I’ve always liked putting outfits together, and honestly, I’ve never liked wearing the same outfit twice. I kind of hate to admit that, because for most of my life, that meant I was always buying things to keep from feeling like I had nothing to wear. 

When we got married, my husband and I had a little chat about my spending habits and how they needed a makeover. Honestly, I was relieved. I was tired of feeling guilty about buying things all the time and still feeling like I had nothing to wear. I felt stuck in this cycle that I didn’t know how to get out of.

This is my sweet husband. Look at that face! How could I say no to him?

Wedding Day

Concannon Photography

Not long after our chat, with Troy’s wise words echoing through my mind (but no real idea of an actual plan to quit shopping) a few things happened that ended up with me breaking up with shopping for a year:

  1. I started working for a non-profit that helps families escape the cycle of poverty. As I sat across the table from a young dad who wept, telling me how he’d sold everything they had to try to keep food on the table for his wife and babies, my heart was broken. Shopping isn’t a bad thing, but I wanted to quit feeling like I had to buy things and be really purposeful with what I bought so I could bless others…I just had no idea how to do that.
  2. But then, a few weeks later, our pastor challenged us to give up something good for something eternal, so my friend Kat and I came up with a plan to give up shopping for a year- no shoes, no clothes, no accessories, and we’d save the money we would have spent on ourselves and pray about where God wanted it to go instead.

I was nervous and didn’t even know if I’d be able to stick it out, but I was so ready for a change.

The next 12 months of my life flipped my thoughts and habits upside down. I learned that my average-size closet had more than 365 unique outfits hanging in it, and because I talked about what I was learning on Greater Than Rubies, I saw what I was doing connect with women all over the world. I got really excited about helping them learn how to dress their bodies, put together outfits, and feel gorgeous starting with the clothing that’s hanging in their closet.

And so GTR continued!

Thinking about a break up yourself? Click here for my suggestions.

Want to read more about the challenge? Here are my monthly thoughts from that year…

I’ve also gotten to share a few of your shopping break up stories! Click here to read them.

42 Comments

  • Audrey Tom January 26, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    Hi Caitlin! Somehow I just stumbled upon your blog, and first I want to tell you how completely and utterly honored and humbled I am to be on your Inspired list. I’ve been flipping through your outfit posts and I’d have to agree–we are style soul mates! I really love and identify with your outfits! Secondly, I very much appreciate the challenge you and your friend are on this year. Long story short, I feel like God told me to start my blog, which is weird because it often times seems so superficial to blog about clothes, and since I started it I’ve been constantly asking God how to honor him with it. I love what you’re doing!

    • Caitlin January 27, 2012 at 2:51 PM

      Audrey- I’m glad you did!! Thanks so much for your sweet encouragement! It absolutely made my day :) I’m not going to lie- I was so excited I did a little dance when I read it. Ha :) Hope you have a fantastic weekend!

  • Julie Barrios January 26, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    We LOVE having you along with us Caitlin and can’t wait to see how you get creative with what you’ve got and here what God does with and in you this year :)

    • Caitlin January 27, 2012 at 2:53 PM

      Thanks so much, Julie! You and Cate are such an inspiration and I love reading about the ways that God is working in your lives. He’s definitely used you to challenge me, so thanks for being a blessing!

  • Cate MacDonald January 26, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    Hey Caitlin!

    I want you to guest post for us at twentypieces! I was hunting around for an email, but this will have to do. Let me know via email if you’re up to it! We’d love it.

    Cate
    catejmacdonald at gmail.com

  • Mark February 1, 2012 at 12:20 AM

    Hey man, this would be easy for a guy, you got any guys doing it??

    • Caitlin February 2, 2012 at 1:46 AM

      Not yet- are you going to be the first?

  • Janna Hightower February 10, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    I am so impressed with your desire to do this, your courage to put it out here where the whole world can hold you accountable, and your beauty all around!

    Now I noticed that your rules are only about buying clothes… if you can find someone else with impeccable tastes and the little bitty size you are, you could do some pretty impressive trading!

    God bless you for your shining example!

    • Caitlin February 10, 2012 at 10:15 PM

      Janna, you are so sweet! Thank you for the encouragement- it made my day!!

