The great wardrobe challenge: Fashion fanatic gives up shopping for one year and raises 6,000 for cancer charity after father was diagnosed with disease
13:42 GMT, 9 April 2012
Staring into the wardrobe and agonising about having nothing to wear is the start of many women’s days.
When Vicky Sowerby got ready she had so many clothes that she had to keep half in storage, but still she felt she had nothing she wanted to put on.
Every weekend the 34-year-old self-confessed fashion fanatic would go shopping for new outfits.
Vicky Sowerby at the beginning of the challenge in December 2010 wearing Aldo boots H&M skirt and Kookai top, left, just after the Royal Wedding wearing a dress she made herself to mark occasion, and in October 2011, right, wearing M&S jumper and the same H&M skirt
But when her father was diagnosed with bowel cancer she decided to give up shopping for a year and take on a sponsored challenge to wear a different outfit every day from her existing wardrobe.
Mrs Sowerby said she realised she was in an ‘unconscious cycle’ of buying new clothes that she only wore once.
The mother-of-one from Oldham said: ‘I’ve always been the type to buy something for every night out because I’ve stood by my wardrobe and complained that I’ve had nothing to wear.
‘But at the end of my challenge I still had things I had not worn.’
Mrs Sowerby made a resolution not to buy any new clothes, shoes, bags or accessories during her one year fashion fast.
Vicky in June wearing palazzo pants from Dirty Sue, white vest from M&S and Topshop cardigan, left, in July wearing a Bat Girl t-shirt from TKMaxx, H&M and sandals from Topshop and in September wearing an H&M dress, M&S cardigan and Dorothy Perkin shoes, right
For twelve months she pledged to wear a different outfit every day by wearing different combinations of her existing clothes, as well as sewing new garments from scratch and customising her wardrobe.
Each day she posted a photograph of herself wearing the different outfits on her fashion blog.
Mrs Sowerby said that she rediscovered piles of dresses that she had bought for a night out and never worn again.
She said: ‘I realised that there were so many nice clothes that I’d thought I couldn’t live without when I’d bought them, but that were hardly worn.
‘I found a dusky pink dress that I bought for a wedding 12 years ago, but had ignored for at least the last five. Wearing it again brought back nice memories of buying it with my dad.
Vicky made some of her own clothes throughout the year, including a blue and silver shift dress
‘I dug out a red dress that my mum had given me because it didn’t fit her for Valentine’s Day. I realised that I enjoyed wearing it and wore it a few times in the year. I teamed it with a navy jacket, cherry cardigan and leopard cardigan and it looked different each time.’
Mrs Sowerby, who works as a career advisor, said that the sense of discovery as she looked deeper into her wardrobe replaced the buzz of buying new clothes.
She said: ‘The fix I lost from going shopping seemed to be satisfied by being more inventive with my wardrobe and wearing my clothes in different ways.
She added: ‘It helped me take stock of what I have got and taught me how to be more creative.
‘During the year as I rummaged through my wardrobe and worked out new combinations I started to appreciate what I had and realised that I did not need to always be in pursuit of something new.’
For special occasions she sewed her own dresses, including a liquorice allsorts patterned dress, which she wore with a matching fascinator made from real sweets.
Recycling accessories: Vicky in February wearing a grey H&M dress, Topshop shoes, a red belt from Warehouse and a grey jacket from a shop on Brick Lane. She wore the belt and shoes again to a birthday party in March, with a skirt she made herself, right
Mrs Sowerby has raised more than 6,000 for cancer charities by donating the money she would have spent on clothes as well as getting sponsorship from friends.
She said: ‘It was a really difficult year because my dad passed away in July and then my mum died in December.
‘In the past I would have used retail therapy when I was not happy and gone and bought a new top or dress to make myself feel better.
Vicky wears her 'carrying on' dress just a few days after her father passed away, in July 2011
‘But getting through this year without that has helped break that link between shopping and feeling good.’
After finishing the challenge last month, Mrs Sowerby went on a shopping splurge, but she said that the challenge has changed her shopping habits.
She said: ‘I’ve realised that by altering the accessories you wear or trying new combinations of clothes you can come up with different outfits using the same dress.
‘I’m much less of a slave to fashion now, I’ve got better at working out what suits me and finding things in my existing wardrobe that incorporate the trends.’
You can sponsor Vicky's challenge at www.justgiving.com/makedonotspend