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gear, date night, parties). I had always lusted after something bespoke and the money I saved by not ‘popping into Zara’ became a fund for something special. I found joy in digging up things that hadn’t been worn for years and reimagining them: I turned an inappropriate Prada minidress into a long-sleeved peplum top.

I discovered rental was not just for special occasions but for winter coats (two fabulous ones cheered up a dull February) and handbags, too (a Celine Trapèze for a job interview). I gathered friends for swapping parties, giving away things I knew I would never wear again and gaining an Isabel Marant shirt, a Marc Jacobs dress and a pair of Lululemon yoga pants. I embraced vintage (not too much) and found a wonderful local tailor.

But – and here’s the but – I discovered that shopping was at the heart of so much of my ‘self-care’. When I needed a boost, I went shopping. Buying clothes marked my progress in the world: to celebrate the start of spring, or back to school or another year around the sun. If I needed armour or a different face to the world, then hello And the sales! I used to enjoy them so much. I would stalk the discounts, filling up my basket then get to the checkout and see the total in dismay. Sometimes I’d just punch in my card details anyway. When I launched this Rule of Five campaign on social media, hundreds of women joined me, but their overwhelming reason was not to do with climate concerns – it was to stop themselves buying so much. They felt sickened by it.

I set up a Substack page where I laid out the science and the intention – you can subscribe to it for free and follow regular mailshots throughout the year. It is now full of resources, ideas and the emotional rollercoaster of our triumphs and failures. We also meet on Instagram (@tiffdarke) for lively discussions around mending, new purchases, vintage fairs and clothes-swapping parties.

Together, over the year, we have learnt to live with less. Fashion dieting is hard, but the results have given us a reset. I know my wardrobe well now; I value each item very much. I know my style and make fewer silly mistakes. I have saved money and spent more time thinking about fashion than ever before, which I have loved. Because you know what? I really love clothes.

Shirt, £95,

It started well with my clothes audit revealing that I was inexplicably missing that ultimate wardrobe staple, the white cotton shirt. After six weeks of meticulous research, trying on many different versions, I was led to my perfect purchase: the cotton-poplin boyfriend shirt from WNU. Oversized but with a perfect fit around the shoulders, I can layer it under knits, wear it open like a jacket and unbutton it deep at the top and bottom to zhoosh up any pair of trousers.






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