      And that is a brilliant thought…I’m going to have to look into some trading! :)

  • Kelly E. Marra February 15, 2012 at 5:23 AM

    Hi Caitlin,
    My husband works with your husband, and I when I heard about your challenge, I couldn’t wait to check it out! It is a beautiful thing that you are doing! I love that you will donate what you would have spent.
    I love how God works! My mother & I LOVE all things Fashion! The other day we finally made it down to see Jean Paul Gaultier at the Dallas Museum of Art. – I am a bit of a procrastinator. I read every word on the walls, studied each outfit and walked away with two thoughts that I can not get out of my head. The first thing that I drew from this experience – Fashion can not be put into a box – there are no rules. The second thing – Recycling has been going on in fashion forever! Take the man’s suit, for instance, women modified it to make it work for them, a soldier’s uniform became a dress, pants became a skirt, etc. I love this! I love to sketch and sew! I have been redesigning many of my clothes this past year and it has been so much fun. I can not include shoes in the challenge, because shoes are a stronghold, lol, but I would like to not buy clothes for a period of time and have to make something new, at least weekly, using clothes that I already have or fabric already in my collection. Do you sew? This might be fun.
    I am looking forward to following your blog and this challenge!

    • Caitlin February 16, 2012 at 1:21 AM

      Kelly- I’m glad that you did! Thanks for the encouragement. :)

      And I am so impressed. How resourceful and creative to redesign your own clothes! I wish that I could sew and do the same. I also love your idea of not buying clothes for a while and making something new weekly. That would be so fun to hear about! (You should start a blog to chronicle your adventures!)

  • hilldalehouse March 5, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    Fantastic! Our sunday school just read this book together! It’s great to see the people of God rising to the call! I can’t wait to see everything you come up with, without buying anything new!

    • Caitlin March 5, 2012 at 10:53 PM

      It’s been a crazy journey, but one I wouldn’t trade. And I’m so glad you’re reading along! :) Have a wonderful night!

  • Kristina March 17, 2012 at 8:35 PM

    Caitlin, I CAN NOT put into words how absolutely amazing what you’re doing is! You should be an example to us all. Clothing, as great as it can make us feel, is only material possessions and could never fill our hearts and our souls the way that the work of God can! You’re truly an inspiration! If there is anything that I (or my blog) can do to help you in your journey just let me know!

    much love,
    Kristina

    • Caitlin March 18, 2012 at 6:48 AM

      Kristina, thank you so much for your encouragement! I appreciate it more than I can express. My constant prayer is that God would use my blog to accomplish His plans, so if you would, please pray that with me! Thank you!!

  • Jessica Sweatt (@jesshereandnow) April 20, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    Wow! What an amazing challenge. Good luck on your journey!
    xx

    • Caitlin April 20, 2012 at 5:32 PM

      Thanks so much, Jessica!

  • pippajanie May 17, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    Wow … absolutely LOVE your blog, the name, the meaning … LOVE it all!!!!
    I will definitely be back! pippa
    http://www.shopwithpippa.com

  • Peggy June 13, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    found you via WIWW and I must say what a wonderful blog and challenge. Girl, I have been thinking about the exact same things! You inspire me! I am a Christian too! Can’t wait to look around your blog some more!

    • Caitlin June 13, 2012 at 7:59 PM

      Peggy! I’m so glad you are here. I hope you’ll comment with what He’s teaching you! It’s so encouraging to me to hear what others are learning. I hope you have a wonderful night!

  • Audrey B June 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Hi Caitlin!
    I can not even tell you what a blessing it is that I found your blog! Just a few weeks ago I had a conversation with my husband about how much “stuff” I have and that I want to challenge myself to live on a SUPER small clothing budget. Thinking that this would force me to remix the wardrobe that I already own. Fast forward a few weeks and I find myself here at your blog, coincidence? I don’t think so. Now it’s time for me to stop thinking about it and start living it! Thanks for the inspiration – wish me luck!

    • Caitlin June 19, 2012 at 7:22 AM

      Audrey, I am blown away by your comment. Way to go, girl! I’m so excited that you came by. GOOD LUCK! And keep me posted on how it goes. I just love when God works on us like this. You can do it!

  • Maggie July 25, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    hey caitlin,
    i stumbled across your blog a few months ago and thought your challenge was a super noble endeavor. …and in the back of my mind i prayed Jesus would never, ever, ever lead me to do something like that. ha.
    my husband and i have been trying to “simplify” our lives. especially when it comes to where we spend our money. i’m not a huge spender in the clothing area, but i am the queen of finding a seemingly legitimate excuse to buy something new. you know, a friend’s wedding, easter, a weekend getaway, etc. anyway, God’s been really working on me with money and how i use it and all the usual suspects that accompany that gentle scolding. so i’m going to do something very similar to what you and your friend are doing. i can’t start yet. it feels too scary to start it. but i’m going to hash out my rules, pray about specifics and then dive in.
    so thanks. mainly for being confirmation. and i pray God blesses you for being bold and public about something you and Him are doing together.

