Comment: Stylist took up challenge to buy no new clothes for a year

SBS stylist Lesley Crawford set herself a year-long challenge to work with a zero wardrobe budget. Source: Instagram

Could you go an entire year with a zero budget for clothes? SBS stylist Lesley Crawford challenged herself to go 365 days without buying anything new unless she sold something she already owned. And she shared it all on Instagram - every day.

I was doing my tax this time last year and realised that after what I thought had been a reasonably restrained year, I had spent $10,000 on clothes, shoes and accessories. It was then I realised I couldn't afford to continue to do that.

It was a dilemma for me. I love fashion. My job involves shopping. I face daily temptation and I'm always finding fabulous things at reasonable prices. Dressing is a creative outlet for me.

I looked at my existing wardrobe and decided then and there I already had enough clothes to dress for a year - but I needed to make it a proper project to keep me interested.

I love Instagram so I thought that was the perfect platform to document the journey.

I was also realistic in that I didn’t think I could go 365 days without buying something. I gave myself a zero wardrobe budget from my salary but if I wanted to buy something, I had to sell something from my existing wardrobe or earn some extra money above and beyond my normal job.

Was I tempted during the year? Yes. When I was looking at the new season collections and had the opportunity to buy wholesale, I was tempted.

Being in a designer consignment store and seeing that some rich woman has dropped off a load of amazing clothes from my favourite international designers that are selling at a very reduced price, I was tempted.

Fortunately, I  have the pleasure of shopping vicariously for the SBS presenters, so that helped enormously.

I bought a few items of Dries Van Noten. He is one of my favourite designers. They are always too expensive for me at retail but I wait for the sales, both in-store and online, and also in the consignment stores.

I had particularly fallen in love with a black dress he did with hand-painted silver flowers on the front. It was originally over $2000, so when it came down to $450 on sale there was no way I could pass it up.

When I started the challenge I went through my wardrobe, piece by piece, and decided on a number of clothes that I could live without and consigned them to one of the stores I buy from.

This gave me a bit of extra cash each month as the pieces sold.

I also sold some clothes to friends and did a couple of freelance styling jobs on the weekends, as well as doing a market stall for three weeks.

This extra income covered any of the purchases that I made during the year.


I am lucky that I have an extensive wardrobe already after many years of collecting, buying quality when I can, and looking after my clothes .

The one item that I probably relied on most was black pants. I have a few pairs of black jeans and several other styles of black pants, so they are my go-to for comfort and style. Black is the most flattering colour and much easier to keep clean and look after.

I did feel a sense of achievement that I had achieved zero wardrobe budget all year. The funny thing is, I didn’t have a whole pile of money sitting there waiting to be spent on something fabulous instead. I'm not sure why, but maybe the cost of just living goes up each year, especially in Sydney.

I did find it very confronting having a photograph of myself every day for 365 days.

In fact some days I actually couldn’t bare to look at myself, so I posed with a paper bag on my head, or posted a picture of my feet, or a bitmoji.

However, it is also pretty amazing to have a visual diary of a whole year in my life. And I was proud of myself in resisting many daily temptations.

I also enjoyed the process of Instagram.

I don’t think the project has changed my style - I have always been quite eclectic, I don’t like to be pigeon-holed into one particular look.


I think the way people shop has changed because of technology. We now have access to a global retail experience with online shopping.

Because the seasons are opposite in Australia, you have the opportunity to shop the sales of the northern hemisphere to coincide with the season we are going into.

Unless you have a lot of money or the retail experience itself is really special there is really no reason to pay full retail prices as you only have to wait a short time for things to be on sale.

Follow Lesley Crawford on Instagram at @lesleyhasmanyhats and her work with SBS presenters at @sbsstyle.

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