Librarian Lauren Reusch tackles surplus spending with a new retail resolution


Maddy Truka

Wearing a cardigan and blue jeans, librarian Lauren Reusch reads a book in the library. Reusch realized she typically wore the same few pieces of clothing, and has since committed to not buying new clothes for six months. “You know your favorite pieces that make you feel good,” Reusch said. “The majority of the time I spend at home or with family I wear sweats.”

Walking into a store, bright, colorful posters attract your attention, advertising the latest trendy style. Big numbers and percentages line the aisles as you walk by, trying to pull you in with deals that seem too good to be true. Maybe you didn’t like that piece of clothing very much, but it was on sale, and one more shirt couldn’t hurt… right?

Wrong, or that’s what Librarian Lauren Reusch thought as she made a New Year’s resolution to combat excessive clothing shopping. After coming across an article about lessons that can be learned from not buying new clothes, Reusch realized the reasons aligned with her own thinking. From there, she was set on completing the six months.

“I always love a good challenge and shopping and buying clothes is something that I have always loved to do and would definitely challenge me,” Reusch said. “I am not going anywhere, so why do I need to purchase new clothes? I don’t wear many of the clothes I already own, I tend to wear a select few items over and over again.”

Reusch wanted to see how much money would be saved, and if she would miss buying clothes. Challenges from her sister and mom saying she wouldn’t be able to go without buying clothes encouraged her further to keep up with the resolution. 

“[My mom and sister] still think I’m crazy, but they aren’t surprised. No one is doing it with me, everyone thinks I am nuts. I’m pretty stubborn, so once I set my mind to something, I usually stick with it,” Reusch said.

Reusch realized that most of her clothes sat unworn in her closet. This helped her keep motivation for the challenge. As of current, Reusch has fully stuck to the resolution, although when her birthday came along in February, she was not sure if gifts of new clothing counted against the resolution.

“In the end, I just decided not to ask for anything clothing related and if someone got me something, that was that. I didn’t need new clothes,” Reusch said. “How many times have I bought something because it was a good deal and then had it sit in my closet, never to be worn, because I didn’t love it? The answer is way too many.”

I am trying to declutter many aspects of my life. If you want to take a stab at not buying new clothes, go for it. If you succeed at it, awesome. If you fail, it’s ok.”

— Librarian Lauren Reusch

Throughout these first few months, not being able to keep up with new trends has been a challenge for Reusch. She had been wanting to update to new styles of jeans, but wasn’t able to due to her resolution. A reflection on the spending habits of Americans helped Reusch understand that new jeans were a want, not a need.

“Many people would agree that in general, as Americans, we have too much stuff, clothing included. We tend to buy things even when we don’t need them, leading to an excess of things that just end up sitting unworn or unused in our house,” Reusch said. “Most people have their favorite clothing items in their closet that they rotate wearing while the rest sit unworn and unused.”

Shopping had become an expensive hobby for Reusch, although her spending did go down when the pandemic started. Reusch is hoping to cut down on spending by altering her mindset about needs versus wants.

“The biggest thing that I have learned or changed my thought process on is buying just to buy. When I go back to buying new clothes, I will really consider the item before purchasing,” Reusch said. “I will focus on the versatility of the item and [if] I love it or am I just buying it because I like to shop and want to buy something.”

After the six months, Reusch plans on buying some clothing basics, but not many other new items. Reusch hopes to break her bad shopping habits and lessen clothing consumption by thinking before buying.

“[My favorite part has been] the challenge itself and proving to myself and others that it can be done. I am trying to declutter many aspects of my life,” Reusch said. “If you want to take a stab at not buying new clothes, go for it. If you succeed at it, awesome. If you fail, it’s ok. You have to do what works for you.”