    • Caitlin July 27, 2012 at 3:50 PM

      Maggie, don’t you love (slash hate) when He does that? That’s exactly how I wound up with the challenge. I’m so excited for you and your husband! I’ll be praying for you as you dive in to what the Lord lays out for you. I know it will do great things in you- and for His glory. Thanks for taking the time to share a little bit of your journey with me- and please keep me updated on how it goes! I’d love to hear.

  • asteele32 August 11, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    Wow! You have inspired me! I’m in the process of praying about a small undertaking like this. I’m thinking just a month, first, and then we’ll see where it takes me. Follow my journey in September!
    Mandy
    http://www.lowmaintenancedivas.com

    • Caitlin August 12, 2012 at 7:26 PM

      Hi Mandy! I’m so excited for you! I will definitely follow your journey in September- and can’t wait to see what the Lord teaches you!

      • Caitlin August 12, 2012 at 7:27 PM

        PS Thanks so much for the shout out on your blog- I’m honored! :)

  • KP January 5, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    Hi Caitlin,

    I just came across your blog! Congratulations. My focus since November 2012 has been on stewardship and managing my money better. I’m beginning my first professorship at a university, so I only bought clothing that would allow me to look professional in the workplace–and I bought on sale and with changing seasons in mind. That being said, I am blown away and humbled by your year long challenge. I am, of course, considering it for this year. I need to talk to God first though! My question is this: was hosiery included in the no buy challenge? I only ask because I live in DC and I will be moving to Michigan in July, so the winters in both places can get pretty chilly without hosiery as an additional layer under silk jammies.

    Many thanks for sharing…and blessings to you and yours this year.

    KP

    • Caitlin January 6, 2013 at 4:25 PM

      Hi KP! Congratulations on your first professorship!! That’s so exciting. Absolutely talk to Him about it first! I think that rules you set for a challenge are individual, and should stretch you but be practical for your life. Personally, I made it an option to replace anything that wore out through the course of the year. (This of course didn’t count if it was intentionally ruined, but when my dog ate a pair of my panty hose, i replaced them.) I hope that helps and hope to hear more about the ways God is moving in your life! Have a wonderful evening!

  • Emily January 6, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    Wow.. I can’t even begin to tell you how crazy perfect Gods timing is…. My husband and I have recently (yesterday) been talking about how I have a shopping problem and what we could do to find what’s at the heart of it …. Then today on my lunch break and hop on Pinterest and by Devine appointment stumble across your blog, God is so funny sometimes!! …. Obviously you have just finished your year and I have some reading to catch up on but I think your challenge is definitely something I am going to prayerfully consider and talk to my husband about…. Thank you for being bold enough to blog about your experience! I can’t wait to read more! May God bless you for your faithfulness. Thank you again,
    Emily

    • Caitlin January 7, 2013 at 9:33 PM

      Emily! Thank you for sharing that with me. I am so excited for you as you seek out what the Lord is calling you to. I hope you’ll tell me more about journey He takes you on!

      PS He is just so good and faithful with His timing! I’m humbled he used this blog to encourage you and I hope it will continue to!

  • Amanda February 13, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    Love this idea!

  • Amanda baker July 4, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    Hi my name is Amanda baker wanted to see if
    You e mail your blog everyday? My mother in law is Loretta baker found you through her would like to share this Daily with my daughters 18 and 11 ..

    • Caitlin Author July 7, 2013 at 9:34 AM

      Hi Amanda! I love your mother in law! Yes; if you put your e-mail in the box that says ‘Follow via e-mail’ on the righthand side of the page, it will deliver new posts to your inbox. Please let me know if you have any trouble. Have a great day!

  • Lauren August 28, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    Wow..I am convicted from reading your challenge! My husband asked me the other day if I could give up shopping for one whole year….I said NO way….but if you could do it…maybe I will try it! :) Thank you for the inspiration. I love your blog! (New follower)

    Lauren
    modern1modesty.blogspot.com

    • Caitlin Author August 31, 2013 at 10:11 AM

      Lauren- so glad you are here! If you had asked me before 2012 if I could do it, I would have laughed at you. It was an incredible experience that is still changing me. I hope if you decide to try it or something similar, you’ll fill me in along the way! :)

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