else comes up!

I’ve been surprised by how easy this challenge has been so far (easier than low shopping challenges I’ve tried in the past). I think it’s something about the number and the length of the challenge–unlike a “no shop” month, I can shop now, but I also know my parameters for the year, and the number limit has helped me to think “does this belong in my 20 items?” Let’s hope that continues!

14 thoughts on “Month 1 Reflections on #20in2020”

  1. I drive a 20 year old car, and you’re right that it brings a weird mix of anxieties. On the one hand, it’s very unattractive and don’t have to make payments on it. On the other hand, I have been in numerous situations in which it just doesn’t start. And dealing with that makes me not want to drive at all sometimes.


  2. I also drive a 20+-year-old car! It’s been reliable (it’s a Honda) and I don’t drive that much anymore so it stays. But if it got to the point of being unreliable, then it would be time to replace it.

    I’m feeling good about my 20in2020. Been avoiding sales and have only bought one thing: a pair of gloves.


  3. I’d love to see a comparison between your regular Brass Ponte pants and the straight Pontes if you have the time. I’m also doing a 20 in ’20. I bought a handbag in January, but nothing else. I’m patiently waiting for Brass to bring back the Modern Trouser, hopefully in a color other than black.

    I was super busy at work this month and had a short vacation, so clothes shopping was not at the forefront of my mind. I’m planning to work on a difficult puzzle in February (Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights), which should occupy some of that mindless time at night when I am most likely to browse online sales.


  4. You did good! I’m also doing this since I heard about here, but I’m trying to make it anything that’s not essential. So for me that’s primarily buying books. I learned 100% yesterday that I am an emotional spender. I lost out on a house I bid on and then proceeded to buy 2 books I wanted to read but could have stayed on my eventually-read list because it’s not like I have time to read for fun as a humanities major!? I went to The Who Cares It’ll Make You Feel Better place. Bad me.

    I haven’t bought any clothes since I started the challenge in January but I’ve set myself back about 3 books. So I’m at 3/20 🤨.


  5. Thank you for your posts! I found you on Instagram, which recently led me to your blog. With your review on Brass, I just purchased a few work and non work items from them (both new and secondhand) and I’m looking forward to wearing them regularly.

    I see that you are interested in Not Perfect Linen. I definitely can recommend them! I own a pair of cropped linen pants and a short sleeve shirt from NPL and the quality is wonderful (I’ve had the shirt for two years now).


    1. Thank you! I hope the Brass stuff works out! I would love to know what you got!! Ahh that’s great–I have one pair of NPL pants and I really like them but they are red and I think I should have gotten a neutral color 😦 But hopefully I can pick another pair this summer and maybe a dress or tank top! What colors did you get?


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